One busy week deserves another

Hi All,

 

Last weeks picture post was apparently greatly appreciated by most people. I think I wrote a blog post in comments which seemed to suit everyone so I think I might just carry on with this kind of post for a while (till something better comes along and inspires me 😉 ). Ms Rabid shared a pin with me this week that completely blew me away. We have a little groundcover growing on the desperately dry area between our driveway at the front of the deck and the first garden (lower down). Every year it survives with the odd squirt from the hose and keeps spreading. I just found out from Ms Rabid that it is actually a form of creeping groundcover raspberry called Rubus pentalobus. You learn something every day! Mine flowers but hasn’t ever set fruit and the conditions that the poor plant is living in I am not surprised. Guess who is going to take lots of cuttings and care for it and fertilise it and plant it ALL OVER THE PLACE now that I know that it has value in a permaculture garden other than holding the slope together in the arid conditions that we call “Summer” here. What a valuable little plant! 🙂 Ok, lets get into it then…what has happened since last Wednesday…

This is the Rubus pentalobus that Ms Rabid mentioned the other day. I am quite sure it's what she was talking about and here's the blog post that backed me up... http://tcpermaculture.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/permaculture-plants-groundcover.html

This is the Rubus pentalobus that Ms Rabid mentioned the other day. I am quite sure it’s what she was talking about and here’s the blog post that backed me up… http://tcpermaculture.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/permaculture-plants-groundcover.html

 

Steve needed a new workbench in his shed and so we cut up our old kitchen table to repurpose it for the job.

Steve needed a new workbench in his shed and so we cut up our old kitchen table to repurpose it for the job.

We didn't disturb the tenants, they get angry when you make too much noise...

We didn’t disturb the tenants, they get angry when you make too much noise…

Once the table/bench was in Steve decided to rearrange his shed and tidy it up and here's what it looks like now

Once the table/bench was in Steve decided to rearrange his shed and tidy it up and here’s what it looks like now

We took a lot of rubbish down to the tip (and lots to the tip shop) and we always check the tip shop in case there is something we can use in the garden. This time we found this half keg with holes drilled in the bottom that is going to be Steve's new shed bin.

We took a lot of rubbish down to the tip (and lots to the tip shop) and we always check the tip shop in case there is something we can use in the garden. This time we found this half keg with holes drilled in the bottom that is going to be Steve’s new shed bin.

We also bought this very deep corner shower unit for $5 to be repurposed as a pond under the new tap that Steve installed in Sanctuary for me. Here, Steve is removing the lip from the top of the shower/bath

We also bought this very deep corner shower unit for $5 to be repurposed as a pond under the new tap that Steve installed in Sanctuary for me. Here, Steve is removing the lip from the top of the shower/bath

Nice smooth top and time to make sure that the water doesn't come out when it is filled

Nice smooth top and time to make sure that the water doesn’t come out when it is filled. Steve found a thick plastic lid and cut a circle out of it

Then he applied lots of silicone and let it dry/set before we took it up to Sanctuary.

Then he applied lots of silicone and let it dry/set before we took it up to Sanctuary.

The tip shop has a shed with more discarded treasures and we picked up some teddies for the dogs to play with and when I was sorting through them to weed out the teddies that didn't have beans inside them (bad mistake to buy teddies with beans inside them for dogs ;) ) I found this lovely little rabbit. He is very cute but that's not why I bought him...

The tip shop has a shed with more discarded treasures and we picked up some teddies for the dogs to play with and when I was sorting through them to weed out the teddies that didn’t have beans inside them (bad mistake to buy teddies with beans inside them for dogs 😉 ) I found this lovely little rabbit. He is very cute but that’s not why I bought him…

This is why I bought him for the princely sum of 20c. He is a vintage Steiff bunny.

This is why I bought him for the princely sum of 20c. He is a vintage Steiff bunny. Sometimes it pays to go to the tip shop 🙂

We had been working very hard so we stopped for a beer (Steve) and a shandy (me...I am a lightweight ;) ). Nothing tastes as good on a hot day as a very cold beer

We had been working very hard so we stopped for a beer (Steve) and a shandy (me…I am a lightweight 😉 ). Nothing tastes as good on a hot day as a very cold beer

More zucchini's from our 4 plants that are about to be made into zucchini and lemon curd and vegan zucchini brownies

More zucchini’s from our 4 plants that are about to be made into zucchini and lemon curd and vegan zucchini brownies

Bev from foodnstuff talked about bush tucker the other day and when we were walking the dogs in the local bushland we found these Pale flax lilies (Dianella longifolia) so I collected them and am drying them out so that I can grow some Serendipity Farm bush tucker for the native animals. Thank you for telling us about them Bev :)

Bev from foodnstuff talked about bush tucker the other day and when we were walking the dogs in the local bushland we found these Pale flax lilies (Dianella longifolia) so I collected them and am drying them out so that I can grow some Serendipity Farm bush tucker for the native animals. Thank you for telling us about them Bev 🙂

2 more sacks of cherries and after someone who shall not be named ate quite a few of them we turned them into these...

3 more sacks of cherries and after someone who shall not be named ate quite a few of them we turned them into these…

Dehydrated cherries that taste amazing!

Dehydrated cherries that taste amazing!

This was the state of the area behind the glasshouse and just inside Sanctuary's entrance last week...

This was the state of the area behind the glasshouse and just inside Sanctuary’s entrance last week…

A few scratches later and we were left with this...

A few scratches later and we were left with this…

And now we have added a piece of old trellis and have planted out our kiwiberry in this area.

And now we have added a piece of old trellis and have planted out our kiwiberry in this area.

A closer shot of the kiwiberry. It will take up to 5 years for it to fruit but once it starts it produces a lot of berries.

A closer shot of the kiwiberry. It will take up to 5 years for it to fruit but once it starts it produces a lot of berries.

Here you can see some blackcurrant cuttings from a lovely lady called Ruth who I met through a facebook page that I am actively participating in called "Fans of Grassroots Magazine". I love finding amazing community and this group of people are wonderfully interesting, very helpful, incredibly generous and know a huge amount about growing food plants. I got talking to a lady in Queensland and she mentioned her friend Ruth who just lives over the river from us and yesterday I met Ruth and had a really lovely time chatting to her about gardening etc. She also gave me some perpetual leeks to add to our garden mix, 2 different kinds of mint for my new mint bed (in the half fridge) and I can take some cuttings from her fig tree that grows figs the size of my fist. I LOVE community! Also in this shot is my new thornless blackberry that Stevie-boy bought me yesterday when he did the fortnightly shop in Launceston

Here you can see some blackcurrant cuttings from a lovely lady called Ruth who I met through a facebook page that I am actively participating in called “Fans of Grassroots Magazine”. I love finding amazing community and this group of people are wonderfully interesting, very helpful, incredibly generous and know a huge amount about growing food plants. I got talking to a lady in Queensland and she mentioned her friend Ruth who just lives over the river from us and yesterday I met Ruth and had a really lovely time chatting to her about gardening etc. She also gave me some perpetual leeks to add to our garden mix, 2 different kinds of mint for my new mint bed (in the half fridge) and I can take some cuttings from her fig tree that grows figs the size of my fist. I LOVE community! Also in this shot is my new thornless blackberry that Stevie-boy bought me yesterday when he did the fortnightly shop in Launceston

Here is the thornless blackberry at the end of one of the new garden beds with it's new support structure

Here is the thornless blackberry at the end of one of the new garden beds with it’s new support structure

Stevie-boy is still looking for photo opportunities at any given time ;)

Stevie-boy is still looking for photo opportunities at any given time ;). I am reading a Patricia Cornwall novel here. I love a good forensic crime novel.

We stacked all of the woodpile at the bottom of the driveway together into 2 large rows so that the split wood will dry well over summer and to make room for the next load of wood arriving soon.

We stacked all of the woodpile at the bottom of the driveway together into 2 large rows so that the split wood will dry well over summer and to make room for the next load of wood arriving soon.

In the process we found something amazing. The last load of wood got dumped on top of one of our brachychiton babies that we grew from seed and planted out down the driveway. 14 tonnes of wood sat on this poor little tree for the best part of a year and when we moved the last of the wood pile to stack it up we noticed that not only was it alive, but it had new leaves! How resilient are plants?!

In the process we found something amazing. The last load of wood got dumped on top of one of our brachychiton babies that we grew from seed and planted out down the driveway. 14 tonnes of wood sat on this poor little tree for the best part of a year and when we moved the last of the wood pile to stack it up we noticed that not only was it alive, but it had new leaves! How resilient are plants?! Stevie-boy is going to dig it up and move it. I doubt it will be so lucky after another 14 tonnes gets dumped on it…

This is our front gate (open) as we headed out to take the dogs for a mystery walk. It was a mystery to the dogs and I but Stevie-boy was driving and knew where he was going...

This is our front gate (open) as we headed out to take the dogs for a mystery walk. It was a mystery to the dogs and I but Stevie-boy was driving and knew where he was going…

We went to Georgetown, 20km away on the coast where the dogs love to walk. Here's a windswept pine on the boardwalk as we were walking (being dragged in a most determined manner by) the dogs

We went to Georgetown, 20km away on the coast where the dogs love to walk. Here’s a windswept pine on the boardwalk as we were walking (being dragged in a most determined manner by) the dogs

This was taken on the boardwalk further up. We live in a lovely place :)

This was taken on the boardwalk further up. We live in a lovely place 🙂

Georgetown is very historical but not as historical as Low head where we took a snap of this very old house and gardens. We thought it particularly fitting to include it in this weeks post as next Monday is Australia day and that's our flag folks! :)

Georgetown is very historical but not as historical as Low head where we took a snap of this very old house and gardens. We thought it particularly fitting to include it in this weeks post as next Monday is Australia day and that’s our flag folks! 🙂

Steve saw this naked bathing beauty on one of the Georgetown beaches...

Steve saw this naked bathing beauty on one of the Georgetown beaches…

She then had a bit of a swim ;)

She then had a bit of a swim 😉

Steve took this photo on today's walk. It was overcast and very humid and the tide was out so we were able to walk out to this little outcrop that is usually an island in the water.

Steve took this photo on today’s walk. It was overcast and very humid and the tide was out so we were able to walk out to this little outcrop that is usually an island in the water.

The other day we walked the dogs on a bush track and Steve saw these hibiscus/cotton bugs. I have NO idea where they are going to find cotton or hibiscus around here! Most interestingly, the adults live together with the young in a colony.

The other day we walked the dogs on a bush track and Steve saw these hibiscus/cotton bugs. I have NO idea where they are going to find cotton or hibiscus around here! Most interestingly, the adults live together with the young in a colony.

Steve took this lovely artistic shot today when we headed over to Hillwood, over the Batman bridge to walk the dogs this afternoon and see if we could buy some more jam cherries for $1.50 a kilo

Steve took this lovely artistic shot today when we headed over to Hillwood, over the Batman bridge to walk the dogs this afternoon and see if we could buy some more jam cherries for $1.50 a kilo. The person who lives in this house has several brightly coloured unusual items artistically displayed in their garden and Steve liked this door in particular

I am going to dehydrate 10 kilos of these cherries and Steve is going to make cherry wine with 3kg. The potatoes were dug up when we were planting out my turmeric this afternoon. I wasn't intending to dig up spuds but there they were, right in the way of my turmeric planting venture so they had to come out.

I am going to dehydrate 10 kilos of these cherries and Steve is going to make cherry wine with 3kg. The potatoes were dug up when we were planting out my turmeric this afternoon. I wasn’t intending to dig up spuds but there they were, right in the way of my turmeric planting venture so they had to come out.

I planted out my 4 pots of turmeric as well as my 2 pots of cardamom after doing some research and finding out that both should do fine in the ground here.

I planted out my 4 pots of turmeric as well as my 2 pots of cardamom after doing some research and finding out that both should do fine in the ground here.

Here's my ungrafted Nelly Kelly passionfruit vine. Even though it might be less vigorous than a grafted version, it won't send up suckers from the rootstock and we already have enough weird and wonderful weedy passionfruit on the property thank you! I will take cuttings from it when it gets older to make sure that we never have to buy another one. The vines last for about 7 years.

Here’s my ungrafted Nelly Kelly passionfruit vine. Even though it might be less vigorous than a grafted version, it won’t send up suckers from the rootstock and we already have enough weird and wonderful weedy passionfruit on the property thank you! I will take cuttings from it when it gets older to make sure that we never have to buy another one. The vines last for about 7 years.

While I was starting to plant out the cardamom the skies opened up and we got a torrential downpour. Steve and the dogs hid in the glasshouse but I decided to carry on planting

While I was starting to plant out the cardamom the skies opened up and we got a torrential downpour. Steve and the dogs hid in the glasshouse but I decided to carry on planting. Stevie-boy took this photo from the dry glasshouse while I was out in the rain

 

Here I am with a shirt full of spuds after slipping over in the slippery mud. I won't show you the back of my pants ;)

Here I am with a shirt full of spuds after slipping over in the slippery mud. I won’t show you the back of my pants 😉

Here are my 5 cherimoya seedlings loving the glasshouse temperatures and my little population of indigo seedlings that I am letting grow on a bit till I repot them.

Here are my 5 cherimoya seedlings loving the glasshouse temperatures and my little population of Moringa seedlings that I am letting grow on a bit till I repot them. There are more moringa’s germinating every day so I will just let them grow a bit till I pot them up.

I potted up these 2 as they were growing well. The 4 pots in the rear contain some fresh macadamia nuts, 3 seeds in each pot (12 in total). In order to have the best chance of germination they need to be under 3 months old and they need to be planted with the blossom end sideways. Fingers crossed I get some to germinate and one day macadamia nut trees will grow on Serendipity Farm :)

I potted up these 2 as they were growing well. The 4 pots in the rear contain some fresh macadamia nuts, 3 seeds in each pot (12 in total). In order to have the best chance of germination they need to be under 3 months old and they need to be planted with the blossom end sideways. Fingers crossed I get some to germinate and one day macadamia nut trees will grow on Serendipity Farm 🙂

We finally finished the water wicked strawberry bed. Here is a strawberry blond dog inspecting the bed for comforts sake

We finally finished the water wicked strawberry bed. Here is a strawberry blond dog inspecting the bed for comforts sake

After being busted for pelting through one of my garden beds, Earl has retreated to his favourite spot in Sanctuary to sulk...

After being busted for pelting through one of my garden beds, Earl has retreated to his favourite spot in Sanctuary to sulk… I am not holding out much hope for my poor strawberries once I get around to replanting them in here 😉

Isn't this tuberous begonia pretty? I bought some a few years ago that were in the plant throw-out bin at a local nursery for $2 each. I ended up with 3 of them that grow and flower ever year. Lovely leaves and lovely flowers and very easy to grow.

Isn’t this tuberous begonia pretty? I bought some a few years ago that were in the plant throw-out bin at a local nursery for $2 each. I ended up with 3 of them that grow and flower ever year. Lovely leaves and lovely flowers and very easy to grow.

Steve took this shot of an interesting seaweed that had washed up on the beach the other day

Steve took this shot of an interesting seaweed that had washed up on the beach the other day

Lastly, I was just about to squash some aphids infesting the new growth on this loquat japonica when I noticed a ladybird was just about to do my job for me. I love it when natures cycles kick in to deal with our pests :)

Lastly, I was just about to squash some aphids infesting the new growth on this loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) when I noticed a ladybird was just about to do my job for me. I love it when natures cycles kick in to deal with our pests 🙂

 

So that was our week folks. Pretty full on and we did, and accomplished a whole lot in this time. I hope that you all spent your time productively and enjoyably. I am off to cook a bechamel sauce for a lasagna that I am making Stevie-boy for his dinner tonight. He turns 50 on Tuesday, the day after Australia Day, so he will get an extra special dinner on that night and a very scrumptious cake. See you all next week and whatever you are doing, do it well. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring has sprung down the Morlock mines

It’s that time again…the time when I need to produce a blog post out of my magicians hat without letting on that I am not a very good magician and there is more lint in my hat (and dog hair and fire ash…) than I would like to let on thanks to weeks on end of studying and twitching and feeling the heady pull of spring but not being able to do all that much about it. Stevie-boy aka Slavemaster General is doing an amazing job of keeping me sitting here focussed on the “task at hand” but I would rather be fishing…or wandering in the garden, or potting things up…or…anything really… just not welded here to the PC…

 

Wouldn't it be lovely to just head out in the Mumbley Cumumbus today Stevie-boy? No? Sigh...

Wouldn’t it be lovely to just head out in the Mumbley Cumumbus today Stevie-boy? No? Sigh…

It looks like we might just have sorted Sanctuary (for the near future anyway) as there is an upturned (and most tempting and alluring) bucket of compost that has been doing its level best to attract possums en masse but that is still in a mounded shape and still full of unnibbled pumpkin seeds as I type this. That shows great promise for veggie gardening futures for Serendipity Farm this year.  I am starting to amass planty goodness from all over the place. I was potting up some pepino cuttings that somehow found their way to Serendipity Farm from a wonderful donor elsewhere in Australia (as much as I am going to say about that aside from THANK YOU my wonderful donor who shall remain anonymous as I want to keep these channels alive and well and under the radar 😉 ). If you don’t know what a pepino is, heres a bit of blurb about them…

http://www.growyourown.info/page145a.html

Chocolate eclairs, part of Stevie-boys Father's Day Indian feast with eclairs

Chocolate eclairs, part of Stevie-boys Father’s Day Indian feast with eclairs

I have a desire to grow all kinds of things on Serendipity Farm. I want to hurl any and everything that will grow in our conditions into the mix. I have a small quince tree in a pot that our local permie guru Gordon gave me a while back that is budding up and demanding to be planted out and I have just the place to plant it picked out. Quinces and figs and olives and various other Mediterranean plants do well here as we have a very similar climate and our native animals are not partial to the way that plants that have gone through natural selection in order to survive tough conditions taste so they tend to get left well alone. I call that a WIN situation and will be planting them out as soon as I can get my hot little hands on them. Mulberries are another tree that do extremely well in our local conditions (long dry summers) and I am going to get a couple of extra trees to plant. If it grows, if they don’t touch it, it is welcome here on Serendipity Farm

This image isn't mine. I just saw it and thought that this would be a wonderful use of an old lamp and a cheese grater to keep them out of landfill

This image isn’t mine. I just saw it and thought that this would be a wonderful use of an old lamp and a cheese grater to keep them out of landfill

More cheese graters used as light fixtures... lubbly jubbly :)

More cheese graters used as light fixtures… lubbly jubbly 🙂

I have learned that growing what you want is not necessarily the best option if you want to stay sane and happy. Learning to grow with your local conditions includes having to deal with your local native animals at the same time. I don’t mind sharing but I do mind wanton destruction and it’s just about time for the possums to set up shop in our poor fruit trees for another year. Possums are fat, quick to anger and very furry…I think I am becoming a possum by default to be honest as I age but that, my dears, is another story! For now I am content to find a way to live with these overtly cute looking but inwardly heinous little critters whereby we both get what we want. I am hoping that possum dung is good for the soil because there is so very much of it around the place here! It looks like we might have an army of them coming out at night and just wandering over everything. I saw some possum deposits on our bedroom window sill the other day…they are spying on me while I sleep!

I LOVE this idea! I have been hoarding large coffee cans for just this sort of reason. Guess which narf is going to give this a go...

I LOVE this idea! I have been hoarding large coffee cans for just this sort of reason. Guess which narf is going to give this a go…

 

Or this! Why on earth would you throw cans out if you could use them to make something like this?

Or this! Why on earth would you throw cans out if you could use them to make something like this?

You all know that I put small cubes of tasty cheese out for the local grey shrike thrushes but it has been disappearing rapidly of late and much faster than usual. I was wondering if the sparrows had built up in numbers because they are quite partial to a bit of tasty cheese but aside from a little male sparrow that accompanies the grey shrike thrush up to the deck on a regular basis who is most tenacious as the shrike thrush is three times his size and prone to pecking him on the head if he dives into the cheese futures first, there aren’t any more sparrows than usual on our kitchen window ledge so a mystery was afoot!

 

Isn't this mailbox a hoot? :)

Isn’t this mailbox a hoot? 🙂

I kept watching the window sill as I walked past. As I have been chained to the PC I tend to be in the kitchen a lot making cups of tea (anything but sitting staring at that screen!) and I just so happened to look out the other day when one of the grey shrike thrushes was collecting some cheese cubes and noticed that the shrike thrush had big eyes…”Oh shrike thrush what big eyes you have? All the better to see you my dear…” now even I, with my limited ornithological abilities, know that grey shrike thrushes are not overly endowed with large eyes. I have seen enough of them collecting up bundles of cubed cheese to take back to their nests to know a bit about them by default. We share a common space albeit on other sides of the window and this “shrike” was a wolf in sheep’s clothing! I had a closer look at the obviously antsy shrike and noticed that it was a little bit more brown than grey…she was watching me closely while she crammed a very large bundle of cheese cubes into every angle of her beak and then she flew off…hmmm…another kind of shrike perchance? But then the mystery was solved by her partner who flew up and started collecting cheese cubes as well. He was as black as the ace of spades with beady little eyes that I would recognise anywhere and he looked at me through the glass as if to say “Don’t make any sudden moves missus or the dog gets it!” Blackbirds!

Stevie-boy on his day off playing his guitar

Stevie-boy on his day off playing his guitar

One of the photos that Steve took for me today to use in my final assessment in Prepress

One of the photos that Steve took for me today to use in my final assessment in Prepress

They had obviously been watching the grey shrike thrushes most carefully. We have a few pairs of blackbirds on the property and I quite like them. There aren’t any cleverer birds in this neck of the woods if you ask me. They watch…they learn…they take advantage of what they just learned and that tells me that there is more than rudimentary brain activity going on inside those small skulls and I admire that. The first time I noticed Ms Blackbird she had a crust of dirt on her beak which is what made me look closer at her in the first place. Grey shrike thrushes are arboreal and rarely go to ground. They are insectivores and tend to peel bark from trees and eat tree dwelling grubs. The do a great job of clearing out the house spiders from between the bricks as well but never poke their beaks in the soil so this made me pay attention…Ms blackbird appears to have found a much easier option to rootling around in the vain hope of finding a worm with one eye constantly watching for cat attack at any moment…Ms blackbird is now living the high life with Mr blackbird and all because she wondered “what if I headed up there and took a bit of a look…”

We have to use all of our own artwork in our final assessment in Prepress and that means recreating whatever we need. I created this today...

We have to use all of our own artwork in our final assessment in Prepress and that means recreating whatever we need. I created this today…

See animals get it…they get that you have to put an effort in to get anything that is worthwhile. I get it as well but in the back of my cerebral cortex…the bit that gives me dreams and that warns me when I am about to do something stupid (my cerebral cortex works overtime…) and that holds past memories and those ancient life lessons that humanity appears to be forgetting en masse these days but that we kept getting reminded of by hair rising up on the back of our necks by our dear unforgetting cerebral cortex…I “get” that all of this study is good for me…I “get” that it is good for my brain, keeping it active learning new things…I “get” that this is much better for me than working for the dole at a local thrift shop sorting through clothes BUT that doesn’t make the front bit of my brain, the impulsive bit that wants to head to Pinterest and eat cake in my undies and socks at ALL appeased. Another reason why I have admiration for those blackbirds is that they are taking a short cut…they learned and they took advantage and they made their lives easier in the process. Kudos big eyes…you shall go to the cheese ball 🙂

Earl was most happy with the tasty mud and the deliciously fecund odour coming from duckies old boat. This is going to be used to make a water wicked strawberry bed inside Sanctuary in the near future

Earl was most happy with the tasty mud and the deliciously fecund odour coming from duckies old boat. This is going to be used to make a water wicked strawberry bed inside Sanctuary in the near future

So I have 2 x 8 page booklets to produce today…all of the artwork for said booklets, a few lessons in how to tart up a drop cap to narf7 standards (that means downloading ornate Art Nouveau and Art Deco fonts, twizzling around with metal gradients in Illustrator and trying my hardest to create gold out of purest Adobe), I then need to create a logo (but I have a good idea for that one) and try to cobble it all nonchalantly together to make it look like I could care less (apparently how designers do things) about the end results and that everything flowed easily and languidly from my truly talented fingertips…”Au Contraire my dear, it just flows from me like purest champagne…” that’s not the only thing that just flows from me 😉 Seriously folks, there is a lot of hard slog that goes on behind the scenes. Much like anything else that is worth it, you need to put in the hard yards to get to look that casual and on the fly…sometimes the simplest logo has taken some poor sap a month down the Morlock tunnel gulags turning from a healthy shade of human pink into a sort of insipid luminous pasty white with eyes that are no longer able to look at the light in order to casually drop onto someone’s letterhead only to be screwed up by the recipient as “MORE JUNK MAIL!”…sigh… plebeians!

Steve's entry into the "abstract architecture" section of his photography group this week

Steve’s entry into the “abstract architecture” section of his photography group this week

Yeah I “get it”…but…BUT…spring is calling! That cerebral cortex that keeps me from wetting my bed at night (several times over if you must know…) also has some kind of primordial sap rising in my veins that must be appeased. I was up to my armpits in compost and horse manure and oak leaves and straw yesterday making a sexy mix for my four new baby pepino’s. I don’t like getting my hands too dirty but I was actually enjoying squidging everything together…the sap was rising! Soon I will be twitching about planting out trees…albeit small ones…I will be thinking, no DREAMING about haybales and hugelkulture and permaculture will start invading my every thought. I won’t be able to concentrate on my drop caps because I will see that lovely leafy font and my mind will start to drift. It’s like the call of the wild in reverse. I don’t want to head off and go feral (well…any more feral than I already am…), I don’t want to wear coon skin hats and float down the river on one of my precious 2 palettes that I am keeping for a compost heap…no not THIS little black duck…I just…want…to …get… out…in…the …sodding…garden…for…a…BIT! That’s all I need…just a bit of garden therapy to go with all of this drop capping and sentence indenting and border creating and text wrapping.

Naughty narf and Stevie-boy went sniffing around the abandoned Beaconsfield mines on the weekend

Naughty narf and Stevie-boy went sniffing around the abandoned Beaconsfield mines on the weekend

This used to be used to grind up gold bearing ore

This used to be used to grind up gold bearing ore

The landscape is littered with massive great holes dating back to the 1800's so it is best to stick to the roads

The landscape is littered with massive great holes dating back to the 1800’s so it is best to stick to the roads

Unless you want to fall down a bottomless pit that is!

Unless you want to fall down a bottomless pit that is!

I just want to feel part of “outside” not firmly and strategically reinstated on this chair for the day. The sun might shine today. It didn’t yesterday and I wasn’t so keen to get out in the rain. A perfect day for studying but it was Stevie-boys day on the PC yesterday…I bet the sun will shine today. The sun loves schadenfreude. I often catch it peeking in at me, laughing and sucking on its trousers at me when I am filling the kettle near the kitchen window, watching the birds carry away cheese for their future. Another day down the Morlock mines BUT…”I get it!” another day closer to that garden! I am going to head off now in order to get a bit closer to my day in the sun that I will no doubt be complaining about soon enough but for now it is a blissful cerebral cortex memory that needs to be appeased. Wish me luck folks…I am going in!

One of Stevie-boys lovely abstract photos of some of the old machinery we found

One of Stevie-boys lovely abstract photos of some of the old machinery we found

If you look closely you can see the big boots of the narf 7...I am playing at being Amish (or was that just that all of my jeans were in the wash? ;) )

If you look closely you can see the big boots of the narf 7…I am playing at being Amish (or was that just that all of my jeans were in the wash? 😉 )

Isn't this wattle lovely? You don't often get to see wattles that are able to grow to their full height. This one is in full flower.

Isn’t this wattle lovely? You don’t often get to see wattles that are able to grow to their full height. This one is in full flower.

 

Looks like a plan

I know that I have asked you to indulge me a bit over the last few weeks with posting links to other people’s posts. I swore that I wasn’t going to do any more re-posting but then Steve found this today and I just HAD to share it. This is where the cutting edge of necessity meets the determination of the poor…THAT is where true creativity lives . I LOVE this. Steve is off into the recycling bin to make himself a land fill-harmonic guitar and I am going to recycle this years hot water bottle and some old irrigation pipe into bagpipes…

 

http://www.upworthy.com/watch-the-first-54-seconds-that-s-all-i-ask-you-ll-be-hooked-after-that-i-swear?g=2

 

Thank you for indulging me. If you head to that link you will see why I feel extremely grateful and thankful this morning 🙂 Hugs to you all 🙂

Expectations and where they come from

Hi All,

Today (Monday) is apparently a public holiday in Tasmania. It’s been given the dubious moniker “8 hour day” which aligns it with labour day in other Australian states…I don’t know why various states have holidays on different days…may as well just clump them all together and have national holidays but apparently there is no fun in that so separate strangely named days are our predilection. I had just gotten up from my 2 hour morning rss feed read marathon and was buttering bread for the chooks and the dogs morning snack, making Steve’s morning cup of coffee in bed, getting ready to cut tiny cubes of tasty cheese for the cuckoo shrikes and wrens and I suddenly got to thinking about how these things became expected of me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind doing these things, I was just wondering how they became institutionalised on Serendipity Farm. These little occasional treats have become regular “expected” events that need to be kept up for the sake of the peace. As I was buttering the slices of shop bought bread that we don’t eat and only buy for the animals, I thought about how our own expectations of what life is meant to be have arisen. We “expect” that we will be able to go about our business safely and with rights but where did those expectations come from? Someone in the past had to fight for all of the expected normalcies that we take for granted and whenever there is a cause and a fight, there is someone fighting just as hard to keep the status quo. We expect choice in our shops. We expect to be able to find a job, to buy a house, to get credit on our purchases. We don’t even think about these things…they just “are”.  The more people “get” in their lives, the more they tend to expect. It’s a bit like getting a promotion at work with a good pay rise attached…after a while your lifestyle absorbs the pay rise and you are back where you started from…we have a habit of upping the ante whenever we get a run of good fortune and becoming blasé about how well off we actually are. In deliberately choosing to live a simpler life we all get to choose to be grateful for what life has handed us all over again. I, for one, am extremely grateful for the plate that I have been handed :o)

The ubiquitous repurposed automatic sprouter has done itself proud! Here you can see the scarlet runner beans sprouting

Here are the borlotti beans that apparently loved the conditions in the automatic sprouter. They, along with all of the other beans, have now been planted in seed trays and once they get big enough they will be planted out into our new bean garden

Here are the sprouting Yin Yang beans. If our summer is as long and hot as they say it is going to be these little babies should do well

I love meeting like-minded people through blog hunting. I recently found a wonderful Aussie blog with the delightful moniker of “Rabid Little Hippy”. Go and have a look for yourself…this blog is a frenetic blast of positive sustainable energy all rolled into a jumble of kids, a tiny tractor driving husband and a weekly commute between an old and a new life eagerly anticipated…

http://rabidlittlehippy.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/another-weekend-in-ballan/

How could you resist a name like that? Aside from the name, the blog is a wonderful blend of homesteading, sustainable living and a zest for life that is positively infectious. I have never met anyone with so much energy and I just realised that although I follow each one of this wonderful bloggers posts I have NO idea what her name is! For the purposes of this post she shall be known as “rabid”… I have had great fun conversing with “rabid” via the comments section of her blog and after a recent post we discussed a swap event that she had been to. I assumed that it was a seed swap but apparently, it involved people taking things that they no longer used/needed and that they had made/grown etc. to barter for other goods. In Tasmania times are tough. There are very few jobs to be had and most jobs tend to be part time or transient. If any state needed a boost of positive sustainable energy it’s our humble little full stop at the bottom of the wealth generation of Australia. After listening with growing excitement as “rabid” told me about where she had been and what she had swapped my nose was twitching like Tabitha from Bewitched and I had formulated a plan to head in to the next Sustainable Living group at the Tamar NRM (Natural Resources Management) centre and postulate this wonderful idea for a chance for the locals to barter their excess or unwanted goods for other excess and unwanted goods. What a fantastic idea! “Rabid”, you may have just made some Tasmanians almost as happy as your faithful reader narf7 by telling me about this fantastic way to effect change whilst cycling goods in an incredibly sustainable way to everyone’s benefit.

Here are the punnets of mixed zucchini and rainbow chard that we have since planted out into the vegetable garden. The orange punnet at the front contains some of the Cavolo Nero that we will plant in the veggie garden and after that, out in the main garden

Who could resist dinosaur kale? It has lots of names including Cavolo Nero but I am going to call it “Sideshow Bob” kale

Bev from the wonderfully informative blog with truly useful information sent me a copy of The Weed Foragers Handbook. I am over the moon! I was going to buy this little tomb but now I don’t have to :). Thank you for that wonderful gift Bev along with the purple king bean seeds that you can see here in the automated sprouter along with the moringa oleifera seed that I am optimistically attempting to sprout 🙂

Some of our past experiences with purchasing seed online have been less than triumphant to say the least. We have paid quite large sums of money for seed that refused point blank to germinate and that was most probably too old and had been sold on at a profit from other sellers. We learned the hard way and so seed swapping with locals with seed that has local provenance is truly the best way to go about purchasing/gaining seed. We really want some Moringa oleifera seed to grow this amazing tree on Serendipity Farm. We previously purchased several batches of seed in an attempt to grow it with no luck. I retained some of the seed in a fit of pique whilst muttering about the seller’s dubious parentage under my breath and promptly forgodaboudit. We found the seed the other day and after the bean seeds grew so well in the sprouter, I decided to see if the Moringa oleifera would sprout. Nothing has happened yet but if I can manage to get the seed to sprout I will be a very happy camper. The beans that we sprouted recently are now planted out into flat trays to grow on until they are big enough to plant out in their bean garden home. There is something very addictive about propagating from seed. We have grown all sorts of plants from seed but most of them were ornamental shrubs or trees and growing our own food from seed adds an entirely new dimension to the fun. Today we removed 4 loquat saplings that we dug up from the side of the road as tiny little seedlings. We stashed them in the glasshouse in pots over winter and now they are ready to harden off before we plant them out. We also brought 3 more fig trees out of the glasshouse. We planted out one little fig tree to see how it went and it is going great guns so we figure 4 fig trees are better than 1. We have more walnut and hazelnut seedlings than we could shake a sustainable stick at and none of them cost us a cent. Sometimes you have to take advantage of an opportunity when it presents itself. Three of the fig trees had ground layered on an old overgrown fig tree at a local school where we walk our dogs and we grew one from a now removed tree in Launceston city central. We collected the walnuts from a tree on the side of the road and we were given the hazelnuts from Glad’s daughter Wendy. There is a degree of primal delight to be had from helping nature to furnish your larder and growing edible plants from seed goes even deeper than that. Here is a link to show you why I am really eager to get some Moringa oleifera growing and thriving on Serendipity Farm…

http://enviro.org.au/article_moringaTree.asp

The little loquats that we rescued from the side of the road last year are hardening off prior to planting out

2 of the figs either side of the loquats and in the background you can see our little Gingko biloba that we planted out into the side garden

Another $2 roadside stall find…this time its garlic chives

Steve found this in the shed not so long ago…he promises me that with sharp blades it will be just as good as the petrol mower…for the sake of our sustainable future I certainly hope so! 😉

Steve and I took the boys for a small walk up the road this afternoon and noticed that Glad and Wendy next door had been mowing. We had a chat to them over the fence and Steve headed down to drop off some eggs and asked them what they were going to do with the pile of lawn clippings and oak leaves…”burn them” was the reply! He then asked if they would mind if we had them and they were overjoyed. Wendy pointed out another large pile of lawn clippings and leaves at the top of the property and asked him if we wanted those as well? “Darned RIGHT” we do! Now we can make a large compost heap near our vegetable garden area that will help us in the future…another example of how one mans trash/problem is another mans treasure. Whenever they mow they are going to give us their unwanted clippings and as Glad has 6 acres that amounts to a whole lot of clippings. It also highlights how proactive being part of a community can be. I was wondering where to get more compost ingredients from and the answer was right next to us all the time 🙂

I am twitching with excitement! It’s nothing to do with the $100 million lotto draw that apparently half of the Australian population has bought tickets in (not me!) and everything to do with farinaceous goods. I have been a rampant voyeur over the last month of all things Vegan and have found all sorts of amazing food blogs thanks to Annie at the fantastic blog An Unrefined Vegan. Here’s one of her delectable posts should you ever want to make heavenly peanut shortbready biscuits whilst learning some skills in the process.

http://anunrefinedvegan.com/2012/10/19/veganmofo-peanut-sandies/

Annie, along with some equally amazing vegan food blogging friends, spent a whole month coordinating Vegan Mofo…a chance for anyone with a vegan food blog to shine with as many recipes as they could post in 31 days. I followed avidly and spent every morning from 5am – 7am in a vain effort to keep up with these amazing posts, save them for future degustory delight and comment on as many as I could. At the end of the month quite a few of them got together to have a Vegan Potluck virtual meal online and again, my rss feed reader runeth over. As I pored over what was on offer I felt a distinct desire to cook and share that went as far as hinting that I might like to participate in next year’s Vegan Potluck. That gives me a year to think up some splendiferous idea to knock my peer’s socks off…an enormous vegan spongecake with multi layers filled with delicious spreads and topped with homemade vegan truffles? How about a scrumptious vegan pie? Homemade vegan lasagne? Whatever I choose to do, you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be practicing it for a while and that it will be scrumptious…why would you want to share something with your peers if they had made it before? Time to get thinking…

One of the little hazelnuts that we potted up this week after checking the bags of stratifying seeds in our overwintering esky

A wheelbarrow full of free nut trees. Most of these are hazelnuts which seemed to germinate later than the walnuts that are in the glasshouse. I LOVE free edible plants 🙂

We need a gate at the side of the dog compound. We don’t want to spend much on the gate. Steve is a clever little vegemite and has worked out a way to turn this metal gate into a perfect gate in the compound. Stay tuned to see what he does with it

Steve and I have been dabbling in the farinaceous arts as I mentioned earlier (before I veered off to the left and got mentally lost…). We are on a quest to live as simply as we can whilst at the same time living as well as we can. Life is too short for bad wine and Steve has been blending his own peculiar bad wine with his good wine to render it all drinkable. I decided to use some of the various pieces of kitchen equipment that I have stashed in the top of the pantry out of sheer guilt for having paid so much for some of it many years ago. We had a go at making our own pasta as a way to use up some of our egg futures. We decided to mess about with a spinach pasta recipe that we found online and it was a really good recipe. If you want to try it yourself here it is…

http://cookingequipment.about.com/od/maincourserecipes/r/SpinachPasta.htm

Little Pig 🙂

The home made lasagne that we made from scratch

We then made a really delicious lasagne from scratch by making our own pasta, pasta sauce, meat sauce and béchamel. Steve really enjoyed it and the amount of pasta that we made was WAY too much for our lasagne needs and so we had to come up with some ideas of what to do with the left over pasta. Steve had some tonight in a bowl of homemade Asian noodle soup and pronounced the noodles delicious. I segued nicely back to why I was so excited earlier in the post…to make the noodles I remembered “Little Pig” in the top of my pantry cupboard. Little Pig is a non-centrifugal juicer that I bought many years ago when I was on a bit of a health kick. I have used Little Pig to make fruit mince, juice a few carrots and that’s about it. I remember reading that the juicer could be used to make Korean rice cake noodles but as I didn’t have a recipe for them I didn’t attempt to try to make them. Today I remembered that Little Pig had various nozzles that extruded dough’s into different shapes and after I got Steve to heft Little Pig down from the top shelf we put the remaining wrapped spinach pasta dough out on the bench top to reach room temperature while we made some Asian chicken broth and prepared vegetables to add to it. Once we got the soup on to simmer we turned back to attempt to make a spinach pasta version of udon noodles to go into Steve’s soup. Having never tried extruding pasta or any kind of dough through Little Pig I was a little dubious about it’s ability to perform but I shouldn’t have worried because after fitting the noodle nozzle and feeding the pasta dough into the top of the machine it made perfect round green noodles that were delicious in the soup. We have a large serving of noodles left that we are attempting to dehydrate as I type this to see if we can make our own dried pasta to store for later use. The speed and ease of making pasta this way got me twitching (FINALLY she got around to why she was twitching! 😉 ). I have visions of all sorts of pasta made from all sorts of grains, legumes, and seeds with different nuts, pesto’s, herbs and spices in a wide range of natural colours. The extruding process through Little Pig means that I should be able to intertwine various colours of dough and get amazing looking rainbow noodles in all sorts of shapes. I can make Korean rice cake noodles thanks to an amazing Korean online recipe site and I get to use up some of our excess eggs in the process. If our dehydration of the remaining pasta works, we will be able to mess about with all different kinds of pasta and dehydrate them for future use.  My excited twitching comes from the realisation that we won’t ever have to buy pasta or noodles again! I feel an amazing rainbow pasta recipe coming on for the Vegan Potluck next year :o)

We decided to sprout some mung beans at the same time as sprouting our beans and we will be using these babies in a stirfry tomorrow

The only potato doing anything other than sitting in the pantry on Serendipity Farm. Our soil is predominately comprised of rocks which sadly, are not conducive to the growing of potatoes…the compost heap appears to be an option…

The little mulberry is leafing up and the garlic growing underneath it was planted by my brother when he visited my dad many years ago. You can see some overbown asparagus in the foreground and in the background we have a lovely little mandarin tree

Here you can see “Possum Damage”. This is why Australians who live rurally spend a lot of time tearing out their hair or spending a fortune protecting their precious edible specimens from these furry little larrikin hooligans. This poor little mandarin tree suffers horendously every single year while its sibling sits not further than 10 metres away from it completely untouched. I will NEVER understand the mental processes of possums!

We are almost at the end of our studies and are finalising our sustainable landscape designs. We have yet to hear if we got an interview in our chosen courses for next year but should we miss out, we can always find something else relevant to study till Steve gets his Australian citizenship and we head off to university in 2014. We might even study drafting as we already have a good handle on AutoCAD…I love the possibilities that have opened up for us since we took a leap of faith and decided to live like penniless student hippies in order to pave the way for further learning opportunities. I have no doubt at all that our lives have been made much richer in the process and that our abilities have been honed to fine pointy tips and have allowed us to make amazingly good use of what life has thrown in our direction. The quest for “Happiness” is apparently on the rise…people have discovered that money isn’t the answer to this elusive state and curiously, people want to live in a constant state of happiness not realising that happiness only gains its beauty after periods of contrasting emotions. Happiness is inside every single one of us. We all have it within our reach and it has much more to do with being grateful and thankful for our roll of the dice than it has to do with any external forces. Life has a natural balance about it and as we seesaw our way up and down through a gamut of emotions we need to remind ourselves of Newton’s law of motion… “For every action…there is an equal, and opposite reaction”…a constant striving for equilibrium and whilst we might be down at any given time…it won’t be long until we are up again. Have a great week folks and count your blessings because sometimes what we are expecting overshadows how very lucky we already are :o)

If any of you are feeling a bit down this song is bound to make you feel better…get a saucepan and a wooden spoon and do a bit of tub-thumping yourself! 😉 Or Steve says…”even better…you drink the whisky drink…you drink the lager drink…you drink the cider drink…and after that you won’t CARE” 😉

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kS-zK1S5Dws

And if you aren’t laughing yet…check out Homer singing his version of tub thumping…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFvSUi-QFX4