Philosophy 101 narf7 style

Philosophy 101 narf7 style

Hi Folks,

Uncle Travelling Matt

I decided that 2014 was going to be a year where I learned/tried something new every day. Here are my first weeks reporting’s back to you, my dear constant readers. I feel like Travelling Matt from Fraggle rock, out reporting back so that you can all sit in your armchairs in the relative safety of your homes and learn from narf7’s mistakes…here we go…

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The deck prior to starting work

 

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The deck as of today. I have yet to paint the area in the foreground but that is on the cards for tomorrow

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Around the side of the deck

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The western red cedar that had deteriorated badly due to not being treated in 20 years is now a nice sage green. There used to be a large rose and clematis clump over this area of the deck but as I was pruning it decided to part ways with the deck and now lies on the ground in front of it. A problem for another day!

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Painting the deck step rails

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Bezial surveying his land

1. New Year’s Day – Starting the New Year with a sinus headache sucks. I had a bonus lesson today in the shape of “when sanding the deck on New Year’s Eve, wear a face mask in order to not have a sinus headache on New Year’s Day”…lesson learned TICK!

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A headache isn’t going to stop narf7! It might look like I am lying down on the job but some jobs require a degree of horizontality

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In my “Smurfette” phase…I have since been through my Kermit the frog phase and a brief stint with thinking I was Casper the friendly Ghost. Now I think I am a Jackson Pollack original. I am going to sell my bespattered trousers off to the highest bidder 😉

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Clever green washing to attract the unwary husband. Steve brought this home the other day on the shopping pronouncing it “organic”. He associated the green colour, the name “nutrients” the image and the “premium” with organic and figured it was better than the brand that we usually buy. I said “did you check where it was grown?” (he obviously hadn’t…) and surprise, surprise it is grown in China! It might have worked once but they won’t fool him again

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The awesome 8 litre jar that Steve bought for me the other day. I am going to get a couple more for my buckwheat and my sesame seeds

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Some of the bargain plants I have been picking up from small roadside stands lately. I am collecting monocots (grasses and iris type plants) for the driveway

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Who needs chia when you have buckwheat? I soak my buckwheat now for my morning breakfast smoothies and it forms a thick layer of gel. I love how these smoothies keep me going for the whole day until I am ready for my evening meal. Combined with my homemade kefir and Kombucha they are nutrient powerhouses

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A pint of free blueberries from our crazy American friend…trying to win us back 😉

2. Breaking large seemingly insurmountable tasks into small manageable chunks prevents you from hiding under the bed with Earl and not coming out. I realised that Steve’s desire to “do the deck” could be considered to be an insurmountable task and when I found myself shuffling mindlessly sideways towards the bedroom on Thursday,  I chose, instead, to pick up a paint brush and just “start”. A few hours later and many small chunks of painting and I had finished off the deck stairs and most of the deck railing. I learned the value of small chunks from Mr Adam Richman of “Man vs. Food” fame. When faced with having to ingest a hoagie the size of his not inconsiderable derrière, he would always break it down into small bite sized pieces…lesson learned TICK!

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I am probably going to get sued for using this image but this is the lengths that some jewellers go to in order to not have to do ANY work at all and get the maximum profit. The ultimate in middle man…poor cadis fly larvae!

3. Life IS like a box of chocolates. Mr Gump’s mama certainly knew what she was alluding to. When faced with a full and open box of chocolates we all go for something different. My personal favourites are chocolate covered Turkish delight. I was walking back over the Batman Bridge today after heading off with Earl for his daily exercise (and my daily drag) when I noticed a little trail of “jellybean stones” on the roadside. Jellybean stones are little smooth stones in the shape of jellybeans and I collect them whenever I see them on the side of the road. A truck delivering garden stones to a nursery must have passed by and lost some of its cargo and ever the magpie I bent to pick them up. We are all different. What one of us finds irresistible is so much “meh” to someone else. We pick and choose what we find attractive and worthwhile as we travel through our lives. We collect little piles of whatever we fancy and we stockpile them like Caddis fly larvae (Put picture in of those jewelled cadis fly larvae) in order to make our lives comfortable and attractive to us. I learned that I like simple natural things. I also learned that you don’t head out into the road part of the bridge in front of large log trucks to pick up tiny stones or that life that you wish to add those little stones to might be somewhat shorter than you imagined it…lesson learned TICK!

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My BAD in situ ready for me to elbow open the pantry door…I LOVE gifts from the universe, they are always perfect and exactly what I need, when I need them 🙂

4. “Keep your eyes open today” was one of my grandad’s favourite sayings…”why grandad?” “because you can’t see with them shut!” Most of us walk around as if we have our eyes closed most of the time. We think about all kinds of other things while we are doing our day to day tasks. We are miles ahead of ourselves and plotting up to the middle of next year while today is slipping away from us. Right this minute is the only time that we are guaranteed of. I learned that keeping your eyes open is a good thing. I found a BAD today while I was walking Earl. What’s a BAD you say? As Steve so succinctly put it “that is one BIG ARSED doorknob!” so BAD it is now known as. I put it in my bag and wondered at how it got on the side of the road. I had no idea what I was going to use it for, or if indeed, I was going to but when I got home when Steve was joking around about what we could do with it, I realised that one of his suggestions was actually pretty clever. We screwed the BAD into the pantry door that contains the rubbish bin and the compost bin. I am usually approaching this pantry with something unsavoury or wet in my hands and now I can just elbow open the door via the BAD. Not bad for something that the universe gave me 🙂

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Our almost new 10 000 litre rainwater tank. We got a pump with it and at just over half the new price

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The lady of the house gave me this New Zealand lily. She bought one plant and she has managed to line her entire driveway by dividing that same plant up! It is growing in hard clay so it should find life here on Serendipity Farm pretty cushy after that

5. The universe gave me something else today. It ALMOST gave me a hernia but let me backtrack a little here to give you the details. Today I learned that sometimes, when you put something out into the ether you get a reply. Everyone who is anyone knows that narf7 has very few actual desires. I am a pretty simple little spud who enjoys simple pastimes and my favourite things are usually free. I am a cheap date. My 2 biggest desires are to get hold of a rainwater tank in order to have a continuous supply of clean rainwater and to afford a small wind turbine for Serendipity Farm. In the scheme of things, they are pretty small requests. Whenever you go to a website you are faced with the site loading you up with cookies. The cookies that the site loads you with won’t make you fat but it will fatten up and customise the advertising that you see from that point onwards. Steve has been visiting Gumtree (our Aussie equivalent to Craig’s List as far as I can see…) in order to see if we can get more 200 litre blue barrels in order to put his genius plan into action. While I was perusing my early morning blogs in my RSS Feed Reader I kept noticing advertisements for Gumtree on the sides of the blogs and my eye was drawn by a blue barrel for sale! Pity the blue barrel was on the other side of Bass Strait in Victoria but the next series of ad’s that were all rainwater related contained a large rainwater tank. For some strange reason I decided to click on the rainwater tank knowing that it was probably in the Northern Territory but when the advertisement opened it was for a 10 000 litre rainwater tank and pump for $1000 and the best part about it was it was in the suburb next to us! I looked eagerly at the date of the advertisement and noticed that it was early December and figured that the tank would be long gone. I sent a tentative email off to the seller asking if they still had it and received an email back by lunchtime saying that he did so Steve and I phoned him up, set off to check it out and on Monday morning we headed around to pick up our new rainwater tank that we ended up paying half price for (after Steve did a bit of dickering) and one of my 2 biggest desires can now be ticked off the list. The moth-eaten sock under the bed dragged itself off to die but we now have a tank that will supply us with more water than we can use and the blue barrels are about to be creatively used to collect and supply rainwater to the veggie garden. Sorry that was a big one, but it taught me the value of waiting and of keeping my eyes open, “cheers grandad!”

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Gratuitous vegetable shot of the yellow zucchinis with the spuds in the background

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A mystery is afoot! I might have prevented the larger vertebrate critters from scarfing my precious veggies but obviously something pretty hungry is giving my silverbeet the old college try! No idea what but I bet it comes in caterpillar form…mutter!

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Lush garden full of “stuff”

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More lush garden…more stuff

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The beans that are growing in the compost

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The compost heap with its volunteer brigade of stalwart veggies

6. Monday saw me doing some serious hard yards on the deck and today I learned that sometimes, when something isn’t really important to you, it doesn’t hurt to give it up. Steve wanted me to paint all of the cedar walls the same colour and I wanted to leave one wall (the best preserved) as a feature wall. I usually get my way but this time I had a think about it and realised that Steve really wanted it to be the same as the rest of the walls and so I painted it over for him. It made him happy. I learned that making Steve happy makes me happy, a win-win situation 🙂

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2 very happy yacon plants

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Last week these zucchinis didn’t have fruit and I noticed that the beetroots have small beetroots the size of Ping-Pong balls

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Patty pan squash

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A little tomato plant that was growing outside the veggie gardens that I dug up to prevent me from trampling it

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All of these tomatoes are volunteers! I probably should have transplanted them…I wonder if it is too late?

7.  Tuesday was a doozy of a life lesson. I learned that sometimes the choices you make can have amazing results. I walked Earl and decided to take him over the Batman bridge and feed the 2 little chooks that have been abandoned there. I try to do this once a week just to make sure that they get at least 1 square seedy meal a week. When we got there I noticed that the little black bantam hen has had babies! 8 tiny little fluff balls. As I started to throw the grain on the ground 2 completely different chooks emerged to peck at it! Obviously the Batman is a prime dumping ground for unwanted poultry 😦 I thought about going to the loo at the public toilets but that would involve taking Earl into the loo and I didn’t quite fancy that level of intimacy so kept walking. We got back home with me almost bursting for the loo and I took a small detour to relieve myself in the bushland at the front of the property. I then decided to head through the tea tree garden and take a look at how some of the small trees we planted are doing (well as it turns out) and on the way back to the house I happened to glance down at the ground and saw a dead puffer fish! Obviously the feral cats brought it back to our property and they chose to dump it right where Bezial goes to sniff when we let him run down the driveway off his lead. If I hadn’t chosen all of the sequence of choices that I did this morning, Bezial would now be dead. He can’t resist eating blowfish. Only last week we had to prevent him from picking one up at the beach and he would have eaten this one as fast as he could with dire results. Is our life made up of choices or is it actually directed by our choices? I would like to think that our lives are the result of an incredibly long and convoluted “Choose your path” book. You start out as a baby and once you get to make choices they form your pathway to your life. YOU get to choose your pathway. That is really the only thing that we get in life, our choices.

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I thought that this was just a pretty weed but it is a useful herb called “self heal”

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The property is covered in oregano. This one is in flower

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Golden oregano

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A mystery…this hydrangea had bright blue flowers last year. This year the flowers are obviously pink. Nothing, aside from some bark, was added to this garden bed so why on EARTH have the colours changed? The pH is somewhat acidic (which would account for the blue flowers) so changing to pink is very strange indeed!

8. That brings me to today. What has narf7 learned today? I learned that on February 2nd I am going to head off to Hobart with my 2 wonderful daughters for what is ostensibly a trip to pick up a boot load of Korean foodstuffs and ingredients that my daughters can’t source here in Launceston. I am also going to head off to a park to find a statue of John Woodcock Graves who wrote the poem/song “Do ye ken John Peel” and take a photo of a book of poems compiled by a fellow bloggers dad (with lots of assistance by her) alongside the statue. Social media can assist people to do things that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do. I am honoured that I can help Joanna (Zeb Bakes) to make her dad happy. The lesson is that if we can do something small/simple for someone else that will make them happy, why not? We are all in this together and if we share and we help other people we make the journey a little better.

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After I finish painting I am going to tackle this. You could be forgiven for thinking that this was a jungle. It is actually an archway, heavily fortified and the garden behind it is being guarded by 8ft tall Scotch thistles. I imagine some of the lessons that I am going to learn next week are going to be painful ones…sigh…

That’s about all I have to report today folks. I am absolutely knackered after painting half of our deck and after I get tea on I am going to settle down and have a bit of a rest. A bonus thing that I learned over the past week is that hard work makes me feel incredibly satisfied. I might be dog tired but I feel satiated body and soul. This learning thing is turning out to be fun 🙂 See you next week when the vegetable garden will have probably outgrown its enclosure and gone on the rampage…

All you need – an elegant sufficiency

Hi Folks,

Armed only with my trusty library card narf7 is on the hunt. I am hunting a book called “Pigs tits and parsley sauce” a most worthwhile read by all accounts. A book about how to live more sustainably for less and wouldn’t you know it? The library didn’t let me down…another blow against the middle man and another point to narf7, the penniless middle aged student hippy who point blank REFUSES to say “can’t” this year. We just had our 600 litre borrowed water tank repossessed. Our Crazy American “friend” decided that another couple he has just met are more deserving of fluoride free water and we had to empty out 600 litres of prime rainwater but not before thrifty problem solving came into play…

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Exhibit A, Crazy old American

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Part 1 of 7 blue barrels that are going to make up our rainwater system

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Baking soda and cornflour…we made decorations but they still aren’t dry!

We recently found a large blue barrel floating on the tide close to shore on the riverbank near Serendipity Farm. I waded out to ferry it in to shore (Steve has delicate city feet 😉 ) and we managed to get it into the back of the car and back to Serendipity Farm complete with freshwater oysters. It had apparently been used as part of a pontoon and had broken free from its moorings to come and live on Serendipity Farm as a much prized single entity…obviously has Napoleonic tendencies (much like everything else on Serendipity Farm so it will fit in here well). So we were able to syphon 200 litres of our precious water into this makeshift rainwater tank. What to do now? Well, we have devised a most interesting gravity fed system that we are going to add to as we find more blue barrels. Steve has been hunting Gumtree for the elusive and most rare blue barrel but it would seem like most of Tasmania has the same idea.

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Our wonderful friend Roxy gave us a lovely little basket of home-grown happiness for Christmas 🙂

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This is my new most delicious healthy treat…homemade coconut cream yoghurt using coconut cream, blended up fruit and some of my finished non-dairy kefir to culture the brew…DELICIOUS! and a most satisfying substitute for “real” yoghurt

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Steve took some artistic shots of his Christmas food…

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Pork pies and sliced meat never looked so good! Sorry you didn’t get images of my nacho’s, they weren’t very photogenic but they tasted like heaven 🙂

Steve logged on for a final look as we are heading into Launceston today (Sunday) to pick up a Karcher high pressure cleaner from Steve’s mum for Christmas. A MOST appreciated gift indeed Pat 🙂 and some sundry cleaning products (sanding pads and sandpaper) so that we can prepare the deck and railings for painting when Stewart and Kelsey arrive on New Year’s Eve to help us paint the deck, rails and part of the house. Aside from 2 bedrooms, it will be the very last part of making Serendipity Farm completely “ours”. The whim paid off and we found another blue barrel in Launceston for $15 so now we will have 400 litres of rainwater storage…we just need to find 5 more blue barrels to make our plans complete.

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Buying your pet supplies through a small local producer sometimes yields benefits that you wouldn’t get from a large generic supplier. This is one of our boys bones gifted for Christmas by Suzie, our lovely pet food lady

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I saw and photographed this on Christmas Day for Jess and Bev and anyone else who would get a chuckle out of this mindful graffiti 😉

Well it is now 2014. “Happy New Year” everyone! I have a really good feeling about this year. Not because it isn’t going to contain its share of pain and heartache, but because I have learned to accept that without pain and heartache, the stark simple beauty of this amazing thing we call life is so much dimmer. This year finds Steve and I hard at work rubbing away years of dirt, grime, rust and neglect from our deck, the deck rails, guttering, downpipes and part of the house that was clad with Western Red Cedar as a feature. It has been exposed to the weather without protection now for a good many years and so we are going to paint it. After perusing the Karchers in our price range we decided that handing over good money for something cheap and plastic that we probably wouldn’t use much wasn’t something that we wanted to do and so we made a decision to carry on as we are and we have almost prepped every surface ready to start painting today.

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Wild foraged harvest…the larger red fruits are sour cherries from roadside trees (possums aren’t all that partial to sour) and the strange looking fruits that resemble cashew fruits are Native Cherries that for some reason, the possums haven’t scoffed from the trees this year like they usually do

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A before shot of the deck, by next week we should have painted the deck, the railings and the upright posts you can see here

2013 was a very important year for me. After half a century of life I finally learned that food is fuel, not comfort and managed to get down to a healthy weight with very little fanfare and fuss but with an incredible amount of happiness and contentment. I spent the year learning, living, and Steve and I managed to complete our media course and have the bits of paper to prove it. We built a huge fully enclosed veggie garden and Stewart and Kelsey who are glamping outside informed me that “something” spent most of yesterday evening attempting to breach the deck without luck…SCORE! I have a vision of a large sad possum laying spreadeagled out over the top of my vegetables pawing sadly at the netting in the direction of my magnificent lettuce tantalisingly close but completely out of reach.

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Can’t say I blame the possums and wallabies…this all looks quite tasty

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IT looks like my yacon decided that living is fun and are putting on lots of growth. They are surrounded by spuds we planted out 2 weeks ago that are also having a great time in the veggie garden

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My compost heap experiment. We trucked this load of compost from over next to the chook shed where we had a large compost bin (that we never turned) and dumped it at the rear of the veggie garden in order to soften up the soil in this area. It was full of worms so I keep adding compost to the front of the pile to feed the worms but I noticed that there were all different kinds of seedlings growing in the pile so decided to let everything grow. The larger plants that you can see in this photo are melon plants that my eldest daughter Madeline grew and gifted to me. They have small flowers on them already 🙂

2014 feels good to me. We are starting it how we mean to finish off, busy and “doing”.  I can feel 365 days ahead and they feel fecund with possibilities. They are sending out tantalising rays of interest to me. I want to taste each one of them fully…to savour my moments and to enjoy those flavours, whatever they may be. There will be bitter days. There will be days that taste of sadness and hopelessness but underneath those days will be the surety that things will get better…that life is an incredibly rich tapestry of flavours, colours, textures and choices that will lead us from one day to the next. How lucky are we? How incredibly blessed to be allowed to experience this wonderful life each day and to have the chance to step out in the new day with a slate wiped clean of yesterday and all of the possibilities of today laid out before us like a huge pile of Lego waiting to be built

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Some of the adventitious food seedlings that are starting to grow

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And a few more

This year I am going to grow all of my vegetables from seed. This year I am going to learn something new every day, even if it is only something simple. I am going to challenge myself to wake up each morning and fully appreciate the moments that make up each day. I am going to go looking for the beauty in the simple and the mundane. I am going to look for the lessons in what life hands to me and I am going to try to be a better narf7 in the way that I both see things and react to them. I want to grow this year and learn and understand. I want to do more, see more and feel more and in the process I want to sample everything that life hands me in 2014

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We tipped compost in this area prior to me shovelling horse manure into this area and you can see a plethora of pumpkins are all starting to grow amongst the potatoes…nature doing her thang

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Not so tiny yellow zucchinis

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A tangle of herbs and Swiss chard and carrots

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Everything is growing like topsy and our efforts to build this garden look like being rewarded 10 fold 🙂

This is going to be a small post. Apparently WordPress has sent me a report about how the blog went this year. I could care less about stats to be honest. They are the annoying thing that makes my desktop take longer to load than it should. I don’t care where my dear constant readers are coming from, so long as they “get” us and our vision…you are all welcome. We don’t discriminate here (much 😉 ). Serendipity Farm has become our own tiny little island in the stream. Its where Steve and I can march in time to the cycles and heartbeat of the earth…an ancient and primal sound that most of us can’t hear any more. We get to say “BOLLOCKS!” to the speed of society and we get to put our feet up and just “be” us. We know how incredibly lucky we are to be us, right here, right now. Some people would say that we were part of the great unwashed masses…they would be right in the unwashed bit…our shower has been out of action now for 3 days thanks to someone (who shall remain anonymous) deciding to remove the door and put in the new shower door at the very same time as we decided (most insanely) to tackle the deck and house painting. We are part of the great unwashed. We are tumbled in with everyone else and we are incredibly happy that we have the chance that we have here on Serendipity Farm. Life is wonderful…life is good…a simple life full of compassion, hope, joy at simple things and gratefulness and where sharing is tantamount to societies lust for power, we find ourselves rich beyond riches in our simple life.

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More experiments…this circle of mesh contains old compost that I threw in here in order to soften up the soil beneath it ready to plant out a food tree. I tossed the last of the silverbeet that we pulled out a while ago into here and as you can see, some of it is growing again! The bonus of experimentation is that you never know what you are going to get and sometimes you get more than you expected

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Bezial and Earl’s Boxing Day bonus

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Steve whipper snipped the tea-tree garden area and I whipper snipped a 15 metre firebreak around the back block. Here you see a before shot of the back block with Franks whipper snipped side already done

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A lovely little yellow fungus inside an old tree stump on the back block

My wish is that 2014 will bring happiness to you all. That it will provide you with opportunities to learn and grow in yourselves. That the lessons that you learn will not break your hearts and won’t be too hard to bear. I hope you will taste the breeze of contentment, that sunshine will fall in equal measure and that you and yours will grow in the light of understanding and possibilities that this wonderful New Year brings. Here’s to sharing Serendipity Farm and our lives with all of you my dear constant readers. Some of you may never comment but that doesn’t matter. All I hope is that you are still getting something out of my mad ramblings and our crazed middle aged Hippy antics and that there is an opportunity for us to touch the lives of someone whom we may never have been able to meet without this amazing platform and all of us will emerge the richer for that brief interlude as we pass

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Before we got started on the side of the house…

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We had to put gates in to stop the fabulous Mr E from absconding off the side of the deck to hunt cats and chooks after we sanded down the deck timbers and removed the chook netting (Earl resistant) in order to paint this side of the deck rails. As you can see, we also had to remove a fair bit of vegetation in the process. That tyre to the left of the image contains a poor long suffering well chewed artichoke plant. Hopefully we will have some complete transformation shots to show you by next Wednesday 🙂

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Not entirely sure how long these pears are going to last but I get the feeling that possums don’t like pears much. Those peaches that I refused to consider disappeared sometime in the night after I posted their tentative image last Wednesday 😉

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Earl “helping” to sand the deck…sigh…

See you next week folks. Hopefully the deck will be finished by then and we will have some good photos to share with you all but for now you are going to have to be content with what I have managed to find today (note to self “get out there and take some photos!”) 😉

Of standing still and mentally collecting ourselves

Hi All,

In the spirit of the mania of the season I find myself feeling like a starfish being pulled in the tidal rip of “Christmas”. I appear to have been washed over by some giant force much bigger than I can resist but amongst all of the dragging (sometimes kicking and screaming, can’t let the bolshie babe side down now can I? 😉 ) there is the knowledge that I am not doing this alone. That there are people out there kicking and screaming in unison with my desire to live a simpler, more fulfilled life and that together we can make a difference. Just saw this on another blog post and loved it. It instantly said what I would like to say to all of you, my dear constant readers. We are “connected”…

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

Here’s wishing you the best of this season, whatever you celebrate, believe in or adhere to and if you, like me, find yourself drifting around helpless in a sea of tidal Christmas consumerism just remember…there are lots of us and I guess one day when the tide slows we are all going to wash up on the same shore, battered and bruised but alive and knowing the bliss of a new year, full of possibilities, where we can pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and have the opportunity to live our lives to the fullest each day 🙂

Narf7 🙂

Where narf learns the value of hard work, gentle days, and is elevated to tribal wise woman and healer in a single week…

Hi Folks,

It’s full on summer here on Serendipity Farm but in a distinctly Tasmanian way. That means that yesterday I was wearing a sarong and thinking about Pina coladas and today I am wearing a jumper and thinking about swapping it for an even bigger one.  I have been learning more about nature thanks to me diving in with both feet…I learned that nature blends herself to adapt…native species live in harmony with Mediterranean species that are almost as hardy and drought tolerant banding together to help Serendipity Farm weather the long hot summers.  Back when Serendipity Farm had the ubiquitous name of “Highfield Gardens” it had been planted out with water loving tree ferns as an homage to an English garden. There are watering systems everywhere that are starting to atrophy and decompose but back in its heyday, when water was free in Tasmania (like it still is in parts of New Zealand you LUCKY BUGGERS!) this property was well irrigated by an automatic watering system. Now the automatic watering system is narf7 and there is a considerable decline in the degree and extent of watering that goes on at any given time.

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Newly periwinkle denuded area but they are tenacious little buggers and will be back with friends

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Part of the whipper snipped driveway. Note some of the plants that we planted out last year survived! This year they should be able to handle the harsh summer a bit better because they have had time to put down roots and get used to their place in the ground (and I have been putting mulch and rocks around the bottom of them just to make sure they do)

The property was left to its own devices when Tasmania implemented paying for water and those water hungry specimens promptly up and died. There are still relics to that luxurious past in the form of tree fern stumps dotted through the property that hardier more drought tolerant species have used to their effect. What remained on “Highfield Gardens” when we moved here was an overgrown tangle of adventitious vines and the hardier more resilient specimens that had been planted and I discovered this excellent site that guides you through choosing waterwise and drought tolerant plants for your garden whilst still being able to have a garden to make you smug with paternal joy. I am having a wonderful time learning about arid/drought hardy plants thanks to a French site…who’d  a thunk that Serendipity Farm had ANYTHING to do with France but apparently it does…same meridians…same climate. Check out http://www.mediterraneangardensociety.org/index.html if you live in a climate where you get very little rain over your summer months…that’s us to a tee. If you don’t think that you can have a lovely garden using waterwise plants then think again.

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One of our “invasive species” in full flight. Here you can see honeysuckle engulfing a rosemary plant. We have a similar problem with blackberries and jasmine

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Not sure if this is invasive but it is certainly putting on a good show this year whatever it is

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This little peach tree grew in the debris from the recently fallen tree and the resulting squashed shrub that must have been towering over it preventing it from getting light. Reminds me of the Paul Kelly song “From little things, big things grow”

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A most useful and happy Mediterranean plant that seems to like living here on Serendipity Farm. I got this small fig tree as a rooted cutting last year and overwintered it in its pot before planting it out in spring. It has 3 friends that are in close proximity. I learned that figs are pollinated by a small wasp and figure I want to give that little wasp the best possible chance of finding ALL of the figs on Serendipity Farm 😉

When I first started typing this post I was having a “Gentle Day”. I had been full on whipper snipping, carting wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of homemade compost from where we had dumped it into the veggie garden by the narf7 equivalent of a Rube Goldberg Machine…a contraption designed to allow access to what is effectively an inaccessible area. I used a combination of boards and planks in order to make the job easier but what eventuated was narf7 learning to skateboard indirectly (or I fell off the teetering boards) so I guess aside from learning how many barrow loads of compost you get in a metre square of homemade compost (27 if you are interested…) and learning that singing “X” barrows of compost to go…”X” barrows to go…” does a whole lot to keeping you motivated to push a heavy barrow up a steep incline on a hot day I am now able to hold my own at the skate park. Enter the “Gentle Day”. A day where narf7 sits here welded to the computer chair clicking “like” to Pinterest and smiling benignly to herself in a most appreciative way. Couple the gentle day with as many cups of tea as I feel like quaffing and you have a recipe for recovery that hospitals worldwide would kill for.

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Once every 4 years these cicada’s emerge en mass and serenade the heat of summer in one long drawn out  “CLICK”

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Steve’s liberated bird of paradise plant flowering like crazy and covered in cicada husks, much like everything else around here that doesn’t move around much

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I thought this tree was dead…apparently not.

“So what is all this about “wise woman” and “healer” narf?” I wondered how long it would take you to get around to asking me…well Steve and I have an acquaintance that is either a prophet or doo-lally…and my money is on the latter to be honest. Methinks the combination of being Californian and imbibing heavily in the green weeds of happiness (and I am NOT talking Scotch thistles there folks 😉 ) has enabled him to put 2 and 2 together and make 14. On a good day he is a bit manic and likes to share with anyone who will listen (or won’t…makes no difference to him…) about how the aliens are shaping our world. On a bad day he becomes almost messianic with the need to spread “the good word” which in his case is always on the fringe borderland of sanity…teetering on the edge.

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What I am reading (or have just finished) at the moment. I just finished Clarissa Dickson Wrights tomb about her amazing life, the Organic Gardening book is mine but I haven’t ever read it (and I have had it for 4 years) and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was a recommendation by Jo of “All the Blue Day”. I have just started it and am enjoying sitting out on the deck in the sunshine with a big glass of Kombucha feeding body and soul at the same time

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No sooner do we discover a nest than the bolshie hens abandon it and move further into difficult territory. The last nest that Earl and I found was nestled amongst forget-me-nots and hidden deep in a blackberry bush. I emerged triumphant with eggs held aloft but with my eyelids sticking to my eyebrows…time to invent a long handled egg plucker methinks!

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Does anyone know what this is? I am SO used to not seeing these that I am confused when confronted with one. The local possums are still suspiciously conspicuous by their absence. I have been able to harvest ripe fruit from the native cherries and I am gearing up for a possum zombie apocalypse as we speak…

After having several visitations with him over the last week I got a little tired of listening most politely about aliens. I needed to push some heavy barrows up a steep hill in what was becoming the equivalent of the sun being the magnifying glass and narf7 taking the part of an ant. I had to think quick about where I was heading or I might have been holed up for hours so I pressed a few litres of kombucha into his hand and told him to go home and drink it for his health. The next day he was back…empty bottle in hand and I had suddenly been elevated from “woman who irritated him by talking when he was in full rant status to “wise woman of his tribe”…” Not entirely sure that I WANT to be the wise woman of his tribe but the next day he was back (with another empty bottle) and I had been elevated to healer and not only was I now officially sanctioned by the nursing union, but he has decided to put the aliens on ice for a bit and take up healing the world. I wonder if this lonely man is adapting himself to people that he sees as his community? Steve and I give him our time because he hasn’t got anyone else. He is bright, interesting but has some seriously whacked out ideas about the world but haven’t we all got some off the wall secrets? Michael just chooses to share his.

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I refuse to salivate over this peach. I know that as soon as I start to contemplate the delicious juicy morsel it will disappear. I consider it collateral damage

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Another job I did was to sort through the potted plants and move them all around under our watering system to make summer watering more efficient and easier to accomplish. These are Steve’s bonsai specimens that he works on sporadically when the mood hits him. They have been separated from the rest of the plants as he doesn’t mind pottering around watering them each day.

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Here’s the rest of the potted plants all bundled together to make sure that they get watered by that overhead watering system that Steve rigged up. The empty stand was once where Steve’s bonsai babies lived. It will be dismantled and removed when we get around to it (so expect it to be still there come winter 😉 )

After taking more kombucha he headed off informing me that he would be back…sigh…he brought back a container of borax, some literature (to go with the other literature in the bag of literature in the spare room for when we get a budgie…) and a 1960’s wind up alarm clock that plays “some enchanted evening” as an alarm. It didn’t take him long to explain himself and apparently we all need to be turning off the electricity at the fuse box to make sure that we don’t get cancer and repressed… the clock was to ensure that we woke up in the mornings but as Steve so dryly put it when he headed off on his aging wheezing motorbike…”that dial is luminous…that paint is radioactive!” He seems to have found something else to do over the last few days (most probably making something to cure the world) so Serendipity Farm is back to the quiet hermitage that we know and love so well 🙂

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The 60’s wind-up clock with Michaels new batch of Kombucha in the background and all the “literature” I can face at this moment in time

The voodoo lilies are out in force this year. They have been steadily building up numbers and the rain we had helped this year’s incarnation to be a particularly glorious and most foetid one. I was whipper snipping the driveway the other day and thought I could smell a dead possum or 5…turns out the voodoo lilies were in fine form that day. We even smelled them wafting through the door leading out to the deck and they are quite a way down the driveway. There is always a ferryman to be paid and in the voodoo lily case, the ferryman trod in something!

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Steve took this image on his mobile. It looks like something in Transylvania to me. You would expect that sort of exotica someplace where things howl maniacally at the moon (like Serendipity Farm 😉 )

13120013 A closer view (as close as my olfactory senses would let me get…) of the amazing flower on the voodoo lilies. The “scent” (far too mild a word for what emanates from them) is a blend of aged road kill, Roquefort cheese and Steve’s feet after a hard days work and comes from that darker stamen.

It is around about this time of year that our local council sends out notices to people to get their firebreaks mowed or face a fine. Stevie-boy (the tight) and narfypants (the equally as tight) don’t like to pay fines so it was up to the back block to wade through the metre tall poa grass in order to cut a 15 metre swath through the undergrowth. The good thing about the back block is that we rarely go there. Our least favourite neighbours live up here…the neighbours that conned our house sitter into clearing a large swathe of trees from the back block in order for them to get more of a view and a better price for their house sale (not sold yet 😉 ). I spent a lot of time being VERY careful to whipper snip gently around the outside of the small black wattle and sheok trees that have sprung up assisted by our wet winter…nature appears to be wanting her property back and I, for one am NOT going to argue with her 😉

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One of natures first lines of demarcation in the war against bare earth…the ground cover. This particular ground cover is Acaena nova-zelandiae aka “Buzzies”. Its hard to believe that someone would want to buy this groundcover for their garden but on the mainland it is a nursery specimen. Why do I have a problem with buzzies?

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Sigh…here’s why. Buzzies hitching a lift on narf7 to a new home (which most vindictively appears to be a concrete gutter…bad luck this time buzzies! 😉 )

I have been taking cuttings furiously and have added Artemisia and lavender to the mix. Both of these shrubs are incredibly hardy and water wise and should love living here on Serendipity Farm. I have been joyously hurling compost hand over fist onto our large pile of composted garden soil. Its full of worms and I figure the best way to keep it that way till I can get it made into more garden beds. Remember that thing about paying the ferryman? Well it’s really swings and roundabouts to be honest…you do have to pay the ferryman but you also get good stuff in return. Our “interesting” Californian friend might require a fair bit of patience and time but he offered to give me some of his old railway sleepers he has been hoarding to help build our garden. He also permanently loaned us that small rainwater tank. Friends come in all shapes, sizes and mental dispositions… we don’t discriminate here and karma has a way of giving back what you pass out to the universe…sounding a bit “woo-woo” there folks? I will give you 20 minutes with Michael and then you can tell me that my theories are woo-woo 😉 .

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This is a small bowl of gumnuts that come from Eucalyptus globulus more commonly known as the Tasmanian blue gum. I collected them from underneath a huge specimen today on my walk with Earl. The heat brings out the smell of eucalypts and I had the most vivid memory of spending Christmas Day at my Grandmothers and heading out to laze away an overstuffed afternoon underneath the branches of a huge blue gum that was on her property. Right next to this specimen was an English broom in full bloom and the combination of scents made me smile.

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I am well aware that this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to Christmas Trees. For one, it is only vaguely reminiscent of a “tree”. It was made out of driftwood collected from the riverbank at the front of our property. It appears to have been decorated by a blind lunatic (that would be “moi”) and someone forgot when to stop when it came to putting decorations on it. Steve LOVES chaotic Christmas trees. I usually put the reigns on him and tell him that we have to be tasteful and the results are aesthetically pleasing and usually quite sterile. This year I decided to stop being the Grinch and let Steve have his Christmas Tree HIS way. This is the end result. What would happen if Pirates bothered to celebrate Christmas but Stevie-boy is happy and my sense of style shrunk 3 sizes in the process 😉

I have been thinking about ways to be more sustainable I read several wonderful Aussie blogs that spur me on to want to try harder. Jess/Rabid of “Rabid little Hippy”, Jo of “All the blue day”, Linda of “Greenhaven” and Bev of “Foodnstuff” all motivate me to find even more ways to live simply and minimise our carbon footprint. The other day I was pondering how to keep water up to the arid garden under the deck. I have been mass planting it in order to keep as much moisture in the soil as possible but I know it is going to have a tough time when the sun comes out and stays out for the next few months. One way to water it would be to tap into the grey water that runs from the kitchen sink into the septic. This would require some plumbing skills that neither of us is willing to contemplate at the moment so I figured out the next best thing was to put a large plastic bowl in the kitchen sink and whenever it gets full I will take it out onto the deck and pour it onto the parched plants below. In the first couple of days of using this system I am amazed at how much water I flushed down into the septic tank on a daily basis. I feel positively virtuous and am managing to kill 2 birds with one stone, my favourite game :). Another idea involves a bucket, the end results of my cups of tea and our compost heap…still contemplating that one but again, 2 birds with 1 stone and a healthy dose of nitrogen thrown into the mix

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My thrifted plastic tub ready for action

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And what, pray tell is this?! This, my dear constant readers, is what happens when you are trying to cook bulk quantities of healthy vegetable soup and wonder what would happen if you threw some of your new most favourite seed (buckwheat) into the mix. This is a solid chunk of soup. About 8 solid portions. Puts a whole new slant on a “solid meal” 😉

I hauled 9 bags of mushroom compost into the enclosed veggie garden and noticed that one of them had large mushrooms in it that had gone over to the dark side. I decided to see if we couldn’t get some sort of benefit out of this situation and tipped the mushroom compost onto the surface of the large pile of compost I had just barrowed in and placed the squishy fungal matter spore side down onto the compost. I am thinking that the spores might infect the media and we might be onto a mushroomy winner but only time will tell.

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Some of the 9 bags of mushroom compost that are waiting for me to tip them onto the pile of compost that I barrowed in and am guarding carefully

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This doesn’t look like much. I tried to take a shot from various angles to give you the best idea of how much homemade compost lives in this worm sodden heap but you are just going to have to believe me…27 barrow loads doesn’t lie! I keep the netting over it so that I can keep it soaked and the heap nice and moist in order to keep my wormy mates happy. Mono-a-mono those worms and I. We have an understanding 🙂

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I wasn’t entirely sure if these root cuttings of various mint varieties and what I think is a bergamot plant (the tall one) would survive the trip back from where I found them but they seem to be very happy in the veggie garden and are growing nicely.

I was sitting here on Monday at 3am when I suddenly heard what I thought was the sound of Christmas tree decorations falling onto the ground. A sort of “pop” sound. We had just put up the Christmas tree so it was a highly likely eventuality and I snuck into the lounge room expecting to see the floor littered with Christmas debris but was bemused to find that none of the decorations had fallen off. I returned to my seat where for the next 2 hours I heard this sound on a regular basis…I thought it might have been Earl sneezing on our bed (I had checked Bezial who gets up with me to keep me company) but he was out like a light and completely sneeze free. The noise kept coming until I headed off to make Steve his first cup of coffee and I heard the noise closer and on looking around discovered that my kefir…that I keep in a lidded bottle…was escaping. It had been forcing its fizzy way out of the screw top of the bottle…I judged (somewhat prudently it turns out) that the bottle might be under a degree of pressurisation and carefully opened the lid whereby the most curious thing happened…all of my kefir grains quite literally “Popped” out of the neck of the bottle and were deposited on the wooden bread board alongside the bottle. A nice neat collective of fermentation doing what it does best. Consider me warned that the warmer weather is going to require a revision of the fermentation schedule!

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As you can see, everything is starting to take off in the wonderful humid conditions of the enclosed veggie garden…especially the weeds! I know what I will be doing tomorrow…sigh…

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More exponential growth of “stuff”

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Pumpkins and potatoes are most rewarding with the amount of growth that they put on in a week.

Finally I would like to share a most wonderful blog post with you all today. Feel free to read it or not. I think that should you choose to read it, you will arrive at the other side enriched and satiated and most probably with another blog tucked into your “must read” Rss Feed Reader (or equivalent). Did you ever wonder about the REAL Father Christmas? Turns out someone wrote a marvellous book about him and this post is redolent of a time, last century, when the world had just finished tearing itself apart and Santa was living a careful, simple and most austere life. Good to know that my superhero is adaptable :). By the way folks…next Wednesday just so happens to be Christmas. I will be posting as usual, most probably about the delightful communal celebrations we had the day before so feel free to check it out if you find yourself at a loose end. By the way…in the spirit of adventurous Christmas repasts future, I have chosen to institute a new Christmas food tradition for myself. From this day forward, December 25th shall be “Christmas Nacho Day”! “OLE!”

http://restoringmayberry.blogspot.com.au/2013/12/father-christmas-homesteader.html

I just found this Youtube link to a wonderful animation voiced by the late actor Mel Smith illustrated by Raymond Briggs (the author of Father Christmas) if any of you would like to watch it…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4k-9KGs_4U

 

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Look what just turned up in the mail… 🙂

“On the scrounge again…”

Hi All

“I just can’t wait to get on the scrounge again…” (ALL apologies to Mr Willy Nelson for taking his sterling effort and narforising it…)

Disclaimer…just before you start attempting to wade through this post it is probably one of the longest posts I have ever put on this blog. I completely and utterly forgive you if you just want to flick through the images and get a visual idea of what the post is about today. I guess summer has just taken over my brain…its my excuse, and I am sticking with it! 😉

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These are Gladioli carmineus corms. Gladioli carmineus (Mini Gladioli) are a low growing gladioli that grow quickly and spread like wildfire. I got these bulbs when leaning over a gardeners fence and admiring her plants on one of my morning walks with Earl

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Steve gets the bucket and I get the tahini from inside it…a win-win situation

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Whatever these plums are they are not cherry plums. I noticed these on a small tree amongst some wild cherry plums so I picked some before the possums stripped the tree and am going to plant out the seeds

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geranium cuttings and the reason why you pick fruit when it is green around here…the possums sampled my pilfered plums…cheeky sods!

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I am a manic list maker…here you see some of my lists, some clasps to ensure that the hose doesn’t blow (again) and bags of chia, quinoa and amaranth seed that I am going to plant along with some buckwheat as experimental crops this year

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The hay bales in Steve’s shed have just been appropriated for “other purposes”. I don’t mind, at least I know where this nest is!

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Looks like it has more than one occupant!

Well here I am again on Wednesday but what a difference a couple of weeks makes to this little black duck. 2 weeks ago I was a spent husk. Today I am bursting with possibilities. December 1st was apparently the first day of summer but Tasmania seems to have decided to succeed from the rest of the world and do its own thing and we have had spring, autumn, winter and a tiny hint of summer thrown in over the course of the last 2 weeks. I can’t say I mind. I love all of the rain that we are having and so does the garden. 2 weeks ago the veggie garden was a sad reminder that I had been hiding under the bed with my fingers in my ears a little bit too long but the season appears to have been hiding under the bed with me so everything is rosy on Serendipity Farm.

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Steve’s Chinese (larger) bonsai Japanese maple that he sourced from under the deck as a tiny seedling and has been training for 3 years now with it’s own nitrogen fixing crop of clover growing with it

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A little primrose and a strappy liriopes both bought from the little stall at the top of the hill for $2 each

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When I sorted through the potted plants I found this succulent that is just about to flower and a lavender that I can plant out in the garden

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My newly purchased Egyptian walking onion and perennial leeks along with grape vines grown from cuttings from a Muscat grape and pelargonium and scented geranium cuttings sourced from one of our walks

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Healthy melon and capsicum (pepper) plants that my daughter Madeline grew from seed and that are excess to her needs so I get some (cheers Madeline 🙂 )

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More geranium and pelargonium cuttings. I usually take a whole lot more care with cuttings but geraniums and pelargoniums are very hardy and should all strike no problems

The vegetable garden is going great guns. Because of all of the rain that we have been having, the rest of the garden is great gunning as well; especially the forget-me-nots that I am studiously pretending don’t exist much to their amusement. I looked down at my jeans yesterday after I had gone hunting for eggs amongst the undergrowth (I live in hope and am ever optimistic…) and I was covered in forget-me-not seeds…the little buggers LOVE me! Earl, who had accompanied me on lead was also covered in forget-me-not seeds BUT the difference was, he just shook himself and they magically dropped off him…I attempted to follow suit and nothing happened…I was still scraping them off my jeans and muttering under my breath when I managed to haul Earl up the deck steps to the deck above. If truth be told, the jeans aren’t the only thing that is covered in forget-me-not seeds but every time I get infested I toss the item into the washing and continue on regardless “I CAN’T hear you forget-me-nots!”

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Wheeling loquat seedlings, cherry plum seedlings and displaced herbs around to the veggie garden from the shed

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An oak leaf hydrangea flower on the way

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The only thing stopping this artichoke and the Jerusalem artichoke in this photo from being scoffed are the forget-me-nots and other “garden miscellanea” in this garden bed preventing the chooks from being able to see them

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Looking back from the first garden to the house where you can see one of our fine specimens of guard dogs on alert…pity they weren’t on alert the other day when we had some Jehovah’s witnesses breach the compound, walk up the steps, come onto the deck and tap on my window for a good 5 minutes before I realised that it wasn’t Earl’s tail on the window, it was (shock horror) PEOPLE! I calmly informed them that I had NO idea why our big dogs hadn’t bounded around the corner barking to greet them, politely said “no thank-you” when offered literature and said goodbye to them as they headed back down the steps. Suddenly the deck started to rumble, an eruption of barking ensued and shamefaced dogs who had been sleeping on the job pelted down to bark off the intruders…sigh…

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I hope you are all getting the picture as to why I am hiding under the bed and have NO idea where to start in the garden. Everything has gone completely mental and who would know what most of this is!

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Our mountain of home grown compost underneath some ex fish farm netting that has been dampened to keep the worms in it happy

Now that I am free to wander around the garden at will (forget-me-nots and all…) I have rediscovered my love of gardening all over again. It goes dormant for winter and appears to have erupted out of me with a vengeance this year. As a penniless student hippy who desires to live simply and sustainably I have to find all kinds of different ways to get what I want that don’t involve the green folding stuff (or even the silver stuff to be honest 😉 ) and the last week has seen me scrounging with impunity to our advantage. Here is a list of recent scrounges…

  1. Live Christmas trees scrounged by Stevie-boy, the son-and-heir, his Texan sweetie and my daughters from the firebreak between a pine plantation and our friends property
  2. 2 x 20 litre tahini buckets scrounged by Stevie-boy from Wholesome House health food shop for his shed that contained enough organic tahini to fill a large glass jar…BONUS!
  3. A visit to the Deviot Heritage Apple and Pear enclosed orchard yielded rooted cuttings of various kinds of herbs that had gone rampant into the path and that are now replanted into a large pot
  4. More angelica seed from the same garden scattered all over the place on Serendipity Farm
  5. Some cuttings of Tagetes lemmonii (an aromatic shrub native to south-eastern Arizona and south into Mexico) that I have on the windowsill in a mug of water with the hopes that the cuttings will produce roots
  6. 4 more small loquat trees that are now potted up and happy as clams in the veggie garden
  7. Lots of cherry plum seedlings found on a recent walk down at Bonnie Beach that are going to become the welcoming fence line trees on Serendipity Farm in the future
  8. A selection of pelargoniums and geranium cuttings that were sourced from plants growing on the side of the road on another one of our walks recently. I realised that some areas of Serendipity Farm are always going to be pretty arid so have decided to grow plants that will be able to tolerate low water conditions and geraniums and pelargoniums are perfect cheerful specimens. Soon to come will be lavender cuttings, rosemary cuttings and anything else that I deem drought ready and willing
  9. I walked with Earl over the Batman again and took my secateurs and a large plastic bag this time and arrived back home with cuttings from Cistus x “Purpureus” (Pink Rock Rose) and that unknown grey leaved sage type plant that I am experimenting with. I have put half of them in a glass of water on my kitchen windowsill and the other half are in potting mix in the veggie garden
  10. Seeds, seeds and MORE seeds…collecting like a crazy woman from wherever I can see something that I like (that doesn’t involve pole vaulting over someone else’s garden fence 😉 )
  11. I found a stash of possum sucked loquat seeds underneath a large loquat tree that I may, or may not have been going to predate (but the possums got there first…) and brought them home and shoved them into the ground in likely places of survival all over Serendipity Farm. I kept 5 back to plant in potting mix as I love loquats and want them all over the place as part of my lines of defence between us and the marauding natives. I figure, by the time they get to the heart of our garden where the “good” things are, they will be so stuffed full on lesser fruits that they will hardly be able to waddle…ever the optimist is narf7 😉
  12. I have been snacking on native cherry fruit as I have been walking Earl in the mornings down Auld Kirk Road. There is a particular tree that Earl likes to make a fuss over (due to a large brown hound once attempting to accost Earl in this exact place…) that gives me a little time to snack on the large native cherry tree in the vicinity. The fruits are small, reminiscent of cashew fruit with the seed sticking out the bottom of the fruit and the same shape (except a lot smaller) and quite tasty when they are ripe. There are so many of them the birds can’t actually keep up with them this year.
  13. Free seedlings from Madeline, my eldest daughter including red capsicum seedlings and some kind of melon (either rock or honeydew). I am just about to clear them their very own mountain of horse poo to grow happily in. The pumpkins that sprouted from compost hurled under the horse poo before we sunk the first pole in the veggie garden are all starting to grow like crazy so some melons may as well join the parade
  14. Still finding lots and lots of beer bottle caps on the side of the road that I am collecting to make this

That’s only a small selection of free or minimal cost things that I have been hunting out with a view to utilising them on Serendipity Farm. I get so excited about the possibilities of growing free plants and guess what I did this week…I FINALLY managed to sort through all of the potted plants and move them to one area. Steve helped me set up the overhead watering system so that most of them get watered without effort and only a few are going to need to be watered with the hose but pretty soon we will be taking some of them off to one of the Deviot Saturday morning basket markets with a large painted sign saying “Free to good home”. I would like to think that people will make the most of some free plants for their garden and that our potted babies will make someone else happy 🙂

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Even the possums have been hiding under the bed when faced with the wealth of crazy undergrowth that Tasmania is generating. I am starting to think that we have switched poles and Tasmania is the new Bali! This rose bush is usually twigs. It lives as twigs for most of the year and then goes twiggily dormant…this year it has been allowed to keep it’s leaves and these little roses smell amazing. “Cheers possums!”

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Steve’s Strelitzia’s are just about to bloom and this large black cicada has just hatched out of his pupae and is waiting for his wings to harden enough for him to fly off to the trees above and join hundreds of his brethren in a chorus that will herald the heat of summer. They are great food for birds and other animals and every 4 years we get invaded by these huge slow chirping behemoths

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The offending pipe that kept blowing apart when we turned the tap on in the veggie enclosure. This pipe is all that stands between water and the garden so I mended it today with some of those clips that you saw in an earlier image. Soon we will get another water tap inside the enclosure but for now this one is good enough

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This used to be the first series of 3 garden beds in our original set-up. We were late to the game this year so decided to use the existing infrastructure to get going sooner and after pulling out the now unnecessary partitions we have a fair bit more room to grow veggies

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The bed in the foreground contains silverbeet that our horticulture friend Jenny gave us months ago. They were languishing in a cardboard box with most of their soil washed away and I am amazed that they survived, let alone are growing like crazy now! It can only attest to their hardiness

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Next time I plant carrots I will use seed tape…as you can see “someone” accidentally tipped a few extra seed halfway along that third row…oh well, the packets were only $1 each and the thinnings should be prolific

I have been studiously ignoring Christmas almost as much as I have been ignoring the forget-me-nots to the same effect…it is just flowing past me regardless. I have reached a point where I am just about ready to tentatively stick my toe into the Christmas tide BUT I will be doing it at my pace and point blank refuse to get caught up in the hype. The television is manic with “GREAT DEALS FOR CHRISTMAS” but narf7 is content with “slowly, slowly catchy monkey”. Wouldn’t a monkey be great on Serendipity Farm? He could live in the veggie garden and have fun with the possum marauders on their nocturnal visits…but seriously, this year will be spent doing what we want, when we want. A most glorious wish and one that I get the feeling I just might get.

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Rows of peas going crazy…now I just have to work out how I am going to support them when they get bigger

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On the left hand side of this small garden bed are some scarlet runner beans that formed large bulbous tubers last year and that the chooks scratched most of the soil away from. I didn’t expect them to grow back this year but once we topped up the soil and added lots of horse manure they started growing again. Bonus crop with no sowing effort at all!

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The nut trees that had been living in Steve’s shed to protect them from the native animals are much happier out in the open

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My 2 yacon plants surrounded by the pallid tendrils of a forgotten bag of potatoes in the back of the pantry

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Horse poo mountain that I am going to leave in this spot because all of these pumpkins spontaneously grew here. I must have dumped some household compost underneath this spot and now they are growing happily…more plants that I didn’t have to coax to seedling height and transplant out…I LOVE this gardening lark!

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More free plants. This time they are some of the strawberries that I sourced from a stack of strawberry runners that someone threw onto the green waste at the local dump. Their loss, my gain! This pot is one of almost 15 that we will be planting out “somewhere” inside the veggie compound

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The Egyptian walking onion and perennial leeks in situ. Is it just me or does that Egyptian walking onion look like Earthworm Jim? 😉

Bev, from the wonderfully inventive and sustainable blog “Foodnstuff” posted a post this week that was completely invigorating and got me out and about collecting plant material and getting stuck into the garden. Sometimes you just need a gentle shove and Bev’s post was mine. If you would like to see how a real garden works, click on the link above and head on over and check out Bev’s garden full of possibilities. I love Bev’s blog because every time I see a new post it gives me some new ideas and new ways of doing things that I didn’t know before. I am ever on the scrounge for useful information and Bev’s blog is cram packed full of it

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The sum total of the lettuce population in the garden…a bit sad really but we are just about to remedy this problem. I have to use slug/snail pellets in the garden at the moment because they appear to have heard on the grapevine that there is free grub on Serendipity Farm and I am NOT losing any more food to freeloading varmints…

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Looking into the veggie garden at the possibilities…note the amazing architectural construction of the gateway into the garden. Another one of my dad’s “wonderful creations”. I am just REALLY glad that he didn’t build the house! 😉

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Note the garden is now taking over the “lawn”. Note also that someone has to mow the lawn! (Note to self…mow the lawn BEFORE you show them another photo of this area! 😉 )

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This is what is commonly called “Elephants Ears” or Bergenia cordifolia by people who want to appear horticulturally clever “You KNOW who you are!”

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Note Earl has just about had enough of me walking backwards and forwards and taking photos…We picked up that Cray pot full of floats for $5 at the last progressive garage sale in march…I love the progressive garage sale 🙂

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Sadly, I don’t know what this is. I bought it in a pot at Wychwood because the lady told me that it was hardy. Here you can see it fighting a loosing battle against some native raspberries (note to self add “make tepee’s for the native raspberries as number 732 on your to-do list”…sigh…)

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Unlike the unknown perennial that the native raspberries are attempting to throttle, these little guys are edible. They are going great guns in the garden under the deck and you can see the small fruit forming on the vines now

I am just about to gird my loins and head off to a local friend’s home and spend some time chatting to her about making my idea about developing local community a reality. I know that there are a lot of people living in the area who might be interested in getting together with other like-minded people in order to develop our local community and share our combined knowledge to everyone’s advantage. My idea is to have a meeting to see how many people are interested, to start a group of us that are interested in getting together over a cuppa for a crafting group, baking circle, gardening group etc. all invested in teaching each other new skills and forging a sense of community here in tiny little riverbank Sidmouth. Stevie-boy suggested the name “Sidmouth Sustainability Group” which sounds like a plan to me and my friend is the perfect place to start because she has been a “hippy” for most of her life and knows more about sustainability than I have had hot dinners (and that is a LOT folks 😉 ). Together we should be able to at least host a few interesting talks about various subjects ranging from keeping goats, making goat cheese, spinning, gardening (Roxy) through to keeping ferments, cooking for allergies etc. (me). The idea keeps lodging itself in my head and I think it’s the right time to bring it to fruition. I will keep you in the loop about how it pans out but I doubt I will do anything about it till after Christmas (oh NO! I said it! If you acknowledge it, it will come! Sigh…)

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This spot under the deck is very dry and this is where I am going to plant lots of those pelargoniums and scented geraniums in order to keep moisture in the soil and to grow other shrubs that wouldn’t otherwise survive in this arid spot. There was nothing here last year and as you can see, we have some plants growing. A note to anyone who thinks that where they live won’t grow flowers. Plant snap dragons. Those snapdragons are self sown from “somewhere” (dad most certainly didn’t sow them!) and keep coming back and spreading year after year.

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This was a scented geranium that I potted up as a cutting last year that we planted out earlier in spring

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So is this one. They are hardy, have pretty flowers that stay on the shrub all summer and whenever they are touched by anything (including wind or water) they release a lovely scent. The perfect plant for under the deck on a hot summers day 🙂

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This bottlebrush seems happy out the back but it will soon be enclosed inside the dogs compound (we are going to extend it) so I can’t vouch for it’s continued happiness. We can only hope that Earl decides to “mark” things a bit further afield but I won’t hold my breath…

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Steve’s collection of “Solar Groovers”, little solar powered things that he has collected that wiggle in his music room window. You can see one of his tab books on the music stand in the background.

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Back on the deck now (much to Earl’s delight) and looking back towards the veggie enclosure. Note the gypsy hoards of chooks wandering around pinching things…sigh…

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Our bedroom window with assorted vegetation

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“Someone” who wishes to remain anonymous because he was a very silly man, left the door to the pantry open where he had placed his nice new crocs that he had purchased the day before…

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We can’t be having Earl get ALL the attention now…better do my cute “upside down” number and have a bit of a chew on what was left of that croc while I do…

Looks like I have earbashed you again but like the large black cicada’s that are hatching out all over the place, my summer exoskeleton is firming up nicely and I will be ready to fly in a week or so. I have even been contemplating the Christmas meal! Next week I will have the tree put up and decorated (although it will probably take me a month to take it down again…), decorations made of an interesting baking soda clay from this site… and goodness only knows what else will be fermenting on Serendipity Farm so stay tuned for the next summery instalment of simple sustainability on Serendipity Farm and enjoy your nice warm fires and hot chocolate because at the moment, I am doing the very same thing! 😉

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The cherry plum seedlings that I found on our walk at Bonnie Beach

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The loquat seedlings that I found on our walk in Deviot…if you keep your eyes open and look for things you would be amazed at what is right there on the ground

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I was happy to get a red cherry plum seedling so it should remain true to type and stay red as it grows with red cherry plums

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The herbs that I pulled out of the sawdust path at the Apple and pear heritage orchard in Deviot. No idea what they are but probably some form of mint. They look a bit sorry at the moment but they will soon perk up. Anything with a square stem (minty sage type families) tends to be very hardy

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Some of the cuttings that I took from the park over the other side of the Batman bridge while I was walking Earl the other day on the kitchen window ledge

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The Scented marigold shrub cuttings that I am hoping will strike in water also on the kitchen window ledge that is pretty full incidentally. Note the collection of shoes that need to be removed before we come inside due to being coated in something insidious and the lengths that we have to go to in order to ensure that they remain wearable and out of doggy reach.

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One Fran went to mow…

Hi Folks,

I can feel it starting…it feels like a small itch in my brain. A tiny little irritation that I know is going to grow a little every day until I am consumed by its scratchiness and am forced to itch. I have felt this before on many occasions. It’s the herald of a new beginning…the start of something new and the tiny flicker of a flame that I know is going to be a raging bushfire furnace by the end of summer. I have become…a “Gardener”. A small tendril of green twined around my soul while I was out watering my new veggie garden. I felt it start to unravel and a little leaf came into existence. I think it’s a beanstalk. Narf7 doesn’t do anything by half and neither do beanstalks. Addiction comes hard and fast and soon I will be waxing lyrical about potatoes and moon planting and gumboots and powdery mildew but at the moment it’s just a small twinge where my addiction valve appears to have developed a little leak… the garden is trickling out and it wants me to do its bidding

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Can you feel it pulling me in? That honeysuckle is rampant!

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Grass mowed and left to mulch the “lawn” as the weather gets hotter

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Steve’s Strelitzia (Bird of Paradise) just about to flower for the first time

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Amongst all of these weeds there are raspberries!

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My haul for the walk included these 4 little loquat japonica trees

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They might be considered weeds here in Tasmania but I love dog roses 🙂

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The key to Steve’s heart 😉

I don’t mind being a garden slave. It’s something that pays you back. I have been a slave for lesser things and this makes a refreshing change.  However there is the delightful pastime of “pottering” and there is “solid hard work” and I am afraid that Serendipity Farm requires less of the first and a whole lot more of the latter. We just had a couple of days of real summer. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the plants decided to make hay while the sun shone and so did I. We officially finished our course on Thursday last week and on Friday I headed over to my daughters to stay overnight in order to get a nice early start on a trip to Hobart. I love how my daughters have inherited my adventurous spirit when it comes to cooking and food. They are wonderful cooks and they use some very interesting ingredients. Whatever you get is always delicious and you probably won’t get the same thing twice.

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The Deviot Heritage apple and pear enclosure where I shamelessly pilfer seed and cutting material. That large “stalk” on the right hand side is angelica and I discovered that it was just about to seed…

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That’s not rolled oats in my bag folks, that’s angelica seed!

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Another view of the enclosed garden. This is where I got the idea to build our own fully enclosed garden and ours is bigger than this one 🙂

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One of the lovely gardens that we pass on our Deviot walks with the boys…

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And another one…

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And another one

We got up early on Saturday and headed off to Hobart so that the girls could do their Christmas shopping. We had a great time on the drive down and the girls had thoughtfully provided me with homemade iced coffee made with agave nectar as they know that I don’t have sugar. It certainly kept me awake for the drive. We arrived nice and early to get a car park at the Salamanca Markets and spent 2 hours wandering around testing delicious products. I had a scrumptious vegan pie for breakfast and then just before we headed off I had a vegan burrito which was delicious also. Hobart seems to be a much more cosmopolitan city than Launceston. The place that we stayed was amazing value and very central to where we wanted to be in Sandy Bay. The Korean restaurant that the girls had picked out for us to have our evening meal at was right at the front of it and we were surrounded by Japanese, Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants and there was even a German bakery for dessert. We walked around a bit to check out the shops and found a small Korean shop that the girls got very excited about and a new trip has been planned for early next year in order to go on a Korean food shopping spree.

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Cue one delicious Korean meal

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Followed by a nice brisk uphill walk to wear it off

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Bethany reliving her childhood

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And me having a second one 😉

We got up early the next morning and packed our things and headed out to hunt for the elusive breakfast. We parked at one end of the city and realised that we would have to hang around as the meter didn’t start till 9 and we were early. We noticed a sea of blue tents that heralded an outdoor farmers market and we headed in to be told that “we can’t officially sell anything to you until 9”…sigh…9 is apparently the magic Hobart number. I had noticed some perennial leeks and an Egyptian walking onion for sale that I needed…yes…I NEEDED! So after checking out an indoor (sad) market we headed back to the outdoor market and I got my perennial vegetables. Madeline wanted some Tatsoi and Mizuna to try in her garden so I bought her some. Now I need to get my hands on some potato onions but I have to wait till late December before they become available again. At least the supplier is in Tasmania so that means I won’t have to jump through hoops to get them.

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Gotta love anyone who has a Trogdor the Burninator sticker…I am dead jel!

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I loved this little mustard yellow leather couch that was in our room

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The rest of the room was excellent as well, 2 huge queen sized beds and a large bathroom with a bath

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The view just outside our door

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Under one of the walkways in the undercover open air area outside the rooms

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The “roof”, a large canvas circus tent type arrangement that covered the entire area

We drove back home slowly and after depositing the girls at home and taking the son-and-heir out to buy a plastic jerry can to fill with fuel in order to mow his lawn I drove back home ready to be jumped on and I wasn’t disappointed. Dogs certainly know how to show you that they missed you :). For the rest of this week I have been mowing. The title of this post is somewhat accurate because I mowed some of the meadow which made it even more obvious that I am going to have to get out there and mow/whipper snip  the rest of it in order to skip around the outside of getting a fine. We have started watering our potted plants again and I have been eating strawberries from my pots as I head out nice and early to walk Earl. It’s almost cherry season and cherries herald Christmas in Australia. It looks like it is going to be a really good cherry season this year as we even have cherries on our poor old specimen…the possums ate the leaves but not the cherries (so far…). We will be starting work on extending the dogs enclosure soon which will give them a much bigger area to run around and play in. Earl will be able to spread his territory around a bit and hopefully won’t rust the deck poles any more in the process

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The next day we headed into the city to have breakfast. You can see Mt Wellington in the background

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Delicious wood fired pizza at the Salamanca Market

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A ragtime band of buskers called “Mangus” playing for the crowds at the markets

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A lovely atrium idea linking 2 businesses

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The outdoor markets where I got my Egyptian walking onion and perennial leek

I would have liked to have started sinking the poles for the enclosure a bit earlier but time is against us this year and we will have to do the best that we can. The chooks have gotten cleverer and I have NO idea where they are laying most of their eggs. One chook has been laying on a hay bale in the shed so I know where to get her egg and her underlings that all lay in the same nest so I get a couple of eggs a day and we have a LOT of chooks…so many we have had to start buying more chook food in order to keep them happy. We noticed another hen down in the teatree garden with a small flock of chicks. I also noticed a larger chicken in the outside enclosure that I have NO idea where it came from. We shuffle chooks and babies into this area in order to give them a chance against the feral cats that spend their days waiting to catch chickens. For some reason they stay clear of the outside compound (maybe the rooster is fierce!) so we figure if we can herd them into this compound, they have a better chance than most to stay alive and so far we have been right. There are 7 babies of varying ages inside this compound with their mums.  I just went on a very hopeful egg hunt of the outside part of the chook run and noticed this chick that hadn’t been there before. Maybe I have just missed it in passing as it has a rather striking camouflage look about it. It is mostly brown like a Wyandotte but has white and black markings on it as well. Whatever it is it’s a clever little critter to find its way into the safe part of Serendipity Farm. I know it doesn’t belong to anyone inside the compound because it is the lowest on the pecking order but it is determined and it’s pretty and I applaud its spirit for being able to recognise where the chances of survival are the best. I had best watch this chook, most of them are lacking in velociraptor ancestors? 😉

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Bethany is an insomniac and stays awake for ages but Madeline and I were absolutely knackered…the only way that we could see for her to stay up reading and for us to get some sleep was to get clever with pillows…

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My pillow had obviously been stolen by this point 😉

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On the way down to Hobart some bright spark had amended this sign 😉

My daughters have come up with what they believe to be the answer to the conundrum of Christmas. Now that Stewart and Kelsey live here in Launceston we are all together for Christmas but in saying that, we are all quintessential hermits who like our own space. Getting together just because we are told to get together breeds resentment especially when people have their own ideas about how Christmas should go (read the girls EXTRAVAGANZA and our simple…) so I got Madeline to throw some ideas around with Bethany and they have decided that we should all start a new Christmas tradition of getting together the day before Christmas for our communal celebration. Technically most of Europe starts their celebrations the day before Christmas and in central and eastern Europe (in particular Russia, Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania have a traditional meatless 12 dish Christmas Eve Supper before opening gifts. I won’t mention the “meatless” part but the opening gifts are going to be part of it. At least I will be standing in solidarity with my Russian brothers and sisters and won’t be eating any meat ;).

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Looks like we have a hairy visitor…

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The birds are hatching out babies all over the place

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The Jerusalem artichokes that I shoved in here last year are apparently alive and well and growing exponentially

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One of many pumpkins coming up from compost dumped on top of the spent horse manure

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These peas were planted last Wednesday…

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So were these carrots…Jenny doesn’t do anything by halves, there are 1000 carrot seeds and 10 rows of peas

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Just about to start transplanting these and their brothers and sisters into the ground inside the enclosure along with red currants. The wild raspberries are going crazy this year and all have tiny fruit developing. I will try to see if I can get a few photos to share with you all before the birds scoff them all. Much like wild strawberries, these tiny little wild raspberries have the most intense exquisite flavour, the birds are clever sods!

I like the idea of sharing a communal meal the day before…everyone bringing something that they have made to the table and a dessert each…sort of an Aussie thanksgiving for us all being together and then on Christmas day we get to celebrate however the heck we want to. Even Steve is happy about this new tradition so the girls are on to a winner there. Sorry about talking about Christmas but you are all going to have to face it soon…it’s coming for another year and it’s like a steam train this time. At least all of you Northerners get a “proper” Christmas, we Aussies are wandering around in our t-shirts wondering how little we can wear to Christmas lunch before we offend one of the neighbours and they call the police! The weather will be hot, most of us will eat a HUGE hot meal and will roll off to the beach to watch the kids play cricket…Aussie Christmas is NOTHING like a Northern Christmas.  Before you know it we will be up to our armpits in 2014. I hope you all get a handle on your Christmas preparations and that it goes incredibly smoothly and wonderfully this year. By the way…don’t look now, but it’s snowing on Serendipity Farm! I noticed it earlier…must be something to do with global warming… ;). See you all next week 🙂

One last teeny post I promise!

Hi Folks,

I seem to be the queen of teeny tiny little posts and reposts at the moment but it’s not my fault there are quality life lessons and excellent writing going free for grabs…I need to share it! Here’s something that I found in today’s RSS Feed Reader inbox. I can’t help but share when there are fundamental truths twitching behind my eyes and this little baby set off jangling bells. Wise words to live by and something to aim for. We often forget to really live and make do with merely existing. Remember…we only get 1 ride of this crazy careening carousel we call life and we had best enjoy that ride to the max because once we get off at the end there aint no more folks!

http://zenhabits.net/aol/

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