More Serendipitous Photo post padders

Hi Folks,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Eggs and sugar being whisked together…

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

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

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Narf7 gets artistic in a dusty shed

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

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

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No, I should be so lucky! 😉

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

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

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A well earned beer after a hard days work

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

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

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More aquilegias, lucky I love them 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I couldn’t resist…more seedlings

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

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

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

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

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

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NOT an aquilegia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anzac Day lest I forgot

Hi All,

How odd?! I find myself sitting here at 3.13pm on a Sunday with no dogs noses demanding anything (they have already had their tea…), Steve is tucked up watching something actually worth watching on the television and I cooked him a delicious chicken curry from scratch last night so he wants the second half of it for his tea tonight so all I have to cook tonight is a bit of steamed rice to accompany it. I made 24 Anzac biscuits today…I like to think of them as “Résistance Biscuits”…never one to be mainstream if I have a choice folks, I am aligning them with the French Resistance because “Resistance is futile” when it comes to not eating them. Today’s batch deviated from the recipe that I found on the Aussie recipe website “Taste”…here’s how it started out…

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/21104/anzac+biscuits

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The first batch of biscuits was a teensy bit über crunchy and so I baked the second batch a little less. The tartlet case was baked only till it was set because I didn’t want it to be too hard to cut when Steve was eating it later in the day

Nice and easy…a good recipe to send to the troops by savvy and canny Aussie housewives who didn’t want their menfolk to have to eat soggy or mouldy treats. The secret is the golden syrup that sets them nice and crispy and crunchy and as I had decided to make “biscuits” today Steve said “what about making Anzac’s? After all…it IS just about Anzac Day isn’t it?”…Bugger…the Pom remembered and I didn’t…my patriotic father would be spinning in his grave! My family has a very strong tradition with Anzac Day in many different ways and so Anzac biscuits (as penance along with a bit of self-flagellation in the privacy of the shed, Frank has suffered enough! 😉 ) were my saving grace. I also forgot my sisters 48th birthday yesterday. “SORRY PINKY!” I made you a nice card in Photoshop and you can consider some of that shed flagellation penance as yours ok? 😉

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A close up of the leftover Anzac biscuit dough pressed into a small individual tart pan and baked

Of COURSE my Anzac biscuits were not the same as the recipe. Nothing to do with pretention mind you, I could care less about elevating my recipes by cramming them full of super foods and strange overpriced ingredients. I would rather source something locally that would do the trick thank you! The reason for the swapsies was that this little black duck had run out of golden syrup :o(…I had also run out of coconut…now coconut and golden syrup MAKE Anzac biscuits so what was I going to do to save the day? First I remembered a pot of strange Chinese malty stuff that resembles almost set toffee in my pantry. I bought it back when I lived in Western Australia on one of our jaunts from the south up to Perth the capital city and our favourite place to go hunting for interesting ethnic ingredients. I bought it…I opened it…I looked at it…I tasted it…I forgodaboudit. It wasn’t that there was anything predominately “wrong” with it; it was just bland and stiff, sort of like über thick glucose on steroids. I figured that it would approximate the desired effect of golden syrup and after wrestling an approximation of 2 tbs of it out of the tub I forced the lid back on and hid it at the back of the pantry where it will probably stay till the next time I need golden syrup.

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The finished desert full of sticky toffee apple pieces cooked in a vanilla butter toffee sauce. Steve said it was lovely. The only thing missing was a great big dollop of thick whipped cream 😉

Coconut was harder…I then remembered that I HAD coconut flour! I had made homemade coconut milk and had dehydrated the resulting pulp and had jars of the stuff languishing on my pantry shelves! I tossed a cupful of it into the mix and crossed my fingers that the recipe would work. I mixed the bicarb soda and water and was assured that I had to remove the melted butter and pseudo golden syrup from the heat as it would fizz up majestically once the bicarb was added… I was expecting Vesuvius and removed the small saucepan away to the sink where I dumped the bicarb and water mix into the pan and cringed…nothing happened. Not even a pathetic “bloop”… I mixed everything together and then rolled the sticky mass into tablespoon sized balls and squished them down onto a baking paper (fool me once!) lined baking tray and after the prescribed time in the oven they emerged brown, über crisp and a complete success!

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This was the dog door prior to today. As you can see it had developed a curious coating of “filth” over the top of that wonderful silver colour that Steve found in the shed. Note the fluffy bathrobe…apparently “Earlvis has left the building” 😉

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Behold…the new dog door! Steve made it bigger so that Bezial doesn’t have to do the limbo when exiting and we don’t have to keep getting up to open up the sliding door at night time when he thinks he senses a possum invading his personal space

Steve was most pleased. Steve is a grazer and likes to open the fridge and cut a bit off “something” to walk around with in his hand…he likes to open a lid and extract another “something”, he loves nothing more than 1 ½ cheese sandwiches at odd times of the day smothered in the latest condiment of his choice wrestled from the fridge. Cold butter is the bane of this man’s life ;). The ability to walk past the newly instated biscuit barrel, do a double take and walk back…followed by a furtive lid lifting and extraction moment will give him endless pleasure. I have promised to ensure that the newly instated biscuit barrel remains half full at all times. I am on a baking jag and that won’t be hard. I found a recipe for chocolate sourdough biscuits (that would be “cookies” to you Northern folk) that I want to try so I might just fill up the biscuit barrel tomorrow and whenever I notice the level falling below half I can bake another batch of biscuits to ensure the barrels “never-ending” status.

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Here’s the new dog door in situ. Note the “Not A Barn” sign…you saw it? Steve doesn’t …sigh…

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Bezial showing his willingness to exit the dog door (at least in the daytime when it’s not all that cold outside…)

I have been threatening to adopt a Biafran…to go doorknocking to deliver baskets of goodies that I want to bake. I want to get stuck into perfecting a really good loaf of sourdough so that I can regularly turn out something both presentable AND delicious. Not a whole lot to ask is it? I think it’s time to get into the neighbours good books and start dropping off fresh baked loaves of bread and home baked treats. I love to experiment and as Steve so succinctly put it the other day “I can only eat so much, I am only 1 man!” When my recipe wanderlust sets in it’s hard to get it to stop. The freezer is full to the brim of lasagne, chilli, pasties, calzone and lots of individually portioned soup (my food of choice for my evening meal) and can’t handle anything more. This happens to me occasionally. I think the cold weather brings out a primal need to nest and my baking up a storm seems to be linked to that desire.

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Here’s a cute shot of Earl for all of his multiple fans around the globe…

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And here’s Earl thinking “I’m SURE celebrities get something for all of this posing!”

Did you notice that I have started splitting my posts up into MUCH smaller paragraphs? You can thank the wonderful wordstress “Thinking Cowgirl” for that. She reminded me that I am actually typing for an audience here and not just to vent my muses. She has a wonderful blog that you can check out here…

http://thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com/

Her latest post on Baroness Thatcher’s demise really got me thinking. We got most of Ms Thatcher’s thrashed and broken union leaders who came out to the Antipodes to lick their wounds. No matter what you thought about the woman, she certainly knew how to scare people! This cowgirl knows how to write…her style captivated me from the very first post that I read and I wouldn’t miss a post now. I like to hoard them, like Mr 23 Thorn’s posts, and savour them over a nice big mug of tea when I haven’t got anything else to detract from the wonderful flavours that these wordy alchemists are able to infuse their posts with.

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We went to Launceston yesterday after visiting our friend in the witness protection and took a few photos for our course while we were there. This beautiful old Acer vitifolium caught my eye and I decided to share it with you

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I love Boston Ivy/Parthenocissus tricuspidata (or Virginia Creeper as mum used to call it). It’s a very useful plant for covering up unattractive areas and it turns the most glorious colours in autumn each year.

Words are beautiful folks. If you can weave them into something that can reach out and grab the attention of a complete stranger and carry them halfway around the world and enlighten them with your common condition you have something special at your fingertips. You ALL owe her a huge “thank you Thinking Cowgirl” because now you don’t have to stick a piece of chewing gum onto your monitor if you get interrupted when reading a Serendipity Farm blog post ;). Now if I can only learn to harness my muses for good who knows what I could do? Just thinking…it might be best to let sleeping dogs lie! 😉

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An interesting number plate that we noticed on our walk with the boys in town. This one is from my home state of Western Australia (3886.8km or 2415.14555 miles away from Launceston for those of you who aren’t sure of the translation). We were curious to see this obvious “work vehicle” parked in a leafy suburb in Launceston Tasmania… when the driver gets home do you think he will have some “splainin’ to do?” 😉

I am going to backtrack to where I told you that I made 24 Anzac biscuits and add “and I had some mix left over”. I could have made another 4 biscuits but I decided to get creative. I filled a small individual round flan tin with the mix and pressed it into the tin. I then baked the mix but not to crunchy brownness because I didn’t want Steve to chip his teeth on what was “supposed” to be a dessert treat! I then cooked some of my traditional “toffee apple apples” by peeling and slicing them and tossing them gently in butter and spices (in this case cinnamon, mixed spice and a pinch of ground ginger) and cooking them until tender and then adding about ¼ of a cup of sugar. I did this to make a sort of sticky toffee sauce that you could replicate with rapadura or coconut sugar or even honey if you wanted. After removing the caramelised mix from the heat and cooling a little I added some vanilla and then heaped the mix into the flan tin. I then made some vanilla custard and Steve got dessert, a rare but most welcome event

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Bezial just demanded to get in on the “cute” action as well…he says he is every bit as cute as Earl but without the chicken plucking capabilities

Well we made it through Monday and we collected some wood. We also made a plan to tidy up the driveway (at least the bits you can see) and haul off the brushwood that is littering the area to burn or to stockpile somewhere less visible. Half of what makes a “lovely garden” is what you see; it’s a pity that most “lovely gardens” are so maintenance intensive folks! The best thing for the garden, a “natural” garden, is to let everything stay where it drops. Let the wood lay there, the leaves, let the chooks scratch and dig and let the fungus grow. Your garden will look like utter shite BUT it will be a happy garden :o). Is there a happy medium? Apparently there is. I have seen them. Gorgeous green gardens full of fecundity and health…permaculture paradises that make Serendipity Farm look like something that slithered directly from the surface of Mars. Do I know how to turn Serendipity Farm into something approximating these gorgeous vistas? Nope. I have all of that horticultural “stuff” crammed inside my head…so does Steve…but we found ourselves wanting to take the easy way out and just “BURN THE LOT” when it came to brushwood and fallen branches and Steve did the WORST cut with his chainsaw on a poor tree resulting in a massive branch bark tear…time to send that Chainsaw license back methinks Steve!

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We live in a very pretty state (I DO feel sorry for that poor woman lugging her groceries up that steep pathway though 😉 )

What is it about “stuff” that you have crammed in your head that makes it SO difficult to get it to translate out into the real world? What do these magic green fingered permaculturalists have that we don’t? Is it because we are lazy middle aged sloths? Most probably. I dare say the vim, vigour and verve of some of these idealistic creative people would make me tired just to be in their presence. I am a bit like Garfield…I occasionally have to curl up and fall asleep in a sunbeam. These people put in dawn to dusk hours and the results speak for themselves. Steve and I wander around our “garden” hand in hand in hope that the fear that rises whenever we venture from inside the house will somehow abate if there are two of us sharing it… it doesn’t. Everywhere we turn there is something else to do and sometimes it is as much as we can do to just go outside!

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Most of the older houses in Launceston have these lovely old balconies and stained glass windows. I love the eclectic mix of styles that has evolved over the years and am not sad that we moved to this pretty part of the state 🙂

I have vision…I have all kinds of PDF’s and word documents and friends online who can give me ideas and help and hope but that all amounts to sweet bugger all if we don’t take all of that wonderful “stuff” and use it…”DO” it. We look at each other sometimes like we are both thinking “paper, rock, scissors…YOU DO IT!” but it needs both of us to work together and I can’t help thinking that there is some kind of life lesson here. We are at least planning the work and I guess that is a start but Steve and I take dragging our feet to a new level. I guess we just have to keep our eyes on the big picture and not the nitty-gritty stuff that we have to do to get there. The initial start-up capital in a permaculture garden and food forest is the work that you have to do to observe, to plan, to implement and to work out how you are going to do what you want to do with your property. Part of the problem is that we have to do what we can with a very small budget. One could almost say a minuscule budget. What the hell, “No budget at all folks!” This results in a lot of frustration and a lot of invention. In the process we learn a lot and you can’t really ask for more than that…aside from a ready-made permaculture garden and food forest I guess 😉

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This is a HDR rendered image. Please don’t ask me what that means. The net was down this morning and I couldn’t find out so you might have to do a bit of detective work yourself on this one. All I know is that you end up with something a whole lot brighter than the original 3 photos that you use to compile the shot, you have to take a normal an underexposed and an overexposed photo using a tripod so that you don’t get any movement and then Photoshop does its magic on them and turns them into this.

We are off to our friend in the witness protections home today for a visit. We hermitage dwellers very rarely deal with humankind. Aside from blogging and sharing online, I probably go to town once in a blue moon…make that every second blue moon but today we visit and we talk garden and we reinvigorate ourselves and our friend back into all things horticulture. It’s a kind of tribal thing. You start to lose perspective and purpose and one or other of us pulls in the reigns. This time our friend wants to start making some spiral gardens. She is a victim of Tassie’s treacherous native animals as much as we are but add rabbits and bush rats into the equation and even her unmitigated optimism is starting to flag. She no sooner plants things than they get eaten. She has been growing hardy pentstemons on her property for years. NOTHING touches them folks. They must be poison on a stick for these creatures because they will scarf potato and rhubarb leaves with glee and live to tell the tale. She bought a lovely white pentstemon and low and behold, it got scarfed! It gets hard to keep yourself buoyed when you read other people saying “just plant LOTS of things” and you know that if you do that, you are going to have lots of sticks in the ground :o(. Everything has to be fenced off or protected in some way or it gets inhaled and digested by something out there.

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This looks a whole lot like photos that were hand painted in the early part of the 20th century.

Today we regroup…if only to revive our flagging spirits and pass on some info on keyhole gardens, spiral gardens and other permaculture processes to take our mind off our dry dead stick gardens. After a couple of cups of tea anything is possible! I might take a bit of my latest sourdough carrot cake with chocolate icing for her and we can plot our plans of our own little world’s domination. “We are the top of the food chain damnit! We DEMAND you stop eating our plants!”… Yeah… that’ll work! ;). After we visit our friend we will head into Launceston. We will drop off some eggplants and dehydrated bananas for our daughters. Dehydrated bananas are THE BOMB people. They look like something that Earl just deposited high in a shrub (he is weird with where he will “deposit”…) but taste like heaven. After Steve picks up some thick dowel from the shed in town, we will head to the city and will take some photos of “stuff” for our course. I will hold (read get dragged around the park Willy-nilly by…) the boys while Steve sets up the tripod and camera. After that we head off to Bunning’s (hardware heaven to you Northerner’s…) to pick up some plywood to make a better dog door. Bezial is having problems going through our limbo inducing door and we are tired of getting up and opening up the sliding doors onto the deck for him to go out and join Earl in his nightly forays into possum heckling.

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This last HDR shot really shows you the dramatic look you can get when you use this technique. It looks more painted than real and I really quite like how it looks. What do you think?

I have been promised the lure of a few thrift shop hunts if I hold the dogs in the park (you can read me SO well Stevey boy! 😉 ) and after we tussle our way around the city with two very boisterous country dogs hell bent on peeing on every single lamppost, phone booth, sign, traffic light and anything else that stands still long enough to be considered as a perfect place to scribble “Earl woz ere’” in pee… we will allow them to drag us back to the car and will head home. I have 2 mature coconuts to crack and deal with. Not sure what I am going to do with them but Steve bought them for me on shopping day and I will probably make some coconut kefir out of them. I want to try souring some cream with kefir for making Steve nachos. I am drinking my second fermented date sweetened alcoholic non-dairy milk kefir daily now. It’s great stuff! Who’d-a thunk that chickpeas could be milked let along turned into kefir? The curious thing is that rather than curling up their little brainiac like curds and croaking in the weird things I am trying to culture them in, Kid Creole’s coconuts are thriving and breeding exponentially! What have I done! I am starting to feel like Frankenstein with his monsters…how far can a vegan go before she is entering territory too strange for even we crazy plant based fools?!

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(Bugger…I just ran out of photos for this post…do you think they will notice I am using an old photo? Did I mention that a possum ate all of the foliage off that lovely begonia? Do they know that I gave that leather chair to the girls? Can they see a slightly more rotund me taking a photo of herself accidentally in the kitchen window? Nah… I think I got away with it 😉 )

It’s just hit 6am. Time to wrap this post up for the press tomorrow. Are they easier to read divided up into smaller paragraphs? I hope so ;). I am only here because my RSS Feed Reader threw a tantrum and decided not to work from 5am onwards so I am taking advantage of my spare time and value adding it. See you all on Saturday folks…hopefully you spring living folk in the North can post something other than salads and smoothies for us poor autumn dwelling folk here in the South ;). See you then :o)

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http://www.notquitenigella.com/2012/11/02/sketti-with-buttered-ketchup/

I am driving this image like I stole it alright? I didn’t have time to make a batch of sketti and butter BUT this wonderful lady did! Not only did she make this fine upstanding recipe but she wrote a post about it AND she is a food snob! Go check out her wonderful post (not that I did but hey…I owe her SOMETHING for the lend of her photo!) and marvel at how delicious 2 meals for $4 can look…Steve…you have a foodie future 😉 now I just need to find Honey Boo-boo’s mum June’s email address and beg forgiveness for pinching her families secret recipe…

Just a very quick post script here…Steve wants to add something to the post. He was watching Curtis Stone who shamelessly went to the U.S. and traded on his “Aussieness” to get himself a television show and is now back in Australia flogging Coles supermarket and his “feed your family for under $10 a meal” deal. Steve says that anyone out there who needs to fill up on less than $3 to feed the family should use his “Skettie” recipe that he borrowed from Honey Boo-boo’s mum June a few posts ago. He also says that the first “Skettie” meal would cost you $3. The second one you would only have to pay $1 for the packet of pasta as you would still have half a bottle of tomato sauce and half a container of margarine left. That’s 2 meals for $4 Curtis…Steve says “BEAT THAT!” 😉 Just a note to Woolworths…Steve is waiting for your call…

A new pope is elected on Serendipity Farm and this one is for Bev…

Hi All,

This is going to be a first…more pictures than words! I decided that it was a lovely rainy day and that we would celebrate by taking photo’s of our morning and our processes to celebrate the very first lighting of Brunhilda this autumn…

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Saturday is cleaning day…you can see the dogs are delighted…

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Steve just cleaned the loungeroom and the boys just put their seal of approval (or is that disapproval?) on it…

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Steve putting the firebox door back on Brunhilda after oiling the catch

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Earl thinks that he isn’t getting his fair share of attention…

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Steve talking to Earl about dogs that demand attention…

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Earl thinking about what Steve just said to him whilst maintaining his position…

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And completely disregarding what he has just been told. Earl had to be physically removed from his new preferred spot (and yes, I will be washing that cake rack before I use it again 😉 )

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Steve feeding Brunhilda after her long hibernation

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Steve just about to close the firebox door on Brunhilda after giving her a degustation platter of treats to keep her happy

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The dogs have just realised that Steve is lighting the fire!!!

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The kettle goes on IMMEDIATELY and the dogs couches are all ready for their inhabitants for the next 8 or so months

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Proof that it has actually been raining and I am not just fibbing

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Every year this Clematis vitalba grows back from a large old stump that I think I have hacked to death the previous year and has gorgeously scented flowers that are perfect for the bees

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According to Brunhilda the new pope has been elected…Pope Frances the first… I RULE! 😉

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What happens when possums are robbed of their stolen nightly bird cheese by the wrens having a late evening snack…revenge is terrible 😦

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Brunhilda’s food of choice

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Various jars of “flours” that I have made after making almond, coconut and soy milk and dehydrating the pulp. I make my soymilk with organic Aussie beans and will be growing my own next year. I have 1 cup of tea a day with soymilk in and don’t consume it at any other time so I figure it won’t be something that I have to worry about 😉

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The lower portion of one of our pantries. The noodles were an added bonus (along with 2litres of whole milk) when Steve got home and unpacked the groceries and found them. He didn’t buy them so I guess someone left them behind and we were not going to take them on a 100km round trip back to the city. We have lost groceries before, I guess this time was our bonus but neither of us want to eat those noodles!

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The shelf groaning with grub…better than being empty I say! 😉

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My soymilk maker, lots of empty jars and herbs in the spare pantry in the middle room and all of those paper bags are packed to the gills with dried seeds ready for next springs planting events

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Dehydrated okara in the foreground and on the left Kid Creole and on the right, his coconuts getting used to homemade coconut milk and doing a very good job now that they understand that they won’t be getting cows milk any more 😉

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A Grey Shrike Thrush waiting for me to move away from the window with the camera to come and get some tiny cheese cubes from the windowsill

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The view out my kitchen window and the only safe place that I could put my shoes away from the weather and Earl, twin problems for shoes on Serendipity Farm 😉

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Earl attempting to play ball. For a dog, he is considerably unco!

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I swear I saw Brigadoon!

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More proof of rain and don’t the trees look happy 🙂

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The tree that fell down reasonably close to the house in the wind and rain on Thursday. Now we just have to work out how to get it safely onto the ground!

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Bezial showing his appreciation to Steve for lighting the fire for his basking pleasure 😉

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Pretty much where you are going to find the dogs for the next 8 months 😉

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Steve says “there’s no use crying over spilt milk”…

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Fair enough…but this is kefir! 😦

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Draining kefir to make it as thick as Greek yoghurt to use in recipes

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Still raining…the feral cats live underneath that large conifer

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A bit more rain (that last nude rain dance that I did at midnight appears to have done the trick 😉 ) and the nerines are loving it although Steve is muttering about having to bail out The Mumbley Cumumbus tomorrow 😉

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Steve and I are officially genius’s now. We took this panoramic shot with a camera that doesn’t take panorama’s. We are learning so much about photoshop and pretty soon will be selling our own BigFoot, Alien sighting and Tasmanian Tiger photographs…autographed for the tourists ;). Let us know if you want any terrible photos doctored, we HAVE THE POWER! 😉

Well that’s it, that’s all folks…not quite wordless but for me, it’s a miracle. Enjoy your weekend and see you on Wednesday when words will return (sorry Bev 😉 )

The power of music

Hi All,

In honour of World Permaculture Day on May 5th 2013…(YES I am early but I am giving you plenty of time 😉 )

All of us would acknowledge our own work as modest; it is the totality of such modest work that is impressive. Great changes are taking place. Why not join us in the making of a better future.

Ingenio Patet Campus. The field lies open to the intellect.”

Bill Mollison
2 May 2012

I would just like to add…don’t forget the heart Mr Mollison, for that is where you find the courage to go on in spite of overwhelming odds. Your head might get you to the starting gate but it aint gonna’ win you that race!

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This is what represents Serendipity Farm at the moment. I went for a walk to take some photos of pretty things to cheer myself up because it has been so hot and dry, but outside its actually hotter and drier than inside and all that happened was I started measuring up against places like Texas and The Gobi Desert and found us wanting so here it is…my artistic rendition of what Indian Summer represents to Serendipity Farm!

Today we found my earphones. I used to listen to music for hours on end and own a huge collection of CD’s, some of them helped me through my marriage breakup. Certain songs matched milestones, Pearl Jam “Alive”… Chumbawamba’s “Tub Thumping” EVERYTHING by The Counting Crows and Hootie and the Blowfish and a longstanding musical affair with Rob Thomas from Matchbox 20 after I won their very first CD on an early morning radio station because no-one gets up at 5am and is awake enough to phone up D.J.’s at that time of day…all except me that is…me and my early morning habits…music was always there. I chose it. After I left my ex-husband and we vindictively divided up the C.D.’s I wore my music as a badge of courage and I hid behind it and wore my heart on my sleeve as I tried to work my way through the processes of unpicking a long standing relationship. Music is a bit like that nose/sniffing thing that I mentioned in the post before last. Music can hoist me high or lay me low and it takes me places that I have stumbled through before. Steve was hunting for something in the middle room built-in’s the other day and came out with a large stack of CD cases and reignited my love affair with music and infusing my brain with it as I type and think and hunt online. The next step was to give me anonymity. Steve likes to watch television unhindered by loud music so we needed to supply me with earphones. Steve retrieved his headphones from his music cupboard but they are those old fashioned Cyberman headphones and hurt my ears after I wear them for a while (which I inevitably do) and I remembered my funky set of Mochi earphones that I bought for my MP3 player when I used to go everywhere with music. I lost the time to listen to music and found myself “doing” more and ended up giving my MP3 player to my daughter and I promptly “Forgodaboudit”. We still had Youtube marathons into the night but no solo forays until Steve found my mochi’s and now I am hooked. It’s like I never left! My early mornings are going to be peppered with music. My very first CD that I listened to was Ben Folds 5. Next was Jeff Buckley and “Hallelujah” still makes me cry. Next The Whitlam’s opening number “There’s No Aphrodisiac” and who knows who after that…The Clash? Maybe Mark Knopfler “Sailing to Philadelphia?” How about Ben Harper “Diamonds on the Inside”? or ANYTHING from John Butler before he split with his trio…so many old friends that have been waiting patiently for me to get my mojo back…”I’m back!” :o)

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My favourite of the 50 Pumpkins…this one I could eat! 😉

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The first carrot cake that I can remember that I made that actually turned out! Usually they are tasteless or too wet or just plain ornery but this wonderful sourdough version turned out perfectly! Audrey, you are a star 🙂

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A close-up of the gorgeous crumb. Half is in the freezer and the other half is rapidly receding into Steve

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Isn’t this pretty? It’s Steves creation. I made pastry with grated butter straight from the fridge that made gorgeous flaky pastry. I also cooked a lot of potatos (steamed) and Steve cooked a heap of caramelised onions with chilli and made a delicious rich cheesy sauce and combined it all in layers with cooked capsicum (peppers) and made a fantastic (and most enormous) vegetarian pie.

Its Monday 11th of march and Douglas Adams would have been 61. His candle burned very brightly for a short time. I met Steve because of my early adoration of Douglas Adams. I read every single one of his books and was introduced to philosophy through their pages. Prior to reading the “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” trilogy, I had never thought much about life, the universe and everything. The sky was up there and I sometimes lay on my back in the evening looking up at the stars and thinking about how small I was but not much more. Adams introduced me to thought processes outside my comfort zone and to the number 42. When my son was small he was given a small wooden mouse with a leather tail. We called him “Slartibardfast” and despite losing his tail in an early accident (children are curious…) he managed to stay with us through moves all over Western Australia. I have no idea where he is now or if Stewart still has him but I would imagine he would be in an ancient sandpit in a house in the Western Australian fringe outback as I type this. I actually owe my love of Douglas Adams books for meeting Steve. My son, Stewart, then 14, got tired of me complaining about having nothing to do and showed me how to use the internet. I could only type with 1 finger and back then (last century circa 1997) the net was populated by chat rooms, places where you picked yourself a little avatar that you associated with and you waited to jump into someone’s conversation. There were so many different chat rooms and I remember scrolling down the exponentially increasing list in awe and thinking “Where do I start?” As a Luddite technophobe the temptation was to just give up before I started but I chose a room called “Comic Chat” and entered. When I got inside there were reams and reams of text scrolling down the page and despite my best efforts to tap away with 1 finger, by the time I had anything typed the conversations had moved on…I was somewhat bemused at the speed of my brain being entirely unrepresentative of what was coming out of my fingers! I ended up just sitting there watching words scroll maniacally across the page till one sentence hit me…”What is the meaning of life?”…I had a SHORT ANSWER to that one! I quickly (well…quickly for someone who didn’t even know where the number keys were 😉 ) typed back “42!”…little was I to know that this was Steve’s final hurrah online. He had been tapping away for months trying to connect with likeminded people. His friend (also Steve) had gotten him into computers via gaming and he had been making brief but frustrated forays into the chatting world and had decided that he would ask this one question and if he didn’t get a satisfactory answer he was out of there for good! My very first sentence online would seal my fate for the rest of my life. How fitting and how poignant that Mr Douglas Adams would be my teacher and would deliver my ultimate happiness to me via being brave enough to step out into a brave new world. Cheers Douglas and Stewart for my new life, I couldn’t have done it without either of you :o). I saw the Google homepage tribute to Douglas Adams this morning and raced to Facebook to laud him but my sister Pinky had gotten there first. Oh well… I can get there first here! ;). I headed off into the ether for a few moments to find out about how 42 equates with life, the universe and everything and there are some very interesting connotations to the number 42. You can read about them here on my old paraphrasing friend Wikipedia if you are so interested. Aside from being interesting, this page was written by someone with more than a brain cell or two (which lends this Wiki page a bit more weight) because it is littered with some mighty fine scientific backup and there are some very amazing things that start with or end with 42…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/42_(number)

I found another page where Mr Adams had decided to give his view about Australia. A most humorous and fitting small article about us antipodeans that is well worth a few moments of your time to read…

http://www.jumbles.com/douglas_adams.htm

Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchet are my favourite fiction authors. It is curious to see that Douglas Adams died so young and that Terry Pratchet is facing his own slow demise at such an early age. Perhaps their brilliance in literature could only burn so bright for a short time? Was it worth it? As someone who has gained more than she could have possibly imagined from both of them and learned so much in the process I salute both of these amazing men and am reminded how “The Old Country” has spawned such a magnificent array of talented artists in all realms. I am bordering on sounding like an Anglophile there! Best stop that quick smart or I will have to hand back my Bolshie workers party pin (along with my Vegan confraternity pin after eating that Beurre bosc pear along with its previous occupier…)

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This is our half of the wonderful stash of natural soil ammendments that Steve Solomon recomended for our soil. Just to ensure there are no readers sending animal protection around…that lime isn’t actually to deal with “moles”. We don’t get moles here in Australia…it’s from a place called “Mole Creek” in Tasmania 🙂

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If nothing else grows on Serendipity Farm in the middle of the hot dry weather these most certainly do! Dandelions are loving the weather and are enjoying the extended Indian Summer

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Kid Creole on the left and his “Coconuts” on the right

We humans have art to express ourselves. Some of us are artistically challenged when it comes to attempting to reproduce what we see around us pictorially but then visual representation is only one of the ways that we are able to reach out and communicate with other people. Neither Steve nor I are dab hands with a paint brush, let alone a pencil. The fact that having to draw 50 pumpkins each for our Media design course (in an attempt to make us think about how to represent a pumpkin in 50 different ways) has us twitching and procrastinating when we have finished the rest of this unit should go a long way to showing you how desperately untalented we both are at drawing anything other than crazed stick men (Steve) and lopsided spheres (me). It’s curious that we should both adhere to other artistic pursuits though. Steve is very musical. He spent his misspent youth dabbling in the art of suspicious substances, enormous quantities of alcohol and generally “muckin’ abart” as a lad with his gang of mates. He had the dubious honour of being alive and of an influential age when Old Blighty was going through a rolling succession of workers strikes and Maggie Thatcher ruled supreme with an iron fist. Whenever inequality and hard times strike it brings out the quintessential artist in the working class and suddenly punk was born, closely followed by the rise of the first set of Goths…Steve straddled both classes and walked the fine line between the two. As a child he was exposed to music as a way of life. His father was a musician in a band and knew Ringo Starr of The Beatles fame. Steve picked up a guitar as a small child and by the time his teenaged angst hit it was second nature to use a guitar to fend off the blues. Steve used to be very shy and his guitar was the weapon that he used to fend off the world and give himself a medium to communicate. When I met him he had been teaching guitar for a few years and had a steady clientele of students and a quiet but comfortable life. Steve has 13 guitars (if you count a lap steel as a “real” guitar that is 😉 ) and has learned to bypass music as a means to communicate. He is now comfortable in his skin and is nowhere near as shy as he was when we first met but his music is a quintessential part of him and his first guitar, a white strat that he bought back in the 80’s, will be buried with him when he leaves the earth.

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I don’t even know what this mad weed is. I know it is a garden plant but it has gone mental all over the place and is another lover of this extended hot weather

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I am not sure what this tree is (there goes my horticultural street cred 😉 ) BUT I know it was on it’s last legs in it’s pot and we planted it out to give it a chance to die in the soil and we haven’t watered it once all summer and it is thriving! Apparently it must taste foul to wallabies and possums because it is putting on foliage and seems to love where we planted it go figure!

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This variagated sedum was almost completely consumed by duckies sister. She had a craze for eating our succulents and cacti and when she disappeared the xeriscape plant massacre stopped.

I was born to communicate…not always effectively but sometimes sheer volume can make up for a lack of direction and like Billy Connelly before me, I have learned the value of persistence…eventually you will get to the point! ;). I too was an incredibly shy child. I had a complete lack of drive and direction and life had been buffeting me around for 34 years before I decided to make my life count. As a result I left one marriage and embarked on a new life. All I knew at the time was that I wanted to really “live”. I didn’t want to arrive at the Pearly Gates and have my cap in my hand and nothing to show for the time that I was given. I couldn’t justify my existence and that was a terrifying thing. Why was I here? Why did “I” get this chance when millions of babies die each year or are not given the chance to even be born? I had to know or at least live a more worthwhile life and after leaving my husband of 15 years I headed off into the wilderness to think. I had never had time to think, or be myself before. I jumped straight from the terror of school into early motherhood and lost myself in the process…I was a pure example of how to function without thought. I can see how easy it is for people to just give themselves up to the processes like robots and how it would be such a tragedy to wake up at 65 and find yourself retired, married to someone you hardly know and suddenly having to face up to the fact that you haven’t done much with your life. I had my mid-life crisis at 34. After my marriage dissolved along with my family (my son chose to stay with my ex and I had to let him make his choice) I took my daughters and started a new life. I had 12 years of education, half a year spent having the BEST time at teachers college (before I got thrown out 😉 ) and a complete lack of a working history if you disregard 6 months spent working for a fish and chip shop and 2 months spent working in a café when I was 15. I was bewildered, terrified, completely unprepared for my new life and as a mother and a prize rabbit (August 1963 put me square in Chinese bunny territory) I was a perfect example of a rabbit bedazzled by life’s headlights. I spent a lot of time finding myself and my daughters will tell you that they were severely neglected. The poor little darlings were obviously left to fend for themselves…eating hotdogs out of an electric kettle and living under a rug…that’s how they tell the story…I remember it a bit differently girls! ;). I remember pulling the girls out of school when the sun was shining and it was too nice a day to be cooped up and driving them out to the tall Jarrah trees and we had a picnic with honey icecream cones purchased from Bartholomew’s Meadery on the way to the trees. We took Barbie and Woody along for the ride and they actually got married on a mossy log under the trees…I remember doing the same (some might say irresponsible, I say “enlightened”) thing on another lovely day when we drove out to a far off beach in Albany and just wandered around feeling our space in the world. If I was living under societal conventions I might feel a bit guilty about my daughters early childhood. More so because of allowing my ex to constantly move around to satisfy his need to climb the hierarchal ladder in his chosen profession but I have since learned that children who are cossetted and not given a modicum of freedom to explore the parameters of their world on their own and who are not taught the value of life lessons and the responsibilities of the natural world never grow up to be independent thinkers. We might have eaten hotdogs from a kettle girls BUT that was because the gas bottle ran out and I didn’t have enough money to buy another one. I remember it as fun…you might have been under a rug while I tapped away to a man thousands of miles away in a completely different timeframe but at least when he eventuated on the scene he didn’t take over your lives or try to change you in any way. The world has a way of communicating what we REALLY need to us, often against what our own perceived views of the world might be. It’s a true to life case of “You can’t always get what you want…but if you try sometimes…you get what you need”.

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A line of drought hardy nerines all heralding the autumn that just won’t come

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No sign of that lovely red lily from Saturday but look what I found growing right next to the spent stem! This little crocus has managed to grow and flower in the middle of the worst drought we have had in years! Again, you just can’t pick what will and won’t grow here 🙂

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There are at least 2 mango seedlings that grew from the mango seeds that I tossed into the compost and we will make sure that they are protected for their first winter on Serendipity Farm and after that they will be planted out in the food forest. I LOVE free plants 🙂

I would like to appologise to my children for being a somewhat absent mother for a few years there. I DO feel a level of guilt for having to tear you away from your lives but I know that what I did gave us all back our lives including my ex who is now happily married with another child. What might seem chaotic and devastating can be seen from the distance of memory to be very different clothing. My communication…my “art” if you will is my desire to represent my world and my view of the world in words. I might stumble over myself and I might have to endlessly check my spelling because my fingers can’t match the speed at which my myriad muses want me to type but there is a fire inside me and like all good bushfires, it won’t quit till one of its ignition sources is quenched and that doesn’t look like happening any day soon. Maybe one of my parents should have realised that I had a penchant for words and steered me into journalism…My parents had their own battles and I didn’t factor into their peripherals much so I was pretty much on my own when it came to trying to work out what life, the universe and everything meant to me as a child and a young adult. I owe my ex-husband a lot. Aside from my children, he spent the 15 years that we were together plodding along following his own set of processes to give us all what we physically needed to survive. He kept it all together when we were really falling apart and for that, I owe you Robert. I am not sorry that I left you and now that you are happy on the other side of Australia I feel somewhat vindicated in my choices. This post has been somewhat cathartic! I didn’t intend it to be a treatise about my life but in a round-about way it is. Mr Adams gave me a focal point and the key to the door that opened up my new life. 42 was indeed, my meaning of life moment. If you step outside your comfort zone and you dare to take a walk on the wild side, even if it is for only just a short time, you might just find your reason. I know…I did :o).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkGrkNu6mDg

5 Go mad in Sidmouth

Hi All,

Enid Blyton was one of my favourite authors when I was a small child. I got endless entertainment reading about whatever the “5” were up to on any given jolly set of hol’s. Enid was fond of a good mystery and we had ourselves a very Blytonesque mystery on our hands on Monday. We headed out to open the doors of the hen house to allow the hens into the enclosed area that they now live in. We lock the doors because of quolls, a native animal somewhat like a cat, that loves nothing more than a tasty fat docile hen added to its menu for the day and they hunt at night when the hens are at their most docile and compliant. We have the luxury of a cement floored hen house that was once a woodshed and even the most determined quoll is going to come up chookless when faced with 500ml of cement to have to tunnel through. We made small hen sized doors and a ramp down to the enclosed outer area and the hens go into the hen house at night and are ensconced safely till we let them out the next morning. We recently discovered one of the late great Effel Doocark’s daughters who had decided to head WAY down to the front of the property to lay a few eggs and go clucky and after waiting for the feral cats to eat her babies and then herd her into the enclosure along with her other sisters we discovered that unlike Effel, her daughters are EXCELLENT mothers. This hen managed to situate her chick’s right up close and personal in the feral cat’s domain and only lost 1 chick to them. We noticed her near the gate of the enclosure and with some careful manoeuvring; we were able to get them all into the enclosure…WIN! The only problem with enclosing feral chooks, as indeed this hen’s babies were, is that they have a taste for the outdoors and are rarely content to stay put. The chicks have grown somewhat and their mother has taken to going into the hen house at night to be with the rest of the flock but her babies are steadfastly refusing to go into the hen house and on Monday they escaped. Steve and I heard tell-tale “peeping” outside the enclosure and on further investigation we found them frolicking around in the leaves under the blackwood acacia trees and herded them back in. 6 more escapes later and we started to lose our cool! We had inspected the netting for holes…these chicks are not big and so could easily have slipped through a larger hole in the ex-fish farm netting that makes up the bulk of the enclosure.

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The Moscow State Circus comes to Serendipity Farm…

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2 ferals

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A little crab that we found in the middle of the road as we were walking back dripping from a recent walk in the rain with the dogs

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I had a little chat to Mr Crab and we decided that even though he might have thought that he wanted to make like a chicken and get to the other side, his life as a crustacean would be much more fullfilling (and long) if he would just learn to be satisfied to stay in the river

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We are finding more and more of these little reminders discarded on the side of the road that prove that cyclists are full of something other than the “clean green” image that they would like us all to believe that they represent …it’s not only Lance Armstrong that is shaming the world of cycling…

We decided that the chicks were escaping by flying over the top of the enclosure. This confused us a bit because none of the other chooks (including a couple of erstwhile ferals that we had herded in after we dispatched their brothers) had managed to fly over but there is a small mandarin tree situated inside the enclosure and we did notice the chicks all roosting in this small tree…after cutting several lengths of extra ex-fish farm netting we started tacking pieces into the trees that border the chook enclosure and the whole shebang started to look like the Moscow State Circus. STILL the chicks got out! We figured that perhaps they were climbing up onto some blackberries in the enclosure (left to try to encourage the chook to feel safe about laying their eggs outside) and cut back all tendrils…STILL they got out! We put another large piece of netting all along the side of the enclosure where the blackberries and agapanthus hiding spots were and STILL they got out. It was getting beyond a joke and so this time we cut the flight feathers of each of their rotten little wings and smugly headed inside to make a warm drink…when we headed out to smile smugly at the captured prisoners 30 minutes later they were out! “WHAT?!!! HOW???” We took turns to sit incredibly still outside the hen house watching for several hours when the chicks did absolutely nothing aside from lay with their mother and dust bath but as the day started to heat up and the shade disappeared so did we…and they got out…sigh…I had a really good look and decided that their might just be a weak point in the defences and we put ANOTHER bit of ex-fish farm netting up so that we were totally covered. Sure that we had fixed the problem we headed back inside…after checking a little white later they were still in the enclosure and we were ecstatic…”WE WON!”… An hour later 3 of them were out… Again we put up some more netting  and this time we had the whole circus represented…all we needed was a ringmaster and a lion…a lion would most certainly have sorted out our chicken problem! This time there was no WAY that they could escape…we had over engineered the enclosure and Houdini himself would have been flummoxed. When Steve went to close the doors at 8.30pm they were out… Now you can only BEGIN to imagine how bad tempered I was by this stage! I was to the point of leaving them out to their fate with the quolls…

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Steve is starting to branch out with his spoons now

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Mid summer acorns

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A little wallaby next to his blackberry and bracken fern home

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A most innovative name for a vessel that pootles…

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Summer twinkling on the river

We both ruminated about how the heck they were getting out because there was pretty much no way to escape from the top of the enclosure and we both decided that they MUST be escaping from lower down…We both headed off in different directions around the enclosure and inspected the lower part of the run with a fine toothed comb…after 20 minutes of painstaking inspection I heard Steve say “I found it!”…I headed inside the enclosure to where Steve was standing next to one of the poles used to anchor the netting to. What he had discovered was a teeny tiny space between 2 rocks that these miniature Houdini’s were tunnelling through to get out to the other side. They had to squeeze themselves between the rocks, up through a tunnel of netting and then take a hard right turn and squeeze out underneath another couple of rocks to escape! Kudos to them and I will NEVER underestimate the brain of a determined feral chook again! They haven’t escaped again and peace has returned to the Moscow State Circus and Serendipity Farm. I am thinking of writing a children’s book called “5 go wild in Sidmouth” or “The Great Escape 5” in the tradition of a good Enid Blyton sleuth. I might throw a chance meeting in with Justin Bieber and Harry Potter and a guest appearance by the wiggles and Elmo and I should get a book deal with ease 😉

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This grey protrusion is a basking seal. This photo was taken about 200metres from our front gate from Steve’s boat this morning

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Flippy pretending to be a shark…”you won’t fool Steve THAT easily Flippy!” 😉

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A huge sea eagles nest on the river bank. This nest is very old and is constantly in use and is approximately 2 metres across

We just took delivery of 4 more large rolls of Ex-fish farm netting with the promise of as much as we can handle to come. I have visions of Serendipity Farm partitioned off into undercover bliss including an entirely enclosed orchard area that is currently battered and bruised after years of possums being allowed to run amok amongst the trees and our enormous edifice full of protected vegetables. We have smaller projects including compost heap construction and protection of various small garden beds but the luxury of being able to take what the fish farm sees as waste and turning it into our treasure makes me even happier.  Steve has just headed out to see what the river might yield in the Mumbley cumumbus. He is ostensibly “fishing” but in reality he is trawling around like Huck Finn on the river with his straw hat and his fishing line tied to his toe while he eats his cheese sarnies (1 with Brit Piccalilli…Crosse and Blackwell no less, and the other with some of his delicious home preserved ultra-thin cucumber pickles) in ex-pat heaven. It’s a really lovely day here, nice and cool but with the sun shining brightly and packed full of possibilities. Earl and Bezial are hoping for fishing futures and I am hoping for some photos that I can put in today’s post but aside from that Steve is Scott free and able to bob around on the waves in comparative solitude. That’s one of the benefits of being a penniless student and the shining beacon in our gratitude quotient. Sometimes it is difficult when we would rather have the money to instantly gratify our wants. It’s not like we want the moon…a water tank would be nice, a few solar panels to hook up to the water heater when Brunhilda is in hiatus and a mulcher to mulch all of the debris that we are generating via our sporadic concerted vegetative ethnic cleansing episodes…I could care less about fame and fortune, give me a $15.95 copy of Jackie French’s “The Wilderness Garden” and I feel like I just won lotto. I consider myself to be a very lucky woman. I am completely content with my lot and the possibilities in our lives and I am constantly excited and invigorated by simple things. In the eyes of society we are unimpressive and easily dismissed and that’s how we like it :o)

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One side of Redwood Island (Steve’s prime fishing haunt)…

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The other side of Redwood Island…All of our photos are taken with our 7 year old totally outdated FinePix Fujifilm camera. No lenses, no special whistles and bells…we are lucky if it zoom’s when we ask it to but it does take a lovely photo.

Its 5.44am Wednesday and Steve just headed off with his boat in the dark. He has just finished scrying his crystal ball (http://tides.willyweather.com.au/tas/northern/sidmouth.html ) and found the timing is right for a morning’s fishing/pootling in the river. It might be dark but I can’t hear the wind chime’s gentle melody so there isn’t any wind to chill the early morning air further…I love the hint of chill that is starting to creep in before dawn. I love that we have had Brunhilda on 3 times this week. I also love the free hot water and the ability to cook our meals on her as well as cook pots of legumes, have the kettle gently simmering ready for a drink and keep things warm in her lower ovens…my autumnal (sorry my American friends, “autumnal” is a MUCH more lyrical word than “fall” 😉 ) processes are waking up and it’s still summer. I know that New Zealand is enjoying our customary weather (hot without rain…peculiar for them at this time of year thanks to the recent cyclone that has tumbled our weather around) and we have theirs. Cheers for the swapsy guys…any time! I don’t mind the last gasps of summer in February because we have had this little rain fuelled interlude that has soothed the savage beast and eased the crustiness of Serendipity Farm…the garden is happy, I might even get some germination of the free roadside seed that I have been collecting over the summer and broadcasting in the side garden.

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Mandolin + home grown cucumber = very finely sliced cucumbers…

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What we choose to call Steve’s “Never ending refrigerator pickles” 😉

I just found a fellow Tasmanian’s blog…she is about my age and shares my ethos and has a lovely enthusiastic gardening blog like mine. If you want to check out Kate’s blog, head on down south to Cygnet and have a look at her world…

http://vegetablevagabond.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/time-to-sow-and-reap.html

Aside from her delightful blog, she has some really good Tasmanian links that I will be spending some time this morning checking out. Most of Tasmania’s “Hippies” live down south and there are so many seed swapping groups, transition towns and all kinds of sharing going on and I am envious. I wish we had something as vital as that up here but our local groups are not as active and tend to be a bit “closed shop”. There are some very active members but I am going to have to dig a bit deeper to find relevance to our ethos here on Serendipity Farm…oh well…I can admire from a distance :o)

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This last series of photos are an homage to an old video game hero of mine…I thought that this little beetroot (one of our recent harvest) looked remarkably like one “Earthworm Jim”…knowing that I can’t claim to have replicated him (on pain of being sued blue and black) I shall call my little creation “Beetroot Nemotode James” 😉

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Here he is nestled amongst his brethren waiting for his fate…

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“Well what do we have here?”…

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Surely this is the end of our erstwhile hero James! How could anything survive a scalding stream of fragrant pickling liquor! Stay tuned to find out what happens next in the continuing story of our hero…

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I don’t know what you think but he certainly looks like he is happy enough with his lot (ignore the colour, that’s what happens when you let Steve take the photo and he doesn’t want to use macro 😉 ) “Off to the fridge with you young nematode!”…

Have you noticed that I have been cutting my posts down a bit lately? I am trying to ensure that I don’t write marathon posts and make it difficult for you all to get through them in one bite. My muses are both enthusiastic and prolific and there isn’t much I can do about that BUT I can harness them and make them work in the direction that “I” want to pull… February is here and summer is almost over and autumn is just about to crest and that means W.O.R.K. on Serendipity Farm. Aside from turning piles of woody debris into Hugelkultur gardens and biochar (and tidying Serendipity Farm up considerably in the process), we will be planting out as many of our chestnuts, walnuts, hazelnuts as we can along with 4 loquats, 3 figs, 5 avocado plants (well sheltered) and will be situating a length of perforated drainage coil at the base of each root ball so that we can give them supplemental watering next summer…this summer hasn’t gone yet and we are already plotting for next summer! Does that make us “real” farmers? 😉 I don’t think so! Steve wants to get as many of his Brachychitons into the ground along with as many pines as he can fit. We love them with a passion and all of their in-ground brethren are going gangbusters so we figure “what the heck!” I know that my son rarely reads these posts so the words “Not in our lifetime” are not going to make him twitch ;). Most of these pines yield edible seeds so perhaps by the time Stewart and Kelsey inherit this property they may be able to harvest pine nuts along with everything else that we are setting up here for them…any grandchildren (now he is REALLY twitching if he has stumbled onto this post! 😉 ) will be able to graze freely (along with the native wildlife) from the food forest that we are in the process of setting up. I have no idea what I am meant to be doing with my life…so far I have just surfed along the crest of it hoping that I didn’t wipe out too badly but since we moved to Serendipity Farm, everything that has happened in my past seems to be knitting together to form a purpose. I think I was born to do this and the happiness that this simple life is bringing me gives me a sense of real purpose that mainstream worldly success couldn’t. I think I am going to have to put the plug in on my muses…they want to wax lyrical for a few more pages but I need to put some photo’s into this post guys…”SHHHH!” See you all on Wednesday and I hope that the rest of this week flows smoothly…if it doesn’t, remember “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”…best I can do with all these muses yelling in my head 😉

Zone 1 all wrapped up in plarn

Hi All,

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

This is a prospective Larix decidua grove of tiny trees

A sea of forget-me-nots not being forgotten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More forgotten garlic underneath a small mulberry tree

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A very happy newly planted out Magnolia stellata

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

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

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

The colours of Serendipity Farm

Hi All,

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

http://katienormalgirl.com/

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

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

And they are all growing back! 😉

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

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

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

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

Another pretty azalea in the side garden

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

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

A picture of Fatty doing his morning callisthenics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

$8 well spent methinks!

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

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

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

Herman smiling for the camera 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

The day that I graduated from my sponge cake “L” plates

Hi All,

Is it just me or do your senses become more finely attuned in winter? Aside from the obvious “cold neurons” going off at random intervals everything seems to be condensed down and sharper. I guess it’s our traditional time when we hibernate. I am not averse to staying in bed for the winter but it would seem that “The Man” wants me out of bed and actively studying for the future. Its Thursday already and Steve and I are wading through the mire that accompanies a Landscape Design. As with most things…it’s an iceberg. That lovely plan that arrives on your desk (along with a not so lovely discrete bill that you probably (trust me) don’t want to open…) is the culmination of some poor sods hard mental labour. We really don’t think about how hard someone has to work to get something like that onto our desks until we actively try to do it ourselves. The same goes for the production of food…how hard is it to keep everything that wants an advance sample of our fruit, vegetables and grains away from our food without rendering said food inedible? A life of conundrums and questions besieges me and occasionally leaves me mentally exhausted. When Steve and I started out on our horticultural journey it was with very tentative feet. We were not entirely sure if our decision to work with plants was going to be wise. It was Steve’s first venture into even considering plants as anything within his peripheral view and he was a bit incredulous to say the least as to whether he could find much about them to keep his mind active. 2 months later this man planted a tiny Sequoia Gigantea seed that grew and the rest is history. Today both Steve and I have succumbed to our plant masters and are their willing and compliant slaves. We tend them…prune them…water them…sometimes mindlessly following their silent but endless requests but at all times rewarded generously for our servitude.  We have melded with the plants and it changed our lives.

What happens to Brunhilda with her first few chunks of wood…I call this “tea futures”! This is an amazingly good stove and I can’t praise it highly enough. We have had this stove burning now for about 4 months without stop and haven’t had to use that packet of late autumn firelighters that we bought aside from it’s initial lighting. It slowly simmers all night and rises like the sturdy, reliable, little black phoenix that it is every single morning no matter how many embers remain in its toasty little fire box…”I love you Brunhilda!”

Obviously I am not the only one who loves Brunhilda. After their morning walk the boys can usually be found (especially Bezial) in the positions that you see them here. Earl is only still because I bribed him by giving him Steve’s music room door wedge…Bezial is entirely content and when I think back to this time last year and remember the 2 of them huddling next to a teeny tiny little 1 bar gas heater that was our ONLY source of heat I can see why Bezial is luxuriating in Brunhilda’s heavenly wafting heat. By the way…the ONLY reason that lime green wood basket is still alive is because I cut off its handles and it’s full of wood. Earls inquisitive beak can’t get a grip on the sides and so it remains alive so long as we remember to fill it up with wood on a regular basis

This is the kind of photograph that you get when you have told a dog that he is too fat and that you are going to put him on a diet. A diet that doesn’t include fresh spongecake with cream.

Occasionally we find it necessary to poke Earl gently to ensure that he is still alive… does this look alive to you? “POKE POKE POKE!”

Bezial in the throws of Brunhilda love…we should leave them alone now to enjoy each others company…

We have a forecast of rain…rain and more rain for the next few days. The potted plants that we selected for rehousing last week are all still alive and the Luculia is positively glowing. It didn’t drop a single flower bud and is now a mass of soft pink tubular scented heaven right outside our bedroom window. The irony is that Luculia flowers in winter…and the likelihood of us having our bedroom window actually open in the middle of a Tasmanian winter is as slim as Posh Spice. The rest of our potted plants are sulking in their over cramped pots and wondering just what they have to do to get planted out. We have no inclination whatsoever to get out into the garden in the freezing cold and rain so it won’t be for at least a few days. Our studies have taken over from our plant overlords at the moment and I never would have thought that I would hear myself say this…but I am actually enjoying the process. Familiarity breeds more than contempt in my case…it breeds a rare form of happiness that comes with the ability to understand and actually follow the process. AutoCAD is a program full of landmines that are just waiting to pull the rug out from under any unsuspecting (read overconfident) person attempting to use it for any purpose other than a door stop (in its unopened package that is…). We learned early on that AutoCAD is a law unto itself. It will do what it wants…when it wants and our particular version appears to have a very strong will indeed. If we forget to save anything it WILL freeze and make us do it all over again. We have taken to kidding ourselves that we are grateful for the chance to do some more practice…remember “there are NO learning experiences in perfection…” that’s what we tell ourselves through gritted teeth in a vain effort to show AutoCAD that it can’t beat us and make us cry. This year these moments of confrontation have been few and far between because we no longer fear AutoCAD and are able to navigate our way through the endless seas of “process” to at least find the ballpark that we want to be in if not the actual fix for our problem. I guess we are learning and learning from home gives you the best opportunity to really learn because you have to sort things out for yourself for the most part. I mentioned in my last post that we had put in an expression of interest to undertake an Art course next year. We realised quite early on in the piece that AutoCAD is a fantastic program for creating exact plans but it is lacking creative flair and it’s difficult to create concept designs (the “sell” part of the equation) that are aesthetically pleasing. We therefore decided to learn how to turn our plans into eye candy and that’s why we are going to attempt to crash the Arts department next year. Do you think that they will be ready for the Pimblett’s? Probably not…but ready or not…here we come!

Proof that we do pound the pavements in order to give our dogs some form of exercise each day. Not that you would know it in Bezial’s case…

The boys eating their greens…when they find a good patch of grass it’s actually quite difficult to get them to stop eating. They are like mini cows

A nice shot taken from one side of Devil’s Elbow (the Rowella side) to the other (The Kayena side). We certainly live in a pretty place and are very spoiled with the scenery when we walk the boys

This photo was taken later in the day because in most photos you don’t get to see the detail of that bit of land covered in trees in the background but at a certain time of day in a certain light you can…I just wanted to share it with you all 🙂

We noticed (well Bezial the water dog noticed…) a little pathway down to the riverbank and decided to head down to see what there was at the end of the little track and found this delightful vista. Bezial proceeded to drag Steve into the water and Earl stood on the shore sniffing a dead oyster…dog heaven!

With the removal of the last 4 official roosters (I know that Effel has at least a couple overwintering in her flock) Big Yin has decided that he must have some sort of amazing powers as he just starts getting cranky at an emerging young rival and suddenly it’s gone. Using his amazing powers of chicken deduction 1 + 1 = KING OF THE WORLD and he has gone on an unprecedented nest building frenzy in a vain effort to increase the flock and fill it with little Yin’s. No doubt there are nests everywhere out there. We can hear chickens all over the place talking to each other in their nefarious chicken whispers. Big Yin can be heard making his “check THIS out baby…” sounds when he has rolled a bit of grass into a circle and thinks that it is nest worthy for his latest paramour. I must admit that having seen rooster activity on a somewhat large scale now Big Yin is an amazingly good rooster. He hunts for food for his flock, he warns them whenever there is danger and he gives the tasty morsels that he finds to his prize girls. He doesn’t hurt his girls either, unlike (tasty) roosters past and has earned his lifetime security here on Serendipity Farm. The problem that we now have is that our hens are getting wily. They no sooner start laying somewhere and we start collecting the eggs than they head off somewhere else and start laying there and Big Yin is ever ready to up sticks and make them another nest more remote and inaccessible than the last. I can see the day that we are actually overrun with chickens. Roosters will be crowing at all hours of the day and night and I will surreptitiously slip an anonymous note into Frank’s (who has been killing roosters since he was 10) mailbox saying “go nuts! You know you want to…”…until that day we will practice hunting eggs and will ready ourselves for spring and the oncoming onslaught of clucky chooks. I dare say most of our fecund flock will be laying low like brer rabbit in some form of briar patch but we clever humans have been active and have minimised those briar patches so that we can head straight to the remaining patches and be assured of at least 1 chicken occupant! We extracted Effel from her own personal briar patch just before winter set in and we can do it again chickens! Consider this war!

What to do with all those eggs? Make a sponge cake. The very first stage of making a spongecake…”First line your tin”…

At this stage I wanted to make sure that you got the gist that I am a darned good cake tin liner. This was to take your mind off the fact that I was, in fact, making an unassisted spongecake for the very first time…I have made spongecakes before and they have been sad sorry flat excuses for something edible that even the chooks refused. I wanted to break my losing streak and so put myself out there yet again to possibly fail…”Isn’t this tin lined beautifully?”…

These are the real reason why I decided to make a spongecake. 4 pristine duck eggs from our 2 girls given to us by Nat’s stepdaughter and suddenly starting to produce these. I know that duck eggs make amazing cakes because mum TOLD me that they did. I decided to find out for myself…

This mixer might be my handy dandy go to mixer that facilitates the manufacture of cakey goodness on Serendipity Farm but one day I am going to drop this thing on my head and kill myself! Perhaps a rethink of where we are currently storing this heavy metal mixer might be on the cards in the near future…

Notes about duck eggs…they are somewhat cloudier than hen eggs…the yolks aren’t quite as yellow…there were more whites in them and lastly the whites were harder to separate from the yolks but these eggs were uber fresh so perhaps that had something to do with it?

A juxtaposition in the cost of an item. The blender (admittedly only the base is present in this photo) cost just on $1300 and the packet of sugar was so cheap as to be negligable. Just a note to readers in the U.S. our sugar is manufactured from sugar cane where yours is mainly corn based or beet. The blender is amazing, high speed and can turn this sugar here into icing sugar in a matter of seconds. It can also (using the additional expensive goblet) turn grains into dust in a similar time frame. I bought this years ago and have only just started to use it to its full advantage. One of those “why on EARTH did I spend that…oh wait a minute THAT’S why!” moments. I also wanted to point out that buying sugar in a paper bag is better for the environment however the day that they make paper from bamboo is the day that I am going to be one happy camper…let’s all stop cutting down trees for newspapers eh?

This is the first sift of the dry ingredients (1 of 3) and has been undertaken using one of the sieves that I found in a cupboard after we moved in. I would like to continue using these older kitchen items as aside from being made to last, it gives a continuity to my dad’s partner Val who never had any children of her own.

If it acts like a spongecake…it sounds like a spongecake…it smells like a spongecake IT’S A SPONGECAKE! :)…Wait a minute…”thats not a spongecake…THAT’S a spongecake!…”

No words people…just get a fork!

By the way…the cake is curiously decorated because one half is Steve’s (thus the chocolately maltesers) and the other half has been designated “the dogs”

I was just thinking about winter again and how in winter we tend to become more insular along with better insulated. We look inside ourselves and the cold weather constricts our physical and mental boundaries. Come spring and everything starts to become active again and we look outside ourselves but in the middle of winter when it’s cold and rainy and bleak outside there is nothing so desirable as a nice warm spot and a good book. I have fallen by the reading wayside of late. I haven’t even finished my copy of “Tuesday’s with Morrie” and I have to take “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café” back on Friday unread. I am drawn more to homesteading books at the moment and a fantastic book that I discovered entirely by accident whilst reading a blog feed was “A Householder’s Guide to the Universe: A Calendar of Basics for the Home and Beyond”. By one “Harriet Fasenfest”. I have mentioned Harriet before albeit fleetingly and mostly because of her chuckle inducing name but this lady is no one trick pony and this book is gold! I have taken to channelling my envy and lust for buying books into a more productive (and less expensive) hobby of trying to gain access to these books through the library. Most of them soon lose that glittering “MUST HAVE” promise when you have waded through the bampf and found them more hype than hope. This book, however, is amazing. It’s one of those books that are actually worth lusting after and indeed pulling that moth eaten sock out from under the bed and extracting the readies to purchase this gem for yourselves. Aside from being one of the most elegant over 50’s women, Harriet has an amazing ability to write what we want to hear. No garbage…full of good humour and actual knowledge gold. What more could you want? (Take note girls who are reading this…my birthday IS coming up soon and aside from wanting a renewed subscription to “Feast” (cheers in advance Bethany…) this book would be most gratefully accepted as a token of your undying love Madeline. Go to “The Book Depository” as it ships fast, costs less and there is no shipping)…I love having adult children ;).

What do you do when you have been given a pile of lemons and you don’t actually use lemons for much and they have been sitting in a bowl for a week and are dangerously close to going over to the dark side…you preserve them for future lemony needs is what you do… first you get yourself a microplane and you remove the zest…

Aside from a boon for the compost heap, these lemon skins made the house smell amazing

Some more tools of the trade with the end results that I batched up into small bags and stored flat so I can chip some off whenever I need it. I love it when my practical side broadsides my lazy side and it is happening more and more often these days. The feeling of putting something aside for future use is exciting and hits just the right spot in this little black ducks homesteading heart 🙂

This was Steve’s tea last night…one home made chicken and mushroom pie in home made cheesy shortcrust pastry accompanied by oven fried chips in olive oil…all of the “Goldens” on one plate! Slather it with salt and vinegar and you have an expat’s chips shop dream on a stick 🙂

Ok it’s time to head out into the oncoming rain and possible hail, sleet and snow to walk the dogs. It’s not worth trying to reason with those seal eyes Steve…just get on your jacket and head outside.  It’s now Saturday so I guess you figured that we got back from our walk in one piece physically (but perhaps not always mentally). I am going to make this post a bit less wordy today because I have a lot of photos that require “ploise asplain” sotto voce Pauline Hanson style. To those of you who are not aware of who Pauline Hanson is (and let’s face it guys, most Aussies would rather forget her) she was a politician who was the face of a political party called One Nation. Her party was so popular because many Australians were feeling very frustrated about the liberal politics that were allowing Australia to be hurled down the politically correct line without thought of consequences but the party took it too far and ended up being more of a sad joke than a force to be reckoned with. Pauline was most noteable for her “Please explain” statements whenever she wasn’t quite up to scratch with what was being asked of her and she came off looking like a quintessential “Dumb Broad” and most certainly didn’t do women in politics ANY favours in their desire to be taken seriously. I have a sneaking suspicion that the reason that she was allowed to advance so far up the political ladder was so that she could be used as a reason why women shouldn’t be allowed into the upper echelons of politics…so…what have we done over the last few days?

  1. Walk the dogs…we ALWAYS walk the dogs…
  2. Study our brains out including plotting out a planting plan for our latest Diploma design that we are suitably proud of and will attempt to share with you AFTER our lecturer gets it first
  3. Cooking and preserving all sorts of things

That would be about it aside from playing Zelda (me) and watching horror movies on the television (Steve and Earl) and sulking (Bezial). We haven’t had time to solve world problems, find a solution for peace in the Middle East or re-inventing the wheel but we HAVE found a fix for Brunhilda’s metal firebox handle that has burned us for the LAST TIME! We have stayed cosy and warm through these short winter days and long winter nights and we have been industrious little beavers with all sorts of fixes etc. I have attempted to give my daughters strong mental and blog posty hints about my rapidly advancing birthday wish list and hopefully they have heard me…if they haven’t…here is a VERY good reason for you to get me the Harriet Hasenfest book “A Householders Guide to the Universe” from The Book Depository Madeline…Its under $20 with free postage and you can’t get a cheaper gift than that (aside from a bag of flour but you just KNOW which one I am actually going to like ;)).  Please feel free to ignore that bit of gratuitous gift wrangling…it’s one of the perks of being the mother of adult children…you get to give them a taste of what it was like when they were kids “MUUUM I NEED a Dr. Dreadful kit…I NEED a Stretch Armstrong…”… Cheers girls 😉

I think that making things for yourself is only hard until you get into the habit of doing it. Here we have the fixings for sesame milk (in the jug on the left) along with the wine bottle that I am storing it in until I can find a suitable container at the local thrift shop…almonds soaking for almond milk (my new tea topper of choice) and the container at the rear has the feral chooks bread cut up ready for early morning degustation and the crust free butter sandwich on the top is Pingu’s breakfast treat. They all get left overnight to be used and processed the next day…easy peasy!

2 of the “Must have” books on my list of “To Buy” books in the near future. I take them out of the library…I go through them with a fine toothed comb (my mind…razor sharp lol) and I ascertain whether or not the information contained within is valuable and precious enough for me to want to hock my right leg and if it is…I buy it…if it isn’t I take what I want (typing 101 and fast fingers Fran) or I just drop it back to the library with negligable cost to the moth filled sock under the bed. I have also found The Permaculture book of Ferment and Human Nutrition has been reprinted! No more lusting after this amazing tomb for me, I can buy myself one for my birthday…I LOVE books! 🙂

Even with his winter wool Steve’s large head is NO match for Earl and his enormous bonce. He accidentally headbutted me this morning…Earls love knows no bounds and he gives it generously…and I am lucky my nose wasn’t broken. Every single part of Earl is solid and weighs a tonne. Here you see him assuming his night time position on the back of Steve’s sofa unless he manages to wedge himself between Steve and the chair and lay full length between the two. Uncomfortable for Steve but HEAVEN for Earl 🙂

Well that’s it for today guys…we have some projects on the burner that I can maybe share with you on Wednesday but for today that’s all folks! Have a great weekend and I hope that Monday finds you

  1. Alive
  2. Happy
  3. Fully functional and able to get out of bed
  4. Finally and most importantly in a good mood and fine spirits ready for doing whatever it is that you are doing this week

I did tell you that this post was going to be photo intensive…I have 2 photos lastly that I would like to share with you. My mum died in January this year and it was particularly difficult to take in because she had just spent time with us over Christmas and then suddenly she was gone. She filled her suitcase up with home made Christmas cakes and preserves and when she died I didn’t have much of “mum” in my life any more. She had been my champion blog poster and is still the third highest on the list and loved all things Serendipity Farm. I had 2 little pots of jam that she had given us…1 she had made the week that she came over here that I couldn’t bring myself to use. I remembered them languishing on the back of the second shelf down in the fridge and decided that mum wouldn’t want that “sunshine in a jar” strawberry jam cram packed full of her own home grown strawberries and gelled to within an inch of its life (thanks to a batch that had been watery the attempt before…) to be stuffed to the back of the fridge…she would have wanted it out there on the counter top, slathered all over some heavily buttered toast and so today I let go of my need to keep my mum in a small jar and opened her memory up to be part of the day to day machinations of Serendipity Farm…welcome back mum…I missed you 🙂

To bee or not 2 bee gnat is the question

Hi All,

Ok, so that was lame…VERY lame…but it got you looking at my post didn’t it so it worked 🙂 The post also has a little bit about insects in it and a bit about jellyfish so while you are here to chastise me about my lame pun filled post, you may as well have a look at the post over a cup of mental tea on Serendipity Farm. You never know you just might like it here and want to stay…

Lets start our photographic evidence (some might say forensic looking at this…) about what we have been up to on Serendipity Farm this week. We had these bamboo screens plastered all over the 3 metre high wall that we put up in town to minimise our forced cohabitation with the troll when my dad was alive. Our daughters are now living in the house in town (with no troll in sight) and asked us to take down the Berlin Wall so we had these screens left over and so we decided to put them to good use. The garden in front of these screens is sad. It is full of Cape gooseberries, tiny native raspberries and some azaleas that are proving incredibly hard to kill. Forget delicate things, azaleas are survivors people. After being hacked to death they are all growing back and some of them are flowering.

All this week I have been expanding my mind and attempting to redress a few years of stagnation in body and soul. It’s really easy to sit back and let life lead you where it will but you run the risk of not having much of a life at all and in being perpetually scared because being reactive is being out of control and being proactive gives you a modicum of choice. Along with that choice you also get the chance to shuffle people out of their ruts. If someone does something unexpected or reacts in a way that is different to the norm it isn’t only the “Doer” that has to think and thus starts a most interesting chain of events. I doubt that first sentence is going to rival Moby Dick any day soon but it was where my mind was settling on Sunday last week. Steve was in his shed cleaning it up which apparently gives him a great degree of joy and so it is now understandable why he makes such an awful mess every time he uses his shed. I can hear him howling outside and doing extreme injustice to some band on LAFM. Thank goodness for Chilli FM by the way. It has taken all of the crap music from LAFM and left us with “all of the best music from the 70’s’ 80’s’ 90’s and today” meaning everything that wasn’t manufactured on some countries form of “Idol” or spliced by a DJ. I am not going to run every DJ down because there are some very clever people out there making some amazing music but the problem is…most of them don’t make it to the airwaves and we get some watered down hash of 80’s pop spliced together with any recognisable riff that they can pilfer and BAM! Just like the Spice Weasel, we have a cloud of dust that delivers no flavour to our musical palate and that leaves us jaded and world weary.

Here’s the reason that it is always wise to call before you rock up to Serendipity Farm. Should we not be here…the boys will be and as you can see they take their job “watching” very seriously…

We also have killer chickens roaming all over Serendipity Farm. This one is particularly dangeous. She has taken out 4 Jehovah’s Witnesses, an encyclopedia salesman and a morman and that was in the space of a week…enter at your own risk.

It’s now Wednesday and we have really been making a difference this week on Serendipity Farm. Last week I gave up sitting on the PC and it seems like a lifetime ago (and several leech bites) since I sat here safely tapping away living an entirely surreal mental life over the school holidays. We are back at Polytechnic now and armed with our work and as we work from home, our lives can be planned around when we study. We have a month off before our next meeting with our lecturer that encompasses his trip to the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show and Easter and so we figured we had a bit of time up our collective sleeves before we needed to get stuck into completing our latest task (with the aid of Google Earth and a well labelled copy of the plans to the block to assist us) and so with my newfound desire to effect change on Serendipity Farm we decided to throw ourselves into reducing and removing the various piles of debris that we created over summer and couldn’t burn. We are very mindful of how wasteful burning is. We have spent the last 3 days working our way through these piles of debris and removing all of the limb wood, logs, kindling sized wood and allowing the leaves to remain in situ (as mulch) and the brushwood is going to be burned and the resulting ashes and embers will not be wasted either. We plan on baking potatoes in foil in the ashes and the feral cats will savour the warmth from the fire like they have on previous debris removal attempts. We almost removed Houdini with our last fire because she was hunkered down with her latest lot of ferals in a shrub that got scorched when the flames went up. She steadfastly refused to give up her hiding spot and is a most formidable mother despite being the smallest of our hens. We have piles of logs and limb wood all over the place now as we have steadily worked our way down from the house paddock around to the front of the house. We have heaped up the brushwood to enable us to collect it all and take it around to our metre squared fire site (so that we can get a permit to burn) and render it ashes.

Never let it be said that we don’t take advantage of natures bounty. These hazelnuts were selected from a large quantity of hazelnuts given to us by our neighbour Glad’s daughter Wendy. Wendy has several trees and very generously donated some to us. I ate most of them over a period of a few weeks and these select few remain to be stratified along with these Juglans regia (English walnuts) that we found on one of our walks popping out of their little husks and begging to be collected and stratified

I think this is what is colloquially called an “Ark”. I think it is several cubits long and quite a few wide and whoever made it appears to be heading down the Tamar River to higher ground…

When we were clearing the blackberries out of this poor long suffering rhododendron we discovered this leprechaun nest. We have spotted several of them darting around Serendipity Farm and now that we have isolated them down to this communal nest we should be able to wait them out and collect their pot of gold the next time that we get a rainbow

I can’t say that I can even remember working as hard as this, getting as dirty as this or being on the go quite so long as this in a long time. Steve and I are hauling logs, hoisting brushwood on the end of long poles, have a newfound angst at all things “wattle” and “cotoneaster” because whenever they are culled (the New Zealand word for killed…) they remain stubborn and difficult to deal with right up to the bitter end. I am covered in scratches and had some of my precious life fluids removed by stealth when in a shaded area of the garden yesterday. We had to stop cutting up logs because “a man” appeared on the driveway and we had to stop and find out what said “man” wanted. It turned out he was from the water board and was trying to isolate our water meter so that he could change it over to a new meter. It’s just lucky that we were home because our water meter is nowhere near the front of the house where any sane person would think that it would be. The poor man would NEVER have found it all the way up the back paddock and halfway along the fenceline where some bright spark decided to put it. When we were looking at our block plans the other day (and raising a silent prayer up to God for giving us Degrees, Minutes and Second readings for the entire site CHEERS GOD!) we noticed that all around our property were roads where there are currently none. We know that there is an easement between our property and Frank’s next door because Frank has already called “dibs” on it should council ever release it to the land owners. There is also apparently an easement just behind the house at the rear of the property for the very same purpose but our nasty neighbour at the back obviously assumes that we are too numpty and red necked to even know about anything as technical as an “easement” and has decided to simply assimilate it into his property without prior permission…are you starting to see why we don’t like him? We directed the poor water board worker, who had himself been bitten by a leech the day before whilst being kind to some neighbourhood chickens that had materialised when he and his workmate were eating their lunch. His bite site was a rather embarrassing one as the leech had slithered down the back of his pants and situated itself between his buttock cheeks (always honest at Serendipity Farm is my motto…spare not the sensibilities of my readers as that is everyone else’s job) and I was most relieved when my 2 leeches had the decorum to situate themselves on my lower back and leave a representation of a walrus gone Dracula on my person.

Not too long ago this white hen would have been taking her life into her own hands walking into the “Lion’s Den” like this. This conifer houses most of the feral cat population on Serendipity Farm on and off throughout the day. With the burgeoning population  of poultry exploding all over Serendipity Farm the feral cats are now significantly under represented and have had to take a back seat to the hens. It is a common site to note hens stealing cheese right out of the mouths of the cats. Nature is a most interesting master and the hens now rule this roost!

The price of operating our house phone has increased to a ridiculous amount and so we have decided to use a more sustainable method to contact friends and relatives. We did a bit of research online and discovered a site where we learned to use smoke signals to make up messages and Telstra can bite us now because we can bypass their robbing asses!

This is a bunny plant (Oryctolagus cuniculus). I grew it specifically  for easter. As you can see the 2 green leaves truly represent a rabbits ears and this amazing plant produces easter eggs that ripen on easter morning. I have NO idea how it is able to ascertain when Easter occurs each year as I am clueless about it’s whereabouts until someone reminds me that it is on its way. The small trees behind the bunny plant are money trees. They take a really long time to grow and most probably we will be in our dotage by the time they start to produce the coins that precede the notes that these trees are held in high esteem for. At least the kids will get something from all of our efforts. Maybe we can graft some note scion onto our coin rootstock?

Hard physical slog and making sure that I eat my evening meal mid-afternoon has ensured that I am now sleeping like a baby. I haven’t got time to miss sitting about here wasting time because we are doing things and making a difference. Steve is taking full advantage of this because he knows me of old and thinks that all of this activity is going to be stuck in the “failed crafts closet” along with the lead lighting and the manufacture of kefir in the not too distant future and he is trying to save himself some solitary man hours by using my new found desire to get “stuck in” to the max before it recedes, dwindles and dies for the year. I am ever a cyclic person (something about women and the moon and water or something…that’s my excuse and I am sticking to it!). I can’t blame him for thinking like this but I am here to stay this time. Not only am I feeling satisfied and content at the end of my day (some might call it knackered out) but my previous gym training has decided to allow my muscles to recover and take on forms other than “flabby” my least favoured muscle form of all and I am starting to understand what keeps people working hard in the first place. Forget bungie jumping and base jumping, this is as close to adrenalin as this woman is going to get! We are walking the dogs first up as we have to leave them on the deck while we work around the house. We found some Juglans regia (English walnuts) falling out of their husks and collected 8 of them (roadside benefits of walking the dogs) to stratify along with the biggest and juiciest looking of the hazelnuts that I shared with you in a previous post and they are now settled nicely in their potting media waiting for springtime and new life. If anyone out there can smuggle me some Juglans sieboldiana var. cordiformis (Heart nuts, a relative of the walnut and pecan) I will be eternally grateful to you and would give you my first born child but he has told me to stop offering him for slave labour on the open market because he is too busy at work to mow lawns, make people’s dinner and generally wave large feather fans and peel grapes (party pooper!) so I will have to find some other way to recompense you 🙂

European wasps have 2 phases. A sugar phase and a meat phase…can you tell which phase this little fellow is in? He is attempting to eat the boys dinner and he is VERY lucky that he is situated on the bbq out of the reach of Earl because Earl takes pilfering of his dinner to heart.

When we were walking the dogs the other day we decided to go to Bonnie Beach, a very pretty walk around the old gardens at Kayena. There are some lovely old trees in this area but for once we were more interested in what was drifting off the pontoon than what was growing in the earth. We decided to walk the dogs out onto the pontoon because the tide was low and the oysters were exposed. We have a plethora of oysters on our local river bed and at certain times of the day it is very unwise to walk out to the water unless you want your shoes shredded and to get an instant infection. Bezial is part water dog and you can see the gleam in his eyes and his faraway expression whenever he gets anywhere near water and as the oysters were beckoning, we decided to allow him to get closer to the water on the pontoon. When we started walking out we noticed lots of the big white jellyfish slowly manoeuvring their way through the water. They are really quite graceful and despite thinking that they were just prisoners of the tide I watched one that had gotten too close to the rocks do the equivalent of what people in small boats with outboard motors do and “whack it in reverse” and head back out into the free flowing water. The jellyfish themselves were most interesting but what really interested us was how little fish that appeared to be leather jackets were swimming out from the rocks and swimming right next to the jellyfish hunting for any excess food that they might be finished stinging and scoffing. What a clever symbiotic relationship! The jellyfish are called “Jelly Blubber” or Catostylus mosaicus and are apparently very delicate. If you want to learn more about them check here…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jelly_Blubber

We also saw schools of tiny little fish and much larger fish that we thought might be cocky salmon. Cocky salmon are the young version of the ubiquitous Australian Salmon. This fish is nothing like its European counterpart but is an excellent sports fish and is good eating if it is bled as soon as it is caught which confuses a lot of tourists on our local beaches in salmon season when they see fishermen with large fish stuck upside down in the sand. It’s just gone 7am on Thursday morning and we have a big day ahead of us. We have been working our way through tasks that we have been unable to do and some that we have been putting off. Yesterday we cleared a large stand of ancient blackberries that had been clinging against the side of the wood shed and that were threatening to move in. We removed an old ramshackle fence between the house and the area of property behind the house and opened up the area to make it easier to walk around the property. We want to get on top of Serendipity Farm and need to finish off the clear up before we can get stuck into making it really ours and effecting the changes that we want to make here so we have a few solid weeks of hard slog before we can start planning and planting out. We also have some serious pruning to do to open up the jungle down in the second garden but we are dropping a tree in that area and so we will be forced to work there after the apocalypse. Nothing like dropping a tree in an area to effect change!

Here is a load of wood being carted up from the front gates to dry out this year to be used for next years fires. We had to remove these mostly dead hakeas from the driveway and their death won’t be in vain as they will be used in all sorts of ways as well as being used for our wood fired stove. We have some plans for using up some of the spindly tea trees that we have to remove from the teatree garden in order to allow the remaining trees to grow properly. We are going to use them to make possum barriers around our vegetable gardens. Stay tuned for our prototype in the coming weeks

Here is another one of those killer hens. Note it has made itself a den where it can drag its unsuspecting prey back to dismember it in peace and quiet. Note the graveyard right next to the hens den. These hens cost us a lot of money but what price security?

Here is our newly tidied up (no piles of messy debris thanks to our fire off to the left…) first garden. See those 2 giant mushrooms that grew after the last rain? Being someone who loves mushrooms I am proud to have these Guiness World Record Largest mushrooms growing right here on Serendipity Farm.

Did you notice the blog roll in the right hand margin today? I got the idea from a few blogs that I had been to and handed over the “discovery reins” to the techno maestro Steve to deliver me a blog roll to share my favourite blogs with you all. Hopefully I can run that sucker for miles because I am FULL of fantastic blogs to share. I am being decidedly picky and making sure that all of my dear constant readers will be able to get at least something out of at least one of the wonderful blogs listed. I have always been interested in nature and how things are interrelated and work. I like to pare back everything to get to the simple natural essence of things and I am most interested in fungi being the predominate species on earth and insects. I like to take a leaf from Annie from The Micro Gardener and see “Pests” and “Weeds” as prospective mates that I haven’t yet learned how to harness for the benefit of Serendipity Farm. Everything has its good and bad sides and we tend to focus on the bad when it comes to pests, diseases, weeds etc. Where would we be without penicillin? Where would be without lactobacillus? 2 prime examples of humans being curious and adventurous enough to mess about with some natural processes and make them their own. Weeds are fantastic things. We should all yearn for the ability to not only grow, but thrive, in harsh environmental conditions. Forget trying to eradicate them, we should be trying to isolate just what it is that gives them their tenacity. They are pains in the neck but they are also indicators of our soil conditions and just what is missing or in overabundance in our soil. Like weeds, pests are just adventitious little insectivorous wanderers who are taking advantage of good conditions. It’s up to us to find ways to use these little babies to our advantage. My hens are currently making short shift of a mini plague of small grasshoppers. They are all over the place but here on Serendipity Farm they are hen food. Some bright spark in the warmer areas of Australia has harnessed the native honey bee and is selling hives to people who want to farm their own native extra sweet honey. We can’t have them here in Tasmania but we do have bumble bees and various other bees that all come for a visit. I found this interesting specimen when we were walking the dogs the other day. I have NO idea what it is. It’s either a bee, a fly or a wasp (see…I am destined for a career in entomology obviously!) and it is most decisively deceased. The closest I got to working out the identity of this little fellow was an Amegilla dawsoni which are the largest bees around. Weird and freaky they are typical W.A. specimens (I come from W.A. I rest my case) and are otherwise known as Dawson’s Burrowing Bees. As we are in Tasmania and quite a long way away from W.A. I figure my detective work may have led me down the path to taking a wrong turn at Albuquerque somewhere, but these bees can regularly be found trying to get out of the windows of our home. No idea why they come in, but they most definitely want to go out once they get in. Perhaps they don’t like dogs… check out all about our endemic Aussie bees here…

http://www.aussiebee.com.au/beesinyourarea.html

I think it’s time to post this post now. It’s a bit higgledy piggledy today and hopefully it has something of interest for you. I made bread and fishcakes today along with some cauliflower cheese. While the oven is on I try to make sure that we use it to its full potential to take advantage of all of the heat generated. The bread is just about due to come out of the oven and will be duly stuffed into the gaping maws of various creatures waiting under the deck for their regular titbits. Steve will get a bit and the dogs will also share some toast in the morning (along with the fishcakes that they just shared with Steve). Life is good albeit tiring on Serendipity Farm and it’s been great to share this week with you. See you all next week and to all of the wonderful blogs that I subscribe to…keep those great posts coming! By the way… I haven’t gone stark raving mad…It’s April fools day somewhere around you reading this post so I am taking a little creative license with the timing as it’s also the end of daylight savings and we are entering the realms of mathematics here so you are just going to have to work with me on this one and accept that you are all April Fools! 😉

Friday on my mind

Hi All,

I am attempting to get a few posts under my belt while Steve is in town at his awards ceremony. Our next few days are going to be quite busy and hopefully most productive as we research, formulate and compile our report on “What is sustainable landscaping” for our lecturer on Friday. This subject interests me immensely. I spent the summer holidays researching sustainability and filtering through all of the wanker’s hell bent on making a profit out of people’s honest desire to do the best that they can for the earth. “Stop elevating the simple process of living sustainably above the masses!” What is it about human nature that makes us want to think that whatever we are doing is somewhat better than our neighbours? Bollocks! Sustainability is for the meekest of us to share and I will stand strong on that point. It’s for everyone. The rich AND the poor…especially the poor to be honest because the rich can afford to pay someone else to do things for them. The poor need to learn how to do these things for themselves so that they can become empowered to change their lives. I am having a little chuckle to myself here because I remember way back when I first started blogging in October last year and I didn’t know about Tags or how to use them and WordPress kept asking me to use tags and suggesting certain words that I had used in the post as prospective Tags for that post and one of the suggestions was “Wanker”. I am laughing because goodness only knows how my innocent expression of outrage would have upset some of the unsavoury types out there doing research completely in the opposite direction of anything that life on Serendipity Farm is going to share with them! Steve has a different word for wankers…he calls them knobs. I was asking him last night what a “geezer” was because Jamie Oliver kept spouting about how he was a geezer. I was taught that geezer was akin to old codger but apparently it’s “a lad” or in Steve’s words “a knob” or in my words “a wanker”. I find it interesting that Jamie Oliver would actively want us all to associate him with a group of yobbo’s hell bent on having a good time and bollocks to anyone getting in their way…especially as he is now in his 30’s and has 3 daughters who will no doubt be taking notice of everything that daddy says on the telly because the lord only knows he most probably isn’t home all that often as he seems to be gallivanting all over the world in search of sharing his geezerdom with all of we poor food challenged plebeians…in saying that…there is really something very sad about Jamie Oliver now. You can just tell that he isn’t enjoying what he is doing any more. He isn’t the celebrity type and is altogether too easily led to be safe living a celebrity life. The only time he appears to be animated out of his stock standard delivery of his lines is when he gets drunk and that is a really funny thing to see. He seems to be doing it on a daily basis on his latest trip around the world and last night could be seen slicing the top off bottles of prosecco with a mental Italian who looked like a cross between Ian Parmenter and Gene Wilder…you have earned enough “my son” (spoken in a cockney accent there)…take a few years off and enjoy your family and for goodness sake stop saying “literally” because you are “stating the bleedin obvious my son!”

Our countertop is 5cm thick so you can see that this moth is pretty big. Earl loves to chase, catch and play with moths. He recycles them once they get tired and boring by eating them. No waste when the eatinator gets moths

 

It’s now Wednesday and lots of things have happened. Florida got home with her new girls and opened the boxes to release them and one flew out and headed into the reserve at the back of Florida’s house. I hope that she found her way back but if she didn’t I really hope that she manages to survive out there in the reserve. The one thing that she has going for her is that she is free range, has wings, knows how to use them and can recognise something dangerous when she sees it. She was Effel’s baby and as such had a very negligent mum and had to learn how to survive from an early basis. Steve got back late from a most exhilarating evening after a long wait in the car park at the Tailrace centre. He took a couple of photos that I am going to share in this post but was bored…bored…BORED until Nat turned up to greet him at the door. He had a great time talking to Neil the only other person who completed his Diploma of Horticulture last year in the North of the state apart from Steve and I and found out that there were only 5 people in the entire state who completed their Diploma of Horticulture so we made up at least a third of that percentage. I was actually quite glad that Steve got to go on his own after feeling a bit left out. I am quite a gregarious person (being nice there…) and tend to hog the conversation when we meet people. Steve tends to be quite happy with that arrangement but last night he got to talk to all sorts of people and enjoyed the applause and kudos that he so rightfully deserved. We spent this morning working on a presentation that we are giving our lecturer today and headed off to Exeter to pick up some more library books that I ordered. There is something about picking up new library books that makes me feel like I have won something. All of that precious information (in this case recipes) and a new chance to sink into my imagination with another great fiction book, this time as recommended by Florida. We walked the dogs first as the library is shut between 1pm and 2pm and as we were returning to the car we noticed a very overweight female dog sitting with her owner who was in the telephone booth opposite the library. The boys were quite interested in the old girl and she was most excited about them and started yodelling (thus showing a bit of beagle hidden in her parentage). We headed across the road and back to the car where Steve let the boys off their leads and got them to jump up into the back of the 4 x 4 where he sits with the door open allowing them to cool down after their walk. I headed into the library and while I was picking up my books I heard a noise outside and saw Steve chasing after Earl who had slithered out of the back of the car over Steve’s feet (who was weighed down with Bezial the heavyweight and who couldn’t catch him) and who was hell bent on saying “Hi” to the old girl…Earl ran straight out into the street and straight in front of a car! Steve thought that he was a goner and heard the car hit Earl and was just about to get really upset when he noticed Earl sitting over next to the old girl having a chat…From what we can gather Earl must have hit the car with either his tail or bounced off the bumper with his rear because we have checked him all over…he is walking fine…he isn’t bleeding anywhere, he isn’t limping or behaving any different to what he usually behaves and is, like Bezial who jumped out of a moving car when he was about the same age, a VERY lucky pup! Earl has lost his freedom privileges now. He will have to be restrained by a lead whenever he is in the back of the car waiting. Bezial didn’t even move from the car when Steve took off after Earl and was still waiting in the car when they got back. Bezial is now allowed to walk from the car to the house without his lead. When he was Earl’s age he would have bolted…I guess we have to take heart that Earl will settle down when he gets to be Bezials age…

I had to take this photo the other day when it was really windy…why do yachts go out when it is REALLY windy? I know that it is fun to sail but you can count the yachts that are still upright on a windy day on one hand. This little fellow took ages to get back up and I figured that you might like to see him being rescued by the yacht club speedboat…

 

Earl and Bezial love shopping day. It usually coincides with Steve giving them an extra-large tea and a fair few dog treats. We buy some interesting dried sticks of meat stuffed into intestines and fermented and dried. The butcher who makes them calls them Dog treats; we call them “Stinking Sticks” because they smell disgusting. The dogs absolutely love them and Bezial, especially, will do all sorts of tricks for them degrading himself shamelessly for the crispy, crunchy, stinky sticks. Earl is a lot fussier and likes his in small pieces. For a dog that eats entire pool noodles and thinks nothing of cleaning his teeth with the odd television remote, he is quite careful about his food and likes to have it cut into small bits. Today he decided that as I had given him the old cat biscuit box to nibble while I was emptying 2 boxes into a large jar, the remaining box of cat biscuits was obviously now exempt from the off limits pile and picked it up, took it outside and shook it all over the back yard. There are ¾ of a box of cat biscuits laying all over the back yard and I am starting to think that Earl is trying to lure the cats into his parlour…perhaps even some possums…anything interesting will do and Earl will be waiting for them when they arrive.

Here are my cooked chickpeas from the other days mass bean cooking, cooling before I packed them into bags in the freezer along with their other beany friends. The dark old baking pans are gold. We picked up 5 of these three tin babies at the Beaconsfield tip shop. Someone had been using them in their shed to store screws and nuts and after a really good clean up (not that it looks like it) we now use them to bake our bread. They were a fantastic buy at $2 each and bake the best bread around

 

Well its early Friday morning (6.25am to be exact) and I am sitting here a bit shell shocked from having to hurl myself out of bed on the dot of 6. Steve has taken Earl (the eatinator) for a walk in the vague hope that a nice early walk will quell his desire to consume most of the house while we are out. We are doing something today that we haven’t done before. We are leaving Bezial and Earl here to look after the house while we head into town to our study meeting with our lecturer at the Polytechnic. Those of you who have read a few posts will know that Earl is most definitely concerned more with his mandibles than with his brain and often bypasses his grey matter completely in the desire to eat his weights worth of non-consumables. I am starting to wonder if he isn’t one of those Geeks. A geek was not always someone who crammed their enormous learned craniums full of mathematics, science, physics, chemistry and anything else that elevated them up into the intellectual stratosphere…the original geeks, in fact, had very small heads and very rarely used them for anything. They were a human anomaly, some might say “freaks” and they used to travel around in groups of associated “freaks” forming shows and circuses. If you look them up you will find them eating things. Usually glass light globes etc. Earl is an old school geek minus the glasses and with the urge to eat. It’s still dark at 6.35am. Poor Steve is stumbling about out in the dark with a very over excited dog right at the time when the wallabies, possums, rabbits and anything else tasty and fast is making a quick getaway on the roads and is no doubt thanking God for our Black Dog head halters. I love these little bits of cotton that make my life especially so much better. I can hold 2 large American Staffordshire Terriers who weigh in total 71kg who are very VERY excited about getting out of the car for their walk on the beach and remain in control. To do that the people at Black Dog developed their head halter and in the process gave me back my morning walks and my ability to smile again. I used to HATE walking the dogs. It was a matter of being hurtled around the walk, shoulders almost dislocated whenever something rustled in the shrubs and at the end of the walk we would both be tired, grumpy and feeling like we did 10 rounds with Muhammad Ali. Now, as mentioned, either of us can grab the leads and control both dogs by a gentle tug. Life is good in the mornings again Black Dog and it is all thanks to you!

Heres our 2 “human” loaves and the rest were baked for the hens. We had run out of free range grain and decided to be frugal rather than impulsive and race most of the way into town and back for a new sack. Steve was going into town the next day so we baked up some bread with some multigrain and stoneground wholemeal flour and the hens got fresh backed bread for their tasting pleasure that day…a win win situation for all involved

I can hear Yin crowing out in the hen house to be let out. It’s still dark so I dare say he would regret that action should I choose to take it. I wonder why roosters are compelled to crow at the first sign of natural or artificial light. It must be like me whenever there are crisps or chocolate biscuits in the cupboard and my eyes alight on them and I drool…might have to do a bit of study on that one (not the Pavlov’s response, the crowing…). We are off to see our lecturer today as previously mentioned. We have spent a bit of time working on the question “What is sustainable landscaping?” and it isn’t as easy as some of you might think. For instance…do any of you know how many people have jumped on the “sustainability” bandwagon to try to give their businesses an edge? When hunting for information on “sustainable landscape materials” the other day we discovered a regular old landscape gardener offering his services “as usual” but tacking the word “sustainable” on the end of everything. As far as we could both see he wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary regarding heading in the direction of attempting to be sustainable, he was still using non-renewable resources, he was quoting the bog standard services that a landscape gardener would quote and pushing the old line about what he could and couldn’t do, but by tacking the word “sustainable” into his spiel he no doubt fools many people out there trying to do the right thing by the environment. I wonder how they feel when he litters their garden with non-renewable river pebbles, uses treated pine sleepers and poles all over the place, hauls in concrete to pour for pathways and driveways from the other side of Sydney and fills their garden with plants that he picked up from Bunning’s. I know it is a minefield out there for anyone wanting to try to be sustainable. Once you get a nice rosy glow and start to think that you are attempting to do your bit there is someone sanctimonious out there who will cut you down and tell you that you are doing something or other wrong. I figure that so long as you are trying to do your best that is all that the world can ask for really because there is a heck of a lot of people out there who couldn’t care less about the environment and actively go out to do their worst. My dad was regrettably, one of them. He used to toss plastic bags out into the river… he deliberately allowed boneseed shrubs to grow into trees and his weeds, especially the banana passionfruit were up in the tree canopy and spread all over the district by birds. When confronted he went on the attack and could be often heard to say “I don’t give a stuff…” it was almost his creed. My dad voted FOR a Pulp Mill in this beautiful Tamar Valley…I do NOT. I guess we cancel each other out dad. What I am trying to say is that everyone is jumping on the band wagon. There is a massive great profit to be made out of people wanting to do the right thing so you have to sift through a whole lot of bampf before you find that shining truth. There are all sorts of amazing sites out there offering free advice and help for people wanting to start out on the truly sustainable track. There are also all sorts of nay-sayers who want to tell you it’s not even worth bothering. I saw a cartoon in my searching with a pair of scientists watching an Al Gore style presentation about climate change with one of them saying “What if it’s a big hoax and we create a better world for nothing?”…I rest my case!

Here is one of Steve’s “eating” loaves…he had to share it with the dogs (they had bacon, eggs and toast with butter for their tea that night) and the feral cats who had buttered bread…oh…lets not forget Pingu who hangs about waiting for her human food because the lord only knows that she is a human and the sooner that we work that out the better! We keep making the mistake of shutting her in at night in her cage with seeds like she is going to eat them!

 

Hopefully we are able to get a handle on the course requirements nice and early this year. Being students who study from home we occasionally head off on tangents somewhat unrelated to what we are being taught/asked. I will put my hand up to being the instigator for most of these tangents because I am most definitely like Billy Connelly when I start looking into things and usually end up so far off to the side of my original query that it is laughable. I keep finding new and more interesting websites and inevitably detour on the way to Pismo Beach and end up in Albuquerque jumping up and down like daffy duck. The only difference between daffy and me is that my treasure is information and knowledge and it’s all “MINE…MINE…MINE!”  I collect PDF’s like you wouldn’t believe. I think to myself “oh MAN that is going to help us in our studies” and have enormous folders cram packed full of PDF”s and enormous word documents that we never actually use. I am a frustrated collator of information and most probably haven’t been directed into the right career. I dare say I would research for the queen and someone way back when they were choosing prospective careers most probably should have stamped me on the head with “researcher” but I slipped through the cracks and stumbled around for most of my life being “full time Mum” and various other jobs before I stumbled on the delights of researching and study. I am not sure where all of this study is going to take us. I have a real desire to go to University and learn all about fungi. I have spent most of my life sitting in the dark being fed dung and so I have a great affinity with mushrooms and their associated fellows. Steve is back and Earl is prancing around and Bezial just got off his chair and is trotting around to see him. That’s the end of posting for today and most probably the end of this post. Wish us luck with today and our first meeting with our lecturer and fingers crossed that the eatinator doesn’t eat anything vital…(the entire computer and all of its components are being ferried into the spare room before we go so I SHOULD see you all tomorrow…)

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