When someone else’s memories cost you 22 dollars

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The first garage sale house of the day , isn’t that a lovely maple

Hi All,

Fran is very busy today so I am posting the photos and captions for them ok so its my fault not hers 🙂

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Garage sale dogs like junk yard dogs but they are after the junk 🙂

What is it about “artefacts” that makes us curious and want to fossick around? It’s the same thing that has us wanting to pull up the collective psychiatrists couch whenever people reminisce and say “tell us more…” Today’s post is all about “What I got at The Progressive Garage Sale” a small thesis of less than (I PROMISE) 2800 words but my introduction is about the value of collective memories and how important they are to society as a whole (and that, I am reserving for my REAL thesis! 😉 ). I got a memo that my sister Pinky of http://cathyandchucky.com/ blogging fame had posted another post. I love using an RSS Feed Reader; it does all the hard work for me and keeps my email account free of post reminders. In her latest post she shared a magnificent chunky lamb shank soup that she has been making for many years. I remember the torn out page from the Australian woman’s weekly magazine that she took the recipe from being carefully folded up and covered in indeterminate stains. I wrote the recipe out myself because this soup is a winner. The mug that she used for her soup was one of the enormous mugs that I used for my (buckets) cups of tea while we chatted. Pictures and “things” are what memories are made of.

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This is where we bought our computer throne from a few years ago (see past posts)

In saying that, I just bought a stack of past and future “memories”.  I paid $22 Aussie dollars for a whole stack of other people’s memories that I can only begin to wonder about. Our adventure began a few weeks ago when we remembered that pretty soon the annual progressive garage sale would be upon us for another year. We stumbled across the very first on 2 years ago when we were heading out to walk the dogs. If it wasn’t for the very first progressive garage sale, we wouldn’t have Big Yin and his original cohorts. We bought them as teeny little chicks and today they are the equivalent of Somalian pirates on Serendipity Farm…no sooner do you set foot outside the safety of your back gate and attempt to navigate the high seas of Serendipity Farm then you are set upon by wayfaring pirates attempting to rob you of everything of worth. The first year we spent a fair bit at the progressive garage sale. There were lots of vendors and plenty of bargains to be had and our chooks (8 in all) added to the cost. Last year we spent $27 and ended up with a higgledy piggledy mass of “stuff” to delight my hoarding heart. This year we spend $22 and despite the few vendors who had decided to take part we were still able to arrive back home laden with goodies

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Fran caught unawares by my lens 🙂

We had contacted the lovely Lisa of obvious Scottish heritage who runs the Artisan gallery and who appears to be the poor lost soul that got stuck with organising this massive event each year. Last year she had a list of garage sales that you could print out and head directly to with a short list of what they were offering. This year she was a bit savvier and only gave the list out on Friday evening. The problem is that here in Tassie we have more than our fair share of “traders”…markets, antique sellers and general EBay vultures who like to predate garage sales, auctions and house clearance sales with a view to robbing them blind and making the maximum profit. They descend on garage sales 2 hours before the assigned time and try to get the very best for the very cheapest. Vendors are sick to death of them but they are like seagulls at the tip, unfortunately inevitable.

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What a lovely garden this is in autumn

This year, a group of local Kayena dwellers decided to tag onto the end of the garage sale and we headed up to check it out. I managed to get an Italian glass litre wine carafe for $1 that I am now using for my homemade non-dairy milk. I also bought a stainless steel teapot/jug, a copy of a wonderful Permaculture book and a 1971 “Mrs Beeton’s cookbook in colour” for 50c each. I noticed a stone bottle that now lives in Steve’s room for $1 and I got about 10kg of various types of apples for $3. All in all a very good start to the day. I decided that if we didn’t get anything else in the entire garage sale, this one stop was worth driving to. Aside from getting some great bargains, we met the man that bought my brothers property over in Kayena and who owns the local school bus route. He and his wife are very nice people and he told me that whenever I fancy some horse or cow manure, I just had to call and he would let me collect as much as I like! Considering this man owns most of the farmland in Sidmouth, Rowella and Kayena (along with a share in the local dairy) I figure the supply might just be big enough for my aspirations! ;). Apparently the vultures had turned up to this garage sale at 7.30…sigh…

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This is all the house the chair came from , its nice eh

We continued on to the next garage sale at Iron Pot Bay winery. We arrived at 8.55am and slowly walked down the driveway to be met by an irate elderly man who told us in no uncertain terms to “PISS OFF!” We thought that he was joking at first, but after he told us that “This bloody garage sale doesn’t start till 9am!” and I said “Ok…so we will just wait here then…” and he said “no you bloody well won’t! You can head right back up that driveway quick smart!”…O…K…SOMEONE woke up on the wrong side of the bed! I dare say the vultures had been predating since 7am and this elderly gentleman had just about had enough! Steve wasn’t in the mood to be garage saling at this residence after our less than lukewarm welcome so we headed off to the next stop post haste!

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not sure why the time is this but it must mean something to the owners

We arrived at the next garage sale (after checking that it was AFTER 9am…fool us once! 😉 ) where we got my blackwood throne (my computer chair) for $2 last year and managed to score a large cray pot for $5 and a wonderful wrought iron old single bed head for $2. We couldn’t take them with us because we had the dogs with us (they were “supposedly” behaving and we would take them to the beach as a reward for all of the stops…) and so I waved goodbye to my bargains and Steve was going to head back to pick them up after dropping us at home after we had finished garage saling and walking the dogs. The rest of the garage sales seemed to be condensed into a single neighbourhood and we walked to most of them. I could hear a grumpy man armed with what must have been most of the garage sale that we were heading to saying to his wife “she TOLD me I could have it for $5!”… It would seem that the antique brass plaque that he was toting might have cost him a teensy bit more? Oh how TERRIBLE sir? 😉

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Liquid ambers at there best

I was more interested in taking photos of the delicious autumn colours than I was in hunting. I was already more than happy with the bargains that we had bought and by the time we arrived at the Deviot Hall we met Jenny, our friend from the bush who had just found a small folding table and 2 enormous wisteria poles for a bargain price. She was going one way…we were going the other and so we headed off to see what was still on offer at either end of the spectrum. After finding a few more small bargains including a nice stainless steel “Coffee” canister that now contains my tea-bags (tea thieves beware!) we headed off to the beach much to the relief of Earl and Bezial who were WELL over our ridiculous need to stop and start every 5 minutes when it was more than obvious we were headed to “THE BEACH!”

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Pretty house isn’t it

By the time we got to said beach, the dogs were overexcited and practically jumped into the front with us before we stopped the car. We had a lovely “drag” around Paper Beach and I collected some lovely smooth beach pebbles. We might not have lovely white sand like the beaches in Western Australia (or the East coast of Tassie for that matter…) but what we lack in pristine white, we make up for in gorgeous smooth pebbles and rocks. Swings and roundabouts…  I have been surreptitiously collecting the odd pebble here and there whenever we walk on the beach and put them in my potted plants and dot them around our home. I am a quintessential reformed pack rat who has a need to collect. I try to give away as much as I collect now to redress the balance quotient but the need is still strong in this (not so) young padawan.

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Wish our drive was like this oh and that’s our cray pot in the shot 😉

We arrived home triumphant and while I took photos and then put our bargains to work for us Steve headed back to pick up our craypot and bed head. The craypot is not situated on our deck stairs and the bedhead is going to become an ornate gate down in the garden dividing one secret garden from the next. The only thing that hasn’t quite found a place to live yet is a small watercolour painting that I picked up for $2. I just liked it. Someone had gifted this original artwork to someone else and it has an inscription on the back…more memories that obviously weren’t all that important any more. Time to create some new memories with my bargains and take them off on another tangent on Serendipity Farm and as most of them won’t be being used for the purpose for which they were created; at least they will get a second chance in the great memories sweepstakes

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colours of nature are so bright

It’s raining on Serendipity Farm. Nothing unexpected about rain in autumn but this is our first real rainy day in ages and it came smack bang on the day that we were all going to head into the city to accomplish an amazing array of “stuff”…does anyone else get the feeling that someone out there has a great sense of humour? ;). The dogs are now sulking because they were expecting to go to town and have a ball and I am sulking because “I” was expecting to go to town and have a ball but in the end, the trailer got disconnected and poor Steve had to go to town and do everything himself. There are benefits in that he will be back a good 3 hours before we would have otherwise been back and when he gets in, I can take over putting things away, unloading groceries and dividing up the dogs meat into meal sized portions for the freezer. As carbon savvy consumers we tend not to use our car much these days. We walk the dogs locally most of the time and only use the car if we need to go further afield than our 2 feet are willing to take us. A 100km round trip is out of the question and so sulking dogs and a less than impressed “Fran” remain at home.

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More hunters

Steve will be pricing up timber for making 2 custom low seating units either side of Brunhilda. We don’t want to waste space and are designing wood storage into these units. They will be predominately for the dogs to use as beds over winter but will be great for stretching out and reading a book on our cold days. This rain might have forced me indoors but it is also soaking the rock hard soil where we need to dig holes and will make our job tomorrow a whole lot easier. Steve and I have trepidations about digging holes on Serendipity Farm. We know, from past experience, that digging a “hole” is a whole lot harder than it might initially sound. Our soil is littered with rocks of various sizes and 20cm down we have solid yellow clay that you could make pots out of. It’s probably what has kept us on track with our studies…we had 2 choices…”study” or “dig a hole”…studying won! ;). We can’t put it off any longer and as founding members of the Serendipity Farm procrastinators society we have both agreed (after a few cups of tea, hanging a load of washing out, baking some biscuits and tinkering around in the shed…) to get stuck into digging some holes. Once the holes are dug it will be somewhat smooth sailing, it’s just the digging of the holes that has us twitching.

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Apparently these people camped out in anticipation lol

I have 35 photos to share with you all today so I might just leave this post a little shorter than usual. I am going to head off now and do something positive with the rest of my morning before Steve gets back home. I might do some dusting…the spiders have been getting cheeky lately and I think it is time to remind them that we have a mutual agreement…I let them eat our flies and they keep their webs to the corners of the room…I noticed one festooned across the ceiling yesterday so time to make the advancing hoards retreat! See you all on Wednesday folks :o)

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Some spoils of the hunt

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Treasure and some nice apples

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22$ can go a long way

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Ahh crays ahead

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This will become a gate one day soon

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Apparently I like pot ….

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Finally finished and Bezials happy

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A very pretty vine on our way to the beach

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Beach stones Fran loves stones

When “The Booze Bus” comes to town…

Hi All,

We might like to imbibe a little of the amber fluid on the odd occasion on Serendipity Farm but don’t panic dear constant readers, we didn’t drink and drive and live to suffer the consequences…Steve just had a brilliant idea for a business. We are in NO position to take this idea anywhere and even if we had the money to facilitate its start-up, we have much better things to spend our money futures on than the rabid New Year’s delusions of a man fond of a tipple who is currently on the wagon…we were walking the boys this morning and I could see a light bulb of an idea switch on while we were talking…”I have a GREAT idea for a business” said Steve. “You know icecream trucks?”…Yes…yes indeed I know icecream trucks, or the legend of “icecream trucks” anyway as everywhere that I have ever lived has managed to maintain a severe dearth of the perambulatory frozen sweetened dairy variety of truck. “What if someone delivered alcohol to people…what if they were on the road from 6pm till 12 and were open for delivering booze to people out in the country who either couldn’t be bothered to head into town or who were unable to do so for whatever reason…”…yes…yes I can see where you are going Stevey boy…a constant stream of supermarket trucks up and down the Batman Highway delivering to our immediate vicinity has lent this idea a bit of strength…”It could be called “The Booze Bus” and the driver could wear a suit and a pork pie hat and dark sunglasses and could be called a “Booze Brother”…”…o…..k….. “And the bus could actually trawl for business like an icecream truck only instead of Greensleeves…it could play Tubthumping!”… I have to give it to him. The man can certainly navigate himself around an idea! No funds Steve…no endless tap on the keg of life is going to deliver you that dream any day soon but to anyone out there entrepreneurial enough to take this idea on board and take advantage of the fact that whenever there is an economic downturn and funds are low there is a distinct spike in the sales of alcohol and people go back to the movies…the masses have to have SOMETHING to entertain them…feel free to take Steve’s dream BUT there is one clause…when you are millionaires from the profits of another man’s dream…could you just send one of those booze buses down Auld Kirk Road with “Tubthumping” blaring as loud as it can and stop right out the front of the Auld Kirk Church, drop off a freebie carton (you owe him that much…) and make a broken man’s day? 😉

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The Booze Brother himself with his entourage…

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Looks like one of the entourage has left the building! Thems the perks of being a “good dog” when you go out…

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“Me Alone”…what happens when a dog thinks that he is cleverer than he is…this one thought that because I was making a cake, we were going to leave them on their own the day after (our usual polytechnic routine)…this one refused his tea…this one’s stomach was grumbling and THIS one won’t look at the camera…

Somer of Vedgedout blogging fame http://vedgedout.com/ has given me permission to blog about my experiences on her green smoothie challenge. She recently made a free PDF of this plan available for anyone who wants to start the New Year off with clean gizzards who doesn’t want to resort to falling prey to salmonella or a wandering gastro bug to give them the same results. I decided to try it because after taking a look at the plan, it certainly gave you a lot of choice and aside from the obvious health benefits, you might just lose a bit of weight in the process. I still have a few kilos to lose before I am completely happy to call my weight acceptable but I like to lose weight slowly now because years of yo-yo dieting has taught me that if you get something quickly and with very little effort or determination to change it very rarely lasts.  Admittedly it took me about 30 years to learn that but better late than never is my motto! I am really enjoying the processes of this plan. I like working through the choices and I am even enjoying my pond water with frog spawn. You don’t have to choose “pond water with frog slime”…I am just partial to it now. I add chia seed that has an interesting tendency to swell up and become decidedly frog spawny and I put tonnes of home grown fresh spinach into my smoothies so they end up verdant green and reminiscent of algal bloom on a duck pond. The best thing about this plan is that it gives you the ability to customise it to your own wants and needs. It is completely meat free and grain free (aside from a bit of quinoa in one of the soup recipes) but I figure that anyone could handle a week of this. I very rarely manage to eat/drink everything that I am supposed to eat in a day because there is so very much of it! It just goes to prove that you can eat a low calorie diet without feeling empty…you just need to be clever about what you are eating. If you like to eat a LOT (like I do…) then increase the veggies in your diet…eat HEAPS of them, especially the green ones because they tend to be low calorie and very filling. I no longer diet and if I wasn’t expected to weigh myself to share with the rest of the group of people worldwide that are undertaking this challenge I wouldn’t bother. I go by how I feel and I am feelin’ fine my dear constant readers…I am waxing lyrical, I am not grouchy in the mornings and I have lots of energy so I am calling this plan a success. You could technically eat this kind of food for the rest of your life. It is full of vitamins and minerals and it is positively brimming with vitality but I love my grains and starches and want to integrate them back, albeit in smaller portions, to my regular diet so I will be revisiting this green smoothie challenge on a regular basis to keep my intestines happy. I might do this once a month it is that easy to follow and I am someone who quintessentially bucks following “programs” of any kind. I heartily endorse this free program and anyone wanting to feel a bit healthier or lose a bit of weight feel free to head on over to Somers and download the plan. She is a most gracious host :o)

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Prime crunchy sweet organic home grown cucumbers 🙂

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A barrow load of chicken coop hay about to be used to mulch the capsicum garden

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What happens to rocket when you show it a good time…note the capsicum in the foreground (a bit of a “Where’s Wally?” moment 😉 )

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The pile of rocket extracted and mulching complete!

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A newly refurbished capsicum and chilli garden bed well covered in spent hay to keep the moisture in the ground where it belongs to cut down on watering in the month and a half of summer that we still have in front of us

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Possum invaders!…sigh…back to the drawing board!

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Bread clips from too many loaves of supermarket cheap bread 😦

I just tossed another bread tie into a small bowl that I keep them in. I once saw a blog post on how to turn them into things…to repurpose them but all I have is a bowl full of them. It stands as a constant reminder that I should be baking bread…baking bread is actually very easy and incredibly therapeutic. It doesn’t even take all that much time aside from the proofing so my only excuse is that I am too lazy to bake it and these little tags remind me of how I am a slave to the bread “man”. This recipe doesn’t even require the obligatory kneading! I have NO excuses… http://gggiraffe.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/no-knead-honey-and-oat-bread-ii.html I try to give myself excuses “It’s only for the chooks…Steve doesn’t eat much of it…it’s cheaper than making your own…” but it all ends up at the same place sustainable “FAIL!” I don’t like failing…I fear I have a type A personality and failure is tantamount to …well…failing! I know how to make bread. I make GOOD bread…I will feel a sense of accomplishment when I make bread BUT there is something stubborn and primal inside me…call it my middle aged child that bucks my desired ordered system and wants to read a book or go online or phone a friend…it’s a sad sorry state of affairs when you are having a parent teenager battle with yourself! “Get off your derrière and bake some bread and while you are at it, you could wipe those crumbs off that breadboard, put that washing on and you could wipe down that counter”…”You NEVER let me have any fun! It’s NOT FAIR! I HATE YOU”… a body could end up needing therapy if they allowed their teenaged selves to win!

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Isn’t this Stapelia hirsuita gorgeous? At this stage it looks like a beautiful purple hairy star…

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It then turns its petals up and forms an orb of foetid stinkiness to attract the blowflies and other carrion scavenging insects that it needs to pollinate its beautiful but nose-holdingly stinky flowers…we don’t care, its too beautiful not to love 🙂

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Myrtus communis (Common Myrtle) a wonderfule xeriscape plant that has edible fruit that are used to make a type of liqueur in the Med. I just love these flowers and might propagate some more of this lovely shrub for some of the dryer areas on Serendipity Farm

I was just considering retitling this post “Never mind the bollocks…this means WAR!”… We are fighting an ongoing battle with possums that sees them gaining ground in the night and us having to rethink our fortress and add all sorts of protective devices to the best of our abilities to stop the little buggers! Yesterday I removed an enormous crop of rocket that had gone to seed and was bitter and inedible. Obviously the possums thought so too because they had left it well alone, even though I now realise that they had been into the veggie garden questing for food! I thought that Steve had left the veggie garden open yesterday because the netting was loose. Steve had been checking out the size of his capsicums nestled amongst the tangle of rocket and I thought that he had just done his usual half-assed job of closing up the veggie garden when he emerged but today I realise that the rocket actually did a sterling job to protect the veggie garden against the possums that had tentatively pushed the netting till they were able to get in. Not so much luck today (for us, anyway) because the bitter rocket was gone and the tender capsicums were exposed and highlighted by a lovely empty garden bed full of easily navigable hay…you can guess what happened and they took some tomato with them and although I know that capsicums are perennial, the two that were completely decimated are most probably not going to bear fruit this year. We were walking the boys in Deviot today and stopped at the hall where the wonderful community of Deviot have built a lovely fully enclosed heritage apple, pear and herb garden and we had decided that we were going to copy their idea to build our much larger fully enclosed veggie garden. Steve, after inspecting the damage to his capsicums (not only did they chew the leaves, they took a single bite out of his precious first capsicum rendering it rooned!), has decided on using a large yacht mast that was left in the tangled pile of metal next to the veggie garden to erect a sort of circus tent style roof for the veggie garden when we make it in autumn (so that we have softened ground after the rains) and it will be fully enclosed in ex-fish farm netting. It will be a HUGE enclosed garden and good luck to the possums even getting a sniff at our coming season’s veggies! I want to enclose our small orchard eventually as the possums hoovered the pears from the last of the pear trees the other day. I didn’t cover them so I guess I deserve the dearth of fruit but I am starting to wonder at how many possums are parading the grounds of Serendipity Farm after dark there must be a veritable army of them!

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Our local “Loire Valley” equivalent “Marrion’s vinyard”. The West Tamar region is well known worldwide for its quality wines and this little vinyard is a fine example of its ilk

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Lonicera hildebrandiana (Giant Burmese honeysuckle) in a garden on one of our walks this week

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2 of the scented geraniums that I have grown from cuttings taken from plants on the road verge on past dog walks

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Bakewell slice made for a man who was lusting after “something sweet”…

Steve is off pootling again…he pootles at will now and spends lots of his time creating spoons out of enormous piles of wood shavings. I am using the wood shavings in my compost bucket and can’t wait to see the fungi that grow from some of the exotic woods that he is working with. I have just finished a week of green smoothie challenging and aside from losing 2 ½ kilos effortlessly I feel amazing! I feel bright and vibrant and clean and have decided to incorporate this plan into my everyday eating repertoire. If it aint broke, don’t fix it! I was broke…I fixed it ;). It would seem that the possums were held at bay last night with the measures that Steve and I took yesterday to curtail their night scoffing. Nothing was touched and I noticed that our eggplants are going gangbusters and since I mulched with hay around their bases they are taking off and are flowering all over the place. I love a good eggplant in the morning and these little finger eggplants promise to give us a good harvest this year (so long as the possums aren’t hatching any plans that is…). Aside from bouncing around full of good health I have a spring in my step because everything is starting to come together and work in cycles like I had hoped. Where we cleared out the side garden the buddleia is not only attracting bumble bees, regular and native bees and a plethora of exotic looking butterflies, it is shading everything underneath it and giving it respite from the heat of the sun. The garden is starting to take off how we want it too and I have been collecting seed and cutting material on our morning dog walks that I can then propagate or broadcast around the garden when we get home. I got some Washington hawthorn cuttings yesterday that we are going to trial and see if we can’t grow some of these valuable habitat plants that have edible fruit and that have the most amazing autumn foliage display. The thorns on these babies would dissuade the most persistent predator and if we can grow some, they will be planted around Serendipity Farm as hedging for the local birdlife to nest safely in. All in all I am feeling incredibly happy with my lot these days despite us remaining the penniless student hippies that we were last year. The sun has stopped frying everything in its pathway and the lovely 25C days that we are having have allowed Steve and I to be both creative and relax at will over our holidays from Polytechnic. We are doing what we want to do and are enjoying every single minute of it. We will be back at school soon enough, but for now, we are loving our time to ourselves bums up in the garden and in a wild flurry of woodchips.

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Two more beautiful spoons…the top one is made of Native Tasmanian Olivewood (Doral) and the lower spoon is made from Blackheart Sassafras (Atherosperma Moschatum) and the black line is actually caused by an interesting fungal relationship with the plant and makes for a very striking result…who KNOWS what wood Steve is going to use for the Valentine’s Day spoon 😉

I might finish todays post there folks. This Saturday we will be offering you another chance to get one of Steve’s beautiful handmade spoons…this one is specifically for Valentine’s Day and will be perfect to give your sweetie so let us know if you want to enter to win a spoon and you will make Earls day! The more walnuts in that bowl, the happier Earl will be :o). The draw will be open to anyone, anywhere because the cost to send a wooden spoon to just about anywhere in this wonderful world is extremely cheap and we truly enjoy sharing See you all on Saturday :o).

The return of the prodigal hen’s daughter

Hi All,

Effel Doocark died last week 😦 . She hadn’t been well for a few days and just suddenly passed away on what had been the hottest day so far this year. We buried her under mum’s memory tree so that in some way, she will keep going on in the cycle of things on Serendipity Farm. We had been trying to work out how to get one of Effel’s remaining two daughters and her 7 baby chicks safely past the hordes of feral cats and over to the new chook run where they would be safe. The hen was most determined in wanting to come up to the house, after all, it had been her home when she was chick free and she was darned well going to come back here come hell or high water! Unlike Effel, she is an excellent mum, as is her sister that we also kept. Her sister hatched out 14 babies in a shrub near the old chook coop before we added the new enclosure and was easily herded into the small enclosed area that we already had for the chooks and her chicks are 8 weeks old now and we recently gave 6 of them away to someone starting out again with chooks. We see them as we drive past their new home and they are happily scratching around in their new enclosure. Effels other daughter went further afield to hatch out her brood…for further afield read at the furthest corner of the property! She hatched her babies out under the massive big oak tree that borders Glad’s and our boundary line and stayed down there for 2 weeks till they got too big to live from the insects scratched from underneath the teatree area and that was when she marched on Jericho and decided to tear down the ferals walls of expectation. She did lose 2 babies in the process but when you see how many ferals are seething around you can only begin to imagine how determined this hen was to protect her babies. This morning when Steve was opening up the coop door for the hens to come out into the enclosure he noticed that she was standing over next to the door of the enclosure and called out for me to come and help him and we managed to coral them all through the door and into the relative safety of the enclosure! Now we have 2 roosters and a single young hen that roam free on Serendipity Farm. We just have to isolate where those early morning exploratory crows are coming from and we can catch them in the act and rehouse them. Simple things make you incredibly happy :o).

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This little Penstemon was grown by our friend in the witness protection from cuttings from some well established shrubs in her garden. If you want something that will keep on keeping on no matter how harsh and dry your conditions are enter the penstemon 🙂

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Buddleia globosa, just one of the buddleia’s that are thriving on Serendipity Farm after a good haircut. They are wonderful shrubs that will grow in extremely arid conditions, they attract butterflies and bees and have a lovely scent…what’s not to love?

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A white Buddleia davidii

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Anyone for puce?

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A different kind of cicada to the redeyes that have all but been eaten out of existance now. This one was lucky he was rescued from a very interested Earl who has been known to eat cicadas en masse…the only thing that saved him was he clicked and increased his “play factor” exponentially

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It’s a toss-up between Earl and these little guys as to who eats the most cicada’s. This little fellow has decided that this part of the deck is his and he can be regularly seen out sunning himself

Steve has just headed back out fishing for the afternoon. He is armed with several fishing rods, a new boat rod that he picked up for $30 from Tamar Marine (free plug because you are such great blokes! 😉 ) and all sorts of stinky lurey baity things that should dump a load of fish into his little tinny should he actually feel like fishing. Steve has fallen prey to pootling about in his metal coracle…he loves nothing more than perambulating his little marine craft gently over the river surface and going exploring. I, for one, am extremely happy :o). It’s good for people to get out on their own and do something that delights them. I have all sorts of things that make me happy…simple things like reading, writing blog posts, researching, reading my rss feed, learning things, gardening…are you getting the picture? Steve is a little more superficially manly than me. Aside from his newfound love of wood and it’s possibilities he has suddenly taken interest in repurposing things and is currently repurposing an old fridge that was in the unit out the back of the home where our daughters live that had died into a wonderful cupboard and recently made a very hand gadget for storing sauce bottles so that you can get the last dregs. We are even making our very first Instructable of it! Fishing has given Steve something to do with those questing hands and that ever twitching mind…the man needs to be constantly on the go and fishing is all the
“GO” that he needs. I love that he has found something that makes him incredibly happy and this afternoon he is sailing the high seas with his sandwiches and his sense of adventure. Whether he catches a fish or not is irrelevant. He found a portal to simple happiness and is exploring his world :o)

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A birds eye view of some home grown spinach and a gravity defying frozen banana in my vitamix blender

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A close up of a tbs of chia seed to be added to my green smoothie after it is blended

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The end result…”purest green!”

I am incredibly happy today. It might have something to do with my green smoothie cleanse that I have been undertaking since Wednesday. I feel great! I am also marvelling at how the garden is coping with “summer” and it even rained this morning. The dogs are lying on the deck in various degrees of slumber…once the sun heats them up enough they stagger, semi-comatose, inside where they flop down using the least amount of muscles into almost instant, albeit cooler, slumber. I have been out broadcasting chia seed as my last broadcasting event resulted in Nigella damascena (love-in-the-mist) growing all over the place! I am going to have to pick up some black cumin seed (Nigella sativa) to broadcast around if it grows that easily! The chia seed (Salvia hispanica) is apparently very easy to grow according to Spencer from Anthropogen

http://anthropogen.com/2012/05/26/lamiaceae-salvia-hispanica-chia/

Who gave me this reply to my query as to whether or not it might grow here in Tasmania…

“I think they’d do great in your climate. It originated in the western USA, all along the California coast to Mexico. It was a major staple food of indigenous groups in the area. Extremely nutritious. I tossed a few handfuls around on the hillside around my house in California on my last visit and they’re all growing now. Very drought tolerant when established….”

And that’s enough for me to hurl seed with gay abandon! I didn’t have a little basket to skip along with but I did broadcast the seed all over the place and it had just rained so you never know…some of the seed might make it. I love the serendipity of a garden and I love how if you let them, they evolve despite your best intentions. I have changed (some might say “devolved”…) from my initial desires to have “magnificent European style cottage gardens…a tangle of gorgeousness darling…” to “bloody hell those aggies (Agapanthus africanus) are great down the driveway Steve!”…I once HATED agapanthus; to my shame…I have changed from a plant snob through necessity. I consider myself chastened and flagellated. If it will grow luxuriously and it flowers beautifully year after year and it needs minimal ANYTHING and it doesn’t grow crazily so one minute you have space and the next it is full to the brim with said species…it is welcome on Serendipity Farm! My eyes have been opened to “real gardening”…no more pretty vs. productive…if it doesn’t have 2 uses and if it can’t survive on its own and it refuses to do what it is supposed to do without all kinds of cosseting and primping it is OUT. Enter the new chance to research annuals, perennials, ground covers, shrubs, climbers and trees that are water wise, drought tolerant and that will survive a bomb blast…my new best friends are slowly starting to amass around me…chia is in, because it is drought tolerant, has lovely flowers AND it gives you amazingly nutritious seeds…vegetable amaranth (Amaranthus caudatus), ditto…could even be considered a weed should I ever get stupid enough to not harvest it but what a weed! You can eat the leaves and the seed and it can be used medicinally as well. Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) has beetroot, spinach, the weed fat hen and tumbleweeds as its relatives and that qualifies it as a hardy specimen if ever I heard of one. Again I am consummately in love with gardening and the possibilities it has given us. Sometimes all it takes is a good result, a little bit of success to keep you in love with a process. I just planted some elderberries that I had dried a while ago after finding some on a shrub when we last went to the Evandale markets. I found a lot more seed that I had collected at the time and headed out to throw it to the 4 winds to allow nature to do what she will with the seed. If it grows, good on it, if it doesn’t, it wasn’t meant to. I got a new Milkwood permaculture post this morning giving a link to a wonderful free PDF about growing the right plants for our Aussie conditions to attract bees…the site is affiliated with the federal government and is called Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation. The website where you can download your own copy (remember to click “PDF Download”, the free option on the right hand side unless you want a $60 hard copy) is as follows…

https://rirdc.infoservices.com.au/items/12-014

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Lots of previously “lost seed” now found, distributed or planted (depending on its relevance to what we are doing) and the envelopes have been shredded in my little hand turned shredder and thrown into the compost…I wonder if any of these seeds grow? It is always an adventure when you plant seeds to see just what might grow. All of these seeds are very hardy so at least some of them should germinate

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A lump of oak branch that had blown down in winter 2012 that must be 100+ years old. Steve has lots of plans for this piece of wood from Bonnie Beach

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The good ship “Tubby Piggins” out on the high seas in rough conditions…it is VERY lucky that I wasn’t there because I suffer from motion sickness…and would be “feeding the fishes” 😉

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Steve’s clever idea to stop the frustration of trying to get the last bit of sauce out of the bottle…hang them upside down! Great idea… we just need to remember to close the lids…don’t we Steve! 😉

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Steve made this lovely spoon today out of golden sassafrass (Atherosperma moschatum) a wonderful endemic timber. He is currently working out what he is going to make for the next Serendipity Farm spoon draw. It cost almost nothing to send Christi her spoons and I can’t imagine it would cost much more to send them anywhere else in the world so we are going to carry on with our spoon, spatuloon, spork…whatever floats Steve’s boat on the day giveaways…keep your eye open for your next chance to win a one of a kind Serendipity Wooden accoutrement

While I was out broadcasting chia (might head out with some quinoa and amaranth as well in a bit…) I noticed something interesting. When we hacked back the overgrowth in the side garden next to our bedroom I decided not to waste this green haul. I finely cut everything that I could up and returned it to the soil as a very meagre coating of mulch. Some of this mulch consisted of small chunks of Buddleia davidii that have taken root and grown into small shrubs! I realise that Buddleia davidii could be considered a bit weedy but again, if it lives in our conditions, indeed THRIVES in our conditions and can survive what this property can hurl at it, it is welcome to stay. We have butterflies all over the place thanks to the Buddleia’s and that can NEVER be a bad thing :o). Our friend in the witness protection gave us some cuttings that she struck from her Pentstemon’s. She gave them to us because these perennials put on a glorious show year after year no matter what Mother Nature throws at them. Now THAT is the sort of plant that we want on Serendipity Farm! Tough as old boots, drought tolerant, showy, pretty flowers and bee and butterfly attractant. I think I might ask her for some more cuttings so that I can grow some more and dot them all over the place. A Wikipedia search curiously omits to mention that it will be cockroaches and pentstemons left to repopulate the earth after the next great ice-age but I guess the writer was only interested in the “pretty” value and not the hardiness. I am going to have the best time hunting around finding all sorts of gorgeous hardy perennials, shrubs etc. to be planted here that will give Serendipity Farm its own personality. I can feel the love :o)

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We headed up the hill today for our daily walk with the boys and after checking this little plant stall for anything desirable, I decided to take a photo and share it with you all. I have purchased lots of plants for Serendipity Farm from this little wooden stand

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I was attempting to take photos of the flowers of this Coastal Tea-tree (Leptospermum laevigatum) and noticed this little fellow trying, vainly, to blend in with the background. Coastal Tea-trees are incredibly hardy and are endemic to our local area. When the seed sets I am going collecting and will be attempting to grow some of these hardy bee attracters for Serendipity Farm

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Its no WONDER that little shiny insect was laying low! This rather more alarming insect is on the hunt for fodder for its young…

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Not too sure what this leptospermum is but its on the property and it is incredibly happy that we liberated it from forget-me-nots last year. It is also well past “shrub” and is almost a small tree

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Our driveway on the way back up to Serendipity Farm from our walk…nothing like having to walk up a 30 degree slope after a long walk!

The veggie garden is still going great guns and I picked 3 delightful small Lebanese cucumbers whilst looking for snow peas…I think finding produce that you weren’t even looking for makes you doubly happy as there is that serendipitous element when you are cutting back zucchini leaves and you suddenly find cucumbers sheltering en masse under the canopy…they are tasty little creatures too! Steve and I just ate 2 of them. He has a curiously U.K. desire to put them on his cheese sandwiches and to slice them up and pickle them…I love them straight with hummus which is how I had them for my lunch today. I recently read something very interesting “In a crisis situation, it isn’t the strongest or the most intelligent that survive…it is those that are the most able to adapt”…how interesting! The problem solvers survive eh? I have been trying to release my natural need to be in total control of everything this year. Last year saw us with a potential cataclysmic problem thanks to nothing that we could have prevented and I learned that “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. You need to be that person who takes it on the chin, who gets up and who finds a way through to the other side and I am in the process of learning how to weather storms. You have to be that problem solver, the one that they don’t eat because they are so incredibly valuable! I think that I am past “good eatin’” and am somewhat safe in that department but the reality is we are living in a rapidly changing world. Those of us who work to effect positive change on all levels in their lives are going to be more resilient than those who put their heads in the sand. I guess that is Serendipity Farm in a nutshell…an oasis of possibility and a plank/tightrope to walk for our own personal change. And there, my dear constant readers, I am going to leave this post for today. A bright summers weekend of possibilities lies ahead of us and we have all sorts of things to choose to do. Have a great one folks and see you on Wednesday where we may, or may not, have done something worth blogging about 😉

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One of the little figs that we appropriated from under an overgrown unkempt fig in Beaconsfield whose branches had layered. We got 3 large fig cuttings and every single one of them survived the winter in the glasshouse and are loving living on Serendipity Farm…Fig futures!

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Potato futures in one of our compost heaps

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The first of our corn futures

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I guess you would call these cucumber presents?

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And last, but by no means the least (because they keep on growing…more and more of them…they NEVER STOP!)…Golden zucchini futures 🙂

Bolshie broads and the lessons in a spoon

Hi All,

Steve is up to his eyeballs in wood shavings. He is out in the shed producing spoons out of Serendipity Farm wood. We have been hunting through our wood piles and have managed to find some Cotoneaster wood that is an amazing light fine grained wood much like oak and very hard. Steve is working on one Cotoneaster spoon now and has enough wood for another one and after that he will be working with some native Cherry (Exocarpos cupressiformis) that we plucked from our huge wicker man pile of wood in the teatree garden. Native Cherry is beautiful pink wood and if the moth larvae have left it alone it should make some very attractive spoons. We have been thinking about the dog’s diet lately as they seem to have fine-tuned it specifically to straight beef steak and each night we offer them a slight variation they turn up their noses and choose not to eat it. The food that we are offering them would be snapped up by most dogs, our boys are just spoiled and we are doing them no favours in the health stakes allowing them to continue eating only beef steak. Dogs, unlike cats, are not designed to eat only meat. They are NOT carnivores and are omnivores like we humans. In saying that…Earl is quite certain that he is the exception to the rule! Bezial is partial to mashed potato so long as there is a LOT of butter folded in. We have decided that we are going to have to do battle with the dogs on their stubborn and steadfast refusal to back down whenever we try to introduce fibre into their diet. We headed over to Georgetown today to pick up a large sack of dog biscuits. Little do the boys know but there are worse things than potatoes… they are just about to be introduced to the dog biscuit diet. For the next 2 weeks they are going to get dog biscuits for their evening meal. I am assured that dogs will only refuse their food until they are really hungry and the only thing wrong with our two is that they are incredibly spoiled and strong willed. Much like children, you have to give them boundaries and our boys are just about to learn an important lesson, refuse your meals at your own expense. Tonight they dine on Dr Harry’s finest ;).

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We visited our daughters today and Beth showed me some photos that they took over Christmas and was kind enough to allow me to share them with you on my blog…this is Qi. She is the queen of her street and God help ANYONE walking past on the footpath that she doesn’t like. Here you can see her performing a most useful trick for the camera…this trick has been known to get her all manner of tasty treats in the past… if it aint broke…don’t fix it!

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One of Bethany’s chalk drawings on a blackboard in her room…both girls are very talented artists

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Qi waiting for her Aunty Madeline to return from the shop before she is presumably allowed to get stuck into those presents under the tree!

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A white chocolate cake Buche Noel complete with chocolate acorns and a chocolate maple leaf on top

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Christmas dinner well underway…

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A mustard glazed ham covered in fruity goodness

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This cake has NOTHING to do with Christmas but everything to do with carrot cake deliciousness…it would seem that the girls artistic abilities drizzle over into their culinary triumphs as well :). Well done girls! I would sink my teeth into this beauty any day!

Another spoon has found its way out of a chunk of aged Tasmanian oak and into spoon form. Steve has decided to share his spoon making with me and has bravely taken on the task of teaching me to find spoons inside wood. He makes it seem so easy…a line here…a shave there…a bit of a look and the application of an auger bit or a hand held rasp and suddenly there it is…beautiful in its simplicity with smooth sides and wonderful grain. I have decided to make small spoons. Until today, I had wondered why you don’t see small wooden spice and condiment spoons apart from those mass manufactured Chinese imports but I now know that the return that you would get on them is far outweighed by their fiddly nature. I like fiddly things. I like untying knots in things, unravelling wool and Christmas lights. I like the process of taking something exasperating and releasing the calm. It’s a pity I can’t find it in myself to do the same thing but that is another story ;). Making smaller spoons allows me to use the offcuts from Steve’s bigger spoons, minimising the waste and allowing the wood to yield a lot more bang/spoon for our metaphorical buck. While I was digging through Steve’s offcut bucket I noticed a very large spoon blank that had been partially formed. When I say large…this blank was 2 ½ feet (76cm) long and extremely chunky. Steve had apparently discovered a bit of a flaw where the spoon basin meets the handle and tossed it (in his own words) “into the too hard basket”. I looked at this behemoth of a spoon and immediately felt an instant camaraderie. I, too, am a bit of a handful spoon. I am a bolshie broad. I don’t fit easily into societal moulds and bits of me hang over the side protesting loudly and waving banners and the spoon inside that massive chunk of wood called out to me and the deal was sealed. Forget those little spoons for a bit, my very first spoon is going to be a massive great Blackwood ladle. I used our Dremel and a special carving bit to remove all of the spoon that didn’t want to be there…I know it didn’t want to be there because I asked it. The spoon guided me around it saying “Don’t take that bit, I need that!” and “gently…gently…GENTLY! Can’t you understand spoonese?”… As I carefully pared all of the bits that weren’t spoon away, saving the sawdust for using in my compost bucket to minimise smells and maximise the suite of organisms that infest our compost pile, I thought about how Steve goes about making his spoons and how very different our processes were. We both let the spoon talk, but Steve let the spoon “out”…I think I have a bit too much of my German heritage in me to let some mad artist take over the status quo and I like simplicity, order and symmetry. Steve’s spoon has curves, angles and wends its way into being. My spoon is solid, heavy, deep and should last centuries even if it gets used to repel boarders on more than one occasion.

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A chunk of dry cotoneaster we culled from Serendipity Farm. Steve uses his chainsaw to cut a sliver from the side of the log and then runs it through his thicknesser to make a thick plank. He then draws a spoony outline onto the wood and cuts out the shape with his jigsaw

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After some serious rasping and shaping with an auger bit on an angle grinder he removes all of the bits of spoon that aren’t “spoon”…

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Almost finished aside from the handle and the final sandpapering

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Hows this for a massive great chunk of Acacia melanoxylon (Blackwood)? This is MY spoon/ladle and over the next few weeks I will be slowly allowing it to take shape (or…I will hurl it in a fit of pique across the shed where it will remain until some rodenty creature adds it’s own mark to my shame! 😉 )

I love to think of the spoons that we are creating heading off into the kitchens of friends and family. I love to think of the continuity and the simple day to day use that these spoons will be part of. Stirring preserves and jams while the kitchen resonates with discussion and music or simply being part of it all…these spoons will see kitchens that I will never see…they will be privy to amazing celebrations and the darkest moments in someone’s life. Babies might cut their teeth on the ends of these spoons, harvests will be put up, and stews will be stirred, strange regional specialties that I can only marvel at will be spun into existence and all from a chunk of Serendipity Farm wood that was destined for the fire. I thought about attempting to embellish them but something stopped me… most probably the inner German who likes things simple, unadorned and classic and that wants these hand crafted spoons to find their own voices and speak for themselves. I can see this becoming something that Steve and I can share. We are so very different and our interests are incredibly variable but this is one thing that we can do together, side by side in the shed and sharing a common bond of creation. It is going to take a LONG time for my ladle to emerge. It has promised to fight me every step of the way but in so doing, it promises to give me some precious life lessons in that process. I sometimes think that we bypass so many opportunities to learn and grow in life because they are tossed into the “Too Hard Basket”. It might be time for us to go back there and pick something out and give it a go…see if you can’t find whatever it is that exists inside your chosen chunk of life and pare away everything that isn’t it. In so doing, you might just find something precious

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This is the spoon that Steve made for Christi to give to her daughter who is getting married. It’s made of Tasmanian oak and has a very classic shape. It’s hard to get too artistic when you don’t know the person that you are making the spoon for and although this spoon started out with some “interesting” collar bones that Steve swears the spoon told him it needed, my Germanic need for Art Deco simplicity came to the fore and said collarbones are now only a memory (you can thank me later Molly! 😉 )

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The chunk of aged Tasmanian oak board that Steve used to create this spoon…another reason why we should take to heart the lesson “you should never judge a book by it’s cover…”

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We ran out of Eco oil (a blend of edible orange and tung oil) to finish the 2 spoons that Steve made but you can see them here with Christ’s winning spoon almost ready to be finished and sent and being guarded by Mr Steve Vai himself 😉

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And here they are after a nice rub over with Eco oil. It really brings out the natural beauty in these spoons. The first spoon is the cotoneaster spoon, the second is the Tasmanian oak spoon and the third is Christi’s winning spoon in Blackwood. We will send them next week and I hope that you enjoy them girls 🙂

I got the book that I won from Emily over at “Sincerely, Emily” in the mail today. If you would like to see a cracking way to use up some of your zucchini’s this season, check out her latest post that pairs potato and zucchini in a most scrumptious, innovative and healthy way…

http://emilysincerely.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/zucchini-and-potato-au-gratin-sort-of/

It’s a lovely book full of weird and off the wall creations that really makes my heart sing because I can’t be abiding with boring things and I love to create customised recipes because life is too short to eat lima beans if you don’t like them. I, personally, LOVE lima beans but I do understand that there are some of you out there (mad, foolish people that you are) who don’t and so I won’t go hunting for a lima bean recipe to share with you from the book but on opening the Index I get instantly excited by the possibilities. I might be the Sidmouth equivalent of Letitia Cropley (if you don’t know who I am talking about, head off and watch “The Vicar of Dibley” for goodness sakes… you are missing out severely if you don’t!) but there are amazing combinations in this book that I haven’t even heard of and I had heard of Gremolata before the chef that taught me commercial cookery so that is no mean feat in a book! I am going to treasure this book because it doesn’t only instruct, it educates. It doesn’t only share; it gives you the impetus to try new things…to experiment and in so doing, to create new recipes of your own. That’s what makes the cooking world go round folks and “Put ‘em Up!” A comprehensive home preserving guide for the creative cook from drying and freezing to canning and pickling by Ms Cherri Brooks Vinton is one of those rare tombs that you simply don’t want to put down let alone lend anyone. Please don’t ask me for a lend of my copy because I won’t be letting it out of my sight for a good few years yet. I have too many things to learn from it like… “What the heck are ristras?”…and “Heirloom watermelon jelly?” …and “Agua Fresca?”… and any book that talks about probiotics and kimchi in the same breath as “red hot vodka” and something as lascivious as a “Strawberry Blonde” (whatever that may be…) is one that is going to be kept in the kitchen, just out of reach of Earls questing mandible’s and right there where I can find it, amongst my wooden spoons ready for duty at a moment’s notice. Thank you SO much Emily. You have given me something wonderful and this coming harvest surplus is going to be such fun to preserve :o)

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My wonderful new cookbook and Emily’s lovely personal note to me included 🙂

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We picked up a few bags of soft toys for the boys to deconstruct on Christmas Day and included in one of the bags was this sock monkey… every man needs a sock monkey in his music room so Earl didn’t get to sample this one…”better luck next time Earl! You are going to have to be content with raiding the clothes hamper and stealing Steve’s dirty socks”

I am officially terrified of our vegetable patch. Steve, who just watered the veggies, is in agreement. The tomatoes have gone mad and have not only invaded the “Poland” of their neighbouring tomato bed but they have both joined forces and are threatening to go all Genghis Khan on the poor lettuce bed. Beetroot that are supposed to be “medium” are now exploding from their bed and the spinach that we were expecting to be lucky to get a few bunches from because it was so slow in taking off, has taken off with a vengeance and is rivalling the silverbeet (Swiss chard) for height and stature. I am not really complaining because aside from going exponential on our derrières the veggie garden is producing edible vegetables. I can only put it down to using compost as the base of our garden beds, lots of small chunks of decomposing wood for air and room for roots to grow and the wonderful black organic compost that we picked up in Exeter as the soil substitute that having to build upwards forced us to utilise. It has certainly excited us regarding vegetable growing and eating and its true folks…home grown veggies taste MUCH better. Steve is eating things that he would have turned up his nose at in the not so distant past and is eating them raw in salads. He didn’t even realise that he ate spinach and perpetual spinach in a salad the other day, he just raved about how tasty it was. You want your kids to eat their veggies? Try growing them :o). Our newfound excitement at being able to eat what we are growing notwithstanding, our terror is still rising. How much bigger can zucchini plants get! I have already cut off their Samson like locks army style in an attempt to allow my poor eggplants to get a bit of light and within a week they were towering over the poor huddled eggplants cowering beneath their enormous elephantine leaves. Not only are they growing faster than is physically possible, they are armour plated and cutting their leaves to put them into the compost heap without wearing gloves is a painful lesson that I will only have to learn once. Our cucumber crop is promising to be amazing as each of the 6 vines is covered in flowers with tiny little Lebanese cucumbers at the bases. I can hear my daughter Madeline applauding as I type that sentence and she will put our excesses to good use sliced thinly with some rice wine vinegar, mirin and sesame seeds. Our corn is magnificent, our silverbeet tastes delicious, our beans are going gangbusters and all in all we are having a great vegetable season.

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In the breeding season the local Cuckoo shrikes are hard pressed to find enough to eat while they are cramming their noisy brood full of insects and we give them a bit of cheese to help them out. Here you can see the rare large spotted nosey bird hunting for cheese…

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While we were in Launceston today I took a heap of photos to share our beautiful city with you all. I don’t get to go there often now and I really do appreciate it’s beauty. While I was taking a few shots of the Japanese garden near the library I noticed someone taking photos and realised it was me! Can you see how tired Earl is of me stopping and taking off the lens cap? 😉

Steve is going to head off and go “floating” again on New Year’s Day. I knew that he would love pootling around in his aluminium dinghy if he took it out a few times. There is something soothing about skimming a large body of water with only a thin skin of aluminium between you and a cold splash and it’s great fun to steer your little coracle between the drifting jellyfish that the tide wash up and down the river twice a day from the sea and back in a never ending cycle of jellyfish waltzing. You can be master of your own possibilities and should you manage to catch a fish you can get your wife to fillet it for you and cook it fresh from the boat…like veggies from a veggie garden to your plate, fish from the boat tastes amazingly good…unless you caught blowfish in your ignorance… Steve used to enjoy catching fish when we lived in Albany Western Australia. I worked strange hours as befits a cook and he would drop me off at work and head off fishing till it was time to pick me up and head home. He spent many a hot summer moonlit night with only the city lights and the sounds of the humpback whales singing their sea shanties in the harbour to keep him company. He would drop me off early in the morning on my day shifts, before the sun came up, and would make a beeline for the aptly named “Salmon holes” where accompanied only by a little Chinese fisherman who couldn’t speak a word of English but who using sign language to ask Steve for his unwanted fish heads and for a time they shared silent communion with the waves and the dolphins in the breakers and the sea, he would catch his bag limit of 7kg Australian salmon and then face the daunting task of carrying them back up the almost vertical steps half a kilometre (straight up) back to where the car was waiting. Salmon fishing is an Aussie male rite of passage. Something that “the blokes” do and that needs to be accompanied by an esky bedecked with beer and bait and tales of “the mongrel that got away” and “I bloody nearly had it!” echo semi-convincingly around the pub with your mates after a day of sunstroke and sunburn. What more could an Aussie bloke want? Aside from a bbq to slap the catch on when they got back and a doting wife with a fridge full of amber ale to keep the stories growing exponentially long after the sun has gone down and half your mates are asleep. Steve is new to blokish behaviour but it certainly hasn’t taken him long to embrace the amber fluid in its chilled form and I haven’t heard him “whinge” in a long time…”we will make a bloke out of you yet young ex-pat Stevie boy!” 😉

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/images__by_christof/6232517839/

Christof in Oz’s photo of the steps leading down to where Steve caught those salmon “You’re legs are like coiled springs young padawan!” 😉

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Generic touristy shot pinched from the interweb of the walkway running along the top of the cliffs above where Steve used to fish for salmon…beautiful, amazing scenery, good fishing and subject to random king waves that have swept many unsuspecting fishermen to their deaths in the past few years.

Well it’s time to wrap up this post and head off to embrace the weekend. It will be 2013 the next time we meet. We managed to all mill together over 2012 and we survived the Mayan apocalypse en mass…we learned, we grew and we shared and 2013 can only give us more opportunities for the same. I can’t wait to share it all with you and I just want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for coming along for the ride on Serendipity Farm…I know I tend to take you in the old 60’s land rover with the bung suspension and I tend to go through the back paddocks and hit every damned pothole on the way but you have to admit…sometimes I find something special to share with you and you are the very first people that I want to share it with every single time :o). See you on the Boxing Day equivalent of New Year’s Day…you would think that some entrepreneur out there would have cashed in on the possibilities but for now, your poor long suffering wallet is safe from New Year’s Boxing Day 😉

A Sustainable Elegant sufficiency…We wish you enough

Hi All,

My last post saw us barely surviving a major financial crisis. We started out annoyed at Centrelinks bungling and ended up thrust into something completely out of our control or sphere of influence. We were reminded of how very little control we actually have over our lives and the entire event gave us back a true appreciation for living simply with less and making do with what you have. Last year we wanted to share a truly sustainable, low cost and anti-consumerist Christmas together but we got a bit hijacked by mum and her desire to feed the world. After mum died 9 days after she returned home from Serendipity Farm we realised that sometimes, someone else’s desires are more important than your own and mum having had a fantastic time hijacking our Christmas resulted in point taken and most graciously learned. This year we decided to make sure that our Christmas would be a balance between something special and a truly sustainable celebration. We wanted to bypass the hype that accompanies the Christmas season…we wanted to arrive at the end of the day satiated and content rather than bewildered, confused and in debt for 6 months with very little to show for it. We started off by making sure that we only bought what we actually wanted to eat on the day. We wanted to keep it small and try to prevent the problem of leftovers that don’t get eaten or that force us to eat more than we should in an effort to prevent wastage. We asked each other what we felt were “special foods” that would make us feel like we had feasted in style and headed out to shop for as much of it as we could before the day came, spreading out the cost and minimising the financial stress. We tried to shop for Australian grown/made and produced foods and preferably in nice jars so that they could be reused when preserving our coming harvest. We grew our salad vegetables and it was wonderful to water the garden and then harvest our own spinach, red and green lettuce and rocket for our salad and in the process we saved ourselves a 100km round trip having to head into Launceston to pick up our fresh veggies at the last minute on Christmas Eve. At the end of our simple but elegant meal we were satisfied beyond the physical and the tiny amount of waste, the lemon skin from our homemade alcoholic fruit punch and the avocado shells along with the Christmas pudding box and the cheezel box, were all recyclable and ended up being cut up fine and put into the compost bucket to turn Serendipity Farms ancient soils into something more fecund and worm friendly to create next years “soil” for our next Christmas vegetable haul…cycles of manageability and perpetuity…taking us from season to season and building on the foundations of sustainability that we are stacking on top of the stones that form Serendipity Farm. Our Christmas was just enough and left us replete and entirely satiated, physically, mentally and spiritually. The sustainable Christmas that we wanted we got and we are not paying for it in any way at all today. Come February, there won’t be any nasty surprised for us and Christmas has taken on new substance and meaning and has evolved to fit our personal ethos. This year…we learned :o)

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Here is the end result of the marathon Stollen making event…2 of the 6 Stollen ready to be transported to our neighbours alimentary canals

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Steve’s pork pies with his patented jelly injecting aparatus

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A true Brit will ALWAYS find a way to satisfy cravings from home and these pork pies are Steve’s way of satisfying his Christmas cravings. He also made some scotch eggs, another “Steve” Christmas tradition

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Our Christmas Day salad quotient from our veggie garden on the left, and the chooks Christmas Day silverbeet quotient on the right. Aren’t the stems of this ruby chard/silverbeet beautiful?

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Our simple Christmas Day feast…a most elegant sufficiency for 2 happy hippies in the Southern Hemisphere 🙂

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Our compost bucket with all that remains of our Christmas feast 🙂

I took a little bunch of lavender to lay at the foot of mums Claret Ash. Whenever I see the tree I think of mum and how much she loved it here. I tucked a Cecile Brunner rose and a Bourbon rose into the tiny bouquet because wherever mum was shuffled off to in her higgledy piggledy life she centred the chaos by building a garden and there was always a Cecile Brunner and Bourbon rose planted first up. I find it incredibly ironic that both of these roses are growing on Serendipity Farm and are true survivors, much like mum was. We exchanged our yearly bottles of wine over the garden gate between our place and Glad’s next door and as Glad and her daughter Wendy were drooling over Steve making homemade pork pies for Christmas he offered to make them one each as well. As expats they all need to stick together and talk soon ran to “have you found a decent sausage here yet?” and all things traitorous and anti-Aussie until Glad started talking about her annual pudding making marathon and Steve said “I will buy one off you next year Glad” and she promptly headed off and gave him a magnificent homemade pudding redolent with spice and what appears, most suspiciously, to be rum! Steve took one of his homemade pork pies down with a loaf of Stollen and his pork pies rated 9 out of 10. Not bad for someone who lived on chips and beans in his bachelor years. The Stollen were an experiment and after following Tobi’s recipe carefully I set about making the homemade almond paste for the stollen first using frugally bought almonds in skins and as I poured boiling water over the 600g of them and started slowly peeling each individual almond I realised that our incessant need to remove the simple processes of life has also removed “thinking time”…it’s no wonder so many women race around like chooks with their heads cut off…we don’t have that centring time that comes with these humble processes and with the popularity of homesteading these wonderful processes are giving us back so much more than we lose in time. I really enjoyed my time skinning those almonds and remembering doing the same when “helping” mum make her fruitcakes each year. I am sure that we ate more almonds than we skun but as we popped the soaked almonds out of their skins we were learning the value of making things from scratch…the frugality of doing things yourself and the camaraderie of time spent learning at your mothers feet…precious time that you only appreciate when you have children of your own and your mother isn’t there to learn from any more

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Mums little bouquet of memories

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Some of our Christmas goodies to inject “Christmas Spirits” into our day (sorry about the bad pun but SOMEONE had to make it! 😉 )

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Home grown strawberries from our tip plants with some of the pretty icecubes that Steve made for our Christmas wine punch and some raspberries from our friend Roxy who kindly gave us some

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Wine punch in lovely glasses given to me last year by my clever stylish daughters…all of the fruit included in the punch came from a 10km radius, the fruit juice is Aussie juice, the wine is Aussie wine and the softdrink came from small Aussie producers…even the rum that Steve didn’t see me tip into my green glass was Aussie 😉

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Christmas Cheer!

We have been thinking of ways to raise money and Steve has come up with a vajazzle kit to raise funds…anyone wanting to take advantage of his half price “Mates rates” send a plain brown self-addressed and stamped envelope and he will see you right ;)…he is a product of Essex after all folks! ;). We saw the Black pearl pirate ship on doomsday folks! No…I didn’t drink too much rum yesterday (although to be honest, everything towards the end of our marathon “The Vicar of Dibley” watching event started to blur into itself for no known reason…). We really did see a black replica pirate ship with a black flag and black sails silently gliding down the river right using the tide to propel it sideways underneath the Batman Bridge. We haven’t been able to find out anything about this obviously special boat but know that it is/was anchored just off the Deviot Yacht Club just around the corner from Serendipity Farm and there was nothing in the local newspaper about it. We would like to think that they have come to pick Steve as the new Dread Pirate Roberts. He would be perfect. He has all the swashbuckling charm of a top pirate, twinkling pirate eyes, a nice beard that could quickly be rendered “swashbuckling” with a bit of a shear and 9 earrings…yes…he had a misspent youth folks! I figure I would be allowed to tag along but would suffer the ignominy of being used as the ships ballast/anchor or chief cook and bottle washer… Earl would make a perfect pirate dog…he has the same “Devil-may-care” attitude as Steve and doggish good looks…Bezial would be huddled in the galley howling on the floor until he was released, still howling, back onto the shore by disgusted pirates as the shameless landlubber that he is. We aren’t all born to be pirates, but those of us who are need the minimum of a small aluminium dinghy to keep them happy and Steve spent this morning out on the water tootling around in his own floatation device happily fishing and catching nothing. The fun is in the floating apparently but in my mind, the odd fish wouldn’t go astray…

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“The Black Pearl” (if this is indeed Captain Jack Sparrows ship…)…”Revenge” (if we are going with The Dread Pirate Roberts) or what the hey… how about “The Black Pig” and we could go with Captain Pugwash! All in all a decidely piratey ship floating down the Tamar River at 9pm on Doomsday…

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12120049Here you can see a dog who is well aware of how blissful freedom can be relining in state on the grassy slopes of an embankment somewhere on Serendipity Farm

12120054Here he is accompanied by a dog who most decidedly DOESN’T know the value of freedom and who flagrantly flouts the rules and blunders through the boundaries that Bezial completely understands…sigh…”One day Earl…One day…”

Our veggies are going ballistic and we should get tomatoes by the bucket load this year. We were clever and planted mostly cherry tomatoes that should have plenty of time to grow and ripen over the next few months in our short growing season. We are starting to think about making a massive great enclosed walk in veggie patch with more free ex-fish farm netting and upping our veggie production in the process. We are letting some of our rocket and lettuces go to seed to collect for next year and the coriander went straight from seedling to seed in a single step! Our rocket is rapidly following suit and rather than complain about the situation I am enjoying the possibilities of flowers to throw into my salads, seed to save and share and the value of perpetuity and cycling on Serendipity Farm. Now that the chooks are contained I am starting to notice how much damage they actually did to the garden and am silently apologising to the wallabies for damage that I attributed to them and that was in actuality, chook damage. Pingu was the worst culprit and spent hours on end jumping to defoliate tender tasty shrubs and the Physalis peruviana (Ground cherry) has suspiciously started growing leaves again below the “jump zone” of a small, most determined hand reared Plymouth Rock hen, hell bent on destruction and self-gratification. She also developed a taste for beech tree leaves and our poor special dwarf weeping beech is only just beginning to grow a few sparse leaves to keep itself alive and photosynthesising until it can grow some new ones next spring. Pingu has adapted well to being put in the chook run along with her sisters despite living in Steve’s shed with a “birds-eye” view of the river from her lofty perch on a large terracotta pot on a bench overlooking the river. The chooks don’t seem to be missing their freedom at all and seem most content. We have still got 3 feral youngsters that we couldn’t catch roaming free, 2 roosters and 1 small hen and a single hen (one of Effel Doocark’s prodigious penultimate batch) managed to elude our best efforts and hatch out 6 more babies down under the massive big oak tree at the very front of the property between Serendipity Farm and Glad’s property “Four Oaks”. We took her down some water and food and will attempt to catch the wayfaring brood and rehouse them in the chook run along with her sisters 11 remaining babies…the more the merrier eh? 😉

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It took an hour to turn this previously empty hall into this…hopefully the event went well, they didn’t need us for Christmas day and so we said our goodbyes and will do it again next year…a most worthy use for 1 hour of our time

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This Physalis peruviana had been so devastated by Pingu that it decided to take it’s chances growing through the deck rails

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You can see the green fruit like a tiny green lantern  that will soon turn buff and when the fruit is ripe it will fall to the ground, protected by it’s papery husk and waiting for us to pick it up, peel it and eat it

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A shot of our homemade driftwood Pirate Christmas Tree (Maybe THIS is what the pirates were looking for…it wasn’t Steve at all! And to think… he hid under the bed for 3 days quaking in fear! 😉 )…lit up like the proverbial and doing it’s job admirably

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Aren’t these icecubed that Steve made especially for me pretty? Who knew he had it in him! You old romantic you Steve 😉

Another year is galloping to a close and we are satiated and full of the gratefulness that a very close call can bring. 2013 is beckoning to us from behind its veiled position on the horizon and after sharing a simple and most satisfying Christmas day I would just like to leave you with this article to ponder the true meaning of Christmas and the endurance of the human spirit despite all odds…

http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/history/2011/12/peace-on-the-western-front-goodwill-in-no-mans-land-the-story-of-the-world-war-i-christmas-truce/

How to turn trash into treasure…

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A few years ago when we were still attending horticultural day classes at our local Polytechnic we noticed one of the classrooms being gutted and all sorts of things being thrown out into a large skip right outside where we sat and daydreamed while our poor lecturer tried to get something to stick in our heads in the midafternoon warmth of summer. On the way home we asked the workmen if we could take a look in the skip that contained all manner of amazing things including filing cabinets, desks, office chairs and these magnificent orbs of 70’s plastic, having obviously once served duty as oversized light shades somewhere. Our friend in the witness protection stored them at her place until we could bring them home and “home” they sat for 3 years…this year we decided to remedy this and we put them to use on Serendipity Farm…

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After taping up the orbs Steve spray painted them with cheap spray paint in his Pingu free shed…

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While one was drying, we sprayed another…

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Then we added stripes of other colours to our oversized Christmas baubles…

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Doesn’t the base look like a Union Jack?! This shot was to show you how clever we are…what forward thinking little penniless student hippies we are and how your taxpayer dollars are actually being put to good use in teaching us to plan and think… Tasmania + Summer + rain = enormous oversized baubles FULL of water and weighing a tonne…a carefully drilled hole in the base of our baubles and the prospective problem simply vanishes…

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Our oversized Christmas baubles hanging over the gate at the front of the property…Now we just have to work out how to get them down…

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! 😉

A study in Irony

Hi All,

As I alluded to in Wednesdays post this will be Post 1 in a series of gutter posts. If you spend as much time walking dogs as we do you tend to be well versed in gutters and their foibles. If you walk strong dogs you might even get dragged into gutters occasionally and if you live in Tasmania you usually get to see more than your fair share of rubbish laying in these gutters. After Bezials recent attempt to break the world parkour record (and failed epically mind you) I found myself walking Earl myself and pounding the gutters alone. I was on my way home from one of my recent solo ventures when I picked up a coke zero bottle from the gutter as a token prize for Earl when he got home to take his mind off the tastiness of our leather sofas. Up until now we haven’t had too much trouble with Earl and the sofa’s but you never know…better safe than sorry and so if we plant to head out into the garden for an extended period of time (which spring tends to bring out in us…) we like to provide Earl with something other than the cushions of our sofa to exercise his teeth on. Plastic soft drink bottles (yes…here in Australia we call them soft drinks…you may titter now my dear constant American readers…) are one of Earl’s favourite things to while away time left abandoned and alienated from his pack. Bezial is still there but he is usually too busy sulking about his own abandonment to want to play with Earl so keeping Earls mandibles occupied is a reasonable precautionary measure. As I picked up the coke bottle I noticed that it contained an empty snickers bar wrapper. I thought to myself “how ironic that someone was drinking coke zero and in some alternate universe thought that this was going to negate the calories from the snickers bar?!”… I then got to thinking about irony and how it should really be my middle name…”Frances Irony Pimblett”…

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This is the coke zero bottle that spawned this post

The irony is that this coke bottle symbolifies so very much that our society is kidding itself about. “If you eat broken Tim-tams (a most delicious chocolate Australian biscuity version of crack cocaine…) and drink them with diet coke you won’t put on any calories… who are we kidding?! The diet industry has us panicking about anything that we put in our mouths…supported by the dieticians and food scientists that constantly elevate foods to “superfood status” and then pull the rug out from under them by finding out that they cause cancer or that rats that ate them had spasms or developed terrible twitching habits. How many people spend a fortune buying “diet” and “lite” versions of foods only to find out that what they are putting in their mouths is ironically packing on the pounds! As I looked at the coke zero bottle in my hand and tried to keep Earl from stealing it from me I noticed the shape of the bottle…subliminal advertising folks! Have you ever looked at a coke zero bottle? It has a waist! It also has little indented lines that give it an even more sylph like appearance…the irony here is that we have just been told that diet products are actually causing people to put on weight. If the bottle I was holding in my hand was any indicator of the truth the anonymous consumer who hurled their bottle out the window and gave me pause for thought had just mixed more than metaphors and had obviously arrived at allowing themselves to eat a snickers bar because they had accompanied it with a diet soft drink. Aside from the chemical cocktail that coke zero contains this person had consumed more than they obviously would have if they had chosen a regular coke OR a snickers and this is where it gets a bit hazy…people who choose “diet” and “lite” and “fat free” equivalents appear to be eating and drinking more because of this implied negation of calories.

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Note the “waist” it would give Barbie a run for her money…

Who doesn’t remember Alanis Morissette and her wonderful anthem to “bollocks”…” Ironic”. I swear people have written entire doctoral thesis on this album and the song could more accurately be titled “Sardonic” but it certainly made us sit up and take notice of a woman scorned (and think twice about flaunting your newfound happiness Uncle Joey!). If you have been living under a rock or in a dark cave for the last 40 years here is a Youtube link to Alanis singing her pain ridden angst out of a bad relationship…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jne9t8sHpUc

I have to say that Alanis certainly had a lot of character back then ;).

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Someone is getting impatient with me taking photos of “his” coke bottle!

So many ironies…so little time! One of my own personal ironies is that I am possessed of an adventurous soul that would love to drop everything and race off to Morocco to wander the Moroccan tundra’s (or whatever approximates tundra’s in Morocco) and find my inner narf. I indulge my soul by finding things out…by learning everything that I can and I have completely taken to heart the theory that learning keeps you mentally young. The irony is that my soul might be experimental however it gets regularly squashed by my head that is purely practical and my inner mouse that tends to run scurrying for the nearest hole whenever an adventure is at hand. I love my creature comforts…my bed…my own little box and my happy little mindless routines that help me to feel safe and hurling myself into the unknown holds nothing but terror for at least 2/3rd of my being. The other 1/3rd is going to just have to learn to be happy with this life that I lead because Morocco is nowhere on the horizon.

Coke started out with a special ingredient…cocaine (hence the name). Steve was watching a television program on Drugs and how policing drug sales and use is a futile experiment. It listed all kinds of designer drugs that are actually completely legal and able to be sold and drug dealers are one step ahead of legislation and the police with all kinds of little tweaks to their chemical cocktails that will allow them to be sold Willy-nilly to their enthusiastic audiences of people willing to experiment with their lives. One of them was sold as a plant food and another one was registered as an alloy wheel cleaner…I ask you…people who are willing to ingest something that is designed to clean alloy wheels must be made of different stuff to the rest of us! Who would take a risk like that when it came to their lives?! It would seem that most of Scotland and a goodly percentage of our youth and people living on the poverty line in slums the world over would… that’s who. Why could they care less about their lives? Because their lives are filled with fear, uncertainty, physical, mental and spiritual poverty and they stone cold suck THAT is why. A little bit of chemical happiness is just the ticket because the world is stark and horrible and full of failure and the inability to find a way to succeed…that’s why we have drug problems. The irony in it all is that the jails are full of the poor. There aren’t a lot of wealthy cocaine users languishing in prison cells…the prisons are chock full of people who got caught smoking crack cocaine, making their own chemical cocktails of happiness and it would seem that happiness is more addictive than crack because these people keep taking incredible risks to get that “high” no matter what the cost. The complete irony is that this war is NEVER going to be won until the real reason why people keep turning to drugs is dealt with… when your life sucks…you will find an out…drugs are an out on steroids. Give people back hope… give them back a chance at a life…give them back a home, and a sense of dignity and family, a neighbourhood worth living in…good healthy food and a chance to work and experience how beneficial it can be to have a purpose and the rate of drug usage will fall. I guarantee it :o)

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10c is nothing to sniff at when you are a child who has spent their pocket money and the highway is littered with bottles. Supervised groups of children could make a fair bit of money in Tasmania!

Another little irony of the coke bottle is that only 1 of our Australian states and territories has woken up to a fantastic way to keep their roads and highways clear of recyclables. South Australia (home of the Earl) kept bottle deposits and returns long after all of the other states and territories ceased offering money on the return of glass and plastic bottles. I dare say it would be hard to find a discarded glass or plastic bottle in South Australia because 10c is 10c folks and 10 of them is a dollar… collect a carton of them and you are halfway to buying yourself another bottle of soft drink. If you can offer someone a reward at the end of their mindless consumption that results in their hip pocket being a little bit fatter along with an pat on the back and an environmental “tick” for their efforts you are most of the way to eliminating wanton rubbish disposal. I remember when you could return a bottle to the place that you purchased it and you got money. I also remembered that the scouts used to wander the highways with the scout leaders and bottles were a good source of fundraising without having to constantly hassle poor long suffering mum’s for “more cakes please mum”. Fitness and free money…what more could a child want? Maybe the real reason why Australians are getting more obese has nothing to do with junk food and everything to do with how we no longer wander the streets searching for deposit return bottles! It’s a theory…it hasn’t been disproved… There was some talk about using this scheme once more in Tasmania to try to quell the rubbish thrown out of people’s car windows. They mentioned that the 10c return would have to be reflected in a 10c increase in price but who would notice 10c on a bottle of soft drink that already costs $3.00 in most convenience stores? Bring it on I say!

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Waiting for permission to get stuck into his coke zero bottle…I sometimes think that Earl gets more pleasure out of the outside of a softdrink bottle than most people get out of the contents 😉

The final irony of the coke bottle is that I will head down into the gutter to pick them up in the first place. People drive past me carrying my collection of soft drink bottles and smile…I can actually feel them thinking “good on her! At least someone is trying to tidy up Australia”… the irony is that I am only collecting these soft drink bottles to feed to my dog to stop him from eating the furniture. I get to bask in the reflected glory of my wonderful deeds when in reality I am just satisfying my own need to still have furniture to sit on at the end of the day. Whatchagonnado eh dear constant readers? Have a great rest of your weekend and normal blog post services will be resumed on Wednesday where we will talk less about irony and a whole lot more about Serendipity Farm :o)

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All I have to do is fish out the snickers wrapper and the rest of the bottle is recyclable…Earl obviously doesn’t like coke zero… I think that Earl needs all of the calories that he can get! 😉

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Finally we have someone who could snip one of those coke bottles in half in a second with that big beak. A baby yellow tailed black cockatoo who has just been coaxed out of his nest by his parents with the promise of hakea nuts. Steve took this shot just outside our back door today.

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