So this is Christmas…well, Christmas Eve

Hi All,

Every radio station this side of Cooee (a real place that has a population of 574 AND is in Northern Tasmania 😉 )  are playing Christmas songs on repeat and most of those repeat cycles contain at least one John Lennon “So this is Christmas”. More an admonition of our communal lack of effort than a Christmas song (cheers 7LAFM!) but still considered Christmassy. I know that many of you don’t feel very Christmassy in the least. I know that for many people, Christmas is just an excuse to have a few days off, drink some seriously expensive booze and quaff their weights worth of expensive and rich food. I know that people spending Christmas alone or in difficult circumstances might be feeling considerably left out and today, in my little Christmas Eve sermon (for verily have I been given the task of cheering you all up and so sayeth the Lord! 😉 ) I wanted to remind you all that you are all part of an amazing online group of friends, some of whom become online family. Whether you feel included, excluded, excited, underwhelmed, overwhelmed, blissed out or knackered out Christmas is a good time to take stock of where we have been, what we have done and to hitch up our belts and think about where we are going for next year. Seriously though, you would think that they would leave a bit more than a week between Christmas and New Year to get all of that sorted out, especially as we have all been flat out like the proverbial lizard drinking getting Christmas sorted out and all need several nana naps in order to get over it so poor old New Years is a bit of an afterthought…

Another year, another tangle of lights...

Another year, another tangle of lights…

Look what I found at Hollybank. A bank full of holly berries. Not so special you might say but red holly berries in the middle of summer? I call that a Christmas miracle ;)

Look what I found at Hollybank. A bank full of holly berries. Not so special you might say but red holly berries in the middle of summer? I call that a Christmas miracle 😉

I used a willow wreath that I made from harvested canes last year and turned it into a holly wreath :)

I used a willow wreath that I made from harvested canes last year and turned it into a holly wreath 🙂

Then I hung it on the back door...where I realised that it looks like a set of shark jaws...er...

Then I hung it on the back door…where I realised that it looks like a set of shark jaws…er…

I made this doll for a very good friends little girl who apparently loves it.

I made this doll for a very good friends little girl who apparently loves it. She is 50cm tall and her tail comes off to reveal…

A most fetching bikini :). Still haven't learned how to make attractive mouths. Anyone reading this who can help guide me in the right direction please feel free to comment :)

A most fetching bikini :). Still haven’t learned how to make attractive mouths. Anyone reading this who can help guide me in the right direction please feel free to comment 🙂

Still, whether we are ready for it or not, it comes. I am particularly blessed to have been allowed to exist on this small blue revolving planet out in the middle of space for more than half a century. I feel incredibly in awe that for some reason I have managed to enjoy most of my life. I might not be “living the dream” but I am living MY dream which I think is more important. I just want to remind you all that no matter who you are, or what your circumstances are, there is always some poor sod out there who is worse off than us/you and that we have so much to be thankful for, right here and right now. And you can just about shut up John Lennon with your admonitions, we internet mates look out for each other and we do care. Another year older? Cheers John, but you know what? That’s another chance at another year and I am sure that our elderly 92 year old neighbour Glad is counting and enjoying every single day of it.

All the Christmas day food prep is now done. The flowery icecubes for the boozy punch are frozen...

All the Christmas day food prep is now done. The flowery icecubes for the boozy punch are frozen…

The strawberries for Stevie-boys homemade strawberries and cream icecream and for the punch purchased from just over the river (can't get much more local than that...)

The strawberries for Stevie-boys homemade strawberries and cream icecream and for the punch purchased from just over the river (can’t get much more local than that…)

8kg of cherries bought for $2 a kilo and most of them have disappeared never to be seen again ;)

8kg of cherries bought for $2 a kilo and most of them have disappeared never to be seen again 😉

The cherries came from a cherry farm over the river right next to the strawberry farm. We are so lucky to live where we live

The cherries came from a cherry farm over the river right next to the strawberry farm. We are so lucky to live where we live

Talking about Glad, she is just about to receive a large Stevie-boy original pork pie to tuck away (hide) in her fridge for after she gets trotted around to all of her family members tomorrow and she can return home, put her feet up and do what SHE wants. So much of the festivities revolving around Christmas involve trotting off to visit people that you may or may not really want to deal with. I guess it’s a good reminder that we have to sometimes suck it up for the greater good. I will note that Christmas is one of the worst times for family arguments to get started so watch out for those family members that are most antagonistic towards each other and add lots of water to their booze (at least while they are at your house, they can behave! 😉 )

Steve had 10 spare minutes and a hankering to use his nail gun so he knocked up this bench out of a slab of pine a friend had given him and a strut of ash. The dogs approve

Steve had 10 spare minutes and a hankering to use his nail gun so he knocked up this bench out of a slab of pine a friend had given him and a strut of ash. The dogs approve

The dogs are very confused about all of the activity around here... the baking has them particularly suspicious

The dogs are very confused about all of the activity around here… the baking has them particularly suspicious

This is the end result of churning together 2 cans of coconut cream, 1 cup of raw sugar and some vanilla and it's absolutely delicious. The best vegan ice cream I have ever made and I can't wait to experiment with this recipe to make all kinds of variations

This is the end result of churning together 2 cans of coconut cream, 1 cup of raw sugar and some vanilla and it’s absolutely delicious. The best vegan ice cream I have ever made and I can’t wait to experiment with this recipe to make all kinds of variations

Coconut ice cream motion blur! ;)

Coconut ice cream motion blur! 😉

We make pork pies every year for Steve and for our neighbour Glad who is 92 and her daughter Wendy who are both expats from the U.K. Christmas just isn't Christmas without pork pies apparently. They can live without the snow and the hot Christmas dinner but Christmas without pork pies? Sacrilege!

We make pork pies every year for Steve and for our neighbour Glad who is 92 and her daughter Wendy who are both expats from the U.K. Christmas just isn’t Christmas without pork pies apparently. They can live without the snow and the hot Christmas dinner but Christmas without pork pies? Sacrilege!

A gorgeous homemade Christmas pudding that Glad gave us this year from her secret recipe :)

A gorgeous homemade Christmas pudding that Glad gave us this year from her secret recipe 🙂

Spooning the heady rum syrup over the rum baba

Spooning the heady rum syrup over the rum baba

Stevie-boy and I are able to spend Christmas Day tomorrow here on Serendipity Farm that has been newly shorn and that looks adorable despite Steve doing some serious damage to the whipper snipper that requires a lot of internet trawling to find new parts. That’s for the New Year though so I am counting my blessings that we managed to get most of the whipper snipping done and make Serendipity Farm look pretty. We will be sitting out on the deck having a most leisurely Christmas thanks to lots of organisation (Steve and I specialise at being organised) prior to the day. Everything has been made except for the homemade mascarpone cheese that I am attempting to make this year. A tiny container of the unctuous stuff costs 4 arms and half a leg so this year, narf is going to make her own AND copious quantities of it if the recipe serves me right.

I received this absolutely lovely bunting from a lovely fellow blogger called mommermom. Isn't it gorgeous and aren't I a lucky narf? I never cease to be amazed at how lovely people who don't even know you can be :)

I received this absolutely lovely bunting from a lovely fellow blogger called mommermom. Isn’t it gorgeous and aren’t I a lucky narf? I never cease to be amazed at how lovely people who don’t even know you can be 🙂

Stevie-boy got a new 50mm lens from the girls for Christmas (early) and has been using it to take some most lovely photos of things around the garden...

Stevie-boy got a new 50mm lens from the girls for Christmas (early) and has been using it to take some most lovely photos of things around the garden…

Remember my red clover from last year? Well this is "son of red clover" ;)

Remember my red clover from last year? Well this is “son of red clover” 😉

Pretty and most hardy climbing geraniums

Pretty and most hardy climbing geraniums

A lovely mass display of climbing roses

A lovely mass display of climbing roses

This glorious buddleia flower

This glorious buddleia flower

This one is especially for you Linne :)

This one is especially for you Linne 🙂

Natural pest prevention

Natural pest prevention

And an arty shot of our newly installed and decorated Christmas tree avec lights :)

And an arty shot of our newly installed and decorated Christmas tree avec lights 🙂

I made a rum baba yesterday. It’s a heady mix of buttery brioche soaked in enough rum syrup to satiate a crew of pirates. We cooked Steve’s choice of a very large chook and a roll of pork (sorry vegan mates but sometimes we mixed couples have to compromise), Steve’s famous pork pies that he is going to share with friends and neighbours, coconut ice cream for me (that tastes AMAZING) and strawberries and cream ice cream for Steve that also tastes amazing but his uses cream and eggs and mine just uses cans of coconut cream, a bit of sugar and some vanilla. I froze some flowers in an ice cube tray for prettying up our boozy Christmas punch and have been freezing home grown berries to add as they ripen. My blueberry bushes are covered in blueberry futures but they aren’t quite ready yet. We picked up 8kg of “jam” cherries the other day for $2 a kilo and after picking out the damaged cherries (and cutting out the damage and pureeing and freezing them) we were left with almost 5kg of perfectly good cherries that have been slowly scoffed by yours truly over the past few days. I am claiming to be eating them all to lose weight…SHHH don’t tell Stevie-boy that I am eating them because they are delicious!

We went to Hollybank recently as a special treat for the dogs. I was warning them not to shake as they were both sopping wet after an impromptu swim...

We went to Hollybank recently as a special treat for the dogs. I was warning them not to shake as they were both sopping wet after an impromptu swim…

I think this is supposed to be a bull but both Steve and I thought "KRAMPUS"! As soon as we saw it so it is officially the wooden Krampus from now on

I think this is supposed to be a bull but both Steve and I thought “KRAMPUS”! As soon as we saw it so it is officially the wooden Krampus from now on

A woman can't even take a photo without someone else photographing her! ;)

A woman can’t even take a photo without someone else photographing her! 😉

Earl found the small plastic rum bottle (empty) used to make the rum syrup for the rum baba...

Earl found the small plastic rum bottle (empty) used to make the rum syrup for the rum baba…

A lovely shot that Steve took of Bezial

A lovely shot that Steve took of Bezial

And an equally lovely shot of Earl :)

And an equally lovely shot of Earl 🙂

The tree is up, the decorations made, the front gate is adorned and the big balls of great happiness are back up after languishing on the ground next to the front gate for almost a year. One of them was full of water and when we hung them up and were decorating the gate we were subject to a slow trickle of water sprinkling down on us. I think that the Christmassy feelings come from the preparations and the processes that are involved with making Christmas yours. It’s my theory but I have found that whenever we throw ourselves into making everything for Christmas, we have a sort of timeline in our mind that sets off a chain of Christmassy feelings. We have cinnamon salt dough ornaments scenting our house. We made them last week. We have Earl reminding us of the joys of Christmas for the young and reminding us of how we have to be careful NOT to put anything under the tree till tonight as he has already removed and almost unwrapped one gift (fool us once bucko!) and we found him with the small plastic rum bottle that we used to make the rum baba chewing happily on the lid…sigh…kids!

Moody Christmas chook and pork roll

Moody Christmas chook and pork roll

Raining and it is just about Christmas...

Raining and it is just about Christmas…

Lucky really as yesterday we had to light Brunhilda to cook all of the christmas fare.

Lucky really as yesterday we had to light Brunhilda to cook all of the Christmas fare.

Aren't these lovely? I got them from that most sterling and gorgeous of bloggers Ms teddyandtottie. She was so gorgeous that she couldn't work out who of her dear constant readers to give a prize to so she gave us all one! HUGE hugs Ms teddietottie, don't they look lovely? :)

Aren’t these lovely? I got them from that most sterling and gorgeous of bloggers Ms teddyandtottie. She was so gorgeous that she couldn’t work out who of her dear constant readers to give a prize to so she gave us all one! HUGE hugs Ms teddietottie, don’t they look lovely? 🙂

We have been busy for the last week whipper snipping the grass down and tidying up. Serendipity  Farm now looks like a park. We have to watch out for campers and picnickers ;)

We have been busy for the last week whipper snipping the grass down and tidying up. Serendipity Farm now looks like a park. We have to watch out for campers and picnickers 😉

I guess I really shouldn’t tax you too much with this post. I just really wanted to give you all a great big narfy cyber hug and let you all know how much I truly appreciate you and your decision to tag along each week to visit us down here in farthest flung Tasmania on Serendipity Farm, home to reprobates and the abnormal. Stevie-boy and I might be serious hermits who adore our own little space but knowing that there are good friends out there in “the rest of the world” is an amazing thing. Here’s to a wonderful time over the next few weeks. No matter who you are, what you celebrate, IF you celebrate, I hope that this week and the lead up to our brand spanking new year is a great one. I hope that 2015 dawns on us and gives us an incredible opportunity to live, to learn and to grow and that we are all able to be here to collect our thoughts come Christmas 2015. HUGE hugs to you all and see you New Year’s Eve 🙂

Happy Stevie-boy with a wonderful set of earrings that Ms rabbidlittlehippy sent to him for Christmas. He loves them!

Happy Stevie-boy with a wonderful set of earrings that Ms rabbidlittlehippy sent to him for Christmas. He loves them!

Merry Christmas to you all and we will raise a glass of Christmas cheer to all of you tomorrow :)

Merry Christmas to you all and we will raise a glass of Christmas cheer to all of you tomorrow 🙂

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Earl turns 4, Three wise herons and learning to appreciate snotty oysters

Hi All,

Late last week I could have cheerfully had my little brother neutered and sent off to obedience class. Alas, this is WAY beyond the scope of my rights as a big sister (watch out Earl!) Instead I ended up having an (shall we say, for the want of a better word…) “interesting” conversation on Facebook with him which culminated in him badgering me to unfriend him. I just noticed that spellchecker has no problem with the word “unfriend”. I, on the other hand, do. You can’t just “unfriend” someone who has, for the last 46 years of your life been part and parcel of the rough and tumble of your existence. That old saying “you can choose your friends but you (are stuck with) can’t choose your family has never been more poignant. If you are reading this Jamie, “keep reading!”…so where was I, AH that’s right, halfway between “neutering” and “sending off to obedience school”…so this delightful situation that we found ourselves in wasn’t just a spat between brother and sister, this time it was between all three siblings and it had been brewing on the back burner for quite some time.

Story of my life, ever cautious ;)

Story of my life, ever cautious 😉

 

Steve's little mate "Wall-e-bee" helping us deal with the sow thistle problem on Serendipity Farm "EAT FASTER!" ;)

Steve’s little mate “Wall-e-bee” helping us deal with the sow thistle problem on Serendipity Farm “EAT FASTER!” 😉

Our friend Jenny grew globe artichokes just because she could. She doesn't actually like them so guess who got the chokes!

Our friend Jenny grew globe artichokes just because she could. She doesn’t actually like them so guess who got the chokes!

Christmas marinated artichoke heart futures :)

Christmas marinated artichoke heart futures 🙂

Things like that you don’t take to Facebook so why did we? Because we are first and foremost “Stahl’s” and we tend to think with our outrageous indignation and it is only when we retreat to lick our wounds that a little light bulb comes on in our heads that says “er…maybe I could have moderated that a bit better.” I only mention this because some of my dear constant readers (you know who you are) are also Facebook friends so you may have been privy to said “spat”. My sister, who has a more genteel constitution than myself unfriended him but I have the hide of a hippo (and the bum but we won’t expand on that here and now) and as we all know, the predominately vegan hippo kills more people in Africa than the macho carnivorous lion. Wise words to ponder over folks… wise words INDEED.

Jenny and I and her grandson Dylan went to Red Dragon nursery last Thursday. I would love to share some photos that I took of this beautiful place. The plants are amazing, unusual and the owner is my favourite horticultural nutcase. You rock Andrew ;)

Jenny and I and her grandson Dylan went to Red Dragon nursery last Thursday. I would love to share some photos that I took of this beautiful place. The plants are amazing, unusual and the owner is my favourite horticultural nutcase. You rock Andrew 😉

This magnificent cloud pruned conifer was cloud pruned by Steve and I back in 1010 when we did some work experience for Andrew at Red Dragon  Nursery.

This magnificent cloud pruned conifer was cloud pruned by Steve and I back in 1010 when we did some work experience for Andrew at Red Dragon Nursery.

Steve and I love this place

Steve and I love this place

Jenny's (first) cart full of plants, mine are on the wall behind the cart

Jenny’s (first) cart full of plants, mine are on the wall behind the cart

This place gives "garden rooms" a whole new meaning as each turn, path, side track delivers you to another little section of gorgeousness to peruse, ponder and purchase if you see fit :)

This place gives “garden rooms” a whole new meaning as each turn, path, side track delivers you to another little section of gorgeousness to peruse, ponder and purchase if you see fit 🙂

I adore Zenobia's but my specimen died. This one is well and truly alive and flowering to boot

I adore Zenobia’s but my specimen died. This one is well and truly alive and flowering to boot

Andrew is most proud of his selection of very large leafed rhododendrons. He even gave me the name of this one to share with you all. This is very hard to get and is Rhododendron sinogrande with leaves that reach 780cm. What a magnificent beast!

Andrew is most proud of his selection of very large leafed rhododendrons. He even gave me the name of this one to share with you all. This is very hard to get and is Rhododendron sinogrande with leaves that reach 78cm. What a magnificent beast!

More of those beautiful rocks (with a protective hand...he knows my magpie tendencies ;) )

More of those beautiful rocks (with a protective hand…he knows my magpie tendencies 😉 )

The exit to the nursery

The exit to the nursery

Part of the outside grounds where examples of the trees and shrubs for sale have been planted so that people can see what they will look like in a garden situation

Part of the outside grounds where examples of the trees and shrubs for sale have been planted so that people can see what they will look like in a garden situation

More of the outside garden. Aren't these conifers gorgeous?

More of the outside garden. Aren’t these conifers gorgeous?

I adore this golden bamboo. Jenny bought herself a large pot of black bamboo. We have seen these bamboos in other nursery's for $120 but at Andrew's this very healthy specimen was a mere $32 (and that was expensive!) Jenny has promised me some when it starts to shoot :)

I adore this golden bamboo. Jenny bought herself a large pot of black bamboo. We have seen these bamboos in other nursery’s for $120 but at Andrew’s this very healthy specimen was a mere $32 (and that was expensive!) Jenny has promised me some when it starts to shoot 🙂

After all of the bru-ha-ha had settled down a most magical thing happened. My testosterone fuelled, angst ridden, outrageously indignant brother who thinks with his sharp pointed finger and who holds onto his anger with a furious dignity that could be admired if it wasn’t so very infuriating, apologised to me. He may have deleted most of the more incriminating parts of said post but he apologised. I am thinking that much like Mr Rudyard Kipling’s most glorious ode of father to son masculinity “If” , my little brother has become a “man”. There comes a time in your life where being right is less important than being part of a small but most stalwart collective of bunched up and twitching outrageous nervous energy or as mainstream humanity would call it, part of a “family”. You are part of my family Jamie. You always will be. Whether you choose to flail about and sustain collateral damage (hippos think with their mouths…) is up to you, but I love you and you will always be in my heart.

The little building here is the nursery office. Andrew, Steve and I share a passion for cold climate shrubs and trees that bonded us all from the start

The little building here is the nursery office. Andrew, Steve and I share a passion for cold climate shrubs and trees that bonded us all from the start

Andrew also shares a passion for the beautiful rocks that can be found on beaches all around the shorelines of Tasmania.

Andrew also shares a passion for the beautiful rocks that can be found on beaches all around the shorelines of Tasmania.

2 lovely maples side by side

2 lovely maples side by side

Loveliness

Loveliness

More loveliness

More loveliness

Everywhere you look there is something beautiful to delight your eye. My photos don't do this wonderful place justice.

Everywhere you look there is something beautiful to delight your eye. My photos don’t do this wonderful place justice.

:)

🙂

The entrance/exit

The entrance/exit

Even the trolley bay is pretty

Even the trolley bay is pretty

Red Dragon Nursery specialises in rare and hard to get rhododendrons and azaleas. This is a rhododendron but I certainly wouldn't have picked it as such

Red Dragon Nursery specialises in rare and hard to get rhododendrons and azaleas. This is a rhododendron but I certainly wouldn’t have picked it as such

This azalea appears to have a split personality ;)

This azalea appears to have a split personality 😉

Now that the mushy stuff is out of the way lets talk about what the heck narf7 is on about with that title! Well today is Earl’s birthday. It was 4 years ago today, somewhere in rural South Australia that little Earl first tumbled out into the world, no doubt making his presence felt as soon as he could. From that day on, he has spent his life infuriating, exasperating, eating, dissecting, scraping, chewing, frolicking, barking, did I mention eating? And loving us all. Earl is one of a kind. He is a doggie shaped enigma and we love Earl to bits. It took me a fair while to warm to Earl because he was so very feral but now we are mono-a-mono and there is no separating us. I love him so much I carried home 3 segments of pool noodle that someone had thrown out in a roadside collect today, 2 km to the bemused stares of early morning commuters just so that he would have the joy of tearing them into tiny “squeaky” shreds on his birthday. Today will bring white chocolate (yes, dogs can have it), pizza, eggs, balloons, pool noodles and lots and lots of love, just how it should be when a dog turns 4 🙂

Earl not long after we got him

Earl not long after we got him back in April 2011 wasn’t he a cutey? 🙂

Earl in his usual habitat, a trail of chewed mass destruction in his wake ;)

Earl in his usual habitat, a trail of chewed mass destruction in his wake 😉

Here is that small collective of pool noodle/s that I carried home this morning. Most of them have been shredded but one remains in the lounge room for grazing on later in the day ;)

Here is that small collective of pool noodle/s that I carried home this morning. Most of them have been shredded but one remains in the lounge room for grazing on later in the day 😉

The heron bit…well yesterday on our early morning walk, Earl and I noticed a flock of 14 herons winging their way in from the river to a large dead gum tree. They all landed in the tree and it took them all of 4 seconds to note us walking under the tree. 9 of the herons flew away protesting loudly but 3 remained, stoic in the knowledge that there was no WAY this side of the Pecos that a somewhat overweight 50+ year old woman and a dog who was tethered to said woman (thus completely immobilised by his fat anchor…) were going to be able to climb up 50 feet into the sky to catch them without them at least getting a bit of a whiff of the clear and present danger LONG before it arrived. 3 of those herons were clever. Their babies will be taught by clever parents. And thus the clever bring more cleverness into the world…

Steve took this photo of a dandelion covered in seeds not so long back. Pretty isn't it?

Steve took this photo of a dandelion covered in seeds not so long back. Pretty isn’t it?

It might not be as delicate and sensitive as a zenobia but this deutzia is just as pretty and much hardier. You have to be clever with what you plant, you can usually find something almost the same that will be most happy to live in your garden :)

It might not be as delicate and sensitive as a zenobia but this deutzia is just as pretty and much hardier. You have to be clever with what you plant. You can usually find something almost the same that will be most happy to live in your garden 🙂

Sunshine in Sanctuary and another opportunity to get stuck in to food production

Sunshine in Sanctuary and another opportunity to get stuck in to food production

The last part of the title (and the least pleasant to think about) is the snotty oysters. I can hear you all thinking “I thought narf was a vegan? What the heck is she doing eating and learning to appreciate snotty oysters?!” Well I was being metaphorical rather than actual in this part of the title. Walking with Earl at 5am gives me time to contemplate the world without having to worry too much about ducking over to the very edge of the verge (and coincidentally the very edge of the river bank) in order to avoid being run over by cars. You tend to think more about your own mortality at 7am than you do at 5am. I had just stood and witnessed the sun coming up over a glorious still river and watched the shadows give way to that amazing light that only comes at sun up and Earl and I stood silent and in awe (well I was, Earl was sniffing a dandelion) of this amazing world, how beautiful and privileged we were (again, Earl was otherwise occupied so I really shouldn’t be speaking for him) to bear witness to the start of another amazing day on this slow revolving blue planet that occupies this point in space and time.

These are the plants that I bought at Red Dragon. We have stopped buying ornamentals and everything here has at least 2 purposes. The manna ash has sweet sap that can be harvested in Mediterranean climates like maple syrup, the katsura has toffee apple scented leaves and amazing autumn foliage, the small pot is a Tasmanian pepperberry and the pot on the far right is a New Zealand wineberry BUT I did a bit of research when I got home and they are dioeceous which means that they need both a male AND a female to produce fruit. Looks like Stevie-boy and I will be heading back out to Red Dragon in the near future. Oh what a difficult thing to do! ;)

These are the plants that I bought at Red Dragon. We have stopped buying ornamentals and everything here has at least 2 purposes. The manna ash has sweet sap that can be harvested in Mediterranean climates like maple syrup, the katsura has toffee apple scented leaves and amazing autumn foliage, the small pot is a Tasmanian pepperberry and the pot on the far right is a New Zealand wineberry BUT I did a bit of research when I got home and they are dioeceous which means that they need both a male AND a female to produce fruit. Looks like Stevie-boy and I will be heading back out to Red Dragon in the near future. Oh what a difficult thing to do! 😉

Friends who live down the road had a garage sale on Saturday.

Friends who live down the road had a garage sale on Saturday.

I bought this loveliness... well I didn't buy those wicker balls at the front, I got them for free from another roadside stand that was giving things away. They are going to be used on our homemade Christmas tree this year along with all of our other homemade decorations :)

I bought this loveliness… well I didn’t buy those wicker balls at the front, I got them for free from another roadside stand that was giving things away. They are going to be used on our homemade Christmas tree this year along with all of our other homemade decorations 🙂

I also got some small ounce scales (no, I am NOT going into "business" I just liked them ;) ) and this lovely copper pot and small sugar bowl...

I also got some small ounce scales (no, I am NOT going into “business” I just liked them 😉 ) and this lovely copper pot and small sugar bowl…

...with feet! Who can resist something inanimate with feet :)

…with feet! Who can resist something inanimate with feet 🙂

Stevie-boy bought me a passionfruit and a kiwiberry on Monday when he was doing our fortnightly grocery shop.

Stevie-boy bought me a passionfruit and a kiwiberry on Monday when he was doing our fortnightly grocery shop.

A different variety of Jerusalem artichoke to my regular variety that I have planted to add to the mix, a punnet each of rainbow chard, spinach and jalapenos and my compost bucket ready to be emptied in Sanctuary

A different variety of Jerusalem artichoke to my regular variety that I have planted to add to the mix, a punnet each of rainbow chard, spinach and jalapenos and my compost bucket ready to be emptied in Sanctuary

That Jerusalem artichoke and some that needed to be removed from the garden bed. Once you have Jerusalem artichokes you won't ever be without them but as I love them I really don't mind, it's all bonus food and sunflowers for me! :)

That Jerusalem artichoke and some that needed to be removed from the garden bed. Once you have Jerusalem artichokes you won’t ever be without them but as I love them I really don’t mind, it’s all bonus food and sunflowers for me! 🙂

A whole lot less pumpkins but a whole lot more order and choice. I am planting things out randomly in the hope that nature will be happy with my chaos. (That's my story and I am sticking to it ;) )

A whole lot less pumpkins but a whole lot more order and choice. I am planting things out randomly in the hope that nature will be happy with my chaos. (That’s my story and I am sticking to it 😉 )

They might not be the most professional looking tomato cages but they serve the purpose and were made with love by Stevie-boy for my 2 San Marzano paste tomatoes :)

They might not be the most professional looking tomato cages but they serve the purpose and were made with love by Stevie-boy for my 2 San Marzano paste tomatoes 🙂

Earl was peeing on a tree by this stage but I was still full of the heady bliss of it all and my thoughts turned to life, the universe and everything. I started to think about how each new day was like an oyster being opened. Inside you could find a pearl or you could find a snotty oyster. Pearly days are absolutely wonderful, snotty oyster days are to be endured, unless you find a way to appreciate snotty oysters and then you are ahead. I guess what I was trying to say (other than “I don’t like raw oysters”) is that if we learn to appreciate our days, come what may, we end up with a better quality of life, no matter what our circumstances. Life is what we make of it, not what it hands us. Some lives are harder to live than others and some circumstances are more difficult to endure but there is always a way, always a silver lining and always a way to put the check book back in balance (metaphorically speaking) we just have to find it. I would like it known that I will NEVER appreciate snotty oysters (or cooked okra) I will just pass them on to someone who does and thus ends the lesson for today. Time to head off into our respective lives, to live, to love, to moderate our Facebook rants and to make of our lives what we will. Here’s to Earl and his unmitigated merriment no matter what and a birthday full of things that make him happy 🙂

This is what makes Earl happy, loud music and love and adoration from his humans :)

This is what makes Earl happy, loud music and love and adoration from his humans 🙂

#narfsays…

#hiall,

 

Steve and I have become completely addicted to a wonderful U.K. show written by and staring Ricky Gervais called “Derek”. There is something in the water or atmosphere in the U.K. that when fermented with the close proximity of everyone and everything, causes some kind of enzymatic reaction that produces awesome television, music and art. If you would like to see what I am on about check out the first episode of Derek here…

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xxvfzq_derek-season-1-episode-1-s01e01-hd_shortfilms

I love how Mr Gervais gives dignity to those who mainstream society would love to see swept under the carpet. The elderly, the afflicted and the just plain “Kev”. The world is full of we “afflicted” and this show has made me laugh and cry more in the last week than anything I have watched in the last decade. Je t’adore Mr Gervais. I bow to your creative genius and your acting talent.

I know absolutely NOTHING about twitter, but then again, neither does Derek so Narf meets Derek in this episode of The Road to Serendipity…

 

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#narfsays “If the dog stinks after rolling in a dead wallaby on his walk DEODERISE that sucker!”

 

 

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#Earlsays “I likes eau de deceased wallaby…whatchagonnadoeh?”

 

#Earlsays "I stinks"...

#Earlsays “I is depressed…I stinks”…

#narfsays "look what Stevie-boy did with my horse brasses and brass hooks" :)

#narfsays “look what Stevie-boy did with my horse brasses and brass hooks” 🙂

#narf says "Eggs are good right up to the time when they take over the fridge and form a union"...

#narf says “Eggs are good right up to the time when they take over the fridge and form a union”…

#narfsays "before you can make a jar of pickled eggs, you have to break a few eggs"...

#narfsays “before you can make a jar of pickled eggs, you have to break a few eggs”…

#narfsays "Korean chilli powder ROCKS!" :)

#narfsays “Korean chilli powder ROCKS!” 🙂

#narfsays "47 eggs down,  84 to go..."

#narfsays “47 eggs down, 84 to go…”

#narfsays "All food and no flowers makes narf a sad panda"

#narfsays “All food and no flowers makes narf a sad panda”

#BezialandEarlsay "How come we can't go into Sanctuary any more?"

#BezialandEarlsay “How come we can’t go into Sanctuary any more?”

#Earlsays "I likes buckets that taste of seasol"

#Earlsays “I likes buckets that taste of seasol”

#Bezialsays "...nothing... he is playing dead..."

#Bezialsays “…nothing… he is playing dead…”

#narfsays "Stevie-boy makes a great garden gnome"

#narfsays “Stevie-boy makes a great garden gnome”

#Stevie-boysays "You want me to dig ANOTHER hole?!"

#Stevie-boysays “You want me to dig ANOTHER hole?!”

#Stevie-boysays "While I wait for narf to get back from the shed with the wire snips I am going to hunt Sasquatch..."

#Stevie-boysays “While I wait for narf to get back from the shed with the wire snips I am going to hunt Sasquatch…”

#Stevie-boysays "I SEE ONE!"

#Stevie-boysays “I SEE ONE!”

#Stevie-boysays "Sigh... more holes..."

#Stevie-boysays “Sigh… more holes…”

#narfsays "Loquat futures" :)

#narfsays “Loquat futures” 🙂

 

#narfsays "fig futures"

#narfsays “fig futures”

#narfsays "pear futures"

#narfsays “pear futures”

 

 

#narfsays "Stevie-boy would like it known that for every hole that narf asks him to dig, there are at least this many rocks in said hole...he would also like to be told what a hero he is and for everyone to commiserate with him for having a wife who is apparently infatuated with holes..."

#narfsays “Stevie-boy would like it known that for every hole that narf asks him to dig, there are at least this many rocks in said hole…he would also like to be told what a hero he is and for everyone to commiserate with him for having a wife who is apparently infatuated with holes…”

#narfsays "plum trees growing from stones in the compost"

#narfsays “plum trees growing from plum stones in the compost…plum futures”

#narfsays "Grape cuttings taken from my old Muscatel grape vine in the city"

#narfsays “Grape cuttings taken from my old Muscatel grape vine in the city”

#narfsays "7 grape vines in the ground...grape futures" :)

#narfsays “7 grape vines in the ground…grape futures” 🙂

#narfsays "Mr Curly the bonsai sheok overseeing the work in Sanctuary"

#narfsays “Mr Curly the bonsai sheok overseeing the work in Sanctuary”

#narfsays "the barrel on the left is full and the barrel on the right is half full...water futures" :)

#narfsays “the barrel on the left is full and the barrel on the right is half full…water futures” 🙂

#narfsays "forget grumpy cat, grumpy narf is here!"

#narfsays “Move over grumpy cat, when Stevie-boy photographs her when she is watering, grumpy narf steps up to the plate!”

#narfsays "The good ship water wicked strawberry AHOY!"

#narfsays “The good ship water wicked strawberry AHOY!”

#narfsays "dwarf valencia orange futures"

#narfsays “dwarf valencia orange futures”

#narfsays "Check out these bottlebrush"

#narfsays “Check out these bottlebrush”

#narfsays "Check out THIS bottlebrush"

#narfsays “Check out THIS bottlebrush”

#narfsays "Welcome to the jungle"...

#narfsays “Welcome to the jungle”…

#narfsays "Clucky Chooks bite HARD...hurry up and take that shot Stevie-boy!"

#narfsays “Clucky Chooks bite HARD…hurry up and take that shot Stevie-boy!”

#Stevie-boysays "A man can never have enough whipper snippers"

#Stevie-boysays “A man can never have enough whipper snippers”

#narfsays "checking out Stevie-boys clean shed and recovering from my pecking ordeal"

#narfsays “checking out Stevie-boys clean shed and recovering from my pecking ordeal. The things we have to do for eggs”

#narfsays "How green was my Serendipity Farm"...

#narfsays “How green was my Serendipity Farm”…

#narfsays "Forget-me-not forest"...sigh...

#narfsays “Forget-me-not forest”…sigh…

#narfsays "I loves me a good curbside "FREE" sign and this lovely little old Aussie hardwood chair" :)

#narfsays “I loves me a good curbside “FREE” sign and this lovely little old Aussie hardwood chair” 🙂

#narfsays  "I also love Stevie-boys eagle eyes for spotting this delicious Mr Curly lamp in the "FREE" pile when all I could see was that lovely chair" :)

#narfsays “I also love Stevie-boys eagle eyes for spotting this delicious Mr Curly lamp in the “FREE” pile when all I could see was that lovely chair” 🙂

#Stevie-boysays "I likes my Polaroid lens a lot"

#Stevie-boysays “I likes my Polaroid lens a lot”

#Stevie-boysays "My take on Sanctuary"

#Stevie-boysays “My take on Sanctuary”

#narfsays "I loves me a pretty wild rose" :)

#narfsays “I loves me a pretty wild rose” 🙂

#narfsays "half for a pond and half for a worm farm. One half cools the other and everyone is happy, especially narf" :)

#narfsays “half for a pond and half for a worm farm. One half cools the other and everyone is happy, especially narf” 🙂

#narfsays "Veggie futures"

#narfsays “Veggie futures”

#narfsays "Rastafarian cactus with barrettes" ;)

#narfsays “Rastafarian cactus with barrettes” 😉

#narfsays "Ballerina apple futures"

#narfsays “Ballerina apple futures”

#narfsays "Jerusalem artichoke futures"

#narfsays “Jerusalem artichoke futures”

#narfsays "Nasturtiums present"

#narfsays “Nasturtiums present”

#Earlsays "I loves me some sunshine" :)

#Earlsays “I loves me some sunshine” 🙂

 

I am all twittered out now and am staggering off to cook dinner. I hope you all enjoy your lives over the coming week ahead and #narfsays “be kind to animals ” 🙂

 

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

Hi Folks,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I thought this tree was dead…apparently not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My thrifted plastic tub ready for action

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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More exponential growth of “stuff”

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Look what just turned up in the mail… 🙂

And now we are three…

Hi All,

Technically we are 4…but if you add our peripheral family in we are 9 but the title refers to this…

nowwearethreeBecause yesterday Earl turned 3.

Here is a photo of the original toys that the stories were based on…

Original and real Pooh bear and friends

Eeyore and Bezial are very much one and the same critter and Earl has “Tigger” written all over him but maybe this Tigger is not as representative as this one…

thylacine

That’s an image of the very last Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger) in captivity. Earl and this “Tigger” are more closely related methinks 😉

DSCF5350Because he is a “Big Boy” now, Earl got to drive the car for his birthday. He was checking the rear view mirror here…

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Remember the old Batman series on the television when the villains were on screen everything went sideways…Here is our own resident Serendipity Farm villain with one of the 25 balloons that he had the BEST time bursting.

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I emerged from my OH&S repressed state like Heimlich from A Bugs Life…I felt like a “Beeoodiful butterfly” and headed out the door to go flitting from flower to flower but was met by this…overgrown weeds EVERYWHERE!

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Get a gander at that grass!

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So being the tenacious narf7 that I am I headed down the driveway to rid it of its weedy extremities

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When I say “weedy extremities” I mean “Extreme weeds”. Here you see a gorgeous forest of Scotch thistles and forget-me-nots waving in the breeze

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Here one minute…gone the next…

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Everything was going swimmingly until I tackled this scotch thistle and it ate my whipper snipper line

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Back to the shed to get more…I found plenty of it BUT I couldn’t work out how to get the whipper snipper head off so that was it for the day…but then I headed off and did a lot of pruning, mulch shovelling…

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and general tidying up until lunch time and after lunch the boys and I headed up to the veggie garden to fill in the holes left by pulling out the walkway partitions that were previously installed and I spent 3 hours shovelling horse poo into the wheelbarrow and driving it to the garden beds to fill them…

DSCF5391At least SOME of us were working hard…

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Ducky still sitting on her clutch of chook eggs

DSCF5384Earl hunting lizards…Earl nil, lizards 1

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Earl hunting watering cans…Earl 1, watering can reduced to rubble 😦

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Got to make sure that the boys don’t go thirsty…all of that lizard hunting and laying around tires a body out you know

DSCF5380Scarlet runners from last year have decided to grow again!

DSCF5406Sorry Pinky…those lovely pristine gardening gloves that I dare say you imagined me pottering around like Margot Ledbetter out of the Good Life in her rose garden with got a sterling workout yesterday.

DSCF5416The rest of the images in this post are of this mornings walk with Earl. I figured that you might all be interested in a narf7 perambulation. Here you see the newly shorn driveway and the newly 3 Earl eagerly forging ahead…note the taut lead…

DSCF5423The first sniff for the day…

DSCF5424The first pee for the day, and we haven’t even gotten out of the driveway yet. It’s going to be a long 5km

DSCF5446For all my New Zealand readers “we have them too!” A lovely tree fern growing on a steep incline on a hairpin bend. Probably the only reason why no-one has pinched it 😉

DSCF5455The only thing holding this section of bank together are this trees roots. You can see a good cross section of what our soil is like here…can you imagine trying to dig this?!!!

DSCF5458“You KNOW you want to give me a treat now…”

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“Cheers!”

DSCF5555Standing over the road from the Auld Kirk Church looking at the Batman Bridge where we are heading

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Walking across the Batman Bridge

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Looking back at the Auld Kirk Church and that red and white “thing” is the lighthouse where we took that picture of the Batman (are you dizzy yet? 😉 )

DSCF5480Some of the incredibly water wise plants that are growing sans water in the park on the other side of the Batman. This is a hebe and hebes will grow just about anywhere and are very drought tolerant. Apparently it is “Earl’s” park…just so’s you know…

DSCF5482Another incredibly water wise plant, an Escallonia. These will grow from a cutting stuck into the ground and produce lovely honey scented flowers that bees adore

DSCF5486This is a Cistus x purpureus and originally comes from the Middle East. There is a white variety called Cistus ladanifer that is equally as hardy

DSCF5494No idea what this is aside from it having squared stems so it is most probably in the laminaceae family but it’s pretty, the leaves turn a lovely grey colour as they age and it gets HUGE. I am going to take hard wood cuttings of all of these shrubs and get them growing on Serendipity Farm. A wise gardener takes good note of what is growing well around them because that’s what will grow well in your garden too. These plants don’t get watered ever and so they are perfect for Serendipity Farm and most of them are pretty as well so its a win-win situation

DSCF5513Council chopped down all of the old HUGE Pinus radiata that were in this area of the park. I know that a few branches blew down in the strong winds but this makes me sad.

DSCF5519To give you a bit of scale to see how big the trunk was on this smaller one

DSCF5523Guess which narf7 will be taking the trailer back for a few of these gorgeous big pine chunks to make into features in her new veggie garden. Council is just burning them and I feel like that is sacrilege…so does Earl. Here he is contemplating just how much urine he is going to have to produce to make sure that EVERYONE knows that they are all his

DSCF5563We finally arrived back home and decided to take a final shot of Serendipity Farm peeking out from behind the Auld Kirk Church…all of this before 8.30am “bring on the rest of the day!” 😉

I hope you don’t mind me giving you another image intensive post. I had a very busy day today with an unexpected drive by “dropping in” from a friend who decided that we were going to plant out a vegetable garden there and then…the garden is now FULL of veggies and I will have to share photos in my next post as for now I am absolutely knackered! See you next week when I should hopefully have some good photos of how the garden is progressing. I have plans to fill tyres with soil and plant out pumpkins to grow all over the place in the top part of the veggie garden that we won’t be developing till next year (no time this year) to cover the soil and keep the moisture in. I will also be planting out lots of sprouting spuds that I just found in my cupboard and that my friend brought with her and will be wheelbarrowing a couple of cubic metres of home grown black gold compost to make a large compost heap at the top of the garden. It’s all hands on deck…it’s summer on Sunday! See you in Summer/Winter 🙂

Processes and possibilities

Hi All,

It’s Tuesday and we are heading into Launceston for the day. We decided to go today because we received a “power outage” forecast in the mailbox for today promising us a day without power so we decided to kill 2 birds with one stone and go in to pay off our Polytechnic fees for the year and sign up for our course. Since I last posted we have been beavering away in the garden and bumbling around Serendipity Farm in general. Steve has been out fishing and caught a few that he felt sorry for and put back and he went to town to help a friends mum remove a pile of debris that came from an old carpet warehouse that was in the upstairs building of an inner city shop that she purchased and is going to renovate the top part as her home and have a shop underneath. The warehouse contained lots of long steel poles that go in the middle of display rolls of carpet and Steve’s friend told him that he could have as many as he liked. Steve had the brilliant idea that they could be used when we make our enormous edifice to human ingenuity of a vegetable garden and a morning helping a friend has given us another cornerstone to our ethos :o). I learned from Jessie/Rabid that I had to feed Audrey (soon to be renamed) directly before I put her into the fridge for her sourdough hiatus so that she could languish in style whilst feeding on her bounty. I had fed her, but about 8 hours earlier so I pulled her out of the fridge and fed her up and she rose up beautifully…is there nothing that this lovely and most gracious lady can’t do? Rabid shared about how she and Bertha (Audrey’s mum) are harnessed together and work as a team. I am still learning all about the team work and am having to do a lot more forward planning because you can’t just grab a jar of dried yeast from the cupboard and “bake”. You have to nurture the sourdough back to a happy state after feeding it and you have to plan your prospective baking event in advance because just about everything that involves cooking with sourdough takes more time. I am a processes girl and love the new routines but am still learning my timing. Last night Steve was running a diagnostic on the computer that took a LONG time and I didn’t get access to my sourdough information until 9.30pm. I was tired and crabby and poor Audrey needed feeding, dividing and putting back to bed in the fridge. I managed to grump my way through making the pizza dough for Steve’s tea tonight and what seemed like an ENORMOUS quantity of bread dough for baking later on today when we get back in and ended up with a kitchen full of flour, a bad temper, a twitching husband and poor Audrey being subject to being harnessed to a cranky cow rather than a willing helper. Once I learn the processes I love to refine and hone…I am always carving and grooming my processes and making them run like a well-oiled machine and someday, hopefully soon, this new baking friend and I will share some amazing adventures :o)

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This is what we feed our chooks and it is fortified with calcium (in the form of shellgrit) and has lots of grains and seeds. They seem to like it and when we discovered the 3 newly hatched chicks the other day we turned this into…

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This with the aid of my trusty Vitamix high speed blender.

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Here’s 1 of the babies, the rest are underneath “Blondie” our silver laced Wyandotte hen

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Steve made another thin spoon out of golden sassafrass…the metal teaspoon is for size comparison…Steve isn’t quite up to forging his own steel just yet 😉

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What’s left of my most comfortable early morning slippers…If you are reading this Stewart (oh dearest son of mine kissy kissy)…you know what to get your dear old Mam for this mother’s day! (Cheers Earl…sigh…)

We are still going through troubled times with the dogs refusing their food on days when it isn’t straight meat. Bezial is the worst culprit. We know that dogs need more than just meat for their health. They aren’t straight carnivores like cat’s are and need fibre and vegetables etc. for their internal health. Bezial and Earl are both good representatives of what is known as a very strong willed dog breed and Bezial is up there with the most stubborn of dogs. He has been refusing to eat for 2 days now and Earl has just been skimming the meaty lure off the top of his fibrous ingredients. They have a bone stash outside that Bezial has been living off and he even ate a few of the despised dog biscuits last night whilst looking at me piteously as if to say “you are starving me woman!” I can’t back down on this issue because it is what is best for the 2 of them but ignoring those pathetic eyes is very hard! Bezial is chief manipulator and attempts to get Earl to join him on his hunger strikes but Earl’s hunger is more important than Bezials need to be the boss and get his way and Earl has yielded to the foodie lure much to Bezials disgust so he is standing stolid on his high moral ground and I can hear his stomach creaking…good luck with that Bezial! If my children couldn’t make me give in to their foodie whims, you have NO chance! 😉

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Mum and baby kookaburra having a drink and a bath in some of the water baths that we keep topped up with fresh water. We have had a lot of babies born on Serendipity Farm including baby cuckoo shrikes, baby black cockatoo’s, baby butcher birds and baby kookaburras.

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Mum on watch while her baby splashes about in the bird bath

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An oak sapling takes 10 years to produce its first acorn…I think this might well be Serendipity Farms very first acorn! It grew on an oak tree that grew from mulched oak leaves taken from the front of the property

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There isn’t much flowering on Serendipity Farm at the moment…everything is on heat watch and is just marking time till we get some rain but this little nigella proves that if you pick the right plant for your situation, you can still have colour in an arid place

I have been following a lot of blogs that share how to do all kinds of things for yourself from foraging from weeds through to building your own wind turbines. I am up for the weeds but not quite ready for the turbine yet! I knew that you can make kefir with coconut milk and so decided to make my own coconut milk from dried coconut in the pantry. I found a good recipe, I whizzed up the soaked coconut with its soaking water and strained it all through a clean cotton pillow case (gotta get me a nut bag…). I took the remaining pulp out to the food dehydrator to make coconut flour and smugly placed Kid Creole (my kefir grains…newly named from the 80’s band “Kid Creole and the Coconut’s”…) into about a cup full of my coconut milk. My coconut milk separated into cream on top and whey underneath and I didn’t care…my kefir grains sat there…and sat there… and sat there…and nothing happened. I got a bit concerned when the next day the milk was still watery and the kefir grains hadn’t set the milk and I decided to take mercy on Kid Creole and clean him off and put him into a glass of regular milk where he is fermenting to his heart’s content. I blame Rabid and her organic milk…she has spoiled Kid for anything other than pure dairy! ;). When we were in town on Tuesday we headed to the fruit and veggie shop and I found 8 mangoes for $4. I thought that was a pretty good deal and bought them along with half a rockmelon for $1.50 and when I got home I cut them up and froze them for my morning green smoothies. I also found passionfruit with lovely wrinkled skins that were fragrant and promising so I bought 2 and when we got home I sieved the pulp and juice from the seeds and poured it into Steve’s home-made orange and lemon cordial that I made the other day. It was already delicious but the addition of 2 passionfruit made it heavenly and after I picked some of our fragrant ripe ex-tip strawberries and pureed them up with about 500ml of the orange and passionfruit cordial the results both smelled and tasted amazing. Homemade isn’t second best folks…it’s the bomb!

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Passionfruit seed from 2 passionfruit drying out on a coffee filter ready for me to have a go at growing them from seed

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Same goes for rockmelon 🙂

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Here we have a plethora of seed etc. all waiting it’s day in potting mix. The bags are full of fermenting fruit. I am doing experiments and am trying to echo nature to get the best germination rates. I figure that plums and fleshy fruited plants would drop their seed and it would either go through an animal or would ferment on the floor and so I am prefermenting the fruit in it’s parental juices to see if it doesn’t grow better. Might work…might not. Thats the beauty of experimentation and if it grows “Good oh!” if it doesn’t “Them’s the breaks” and I will put it into the compost bin 😉

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Coconut milk on the left and coconut pulp on the right. The pulp is now dehydrated and in a jar in the pantry waiting to be used in recipes. I might even start fermenting the pulp before I dehydrate it for better digestion…so many experiments…so little time in the day! 😉

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Those large leaves are my turmeric that finally started to grow. I bought organic turmeric from a local health food shop and it loves the conditions in the glasshouse, which is lucky, because that is where it is going to have to live if it wants to survive on Serendipity Farm! 😉

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The last of the turmeric taking its time…pay NO attention to the Oxalis…I don’t! 😉

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A pot full of Oxalis and Discorea elephantipes developing their basal cordex amazingly well…nice and corky and round, my favourite kind 🙂

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One of my cardamom plants that seems to be loving the conditions in the glasshouse. I might get Steve to make me a big raised planter box that we can plant the turmeric and the cardamom in as a more permenant fixture in the glasshouse

Before we headed into Launceston to sign up and pay for our new course at Polytechnic yesterday, I took out the sourdough pizza dough that I had mixed up the night before from the fridge where it had been sitting in stasis. I left it on the counter because the recipe called for it to ferment 8 hours so I figured that it would be ready to turn into pizza when we got home. I eyeballed it when we got home and gave it a suspicious sniff and it smelled lovely and had risen to double its size.  We had more than enough for a large pizza tray and so I rolled some very thin and put it on another tray along with some thinly rolled out dough with some cheese pressed into it. We baked it in the bbq while we were topping Steve’s pizza and when we were ready to put the pizza in the oven Steve got to taste the results. He was more than happy with the flavour and how crunchy the thin dough was and the cheesy twisty thing’s tasted great as well…I was starting to get excited by now because the sourdough was actually rising, rolling and behaving like real bread dough! Steve pulled his pizza out of the oven after 15 minutes and ate the entire thing and pronounced it “delicious”. We have a large bowl of sourdough bread in the fridge rising slowly and tomorrow we will bake 2 loaves. If the loaves turn out, I am going to pronounce this sourdough experiment completely and utterly successful and will start baking in earnest (or Brunhilda…whichever one comes first 😉 ). I checked Audrey and found that she had escaped her container and was spilling down the side so rehoused her in a larger taller container to allow her to slowly grow and eat her organic rye flour at her leisure. It is going to take me a little while getting used to having to plan so far ahead when baking but I love processes and so am enjoying the learning experience and the possibilities that sourdough baking bring to Serendipity Farm.

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Isn’t this baby gorgeous?! I had to take a photo of it and share it with you 🙂

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The possums have been restless…sigh…note the complete lack of leafy greens on the top of this bean cube? They don’t eat the bean pods so I guess I shouldn’t complain too much…mutter…mutter…

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Eggplant futures!

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Mulch futures soon to be seen to migrate about a metre to the left…

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The last of the mulch futures…not sure where this is going but if we don’t need it in the front garden it can go into the stockpile ready for using in our new enormous enclosed vegetable garden…I love saying that “ENORMOUS ENCLOSED VEGETABLE GARDEN”! I am going to yell it tonight at the top of my lungs when I go outside at about 10pm before I head off to bed and I can hear the possums fighting over my bean bed… sigh…

I was thinking about processes while I was making my coconut milk (which I am going to have to think of something to do with now that Kid Creole has refused to work with it 😉 ) and how we can choose to pick up something ready made from the supermarket OR we can choose to have a go at making it ourselves. When you buy a product from the shelves it has “cost effectiveness” embedded into its ethos. The product is there because someone wants to make a profit out of it and you can rest assured that its flavour profile has been compromised in order to give it an extended shelf life and keep the cost down. When you make things yourself you might have to factor in the cost of making the item (electricity, personal effort etc.) BUT you get so much more out of the process. You get to learn the process of how to actually make the item, you get various items through the process, i.e. When I made Steve his homemade cordial I got orange skins to preserve and some for the compost, I got passionfruit shells for the compost and I got passionfruit seed that I am going to attempt to grow. When I bought rockmelon to put into my green smoothies I got the shells to put into my compost and the seed to attempt to grow as well as the frozen rockmelon pulp to add amazing flavour to my drink…we can customise what we make to our own personal tastes…too much sugar? Add some lemon juice…not enough sugar, add some more. It might take more time to make something yourself than it takes to grab something from the supermarket but there is an amazing depth of satisfaction to be gained from making your own and cutting out that insidious middle man who thrives on the profits of others. You can also take advantage of what is in season and preserve it for later and again, the satisfaction of shoring up your supplies for another time and giving yourself a degree of food security is immeasurable. There is another benefit to doing things yourself…in my case it results in my efforts to collect and save fruit seeds makes the kitchen smell AMAZING! :o)

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More pumpkin futures…another experiment. This is inside one of the compost heaps and aside from a few manky potatoes that get regularly stripped of leaves by either possums reaching in, wallabies waiting for the potatoes to (stupidly) poke out or slugs just slithering about at their leisure picking the tastiest bits to chew…they don’t like pumpkin leaves but they DO love the young fruit :(. Again, I see it as another way to learn how to be clever…I figure by the time I am laid 6 ft under I will be the cleverest woman in Sidmouth! 😉

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The chives are so happy they are flowering…wallabies LOVE the allium family, the chives close cousins, the garlic, have all had their tops munched down by the wallabies that parade around the outside of the veggie garden at night looking for anything poking out

The more you pare back from your life the more beautiful the simple things you retain become. I am enjoying my early morning wake-up cup of tea SO much more now that it is my only cup of tea. It tastes amazing and I fully appreciate it accompanying me as I read my rss feed reader blogs. I always have my eyes open for opportunities to collect plan material on our early morning walks with the dogs and have a large pile of all different kinds of seeds collected locally from perennials, trees and shrubs that are doing particularly well in our area. I collected some seed from a shrub at the Polytechnic where we signed up that appears to be a type of hawthorn with large panicles of white flowers and very large red fruit. It has enormous thorns and was growing in a very arid part of the garden all of which make it an excellent choice for growing on Serendipity Farm. Thorny plants are great habitat for small birds as are shrubs that are tall enough to make it difficult for predators to climb. Fruit and flowers are a bonus for bees and food for birds and it appears to be hardy enough to grow in very dry conditions making it ideal for our area. I phoned up the West Tamar Council and asked them about a large pile of wood chips that I have been eyeing off for about 9 months now. The parks and wildlife resources manager phoned me back and told me that if the pile had been there that long without being used that they obviously didn’t want it and that I was welcome to it! Steve and I spent 1 ¾ incredibly well spent hour’s today collecting 4 trailer loads of free mulch. It is rotting down nicely and is a good combination of leaves and bark and was nice and damp which shows how good it is at retaining moisture because we haven’t had a lot of rain for the whole summer. We left some around the base of a large liquidambar so that it wouldn’t be compromised by our removal of its windfall mulch and I am going to spend most of tomorrow shovelling it all over the garden under the deck and along the driveway to cover the exposed and parched soil.

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The tomato jungle…all the fruit is contained in this jungle…I am going to have to be narf7 the explorer and go hunting in here one day soon (or try to con Steve into doing it for me 😉 )

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My spinach beds, plundered on a daily basis for my morning green smoothie habit but it seems to have made them stronger and they haven’t wanted to go to seed so far…maybe pinching leaves all of the time is a good thing for a plant? The little beetroot haven’t amounted to much (they were the teeny ones left over when we harvested the bigger ones) but I figure I can eat the leaves if they don’t form roots so they have earned their place in the garden…note the numpty who’s shadow is included in this shot 😉

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Our corn bed with rocket going mental/to seed. I am allowing the rocket and lettuces to go to seed now so that I can collect seed for next years crops 🙂

I had best stop waxing lyrical and head off to sort out some photos to accompany this post. No Bev… it aint short! ;). I just have to hope that my enthusiasm for life is infectious and that my happiness in the simple processes bleeds through to you my dear constant readers and gives you your own simple enthusiasm for your own lives…at the end of the day…what more can we really hope for? See you on Saturday when I may, or may not have made some lovely yellow dishcloths with the pattern that Rabid sent to me…more like I have knitted a few rows…Earl has pounced on my most interesting moving yarn and either grabbed it and run, rendering the square suddenly puckered and decidedly unsquarelike or snicker snacked off the wool and run off with the ball…either of these 2 eventualities are highly likely! 😉