It’s Leonhard Euler’s birthday today!

Hi All,

I can hear you asking “who is Leonhard Euler?” Is he narf7’s neighbour? No, my dear constant readers, Leonhard Euler is someone that was born hundreds of years ago…back in 1707 on the 15th of April. He was one of our founding fathers of mathematics and was Swiss (it figures). Why do I care that Mr Leonhard Euler was born today? Well to be honest I don’t. Google told me to go and check it out. It put a most interesting header on its home page today that when I clicked on an atom in the middle of the design, it spun. That’s how you lead lemmings to their deaths folks…you let them spin an atom and suddenly they are up to their armpits in mathematics and equations and formulae and they are drowning in the stuff! As I now know, life is half science and half maths. The scientists and mathematicians told me so. I like to live on the fringes of both disciplines in the “dead zone” when neither venture and where both fear to tread. I live in the part where I do little experiments to see just how insane I can make scientists and mathematicians whilst still maintaining my ethical position. Mr Leonhard Euler kindly left behind his likeness in portraits. He must have liked his likeness a LOT because there are a lot of them on the right hand side of my Google search page and most of them look like David Spade with a strange tic. Maybe the Swiss revered people that look like thin mean weasels? Perchance I am seeing a 300+ year old “Botticelli” moment right here where skinny weasel men were found to be the height of gorgeousness itself? I guess maths and science generated a degree of awe back then that could have linked itself to the sexy train? It’s easier to believe when you take a look at the other scientists and mathematicians that Google wants you to spend WAY too much of your precious time left on earth checking out. People like Joseph Louis Lagrange (who bears a strange resemblance to Mr Bean), Carl Friedrich Gauss (that looks like Spike Milligan at the height of his manic depression…) and Pierre de Fermat (a florid and most obvious proponent of the “comb over” who may have even invented this wonderful saving grace of the older man). Then you get to the scientists that “look like Steve”. Curiously there are several of them! I once envisioned Rincewind of Discworld fame as having a very strong resemblance to Steve but then I saw portraits painted of Isaac Newton and realised that Steve has been here before. I just saw another scientist/mathematician (who would know Google…you thoughtlessly expect me to click on that portrait to spend MORE of my precious life moments finding out? You are sadly mistaken!) called Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (funny how you don’t want to correct THOSE names Spell check! 😉 ) that also bears a striking resemblance to Steve (and Isaac Newton at the same time)…I might have to ask Steve why he looks like these esteemed most learned gentlemen but why he could care less about science, mathematics and the general pursuit of research in any way shape or form…could it be another case of life trying to balance itself out? The enormous void of vacuous thought left in a permanent vacuum since these 2 esteemed learned gents passed away in a flash of blinding human inspiration has finally been allowed to reach equilibrium in one man born 300 years later…good on you Steve…you ARE doing your bit for science and mathematics after all! 😉

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Here is Bezial doing his very best to steal a ball of wool, run, and get away with it before I catch up with him…this is what you could call an “evidence” shot. Bezial swears black and blue that Earl is the most reprobated dog that was ever born…methinks history might be tapping at the window of that claim Bezial 😉

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One of Steve’s conquests from yesterdays Targa Tasmania photo opportunities. He was trying to take motion shots…not bad but I think Bezial was going faster in the previous photo 😉

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That’s more like it! Not a bad “motion” picture Steve 🙂

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That green hotel in the main street apparently does $5 pub meals on a Saturday night, 2 bottles of vodka for $30 or $1 pots of beer on the first and last Friday of the month…just sayin’ in case any of you find yourself in downtown Beaconsfield one night with $40 in your pocket…just a warning, you most probably won’t remember what you did the next day 😉

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This is the upmarket pub just over the road from the green pub. The meals are MUCH more expensive here…you can buy hot chocolate and expensive pastries and the clientele is MUCH more refined but $40 isn’t going to buy you much here…hot foot it over to the green pub and you can go home with some money in your pocket after most probably having a great deal more fun in the process 😉

Well that was your educational part of the post folks…it’s all downhill from here so hold onto your rollercoaster sea for a rapid descent into madness and scientific/mathematic deprivation. What has narf7 been up to since we last chatted eh? Well we submitted our assessments to our lecturer. It’s so much easier to push a button and hand in your work. You don’t have to see the expectant eyes of your lecturer and know that you dashed his hopes of ever making senior faculty member when he flicks through your work. As far as we can tell, our course, only going since late February, has seen a rate of attrition that is somewhat alarming. We keep seeing “new students” arriving and the online community that our lecturer steadfastly and quite frankly unrealistically expects we students who have never met and who are competing with each other to forge hasn’t quite gotten off the ground yet. We all seem to be circling each other in cyberspace trying to get a feel for the competition. We know that 2 media lecturers from Queensland are taking this course. Why? Who would know! We also know that all students are supposed to create a blog space so that our work can be posted and seen by our fellow classmates. There are apparently 20 people taking our course and only 6 of us have blogs. It IS good to see other students work. You think your own work is sad until you are able to measure it up and see that we are all sad together. It unites and gives allegiance to your endeavours and your unseen class when you can see that their work is at least as pathetic as your own. Most of our class have had a fair bit to do with digital art. Some are obviously artists and most of them are very comfortable with the platform. Steve and I are less familiar with digital art, although Steve has messed about with Photoshop a lot and is a whole lot more familiar with it than I am. I am really enjoying this course which I didn’t expect. Putting a bit of faith in Steve’s ability to choose a bridging course that would allow me to keep some of my hair this year was curiously a wise thing to do! My OCD tendencies to guide him to an area where I felt more at home (say brain surgery…) were cram packed down (with great difficulty I might add) because I might be OCD…I might be a “strong woman” (you can read that how you will 😉 ), I might have some very VERY strong opinions about things but I know that my way is only half of this journey that we are walking together. When I say “walking”…a fair bit of our journey has been running in the opposite direction of each other to be honest. We spend a lot of time tussling over things…trying to get our own way and being very childish but when we are able to work together on those rare occasions when someone forces us to behave, we are always amazed at the results and how they are SO much better than the sum of us :o).  This course is bringing out our creative sides and aside from showing me that being out of your comfort zone can, indeed, be a good thing, it is teaching me that I really don’t always know best. I am like a fish out of water here and Steve is the maestro genius and I am actually enjoying allowing him to take the rudder of the boat. “Keep steering Stevey boy…the first rock you hit I will be RIGHT HERE!” 😉

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Remember those soaking soybeans from my last post? Here is the reason why they were soaking. This is my handy dandy über schmick soy milk maker. I have had it for years and it has lived in a dusty fugue up in the cupboard until I decided that I may as well use it and have been making some very interesting non dairy milks in it of late

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After soaking the soybeans overnight I skin them. Then I put the beans into the filter container

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After heating, grinding, magic, alchemy and a little bit of fairy dust the milk ends up in the stainless steel container and the okara, or soybean lees remain in the filter container

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Here’s the home made hot soymilk after I added some date paste to sweeten it slightly and half a teaspoon of Himalayan rock salt to balance the flavour out

I have been up for an hour and haven’t even looked at my RSS Feed Reader. I finally managed to clean it out on Saturday. Saturday was my son Stewarts 31st birthday. Just typing that probably made him wince in his sleep. I would imagine he had plans of world domination by the time he was 31. I know he wanted to be at least PART robotic by now. He inherited his mother’s OCD need to have everything “just so” but takes it to extremes that my OCD brain can only marvel at. Do any of you have your entire financial life planned out for the next 5 years? I am talking about EVERYTHING here folks… no? Well you can sit back and admire my son’s resolve. The funny thing about resolve is that there is always…ALWAYS something that comes along and stuffs it up. It’s like life, the universe and everything is just waiting to have a bit of fun at your expense. You plan to be married by 30…in the next 10 years you are going to have 2.5 kids (the way Monsanto is going, we can pretty much be guaranteed of that .5) and to be well on the way to owning our own homes, being financially secure and with a decent portfolio of stocks and shares to see us through to a rich and enviable old age. Does that sound like your life? Mine neither! I think what we humans want, and what we are supposed to be living like is so far apart that there is room in the middle to drive a comet through. How did we get so far away from our ideals? There isn’t anything wrong with ideals folks, it’s just when we choose to think that they are the ONLY way to arrive at the Pearly Gates having lived a rich and satisfying life that we hit problems and brick walls. Most of the depression that the pharmaceutical companies are milking for all they are worth is spawned of a completely unrealistic sense of entitlement that we are led to believe is “the norm”. If I remember right…”Norm” was Dame Edna’s husband with the enlarged prostate…he was also that little guy from the 70’s with the terry towelling hat on in the “Slip, Slop, Slap” commercials… do we REALLY want to be Norm?! I know I don’t! I am as prone to idealistic regrets as anyone. I spent a good proportion of my early adolescence up our backyard tree watching the neighbours and being completely envious of their lifestyle. I thought I was the ONLY one who was suffering by not being “normal”…I wrote dark poems and read dark books and spent too much time ruminating about how everything was so “UNFAIR”… If I had been motivated I could have been the figurehead of the soon to emerge Gothic revival but I didn’t have enough motivation to be anything really. I think a lot of people my age had this kind of drifting feeling back then. We had NO idea what we were going to do, where the world was going, how we were going to get anywhere and most of us are still drifting and goodness only knows what we did mentally to the children that we brought into the world to drift along with us. I would imagine that is why we are seeing a revival of homesteading. Of learning the ways of the natural world and of pragmatic fundamentalism…nature regaining equilibrium and trying to pull in the reigns. The older I get, the more I can see how it really does all work together. I guess that’s the benefit of age? You get to see it for yourself. You get to stick your finger into the wounds and you get to be able to say to yourself “yup…it’s dead”. Nothing like a healthy dose of observation over time to give you as much perspective and incentive you need to attempt to redress your own personal stuff ups and try to do what you can to share your newfound wisdom with your kids. The problem is, by the time nature gets around to teaching you all of this wisdom, your kids don’t want to listen to you any more…they are too busy “living” and your wisdom isn’t part of their ethos. I think that life, the universe and everything has a very VERY good sense of humour don’t you? 😉

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This is the contents of a bag of dried dates

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This is a bag of dried dates on their way to becoming date paste, my new sweetener of choice. Once I make the date paste I then add the soaking liquid (sweet in it’s own right) back into the Vitamix goblet and process the goblet clean whilst making “date syrup”…no waste here folks! 🙂

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Kid Creoles babies that seem quite happy to spend half of their time up to their eyeballs in date sweetened soymilk and even the equivalent of pureed chickpea porridge. Sounds gross BUT it tastes really good! I am enjoying experimenting with homemade non-dairy kefir equivalents

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From a conglomeration of tiny little kefir brains to this uncured walnut that also looks like a brain. The curious thing is that both kefir and walnuts are actually good FOR your brain…nature is more than colour coded 😉

Steve is off to do the fortnightly shopping today. I get to wend my way around the web should I choose to. I have a sourdough carrot cake to bake today and when Steve gets back with my organic chickpeas, my 2 bags of Aussie almonds and a few obscure articles (for Serendipity Farm they are obscure…at least till we can grow them ourselves 😉 ) like a jar of kalamata olives (we have 2 kalamata olive trees…), an avocado (we have 7 avocado trees to be planted out…), a rough approximation of ½ cup of raw cashew pieces (“err on slightly more Steve…DON’T BE TIGHT…I need them for tomorrow…), 500g of raw sesame seeds, a large red capsicum, a packet of dried mixed herbs, a lemon and some Himalayan pink mineral salt. Why the strange foodstuffs? Because narf7 is going to create folks…narf7 is going to work her alchemistic magic on these, and lots of other foodstuffs to create something magnificent for her coming debut in “The Virtual Vegan Potluck”. Remember that OCD that I mentioned earlier? Well it is coming out en mass and it insists that I do a “good job”…forget “good job” who are we kidding? It is screaming at me to “KNOCK THEIR SOCKS OFF!”…sigh…almost 50 and I STILL can’t make that voice go away! Here’s the deal folks, I plan on making something that combines my vegan foodie predilections (good word that one…it might just be my word for the week 😉 ) with our ideals. I want to use as much of our own produce in the form of home grown tomatoes, eggplants, walnuts etc. combined with things that we have made with our home grown produce, dried mushrooms, dried herbs, sundried tomatoes etc. to show how we are trying to produce as much of the food that we eat as we can. I want to show the processes involved and the true cost of the food that we eat. No “Tofutti cream cheese” or “Daiya” vegan cheeze for this little black duck…this recipe is going to show its creation from go to whoa and all stages in between. By the end of the recipe I want to give people an overview of what permaculture can do for you and how to harness yourself to nature to arrive someplace that you both want to be. It’s one heck of a challenge and with my little Fujifilm point and click, I am going to try to take anyone curious enough to click on my link (or to be following the linkies through to the end) on a little journey of creation. At worse they might learn something before hurrying off to the next recipe. At best they might get a bit of a tour through the real price (monetarily AND physically) of the food that ends up on their plates. Either way, my narfy job will be done! Hopefully you will all want to come along for the journey with me to see just how OCD narf7 can be and how twitchy my perfection valve gets when I am honing my current point of interest ;). I just learned something. Daiya non-dairy cheeze has an Aussie website where you can go and sign a petition to get Daiya cheezes into our supermarkets! There are obviously more vegans in Australia than I initially thought ;).

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The chickens on day release from their prison and “Pig” one of the feral cat’s extremely interested in the proceedings…right up to the time when he found out that my old girls know how to deal with cats! Lets put it this way…Pig will think twice before he eyeballs a hen again 😉

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Something else that you can make with dates…the recipe for this one is on page 178 of the 15th edition of the C.W.A. cookbook (circa 1954). Don’t have it? Sorry ladies, it is worth more than my life to print it out here…those C.W.A. women are positively fatal when riled up! 😉

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I HAVE been busy! This is one of 8 eccles cakes that I made for Steve the other day. No dates here but lots of fruit macerated in sugar with spices and a bit of butter all wrapped up like the pentagon in some puff pastry…the pentagon bit was entirely unintentional you can be assured, it stemmed from a complete lack of ability to make a circle 😉

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This is some “Gouda Uncheeze” that I made as part of the recipe that I am making for The Vegan Virtual Potluck this year in May. It looks like cheese, it grates like cheese and even though it doesn’t taste exactly like cheese, my Omni husband said “you can tell your blog readers that I LOVE cheese but I can’t stop eating this stuff!” that is kudos indeed folks! 😉

I have created my masterpiece! Can you see the lightning and hear the crazed sound of my assistant Stevgor as I harness the lightning to bring my creation to life? Well it wasn’t THAT impressive but I managed to create the ingredients that I needed, create my recipe from scratch and feed some of it to Steve (remembering how VERY fussy he is) and none of it came back out to decorate the walls and he actually said “that’s very tasty…apart from the olives…”. I forgot that Steve doesn’t like kalamata olives BUT he was caught nibbling the ends off my piece of grated homemade “cheeze” and said “you can use that in the recipe…your husband the cheese lover couldn’t stop eating this stuff”. There you go…my own endorsement!  We got our feedback back from our lecturer about our assessment and it was incredibly positive and full of “sandwich” praise. Our lecturer is a sandwich man. He likes to give you something positive…hit you in the solar plexus with a swift bit of criticism and suddenly back to a nice soft pillowy bit of super-white bread to cover up the negative and leave you feeling all fluffy.  We got a whole lot of bread and hardly any filling this time which made us both incredibly pleased. Not a lot to fix up which is also great and everything we need to fix is minor and cosmetic. Now we move into some serious Photoshop with the next unit. Steve headed off and took some great motion shots at Targa Tasmania. Our property backs onto a bit of a wild corner on a steep hill so the cars tend to be ramping up a bit of speed by the time they get to where my dear gnome like husband was perched with his trusty point and click, a whole new world of manual settings and a couple of tutorials about “how to take motion shots” under his belt. The whole road was sealed off and although there were lots of people standing at the junction of Auld Kirk Road (2 of them slept in their cars overnight…we know…when we walked the dogs we saw them there 😉 ) Steve had a completely uninterrupted and pesky human free view thanks to the back paddock and the rest of our neighbours being elderly and not caring two hoots about fast cars. We can use some of his shots for our Photoshop unit and are already working on our first part of it. It promises to be very interesting and I am surprised about how excited I am to be learning about digital photography. We are actually thinking of upgrading our point and click Fujifilm to the latest model. I get to keep Betsy, my old faithful (who tends to take more macro shots than anything else these days 😉 ) and Steve can have the new one. We just got paid some sort of unexpected one off government payment (election year…can anyone say “bribe”? 😉 ) that amounted to just over $150 between us so that seems like a worthy  cause for that windfall.

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“Well looky what I found in the pantry…”

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“How the HECK am I supposed to get into this thing!”

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Brunhilda wanted to get in on the photographic action…here she is doing what she does best nice and early in the morning 🙂

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Steve won this jam recently for correctly identifying what flick weed was with my twin in Olalla Christi of http://farmlet.wordpress.com/ fame. Christi is making a little pot of her absolutely AMAZING jam for every single one of the exponentially increasing guests at her beautiful daughters wedding. Christi, you deserve a medal! Not only does she deserve a medal but she deserves a hug…she just made Steve’s day :). Look what arrived in the mail today. A gorgeous jar of 4 berry jam that Steve is going to devour slowly and with great lip smacking on his morning toast till he scrapes the last sliver from the jar. Then he has plans for the jar as well…I naturally thought that I would be a winner as well because I would get the jar but NO! The jar is “my own personal trendy hipster jar that I can drink moonshine out of when I make moonshine”…how could you argue with that reasoning? ;).

It’s 3.52am… I have 14 hours till post time…we have a quarter tank of petrol in the Daihatsu, no cigarettes, it’s dark and my sunglasses are within reach…time to hustle folks! See you Saturday for another round of “let’s learn to tango with narf7” on Serendipity Farm :o)

Cook to Kirk

Hello all

Fran is tired from todays work and has instructed me (ok she didn’t) to post some here for her. Its been a weird week here and we didn’t know if it was a weekend or weekday, we have done a little work and had a little time home bound due to the inclement weather. Fran is as i try and tap out here in the shower and Earl is guarding the door , he likes to do that when we head into the room i think he thinks we come out all different as we smell a lot cleaner to him and look shinier. Now i don’t know if these words will make the blog but i am trying to help Fran as she want to play Zelda and is a little over today lol she is making the pipes sing and screamed out there’s F@#$%^^ air in the pipes,,, ahhh that’s a unpleasant noise and i think Earl thinks his kin are coming. We finished the garden today and whilst there had a good chat with the bloke next door , he seems like a nice man and we fed his dog some treats which she seemed to really like. The boys sat in the car and where very good while we did the cleaning and finishing up but they kept hearing something barking at us which perturbed them a little.

Fran isn’t going to like my spelling here and she may have to re type all the words, im just trying to help . I went to see a friend of ours today and spent a little time discussing life and  stuff with him and also was able to offload 4  yes 4 dozen eggs from the 12 dozen we have sitting in the fridge, we are going to have to become eggatarians i think as are the dogs so serendipity farm will be making a lot of gas in the near future and we will have even less friends that we do now lol. I’m sorry i am a little disjointed with the words here but im not the wordy brains of this operation as Frans the one for that and im more the …. not sure as i am now called upon to draw things and my art is like an egg… always the same lol. ok I think its time for the 2 finger oops make that 2 and a thumb wizard to say see you soon and go and trim his wonderful wifeys hair before we both snore our ways into sunday .. see you all soon and here’s Fran. Back again , i found spell check and have made this look like i can type lol ok time to go im just trying to make more words here see ya

I take a few moments to have a shower and someone invades P0land while I am gone! I just had a read of Steve’s bit and decided to leave it there. We are yin and yang and that probably took him the better part of 20 minutes to type that as he is a little out of practice. We used to spend our days and nights tapping away on keyboards for the 2 1/2 years that we conducted our online “relationship” and were both very glad of a rest when it came to translating our words into our actions I can tell you! I read that bit about eggs Steve…we may well be able to harvest all of that gas that you and the dogs excrete with obvious joy and satisfaction (I, of course, am MUCH more discrete ;)) to run a generator on Serendipity Farm (always looking for a sustainable angle ;)). We worked really hard today to help my sister get her rental property that tennants had absolutely trashed looking halfway reasonable (well…the outside bit anyway…) because it is up for sale. It will be the last tie to Tasmania that she has and I won’t have to patrol the place with my beady little eyes every time we decide to go for a walk in Beauty Point. The blackberry nest that had been growing for years is now no more and the Beaconsfield tip is blackberry rich. We decided that due to the incredible popularity of our last post, (you are ALL PLEBEIANS!…sigh…) that we would take the opportunity to turn this post over to the dark side and do a little sticky montage for the 46th aniversary of the very first episode of Star Trek. What sort of nerd would I be if I didn’t celebrate this amazingly poignant parallel of life? A BAD NERD…that’s what! So here goes…a stickmans homage to Star Trek…

Here we have it folks…The Sourdough Enterprise!

Just in case you can’t quite get it into your head that this amazing model of the Starship Enterprise could have been made by one untalented woman living in Tasmania…here it is again from a different angle! Marvel at my skills…marvel at the way that I have reused a loaf of inedible sourdough bread to render this fantastic facimile with my own deft hands. I know its amazing isn’t it! You can’t tell it from the original can you?

See…absolutely an exact copy of the original! I feel a new sculpting career coming on!

First there was Captain James Cook…then he died and his bones were scatterered at sea. As you all know from our last post, James Cook was the initiator of The Stickman Party but how on earth does he figure in this post? We are about to reveal something incredibly secret to you all reading today…something so secret that it might shift the time space continuum and give us all hives! Captain James Cook is actually…Captain James T Kirk!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes, how incredible is that and how the heck do we figure that? Well follow me here people…This is Steve’s rendition of how this amazing event occured…(it’s up to you to put the wibbley lines in here like they do when they are going back into the past on those 60’s remembering scenes…wibble…wibble…wibble…)…

Captain James Cook was killed on 14 February 1779 by an Hawaiian chief called Kalanimanokahoowaha and after being flensed in a most royal manor they preserved his bones which were later retrieved and buried at sea…but that wasn’t the end of Captain James Cook! (do you wibble for going forward into the future?…er…wibble wibble wibble…) The original pilot of Star Trek did not contain Captain James T Kirk, but rather Captain Christopher Pike. Where was Captain Kirk? He hadn’t been cloned yet folks THAT was where!…

The crew of the enterprise finding the bones of Captain James Cook on a beach in Hawaii…”Watch out Lt. Uhura an Alien is approaching!” and decide to use the D.N.A. of this lost soul to see just who the bones belonged to…

Dr. Leonard McCoy and Mr Sulu (who was the ships physicist early on) reserecting the bones. When they realised who’s bones they were dealing with they decided to keep it hush hush apart from telling Mr Spock and swearing him to secrecy (Illogical…but true…) and pushed for the New pilot episode with one “Captain James T Kirk” as its star. They won and the rest is history… Captain James Cook IS Captain James T Kirk! The first episode of Star Trek, aired on September 8th 1966 (last century for all of the kiddies reading) with Captain James T Kirk (a.k.a. Cook…) at the helm of the good ship Enterprise and history bears this truth for all to see

A little known incedent occured on 15th February 1779, the day after the gory death of Captain James Cook…

While Captain Cooks remaning men were mourning his death on the Endeavour and the Hawaiians were doing what only Hawaiians do best after slaughtering a great white chief, feasting and drinking and generally having a good time, Chief Kalanimanokahoowaha decided to take himself away from the madding crowd and spend some time gloating alone about his newfound fame as head of the Chiefs thanks to his murderous personality when from out of nowhere, a strange figure materialised, causing Chief Kalanimanokahoowaha to lose control of his bladder AND be disintergrated in a most horendous way…as they say in SouthPart “Don’t Fu#! with Wendy Testerberger”! and the same can be said for Captain James T Kirk/Cook…the man can bear a grudge for a very Very VERY long time!

To all of my long suffering blog followers, please forgive me for this post…I have had a VERY long day and am very tired…to all of my new Stickman Followers…Knock yourselves out and enjoy! 😉

Future trading in nature’s stock market

Hi All,

Steve and I have spent the last year shoring up futures for a rainy day. We have rooster futures, egg futures and wood futures…all grown and collected ourselves. We have also been researching how to make these futures renewable. As penniless hippy students we realised that we needed to take a few lessons from our grandparents and learn how to do as much as we could ourselves. Watching The Good Life recently made me realise how ahead of its time this 1970’s television program actually was. In one episode Tom and Barbara needed to mend their roof and couldn’t afford to pay anyone to do it so they decided to take themselves off to night school to learn how to fix the roof themselves. There is enormous power in knowledge and an immense degree of pleasure. I have to admit to internally snickering at Tom talking about “efficiency” and then heading out every day to get a home made cartload of wood rather than working out a way to be more efficient, but I forgive him because this show was SO far ahead of its time it’s amazing. I love knowing how to do things myself. It goes WAY past the delight in producing a nice cake from the oven and has me scouring the net for ways to propagate our own edible food forest from seeds and cuttings and traded plants. We have found a source of cutting material for blueberries and kiwi fruit, another bag of walnuts to stratify and attempt to grow from a local source (so they should be more resilient to our local conditions) and more importantly, we have found a source of free topsoil! One of the first things that we discovered about Serendipity Farm was that you can’t dig the soil…it’s full of large rocks. This was a BIG problem because as penniless hippy students who had spent what they had been left on shoring up Serendipity Farm for the future we don’t have a lot left for going “up” when it came to gardening.  We tossed up whether to pay big money for raised garden beds and they lost out to our wood burning stove and a trailer. We figured that we could make raised garden beds out of the rocks that were our arch nemesis in the first place, making lemonade from the sour lemons that we had discovered. I used some of the debris that we had generated in our efforts to ethnically cleanse Serendipity Farm from its active and growing weed population to chop up and fill half of the 3 garden beds that we have already built out of some old corrugated iron that we inherited along with the property. We have been trying to use as much of the collection of old rubbish that we inherited because aside from having to pay to have it dumped, it goes against our principals of throwing things away when you could use them and save yourself time and money in the process so old tyres, old corrugated iron and a large bottle population that has been slowly uncovered are all being stored for future use. Now that we have found free topsoil, all we need to do is enrich it with last year’s futures (oak leaf mould) and the contents of our compost bin and we have 3 garden beds ready to plant! The same source of free topsoil offered to loan us their rotary hoe, but whatchagonnado? Rotary hoes and rocks are NOT the best of friends (somewhat like me and middle men…)

Hayfever futures…

Cymbidium orchid futures

Long time futures…this is the very first time that this orchid has flowered since Nat gave it to us several years ago…

Epyphitic orchid futures (dependent on regular beer injections…)

As Kermit the frog once sang “It’s not easy being green…” It’s hard slog! Where you might use the later day equivalent of Agent Orange to take out all of your weedy species in one fell swoop, we choose to manually grub our weeds and that takes time and an enormous amount of energy. Since Saturday we haven’t stopped working. We had a week of sunshine and knew that this was a rare and precious event so we decided to make hay while the sun shines and get out into the fresh air and do what we could to shore up our wood futures and tidy up the garden. For those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, you know that we are juggling studies in horticulture with working in the garden here. It’s frustrating because our chosen path of indentured student poverty doesn’t give us much scope to actively put into practice what we are learning. We have to either wait until we have the money to do what we are planning, or we have to find another, money free way to get what we want. I am NOT good at waiting! That’s what all of the research and planning has been for… learning how to do what we want at minimal to no cost. It might take a bit more time to get what we want…but at least we aren’t sitting twiddling our thumbs waiting until we can afford to get it the “normal” way. Steve is off shopping today because yesterday (Monday) was our esteemed ruler Queen Elizabeth the 2 had her birthday on a day that wasn’t really her birthday…honestly Liz…HOW MANY BIRTHDAYS DOES ONE GIRL NEED! They aren’t like handbags and shoes you know and with your advancing years I would think that you would want to minimise, not maximise them… I guess she gets lots of presents… but at least Steve realised that it was a holiday (probably due to his expat patriotism 😉 ) and stopped himself from heading off to do our fortnightly shopping when he wouldn’t have been able to do half of it because the smaller local shops would have been closed. This brings me back to futures again… we have learned not to live day to day like we did when we lived in the city. We were spoiled back then. If we wanted to shop we just headed up to the Woolworths shopping centre 4 houses away from us and bought what we wanted and if our need was for something that we couldn’t satisfy at Woolworth’s we were only 4km away from the city centre and could be there in minutes. Here we are 50km away from the city and fuel is expensive. We soon learned to curtail our driving expeditions and use the car only when necessary and so we now shop fortnightly and make sure to have more than we need. Today…2 weeks and 4 days after Steve’s last shopping expedition, we still have everything that we need to go along as normal and that is what futures are all about…

Springtime flower futures

Walnut tree futures

Integrated Pest Management Futures

You have to be very careful when you are planning your futures. You need to ensure that you cut out as many middle men as you can. As you all know middle men are where the money goes and they deal in dreams. They take what someone creates and they flog it to someone else and in the process take a large cut of the profits and increase the price of what they are dealing with enormously…we don’t need them and they are costing us a lot of money! Superannuation is one of those middle man run schemes that can end up (like insurance) being something that costs us dearly. If I had money (which I don’t incidentally)… it would be in a sock under the bed! I loved the episode of Futurama (My Three Suns) where Fry told his convoluted tale of the grasshopper and the octopus…it goes like this for those of you who have been missing out on some quality television…

“It’s just like the story of the grasshopper and the octopus. All year long, the grasshopper kept burying acorns for the winter, while the octopus mooched off his girlfriend and watched TV. But then the winter came, and the grasshopper died, and the octopus ate all his acorns. And also he got a race car. Is any of this getting through to you? “

Far be it from me to not learn something from such a wise young sage…I see the lesson in this tale as being if something can go wrong it most probably will AND  there is always someone out there waiting to take credit and profit from your hard work. There is a happy medium and a very fine line between storing up futures AND living in the moment (sorry Caesar…) and we are attempting to do it all.

This was FULL of leaves, packed down and compressed last year…this was last years oak leaf futures…

Scratching the surface reveals future AMAZING soil amendments

A handful of vegetable futures!

I have a sore back…I have a sore arm…I have a sore chest…I have a sore knee…that’s what happens when you throw yourself with abandon into collecting wood from a steep rocky back block and clearing out debris! Thank GOODNESS Steve is shopping today because I don’t know that I could have worked as hard as we have for the last 3 days for another day… We have cleared out the banana passionfruit in the vegetable garden area that was covering up a nest of blackberries. We have collected wood for 2 days and yesterday we decided to clean up some of the random piles of debris and have a good old fashioned bonfire. Again… the simple act of having a bonfire involved us spending 5 hours collecting up the debris and raking up the piles of leaves, sticks, twigs, grass that we have been generating, loading it up into wheelbarrows and tipping it onto the fire…just a small aside…did you know that technically fire can be construed as being alive? It eats, it breathes (fires need oxygen to burn), it generates energy, it reproduces… it’s also our oldest way to manipulate our environment to give us what we need. I have been researching the Swidden-fallow ancient method of agroforestry (thanks Spencer from Anthropogen.com for EVERYTHING that I know about this…). It’s amazing how we don’t hear about these ancient methods of agriculture isn’t it? Why are we hammered with industrialisation when it only represents an insignificant portion of our past existence? If we could live without it before, we can do so again… I haven’t got time to go into Swidden-fallow principals here but if you are interested head on over to

Anthropogen.com

and find out all about it. While you are there you can check out some really interesting PDF’s, sites and information about all things to do with sustainable agriculture and as Spencer seems to spend most of his life hopping from one continent to the next you can take a wild ride in horticulture with him with each of his posts. Burning debris for the ash and leaving great piles of debris lying about is part of the Swidden-fallow system. As lazy as I am, the great piles of debris are starting to wear thin on me and so we decided to turn them into ash. The great piles that are strategically hidden from sight are still there…those that were in our line of site are now smouldering in a massive pile of snowy white ashes waiting for the rain to distribute them to the teatree garden area via concrete swale drains that we cleared out yesterday as well…another one of my grandmothers sayings comes to mind…”in for a penny, in for a pound” meaning do as many things as you can in one go and save yourself the time, effort and in some cases money. Drain cleaning before the rains hit…debris removal…tidying up our vista and basically restoring some form of order to the chaos that our garden has become. Today we rest. It’s one of the few benefits of being penniless hippy students who study from home…we can organise our lives how we see fit so long as we are able to do what is required of us. We are both great fans of being organised. I do it; Steve likes it so we are united on that front. We have so many plans for what we want to do here…composting toilets…rain water tanks… wind turbines… a generator… most of our plans involve some serious capital outlay and so are going to have to remain plans until we are able to bring them into reality. That won’t stop me hunting for ways to get what we want as cheaply as possible with the best possible outcome. Bring it on world…so long as there is an internet and a library available to me I can find out pretty much anything that I need to do it!

Olive tree futures (looks like peanuts I know but its skun olives 😉 )

Tamarillo futures

Present  Catalpa bignonioides (Indian bean tree) pod

Future  Catalpa bignonioides

Tomorrow will see us off collecting topsoil. We might even drag our tired sorry bones off to do it today because tomorrow has a rainy forecast. I was reading a transcript from an interview that Andrew Denton had with Billy Connolly on his program “Enough Rope”. I love Billy Connolly and consider him to be one of the best comic genius’s around. He is able to be a real person and a naughty boy at the same time bringing everyone into the fold in the process. I have never laughed so hard or as loudly as I have when being entertained by Mr Connolly himself. He said something in the interview that really hit home with me. I quote…

“There’s a little Buddhist saying that says, ‘Learn what you should be doing and do it.’ And it sounds too simple to be, to have any importance, but it’s absolutely true.  The number of people I’ve met who are doing things they don’t like and it’s making them really, you know… The number of guys I knew when I worked on the Clyde who hated their job, didn’t like their wife that much and didn’t like the place where they lived. And I thought, how can you do this every day? But you would be astonished at the number of people who do that, every day of their lives. And, the whole trick is, I would say to my children when you’re going along the road and you’re at the library or wherever you are, watch what you’re drawn to. Watch the type of shops, the windows you always hang out at. Just listen to yourself and see what you’re being drawn to and don’t choose a career. You know let it happen to you. It’ll choose you.”

Isn’t that great? No wonder so many people are jumping onto the Buddhist bandwagon. I think that there are a whole lot of instinctual things that we have learned to suppress inside ourselves because we get swept along by societal needs and wants. When you move out of societies mainstream… and it IS a stream that washes you along… you suddenly realise that there is more to life than the acquiring and spending of money. Thank goodness for that because the sock under my bed is only one that Earl stole from Steve as he lay sleeping on the sofa and if all of my worldly goods were held inside that sock they would be outnumbered by Steve’s toenail clippings and skin flakes! When you haven’t got a lot of money you can choose to get depressed about it or you can choose to see it as a challenge. I choose the latter. There must be some sort of aberrant optimist inside me that keeps on wanting to try weird and wonderful things. I keep going (like the Eveready bunny) LONG after most people would have given up and gone home. I think that this tenacity of spirit came from my mum who spent most of her life trying to negotiate mainstream society when it was more than obvious that mum wasn’t part of it. The more people I meet, the more I realise that “mainstream society” seems to be a metaphor rather than a reality. Most of us feel alienated from “mainstream society” in one way or another. Aside from us all being individuals, “mainstream society” is a concept that was concocted and is being perpetuated by media moguls, advertising executives, purveyors of unnecessary goods and entrepreneurs to keep us wanting more and using our natural competitiveness to make us think that someone out there has something better than us and that we had best start trying to keep up… I say bollocks to it. I got off that treadmill before I even got on it! Not having money is a great way to keep yourself off that treadmill in the first place as it’s all about the folding green stuff and if you don’t have it…you’re not allowed in the club. I have discovered that far-be-it from being a small lonely club; the “buggerybollocksall lack of money” club seems to be the norm for most of us living on planet Earth. I am taking my life lessons from my fellow compatriots around the world. Should you know about some money saving way to reuse, recycle, repurpose just about anything to our avail I am MOST interested in finding out how. I learned a great deal from both my parents and grandparents about thrift and the value of frugality and am in the process of learning about the thrift and frugality of other cultures. In the process I am learning all sorts of valuable life lessons and am having a great time discovering just where we sit in the world. Cheers to everyone out there who puts in the effort to keep sharing what they do and how they do it by the way. Without this massive network of free information so many of us would be reduced to subsistence living without a lot of hope. Your generosity of spirit has given us so very much and from all of us living on the breadline…we thank you from the bottom of our hearts :o)

Oak leaf futures

Garden soil ammendment futures

See that pile of soil down at the end of this driveway? THAT is our topsoil futures 🙂

Ok, so you get another 3000 word post. Verbosity is my gift and my curse and I guess both you and I are going to have to live with it! Hopefully I entertained you a bit and enlightened you (via others) in the wordy process from go to whoa. I hope you all have an interesting and informative time until we meet again. I hope you all get at least 1 chance to step outside your comfort zone and take a little risk and live a little in the process. I also hope that Steve gets home soon with something to entertain Earl before he finishes off the plastic rubber Father Christmas he is working on in his walk-free boredom and starts on the kitchen chairs! Ciao bambino’s c’est finis!

How to make your chicken stretch to the max

Hi All

Another days’ worth of edibles slides down our throats and got me thinking about how differently we humans eat from one country to another. What is standard fare for me is freaky food for other people and what people in India eat may be out of someone in Russia’s comfort zone. Apart from using the ingredients that are locally available which up until this point has been the wisest way for a country to survive, what makes us eat what we do? Here on Serendipity Farm we tend to work out what we are going to eat on the day that we eat it. Sometimes we utilise our leftovers into a meal because we don’t waste food here. If it’s not eaten it gets put into the compost (where the feral cats and possums fight over it long into the night) but we want to make sure to use every last bit so that we are minimising our carbon footprint. I have been taking some surreptitious photos of what we have been cooking and preparing for a few days now and thought that a post about grub on Serendipity Farm might be something that you might be interested in.

Interesting…some sort of meat and veg…correct! This is some diced cooked steak, carrots and toasted rolled oats…

All mixed together to make up what our dogs have every second day. On the other days they have raw meat. Not a bad life for a dog eh?

A wonderful thing happens to cornflour at 60C. It’s much like what happens when you install a Flux capacitor into a Delorean and put pedal to the metal and hit 88 miles per hour…magic! It’s one of those moments where the act of cooking transcends its boundaries and bleeds over into the strange mystical world of science and chemistry where you can find mythical creatures cavorting about with lab coats on with beakers and test tubes of bubbling multi coloured liquids doing strange things that defy the laws of gravity (oops…strayed into the Physics department… “Sorry guys”…). It’s those sort of moments when I could almost see myself hitting the books and getting excited about chemistry again but despite Heston Blumenthal making the BEST thrice cooked chips and some amazing chemical combinations that pass as Michelin star food, this little black duck is quite selective about where she will let her brain be manipulated and a department full of mad scientists is NOT for me! So when confronted with half a chocolate cake that we are ONLY talking about because I have only just stopped seething about it since I baked it last Friday. Words like “Perfect cake”…”Never EVER Fail” and “Easy Recipe” were bandied about by the author of this recipe and I launched myself into baking a “Chocolate Sponge Cake”… first, NEVER believe it when someone says “Never Fail” because there is always a first time and its highly likely to be yours… second, there is no such thing as a perfect cake, just a cake that you can slap enough accoutrement’s on to give you a degree of salvageable dignity.  This cake was dense, rich, dark and…flat…not so good :o(. I was going to use it along with one of Steve’s close to perfect sponge cakes to take in for morning tea at our meeting with our lecturer. Not bribery per se, but let’s call it mutual degustory satisfaction and be done with it. Our lecturer provides the fresh brewed coffee and we provide the cake. Anyhoo…I have a smidgen of pride and couldn’t be presenting the chocolate equivalent of a pancake to my lecturer with any degree of satisfaction so it was crumbled into a bowl and set aside for “later”. I decided that today was “later” and as we no longer waste food, I had to find a way to make this chocolate pancake suitable not only to eat, but to have for desert tonight. I decided to make a chocolate trifle and put the crumbled (pan) cake into a decorative bowl. I made some chocolate custard and poured it over. I then realised that I had a significant lack of any sort of cream on the premises and no incentive to drive 8km to the nearest town to buy some. Given this mini conundrum I often think “What would mum do?”…mum was a cook who worked as a shearers cook, a hotel cook and as a caterer for most of her life and often had to fix some mini disaster or other at short notice on the cookery front line and the answer came right back at me “Mock Cream”. Cheers mum…I don’t mind you acting as my cooking muse if you want to :o). Mock Cream, for those of you born closer to the end of last century than the beginning of it is a substance developed to cater for rationing in and after WW2 and there are various recipes for it, most of them involving some sort of solid fat and sugar blended into each other and tempered with flour, cornflour, boiling water etc. None of this sounds in the least bit appetising and so I went hunting further afield to see if I couldn’t find a Mock Cream that was more luxurious in its ingredient quotient yet contained no actual cream (the missing link). I came up with this recipe and after making it have tucked it safely away for future use. No cream…no worries…I gots me a GOOD Mock Cream recipe 😉

http://www.food.com/recipe/glens-creamy-cake-filling-mock-cream-188314

I would just like to point out that this website is a really awesome site for recipes of all kinds. I have found so many foundation recipes here and tweaks for recipes so that I can turn them from regular to vegan that I subscribed to get newsletters from them. This recipe allows you to choose regular Mock Cream or Chocolate Mock Cream. I dare say you could come up with some variants should you feel so inclined. I am just happy to be able to make something to top that mass of chocolaty goodness.

This is what I started with…crumbled chocolate NOT spongecake…

This is what happens when you mix some home made icing sugar with a bit of water to make “a consistency where it will just slide into the mix”…

Whipped butter and icing sugar (that was “slid into the mix”), you can see the change from regular (uscraped from the side of the bowl) butter to whipped butter that the beaters could actually reach

Starting to look a fair bit like the cream that it is supposed to be mocking…

This is the point where you have to start adding alternating boiling and cold water…not too sure why apart from tempering the sugary flavour in the mix

Unlike Nigella you will notice that my pans and oven slides are most definitely used more than once before they are donated to charity! I actively seek out the darker older pans whenever I am scouring thrift shops and garage sales for a bargain. As a cook I know that these are the well-seasoned vehicles for happy cooking and the best results.

The initial ingredients needed for making the chocolate custard

my trusty whisk being used to ensure that the custard isn’t lumpy

Chocolate custard poured onto the chocolate NOT spongecake, cooled and ready to be decorated with the mock cream

Doesn’t this look lovely? How could you tell the difference between this and regular cream? Well the consistency when it was removed from the fridge might be a bit of a dead giveaway! This cream could have been rolled down our rather steep driveway and would have looked virtually identical to this picture when it rolled to a standstill…sigh…it was solid as a rock! We had to put it over the warmth of the wood fire to soften it a bit, re-whip it and add more boiling and cold water before it stopped looking like a curdled mess and started to look like “cream” again…honesty is the best policy folks and I would HATE to have any of you try this recipe without being aware that you are going to have to store it at room temperature before using…

Aside from that little hicup, here the cream is, rebeaten into submission and doing what a good mock cream representation should!

And this is the finished product. A few shaves of chocolate and voila! Desert.

When we dispatch our roosters it isn’t with their tasty meaty goodness in mind. If the roosters could learn to live in a utopian harmony with the rest of the natives on Serendipity Farm they could live out their lives in full but like most males of the species, roosters are prone to strutting about and trying to take over from each other. They are also prone to random acts of sexual molestation that startle the hens out of their laying routine thus making them seed scoffing menaces to our egg futures and when they start to crow all through the night, its them or us. Little red rooster was the last of our roosters to bite the dust in a line of 5 before him. I am collecting their wishbones so that they are not forgotten and they will all go into an artistic display of life on Serendipity Farm (or perhaps death on Serendipity Farm would be more to the point!) somewhere in the future when I find the time to contemplate my navel, my inner artistic muse and my ability to find something to adhere the wishbones to. 2 of the wishbones are still clinging tenaciously to their hosts in the freezer in the garage as roast chicken futures. I had thought that little red would be tough because unlike his more tame brothers, he was wholly feral and had been crowing since he was only 3 months old. Crowing is associated with the onset of maturity and thus, at almost 5 months old I had imagined that he would be tough…stringy and fit only for mincing. Minced he was, along with being turned into delicious stock and his stock meaty portions and skin were fed to the dogs. The skin was first turned into chook scratching’s in a hot oven and even the feral cats got the intestines to squabble over. We don’t waste much here. If I could bring myself to do something with the feet I would but beak, feet and feathers are disposed of. If we could dig the soil we would bury the head but we are going to have to work out what to do with them other than surreptitiously depositing them into the bin (bad I know but whatchagonnado?) and the feathers languish in the compost bin until they blow all over the place in a gale…

This was an interesting spice that my daughters bought for me when they were buying some products from an Australia based seller of U.S.A. foods, curiously called “U.S.A. Foods”. To all of you living in the U.S.A. it might make you curious why I would be showing my dear constant readers this spice mix that is readily available to you all. In Australia we have a fraction of the variety of foodstuffs that you are able to purchase on a day to day basis. We often have a really hard time replicating recipes because we have to find a local substitute for some of the ingredients in your recipes. This is one such ingredient and I use it for making potato wedges and to add a bit of spicy flavour to anything that needs it.

I removed a package of past rooster mince from the freezer tonight to make something for Steve’s dinner. I decided to make small rooster meatballs to go with some rich tomato pasta sauce and some spaghetti and cheese. I used 250g of ex rooster and mixed it with fresh breadcrumbs, Italian mixed herbs (dried), some yellow American mild squeezy mustard (one of Steve’s personal favourites), some smoked paprika, some good old tomato sauce, a shake of Massell vegetable stock powder, a bit of minced garlic, a shake of Emeril’s All Natural Rib Rub (a gift from my daughters from an online American wholesale outlet in Australia) and a shake of Worcestershire sauce all formed into a mass and made into small balls. I then placed them on a baking paper lined oven tray and baked them. I used the remaining 250g to make into Thai chicken patties tomorrow night to be served with some kefir lime scented rice from the freezer and a left over portion of a veggie mix that I invented because Steve said “I NEED vegetables!” (in addition to his normal veggies that is…) where I cut the kernels from a fresh corn cob, and cooked them with some frozen peas and garlic in some butter and tossed in some sliced mushrooms and a carrot shaved with the potato peeler. Apparently delicious (what ISN’T delicious when cooked in garlic butter eh? 😉 ). I mixed the remaining portion of ex rooster with some smooth peanut butter. I normally wouldn’t have this in the house but SOMEONE told me that dogs LOVE peanut butter and that I should buy some to put into Earl’s Kong for when we go for our lectures and the boys get left here. I allowed the boys to sniff the specially purchased jar of peanut butter expecting the equivalent of dog raptures (remembering that I was promised that they LOVE peanut butter and can’t resist it…) and despite putting a bit on Earl’s nose that he promptly wiped off in disgust, their love of peanut butter was decidedly underwhelming to say the least! I have to find ways to use it up and biscuits, Thai noodles and adding it surreptitiously to just about everything I can get away with is how I am going to discontinue its shelf hovering career in the pantry. I then added some Korean chilli paste, some minced ginger, and some minced garlic, more fresh breadcrumbs, and some Massell vegetable stock powder and mixed it all up. It’s marinating in the fridge overnight for me to make into small patties tomorrow night and serve. I love thinking up frugal and deliciously inventive ways to make leftovers into something tasty. The rooster meat has come in handy and is totally different than supermarket chicken. Its darker, it’s more flavourful and it goes further than regular chicken does.

Here’s the ex-rooster turned into meatballs ready for Steve’s spaghetti and meatballs…

And here’s the finished dish. He had already grabbed the plate and started it when I insisted that he stop eating to take this photo!

Tomorrow we will be using one of our roosters past to see if they are tender enough to roast. The rooster selected was huge, fat, lazy and just on the point of crow. We know that because the rooster in question was called “Big Bertha” right up until 3 days before it’s demise and so it should be tender enough to roast. We have been doing experiments with our rooster meat. Its something akin to male calves in a dairy herd, not something desirable and so we let our roosters live happily on Serendipity Farm until they start to cause the girls problems and then its time for a culinary adventure. Big Bertha/Bert is going to be celebrated by stuffing under the skin with herb/garlic butter, roasting, and accompanying with roasted goose fat potatoes, yorkshire puddings, peas, carrots, stuffing and pan gravy. I will let you know how it all goes. We will only be roasting half of Big Bertha/Bert because only Steve eats meat and we can use the remaining half to make a chicken casserole that can be used in a future pie. When you start to look at what it takes to produce your food, it gives you a lot more respect for the process. Its not easy to kill a rooster when you have raised it from a chick and its important to make sure that you respect that roasted chicken on your plate. Still not too sure what we are going to do with all those wishbones…Steve suggested something along the lines of making a necklace out of them like Predator…hmmm perhaps not! Ok, I know I have a lot of photos to put into this post and so I am going to finish up here. I hope you liked the change of pace in this post and things will be back to normal on Wednesday (if I can be dragged from my newfound love of Amanita games to type a post that is! 😉 )

Anti Pulp, please don’t sue me Jarvis Cocker

Hi All,

Despite my vehement desire to stop the proposed bell bay pulp mill the title of this post has NOTHING to do with this issue. On our walk this morning (time machine people…remember the time machine…) we ran into our long suffering neighbours Frank and Adrian who asked us if we had noticed a whopping great tree falling down right on the boundary fence between our place and theirs…our tree obviously…sigh…no, we hadn’t noticed and when we just went up to take a look at the tree it was completely rotten to the core, had a mangled and long dead possum skeleton in one of the knot holes (habitat?!) and someone out there is looking after us because it caused the bare minimum of damage to anything at all. Remember…the possum is skeletal and so departed the earth a long time ago so it can’t be counted as collateral damage. We figure the tree must have fallen down on Saturday when it was incredibly windy and we were out for 4 hours at the progressive garage sale because something that big falling down would have made a rather loud “CRASH!!!”… We can’t use much of it for firewood because it is rotten but we can heap up the logs in the corner of the property to rot down and improve the soils cation exchange (organic matter + topsoil = happy days…) and provide a little pile of habitat on Serendipity Farm although I don’t think that many of our invading hoards feel the need for natural habitat to be honest…they just move on into anything that will fit them. We are starting to feel lucky to have a few feral cats about as they are catching rats and mice that are attracted to the chicken food and this time last year we had to use baits…no such problem now! As I said…there are good points and bad points about everything.

This is the long dead tree that fell on the dividing fence between our property and our long (and still) suffering neighbours property

Here is the same tree after a bit of time and some hard yards with a chainsaw and returned to the property from whence it fell

As you can see, the centre of the tree was effectively mush and despite not getting much in the way of usable firewood from this decomposing beauty, this delightful “mush” will rot down quickly when the wrens and hens have finished picking at it and will improve the soil in this area

I decided to shield your eyes from the skeletal possum that was well past its mumification date and will just let you use your imagination should you wish to pursue that train of thought. Here is Effel and some of her lovely blue laced Wyandotte babies. As you can see…following me everywhere I go because “Human = food” appears to have paid off this time

We found several of these large borer grubs and Effel and her 7 babies had a feast that will ensure that I have 8 little shadows whenever I venture out into the wide outdoors

We headed off to Beaconsfield to delight our dogs this morning (Sunday TIME MACHINE REMEMBER!). We decided to park in the local school car park and as we headed off with the dogs I noticed that the fig tree that I normally predate had some figs on it. I have no problems eating fruit overhanging fences in Tasmania because the locals don’t seem to eat much fruit. I know…why would you have fruit/nut trees if you don’t actually use the fruit/nuts? No idea people, but their loss is my gain! I picked a couple of last figs to nibble on our walk that the birds hadn’t nibbled before me and noticed a spindly fig branch sticking out of the weeds underneath the tree. I tugged it to pull it up out of the weeds because it might not be “my” plant, but I still care about it and when I tugged it I noticed roots on the stem…layering… interesting folks! We walked the boys around Beaconsfield and I collected some more walnuts from underneath the tree that I got the last lot that are sprouting from. Again, the householder wasn’t interested in harvesting these nuts as they were lying on the ground and most of them had been eaten by rats. I collected what I could and they are now stratifying in the shed along with their second batch of friends (the first 5 that have sprouted are now overwintering in the glasshouse) and a bag of hazelnuts. We got back to the car and I headed back to where the fig tree was located and managed to find 3 long branches with roots on that I could remove from amongst the weeds. I used one of our faithful and always useful doggie doo bags to put the rooted cuttings into and filled it up with leaf mould from around the base of the tree. I can’t tell you how many times we have walked down the road with a large bag of something other than nefarious dog poo! We got back home and put the cuttings and roots into a bucket of water with seasol and Auxinone in it and then potted them up and staked them using the water that they had been soaking in to water them in. They will also overwinter in the glasshouse and hopefully will develop a good set of roots. Taking root or aerial layered cuttings allows you to jump a few years on with fruit and nut production when a nut tree usually takes 10 years to produce nuts from plants grown from seed or cuttings. A good substitute for Auxinone, if you can’t find it, is to use Berocca tablets dissolved in water. When accompanied by a good splosh of seasol, the Auxinone/Berocca’s give the rooted cuttings a better chance of survival and we get very few die on us so hopefully these tall cuttings will like their new home. At least they are vertical now rather than horizontal!

Here are those 3 figs in their new home where they will overwinter until spring later on in the year. Behind them we have our 2 bananas and their “humidity generator” a.k.a. a Monstera deliciosa that allows them to have their own little humid microclimate. They lived through last winter without their new friend so hopefully they will arrive in spring as happy little customers. We tidied out the glasshouse to prepare it for winter and its inhabitants for receival of the maximum light that they can get over the next few months

We are opportunistic whenever we see cutting material that we can use to grow plants for Serendipity Farm or for swapping with nursery owner friends for plants. The same deal goes for seed. There is something really primal about collecting your own seed and growing plants from cuttings. I dare say it harkens back to the days when our survival revolved around our ability to hunt and grow our own food.  I love waking up when it is still dark and quiet in the house and slipping quietly out of bed and heading into the kitchen where I can settle down to see what the world delivers me right into my inbox. I subscribe to some very interesting blogs and am usually not let down by the content of my early morning mental breakfast. I like to learn things. I was born to learn more than my fair share for some reason and where some might crave that first cigarette or that last piece of chocolate, I crave knowledge. I must add here that I crave knowledge for things that interest me! Should anyone want to indulge my quest for knowledge by sending me their old university mathematical physics or chemistry  textbooks they will be returned with “Not at this address” scrawled in bright red crayon (after I eat the first red crayon that is…). There are elements of all of those most noble of mind breaking concepts that not only pique my interest but actively make me swoon but too few to list here and so we will forget about them for the moment. I choose to learn what my mind needs to take in new concepts and sometimes that is maths…so I learn the bare basics to get me through and wing it as I go along.

Now I don’t know if you are in agreement with me here, but I get the feeling that there is something that smells VERY interesting on this bit of driftwood…

Steve took a few arty photos when we were at the beach the other day. I quite liked this one

And I REALLY liked this one

I am typing while I wait for my “dog pikelets” to cook. They aren’t actually my dog pikelets…I am home alone dog sitting while Steve does the fortnightly shopping 50km away and have 2 sulking dogs who haven’t had a walk yet. Much like children, dogs can be somewhat distracted from actively sulking by waving food under their noses and so after heading out to let the chooks out of their coop and having feral cats follow me the whole way looking pitiful and having seen them catch rats the other day thus earning at least something in return I decided to give the chooks, cats and dogs a bit of a cold morning treat. I headed in to the cupboards and discovered that there wasn’t all that much there that would interest a cat, dog or even a chook. We have reached that time of the fortnight where shopping becomes less of a chore and more of a necessity. I had to get creative with what was available…1 large container of out of date thickened cream (still smelling fine…)…3 free range eggs that our hens have decided to spring on us of late…1 tin of tuna found at the back of the cupboard…2 semi floppy carrots found in the crisper (note to self “CLEAN THE CRISPER”!…sigh…) add a bit of Self-Raising flour and a bit of left over lard from making pork pie pastry to fry it all in. An instant human heart attack but bliss for animal-kind. They don’t look all that bad and 4 of them have disappeared into the dogs so I think I am on to a winner. Consider that my recipe for hump day. Technically these would be fritters rather than pikelets but I have the ump with New Zealand (home of the fritter) at the moment for selling themselves to the highest bidder (in this case China) and for allowing themselves to be the food laundering capital of the world. Your reputation is plummeting New Zealand and if I check a label and see “New Zealand” on it, I won’t buy it because it is a veneer for “Chinese Import”. Almost all of our frozen vegetables are routed through New Zealand from China to give them a fake façade of clean and green and New Zealand is allowing this to their own detriment. That’s why these are pikelets (still semi-New Zealand but like Pavlovas and Anzac biscuits… WE MADE THEM FIRST! ;o).  There you go…I couldn’t let a Monday go past without having a bit of a rant albeit a small one (I will say this for the last time this post… Time machine people…that is how I can jump around from the past to the present so easily…)

I decided to use the 4 teracotta froggy pot stands that I bought for 20c each at the progressive garage sale on Saturday to good use in the kitchen. This little setup reminds me of  the  Discworld which consists of a large disc resting on the backs of four huge elephants which are in turn standing on the back of an enormous turtle named Great A’Tuin as it slowly swims through space. In this case… it is a disc of Huon pine resting on 4 small teracotta frogs who are in turn resting on my butchers block as it slowly wheels around my kitchen. If you don’t know what I am talking about here… you really REALLY need to get yourselves a complete Discworld series of books by Terry Pratchett and settle down for one of the most entertaining, humorous and enlightening journeys of your life

This is Steve’s $5 backpack from the progressive garage sale. We have been filling it with water and allowing it to soak to ensure that we won’t be killing off any of our precious babies with any prior contents. We will be using this backpack sprayer to apply seasol, powerfeed and worm tea along with compost tea…weed tea…liquid manure…anything natural that we can manufacture on site to give our garden an edge

I found this fossil on the beach the other day. No idea what it is but Steve swears it is an octopus… hmmm…does anyone have the heart to tell him that octopi do not have anything to fossilise? No… I thought not…lets just keep it as our little secret 😉

I am trying to be more proactive than reactive. It’s quite difficult because I think I was born to be somewhat reactive (as my posted rants about all things that push my buttons would tend to allude to…) and so this is new territory. When you wake up and the very first song that you hear on the clock radio is “Born to be alive” by Patrick Hernandez and it gets stuck in your head and you spend the morning singing an ancient disco song to a most ungrateful of audiences (if dogs could put their paws over their ears these 2 would…) you soon realise which side of the proactive/reactive fence you tend to reside. I would love to be one of those “Doers”. One of those people who jump out of bed fresh and ready for the new day. They have all of their ideas condensed down into perfect little dot points of action and after a healthy pre-planned vegan super food breakfast they race off to tick off their lives in sequence arriving at the end of their day satisfied, satiated and successful. I have been delving a little bit deeper into these sort of people and have made a startling discovery… they simply don’t exist! Behind every good man is a good woman and behind every “proactive” go getter/doer there are a team of hidden supplicants facilitating their every move. As much as I love Richard Branson, I dare say he just has to postulate an idea and it eventuates with a click of his fingers. Who wouldn’t be happy and always with a smile on their face if they merely had to suggest to make something happen with only the idea as “work” for the day? I know that there are people out there who are able to strategically work through their day arriving at the end satisfied and happy with their lot and they tend to live in the sustainable community living a hard life with all natural hippy rewards but perhaps somewhere along the way they learned to be a whole lot happier with a whole lot less? What I am trying to say is it’s all a matter of how you choose to see things. If you take a good hard look at what you actually have (not what you owe a stack of credit on folks…that doesn’t belong to you!) and make your peace with what you can and can’t immediately afford and learn to live within your means life can take on a whole different slant. Do you really need that investment home? Do you need all of that pre-made food that minimises your time spent in the kitchen to microwave…ding…eat…? What are we actually racing about attaining all this wealth for anyway? I read once, (I have actually read more than once but this is leading into a story and not a literal quantification of how much reading I have accomplished in my life ;o) that if someone gets an increased amount of money to live on…even one significant enough to allow them to save a lot of extra money…most people will simply adapt (more quickly than they would like to admit) to increasing their spending to absorb this amount rather than saving it. It’s natural human nature to want more and we are buying in to an ever increasingly powerful media and advertising sector that seem to be dictating trends rather than trying to get us to follow. We are eager to jump into buying a new car even though we only bought our old one 3 years ago…we need a new bed…a new toaster a new partner! Everything is geared at trying to get us to hand over our readies (whether cash or credit) to pay for something that if we really thought about it, we most probably wouldn’t buy. It’s a lot easier to be sanctimonious about people spending money when you don’t actually have any to spend yourself I will admit. There are entire multinational corporations of people selling “futures”… things that haven’t even happened yet! It is so very difficult to hear yourself think these days because everything has advertising in it including our emails (is anyone else heartily SICK TO DEATH of that bloody grey monkey on the incredimail advertisement’s?) and so the further you can take yourself away from the madding crowd and the more you are able to learn to hear that little inner voice telling us what we REALLY need rather than what society is telling us that we “need” the more likely we are to arriving at some point where we can be grateful, thankful and happy with what we have in our lives right here, right now. Our own private nirvana in our lifetime :o). GO AWAY PATRICK HERNANDEZ!…sigh…it seems that whatever song I wake up to on the radio in the mornings tends to stick in my brain for the rest of the day. I can be sweeping the floor and suddenly find myself whistling that song…throwing bread out to the chooks and I am humming it…I will be collecting the wood up in the paddock and loudly singing it sorry Frank (our neighbour) and today’s menu item is “Born to be alive”…a song that I didn’t even like when it first came out last century and am cursed to vocalise for the rest of the day.

Earl looking a bit the worse for wear after a particularly vigorous race full pelt around the house

If you look REALLY hard you can see Fatty, Felix’s sole remaining kitten peeking out of the conifer

The sight that greets me when I take Steve in his cup of coffee at 7am most mornings

I have mentioned before that I learn more about the real world by wandering around paying attention to what is going on around this 4 acre property than I have up until now in my life. I was throwing out my tuna/carrot/lardy goodness cakes (to keep me getting spammed by the Chinese-New Zealanders about just who invented pikelets/fritters…) to the waiting throng of chooks, sparrows and feral cats below whilst passing morsels sideways to the waiting dogs, when I started to notice interesting societal things about our little ecosystem we call Serendipity Farm. The cats have had to learn to get along with the chooks because it became pretty obvious that if you stalk a chook you get a piece of wood thrown at you. Not only do the cats not attack the chooks (apart from the odd fluff ball that doesn’t stay close to mum and who disappears “somewhere” in the ether) but they are actively afraid of them! This is NOT normal. Chooks are supposed to be afraid of cats but on Serendipity Farm where nature gazes from below up at a benefactor with attitude they learned pretty soon that the cats were not going to mess with them and have turned from terrified cat snacks into bullies who will steal food from the cats mouths. How out of whack are we?!  From the very first group of 8 point of lay chooks that we bought last year and that chased a terrified Felix down the pathway in blatant avian angst our chooks have attained a level of induced fear that would rival a biker gang in human terminology. They strut…they peck…even Pingu runs into the throng of cats and delivers savage blows to the top of their hissing heads should they dare to even LOOK at her. Our chooks are more dangerous than our dogs! Forget Bezial and Earl any burglars out there… you would be sneaking into the danger zone the moment you stepped onto the property. Be afraid… be VERY afraid!

All of this society 101 has sprung from several people over the last week telling us that they envy our lifestyle. Steve and I just turn to each other in wonderment whenever anyone would even think of wanting to do what we do every day. I guess it’s the grass is greener meets the photos that we post on the blog. No-one likes to portray the bad things about their lives and so we tend not to post anything depressing or sordid that might perhaps make someone think differently about us. My dad died on July 7th 2010 leaving us more aware of our mortality and suddenly able to call a few acres of land “mine”. “You lucky bastard!” (Said in Michael Palin’s voice from “The Life of Brian”…) and here it is if you are the poorer for never having discovered Monty Python so far… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EI7p2p1QJI Yes…we ARE lucky and we will always be grateful to my dad for giving us something that we would never have had otherwise but right there is where the scene of happiness and joy starts to fade into reality and hard work. Nothing that is worth having is easy people! We tend to look to the future to deliver us from our lives today and some of us spend our lives waiting for “the kids to leave home”, “retirement”, “that winning lotto coupon” rather than taking stock of what life has actually dealt us and learning to not only accept and live with it but find real happiness in our own personal circumstances. How many of you have watched documentaries about native tribes out in the middle of the South American jungle who despite their lack of anything that we would be able to identify as “wealth” are all smiling, curious and most happy members of the human race with the strongest whitest teeth I have ever seen. I wonder how people living a subsistence life can be so very happy? Is it because they are living close to the earth that feeds clothes and sustains them and they have discovered their niche within this endless ancient balance of cycles. They are living how we all should live. Simply, with few needs and it’s only when you start introducing societies “wealth” that problems start to occur. I dare say I am glossing over the squabbles, the human vices and the general need that we humans have to stuff up whatever we are given that would be present wherever 2 or more people group together to coexist, but in general they would deal with it themselves and they would be very aware of the consequences of their actions. I find it laughable that we in 1st world societies have so much and are always hungry for more when these simple people are very content with their lot. Serendipity Farm is our chance to make a difference to our own little plot of earth and see if we can’t leave it better than when we arrived on it just under 2 years ago. The process of change that we are taking and where we found out how to go about changing for the better is what this blog is all about. I am trying to be as honest as I can about our lives but am as guilty of the next person in omitting some of the more nefarious things or glossing over them with humour. Life is tough enough without being constantly faced by negativity and so I try to temper reality with humour as often as I can.

3048 words! How did I get to 3048 words! I only just sat down! Sigh…surely that word check on the bottom of Word is fibbing…I often wonder if there will ever be an end to the need to splash what’s inside my head onto a page. I don’t think that my muse (who is a combination of Billy Connelly and Leonardo De Vinci with a little smattering of Albert Einstein (probably the dyslexic bit…) thrown in) wants to give up any day soon so other than writing a “Dear Abbey” column, I guess you guys get it all :o). Thanks for listening to my outpourings. I sometimes think I should be paying you all for taking the place of a psychiatrist but to be honest, that should be something that our state government does for the safety of our state so you lose out this time. See you all on Saturday night/Sunday morning (depending on which side of the Equator you are) where we can take up this session where we left off…till then…”Domo arigato Mr Roboto” (because I can’t spell Sayonara)

Strider soup

Hi All,

I am a happy chicken because gunn’s (they don’t deserve a capital letter…) have just lost their prospective (and most shonky) partner who was going to bail them out of the toilet and give them the funds to get this massive great white elephant of a pulp mill up and running. I am all for looking after local businesses but when they are as corrupt and shonky as guns, I can make an exception. This is a case of the little men holding steady and refusing to give up against goliath. Hopefully gunn’s will come toppling down like the top heavy overweight plutocratic behemoth that it is! Are you starting to get the feeling that I am not enamoured of gunns or its politics? Tasmania is like the Wild West of Australia. If you had enough money (in the not too distant past) and were a big enough bully boy, you could pretty much do anything that you wanted in Tasmania. Times are slowly changing but you can see remnant pockets of corruption nestled in both the labour and liberal state government here and that makes it hard to work out who to vote for when it is time to vote. I want to make my voice count but when state government is this self-serving and has completely lost its ability to judge just who is voting for them and why they are in power in the first place, I don’t have a lot of faith in either of these major parties delivering any sort of positive statement to the people of Tasmania. We need jobs but not at the expense of our environment and we need health, law and education as well but they appear to be unimportant to our state government in the quest to achieve massive (38% is massive to me) pay rises for themselves when businesses are folding all around them and people are losing their jobs every day. It is a bit like King Canute in the state of Tasmania and our good lady premier is refusing to step down from her throne. I have a decided political lien to the beginning of this post today but I just heard about gunns partner pulling out and had to say something about it. It has been a most incredibly frustrating situation having no say whatsoever about this totally unsuitable development proposed to be built just around the corner from our home. The best our premier could say was “we need the jobs” and when queried why she was allowing gunns to be exempt from anyone complaining about the mill for 2 years, her answer was “we can’t afford the litigation”…sigh…that is what we have to live with out here. I figure there are a few of us that might need Frontier psychiatry…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLrnkK2YEcE&ob=av2e

Yeh…I figure after that I might actually need therapy!

This is a picture of a most contented Bezial. This was back before we got chickens and they took over the outside world. Bezial used to walk with Steve and I all over Serendipity Farm and if we stayed out in the bush too long (whipper snipping etc.) he would trot back to the house and lay on the deck keeping watch. He loves Serendipity Farm

Then Earl showed up…Bezial’s world turned upside down and is only just now starting to calm down a little since Earl turned 1

 This is a perfect representation of Earl. He has that look in his eye that shows that he is watching EVERYTHING and that nothing is going to escape this little brown and white dog…

It is Saturday morning and I have started to get up with the alarm (after listening to the news of course…there is a tiny bit of my dad in my genes that requires that much of me…) and sit here for an hour tapping away, checking up on my subscription posts sent to my email until it starts to get light at 7am and Steve can get up (I take him a cuppa) and we can head out to walk the dogs while it is still cool and crisp and all of those delicious wildlife smells are still hanging in the breeze. I was checking out the posts sent to our inbox and realised that I have some mighty stuff sitting there. Since I started using the power of Tags to add to my posts I am getting a lot more international people checking in and reading about Serendipity Farm and a fair few “like” ticks from some very well written and constructed blogs. It reinforces my belief that the internet is a most powerful tool for free information for “the masses” I realise that makes me sound like a communist there but it is difficult to separate the 99% of us living on salaries and wages and benefits from the 1% who control the world. I headed off to check out the blog of “The Sustainability Puzzle” who liked one of my posts enough to tick “like”. I know from my own blog hunting habits that it takes a fair bit for me to “like” a post so I take that as kudos indeed so “Cheers” Robert of The Sustainability Puzzle who looks a whole lot like Tobias (Toby) from Cert 3 so if you feel like taking a look (Nat) you can back me up there. Go check out his blog, it is very interesting and so informative that this little black magpie has had to subscribe to follow his posts. I can feel a wealth of free information coming my way that I might be able to share with you all and that will add to my militant outrageous indignation about how corporate greed is overriding the processes of change towards sustainability…

http://sustainabilitypuzzle.wordpress.com/

I have several environmental/sustainable blogs that I follow and I have several mind expanding sites including Instructables. Really folks, if you haven’t bothered to head over there and check it out you really are missing out on the most incredible wealth of information about how to bypass “the man” (that dreaded middle man that I have so come to loathe…) and learn to do and make your own “stuff”. Bollocks to paying someone out there to grummage (my own word so bollocks off spellcheck!) our precious non-renewable resources out of the ground to mass produce Brittney Spears tee-shirts and plastic toys to lure small children (and their surprising amount of pulling power) into fast food restaurants. Should you be desperate to have a Brittney Spears Tee-shirt why don’t you make your own? Learn how to screen print and make your very own amazing Brittney Spears (ech…is that an oxymoron or what!) tee-shirt and you might open up a market for sustainably produced tee-shirts that you can sell at markets and give yourself an incredible sense of satisfaction by producing them sustainably (use potatoes to print…think laterally!) while being able to make a bit of money. That’s what it is all about…think laterally to get what you want…do more with less… live simply so that others may simply live. Give what you are doing a bit of thought and take the extra 3 minutes to wash out a glass jar and toss it into the recycling. What are we saving our time for? We need to stop believing marketing and media giants who are making a (literal) killing out of our gullible (and if we are being honest lazy) need to be directed to what we want and need. We are developing into people who are “too busy” to think and choose. Once we give away our ability to reason…think and choose we have given away our basic fundamental right to what makes us human (our choice). I got quite heavy there didn’t I? You might be led to believe that I am some sort of environmental dynamo who spends her time wandering the Ethernet in search of ever increasing militant communistic incitement when to be honest I couldn’t be bothered with violent protest. You get more from your chosen victim with honey than you do with a stick and I choose to wave a honeyed stick to deliver my message. To be honest I am just as susceptible to anyone to some pretty pictures, some nice bright text and a few great recipes and am stepping out of the closet and straight into a 12 step programme to reveal my secret lust for food porn. I can’t help it, I am only human (and a greedy one at that who’s main vice is ingested with gusto) and I am only reading them for the article’s “I swear!”

Check out the latest at Ruth’s blog “The Pink Whisk”. She came second (SHE WAS JIPPED!) on the television series “The Great British Bake-off” and her blog is drool worthy indeed. She gives a light and humorous touch to baking and her cakes are delectable (the main reason I checked her blog out in the first place) and well worth checking out.

http://www.thepinkwhisk.co.uk/2012/03/grasshopper-cake.html

Again, I am so happy about how easy it is to share online. I hunted through that post above and found Ed Kimber’s blog (the guy that came 1st in The Great British Bake-off). I didn’t even know that he had one! This guy is someone who lost a tonne of weight and turned his life around and now puts his obvious love of food into feeding other people (a curious thing that happens to most people who lose a lot of weight…let’s just call it “food transference” and it tends to fatten up their nearest and dearest…). This guy is the king of techniques and perfect delivery. Check him out and see why he just pipped Ruth to the post…

http://theboywhobakes.co.uk/2010/01/grasshopper-cake/

And you can compare their different takes on the very same recipe. I am really excited about my new ability to isolate information that I am interested in. It’s just like cataloguing books in the library (I can hear you yawning but bear with me…) and is exactly what Google have started to do. I don’t know about the rest of you but I am online pretty much 24/7 when I am not studying, reading, crocheting and serving as general slave and scullery maid on Serendipity Farm and I “notice” things. Google searches are now watching what you are looking for. I went hunting to find out what a “Seral Community” was yesterday and once I had isolated the single entry on the first Google search page that had anything to do with what I was looking for (I DIDN’T want serial numbers or a serial crack for my illegally downloaded software…) and clicked it…Google set about the clanking of chains to make my next search completely compatible with my last search so it isolated “Seral” as a component of my next search, taking in to account that most people are hunting for something that is related to their last search. Good on you for that Google but it DOESN’T make me forgive you for attempting to “cloud” up our lives with a power hungry grasp for our free information. While it is still free I am going for it and am collecting and collating as much relevant content to what we are studying, my interests and to Serendipity Farm and its outcomes as I possibly can. One day I will have it all to share with anyone who wants it…perhaps Serendipity Farm will be the next Google? ROTFL! Narp!

I noticed this little teracotta dove on a brick gate post when we were walking in Rowella the other day. I really liked it because it wasn’t run of the mill cutesy and was a little bit different

I really liked this Hibiscus syriacus and when I was taking the photo I noticed that little insect sitting on the flower…on closer inspection the shrub was loaded with these little critters that were very quick and that had nefarious intentions. I am glad it’s not my shrub!

I quite liked this large planter. There are 2 of them in the garden on either side of a gate that doesn’t have any fence attached to it…just sitting in the middle of the garden on a concreted pole and latched onto another concreted pole. I am wondering if they are going to put a fence in or just leave it as a talking piece…it got me talking didn’t it?

The boys have been using their latent “ratting” powers to hunt for mice in the pantry cupboard. Our endeavours to ensure a rat/mouse free cupboard have resulted in Bezial being confused because he doesn’t have to do any of that sort of “dirty” work anymore…apparently that is what we bought Earl for…and Earl getting excited because of his close proximity to food and cat biscuits to be specific. In all it was a fruitless pointless exercise that exposed a gaping hole in the theory that the animals that live with us are “Wild Creatures” and should be treated as such. Our dogs are pampered sloths that require food (only the best), water and a king sized bed to recline on at night. They require that we do what they want whenever they want it and that we spend at least 50% of our waking hours walking them in ever more interesting places (can’t go to the same place 2 days in a row or Bezial balks and refuses to walk…) and spend our evenings sitting on the sofa acting as dog pillows or should we dare to do anything else (like me sitting here in the kitchen/living area typing or researching) one of them (paper…rock…scissors…LOSER) has to lay here sighing heavily next to me on the floor until I do the right thing and go into the lounge room to do my duty. It seems like we hold the Midas touch when it comes to creating ideal situations for our fellow creatures to live a life of decadent sloth. Our feral cats all lay outside oblivious to the tasty little morsels that would lure them should they be actual wild cats rather than fat sleek capitalist’s growing in number on a daily basis and creating slaves of our dwindling resources. The hens are just money pits who have decided to conserve their energy and suck up as much free range grain as they can…why lay eggs? They expend energy that you might be using to grow exponentially larger to take over the world! We feed cheese cut into small cubes to the local cuckoo shrikes, bread to the sparrows (who also take advantage of the free range hen food and the dogs bones laying around the enclosure) and anything else that wants a free feed drops around to eat grain, potted plants and anything else that it can lay its hands/beaks/feet on in the full knowledge that the dogs and cats are so full that they couldn’t be bothered to lift up their lazy slothful heads to attack them…life on Serendipity Farm is indeed “A Dogs Life”…

I really like this little old cottage and its lovely garden in Rowella. I love that Japanes maple that is starting to change colour quite early. That symbolises an early and hard (cold) winter…that and my trick knee…

This is the sea wall at Bonnie Beach. I just really liked the look of this picture and decided to include it for you all to see how the tides affect the banks of the Tamar River. I haven’t ever seen tides like we get on the river. They occur twice a day and mean the difference between a pebble beach for the dogs to walk on and suddenly water up to the top of this wall. When looking out of the windows in the day you can sometimes see Egg Island as almost able to be walked on from the point and at other times it is indeed a separate body. Interesting whirpools occur under the Batman Bridge and the jellyfish take advantage of these incredibly strong currents to coast in and out to and from the sea almost like they are surfing under water

This sunflower is pretty isn’t it? We grew it and it is in the glasshouse as it got a rather late start in its lifecycle and needed a boost to get it to flower. Like most “late” things this sunflower is actually quite small but Steve did his best to make it look humungous for you all to be dead jealous of…are you impressed?

We have just gotten back from our walk in Beaconsfield and I took a few photos of the stump left after the removal of the massive big Ash tree (Fraxinus excelsior) that was just removed from the park area opposite the main shops in Beaconsfield. I know it had to be removed because it was dangerous and there was no WAY that the West Tamar Council (remembering that they support the pulp mill…) was going to spend anything on bolting and bracing/cabling this ancient old tree who has been watching over this tiny mining community for more than a century but it had a real presence, and it is somewhat fitting that the removal of this majestic old tree coincides with the closing of the Beaconsfield mine very soon and what amounts to the end of the town. There are “For Sale” signs up everywhere and the locals are being stoic about their chances of keeping a sense of community but it is inevitable that once the only source of employment for 50km dries up, something is going to have to give. The natives steadfastly refuse to give up their blinkered view about how society should work…men go out to work…you buy a house…you have kids…you retire on your pension and you go fishing in your boat that you bought with your superannuation. Life is so much more complicated now and filled with so many choices (or so the superannuation, life insurance and general media would have us believe) and it’s “way too hard” to make up your mind about anything important any more…best you farm off your choice and your decisions to an expert…who just so happens to be one of my dreaded middle men! If you wipe out the experts you have to rely on your own ability to think both in black and white common sense and laterally. You have to suddenly develop problem solving skills and seek alternatives to your usual materials, resources, sources and you have to start weighing things up…thinking about consequences and taking responsibility for your own actions… in short…you become a responsible ethical human being who actually gives a stuff about other people and who thinks twice before negatively impacting on the world. Everything is habit and progression. If you don’t progress you stagnate…simple as that. We develop habits like callouses. They come with experience and life and our habits are how we choose to deal with what life delivers into our inbox. They are entirely up to us and are the result of our unique way of coping. The problem is that once we have gotten through what we have to deal with, we tend to wear our bad habits as little mental and emotional accessories, cluttering up our thought processes and getting in the way of us making any sort of positive change. I see it like hermit crabs pasting bits and pieces all over their shells (or is that shrimps making a hole? I am a horticulturalist NOT a biologist!) getting more and more weighed down until they either move house to a nice clean shell (take control of their negative habits) or simply sit put (stagnate) in their existing shell mounding it up with resentment, pride, fears and anything else that will excuse their bad habits and give them a sense of self entitlement for these behaviours. I don’t fancy sitting around in a pile of my own resentment so despite “hating change” being one of my problems, I am attempting to do something about my bad habits.

Here are our “ratters”. Note they are looking down which is where the pots and pans are…we thought this meant that they could sense rats… what they could scent was that container in the lower left hand side with the red glass knob that contains dog biscuits…sigh…

Bezial has decided that he has a better chance at getting that box of bird seed and Earl is wondering why the door that covers the fridge is closed as he has a better chance of opening the fridge and getting something alltogether more tasty…

Here is the place where that amazing old Ash tree stood. The area now gets no shade and will most probably just be turned into a grassy (water sucking) space devoid of any sort of character. I miss that beautiful old Ash tree already…

And here is Steve with Bezial standing on the stump of the tree. At least I have photos of this lovely tree and the boys will miss it if only because it was a great place to catch up on the Beaconsfield dog news and leave a little “article” of their own for the locals to ruminate over

The title of today’s post is the result of me ruminating mentally about a discussion that our lecturer had with us yesterday over a nice cup of freshly brewed coffee whilst sitting out in the sunshine watching another group of students tend a vegetable garden. That sounds good does it? Well sign up for Horticulture at the Alanvale Polytechnic, there are worse ways to spend your days believe me! We were discussing our exponentially increasing amount of chickens and how the hidden eggs are posing more than a stink bomb threat to us on Serendipity Farm. Every time one of our clucky girls finds an abandoned clutch of eggs at least some of those eggs are viable and ready to go. As soon as she decides to pluck that very first chest feather (symbolising her desire to sit on those eggs for a bit…) and settles down to 3 weeks of sitting, pecking and running from nest to food, water and back, we have the chance of more chickens. I thought that chickens were delicate little fluffy things that got eaten by everything but Houdini is an amazing mum and every single one of her chickens has survived and grown on. Her first 5 feral babies are now a firm clique here and with their own little rooster in charge looking out for them they live in an enormous Kunzea ambigua on the fence that borders Glad’s place. Houdini’s fluff balls are now small chooks and it looks like we might have another 3 roosters in that pack of 7 and suddenly we are being forced to deal with the roosters. This brings me back to what we were talking to our lecturer about. He appreciates a good sustainability moment and actually built himself a mud brick house on a bush block property out in the sticks near Mt Barrow. Tasmania is full of beautiful places to live and areas of wet and dry sclerophyll forest that lend themselves to being bolt holes for errant hippy sustainable alternative types who leap out of the wilderness to upset poor hard working salt of the earth forestry workers…hopefully you can detect the sarcasm dripping from my disdainful words there as our state is being held hostage by old school mentality that needs a severe update. We can’t keep raping and pillaging Tasmania for its raw resources, it’s too valuable a resource for that. We need to encourage effective food production using the abundant (at the moment) water that we have available, we need to think about harnessing some of the creative energy that is being postulated all over the place in arts councils, theatre and musical ventures and sorry to say, artistically temperamental people tend to severely lack common sense…there I said it! They tend to be too busy creating to think about the real world and whenever you let a group of “artistic” people together you end up with all sorts of fanciful ideas that are bandied about bouncing from one stage to another and very rarely getting off the ground. We need creative people. We need beauty and passion and creativeness in our lives to balance out the cold stark hard face of reality but we also need common sense and people who are able to implement (doers) ideas. Let’s all get together here and work out a sustainable plan for Tasmania. A REAL sustainable plan, not a pile of elitist ideas about “greening”; “ecotourism”;” “clean-green” or any other garbage bampf that our government and their spin doctors are touting at the moment to try to get us to part with our money. Note anything “Clean, Green or Sustainable” always comes with an enormous price tag…

So what do we do? First…we stop postulating and start implementing. On Serendipity Farm this means listening to something that our closet hippy lecturer posed yesterday and doing something about the growing rooster population on Serendipity Farm. Strider…Steve’s pet rooster has decided to spend his days attacking Steve. I am as “Sooky la-la” (Kym’s word and now common speak on Serendipity Farm…) as the next person but if you want to have a go strider…BRING IT ON! There is nothing so cathartic to your sentimentality (at least in my case) as something “taking the piss”. I will have to explain that to overseas readers…that is Aussie speak for challenging behaviour tantamount to pushing your buttons. Steve’s Stryder is “taking the piss” and as Steve is most probably too Sooky la-la to remove his head and stop the problem and as our lecturers idea of tossing all of the roosters into the shed and then releasing the hounds (what a terrifying picture that leaves in my mind!) is NOT going to be something that we are even going to contemplate, it is going to have to be good old fashioned “Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall” type homesteading on a Serendipity Farm scale. See…I DID  get around to explaining that title didn’t I? I just went all over the place to do so. I like to share my inner journeys with you here on Serendipity Farm and if you have a spare moment for a mental cup of tea and a bit of time to think about “things” we can share many a moment here in the Ethernet postulating all about the meaning of life…42 if I am not mistaken…see you all tomorrow