I’m just doing the do…how about you?

Hi All

September appears to be a month of change on Serendipity Farm. Last week we found out that the son-and-heir was moving down to Tasmania with his Texan sweetie Kelsey and suddenly all of the piles and boxes of debris and memories that we had left languishing in the unit at the rear of our daughter’s home in the city needed to be removed, revisited and revised. The 3 “R’s” of the apocalypse folks and it has seen us moving a lot of things around in the process and getting rid of lots of “stuff” that we simply don’t have the space for and will never need.  We inherited a lot of cut glass that had lived in a glass cabinet in the spare room until last week when we decided that we would offer Stewart and Kelsey the queen sized bed it contained and would swap it for our old bed that Steve made for me about 10 years ago. Steve and I headed into town and cleared out a lot of boxes and bags of “stuff” and brought them home with us and at that point we merely thought it would be a case of “open a cupboard and stuff them in”…

Steve's "emo" respray on a little bedside set of draws

Steve’s “emo” respray on a little bedside set of draws

Still trying to make the internet his minion...

Still trying to make the internet his minion…

Nope…it wasn’t. We ended up going through the boxes of old papers, bits-and-bobs and “stuff” and have spent the better part of a week working out whether or not we want it, will need it, or have anywhere to actually put it. Most of the old papers had been kept by my father and just need to be burned so methinks a baked potato bonfire complete with roasted marshmallows is in our immediate future, however there were lots of nick-knacks etc. that hold no sentimental value to us (or anyone else still alive) so what do we do with them? They aren’t technically “worth” anything and aside from sticking them back into the glass cabinet that we liberated what should we do with them? So we found ourselves in a bit of a quandary and what made it worse was that we had our OWN “stuff” that we had been hoarding and carting around from pillar to post to deal with as well so as you can imagine, we have had piles of rubbish all over the place and Earl has been seen at regular intervals sneaking away with various articles in his beak

Cheap and plentiful, apples are my morning mainstay these days

Cheap and plentiful, apples are my morning mainstay these days

We found this teeny "faeries" egg in amongst the other eggs in a hidden nest

We found this teeny “faeries” egg in amongst the other eggs in a hidden nest

We erected the 4 poster bed that Steve made for us back when we lived in W.A. in the small middle bedroom and were amazed at how tiny the room now looks. We have decided to put our interior design skills to work and paint the whole bed white to minimise its impact. It’s a sort of stained jarrah at the moment which makes it look huge and oppressive. Aside from being a hulking great thing, nothing that was in the bedroom before fits there now so we had to take a look at the furniture in the room and move it “elsewhere”. In the process we ended up moving bedroom furniture, furniture from the lounge room (twice), things moved back and forwards and in the end we found a happy medium that took us all day Sunday to accomplish. We still have that pile of cut glass so if anyone knows what we should do with it, feel free to let us know

A most pathetic attempt to add character to a Stromboli...note to self... don't use spaghetti in the oven

A most pathetic attempt to add character to a Stromboli…note to self… don’t use spaghetti in the oven

How much more character could I want?! ;)

How much more character could I want?! 😉

Chicken, mushroom braised onion and red capsicum pie in homemade butter shortcrust

Chicken, mushroom braised onion and red capsicum pie in homemade butter shortcrust

Steve decided to tidy up his music room and go hunting for a camera charger that he needed and took all day to find it and when he did, it was in one of the boxes that he first looked in. You know those moments where you are BURSTING to say something but think better of it because of the sake of world peace? Well I had a moment like that. If I am being honest, I had about 10 moments like that all in a row and aside from having to stifle the urge to bang my head on the computer desk in front of me I am completely unable to get it through Steve’s head that if you insist on “man checks” you are going to spend a LONG time looking for anything. Couple that with a chaotic organisational system that involves “putting things away” but in no particular order or place and you can only imagine what it is like here sometimes when “something” needs to be found…sigh…

The grapes are alive!

The grapes are alive!

So are the avocado's and the hazelnuts...stick some seeds in the ground folks...whatchagottalose?

So are the avocado’s and the hazelnuts…stick some seeds in the ground folks…whatchagottalose?

The weather has been typically spring weather of late. Lots of drizzly rain and I certainly am not going to be the first one to complain about it. I want it to rain for as long as it can because the alternative is hard baked clay and blow-away silt to contend with and the longer it stays wet…the longer it stays in place and is easy to dig. The trees that we planted out are all still alive so that’s a bonus and we have decided to take a day and pull all of our potted plants out and go through them and sort them into a pile of keepers that we can justify keeping and that we actually have an area put aside to plant them out into and a pile to give away to someone. Steve wants to put them on gumtree as “free trees pick up only” and while I am all for giving them away, after our last attempt to give things away via gumtree I am not so sure that I want to engage with the natives who usually want you to drive 200km and deliver…sigh…Anyone with any good ideas about what we can do with the wealth of free trees that are going to come out of our ruthless cull please, again, let us know.

Remember that tree that wouldn't fall down?

Remember that tree that wouldn’t fall down?

It fell down

It fell down

It’s Wednesday again! How come 2013 has flown away so fast? Suddenly we are on the cusp of both hotter weather and Christmas and I am prepared for neither. I woke up at 2.30am to a loud clap of thunder and we had a small electrical storm with pelting rain that has passed now. SO glad I didn’t end up doing the washing like I was lamenting yesterday evening ;). Steve and I are starting our final course unit and have been working on a list of questions to prepare us for entering the world of Web Publishing and “Dreamweaver”. We had a problem with a link that we needed to access to complete the questions and after sending off a missive to our lecturer we decided to head off to the Beaconsfield tip and take some old bed bases that someone might get some use out of complete with headboards. I like the Beaconsfield tip, it has a really great tip shop and depending on the day that you visit, you get great bargains. The weekend lady is a tough nut. She wants profit at all costs. The weekday lady is a friend and you get your bargains extra cheap. After poring through old books and other peoples discarded treasures I ended up finding a very large baking tray that fits perfectly on Brunhilda’s over-large shelves, a complete walk through book of a game that my daughter owns and loves, a small sturdy round Huon pine cutting board, a book on recipes and crafts for fetes with lots of great cake and toffee recipes and under a heap of old books we found a book on how to use Dreamweaver! BONUS! It’s an older version but most programs don’t change all that much so we at least have something to use if we get really stuck and we can start working through how to use this complex program over the holidays

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It might be older but at 20c I figure it is worth it’s age in gold

What we have to do to prevent theft by stealth chook on Serendipity Farm.

What we have to do to prevent theft by stealth chook on Serendipity Farm.

Have you ever thought of developing your own website? I know that I watch how much of my WordPress blog I have used up so far and am mindful of keeping my image size low so that I don’t run out of space too fast. I have been blogging about Serendipity Farm for over 2 years now and have used up 42% of my space. For the first year I blogged daily so I don’t think I am doing too bad but the time is coming when I am going to have to pay up or ship out. The course that Steve and I are currently doing was a sort of “gap year” thing. I let Steve pick a course to do because we can’t go to university until Steve becomes an Aussie citizen (and takes the dreaded citizenship test…). Well… technically we CAN go to university but Steve would have to pay up front, something that we just can’t find a way to do so until he gets his act together and learns the inside scoop on what our past Prime Ministers ate for breakfast and what size their underpants were (in chronological order…) we have been learning about Web Design.

Now that leaves are coming back things are starting to look pretty again

Now that leaves are coming back things are starting to look pretty again

I am going to be the very proud owner of a flowering May Apple this year! "WOOT!" :)

I am going to be the very proud owner of a flowering May Apple this year! “WOOT!” 🙂

Aren't these Ceanothus beautiful? Steve pruned them well last year and they are happy

Aren’t these Ceanothus beautiful? Steve pruned them well last year and they are happy

The course might have been a gap year thing but it has opened up a wealth of possibilities to us. We have learned that with a bit of effort and a desire to learn how to get our hands a bit dirty in the world of simple code etc. we could start our own website and this blog could gain a much greater degree of security than it currently has. The more we look at it, the more interesting it becomes and with Steve the wonder techy behind us (more stubborn refusal to give in than technological genius really 😉 ) and the son-and-heir who is also technologically minded I figure we could bumble our way through the stages required to design and bring and new website to life. Whenever I see a blog that I follow mentioning “moving to a new site” I start to twitch. It usually means that we are just about to be inundated with advertisements’ and posts full of product placement. I am not blogging for fame or fortune folks. I am blogging to release the pressure of my muse’s constant undercurrent hum of “sound” so you can be assured that when we do move, it will be to nice clean unadvertised premises with a decided middle aged hippy flavour.

One of our inherited orchids in a mass of blooms

One of our inherited orchids in a mass of blooms

I thought I had killed this lovely red azalea but they are as tough as old boots. Plant them, they are incredibly hard to kill!

I thought I had killed this lovely red azalea but they are as tough as old boots. Plant them, they are incredibly hard to kill!

I love bulbs :)

I love bulbs 🙂

Steve picked up our new bbq the other day and it has been languishing inside its massive cardboard box in the shed ever since. It’s not because we don’t want to tear open the box and assemble it. Steve and I both have that gene that wants to assemble, I think it is called the Scalextric, Airfix or Lego gene and requires you to mindlessly put things together…if glue is a part of the equation, all the better! It’s like knitting in front of the television…a semi-conscious pastime that feeds something inside you and leaves you replete. The problem that we also have is that Steve has a “hurry UP!” gene and I have a “Slow and steady wins the race” (and doesn’t arrive at the finish line with a hand full of nuts and bolts that probably, really, SHOULD be on that assembled item…sigh…) gene and the two genes are incompatible. You know how like poles on magnets repel? So do Steve’s and my working genes.  It’s not just the fact that assembling a simple bbq is going to probably result in our own revisitation of the battle of Britain…we have an added problem in the form of Earl.

45 balloons and an oxygen starved narf7 makes for happy dogs on Bezial's birthday

45 balloons and an oxygen starved narf7 makes for happy dogs on Bezial’s birthday

Bezial and one of his birthday stash of toys. This one sings and so Bezial decided to let it live...for now...

Bezial and one of his birthday stash of toys. This one sings and so Bezial decided to let it live…for now…

How could a huge hulking lunk like this be so cute?

How could a huge hulking lunk like this be so cute?

Earl has a BIG problem with anything setting foot on his deck. He is fine with Steve, Bezial and me but anything else is an invader and needs to be repelled. He spends his days in an endless cycle of snoring upside down on the couch, begging for walks and parading around the perimeter of the fence that keeps Earl inside (much to the world’s relief) and the invaders out. Earl has more than his fair share of foreign invaders including feral cats and possums that invade in the night to steal the cheese that we put on our kitchen window ledge for the birds in the day, the birds that come for the cheese are included on the invader list apparently…butterflies, ants, wasps, bees ANYTHING that dares to come onto Earls deck is fair game for his displeasure…included in the process of “repelling all boarders”, is the process of making sure that the invaders KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that this is “Earl’s turf”. To do that, Earl needs to spend an inordinate amount of time peeing on anything that he feels is especially “his”.

The large arty pot prior to Earl's stamp of ownership

The large arty pot prior to Earl’s stamp of ownership

Soaked almonds that need skinning. I don't buy milk, I make it.

Soaked almonds that need skinning. I don’t buy milk, I make it.

It might take a while but the results are infinitely superior to what I can get from the shop

It might take a while but the results are infinitely superior to what I can get from the shop

We brought home a large unusual arty pot that we inherited when dad died and that has been languishing in the unit out the back of our daughter’s home in the city since we moved to Serendipity Farm almost 3 years ago. It’s most unusual, most impractical and highly visible and when we decided to place it on the deck because we had NO idea where to put it otherwise, Earl immediately homed in on it and put his tag on it. Steve noted this and headed out with a kettle of boiling water to de-mark the afflicted item and was bemused to note as he was coming back in with the empty kettle…Earl casually strolling up to the pot and re-marking it! We can only imagine the joy that Earl is going to feel when we are talking to each other again after the assembly of the bbq and we haul this shiny black behemoth of a “possession” onto the deck for summer gustatory delights and in the name of keeping the house cool in the coming hot months. I can only begin to imagine how many water bowls are going to be emptied through Earl onto our new bbq and that’s why it is still in its box and awaiting the Pimblett version of W.W.3 to rise like the phoenix from the shreds of cardboard and become the mainstay of our summer (albeit urine tinted) cooking space.

Here's what happened to narf7's veggie garden over winter...

Here’s what happened to narf7’s veggie garden over winter…

It went completely and utterly feral! Those sow thistles have stems as thick as my wrist

It went completely and utterly feral! Those sow thistles have stems as thick as my wrist

Spinach and mushrooms, both serendipitous harvests

Spinach and mushrooms, both serendipitous harvests

Its 4.39am and I am just about to pat this post on the head and send it off to the blogging version of “the printers”. I know it’s a bit less entertaining than usual and indeed, so am I. It’s the cusp of the damp and cooler weather and unlike most Northerners who are already starting to sulk about the impending rain and cold, I am sad to see our cooler, wetter weather go. I really don’t like hot weather. I am not a fan of sweat or sleepless nights bathed in the stuff. I don’t like trying to walk grumpy hot dogs on hot days or mosquitoes or the smell of the river when the oysters dry up (ECH!). I love spring and its possibilities but the long hot dry months of summer leave me restless and twitchy. I am a Northerner living in a Southerners body. I also have a vegetable garden that is NOWHERE near ready for planting out with new summer veggies. I headed up (most bravely) yesterday and waded through the mud to see that the spinach that has been the mainstay of the garden for the past year has finally decided to go to seed and is now up to my chest. I am not short. I cut some for tonight’s evening meal whilst trying to simultaneously shield my eyes from the sow thistles doing their damnedest to get into the Guinness World Book of Records for having the thickest stems.

Clivea flowers

Clivea flowers

Clivea seeds from last season's flowers

Clivea seeds from last season’s flowers

Enormous Camellia flowers

Enormous Camellia flowers

Headily fragrant Daphne odora flowers

Headily fragrant Daphne odora flowers

It’s time to haul ass and get out of winter “inside” mode and back into summer “outside” mode and I am scared. Steve and I have 2 weeks of holidays coming up and we will be outside pouring concrete, setting the final poles into the ground for our big outside enclosed veggie garden. I have plans to make a garden bed out of the various coloured wine bottles that we have been storing in the small shed that I was going to make a bottle wall out of but that I am now going to turn into a lovely raised garden (thanks to Pinterest for the idea 😉 ). The rest of the garden beds will be assembled from existing enormous wooden beams that are in situ inside the perimeter (thank goodness!) and lots and lots and lots and lots of rocks. We can spare the odd rock. Serendipity Farm is predominately made up of rocks ;). Well that’s all for today folks. Narf7 is entering “doing” territory and that’s my least explored territory of all. I am great at planning…implementing isn’t my forte but as this is my “year of doing” I had best get my act together and at least “DO” something! ;). See you next week when I should technically have some photos of lots of hard work and misery loves company so feel free to get out into your own gardens so that we will meet next Wednesday as the confraternity of hobbling, tired, scratched and maimed gardeners ;).

If Steve ever suggests that you "just pop down to the gate for a little walk with the dogs it's SUCH a lovely day..." best you pretend you didn't hear ;)

If Steve ever suggests that you “just pop down to the gate for a little walk with the dogs it’s SUCH a lovely day…” best you pretend you didn’t hear 😉

Today's word cloud image. Steve got mentioned head and shoulders above everything else so he got to sit stage left ;)

Today’s word cloud image. Steve got mentioned head and shoulders above everything else so he got to sit stage left 😉

Oh what a crafty minx I am!

Hi All

Yes…I did it! I actually finished off my gauntlet/mitts for both Steve and I AND I sewed them up! I also made a pair of slipper socks in a couple of hours out of extra Über thick wool that the girls recently bought me for my birthday. I was so impressed with the knit time and how quick the project was finished that I am planning to make some t-shirt material out of some old long sleeved “T’s” that I was too lazy to drop off at the thrift shop and that can now be repurposed into fun slipper socks for all of the days of the week. I still have a lot of wool and as I am waking up at 4am now rather than the 2.30am that I used to wake up, I am able to stay up till 8.30pm most nights which gives me a bit of crafty minx time on the sofa…that is…unless Earl sees me… then it’s a battle of wills and his usually wins.

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Steve took this image. I think he was still under the influence of all of that wine that he drank while Kym was here ;). These are the gauntlets that I made out of the wool spun by our friend Roxy. They are warm, they are delicious and they are ready just in time for the start of our spring…sigh…

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Can you tell that the clear headed wine deprived narf7 took this shot? This is Steve wearing the gauntlets that I made for him. In the background you can see some of the eggs that we are currently being snowed under with and my trusty Vitamix that allows me to puree everything from seeds, through nut milks and I am assured I can puree a stick if I see fit. I haven’t felt the need to do so to quite yet…

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These are my knitted slipper/socks. I LOVE THEM! They are springy, they are light, they are deliciously coloured, I can make more out of homemade t-shirt material and Earl adores them. What’s not to like folks?

This week has seen life return to normal (whatever that is around here) after Kym headed back to W.A. I dare say she is embracing her own comfort zone with zeal and extra Aussie rules to boot ;). We have had to really knock into studies as 9 days off is a long time when your lecturer is hell bent on dumping 2 months’ worth of studies on you and insisting that you get it completed in 3 weeks. Never let it be said that narf7 and Stevie the wonder boy will shirk their duties (unless something vaguely better comes along and then “you’re on your own lecturer!” 😉 ). As I mentioned in my last post this unit finds us dabbling in the art of “Creative Thinking” to be closely followed by “Creative Writing”…all I have to say about that is “LIES!” There is nothing creative about this unit. It is a bollocking great pile of wading through tracts of cyber bampf that is threatening to back up my internal bulldust monitor and send it into overload. I am doing my best not to blow but I can’t promise anything. We have a couple of stressful weeks where we are going to have to do the equivalent of complex online taxes every day but we were given a bit of a reprieve as our lecturer sent us an email saying that the TAFE has decided to move to another server and we can’t send anything in to him till next Thursday…”WOOT!”. We were a little behind the 8 ball and now we are able to catch up in style. Our next foray into bampf involves designing “Fishing” and “Shooting” questions to ask potential clients regarding a mock business that we have to create. After that we have to bodge another 10 questions (each) to create a “Persona” for a website. Sounds about as much fun as having bamboo slivers shoved under your fingernails doesn’t it? Sigh…

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Here is a picture that Kym took under the influence…note the surreal fuzzy nature of the shot and you can start to get an idea of the surreal fuzzy nature of the 9 days that we spent together 😉

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Still fuzzy girl!

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Fuzzy is contagious! This time Steve must have had a wine glass in his hand when taking this shot 😉

Now that was a long paragraph. Are there any of you remaining who remember how I used to write my blog posts? If not, go look back at last year’s posts and wonder at the tenacity of those fallen ones who would wade into my unbroken posts with ENORMOUS paragraphs and no respite for the wicked. I am a mere sliver of the poster that I once was ;). I like the system of posting at NDIN (Not Dabbling in Normal) as it involves putting my 2c in on a combined post where I only have to add a couple of photos and a few words (my kind of post 😉 ) and then the day after I write a post about the Topic that everyone wrote about on Sunday…easy peasy! I even have the post written, image crammed (a slideshow for anyone who cares) and scheduled ready to post on Monday. I love it when efficiency meets a deadline. I also have to send kudos to Xan and to Emily who seem to be the backbone of NDIN. They are the most sincerely dedicated and organised girls that I know and I take my anal retentive hat off to you both for how smoothly and well-oiled NDIN runs. Just so you know, TRTS (very much like “tarts” or “trots” methinks 😉 ) isn’t going to be anywhere near as well-oiled as I never know from post to post what I am going to do. I like to maintain a creative edge (some might say a “lazy edge” but then some are a bit rude aren’t they? 😉 ).

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I pinched a couple of images from Kym’s camera before she headed home if only to show that in the morning, before the effect of wine took over, she could take a good photo 😉

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Lovely smooth pebbles form the majority of “beach” here in Tassie

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What this lovely image doesn’t reveal is how cold, windy and absolutely sodden this path was that we all decided to walk down with the dogs.

I am typing this post on Saturday and I have just caught up with my cleaning from a couple of weeks ago. The dust behind Brunhilda was terrifying. Forget dust bunnies, I could have made a small dust cow out of it all! Luckily I had decided to empty the vacuum cleaner in preparation for my marathon cleaning event because at the end of the “suck” it was full again! I still haven’t caught up on my RSS Feed Reader but I was reminded (yet again) by the powers that be that sometimes what you are dreading simply isn’t there. Steve loaded it up and I hid behind the sofa where I felt somewhat underwhelmed by the eventual total…just over 500 posts are lying in wait for narf7 to sift through and I have donated my Sunday to catching up with you all and tying up all of the loose ends that I have been dangling around for the last fortnight. I managed to keep on top of my kefir although to be honest it spent the entire fortnight wading luxuriously in real milk and is suffering a bit of culture shock to be dunked back into soymilk after thinking it had climbed out of the mire and “made it”. I am just about to feed Audrey and next week I plan on taking a wonderful simple recipe from Cityhippyfarmgirl as my first step into serious sourdough production. Here’s a link to “It’s all about the bread” a compilation of all of her bready posts isolated into one delicious looking fragrant morsel…

http://cityhippyfarmgirl.com/category/its-all-about-the-bread/

After I feed up Audrey and get her primed and aimed in the right direction I have lots of other things on the back burner that have had to remain on pilot light for quite some time now. I counted 15 Brachychiton discolour saplings in pots in the side garden. Every single one of them is going to be planted out on Serendipity Farm over the next few weeks. Steve and I are both going to plant “a plant a day” so that’s technically “2 plants a day” so they should get a good foothold in the soil before our dry summer hits home. Brachychitons love hot dry conditions. The 3 that we planted out as trial plants last summer managed to survive and thrive in the water free zone that we planted them into. Admittedly, they had a bit of shade which might have given them an edge but far from wilting and dying, they grew like topsy. That tells me that they are going to love living here and aside from the Brachychitons (that we grew from seed we purchased on eBay 3 years ago and that are now over 5ft (152.4cm for those of you who insist on metric 😉 ) we have a plethora of plants that are desperate to get out into the soil. We lost quite a few pines and conifers that we planted out last spring/summer and will be replacing them with hardy shrubs and trees that can handle a bit of heat and dry conditions. No sense trying to plant something that is water hungry around here and there are a wealth of plants that love hot dry conditions, we just have to narrow down the ones that we want to grow here

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Another lovely shot that Kym took of a Tasmannia lanceolata or Native Pepper berry. You can see the ripening pepper berries here. I “borrowed” some to bring home and attempt to grow.

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Kym looking teeny tiny in front of the Low Point lighthouse on a very VERY cold blustery day

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Me trying awfully hard not to look too worried about the sign that mentioned asbestos…

I was fast asleep in bed last night and out of the corner of my mind I heard Earl slither off the bed. I tend not to notice him getting off the bed (aside from when he jumps on me…) and go back to sleep quite quickly but last night I had just dozed back off to sleep when we heard a crazed commotion out on the deck. I sat up in bed and saw Bezial peering out of the vertical blinds in the lounge room at “something” on the deck. Steve and I headed over to see what was happening and saw Earl with a possum in his mouth! I hurriedly opened the sliding door to the lounge room and raced out and Earl had released the possum and it was running back and forth along the deck railing looking terrified. Earl didn’t seem overly interested in catching it again and was looking at it as if to say “go on then…get running so I can chase you!” I made him sit while the poor possum ran down the deck railing and escaped into the bushes. I doubt that he will be coming back any day soon to pinch the cheese cubes that we put out for the cuckoo thrushes and blue wrens and I dare say it will take him a few days to get over earl frolicking with him in the middle of the night.

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Bezial in full tug mode…Steve trying to do his best “thug” impersonation (and failing terribly…”socks and trackies tucked into shoes doth NOT make a good thug Stevie boy 😉 )…earl taking keen note of what Bezial is sniffing and me just being the fat anchor that Earl needs to stop him trotting off where his desires take him 😉

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Earl showing that he doesn’t need Bezial to sniff things for him first, he is perfectly capable of isolating a delightful and most interesting scent all by himself!

We haven’t seen any house sparrows around lately. Apparently there is a disease that is killing them all circulating around Tasmania at the moment. Roxie, our friend down the road told us that she had found 2 dead in her yard and we haven’t seen the motley crew that usually predate the cheese cubes throughout the day and that live in the eaves at the Auld Kirk Church. As much of a pest as house sparrows can be and as much as I muttered about them lining up to scoff the grain that I put out for the chooks I would seriously miss them if they all disappeared.  It would appear that a strain of Salmonella may be taking them out but hopefully it is just a brief hiatus. House sparrows are a resilient bunch of feathered reprobates and I have a bit of a soft spot for them. This happened back in 2009 as well so I am wondering if it is a cyclical thing or if it was just particularly hot back in 2009 and water baths (apparently how the disease is being spread) were more important to the sparrows that spread the disease amongst their peers. I guess we are just going to have to wait and see.

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This is about the only time that these 2 reprobates didn’t attempt to jump on Kym…you can’t see it but she has a handful of doggie treats 😉

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Kym’s king sized birthday cake (and candle…note it is slightly skewed to the side…a bit like Kym and I 😉 ) that took Steve and Kym 3 days to finish.

I just swept the deck clean of desiccated leaves. At this time of year we get a lot of wind and rain in Tasmania (“really?” 😉 ) and I like to keep the deck clear of leaves so that they don’t constitute a slip hazard. Slipping off our deck would be tantamount to base jumping so it’s probably best that we don’t start now. I noticed that the ruin of a side garden that we hacked back to within an inch of it’s life last summer has grown back nicely and isn’t sporting a crew-cut anymore. I have also noticed that some of the shrubs that we liberated in spring last year are starting to look happy about their liberation. The problem with liberating shrubs and gardens from their old weed infested ways is that you end up with something that looks bereft, denuded and terrible and you really wonder if it might not have been best to just leave it the way that it was. The answer to that is nope. Hack away, do your worst and then hope that something that you learned about horticulture managed to guide your hacking hands and that the wasteland you just clear-felled is going to look lovely in another couple of seasons. I had no faith and now I am pleasantly surprised to see that the liberated are blooming and rewarding us with healthy happy green joy. That is good because otherwise I might just have left the rest of it the way that it was! It’s not easy liberating a few shrubs from a jungle folks…

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Look what I found growing amongst my spinach that I raided last night whilst making Steve’s enormous and most delicious quiche. These beetroots had failed to produce roots for whatever reason and I was just farming their tender greens at the end of summer and into autumn. I had completely forgotten about them and almost all of them grew beety roots! Happy days :). Narf7 dines on beetroot tonight 🙂

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Our little Lazarus self pollinating almond tree in flower after surviving one of the worst summers that Tasmania has ever had and proving that almonds are tough water wise trees

I am just about to head off and abandon you for a bit. You wouldn’t have known about it apart from me taking a year of living honestly as a 101 life course last year and feeling the need to spill the beans on a regular basis…cathartic actually but it makes for long posts…My abandonment is entirely necessary because tonight I bake. Studies and housework aren’t the only things that got neglected while Kym was visiting…we didn’t bother looking for eggs either and after Kym headed back we set out in earnest to see how many eggs we could find (we don’t like smelly surprises in our summer whipper snipper ventures into the garden). We have almost an entire shelf of Serendipity Farm eggs and no-one to eat them. Steve will eat an egg or two every now and then on toast but isn’t a great egg imbiber. I, as a consecrated vegan, tend to remain celibate on the egg front and aside from 2 gaping dog mouths that would eat every egg that we offered them we think that the hard laid offerings from our furiously scratching chooks should be at least eaten by something that savours them and doesn’t mainline them like Earl does. One day I am going to keep feeding Earl eggs. I am fascinated to know just how many eggs he could eat till he was egg satiated. I have a sneaking suspicion that I would run out of them before he had his fill. I am going to send 2 cartons (along with half a dozen duck eggs) along to the girls when Steve next heads in to do our fortnightly shop in Launceston but that still leaves us with a plethora of eggs that remind us of our good fortune every time we open the fridge. What’s a girl to do? Make quiche!

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“What do you mean you don’t need to put a photo of me in this post for Littlesundog from Day by Day the Farm Girl Way eh? She NEEDS her Earl fix!”

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Earl hiding under our bed to escape the wrath that he thinks he is due after attempting to scratch his way to China through our bedclothes…

The abandonment is so that I can rustle up a batch of butter based shortcrust pastry to rest in the fridge and I am going to make a quiche with 20 eggs in it… a large baking dish of a quiche that Steve can eat for his evening meal tonight and can then snack on over the next few days. I have most of a small tub of sour cream left over from a chilli night that we had when Kym was visiting. Some of it got dolloped onto the remainder of the meaty chilli in the form of nacho’s that Steve enjoyed for his evening meal last night but there is still a considerable amount left and what better to use it in than quiche. I mistook a picture that Kym sent me of a plate of eggs, bacon and toast and beans from a breakfast prior to when she visited as her regular fare and we bought an extra kilo of bacon specifically to allow her to breakfast in familiar territory. When she arrived she told me that her wonderful husband Bruce had spoiled her that day by making her breakfast and that she really only ate a couple of eggs. Eggs we could do in style but what to do with all that extra bacon? “Quiche!”…are you starting to get a picture? Kym also bought Steve some Gloucestershire cheese offcuts from Ashgrove cheese factory (that’s twice I have mentioned you in a positive light Ashgrove, I expect to be renumerated with some of your most DELICIOUS cheese post haste! 😉 ) and despite eating almost all of them in various snacking events and meals (including last night’s nachos) Steve has graciously allowed me to use the remainder in tonight’s massive quiche along with a chunk of ricotta that I bought in the shopping last Monday and some Danish feta (apparently too mild to be used as “real” feta…) that was on special so tonight’s quiche is going to be a celebration of taste, enormous size, gourmet deliciousness and frugality that will allow us to use up excesses AND consume them in style. “Happy Days” as me old mucka Jamie Oliver would have said before he abandoned his sensibilities and headed over to the good old U.S of A and became an honorary American in his last television series.

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A story of unrequited love and learning to live with rejection aka “A Duck’s Tale”

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This is a “Where’s Wally” flower

Steve and I have been timing ourselves and we think that we have a chance of a medal in the World ruined driveway gate opening championships. A bit more rain and we are going to end up the undisputed champions. We can open the gate that leads from the compound surrounding the house (that allows the world to sleep safe in the knowledge that Earl is contained and defused), Steve can lift Earl into the car, we can rustle a wayfaring sniffing Bezial into the back of the car (Earl has taken up residence in the front by now…”whatchagonnado!”) and we can both jump in the front seat, zoom off down what remains of our driveway, avoiding the abyss, the canyons, the rapids (still flowing and showing no sign of stopping any day soon) and the mushy spots where the soil has just stopped trying to repel the water and has decided to become officially “swamp”. When we arrive at the front gate the speed at which Steve can pass me the keys (the gate key is on our car keys) and I can be out of the car door and have the gate open is alarming. As soon as I have the gates open enough Steve puts the car into gear and lets it roll whilst holding his hand out of his window to get the keys from me, starting the car mid roll while I am closing the gates on the run (well as close as I am ever going to get to a run anyway…) and am leaping into the car and we are off! I know that we are in with a chance…we are contenders folks! As soon as I can find where the championships are being held I will send in our entry. For now, we will just have to keep practicing and negotiating those potholes because the rain isn’t apparently going anywhere anytime soon and we aren’t stupid enough to start mending the morass mid rainy season.

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Is THAT where you keep those delicious dog treats eh?

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Now I know…I can go straight to the source! 😉

Bugger…this post appears to be a long one. I don’t know how that happened! I guess I have been skimping lately and my natural brain quotient hasn’t been reached and my brain is doing the equivalent of eating the furniture…best let me post a long one every now and then folks or your furniture might not be safe either! See you all next Wednesday or you could check out my latest post on NDIN for yourself and see how I managed to find enough flowers to start my own Botanical Gardens on a wet, sodden, end of winter Serendipity Farm :o).

Only the very BEST turn 50

Hi All,

Today I am going to depart from my usual post format because aside from being under the influence of a haze of white wine that seems to have settled upon me (curiously and most coincidentally) shortly after Kym set foot on Serendipity Farm, I have a plethora of photos to share with you that too many words would negate so here is the past week in images and captions…

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The hero who managed to stop Serendipity Farm from drowning single handedly. We had torrential rain that didn’t let up for days and suddenly backed up all of the drains at once and Steve headed out into the deluge and shovelled out all of the blockages single handedly…my hero :o)

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Kym and I stayed in Hobart on Saturday night right on the waterfront in Salamanca Place in Hobart. Here you can see the kitchen taken from the stairs leading up to the loft.

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Kym managed to capture the spirit of the evening (well the wine of the evening anyway! 😉 )

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Kym at least accompanying her wine with some food

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crawling up to bed…

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A HUGE bathroom with a washing machine and dryer…my kind of luxury!

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Small mugs? No problems! Just give me 2 Kymmy and everything will be fine 😉

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Delicious breakfasts and another cuppa (or two) set us up for the day

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One of the biggest dogs (or smallest horses) that I have ever seen…he managed to slobber all over my coat and leave his hairy calling card behind after I gave him a cuddle…dog lovers don’t care about their clothes when a big cuddle is on the horizon

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The coat in question being used to ward off the frigid air of a cold Hobart morning

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I doubt they would get many tourists hurrying to sit upstairs on this double decker bus in the middle of winter

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At the first lookout point on the way up to the top of Mt Wellington to see the snow

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Kym asked me what I thought about the steady stream of cyclists attempting to ride to the summit of the mountain…actions speak louder than words folks!

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A typical facial expression that Kym likes to effect…I am starting to get used to it now but if the wind changes Kymmy…you’re stuffed! 😉

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“Well looky here…what seems to have found it’s way into my hand?”…

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“It’s SOOO heavy…so VERY heavy…”

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“OMG did you see that Grizzly bear behind you Fran?! I just tried to stop him from eating you alive!”

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“Sigh…”

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“There’s that Grizzly bear again Kym!”

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“Hang on…I will get him for you!”

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“Narf7 saves the day! Another crisis averted…my job here is done!” 😉

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“Hmmm…Frank Zappa said “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow”…”

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“No yellow here!”

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“MMMMM Snow!”

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“AAAHHHH BRAIN FREEZE!”

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“Here’s lookin’ at YOU Kym (kid)”

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Anyone can make a snowman…we made a snow duck :o)

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Just to show you how far away Kym was standing because of my AWESOME ability to throw snowballs 😉

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At the summit…Kym decides to become a Kymscimo or is that a Kymcycle?

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Almost frozen to death after waiting for Kym to find her keys (again…)

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Look…Bjork! (and yes…I am thinking about renting Kym out for impersonations…any takers?)

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Bezial waiting for his new BESTEST EVER friend to get back from Hobart

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Me trying to stop Bezial from drowning Kym in slobber while Earl looks on

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Kym fitting in on Serendipity Farm completely 🙂

How was that for a post? A bit different to usual and a bit later than usual but we have a delicious roast chook dinner to cook with roasted veggies, gravy and a HUGE homemade sponge cake to decorate for Kym’s 50th birthday TODAY FOLKS! Feel free to wish her happy birthday through the blog here as she will be here for the next few days (albeit plastered). Now that we are both 50 we are free to be as reprobated as we want to, in fact, we tag teamed on some wineries today and they didn’t know what hit them…”Look out Launceston…you’re next!” ;). See you all next Wednesday when I may (or may not) have recovered from Kym’s visit. I doubt Kym will EVER recover from her visit…sorry Bruce, she might be a shallow husk of the woman that you sent away but she certainly had a good time! 😉

Of Loss and Learning

Hi All,

If it hadn’t been for Saturday, today’s post would have amounted to about a sentence and the word “Rotoscoping”. Our latest assessment has us glued to the computer for hours at a time hand drawing over the top of individual video cells. 200 cells to be precise in order to yield 10 seconds (precisely!) of swf file that will give you a tiny window into insanity. Steve has been helping a friend renovate his mother’s house and that means that non-technological narf7 has been left in charge of the technology. A dark day indeed! On the positive side, I have learned a great deal from my solo career, the most important lesson being that of “never EVER let Steve go!” He might leave his clothes scattered all over the bedroom floor…he might drop bits of log on the pathway between the wheelbarrow and the wood basket…he might “half do” just about EVERYTHING but he is a genius when it comes to technology and I, most certainly, am NOT. I spent an entire day twiddling my thumbs because I attempted to open up a video in Adobe Media Encoder and managed somehow to click a button that changed the look of the program so I could no longer follow the video instructions given to us by our lecturer. Helplessness to the max and no amount of temper tantrums would open that little black secret box! I had to wait till Steve got in, tired and filthy from peeling wallpaper, to find that all I had to do was click a single button and that the video that was tantalisingly close to me was just “there” again.

Here’s a Youtube link to hear just how HIDEOUS my voice is. If this goes viral I am going to need therapy! I hand drew all of the artwork in this video. The art is the star, the voice is something to be endured 😦

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_ZzTvgHijE&feature=share

Adobe Flash is fun folks. I love it. There are so many possibilities to be creative but we have hit a section of Flash where fun ceases and hard graft takes over. It’s called Rotoscoping and it has just consumed the last 3 days of our lives. Rotoscoping is where some poor schmuck (that would be we humble middle aged penniless student hippies) has to sit for hours on end individually hand drawing over the top of video still cells. To add to the tension, because Steve has been AWOL he had to work all weekend on his Rotoscoping assessment. We had to first take a short video (maximum 10 seconds) with audio and convert it into a format whereby we could insert it into Adobe Flash. After that we have to render it rotoscoped, then reinsert the audio file and erase the original video cells so that what we are left with is our hand drawn animation with sound. We also have to add a background but that is incidental to the hard work. The notes said that it was a 12 hour task. The notes lied. Steve spent the best part of 36 hours straight Rotoscoping his video and because we only have 1 computer with Adobe on it, I had to wait my turn. I sent a missive off to our lecturer informing him that my rotoscoped video is going to have to wait and why. Here’s hoping he understands and it’s kind of too bad if he doesn’t really 😉

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Steve took this shot with my trusty camera right before it ran out of batteries. It didn’t help that he accidentally shot a video before this but this is just to show you how cold it was out where he was collecting wood this morning. The limbs in the foreground were actually frozen!

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This is on the same property after it warmed up a bit. The grass is frosty and the weather is frigid but when the sun shines you just can’t feel sorry for yourself in Winter 🙂

I would like to make it officially known that I am OVER VIRUSES! Our free AVG appears to have given up the ghost and no longer upgrades. I guess you get what you pay for and they are starting to give you less and less in order to try to force you to buy their service. Steve clicked on a camera information site the other day and got 3 Trojans that took half a day to get rid of. I was eating my breakfast and decided to check out the news for the day and I got 2 Trojans from a decision to read about the new royal baby. AVG has officially worn out Its welcome in our home and I hereby give notice to the hackers, the spammers, the complete and utter gits who feel the need to invade other people’s personal information and generally make the internet a pain in the derrière to navigate that we are trotting off tomorrow to get Kaspersky to lay some smack down on their bottoms! “Bring it on you nasty little reprobates…we will be ready for you!” Just a quick note, we now HAVE Kaspersky locked and loaded onto our trusty PC steed and I have to say, it actually makes our PC run faster! “Bring it on invaders…we have brought in the big guns!”

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A shameless photo of Earl indulging in the demon liquor! I am sorry to say he LOVES IT…

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He might be hung over but he is MOST interested in this interesting package that I received this morning…I am not going to open it till my birthday. Thankyou from the bottom of my little black ducky heart Christi and Keith. If it is what I think it is, I am going to treasure every single spoonful down to the last. I will run my finger around the jar when it has been completely spent of its hallowed contents and I will treasure the jar along with it’s fellow countrymen. I could almost amass a tiny army of them and I love each and every one :). Hugs and love from your twin in Sidmouth and I can’t wait till my birthday breakfast…guess what I am going to have on toast? 🙂

On a sadder note, Pingu is no longer with us :o(. Pingu was Steve’s little hen that he rescued from certain death when he found her almost lifeless as an abandoned chick in the outside chook compound. He used a hairdryer to warm her and then raised her in his music room. She was never entirely normal after that and Earl tried to dispatch her 3 times. She was always living on borrowed time and spent her days scurrying out of the way of the other hens and wandering around near the back gate trying to work out how to get back inside where the warm light was and the free grain. She met a most sad and ironic death at the hands of someone who has been dead for 3 years and therein lies a tale…

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Steve doing his level best to look like Sid Vicious whilst tempting Earl with his favourite fruit “eggs”. Note the view that I have out my window. It’s not hard to get Steve to do the dishes 😉

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Earl will do tricks for eggs. Bezial is sitting nicely in the hope that good behaviour is going to get HIM an egg and Steve is attempting to be a teapot apparently…”Love that hair babe! Who needs hair gel when you can have wallpaper paste instead? ;)”

3 years ago my father died. My father was a conundrum of a man. He was bolshie to the core and proud of it. He was erasable, he was ornery, he was just about every kind of irritating and frustrating at times but his worst quality was his abrogation of responsibility. Dad knew he had cancer when he purchased a young vital Curly haired retriever that he named Milo. He knew that he wasn’t going to last till Milo passed away and just assumed that Steve and I would take Milo on when he died. He told us that we were going to inherit Milo and as the child of a bolshie man, I felt the need to put my foot down and make it known that if we wanted a dog, it was going to be OUR choice of dog and not dad’s! Bezial was purchased, in part, to stem the tide of “Milo”. Dad, being dad, spent his days alternating between indulging Milo and yelling at him. Milo, being the bone headed mutt that he was had NO idea what was expected of him and so ended up confused, neurotic and more than a little irritating. When dad died some “friends” who owed dad a lot of money came out of the woodwork and said that they would take Milo. We thought that it was because they thought it was a way to pay him back for the money that they owed him but we have since found out otherwise.

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Some of the ingredients chosen to make vegan Bibimbap a Korean dish that I LOVE.

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I home dried those large regular mushrooms from the stash that I got ages ago in our mushroom compost. The other mushrooms are cloud ear fungus. They add a delicious crunch and some nutrition to any dish that you add them to

Dad was in the habit of “promising” people things…dropping little hints about how wealthy he was and how he would “see you right” and this resulted in him picking up vultures like ticks. He had a “girlfriend” who evaporated like so much smoke after he died but who was armament (before he died) that he absolutely positively HAD to marry her because she adored the ground that he walked on… he also had some fair weather friends who stuck like glue to the honeypot and who were loath to give up their free source of money. Unfortunately for Milo, the people that took him were the worst of the bunch. We think they thought that dad was going to leave money in his will to take care of Milo. He was locked in an outside garage for 3 years and only let out on very rare occasions. Every time he was let out he would return here and Steve would put a leash on him and take him back. The woman who took him never seemed to have a problem with that until exactly 3 years to the day after dad died and Milo started making repeat appearances on the property within days of each other. Steve took him back and the woman screamed at Steve to “Get off my property!” and “He only goes to your place because you feed him!” and other such crazy talk. Steve was gobsmacked to say the least because every other time she just took Milo back. It would seem that they have suddenly realised that there isn’t any money in Milo. They have also apparently stopped feeding him. He is rake thin and starving. He has been up to our property 7 times in the last month and after Steve’s screaming match with the woman I have been taking him back. I got screamed at too but I told her that I didn’t want to fight with her, dropped Milo off and just walked away from her mid tirade.

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The reconstituted cloud ear fungus along with a plate with tofu, thin sliced veggies, reconstituted regular mushrooms and some bamboo shoots in chilli oil and some fermented tofu. Just a note folks…take it VERY easy if you ever decide to walk on the wild side and try fermented tofu. It’s a most definite “acquired taste”. I think it might be a cold day in hell before I eat it again!

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My daughters have sauces that they purchased from a local Asian supermarket for their bibimbap but I didn’t have any so decided to wing it. I did have gochujang, the Korean chilli sauce that adds delicious spicy piquancy to everything that you use it with and so added ginger, garlic etc. to make my own. Here’s a link to a good recipe for Bibimbap sauce if you would like to make your own…

http://www.food.com/recipe/kochujang-sauce-190227

The last time that I took him back she threatened to call the police on me if I came near her property. Hard to bring “her dog” back when I can’t go near her property and it became more and more obvious that she was attempting to get us to take over responsibility for Milo…to deal with a problem that she no longer wanted. Milo is a lovely dog. He is pure bred, he is handsome, he is now incredibly well behaved and he walks amazingly well on a leash. He would make some family a stunning pet. I walked home from my last altercation with “the fishwife” and called the police myself. The advised me not to take Milo back and to call the ranger. We associated “ranger” with pounds and dogs being put to sleep and we didn’t want to go down that road so we tried to take Milo back as close to her house as we could get without being seen and release him. It didn’t work. Why would he want to go back to being locked in a shed with no food? On Saturday at lunchtime we were working inside when Earl went ballistic. We know Earl’s “Milo alarm” sound and Steve sighed…

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This is a metre long home made sausage. It is also part of my kitchen but the sausage is the star. That tiny little “thing” next to the metre long sausage is Steve’s idea of a bit of fun. He filled the remaining sausage casing with water and kept leaving it around where I would find it…nothing like an adolescents sense of humour to keep the spark in your relationship 😉

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The sausage rolled up in the style of boerwors sausage…note Steve’s “rubber Johnny”…sigh…

We had also been advised over the telephone, by a lawyer to not take Milo back and to see if he would go back himself. We waited, hostage, inside with our dogs for 3 hours while Milo roamed around the property eating old dead wallaby bones out the back and sniffing all over the place. We felt frustrated and upset by the whole situation and suddenly Earl started to bark at the back door and Steve headed over to see what the commotion was all about. The last we saw of Pingu was Milo carrying her off in his mouth down a pathway on the property :o(. We raced outside but he was gone and by the pile of feathers outside she was dead. He had apparently taken another hen as well because there was another pile of feathers in another area so I looked at Steve and said “That’s IT!”. It takes a fair bit to get me really angry folks. I dabble in minor explosions but when my ire is truly up I make Vesuvius look tame. Steve knows better than to say anything and just grabbed his jacket and followed me out the door. We were most of the way up the road (on foot) when our friend’s partner drove up behind us and after we had explained what happened, decided to drive us up to deal with the fishwife. For a while she refused to come out of her house, then she saw our friend and decided that as we had witnesses she wouldn’t go down her usual screaming track and instead headed back inside her house and slammed the door…it was ON!

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Steve cutting the casing from the end of the boerwors style sausage that he is just about to cook for his tea

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After skewering the sausage to ensure it didn’t manage to get out of the oven it ended up being very tasty. We will be experimenting with making different kinds of sausages from now on. They are much cheaper and better quality than regular supermarket or butchers sausages and you can customise them however you like. This variety had Asian flavouring with chilli and mixed herbs and Steve gave them his (fussy) tick of approval 🙂

We headed back home where we detained Milo in our shed. We then called the police and were amazed when they sent someone around! He headed off to the fishwife’s home but strangely and most curiously, there wasn’t anyone in (although we had been there not 10 minutes before 😉 ). He then told us that we were within our rights to contain Milo and that he would phone up the on call ranger to come and get him. Steve and I looked at each other but by now it was too far gone for us to stop Milo being taken to the pound. We know that this is EXACTLY what the fishwife wants. She wants to not only be abrogated of responsibility for Milo, but to make it “our fault” that he gets put down. She didn’t factor in the ranger being an animal lover. We got a call from the ranger at 4pm. He told us that he would pick Milo up the next morning and that we could feed him and keep him in our shed. Steve headed out with a big bowl of dog biscuits that our dogs won’t eat (too fussy) and Milo scoffed them down in 10 seconds flat. It was very sad to see and we don’t blame the poor dog for killing our chooks…he was starving.

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My new kettle. The old one was threatening a melt down and this one has a very thick base and a whistle that is more melodic than manic. I LOVE IT 🙂

We talked to the ranger and filled him in on the situation and the next morning he turned up at 9am at the bottom of the drive to pick him up. Steve and I were waiting with Milo on a lead. He kept looking up at us and licking Steve’s hand. We felt awful. When the ranger arrived he told us that as Milo was micro chipped to dad (the fishwife was stupid enough to get his rego changed but too lazy to fill out forms to have the microchip changed into her name) that officially he didn’t have to contact the fishwife and could go to plan B. He said that after 5 days in the pound that Milo would be sent to the RSPCA for rehousing. That made Steve and I VERY happy. It’s what should have happened 3 years ago but for the greed and avarice of a false friend. To ensure that the fishwife didn’t reclaim Milo (which she is apparently entitled to do) he is going to wave a series of prospective fines at her for allowing her dog to roam unlicensed that should eventuate in her signing Milo over to the ranger rather than torturing the poor dog more than he has already had to endure. We refused our right to complain about Milo killing Pingu and another hen. If we had, he would have been put into a different category. As far as we are concerned, he did it because he was starving and who knows what we would do if put in the same situation?

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I just found this picture that I took of some gochujang, the paste that I use to make Bibimbap sauce. Just thought you might like to see it so that if you want to give this dish a go for yourself you can

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Another Korean paste made from miso and flavoured with garlic, spring onions and sesame seeds. It is really delicious and adds a lot of flavour to healthy Korean dishes

The ranger drove off with Milo and is going to keep us informed of the situation. It turns out that not only is the ranger a very nice, animal loving man, but he comes from Devon in the U.K., his father was from Liverpool (Steve’s home-town) and he lived in Western Australia (MY hometown) for many years. We had a lot in common and that certainly helped to grease the wheels for looking out for Milo’s welfare. I can’t believe that someone would be able to disregard the life of something in order to get money. I know it happens. It happens every day. My father inherited a lot of money from his partner when she died and he managed to fritter a most of it away on fair weather friends and a series of useless causes. It was his right to do whatever he wanted with his wealth but it did nothing towards making his life happy. His money ended up being a milestone around his neck because he didn’t realise that money is a means to an end, not something to be held in high esteem and used to affect power over other people. It always ends up turning around and biting you. It’s easy to say that from a penniless student hippy point of view. We don’t have money and so it is easy to negate its importance. When money buys you fishwife you would be better off without it folks! The huge irony is that despite Earl getting hold of Pingu 3 times and plucking her within an inch of her life, she always managed to get away. It took dad’s dog from the past to take her out. She was officially unscared of dogs thanks to Bezial roaming free with me in the mornings and not bothering the chooks. She would peck at seed and he would sniff her. The last time I saw Pingu she was trotting along next to Milo at the side of Steve’s shed, oblivious to her fate. I hope it was quick :o(. I found some feathers on the pathway down to the front gate. I brought them back with me and put them into my feather stash that I have on the deck. Pingu finally made it posthumously back into the fold.

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A tray of homemade potato wedges…potatoes go hand in hand with winter…note the “sampled” spud over to the left 😉

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Bezial pretending to be fast asleep so I will leave him alone. Winter is a great time for dogs to laze around on rocker recliner chairs next to the fire…it’s a dogs life here folks!

That’s about all I have to share with you today folks. As I mentioned, aside from Saturday, it was a manic week spent scratching out cells on videos and scratching my head trying to work with technology that is more bolshie than I am. Have a great week and see you next week where I might share the 10 second video that Steve took 3 solid days to make.

Exploring the parameters

Hi All,

It’s 5.11am on Tuesday and I should be reading my exploding rss feed reader but with 400+ posts all shrieking for my attention I am starting to feel like a worker in a day-care centre. I have decided to make a start on tomorrows post before tomorrow creeps up and starts howling along with the rest of them. We are entering an interesting phase on Serendipity Farm…our studies are a meeting away from finishing for the year. We are just about to say goodbye to 4 years of horticultural study and head into the unknown and previously unexplored world of art and design but until February we are free agents with only our own wanton desires to harness our guilt valves and our desires run to various activities on Serendipity Farm. A little while ago we were incredibly lucky to take possession of 2 large rolls of ex-fish farm netting from the salmon farm around the corner from here. They have to regularly replace it and after they remove the lead weights from around the base that keep the hungry seals from scarfing their profit margin they haul the rolls out into the paddock and anyone in the know can have them for free. We recently reacquainted ourselves with a couple of estranged friends and gave them a plethora of plants that we were never going to be able to plant on Serendipity Farm. I wanted them to have a life because we propagated them with love and they were languishing in their pots and needed to be planted out before they gave up the ghost in our extended rain free summer. Our friends were very grateful for their newfound plant wealth and asked us what we were up to on Serendipity Farm. We told them that we were in the process of harnessing our chicken population for “good” but were waiting till we were able to accumulate the funds to build the enclosure needed to keep them inside rather than outside and that was when Guy mentioned that he knew where we could get some free netting…the start of an adventure! I have always found that generosity breeds generosity. Like most islands Tasmania relies on a few core industries and recently one of those industries lost its fight to rein supreme. The forest industry is in the process of bowing out of their monopoly but in the process they are taking their jobs with them and leaving behind a bewildered and jobless population. Money is a rare commodity and people are starting to learn the value of a good swap. These rolls of net that Steve picked up a few weeks ago are 20 metres long and 10 metres wide each. We have been promised more of them and after unrolling a roll yesterday I suddenly realised how massive they were. We should get our chook enclosure out of a single roll and visions of my friend in the witness protections fully enclosed garden are dancing like sugarplums in my head…

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Talking about my friends garden, isn’t this clematis lovely? We visited our friend who shall not be named the other day and I took some photos of her garden progress and her wonderful new fully enclosed vegetable garden

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Isn’t this Kalmia latifolia commonly known as mountain laurel, calico bush or spoonwood lovely? Our friend in the witness protection picked this lovely shrub up for a song at a small local nursery

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A closeup of the beautiful flowers.

I can feel the boundaries of the cultivated suddenly gaining possibilities that previously existed only in my mind…in the sad, tired, almost defeated part of my mind along with the “chook” and “feral cat” categories that have been sitting on the “too hard” fence for a while now. Being a penniless hippy is one thing…being an impatient penniless hippy makes it harder. Steve and I have an insatiable appetite for being able to make and do things for ourselves but sometimes even the most pressing desires have to be tempered by the need for some kind of input and whether that input is monetary and we have to shake the moths out of our moth eaten sock under the bed to get what we want or a matter of logistics there is usually an unbearable waiting period that accompanies the process. Steve and I are not country folk. We haven’t learned the value and indeed the necessity of waiting for what we want. Living in the country teaches you harsh lessons…living in Tasmania, where there actually are 4 seasons also teaches you about cycles and change and life in a way that was previously easy to skim over the top of. Sometimes you just can’t change the boundaries no matter how much you try and you just have to wait. When you ask your deity for something you may just have to wait for a response. I tend to let my wants and needs merge together and with a bit of faith that someday they will emerge triumphant they usually do. Before we can really sort out our garden areas we need to remove the ever industrious chooks from the equation. Their unfettered population is going to be minimised and reduced down to a core egg producing population and Yin will get a free ride because he is such an amazing rooster who is completely selfless. After we build this (now possible) chook run over the next few days we will be able to take back Serendipity Farm from the chooks.

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Isn’t this black sambucca lovely? You can catch a glimpse of the new enclosed veggie garden in the rear of the photo

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I really love how our friend has used hardy perennials and shrubs in her garden along with rocks sourced from her property. Not too long ago this entire area was a flat wasteland…under water in winter and dry and rock solid in summer. Our friend is working steadfastly and refused to allow this monumental task to overwhelm her and her garden is really starting to reflect all of that hard work

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Our friend in the witness protection with her grandson Dylan. You can see her families water supply in the background in that big green tank. Her family are completely off the grid with complete solar power, tank water and no telephone line to their home and are certainly no worse off for their lack of utilities

That’s phase 1. Next we need to protect what we want to keep alive and growing from the invading possum and wallaby hoards. I managed to grow a borage plant this year. I remember borage in my grandma’s garden and had an altogether nostalgic desire to have one in my own garden. I saw some growing in an area of wasteland and transplanted one of the small seedlings into the front garden where it promptly died BUT it must have seeded before it croaked and I got a nice healthy borage plant growing where its stunted parent dropped it the year before. It was going great guns until the wallabies decided to take a sample and found it “tasty”. I am now the sad owner of a borage stalk. It joins the ranks of the Nepeta 6 hills giant stalks…the dwarf elm stalks…the rapidly decreasing ornamental grass stumps and the repeatedly harvested back to growing point ground covers that I am attempting to utilise to minimise soil moisture loss in the front garden. Between the chooks scratching my pitiful attempts to mulch around what I love and the wallabies and possums hell bent on eating the water stressed root exposed remains I am bordering on being a broken horticulturalist. With the possibility of more rolls of netting I am starting to get excited again…I have visions. I have visions of a place where the small existing orchard is covered and unattainable to the wandering slavering hoards and they can only cling tenaciously to the boundaries licking the netting like children outside a sweet shop. I have visions of being able to walk into a fully enclosed vegetable tunnel that can be converted in the winter to increase our growing season…I have visions of being able to make attractive netted fencing around Steve’s adored Japanese maple collection that doesn’t make my newfound internal artist wince when I look at the motley collection of chook food bags and bird netting cobbled together in haste to protect them…as usual…needs must at the time but once the necessity becomes a certainty, a fella’s mind runs to aesthetics…

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Our friends home behind the beginnings of what is going to eventually be a Laburnum walkway using Laburnum vosii

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Our friend looks after one of her other friends rescued donkeys. You can see Tasmanian native bushland in the background

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Isn’t this new little baby sweet?

Steve had a day off walking today because he did a glute (or whatever the leggy bit that joins to a glute is called…) when he was rolling up the massive heavy roll of ex-fish farm netting the other day. Bezial didn’t mind staying home because he was being plied with home-made dog jerky when Earl and I headed out the door. It rained last night and the bushland smelled amazing. The sun was shining and Earl and I set off with “Born to be wild” as our ethos and decided to head down the highway and look for a bit of adventure of our own. Steve doesn’t like walking down the highway on a week day because it’s pretty busy and there are lots of trucks but Earl and I are rebels and could care less about trucks whistling past us at breakneck speed. We collected a couple of empty soft drink bottles for our next and final lecture with Nick. I have to say that Nick has been a brilliant lecturer. He really pushed us to excel and gave us a new appreciation for deserved praise. Part horticulturalist, part psychologist and part Hitler, he certainly knew which of our buttons to push to get the best out of us. Kudos to this wonderful lecturer who genuinely loves to teach. They say that those who can…do and those who can’t…teach but this is a massive disservice to most of the teachers that I know who are in it for the long haul and you could completely understand an edge of desperation in their populace here in Tasmania where one in two people can’t read or write adequately and where education is so far down the hierarchy of importance in a Tasmanian’s day to day perambulations that it ranks after having to eat their own feet. Another old saying comes to mind…”you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink” and that echo’s the conundrum that many passionate lecturers over our state would feel when faced with a class full of students who are ill prepared to learn.

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I am incredibly envious of our friends bargain kettle that she picked up at a local market. This kettle is wonderful and if you look at the side of it closely you can see an envious woman taking a photo 😉

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This lovely Acer pseudoplatanus ‘Leopoldii’ (variegated sycamore) has so far resisted the local wildlife and has certainly given us the impetus to get our little specimen out into the ground on Serendipity Farm. Our friends specimen was much smaller than ours last year and now its at least 7 times bigger!

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Isn’t this enclosed veggie garden wonderful? I am green with envy! BLUE with envy…just like that ex tennis court netting that our friends clever repurposing partner decided to use to protect their vegetables from the marauding hoards

We have decided to adjust our dog’s diet to ensure that they are getting enough fibre. I don’t like proprietary dog biscuits because they contain ingredients that are based on profit margins rather than the health of their consumers. That leaves me with having to find a way to include fibre in their diets through something that I have made. I need to point out that I am not a bad cook. In a past life I made my living out of preparing other people’s food so our 2 American Staffordshire terriers complete refusal of their evening meal every second night is nothing to do with my degustatory abilities and a whole lot more to do with how incredibly fussy they are. Amstaffs are naturally very strong willed and our two are no exception. Bezial is part labrador and aside from liking to head out into water up to his armpits and gaze wistfully out to sea in search of the illusion of a partridge and his predilection for enormous quantities of food you would think that he was predominately an Amstaff thanks to his complete disregard for his long suffering owners who are making windmill arms at him and yelling out his name at the top of their lungs while he wanders off, nose to the ground with purpose…Earl is an entirely different kettle of fish and actively avoids the water unless the weather is hot. He has a very finely honed sense of what is right…HE is right…the end. Living with 2 strong willed dogs isn’t much different to living with strong willed children and I have had more than my fair share of strong willed children. I can actually physically hear them all roaring in protest at that sentence but you know what kids? You WERE strong willed…and so was I :o). Whenever the dogs start to lay down the law…I gird my loins and take my years of parenting battles to the negotiating table where they attempt to negotiate and I point blank refuse to yield my territory…it took me years to gain this tiny little bit of ground and I am NOT giving it up for 2 stubborn dogs! Thus begins the battle…no problem on night 1. A large bowl of prime pet grade steak for each of them which usually disappears before I have turned away to wash their cutting board. Its night number 2 where we have the problem. I recently decided to put steak into the food processor and add it to wholemeal plain flour and several grated carrots which I kneaded together and pressed out into a biscuit (yes to my American friends that would be “cookie” in your strange language… 😉 )tray that Steve then takes out and cooks on the bbq. The end result would be eagerly consumed by just about anyone. It looks like meatloaf…it smells like meatloaf…I dare say it tastes like meatloaf but Steve is a party pooper and refuses to try it for me ;). To the dogs it is sheer unmitigated poison and every time I serve it to them they turn up their noses…look at me with seal eyes and head off to lie on the ground at a distance but still within sight so that I can see just how cruel I am being to them, sighing as heavily as they can. The battleground line has been drawn and I SHALL NOT BE DEFEATED! No pity from me! No giving in to their grumbling stomachs in the morning and no giving them extra treats on their walks because they are obviously hungry. What we are trying to serve them every second night is what other dogs would fight to get. Ours are incredibly spoiled fussy buggers who are going to have to learn to eat their fibre like everyone else. I will keep you posted on how it goes but I can bet that they are still refusing their fibre rich tea by the end of the week. I didn’t think that there was anything more wilful and stubborn than my 3 children but you know what? There is! 😉

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This ancient little reprobate is called Tilly. She is the feisiest old girl (aside from Glad) that we know and in this photo you can see her actively rolling around and doing her level best to stop Steve from taking her photo to share with Nat 🙂

I love having leftovers, especially frozen leftovers. It appeals to my frugal bones as well as to my lazy bones and on nights where we have been busy or unexpectedly diverted from our regular activities it is great to have leftovers to fall back on. Even after 2 years of living on Serendipity Farm and leaving our adult daughters behind in our home in town I STILL haven’t gotten used to cooking smaller portions. I think the problem stems from Steve being Omni and me being vegan. It hardly seems worth cooking a single portion so I cook for 4 and Steve ends up with lots of leftovers which we are able to stockpile for unexpected events. I will be heading off to my daughter’s home in Launceston this weekend. We are having a mum and daughter bonding weekend and Steve, Earl and Bezial will be doing some bonding themselves…the girls and I will cook and watch movies and talk etc. and Steve and the dogs will turn feral in the few short days that I am away. I am only mentioning this because I won’t be here to post my Saturday post and Steve will have to do it for me. We have been having a battle with our duck who has decided that she doesn’t want to have the shackles of oppression thrust upon her person by having us lock her in with her fellow chook brethren and who has been hiding amongst the agapanthus where Steve couldn’t find her. I hear her quacking early in the morning in readiness for me throwing out bread and butter to the feral chooks that live in the large conifer out the front of the house. Once we erect the extended chook run we are going to give away 2/3rd of our chooks. We don’t want to give them to just “anyone” because the odds are that these prime egg laying girls will be eaten. I would rather give them to someone who wanted to keep chooks for their eggs and who wanted to give them a good home. If any of my Tassie readers know of anyone who fits that bill, we have some lovely chooks looking for a good home. Please let us know as we are not too sure what to do with 20 chooks! Our REAL problems start when we try to rehouse the ferals who steadfastly refuse to move into the coop with the rest of the chooks. We know where they roost at night and it won’t be hard to sneak in there and nab them but what do we do with them then? I am sorely tempted to toss them over the fence of the unscrupulous woman who sold us “8 hens” and who told us that she was CERTAIN that they were all hens…she has her own karma and is currently overrun by chooks and most probably wouldn’t notice a few extra’s but I couldn’t do that to my chooks no matter how much they infuriate me (and no matter how much she deserves them back! 😉 ) so like everything else on Serendipity Farm, they have to be dealt with A.S.A.P.

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This photo has the sole purpose of reminding me that it does, indeed, rain on Serendipity Farm. I will be looking at this photo wistfully on a regular basis through our coming 3 months of dry weather to give me hope that one day…it will rain again

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Steve…Jack of all trades and master of whatever he turns his hand to ensuring that this pole isn’t going to be the weak spot in our war against chook invasions on Serendipity Farm

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Some of the poles that we dug into the rocks soil on Serendipity Farm yesterday in readiness for our wholesale chook control in the very near future

Don’t forget to send a comment our way if you would like to win the handmade Blackwood spoon that Steve made specifically for this giveaway and from timber sourced from Serendipity Farm. No bells to ring, hoops to jump through or Facebook pages to like, just let me know and you will be in with a chance. He put the final coat of delicious smelling orange eco-oil on it and it has a lovely satin finish and feels and smells wonderful. You have until December 22nd to let us know and go into Earl’s walnut lotto which we plan on videoing and sharing with you all for posterity (and complete transparency 😉 ). See you next Wednesday and remember that Steve is posting my post on Saturday so go easy on him or you will have me to deal with next week! 😉

Making your choices count

Hi All,

I belong to a couple of survey sites and am occasionally sent surveys to complete online and yesterday I was asked several questions about how happy I was with my lot. As I worked my way through the questions I thought about how very lucky we are to be living the life that we have here on Serendipity Farm. Most of the questions were a selection between two polar opposite answers and for most of them I was genuinely able to choose the positive option. Prior to inheriting Serendipity Farm from dad, we were living a somewhat aimless life as nomadic students. We lived in one of my dad’s rentals that was empty and studied in an attempt to gain a foothold in the job market in a state where 34% of the population live on welfare payments. Tasmania is a desperate state. Anyone who wants to throw a few dollars around here can pretty much do whatever they like because both of our major political parties are desperate for solutions to our own tiny island GFC that defies Australia’s robust economy.  We are a state on the edge and employment here is not a given right, but a lucky break.  As I waded through my survey choosing my answers I thought about how a simple stroke of luck took us from a spiral of increasing bills with a stagnant income to a place where we get to make choices. I heard on the news that people receiving government payments are living below the poverty line. As students, Steve and I receive the lowest payments on the government payment line and are considerably below the poverty line…so why was I choosing the positive answers from a survey obviously designed to test the waters of debt in Australia? The answer is very simple… because I AM happy.

One of the overgrown grevillea shrubs on the property

A prostanthera ovalifolia/native mint bush, one of 3 overgrown specimens down in the jungle part of the garden

I didn’t get happy overnight. I spent a fair bit of my life feeling adrift and separate and unconnected. It was only when I started to make choices about what I did with my life that it suddenly started to fall into place. Choosing a goal (studying) and working through to where we are now has given us choices. We have gone from statistics to anomalies in a single fell swoop. We are no longer welfare victims; we are people who choose to live simply. We don’t see ourselves as “poor” because the life that we choose to lead is rich with possibility, choice, pathways and self-governance. When we chose to take positive steps towards living a more sustainable life we started to remove obstacles to happiness and even though everything about our lifestyle should shriek “fear” and “unhappiness”, the steps that we are putting into place to amend Serendipity Farm from the soil up are going to build positive changes at every stage to allow us to live a simple and debt free life. We are debt free by choice but Serendipity Farm gave us back a whole lot more than being debt free. We have somewhere to call home, to grow our own food, to implement energy saving and water saving techniques and to start a series of cycles incorporating permaculture principals that will live on long after we are gone. The future is nothing but positive when you take control of your choices and you choose to live simply and discover that happiness doesn’t come out of a wallet, it is a state of mind.

A large Mahonia aquifolium against one of the large palms in the jungle part of the garden. You can see why I am expecting to see monkeys whenever I head down into this part of the garden

The Mahonia has wonderful blue fruit and lovely bright yellow flowers along with spiky banksia looking leaves which makes it a striking and hardy specimen for water wise gardens

I finally got around to bleeding my rss feed reader of all of the blogs that I didn’t really need to be reading. Most of them were food porn and as each delicious morsel checked out of my reading list it was difficult to let them go. I am a prolific commenter. I believe that people who write blogs give us a special part of themselves. They sit there, week after week, month after month thinking of insightful things to titillate us and educate us. Some of these blogs were works of art. The photography alone was drool worthy. As a vegan I had no use for some of these blogs. They positively dripped butter and triple layers cheesy meaty goodness but I lusted after them because they were simply beautiful. Someone out there thought enough of their unseen readers to put that much effort into what is effectively a diary. It takes very little time to give people positive comments about all of that effort. Whenever I get an especially exciting recipe from a blog, or a beautifully written post, I have to tell the poster that their work has hit home and feedback is part of the reason why we blog and to connect with strangers is delightful. Many of my dear constant readers are now long distance friends. All of your blogs are still gracing my rss feed reader and your posts are awaited with glee. I deleted posts that were not relevant to me “right here and now” and even then, I lamented their loss. When you have 600+ posts a day to wade through, you know that you need to do SOMETHING to remedy the problem and the problem is that I am greedy when it comes to wonderful blogs. I know that I haven’t even tickled the surface of the blog world. There are glorious blogs out there that I am not even aware of. I found one the other day that was cram packed full of amazing Chinese recipes for how to make all sorts of wonderfully exotic things from scratch including making your own starch noodles, spring roll wrappers, all sorts of amazing Chinese pastes, condiments, pastries and all sorts of steaming techniques and it opened up my eyes to getting a real handle on Chinese cooking that I hadn’t even thought relevant to my kitchen. I can see all sorts of steamed buns, gowgees, chilli oils and water roux’s in my kitchens future now all thanks to a lady who I will never meet who is generous enough with her time to share her precious knowledge with me personally. The internet allows us all to be authors and our viewing public votes on how good we are by liking, commenting and following us. THAT is why I comment. Because what you are doing is precious to me and I value every single comment that teaches me something that I don’t already know.

Sorry about the blue jellyfish in this shot but I just wanted to show you the 2 Tasmania varieties of Telopea truncata/Waratah, one light yellow and the other bright red that are in flower at the moment. We have 2 small specimens and after seeing how well they do in our local area we will be planting them out ASAP

A lovely old Cornus kousa rubra that we noticed on one of our walks with the dogs

We have been working our study futures on Serendipity Farm in the last week. We worked on some plans for a drainage system for our course last week and finished off our costing for our Landscaping unit. We are now putting out tentative feelers in the direction of our unit in creating a show design garden but are holding ourselves back because we aren’t yet aware of what our lecturer has in mind for us. That hasn’t stopped us from thinking about our ideas and planning what we want to do. Steve, as gung-ho as ever, has forged ahead, has designed blocks on AutoCAD, has basically formulated his entire garden along with a pencilled in plan for what he wants to do for his concept plan. I have a list of items on a piece of paper. I am a lot more cautious than Steve and would rather wait to see what Nick actually wants us to do BEFORE I commit to hurling myself into action. I love Steve’s idea. We are both working on small courtyard gardens in urban settings (our choice) and although we have worked closely together on most of our units our ideas are wildly different. I have chosen to run with my heartfelt passion for sustainability to design a garden that will combine function and form with simple food growing strategies in the most aesthetically pleasing way possible. I want to integrate water wicking garden beds, vertical gardening (including green walls), aquaponics, composting and worm farming along with lots of other ideas that I have been finding in my research for my project online. Steve has headed off to create a beautiful garden with incredible simplicity that is quite formal but that allows the owner to recreate the garden as they see fit. A very clever idea that got me excited when he was discussing it with me yesterday. We should hear from our chosen area of study next month to see if we are able to get interviews into the art course that we both want to undertake next year. We are very excited about this course because we have been working with horticulture for 4 years now and a sideline off into another discipline, albeit one that is relevant to what we are doing, has us heading into the unknown again. If we both get interviews and we are both selected for what is apparently a highly sought after course, we will be studying all about art and design using the Adobe suite of programs. Having learned to ride AutoCAD like we stole it, we figure that Adobe will soon yield to our combined efforts and we are really looking forward to learning how to manipulate the pictures in our heads and turn them into a visual interpretation of what we want to say…words in pictures…communication…what it’s all about.

A most beautifully constructed stone wall in Beauty Point. The stone is endemic to the local area and Serendipity Farm soil is predominately comprised of this stone so we are thinking about looking into learning how to make dry stone walls and taking the lemons that our soil has handed us and making dry stone wall lemonade!

“Herman” the orphaned magpie before he went to live with the wildlife carer.

Steve and I decided to take a break yesterday from studies to plant some larger maples that have just revealed themselves to BE maples by growing some leaves and ceasing to be nameless sticks in pots. We have all sorts of maple trees, predominately Japanese maples collected from road verges around prolific seeders that started out as tiny seedlings that wouldn’t have made it through their first summer in the gravel and the pathway of oncoming traffic. We have given lots of them away but there is still a forest of them out there to plant and we decided that there are worse things to have a forest of than maples. One of them is an Acer saccharum or sugar maple, a native of the North of North America and Canada and aside from being a beautiful specimen; it has worth as a food producing plant. Global warming might reduce that worth but in my mind’s eye, I can see the glorious colours that a forest of maples interspersed with edible food trees would bring to Serendipity Farm. Perennial food plants and trees that produce food are the best way to shore up your food futures for generations to come. We are like squirrels on Serendipity Farm but we are not collecting nuts, we are planting them. I learned that pecan nuts will grow in Tasmania and now all I have to do is source some. Along with Almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts we can grow a source of energy rich protein that will allow us to make our own oil, flours and pastes and in my case, milks, to add to the food spectrum. Self-seeding annuals, perennial food shrubs like currant bushes and berries, prolific fruiting vines like passionfruit and kiwifruit are all on the cards and knowing that we can guide nature and assist it to give us the eventuality that we want along with gaining positive benefits to the soil, the ecology and the native environment around us has given us the impetus to get stuck into the hard work that it takes to turn 4 acres of neglect into a going concern.

The “Cluckies”…a group of old biddies hell bent on waiting out our enforced eviction from the nesting boxes. They lay in this spot all day waiting for us to reopen the coop doors and scramble to hop back into their empty nests. A sad indictment of a hens desperation to hatch out a clutch of babies…NO MORE BABIES!…sigh…

A tray of dehydrated bananas that might make it to storage but that are so tasty that I might end up eating them before they get put into a jar

The maples that we plucked out of our “pick me…pick me…” pile, were assembled and ready to plant. All we needed to do was pick where we were going to put them. Steve chose an area to dig and I pointed out that the tree was going to grow to a considerable size and that we didn’t want it to take away our view and so perhaps it might be better moved slightly over a bit…I chose a spot and Steve started to dig…and suddenly we had a water spout…a water spout? Yup…we hit a pipe. In effect “I” hit a pipe with my choice. We have been very lucky not to hit one of the networks of black polypipe that spreads like a subterranean system under the soil just about everywhere on Serendipity Farm. The owners prior to my father and his partner were like water seeking moles that were determined not to lose access to water anywhere on the property. There are taps EVERYWHERE and most of them are within 50 metres of another tap and to have missed them up until now is a sheer miracle. The next hour was spent shoring up the system until we head into town next and pick up a more permanent fix for the system and at the moment the pipe is graced by an old metal stopcock that Steve found in the shed. Steve is an amazing Mr Fixit. I thought that country living conditioned you to being able to find solutions to problems but as a city dweller for all of his life, Steve was dumped into the deep end of country living and was able to take what we have on site and work with it to fix just about everything that needs fixing and work out a solution for most of our needs that doesn’t involve the moth eaten sock under the bed. Bedraggled, covered in mud and after flooding one of the chooks predominate nesting spots (that we know about) we looked at the rapidly assembling mass of dark clouds and decided that the maples were just going to have to wait for another day. Sometimes the best laid plans of mice and men are not enough to get your maples planted.

Effel Dookarks daughter in the compound sitting on 12 new fluffy babies

You can see the new fluff balls in this shot as well as Effels daughter AND Effel in the background watching her grandkids

We had a very eventful day today. We decided to walk the dogs in Rowella which we haven’t done in ages but for some reason we decided to do so again. Towards the end of our walk we noticed what we thought was an old bottle in the middle of the road but when we got closer we saw that it was a magpie. Steve’s first thoughts were that the magpie was dead but as we got closer it put its head up and looked at us. Thinking that he was going to have to euthanise the injured magpie Steve was considerably upset but as I walked closer I noticed that the magpie was much smaller than a normal adult magpie and realised that what we thought was an injured magpie was a fledgling that had fallen out of its nest. We decided to remove the little guy from danger as there was a large crow watching him intently and his parents were nowhere to be seen. After rescuing him I put it under my jumper because it was very cold. We got home and put it under an infrared heat lamp that we bought back when we rescued Pingu last year until we could contact an animal rescue centre who told us the name of a lady living in Legana who cares for injured and orphaned wildlife. We were not considering taking another trip to town but we popped the baby into a hay lined shoebox and loaded the dogs into the back of the car and headed in to town. After dropping the baby magpie off we headed into town to pick up a few things that I forgot on the shopping list on Mondays shopping event and to give the dogs another walk around town. We got home and were sitting on the deck having a well-deserved cup of tea and as we were talking I noticed a hen that looked suspiciously like Effel Dookark wandering around outside the compound where we have contained her for her own good with her 2 remaining babies. On closer inspection we realised that Effel was still inside the compound but one of her daughters was wandering around with 12 tiny little fluff balls that she had hatched out in one of the nests that we missed! We managed to shuffle them into the compound with Effel and hopefully she will manage to keep some of them alive longer than her silly mother. As it stands, we have over 50 chooks on Serendipity Farm and it’s time to think about how many chooks we actually need here. 50 might be a tad too many methinks! After a long hard day I think I might let you off a couple of hundred words early and I might call this post finished for today. I think I might be asleep before my head hits the pillow tonight :o). See you all on Saturday.

The best bangers and a mighty tasty calzone

Hi All,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a lovely part of the world we live in 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

Going…going…

Gone!

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

Steve got all artistic today

and again…

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

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

The Al Pacino Chook

Hi All,

It’s 5am and I am peering myopically at the monitor on a sort of manic sleep deprived bender. I am not quite sure who I am, where I am or where I am going and to be honest, I’m not all that sure about you either! What has happened to bring about this alarming transformation? Was my grandad right about aliens preferring to hover around inlets (of which I conveniently live right next to one) and take sleeping bloggers on midnight joy rides? Possibly, but that’s another story and not entirely in the same direction as today’s post. The reason why I am a spaced out twitching early riser is simple…it’s daylight savings again. “But!” I hear you say…”But…didn’t she say that she was getting up an hour earlier a day for the past fortnight to ward off the dreaded daylight savings?”…well…yes indeed I did say that. I said it and I meant it and I adhered to my earlier rising and you know what? I liked having 2 hours all to myself and today my brain told me to wake up at 5am…only recently 4am and read my rss feed reader till my brain caught up with the day. That took a good 3 hours and despite feeling entirely elated (a very short lived feeling thanks to having to then walk an irascible pair of enthusiastic driven dogs) I was floating in a sort of Mr Burns like state in the episode of the Simpsons where they thought that they saw aliens in the woods. It was really Mr Burns spaced out on his drugs but I digress…that’s what I was like this morning and will be like for the next few days till I get used to waking up at the equivalent of 4am in old school (real) time. For a non-morning person I think I am doing pretty well.

The beginnings of our spring roll Chinese aniversary feast…note the madonna cone of noodles gracing the top. We figured you only live once!

One of the Clematis montana climbers on the deck just starting to flower

What happens when your camera decides to overexpose a shot AND what happens when you are too busy to keep an eye on your asparagus futures…they turn into extra big futures that may self seed and provide MORE futures…there are no losers in this story 😉

It’s Monday and today we spent our remaining sunny day this week (as promised by the weather men) sorting through our plants and being ruthless with separating those that we want to keep from those that we wanted to give away. We loaded up our trailer after tidying up the area and minimising our potted babies and shortening the overhead watering system that we had to use last year by half and took the plants that we didn’t want to keep down to a friend’s place to give them a bit of work to do on their property. They had only just finished planting out the last (much smaller) few pots that we gave them and today they got about 50 pots containing everything from Mock Orange (Philadelphus) to apple trees (no good here, the possums hoover the leaves from the trees before they grow!) through to several types of large conifer that we had dug up from under their parents 3 years ago when we were horticulturally “young” and everything green and plant-like was fair game for our trusty trowels. It’s just lucky that our friends are trying to line their creek with trees as we gave them a golden willow that will love living knee deep in a creek. We also have a black willow that they might get in the next trip. Not enough water here to make willows happy chappies so we may as well bite the bullet and give generously. Our friends were overjoyed and very happy with their haul and we were equally happy because we know that these plants that we have tended for the last 2 – 3 years are going to a loving home.

It might just be wishful thinking but these poor possum munched maples do seem to have more leaves since we erected our pseudofence around them

My little string leaved maple that got hit really hard by the marauders…yeh…I know…a horticulturalist should know the botanical name of her plant but whatchagonnadoeh?

Peaches and cream and the 5 leaves that the possums left on this gorgeous maple

Brunhilda lives! The amazing thing is that despite being damped down last night and us not bothering to fire her up all day she is still ready to burst into flame at a moment’s notice and apparently just did. Talk about a loyal kitchen appliance! I read a wonderful blog called “Baking Stuff, Mostly Averagely” (how could you possibly not love a blog called that, especially when she lies and is actually much more than an average baker) who is an expat Aussie living in Old Blighty with a fantastic sense of the vernacular and who has retained her sardonic Aussie wit. This is one of those blogs that I really don’t want to share. I want to keep it all to myself and await new posts eagerly because bursting out into spontaneous laughter at 5.30am doesn’t come naturally to me and anyone who can generate a belly laugh in someone who swore off mornings years ago is a blog to be treasured. I only give you her blog site now because I know she reads my blog and she will take me to task if I omit to share it with you all…don’t be greedy…just 1 suck you guys…the rest is mine! 😉 I mention it because her resident oven is called “Shit oven”. Brunhilda is the polar opposite of shit oven and shall be called “Saint Oven” or as my sister wants to call her when she steals her and ships her over to Western Australia “Black Betty”. Seriously, for a moment, check out this website if you are up for a laugh, a good recipe and a feel good moment to grace your day :o)

http://averagebaker.wordpress.com/2012/10/06/lamb-shanked/

Doesn’t the archway between the first and second gardens look pretty when the choisya ternata comes out. Pretty soon it will be joined by the snowball tree above it and the whole archway will be white

The flowering quince in fine fettle this year

Lots of maples and a few podophyllum

It’s been a weird old week so far. Warm and busy on Monday we planted out all sorts of things, Tuesday brought the ubiquitous return to study and brain melting mathematics as did today. We costed out our entire job and arrived at an unholy sum of $52723.60 and a whole lot of sustainable gardening including water wicking garden beds, a completely water free xeriscape garden planted for habitat and food for native animals and birds, food gardens complete with water tanks to water a xeriscape potager mixed in with some xeriscape perennials to attract beneficials and provide habitat for them. A massive project with an earthbag construction (a bench) alongside a wood fired pizza oven and we could have added MUCH more but a $50 000 budget doesn’t really go all that far when you factor in labour and materials for over half an acre of solid gardening! Mainstream sustainable ISN’T cheap. We are learning so much about planning and what it takes to create and stay in budget. There are 2 sides to every coin and as usual, Steve and I represent both of them. I tend to be the side of the coin that deals with the processes and Steve is the creative side and together we managed to slide through keyholes and out the other side into the secret gardens behind. We now have a unit on drainage to complete and a unit involving each of us creating our own show garden. We are going completely different pathways and Steve’s idea is very different to mine. I am excited that we are going to be able to use what we have learned coupled with our ideals and creative natures to arrive at a garden with a theme. Who knows, one day we might do something like this but I severely doubt it. I can’t see the point of exhibiting yourself when you could be bum’s up in the garden actually effecting change. I did some hunting yesterday and found a pdf about water wicking garden beds that excited me so much that after I had a very impassioned chat with Steve (who knows better than to play devil’s advocate when I am on a roll…) we are going to retrospectively work some water wicking garden beds alongside our fruit trees and into our poly tunnels and outside garden beds. A 50% saving in water is a mighty fine goal to aim for and water wicking promises to cut the cost of water AND give a better result. What’s not to like?

I liked this little design window so much I decided to share another aspect of it with you 🙂

Steve pruned this little Ceanothus last year and it is rewarding him with lots of flowers this year

Pots of redcurrants to plant out along the fencline as lures to the possums to bribe them away from our more precious foodstuffs. I intend on planting LOTS of lures to keep the possums content and fighting for their territory

I just stumbled around the garden taking some photos for you so that my rhetoric has some colour to it. Spring has most definitely sprung on Serendipity Farm and is dragging us kicking and screaming behind it. Earl and Bezial have started laying on the deck in the sunshine with intermittent stints of indoor cooling off before heading out again to bask like seals in the sunshine. Bezial, particularly, loves basking and all through summer he will lay upside down like a beached whale sunning his black belly and then trotting inside and flopping down with his head on the tiles to cool down before his next stint. Earl is a bit more cautious and as a dog with a semi pink nose, he needs to be. We have a tube of flesh coloured zinc that we apply to his pink little snout so that he doesn’t get it sunburned. Last year we also applied it to his pink little nether regions but as they are probably going to be leaving him sometime soon, it probably doesn’t matter too much if they swing about in the sunshine and breeze…let them enjoy themselves, for much like the roosters on Serendipity Farm…their days are numbered!

Earls nose stick and nether region stick when he lays on the deck too long…

The Al Pacino Chook! “Are you looking at me?…”

Talking about Earl, it’s his birthday next month and he will be 2 years old. He is settling down nicely and is actually starting to pay attention especially when I am yelling and my arms are cartwheeling. He has learned that this doesn’t necessarily mean “Game ON!” any more and that there might be bad consequences to these actions. He loves to play a game called “hunt the tiny shard of bone that you are NOT allowed to have in the house but love to bring in anyway as someone is usually going to chase you”. It’s a fun game until they catch you and hurl that shard of bone out onto the deck where you promptly trot outside, find it again and play the fun game all over again. The other night the fun wore off after about 5 times and Earl made a conscious decision NOT to bring the bone back into the house and got treats to reward him for actually using his brain rather than overriding his thought processes and just frolicking about regardless. Earl will get the standard birthday meal on Serendipity Farm. Homemade hamburgers with the lot including bacon, eggs, cheese and enormous burger patties on toast with lots of butter as the bread quotient is not really appreciated if it’s not toasted and slathered with butter. After that, he will get a large layered spongecake covered in cream and usually a few bags of toys to rip up and the odd balloon which in Earl’s case doesn’t last very long at all. 2 in dog years = 14…no WONDER you act the way that you do Earl! I am surprised that you haven’t pinched the car keys and driven off into the sunset with the 4 x 4. It’s also no wonder why Bezial would rather eat his own feet than romp around with Earl…on today’s equations (that might be somewhat off kilter thanks to a day spent mathematically ruminating…) that makes Bezial 35! He would rather be sitting on the couch with a beer watching the footy than running around trying to rid the world of cats.

A white lilac in bloom and a depleted stock of plants that still need to be planted out

One of Steve’s bonsai azaleas

Steve and Bezial are having a bonding day on Friday. Earl and I will be bonding but not by choice, more by necessity. If Steve and Bezial are gone, I had BETTER want to bond with Earl because otherwise he will eat my shoes in boredom. Bezial (apparently completely undirected by Steve) wants to go to the pub and have a beer. He also wants to have a hamburger of his own and go for a long walk in town. Steve has to have a haircut to stop him looking like a scruffy hippy and so it’s a good time for him to spend some quality one on one time with Bezial who has never stopped resenting the fact that he isn’t still numero uno and that we bought first Qi, and now Earl. If he was an only dog, he would get ALL the treats. He would be able to lay, unhindered, upside down on the deck whenever he liked without someone biting his fat belly or chewing his feet when he wasn’t expecting it (please note we are talking about Earl being the antagonist here not us!). He would not have to be shackled with oppression and would be allowed free reign on Serendipity Farm to come and go as he wanted because unlike another dog that shall remain nameless, he is completely trustworthy and doesn’t eat chooks, cats, wallabies, rabbits or anything else that he might sniff out. He is a GOOD DOG and he lets us know that we let him down badly by purchasing other dogs every single day. Seal eyes have nothing on Bezial. I think he was a martyr in a past life…a saint perhaps or someone used to the finer things in life. Aside from a good roll in swamp water, he is a very upper class dog with fine tastes that run to fussiness and manipulation. He refuses to be reminded of his wall eating, gear stick eating, window sill eating, power cord scarfing, and plant nibbling cat chasing ways. He says we are lying to try to bring him down to Earl’s level and that we are NOT to be believed. The day he caught a sparrow and ran around the garden with it sticking its terrified head out of his mouth eventually being caught and disenfranchised of his toy that was not only still alive, but that ran away soggy to the bone under our gas bottles is NEVER to be mentioned. He was merely a callow youth feeling his oats and entertaining a little light banter with the native creatures. No animals were hurt in his romp and he most CERTAINLY didn’t break his head halter and run maniacally after the neighbour’s pesky cat that stared at him incredibly cheekily from his own window. Telling you that he leapt out of our car and frolicked with a teeny little white fluffy dog and almost gave its owners a heart attack would be shameless and typical of the humans that this poor upstanding dog has to live with…time to go out on the deck and spend the rest of the afternoon sighing and remembering how life was before we lost our minds and bought Earl.

A Japanese star azalea just about to bloom en mass and all sorts of little pots of things coming waking up, stretching and coming to life after a long cold winter

My pots of native raspberries that I rescued from the garden under the deck before we replanted it…only thing is…they are all growing back under the deck as well! Oh well…more possum lures!

For the life of me I can’t remember the name of this weed but its prettier than the bare glasshous. We use a product called La Blanche to cover our glasshouse in summer to cut the glare from the bare glass and it cools the glasshouse significantly. Must get some more!

I want to get this post posted early tonight mainly because everything is earlier now that I wake up at 5am. I am hungry for my evening meal at 4pm and I start yawning at 7. I must admit to having more energy than I have had in years at the moment but that might just be the natural frolicking results of it being early spring and all of those little lamb vibes may just be assisting me to stride with purpose on our cold early morning walks. I like getting up earlier and I love being happy and looking forwards to our mornings walks with the dogs. I am not quite so happy by the time that we get home but I am hoping that those strange vitamins that I found in the back of the cupboard haven’t got a half-life and are actually assisting my newfound happy demeanour. Happy birthday to my niece Sabrina who is the baby of our immediate family. She moved to Perth and is working as a lab tech in one of the large hospitals up there. That makes you officially OLD now Pinky…Pinky is my sister who lives in Western Australia. We are only allowed to get together on rare occasions because the time space continuum couldn’t stand the pressure of our craziness. My daughters are creating Halloween costumes this year that require the use of a soldering iron so I might have some interesting photos to share with you someday soon! Till next post, I hope that your passions burn brightly and you spend your days doing something that feeds your mind. Too many of us forget our minds and they get left behind us in the rush to get through our days. Mine melted on Tuesday but I packed it back in and it seems to be holding (for now). See you on Saturday 😉

Listening to…

The Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Californication

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlUKcNNmywk

Serendipity Farm is all tied up with string

Hi All,

I overran my last blog post and I am still full of words so I am bleeding them into Saturdays post and its still Monday morning! After a delicious relaxing few luxurious hours of winding my way through other people’s blog posts and pinching their wonderful shiny results like the quintessential magpie that I am, I decided to vacuum the lounge room. Bernard and Manny, our two Javanese Finches, live in a luxury high rise condo that we bought for them last year to allow them to be as free as two movie loving television addicted small birds can be. They can fly around…they can swim in their drinking water (and often do) as well as fly over with their wet little feathers and roll in their seed to make small flying seed covered morsels to torment Earl. In the process of their day to day eating marathons these two little birds that would weigh all of about 70g each managed to dislodge an incredible amount of spent and unspent seed all over the carpet that spreads everywhere. I am able to ignore it for only so long and every Saturday I vacuum it up. I forgot to vacuum it on Saturday and so decided to do it today. Vacuuming isn’t an easy thing to do on Serendipity Farm. I tend not to vacuum much and rarely pull out the vacuum cleaner unless it’s my regular Saturday seed cleaning event or someone is coming to visit and our dust bunnies are almost up to our armpits. I tend to use our good stiff broom to sweep up the detritus that hovers around the house attempting to drown us in dog hair and carpet fluff and dump it into the compost bucket to be removed when filled with vegetable scraps and carpet detritus. It’s a cycle that repeats itself and is becoming something that I don’t mind doing. I get exercise from the sweeping and I do it throughout the day so it could be considered “regular exercise” on the surveys that I occasionally get paid to do online. It’s amazing how you can manipulate “the man” and his survey companies 😉

“What HAVE we here eh?”…

“That would be prime dog steaks!”

Take some of that prime dog steak and slice it thin and then dehydrate it for a few hours on “Jerky” setting in your you-beaut 9 tray dehydrator that you rarely use

5kg of dog steak turns into a large container of dog treats that make our boys happy and we know exactly what’s in them

Aside from not wanting to spend money for electricity to vacuum, we have a resident vacuum cleaner hater. Earl considers Mr Vacuum Cleaner to be his arch nemesis. For anyone not in the know… a nemesis is your enemy…an arch nemesis is a mortal enemy. Earl HATES Mr Vacuum Cleaner and tries to kill him on any occasion that he sets foot in Earl’s peripheral vision. Too many times we have had to extract Earl’s determined jaws from the end of Mr Vacuum Cleaner and the head is permanently covered in dog bites. If you take off the head bit and attempt to suck in corners with the hose it drives him even wilder! Steve is over re-bending the hose back into a circular hose shape able to fit the head back onto it rather than the oval shape that Earl would have it. Again. We could lift Earl off the ground with the determination that he puts into his hatred for Mr Vacuum cleaner much to the bemusement of Bezial who hovers around waiting for a game of “suck me- suck you” accompanied by the odd bark or two just so that the vacuum cleaner knows who is the boss. I think it knows who the boss is as it bears the scars of its tangles with Earl. Earl bit the plug off the cord (don’t say HE doesn’t know how to kill something!), Earl ate one of the hose fittings…Earl is dogged in his determination to eliminate Mr Vacuum Cleaner from Serendipity Farm and so vacuuming is an event to be planned and not something that you want to undertake spontaneously like I did this morning. You need 2 people to vacuum. One to vacuum and the other one to distract Earl from scratching the varnish off the doors that you have to shut when you vacuum. Have you ever seen videos of guard dogs slavering in mortal rage at something? Well that’s what Earl does to the space under the door when you shut it and stop him from dealing with his mortal enemy. I swear the resulting spit could be marketed to the U.S. military as some kind of biological weapon it contains that much venom! I was clever. I shut all of the doors while Earl was out lazing about in the sun on the deck. I snuck Mr Vacuum Cleaner from his hidey hole in the middle spare room to the lounge room and still Earl basked…I plugged it in and I started vacuuming and totally ignored Earls barking and scratching at the door and Bezial even got to feel superior as I let him in the side door while Earl was doing his best to scratch his way into the lounge room under the door and Bezial lay on the floor watching me vacuum clean until I finished where this very clever dog got up, walked over to the side door and in no uncertain terms asked me to let him out. I curiously let him out and packed away the vacuum cleaner, let Earl in whilst carrying Mr Vacuum Cleaner into the middle room again as Earl hunted for his nemesis (he could care less about Mr Vacuum Cleaner in his latent non-sucking form) and then looked out of the side door at Bezial facing the river and promptly forgot that he had heard Bezial in the lounge with me and rather than making Bezial pay for his cheeky ignoring that Earl is the supreme ruling dog, he headed out and gave Bezial a quick slobber on his nose and they both set off hunting for the enemy. I will NEVER underestimate Bezials cleverness again! That dog can think! Earl…you are a clever boy but your impulsiveness leaves you open to stupidity!

We have started making our own drinking chocolate mix and we get this bowl full for the same price as that container. I think we win!

A pumpkin spice bundt soaking up a whole lot of Mayan spice drizzle consisting of brown sugar, water, nutmeg, cinnamon and chilli powder. No pictures of the final cake with chocolate glaze because it curiously all disappeared! 😉

A small leaved azalea that has just decided to flower

The outdoor cliveas putting on a lovely show

The things we do! I have just been sitting here for the best part of an hour to try to identify a lovely small tree that we have in our garden. I knew that it was an Australian native but then had to go hunting for a key somewhere to try to identify it. This small tree was on the chopping block last year but I just liked it and decided to crown lift it and tidy it up a bit and leave it. It is rewarding my clemency by flowering magnificently this year and it has put on quite a bit of growth. I just found out (fanfares here folks…fanfares for the common man!) that it is a Nematolepis squamea or a Satinwood. It has a lovely shape and is massed with small white flowers at the moment. I love it when I manage to find something that I am trying to identify. I can be most stubborn at times but the stubborn comes with a bad temper and a large vocabulary of words that should NOT be spoken in pleasant company so after an hour of researching I tend to be a bit of a coiled spring. I remembered to look this plant up today because we were out in the garden effecting change. The type of change that makes the possums unhappy but the native birds and us VERY happy. We put a temporary fence around Steve’s weeping maples because despite their best and most vigorous efforts to grow exponentially, the equally determined possums are harvesting them nightly for their tender leaves and making Steve’s vocabulary bluer than mine (and that is saying something!). Despite it looking and feeling like it is about to snow outside, we decided to stop the decimation of the maples and bollocks to the rain/snow/hail whatever nature wants to throw at us. Within 5 minutes of erecting the barrier the native birds bombarded the water baths inside because they suddenly realised that the cats couldn’t creep up on them either! We might even make a small (more attractive) permanent fence around the maples if it makes everyone who matters happy. The chooks won’t be happy either but as creatures that have far too much free reign on Serendipity Farm that’s just TOO BAD and they can get used to not being able to rootle around the base of Steve’s maples.

The lengths that maple lovers will go to to protect their precious babies.

Satinwood flowers

Nematolepis squamea in full flower and something that I am very glad I spared last year when it was half this size and spindly

Acer palmatum “Atropurpureum” planted out last week and obviously happy to be in the ground

A large Eucalyptus viminalis absolutely covered in Pandora pandorana, a native climber, looking magnificent

I have noticed that the blogs that I am following on my rss feed reader are starting to become more active. There is a direct correlation between the northern hemisphere cooling down and blog activity. Not only are they becoming more active, but they are also posting more delicious recipes. After getting up at 5am (tomorrow 6am…go figure daylight savings!) this morning to read today’s posts I couldn’t help but become tantalised by all of the wonderful recipes for pumpkins, apples, pizzas, calzones and all things cooler and autumn. Now just to stop my northern readers in their tracks BEFORE I get corrected…we call it autumn here. We like the name. It suits Australia because unless you live down here in Tasmania or somewhere high up in a mountain, most of our plant species are most definitely lacking in the “fall” of their leaves. We don’t have a lot of native deciduous trees, in fact, here in Tasmania, one of the coldest states; we only have 1 native deciduous tree Nothofagus gunii. You can keep your abject theft of English classic recipes (renamed most confusingly to annoy us) and in return, you will let us call autumn autumn ok? Cheers :o). Back to the blogs. I found some amazing recipes this morning and at 5.30am when the sun is just starting to rise and you are wide open to sleepy suggestion an rss feed reader full of recipes tends to send your mind in specific directions. I want to bake. I want to crank Brunhilda up and bake. She has been having a bit of a hiatus of late and was just getting used to napping all day when it’s gone cold again and we are calling her back into the fray. Steve is going to have sausage rolls tonight. I wanted to make calzone’s but Steve is a man who likes what he likes and sometimes my ideas for his degustatory delight are not HIS ideas for something that will titillate his tastebuds. I am an adventurous cook. If I had my way we would live like bohemian’s eating all sorts of weird and wonderful things and sitting around talking late into the night about all things intellectual. Steve could care less about bohemians and intellectuals and so I have to harbour my latent bohemian urges indefinitely.

The beautifully coloured new growth on a small pieris on the side of the driveway

A banksia that was on its last legs last year before we cleared around it and pruned it

One of the wilderness Camellia trees down in the jungle garden portion of Serendipity Farm

A native cyclamen (Cyclamen repandum) growing down in the wild part of Serendipity Farm

Steve is off taking me some pictures of “stuff” for the blog tonight. I dare say said “stuff” is going to be dark. It hasn’t rained today but it has been cold and dark and threatening and a great day to hang about inside. Steve read the last bit of my post while I was in the loo and decided that he would check out what a calzone actually was. To his amazement, it was something that he thought that he might actually like and so I am now charged with making him calzones for tea tonight. That means that I have to stop typing and head off to make some calzone dough.

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/399/calzones

Thank GOODNESS that Brunhilda is on because dough proves so much better on the proving rack situated above Brunhilda’s beatific warm wafting heat layers and so calzones started at 3pm are something that fits within the realms of possibility rather than vain hope. I need to head off down the deck stairs to harvest some of our mushrooms and remove some frozen sopressa that has been sitting in cryogenic isolation since the son and heir and Kelsey’s visit along with some frozen bacon. Add some Italian mixed herbs, some grated cheese, some onion and garlic and some left over salad leaves and I think we have a meal in the making!  Steve has requested wedges with his meal so I will rustle up some Carlingford potatoes to grace his plate in large chunky well-seasoned splendour.  There isn’t much difference between having fussy kids and a fussy husband…they both need coaxing and a degree of creative bargaining to get them to try new things 😉

Some of the plants that we planted out recently looking as pleased as punch with their new situation

The first three hatchlings of the spring on Serendipity Farm

Mummy feral showing her 3 babies where to hide whenever the terrible humans make an appearance

Pear futures

Tomorrow is our anniversary. It is also Steve’s mum’s birthday. It’s entirely coincidental that our anniversary is on Pat’s birthday but Happy Birthday Pat! Thank you for being Steve’s mum :o). Without you, this whole crazy adventure wouldn’t have happened. I hope you have a fantastic birthday and that you know that we are thinking of you from the other side of the world. Everything about Steve and I is unconventional. We met online, we were able to maintain a long distance relationship for 2 long years and if you looked for the opposite of textbook marriage you would find us. We eloped quietly and with purpose after a year of living together to make certain that this was what we both wanted. After we married (in the church behind the house that we were living in at the time) we headed off to do battle with the immigration department but it was more of a “hand over some cash and wait a bit till we get around to your case…” than anything stressful. Steve and I had done our homework. We made sure of every scenario before we applied for Steve’s residency and bypassed a whole lot of problems that other people trying to do the same thing were encountering. Two years after Steve applied for residency in Australia (almost to the day) he got a letter saying “Cheers for the money, you can stay”. We didn’t have any dramas, any problems or any hassles. We were some of the very lucky ones and I suggest that anyone trying to duplicate our success, looks into every single eventuality with discipline and determination and covers their bases at all times. It worked for us! Steve has been here 13 years now and its anniversary number 12. They suggest that your 12th anniversary should be linen or silk. It’s quite a long time on the wedding stakes so you could be going one of two ways…silk for a well-honed and well kindled relationship or linen for your shroud! I choose silky linen as nothing is perfect in this life. There might be moments when I would cheerfully throttle him but I dare say he has had to stifle his natural instincts to euthanise me more than once and so I am going to call it even. A clean slate and a springboard into the next 12 years.

This atmospheric shot shows what todays weather was like taken when Steve was upside down taking photos of the cherry blossom futures

Steve’s calzone and crispy homemade potato wedges…Steve approves! 🙂

Skeeter pee futures!

This beautiful Zelkova serata is my bet on tonights possum degustation event to spite us for preventing mass guzzling on Steve’s weeping maples…sigh…

We are going to have a delicious Asian feast for our anniversary meal. We will need to take a drive to Exeter for some more booze because we had fun working our way through our anniversary booze and the cupboard is sadly bare. I might even make a delicious vegan cake that was nestled in my rss feed reader this morning. It looks heavenly and no-one would complain about having an enormous slice of it placed reverently before them on a special occasion. It’s one of those transcendental moments when vegan shmegan “I want that cake!” I love finding vegan recipes that make Omni’s squeal with delight. This is one of those moments. Savour it my vegan friends, it won’t happen often!

http://www.maplespice.com/2010/03/double-chocolate-mousse-layer-cake.html

I am creeping up to meeting my regular post size and might just nip it in the bud for today. It’s after 3 and I should be getting that calzone dough made. It takes time to be a creative genius and I need to meditate a little to reach Nirvana before I attempt the perfect calzone. Tonight I am going to read. I will sit, basking in Brunhilda’s warmth after shoving Bezial to one side of his couch and ignoring the “evils” that he will be radiating at me. No doubt I will be fast asleep when you read this post, nodding off to la-la land to sleep perchance to dream but my dream will be peppered more with foreboding terror than kittens and bunnies because I am reading Gillian Flynn’s first book. I read her last one and am sampling the beginning of her career…let’s see if she has grown any? I also have Water for Chocolate and might even curtail my horror/suspense for a day and read this slim volume that approximates a chick flick in paper form. Wish us luck with our possum defences. We are certainly going to need it and I hope that you all have a wonderful next few days till we settle down to share some time together once again :o)

Just before I go I am going to start adding what I am listening to when I post my posts. I am blatantly stealing the idea from Green Giraffe who is an Aussie vegan food blogger that I admire immensely. I am sure that she won’t mind me pinching her idea as my soundtracks are NEVER going to be as retro and funky as hers 😉

Today I was listening to The Best of Bowie and rocking with Steve to some old school androgenous rock…one rock to rule them all! (As I post I must admit I am listening to Back in Black ;))

The colours of Serendipity Farm

Hi All,

I was going to be very clever and give you a bit of a different style of post today. I have a delightful constant reader called Katie who has an amazing blog. She does everything that I admire! She takes awesome photos, she has the most scrumptious artistic ability to match colour and texture and flavour all together with good humour AND the girl can garden, make her own cosmetics and can keep her posts concise and beautiful! Head on over to check Katie out and marvel at her icecream palettes and her glorious ability to make me want to eat her photographs.

http://katienormalgirl.com/

I thought that I might give you all a palette for spring on Serendipity Farm. I headed out with my trusty camera and the will to succeed. “If Katie can do it…I can do it!”…I came back a broken woman. It turns out the colours of Serendipity Farm in the spring run to chook poo green, mud brown and angst ridden overwhelmed dull red. The kind of red that is muted at the moment but that might just flare up into full blown pillar box waving a rag at a bull red in a moment! I decided to forget colours and head over to textures…they turned out to be equally as “delightful” with the texture of oozing wet mud predominate with hints of the aforementioned chook poo dotted about and plenty of unhindered slug and snail trails assisting in the overall look. Never one to give up easily I headed for the last bastion of the photographer and went hunting for flavour…I gave up as I dejectedly did a panorama of Serendipity Farm drenched in torrential rain, bathed in fog and flattened by saturated new growth and a herd of rampaging chickens hell bent on destruction. Serendipity Farm in the spring is not to be held in artistic esteem folks…it is to be regarded with terror! That’s why Steve and I are bums up, heads down effecting change as fast as we can and it’s why I have a new respect for people like Katie who can take what nature throws us and make it look delightful, wholesome and downright tasty! You get massive kudos from this amateur photographer whose muses only run to words and can’t comprehend the reason for me wanting to share our vision for Serendipity Farm. If you are a “Normal Girl” Katie, goodness only knows what I am! 😉

See these nice healthy azalea bushes that are just about to flower? Last year, when we cleared out this garden under the deck, we hacked the living daylights out of the old gnarled up overgrown half dead azaleas and were so tired at the end of our efforts in the hot sun that we had no energy left to remove the stumps. We left them there and promptly forgot about them. Nature didn’t forget about them!

And they are all growing back! 😉

This is an unusual grevillea. I haven’t seen this before, it has greeny/blue flowers and very large leaves. If anyone knows what this grevillea is please let me know!

I am on a mission. I have been researching water wise, self-seeding perpetual plants that will take to living in Serendipity Farms less than stellar soil right here, right now. I am not going to be stupid and pretend that the soil is going to suddenly become AMAZING overnight. It is going to be a hard fought battle but we WILL win! It’s just that we will win slowly and I want ground cover now! I discovered, from personal observation that salvias seem to have a wonderful range of xeriscape plants that tolerate a myriad of terrifying conditions. Overall, we are lucky on Serendipity Farm. We get a long dry summer but it isn’t usually that hot, and despite it being pretty cold in winter, we rarely get a frost in the morning and even then it’s minor. Salvias offer us a solution to quite a few of our problems. Most of them are adventitious growers with fast growth rates and most of them are perennial and like to hang about for a bit and grow back year after year. I know that they will do well here because there were some clinging tenaciously to life sans care and attention for the last 20 years so bring on the salvias!

This poor old Philodendron had languished in a pot that was dissolving around it on the deck for 20 years with very sporadic watering. It had send out enormous feeder roots in search of water and we decided to liberate it into the soil of Serendipity Farm. It’s already looking happier 🙂

There might not be much of this azalea but what there IS is very pretty

Another pretty azalea in the side garden

Nat, of Polytechnic fame and if I have my way, garden design fame, has a love of salvias that spread to me when we were attending Polytechnic in our earlier years. Nat is a natural garden designer. What she isn’t naturally happy with AutoCAD. That makes you a normal human being by the way Nat. NO-ONE who understands and is comfortable with using AutoCAD is normal! I couldn’t have completed my Diploma of Horticulture without Steve coaching me constantly and soothing my desire to throw the entire desktop computer, monitor AND desk over the deck on a regular basis. I made it, but just…I am NOT a natural garden designer. This doesn’t come easy to me and I have to ponder over books, think about it fiercely and give it my utmost attention and when you know me, you know that I am easily distracted, especially when something bores me. If you interest me, I will give you my all…I will research you into the night and I will peer myopically at the computer screen in oblivious rapture for days…for weeks…for as long as it takes to gather all of the information that I need to get going with the project. But if you can’t interest me I am a petulant child. I am borderline with garden design. Nat has a magnificent garden. The kind of garden that makes me drool. I wander about in her small but perfectly proportionate garden and want to hug her shrubs that all look so vibrant and healthy that she must have Peter Cundall AND Costa living under them ready to offer advice whenever she sets foot out into the garden. Stop blushing Nat, you KNOW I am telling it like it is, you are just one of life’s modest people. I am not. Your garden is gorgeous, sensual AND I envy it. There…I said it! Our friend in the witness protection (a long-time friend of Nat) AND I envy it! (Misery loves company ;)). We have an image of Nat’s gorgeous garden in our minds and it would seem that nothing we do gets us any closer to that beautiful vista. In our defence, the native wildlife seems hell bent on removing more vegetation than we can plant and our soil is ancient and old and twice as wrinkly and denuded as Nat’s fertile plot. Nat has a lot less area to work with and more drive than I could harness to a truck. Nat, I salute you! You are indeed one of those “natural gardeners” that I read about all of the time. Envy and kudos is enough for now…I am going to slither off and stand on my deck and look out to the river and imagine that one day someone might turn up and see more than devastated and mangled gardens that look like a re-enactment of the Vietnam War recently occurred here complete with Agent Orange.

Flowers aren’t all that is growing on Serendipity Farm. In the next few days Effel Dookark will be a mum again

A picture of Fatty doing his morning callisthenics

My road find, a silicone bowl scraper. No idea why one of these would be laying on the ground miles away from nowhere but its mine now! 🙂

Talking about our friend in the witness protection, she has now purchased a 1.2 metre tall pink flamingo to assist her with creating a reign of terror to marauding wildlife on her 50 acre bush property. I salute you my comrade in arms! She gave up any vestiges of instant garden gratification after the first few waves of “creatures” scarfed her carefully planted purchases and now battles with everything that comes within arm’s length including this flamingo that she bought from K-Mart (if any of you feel the need to race out and purchase a 1.2 metre tall pink flamingo, knock yourselves out!). You have to admire her tenacity and her spirit…she is a true Valkyrie gardening warrior! I can’t bring myself to decorate Serendipity Farm with hanging soft toys in various stages of decomposition. I live right next to the Auld Kirk Church graveyard and there is something seriously disturbing about someone dangling effigies of ex cuddly and fluffy toys adjacent to hallowed ground. I also have a natural aversion to anything garish in the garden. I hope that doesn’t make me a garden snob. I am not desperate enough to resort to fluffy toys. Should the possums ever get that bad I will purchase a 30 metre long thick piece of metal chain and will tether Earl to the grafted maple garden and teach those possums a lesson that they will NEVER forget! Steve is walking Earl today to give Bezial (a.k.a. fatty Lumpkin’s) a bit of a rest.  That means that Bezial and I can trundle at our leisure through the garden and I can get my pedal to the metal up to my armpits in flying forget-me-nots while Bezial wanders around the grounds with impunity threatening no-one and exploring to his heart’s content.

Still getting heaps of mushrooms from our free mushroom compost and more to come!

And here are is the days egg haul. Looks like Steve is having a delicious mushroom omelette for tea

Here’s our heavily fortified little self pollinating almond tree ready to do battle with the possum marauders. It has 15 tiny little baby almonds on it so far

Forget-me-nots begone! Well “lay low and forget about any virulent activity for the foreseeable future if you know what’s good for you!” Steve has whipper snipped the teatree garden area and rendered it forget-me-not flat. I pulled out forget-me-nots from around the stinky purple lilies, the enormous arums and the persistent agapanthus that I have come to hold a grudging like for now that reality gardening is on the cards permanently on Serendipity Farm. I planted out some of the smaller plants in the side garden. It still looks like Armageddon in the morning BUT it is Armageddon with possibilities (and the odd twig starting to branch up). I planted out all of my lavender’s, my pentstemons and a few other scruffy looking things that have survived against the odds and have thus qualified for rehousing out in the soil. I should put a sign up at the gate with something like “Serendipity Farm…a home for waifs and strays” because that’s what we have here and most of them have attitude and are slightly skewed much like the present owners. I found a really good sign on Facebook the other day that said “Ring the bell…if no-one answers pull some weeds”…that’s my kind of sign and I feel a wood burning event coming on in the near future! For now, I have to head back out into the garden with Steve to plant out some of his trees. Our new creed is “not in our lifetime” so good luck Stewart and Kelsey, some day you are going to inherit giant redwoods, enormous Bunya nut trees with 5kg fruit dropping in season and all sorts of weird and wonderful grottos and groves that eventuated because your parental units got tired of thinking about where to put things and just “bunged them into the ground”…I dare say we just got drummed out of the landscape designers confraternity and it’s all going to come back and haunt us some day but for now we don’t care…get them into the ground!

Steve’s Cedrus atlantica “Glauca Pendula” that will one day be magnificent stretched out along the front of the deck

The Cedrus that we just planted and our other little conifers that are going nuts in the soil out of their pots.

$8 well spent methinks!

It’s not often that I have 87 photos to choose from when I am just about to post. That should give you a bit of an idea how busy we have been on Serendipity farm over the last 3 days. On Friday we stopped working in the garden to get gussied up and head into town to our illustrious leaders Landscaping Expo. We left 2 sulking dogs, one of them hell bent on destruction (once the sulking wore off) and after battening down the house (or those pieces of it that said dog was likely to destruct…) we headed out into the cold cold snow. Well…I may be overemphasising the snow bit but it WAS cold…and raining…when we got to town we discovered that we had been forgotten on the list of people to tell (those who mattered…are you feeling guilty enough yet Nat? ;)) that the expo had been cancelled! Bollocks! Oh well, no use crying over spilt landscaping expo’s so we made the most of it, bought pizza, sweet potatoes and purple carrots, a bottle of Guinness (a man’s gotta have SOMETHING when he has just driven all the way to town and back for bugger all) and a $1 all you can stuff bag of toys for the dogs to mass destruct from the thrift shop behind the Polytechnic that we attend on the odd occasion that someone remembers that we are coming… and we picked up a couple of plates as well. I LOVE thrift shops. They make me smile. I love fossicking about in bargain bins and hunting out stellar bargains that someone else foolishly discarded. When we got the boys bag of toys out to hurl into the maniacally happy crowd (good stress release to diffuse separation anxiety and stop us from being pounced into next Tuesday by heifer dogs who are VERY excited to see us home) I noticed a little smiley plush weighted flower…now I don’t know about you, but I was seriously addicted to the game “Plants and Zombies” and this little fellow looked just like one of the flowers from the game! That plus it was weighed…bright colours…cost the better part of about 5c and would make a HECK of a mess if I gave it to the boys to destruct so I decided to keep him. His name is Herman. He reminds me to smile and he is a constant reminder to Earl that the ones with the opposable thumbs who can place things out of dogs reach rule the world!

What my desk looks like at the moment. A mass conglomeration of seeds, books, C.D.’s and “misc”. Still don’t need glasses! 😉

The almond trees label, the rock melons and mini watermelon seeds and my ever present notepad and pen for “ideas” and Steve’s coffee and Earls back scratcher.

Herman smiling for the camera 🙂

We walked the boys up an enormous hill today just because we could. A year ago…indeed 6 months ago, I couldn’t have walked up this hill inside an hour because I would have been constantly having to stop on the threat of a mild heart attack coming on, but today I just walked up the hill without stopping and without breaking a sweat. On the way back down the hill after a brief detour to look at a MASSIVE edifice that someone is erecting to the thickness of their wallet overlooking the water I noticed something on the floor and after picking it up discovered that it was a silicone bowl scraper! I have wanted one for a while and haven’t justified its specialised worth to myself but now I have one, sterilised in boiling water and stuck on my magnetic knife rack because some wise monkey decided to put a bit of metal inside it so it would stay where you bend it. Bring on the wet dough’s! Bring on hand action to rival Masterchef U.K.! I can now say that my desire to make pastry has moved one step closer to regular. We also had a look at the lady at the top of the road’s little plant stand. She sells plants all of the time for $2 and I noticed a few little babies that I would like to add to my in ground population. When we arrived home we drove back and bought 2 lilies’ of the valley (1 about to flower), a miniature pink Japanese anemone and a blue corydalis and after we planted out our little almond tree in the middle garden and Steve’s Cedrus atlantica “Glauca Pendula” we planted them out as well.

I think Steve is working on his busking routine…cute…but NO-ONE is going to pinch either his guitar or his hat full of money! 😉

Earl loves sitting in Steve’s guitar room with him when he is playing. Especially when he is playing LOUD! Bezial slinks off outside to save his ears but Earl is right there in the thick of it.

I think Earl has settled down for the afternoon…pity Steve wants to put his guitar back in its case 😉

We found a few packets of annual flower seeds that we had collected and decided that we would scatter them around in the middle garden. While we were at it, we headed out and had a look in the shed to see if we had any other seeds and found a large bag of all kinds of seeds that were mostly out of code and that we had collected en mass when we were attending our horticulture courses at Polytechnic. We figured that the worst that can happen is that the chooks eat the seed so we scattered all sorts of things all over the place. If half of them grow we are in trouble! I have a few plans for making “things” out of plastic bags. I am not too sure what kind of “things” but all I know is I am tired of feeling guilty for throwing the bags out into landfill. A friend gave me some dishcloths that a friend of hers had crocheted using cut up supermarket bags and that gave me an idea. I have seen hats, shoes and bags made out of plastic bags and I found a pattern for making “Plarn” on Instructables the other day. Plarn is plastic yarn that is perfect for making all sorts of crafts with and for repurposing plastic bags. I noticed pumpkins growing in the compost heap the other day and am going to transplant them (along with some of their precious compost) into specially formed mounds situated in the outside chook run. We also found some mini watermelon seeds and some rockmelon seeds that we had bought previously and are going to give them a go as well. There is something manic about spring that just carries you along with it. I have been getting up at 5am for a few days now and am just about used to it. I feel tired at 8pm but the trade-off is that I get 2 hours to myself at the beginning of the day. The ultimate trade-off is that next Sunday morning I WON’T be tired! I just noticed that I am back up to my usual post size! I tried people…I tried hard. I stifled my posts natural angle of repose and ended up losing the battle. That’s my way of saying I am finishing up here for the week folks. Have an interesting rest of the week and don’t sweat the small stuff because deodorant is getting expensive!

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