Wednesday wanderer

Hi All,

Guess who was spoiled last Friday night and who got ferried in style into the city to go and see my favourite comedian Mr Bill Bailey? “ME!” that’s who :). Stewart and Kelsey bought me tickets way back when it was my birthday for last Friday’s concert and the big day finally arrived. We had a lovely Japanese meal and wandered around the city for a while till it was time to head over to the theatre and be seated. We were very close to the front and the concert, although it was the very last one in this current tour, was hilarious and thought provoking in a most musically intelligent way. As one of Mr Baileys very closest friends on Facebook (along with about 130 000 others…) he shared some photos of his exploration of our little state of Tasmania over the weekend and it looks like he had a really excellent and enjoyable stay before jetting back home to old Blighty where the temperatures will no doubt be several degrees colder than when he headed off at the start of his tour. Thank you Mr Bailey, your thoughtful, clever and most insightful humour always broadsides me and I am in your debt and Stewart and Kelsey’s, for allowing me to sit in on a couple of hours of pure magic genius.

I really liked this meme when I saw it recently and decided to share it with you all. Douglas Adams insights 101

I really liked this meme when I saw it recently and decided to share it with you all. Douglas Adams insights 101

The guttering shamed us this week...

The guttering shamed us this week…

Stevie-boy helping Kym (hopefully) to find a way to put an image header in her blog

Stevie-boy helping Kym (hopefully) to find a way to put an image header in her blog

Stevie-boy and I have been working like Trojans in order to get as much as we can done around here before the temperatures start to soar and no-one wants to set foot outside. We planted out our new little kefir lime tree which will provide us with fragrant and most authentic delicious Asian flavours in our curries and stir fries for many years to come. I am looking into buying some lemongrass seed if I can’t source some lemongrass locally as I think it would do well here on Serendipity Farm. We also planted out two thornless youngberries and a thornless loganberry that we picked up at Bunnings (Australia’s answer to hardware heaven) and they are now safely ensconced in the ground with trellises constructed of star pickets and plastic coated wire clothes line that we had left over from our fencing job.

2 pots of thornless youngberries, a pot of thornless loganberries and a kaffir lime tree to be planted out

2 pots of thornless youngberries, a pot of thornless loganberries and a kaffir lime tree to be planted out

Everything is growing well in the ideal growing conditions that Sanctuary has thanks to all of that netting that acts as shade cloth

Everything is growing well in the ideal growing conditions that Sanctuary has thanks to all of that netting that acts as shade cloth

Earl was allowed to visit Sanctuary as he has been extra especially good lately

Earl was allowed to visit Sanctuary as he has been extra especially good lately

Earl, still being extra especially good. He was so good he got to walk down to the driveway from the house off leash!

Earl, still being extra especially good. He was so good he got to walk down to the driveway from the house off leash!

We then hammered an old blue pipeline bunk bed base in between two of the garden beds to act as a climbing frame for our adventurous scarlet runner beans that are growing for their third year in a row. This year they will be able to grow vertically and should do better than the previous two years where they had to scrabble along the ground, up the odd pole and contend with being choked out by pumpkins. Steve removed the last of the logs that were in the way of the car and trailer being driven up to the shed that backs onto Sanctuary where we shamelessly hoard all kinds of wood, star pickets and “stuff” that could possibly be used in the garden. You could be forgiven for thinking that we were hillbillies just by taking a surreptitious glance into this shed. The mess is going to be short lived though as we have plans to turn this shed into a potting shed and storage shed in association with Sanctuary where we can store tools etc. to free up Stevie-boys shed.

The big white water container has made it up to the shed next to Sanctuary! That's one step closer to being installed. Note the state of the (hoarding) shed ;)

The big white water container has made it up to the shed next to Sanctuary! That’s one step closer to being installed. Note the state of the (hoarding) shed 😉

The boysenberries trellis and some of the grass we "imported" into Sanctuary. May as well do double duty till we turn it into another compost heap

The boysenberries trellis and some of the grass we “imported” into Sanctuary. May as well do double duty till we turn it into another compost heap

One side of the young-berry trellis with one of the young-berries planted out

One side of the young-berry trellis with one of the young-berries planted out

Talking about Stevie-boys shed, we cleaned it out…not just a rudimentary clean, a real proper one that involved hauling out bags and boxes and going through everything and seeing if it still had any place on Serendipity Farm. A few hours later and Stevie-boy has a whole lot more room in his shed and a whole lot less garbage.

 

"The heap" of grass clippings futures, thanks to Glad and Wendy next door :)

“The heap” of grass clippings futures, thanks to Glad and Wendy next door 🙂

One happy scarlet runner with something to hang onto this year. Fingers crossed for a good bean harvest :)

One happy scarlet runner with something to hang onto this year. Fingers crossed for a good bean harvest 🙂

The little kaffir lime in it's new forever home

The little kaffir lime in it’s new forever home

Some ornamental grape cuttings that fell off a shed that we were passing the other day on our morning dog walk...

Some ornamental grape cuttings that fell off a shed that we were passing the other day on our morning dog walk…

On the left is a thornless blackberry cutting that has been studiously examined for thorns before it got potted up and on the right are some thorny young-berries that if they grow are going to grace the fence to teach the possums a lesson ;)

On the left is a thornless blackberry cutting that has been studiously examined for thorns before it got potted up and on the right are some thorny young-berries that if they grow are going to grace the fence to teach the possums a lesson 😉

 

We drove the large trailer load of grass clippings that Glad wanted us to take from her back block and dumped it inside Sanctuary where it is going to be wheelbarrowed up to join a whole lot of trailer loads of oak leaves and manure and anything else we can get to throw into the mix. We started to think about how difficult it was going to be to wheelbarrow heavy manure and damp oak leaves up the steep incline in Sanctuary and Stevie-boy had a moment of pure genius and decided that we were going to forge a path past the side of Sanctuary and up to the rear of the garden in order to wheelbarrow the manure and oak leaves down into Sanctuary rather than uphill. I like that idea!

I forgot to take "before" photos but this is after we whipper snipped the first part of the new driveway for the car to deliver us to the rear of Sanctuary..."SQUEE!" :)

I forgot to take “before” photos but this is after we whipper snipped the first part of the new driveway for the car to deliver us to the rear of Sanctuary…”SQUEE!” 🙂

Stevie-boy giving you a bit of perspective as to how wide Sanctuary is and how little room we have between Sanctuary and that tree that fell down

Stevie-boy giving you a bit of perspective as to how wide Sanctuary is and how little room we have between Sanctuary and that tree that fell down

Nasturtiums that have escaped from Sanctuary :)

Nasturtiums that have escaped from Sanctuary 🙂

I say “Pure genius” but now that we have done it I have renamed it “Pure madness”. We took our whipper snippers and we headed up. Stevie-boy also took one of his chainsaws with an old chain and an old bar because he was going to commit a cardinal sin…he was going to hack away at the base of some old tree stumps that had been left in the ground and that were in the way. 2 hours later and a whole lot of hacking, sawing, (swearing), and stubborn pigheadedness, we managed between us to hammer and block split the rocks and stumps that were in the way and level out a big dip that may have been our undoing. Thank goodness that we had the foresight to buy a little 4 x 4 when we had the chance. There is no WAY that we could have lived out here without her.

This was once 3 large tree stumps and a pile of large rocks that Stevie-boy and I refused to submit to! Never let the fact that you are middle aged stop you...stubborn angst will take you a whole lot of a distance when common sense would tell you to stop ;)

This was once 3 large tree stumps and a pile of large rocks that Stevie-boy and I refused to submit to! Never let the fact that you are middle aged stop you…stubborn angst will take you a whole lot of a distance when common sense would tell you to stop 😉

The little orange and black thing in the background is an old ride on lawnmower we inherited along with Serendipity Farm. Note the size of the fallen tree and the hole in the ground that we filled with rocks that we levered out from among the tree stumps

The little orange and black thing in the background is an old ride on lawnmower we inherited along with Serendipity Farm. Note the size of the fallen tree and the hole in the ground that we filled with rocks that we levered out from among the tree stumps

Stevie-boy standing at the gate between the back block and the middle block and wondering whether we could call The Examiner and say this was a crop circle... ;)

Stevie-boy standing at the gate between the back block and the middle block and wondering whether we could call The Examiner and say this was a crop circle… 😉

Looking back towards Glad's place next door. That blue tarp is covering some more oak leaves that need to be moved into Sanctuary when we make a way in

Looking back towards Glad’s place next door. That blue tarp is covering some more oak leaves that need to be moved into Sanctuary when we make a way in

This is how tenacious Jerusalem artichokes are. I planted a few in here last year and thought that I had dug them all up (and replanted them inside Sanctuary) but obviously I missed a few! The start of what is going to be many stands of Jerusalem artichokes all over Serendipity Farm :)

This is how tenacious Jerusalem artichokes are. I planted a few in here last year and thought that I had dug them all up (and replanted them inside Sanctuary) but obviously I missed a few! The start of what is going to be many stands of Jerusalem artichokes all over Serendipity Farm 🙂

Stevie-boy (skiving off) inspecting the back netting of Sanctuary to work out where to put a nice new entry point

Stevie-boy (skiving off) inspecting the back netting of Sanctuary to work out where to put a nice new entry point

More perspective to show how steep our block is

More perspective to show how steep our block is

So we were hacking and twitching and stubbornly refusing to give in when suddenly we realised that we had done enough to get the car over…”SQUEE!” We made a swift exit back to the house to hurl the dogs into the car and we tentatively headed up to test out our new drive through. It worked! Aside from a bit of scraping up the side of the car (to join all of the other scraping up the side of the car…) from some branches of the tree that fell down in the last lot of storms and that we just haven’t gotten around to cutting up yet, our driveway worked amazingly well and Steve not only drove up, but he turned around and then drove back down again.

I planted these "brown Egyptian beans" and they look suspiciously like broad beans to me! ;)

I planted these “brown Egyptian beans” and they look suspiciously like broad beans to me! 😉

Look at how crazy the Jerusalem artichokes are going!

Look at how crazy the Jerusalem artichokes are going!

I was so happy to see this, another red clover as my old one that I dug up from the roadside got smothered by the pumpkins last year :)

I was so happy to see this, another red clover as my old one that I dug up from the roadside got smothered by the pumpkins last year 🙂

These nasturtiums are specifically for Linne who loves them. I saved these from the furious whipper snipper of Stevie-boy so that you can see them in my future blog posts Linne :)

These nasturtiums are specifically for Linne who loves them. I saved these from the furious whipper snipper of Stevie-boy so that you can see them in my future blog posts Linne 🙂

We had to drive to Exeter to pick up some tap fittings so that we can transfer a tap from the fence (don’t ask) over to Sanctuary where I can use it to set up an irrigation system and to be used with a hose for hand watering. While we were there we took advantage of the warm day, the fact that we had worked very hard and the desire that had just flooded Stevie-boy to pick up a couple of bottles of ice cold beer. Ice cold beer has never tasted so good as when you drink it after you work hard and you are hot and tired. We were still hot and tired when we got home courtesy of our two furry tanks who managed to give us dog eyes and wangle an extra walk out of us.

Walking down from the rear of Sanctuary and past the garden I can't help but notice how many roses have managed to grow this year thanks to the close proximity of Earl in their immediate vicinity. He is officially a hero of the roses :)

Walking down from the rear of Sanctuary and past the garden I can’t help but notice how many roses have managed to grow this year thanks to the close proximity of Earl in their immediate vicinity. He is officially a hero of the roses 🙂

This time last year this rose was a series of sticks with no leaves. This year it is lovely. Cheers Earl :)

This time last year this rose was a series of sticks with no leaves. This year it is lovely. Cheers Earl 🙂

"Peek-a-boo Foxglove!"

“Peek-a-boo Foxglove!”

The side garden is no longer predated by wallabies on their way through as they are scared of being so close to Earl the avenger and refuse to go near the fence. Earl is earning himself a medal :)

The side garden is no longer predated by wallabies on their way through as they are scared of being so close to Earl the avenger and refuse to go near the fence. Earl is earning himself a medal 🙂

More roses and this stand of orange crocosmia has never looked this lush. Usually it has been scoffed back down to nubs but citizen Earl is on the case "Now wullibeez weel eed mai plandz!" however there is nothing that he can do to stop the chooks from nesting in the middle of it (I found their nest ;) )

More roses and this stand of orange crocosmia has never looked this lush. Usually it has been scoffed back down to nubs but citizen Earl is on the case “Now wullibeez weel eed mai plandz!” however there is nothing that he can do to stop the chooks from nesting in the middle of it (I found their nest 😉 )

And so here we are…I am still working feverishly on my Christmas gift for my eldest daughter Madeline. I have less than a month to get it finished but I am quite sure it is possible. It has been hard work and I have had to completely learn how to do something from scratch so if you are reading this Madeline, I really REALLY hope you appreciate my efforts and even if what I produce might be a little wonky, or a little “rustic” I am hoping that you are able to keep your laughter in check just long enough till we head off in the car ;). I won’t even talk about Stevie-boys effort that is AMAZING and that is sure to garner him the $50 prize booze voucher for what he has created for our youngest daughter Bethany. You can all be sure that I will share lots of photos of what we made in my December 17th blog post (we are giving the gifts on the 14th).

A pot of mint and bergamot that I pulled some out of when I found them growing in a pathway. They appear to like living in a pot in Sanctuary better than living on a pathway :)

A pot of mint and bee balm that I pulled some out of when I found them growing in a pathway. They appear to like living in a pot in Sanctuary better than living on a pathway 🙂

Isn't this lovely? I never even knew this rose existed but it is now inside the safety zone of Earl's kingdom and is saying thank you in the most beautiful way (hopefully Earl doesn't pee on it! ;) )

Isn’t this lovely? I never even knew this rose existed but it is now inside the safety zone of Earl’s kingdom and is saying thank you in the most beautiful way (hopefully Earl doesn’t pee on it! 😉 )

Stevie-boy gets beer, I get juice a perfect way to finish a long hard day :)

Stevie-boy gets beer, I get juice a perfect way to finish a long hard day 🙂

I might just finish there for this week folks. My fingers are a bit sore from “flummoxing” the heck out of some serious stumps and hurling rocks into a gaping cavernous hole, the result of the tree falling over and inconsiderately taking its roots with it. I think I might just head out onto the deck with a nice mug of tea in my nice new mug courtesy of one of my lovely blogging friends who knows what makes a narf tick :). Have a fantastic week everyone. Some of you are almost up to your armpits in snow, some of you are living the life in tropical climes and some of you are wondering just how fast weeds can grow and why we can never seem to keep up with them here in the Southern hemisphere in our rapidly receding spring. Whatever you are doing and wherever you are have a magic week 🙂

My wonderful, splendorous, spanky new great big mug that is officially my new mug of choice :)

My wonderful, splendorous, spanky new great big mug that is officially my new mug of choice 🙂

 

(Somewhat) Wordless Wednesday…

Hi All,

 

Today’s blog post is a little bit different than my usual word filled ramble. Today I am going to talk in photos while I give my brain a bit of a rest from the muses endless clatter. Please click on the link at the end of this post to visit an African farmer who has given me pause for thought and great hope with what we are trying to do here in our little patch of paradise…now on, to the not words…

 

Our old lecturer from last year gave Steve this excellent Adobe book when Steve was dropping off our last assessment in the city. Thank you Chris :)

Our old lecturer from last year gave Steve this excellent Adobe book when Steve was dropping off our last assessment in the city. Thank you Chris 🙂

 

Spread rounds of bread dough of your choice with garlic butter...

Spread rounds of bread dough of your choice with garlic butter…

Bake them till golden brown...

Bake them till golden brown…

And serve them with some delicious home made veggie and lentil soup :)

And serve them with some delicious home made veggie and lentil soup 🙂

How to train a dog to use a treadmill...hint...make sure to have a LOT of treats...

How to train a dog to use a treadmill…hint…make sure to have a LOT of treats…

"Seriously? You want me to walk on this?!"

“Seriously? You want me to walk on this?!”

"OH I get a treat? Sign me up!" ;)

“OH I get a treat? Sign me up!” 😉

My little indicator apple tree next to the protected pile of manure to prevent Earl from using it as a ramp to evacuate from the compound

My little indicator apple tree next to the protected pile of manure to prevent Earl from using it as a ramp to evacuate from the compound

I have been keeping myself very busy working hard in the garden. This is an almost extinct pile of earthworm packed horse manure

I have been keeping myself very busy working hard in the garden. This is the almost extinct pile of earthworm packed horse manure prior to me wheeling it up to Sanctuary

And this is a pile of very damp oak leaves just about to be moved into Sanctuary

And this is a pile of very damp oak leaves just about to be moved into Sanctuary

Happy chooks scratching through the remains of the pile and that log selection contains a small oak tree that grew from the debris

Happy chooks scratching through the remains of the pile and that log selection contains a small oak tree that grew from the debris

Acess to Sanctuary via the shed

Acess to Sanctuary via the shed

A big compost pile in the corner now covered in manure and leaves

A big compost pile in the corner now covered in manure and leaves

More manure and leaf piles that are feeding the surrounding citrus trees as well as becoming the beginning of future garden beds in the process. I keep adding buckets of veggie scraps and plant material and dry leaves and the worms and fungus do the rest

More manure and leaf piles that are feeding the surrounding citrus trees as well as becoming the beginning of future garden beds in the process. I keep adding buckets of veggie scraps and plant material and dry leaves and the worms and fungus do the rest

The last of the currant compost piles inside Sanctuary. Earl has claimed this one to roll in...

The last of the current compost piles inside Sanctuary. Earl has claimed this one to roll in…

Happy rhubarb in its forever home surrounded by oak leaf mulch

Happy rhubarb in its forever home surrounded by oak leaf mulch

My transferred Jerusalem artichokes in their new bed where they can grow and expand to their hearts content

My transferred Jerusalem artichokes in their new bed where they can grow and expand to their hearts content

Weeds pulled out of garden beds and sunlight accelerating the growth of seeds that were already in the beds. Lots of free tomatoes, pumpkins and "other" things are growing

Weeds pulled out of garden beds and sunlight accelerating the growth of seeds that were already in the beds. Lots of free tomatoes, pumpkins and “other” things are growing

Curry the male Currawong in mid splash

Curry the male Currawong in mid splash

I managed to save a little honesty plant inside Sanctuary and it has rewarded me by flowering. Now I just need to remove that blackberry that is giving it a hug

I managed to save a little honesty plant inside Sanctuary and it has rewarded me by flowering. Now I just need to remove that blackberry that is giving it a hug

 

We had to redo our new compound gate as the old one was built out of obviously very green treated pine that warped magnificently. This new "Donna Hay" green gate is made out of dry timber and should last the distance

We had to redo our new compound gate as the old one was built out of obviously very green treated pine that warped magnificently. This new “Donna Hay” green gate is made out of dry timber and should last the distance

Steve got tired of my dehydrator being in his music room and made it a new shelf in the laundry

Steve got tired of my dehydrator being in his music room and made it a new shelf in the laundry

Veggie seedlings on Monday

Veggie seedlings on Monday

Veggie seedlings on Wednesday

Veggie seedlings on Wednesday. Growing like weeds 🙂

Looking back outside the glasshouse door you can see a dog sniffing around for the chook that I just saved that was stupid enough to fly into the dog compound

Looking back outside the glasshouse door you can see a dog sniffing around for the chook that I just saved that was stupid enough to fly into the dog compound

My purple artichoke babies :)

My purple artichoke babies 🙂

The other inhabitants of the glasshouse enjoying the sunny weather

The other inhabitants of the glasshouse enjoying the sunny weather

I grow my nut trees from seed I collect on my travels and I obviously have 2 different kinds of walnut here :)

I grow my nut trees from seed I collect on my travels and I obviously have 2 different kinds of walnut here as you can see by the leaf structure 🙂

Look Bev, how your babies have grown! :)

Look Bev, how your babies have grown! 🙂 These are pepino cuttings a good friend sent me and aren’t they healthy little babies. Bev certainly knows how to grow a mean pepino 😉

Even under the potting table is green!

Even under the potting table is green. This is a lemon balm growing out of one of the cracks in the glasshouse concrete floor

The first of the rhododendron blossoms on Serendipity Farm. The surrounding neighbourhood is full of them and we are enjoying basking in their beauty on our early morning dog walks :)

The first of the rhododendron blossoms on Serendipity Farm. The surrounding neighbourhood is full of them and we are enjoying basking in their beauty on our early morning dog walks 🙂

The first of our raspberry futures :)

The first of our raspberry futures 🙂

Wait a minute...isn't this for the dogs? ;)

Wait a minute…isn’t this for the dogs? 😉

Bezial relaxing after a particularly difficult trot around the garden...

Bezial relaxing after a particularly difficult trot around the garden…

My 2 fig cuttings that were bare sticks over winter that are now taller than the fig cuttings that I planted out last year. Ready to be planted out

My 2 fig cuttings that were bare sticks over winter that are now taller than the fig cuttings that I planted out last year. Ready to be planted out

Potato, yacon and "other"patch

Potato, yacon and “other”patch

Zucchini and some form of cabbage or cauliflower seedlings. My friend that gave them to me has no idea which they are ;)

Zucchini and some form of cabbage or cauliflower seedlings. My friend that gave them to me has no idea which they are 😉

That very overgrown area at the back of Sanctuary is just about to become my grape arbour. Who says that compost isn't worth making? This area was where I threw a few buckets of compost last year and look at how much vegetation is growing in this small patch. Compost folks, compost now! :)

That very overgrown area at the back of Sanctuary is just about to become my grape arbour. Who says that compost isn’t worth making? This area was where I threw a few buckets of compost last year and look at how much vegetation is growing in this small patch. Compost folks, compost now! 🙂

This photo was taken standing inside the fence looking back towards the rear compound fence. These trees would have been devastated by the combined efforts of the possums and the wallabies by now but the new compound seems to have given them a much better degree of protection than I would have initially thought. Earl is obviously VERY good at patrolling and marking "his" patch ;)

This photo was taken standing inside the fence looking back towards the rear compound fence. These trees would have been devastated by the combined efforts of the possums and the wallabies by now but the new compound seems to have given them a much better degree of protection than I would have initially thought. Earl is obviously VERY good at patrolling and marking “his” patch 😉

Look at how my little indicator apple has grown! It might just be a rootstock apple but I can graft onto it. Apple futures on Serendipity Farm, I never would have thought it possible :)

Look at how my little indicator apple has grown! It might just be a rootstock apple but I can graft onto it. Apple futures on Serendipity Farm, I never would have thought it possible 🙂

 

http://permaculturenews.org/2014/10/28/glimpse-climate-smart-agriculture-kenya/

Anyone who is struggling with the costs of growing vegetables and gardens in general take heart from Maurice’s story and go and get yourself a bucket full of hope, possibility and enthusiasm from this mans dreams that he turned into realities with his steadfast and most determined actions. He is a credit to penniless people everywhere and a great example of how anyone can do this, you just need to find ways to access cheap/free soil builders. We are just about to pick up 3 trailer loads of grass clippings from Glad’s place next door. Another garden bed inside Sanctuary once they rot down. Its all in the possibilities and in recognising them when they raise their heads 🙂

Last but by no means least…here’s a little pre Halloween image where I become a zombie thanks to Papa Doc Earl…

"BRAINZ!" ;)

“BRAINZ!” 😉

Going to Montana to raise me a crop of dental floss…

Hi All,

As whacked out and strange as he was, I love me a bit of Frank Zappa. Here’s a most poignant discourse about mainstream education that rings most true…

“Schools train people to be ignorant, with style. They give you the equipment that you need to be a functional ignoramus. American schools do not equip you to deal with things like logic; they don’t give you the criteria by which to judge between good and bad in any medium or format; and they prepare you to be a usable victim for military-industrial complex that needs manpower.”

“As long as you’re just smart enough to do a job and just dumb enough to swallow what they feed you, you’re gonna be alright. But if you go beyond that then you’re gonna have these grave doubts that give you stomach problems, headaches…make you want to go out and do something else. So, I believe that schools mechanically and very specifically try and breed out any hint of creative thought in the kids that are coming out.”

– Frank Zappa

 

Thinking about how next year we might just have to attend TAFE a few days a week and having to get my head around getting back into learning by rote and sitting down and behaving all over again. Not all that used to forced learning and we are quite used to studying when we like these days so this is going to be a difficult situation for this little black duck to bear.

Ducky loves fresh water , look at her go :)

Ducky loves fresh water , look at her go 🙂

Ms Pauline http://paulinekingblog.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/sometimes-i-sits-and-thinks/ has been talking about magic and bringing it back into our lives. This year I am dabbling in my own kind of magic alchemy of seed raising. The process from tiny dormant seed to big beautiful plant of purest green is the stuff that narfs wizardly dreams are made of. I have, prior to now, only bought post magic seeds and beanstalks for my annual garden but this year…THIS YEAR I am working my magic horticultural wand and I am attempting to magically coax life from tiny seeds so I planted out some seedlings. Yes, I did plant okra. I planted it because it is pretty much guaranteed to grow, has pretty flowers that the bees love and predominately because I tried it once and found it lacking. I am the sort that likes to give everything a second try just in case the first try was aberrant so yes…I am growing okra. I am also going to give Roselle’s a go and have planted out some purple artichoke seeds. I know that others are planting out peanuts and I am going to give them a go as well. I am not entirely sure as to how they will go here in farthest flung antipodean Tasmania but even if they fail, they are nitrogen fixing legumes so at least the soil will be better off after planting them even if I don’t get much of a yield. A cover crop with benefits…

Now we have a issue with a Kurrajong …

He is getting to cocky and likes cheese to much.

He is getting to cocky and likes cheese to much.

 

Emm cheese

Emm cheese

 

Jan, our friend who is just about to head off to Germany in the next 3 weeks, just gave me a large bag of vegetable, herb and flower seeds. Some of them date back to last century but I am going to give them a go. One of the bags looks like it predates me and is for something called Borecole, an old world name for kale. The manufacturer is one “Chas. Creswell & Co.” from Hobart Tasmania. I am going to give these seeds the old college try. I would love to think that something so old could still be vital and how amazing if they grow! The seed growing bug has me by the throat at the moment. I need to make some more seed raising mix but my last batch saw me institute a huge wooden splinter under my left middle finger nail while I was mixing in the ingredients by hand. It almost reached the quick of my nail and after liberal applications of peroxide to make sure it didn’t get infected after I pulled out the splinter, it has just about healed. I am loath to mix anything by hand till it is completely healed so am working on converting an old blender that we have (and don’t use) to the purpose. We have some amazing “black gold” compost that will be perfect for the job and I need to pick up some coconut coir peat to lighten it up enough to keep the seeds moist and the mix friable.

Just haveing a stroll on the deck are we..

Just haveing a stroll on the deck are we..

I picked up some chives in a pot for $2 from the lady who has a little plant stall at the top of a steep hill. I consider it my reward to buy a plant from the stall for having to walk the dogs up there when they are bored of our usual walks. I have picked up chocolate mint, various day lilies, dahlias etc. from this little stall and you just never know what might appear there on any given day so it’s wise to keep a regular eye on it and for only $2, walking up the hill is almost worthwhile. The weather has been a bit hit and miss of late but now that the glasshouse has been sorted out I can mess about propagating and planting to my heart’s content even if it is pouring down outside.

What happened here?

What happened here?

We have mystic eggs that roll on  there own i think ...

We have mystic eggs that roll on there own i think …

Steve and I finished the doors into Sanctuary through the side of the shed and now we can back the trailer up with loads of horse manure, seaweed, oak leaves and grass clippings and anything else that we can think of that will compost down well to deliver directly into Sanctuary. Prior to this, we would have to wheelbarrow loads of ingredients in through the door which up until yesterday, was a serious obstacle course to walk, let alone push a wheelbarrow into. Our entire property is on a steep incline and whenever it rains, the resulting water flows down with impunity. Part of Sanctuary is a quagmire and the problem is that it was the part where you have to walk in to get inside. We have a heap of spent horse manure inside the new compound area that needs to be transferred into Sanctuary but we simply had no way of delivering it inside aside from in buckets. I love the idea of having horse manure in my garden but shovelling it into buckets and carrying them back and forth up a steep slope? Not so much…

Oii there my eggs you know

Oii there my eggs you know

 

Blood moon , it was very cool to watch it

Blood moon , it was very cool to watch it

One i took before the blood moon started

One i took before the blood moon started

So we decided to take the bull by the horns and make a concrete path and ramp to bypass the mud. We discovered that the mud is the kind that squelches and sucks wellington boots off and the kind that Earl has to tip-toe over so we are also going to tip a trailer load of larger blue metal stones into the area where we are storing water in Blue barrels so that the mud stays under the rocks and doesn’t take over. Yesterday we decided it was perfect conditions to make the ramp and we spent most of the day shovelling concrete mix, concrete dust and water into a wheelbarrow and wheeling it up a steep incline into Sanctuary where Earl decided that he was both going to escape through the gate as we were shovelling and barrowing and make sure that he left his mark in the concrete. We gave up on trying to stop Earl leaving his paw prints in the concrete but were most steadfast in preventing him from escaping. 1 out of 2 aint bad Earl!

Cool whats this grey mud pa ? is it good for my little paws?

Cool whats this grey mud pa ? is it good for my little paws?

 

Oh i like the feel of this can we do some more grey mud?

Oh i like the feel of this can we do some more grey mud?

Much like everything on Serendipity Farm, the ramp and path were not easy to accomplish but again, like everything else that we have had to work hard to achieve here, it comes with a great sense of accomplishment and our efforts at having to think outside the box, heck, create new boxes to think outside of, are their own reward. I can’t use the path for a few days and by the time I can use it, I will be in the city staying with my daughters for a few days. Steve will be left in charge of the watering, the chook feeding, the chook fetching, one clucky chook needs to be brought inside at the end of the day from her chosen nest out on the property as the quoll is back on the scene and recently killed one of our young point of lay girls who was most unlucky to choose that day to go clucky on a single egg. He also has to walk the dogs, feed himself (but he has lasagne, fish pie and many MANY homemade pasties in the freezer so that’s not too difficult) and anything else that Steve deems important for a few days. By the time you read this I will actually be home from my daughter’s house and I am writing this blog post last Friday in preparation for my fleeing the coop for a few days.

Look mud i love the dirt says Earl

Look mud i love the dirt says Earl

 

This is why we need a path , we have sludge

This is why we need a path , we have sludge

 

Steve is outside whipper snipping parts of the garden that have gone completely feral. Some of the periwinkle and forget me nots have almost reached thigh height and taunt us daily as we walk down the driveway to take the dogs for their morning walks. Everything seems to be enjoying the lovely spring weather and taking the opportunity of the regular rain that we have been getting to grow like topsy. We planted out most of our Brachychiton discolor that we grew from seed that we sourced online back in 2009 when we first started to study horticulture and were studying in class. Being an Eastern rainforest species, we had no idea if they would grow this far down in Tasmania but we had a really good germination rate and most of them survived the last 5 years of neglect to be planted out down the driveway last year and all of them are thriving. If you would like to see what a Brachychiton discolor flower is like here is a link…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brachychiton_discolor

Jan gave Fran a really lovely bread book

Jan gave Fran a really lovely bread book

We just restrung the hills hoist washing line that appeared to have the original string that it came with about 30 years ago dangling precariously by threads. We discovered plastic coated metal clothes line at Bunnings (Big hardware store) and restrung the top of Sanctuary with it to stop the possum invader hoards and we had some left over that we decided we would fix the poor sagging washing line. There is something incredibly satisfying in accomplishing something with your day. Today we strung up the clothes line, I cut the marauding honeysuckle vine out of a rosemary bush, Steve cut down 2 saplings inside the compound that had the ability to grow into major problems in about 10 years time and I chopped them up and we put them on the compost heap inside Sanctuary. Those gates/doors in the shed that lead into Sanctuary are amazing. Steve whipper snipped part of the garden that was threatening to collapse under the combined weight of the forget-me-nots and the periwinkle and we have been pottering around “doing things” all day. I am just about to see how amazingly explosive my old blender can be when filled with compost and subject to high revvage in order to turn said compost into light friable seed raising mix potentials. I am not too fussed if it blows up as I rarely use the food processor that it is attached to anyway but I need this seed raising mix!

The old raggy line

The old raggy line

 

New line on the washing line

New line on the washing line

I will get back to those packets of seeds that Jan gave to me. There are lots of herb seeds including chives, dill, parsley and peppermint along with caraway which will be most interesting if it germinates. Lots of flower seeds that I will grow in punnets and plant out among the veggies to confuse the pests and a good selection of veggie seedlings including San Marzano tomato seed! Keep your fingers crossed that they germinate even if the use by date might be slightly overdue. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I love a good experiment and adventure and living the way that we do is a constant chance for a bit of adventurous experimentation. We have learned to solve all kinds of problems and encounters with pieces of string, flour and salt glue and a dab of spit and polish and we are thinking of calling ourselves “MacGyver 1 and MacGyver 2” If Dr Seuss had been around to write another Cat in the Hat opus, I am sure he could have done worse than doing a deal with MacGyver 1 and MacGyver 2.

Shuttering ready for concrete

Shuttering ready for concrete

 

The concrete helper is here ...

The concrete helper is here …

Getting there ..

Getting there ..

A great path now

A great path now

Looking good i think ( i didn't do a trowel finish as we want to be able to grip when its wet)

Looking good i think ( i didn’t do a trowel finish as we want to be able to grip when its wet)

Time to head off and get back into the garden. The dogs would have me believe that it is time for them to be fed but I am thinking there might be a bit of time to prune something, pot something up or at least stand on the deck and plot some kind of garden resurrection. Hopefully you are all up to your ears in something that delights you and makes you smile or like us, up to your armpits in mud and horse manure and smiling politely with your mouth shut because no-one wants horse manure in their teeth 😉

View from the cherry tree to the house

View from the cherry tree to the house

A view from the new compound that the boys love :) Also frans indicator tree

A view from the new compound that the boys love 🙂 Also frans indicator tree an apple that shows us we dont have possums in the new compound

 

A baby oak in its leaves

A baby oak in its leaves

 

And here we are with the cheese bird again :)

And here we are with the cheese bird again 🙂

 

The day that Earl just missed out on world domination because of my need to (hoard) Collect…

Hi All,

Today was going to be Earl’s day to communicate with you all. Ms Pauline and I have been hosting an intercontinental (sounds grand but technically true…) dog telepathy experiment where Earl has been teaching dear little Sir Siddy the 1st how to be a “propr dorg”. Earl may be lacking in the vernacular but what he lacks in a literary sense, he more than makes up for in animal cunning and admirable doggy brilliance. He has managed to invade Sir Siddy’s tiny headspace and teach him to climb up on Ms Pauline’s table by cross Tasman telepathy. I shudder to think how much further Earl’s mind powers could reach (and the litigation that we could possibly be facing should he try a bit harder…) Thank GOODNESS something else more pressing came up that stopped me from channelling Earl’s nefarious desires but he has a little message for you all that I will translate for you (unpaid slave, drag toy and translator that I am…)

Earl (great master of all that he surveys…)

Earl (great master of all that he surveys…)

“Gdai huminz. Aye em url. Aye em a dorg. Aye done eweshally torg to peepl bud aye godda ged maye messij herd.

Aye av disayedid thad fore yur owne gud, aye em goin tu ave tu tek ova. Yor guvmints ar nod doin aye gud jorb. Aye, url,  wull tichm howe tu rool th worl. Aye rekn aye cood du bedda.

Vowd fore url  ine yor negs alecshunz an aye wull cee yu ride. Wee dorgs juz won ay far gow. Yooz yumanz ave stuvved thingz ub an wee dorgs ar gonna figz id.

Iv u vode fore mi ina alecshunz, aye wull led yu slip ina maye bigga bede wiv mee ana eed frome maye boll (arvda aye finich wiv id ov corz). Mee un suddi gonna bee thee bozz frum nowe orn sow yu hadz bedda joy nub wiv uz ore elze”.

Sygned URL

"were iz maye dinna wumin…"

“were iz maye dinna wumin…”

Wod ewe meen yor gorn awn strige?

“Wod ewe meen yor gorn awn strige?”

Translation: “Good-day fine human specimens. I am Earl (the great). I am a truly magnificent dog. I don’t usually lower myself to communicate with you lowly specimens however I have finished licking my left testicle and have a few minutes to spare before I start licking my right and so I will deign to point my vocabulary in your general direction.

I have decided that for your own good, I am going to relieve you of your worldly control. Your world leaders are not doing a good job. I, Earl (the great…did I mention that I was GREAT) will teach them how to truly rule the world. I think that I could do much better.

Vote for me in your next elections and I will make sure that you don’t suffer to much in the ensuing aftermath. We dogs are tired of being second class citizens, of being forced to live outside in the cold, eat stale dog biscuits and drink from algae lined bowls. We are tired of being the forgotten ones that guard your house, listen to all of your woes, comfort you when you are depressed and NEVER get enough

  1. Walks
  2. Food
  3. Attention
  4. Couch space
  5. Room in the bed

And so it is with great intentions that I, Earl (THE GREAT AND MIGHTY) am going to take over. If you choose to vote for me I will consider you a friend. I will allow you to sleep in my big bed and eat from my personal bowl (after I have finished with it, of COURSE). Sir Sidney Dog the First and I are going to take over. He is going to be my henchman and I have been training him up specifically for the purpose. He might be small and hairy but he is eager to please and that’s all you need for a willing henchman…a nice young brain ready for planting my world domination seed in. The first of many…

If you are not for us, you are against us. Be warned

Signed Earl (THE GREAT AND MIGHTY RULER OF THE WORLD, LORD OF ALL THAT HE SURVEYS)

 

One of the (freeloading cheese hog) grey shrike thrushes that come for small cheese cubes on the windowsill

One of the (freeloading cheese hog) grey shrike thrushes that come for small cheese cubes on the windowsill

Another (slightly bigger) cheese hog pinching cheese sandwiches. One of the resident Currawongs helping himself…

Another (slightly bigger) cheese hog pinching cheese sandwiches. One of the resident Currawongs helping himself…

Yet another freeloader. This one was after something in the back yard. "NOT wise little parrot, you are walking into the lair of the beast!"

Yet another freeloader. This one was after something in the back yard. “NOT wise little parrot, you are walking into the lair of the beast!”

We stopped the possums! :)

We stopped the possums in Sanctuary! 🙂 This silverbeet is one of my indicators. The possums scoffed all of the silverbeet down to nubs and if there are leaves, there are NO possums 🙂

Grape vines sprouting inside Sanctuary

Grape vines sprouting inside Sanctuary

Loquats that will be planted out inside the new enclosure to protect them from wallabies

Loquats that will be planted out inside the new enclosure to protect them from wallabies

A very happy looking little dwarf Valencia orange

A very happy looking little dwarf Valencia orange

An equally as happy lemonade lemon tree :)

An equally as happy lemonade lemon tree 🙂 Looks like a resident rock has come to have a chin wag 😉

Peach futures. Might actually get some this year as we purposefully included this small badly possum mangled orchard INSIDE the dogs new compound parameters so that Earl can protect his patch and we can maybe get some fruit this year :)

Peach futures. Might actually get some this year as we purposefully included this small badly possum mangled orchard INSIDE the dogs new compound parameters so that Earl can protect his patch and we can maybe get some fruit this year 🙂

 

What is the difference between “collecting” and “hoarding”? I ask this of you, my dear constant readers, as moderators to my closeted hermitage. You, who are out there in the “real world”, are obviously in the know. I am beseeching you to “please asplain” because there is a very fine line between the two as far as I can ascertain. I mention this (and thus nip Earl’s push for world domination one continent at a time, most swiftly, in the bud…) because I was trawling my RSS Feed Reader this morning. Nothing new there. I can be found there most mornings between the hours where I am not actively answering emails and commenting on my own blog and the hour when I have to wake Stevie-boy up from his somnolence. I have a comfortable 116 quality blogs nested tastily on top of each other like a most delicious sandwich full of highly flavoured condiments firmly scrunched in the middle of the best damned sourdough you ever tasted. This is where narf gets to play. It’s where my desire to explore my kind of food in all its heady and often lusty delights. Everything else tends to be crafty, wordy or positively barmy (if you are a dear constant reader and I follow your blog you KNOW which genre you fit into 😉 ).

 

ACTUAL work being done on Serendipity farm that doesn't involve a computer. The start of the dogs compound extension

ACTUAL work being done on Serendipity farm that doesn’t involve a computer. The start of the dogs compound extension

When people wonder why we are loath to dig holes to plant things on Serendipity Farm, here's why…this is our "soil profile"

When people wonder why we are loath to dig holes to plant things on Serendipity Farm, here’s why…this is our “soil profile” The yellow things in that soil are rocks… LOTS of rocks…sigh…

This is the "soil" that Steve just dug out of that hole. Note the predominate soil componant "rocks". And THAT is why talking about digging holes brings us out into a cold sweat! Despite sweating a LOT Steve managed to dig 4 holes today before he was rained out. He has never been happier to see rain ;)

This is the “soil” that Steve just dug out of that hole. Note the predominate soil componant “rocks”. And THAT is why talking about digging holes brings us out into a cold sweat! Despite sweating a LOT Steve managed to dig 4 holes today before he was rained out. He has never been happier to see rain 😉

The olive tree that dad planted is growing nicely now that it has established itself

The olive tree that dad planted is growing nicely now that it has established itself

Earl and Bezial will gain a LOT of new ground in this extension. That little cream coloured shed is going to be on the boundary of the extension and WAY back near the house (in the distance in this shot) is where the boys are confined to at the moment. Earl will spend the first week, when it's completed,  patrolling 24/7 ;)

Earl and Bezial will gain a LOT of new ground in this extension. That little cream coloured shed is going to be on the boundary of the extension and WAY back near the house (in the distance in this shot) is where the boys are confined to at the moment. Earl will spend the first week, when it’s completed, patrolling 24/7 😉

Our echiums flowered for the first time this year :)

Our echiums flowered for the first time this year 🙂

Amazingly good plants to grow as they adore rough conditions and will grow in wastelands and bees love them

Amazingly good plants to grow as they adore rough conditions and will grow in wastelands and bees love them

So what has pushed Earl out of world domination mode and narf back squarely into numero uno spot on the blog this week? Well, I don’t only follow blogs and read them AND comment on them, I also collect the best recipes that make me squeal with delight and I Pin them on my Pinterest boards as well. I want the whole world to be able to find these gorgeous posts. I want everyone to squeal with delight like I do and thus, I share. A small aside…because I have quite a large selection of pins on my Pinterest boards (…ahem*…) my early morning emails tend to be littered with “Mr/Mrs “X” has followed one (or more) of your boards…” I usually just send the notifications to the trash as I can see who has followed me via Pinterest however this morning I had a few spare blissful moments (no studies…’WOOT!” 🙂 ) and so I took a little look at the strange and convoluted list of names that had tumbled into my inbox. You can tell the cut of my Pinterest jib by the strange and wonderful people that rock up in my inbox, all kinds of delicious crazy folk all wanting a slice of narf’s Pinterest action. All I can say is “knock yourselves out guys!” I love this social media sharing thing. I love sharing in general and this is on a worldwide scale of great (addiction) happiness :). So it was with great interest that I noticed that none other than “Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery School” had followed one of my Pinterest boards! I went and checked (people get aspirations in social media and think that they are Napoléon 😉 ) but this looks legit and I think I just had a brush with gustatory royalty! “SQUEE!”

 

Brigadoon!

Brigadoon!

Steve caught this lovely shot of the Tamar Cruiser on it's languid journey up the river and back into Launceston. It turns around right at the front of our gate

Steve caught this lovely shot of the Tamar Cruiser on it’s languid journey up the river and back into Launceston. It turns around right at the front of our gate

Steve took this shot as he was walking back to the gate after taking the last shot. I am posting it for the sake of honesty rather than love for this image. That expanded derriere is on the wane as I have returned to the wagon and am riding it like sea-biscuit ;)

Steve took this shot as he was walking back to the gate after taking the last shot. I am posting it for the sake of honesty rather than love for this image. That expanded derriere is on the wane as I have returned to the wagon and am riding it like sea-biscuit 😉

I am getting to the point slowly folks, patience is a virtue you know (one that you really need to cultivate if you are going to stick around here and get the actual gist of what I am on about 😉 )! So after squealing on the inside (it was 3am, a “no squealing zone exists between 3am and 7am on Serendipity Farm…) I headed off to my RSS Feed Reader to check out my nice tidy SMALL list of blog posts. I love being able to languidly read a blog post and comment with time to spare thought to the efforts of the person who has posted. I hate…I HATE “generic” blog comments. They smack of “have a nice day…”and a complete lack of original thought or intent. People slave for hours over blog posts, days even! We can at least do them the service of taking their hard work and giving it the attention and admiration that it deserves. If you don’t like it, don’t comment. If it makes you hot under the collar, best not to comment either. Save comments for genuine admiration methinks, it makes for an all-round better blogging world.

 

Isn't this pretty? Forget-me-not-farm! ;)

Isn’t this pretty? Forget-me-not-farm! 😉

Stevie-boy being manly with a chainsaw

Stevie-boy being manly with a chainsaw and gumboots

This is a multitasked image. It involves showing you that we have a small oak tree growing in my immediate vicinity and that Stevie-boy is up chopping wood with the car. I consider my multitasking a success ;)

This is a multitasked image. It involves showing you that we have a small oak tree growing in my immediate vicinity and that Stevie-boy is up chopping wood with the car. I consider my multitasking a success 😉

 

As I have already mentioned, (probably twice, I am getting on you know 😉 ) I tend to save recipes in word documents and pdf’s. I love pdf’s so much that I have a pdf creator that I turn blog posts into pdf’s with in short shift. Any that I can’t access this way (you clever minxes…) and I try the good old fashioned “copy” and “paste” way. I have several other ways to access tricky blog posts whose posters are MOST insistent that we can’t save but they are my secrets. I wouldn’t want them catching on and making it even harder ;). Seriously folks, why on EARTH would you put a recipe on the internet if you didn’t want other people falling in love with it and wanting to make it? I realise that there are many nefarious people out there pinching images, and indeed entire blog posts, and waving them around as if they were their own. I just want to be able to save and make the recipe should I want to and so I feel no compunctions about pilfering with impunity. “The buck (recipe) stops HERE” and goes no further.

 

This camellia bush will stay covered in flowers for quite some time now

This camellia bush will stay covered in flowers for quite some time now

Some of dad's orchids flowering

Some of dad’s orchids flowering

Up close and beautiful. We give these orchids absolutely nothing and they give us these lovely flowers every single year

Up close and beautiful. We give these orchids absolutely nothing and they give us these lovely flowers every single year

More orchids that I bought for $3 a pot from a plant stand on election day earlier in the year.

More orchids that I bought for $3 a pot from a plant stand on election day earlier in the year.

Check out the size of these cyclamen leaves down in the jungle area of Serendipity Farm. They must love it down there as they are back every year and getting spreading

Check out the size of these cyclamen leaves down in the jungle area of Serendipity Farm. They must love it down there as they are back every year and  spreading

Dad's old bbq down at the bottom of the property

Dad’s old bbq down at the bottom of the property

Steve, Earl and Bezial walking back up to the house

Steve, Earl and Bezial walking back up to the house

Our "soil". Frogs would love to live on "soil" like this!

Our “soil”. Frogs would love to live on “soil” like this!

So (still getting to the point…) I was saving a particularly “SQUEElicious” blog post this morning and I realised that my recipe folder was in a bit of a mess. A bit of a SERIOUS mess. I had been dumping pdf’s in the wrong place and my list of word docs was starting to alarm even me who is immune to enormous quantities of just about anything and so I started tidying up a bit… and that was when I realised that maybe most people don’t have 372 recipe pdf’s stored on their PC. Maybe, just maybe “normal” people don’t have 3006 word document recipes stored their either? So I finally get to my point… “When does collecting become hoarding and what is the difference?” My enormous hoard of stored recipes is just the tip of the ice burg. I have several hard-drives and CD’s full of stored recipes. I am NEVER going to make all of those recipes but I am compelled (COMPELLED I tell you!) to (hoard) collect them.

 

You can't get a good idea of how big this pot actually is but these are red raspberry canes in a VERY big pot that took Steve and I to haul it into his shed

You can’t get a good idea of how big this pot actually is but these are red raspberry canes in a VERY big pot that took Steve and I to haul it into his shed

Me pathetically trying to show you how big this pot is AND take a photo at the same time

Me pathetically trying to show you how big this pot is AND take a photo at the same time (more red raspberry canes)

Seedlings that need to be planted out before Jenny gets here for her visit tomorrow ;)

Seedlings that need to be planted out before Jenny gets here for her visit tomorrow 😉

I finally found a way to stop the wallabies from nibbling off my artichokes. I put three tyres around the base and look at it now, it's almost 2 metres tall! :)

I finally found a way to stop the wallabies from nibbling off my artichokes. I put three tyres around the base and look at it now, it’s almost 2 metres tall! 🙂

"Pinkbells" nothing blue about these babies ;)

“Pinkbells” nothing blue about these babies 😉

My craft folders and my “Interesting things” folders are much more sedate however my recipe folders are full to overflowing with the most awesome and phantasmagorical things. I am not going to stop saving (hoarding) recipes. Is there hope for me? We have just finished off our studies. Truly finished them off for the next 2 weeks at least and there is the possibility that if the rain ever stops, we can get out into Sanctuary and we can facilitate change! We just planted out 4 citrus trees that my wonderful horticultural mate Jenny gave us because the possums simply wouldn’t give up on the poor things and they had to be segregated. We learned from her lesson and planted them inside Sanctuary. I have carob trees, nut trees, loquat trees, avocado trees, all KINDS of trees that need planting out ASAP and we have a dog compound to run up before the ground sets to purest porcelain all over again. We have “outside” possibilities and now, we have “outside” abilities to go with them!

This little quince tree is going to be planted out tomorrow as Steve will be digging holes in the immediate vicinity (praying for rain all the time ;) ) so he may as well dig me another one to plant my little quince tree in :)

This little quince tree is going to be planted out tomorrow as Steve will be digging holes in the immediate vicinity (praying for rain all the time 😉 ) so he may as well dig me another one to plant my little quince tree in 🙂 That blue tarp is covering up a mountain of oak leaf mould

The last of our dry wood stash. Just about time to let Brunhilda go out for the next 6 months for a most well deserved rest after being on duty 24/7 since mid April "Well done good and faithful friend" :)

The last of our dry wood stash under the deck. Just about time to let Brunhilda go out for the next 6 months for a most well deserved rest after being on duty 24/7 since mid April “Well done good and faithful friend” 🙂

Yellow climbing roses. The only kind that possums don't like.

Yellow climbing roses. The only kind that possums don’t like.

Steve took this lovely shot of one of the blueberries budding up.

Steve took this lovely shot of one of the blueberries budding up.

I have a list of gorgeousness that I want to accomplish before the next blog post (and document with my trusty Fujipix for your mental alacrity and clarity) including

  • Go and pick up at least 2 trailer loads of seaweed for top dressing the garden
  • Fork and ameliorate the existing garden beds (and try to remember what was planted where last year underneath the seething mass of pumpkins in a vain attempt to “rotate my crops”) and add in a healthy dose of aged horse manure and oak leaf mould
  • Plant out all kinds of seeds and get a system in place for succession planting
  • Plant out seedlings that I was given (better do that today as Jenny is visiting tomorrow! Come to think of it, better process all of those beetroot that she gave me as well. She WILL check 😉 ) by Jenny including parsley, leeks, brassicas (no idea which as she just sprinkled them on the soil to teach me a horticultural lesson 😉 ) and some flowery thing that she gave me to add to the mix. We swapped a lot of rare pines that we just can’t plant here that made her feel almost as happy as we did when we bought them. We introduced Jenny to pine addiction and she is gleefully happy to be the recipient of our pine lust. She has 50 acres to populate and a few stray pines would be most welcome
  • Shore up our blueberries (that are budding up alarmingly) in the pile of horse manure in front of the deck for this year. Too late to find a spot for them in Sanctuary but next year they will get a forever home inside. This year we will need to protect them!
  • Plant out all of the raspberry canes that Jenny gave us that are currently up to their tender little armpits in that big pile of horse manure and leaves. It appears that’s our cutting bed ;). So far nothing has chosen to eat them but why would it? We feed everything that hangs around out the front of the house cheese sandwiches and they haven’t got time to eat lowly green things any more 😉

 

"Sigh...if you MUST take photos of me at least take them from my best side..."

“Sigh…if you MUST take photos of me at least take them from my best side…”

This world domination is NOTHING to do with me! I am a peace loving hippy dog who walks amongst the cows and chickens and (disgusting) cats without blinking an eyelid. I refuse to be blamed for any of this!"

“This world domination push is NOTHING to do with me! I am a peace loving hippy dog who walks amongst the cows and chickens and (disgusting) cats without blinking an eyelid. I refuse to be blamed for any of this!”

And so you have it, dear constant readers. Narf is BACK! I get to move, to stretch and to dig. I get to choose and to think and to pot and to exercise (everything that doesn’t get strained in my early morning walks…) and my poor addled study stuffed mind can have a decent rest and most well deserved holiday. I am in the zone AND happy to be here :). See you all next week and let’s just see just how much of that list we actually accomplish eh? 😉

 

Spring has sprung down the Morlock mines

It’s that time again…the time when I need to produce a blog post out of my magicians hat without letting on that I am not a very good magician and there is more lint in my hat (and dog hair and fire ash…) than I would like to let on thanks to weeks on end of studying and twitching and feeling the heady pull of spring but not being able to do all that much about it. Stevie-boy aka Slavemaster General is doing an amazing job of keeping me sitting here focussed on the “task at hand” but I would rather be fishing…or wandering in the garden, or potting things up…or…anything really… just not welded here to the PC…

 

Wouldn't it be lovely to just head out in the Mumbley Cumumbus today Stevie-boy? No? Sigh...

Wouldn’t it be lovely to just head out in the Mumbley Cumumbus today Stevie-boy? No? Sigh…

It looks like we might just have sorted Sanctuary (for the near future anyway) as there is an upturned (and most tempting and alluring) bucket of compost that has been doing its level best to attract possums en masse but that is still in a mounded shape and still full of unnibbled pumpkin seeds as I type this. That shows great promise for veggie gardening futures for Serendipity Farm this year.  I am starting to amass planty goodness from all over the place. I was potting up some pepino cuttings that somehow found their way to Serendipity Farm from a wonderful donor elsewhere in Australia (as much as I am going to say about that aside from THANK YOU my wonderful donor who shall remain anonymous as I want to keep these channels alive and well and under the radar 😉 ). If you don’t know what a pepino is, heres a bit of blurb about them…

http://www.growyourown.info/page145a.html

Chocolate eclairs, part of Stevie-boys Father's Day Indian feast with eclairs

Chocolate eclairs, part of Stevie-boys Father’s Day Indian feast with eclairs

I have a desire to grow all kinds of things on Serendipity Farm. I want to hurl any and everything that will grow in our conditions into the mix. I have a small quince tree in a pot that our local permie guru Gordon gave me a while back that is budding up and demanding to be planted out and I have just the place to plant it picked out. Quinces and figs and olives and various other Mediterranean plants do well here as we have a very similar climate and our native animals are not partial to the way that plants that have gone through natural selection in order to survive tough conditions taste so they tend to get left well alone. I call that a WIN situation and will be planting them out as soon as I can get my hot little hands on them. Mulberries are another tree that do extremely well in our local conditions (long dry summers) and I am going to get a couple of extra trees to plant. If it grows, if they don’t touch it, it is welcome here on Serendipity Farm

This image isn't mine. I just saw it and thought that this would be a wonderful use of an old lamp and a cheese grater to keep them out of landfill

This image isn’t mine. I just saw it and thought that this would be a wonderful use of an old lamp and a cheese grater to keep them out of landfill

More cheese graters used as light fixtures... lubbly jubbly :)

More cheese graters used as light fixtures… lubbly jubbly 🙂

I have learned that growing what you want is not necessarily the best option if you want to stay sane and happy. Learning to grow with your local conditions includes having to deal with your local native animals at the same time. I don’t mind sharing but I do mind wanton destruction and it’s just about time for the possums to set up shop in our poor fruit trees for another year. Possums are fat, quick to anger and very furry…I think I am becoming a possum by default to be honest as I age but that, my dears, is another story! For now I am content to find a way to live with these overtly cute looking but inwardly heinous little critters whereby we both get what we want. I am hoping that possum dung is good for the soil because there is so very much of it around the place here! It looks like we might have an army of them coming out at night and just wandering over everything. I saw some possum deposits on our bedroom window sill the other day…they are spying on me while I sleep!

I LOVE this idea! I have been hoarding large coffee cans for just this sort of reason. Guess which narf is going to give this a go...

I LOVE this idea! I have been hoarding large coffee cans for just this sort of reason. Guess which narf is going to give this a go…

 

Or this! Why on earth would you throw cans out if you could use them to make something like this?

Or this! Why on earth would you throw cans out if you could use them to make something like this?

You all know that I put small cubes of tasty cheese out for the local grey shrike thrushes but it has been disappearing rapidly of late and much faster than usual. I was wondering if the sparrows had built up in numbers because they are quite partial to a bit of tasty cheese but aside from a little male sparrow that accompanies the grey shrike thrush up to the deck on a regular basis who is most tenacious as the shrike thrush is three times his size and prone to pecking him on the head if he dives into the cheese futures first, there aren’t any more sparrows than usual on our kitchen window ledge so a mystery was afoot!

 

Isn't this mailbox a hoot? :)

Isn’t this mailbox a hoot? 🙂

I kept watching the window sill as I walked past. As I have been chained to the PC I tend to be in the kitchen a lot making cups of tea (anything but sitting staring at that screen!) and I just so happened to look out the other day when one of the grey shrike thrushes was collecting some cheese cubes and noticed that the shrike thrush had big eyes…”Oh shrike thrush what big eyes you have? All the better to see you my dear…” now even I, with my limited ornithological abilities, know that grey shrike thrushes are not overly endowed with large eyes. I have seen enough of them collecting up bundles of cubed cheese to take back to their nests to know a bit about them by default. We share a common space albeit on other sides of the window and this “shrike” was a wolf in sheep’s clothing! I had a closer look at the obviously antsy shrike and noticed that it was a little bit more brown than grey…she was watching me closely while she crammed a very large bundle of cheese cubes into every angle of her beak and then she flew off…hmmm…another kind of shrike perchance? But then the mystery was solved by her partner who flew up and started collecting cheese cubes as well. He was as black as the ace of spades with beady little eyes that I would recognise anywhere and he looked at me through the glass as if to say “Don’t make any sudden moves missus or the dog gets it!” Blackbirds!

Stevie-boy on his day off playing his guitar

Stevie-boy on his day off playing his guitar

One of the photos that Steve took for me today to use in my final assessment in Prepress

One of the photos that Steve took for me today to use in my final assessment in Prepress

They had obviously been watching the grey shrike thrushes most carefully. We have a few pairs of blackbirds on the property and I quite like them. There aren’t any cleverer birds in this neck of the woods if you ask me. They watch…they learn…they take advantage of what they just learned and that tells me that there is more than rudimentary brain activity going on inside those small skulls and I admire that. The first time I noticed Ms Blackbird she had a crust of dirt on her beak which is what made me look closer at her in the first place. Grey shrike thrushes are arboreal and rarely go to ground. They are insectivores and tend to peel bark from trees and eat tree dwelling grubs. The do a great job of clearing out the house spiders from between the bricks as well but never poke their beaks in the soil so this made me pay attention…Ms blackbird appears to have found a much easier option to rootling around in the vain hope of finding a worm with one eye constantly watching for cat attack at any moment…Ms blackbird is now living the high life with Mr blackbird and all because she wondered “what if I headed up there and took a bit of a look…”

We have to use all of our own artwork in our final assessment in Prepress and that means recreating whatever we need. I created this today...

We have to use all of our own artwork in our final assessment in Prepress and that means recreating whatever we need. I created this today…

See animals get it…they get that you have to put an effort in to get anything that is worthwhile. I get it as well but in the back of my cerebral cortex…the bit that gives me dreams and that warns me when I am about to do something stupid (my cerebral cortex works overtime…) and that holds past memories and those ancient life lessons that humanity appears to be forgetting en masse these days but that we kept getting reminded of by hair rising up on the back of our necks by our dear unforgetting cerebral cortex…I “get” that all of this study is good for me…I “get” that it is good for my brain, keeping it active learning new things…I “get” that this is much better for me than working for the dole at a local thrift shop sorting through clothes BUT that doesn’t make the front bit of my brain, the impulsive bit that wants to head to Pinterest and eat cake in my undies and socks at ALL appeased. Another reason why I have admiration for those blackbirds is that they are taking a short cut…they learned and they took advantage and they made their lives easier in the process. Kudos big eyes…you shall go to the cheese ball 🙂

Earl was most happy with the tasty mud and the deliciously fecund odour coming from duckies old boat. This is going to be used to make a water wicked strawberry bed inside Sanctuary in the near future

Earl was most happy with the tasty mud and the deliciously fecund odour coming from duckies old boat. This is going to be used to make a water wicked strawberry bed inside Sanctuary in the near future

So I have 2 x 8 page booklets to produce today…all of the artwork for said booklets, a few lessons in how to tart up a drop cap to narf7 standards (that means downloading ornate Art Nouveau and Art Deco fonts, twizzling around with metal gradients in Illustrator and trying my hardest to create gold out of purest Adobe), I then need to create a logo (but I have a good idea for that one) and try to cobble it all nonchalantly together to make it look like I could care less (apparently how designers do things) about the end results and that everything flowed easily and languidly from my truly talented fingertips…”Au Contraire my dear, it just flows from me like purest champagne…” that’s not the only thing that just flows from me 😉 Seriously folks, there is a lot of hard slog that goes on behind the scenes. Much like anything else that is worth it, you need to put in the hard yards to get to look that casual and on the fly…sometimes the simplest logo has taken some poor sap a month down the Morlock tunnel gulags turning from a healthy shade of human pink into a sort of insipid luminous pasty white with eyes that are no longer able to look at the light in order to casually drop onto someone’s letterhead only to be screwed up by the recipient as “MORE JUNK MAIL!”…sigh… plebeians!

Steve's entry into the "abstract architecture" section of his photography group this week

Steve’s entry into the “abstract architecture” section of his photography group this week

Yeah I “get it”…but…BUT…spring is calling! That cerebral cortex that keeps me from wetting my bed at night (several times over if you must know…) also has some kind of primordial sap rising in my veins that must be appeased. I was up to my armpits in compost and horse manure and oak leaves and straw yesterday making a sexy mix for my four new baby pepino’s. I don’t like getting my hands too dirty but I was actually enjoying squidging everything together…the sap was rising! Soon I will be twitching about planting out trees…albeit small ones…I will be thinking, no DREAMING about haybales and hugelkulture and permaculture will start invading my every thought. I won’t be able to concentrate on my drop caps because I will see that lovely leafy font and my mind will start to drift. It’s like the call of the wild in reverse. I don’t want to head off and go feral (well…any more feral than I already am…), I don’t want to wear coon skin hats and float down the river on one of my precious 2 palettes that I am keeping for a compost heap…no not THIS little black duck…I just…want…to …get… out…in…the …sodding…garden…for…a…BIT! That’s all I need…just a bit of garden therapy to go with all of this drop capping and sentence indenting and border creating and text wrapping.

Naughty narf and Stevie-boy went sniffing around the abandoned Beaconsfield mines on the weekend

Naughty narf and Stevie-boy went sniffing around the abandoned Beaconsfield mines on the weekend

This used to be used to grind up gold bearing ore

This used to be used to grind up gold bearing ore

The landscape is littered with massive great holes dating back to the 1800's so it is best to stick to the roads

The landscape is littered with massive great holes dating back to the 1800’s so it is best to stick to the roads

Unless you want to fall down a bottomless pit that is!

Unless you want to fall down a bottomless pit that is!

I just want to feel part of “outside” not firmly and strategically reinstated on this chair for the day. The sun might shine today. It didn’t yesterday and I wasn’t so keen to get out in the rain. A perfect day for studying but it was Stevie-boys day on the PC yesterday…I bet the sun will shine today. The sun loves schadenfreude. I often catch it peeking in at me, laughing and sucking on its trousers at me when I am filling the kettle near the kitchen window, watching the birds carry away cheese for their future. Another day down the Morlock mines BUT…”I get it!” another day closer to that garden! I am going to head off now in order to get a bit closer to my day in the sun that I will no doubt be complaining about soon enough but for now it is a blissful cerebral cortex memory that needs to be appeased. Wish me luck folks…I am going in!

One of Stevie-boys lovely abstract photos of some of the old machinery we found

One of Stevie-boys lovely abstract photos of some of the old machinery we found

If you look closely you can see the big boots of the narf 7...I am playing at being Amish (or was that just that all of my jeans were in the wash? ;) )

If you look closely you can see the big boots of the narf 7…I am playing at being Amish (or was that just that all of my jeans were in the wash? 😉 )

Isn't this wattle lovely? You don't often get to see wattles that are able to grow to their full height. This one is in full flower.

Isn’t this wattle lovely? You don’t often get to see wattles that are able to grow to their full height. This one is in full flower.

 

Enter the lizard hunter

Hi All,

 

Well hot diggety dog my dear constant readers, we are right back here again and little has changed on Serendipity Farm except the slave albino Morlock’s have been freed from their shackles of oppression and are now footloose and fancy free of studies for at least a couple of days. We collated our final two assignment tasks and all of the peripheral bampf that makes them take a much longer time to complete that we are required to submit along with our work and handed them in on Monday. That left us shell-shocked and twitching and with NO idea of how to live in the real world aside from sitting on a PC and working to rule. It was sad to see us wandering around like little lost lambs without a clue and even sadder when we were joined by the dogs because it started to rain and thus became a washout for working in the garden and walking dogs…four pathetic souls walking around the kitchen table following each other like shrews in a perpetual circle…

An example of what we have been doing lately

An example of what we have been doing lately

 

A caravan of shrews

A caravan of shrews

We had planned to forge ahead…to drive to Exeter and pick up a half trailer load of compost from the local landscape supply centre then head off to buy some seeds from a small local nursery that specialise in breeding their own heritage seeds to our local conditions. Less variety but more likely to survive…I like those odds! We had SO many plans! We were going to fix Sanctuary and Stevie-boy would be my hero and would drill holes in the poles and we would string up the possum repelling top netting with plastic coated clothes line wire that the little swine’s wouldn’t have a hope in heck of chewing through and would be relegated to bouncing furiously on with no dent in the netting allowing them to trampoline their way down to the tender greens below. I had visions of all sorts of things but then the reality of the rain…slow…constant…and unlikely to stop rain set in and so we walked a few more circuits around the kitchen table in a slow progression of sadness and broke off eventually to pursue other indoor activities.

One of the gorgeous sunsets we have been having lately to welcome spring into the Southern Hemisphere

One of the gorgeous sunsets we have been having lately to welcome spring into the Southern Hemisphere

 

We can’t handle another day of Earl sulking so we are going to have to get out and walk the dogs today. I can hear the wind chime heralding more rain but we have the curious situation here in my local borough, whereby it tends to stay dry till about 10am here and then rains. Excellent for early morning dog walkers, not so good for people who want to garden after they walk. We did go to Exeter yesterday to post off Ms Pauline’s dangler things for her dangler of International Happiness. I hope she isn’t expecting too much as there is a bag of harvested bits-and-bobs that we thought might just make interesting inclusions to her dangler.  I can’t wait to see how it looks when Ms Pauline has put her touches to it. Anyone who would like to add something to Ms Pauline’s dangler of great international happiness please drop me a line and we can talk. Ms Pauline could do with some aqua beads if anyone has any lying around. I did find something sort of green but that’s about as aqua as it gets in my mixed bag so anyone who dabbles in the beady arts who has some strange leftover beads please get in touch. The cause is worthy, admirable and will result in your cast offs being turned into frugal sustainable art by Ms Pauline who is a most clever minx when it comes to the creative arts.

We are getting a LOT of eggs lately. At the moment they are happy to lay in a haybale in Steve's shed but any day soon that will change and we will be back to hunting high and low for them

We are getting a LOT of eggs lately. At the moment the chooks are happy to lay in a haybale in Steve’s shed but any day soon that will change and we will be back to hunting high and low for them

I also sent off a delicious wooden spoon handcrafted by Stevie-boy to a wonderful lady who wanted to trade on her blog. I have been following Belinda’s blog for a little while now and  I had shared a post by Belinda with you all before and in this post  Belinda posed a most interesting case for trading something rather than selling. I think she was testing the waters to see just what she might end up with if she wanted to trade. I need to point out something here about why I was SO excited about wanting to trade with Ms Belinda. My daughters are both Koreanaphiles. They love all things Korean but especially K-Pop, a subculture of Korean pop music that has bled over into the West. The very first band that they liked was a band called Shinee and although I could remember most of the guys in the band I could NEVER remember one called “Minho”. Minho was my nemesis and my daughters would tease me mercilessly saying “which one is Minho”?  And I would invariably pick the wrong band member. It turns out “Minho” isn’t just a member of a Korean K-Pop band but it is also a region in Portugal famous for inventing Caldo Verde and for it’s gorgeous hand spun wool. Ms Belinda had made some wonderful hats out of some of this unctuous wool and was offering them up for trade! I could have my own Minho hat! I would never forget Minho again! Long after my daughters had forgotten who he was…”I”…the forgetful narf…would remember 🙂

 

Minho hat! :)

Minho hat! 🙂

So you see I “had” to at least attempt to trade with Ms Belinda (who appears to be hugging herself in the first image in this post…hey, if you can’t hug the one you love, hug the one your with eh? 😉 ). She accepted the offer of a trade for one of Stevie-boys wooden spoons and I promptly forgot about it till Steve came up the driveway with a parcel that I wasn’t expecting…it turns out the wonderful Ms Belinda had sent my Minho hat and a second Minho hat for one of the girls! Looks like we are ALL going to remember who Minho is ;). Steve found some lovely blackheart sassafras, a rare and special Tasmanian endemic wood, in his woody collection to turn into a lovely spoon for Ms Belinda and for some curious reason I forgot to take a photo of it before I sent it off yesterday…”Doh!” Oh well…I can show you the Minho hats and my daughters can fight over their hat when I get around to delivering it to the city ;). I love the idea of trading things. No money need change hands (which is a good thing when there isn’t a lot of it lying around to trade) and you end up forging community, making new friends, getting something awesome and handmade and sharing the creative love around. I think Stevie-boy needs to make more wooden spoons…his creative muse is delicious. Stevie-boy thinks that I need to shut up 😉

Steve both made these pork pies and took this lovely photo. This is for all of you carnivorous ex-pat's from the old country who can't live without their pork pies at Christmas...make them yourself! :)

Steve both made these pork pies and took this lovely photo. This is for all of you carnivorous ex-pat’s from the old country who can’t live without their pork pies at Christmas…make them yourself! 🙂

this photo is 40+ years old. It was taken by my mother on an 100 acre farm that we once lived on and is of her gaggle of geese that she kept. It might look like the Kalahari desert in this photo but it's mid summer and the geese have eaten all of the grass.

this photo is 40+ years old. It was taken by my mother on an 100 acre farm that we once lived on and is of her gaggle of geese that she kept. It might look like the Kalahari desert in this photo but it’s mid summer and the geese have eaten all of the grass.

It might be windy outside but it hasn’t rained since I got up and its 5.10am now. Bezial heard the alarm go off this morning and headed in with determination to take up my warm spot in the bed prior to me evacuating it so I did what any good dog owner would do and got out of bed. I need to tidy up my RSS Feed Reader that is wilder than Serendipity Farms front jungle at the moment but that’s easily tamed and apologies to my dear constant readers who I haven’t been commenting on your posts of late but our study load was formidable and now that we are out the other side (and the slave master general had his whip eaten by Earl) we have a bit of breathing space. The last thing that I want to do when freed from my seat on the PC is sit here all day knocking out my RSS Feed Reader so it might take me some time but I will get there 🙂

Spring has definitely sprung and here's the proof...the nectarine tree is flowering

Spring has definitely sprung and here’s the proof…the nectarine tree is flowering

The shadow of a narf and the actuality of a power cord that made all of the work we did today possible in Sanctuary (remind me to hide that power cord next time... ;) )

The shadow of a narf and the actuality of a power cord that made all of the work we did today possible in Sanctuary (remind me to hide that power cord next time… 😉 )

I might share our school blog with you all so that you can head over there and see what Stevie-boy and I have been doing for the last 2 years. That’s a lot easier than clogging up this blog with our erstwhile efforts and you can head over there and take a peek or not…your choice. Last year we weren’t expected to put much up on our blogs but this year our lecturer has us putting up our final assessments…I am not sure that I agree with her logic. Feel free to head over and have a nose around on our blogs but remember they are our school blogs so please vet your comments accordingly (looking at YOU Ms Twinn! 😉 )

https://heartwoodspoons.wordpress.com/

This is Stevie-boys school blog

https://veganscousewife.wordpress.com/

And this one is Narf’s school blog

Note if you want to look at the links, WordPress seems to have a mind of its own when it comes to how it opens them. Sometimes it expects you to download them to your desktop, sometimes it opens up a pdf on the page you are viewing (so you have to click back to where you were) and sometimes it opens up a pdf on another page…NO idea what it is going to do at any given time but that’s part of the experience right? 😉 By the way Bethany…if you do happen to go and have a look at our work and you see an image of a girl dressed up in fancy dress with a flower in her hand that looks strangely like you when you were about 8…it’s just a figment of your imagination! 😉

This artichoke is only alive because of those tyres around it. Note the tangle mass of deceased plant matter to the left of the artichoke. This is possum damage and the reason why we need to fix Sanctuary before we try to plant a veggie garden this year...

This artichoke is only alive because of those tyres around it. Note the tangle mass of deceased plant matter to the left of the artichoke. This is possum damage and the reason why we need to fix Sanctuary before we try to plant a veggie garden this year…

On Tuesday morning we had to walk around like hunchbacks in order to traverse sanctuary as the possums had trampolined the top almost down to the ground

On Tuesday morning we had to walk around like hunchbacks in order to traverse sanctuary as the possums had trampolined the top almost down to the ground

It’s only Tuesday at the moment so you just never know. I might get up to Sanctuary today and there may or may not be photo’s. I can at least get a photo of Earl’s craziness when we let him off lead in Sanctuary and he realises that he is FREE! which is part of the reason why you are NEVER going to be “free” in the real world Early boy…pity you don’t learn a bit of self-restraint as it would be lovely to let you off the lead and let you forage around but you were built to hunt and your primary objective is to sniff, to find and to eat 😦 Oh well…your choice sunshine! Bezial is happy to curb his desire to scarf a chook in order to wander free (like Kung-fu) among them (with the occasional beak pressing episode that we won’t talk about 😉 ) That’s given me a good head start on tomorrows email now. I can add a bit, take a few photos and I don’t have to produce a rabbit out of a hat at the starting gate… I tend not to perform well when put on the spot or on command. Probably best that I wasn’t born male 😉

Kale gone to seed YAY! :)

Kale gone to seed YAY! 🙂

Might be time for our resident sheoak inside Sanctuary to have a hair cut again...

Might be time for our resident sheoak inside Sanctuary to have a hair cut again…

I can plant these loquats out this year as they are big enough to survive a summer in the ground without a lot of extra watering

I can plant these loquats out this year as they are big enough to survive a summer in the ground without a lot of extra watering

I am SO tired! I went from twiddling my thumbs on Monday to slaving in the Sanctuary gulags for the last two days and I couldn’t be happier :). We started sorting out the top of Sanctuary, my fully enclosed (supposedly) native animal proof veggie garden yesterday. It was hard going because Stevie-boy had to drill holes in all of the steel poles that we concreted into the ground in order to make Sanctuary in the first place so that we could thread through and tie off sections of plastic coated metal clothes line that we are using to ensure that the possums etc. can’t pass. He broke 3 drill bits in a row they are so tough and we had to take a trip to Exeter to pick up some new bits so we also bought some compost and seeds at the same time. We like to multitask. We had a bit of a twitching moment yesterday where Stevie-boy decided that he would release the ring of clothes line that I had entrusted him to hold in order to do “something else” and it twisted all over the place and became hopelessly entangled. Needless to say I think I need to sign up for anger management classes and possibly hypnotherapy to teach me not to swear like a duchess whilst threatening Stevie-boy with every threat I could possibly think of if he EVER touched the plastic coated wire ring ever again… we got over it…not sure the neighbours have yet though…

The great lizard hunter

The great lizard hunter

The great lizard hunter again

The great lizard hunter again

Bezial has sworn off lizards and is enjoying a sunbeam

Bezial has sworn off lizards and is enjoying a sunbeam

Today, after walking the dogs with Jan and Mieka who appears to be developing a Mieka fan club and who has gone from Jan wondering what she was going to do with her to 5 people wanting to adopt her (the best possible outcome), we headed up to Sanctuary with steely determination and set to with the final push to get our garden back from the (filthy) possums. Earl and Bezial were most happy to be returning to sunbeams and lizards and the first thing that Earl did was frolic…a lot. We managed to shore up all of the top of Sanctuary and I sorted out one of the areas where the possums can get in. Tomorrow we have about an hour to sort out the other join and then Sanctuary is MINE! It would be OURS if Steve really cared about it but it’s my baby and my dream and Steve would rather be doing something else but is entirely happy to indulge me in my (crazy) pursuits.

 

Earl gave up on lizards and found a much slower golden beetroot to chew instead

Earl gave up on lizards and found a much slower golden beetroot to chew instead

The view from Stevie-boys gumboot

The view from Stevie-boys gumboot

Sanctuary liberated! :)

Sanctuary liberated! 🙂

So here I am…tired but incredibly happy on what has turned out to be a gorgeous spring day. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, it’s still crisp and cool and the soil is nice and damp (gluggy and muddy in some places) and I feel vegetable futures in MY future :). I will be soaking seed today to plant out tomorrow as we bought some compost and will be adding other things to it to make a happy place for seeds to grow. This year narf 7 actually IS going to grow all of her own seedlings and I have the seeds to prove it! Wish me luck folks because there is a whole lot of work to be done before I can plant out those little prospective seedlings but at least they are changing hands from being mental seedlings to physical seedlings. Thank you SO much to all of my gardening dear constant readers who have given me encouragement and help and thanks to spring for filling me with spring possibilities. No doubt I will be less than happy with spring tomorrow when I can’t get out of bed because I am too sore but whatchagonnadoeh? 😉

Vegetable futures!

Vegetable futures!

 

 

 

Life on the cusp of the seasons

Hi All,

 

So what’s all this “Serendipity Farm” stuff all about eh? Well you can be assured that we aren’t a real farm folks. Sorry to break the apple cart for a few of you but I just read a blog post about romance novels by the illustrious Mr 23Thorns of the erstwhile blog “23thorns” (I am NOT very imaginative when addressing my literary idols) and realised that narf7 is to Serendipity Farm what romance novel readers are to real, up-front romance…sort of a safe aside while you are thinking about other things. I thought that I should clarify this as I have been getting a few new followers lately and I would HATE for them to think that there was any degree of “E.I.E.I.O.” going on at any given time here. Most of the time you are going to get the daily trials and tribulations of a scared little weird wide eyed middle aged student hippy woman who spends most of her life online when she isn’t under the bed with her sometimes protector Earl protecting the sock under the bed from dying a slow starving death and simultaneously shoveling in ice cream because EVERYTHING is better with ice cream

Before I can even BEGIN to explain the next 2 photos, I need to give you some background on them…It was last Friday night. We may, or may not, have had a bottle of wine (or 2) and we were definitely watching this absolutely AMAZING YouTube vid of a fantastic Croatian pair of cellists who are extremely talented and most delicious at the same time. What Aussie could resist 2 hot guys playing cello’s dressed in period costume and covering Acadaca eh?! Here’s the video (watch it as otherwise you will have NO idea where this is going…)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uT3SBzmDxGk

We watched it several times (as you do when you are sipping of the grape scented fluid of great happiness) and then Stevie-boy decided to share a few other classical musicians who made the cross-over to rock including Mr Nigel Kennedy and another man (who’s name escapes me now but Ms Pauline knows) who got Stevie-boy onto gypsy music. GYPSIES! Those quintessential scallywags who are prone to moving in, cashing up and then moving on to greener pastures…they are also, we are assured by Mr Borat, ever on the watch for your tears so Stevie-boy was most insistent that he should do some kind of dance to ward off the gypsy’s that we had OBVIOUSLY called forth by listening to gypsy music and that, my dear constant readers, is what brings me to these 2 images…remember, this is Stevie-boy preventing us from the gypsy’s stealing our tears and NOTHING to do with all of that red wine. Nothing at ALL 😉

If you are interested in protecting yourselves and your family from passing gypsy’s stealing your tears you may want to dance along. Here is the most tasty Mr David Garret ( I remembered his name! Ms Pauline will be MOST proud of me 🙂 ) playing the Hungarian Dance No. 5 which just so happens to be Stevie-boys gypsy dance of choice in the photos below…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07WLB584I5Q

Not entirely sure why the trousers had to be rolled up but they DID...I am assured this is an authentic anti tear stealing dance

Not entirely sure why the trousers had to be rolled up but they DID…I am assured this is an authentic anti tear stealing dance

 

As you can see there are some serious moves going on here...you would be surprised how active you have to get to stop those gypsy's stealing your tears!

As you can see there are some serious moves going on here…you would be surprised how active you have to get to stop those gypsy’s stealing your tears!

Nature is telling me that we are going to have an early spring. I am telling nature that she is a bollocks and that she should surely be enjoying a nice, long, extended and most glorious sleep in for a bit longer. I am willing to deliver a cup of tea to her sleeping countenance just so that she doesn’t keep the fruit trees flowering, the jonquils and daffodils following suit and everything budding up. I am not completely averse to “spring” per-se, don’t get me wrong. I love little lambies frolicking as much as anyone else BUT I am not ready for spring. I haven’t even allowed my (poor addled) mind to think about it yet because spring heralds getting outside, getting physical, getting seeds started, getting Sanctuary up and running and ready to take the baton of vegetable growing that narf7 has lost someplace (probably under the bed hidden in that poor long suffering moth eaten sock!). I am just NOT READY YET alright?!

SPRING?!

SPRING?!

 

Bezial is happy about the new sunbeams gracing his deck

Bezial is happy about the new sunbeams gracing his deck

 

This is Honesty a perennial plant with the botanical name Lunaria annua.

This is Honesty a perennial plant with the botanical name Lunaria annua.

 

And THIS is honesty. Not a lot botanically going on but plenty of nasturtiums and lots of hard work needed...EEK

And THIS is honesty. Not a lot botanically going on but plenty of nasturtiums and lots of hard work needed…EEK

 

This is why I haven't done a lot over winter...I couldn't stop the possums from invading Poland :(. I have found a solution. Stay tuned for narf doing a happy dance twice as energetic as Stevie-boys (and documented) if it works :)

This is why I haven’t done a lot over winter…I couldn’t stop the possums from invading Poland :(. I have found a solution. Stay tuned for narf doing a happy dance twice as energetic as Stevie-boys (and documented) if it works 🙂

Besides my lack of readiness nature needs to know that the beginning of August simply isn’t spring. If we allow her to keep nibbling away at our months here and insinuating seasons willy-nilly we are going to end up with some mighty strange things going on. I know that people living in the tropics live with these mighty weird seasonal things…winter being summer and summer being HELLO torrential rain etc. is all well and good if you live in the tropics because you CHOOSE that kind of situation but I chose cold…and frost…and LONG winters and short summers (short as possible if the truth be known) and now nature is nibbling her way into my precious winter? There is NO justice! And there is no stopping mother nature when she has made up her mind. She is exactly like MY mother was…stubborn as a mule and not to be stopped…good luck…she is going to do what she wants to do and be DAMNED if “you” are going to stop her…sigh…hello spring. I am not all that happy about you strewing your bouquets and budding up my blueberries because said blueberries are knee deep in horse manure and are just about to go gangbusters in what can only be considered a most temporary housing arrangement that heralds a HUGE amount of hard slog for one narf7 of Serendipity “Farm”…

The red growth on these blueberries means that they love their new home up to their crowns in dung

The red growth on these blueberries means that they love their new home up to their crowns in dung

 

Another sign that spring is here...the grape vines are budding up. I will plant these cuttings out this year inside Sanctuary

Another sign that spring is here…the grape vines are budding up. I will plant these cuttings out this year inside Sanctuary

I have been walking Earl at 6am lately and it’s been very cold and frosty and dark. This morning we had a lovely almost full moon accompanying us most of the way. I wrote a little poem in my head about our new early morning friend…

The moon followed us today

A big golden puppy with old man eyes

It stayed behind the eucalyptus tree fence

We walked in silent contemplation

Until the sun threw a stick and it ran away

 

I am not often drawn into the unfathomable world of poetry but it was the only way that I could remember this amazing moon and how beautiful it was. Earl and I crunched our way down the road in the frost enjoying the beautiful sight.

This was taken when the sun came up. 2 new goats in Sidmouth that Earl was MOST interested in having a little chat to...

This was taken when the sun came up. 2 new goats in Sidmouth that Earl was MOST interested in having a little chat to…

 

Fungus and blackberries. Throw in forget-me-nots and periwinkle and you have the story of Serendipity Farm's life...

Fungus and blackberries. Throw in forget-me-nots and periwinkle and you have the story of Serendipity Farm’s life…

 

Big Yin (the last rooster... I am sure there is a movie title in that...) and his constant companion Duckie basking in the sun

Big Yin (the last rooster… I am sure there is a movie title in that…) and his constant companion Duckie basking in the sun

I just finished the unit on Sustainability! I haven’t been so glad to see the back of something since I last had to go to the doctors for one of those “women’s visits”. SO glad to say bid adieu to what was effectively a great big pile of green wash and bampf cemented together with torture and narf headaches.  Now we can focus on getting our next unit up and running. It’s good to be on track and the year is galloping away at a fast rate of knots so it’s really important to keep on top of things. I phoned up this morning to put an expression of interest in on our next prospective study course next year. Hopefully we get into the course, if not, I am sure that Mr Abbot has something tucked up his sleeve for penniless student hippies without the “student” shield to protect them 😦

This was taken of the deck after the big blow that took out our phone line. Phone is back, sun is out, leaves are still there ;)

This was taken of the deck after the big blow that took out our phone line. Phone is back, sun is out, leaves are still there 😉

 

We get to see all of the boats pootling up and down the Tamar River. This is one of the tugs based at Beauty Point after towing a bigger boat in to the city

We get to see all of the boats pootling up and down the Tamar River. This is one of the tugs based at Beauty Point after towing a bigger boat in to the city

 

This isn't a fizhog of a photo, it's a palm leaf looking like the letter "b". Our next assignment involves us finding letters in nature. This was a lucky break and nice and close to the house ;)

This isn’t a fizhog of a photo, it’s a palm leaf looking like the letter “b”. Our next assignment involves us finding letters in nature. This was a lucky break and nice and close to the house 😉

Its Wednesday and you can strike the unhappiness at the rapid approach of spring…I have learned that if you can’t beat them, join them and so I have decided to embrace spring and all things daffodilly and jonquilly and growing like crazy (except the forget-me-nots…can’t embrace them…) so here I am after heading up to Sanctuary with the boys and releasing the hounds on its unsuspecting population of plants that have not only weathered but survived most admirably, the storm, frost and anything else that our unseasonably mild winter threw at them. Most of the area is covered in nasturtiums but I figure at least the soil has cover so let them grow. I noticed that dad’s yellow orchid is going great guns and has decided to flower most profusely in the next week or so (not now so I can’t get a photo but whatchagonnadoeh? Maybe next week…if I remember 😉 ).

Happy chooks basking under the deck with no worries about being molested or herded by errant roosters

Happy chooks basking under the deck with no worries about being molested or herded by errant roosters

 

Check out the lean on this old dead tree. That pile of spent chook hay is to soften the blow when it falls. That's my story and I am sticking to it ;)

Check out the lean on this old dead tree. That pile of spent chook hay is to soften the blow when it falls. That’s my story and I am sticking to it 😉

 

I have all of four photos for today’s post and it’s already twelve o’clock and not only am I devoid of images but I have already roamed the property today with the dogs. I found out that a large Blackwood tree has fallen over but due to its extremely bowed trunk, it is still in the ground albeit in a newly formed hump with a few roots sticking out. I would leave it there aside from the fact that it fell down straight in the middle of my arbutus tree 😦 bollocks! I was wandering (who am I kidding…I was being dragged mercilessly behind a small determined brown and white tank!) through the jungle part of the garden and started to get the old familiar excitement that rises up whenever possibilities are afoot. I got it inside Sanctuary as well. I started to make plans for passion-fruit vine purchases, for hauling duckies boat into Sanctuary and using it as a raised bed for herbs and strawberries, for keyhole gardens and pathways around the outside to prevent determined wallabies and chooks from barreling into the sides of Sanctuary and reaching their “prey” easily…my motto is if they are going to steal it, I am going to make them work very hard to do so!

Some of the cuttings I took last year that have thrived despite being completely neglected. PERFECT for planting out on Serendipity Farm where the neglect runs like a river ;)

Some of the cuttings I took last year that have thrived despite being completely neglected. PERFECT for planting out on Serendipity Farm where the neglect runs like Usain Bolt on steroids 😉

 

More neglected plants. This time they are rewarding us for their neglect by flowering. I love orchids. They want so little and give so much :)

More neglected plants. This time they are rewarding us for their neglect by flowering. I love orchids. They want so little and give so much 🙂

Luckily I prepared a bit of this blog post earlier. I am at a bit of a loss for what to do today as I NEED to do some work on the gift that I am preparing for my eldest daughter Madeline in the near future or it simply isn’t going to happen. It is going to take lots of time and planning and I have done most of the planning but now I need to put in the time. My studies have had me glued to the computer but I have made a most determined push to the front and now I find myself with time on my hands and that means that I can get stuck into “the gift” as it shall be called right up to the time that I can reveal what it is/was after December 25th. I am guessing it will be the predominate part of my post come boxing day as I just checked and Christmas is on a Tuesday. I like to find out little snippets of information about Christmas…little bits that I cobble together in a sequence so that I don’t have to be terrified in one fell swoop.  Are you terrified of Christmas? Join the club! A bit closer to Christmas and I will be under the bed with a tub of good vegan ice cream (yes…there is such a thing 😉 ) but at the moment I am deluding myself that it isn’t approaching at a rampaging gallop and that it is STILL winter and narf7 is just about to toast her hands by Brunhilda who hasn’t been out since late April. What a stellar performance you wonderful (SO much more than a) wood-stove 🙂

Nature reclaiming the lawn. This is a small blackwood tree growing in the side lawn. Right next to it there is another one. If we leave them there, they will grow quickly and the lawn will cease to be

Nature reclaiming the lawn. This is a small blackwood tree growing in the side lawn. Right next to it there is another one. If we leave them there, they will grow quickly and the lawn will cease to be

 

My danglers. I made all of these Ms Pauline :)

My danglers. I made all of these Ms Pauline 🙂

 

Our summer oven, our gas bbq. As you can see it also acts as a winter repository for boots

Our summer oven, our gas bbq. As you can see it also acts as a winter repository for boots. If you squint you can see a narf in the window

So here I am at the end again…I don’t even remember the beginning as I started it last week. I remember the poem and was of two minds to not put it in but I figure it is good for you all to see that I am multi-faceted, pretty amazing really…you are very lucky to be reading this blog you know ;). I hope that wherever you are your world is treating you well and that you can find something, even a teeny tiny something, each and every day to be thankful for because like Mr Simon Townsend used to say “The world really IS wonderful” 🙂

 

You didn't think we could go a week without Earl being in the post did you? Here he is for all of his loyal fans and he would like to say that he would send you all an email but for his lack of opposable thumbs. You will have to content yourself with adoring him from afar ;)

You didn’t think we could go a week without Earl being in the post did you? Here he is for all of his loyal fans and he would like to say that he would send you all an email but for his lack of opposable thumbs. You will have to content yourself with adoring him from afar 😉

 

Fast forward in the life lessons

Hi All

I hope you don’t mind me using the post that I was going to post last week before all of those photos took over. This week has been a complete blur of studying in a most determined and bolshie desire to prove myself. Our lecturer handed us our final assessment and then dropped a hefty weighty unit involving so much research it is making me twitch on top of it. All of this work has to be completed by the end of November and after an initial wide eyed panic attack I have settled down to work my way through the morass of incredibly boring material that needs to be assembled and then pared away in order to hand our lecturer the gold nuggets that will give us our passing grade. SO much bampf for so little gratitude and I have learned something over the last month…I don’t want to be a web designer…not in the LEAST! So here sits narf7 tapping away when all she wants to do is get out into that gorgeous damp (it has been raining ever since I lay the last Earl proof stone in place) space and go nuts. I get the feeling that this teetering tower of study is going to make me SO glad to get it finished that gardening is going to look like pure gold. There are lessons afoot…life lessons and thus begins today’s tale…

“Whenever I fail it is a chance to learn and grow”

How’s that for a life lesson? I learned it while I was being pulled mercilessly behind Earl on our bonding Sundays where Bezial (and his ubiquitous dicky leg) and Steve get to stay home and Earl and I get to go on a long walk. I would love to say “Long leisurely walk” but I can’t. Earl starts to wind up as soon as I head into the bathroom to brush my hair and put it up in a pony-tail. The first sign of “walk”…next we have me putting on my shoes and the ears start to prick up and he gets up off the floor…trotting to the back door excitedly and sticking himself half in, half out of the dog door is next on the agenda in case any feral cat or chook has been stupid enough to instigate themselves directly outside the back door…”never let a chance go by” is Earl’s motto.

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Today’s motley collection of images is brought to you by the letter “Pee”. This little aquilegia has survived the maelstrom of pee that Earl hisses all over it every single morning. You can only begin to imaging the strength of a dogs pee when he has been holding on all night on the “pack bed”. This goes to show that if you want a perennial that will grow almost anywhere, Aquilegias are you ideal plant

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I don’t think we really need to say much about this image do we? Picture me hard at work slaving away over a hot PC trying to wrap my brain around OH&S in the media industry and forgetting that I left the pantry door open.

After surveying your territory you need to head out the back door and mark your aquilegia. It is MOST important to mark your aquilegia, I mean, anything that has the blatant NERVE to grow between the brick wall and the paving stones right outside the back door and that can withstand a daily squirt of straight ammonia and not only survive, but flower beautifully, has to be given some sort of award, and what more important award than being decorated by more pee? By this stage Earl is prancing around because he has heard the tell-tale jangle of his dog lead and his mind is now out on the road with visions of prospective road kill dancing around in his head. Earl is gone…enter the fray at your folly you STUPID WOMAN…sigh…

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Steve had to go to town the other day and this is the result…Earl under the bed with only the dust bunnies to console him about his loss and…

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Bezial and his fluffy toy laying on the carpet in the lounge room completely devoid of joy…obviously I make a terrible second best to Steve’s pack leader…

I enter the fray. I instantly regret entering the fray because it’s like the gate rising at Flemington (hope you didn’t lose too much on the cup 😉 ) and Earl is OFF! Down the steep driveway hurtling with as much speed as you can when dragging a 63kg “fat anchor” that has her heels dug in behind you. You won’t let that stop you though…there are smells OH the smells! Something has rubbed against that shrub that is right in the middle of that thicket of thistles and you just HAVE to sniff it. After that you need to limp pathetically because you have thistles in your foot and you have to wait for your stupid fat anchor to liberate them …you look around surreptitiously to check that no other dogs have seen you. The chooks saw you… lunge at them aggressively…they won’t look at you with those little beady eyes NOW!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Not entirely sure if I have shared this with you before but this image is of the West Tamar Highway and you can see that it has collapsed thanks to the incessant amount of rain that we have been having. Don’t you just love the handrail sunk in 44 gallon drums of concrete?

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Narf7’s happiness and sadness…a juxtaposition of emotions. I am happy from 3 – 7am when I sit here researching and reading my RSS Feed Read blogs and then the deep blue funk of OH&S settles over my sunny disposition rendering me fogged up for the day

Earl and I tend to travel a road well-travelled on our Sundays. We head down the dirt road and off over the bridge to the park on the other side to listen to the dulcet tones of the dumped rooster and the loon who has been living in a caravan for almost a year now. They vie for our attention as one crows and the other one yells loudly. Once we get our fill of fresh air, windy gusts that threaten to topple us over the railing into the Tamar 90 metres below and duelling Sunday lunacy we head off back over the bridge and up the highway to be buffeted by log trucks. We turn the corner to head back down the more familiar road to come home and check the little plant stand to see if the proprietress has bothered to restock anything interesting…she hasn’t…sigh…so after Earl salutes her lack of effort with what is left in his reserves, we head off down the steep slope home…

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I am resorting to old photos now. This one shows what we had to do to remove tiles from the tiny bathroom in our daughters home in town when we were renovating the bathroom. That expression on Steve’s face isn’t all play acting

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Joe Cool and his amazing prototype penniless student hippy compost bin. The only problem with this image is that the compost bin didn’t work but Steve still has those sunglasses (if not that hair 😉 )

5km + of Sunday drag and by the time I get home I am ready for that breakfast smoothie and a chance to park my derrière out on the big wooden bench that Steve and I made years ago from wood that we plundered right here when we house sat for dad for three weeks back in 2007. It’s huge, sturdy and surprisingly well made for anything made by Steve and I but I must have won out on that project ;). I am holding a big mug of tea and a big mug of tea has never been earned more strenuously. Earl is lying on the floor quietly. His day is effectively over unless he can con someone else into picking up that lead and taking him out into the possibilities of the real world again. Earl turns 3 at the end of the month. Earl is a teenager. I can tell.

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Me raking leaves when we lived in the city. I loved that wall and every year a gorgeous Boston Ivy grew and covered the wall in it’s glorious display in autumn

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I am laughing because I just noticed that I am wearing that jumper as I type this comment…I am NOT however wearing those rather fetching thermals underneath. I have acclimatised my sad Western Australian self to the colder climes and no longer need to wear thermals. I wear entire blankets now 😉

So what was that first quote about eh? Well I have to admit to being completely and utterly terrified of failure. It stifles my efforts because I might just stuff up and look like an idiot. I put it down to success being the only thing that got a positive reward from my father figure but to be honest, I don’t think anything that I did really had an effect on how my father saw me and I learned to bypass my need for paternal acceptance and head off into the terrifying territory of self-worth. I now have a hefty sense of moi. I no longer think that I am worthless but I also have a healthy dose of tall poppy syndrome, we are all worth something but no-one is worth more because they own more, they control more or they “think” they are worth more do you get the picture? Start sticking your head up and telling me that you are special because…and narf7 is going to walk away. I don’t expect too much from the world but I DO expect a lot from myself and that’s where that nifty little new mantra is going to come in handy.

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The last shot of me I promise (well, in the city anyway 😉 ). I appear to have a handful of string. Maybe I am just about to make a nest?

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Fast forward to narf7 last week and when we actually had a sunny day to work in. The joy is obvious isn’t it?

I tend not to try. I know all kinds of things but I tend not to apply them to my day to day life because I might stuff them up or worse still, not be very good at them. If I am not good at something I tend not to repeat it. My loss really. I have decided to rectify that need to remain inactive and safe and am starting to wade out into the deep pool of possibilities, remembering that I can’t swim (seriously, I can’t) and that there aren’t any safety logs out there to catch me should I start to drown. In the past I completed several certificates in commercial cookery with a commercial cookery school. I tend to stick with certain “safe” recipes though. I must admit, part of that is because I am married to a naturally fussy “I am only one man!” Englishman who is loath to try anything he considers strange, but part of it is a mix of laziness brought about by an underlying desire not to fail. “What if it doesn’t rise?”; “What if someone doesn’t like it?” “What if it tastes weird and it gets wasted?” Not anymore. Narf7 is about to start messing about with what she knows and putting it into practice.

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Mother Teresa

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Lawrence of Arabia…maybe I should just light Brunhilda and stop pretending that the weather is going to be warm tomorrow? 😉

Hugelkultur is another point in case. I “know” how to do it. I “know” the science behind it and I “know” how it would benefit the soil and Serendipity Farm but putting what I “know” into action has me twitching. Same goes for just about everything that has me liberating my ass from this chair where the safe sport of researching is my calm harbour in the storm of activity that needs to be initiated to do what we want to do here on Serendipity Farm. Steve and I get overwhelmed by what we have to do here. Part of the problem is that we haven’t got money to facilitate instant gratification and another part is that before you can do what you “want” to do, there are 7 things that you “have” to do in order to get what you want accomplished. Sorry if I sound like I am complaining there (I am, but sorry anyway 😉 ). I guess what I am trying to say is that liberating myself from that old fear crutch is going to free me up to get out into the scary wilderness of “doing” and in the process we will
start to accomplish what we want.

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A tiny little dead bat that Steve found when he was heading out the other day. It appears it must have fallen from its mother but isn’t that gorgeous coat on his back beautiful? Poor little mite

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Ground up buckwheat groats and sunflower seeds to make my breakfast of choice in cold weather (which would be now)

We hurled ourselves into getting the fully enclosed veggie garden up and completely contained in the last week. We are more than happy with the results. We decided to enclose the glasshouse as part of the compound so that it could be used to propagate seedlings and cuttings within the structure. Now we need to plan the most efficient and effective setup for the garden beds. I have lots of cutting grown Muscat grapes that need to be planted out ASAP. I have raspberry canes soaking in seasol (seaweed concentrate) along with Marion berries that also need to be planted out. We have all kinds of seedlings and I have visions of rock herb and flower spiral gardens in the centre of the compound to attract in the beneficials and as somewhere to plant Steve’s teeny tiny grafted Ballerina apple that he produced way back when we were studying horticulture at polytechnic.

DSCF5241The ground buckwheat and sunflower seeds being mixed with homemade date and apple paste to sweeten and add nutrition

DSCF5250Chained to the machine but at least I can have my tea and porridge. The milk in my porridge is homemade sesame milk sweetened with some date paste and a dash of rose water making a most exotic breakfast and a very tasty one too. I use the same milk in my tea minus the rosewater

This week will see us creating garden beds, lugging soil components and creating our vision under cover. I don’t mind if the possums drop angry deposits on the top of the garden…nature loves a bit of extra nitrogen and at the very least it will go part way to pay us back for everything that they eat with wanton abandon in the rest of the garden. I will be taking hawthorn cuttings in the near future and have decided to plant a hawthorn hedge right around the perimeter fenceline of Serendipity Farm. I will intersperse it with cherry plums so that the native birds get lots of habitat and food. Hawthorn and plums are both incredibly able to survive arid conditions and drought and make perfect hedging specimens (well the hawthorn does 😉 ). You have to work with what will grow best and that means figs, olives, persimmons, quinces, apricots, apples and colder climate nuts. We are amassing our fruity and nutty armies to take over the farm and we even managed to grow 2 mango trees in our compost last summer that will take up residence on Serendipity Farm as soon as they are big enough to get planted out. I don’t care if they produce fruit, they will be another wonderful addition to horticultural diversity on Serendipity Farm

DSCF4964By the pricking of my thumbs something spiny this way comes…

DSCF4973Steve’s little echidna mate who bumbles around occasionally. He allowed Steve to take a few photos before digging his heels in and hiding

I might stop there for today. I have herbs to research, companion planting to check, a list of seedlings and seeds a mile long that I need to work out how to acquire and then how to plant to get the maximum results in our garden. I am only just starting to internally “Squee!” that nothing is going to be able to eat our veggies…except the aphids…and the scale…and the caterpillars…sigh… see you all next week when we should have planted out our seedlings and anything else that doesn’t grow over 6ft tall and the garden will be an impenetrable fortress of pure narf7 joy :o)

Ben Folds King of the hipsters…

Hi All,

I think that this is the LONGEST post I have ever expected anyone to read in the history of this blog. Anyone not of a strong disposition can be excused from reading it in its entirety…the rest of you, suck it up and at least have a go…you never know what treasures it might yield 😉

First up I am going to share the best, most tasty recipe for chilli with you. It has the bonus of being incredibly easy and it freezes amazingly well. This is Steve’s “Secret” recipe and so I guess it is the bonus for all of you dear constant readers who have stuck with trying to read these gargantuan posts ;). Here you go…thank me later and remember that Steve is “The Magic Man” 😉

Steve’s Secret Recipe Chilli Con Carne

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 chopped onions

2 cloves crushed garlic (Steve uses about 5)

500g lean minced beef

250ml red wine (you get to drink the rest apparently)

2 x 400g cans crushed/chopped tomatoes. We use homemade pasta sauce and I will give you the recipe for the pasta sauce after this chilli recipe

3 tbsp. tomato puree (we don’t use this)

3 – 4 tsps. dried chilli flakes but you can use more or less to taste

1 tsps. ground cumin (Steve uses about 3 tbsp. fresh ground)

1 tsps. ground coriander (ditto to the cumin, about 3 tbsp. fresh ground…try it, it rocks!)

1 stick cinnamon

A good shake of Worcestershire sauce

1 beef stock cube (OXO here in Australia but use what you have wherever you are)

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

1 x 400g can of drained red kidney beans

1 x 400g can baked beans (this is where Steve differs from the original recipe which calls for only 2 cans of kidney beans and no baked beans because the baked beans add a lot of body and taste)

Sour cream, sliced avocado and fresh coriander (if you like it) to top the chilli when you serve it

Heat the oil in a large, heavy based saucepan and fry the onion and garlic until softened. Increase the heat and add the mince, cooking quickly until browned and breaking down any chunks of meat with a wooden spoon. Pour in the red wine and boil for 2 – 3 minutes. While waiting, pour a glass for yourself. Stir in the tinned tomatoes (or equivalent pasta sauce…see below), tomato puree (if using), chilli flakes, cumin, ground coriander, cinnamon, and Worcestershire sauce and crumble in the stock cube. Pour in the drained kidney beans and undrained baked beans with their sauce into the mix and then Season well with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook over a gentle heat for about 50 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally until the mix is rich and thickened. Add the fresh coriander if using and cook for a further 10 minutes, uncovered, before removing from the heat, adding any extra seasoning if needed. This is ideal served with lime wedges and rice, crusty bread or chips (French fried) or jacket potatoes and cheese, guacamole, sour cream and a big green salad or turned into the best nachos ever.  It might sound humble but give it a try, it’s delicious :o)

Note: if you find your tomatoes were a bit runny and your sauce isn’t as thick and rich as it should be (it should be like gravy in consistency) you can add some beurre manie which is just equal quantities of softened butter mixed with plain flour (all purpose) till combined and lump free. If you need to thicken a sauce, just add chunks of this mix into the sauce and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon till blended into the hot sauce. Keep adding till the sauce has thickened to a consistency that you like.

My homemade pasta sauce involves the following: –

1 x 400g crushed or chopped tomatoes or the equivalent fresh tomatoes chopped up

1 tbsp. olive oil

About 3 cloves crushed garlic

1 finely chopped onion

Yellow American style mustard

Tomato sauce (ketchup)

Bbq sauce (bottled)

Veggie seasoned salt (Masell in Australia but use vegeta or what you have elsewhere)

1 tsp. dried mixed herbs or 1 tbsp. fresh chopped herbs

We use a tsp. of dried chilli flakes but we like things hot 😉

Cook the onion in the olive oil and when transparent add the garlic and once the garlic softens add a good squirt of mustard, tomato sauce (ketchup) and bbq sauce. Add the herbs and seasoned salt chilli flakes (if using) and stir together over heat till combined. Once combined nicely pour in the tinned tomatoes gently and simmer till thick and unctuous. Give this a go, it’s delicious. I add mushrooms; capsicum, eggplant etc. as they become seasonally available (add them with the onion at the beginning of cooking). This yields a top class most tasty tomato pasta sauce that is miles apart from a can of tinned tomatoes. Try it and let me know if you like it :o)

Steve has been a bit lax with his bachelor food posts of late and after his spaghetti in frankfurter’s effort has been conspicuous by his lack of effort. He decided to share another recipe with you in the bachelor range, this time he got June, Honey Boo-boo’s mum’s recipe for “Sketti”…

http://www.foxnews.com/recipe/honey-boo-boos-sketti-3

Honey boo-boo must have “made it” because she just got taken off on South park…

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

Now we can get down to the nitty gritty of the actual post…Ben Folds …King of the Hipsters…the rise of the über cool nerdy geek and the celebration of all things retro, the legitimisation of the awkward generation, the intelligencia gets cool and suddenly we get bands like (give examples) and veganism is hip and cool and the 60’s are the ONLY place to buy your kitchen furniture. The rise of the hipster brought about the cultural desire for all things handmade, unique, the embracing of old school principals and Etsy (no spellcheck…I  don’t mean “Betsy” 😉 ) owes its beginning and sudden meteoric rise on hipsters. Ben Folds was a hipster before anyone knew what a hipster was. I am listening to his latest album and he sounds like a cross between Elvis Costello and Blur…how is that for cross Atlantic hipsterism? I have a penchant for singers who can write amazing lyrics AND give them a voice like Ben Folds. His anthems to the forgotten were just what 75% of the school population needed to hear and he came at just the right time. When Ben Folds gave a massive subculture a voice it was an awesome thing to see the results. I belong to that subculture and so do all 3 of my children. It was the right time for them to be able to embrace their inner geekiness and progress on to knowing that they are, indeed, the superior race and they got their legitimisation through people like Ben Folds. How amazing that the hipsters of today are the children of yesterdays oppressed! Everyone wants to be edgy and wear 60’s clothes and have sideburns and retro moustaches (obviously guys 😉 ) and shave their sideburns and get tats (every good hipster chick has a multitude of meaningful tats). Where are we going with fashion folks? All I know is that we can find a niche in amongst these upwardly mobile non child bearing thinkers and that some of their ethos is actually worth embracing. Cheers Ben Folds…you deserve your kudos and your fame and you probably deserve a marriage that actually works BUT if that happened would your muse desert you? 😉

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We have gone from 30C heat where regular basking upside down on the deck is the norm to this…

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Hiding behind the screen door within close proximity to Brunhilda’s wafting blissful heat

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“Excuse me…would you MIND not opening that door please…there are dogs basking here!”

The only problem with the hipsters is that they are indulging themselves out of existence. They prefer owning a dog to having children and their need to spend both incomes on retro is still “spending” per-se. The movement is shifting sideways into the new rise of the homesteader and the hipsters desire to get their little plot of earth is starting to make rumbles in the country that can only benefit from the windfall of people immigrating from cities and repopulating the small towns…it’s obviously a natural progression and part of humanities need for equilibrium…spreading out to where you can move and think and just “be” and where you can put your mark on a tree and can feel the earth between your fingers. The selfishness is going to have to go hipsters and maybe your country born kids will rebel against being dressed up like small “Mad men” and will revert to feral hippies… wouldn’t that be something? Hey, the 70’s is back man…FLARES ARE BACK MAN! Ferals living amongst what’s left of the trees, getting their hands dirty and their feet dirty and learning how to listen to the earth and respond accordingly…perhaps it’s more than humanities survival that is being reflected in our current trends…perhaps the earth is channelling us…perhaps it’s a survival mechanism from somewhere deeper than any of us know because people are being called…drawn to the earth. Thanks hipsters, you are a good blended first generation to give homesteading legitimacy and by giving it a new voice and popularity you are showing people that it is possible for life after peak oil and that old lesson about how everything has good and bad points is being learned and shared all over the world through social media. That can only be a good thing :o)…by the way, wouldn’t Ben Folds make a perfect counterfoil for the spinster daughter in that amazingly iconic painting “American Gothic”? 😉

Grant_Wood_-_American_Gothic_-_Google_Art_Project

Cheers for this photo Wikipedia 🙂

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Gothic

‘All sorrows are less with bread’ – Miguel de Cervantes.

My sentiments exactly! I am now following a wonderful blog that has shot right up my blog reading list of wonderful ways to spend my early morning hours with my first cup of tea. This beautiful quote comes from her blog. It resonates with me because it’s something that we all need to remember. Miguel de Cervantes was talking about the solidity and comfort that a full belly can bring you and sometimes when we are lusting after something way out of our reach we really need to be looking closer to home to see what we already have and realising that life is about appreciation of what we already have and learning to live the best life that we can with our lot. We are all primed as children to toe the line when it comes to heading down the highway of life. We are pointed in the direction of active consumerism from a very young age (can anyone say “McDonald’s? 😉 ) And powerful media moguls make a huge amount of money messing with our minds and dangling delicious unreachable carrots in front of us to direct us in the way that they want us to go. I am not talking new cars and expensive whiskey here folks, I am talking fundamental life goals where we start out thinking that we are failures if we haven’t managed to buy a house, have 2.5 kids and own 2 S.U.V’s and a subscription to a country club by the time we are 30. We are herded into thinking that we are simply not good enough, not worth it, if we don’t keep following that carrot on a stick. A clever donkey knows after a little early carrot chasing that this isn’t going to work…that following that carrot on a stick isn’t going to get a tasty treat but a lifetime of frustration and a clever donkey just stops. I am starting to see that most people are not clever donkeys. We know that we are on a highway to discontent but we keep on trying to buy our way into happiness…a new car…15 pairs of shoes…a kitchen aid (will it make your cake taste better? Probably not but MAN it is pretty! 😉 ) And we keep cramming our homes with “stuff” in a vain endeavour to sooth our minds…minds that are screaming out “STOP!” We no longer realise that happiness is found in our own back yard…that we are the instigators of our own happiness. We are so far removed from our gut instincts and our intuitive minds that we allow “someone else” to guide us through our life goals, our important decisions and that “someone else” doesn’t have our best interests at heart.

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Not quite “bread” but definitely the Asian alternative…this baking tray of slightly undercooked rice has been specially prepared for tomorrows fried rice

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Seasoned with salt, pepper and chilli flakes it gets put uncovered into the fridge where it dries out a bit more, then into Brunhilda’s warning oven to dry out and heat a bit before Steve turns it into this…

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Delicious fried rice. The homemade spring rolls next to it have been lightly brushed with olive oil and will be baked in the oven till brown and crisp to accompany some of this rice for Steve’s tea. Steve is the only one that eats the fried rice and spring rolls so the remaining 4 servings of each are put into the freezer ready for quick nutritious and tasty meals if we get in late or end up working too long on our studies. He also has 4 Cornish pasties made last night in the freezer for more meals. We love making extra so that we don’t have to cook all of the time 🙂

It’s time that we all stopped and actually thought about where we are headed. Our parents were baby boomers and were the only generation where life kept getting “easier”…from the 1940’s on the media took over directing our desires and we let it. It was just easier. They took advantage of our need to be part of the flock but slightly above the masses and we have been competing for superiority ever since through the acquisition of “stuff”. A new bike, camera, S.U.V. isn’t going to make you feel better. What will make you feel better is learning who you are, being honest about yourself and your situation and taking a good hard look at how you can make the best of what you are and where you are in life. Stop trying to use consumerism as a band aid. It doesn’t work. You are going to end up aged 70 with 16 facelifts, fake boobs (think Jane Fonda and Madonna…) and a pathetic need to be “YOUNG!” at all costs because you are absolutely terrified of what is happening to you…you can’t buy your way out of aging…so far, no scientist has managed to make us live forever (God help us if they ever do…) and no amount of fast cars, holidays to Bermuda or gold dangly chains are going to defy age. Even the hipsters aren’t immune…they are the generation of the “forever young” to the max…40 year olds with skateboards and pierced noses and tattoos who won’t commit to “relationships” because they are WAY too young to settle down… we are now getting so far removed from the real world that there is a backlash of people stopping and saying “what is going ON here!” It can only be good. When you stop and actually think about where you are, you can take that elusive carrot out of the equation and you can start to see your own life in perspective. What you have been given is a chance…a precious chance to learn, to grow, to communicate and to understand. You have been given your own personal vessel to experience this world and the most precious gift of choice. If you get nothing else in your life, you can choose what your reactions are going to be and that is what makes we humans so incredibly lucky, our ability to choose our own pathway.

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I just went hunting for some pictures to put into this post and found this one taken from a warm spot just in front of Brunhilda…this is our idea of the perfect kitchen…no clutter (the fridge is in the cupboard in the hallway) and plenty of room to “live” in this space. That’s the great thing about doing renovations yourself, you can do whatever you like 🙂

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Another photo taken last year but not used in the blog yet. Taken last autumn of the Acer palmatum maple tree on the deck stairs

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This sort of scene is just around the corner on Serendipity Farm and I can’t wait! I LOVE fungi and have plans to study mycology at university in the future if only to be able to eat whatever fungi I damned well please without Steve telling me that “You are going to kill yourself and leave orphan dogs…” sigh… 😉

I would normally be sitting here reading my RSS Feed Reader at 4.44am BUT my modem has decided to pitch a fit and as a technical luddite, the only thing I know to do with modems taking tantrums is turn them off and then back on…so far my wonderful trick isn’t working…curious that I slag off Google and overnight my modem goes into the foetal position! Coincidence? We shall see! 😉 It does give me time to type out another blog post. That’s what I mean about seeing the opportunities in situations. Sometimes the situation is pretty dire and it’s difficult to see anything other than the immediacy of what is happening but that’s where we can really get the most out of this lateral thinking and we can start to try to formulate “other” ways to look at the situation. We don’t have to be a reactive creature, that’s the beautiful thing. We can be proactive about taking what life hands to us and we can use it to make our lives better…the net goes down? Forgedaboudit…type some blog posts, think about what you are going to do today, get that crochet out while Earl is still in the land of nod and maybe you won’t have those “tension problems” that you usually do when trying to crochet a row. I found some gorgeous jar holders yesterday. I know that mason jars are now de rigour in the U.S. and people carry them everywhere and hipsters are toting them to their hipster coffee shops to get refills of their hemp milk soy lattes. Me, I think they are jars! I think that jars are for preserving and saving things for the future. I have even seen hillbilly wedding mugs made of Mason jars and I think that you northerners can keep that trend and I will just keep my jars for when I need them. These lovely jar totes were amazing…the creator (Etsy, OBVIOUSLY folks, would any self-respecting hipster go anywhere else? 😉 ) had somehow felted the finished product and the bright colours got me excited more than the functionality of the item (see…this little black duck is as prone to wanton consumerist desires as the next person…) the difference is that I didn’t want to race out and spend money on them, I wanted to make some myself. Apparently I REALLY pissed Google off because not only can’t I get the modem to work, but now Microsoft can’t diagnose what is actually wrong with my connection! Can anyone say “BANNED” 😉 Bring it on Google; this little black duck has nothing to lose! 😉

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My daughters gave me this unctuous and most gorgeous chestnut cream a while ago. It had an amazing flavour and I have since found recipes for how to make it online. Come chestnut season I will be making my own but for now, I have lingering memories about just how good this was 🙂 Cheers girls 🙂

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I wouldn’t be smiling if I was you sunshine…

We just got a few spots of rain…we were told that we would have 100% chance of rain today and I guess, technically, that was right. Steve lugged the large heap of wood and put it under the deck yesterday so most of it should be nice and dry. He left a few barrow loads for the lizards who had just had the equivalent of Armageddon visited on them to hide in while they acclimatised to their new situation and then escaped. Feral cats love lizards and we love them too so we wanted to give them the best chance to survive their situation. I think that we also need to connect and learn the precious lessons from our grandparents and other elders. Far from being the reminders that we are all going to die and being shoved as fast as possible into homes to moulder away, we should be prizing their knowledge and cataloguing it for future generations who are going to have to remember the past to give them the best chance in the future. I just turned my modem off and am going to give it 30 minutes rest. I guess it has been busy of late and might need a nap (but only a SHORT one modem!) I have a couple of blogs that I want to reference here for you all to visit and I can’t access their U.R.L’s till the net works again. I get to put my money where my mouth is this morning. I know that I have almost 300 blog posts to read because before the network slowed down to an abject crawl, my RSS Feed reader shared that bit of information with me. I know that those blog posts are not going to stop and hopefully we get use of the net back today because 300 can swell to 500 in a very short time. While I was last away at my daughters it swelled to over 1000 posts and that takes some wading through believe me! I juggle precariously on the precipice of 500+ blogs and I guess sometimes I am going to have to burn the candle at both ends to ensure I get the best out of them.

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Some of my seed haul for today. The dry seed pods at the front have an incredible strong “fruity” smell and come from some sort of herb. The red berries come from some Crataegus phaenopyrum (Washington Hawthorn’s) that we discovered on our walk and have been collecting as they ripened. Hopefully we can get some to grow this year for planting on Serendipity Farm and that walnut was the only uneaten nut in a stash noticed under a shrub where there was a severe dearth of walnut trees…no idea how it got there but it is a very unusual long thin nut so we are going to try to stratify it and grow it over winter for our walnut futures.

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The seed pod of the strongly scented aniseed herb that I collected today

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This is the uber spiky pod of  Echinacea angustifolia (cone flower/Echinacea) with seeds in situ. I want lots of Echinacea on Serendipity Farm because it is hardy, incredibly useful and it loves dry conditions. Perfect for us 🙂

I recently discovered a blog http://truebeautyalways.com/2013/03/17/earthen-vessels/  that is amazingly well written. I love the way that the blogger is able to communicate ideas and the fact that she looks a bit like my niece Tahlia is an added bonus :o). The post that the link will take you to is a wonderful post about taking her children to the river in the heat and a wonderful story about how to tell the truth whilst avoiding a disaster if the truth got out, an old Quaker story. I love the way that this girl tells stories and weaves her words together to play with your mind and recreate beautiful scenes in your head. I guess my mix of blogs revolve around the interesting in all facets of life. I am not interested in mainstream unless it has something special and most of the blogs that I follow are beautiful examples of “special” in the nicest possible way :o). Here’s another one that I just started following…

http://www.lovelygreens.com/2013/03/tree-planting-at-childrens-centre-farm.html

This is community ethos and vision and a wonderful post about how small communities can really make a difference to future generations and with a bit of effort and vision can really give us a chance to do the right thing for the earth. It’s not us that are going to bear the brunt of the last century of wanton disregard for the earth, it’s our children and their children who are going to have to attempt to live with the legacy of the baby boomers and we can at least attempt to do something to halt the road to ruin that was initiated in the name of “progress”.

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If you click on this screen shot you can see it clearer. That white area is the lumber yard where Steve worked for a year. It was his second ever job after lasting a week at a local butchers. The green triangle off to the right of the lumber yard is a spruce plantation and Steve used to garner himself Christmas trees from this farm gratis…he often worried about the seat of his pants coming into contact with the cold hard steel of the farmers shotgun but when you are 21 and a hard cool punk, what’s a guy to do eh? 😉

I know that today’s post is really a couple of weeks ago post but it would be an unsustainable thing to dump a perfectly good post that was just hanging about waiting to see the light of day inside your collective heads. I have been up since 3am having a ball whittling away at my 500 blog posts that just seem to be growing exponentially but that are much more manageable now. I found 3 more scrumptious blogs to stuff in there in the wake of the old spent blogs that I discarded recently. We walked the dogs in Deviot and I invaded the small heritage apple and pear enclosure to raid the seed pods of the Echinacea that have just given up the ghost for the winter, something that smells like amazing aniseed but that appears to be somewhat salvia like in a pod and something else that has pods that smell like fruit! No idea what the second 2 pods are but my seed saving just increased our prospective springtime bonus of free greenery and gave Serendipity Farm another nudge up the “get it for free” ladder. Steve and I studied the covered top of the enclosure today (the original source of our planning for our new fully enclosed veggie patch) and have decided to go with purchasing some extra heavy duty bird netting and running rope or wire along the poles that we are going to install in the ground to form a nice tight possum proof roof that won’t sag and that will be easy to install. We got home and I collected some brushwood kindling sticks whilst holding my nose to avoid the stench of the large kangaroo that most THOUGHTFULLY chose to croak it not 20ft away from our back door :o(. Maybe it’s the culprit that has been harvesting my potato leaves and rhubarb leaves and it finally realised that “they are poisonous!” and nature took its toll. Whatever the reason, the cruel irony is that now that the days are colder, the blowflies that I HATE with a passion have disappeared and the one time that I need them to do their disgusting thing, they let me down! Sigh… no idea how long we are going to have to hold our noses as we walk to the car but the dogs LOVE it. To them, the back yard smells like Chanel No. 5 (ech!).  We then spent the morning hunting through Steve’s old stomping grounds in the U.K. and I can show you where he once worked for about 10 seconds in a lumber yard and the woods adjacent to the yard were where he got his Christmas trees from. I am going to spend the rest of the day minimising the RSS Feed Reader, stoking Brunhilda and baking up a storm and staying warm and happy inside for the rest of the weekend.

spoonsA quick pic of Steve’s draft poster for his Media assessment

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And this one’s mine…as you can see we have VERY different taste 😉 The logo on the extreme right in my poster is just representative of where my logo will go when I finalise my choice of logo’s. Anyone out there with any street cred in poster design feel free to let us know what you think and be gentle folks, we are babes in the woods with Photoshop at the moment 😉

See you all on Wednesday and this is for all of you Northerners…Nick Drake and Northern Sky…just perfect to welcome spring :o)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3jCFeCtSjk

How to freak out a penniless hippy and bean sprouting 101

Hi All,

This is a special post for 2 reasons.

  1. Bev from Foodnstuff requested that I do a little post about how to use an automatic sprouter to facilitate vegetable and other seed sprouting
  2. I just had a MAJOR woo-woo moment (Christi will know what I mean by that 😉 )

The sprouter first… I bought this sprouter when I was on a health kick.  I have a link to what my sprouter is here…

http://www.organicsaustraliaonline.com.au/prod4521.htm

But I most DEFINITELY didn’t pay that for it! Mine was $49.00 through my local health food shop. The sprouter promised…yes…it PROMISED that I would reverse my aging, I would suddenly go from middle aged saggy plump hippy to firm taught vibrant slim jogging vegan in a single swoop through the simple ingestion of crunchy “magic”…as with many of my past health kicks this one lasted about a week…which was coincidentally the same amount of time that it took the automatic sprouter to sprout me a plethora of sprouts that all tasted a bit more bitter and crunchy than magic and sunshiny to me and after soaking and cleaning the unit for about a month and still not being able to make it look like new again I put it away (with a few whispy tendrils of sprout root clinging infuriatingly and most tenaciously to some of the plates) and promptly forgodaboudit. I had the bright idea of using it to sprout my larger beans after reading Bev of foodn’stuff blogging fame’s post about beans and waiting for them to come through…I am NOT patient. I don’t like waiting for things to sprout and tend to think that they are dead and toss them out into the compost heap…we also have a plethora of slugs on Serendipity Farm and I didn’t want to be muttering about how long my beans were taking to germinate when in actuality they germinated a month ago and were promptly set upon and devoured by slugs in my absentia. The sprouter had our bean seeds up and sprouted within a week and after we planted them out they went gangbusters and we only lost 2 to said slugs (right before I caught them writhing upside down on the slug pelletised mushroom compost…) and one that had been slug snipped is actually regrowing.  I hope that this is useful to you Bev…if not just let me know what I omitted (probably everything 😉 ) and I will email you with the straight dope on it.

What do we have here? Why I DO believe its Tragopogon porrifolius otherwise known as oyster plant or common salsify…

And here are some more…if that’s not an open invitation to collect seed and spread it with wanton abandon on Serendipity Farm I don’t know what is!

Seed collected and ready for wanton abandoned spreading in some potting mix. Another one of those lucky little finds that result in me feeling like I won vegetable lotto 🙂

I would imagine that you could just put your beans into a jar and sprout them that way. The main benefit of the automatic sprouter is that it waters the sprouts for you so if you have a mind like a sieve that tends to be miles away from where your body resides at any given time you won’t forget to rinse your beans and they won’t shrivel and die before they extend their little rootlets to the sunshine, closely followed by their little shootlets. I have a secret to share with you…you all have to be very careful to listen to what I am about to say in a whisper…turn your ears down to low as this is something pretty special for me…I…managed to germinate…a Moringa oleifera in said automatic sprouter! SHHHHH! I don’t want the fates to hear me! I want to have it keep growing in the glasshouse until it gets big enough to plant out on Serendipity Farm under heavy guard because EVERYTHING is going to want to eat this baby. I actually managed to get one to germinate and that is a magic feat indeed for me. I have been after one of these trees for so very long and if this little fellow who is growing incredibly quickly is able to keep growing and thriving I will actually have one of these amazingly useful trees. Next stop…neem!

At first glance this might appear to be a jar of Chestnut Cream. Chestnut cream is delicious and this jar did, indeed, contain chestnut cream in one of it’s past incarnations but it is currently containing home made sunflower seed butter that I made using a mortar and pestle the other day because I am the sad owner of a shit food processor that refuses to “process” anything other than meat. Oh the irony for a vegan to own something that is obviously carnivorous 😦

Here’s me taking secret deck shots (using the zoom) of Joe Cool doing the whipper snipping…

You can almost see the moment where this suddenly escalated into something that couldn’t be spoken about  in polite company can’t you? ;)… time to sneak back inside and put the camera somewhere safe 😉

I love being able to grow things myself. Things that we might otherwise never see on Serendipity Farm let alone in Tasmania. We have been growing Brachychitons and have lots of different kinds ready to be planted out, given away, swapped or sold should we ever manage to organise ourselves out of a paper bag and get it together enough to man a stall at the Exeter markets one day. I have visions of a row of incredible Queensland bottle trees (for that, indeed, is what Brachychitons are…) all the way down the fenceline between our house and Glad’s next door. It would most certainly be a talking point for future generations. I watched an old episode of The Cook and the Chef last night and Simon Bryant was talking to some permies in South Australia who were saying that once it gets too hot on the mainland for citrus that the logical and perfect replacement were pomegranate trees. I LOVE the positivity of permaculture…no sitting around whinging about how we won’t have citrus trees soon and isn’t it terrible…just straight away looking at the possibilities and adapting. That’s what I prize…adaptation and the ability to look on the bright side. That’s what is noble about the human race…that plus dying for your mate but hopefully I won’t have to do that any day soon! I have been thinking about what to do with an area up the back block that was “accidentally” cleared in our absence by the neighbours to the rear who wanted to take a swathe of trees right the way down to the front of the property out so that they could get a view (and more for their property that they are trying to sell…). The man that was caretaking our property at the time (before we moved here) started to ask questions when they wanted to start felling down into the second paddock and phoned us up…that was where I reiterated that I had told this neighbour at the back that he could take out a couple of trees along the fenceline that runs between our property and theirs NOT the whole damned property! Some people take liberties and I plan on planting out a memorial to the lost trees that consists of a row of Pinus radiata right along the boundary line (what’s that you say? They grow tall? Do they? 😉 ) And running down the steep slope I want to plant pistachios, pomegranates, figs and olives with perhaps a run of grape vines closer to the house and vegetable gardens. The area has been cleared anyway and may as well get used for food production. It’s perfect for these sorts of plants and now I just need to source them. The pomegranate isn’t too hard but the pistachio may be a bit more difficult.

Despite their best efforts the chooks haven’t yet managed to totally defoliate Serendipity Farm…this Deutzia scabra is loving it’s spot planted out into the garden and is rewarding us with some beautiful flowers…it has a twin in the middle garden that is doing just as well.

Another Serendipity chook appocolypse survivor. This member of the lily family has managed to hoodwink them but it’s less fortunate Asiatic lily cousins have fallen prey to their dustbathing and curious pecking and most probably to a few possum and wallaby attacks

I wonder why the chooks passed up this chance to make a quick horticultural conquest…it’s down the driveway in their stomping ground…wait a minute…its a Dracunculus vulgaris aka “Voodoo lily”, “Dragon arum”, or “Stink lily”… last year there were 3 of them…this year there are about 20. I just did a bit of a check and found out that they originate in the Balkans and Greece. No WONDER they do well here without supplemental watering!

And this is an open one…stinking to high heavens of rotting meat. It uses this subterfuge to encourage pollination which obviously works because we have 20 of them when last year we only had 3. Anyone HATE their neighbour and want one of these babies? Revenge is foetid 😉

The woo-woo part of this post is quite interesting actually. I have been veering off into finding some really good gardening and environmental blogs lately. All thanks and kudos to my dear constant reader Argyle socks of “Science on the Land” blogging fame…

http://argylesock.wordpress.com/

Who recently was nominated for a blogging award. Much like me she tends not to bother with things like that and much like me it’s because she probably couldn’t be bothered with going through all of the rigmarole that seems to go with these awards and speaking for myself I kind of feel a bit “chain lettery” whenever I see them although I have to admit to being chuffed when I have been nominated in the past and very appreciative of my fellow bloggers kudos :o). She did post an amazing list of blogs that she follows and mine was one of them…I headed off to peruse every single blog (obsessive compulsive? Moi?!) and found most of them a bit TOO scientific for my mind to comprehend. I did, however, find a couple of fantastic blogs that made me feel like I had won blog lotto and that got crammed into my rss feed reader post haste so as not to lose them. Aside from Argyle sock who I am GOING to have to ask her what her name is because I have to post “Argyle sock” on other people’s blogs 😉 whose blog is a fantastic read, you can check her list for yourself and see if there are any close fits for your scientific desires…

http://argylesock.wordpress.com/2012/11/24/blogs-that-i-recommend/

There is something for everyone folks…no matter how much you think that you don’t like science. The woo-woo bit came from where Ms Argyle (or is it Ms Sock?) had typed out a little bit about our blog after the link and she had typed “The Road to Serendipity Pen and Steve try to find order in all of this chaos.” (she has since changed it to “Fran” because that is actually my name) my mum called me “Penny” because that is what she wanted to call me…as much as I dislike “Frances” as a name it might be a good thing that my father’s insistence on calling me the family name (much like he had been called the family name before me…sigh…misery loves company! 😉 )  won out because I would be Penny Pimblett if my mum had her way and that is only a hop-step and a jump from pippy longstockings and Chrystal tips and Alistair! The woo-woo part comes from me watching a television program about near death experiences and knowing how much mum loved it here and how recently she had been to our home before she died I was thinking about whether it was possible for people to be able to communicate from wherever we go to when we die. I do believe that we go “somewhere” but as I haven’t been there yet I can’t say where “somewhere” is. I don’t ascribe to the theory that we just “stop” when we die… I am an optimist remember. I had been thinking about mum on and off for a week or so now…I woke up to an email asking me to moderate Argyle socks pingback to my blog and almost fell off my chair…which is a usual occurrence to be honest because at 5am before I have sipped my first brain awakening cup of tea assuming that I have a sense of balance is a most enthusiastic assumption. Using mum’s pet name for me in the pingback was incredibly pertinent to what I had been thinking about the night before and although I tend to be a reasonably sceptical person, my woo-woo valve was twitching. Ms Sock had obviously been to my “about” page and having seen Steve’s name in the blurb…just kept reading comments until she found mum’s comment calling me “Pen”…an easy mistake to make but how very VERY coincidental that she should post this post and make that mistake right after I had been pondering about after death experiences.

Does anyone else get the feeling that “someone” is SO far over Earl’s birthday that he is just about to meet himself coming back the other way? 😉

Someone doesn’t like having his photo taken…

It’s a magnificent day today in northern Tasmania. The sun is shining, in fact it’s glaring down. The sky is blue the water is magnificent and we took the dogs to their favourite place to walk (and ours to drag behind them…) just up the road from here in a place called Swan point. I got some lovely photos for today’s post and the boys had a ball. Bezial is now to be officially called “The great blowfish hunter” because he had his head under the water in a vain attempt to catch one of the small blowfish that zoom around in the shallow warm water. Earl was very confused because he couldn’t even SEE the blowfish and was watching Bezial in a most bemused way jumping in and out of the water and kept racing over to see what all the fuss was about…Earl doesn’t like to miss out on anything and he was feeling decidedly missed out. I have a driftwood Christmas wreath to construct and found an adult conifer with tiny little cones that it had littered all over the place on our walk and collected 2 bags full of them one for my wreathy creation and the other for a friend who wanted some for Christmas craft. I found an interesting picture in one of the recycle, reuse repurpose blogs that I follow that led me to another site with instructions for how to make cloth bowls using cloth remnants and rope. The thing that made me excited was that someone had taken this sterling idea and ran with it all the way to their pile of plastic bags and had turned the idea into a series of magnificent looking outdoor planters! WOOT! What a great idea! This little black duck will be using her bags for more than plarn and by using nylon rope that we find washed up onto the shoreline all of the time, I can make some really interesting outdoor planters that are as frugal as they are bright and cheery. Steve is whipper snipping the paddock next to the house because both of our close neighbours have suddenly become pyromaniacs who light small fires all over the place. Glad was having a fire the other night when I headed off to bed! Frank was trying to smoke us out this morning with lots of little raked heaps of Poa grass…he really does need to accept that he lives in the bush and that “neat and tidy” are merely a concept that needs to be exorcised if he ever wants to find happiness out here in the scrub.

A warm spring day down at Paper beach and Steve is feeling artistic

Its amazing how pretty a swampy bit of water can look if you accidentally ace the shot 😉

I have an interesting post for Saturday that started when I picked up a discarded plastic coke bottle on one of my solitary walks with Earl while Bezial was recovering from an attempt to join the ranks of the parkour elite. It got me thinking about what we throw out and I ran with the theme. Our new course next year has us working through a lot of conceptual ideas and one of the units is titled “50 pumpkins”. What we are required to do is sketch 50 different ways to look at a pumpkin and submit them to our lecturer. That means that Steve and I will be submitting 100 pumpkins! I had been thinking about the concept and realised that there are many ways to skin a cat and many ways to conceptualise a pumpkin and that led me to Saturdays post. It’s too nice a day to be sitting here wasting folks…I have garden beds to build…I have Purple King beans threatening to take over Steve’s shed if I don’t plant them out and I have 2 sulking dogs who are waiting for me to take them out to water the veggie gardens (in Earls case…literally!) so I must love you, and leave you. Parting is such sweet sorrow BUT if you come back on Saturday you can read all about the irony of a coke bottle…I think that was just a teaser for my next post?  Whatever it was…see you then!

I finally worked out how to get a good shot of Bezial…wave the bag of dehydrated steak treats above the camera!

What do you know…it works for Earl too! 😉

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