Can the good stuff in life ever be 30% off?

Hi All,

I am sitting here reading advertisements waiting for my latest pdf to download. I use a pdf writer to pinch recipe (and other) posts that amuse and delight me. I am easily amused and delighted so I have a lot of pdf’s but the acquirement of these pdf’s require that I sit here and spend a lot of time looking at advertisements while I wait for them to download. Today’s offering involves Barbara Streisand’s latest album, Pink Floyd pushing “The Endless River” and some unknown to me singer called “Lucinda Williams” who gave her album the illustrious title “Down where the spirit meets the bone”. It’s 30% off. I don’t know about you, but I can’t see a time or place where spirits meeting bone should be 30% off. If anything, fundamental soul should be 30% extra…just sayin…

Meet our resident Kurrajong "Curry". He/she (we are not sure which) has most cleverly seen other birds that come up to our windowsill being rewarded with cheese.  Now we have all kinds of birds arriving on the sill including Curry

Meet our resident Kurrajong “Curry”. He/she (we are not sure which) has most cleverly seen other birds that come up to our windowsill being rewarded with cheese. Now we have all kinds of birds arriving on the sill including Curry

"Excuse me humans, you appear to have run out of delicious cheese cubes. Do you think you could see your way clear to putting a few more out?"

“Excuse me humans, you appear to have run out of delicious cheese cubes. Do you think you could see your way clear to putting a few more out?”

Steve on strike on the shed roof because he doesn't think that his artistic talents are being fully appreciated...

Steve on strike on the shed roof because he doesn’t think that his artistic talents are being fully appreciated…

Ms Ducky, caught in the act of stuffing her craw

Ms Ducky, caught in the act of stuffing her craw

I just reblogged Mr 23Thorns latest attempt to sell books in his book establishment and if I lived in Africa, which I sometimes think I may as well be the amount of animals that track through Serendipity Farm on their way to “somewhere else” is reminiscent of the Serengeti, I would haunt like a grey wraith and Mr 23Thorns would have to have me evicted and subpoenaed for stalking. I hope you read his post. I hope you loved it. I hope milk came out of your nose when you read the bit about making your kids live in the garage and only come down at Christmas time and having to breathe through straws, even if you weren’t drinking milk. Mr 23Thorns is all over this writing thing. I am still learning how to tame my ellipsis. Might be easier if I wasn’t slothful about it all and took the time to actually learn a bit about the English vernacular but whatchagonnadoeh?

I LOVE Garage sales...

I LOVE Garage sales…

Especially when you get really good bargains

Especially when you get really good bargains

I liked the look of the Guinness cooler bags and when I lifted them I discovered that they each had 3 bottles of vintage Aussie Marsala wine in them. I got the coolers and the wine for $10..."bargain" :)

I liked the look of the Guinness cooler bags and when I lifted them I discovered that they each had 3 bottles of vintage Aussie Marsala wine in them. I got the coolers and the wine for $10…”bargain” 🙂

Old hairdressing scissors, a good vegetable peeler (finally!), an excellent staple gun, a set of pan pipes (I release my album next week...), antique blue delft Dutch tiles and a musical wine pourer

Old hairdressing scissors, a good vegetable peeler (finally!), an excellent staple gun, a set of pan pipes (I release my album next week…), antique blue delft Dutch tiles and a musical wine pourer

3 antique tape measures, a vintage auto compass, a Chinese vase, an old outdoor thermometer and a green glass float

3 antique tape measures, a vintage auto compass, a Chinese vase, an old outdoor thermometer and a green glass float

Horse brasses and some small handmade ceramic pots

Horse brasses and some small handmade ceramic pots

A crystal ball...or another clear float

A crystal ball…or another clear float

And lastly, for my daughter Beenz who collects old playing cards, a deck of soft porn vintage playing cards circa 1940. I bet she doesn't have a deck of these! ;)

And lastly, for my daughter Beenz who collects old playing cards, a deck of soft porn vintage playing cards circa 1940. I bet she doesn’t have a deck of these! 😉

So I bled out onto the page last week so what am I going to talk about this week? Well it’s Friday at the moment and I am inclined to pot seeds up today. Yesterday I hauled big rocks. I fought the dreaded Jack Jumper ants and won. In other words, they didn’t bite me. I did use a large mattock handle to roll the rocks down to their new home, being very careful not to go so slowly that the dreaded Jack Jumpers got their bearings and homed in on my tender narfy bits. I did it so that Stevie-boy can drive through our new gate without taking the new fence out in the process. It was hard enough to get motivated to construct the fence in the first place. Re-constructing it would be madness. Best we make sure it stays up in the first place and that involved moving large rocks from a garden bed that was in the way. A garden bed full of Jack Jumper ants.

Feral and fecund inside Sanctuary

Feral and fecund inside Sanctuary

Plenty of room for nefarious creatures to roam under cover...

Plenty of room for nefarious creatures to roam under cover…

I pulled out all of the weeds from the garden beds and added 8 bags of well rotted mushroom compost full of worms...

I pulled out all of the weeds from the garden beds and added 8 bags of well rotted mushroom compost full of worms…

And we cleared out the glasshouse ready for turning it into a plant propagation and germination centre.

And we cleared out the glasshouse ready for turning it into a plant propagation and germination centre.

It also contained a lot of enormous terracotta pots that I had filled, in a past life, where plants were the object of my intense adoration, with succulents and cacti. I was the succulent and cactus queen who tended her terracotta pots with joy and aplomb. We moved to Serendipity Farm and suddenly I had no time to pull out the weeds and when we got ducks they started to mysteriously disappear. I would walk past them and do a double take as there was a strange empty space where I was sure a succulent had been the last time I walked past…it turns out ducks love succulents. I mean why wouldn’t they? Succulents are the plant equivalent of slugs. They are just green skin surrounding a slimy centre and ducks adore them. By the time I worked out who was hoovering down my succulents it was too late…they were almost all gone. The duck wasn’t quite so keen on the succulents with added protection and so I still have a fair few of my cactus and now that we have liberated the rock gardens near the clothes line (I can put washing on the line without voortrekking around the outside like a buffalo girl!) I am going to plant the last of my semi wasted cacti that are still showing signs of life despite being semi-dehiscent out to their equivalent of “green pastures” to live out the rest of their lives (until Earl urinates them into oblivion).

Hoeing the soil

Hoeing the soil

More soil hoeing

More soil hoeing

How much hoeing can one family do?

How much hoeing can one family do?

I am sitting here thinking about how we do and accomplish so very much in our days in modern society but on the whole there is a general sense of dissatisfaction with our lot. I have kitchen windows that need a wash. I have a floor that needs a wash to be recognisable as a floor, I need to remove the cobwebs from the corners, evict the spiders, sweep up the dog hair and do all sorts of other things but how many of these processes are going to give me a sense of inner satisfaction. I wonder…I wonder what would happen if we didn’t bother to wash the windows. If we stopped scrubbing the bathroom till we could see our faces in the porcelain. Would we all die of terrible unsanitary diseases or would we simply stop buying as many bathroom cleaning products and buy a bit more time to do something that makes our heart sing? I love it when my heart sings. I know that I need to do the things that need “doing” before I can release that inner blackbird but I also know that some of what my mind keeps telling me I absolutely, positively, MUST do is absolutely, positively NOT necessary. So if any of you ever make it over to this little portion of the world, don’t be surprised to find dog hairs in the corners, tomato paste splashes on the splash back and a floor that is reminiscent of a Picasso painting. I am AWOL…my heart is singing…

Organic soil ammeliorants

Organic soil ameliorates

Soil ameliorates plus a nosy dog who quite likes the smell of that kelp...

Soil ameliorates plus a nosy dog who quite likes the smell of that kelp…

Blue barrels set up ready for rain action over the next few days (pity we forgot to check that the taps were closed...sigh...)

Blue barrels set up ready for rain action over the next few days (pity we forgot to check that the taps were closed…sigh…)

Donated big 1000 litre water container SQUEE! :)

Donated big 1000 litre water container SQUEE! 🙂

 

It’s Wednesday and we have done SO much! It would seem that spring springing has given us wings. We are the narf and Stevie-boy equivalent of bats…fairies are too cutesy for us and birds are already over-represented on Serendipity Farm so bats it is. We are flitting here and there but with steely determination. We are actually making things work and in the last few days I have planted out seeds, bought 2 lovely San Marzano tomato plants (I will buy 2 more next week) that are going to spend a little bit of time in the glass house as it is still too unpredictable out there in the real world to not expect a heavy frost. We headed into the city and picked up the plumbing fixtures for turning our 2 blue barrels into water collection devices and set them up. We just checked them to see if last nights rain had been collected and realised that the tap was open…sigh…tap is now SHUT. We headed to our friends and she gave us beetroot seeds, a Polygala myrtifolia which is a lovely little groundcover native plant with purple and yellow pea flowers on it. She also gave us a pot of rooted flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum) as nothing seems to eat them here where the native animals hoover down the regular currants and as we were talking about what we were doing with the 2 blue water barrels she mentioned that they had a large water container that they weren’t using any more and she would talk to her partner and see if he still wanted it and if he didn’t, we could have it.

Fittings for the water container and screws for the gate construction inside the shed

Fittings for the water container and screws for the gate construction inside the shed

Steve crowbaring the hardwood panels from the shed to start making 2 doors

Steve crowbaring the hardwood panels from the shed to start making 2 doors

Crowbarring completed, hole cut with chainsaw and hardwood shed boards removed and dealing with the heavy tin flashing

Crowbarring completed, hole cut with chainsaw and hardwood shed boards removed and dealing with the heavy tin flashing

Door 1 ready to hang...

Door 1 ready to hang…

Door 1 hung :)

Door 1 hung 🙂

Free things are delicious! We got a phone call last night and it was delivered by her partner this morning on his way to work past where we live. We now have the capacity to store 1400 litres of water in Sanctuary and we are going to try to pick up at least another one of the large water containers to join the mix. I am hunting for a water tank to use outside the area to provide us with all of the water that we will need inside Sanctuary but for now I am just happy that we are able to save a bit of water towards the veggie watering endeavour. We went to a garage sale and got some lovely bargains and we are cutting double doors into the side of the shed near Sanctuary in order to get loads of manure, straw and oak leaves directly into Sanctuary without having to barrow them in. Steve just picked up the cement and dust to make me a concrete ramp into Sanctuary so that I can barrow things in whenever I want (including grass clippings etc.) Spring has been amazingly productive so far and we are showing no signs of slowing down just yet but mind you, the weather has been lovely and cool. As soon as it starts heating up more we will take it easier.

Stevie-boys Canon with his old 100 x 300mm Sigma SLR lens attached via an adaptor that he bought recently. Why waste these excellent quality lenses when they cost a lot of money late last century...

Stevie-boys Canon with his old 100 x 300mm Sigma SLR lens attached via an adapter that he bought recently. Why waste these excellent quality lenses when they cost a lot of money late last century…

The adaptor that allows Steve to use his other SLR lenses with his DSLR camera. A very clever invention :)

The adapter that allows Steve to use his other SLR lenses with his DSLR camera. A very clever invention 🙂 Perfect for taking photo’s of tonight’s solar eclipse/red moon if the cloud cover ever goes away that is…

Steve's old SLR cameras and lenses.

Steve’s old SLR cameras and lenses.

I have lots of photos to share with you of our past week and hope that you are enjoying your change of seasons as much as we are. We are both tired but very happy with how things are working out here. Have a great week and don’t forget to keep your eye out for the lunar eclipse tonight if you are in the viewing range. We should get a great view from here so long as the cloud cover disappears and Steve has his zoom lens on to see if he can’t take some really awesome shots. I will share them if he does. I am off to help Steve to hang the doors in the shed now so catch you all next week 🙂

I will leave you with 2 photos that we took in the city yesterday that prove that dogs can not only get along with cats, but can actually enjoy interacting with them…

Bezial and a great big British Blue Rex cat in the city. We saw the cat chasing moths in the window of this shop and Bezial wanted to say hello. At one stage they both had their noses pressed up against the window looking at each other...

Bezial and a great big British Blue Rex cat in the city. We saw the cat chasing moths in the window of this shop and Bezial wanted to say hello. At one stage they both had their noses pressed up against the window looking at each other…

"Don't go big doggy, I will share my moth..."

“Don’t go big doggy, I will share my moth…”

 

Life, death and the endless progression of OH&S in between…

Hi All

There has to be a degree of irony in me, hunched over…floppy spined, myopically peering at my monitor with terrible lighting and trying to show the world how enlightened I am about office OH&S…does ANYBODY listen to or care about this stuff?!!! Come to think of it, does anyone ever stop eating peanut butter because some rake thin anorexic plastic “expert” in the health field tells them to? If we were ever vaguely inclined to follow “expert” advice we would have dangled on our parents every word…we would have learned to “fly right and steer straight” immediately as we were told and we would have made something of ourselves rather than arriving at 50, dazed and confused with only “windswept and interesting” as our chief saleable asset.

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The young rooster on the right of this image died this week. He was never a “normal” rooster and spent his days sitting in this coop with his sisters keeping them company. He wasn’t prone to leaping on hens or crowing. He was gentle, beautiful and like so many of his Byron reading compatriots, he died too soon. R.I.P Little Boy Blue. In saying that, there are chicks hatching out all over the place on Serendipity Farm. The same day that Little Boy Blue died, another hen emerged triumphant and bedazzled with fluffy chicks…the poultry cycle of life goes on…

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When all else fails eat fruit!

That brings me to today’s post… I have managed to tear myself away from OH&S for a whole blissful day. It doesn’t even bother me that it’s grey, dreary and raining outside because I didn’t have to try to wrap my poor addled brain around another “Act”; “Award” or “Industry Standard” when it couldn’t comprehend the first Act, let alone the last that I tried to stuff into the one remaining brain cell that appears to be on the ball. Today I got to sit here and type out interesting and sustainable hints, tips and anecdotes about how to live better with less. Steve and I have almost finished our websites that we have to create from scratch for our final assessment. Mine is called “Sustainability on a Shoestring” and despite it being entirely fictional, not available to the naked eye (apart from our lecturers …) and just something that we had to knock up at the last minute I have developed a motherly sort of fondness for it and am driving Steve nuts by my need to make it look good and function well. “No-one can see it!” is his mantra…”I can see it” is mine 😉

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This shower door is about to be changed to a clear glass door that doesn’t get stuck when you are trying to open it with shampoo in your eyes because you forgot to get the bottle of conditioner that is over on the window ledge…Steve was given the shower door by a friends mum who is renovating and who didn’t need it. I doubt she realises how happy she has made me with her generous gift. Now I can open the door blinded by shampoo and not worry about having to call Steve to free me when the door sticks when I am halfway out of it…

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My container of bread ties (still haven’t worked out what to do with them but I will!) and some of the bottle tops I am collecting on my early morning walks with Earl. If anyone out there drinks anything other than Boag’s beer and would like to send me a few bottle tops please feel free to let me know 😉

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What happens when you discover some “fresh” pineapple that you juiced, put in a bowl in the fridge and promptly forgot about that when you rediscovered it and gave it a sniff (as you do) and realised that it was halfway to being pineapple vodka and you cleverly decide to pour it into the top of a bottle of second fermented Kombucha erupts like Krakatoa …”VESUVIUS”…that’s what happens

I have just finished off the last of the text for the various side panels, spry tabs etc. that we are required to show our lecturer to satisfy this unit. We are using Dreamweaver to create our sites making it a much easier process than having to write the HTML ourselves but I am still clueless about what most of it does but can see it has great possibilities. The best bit is that we got to buy the Student version of the Adobe suite at a significant discount because students = poor (damned RIGHT they do!) and educational institutions don’t want to force us into becoming shoplifters in order to satisfy their requirements. Lucky really because I suck at pinching things, unless they are cuttings when I am able to abrogate my guilt long enough to snip off a stray tendril and call it urban guerrilla gardening 😉

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“I know what will make all of this study better…a litre bottle of homemade Kombucha…”

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And another one…

I spend a lot of my life in the dark. It’s my choice, getting up at 3am seals the deal but if I want to get some quality “me” time to study, to read the blogs that I follow and to research the things that I am interested in I have to find an alternative to daylight hours where we tend to be studying or working in the garden. I now love getting up early and am firing on all cylinders by the time I wake Steve with a coffee at 7am after indulging my brain to the max with a wealth of fantastic possibilities that I have just waded through for the last 4 hours. Fennec foxes have enormous ears and narf7 has small ears…fennec foxes manage to navigate their way around in the dark with ease and agility where narf7 has bruises on her legs and hip where she bumbles hopelessly into furniture and walls…coincidence? I think not!

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“What say we have another one?” I reckon I am starting to feel a bit like Keith Richards in that photo about now…

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I am stuck inside the house when outside it looks like this…

One interesting thing that I have noticed about the dark is that you can see your brain sending messages to your eyes. Seriously…if you are sitting in the pitch dark and close your eyes you can see little chains of light where your brain is communicating with your eyes…in my case it is saying “watch out she is just about to bump into another table!” but as my eyes are officially closed (or I can’t see the synapses…) it’s too late…”OUCH!” I can, however, manage to find the correct place to spray the air freshener in the toilet in complete darkness…maybe there is a chance for future employment opportunities for my amazing newfound skill?

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And this…

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and this!

Earl is almost 3 and is just starting to “get it”. I must be a late bloomer because here I am at 50 and I still haven’t “got it”. One of life’s mysteries is that we only start to make sense of all of these lessons that life throws at us on a regular basis when we are past the point of impetuous youthdom and it leaves you wondering “surely it would have been so much better to have learned these lessons BEFORE all of those stupid mistakes we made?” I am left to believe that maybe we need to have made lots of stupid mistakes to “get” the life lessons in the first place…my head is starting to hurt with that conundrum so I might just leave it there for now folks as I have to keep a few functioning brain cells in reserve in order to complete our studies before next Thursday when the last of our units is due in.

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Some of us are enjoying the lovely weather

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Note the lack of a care in the world and the amazing growth in that garden bed under the deck that we only planted out in April this year

I have been busy fermenting potions in between doing the hard yards with study and am learning how versatile cultures can be. My last batch of kombucha was flavoured with ginger and rosewater and turned out to be really delicious. It takes the mother SCOBY 7 days to culture a batch of black tea with sugar in it. I choose to double ferment the mix by adding a litre of juice to the results and fermenting it for another couple of days before putting it in the fridge. The results are fizzy and delicious and with summer promising to be long and hot I think a large quantity of kombucha in the fridge will be a definite asset. I have also been using my non-dairy kefir that I now make with homemade sesame milk (rather than the organic homemade soymilk that I used to make it with) to culture the sesame pulp left behind after making the milk. I use the resulting fermented  mix to make hummus that I ferment for a day at room temperature. One very interesting thing about fermenting hummus is that it rises up alarmingly in its bowl a bit like sourdough starter does. I guess that means that the culture really likes beans. Whatever it means the results are really delicious and I am enjoying seeing what else I can ferment

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Fermented sesame seed pulp and some leftover cooked dried chickpeas and borlotti beans that I have been using from the freezer

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The hummus before it decided to rise up out of the bowl and threaten to take over Serendipity Farm unless I took it to Cuba

I have been having porridge in the morning made from finely ground buckwheat flour and sunflower seeds that I add a bit of date paste to and cook. I then top it with sesame milk with a bit more date paste in it and a dash of rosewater. Now that the weather has started to warm up I might be able to start drinking my green smoothies again but if today is anything to go by, winter hasn’t quite given up yet. By next Thursday our course will officially be over. Steve and I are working as hard as we can to knock these final units on the head but they can’t be finished soon enough in our minds. We are really going to enjoy the free time that we get in between this course and the start of our next course and  hopefully we will get lots of time out in the garden in the coming month to make up for all of the time that we have spent chained to the PC.

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The view out of my kitchen window this morning. Note the Grey Cuckoo Thrush sitting on the deck rail waiting for her early morning cheese cubes to be put out on the window ledge and note also how grey and rainy it is because I am not chained to the PC being forced to study OH&S until my brain melts…Murphy is a bollocks!

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Its still grey out there but at least the grey cuckoo shrike has her cheese and I have a cup of tea and suddenly, after a few sips… all is right with the world again 🙂

Christmas is getting very close. I know it is because all of the advertisement’s on the television keep telling me it is. Is anyone else incredibly jaded by the mass push towards commercialisation this year? It started back in October and suddenly we are lighting Christmas trees mid-November and come mid-December we will be implored to buy next year’s Easter Eggs… what should be a time for people to get together with their families and friends to see out the old year and be thankful for our lot has been hijacked by the need for massive pre-Christmas profits. The spirit and the message of Christmas were born of humble circumstances and I think the still quiet message is slowly being drowned by all of the Christmas sales. Has anyone else worked out what they are going to do for Christmas this year? Neither have we! We were going to have a very quiet Christmas like we did last year but now Stewart and Kelsey are here we might all get together at my daughter’s home on Christmas morning and have Christmas breakfast together…or we might not…whatever we do it will be in the spirit of Christmas and nothing to do with how much we spent on food, drink and presents. Steve’s one stipulation is a bottle of brandy so that he can make the brandy and chocolate milk that he remembers from a long ago holiday spent falling over in Greece. Sounds like a plan Stevie-boy! 😉

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A little Cassia fistula growing amongst the forget-me-nots. Cassia pods are used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine so this little guy is welcome on Serendipity Farm

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From one gorgeous thing to another…These marvellous track pants were inherited from my daughter Madeline who was about to throw them away because they were torn on the bottom. I decided to cut them (mainly to stop me falling over the frayed bits) and what you can’t see here is that one side is at least 10cm longer than the other even though I SWEAR I measured them! I mention this so that all of you wonderfully crafty folk out there realise that some of us are not as gifted in the crafty stakes as you are…but we are doing you a HUGE service by suffering the slings of craftless arrows that rain down on us whenever we pick up needles, hooks, material or dare to sit down at a sewing machine…we bow before your creative genius but some of you were born for craft greatness, some (like me) just have to satisfy ourselves with being born fashionistas…The jumper is warm. Narf7 cares not for fashion folks and its darned lucky that she doesn’t because if I EVER went out wearing this ensemble, I would be committed. The black socks that I am wearing in this picture were stolen from Steve’s side of the wardrobe by “moi” and were subsequently eaten by Earl when they were abandoned (foolishly) on one of my outdoor forays. Socks are not safe on Serendipity Farm…they are an endangered species

I think I might love you all and leave you there for today. I fear I am probably not at my best after a week of brain numbing rehashing of boring statistics. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible on Serendipity Farm but for now, this pays the bills so rehash we must! See you all next Wednesday when I will probably be giddy with happiness thanks to it being the final day before we are set free from our shackles of oppression…can you tell I’m a bit over this? ;). Have a great week folks and enjoy what you are doing wherever you are doing it 🙂

Fast forward in the life lessons

Hi All

I hope you don’t mind me using the post that I was going to post last week before all of those photos took over. This week has been a complete blur of studying in a most determined and bolshie desire to prove myself. Our lecturer handed us our final assessment and then dropped a hefty weighty unit involving so much research it is making me twitch on top of it. All of this work has to be completed by the end of November and after an initial wide eyed panic attack I have settled down to work my way through the morass of incredibly boring material that needs to be assembled and then pared away in order to hand our lecturer the gold nuggets that will give us our passing grade. SO much bampf for so little gratitude and I have learned something over the last month…I don’t want to be a web designer…not in the LEAST! So here sits narf7 tapping away when all she wants to do is get out into that gorgeous damp (it has been raining ever since I lay the last Earl proof stone in place) space and go nuts. I get the feeling that this teetering tower of study is going to make me SO glad to get it finished that gardening is going to look like pure gold. There are lessons afoot…life lessons and thus begins today’s tale…

“Whenever I fail it is a chance to learn and grow”

How’s that for a life lesson? I learned it while I was being pulled mercilessly behind Earl on our bonding Sundays where Bezial (and his ubiquitous dicky leg) and Steve get to stay home and Earl and I get to go on a long walk. I would love to say “Long leisurely walk” but I can’t. Earl starts to wind up as soon as I head into the bathroom to brush my hair and put it up in a pony-tail. The first sign of “walk”…next we have me putting on my shoes and the ears start to prick up and he gets up off the floor…trotting to the back door excitedly and sticking himself half in, half out of the dog door is next on the agenda in case any feral cat or chook has been stupid enough to instigate themselves directly outside the back door…”never let a chance go by” is Earl’s motto.

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Today’s motley collection of images is brought to you by the letter “Pee”. This little aquilegia has survived the maelstrom of pee that Earl hisses all over it every single morning. You can only begin to imaging the strength of a dogs pee when he has been holding on all night on the “pack bed”. This goes to show that if you want a perennial that will grow almost anywhere, Aquilegias are you ideal plant

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I don’t think we really need to say much about this image do we? Picture me hard at work slaving away over a hot PC trying to wrap my brain around OH&S in the media industry and forgetting that I left the pantry door open.

After surveying your territory you need to head out the back door and mark your aquilegia. It is MOST important to mark your aquilegia, I mean, anything that has the blatant NERVE to grow between the brick wall and the paving stones right outside the back door and that can withstand a daily squirt of straight ammonia and not only survive, but flower beautifully, has to be given some sort of award, and what more important award than being decorated by more pee? By this stage Earl is prancing around because he has heard the tell-tale jangle of his dog lead and his mind is now out on the road with visions of prospective road kill dancing around in his head. Earl is gone…enter the fray at your folly you STUPID WOMAN…sigh…

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Steve had to go to town the other day and this is the result…Earl under the bed with only the dust bunnies to console him about his loss and…

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Bezial and his fluffy toy laying on the carpet in the lounge room completely devoid of joy…obviously I make a terrible second best to Steve’s pack leader…

I enter the fray. I instantly regret entering the fray because it’s like the gate rising at Flemington (hope you didn’t lose too much on the cup 😉 ) and Earl is OFF! Down the steep driveway hurtling with as much speed as you can when dragging a 63kg “fat anchor” that has her heels dug in behind you. You won’t let that stop you though…there are smells OH the smells! Something has rubbed against that shrub that is right in the middle of that thicket of thistles and you just HAVE to sniff it. After that you need to limp pathetically because you have thistles in your foot and you have to wait for your stupid fat anchor to liberate them …you look around surreptitiously to check that no other dogs have seen you. The chooks saw you… lunge at them aggressively…they won’t look at you with those little beady eyes NOW!

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Not entirely sure if I have shared this with you before but this image is of the West Tamar Highway and you can see that it has collapsed thanks to the incessant amount of rain that we have been having. Don’t you just love the handrail sunk in 44 gallon drums of concrete?

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Narf7’s happiness and sadness…a juxtaposition of emotions. I am happy from 3 – 7am when I sit here researching and reading my RSS Feed Read blogs and then the deep blue funk of OH&S settles over my sunny disposition rendering me fogged up for the day

Earl and I tend to travel a road well-travelled on our Sundays. We head down the dirt road and off over the bridge to the park on the other side to listen to the dulcet tones of the dumped rooster and the loon who has been living in a caravan for almost a year now. They vie for our attention as one crows and the other one yells loudly. Once we get our fill of fresh air, windy gusts that threaten to topple us over the railing into the Tamar 90 metres below and duelling Sunday lunacy we head off back over the bridge and up the highway to be buffeted by log trucks. We turn the corner to head back down the more familiar road to come home and check the little plant stand to see if the proprietress has bothered to restock anything interesting…she hasn’t…sigh…so after Earl salutes her lack of effort with what is left in his reserves, we head off down the steep slope home…

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I am resorting to old photos now. This one shows what we had to do to remove tiles from the tiny bathroom in our daughters home in town when we were renovating the bathroom. That expression on Steve’s face isn’t all play acting

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Joe Cool and his amazing prototype penniless student hippy compost bin. The only problem with this image is that the compost bin didn’t work but Steve still has those sunglasses (if not that hair 😉 )

5km + of Sunday drag and by the time I get home I am ready for that breakfast smoothie and a chance to park my derrière out on the big wooden bench that Steve and I made years ago from wood that we plundered right here when we house sat for dad for three weeks back in 2007. It’s huge, sturdy and surprisingly well made for anything made by Steve and I but I must have won out on that project ;). I am holding a big mug of tea and a big mug of tea has never been earned more strenuously. Earl is lying on the floor quietly. His day is effectively over unless he can con someone else into picking up that lead and taking him out into the possibilities of the real world again. Earl turns 3 at the end of the month. Earl is a teenager. I can tell.

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Me raking leaves when we lived in the city. I loved that wall and every year a gorgeous Boston Ivy grew and covered the wall in it’s glorious display in autumn

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I am laughing because I just noticed that I am wearing that jumper as I type this comment…I am NOT however wearing those rather fetching thermals underneath. I have acclimatised my sad Western Australian self to the colder climes and no longer need to wear thermals. I wear entire blankets now 😉

So what was that first quote about eh? Well I have to admit to being completely and utterly terrified of failure. It stifles my efforts because I might just stuff up and look like an idiot. I put it down to success being the only thing that got a positive reward from my father figure but to be honest, I don’t think anything that I did really had an effect on how my father saw me and I learned to bypass my need for paternal acceptance and head off into the terrifying territory of self-worth. I now have a hefty sense of moi. I no longer think that I am worthless but I also have a healthy dose of tall poppy syndrome, we are all worth something but no-one is worth more because they own more, they control more or they “think” they are worth more do you get the picture? Start sticking your head up and telling me that you are special because…and narf7 is going to walk away. I don’t expect too much from the world but I DO expect a lot from myself and that’s where that nifty little new mantra is going to come in handy.

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The last shot of me I promise (well, in the city anyway 😉 ). I appear to have a handful of string. Maybe I am just about to make a nest?

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Fast forward to narf7 last week and when we actually had a sunny day to work in. The joy is obvious isn’t it?

I tend not to try. I know all kinds of things but I tend not to apply them to my day to day life because I might stuff them up or worse still, not be very good at them. If I am not good at something I tend not to repeat it. My loss really. I have decided to rectify that need to remain inactive and safe and am starting to wade out into the deep pool of possibilities, remembering that I can’t swim (seriously, I can’t) and that there aren’t any safety logs out there to catch me should I start to drown. In the past I completed several certificates in commercial cookery with a commercial cookery school. I tend to stick with certain “safe” recipes though. I must admit, part of that is because I am married to a naturally fussy “I am only one man!” Englishman who is loath to try anything he considers strange, but part of it is a mix of laziness brought about by an underlying desire not to fail. “What if it doesn’t rise?”; “What if someone doesn’t like it?” “What if it tastes weird and it gets wasted?” Not anymore. Narf7 is about to start messing about with what she knows and putting it into practice.

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Mother Teresa

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Lawrence of Arabia…maybe I should just light Brunhilda and stop pretending that the weather is going to be warm tomorrow? 😉

Hugelkultur is another point in case. I “know” how to do it. I “know” the science behind it and I “know” how it would benefit the soil and Serendipity Farm but putting what I “know” into action has me twitching. Same goes for just about everything that has me liberating my ass from this chair where the safe sport of researching is my calm harbour in the storm of activity that needs to be initiated to do what we want to do here on Serendipity Farm. Steve and I get overwhelmed by what we have to do here. Part of the problem is that we haven’t got money to facilitate instant gratification and another part is that before you can do what you “want” to do, there are 7 things that you “have” to do in order to get what you want accomplished. Sorry if I sound like I am complaining there (I am, but sorry anyway 😉 ). I guess what I am trying to say is that liberating myself from that old fear crutch is going to free me up to get out into the scary wilderness of “doing” and in the process we will
start to accomplish what we want.

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A tiny little dead bat that Steve found when he was heading out the other day. It appears it must have fallen from its mother but isn’t that gorgeous coat on his back beautiful? Poor little mite

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Ground up buckwheat groats and sunflower seeds to make my breakfast of choice in cold weather (which would be now)

We hurled ourselves into getting the fully enclosed veggie garden up and completely contained in the last week. We are more than happy with the results. We decided to enclose the glasshouse as part of the compound so that it could be used to propagate seedlings and cuttings within the structure. Now we need to plan the most efficient and effective setup for the garden beds. I have lots of cutting grown Muscat grapes that need to be planted out ASAP. I have raspberry canes soaking in seasol (seaweed concentrate) along with Marion berries that also need to be planted out. We have all kinds of seedlings and I have visions of rock herb and flower spiral gardens in the centre of the compound to attract in the beneficials and as somewhere to plant Steve’s teeny tiny grafted Ballerina apple that he produced way back when we were studying horticulture at polytechnic.

DSCF5241The ground buckwheat and sunflower seeds being mixed with homemade date and apple paste to sweeten and add nutrition

DSCF5250Chained to the machine but at least I can have my tea and porridge. The milk in my porridge is homemade sesame milk sweetened with some date paste and a dash of rose water making a most exotic breakfast and a very tasty one too. I use the same milk in my tea minus the rosewater

This week will see us creating garden beds, lugging soil components and creating our vision under cover. I don’t mind if the possums drop angry deposits on the top of the garden…nature loves a bit of extra nitrogen and at the very least it will go part way to pay us back for everything that they eat with wanton abandon in the rest of the garden. I will be taking hawthorn cuttings in the near future and have decided to plant a hawthorn hedge right around the perimeter fenceline of Serendipity Farm. I will intersperse it with cherry plums so that the native birds get lots of habitat and food. Hawthorn and plums are both incredibly able to survive arid conditions and drought and make perfect hedging specimens (well the hawthorn does 😉 ). You have to work with what will grow best and that means figs, olives, persimmons, quinces, apricots, apples and colder climate nuts. We are amassing our fruity and nutty armies to take over the farm and we even managed to grow 2 mango trees in our compost last summer that will take up residence on Serendipity Farm as soon as they are big enough to get planted out. I don’t care if they produce fruit, they will be another wonderful addition to horticultural diversity on Serendipity Farm

DSCF4964By the pricking of my thumbs something spiny this way comes…

DSCF4973Steve’s little echidna mate who bumbles around occasionally. He allowed Steve to take a few photos before digging his heels in and hiding

I might stop there for today. I have herbs to research, companion planting to check, a list of seedlings and seeds a mile long that I need to work out how to acquire and then how to plant to get the maximum results in our garden. I am only just starting to internally “Squee!” that nothing is going to be able to eat our veggies…except the aphids…and the scale…and the caterpillars…sigh… see you all next week when we should have planted out our seedlings and anything else that doesn’t grow over 6ft tall and the garden will be an impenetrable fortress of pure narf7 joy :o)

A week in pictures…

Hi All,

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

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

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

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

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

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Time for tea…

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

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

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“A real sunbeam!”

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

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

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

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One of multitudes of babies hatching out all over the place

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

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

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More tree and more garden

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Still more tree but the other end of the garden

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

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

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Drilling holes

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

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

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

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

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But not before I harvested all of the spinach!

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

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

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A padded leather covered keg topper for a musicians derrière

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“Can I have it?”

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

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He’s all soul 😉

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

prewtty

The great sushi carousel of life…

Hi All,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Another glorious shot of The Gorge

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

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

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The suspense is palpable…

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

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

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My kind of card 🙂

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

A Prayer

Shine down upon us with your

Golden RADIANCE.

Make us glow and sparkle

Like HAPPY children in the

Glorious dance of LIFE

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

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Lovely moss covered rocks.

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

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The steps leading up to the car park at The Gorge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“BEHOLD the mitts of eternal happiness!” 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forget the fast lane…we live Life on the fringes

Hi All,

I am living a curious life at the moment. Getting up at 2am most days puts me into a strange bracket of insomniacs and shift workers but I am here by choice. I get 5 hours to myself in the quiet of the early morning and my mind works amazingly well at this time of day. The downside is that I am going to bed at 7.30pm. I do, however, sleep the sleep of the dead now and good luck trying to wake me before 2am unless you are a large dog trying to navigate the tangle of bodies in our bed and you have an amazing ability to hone in on my stomach each and every time…I get to listen to entire albums via YouTube…several of them each morning and I get to clear out my 100+ posts by 6am and get time to stoke Brunhilda, get the kettle boiling, twiddle my thumbs in glorious, luxurious blissful solitude and contemplate the day ahead.

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This discoloured badly gestetnered piece of paper from 43 years ago contains my one claim to scholastic fame. I…along with my cousin Helen, in grade 2 got top of the class for some reason or other. Probably turning up every day, but Steve found this on FB from my old school and I am wielding it aloft like my own personal little Excalibur to prove that back in 1970 I sure knew how to rock a classroom!

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This little Rhododendron was almost dead last year when we pulled all of the blackberries out of it and freed it up. It is rewarding us by flowering all over the place 🙂 “You are welcome little Rhodo :)”

Saturday is a busy one now. I recently decided to make Saturday “cleaning day” and while I was organising, I thought…let’s make it baking day as well. I will make my vat of soup de jour on Saturdays and then I get Sunday as a bonus free day, a real “weekend” day where I can choose what I want to do. The weather is getting colder here in Tasmania although the days are lovely with blue skies and a crisp urgency about them that makes you throw yourself into whatever it is that you are doing outside in the first place. My own personal urgency involves wanting to get our food forest initiated and that involves a lot of background planning. How big do they grow? How much room do they need? Do you need 2 of them for fruit/nut set? Do they prefer the company of specific other plants? How to create guilds…prevent the natives from scarfing them whole…keep the moisture in the soil around them…make them somewhat self-sufficient over the long hot summer…lots and lots of planning to ensure that these little babies get the best chance to grow, fruit and keep on doing so for years to come.

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This is how you make narf7 happy…you let her take cuttings from your prize chilli tree, your peppino’s and your pineapple sage :). “Cheers Jen…and sorry I didn’t have today’s post ready at 7.30am when you texted… ;)”

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Here’s some parsley plants and lots of leeks that Jenny gave us to plant in our veggie garden. “Cheers Jen they love Serendipity Farm :)”

Autumn also makes me want to cook more. Brunhilda is on most of the time and so her basking warmth is available whenever I want to cook whatever I want. What a luxury! I can simmer beans on her cooktop for hours on end and can dry things out in her warming ovens. I can use the proofing shelf that Steve built over her to warm and to ferment and to raise bread. Autumn is a reminder to get used to living indoors more. There are also lots of apples and pears everywhere in Tasmania at the moment. We have a large orchard up the road from us and I buy 4kg bags of apples for $4 and apples and pears are now my fruit of choice. Fresh ripe pears are heavenly and I have visions of almond based tart pastry layered with rich custard and layered with toffee pears… I could care less about cooking in summer but autumn reignites that passion inside me and curiously, we in the South and our Northern based friends tend to be eating similar food…crossover food I call it. Soon they will be eating and posting about salads and ice-cream and I will be thinking soups, stews, and casseroles and will only be thinking of ice-cream as something to adorn something delicious, sweet and hot from the oven.

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Earl distracting me by trying to eat the duster while Bezial helps himself to the treat that I was using to get them to behave for this shot…sigh…

I am thinking of picketing the local electricity providers office in Launceston. I don’t usually do anything like this unless I am well miffed. I am well miffed. Today I woke up and rolled over and took a peek under my hot water bottle cover. Not something most people would do early in the morning but my hot water bottle cover doesn’t contain a hot water bottle, rather it sits over our overly bright alarm clock L.E.D. display and should one want to see what time it is, one surreptitiously lifts the corner to take a peek and as I am the only “one” who cares less what time it is when it is dark it was “me” doing the surreptitious lifting this morning. After blearily ascertaining that it was indeed 3.30am I turned off the alarm (set for 4am, wouldn’t want to sleep in…) and grabbed my clothes that I set out ready to be clutched in the dark and headed out to where Brunhilda was waiting for me to reignite her smouldering embers.

Steve took this gorgeous shot. Autumn is the bomb in Deviot :)

Steve took this gorgeous shot. Autumn is the bomb in Deviot 🙂

I got out to the kitchen and turned on the middle light. We have so many lights in the kitchen/living room area that we could have a disco should one of us decide to turn them all on and off at varying intervals and the other one gyrate maniacally. A bit of a sad disco to be sure but “whatchagonnadoeh?” When there are only 2 of you, you do what you do! After turning on the light I looked at the clock and couldn’t believe my eyes when I read “1.30am”…”1.30am? NO!”…I then checked the mobile phone and sure enough it was 1.30am! Mobile phones apparently don’t like where kitchen clocks are prone to it and bedroom alarm clocks are positively pathological about bending the truth! What happened?! What happened was a cold spell that resulted in hail storms yesterday, a government hell bent on propping up its arm of the electricity company that it holds a major shareholding interest in by pushing electric methods of heating your home, cooking your food etc. as “clean and green” and everyone deciding to use their reverse cycle air conditioners and heat pumps at once in Launceston with little regard to those of us out in the country who end up copping the brown outs that result from a spike in power use…sigh…

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Another lovely shot taken whilst walking the dogs today in Deviot

Next time I am in Launceston I am going to be picketing the office. I will have a suitably vague placard (my motto is “make them work for it!”) saying something like “I Don’t Like Brown” or “Aurora hates Narf7” and will most probably be carted off for not applying for a permit to protest or because Aurora twitches whenever anyone stands outside their “clean green energy” office for more than 5 minutes because people might question why there is someone protesting and Tasmanian’s love to stand in queues…they are used to bad service. That’s how these companies have gotten away with substandard service for all of these years…the natives have been bred to just “accept”…well not THIS little black duck! “Placards for all and brown-outs for none!” Would YOU vote for me? There isn’t anyone else to choose from! I might even get into office in the coming elections purely because I was the only candidate that no-one had ever heard of! 😉 Might be onto a winner there! At least 4 years in office with a pollies salary doing sweet bugger all would get us a heck of a lot paid for on Serendipity Farm…heck…we could have a wind farm with what those lazy buggers earn! 😉

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This is what happens when you tell a dog to go straight to his master…sigh…

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A selection of cos lettuce, other lettuce and silver beet that Jenny gave us along with the Parsley, leeks and cuttings. Get picking out those tiles girl! 🙂

So here narf7 sits at 3.43. She has been up since 1.30. Has had her first cup of tea and is already contemplating her second and will soon be contemplating her navel as she is just about to run out of RSS Feed Reads to read and Bezial assumed her warm spot in the bed back at 1.30 when she stupidly chose to believe the bedroom alarm (FOOL ME ONCE!) and he took the chance to warm his hide 3 hours earlier than usual…sigh…oh well…let’s see what I can think up here…I am ever resourceful and “bored” isn’t a word that you are EVER going to hear come out of this narfs mouth. I have a copy of “Enjoy – new veg” by Nadine Abensur that I took out of the library recently. An amazing tome of gorgeous vegetarian Middle Eastern cookery and something that I am taking brief moments of my day to type out over the next 3 weeks. I might get to type out a few more recipes. I might stick on the headphones and watch a few “The Actor’s Studio” episodes from some of the greats. I watched Robert De Niro and Al Pacino’s sterling efforts the other day and am thinking about Robert Downy Jr. Anyone else think that he is gorgeousness personified?

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A goat that we saw on our walk today. This one’s for Christi 🙂

What else could I do? I could bake some biscuits. Not the “biscuits” that you Americans call our scones but the biscuits that you Americans call “cookies”. I completely forgot to make any for our friend Jennies partner Glen. I want to thank him for allowing Steve to get a load of wood from their 50 acre property out in the sticks. The pile of steel on the property has his name on it but he seems to want to leave it where it is (too late Glen, we moved it! 😉 ). I will be setting up Jennie’s phone to receive regular updates from Serendipity Farm in the near future. She can lay in bed at 1.30 as the consummate insomniac that she is and can commiserate with me for my brown out rude awakenings. What else can I do? Well I can have breakfast…I can go hunting online for solutions to the world and Serendipity Farms problems…I can read a book…I can put some more wood on Brunhilda and stand in front of her and bask in the luxury that is our simple life here on Serendipity Farm and I can just enjoy being me right here right now :o)

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Here I am feeding another goat some forbidden grass…this goat was chained to a tyre…good idea for Earl…where do we get tractor tyres? 😉

Here’s something to force a page break on this post. Even though this is Vimeo, and I would rather eat my own foot than wait for it to load, here I am both linking to a short animated video AND nibbling my extremities…I think I need to share this with you all…it’s wonderful :o)…

http://vimeo.com/65107797

And THAT is why I own a dog :o). His name is Bezial…they haven’t been brave enough to make an animation about Earl yet…aside from borrowing “Earl” from Rocko’s Modern Life as a close approximation (I would be the “Mrs Bighead” in that equation 😉 ) I can’t think of another dog that would do him justice! Refreshed after that little break? If not…you should actually “watch” it…it really is good, short, animated, has a message AND a very catchy little song that runs through it in Italian so you can pretend that you are one of the hipsters while you watch it…

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This is a HUGE Granny Smith apple that was inside the Heritage Apple and Pear orchard in Deviot. The fruit is free to anyone who would like it…this one was delicious 😉

That’s better :o) wouldn’t it be great if life came with little interludes like that at regular intervals? You could just wait out whatever calamitous thing was happening in your life at any given time, whatever was weighing heavy and pendulous on your thought processes because you would know that at precisely an hour and 45 minutes into the calamity, a nice little interlude would come along and break up the stress and give you a breather from the situation and from yourself. There are plenty of little interludes folks, you just have to go hunt for them and take advantage of them and actually look outside yourself occasionally and “notice” them. Most of them are short, simple and to the point and will do you almost as much good as a good laugh will :o)

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Before any of you say ANYTHING rude…this is a lovely little first of autumn mushroom that I fell in love with today 🙂

I just had another double take moment whilst perusing and saving recipes from my (now) 392 RSS Feed Read blogs… to be fair, they aren’t all food blogs but about 75% of them are and I actually have blogs that I can’t even read sent to me. I like to challenge my mind and I head off to Google Translate for a wonderful recipe and a good laugh. I saw the latest offering from “Cake time”, a wonderful Polish food blog that I follow and immediately wanted to know what the orange sweet curd like layer was that was sandwiching together some lovely looking sponge. I headed over to my old mate “Google” and whacked in the unfathomable recipe (no…I haven’t yet gotten around to grasping the basic premise of the Polish vernacular. That’s next on my list…) to be utterly surprised by this… Here is the name of the cake…

Ciasto kubusiowe

You got that folks? Here is the translation…

“Pooh Cake”…hmm…appetising? Did I just find out what that “orange” layer REALLY WAS! I read further (one eye between my index and middle finger with my face covered just in case…) to find that the blog author was talking about “Pooh” in respect to “Mr Winnie The” himself! A greater sigh of relief at 5.12am I doubt you are going to hear folks! Feel free to head over to Cake Time and marvel at that gorgeous orange layer to your heart’s content…knock yourselves out! Hey…what the heck…why don’t you whack the recipe into Google Translate if you have a few minutes to spare, you might end up with a great recipe and a good laugh to boot. You don’t get those opportunities every day folks 😉

http://caketime.blox.pl/2013/05/Ciasto-kubusiowe.html

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I decided to take a photo of the outside of the Apple and Pear orchard. This is what gave us our idea to fully enclose our veggie garden. Our garden will be bigger than this.

I am back listening to early morning music again. It’s either that, or “Chicken” and “Stock” will have me outside barefoot in the moonlight cashing in my vegan ticket whilst tearing their heads off with my bare vegan hands…yes folks…music is vegan diazepam. Today I am listening to Ben Folds latest gorgeous offering. “Gorgeous” might not be the right word…quirky, manic, and poignant and simply “right”…if you can get hold of “The sound of the life of the mind” do yourselves a favour and grab a pair of headphones…let the rooster’s crow, who cares! You won’t hear them 😉 he is one of those incredibly talented people whose sum is SO much more than its separated components. I dare say there are 4 ex-wives out there that would LOVE to separate Ben Folds into his relevant components but for now he is still whole and producing the most incredibly heartfelt and honest lyrics I have heard in ages.

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One of the best things about autumn is the plethora of gorgeous fungi that spring up overnight and disappear just as fast…narf7 is a fungi nut and doesn’t care who knows it! 🙂

If you are game here’s a great song I particularly love from the reformed Ben Fold’s 5 album… “Draw a Crowd” please note there are parts of this song that might offend some of you (but I doubt it 😉 ) be warned folks! 😉

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rBy_ZoJl5M

Is it just me or does Conan Obrien look like Gumby?! I listened twice and now am being knocked sideways by the incredible voice of Ellie Goulding an amazingly ethereal singer from the U.K. Check out “Hanging on” from her sterling album “Halcyon”

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

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When we have treats we have amazingly well behaved dogs…as soon as the treats are guzzled, they are back to ignoring us, pulling like tractors and dragging us down the road

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The blackmailing hens won 😦 There are 9 eggs here. This was 9 weeks worth of eggs for 5 months till we conceded and started to let them out to wreak havoc on our garden again…now we get this many eggs in 2 days. I guess them’s the breaks folks! Chickens 1 narf7 nil 😦

Amazing isn’t she? Reminds me of an elven Sarah McLachlan. Music transcends so many things and I am a real believer that what you put into yourself, is what you become. Listen to wonderful lyrics, immerse your inner “you” with beautiful, poignant, real, heartfelt music, eat gorgeous things and balance them out with food for your body and soul. Don’t put anything inside you, by choice, that you wouldn’t give to your children and remember, when life is busy sucking, which it tends to do at least once on a daily basis for most people, these little moments of pure pleasure, of complete satisfaction and of comforting soul uplifting are what is going to get you through those abject moments of irritation and pain. Life is constantly trying to balance itself out…to reach its own nirvana…nature does it in cycles and we are part of that cycle whether we think we have made it to the top of the heap or not and if we listen to the small beautiful moments, if we seek out and fill our minds and our bodies and our souls and our spirits with amazement and happiness and pure unadultered pleasure we are balancing our lives and giving ourselves inner strength. See what spills out of me after a few stanzas of Ellie Goulding? 😉 Here are a few pictures I had handed to me in an early morning post this morning. I love this blog AND it’s an Aussie blog! Ever felt like packing everything up and buggering off? ;)…

http://frommoontomoon.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/rolling-homes-handmade-houses-on-wheels.html

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“WOO-HOO!” Guess where we will be next Saturday! We have a race with our neighbours around the circuit and try to best them every year. So far its 1 all… its up to Serendipity Farm to pull off a blinder of a bargain this year…wish us luck!

See you on Wednesday folks. Next Saturday it’s my entry for The Virtual Vegan Potluck so if you open your post and think “we aren’t in Kansas anymore Toto!” you would be right! But it’s only for 1 post guys…humour me 😉

“I’m not dead…I’m just busy!”

Hi All,

I feel like copying and pasting that sentence into several emails to friends and family and using it as my Facebook epitaph. I have decided not to use Facebook any more. It sucks time and energy out of you and it is totally addictive. I don’t want to waste valuable time sitting on my bum indoors when I could be outside in the sunshine (albeit the cold sunshine) facilitating change on Serendipity Farm along with my dear long suffering husband who might be dragging his feet, but he is still coming along for the ride. We have enormous gardens to build. Yesterday, when I was picking the last of the tomatoes and some ripe red chillies for The Virtual Vegan Potluck entry that is now all done and dusted and ready for posting in early May, Steve was planning aloud. That was difficult because Earl was on the end of a lead, Bezial was frolicking free and was up for a game with his harnessed kennel mate and when 2 American Staffies want to play, it’s not so much fun to be the man on the end of the rope! He was planning (while he was being pulled from pillar to post, spun around in circles and was anchoring himself to the nearest sheoak tree…) our plan of attack.

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This is Gok…prior to his recent cooking television series I had nothing but derision for this man-Gumby hybrid. I would see adverts for his television show about making naked women feel good about themselves and would cringe…one of those “empowering the people” shows that was really all about self denial and delusion but then I had nothing to do one evening and decided to watch television and was too lazy to get up when Gok’s Chinese cooking show came on. Truth be told my interest was piqued and I am now a complete convert of Gumby-Gok. I love the man. He has elevated himself into the stratosphere and I totally “get” why hundreds of women would strip for him and parade themselves naked around on television…Gok is the new Nigel Slater and he is the hipster king of U.K. cookery that this wonderful book was sent to me by the wonderful Tanya from http://chicaandaluza.wordpress.com/ a wonderful blog that I have been following for quite a while now. Tanya and I share an ethos, a sense of humour and a deep love for frugality and for living our lives to the fullest and Tanya decided that she wanted to send me a copy of Gok’s Chinese cookbook and I am absolutely rapt :). There are so many recipes that I want to make but the very first one is going to be congee. After that there is an amazing Chinese rice wrapped in dried lotus roots and after that the sky is the limit! I love you Gumby-Gok and I love  Tanya and Toli’s generosity as well 🙂

Steve is the heavy duty practical side of the equation…I am the numbers “man”. Together we figure it out and we put it into play and we usually end up with what we were after. It’s a great result when we work together… the only problem is that we work in such different ways that most of the time we spend trying to figure out what the HECK the other person is doing at any given time. Steve has plans…”those trees there are in the way…they will have to come out (read Steve wants some firewood for next year)… and after that we will put some poles in (read dig holes, concrete poles into the ground where only days before there was a perfectly good tree that we could have used for the same purposes…sigh…) and we can stretch that netting tight between them and after that…” I wasn’t listening by then…I was bums up doing callisthenics in an attempt to try to source some tomatoes from the jungle that used to be a tomato bed. “Next year we stake!” I say loudly and Steve looks at me in a somewhat alarmed way…obviously I must have interjected at some crucial point that most certainly DIDN’T require staking!

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I took this book out of the library recently on a whim…looks like I am going to be exercising my brain for the foreseeable future…

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Here is the button box that I recently gave my friend Kym. We swapped that lovely doily book for buttons…a great swap! We both get something that we want for something that we don’t want…the best of frugality mixed with barter 🙂

Steve says the magic words “after this garden, we will take out those trees over there and will make another one…” and THAT is part of why I love you still you smelly footed, stubborn mule of a man… you feed me what I want and I WANT more gardens :o). I have big plans for the first paddock on Serendipity Farm. Most of it is going to be a fully enclosed series of walk in, walk out vegetable gardens. I want to be able to grow chickpeas, amaranth, chia and quinoa along with buckwheat and various other hardy grains and lots of dried beans. Protein and calories are the order of the day. I am even going to have a go at growing peanuts after Sarah from http://gardeningkiwi.wordpress.com/ fame (and she IS famous folks…she has written a book :o) ) said that she bought a packet off her supermarket shelf (the ones in shells) and is growing them! She said “I like to experiment”…so do I Sarah…so do I! So peanuts are on the cards.

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This is the front cover of a wonderful crochet doily book that my friend Kym from Western Australia sent me recently. I finally found where I hid these photos! Linne wanted to see the cover so here it is…

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And here is one of the lovely doilies inside that I am going to attempt to tackle in the near future

I was going to have a go at growing Brazil nuts but found out that they won’t fruit/nut anywhere other than Brazil because they need a specific and most endemic little pollinator before they will produce the nuts…but the tree looks lovely and I might just grow one…”because I can!” I dare say no-one else in Tassie has a Brazil nut tree growing in their garden and narf7 is bolshie enough to give it the old college try. I have grown mangoes, avocados, walnuts, hazelnuts, figs, carob trees and copious quantities of chestnut trees (easy peasy to grow folks, I just fished a forgotten bag of chestnuts out of the fridge and threw them into some moist coir peat in a plastic bag in a covered esky and almost all of them grew!) and love to grow something for free. It feeds the frugality in me and gives me a sense of purpose to produce things.

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These pumpkin vines are WAY too late in the season to survive the coming winter and were harbouring some small mango saplings that had grown in the compost, so I decided to sacrifice the pumpkins to save the mangoes

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This is what the compost heap looks like today and the sad withered greenery was once pumpkins…next season I am going to have amazing pumpkins that no native animal is going to have a chance to sniff let alone get close enough to taste!

I might have to have a stall somewhere to offload all of the excess food producing plants, however, because even though we have 4 acres, 20 walnut trees and 15 chestnut trees might just be a few too many for that kind of acreage if we want to have a hope in heck of planting anything else ;). That’s part of the problem. If we were rank amateurs we could head out with our heads full of hope and just “plant” but we aren’t…we are fully fledged, dyed in the wool, fully away horticulturalists and we KNOW how far apart we should space things, we KNOW how big they grow, we KNOW about forest plantings and pH and depth of planting and we just KNOW which makes it all the harder to plant out our wonderful free little babies. I might just go doorknocking in the neighbourhood and see if our long suffering neighbours would like some “excuse me…we live just down the road…you might have heard our dogs barking…here…have a tree for your suffering…” ;).

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There might not be many but these potatoes were found when we were digging up the mangoes from the compost bin…SCORE!

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The 2 mangoes in their overwintering palace, the glass house. Lets just hope they survive the winter

I need to self-flagellate…I missed Leonardo Da Vinci’s 561st birthday on April 15th! I also missed that crap mini-series that someone (trying to make a fast buck out of jumping on the bandwagon to link famous long dead (read “can’t sue me anymore”…) people with crappy vampire series…) made about him recently but unlike my sheer unmitigated glee at escaping that utter pile of dog excrement, I am a little bit sad that I missed giving this amazing man the kudos that he deserved. Some people deserve über kudos and Leonardo is one such man…let’s all give him a minute’s silence, heck, let’s give him 2! for being one über cool dude WAY back then that was likely to get you lynched, tarred and feathered or just plain tortured and dispatched. It just goes to show that the brain will out, no matter what is standing in the way (or how much armour or pointy weaponry they are carrying at the time…). I offer you the quintessential anthem to kudos that you deserve sir…ringing down through the ages you ARE remembered…you live on in so many people’s minds and as ACDC would sing, loudly and repeatedly…”for those about to rock…WE SALUTE YOU!”. We most certainly do Mr Da Vinci. :o)

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We didn’t think that these poor long suffering potted babies would survive the long, hot dry summer that we had, let alone live to give us any kind of winter display but here they are looking beautiful and begging us to plant them out this autumn…”I hear you babies…I HEAR YOU” 🙂

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We grew most of these small trees from seed. We aren’t too sure what we are going to do with them all but we might just find someone starting out anew and give them an unexpected bonus of some gorgeous trees 🙂

It’s just turned 3.29am Saturday 20th. Bezial turfed me out of bed because it’s COLD out here and he heard me telling Earl to stop shoving ;). I don’t mind, all the more time for me to tap away here and tie up online ends before my brain turns itself off early this evening. I am now the mother of a 23 year old youngest child. My daughter Bethany had her birthday yesterday and was celebrating with her sister Madeline (25) by having lunch at a new local Korean BBQ house. I hope they had a great time and I know that Bethany’s birthday cake will have been MOST interesting because they were using some purple bubble tea as the basis. They like to experiment with cooking and tend to only use recipes as a basis for their imaginative recipes and 9 times out of 10 they are successful. I tend not to be as inventive as they are but I am reasonably inventive and like to mess about with cultures and letting the cultures metabolise ingredients partially to see what happens to the end result.

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I COMPLETELY forgot to post this heart for valentine’s day! We noticed it when we were walking the dogs AGES ago in Launceston at the university campus…I heart trees 🙂

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This is a leaf hopper…usually leaf hoppers = BAD but this one is in someone else’s garden so he gets to be admired for his beauty and left to nibble another day 😉

I am going to be making more kimchi this weekend. I have a precious cup of kimchi left from my last batch that is going to culture my new batch. Steve rust treated and sprayed my new fire set black that I got for $1 from the tip shop and remembered a fire poker that we had inherited so that got the black spray treatment as well. The handle doesn’t exactly match the set we picked up but who cares? It pokes the fire and that’s fine by me! The best thing about that $1 fire set is that it is solid cast iron and was built to last. I don’t know why someone threw it out in the first place but I have noticed that garage sales are rich playgrounds for savvy people here in Tasmania. The average Tasmanian doesn’t like to get out into the world until around about 10am. We used to head off to the Evandale markets (when we lived in the city) nice and early at 8.30 and we would be finished and on our way home before the long lines of Tassie traffic were passing us in the other direction.

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This is the shop at Wychwood…isn’t it lovely?

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This is the family home at Wychwood but I couldn’t resist sharing this lovely trough of succulents with you all 🙂

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Just around the corner from that lovely trough of succulents is this lovely brick oven. I have a pile of used bricks in town with an oven just like this’s name on it…

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These are the sort of rocks that you find on the beaches around Tasmania. Beautiful weather worn, smoothed by the ocean rocks. It’s hard to leave them on the beach!

Steve shops at 7am in the supermarkets because there are only a few older people there at that time of day…he is usually finished shopping by about 10am and we only shop once a fortnight so these shopping forays take all different kinds of shops into account. We plan this once a fortnight shop meticulously and Steve has his plans of attack. Sometimes the plans of attack involve grabbing things off shelves without looking at them and then finding out when you get home that someone had decided to dump a more expensive product for a cheaper one on sale and Steve just so happened to have grabbed the more expensive product in his hast to be “OUTTA THERE” but that is happening more infrequently now that he is starting to realise that it just isn’t worth handing your tea addicted wife (since she was 2) a packet of über expensive teabags that don’t deliver that rich tannin flavour!  It takes me almost a whole day to do what Steve does in a couple of hours and even then I forget things and come home with heaps of other things that weren’t on the list. I did the shopping the last time that I stayed at my daughters. I did a GREAT job…I was very proud of myself for my efforts BUT (that year of living honestly has forced me to tell the truth 😉 ) I did have the entire weekend to chip away at the shopping list and stretched out the actual shopping over the 3 days that I was away. Some people are built for speed and Steve is one such person :o). Now he just has to allow the concept of “accuracy” to filter into his mindset 😉

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Who would like one of these gorgeous little birdhouses in their garden?

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I took a side view because I am going to have a go at making something approximating this birdhouse…wish me luck!

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I LERVE this chair folks…it is official. We have driftwood from the sea that washes down the river and onto the pebbly riverbank right in front of Serendipity Farm…we have Teatree saplings on the property that need thinning out that would be perfect to make something like this and we have lots of misshapen woody bits lying around from past thinning out ventures. This chair has my name all over it!

Remember how I was complaining about how hot it was in February and March? It WAS hot…it was dry…it was HORRIBLE and now it is cold…it went from 30+C temperatures down to 5C in a matter of weeks. My recent weight loss efforts have handed me energy to spare. It shielded me from our long hot summer and I certainly didn’t miss my extra layer of fat in summer. Everything has good and bad points right? That includes weight loss! Yeh, I might be able to power up our steep driveway in a wave of determination…yeh my knees might be happier than they have been in years…yeh I might almost have broken out into a run with Earl the other day and I might be able to keep up with Steve when we are walking the dogs and yeh I might be able to fit into clothes that I haven’t fitted into for years BUT then the frigid Antarctic autumn descends and suddenly my obsolete layer of fat has taken on a nostalgic quality in my mind…like a nice round nana (cheers for that analogy Jess 😉 ) that gives you a cuddle and a couple of her chockie bickies (that’s chocolate cookies to you Northerners) out of the biscuit barrel when you visit her and you KNOW that the roast dinner she is going to dish you up that night will have more than enough delicious roast potatoes AND there is desert!

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This is an avocado…it appears to be trying to sneak away because it is MORE than aware of it’s fate. Tonight…this avocado will be made into sushi. “Fear me avocado!” 😉

My 25 extra kilos cuddled me in winter. They wrapped themselves around me and insulated me from the worst of the cold and I KNOW WHY SEALS HAVE BLUBBER! I might be able to zip around the place like Speedy Gonzales on steroids…I might be constantly marvelling at how loose cloth feels on my legs and how I have so much energy now but I fear winter. I really do FEAR winter. I am sitting here wearing 2 jumpers, a pair of leg warmers (YES leg warmers 😉 ), my warm slippers and I am STILL cold. Is this what you “normal” people feel in winter? I am going to have to scratch a chalky little note on our shopping list…my chalky little note is going to read “dear Steve…could you please pick me up 14 hot water bottles from K-Mart this shopping…I KNOW 14 seems a little extreme but humour me… I am going to strap them to my body for winter…I am going to knit myself a full set of long john’s (brightly coloured with flares…CMON’! Would you expect any less of me?! 😉 with little flaps where the hot water bottle necks are situated…I am going to sew myself into the long john’s (cheers for that analogy Linnie 😉 ) and I am going to spend winter in my improvised suit of warmth to take the place of my fat. I can just do a few cartwheels to empty them each morning, shiver for a little while as I fill them all and sink into happy hot fugishness through my days. I don’t suggest anyone visits me over winter (bad luck Kymmy, you already booked!) as my new suit might start to reek a bit BUT them’s the breaks folks and you do what you have to do to keep yourself warm and sane 😉

DSCF0920Some of the fire utensils from the $1 tip shop bargain that I got recently. The poker and broom are still in the shed awaiting second coats but already it looks a whole lot better than $1 in my books 🙂

Bezial just got up. He who tossed me out of bed at 2.30 is lying in front of Brunhilda at 3.57am demanding that I poke her and get her going. I am starting to wonder just who is the boss around here… Apparently Bezial already knows! 😉 Bezial has been waiting for this…he and I share a winter tradition of getting up together and me waking Brunhilda up from her overnight slumber so that he can lay in front of her for the rest of the day. Bezial just decided that she wasn’t warming up quickly enough and has gone back to the comfort and warmth of being tucked under my feather doona next to Earl and Steve…sigh…that leaves Brunhilda and I to do the work of warming up the kitchen together…she is crackling into life as I tap this here and its WONDERFUL! :o).

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Still harvesting things from our veggie garden and the spinach is showing no signs of going to seed or giving up the ghost any day soon which is great because I pick it every day 🙂

Last year I got up a whole lot later than I do now…Steve tamps the fire down before he goes to bed at 11 and I will be waking her up again at 3…she seems pleased with the new routine…she  and I have lots of possibilities as the colder weather progresses. I can now add a few new routines of my own into the equation. Now that I am up 3 – 4 hours earlier than the rest of the household why not use some of this time with Brunhilda’s early morning warmth to good avail? Time to start factoring in the warmth of the bread proofer that Steve made for me, essentially a shelf a metre above Brunhilda with a metal mesh allowing the wafting heat to rise through and slowly warm whatever I choose to place up there…I could prove bread up there overnight. A nice slow proofing so that the next day I can get Brunhilda cranking and an hour later I could bake bread…fresh baked bread before the sun comes up? Now THAT is an interesting premise!

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A gratuitous bum shot…I still can’t get over where it went! I have lost more weight since this photo but you are looking at the part of me that was the most significant to say the least…now I know it was there to keep me warm in winter!

Steve recently received a gorgeous jar of Christi from Olalla’s jam. He allowed me a tiny taste but I know that this jam is precious to him. It’s a matter of supply and demand. No matter how much jam he demands, there is a very limited supply. Christi is one of the most generous and wonderful people that I know but it costs a FORTUNE to send things between Australia and the U.S. My daughters send a 4kg (that’s over 8lb) package to my son in a neighbouring state for his recent 31st birthday and it only cost them $17 to do so. I would have to SELL said 31 year old son to pay for the costs if I wanted to send the same parcel to Olalla…that should give you an idea about how expensive it is (AND he is a practicing accountant who won’t get out of bed for under $200/hour so factor that into the equation!). I am just going to have to try to get Christi’s jammy goodness recipes out of her. In the name of transcontinental happiness she just might grace me with the recipe to make Steve happy over his morning toast but the problem is that aside from not being able to get some of the more exotic ingredients, Christi has her own alchemy when it comes to jam. I have NEVER tasted better jam folks. This girl could jar it up and sell it, it is THAT good. I bow to her jammy genius and can only hope that my homemade spadle could do justice to one of her recipes. I have a couple of kilos of blackberries in the freezer…I have a homemade spadle that could stir for the queen and I have a 20 litre stainless steel pressure cooker base that doubles as an “Ace” jam pot…now all I need is that fairy dust that makes “jam”…something that Steve wants to dip his spoon into and eat from the jar 😉

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Who could resist these 2…butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths now would it? 😉

Another tome? “Et Tu Brute?!”…sigh…I guess some of you are still reading my posts and maybe I might be able to coax some strangers from the ether (via unusual tags 😉 ) to stray onto Serendipity Farm and spend the time it takes to get through a BIG mug of tea to read them. I told someone today that my blog is my way of allowing my muses to vent. I guess you, my dear constant readers, are starting to realise just how many muses this poor husk of humanity endures! Brunhilda has managed to heat a kettle of water from cold to just on the point of boiling in under 2 minutes…not bad old girl! She is in fine form and just the crackling is making me feel warmer. Apparently the roosters under the deck are feeling the love as well because they just started to crow…sigh…have a fantastic weekend folks…remember you only get 1 life and this is IT. Do something that makes you feel alive this weekend…bugger it…do something that makes you “SQUEE!” with delight :o). Have the best damned time that you can this weekend and when you have to trudge back to work they are going to wonder what that little smile of contentment is that  is hanging off the side of your mouth…don’t tell them, it’s all yours. See you Wednesday :o)

The amazing adventures of Frances Fennel Pants and Co.

Hi All,

I don’t think I own a pair of pants that don’t smell of some form of strong vegetation. The reason behind the olfactory enhancement of my derrière pockets is because whenever we walk the dogs (and that would be a daily event) I tend to find some seed pod or other to shove into my back pocket along with the various rocks, bits of shiny river tumbled glass and old pottery shards that I collect on our travels. My latest foray into the world of hardy bee and butterfly forage plants is fennel (Foeniculum vulgare). I have been collecting seed as it ripens along with Queen Anne’s lace and I am looking for a source of Jerusalem artichokes, canna lilies and day lilies to add to my extreme hardy Zone 4 collection. I want plants that will survive anything that comes, that are hardy, tough, waterwise, can stand a drenching and that will attract beneficials to Serendipity Farm and have a degree of edibility about them. The only one from the list I wouldn’t eat anything from is Queen Anne’s Lace but I dare say that it has some form of medicinal qualities (I just haven’t had time to look it up yet). We got an envelope of Angelica Sylvester ‘Purpurea’ from Karen at Wychwood (to see some of this amazing garden check here… http://wychwoodtasmania.com/?page_id=4 ) yesterday to share with our friend in the witness protection. We are going to grow and plant out elderberries (Sambucus Canadensis) and various other fast growing extremely hardy plants (including the loquats that the wallabies sampled to within an inch of their lives recently). I learned a lesson about gardening over the course of the summer. I let one set of garden beds go nuts. The tomatoes did whatever they liked, fell over, lay on the ground, covered EVERYTHING and I let the chook wheat grow on the hay that I spread over the garden. It’s like a jungle in that side of the garden but a very productive one that requires half as much water as the carefully tended sparser series of veggie gardens on the other side. Mass planting really does work! I have some serious hunting to do over the next few months for hay bales, hardy edible groundcovers, vines, perennials, annuals and shrubs. We have some serious tree planting ahead of us including sweet chestnuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, figs, avocados, Brachychitons and now a small mango that has grown in our new compost heap from a seed that I tossed in wondering if it might grow. It’s amazing what will grow if you give it a chance.

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I have shamefully resorted to posting photo’s from my archives in order to give you enough to look at today. We have been flat out studying, making sourdough carrot cakes and baking quiche and the time got away from us. This is a homemade Thai green curry chicken pie, one of 4 that Steve enjoyed over the course of a couple of days

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Another shameless photo from the archives, this time of potato wedges that went with one of those delicious Thai green curry chicken pies

Its 6.02am and I am listening to the ethereal sounds of Miles Davis playing the trumpet and doing my own little social experiment on myself. Steve has been doing a social experiment on Facebook but sometimes I really don’t know where my dear husbands mind goes…I just let it go, it’s his to direct and some of the weird and wonderful posters he is posting boggle the mind…who knows what they say (most of them are in Russian) but it makes him happy to be making his statement (whatever that is…) so go for it I say :o). This little personal experimentation of my own involves me, good music and my days. I am attempting to see if it really is true that what you put into yourself forms you. I am hoping that this gorgeous soul uplifting music is going to give me back a degree of mellowness without the need to partake of the pharmacy of the multitudes. I figure I am overdue a script for “mellowness” and aside from learning how to meditate which strikes me as altogether a bit of an adventure laterally that I just don’t fancy at this moment in time, where multitasking as I tap away here posting, or finding recipes or information seems completely within the boundaries of my current thought processes…no stepping outside my comfort zone to toss Miles Davis Sketches of Spain into my brain, mainlining those castanets as we speak… I am exploring the difference that adding good music (obviously a completely subjective thing to explore and everyone has a different idea of what is “good”…) to my life in early morning doses. Yesterday I floated down the road behind Earl after spending a very pleasant morning listening to 3 CD’s and today I took my cue from a post found inside another post on a blog I don’t even follow (well I do now!) that recommended someone called Chet Baker and I had a bit of a listen and after a bit I decided to switch to Miles Davis…glad I did :o)… (Are those castanets or crickets Miles? Miles the maestro perfectionist may just be able to mesmerise crickets to do his bidding! 😉 ) Life is all about little experiments (well mine is) where conscious efforts blend with subconscious to give added meaning and precious nuance to where I am here and now “today”. It’s so easy to get lost in processes and not really experience the moment (like dogs apparently do according to our Dorg Wheesperer Caesar Milan…) and I am LOVING this moment. I have never actually listened to Miles Davis…I KNOW! Where have I been for 49 years?

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This is the last of the poached photos from the annuls of my saved photos for today. I always have a few spare shots up my sleeve and they languish in folders till I forget to take enough photos and you end up with them. I think this meal is about 6 months old and consists of home grown rooster ground up into chicken patties served with Asian style coconut curry rice and veggies. It was quick, tasty (according to Steve) and made the most of last years roosters 🙂

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This was taken on St Patrick’s Day of one of my breakfast smoothies. I figured it was particularly fitting to have a green smoothie on St. Patricks Day 😉

I had to switch RSS feed readers yesterday. I know…my early morning life revolves around my rss feed read so obviously I was a bit twitchy to say the least when Google decided to notify me via a small box in the middle of the page saying “We are taking away your early mornings…forget about suing us because we are SO AMAZINGLY HUGE that you are merely nothing in our eyes. So long and thanks for nothing you freeloading hippy…” well, maybe in not so many words but it struck panic into my comfortable early morning routine and as soon as Steve was awake I requested an instant transition over to someplace safe, equally as good and most importantly “Free”… Steve on the case is soothing. Steve on the case is happiness and Steve got on the case and found me a new and most amazing RSS feed reader that does it all with whistles and bells in a MUCH better way than Google did and even better…it simultaneously syncs with Google reader to poach all of my feeds so I don’t have to worry about July 1st arriving and losing all of my 498 blogs that I follow…how delicious it feels to stick it to Google? Not that they care…just another faceless penniless plebeian hippy off their existential books that they don’t have to drag around their profit mongering megalith of a corporation (does anyone get the feeling that I am a bit “pissed” at Google?) anymore… I love my new feed reader already and this is amazing considering I took a year to write my first blog post because I twitched whenever I thought about the technicalities of using a blog. This sucker does it all…no more opening up other pages or trying to scroll down in blogs, it’s the bomb and it’s MUCH BETTER THAN GOOGLE READER! I might even tag it as such…”Better than Google Reader” let’s see how much traffic from hyped up angry hippies I get for THIS post eh? When a corporation gets so big that it doesn’t have to care about projecting a positive image of itself anymore and it can do whatever it likes whenever it likes without considering its users it becomes a very scary corporation… you just elevated yourself to the level of Monsanto Google…

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I shared with you a while ago about the Chinese owned orchard that they have abandoned to its fate and that was prior to this year a well watered orchard. It got no water this year and I would estimate 80% of the trees are dead. This is what they look like…

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Do these cherry trees look alive to you? Me neither…what a waste. Our government should demand that foreign owned interests are able to maintain the arable farming land that they purchase prior to the sale. This is a prime example of greedy foreign interests taking everything that they could from the land and then discarding it when it required work. The trees haven’t been pruned since they took over, the grass hasn’t been mowed and the tiny skeleton crew of Chinese people shipped in to harvest and sell the fruit were completely overwhelmed by the task at hand.

Anyone out there ever made coconut jam? I just found a recipe for it and am going to make it as an alternative to regular sugar. I am going to make some date paste today because I have been using dates in my green morning smoothies and they deliver a subtle hint of caramel sweetness and I figure that a paste would be easy to shleck into the VitaMix goblet rather than cutting the dates up finely so that I don’t have to whizz everything around for so long that it melts my ice. I am thinking about what I am going to substitute for my morning green smoothie in winter. I might keep it going but I doubt I will be adding ice! Maybe congee? I love Korean food and might go hunting for some delicious vegan preparations. This winter is going to be so different to last winter. I have my early morning habits and Brunhilda and I will be able to wake up together and start our days long before the sun rises. I also have my newfound dedication to music…currently Kenny Burrell and the longest version of “Summertime” I have ever heard but am delighting in every single note :o)…every addict indulges themselves by jumping fully clothed into the fount of their new found addiction so you are going to have to indulge me for a little while here till the novelty wears off (if it ever, indeed, does! 😉 ).

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Guy is trying to cut a hook from this poor Southern Right Gull’s foot. It got caught in a fishing net and was noticed by a local and Steve and Guy went to the rescue in The Mumbly Cumumbus…

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I don’t think the gull liked Guy hanging it upside down…check out the next shot…

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Take a close look at where the birds beak is now and guess what he did to Guy just after this shot was taken 😉

Steve is off rescuing pelicans. The other day we were walking the dogs and talking about Peak Oil and how a friend seems to be getting a bit swallowed up by it all. Steve said “No problems…we will just keep the chooks for the odd bit of meat and for eggs, feed them on veggie scraps and let them free range around the place, you can grow veggies and fruit and nuts and I can go out fishing on the high seas in the Mumbly Cumumbus and it will be like pirates stealing the tea from the English” (that last bit was because I was lamenting that I would have to start drinking dandelion root tea and we BOTH know what Earl does to our stash of dandelions…). That got us talking about pirates and Steve was immediately identified with “The Dread Pirate Roberts”…but he didn’t really suit that moniker so then we thought of Inigo Montoya from the Princess Bride, but he wasn’t really that either and we arrived at “Pirate Steve” from the movie Dodgeball… after that we decided that Earl was most definitely “Yellowbeard”…a mad lunatic that can’t be stopped…a perfect vision of Earl and then Bezial ended up as Captain Pugwash (“NO” spellchecker, I DON’T want to change that to “Captain Pigwash”!!! ) because he gets seasick on boats and would rather stay on shore. I cleverly dodged being included in this pirate invasion and chose to stay home and cook the tea because every pirate needs to come home to a nice warm meal (and preferably some grog to go with it). The Mumbly Cumumbus has had to be employed by Steve, Roxy and Guy (our friends down the road) to rescue a trapped pelican from a net. Steve cleverly remembered to take protective clothing and gloves (fool him once!) and hopefully they will be able to release the trapped bird. He has taken his camera with him so that you might be able to share in his adventure. There aren’t many pelicans in our neck of the woods and hopefully this pelican will be able to resume its lifecycle out on the Tamar River without too much damage or trauma. It wasn’t a pelican, it was a Southern Right Gull and after its rescue the rescuers got together over some good German beer and debriefed ;).

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This is the name of a cafe in Beaconsfield and we thought that you might get a chuckle out of it for St Patricks Day (albeit in the past now 😉 ). I think it is called “Pot of Gold” because it costs you an arm and a leg to shop there 😉

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Some very tame young cows and steers that decided to come over and investigate what Steve was doing today on our walk with the dogs. Take a look at that paddock and be sure to let go of winter over there you Northerners…we obviously need it here!

IT RAINED…I don’t  know whether to race about singing or just sit here stunned but it actually “rained”. The garden looks stunned. It looks flat, deflated, brown and stunned but underneath it all I can hear autumn stirring and it is GOOD! I have been thinking about how we interact with people when we blog. I did a survey once (as a bolshie bird I tend to do surveys to ensure that the social imbalances are redressed ;)) asking me about a specific blogger and what my impressions of her were. I think that when your dear constant readers start to number more than the hairs on your head you have achieved rock star status in the blog world and you get your own fan club of supporters that mass together to attempt to get you elected as President whether you want it or not. The difference between rock stars and bloggers is that the rock stars get the dosh to balance out the adoration, bloggers usually don’t. A free book and the odd surreptitious package of canned goods wouldn’t be anywhere near enough for me to lose my anonymity and with my 133 blog followers (most of them sleepers 😉 ) I feel confident that I am never going to be hustled into the white house any day soon but I do feel a distinct responsibility to you all. I feel the need to post when sometimes I might not be post worthy…I feel the need to ensure you have something nice to look at (and sometimes something not-so-nice to balance it out 😉 ) in each post and I try to channel my muses into playing the same tune in order to get something approximating “readable” to you twice a week. As a penniless student hippy I don’t “work for the man”…the man probably wouldn’t want me anymore which suits me just fine but I have my processes and blogging is now firmly one of these processes. Whenever someone new comes to join our merry eclectic (mental) little throng here on Serendipity Farm I feel like I am welcoming someone into our book club (mental asylum) or our little knitting group or our baking circle. It’s a privilege to connect with other people and to allow them to mould themselves into our circle and  Queen of everything that I see, touch and can possibly begin to imagine here on Serendipity Farm I feel like I should at least show you around a bit and give you a cup of tea (you can have a good cup but not too sure if I can find a matching saucer at the moment…it is probably covered in drying tomato seeds, cherry plum stones or something fermenting as an experiment…) and a homemade biscuit. If you seem a little shell shocked after exploring around a bit I will give you another cup of tea (still with the mismatched saucer but you are looking a bit confused and probably won’t notice…) and I might even try to revive you with one of the chocolate biscuits from the top shelf…I love how each reader and commenter has their own place here in the blog. We all share this experience because we all “make” this space. If no-one comes, it is like that tree in the forest and when it falls no-one cares. Here in this tiny patch of ether in the Southern Hemisphere we all matter, no matter how humble we are because my dear constant readers and I are not like “other people”, we have time to share if it means we are going to hear a good story. We can find the energy to appreciate your efforts, we can applaud your talents and we can laugh and cry with you when something twangs the strings of your life. Like Stephen King once said “We all float down here” and in this little sewer we are united in our endeavours :o)

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This was taken just in front of the gate down on the river bank

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An early morning shot of Bonnie Beach just before the dogs started complaining because we were taking too long to get going on our walk

It’s just about time to start the day for Steve and the boys and I have been up and functioning (at least on some rudimentary level) since 3.30am. I just finished the tidy up from my mornings online degustation menu and noticed that I had 2 spam in my Hotmail account…1 from the ubiquitous “Big Willy”, a regular visitor to my spambox and the other from “Daily Bible Verse” another spam contender from way back…I find it humorous that Big Willy and Daily Bible Verse are the only occupants of my spambox and wonder if they converse while they are languishing in perdition waiting for me to shoot them straight into the ether and wouldn’t it be fun to be a fly on that spammy little wall listening to THAT conversation! 😉 I am still imbibing heady gusts of long forgotten C.D’s and loving every moment of it. It’s cold this morning and it rained yesterday and I am starting to have hope that there really might be an autumn this year and we won’t just bypass it and go headlong into the throws of winter. You northerners (you KNOW who you are!) are hogging your winter. I read about how you are protesting about how much you can’t wait for summer but I recon its only lip service, you aren’t sharing and we need it. We NEED it folks…our summer has just about sapped everything green and vibrant and alive from our hearts, minds and souls and we need a rest of it all. We need to sit and commune and talk and share hot chocolate and wander in a garden that might be asleep but at least shows some signs of being alive rather than the flat defeated brown shards of curling leaves and sad looking half dead flowers that greet us on anything other than a run to the car. We choose to look up at the clouds as we walk down the driveway which should probably result in us falling flat on our derrières but somewhere up there the powers that be kind of like us and we have been spared the ignominy of falling down our own driveway on a regular basis.

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A closeup of a series of houses on our walk at Bonnie Beach that don’t have fences…they all coexist together and share a large common back yard. The do this because they all got together when they initially built the houses and decided that fencing would obstruct the glorious view that they have of the river and decided to do without 🙂

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I love this shot of the boys…Earl looks like he has just heard the funniest joke and Bezial actually allowed us to take a photo for once. That’s a pretty rare thing to get both boys smiling and focussed at once 🙂

Well it looks like another post just hit mammoth proportions…how do you “regular” bloggers manage to find an earlier “stop” point?! My muses would have me up at night if I didn’t share the contents of my day’s digestive tract ;). Have a great week this week folks. No matter how mundane it might appear, there are always little interesting things in your week and there is beauty everywhere, we just have to be sure to see and feel it. I think the real world has us aiming too high…focussing on a point too far away and constantly yearning (or is that “constant craving” K.D. Laing? 😉 ) for something just out of reach when really, it’s right here quietly waiting for you to notice it. I recently read a post on The Naturephile, one of the wonderful blogs that I follow. Finn (what a wonderful name, wish I had thought of this one when I was naming my son :o) ) was talking about how he was watching a murmuration of starlings dancing with a sparrowhawk while he was sitting at a red light. How many of us grab the mobile phone and start to text, grab a lippy and re-apply, start thinking about what’s for dinner and completely miss what nature is sharing with us? We get too focussed on ourselves and our goals and our days and we miss out on living outside ourselves and in companionship with the world and I get the very strong feeling that is how we managed to disassociate ourselves from reality enough to do what we have done to the earth. Go watch some gorgeous rare Red Kite’s swooping into someone’s back yard to grab some croissants (lucky they didn’t say where they throw these croissants or my U.K. doppelgänger might just have been around a bit earlier to raid the pile! 😉 )…

http://thenaturephile.com/

See you on Saturday folks…bright as buttons and hopefully more aware of what is going on outside you rather than focussing too much on your inner machinations. You never know where that kind of anti-societal behaviour is going to take you 😉 …

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 😉

Wychwood and a heartwood spoon

Hi All,

I am officially in love…I am UTTERLY in love. Yesterday my friend in the witness protection and I had a horticultural road trip to visit the utterly bewitching Wychwood gardens before Karen and Peter are able to sell this most magical of gardens to some lucky person with both the money and the eye to be able to appreciate this gem of a property. After my “dei horribilis” on Monday, closely followed by her own dei horribilis on Wednesday when we dropped in to deposit some of our wayward junipers on her doorstep. We both decided that we needed to head off into the horticultural wilderness and Wychwood was the sirens song that lured us out of bed early and pointed in a direction that neither of us points very much. I met her at Exeter, midway between our properties and we continued on in her 4 x 4 which is much more reliable than “ole Bessie” our little workhorse. We took our time enjoying all of the quaint little towns festooned with unusual murals, topiaries; wooden sculptures ANYTHING to drag the tourist dollar up from Hobart and the south where all tourists are avidly pointed by the powers that be. Up north we have some gorgeous country and some really pretty places to visit and I have NO idea why people would go down to the South apart from trekking the last vestiges of gorgeousness in the wet wilderness traced by the Gordon river. Oh… and Mt. Wellington is a bit of alright as well ;). If you want to see real Tasmanians, come up north! They certainly lay it on thick up here…wine, potatoes, onions, hippies (yup…LOTS of hippies…), more potatoes…did I mention potatoes? ;). We trundled around upsetting people driving at breakneck speed in search of a traffic accident while we just sat in the left hand lane doing the equivalent of Steve pootling up the river. We didn’t stay on the highway long because highways are for chumps (and for big trucks and angry road rage ridden drivers…) so we ducked over and wended our merry way on the side roads less travelled and enjoyed the heck out of our trip. We stopped in Deloraine, a mecca for hippies and antiques and after a veggie sausage roll, our friend in the witness protection was ready to continue driving to Mole creek and beyond. Steve had hurriedly scratched down some driving instructions but what use have 2 chattering middle aged women in a large 4 x 4 doing 80km/hour and paying NO attention to the road signs, for instructions? We did what men DON’T do, and we stopped at Mole Creek to ask at the local Information centre (that’s what it’s there for folks! 😉 ) where Wychwood was and were given instructions how to get there by a very nice lady who didn’t mind at ALL that we were lost with no idea where we were…in fact, we kept her in a job in a job stressed market for another day…

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I took a million, squillion and 7 photos of Wychwood so I have had to limit today’s post to a few as we have to put Earl’s walnut draw for the Valentine’s Day spoon in as well so this photo is of the lovely little nursery at Wychwood, full of all sorts of healthy and unusual stock all grown as excess on Wychwood soil for lucky patron’s to purchase and take home to pretend that their gardens are some day going to look like Wychwood 😉

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A really nice idea. Karen and Peter like to pick a selection of the plants in flower and fruit in the garden on any given day, an herbarium for the punters

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As Edina from “Absolutely Fabulous” would say about the Wychwood shop…”Lots of gorgeousness sweetie…lots of little gorgeous things…”

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The garden had splashes of colour all over the place. Nothing gaudy and over the top because Peter told us that he prefers foliage and texture. My sentiments exactly!

After we learned that we only had to go up the road a little ways before finding our destination we trundled off again and suddenly there it was…unmistakable amongst bare fields full of sheep, an oasis of treed greenness that silently beckoned us into its folds. I have to mention here to anyone who has been shirking their “Dear constant reader” duties and not keeping up to speed on Serendipity Farm posts that visiting Wychwood has been a dream of mine for some time now. I have stalked Peter and Karen from afar for years…I follow Karen’s wonderful Wychwood posts on “Garden Drum” a most informative collection of expert writers that document their garden journeys and adventures and I follow her on Facebook as well. To explain Wychwood isn’t easy. In a nutshell it is 2 peoples idyll and passion that bled into a sheep paddock out in the middle of woop-woop miles away from the madding crowd that evolved over a period of almost 20 years to be somewhere that any garden gnome or fairy would lust after calling “home”. 2 ½ acres of gorgeousness to the max and every turn has something special…we were lucky enough to arrive on a less than promising day…no sunny blue skies and lots of prospect of rain and even though we were there for hours (I think I must have been abducted by aliens because it felt like 5 minutes…) only 1 other couple turned up while we were there and left long before we did. We are both horticulturalists so you can only begin to imagine the “Oohing and AHing” that went on. We were up to our armpits in precious things and everywhere we turned there was something to delight our horticultural senses. So many beautiful things and a mind full of possibilities…round buxus balls festooned their merry bumbling way across a lawned area reminding me of hedgehogs on their way to a saucer of water…Our friend got VERY excited…”I have just plonked buxus down in the sand! One day, when I have filled in the gaps it might look like this!”…delight, excitement, overwhelming prospects of reward at the end of the tunnel and we were gone…wandering aimlessly taking photo after photo and being constantly reminded of the possibilities that result from someone’s willingness to “Have a bash” and get stuck in and effect change on this sort of scale. These people are collectors…I was amused when I asked Peter what a certain species of Viburnum was that he had in the garden and he told me that it was called Viburnum rhytidophyllum. I then proceeded to tell him that I had found this very viburnum deep in the undergrowth of the jungle that we call Serendipity Farm. He was suddenly very interested and asked me where this plant had been sourced. I told him that the elderly lady, who had owned this property, prior to my father, had planted all sorts of things and some of them were still alive. He told me to ask her where she had bought this shrub from because by the sounds of it, it isn’t a very common shrub in Tasmania. Ida… you were indeed a plants woman :o)

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With the shop over to the left of this photo the exit into the garden has this lovely staged border of colour, texture and foliage height

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Borders are the name of the day on Wychwood as are the use of grasses and medium shrubs and trees to give interest to each garden bed. Note the Gunnera manicata’s HUGE leaves looking for all the world like enormous rhubarb

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To the left note the clever use of Rugosa roses acting as a hedge between one garden area and another and more massed planting and staggered borders to the right

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The garden is full of little pathways like this, leading you around corners in search of the elusive secret garden behind those shrubs

Karen and Peter have made the most of this amazing space and have carefully and lovingly created a slow evolutionary march of vegetation from their initial deciduous tree plantings, lots of birches, an interesting beech, Linden and various maples to the inbetweeners…the cornus and the well placed Sambucus in all of their glorious varieties and forms providing shade, flowers and fruit for the birds, bees and butterflies that were staggering lustily whilst twittering, buzzing and flittering around respectively. A most scrumptious ornamental Japanese grape vine (Vitis coignetiae) meandered all over the small but well stocked nursery a study in gorgeous green that we were assured by Peter, was not only difficult to propagate but that rewarded the autumn spectator with a show of vibrant red magnificence. There was a chook yard with hens protesting their incarceration along with a high hedged orchard that contained a single short fat pair of gorgeous ducks and a “Cranky Goose” signposted and warned and no indemnity taken…I am used to geese. My mother once kept a flock of 50 of them and I know what geese are like. This one was timid compared to mum’s geese and our friend in the witness protection wouldn’t even go near it and stayed outside the lovely wrought iron gate with her mobile camera switched on in hope that the goose would attack thus giving her fodder to amuse her friends…I gracefully emerged unscathed (to her disappointment I might add…) but well aware that the “Hissing” behind me was indeed a warning of beak-to-pants action should I overstay my welcome…I understand gooseanese implicitly! I will share more of Wychwood in the photos that I add to this post but I am still in a daze of happiness about yesterday and am cram packed full of possibilities. Our friend and I have plans…inscrutable plans for propagating masses of perennials between us so that we can mass plant the back end out of our properties. She is still in the “sheep paddock” stage but we have the benefit of there being some strong plant foundations here on Serendipity Farm but having to pare back the layers of debris and weeds built up over 20 years of neglect to reveal the poor long suffering survivors underneath. We did learn some interesting things from Peter who told us that he never fertilises anything…”nature doesn’t fertilise anything other than dropping leaves on itself so why should we?” He mulches with pea straw etc. for humus but although the soil on the property was sandy and infertile this garden towers majestically out of the hillsides and plonked down on Mole Creek like a little piece of heaven. Wychwood is for sale by the way… Peter said it wouldn’t hurt to mention it in my blog…obviously free publicity with the way that I have been gushing over the place but it truly is a magical garden full of enticing and exciting possibilities. If anyone you know would like to live in “Clean Green” Tasmania, nestled in a basin between 3 mountain ranges with a creek on the side of the property and a garden to die for, do a bit of Google searching and I am sure that you will find a real estate agent that will be more than happy to guide you through the processes of signing your life away…but in the process, gaining a little piece of paradise that I know you won’t find anywhere else :). We exited and drove off twittering with possibilities…

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Occasionally you would see something in the middle of the lawn like this large grass or a series of round topiary buxus like hedgehogs following their mum into the long grass…it was a clever way to separate garden areas and minimise turf, which is incredibly water hungry and prone to insect predation

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The drop dead gorgeous enormous leaves of Vitis coignetiae a Japanese ornamental grape vine with a hint of the colour that the entire vine takes on in autumn. One of the reasons why our friend in the witness protection and I are heading back up mid April this year

We decided on heading up further north to check out a nursery that we had been to a few times over the last few years. Big Pot nursery isn’t a patch on Wychwood nursery but it has 2 things going for it. 1. It is cheap as chips and 2. It has a whole lot more “stuff” than Wychwood. We had purchased some “pretties” from Wychwood. I bought “Rudbeckia triloba”; “Ajuga reptans ‘Jungle Beauty’ and “Monarda didyama” from Wychwood and considered $18 well spent. For an upmarket garden with a twinkle of gorgeousness that would lead a body to believe that there might also be a twinkle of expense involved with their nursery stock the prices were very reasonable and I know that the plants are healthy and vital. Heading over to Big Pot and the stock is somewhat less reliable and more higgledy piggledy in nature but from $2 – $3 for perennials and extremely reasonable prices for deciduous trees (most of the smaller stock was $6) Big Pot nursery is well worth a trip to budget mindful penniless student hippies and the sign saying “Liliums $2 each” had our friend twitching with excitement. I didn’t even look sideways at the gorgeous floral tributes because they do grow on Serendipity Farm…and they are eaten on Serendipity Farm before they are able to thrust out those gorgeous blowsy flowers so lilums and I are not mano-a-mano if you know what I mean. I trundled over and found…”Sophora microphylla (N.Z. Kowhai) a lovely small tree that has lacy leaves (that promise nitrogenous advantages to the soil surrounding its roots); Salvia corrugata with scrumptious deep blue flower spikes; Sisyrinchium striatum (a lovely hardy member of the iris family that has tiny butter yellow stalks of flowers and that is very hardy); Salvia elegans or Pineapple sage with its heady scented leaves and wonderful spikes of red flowers and Eryngium alpinum, a member of the sea holly family that I am going to carpet Serendipity Farm with variations of because it has stood defiant against the advancing hoards and they have found it wanting! A most perfect plant for Serendipity Farm ;). Our friend in the witness protection also broke a piece from her pot of Ajuga reptans ‘Catlins Giant’ that was heading off in another direction and that had adventitious roots and gave it to me to pot up and coax into fruition for our garden. We will both be collecting fennel seed (Foeniculum vulgare) and Queen Anne’s lace seed (Daucus carota) from weedy specimens in ditches over the coming few weeks as the seed heads ripen and will be interspersing the resulting plants with garlic…Wychwood had a lovely patch of mixed fennel and garlic just outside their vegetable garden as a beneficial attractant and a pest deterrent. There is so MUCH to learn about gardening and luckily, the best way to do it is free…watch your garden (such as it is…) wander around it at all times of the day (hint: use a torch at night time…just sayin’…) and just “look”…watch what insects are bumbling around…are there any birds? Lizards? Frogs? Over the coming season watch how the conditions in your garden change as the seasons change and check for windy spots, hot spots, dry spots and shady spots. Learn where the sun is at any given time of the day and learn how much sunlight the objects of your horticultural desire need…just watch, listen and learn from your garden. It has so many lessons to teach you if you will only stop bumbling about yelling and listen to it! (in saying that…I am still in the bumbling stages and most definitely in the yelling stages so perhaps it’s best to do as I say, not as I do for the purposes of this lesson O.K? 😉 )

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 I truely abhor photographs of “me” but in order for you to see this amazing edifice to fatherly love in the form of a kids cubby house that not only has this beautiful garden surrounding it, but it has sleeping accomodation inside and has 2 stories!, I had to post me too.  I appear to have lost one of my eyes and grown the teeth of a donkey in this shot…I scolded our friend in the witness protection for her lack of photographic skills but then I saw the photos that I took of her standing here on her phone and decided not to say anything about her lack of talent 😉 …

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One side of this pathway leads off to a wonderful grass maze that I will share with you in future posts and the right hand side leads off to an orchard…an orchard that apparently contained a very cranky goose…we were warned…but hey? When have I EVER listened to warnings eh?

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2 occupants of the orchard…cranky geese? I think not! These 2 ducks were quite small but incredibly stocky making them emminently squeezable…they obviously knew how cute they were and had suffered several squeezes in the past because as soon as I entered the rusted wrought iron gate into the orchard they hightailed it away from me as fast as those tiny waddling legs would toddle

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“SPOTTED!”…time to make a hasty retreat to the safety of the area directly behind the rusted wrought iron gate and our friend in the witness protection with her camera phone at the ready just in case the goose decided to attack…I had to sternly remind her that “Youtube is a fickle mistress”…

Bugger! I got so excited I put too many words in this post…I hope you are still here with me as I tap out these last few stanzas and tie up the string section for that last great “Huzzah!” Well here we are at the end of the post and most of you could care less about the gardening bit and want to know who won the beautiful Valentine’s Day spoon? Well (drum roll…..) Earl picked…

Congratulations to …..

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The Valentine’s Day spoon is going to Oklahoma :o)

http://s1101.beta.photobucket.com/user/bezial27/media/MyMovie-1_zpsd4563739.mp4.html

So to all of you dear constant readers who missed out, it will soon be “Mother’s Day” (well here in Australia it will!) so you will get another chance then :o). Till Wednesday, here is a photo of the spoons to choose from…

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If Little sundog wants to choose which spoon she wants and let me know in the comments section we can tee up how you are going to get your spoon. See you all on Wednesday 🙂

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