A little reminder of winter in the middle of summer …

Hi All,

There is beauty in a rainy, grey day folks. When you look outside and the whole garden resonates and shimmers in heat stress and you can see the leaves curling up in an attempt to save that life giving sap a day of cloud crying is a blessing. I am sitting here listening to the rain fall on the tin roof. It’s a glorious sound and I can almost hear the garden singing Vivaldi’s 4 seasons (all of them!) as it steadily pounds the roof…”Keep it up chaps…you are all doing very well!”…funny how the rain brings out the old Blighty in me ;).  I love rainy weather. You won’t find me complaining about it (aside from how the leeches suddenly reconstitute from their benign one dimensional stasis and turn into 3 dimensional sluggy vampires…). I have my wonderful winter rituals carefully tucked away, wrapped in mental tissue paper because these precious processes sustain me through the cold winter months. I love waking up nice and early in the dark…to be honest it doesn’t get light till quite late in winter so this could be accomplished even if I slept in, but there is something magical about getting up hours before the rest of the household…special time to yourself and most precious to me now. Soon, I won’t have to spend this time alone. Brunhilda, who is currently semi naked and being painted and primped ready for her coming 10 months of solid hard work, will be my constant companion. I missed her. I missed waking up and throwing a few sticks onto the slumbering behemoth that is “fire” on Serendipity Farm. I totally “get” why cavemen were so enamoured of it…fire is the bomb people! That early morning crackle of the first few tinder dry twigs as Brunhilda has her breakfast and rev’s up for the day. We learned how to feed her slowly and regularly last year. In our first year she suffered indigestion thanks to our constant stuffing and her constant overheating…last year we honed our relationship with Brunhilda and we know how to keep her lean, mean and keen… I can’t wait till that crackling companionship returns. This morning it is dark, raining and cold and I feel the lack of crackle keenly. I get to keep the kettle on the side of the stove…I fill it up at night before I go to bed (I LOVE processes 😉 ) and just move the already warm kettle to the flame and suddenly that first and only cup of tea becomes part of the process of awakening and lends my winters days a real sense of being grateful for my lot. Our water heats through the back of Brunhilda…we don’t have to worry about gas bottles…she does it gratis. She will allow me to dry things out and keep things warm in her lower ovens…she is a most gracious friend. She never once let me down last year…she never once refused any of my requests…she may have added her personal touch of a bit of “caramelisation” but to her credit, I should have read her better…we share a mutual relationship together…Brunhilda and I are mano-a-mano, kindred spirits and our symbiosis is what makes winter on Serendipity Farm a privilege rather than something to be endured…that’s Steve’s job…”winter endurance”…well SOMEONE has to chop the wood! 😉

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A weedy Passiflora caerulea (Blue Passion Flower) that we found recently on a long walk…the fruit is juicy and sweet but quite bland

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The vine we picked the passionfruit from

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Our friend in the witness protection gave me a large bag full of snow peas from her enclosed veggie garden. Some of them had gone over to the dark side and I decided to keep them for seed to grow next year. The stapler and tape are most probably what Steve has come up with to graft my poor jam spoons 😦

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A nice bright hippy shop…our friend in the witness protection and I (and Steve for that matter) are all old hippies and this sort of shop attracted us in like moth’s to a flame…

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A lovely little street display to lure passers by into a small garden shop

Steve’s birthday (Sunday) was spent doing what he wanted to do including alternating between playing his guitar whilst watching television and wandering out to the shed to make teaspoons out of wood. He is truly addicted to making wooden things and has plans for all sorts of creations. He recently saw a gardening dibbler and wants to make them now. I, for one, am not complaining. I tend to get the prototypes as part and parcel of his efforts and have some pretty interesting things that his most creative mind has come up with including a wonderful enormous teaspoon with a carved bowl on one end and a spike on the other for negotiating my VitaMix blender. He is working on making me another long teaspoon but this one will have a small bladed scraper on the other end to allow me to get the little bits out from underneath the blade (that take so long to remove)…it is positively blissful having a talented husband who can make things :o). Steve also spent yesterday dictating what he wanted for his birthday tea…”I want fried rice…and I want curry…like in the fish and chip shops in the U.K…and I want sticky date pudding for dessert…” Expat’s tend to get teary eyed at things that they used to buy from the local “chippies”. We get fish, and chips and the odd dim sim and potato cake from our local fish and chip shops but in the U.K. they had pickled eggs, pickled onions, curry sauce to go with their chips and all sorts of odd things! Never one to shirk my duties we fired up Brunhilda and made the lot! Steve had a great day and will most probably have a hard time getting out of bed as he had as much red wine as a teetotal wine lover could imbibe without falling over sideways…birthdays are barleys apparently! 😉

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This Asian beauty was parked out the front of a small country shop that we passed on the way to Wychwood…the locals are certainly “characters” ;)…Rose Porteous anyone? It would appear to be her shoes…

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A little leaf hopper that fell in love with my finger when we stopped to admire some gorgeous Rugosa roses in a small park…

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Isn’t this a glorious garden bird feeder? I fell in love with the garden art placed strategically and most tastefully around Wychwood

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Another beautiful castle bird feeder complete with copper turret

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The small kitchen garden at Wychwood which was a mix of traditional and interesting veggies along with lots of beneficial attracting plants and flowers

It’s raining in Queensland and they are drowning in the results. I read a few Queensland blogs and it seems so ironic that on Saturday they were bone dry and one blogger was about to sell her cows and suddenly it’s time to build an ark. Australia isn’t an easy country to farm in. You can try to find a property where the conditions are somewhat even but then something happens…drought, flood, fire and you lose everything. Farmers have to be the most optimistic people alive. They keep on keeping on long after the ever ready bunny batteries have run out and they deserve more than what they get because they truly are the backbone of our world. It is a bitter irony that people are so removed from their food supply and have no idea that the plethora of items available on their supermarket shelves once started life as an ingredients list of humble primary produced items (unless they are aimed at children and then they are usually 100% man-made from artificial chemicals and glow in the dark…) Today I did it. Yes…”IT”. I actually managed to get through my rss feed read blogs nice and early with time to spare to tap away at this post in advance. How did I do it? I woke up at 4am! I am already considering continuing on with waking up at what will be 4am in April when the clocks go back. I find myself scrambling to get through my rss feed reader blogs, answer the comments for the blog and write lucid and relevant comments for particularly beneficial posts on the blogs that I follow and 4am seems to be the magical number that keeps recurring…4am isn’t for chumps…it is for dedicated maniacs who are addicted to lists and doing things the right way…I have to blame the latent German in my genes. It has been watered down with good old Blighty tempering and a smattering of Scottish blood but the German is strong in this specimen young padawan and my list making, tidy, clean line desires cannot be denied. “You put that back in the cupboard wrong!…Why oh WHY did you leave that there?…no…you have to do “X” before “Y”…” sigh…I love order and I hate chaos and often my order collides with Steve’s need for chaos and the inevitable result is explosive (on my side) and a visit to the shed (on Steve’s side)…no wonder he has started making wooden things! 😉

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A most interesting grass maze located near Mole Creek at the outer edge of Wychwood

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I purchased some organic turmeric from a local health food shop and FINALLY it is starting to grow!

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My little Moringa oleifera looking decidedly happy with it’s lot in the heat of the glasshouse

Steve and I spend our lives together pretty much 24/7. We have been living like this since he moved here from the U.K. We are both reclusive hermits and obviously reasonably well suited or we would have killed each other by now. No retirement problems for us…our friend in the witness protection has been having some pretty spectacular fights with her partner but when talking about them on our recent road trip she made an interesting correlation…”I just noticed (she said)…that all of our big fights just so happen to coincide with Glen being home for an extended period of time!”… Is it any wonder that so many people end up divorced when they retire? Steve and I are learning to accept that we are complete polar opposites. I can’t even begin to fathom how his brain works, but work it does and he seems to be able to navigate some pretty choppy water with that brain whether I can understand the processes or not so I am willing to concede that there are other ways of doing things than the way that my mind takes me when I process my information and churn out the results. The problem is that we both think that our process is the best…we spend a lot of time trying to push our idea and in the process completely miss out on the opportunity to join together to form a formidable self-contained yin/yang idea that would knock the socks off the project that we are making. One day we will learn, but for now, we are still in “work together” kindergarten and making very VERY slow progress 😉

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Nothing gets wasted on Serendipity Farm and that includes avocado seeds. These 3 small trees are all the result of previous avocado consumption and go to show just how easy it is to grow them. We have quite a few home grown avocado plants that we will plant out in Autumn

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I found this picture on a blog that I follow…After I got up off the floor from rolling around there in hysterics I asked if I could use this photo in my blog…guess whose chooks are going to be wearing beanies in the latest fall colours this year…

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Ah the elastic band spine of youth! 😉

I have a cure for all you insomniac’s out there…get up at 5am, walk all over the place and go to bed after 9pm. Simple really. If you think that 5am is NO place for a civilised hipster like yourself to be inhabiting you are where I was a few years ago. I didn’t surface till 8am when I expected a cup of tea in bed, about 30 minutes “eye time” (our expression for lazy bollocks that doesn’t want to get up yet) and the pained expression of dogs who know that a walk is just around the corner but who have to be a little bit polite as otherwise those morning dog treats might dry up and blow away… now I not only get up and have 2 hours to myself…2 precious hours where I can read whatever I like when my mind is active and raring to go…but I fill that mind with all sorts of possibilities…I have my morning processes sorted out before I deliver Steve’s morning coffee after 7am and am raring to go…I even beat the dogs to the punch line! We walk the dogs for at least 1 1/2 hours a day and where I used to be a “STEEEEEVE…can you take these to the shed? Can you get me “such and such” can you put this compost in the compost bin?” Now I walk there myself. Steve doesn’t need the exercise, he has spindle shanks that will never see an ounce of fat but my legs need double the attention being my chief fat storage areas and stubborn fat releasers at that…so I walk to the compost bin up next to the veggie garden…I walk out to the shed, several times because I am always forgetting to bring something from or take something to the chest freezer out there, I walk down the driveway with Earl who needs more than a single walk or he eats furniture (or at least threatens to…whoever said that dogs are stupid…doesn’t have a dog!)…I walk back up the driveway (2 times up our driveway in a day is enough to make anyone knackered!)…I sometimes just go out for a walk around the place just for fun! I don’t even wait to go to bed before I am asleep…”Wake up Fran!”…that’s Steve’s Hue and Cry these days before I stagger off to sleepily brush my teeth (too tired to even consider looking for wrinkles in the mirror BONUS!), head to the foot of the bed (Bezial has already stolen my pillow at the top of the bed and no point arguing with a 40kg Amstaff who is sulking for the queen…too tired!) where you have left a pillow (happens a lot…sigh…) and flop into bed…Wait for Earl to trot in 2 seconds later and you might or might not remember Steve giving you a kiss goodnight but within 3 minutes you are out like a light…Insomnia…you used to be shackled to me…you ran roughshod over my nights where you pounded me with my secret fears (December 2012…old age…death…) but I don’t have time to lay awake contemplating my aging lack of a navel (don’t ask…just believe me…I have NO belly button 😉 ), I am out like a light…and not only do I not need sedatives, but falling into bed and blissful sleep is delicious! Truly folks, if you have exhausted your body and given it more than enough food for thought at 5am it rewards you with the most amazing sense of blissful achievement coupled with the heady beauty of “rest”. Cheers old books, whoever coined the phrase “Early to bed and Early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” was giving truly sage advice…(aside from “a man” and “wealthy” I totally agree!)

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Serendipity Farm cucumbers…99% water…1% purest “Green”…

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Steve found a recipe for making lightly pickled cucumbers and this is the result…they are really tasty and well worth donating a percentage of our purest green to

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Steve has taken a left turn at Albuquerque and has headed off into teaspoons and spice spoons and has visions of plant dibblers, tatting shuttles, earings, pendants and some amazing wooden guitar picks…he gets bored easily 😉

Well it’s a nice early post from me and it’s chilly outside and Brunhilda is lit and everything is right in our world (for the time being…) so I might try to hold my eyelids open and read a Patricia Cornwell or Ruth Rendell book…I have both, taken out of the library on a wistful whim that I might have time to read them and both calling me from their lofty position in the spare room. Reading is good for your soul…about time I did more of it :o). See you on Saturday when I will share the lengths at which 2 penniless hippies will go to in order to stop a small battalion of most determined chickens from escaping from Alcatraz…

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Hava nagila!

Hi All,

Aside from being a most catchy song that I have NO idea what the words are and would no doubt make a fistful of Jewish people collapse hysterically laughing on the floor should I EVER be stupid enough to attempt to sing my erstwhile version in their close proximity, the name Hava Nagila means “Let us rejoice”! I have SO much to rejoice that I often feel guilty for having the odd whinge about how rocky our soil is and how many weeds we have here on Serendipity Farm. I just got back from a visit to my daughter’s home in Launceston. I had a really great time with them both and we spent a large proportion of the time that we had together cooking. My daughters are amazing cooks. Neither of them has ever studied technique or worked in the industry but they are very adventurous and tend to pair some very interesting ingredients that I would never think could possibly work together but incredibly…they do! The first night we had chilli. I had vegan chilli made with some ingredients that I had brought along with me (oh ye of little faith! 😉 ) and it was delicious. I think there is still a bowl of it in the girl’s fridge and I am sure that they will find something creative to do with it. On night 2 we had an amazing feast. The girls have recently become enamoured with all things Korean and had purchased some Korean cookbooks and some mixed cookbooks with Korean recipes in them. We decided to have a go at some of the recipes and ended up spending a marathon 5 hours preparing and cooking 12 dishes that were all amazing and that teamed up to make an amazing feast. We made cucumber salads, spinach side dishes, 3 different kinds of “pancakes” ranging from a very normal pancake type batter topped with spring onions (which we couldn’t buy at the local shop and had to sub the next best thing…leek…so from hereon in, wherever I specify “spring onion” you will have to insert “leek” 😉 ) and chillies through to a very inventive recipe using dried split green peas (which we couldn’t find in their local small supermarket on the day we wanted them but found the day after…go figure!) and rice cooked together then pureed and combined with various finely sliced vegetables and cooked like pancakes. The girls eat meat and so made some rice balls filled with smoked salmon and avocado which are technically not Korean and were based on a Japanese recipe BUT they were amazing and I had oyster mushrooms, pickled ginger and avocado in mine. They also had some marinated Korean chicken drumsticks and a pork dish that I can’t quite remember what it was but it looked good. We ended this marathon degustatory event with some simple but incredibly delicious yeasted pancakes that looked more like doughnuts without holes and that were stuffed with crushed palm sugar, roasted peanuts and cinnamon and that were amazing.

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Steve says that this truck is a transformer…the only thing that I can see it transforming is an empty space into a space full of wood chips…

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Another “Steve” shot…apparently this is ANOTHER transformer…I think we are being overrun by them!

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Right behind a new estate in Exeter are the remains of an old abandoned orchard. Steve, Bezial, Earl and I went exploring today and found all different kinds of apples, pears and even a nectarine tree out in the open and just waiting to be scrumped by possums and wayfaring Sidmouth Scrumpers

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By the look on his face, this scrumper has had enough of wandering around old abandoned orchards and wants to return to the civilisation afforded by 2 streets back to the main street 😉

On night 3 we could have been forgiven for having something very simple but not us! We went the way of the home made pizza. The girls used a cookbook that mum had given us last year full of homemade pizza recipes and as I have had more experience cooking with yeast, I made the dough. We made 3 batches of dough because we made a pizza for Steve (because he had obviously been a bit jealous of our cooking exploits over the weekend) and one for the girl’s dog Qi who has an adventurous palate for a dog and who gets very interesting meals. The girls made an almost “regular” type of pizza topped with chicken, a spicy hot salami, pine nuts and “other things” that I didn’t really notice as I was busy slathering tomato paste on pizza bases and ensuring that the cheese flow kept going. They also made an interesting combination of prawns, chicken, various other things (again…applied while I was otherwise occupied so I would only be speculating about exactly what went on) and coconut. I don’t think that Beth was enamoured of this pizza but Madeline seemed to like it. Qi got a meaty pizza and Steve got his favourite things (hot salami, chicken, onion, capsicum, chilli, mushroom and vintage cheese) and he has stashed it in the freezer for a delicious quick meal for the coming week when we have to finish off the chook pen and are too knackered to cook (smart man! 😉 ). I typed out lots of recipes from the cookbooks that the girls purchased and they gave me a couple of CD’s by a Korean band called Winterplay that do some really good covers of popular songs and I will be listening to them whilst trying to wade my way through my 1000+ rss feed reader blog posts that struck terror into even my seasoned mass blog reading heart when I got up this morning. If you would like to hear them and check out just how good this band is you can hear them covering “Don’t know why” a Norah Jones hit and can see why I really like them

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVhzK01Jmq4

That’s my bit for spreading the love people…I would have NEVER heard of this wonderful band if it hadn’t been for my adventurous daughters and their adventurous palates…it’s time spent like the weekend that I just had that reinforce the value of family and of simple time spent together. No matter how ragged or crumpled your family is, it’s the closest thing to “you” that you have. Spend time with your children…spend time with your parents…heal those wounds (if there are any to heal) and get back together with the people that really do matter the most, your own flesh and blood and the people that will tell you the truth (sometimes with great gusto 😉 ). I love you girls and can’t begin to thank you for that wonderful weekend…even Bella Lugosi in Chandu the Magician, a 1932 movie that we watched to fill the Bella free zone that Beth needs to quench on a regular basis. We even watched Lilo and Stitch which I really hadn’t watched before and that I enjoyed disproportionately to what I thought that I would. I especially love this drawing that was on the fridge and that we have used as a family in joke for years without me even having watched the reference for this joke…

http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=2vmiiw4&s=5

In a word, I did all sorts of things that I don’t usually do. I adjusted to Madeline’s stringent washing up rollcall and exactly how to put it back where it goes…I slept with Qi and learned how to contort my middle aged body into the human equivalent of a pretzel to accommodate her desire to spread out over as much of the bed as she could possibly take up and I adjusted my getting up time to fit in with the girls going to bed time. Who would have known…a change really IS as good as a holiday :o)

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Stage 1 of banksia flower development…

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Stage 2…

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and finally stage 3

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If you can avert your eyes from the insect nuptuals going on towards the top of this shot (I can’t pinpoint it exactly for you because I am averting my eyes!), this is a bottlebrush flower

Peter Cundall, Mr organic garden show ABC television presenter himself and who lives not too far away from Serendipity Farm told us that this was going to be a bit of a stinker this summer in Tasmania. Stinker as in heat…not as in smell. I tend to agree with him because things run in cycles and they tend to be 4 yearly in Tasmania. We have mild years and hot years and this just so happens to coincide with our first year in Tasmania where our first full summer was a real eye opener because we thought that we were going to be cold and we discovered just how hot it can be here and our first winter was so cold we got chilblains and didn’t even know what they were.  We are more aware of the seasons here now and know it is going to be hot when we start seeing the cicada husks stuck to the
grass. This year we can hear them getting the band tuned nice and early and by the time mid-summer gets here they will have coordinated themselves into a wall of united stomach rasping. We won’t see them for at least 4 more years because their life cycle takes that long for them to reach adulthood and emerge from under the ground. At least the native birdlife get a “Hava nagila” moment of their own with plenty of free clicking protein for all!

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

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Aside from me looking like I am doing some sort of a sailors hornpipe dance you can begin to get an idea of how lucky we were to get not 1 roll, but 2 of these rolls of ex-fish farm netting. There are about 50 more of them up for grabs and we will be putting our hands up for as many rolls as they would like to let us have. We have also removed that blue rope and are storing it in Steve’s shed for posterity…(I think “posterity” is like “hoarding” 😉 ).

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Looking back the other way towards the house. We will get 4 x 2.5 metre x 20 metre lengths of this netting that should be enough to enclose our wayfaring chooks and keep them from digging halfway to China in their endeavours to have dustbaths all over Serendipity Farm

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One of the Brachychitons that we liberated from anarchy and chaos earlier in the year that hadn’t flowered in years and that is absolutely covered in flowers this year. Now all we have to do is pull all of that dead dodder from around it’s leaves and it might stand a chance of surviving for a few years more

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A cicada husk…one of many (it’s going to be a noisy Christmas this year on Serendipity Farm!)

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A close-up of garnet particles used to sandblast the Batman Bridge before it gets repainted

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Christmas wreath (and all sorts of other project) futures!

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Harvested willow…the rest is up to me!

It’s suddenly Wednesday and after heading over to Exeter to send Steve’s mum a calendar and pick up some library books and giving the dogs a good walk in the process we spent the day productively by measuring one of the large rolls of ex-fish farm netting that we got a little while ago. We were told that it was 20 metres long by 10 metres wide and after measuring it we think it’s probably a good estimate. We should have enough in a single roll to complete our chook shed reno and the other roll can be used to fully enclose our vegetable garden. We have been promised more of this precious commodity in the near future and we are going to get creative with it and use it to protect our small possum weary orchard and other areas that we don’t want the possums to invade. We cut a 2.5 metre wide strip from the first roll using the knives that we bought for grafting. We haven’t grafted much with them but we have at least used them for something! In the process we liberated 20 metres of strong thick nylon rope and tomorrow we will liberate 20 metres more. No idea what we are going to do with all of the rope but you can never have enough rope out in the country ;). After we finished cutting the rope from the netting we folded the netting up and set it aside…part 1 of the chook shed. By the time we finish we will have 4 x 20 metre long segments that we are going to attach to poles that we have already installed where we want to re-educate our chooks into who is the boss around here. It was getting pretty warm under the hole in the ozone layer that is our bright blue sky here in Tasmania so we headed off to put some stakes into the veggie garden to hold our rapidly growing tomatoes and prevent them from lying against the bird netting and being nibbled by waiting varmints. I guess the varmints are pruning the wayfaring branches for us but for now, they have been trussed up and the varmints are going to have to wait. I took a few photos of how our vegetables are going and it’s amazing to see how quickly vegetables will grow when you give them enough sunshine, food and water. The only thing that grows faster is the weeds :o(

We headed over to the East side of the Batman Bridge where there is a free camping ground and a large willow tree just waiting for clever locals to harvest to collect some willow canes to make our Christmas Wreath from. I had a bit of an altercation with a local redneck who had been racially abusing some Chinese tourists but nothing that Earl and I couldn’t handle ;). I heard on the news today that 52% of Tasmanian year 8 students are not able to meet the benchmark for mathematics. That joins our dubious honour of having 1 in 2 native born Tasmanians who can’t read or write adequately. Education needs to be pushed hard in this state. I guess it has worked to our politician’s advantage, up until now, to have an uneducated and unquestioning public who leave politics to the “experts” but now that the forest industry is on the verge of total collapse it is rapidly becoming obvious that most Tasmanians are ill equipped to do anything other than cut down trees with chainsaws and a subclass of bored, unemployed rednecks is going to be a significant problem for tomorrows politicians and the heinously understaffed police force that was cut to the bone recently in a vain attempt to reign in the budget deficit. I sometimes feel like banging my head on the wall when I (stupidly) watch the local news. I am not a particularly politically motivated person but blind Freddy could see just how inept and self-serving our politicians are and the really REALLY scary thing is that there isn’t any viable alternative for us to vote for. It’s equally as scary how quickly I can turn rabid whenever I consider our endemic politicians so I might just stop RIGHT THERE for today :o)

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Some Serendipity Farm “Yellow Nugget” cherry tomatoes

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One bed staked…

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and the other…

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Can anyone “splain” to me why this tomato plant seems hell bent on only growing horizontally? Nick (our ex-long suffering lecturer) took a most entrepreneurial view of our crazy tomato predicament and said “save the seed…make sure it stays true to type and only grows horizontally and then sell it for vertical and hanging baskets…make a fortune!”…cheers Nick, but I think you have us confused for entrepreneurs rather than lazy bums…(our subterfuge worked! 😉 )

We are still getting used to having time on our hands to do things other than study. It has been lovely to get stuck into working around the house and we have even started using the calendar that comes with using Google as our home page to keep us moving in the right direction. I picked up Dawn French’s first fiction work today from the library and am going to give it a whirl around the dance floor and see how she twirls. I also picked up the cold climate permaculture book about Hepburn Springs by David Holmgren because I now have time to read it from cover to cover like it deserves. Helen, the library lady, had put a book aside about making your own beauty products for me. She sometimes sees a book that she thinks that I might like and puts it on the shelf along with my ordered books. Cheers Helen, I like the look of some of the recipes inside and goodness only knows I can do with a slather or two of natural unguents if they will lend me an air of respectability once in a while ;). We have a full week of sorting out the chook house and then finding homes for 20+ hens. If anyone wants some prime year old egg laying (if you can find them 😉 ) hens, let me know. I had entertained giving them the chop and filling our freezer but entertaining and doing are 2 very different things. Roosters can be rationalised but hens in their prime cannot. After we make the chook coop we will be hurling ourselves headlong into all sorts of projects that we isolated from our Tuesday meeting where we had a bit of a confab about what direction we wanted to go in (preferably forwards) and how setting a few goals might actually cause us to follow through on a few of our plans.

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The rocket, lettuce, perpetual spinach, capsicum and chilli bed

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Not too sure what you do with perpetual spinach but at least we have one! 😉

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Aren’t lettuces pretty?

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Can you see the adventitious little tomato plant that grew from last years compost placed reverently in this garden bed? We think that it is one of Wendy’s lovely heritage tomatoes and it has a sibling in the next bed going great guns. I will let you know what they turn out like…by the way there is an aphid on the tomato…it won’t last long because the veggie gardens are seething with little lizards that seem to be doing a sterling job on cleaning up the tiny grasshoppers that have been attracted to the veggie garden like moths to a light. A fine example of integrated pest management at it’s finest 🙂

It’s time to think about posting this post now and after I do, I will head up to the veggie garden and will pick some mushrooms, some lettuce, some rocket and some spinach to make Steve a side salad to go with his evening meal. Living close to the ground is about as rewarding as it gets and I am going to have to get pretty close to the ground to harvest that lettuce! See you all on Saturday when we may just have that chook yard sorted out and I might just have some photos to share with you of some stunned looking enclosed chooks and Yin with his beak through the netting protesting his newfound confinement…Tasmania is a penal colony of old sir…get used to it! 😉

By the way…anyone who would like to have a chance to win Steve’s hand made spoon has 10 days to let us know. At the moment there are only 10 people in the draw and Earl thinks that they are pretty good odds. We have a lot more walnuts than “10” so please feel free to enter the spoon draw…only 10% of you want to win? Think of Steve’s pride! 😉

“What’s the name of that garbage monster?”…

Hi All,

“Is it Elmo?”…”Oh THAT’S right…it was Oscar”. That’s what my dear Sesame Street deprived husband said to me on our walk with the dogs this morning. We were just about to pass a notorious dog house where said “Garbage monster” lived and dragged our two past an enormous hairy adolescent of a German shepherd with his voice breaking with excitement to see our boys. I hate to break it to you babe…Earl is the garbage monster! We then carried on our walk only to see a group of extremely tall and thin kids with their dog off the leash…sigh…we turned around and headed back the other way till we were just about to meet up with another Saturday dog walker and did another about face in the other direction and returned back to where we had started. On the way back to the car we met Buster…I can only begin to imagine the thought processes going through Steve’s strange mind that are going to give him his memory cue for that one! At least it gives me entertaining blog post titles to lure the unsuspecting in! 😉

As I just used Steve to shamelessly promote todays post so I had best give you an action shot of him making a mountain of wood futures

When I get out of bed in the morning my warm spot is immediately predated by a heat seeking missile

Earl contemplating a career as a prize fighter

On Wednesday I mentioned that we had berries on a Mahonia shrub in the jungle part of the garden and Spencer from Anthropogen, my go-to place for learning EVERYTHING about practical useful horticulture (in opposition to horticulture that is a bit of a waste of time and that results in things that you can’t use or eat) mentioned in his comment that you can make jam out of them. Always the sceptic I decided to head off and take a look…Mahonia aquifolium’s common name is Oregon grape and as the blackbirds are eagerly hovering around these bright blue berries I figured that I might harvest them and see if I can’t make a small pot of jam out of them. Here is a good website with a great recipe for jam/jelly and some hints about combining the fruit with milder carrier fruit to mellow its flavour…

http://s158336089.onlinehome.us/OregonGrapeJam/OregonGrapeJam.html

We have some Myrtus communis (common myrtle) shrubs on the property as well and aside from making jam from the fruit, it is apparently good for making a type of booze and anything booze is alright by me! Thinking about it…maybe Mahonia could be turned into an interestingly coloured wine? Anyone for blue wine? Talking about blue things, we have seen an influx of the dreaded huge blue ants which form the stuff that Steve’s nightmares are made of. He was once bitten on the foot whilst whipper snipping by one of these nasty critters and aside from being amazingly painful the bite took ages to go away. The ants are not actually ants but are wingless female flower wasps. Here is a website with a picture of one of these beautiful but painful insects to check out for yourself…

http://www.whatsthatbug.com/2010/11/21/blue-ant-from-tasmania-is-flightless-female-flower-wasp/

That’s my “something new I learned today”.  I dehydrated some bananas that I bought for 99c a kilogram the other day. The local grocer that we buy our fruit from doesn’t wait till the bananas go black before he puts them out cheap so they are great to eat immediately or to freeze or dehydrate for later use. I was thinking about how to use dehydrated bananas other than eating them and decided that I am going to partially dehydrate some bananas to the approximate texture of dried dates and then I will puree them and add them to some home-made nut butter. I am also thinking about adding some cocoa to the mix to see how that pans out. Today’s bunch got frozen after I skinned them. I then snipped the skin into fine chunks for our ravenous compost pile to consume. I say that the compost pile is ravenous, but really it’s the small handful of leaves and red wriggler worms that the owner of “Inspirations” nursery in Exeter gave to me. He must have given me about 20 worms and I laid them reverently in the compost bin, covering them with some dried oak leaves and a kitchen scrap bucket load of various choice scraps. I came out later to see the entire compost bin seething with chooks all pecking away like crazy and immediately lamented my 20 red wrigglers, writing their eulogy as I yelled at the chooks and did windmill things with my arms in a vain effort to dissuade them from eating every last one. I figured that the compost heap was now worm free aside from the odd huge native worm that bumbled its way into Nirvana. I was wrong! At least 1 worm must have survived and went exponential on our compost heap in a big way because all you have to do is life a little of the top layer of compost and you get to see a seething mass of worms in various stages of development from teeny little thin whipper-snappers to strapping red gyrating teens. The nursery owner did warn me that they breed exponentially and now I get to reap their composting rewards and they get my buckets of scraps to fight over with the chooks.

The ubiquitous worm laden compost heap complete with an entire dead lavender shrub disguising the baby pumpkins that are growing behind it until they get so big that the chooks can’t possibly hope to quell them

Wednesday’s Mahonia berries are Saturday’s empty stems

Unripe Mahonia berries that will be harvested BEFORE the birds predate them as soon as they are ripe

The extent of my haul of Mahonia berries 😦

I put the two plastic bags that the bananas had been languishing in into my plarn bag and noticed that it was now full of all kinds of plastic bags and ticked the “to do on Saturday” box in my head initiating a plarn manufacturing day in advance. Little did I know that the garbage monster had plans of his own and his plans were for earlier on in the week! Needless to say…never leave your dog’s alone with an unattended bag of plastic bags that you intend on recycling creatively because you may have to change your “plarns” (sorry, I couldn’t resist that ;)). Earl recycled most of my plarn bags into unusable shards and the rest of them are still waiting to be processed by Earl’s internal plastic recycling depot and I am NOT going to make plarn out of them! I read on a website that living sustainably starts a chain of events in your life that can completely change the way that you live and how you see things. I completely agree. All sorts of cycles start coming out of the woodwork and I am constantly amazed at how many ways to recycle, reuse and repurpose things there are. As a natural born skiller (again…sorry…I am full of them today! ;)), I have a driven urge that is apparently the fruit of generations of thriftiness that runs in my blood like ginger beer. Talking about ginger beer…I must get a plant on the go! I keep seeing opportunities to make and do things and I am finding it increasingly hard to just make it to the end of the day having followed my goals because I am always deviating out sideways after finding something new. I thinned out my rss feed reader and rather than making my life easier, it’s actually made it harder! I have so many great blogs that I am actually reading every single post and am commenting on them all because they are all amazing resource rich sources of information and I am always incredibly grateful to those bloggers who yield quality stuff. I am getting up at 5am and have 2 hours to wander lonely as a cloud to find that sea of daffodils BUT those daffodils side-track me like crazy. It’s not MY fault that those amazing vegan food blogs are just about all participating in Vegan Mofo and keep linking to other great vegan food blogs that I just HAVE to stuff into my rss feed reader (like the hoarding pack rat that I am…sigh…) and that the rest of the quirky crafty homesteading mix that I have padding out the vegan stuff is equally as prolific and productive with their amazingly useful posts. I am going to have to spend this entire weekend working slowly through the 840 (yes 840!) posts that are mounting up exponentially in my rss feed reader and I want to read every single one! I keep a word doc open and ready to filch the mouth-watering recipes and how to’s and precious gardening information and by the end of my 2 hours word is ready to go back to bed for the day. I hit 7am (Steve’s time to wake up) running and have started a new tradition of thinking of some amazing music for him to wake up to and heading on over to Youtube, finding the entire album and turning it on as I bring him his morning cup of eye opening java. I am usually a very happy camper to be full of hours of acquired knowledge and information and carefully cribbed amazing recipes and bounce into the bedroom with coffee, wonderful music and a bleary eyed husband and his 2 furry bed mates. I think I am becoming one of those dreaded morning people!

Bananas ready for the freezer

My compost bucket with snipped banana skins to allow them to decompose more quickly

More banana peels to snip and 2 plarn futures bags…well they WOULD have been plarn futures if Earl hadn’t decided to intercede… I love being able to find ways to reuse everything that comes from our purchases and am looking forwards to heading even further afield to find more interesting ways to reuse, repurpose and recycle as much as we can on Serendipity Farm

When I was dejectedly stumbled around the garden after finding the Mahonia stripped bare of all of the succulent blue fruit that I had just decided to harvest I noted the seed pods on an incredibly overgrown and tumble-down Cassia bicapsularis/Senna. The tree is apparently incredibly hardy and this one has seen MUCH better days. I decided to collect some of the seeds and grow some more for Serendipity Farm. Aside from flowering in the winter and being a lovely looking tree, Cassia’s are leguminous and fix nitrogen in the soil and this particular variety are somewhat fast growing so they can act as foundation trees to support other slower growing trees and because they grow faster they can be cut and used as mulch. We also discovered a Kowhai/Sophora tetraptera, another leguminous small tree by complete accident when Steve noticed it flowering. It has very distinctive shaped and coloured flowers. I wonder why many leguminous trees and shrubs have yellow flowers? Genista monspessulana/Canary broom and Cytisus scoparius/English broom that has developed a curious red centre on many of the self-seeded weeds in the area also have yellow flowers as does Ulex europaeus/Gorse. Thank goodness we don’t have gorse on Serendipity Farm! That’s one weed that we really don’t need! This garden is constantly revealing little parts of itself as it evolves. I got to peek into the jungle part of the garden by braving some menacing blackberries and by turning sideways and peering through the hugely overgrown Phoenix canariensis/Canary palm that prevents entry to this part of the garden. I noticed a most interesting looking vibernum and on doing a bit of research, I discovered that there are many viburnum’s that have edible berries and some have leaves that can be used to make teas. I think that the vibernum that I discovered was Vibernum rhytidophyllum from a bit more research.

The distinctive flower of the Kowhai a leguminous tree that we recently found in our garden thanks to this flower

After a while it gets easier to work out what is leguminous and what isn’t. The leaves on the Kowhai are a dead giveaway where the flower isn’t really all that pea shaped

The plant (taken with a zoom lens) that I suspect is Vibernum rhytidophyllum amongst the jungle down in the lower garden area

It looks like Tasmania has decided to shuffle in some last bastions of winter for a couple of days. I don’t mind because I like when the garden gets watered for free and Brunhilda gets to make an appearance for a while and I don’t have to turn on the gas hot water system for a few more days. Steve has been busy fixing the front gate that has been warped by a large tree growing against one of the gate poles. He also fixed the water pipe that we burst the other day when we were planting our maples. I am so very lucky to have a husband who is “handy”. He might want to run at his days like a bull at a gate but he certainly knows how to redeem himself :o). I need to mention here that I finished “Gone Girl”. I loved the book and the interesting premise of the book but the ending was a bit weird to say the least. I had to suspend my sense of disbelief a bit but aside from the strange ending Gillian Flynn has written 3 books that I thoroughly enjoyed and will be reading anything else that she chooses to publish. I still haven’t read Like Water for Chocolate but I dare say I will find 5 minutes to shove my nose into it someday soon. My main problem now is that getting up at 5am renders me zombified by 8pm and completely unable to read anything more than a few sentence’s before I find myself waking up with my chin on my chest. At least I now earn the drool on my shirt with spring giving us so many opportunities to work hard on Serendipity Farm

I just wanted to share a few photos with you of the jungle area of the garden…

The pink coloured tree in the background is a Circis siliquastrum/Judas tree that is struggling to be seen amongst this seething mass of impenetratable vegetation

My sideways, upside down on one leg squinting shot of the garden taken just before I was heartily yanked by a wayfaring blackberry and forced to retreat from the jungle garden post haste

The mushrooms have started to slow down now and I think that my days of free mushrooms are limited by whether or not we pick up some more mushroom compost when we next head into town. The spent compost will be used to top dress garden beds as mulch. I was reading a blog this morning that talked about how restaurants are lamenting how difficult it is to minimise food waste because companies that haul away their food waste for composting charge too much. I wonder why all of the restaurants in a suburb (or even a few suburbs) don’t get together and try to do something about the problem. If companies can make money out of hauling away someone else’s food waste, surely the restaurants could as well? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to start their own communal compost heap somewhere and pay someone themselves to haul away the waste, compost it and sell it on? Thinking about it a little more, perhaps they could supply community gardens and a percentage of the produce could be returned to the restaurateurs to be recycled into their profit margin? I wish I had more food waste to compost as one day my red wrigglers are going to start lining up at the back door demanding I open the fridge for them. I think I might start a real worm farm soon. The compost heap is almost ready to be plundered for its black gold and I am going to have to evict the worms en mass. Beaconsfield tip shop often have ceramic baths for $20 and I think it might be time to head on over for a tip run in the near future to see if we can’t get ourselves a nice pink (strangely most baths thrown out are pink!) prospective worm farm. Another cycle forming on Serendipity Farm to integrate with all of the other cycles. Steve watered the glasshouse with some Powerfeed and worm tea the other day and pretty soon we won’t have to buy our worm tea, we will be able to make it ourselves.  It’s this myriad of cycles that has me excited for the future and once we manage to tame these cycles we should be able to ride the waves of change on Serendipity Farm. Nothing like a bit of proactivity to give you back a sense of equilibrium :o)

One of the lily of the valley’s that have been sprouting up all over the place lately along with the Soloman’s seals

Steve’s weird choice of foodstuffs that comprised 2 spinach and herb wraps consisting of French onion dip spread, roast pork, fresh sliced tomato, baby cos lettuce, sliced tasty cheese, omelette chinese style and some dijonaise all wrapped up and consumed with happy expat gusto. Glad I can make you happy babe but please…NEVER expect me to eat them with you! 😉

“Yeh…I did it…what are you going to do about it eh?”…a lesson in how dogs amuse themselves if you don’t leave them enough plastic milk bottles to work on till you get back…”Goodbye plarn futures till I build you up again!”

It’s just about time to post this post and I am still sitting here tapping away. I have had my tea; I have watched Gok’s wonderful cooking show. Anyone apart from me think that Gok is the Asian equivalent of Nigel Slater? I am ready to trawl the net tonight to find all sorts of quality information and so I bid you adieu for now and wish you all a wonderful weekend and remind you not to forget to listen to some good music when you can, it adds a magnificent piquancy to life and can take you to those mental and emotional places that nothing else can. See you on Wednesday :o)

Cat Stevens is a never-ending cup of the purest unadulterated pleasure and this is what I played first thing this morning to wake Steve up and to fill my heart with simple clean pure joy

The very best of Cat Stevens the full album…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxD6faPrY1M

The best bangers and a mighty tasty calzone

Hi All,

Earl and I braved the highway today for a long walk home. Steve and Bezial are having a bonding day in town and Earl and I are spending a nice quiet morning at home. I quite like the idea of pottering around not doing very much but apparently Earl isn’t all that enamoured of this situation and is sitting on his recliner looking decidedly morose. Steve headed off to town to his awaiting hair appointment with Bezial and dropped Earl and I off up the road next to an apple selling stall and we had a cold but enjoyable stroll home veering off the side of the road whenever a large road train thundered past. I am very glad that Earl isn’t scared of loud noises or walking while traffic zooms by. We arrived home and Earl raced through the house excitedly looking for Steve and Bezial and returned looking quizzical which turned into deflated and now, as previously mentioned, he has receded into morose. Steve just phoned to tell me that Bezial had half a breakfast subway and a frolic with Qi at the girls place in town while Steve was getting his hair cut. Not one to be outdone, I promptly cooked Earl 5 eggs for his breakfast and I dare say the dogs will both sniff each other to detect illicit treats that have passed their lips while they have been apart. With a bit of luck Steve will be able to get some bones from Nigel’s Gourmet Meats on Tamar. Nigel makes the BEST sausages in the world. There…I said it. I just told you that any sausage eaters in your midst need to be EXTREMELY jealous because his bangers are the best. He makes the best Thai chicken sausages around and Steve recently had some amazing pork and black truffle snags that would make the queen drool. Nigel also produces the very best dog bones and Steve will be dropping in today in the hope that he has some left for the boys to share later on this afternoon. I will get another Gillian Flynn book to read…this one is called “Gone Girl”. I really enjoyed her last 2 books that I read and only discovered her through a food blog that I read.

This was the only “person” at the counter when we went to buy a whipper snipper head recently…he stared at us…we stared at him…not to sure what kind of customer service this was so headed on over to another counter!

A gorgeous big Japanese Maple on our walk around Kayena that we do on a regular basis with the boys. I love this house, this tree and this garden. What’s not to love?

Another one of our walks…this time up a steep hill near where we live. We are hill daredevils now! This road leads nowhere BUT it’s a pretty nowhere so we might just take a right here next time we are huffing up the hill…

I have been procrastinating about reigniting Brunhilda. We are on the dregs of dry wood in our woodshed but the weather has taken a turn for the worse and its cold today. I have wrapped myself in a doona as I type and Earl is out on sentry duty on the deck waiting for Steve and Bezial to come home. The weep-weep bird is back along with a particularly annoying new bird that sounds like a cat in distress. It would be bad enough with one bird making punitive cries all day and night but there are two of them singing/crying in unison! I was shaking out the blanket on Earl’s chair this morning  in a vain effort to minimise the hairs floating all over the place in all of the rooms and noticed Adrian next door wandering around looking for something. I think she was trying to find the source of the crying. Hopefully she realises that it is a bird and not something terrified or hurt which is what it sounds like. I just finished a rough draft for the article that I have been asked to write about the Tamar NRM. I can’t praise them highly enough for the recent series of free events highlighting sustainability and natural resource management. Back in the day it was called “farming” and “how to make do with what you have” but as trends change, so do the names that support said trends and everything is green in the state of Tasmania. We just heard that Tasmania has the worst jobless rate in Australia. I am not surprised. There isn’t much going on in Tasmania at the moment and the government seems hell bent on pushing unsustainable quick fixes as our future rather than supporting slow growth via quality food production and clean green tourism and businesses. They cling onto the past with a tenacity verging on panic. No-one wants to say the obvious that Tasmania has lagged WAY behind the rest of Australia thanks to its parochialism and nepotistic desire to cling to the past. The Tamar NRM is showing people how to make positive changes in their lives. Whether you have money or not, you CAN make small changes to how you do things that will add up to a cost saving to you and less of a drain on the world as a whole.

I need to thank Spencer from the wonderful resource http://anthropogen.com/ for sharing a fantastic link with me this morning. I actually subscribe to this blog but somehow missed this amazing article that is completely pertinent to our situation here in Temperate Australia. Here are the two links that caught my eye and got me excited…

http://permaculturenews.org/2012/09/06/perennial-food-plants-food-forest-gardens-and-food-security/

What a fantastic idea and a wonderful way to create a sense of community through ensuring our ongoing food security. That initial post led to this next one which is the first of (hopefully) many land owners sharing what they are doing to shore up their food supplies on their land

http://permaculturenews.org/2012/10/11/food-from-perennialising-plants-in-temperate-climate-australia-for-september-2012/

Its articles like these that keep me fired up for what we are doing on Serendipity Farm. Last week I became incredibly enthused with water wicking. I heard about it initially through Bev at http://foodnstuff.wordpress.com that uses water wicking beds to combat using precious potable water on her vegetable beds. Water wicking promises up to 50% less water used to grow vegetable crops whilst increasing the yield and quality of vegetables thanks to a much more efficient watering system and more readily available water to be used by the plant on call. I learned that you can create a wicked water bed next to your fruit trees and alongside young trees that need initial watering until their roots are able to seek water lower down in the soil profile. The more I learn about these amazing ways to do things that are more efficient along with less energy intensive the more excited I get about applying these ideas to Serendipity Farm. If you are after some quality information for free, check out these resources through http://www.soilandhealth.org/ thanks to Steve Solomon and now Justin Crawford. Its people like these and the many bloggers out in the ether sharing what they learn and know with the rest of us that facilitate a growing grassroots community of resilience and hope. Cheers to all of you and thank you SO much for your efforts. They truly are appreciated by us all :o)

It was a lovely day today on Serendipity Farm. This photo was taken by Steve as he walked Earl. The road goes right up to the edge of the river at this point and gives a lovely photo opportunity most mornings as we set off

I really like this shot of the river…Steve’s phone probably takes better photos than our camera!

It’s a magnificent sunny spring day here on Serendipity Farm. The sun is shining…the sky is bright Microsoft blue and everything is happy and sparkling. The local art group has chosen today to park at the Auld Kirk church next door and are drawing and painting this lovely day for posterity. Our chooks are suspicious of them and are protesting at more humans interrupting their clucking and scratching. Someone has a little Chihuahua type dog and Earl and Bezial have their ears cocked listening whilst pretending to be asleep and basking on the sun warmed deck. Our American hippy friend is apparently going to come to our house and use a Geiger counter to show us how bad our lights are for us…hope he doesn’t go too close to the computer, the fridge, the television and Earl or that sucker is going to go off the dial! Our American Hippy friend sees conspiracies behind every hedge. I prefer to save my conspiracies for when I give a damn about something as much like anything else, the novelty wears off pretty quickly if you immerse yourself in something constantly. He dropped off a couple of conspiracy D.V.D.s for us to watch and one about food forests which I might even watch. He rode his loud old motorbike (that we can hear all the way from his place) up and didn’t even come inside. We had even managed to find a Frank Zappa album in Steve’s collection to add his sort of ambiance to his visit. He was run over by a truck in Nam (or somewhere like that) and has a built up shoe and a strange way of walking but for a man of his age he is most definitely NOT boring. He has a long dreadlock ponytail, an unusual way of looking at things and wants our pile of old steel up behind the house. He can share it with our friend in the witness protection’s partner. The boys whined on the deck while he was here because for some reason they absolutely love him. Bezial thinks that he is his best friend EVER something that was reinforced into Bezials food controlled brain when he bought the boys some pig’s ears and was forever forged in Bezials mind as “A Good Sort”. He is our sort of people. Not completely “right” and definitely not someone that you would take home to meet your parents.

What a lovely part of the world we live in 🙂

As you can see, the road really DOES go right down to the river and this is taken on the border of Glads place next door and our property

I am sure that our respective neighbours will someday come to understand that Steve and I are not manufacturing crack, growing dope or plotting to relieve them of all of their worldly goods. I actually got to talk to one of the more upper crust neighbours who are terrified that our boys are going to eat her fluffy little “Nelson”. I was walking Earl because Bezial has a dicky digit and both he and I need the exercise or bad things happen. I just “happened” to let slip that we are studying our Diploma in Landscaping…not something that I would usually care to slip into the conversation (not being a wanker by choice) but this lady holds sway in the local vicinity and my little ploy appears to have worked because today, Steve was walking Earl on his own (Bezials digit is still dicky) and the middle classers who own the 7/11 on the corner (really an expensive environmentally correct house but it looks just like a 7/11 to us ;)) actually “spoke” to Steve! Normally they would rather walk into the house as the pit-bull toting rednecks wrangled those monsters past…maybe they need a hand with their lavender and rosemary hedges and their dry stone walls and their climbing roses? 😉 Best not ask us then!

Steve took this photo today as he was standing on the deck having a coffee

Looking back towards Glad’s place. As you can see, spring is making everything green here now

Gone girl tastes too good. It’s rich and creamy and I know I am going to “eat” it too fast for my own good and get sick and when I get to the end after rushing/gulping it down in one long marathon, sneaking it into the toilet and carrying it myopically into the bathroom when I am brushing my teeth I am going to be disappointed that I didn’t make it last…sucking the last of the marrow out of its bones and I will be sad. Was that poetic? It’s how I feel when I get a good book and can’t stop being greedy about it. I am a greedy person…generous AND greedy and I love to share my greed. I love how Gillian Flynn writes…she directs you like you are dancing with her and her hand is on the small of your back expertly ferrying you around the dance floor till you arrive at the winner’s podium shocked because you can’t even dance. Authors like that are rare and I am feeling a bit shell shocked that I have only just started her third and most recent novel and I am already lamenting “The End”. I put the book down (with difficulty). I just had to smile because I spelled “difficulty” correctly. The ONLY reason that I can spell that word is that my grandad taught me a little rhyme to remember how to spell it and even though I learned that little rhyme about 40 years ago, it has stuck with me and that word has never tripped me up. I guess one word is better than none! I think I might have to stalk Ms Gillian Flynn and see if I can’t get her to write her next novel A.S.A.P. because the book that I am reading was only printed in August 2012. As nice as she was to write a book for my birthday, it doesn’t make up for the fact that I am going to have to go cold turkey pretty soon so she is just going to have to write faster. If any of my American dear constant readers live anywhere near Ms Flynn, please feel free to head over to her house and tell her that I would like her to write another book… better still…how about she does what they did with the back to the future trilogy and writes 3 at once? Just sayin’…

This little seaplane often comes in for a landing on the river here

Going…going…

Gone!

It’s now just on 5pm and I have a batch of Italian herb bread dough on proving to make Steve some more calzones for his tea tonight. He must have liked the last lot because they are all gone, even the two that were frozen for later consumption. I ran out of sopressa so it’s all bacon, mushroom, capsicum and spring onion with cheese today. For some reason the bread dough was completely different this time to when I last made it. I am not phased because murphy has my name in his book of laws right up there on the first page and constantly feels the need to update me with his erstwhile laws right in the middle of doing just about everything so I am used to things going a bit skewwhiff. It smells good and that’s enough for now!  I might finish up this lazy post pretty soon. I have meandered through the day in a bit of a haze. Unlike most of Australia, Tasmania is still pretty cold through the day and as the last day of the Launceston Royal Agricultural Show has just about come to a halt we can plant out our tomatoes tomorrow! That might sound a bit strange but it’s a tried and tested date that all Northern Tasmanian vegetable gardeners adhere to religiously. If you plant before then…you are a “bloody idiot”! We were bloody idiots way back when we first moved here in 2007 because we didn’t know any better. We made a lovely veggie garden and planted out a multitude of unusual tomato varieties in complete blind ignorance. We didn’t even know to stake them and so we ended up with frizzled dead frozen tomatoes that had to be replaced (muttering and complaining) with more multitudes of varieties because most of them died. We flouted the “after the show” rule and lived to pay the price. Older now, and one would hope wiser, we are preparing to plant our tomatoes, capsicums, chillis and a small punnet of lettuces that Steve bought the other day at one of the local hardware shops (actually Woolworths in “local” disguise) car park sale. Our friend in the witness protection, who works at said hardware shop, was run off her feet and unable to say much because she was being trailed by elderly ladies and buffeted with questions from all sides.

Steve got all artistic today

and again…

Last weeks calzone fillings and a close approximation of this weeks calzone fillings 😉

And so our time together has come to an end…it’s actually come to an end because my calzone dough has risen up nicely and needs to be given a bit of a thump to remove some air and then I will cut it into 4, roll it out into nice 20cm circles and will cover half of the circle with filling, scrunch up the edges in a rough approximation of something that I saw on a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall program (so it must be kosher…), brush it with egg wash and shove it into a nice hot Brunhilda oven to bake. Steve is out trying to stop Felix from scarfing our feral chooks 3 little babies. He can’t sit out there all day and the mother is going to have to take her chances with a proven chick killer. It never stops here on Serendipity Farm! See you on Wednesday :o)

Why hippies are thin

Hi All,

Have I piqued your interest yet? Over the last (almost) 2 years we moved from relative bliss in the suburbs, totally devoid of any understanding or care about where anything came from and just predating shopping centres at all hours of the day and night whenever our stomach’s rumbled or we felt like bedecking our intestines and arteries with some form of tasty chemical indulgence and got thrown into the abyss of country living. We didn’t have time to blink, let alone adjust to our situation; we were thrown in running and immediately started trying to reclaim Serendipity Farm from the clutches of chaos. I have discovered many important truths since we got brave enough to come out from under the bed what seems like eons ago and would like to share a few of them here with you now.

1. Everything wants to eat you or your possessions in the country. Termites, rats, mice, possums, wallabies, rabbits and in our case “Earl” all join together in a ferocious free for all as soon as you open the door and attempt to ingratiate yourself with any degree of wilderness and settle down out in the sticks

2. Life runs on a parallel time frame in the country. This is to be confirmed, but somewhat like the unseen university in the Discworld…country living has its own peculiar time portals that swallow you up and spit you out the other side confused and wondering why it is dark and where the day went…or I may have just been taken by aliens…either way, confusion reigns

3. Unlike living in an urban environment, your house in the country will instantly form a tiny microcosm where everything starts looping in cycles. In the city you feel small, in the country you are suddenly aware of how very important these little cycles are and your place within these cycles

4. You have to learn to think laterally when you live in the country. You also have to learn to think on your feet (sometimes concurrently with thinking laterally…no mean feat!) and you also have to learn to amuse yourself because the only other person here is watching The Swamp Men on television and isn’t likely to stop in the perceivable future

5. Last but not least…(this is where the title comes into it…aren’t you glad you kept reading?) everything takes a zillion more steps and 100 times more effort in the country when you are penniless student hippies (as most hippies are) and can’t just buy what you want or pay someone else to do it for you. Simply getting warm involves a trip up to the back block to collect some of the firewood that you hadn’t gotten around to moving down to the wood shed yet after chopping down the dead tree, chain sawing it into logs and splitting with a block splitter, isolating some kindling wood (usually whilst doing some form of callisthenic exercise involving bending and stretching up trees and under shrubs), running the gauntlet of getting the firewood past Earl who isn’t called “The eatinator” for nothing and then rubbing 2 sticks together for about 3 hours. Ok…so I fibbed about the last bit and we do use the occasional match (shock HORROR…send the environmental police around…sigh…). To get food you have to grow it yourself…to have a roast chicken you have to “first kill your rooster”. In the city you can live an idyllic life so far distanced from the origins of your food and without an exertive care in the world. You can reach for the telephone and all manner of piping hot (or its free!) comestibles will wend their merry way right to your doorway. Sugarplum fairies (or their corn syrup equivalent in the U.S.A.) lure you at every café, lunch bar and supermarket but out in the country you have to make your own and you are suddenly confronted with exactly how much of what is entering your digestive tract in the form of hidden fat, sugar and chemical enhancers. When you live in the country you either bury your head in the sand or you fess up to your previous life of sloth and degradation and start finding ways to turn it around and all of the “ways” involve hard slog and nutritional change. Enter the thin hippy. People who care tend to be thin. Do you know why? Because they are so busy racing around after causes, events, volunteering, eating on the run, thinking about their food and trying to eat ethically to put on weight. Hippies are thin because they are living nature how it was meant to be lived and whether or not they end up with a bit of diarrhoea from eating something unwashed, or left out for more than 10 minutes or that hasn’t been scrubbed within an inch of its life or doused in Dettol doesn’t matter because if you grow it yourself, and you embrace sustainable permaculture principals you can put a handful of that fecund dirt into your mouth and eat it and it will probably do you good! There you go…hippies (the lucky buggers) are thin because they are so active and vital and caring and concerned that they don’t even care about how much they weigh and so Murphy leaves them alone. No fun in shoving kilos onto someone who needs them is there?

I promised you a couple of photos of Targa. Steve was right on the corner when this car span out and got bogged. They had to sit out this stage of the time trials and were not all that happy about it!

This was supposed to be Steve’s moment of glory…his 15 minutes of fame…but they never used the footage of him jumping up and down, waving like crazy at the camera or of Serendipity Farm (which is where the helicopter is hovering in this picture). Steve says “Bollocks!” I say “Thank goodness! Did you even LOOK at yourself when you headed up the back paddock with the camera to take a few photos?!

Look at those eyes…latent suspicion and violent tendencies along with ninja stealth when it comes to hopping into my poor long suffering succulents…

The following pots are the sole remaining cacti and succulents that we could save from these marauding hyenas of the veld (a.k.a. ducks)

I used to have so many amazing cacti and succulents that I couldn’t even count them. Each one sourced locally and hunted in various nurseries, horticultural shows and small pieces given lovingly (and sometimes taken surruptitiously) by friends. You will notice that most of what remains is heavily armoured. I swear the ducks have been formulating a plant to remove the spines so we repotted them and put them up out of the assassins reach.

We are continuing on in the garden attempting to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Does that sound a bit like sour grapes? You are darned tootin it does! It seems like the more effort we put into removing years of neglect, the more like a barren wasteland Serendipity Farm is becoming. We have huge piles of debris littering the landscape; we are constantly followed by small members of the poultry confraternity standing in the arches of our boots waiting to catch all sorts of disenfranchised evicted creatures from their resting places in the shrubbery. Our 2 ducks, who until now have been somewhat suspicious of us and who have managed to maintain a significant distance between themselves and our person, have now decided that we are worse than Hitler because we have been removing all of the vegetation that they previously hid in whilst making surreptitious raids of my succulent patch. We have dispatched yet another rooster to that great roasting pan in the sky for attacking Pingu and pulling out heaps of feathers and forcing Effel to subject to depraved sexual acts. Goodbye Trogdor. I am sure you will make a very tasty roast dinner. I have noticed something very interesting about our poultry population. Big Yin is an amazing rooster. We couldn’t hope for a better one. He looks after the flock, he finds food, nests, shelter and anything else for his girls and makes sure that they get all of the choice titbits that we toss out to them throughout the day. As each new rooster gets old enough to start acting like roosters are prone to do, and we dispatch them summarily, the next rooster in line, who has until this point remained latent and benign and who hasn’t done much more than crow takes up the flag and starts roostering for all they are worth! No sooner had we dispatched Henry (rollins) the initial rooster who was causing problems in the hen house, Trogdor, who had up until that point been so benign that we had considered he might be gay, stepped up to the mark and became Big Yin’s chief nemesis. Now that Trogdor is out of the picture, Big Bertha (yeh…I know…good pick…sigh…) is crowing for all he is worth, molesting all and sundry and has just signed his gender confused death warrant in the process. We then have another quandary with Little red. He is the first of the feral chooks that live “elsewhere” to the chicken coop and we are going to have to hunt him down with a torch one night. Is it just me that takes great delight in reading my blog spam? I get quite a bit. Some days I get more spam than I get views! Lately I am getting some hilarious spam that I enjoy over my early morning cup of tea and guffaw outrageously at. Do yourselves a favour and have a read of your spam…it just might make your day :o). Here are 2 examples from my spambox (like a lunch box but with the vegetarian equivalent of spam luncheon meat…perhaps seitan?)…

“You know therefore considerably when it comes to this topic, produced me in my opinion consider it from a lot of varied angles. It’s like women and men aren’t interested unless it is something to do with Girl gaga! Your individual stuffs excellent. All the time care for it up!”

And how about this enlightened comment…

“Great beat! I wish to apprentice while you amend your web site, how can i subscribe for a blog site? The account aided me a acceptable deal. I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided bright clear idea”

If anyone out there can enlighten me to what either of these comments actually mean I would be most interested to find out. Here’s one I actually sent on to share with my daughters the other day…

“You might want to revitalize your best then you will likely have large amounts with high supplement in the male body. Growth hormone is definitely a necessary lifestyle deliver by way of our company’s pituitary gland which may be the culprit for much of our maturity.”

There you go! I thought about hooking up to their company’s pituitary gland but then realised that it was the culprit for my maturity! See what you are all missing out there? Who needs to buy newspapers and turn to the funnies, these are MUCH funnier than that…

“Now you see me…now you don’t!”…one of Effel’s babies showing how well they can camoflage in with the endemic vegetation and why, despite her best efforts, she still has 8 of them.

Most people (at least in Tasmania) would see this pile of tyres that we inherited along with Serendipity Farm (and quite a few more to boot) as a problem. We don’t. We are going to have fun working out what to do with them. We could make a tyre garden. We could use them to make steps (found a site online that shows us how), or a retaining wall…or even as the basis for a wall filled with our local rocks and sand. There are so many ways to use old tyres so why are local Tasmanian’s throwing them into every ditch that they possibly can? Because they have to pay $5 a tyre to dispose of them at the local tip, THATS why…sigh…

This is what we have had to do to protect anything vaguely succulent in nature. Even euphorbia’s, with their irritating sap, are not safe from those feathered assassins…just take a look at that rectangular teracotta pot…the day before it was green! Today it is picked down to the brown base.

It’s Friday morning and we are having an unusual early morning off from walking the dogs. Today we are combining picking up my book requests from the Exeter library, hauling a mass of vanquished blackberry foes to the Exeter tip green waste centre and walking the dogs in one of their more preferred locations all at the same time. We have learned that multitasking saves time and money. One trip for 3 requirements makes me feel good. We had to learn that lesson the hard way when we first moved here. We spent so much time racing back and forwards between the city and here and we seemed to be constantly on the go. Now we wait, we plan and we make sure that we do as many things as we can whenever we get into the car. We have spent the last month really getting to grips with the tangle of foliage on Serendipity Farm. We know that autumn is the very best time to plant out our potted babies and so we are removing as much of the weedy neglect as we can to find space to give them the best start for the coming year. We have learned a lot about ourselves in the process and are starting to fall into our own routine. We have the peculiar distinction of being parents that leave their children. We left my son living in the rental house that we lived in when we moved here. He was working and inner city rentals were both expensive and difficult to find so he was happy to take over the lease. When we moved out to Serendipity Farm we left our two daughters (both adults before you start to phone social services…) in our house in town so rather than have our children move out on us leaving us empty nesters, we emptied ourselves out of the nest! We were in the most privileged of positions when my dad died to inherit 2 houses. My brother and sister both got 2 houses of their own and before anyone starts envying any of us, every single house came with an overwhelming list of repairs, neglect and mounting cost so each of us had to earn what we have inherited. Far from being ungrateful, I know that we have been given a very precious gift and that as penniless hippy 40 something students we would never have had the opportunity to buy a house let alone end up debt free like we are today. We love our life out here and are starting to get a feel for being 2 people out in the wilderness. There is something quite terrifying about being left alone with your partner. I think that is when many marriages start to fall apart and when a mans shed becomes more important than it has ever been before. That’s when there is no-one else to focus on and suddenly you are confronted with each other with no-where to hide. If you throw retirement into the process you get, most probably, the very first time that either of you have had to spend extended periods of time together and someone that you can share a house with for half a day quite easily can become “the enemy” overnight. You just have to watch “Keeping up appearances” with the ubiquitous Hyacinth Bucket (“Boo-kay…it is pronounced BOO-KAY”!) to see just how terrifying retirement must be to a couple. Again, Steve and I spend 24/7 together. Retirement will be much like school holidays…we most probably won’t notice it like we didn’t notice them so again we buck the system.

“Ok, so your back from town…these are in bags…and they appear to be some sort of food…”

“Wait a minute! There’s nothing tasty in these bags!”

2 distinct varieties of Jerusalem Artichokes that I picked up in one of our local green grocers when we were in town on Friday. I am most excited about being able to get really big interesting looking specimens like these and will be planting them out as soon as they start to sprout a little bit. I picked up 3 wizened tubers in a pack at Woolworths a few years ago and planted them out in our house in town. As I type this the girls have harvested tens of kilo’s of these tasty (albeit flatulence inducing but whats a little fart joke between friends?) tubers that have the added benefit of having pretty sunflower like flowers, being perenial and dying back so you can slash the stalks and use them for mulch and in having the ability to reproduce exponentially much to the Canadian’s amazement. They are classified as “weeds” in Canada. Obviously the Canadian’s are not able to take a (fart) joke…once you have these babies, forget about caring for them…they look after themselves and you won’t ever go short of nutty crunchy delicious tubers as they seem to be able to grow in any condition known to man

“Ok…theres nothing tasty in this lot of toys that they brought back from town…you know that someone is going to get the blame for all of this mess…”

Apparently Bernard and Manny (the Javanese Finches in the cage over to the right of this photo) did this. They have taken full responsibility and wish it to be known that they are ashamed of themselves and will clean up this mess post haste. They apparently did it alone with no help whatsoever…

There is nothing like living in the country to remove all pretention from a person. When your lower body is covered in mud and chicken manure, your arms are scratched up with hand to hand blackberry combat, you look like a brown zombie (who remembers sunscreen when you need to get up and going early before the sun is up) and you are starting to regret not listening to your lecturer when he said “don’t forget your earplugs when you use the chainsaw” because much like Pete Townsend, you are starting to have problems hearing people. You go to town looking peculiar because you have attempted to scrub your skin free of dirt and debris that has plastered itself violently all over you in your heady pursuit of finding something ordered in a sea of chaos and you turn up looking wide eyed and innocent in the middle of the city. Simple country folk. I no longer ask Steve “does my bum look fat in this?”…I say “can I get away with this…” or “are there any holes (Earl), stains (no end of creatures and situations want to stain everything that we own) or fraying (treacherous blackberries!)?” It’s no longer a matter of “I need that new shampoo to make my hair look like golden tresses” its “did I wash my hair? Are there any leaves in my hair? “Could you just get the scissors and trim it straight across the bottom for me?”…country life certainly changes a person and woe betide anyone who chooses to attempt to maintain their idealistic romantic notions of picnics in the fields and picking wildflowers and drinking wine out on the deck whilst gazing into the eyes of your lover because the chickens have been in the paddock first…the wildflowers are classified weeds and you had best remove them QUICK before DIPWE catches you with them on your property and your lover has already gulped his glass of wine down in one swig, is too tired to focus on your eyes and you both look like you have been dragged through a blackberry patch backwards (curiously…that saying is incredibly pertinent to our current situation!) and you BOTH have a headache. Much like Tom and Barbara Good from “The Good Life”, we are discovering that country living isn’t quite so idealistic and nostalgic as many wistful city dwellers might have us believe. In saying that, I wouldn’t give up what country living has done for us. We have a degree of freedom that we never had in the city. If I want to throw off my clothes post haste and hunt for leeches on the deck, so long as I don’t choose to do it at 12pm when the Tamar Cruiser wends its way past us on the river delivering its amplified speech about the Auld Kirk Church, I am safe to do so. We can start, finish and “do” whatever we want around here. We can eat what we want, when we want to. There are very few rules and regulations that have to be enforced and we are quickly discovering so much about ourselves and our place in the world and together that we would never have learned whilst surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the city.

Another pile of vanquished blackberries off to the hoosegow  to do the time for crimes against mankind

And here they are effectively “zipped” (old school computer talk for condensing to all of you young hipsters out there…) and ready to dump at the Exeter Green Waste Centre. Here we are parked at the Exeter Library where I just picked up Flaubert’s Parrot and Women of the Silk to read over the coming week. I have a few more books in transit, I am getting greedy in my lust for literature…

I hereby swear never EVER to leave a library book lying on the kitchen table and head outside to see what Steve is on about. Earl took advantage of my 5 minutes respite from reading to ingest some literature of his own. Earl is now semi filled with war, death and “The Push”…sigh…the only thing that I have going for me this time is that the first entry in the fading yellow paged cello taped paperback copy of “A Covenant with Death” by John Harris was 1964, making this book almost as old as I am! Steve was actually born after this book entered library circulation and so I am going to argue my case if faced with a hefty bill for replacement. It seems fitting that a book has been dispatched today as we suddenly discovered 2 new roosters. That only leaves 1 of the heavier chickens that we imported in limbo as to its sex. My theory about roosters is gaining momentum as each time we dispatch a rooster, another “hen” steps up to take its place. We now know who is a hen and who isn’t apart from the younger ferals, Effel’s babies and the silver Wyandotte’s 3 who are now shared between a golden laced Wyandotte and the silver Wyandotte. We just took an afternoon wander around the property with Earl on a lead and Bezial free ranging. Wherever we have cleared in the last month is now able to get rainfall down to the soil and everything is looking happy and green. We are starting to work out what plants we can use from our large potted stash, and which plants we are going to have to get rid of. We donated 3 roses to our Polytechnic yesterday because they are simply possum fodder here. We are in the process of repotting all of our stock that we have grown including all sorts of maples (sourced from seed from all over the place) and all sorts of conifers (sourced from seed and cuttings from all over the place). Steve potted up some of our glasshouse specimens to give them some more room to grow and I dumped the remaining potting mix and left over tomato stems into our compost heap. I will be topping it up with spent chook roost hay covered in nitrogen rich manure when I clean out the hen house tomorrow. Bernard and Manny, our Java Finches, are getting their cage cleaned out as well and their spent hay will be added to our compost. It is now second nature to throw “anything that was once living” (apart from meat grandma!) into a smaller bucket in the pantry to be tossed out into the compost heap when it is full. We phoned up a local machinery hire agency and we can get a large chipper/mulcher for a weekend for $95. We have some BIG plans for that mulcher and hope to eliminate our massive great pyre of decaying branches down in the teatree gardens as well as crown lifting and mulching tree branches all over the property. We will remove the Photinia x fraseri “Robusta” that are on the dividing fence between our place and the graveyard at the Auld Kirk church and will mulch them all into a large heap to rot down and use in the garden elsewhere. We checked what had once been a large pile of oak leaves that we raked last year for Glad next door and it has rotted down to a very small amount. We will top it up this year with year 2 of raking and being neighbourly and will use the leaf mould on the garden as it becomes available. I love being able to reuse waste on site. The only thing that we are taking to the tip (vegetative matter wise) are the blackberries. One day, when the blackberries are at a manageable level we will be able to make weed tea out of them but we don’t have a large enough vat to tackle the vast amount that we are dealing with at the moment. We need to isolate some plants for our garden starting with a source of Moringa olifera or drumstick tree. This tree is amazing. You can count the things that this tree ISN’T good for on one hand. We would also like to give neem a go. I know we are not tropical but we do have a range of plants growing here that shouldn’t be happy to do so including Jacaranda’s, Brachychitons and 2 Sydney red gums that should be roots up in Tasmania let alone thriving like ours are. We would like to see if we can grow as many of our own insecticides, food trees, medicinal plants etc. on site. I look forwards to hunting them down and sourcing nurseries and individuals with stock that we can buy swap or take cuttings/seed from.

Here are the veggies and the 15 (hand counted) whole peppercorns ready to be put into the stock water when the carcass has been simmering gently for an hour and fifteen minutes. 45 minutes later we had very unphotogenic but probably heavenly stock

The last of our elephant garlic that we grew this year. Juicy, hot, spicy and incredibly fragrant it was really something compared to the cheap imported garlic that is available in the shops.

Colours…we need coloured food for antioxidents and for visual appeal. I don’t like chunks of carrot so we tend to use a vegetable peeler to make long quick cooking strips that are perfect for stir fries

This pile is waiting to be turned into Steve’s special fried rice

Ok…so this home made black bean sauce doesn’t look all that tasty…that is a BIG understatement, but this fragrant paste is redolent with flavour, heat, texture and low food miles using our own garlic, chillies, local olive oil and only the black beans (salted) were imported. I dare say we could have found an Australian source if we tried or I could turn to my trusty typed out copy of “The Permaculture Book of Ferment and Human Nutrition” and make my own! I love a challenge especially a food challenge. I once made a man with Coeliacs who was also unable to have dairy a vegan pizza made with spelt (he didn’t react to spelt) and home made vegan dairy free cheeze. He hadn’t had pizza in 6 years and apparently ate most of the enormous offering all by himself with no reaction whatsoever. As I said…I LOVE a challenge 🙂

Steve cooking up the veggies and black beans for the brown rice fried rice

Check out the colour in our home grown free range eggs…I almost needed sunglasses to make this omelette for Steve’s stir fry

This chicken has been marinating in chilli flakes, sesame oil and some mirin overnight in the fridge

Brown rice black bean fried rice…absolutely delicious!

The eggs are still this colour when you cook them. Here they are waiting to be divided into 2 portions. One for Steve’s meal and one for the dogs to share. The utensil here is an Australian designed and made “Chopula” made by Dreamfarm, a forward thinking sustainable company who really does care about all aspects of their production. I love this egg slice. It will sit on the bench when not being used without leaving any of its current occupying foodstuffs on the bench. It will hook on the side of the pan when you are cooking and you can chop, slice etc. whatever you are cooking and the shape allows the easiest flipping of a frypan full of pikelets that I have ever experienced. Hell yeh I am promoting this amazing tool! Do yourselves a favour and buy yourself one. These guys are not paying me to promote them, they just deserve it they are so good 🙂

I have just discovered (purely by accident) a site where I can get a like for like copy of A Covenant with Death sent to me for $12. Cheers Jennifer of Parklea books! She might have had to lift it from her market stall but lift it she did and as soon as I can verify her account details the $12 will be wending its merry way to Jennifer and that well-aged paperback will be handed in along with my freezer bag of torn shreds (Earl never does anything by halves…) as replacement all before I have to suffer the injustice of not being able to take any more books out of the library until I replace it. Steve and I decided to cook today and to take advantage of the stove being on to do as many things as we could. We used some of the first rooster to make a chicken stew to be frozen and used later on. We put the rooster carcass and wings on to gently simmer and made a large pot of free range stock with surprisingly little fat despite me leaving the skin on the carcass. We then made a crunchy oat slice for Steve (and the dogs) and cooked a large pot of brown rice and dried it out in the warming oven for my meal of fried rice tonight. Into the fried rice went diced onion, diced yellow (hydroponic) capsicum, the last of our fresh garlic that we managed to wrestle from the wallabies crushed, some chopped mushrooms, some carrot and lots of secret sauces etc. that Steve throws in at the last minute to make something truly delicious. He had stir fried marinated chicken with home-made black bean sauce. We like to do as many things as we can ourselves and after seeing a recipe for black-bean sauce online I decided to try it. The result is salty, hot and sweet and absolutely delicious! We have various pots of food cooling all over our kitchen so that we can prep them and fridge or freeze them depending on their future use. Steve has a whole bowl of left over stir fry and will have that tomorrow night with some of my brown rice fried rice and who knows what I will have…we tend to wing it! I was going to watch some television tonight but remembered that I had to post so you saved me from brain numbing. I am instead going to play Hammer Heads, a most interesting hybridisation between whack-a-mole and gnome warfare. One day I am going to beat the king. Until then, I can but keep trying to whack my hardest and give it the old college try. When I get bored with that I can read Flaubert’s Parrot or sit by the fire with a big cup of tea and simply ruminate mentally about life, the universe and everything (hopefully I don’t get sued by Douglas Adams for that!) Have a great week and see you on Wednesday. Hopefully I will have done something by that stage to share with you as our weather is apparently going to be drizzly for the foreseeable future. Not that I mind, I LOVE the rain :o)