Short and pictorial mid winter on Serendipity Farm

Hi All,


Is anyone else a teensy tiny little bit “SICK TO BLOODY DEATH” of the soccer yet? Yes “SOCCER!” that’s what it’s called here in Australia. NOT football…just soccer. I will accept “U.K. Football” but every time I head to my old mate Google these days I have to wade through a plethora of letters all doing a Mexican salute or waving some countries flag and if you have 10 pages open like I do at any given time, that’s a whole LOT of Mexican waves to wade through every time you want to make a simple search. Angst abated and shared now. An angst shared is an angst halved. No bright comments Ms Jessy Twinn by the way. You have been infested with the soccer bug and are NOT to be listened to OR encouraged in your crazy soccer watching ventures (and neither is Steve…just sayin’ 😉 )


I love my shiny-shiny aluminium crochet hook. I am probably going to get Alzheimers from it but at least I will go out hooking. Happy days! 😉


Here’s a close up of the wool and my AMAZING hooky ability to do a stitch that I don’t even know the name for. I completely and utterly love how fast this is working up as I am using 2 strands of wool to crochet it and it is incredibly thick and heavy which means that it will probably end up on the floor as a rug more than on my knees as an afghan


It’s probably 3/4 done now…afghan…rug…tablecloth, whatever this ends up as, crochet is therapy for narfs and soothes my inner savage beasts of which I have many…all of them masquerading as muses

I have reached the three quarter mark of my very thick, doubled wool crocheted afghan for draping casually over my knees when I am sitting in frigid early morning conditions before Brunhilda gets around to warming up the kitchen with her first hot toasty logs of the day. After I move all of the potted babies that we have left in our stash to either side of the driveway (I may or may NOT get back to why at some point in this post…) I plan on spending the rest of the day finishing off my afghan. Yesterday was 1C until 2pm and today it is a heatwave…4C and so that afghan would be most appreciated around about now and there is nothing more likely to get narf7 to do something than an immediate pressing need


These are some of the 40 orphaned babies that the quoll left motherless working methodically through my pile of horse poo and oak leaves prior to Stevie-boys mass haul of dung on Saturday that resulted in a whole lot more dung on top of this pile and a tired narf from having to shovel it all up and back in between his deliveries in order to keep it in a pile and not a long swathe that took over the driveway. We can’t deposit it around the back of the house near Sanctuary (my veggie garden) as there is a large log pile in the way so for now, this is where the dung pile lives and coincidentally, where my chickens can be found at most times of the day


The pile is significantly higher here as Stevie-boy has finished depositing masses of dung and you can see most of the blueberries that we scored up to their little rootlets in spent dung. There IS a rooster in this image but it’s not Mr “X”, its Mr Big Yin the head honcho of the gang with some of his posse out to scrape the pile flat. If you look closely you can see Ms ducky, Mr Big Yin’s bestie, up on top of the pile tunnel mining for worms


I took this photo today. All of the blueberries are here now, I have a stack of horse poo and oak leaves to rake up from the driveway and we still have a large pile of wood blocking our pathway up to the back of the house but at least we have this luscious pile of garden happiness and as we all know, possession is 9/10th’s of the law! By the way. Mr “X” must have decided that it has knobs on hanging out under the deck on a 1C morning and wisely moved his feathery derriere back into the coop with the rest of the flock last night. I could hear him crowing from the distance but thats AOK by me…right under the deck was wearing a bit thin especially when Steve told me that he had been crowing since 12am!

Mr “X” the rooster is crowing under the deck. I cleaned out the hen coop on the weekend and won’t tell you how long it has been since I last did it aside to say that some of the straw had trilobites in it. A short aside…if you are putting off something that you really don’t want to do, you might be surprised to find that inside your head it is a whole lot worse of a task than what it actually is outside your head in the clear present danger of the day…just sayin’ 😉 After mucking out the hen house I pulled a large ex oil container thingo out that we had been stashing in the coop. We had visions of storing grain in it as it is huge, metal and has a lid but who could afford that much grain?! A hen has died down behind it and another one almost did the same thing. We pulled it out from the wall at that stage but when I decided to give myself a hernia and pull it out of the coop entirely when cleaning the coop out (Steve was off getting his own particular version of a hernia digging out a HUGE blueberry bush) I discovered that a rooster was lodged down the back of it. This thing has a BIG hunger for chickens! The rooster was fine aside from being hungry and somewhat square shaped after his ordeal and the chook coop is nice and clean now. What has this got to do with Mr “X”? Well he used to sleep on top of this drum and now he is homeless…well, that isn’t strictly true, he is under the deck crowing! I called him Mr “X” not because of his stealth in avoiding us when we locked his relatives into the coop last night but more because it is a most accurate description of him for he is soon to be an ex-rooster…nuff said!


The potted babies deposited to the side of the driveway at the side of the house and the (offending) tank in the background that we have to roll to the house (behind where I am taking the photo)…this could be VERY interesting folks 😉


I just read a post about my sister Pinky saving a pod of Dutch iris bulbs from oblivion and realised that among my Jerusalem artichokes I had inadvertently uprooted a couple of little bulbs as well. I am going to plant them out so that they get a new lease on life on Serendipity Farm. Isn’t nature the bomb? 🙂

Ok so I was hauling those potted plants to one side of the driveway back in paragraph 2…it took me a while that’s why I didn’t mention it till now. We are going to roll our large water tank into place this weekend which involves first moving the potted plants (tick, just spent the afternoon doing…) and then deconstructing the perimeter fence that acts as an Earl protective shield against Earl and the rest of the world. As you can imagine, we need to make sure that Mr E can’t just sidle off while we are rolling 10 000 litre water tanks with impunity so we have to ensure that we shut the 2 gates that we situated halfway up each of the side decks…we might not be pretty but we ARE clever and we envisaged a day when we might want to confine the dogs to either the back or the front of the house and these gates have been invaluable. Earl and Bezial will have to stay on the deck while we remove this segment of fence but prior to all of this is narf7 entering the cavernous gaping mouth of the water tank. Yup. I have to crawl inside and remove the pump housing so that we can roll the tank rather than just drag it. Stevie-boy’s shoulders are too big for him to fit inside even though he has slim hips so poor fat hipped narf7 has to fit her thin shoulders into the water tank hole at the top of the tank and attempt to squeeze that rotund derrière after them


This is my niece Sabrina, she of the rake riding persuasion in my last blog post saying goodbye to her Tasmanian fan club


Sad number 2 fan


Even sadder number 1 fan

This could range from “interesting” to “hilarious” depending on several factors the chief one being my derrière actually fitting into said hole and NOT getting stuck which would indeed be hilarious for you guys but not so much for narf7 who would have to be greased up and shoved like a champagne cork. Once inside (shudder…) I will remove the pump housing and then exit with ease (I am ever the optimist…) and Stevie-boy and I will roll said 10 000 litre water tank up the driveway, through the hole in the fence and tip it upright into place with quintessential ease. No, I don’t believe it will be that easy either but lets just see what happens. At the very least it will make for some interesting blog images…


My last (1kg) jar of pumpkin and date butter that has been gracing my breakfast buckwheat porridge since I made it


This mornings large (vat) stockpot of buckwheat porridge being materialised to a hungry narf after a long haul behind a short dog in the mist. This makes 6 breakfasts for a hungry narf that can be grabbed as soon as I get in from my morning walk and heated to my little hearts content with pumpkin and date butter and served with homemade sesame milk. The perfect way to start my day 🙂


Lucky I am a bowl freak and have so many of them isn’t it Stevie-boy and you said I should get rid of some of them! “Pfft!”

I am just about to make some more pumpkin, date and apple butter to use up the apples that turned from crispy to soft and that need to be used. Making fruit butter is a good way to use up soft or slightly old fruit as it tends to be quite sweet which means you don’t need sugar, especially if you use dates like I do. I still haven’t made the tahini and the coconut butter but I did find a recipe for how to make smooth lump free coconut butter on Pinterest today so perhaps that was a bonus. Once I make the tahini and coconut butter I can make pumpkin, date and apple fudge with a bit of cinnamon and a lot of anticipation.


These are jeans…this is Beartato in the jeans…it was our photoshopped rendition of the son-and-heirs rear jeans pockets stuffed with baby potatoes freshly dug from sanctuary (my veggie garden) on Sunday when they dropped by on an impromptu visit. The only thing better than a rear pocket or two full of fresh baby potatoes is Beartato in your pocket…


No Beartato here but a whole lot of apples that I didn’t get around to eating before they turned a bit mealy and a lot fragrant. They are going to be made into pumpkin, date and apple butter

Sorry about the reblogs this week but sometimes you just have to make a stand for what you believe in and seeing that book for free was too good to not reblog and share the love around. I love the concept of being generous for generosities sake, not expecting anything in return, just giving out to the universe and expecting that when you are in need, the universe will give back. I think that takes the expectation and the frustration and resentment out of expecting the recipient of your generosity to return the favour/gift which at the end of the day isn’t really generosity, it’s more a negotiation. It’s a brave step to let go of things and just let the universe dish it out to whoever needs it the most. The more we learn to be generous the better off we will be.


I am trying to do what Mr Bean did with his Steak Tartar (don’t ask, just go look it up on Youtube if you don’t know what I am talking about 😉 ) and thousands of kids try to do with their broccoli every day…spreading the pumpkins around so that they don’t look like so many…


Only 3 small ones! See? (and the 2 large ones in the laundry sink but we won’t think about them right now…)

I have been spending my early mornings wandering in the mist with Earl and contemplating my navel whilst building myself a pair of built-up platform shoes that Mr Herman Munster would be extremely proud of. The council, in all of their wisdom, has decided that now is the perfect time to grade all of the road verges back to soil and when you grade road verges in winter you are actually grading them back to purest mud. As a narf who is prone to walking on road verges this ranges from mildly annoying to dangerous, especially when wandering in the mist. Add cars that forgot to put on their headlights this morning and the deafening quality of fog and simply stepping out onto our driveway is a risk factor. Luckily Earl has a habit of dragging me into ditches so I tend not to be in harm’s way but until the fog clears it’s a strange and eerie world that the early morning narf inhabits


I am outing myself here…I admit it…I am a wool hoarder…a wool AND a bowl hoarder. We can’t all be perfect (or entirely sane)…


While I am at it (and nicely segueing and deflecting the attention away from my own vice in the process…) I am outing Stevie-boy as well. People might wonder why he is such a happy-go-lucky scamp well HERE is part of the reason why. This box of  “goodies” is stashed in his music room because it won’t all fit in his treat box. Stevie-boy is on a permanent sugar and preservative high that knows NO boundaries and when coupled with his fetish for wine we make quite a hoarding, guzzling couple. Just be thankful that we live out in the sticks and away from society or you might have to read about us in the papers 😉


Another one of Stevie-boys fetishes…he LOVES those solar groovers that have a teeny little solar panel on the front of them that gives them the energy to wave happily at anyone that wanders past. This is Stevie-boys music room window and yes…that garden gnome IS giving you 2 fingers…we breed them bolshie around here 😉

I spend about an hour and a half thinking about the state of the world, the meaning of life (those built up platform shoes and how the HECK I am going to get all of that mud off prior to entering the house) and by the time Earl hauls me back up our steep driveway my brain is satiated and saturated with thought and I am ready for breakfast and a rest. I have decided that I am going to spend this afternoon crocheting my afghan and seeing if I can get close to completing it as I really want to start on my Bavarian crochet lessons before everyone else who has been dabbling in the Bavarian arts forgets how to do the stitch and isn’t available to help a stranded narf in her hour of need so as I have been taxing your reading ability and your stamina of late I might just throw you a curve ball today and finish this post right here…right now. I hope that you all have a wonderful week ahead of you full of purpose, potential and actualities and that by the time we next break metaphorical bread together you will be satiated by all of that wonderful experience that has passed under your bridges in the last week. Me…I will just be happy if I get this afghan finished and my derrière doesn’t get stuck in that rainwater tank but if you have greater aspirations, knock yourselves out 🙂

If you can’t beat them…EAT them!

Hi All,

We recently did a bit of research on the subject of Armillaria luteobubalina because we had to answer a few horticultural questions to satisfy one of our Diploma of Landscape Design units and discovered that this humble fungus is not something that you would want to encourage in your garden. We completed the question about this innocuously named “Honey fungus” and how there isn’t really anything that you can do about it once you have it on your property short of plant perennials and find some sort of woody tree that it can’t stand to inhabit. Here is a link to a Wikipedia page explaining it in simple common or garden terms…

By the way my dear constant readers…anyone… ANYONE out there who scoffs at using Wikipedia as a source of horticultural information and a springboard for further  adventures into your area of interest is a horticultural snob. Wikipedia may have its disadvantages when it comes to many things but the people drawn to writing pages regarding horticulture and other scientific studies do it for love and do it because they know a LOT about their chosen subject and actively want to share it with the rest of us. Don’t use it for your thesis but DO use it to find out about what you are interested in and as somewhere to start your subject hunt. I read a post this morning about honey fungus and their edible properties. The post was pertinent to the US, the UK and Canada BUT after our recent scavenger hunt for information about Armillaria luteobubalina I noted the “honey fungus” and the “Armillaria” and how many of them were edible and thought…”surely A (honey fungus) and B (Armillaria) = C (Edible)”…hmmm more instruction needed! First stop Wikipedia…

I found out some interesting things about Armillaria luteobubalina including “unpleasant flavour” being one of them HOWEVER on further hunting I found that cooking the mushroom reduces the bitterness and it is completely edible…edible you say? Turn a frown upside down…when life hands you lemons make lemonade…if your garden becomes predominately Armillaria luteobubalina ridden and all your trees fall down EAT the fungus and at least get some degree of satisfaction regarding the situation…there you have it. My creed for life. If it aint broke, don’t fix it and if you can’t beat it…EAT it! 😉 The same goes for those weeds that you can’t eat…make weed tea out of them and steal all of the delicious nitrogen that they stole from you back plus all of their hard formed nitrogen that they were stashing for spreading around in their wanton weedy ways. Don’t take it lying down people…find a way to turn situations to your advantage even when the chips are down. I don’t recommend doing what a Northern Tasmanian man did a few years ago and feed your murder victim to your pigs…apparently pigs are a whole lot more fussy than we have been led to believe in movies like Hannibal Lector and turned up their noses at said murder victim…might be easier just to eat him yourself…

Spot the rooster in this photo…you get 10 points if you spot Big Yin and 50 points if you spot Bob his numero uno chick

Steve’s cactus “Bob” (Marley) that despite being stuffed into an olive oil can seems to be extremely happy with his lot

Some more cacti flowering happily in the late spring sunshine

I just started and finished a very slim book that was cram-packed full of pause for thought. I often get shoved by the universe into doing things that I otherwise wouldn’t do. I had never heard of Kurt Vonnegut prior to seeing an article about him on a blog that I follow and decided that I might like to read some of his work because for some reason it appealed to me. I decided to choose a book blind from our local library…I chose by name…”Like Shaking Hands with God” arrived on Wednesday and I picked it up yesterday while I was eating my breakfast, finished half of the book by the time I put my spoon down and finished the book later on in the day whilst sitting outside on the deck with a cup of tea after weeding the maple garden and laying down mulch to protect the soil. I couldn’t put this book down. It was sub-titled “A conversation about writing” and was based on a series of Author/Audience meetings that took place back in 1999 between Kurt Vonnegut and Lee Stringer. I had never heard of Lee Stringer either but will most certainly be seeing if I can get hold of his book “Grand Central Winter” about his life on the streets. What hit me in my mental solar plexus about these men was their complete and utter honesty about the life that they had been handed and how they spent their lives sharing the world through their writing and their experience. I wonder how many other amazing authors are out there that I have NO idea exist. Cheers universe for letting me discover these wonderful writers and thanks for the shove in the right direction :o).

Some of the rescued Tip strawberries enjoying their sunny spot on Serendipity Farm

Our very own integrated pest management brigade 🙂

Look how much the hazelnuts and single walnut (in the largest pot) have grown since wednesday

It’s a beautiful 25°C late spring day today on Serendipity Farm. Steve was going to whipper snip but his own fortune shoved him and the whipper snipper decided not to play ball today. We have loaned “Betsy”, my whipper snipper, to our daughters to render their jungle somewhat less jungle-like and so he couldn’t use Betsy to finish the task so we headed down to the front gates and the river bank where the duel daily rushing tides conveniently pull all of the floating debris right opposite our front gate and we collected some driftwood to make ourselves a Christmas tree. We got enough so that I could make a Christmas wreath out of driftwood as well and all I have to do now is work out how the wreath has been put together and replicate it for Serendipity Farm. We just spent the rest of the day making our tree and it has been Earl approved. He promises to pretend not to notice it at all until we stupidly leave him to his own devices one day and he re-enacts the wreck of the Hesperus with the vengeance that only a 35kg termite can wreak. I guess we have been warned… We reused our Christmas star that I made 4 years ago when we first started making our own Christmas trees using various deceased woody portions. We plan on making quite a few of our own beach tree decorations to hang on our new tree and hopefully it makes it to Christmas day without suspicious nibble marks or outright disassembling by “He who must be watched”

Time to plant out these purple king beans

Tiny little Cavello nero

“Come and get it slugs and snails…what’s that you say? Snail pellets in the barrow? No surely not! ;)”

I have been watching “Hoarders…buried alive”. I have a degree of commiseration for the hoarders that obviously have mental problems but then there are the divas that just can’t be getting their nails dirty who put on a face to the world and who live in a jumbled chaos of clutter. The first part of their road back to normality is for them to admit that they have a problem and most of them simply don’t think that they do. The majority of them are being forced into parting with their blissful hoarding ways thanks to complaints from the neighbours (how inconsiderate? 😉 ) or threats of demolition by their local building authorities and so they tend to be somewhat less than appreciative and helpful in the process. I have to admit something here if I am ever going to have a degree of normality in my life (highly unlikely but here goes…) I am a hoarder. There…I said it! Steve claims that my small stack of plates and bowls constitutes hoarding but I am not talking about how many plates I have in my easily closed cupboard, I am talking about my addiction to hoarding information, especially recipes that I find. I hunt information and recipes like a woman possessed. I just checked my recipe folder and it’s probably time to send it to one of our bulging hard drives because it has 2.48Gig of squirrelled away Word documents. Now I KNOW that I am never going to make my way through actualising these recipes BUT I don’t care. They are mine…I hoarded them…I need them for tomorrow. Good luck loosing my grip on them because my hoarded pile isn’t visible unless you check properties on my folders and count the number of burned CD’s that I have full of past hoarding events. I used to take books out of the library and carefully copy out recipes that I wanted to keep back when my children were small and I guess it was my way of taking control in a life that felt somewhat meaningless. I was a stay at home mum and always felt guilty for doing so even though I loved being available to my kids and all stay at home mums will agree with me when I say that there is an undertow in the community (well there definitely was back in the 1980’s!) that stay at home mums were cop out bums. I had the time to read to my children and they are all prolific readers today with wonderful imaginations and enviable problem solving skills. I may have spent a degree of my time trying to find some purpose for my life due to feeling adrift and writing out recipes gave me something to focus on. My failed crafts cupboard just made me feel worse but writing out a steady stream of recipes “for posterity” made me feel like I had actually accomplished something with my time and my life. Everyone needs a goal to work towards and mine was writing. I transferred it to typing and am much better and faster at typing than I am at writing. I was able to transcribe entire books in much less time and typed out an entire copy of The Permaculture Book of Ferment and Human Nutrition in 3 days because back then, it was out of print (please no bright spark tell me that it is back in print and only costs $50 because I already know and it will make me twitch 😉 ). I love the act of completion and have since learned to enjoy the process as well. We all need goals in life to give us satisfaction and to show us that we are progressing. My recipes show me that I am getting somewhere and should the entire system shut down and everyone wants to know how to make their own healthy margarine I am your go-to woman!

A nice big chunk of Tasmanian native blackwood ready to create a magnificent spoon for some lucky dear constant reader of the blog

Christmas tree futures

MORE spoon futures…and spatula futures…and small wooden box futures…and little herb spoon futures…

It’s Saturday and I have most of my post completed so I can share a most interesting thing that I found out this morning when reading my rss feed reader. Christi from the wonderful blog Farmlet who lives in Olalla Washington, who is doing what we are doing but on polar opposite sides of the globe (I am SURE that there is some sort of time continuum thing going on 😉 ) will most probably know what I am going to talk about here but to the majority of us, and I am guessing that a fair few of my dear constant readers in the U.S. included, will have never heard or seen what I am about to reveal to you before. Have I got you curious? I was reading a post this morning from one of the “Living sustainably” blogs that I follow and the poster was talking about sustainable thanksgiving mains choices. Now I am heartily over Thanksgiving guys… I have had so many pumpkin pie posts in the guise of vegan, paleo, raw and plain old decadent and dairy ridden that I would rather eat one of Steve’s feet than have to read about another one. It’s my own fault for following 390 blogs in my rss feed reader, most of them U.S. and most of them to do with food now isn’t it? I started reading about “the usual” Thanksgiving foods and was working back through what was truly sustainable when I got to number 3 and couldn’t for the life of me work out what they were talking about! A food that I have NEVER heard of? Time to go hunting! My interest was further piqued when I read that this food was sourced from Puget Sound which is right next to where Christi lives! This “food” is apparently harvested and sustainable but I don’t know how sustainable it is when this giant mollusc can live for 169 years but it was number 3 on the sustainable Thanksgiving list right after “Heritage Turkey” so if you live near Puget sound and you fancy something that looks suspiciously phallic for your next Thanksgiving meal knock yourself out…its geoduck all round! Check out what geoducks actually are in the following link and the link after that has a good photo of something that is apparently edible and makes me take back EVERYTHING that I have said in jest about how folks in Louisiana will eat anything…Christi…your countrymen just shot straight past the hillbillies and hit first place! 😉

If being born in a stable was good enough for Jesus…it’s darned well good enough for our Christmas tree!

Hows this for an action shot…drilling the hole at the top of the “Christmas Tree” to insert the star

A 35kg termite and his sidekick


Nothing to do with me!

I forgot to tell you that we got accepted into our chosen arty course for next year. We think it might not have been the course that we initially wanted to do. Steve swears that the course that we were aiming at is a completely different course offered from a completely different Polytechnic (I.T.) but after talking to the lecturer and checking out the website we are very excited about learning all about making our own websites and will probably take a year off to study the other course that we initially were going to sign up for after this course. It’s good to take a bit of a hiatus from intensive study in one area because it leaves you refreshed and multi-skilled. We decided to learn how to produce our own high quality websites as part of our business plan. Through our studies we have discovered that landscape gardeners appear to be lacking in the computer skills department. Most landscape gardening sites are pitiful links through sites like HotFrog and give prospective customers (and students trying to find out information) massive headaches trying to find them. You have to phone up to get any information whatsoever and most of them don’t answer the phone to you anyway. This isn’t just a Tasmanian problem, we discovered it bleeds over to the mainland and trying to find an herb wholesaler with a web presence was like trying to find a speck of sand in a sand dune. We are determined to be successful when we eventually start our business and as such we want to be as proficient with as many areas of our chosen field as we possibly can be. Perhaps Jack of all trades master of none may apply BUT at least we will know something about every facet of our business which can only be a good thing. After learning how to produce a quality website and web presence we can head over to the other course and learn how to produce quality concept plans using the Adobe 5 suite and then it’s off to university with a diverse range of qualifications that can only help us to give Landscape Architecture our most sterling effort. “If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well”…see…I DID listen Gran 😉

An elderly auger bit that a friend gave Steve that despite its aged look still has a whole lot of life left in it

The Auger bit in action taking out a nice spoon sized portion of this incredibly tough wattle wood…this is one wooden spoon that WON’T break

“Oh Tannenbaum…oh tannenbaum…”…

Ok, it’s time to head off and make Steve something scrumptious for his tea. It’s really just shepherd’s pie but he LOVES it and would eat it every day if he could. Sad, but if it makes him happy, it’s his :o). He is working on producing the spoon that I am going to give away to one of my wonderful constant readers who comments on the post directly after I get 100 followers. It’s getting close folks and I won’t be doing the stupid “like my Facebook page…like my twitter account (not that I HAVE a twitter account)…etc…) it will be Earl…choosing your number…from a hat full of numbered walnuts. How much more random could it be than that?! See you all on Wednesday and have the best weekend possible in your neck of the woods :o)

I have a couple of photos left over so you get a bonus. Here we have 2 little carob trees that we grew from seed. We have another one and hopefully we get at least one male and one female because they are dioecious and you need both a male and a female tree to get pods

I didn’t realise how much active snarfing went on in my now heavily fortified compost heap when I wasn’t watching! Everything is now growing like crazy and we have King Edward, kipflers and various pumpkins growing in it now that they are protected from chicken and possum enslaughts

Pumpkin futures! I LOVE pumpkin 🙂