Where narf contemplates her naval in the dark and learns to live like Earl

Hi All,

I have been press ganged into assisting Stevie-boy in building the new perimeter fence for our house block. The old one just skimmed the house area and didn’t give our dogs much room to exercise and we promised ourselves that this year we would give them somewhere to run, to sniff, to pee and to lie on the cool earth when our long dry summer starts to heat up at the end of February. We finally managed to massage the funds out of the poor long suffering moth eaten sock under the bed. I am considering crowd funding to put it into therapy, and so we find ourselves with the materials, and the time, to facilitate change. (It’s now Wednesday and we facilitated a whole LOT of change and as promised, here is the video of the dogs being released into their larger compound…)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGo9fDV2v_g

 

Buckwheat porridge made with pureed pumpkin and steamed apple. It tastes like rockmelon. Pinterest is keeping me company ;)

Buckwheat porridge made with pureed pumpkin and steamed apple. It tastes like rockmelon. Pinterest is keeping me company 😉

I bought these orchids for $3 a pot at a stall outside the polling booth at the last elections. They were the best thing that happened that day ;)

I bought these orchids for $3 a pot at a stall outside the polling booth at the last elections. They were the best thing that happened that day 😉

Steve's bonsai maple and conifer. The maple was taken from under the big Japanese maple at the front steps back when we didn't live here. It was a tiny seedling and it is now a lovely bonsai. This is it's new seasons growth.

Steve’s bonsai maple and conifer. The maple was taken from under the big Japanese maple at the front steps back when we didn’t live here. It was a tiny seedling and it is now a lovely bonsai. This is it’s new seasons growth.

Another one of Steve's bonsai's just starting to bud up

Another one of Steve’s bonsai’s just starting to bud up

The main problem with us facilitating change is that in order to do it, we need to work together. As my dear constant readers are well aware, Stevie-boy and I are a study in opposite. I am not just taking doing things a bit differently, I am talking men are from Mars women are from Venus opposite. Some of the thought processes (if you could call random impulsive racing from one thing to another) that Stevie-boy calls “plans” make my head hurt. I just don’t get how he functions, let alone manages to get through to the end of the day and actually achieve anything. This brings me to my early morning musing on Friday. Last Friday at precisely 4.56am that actually took me away from my RSS Feed blogs to pen this before I forgot…

 

The new Ballerina Apple that our friend bought us for inside Sanctuary where the possums can no longer enter

The new Ballerina Apple that our friend bought us for inside Sanctuary where the possums can no longer enter

Here it is, still in it's bag along with raspberries and other things that our friend gave us ready to be planted out tomorrow, now that we have finally finished the fence.

Here it is, still in it’s bag along with raspberries and other things that our friend gave us ready to be planted out tomorrow, now that we have finally finished the fence.

Note how "fecund" Sanctuary is, the predominate species inside Sanctuary is Tropaeolum majus also known as nasturtiums

Note how “fecund” Sanctuary is, the predominate species inside Sanctuary is Tropaeolum majus also known as nasturtiums

Strawberry and yellow raspberry futures in pots waiting to be planted out

Strawberry and yellow raspberry futures in pots waiting to be planted out

 

Why do I need to have a start, middle and finish to everything that I do? I am not talking plans here, I am talking everything. I like to complete things. I don’t like strings being left untied, “i’s” and “t’s” not being dotted and crossed respectively and anything left undone. I like to finish a task and know that it is, to my best ability, finished. Yesterday was a point in case. I like to work methodically through a task until it is done. I like to make sure that I complete everything

 

Look how green and happy the little citrus that our friend gave us are, now that they are planted inside Sanctuary and out of the pots that they had been living in. No doubt the horse manure that went into the hole with them might have a little bit to do with their happy state

Look how green and happy the little citrus that our friend gave us are, now that they are planted inside Sanctuary and out of the pots that they had been living in. No doubt the horse manure that went into the hole with them might have a little bit to do with their happy state

These potatoes got an early start. I mustn't have managed to find them when I was digging out potatoes last year and these all grew.

These potatoes got an early start. I mustn’t have managed to find them when I was digging out potatoes last year and these all grew.

More spuds and happy, healthy looking yacon that are growing alongside them. This year they won't get out competed by pumpkins!

More spuds and happy, healthy looking yacon that are growing alongside them. This year they won’t get out competed by pumpkins!

You see I am well aware of which direction we are pointing. I know that if we keep having to come back and fix things up, or finish things off, that we are stalling our lives. I like to work through things because I like to start new things and know that the old things are finished and done. That way I can keep pointing forwards and don’t have to go backwards, sideways and upside down in order to live my life. I was thinking, as I shuffled Bezial back to bed for the umpteenth time, about how we live our lives planning, shuffling ourselves, our children, our time, our money from place to place to satisfy some part of something for most of our lives. We seem to make incredibly big jigsaw puzzles out of our lives in order to satisfy something that we just can’t quite put our finger on. I have a deep and unerring desire to simplify my life to the core. Call it the German in me, but I find the essence of processes incredibly delicious. Way down inside all of those processes is/was an idea, a simple idea that started that ball rolling. It may have been a desire to shore up the future, to prevent starvation, to make sure that your children lived past 4 but way back when all of these processes that we assume are vital to our survival, came into being, there was a terrifically valid reason for them. I doubt that most of us even know why we do a lot of what we do. If we stopped and asked ourselves why we ferry our kids to 14 different sporting, dancing, fencing, ape taming events we would see that it isn’t so much to do with our children as to do with keeping up with the Jones’s.

 

One of our two pear trees completely full of flowers. Looks like a good year for pomes

One of our two pear trees completely full of flowers. Looks like a good year for pomes

We left off last week with us having concreted in the poles ready for the fence to be started. Here you can see Steve installing the fence rails

We left off last week with us having concreted in the poles ready for the fence to be started. Here you can see Steve installing the fence rails

Another shot showing you more railing after Steve installed it

Another shot showing you more railing after Steve installed it

Over the other side of the enclosure that we were fencing, this is the view from the upper right hand fence boundary.

Over the other side of the enclosure that we were fencing, this is the view from the upper right hand fence boundary.

Why do we blindly follow processes without question? Why do we perform, by rote, much of what we do in our day as if our lives depend on it? If we step back and take a really good look at the processes the make up our lives, that we feel are taking over our lives, that rob us of time, money, “life” itself are they really important and valid or are they just habits that we and society in general have developed to keep the tracks of society well-greased and operating? I sat in the dark today. I won’t tell you where I was sitting when I contemplated this thought, I will leave it up to your imagination, but in keeping with paring down my life and my processes I thought way WAY back to the essence of “me”. Early morning narf is a whole lot more philosophical than mid-morning narf and don’t even talk to early evening narf. She doesn’t make much sense. Early morning narf, after that first cup of tea is a most interesting place to inhabit. I enjoy her ability to think and the still quiet time to do so (until I have to shepherd Bezial back to bed for the umpteenth time… sigh…). It all boils down to what you believe the universe “is” I guess. I read about people putting their thoughts, their wishes and their ideas out into the universe and allowing the universe to sort it all out for them. That’s a most comforting vision but being someone who is somewhat limited by science to a degree, I keep seeing rocks and meteors and stars where these people see possibilities. I can’t quite see how rocks and meteors and gasses can make my dreams come true. I need concrete things and so after a long LONG time pondering the long dark teatime of the soul I arrived at God. We all arrive back at God/a creator at some time in our lives even if we refuse to admit it. We all question ourselves and our beliefs and why the heck we are actually “here”. Why are “we” alive when so many other people aren’t? We could put it all down to coincidence, to a random pattern of thought or to simple science but I can’t help feeling like this is all too ordered, too organised, too united to be a result of chaos. Therefore I arrived back at the simple essence of God.

 

We had partially installed the fencing wire by this stage but not completely as is apparent by the chook being on the inside (and Earl not being attached to her rear end ;) )

We had partially installed the fencing wire by this stage but not completely as is apparent by the chook being on the inside (and Earl not being attached to her rear end 😉 )

The old palings are being re-used on the front part of the fence for economies sake and because they look good. Here you can see the new (neat) fence with the existing old fence in situ (keeping the dogs near the house while we built the bigger fence)

The old palings are being re-used on the front part of the fence for economies sake and because they look good. Here you can see the new (neat) fence with the existing old fence in situ (keeping the dogs near the house while we built the bigger fence)

I stood back a bit to take this shot so that you could see the new and old fence together

I stood back a bit to take this shot so that you could see the new and old fence together. Note we hadn’t finished the new fence in this photo

You can choose to believe in whatever you want to believe in. I choose a creator who gave us purpose, reason and who said “I will provide you with everything that you need…just ask me”. Now I may or may not have just lost half of my reading audience but I would like to think that most of you are as pragmatic as I am and are going to humour old narf7 by reading on. This ISN’T a bible bash folks. I haven’t read much of that most esteemed tome; I can’t make head or tail of most of it but the bits about “love each other” make a lot of sense to me and “share things with each other” as well. What makes sense to me is a clean pure reason for everything. A nice, tidy ends tucked in explanation for it all. We are born, we do stuff then we die. I am no expert in all of the peripherals. I have a sneaking suspicion that I don’t have to be. I think I am here to “live”. Maybe we are all one great big science experiment that has been going on for millennia. God’s ant farm. Who knows why we are here or to what purpose we are set but all I know is that we ARE here and that each day is another precious chance to wake up and smell the roses.

 

This is what happens when you procrastinate about moving your ladder away from a tree that you KNEW was about to lose a limb on a windy day...

This is what happens when you procrastinate about moving your ladder away from a tree that you KNEW was about to lose a limb on a windy day…

This lovely, easy to dig, yellow clay filled hole was bliss for Steve to dig today and is only possible because it is built into the house cut away section rather than in the topsoil. This hole was for the new gate and front fence paling section. The final part of the fence.

This lovely, easy to dig, yellow clay filled hole was bliss for Steve to dig today and is only possible because it is built into the house cut away section rather than in the topsoil. This hole was for the new gate and front fence paling section. The final part of the fence.

Steve communing with the recycled fence paling. Artists need to communicate with their muses. Steve is calling on his woody muses to allow him to "feel" the fence flowing from inside him...

Steve communing with the recycled fence paling. Artists need to communicate with their muses. Steve is calling on his woody muses to allow him to “feel” the fence flowing from inside him…

Sanding the cut edges of the new (recycled) paling fence. If you look closely, you can see a beady eye that was most interested in getting hold of that sander...

Sanding the cut edges of the new (recycled) paling fence. If you look closely, you can see a beady eye that was most interested in getting hold of that sander…

I decided that I am going to live life like Earl today. I don’t mean eat the couch, pee on everything and make Bezial’s life hell, I am going to try as hard as I can to stop thinking about other things, things that may or may not happen in the future, things that I could be doing and that I need to do etc. I am going to live for today and try to make the most of everything that happens today. I am going to allow my God to take care of the hard stuff. The things that I have been agonising over, the world that won’t be healed no matter how hard I wish it was, my day to day living needs when our finances are tenuous bordering on terrifying. How liberating! I don’t have to plan, to shuffle, to drive, to prepare…just look at what is in front of me at any given moment and do my best to do it well. I wonder if that isn’t the secret to happiness. Working through what has been set immediately in front of you to your best ability and tying up the ends, dotting the “i’s” and crossing all of the “t’s” and wrapping it all up in gold tissue paper with a nice big rainbow coloured bow and saying “DONE”. That way, when we get to whenever it is that our direction is constantly pointing in, and we have nothing left to give, we will know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we did all that life handed us and we made the absolute most of every opportunity that rocked up instead of missing those precious things that get washed over by all of those societal processes that would mow down much of what makes life special, meaningful and precious.

 

Almost finished, putting the final touches on and making sure that we put a heavy gauge lock on the gate so that Earl can't escape out into the (unsuspecting) wide blue yonder...

Almost finished, putting the final touches on and making sure that we put a heavy gauge lock on the gate so that Earl can’t escape out into the (unsuspecting) wide blue yonder…

Steve even managed to drive the car into the gate and back it back out again without knocking the fence down (I really hope he doesn't expect me to repeat that success ;) )

Steve even managed to drive the car into the gate and back it back out again without knocking the fence down (I really hope he doesn’t expect me to repeat that success 😉 )

Steve whipper snipping the enclosure and you can see the fence that we built today (and some of the rear fence in the background)

Steve whipper snipping the enclosure and you can see the fence that we built today (and some of the rear fence in the background)

Reasonably tidy and no longer fully enclosed area around the house with no dogs to be seen. They are too busy frolicking around in the garden :)

Reasonably tidy and no longer fully enclosed area around the house with no dogs to be seen. They are too busy frolicking around in the garden 🙂

A much reduced potted plant section (soon to be moved to an empty area in Sanctuary where they can remain till we find space for them in the garden) and a very happy man who has officially finished fencing for 2014 :)

A much reduced potted plant section (soon to be moved to an empty area in Sanctuary where they can remain till we find space for them in the garden) and a very happy man who has officially finished fencing for 2014 🙂

5.21 And the sermon for today is over. If you would like to pass the collection hat please do so. Take what you put into the collection hat and go buy yourself a good cup of beverage of your choice, look up at the sky, look at the native vegetation wherever you are, listen to the birds singing and just thank whatever it is that you believe in for this precious and most amazing life 🙂

 

Life is a mystery and so is this. Steve recently took this shot for his photography site. They were having a "guess what this is?" competition and no-one guessed what Steve's photo was. Can you?

Life is a mystery and so is this. Steve recently took this shot for his photography site. They were having a “guess what this is?” competition and no-one guessed what Steve’s photo was. Can you?

 

 

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512, an extinct bird and an epiphany of sorts and the world of plants in fish terms as described by narf

Hi All,

Firstly, guess who has been blogging for 3 years today! WordPress just congratulated and thanked me…what for?! Cheers to everyone who comes along for the ride every week. I luv’s ya ALL 🙂

512, folks, is apparently to the internet what 42 is to the meaning of life. 512, is the magic number when it comes to P.C.’s at the moment but not in a good way. Apparently we are all hogging bandwidth to the nth degree. We are having a veritable smorgasbord of internet and each and every one of us all adds up to this magic number being breeched. One could ask why the boffins at the beginning of the internet didn’t think to use the number 512 billion, but I am sure they are currently kicking themselves for their lack of an intelligent narf7 back in the day. Not a lot can be done about the 512 problem aside from reset all of the large super servers and hope that we internet addicts don’t kick up too much of a stink in the meantime because the unthinkable is starting to happen… the internet is getting clogged up. Clogged up and shock HORROR…we can’t log on!

 

Extreme apologies to the person who owns this image, I am just using it to show what our small chook looks like. I think she must be a bantam throwback

Extreme apologies to the person who owns this image, I am just using it to show what our small chook looks like. I think she must be a bantam throwback

 

Now I was able to log on this morning at 3am and was able to do everything internetty and emaily etc. right up till 5.30 this morning when it all went kaput. I couldn’t comment on Ms Pauline’s latest blog post or Ms Snail of Happiness’s. I couldn’t reload pages and I was forced into the realisation that perhaps the internet might be having a little nap. That little nap has lasted 5 hours now and after phoning the girls, who are with the same service provider that we are, was told…

  1. We night owls aren’t all that happy about being woken up by you blackbirds!
  2. Err…nope…we haven’t got internet either

So it IS true what they say…misery DOES love company, if only to know that it is Dodo’s fault not ours. Stevie boy isn’t happy about the prospect of having to phone them up again as we get shunted to an offshore call centre where aside from having a terrible time understanding what is being asked of him, he tends to lose his temper with the ridiculous series of directions that he has to jump through in order to talk to someone in the know. Today he is just going to pretend to unplug the phone from the wall, run the internet cable into the phone hub etc. Why bother actually doing it when the only reason it is being asked for is that the person on the other end has a cheat sheet in front of them that says “ask this…then this…then that…” sigh… after pretending to satisfy what the operator has asked of him he may or may not get put through to someone in the know and after finding out that the girls internet is also out, methinks it might be a little more than just Sidmouth based.

Although this is still a pilfered image, it is much closer to what our girl looks like. She is much smaller than the rest of her brothers and sisters.

Although this is still a pilfered image, it is much closer to what our girl looks like. She is much smaller than the rest of her brothers and sisters.

Look what I found! A tiny little bit of already completed blog post! Oh joy of joys I don’t have to come up with the first couple of paragraphs, usually the hardest when my brain is spent and my energy is low. Today is blog post day but it is also 5.12am and nice and quiet, very dark (hello dark side of the moon) and I am merrily pilfering permaculture information while I type…I love multi-tasking ;).  I feel like I have been studying forever by the way. There is a little light at the end of the tunnel as our erstwhile lecturer has just informed we slaving minions that she is off overseas for three weeks to sun herself in the Pyrenees or wherever she is going in Europe (maybe she is off to ski in the Pyrenees…whatever she is doing she is AWOL!) and that we need to get a wriggle on with everything that is due in as goodness ONLY knows…she wouldn’t want to be thinking about a backlog of marking when she got back. Sigh…

This is what we have been up to in our studies. This image was taken to illustrate using the lasso tool in a tutorial we had to create

This is what we have been up to in our studies. This image was taken to illustrate using the lasso tool in a tutorial we had to create

The plus side (for there must always be a plus side to every difficult task) is that we are rapidly developing a new set of skills that are both challenging and rewarding. The more we slave, the more we know, the easier it gets and so while we aren’t donning snow boots and ski’s and sliding down endless slopes we are gaining valuable skills. Not entirely sure what we can use them for but if anyone wants a nice poster created let us know 😉

And this one was used to create a clipped image... we are learning a lot lately

And this one was used to create a clipped image… we are learning a lot lately

Here's the original for that clipped image, not a bad job really ;)

Here’s the original for that clipped image, not a bad job really 😉

Being nailed to your computer chair and only allowed out in order to walk the dog makes for a very dull week. I even got Steve to take the compost bin up to Sanctuary yesterday so that I didn’t have to look at the accusatory wafting’s of the nasturtiums gone feral, the comb over on the cut of sheoak that is now a fully-fledged set of waist length dreddies and the kale that no doubt the possums have been forced to eat due to having scoffed everything else in sight. We bought some lengths of metal clothes line encased in plastic in order to fix the top of Sanctuary to stop the little furry menaces from entering at will but thanks to our terrifying study schedule, we just haven’t had the time to do it and the one day that we did have time, it rained the whole day but whatchagonnado folks eh?

Here we have "converging lines" and this is going to be used for another task we have to do... lots of photos we have to take, lots of tutorials, lots of work...

Here we have “converging lines” and this is going to be used for another task we have to do… lots of photos we have to take, lots of tutorials, lots of work…

It is almost father’s day here in Australia. Yes…we do it differently to you guys in the U.S. as apparently our dads like to get gifts that make mowing the lawn easier or washing the car less of a chore in the early spring. Stevie-boy has been lusting after some man tools of late but our finances don’t quite run to these objects of desire…however narf to the rescue! I just got some online survey rewards, in the form of Bunnings gift vouchers, that cover the cost of the tasty tools and so the dogs are going to give Stevie-boy the tools for Father’s day. I can almost hear the manly “Squee’s!” from the future 😉

Sad dogs making the most of their terrible life by huddling in a sunbeam pitifully...

Sad dogs making the most of their terrible life by huddling in a sunbeam pitifully…

Well it is spring. It might still be August 27th in our neck of the woods but spring sprung back at the beginning of August and we have had very little rain, lots of sun and our temperatures are starting to warm up from single digits to angsty teens. Unlike other grumpy old people, I don’t mind the middle teens…I am not all that happy with the forty something’s to be honest. Those forty something’s have knobs on! Come to think of it. The thirty something’s are pretty terrible as well. Maybe I have a youth fixation when it comes to summer temperatures and like to stick to the teenagers and the twenty something’s…I hang with the hip and happening folks…the narf is most at home when blending into the lower denominators. In saying that, our growing season is now officially upon us. My wonderful friend Bev from the eminently learned blog FoodnStuff where you can learn all about producing food in our stressed Aussie conditions caught me lusting after her cuke-a-melons in a recent post and sent me a packet all of my very own! Not only have you made narf7 happy Ms Bev, but you have NO idea how happy you have made my eldest daughter Madeline who is besotted with all things cucumber and who is probably going to walk the 50km to my garden to eat my entire crop, she is that dedicated to the cause.

Cukamelons! And they are here on Serendipity Farm :). They might just be too cute to eat Bev ;)

Cukamelons! And they are here on Serendipity Farm :). They might just be too cute to eat Bev 😉

The blurb tells me that they are drought tolerant, that they taste like a cucumber crossed with some citrus and that they grow as big as grapes and are prolific fruiters...my kind of veggie! Thank you SO much Bev for your generosity :)

The blurb tells me that they are drought tolerant, that they taste like a cucumber crossed with some citrus and that they grow as big as grapes and are prolific fruiters…my kind of veggie! Thank you SO much Bev for your generosity 🙂

Now I need to get down to brass tacks. I have some delightful and most wonderful blogging mates who are steering me on the road to oversupply. My problem is that the garden pretty much does most of the work itself. You plant the things, they grow, they do what nature intended but it’s all of the peripherals that I need to get my head around. What seed to plant when? How long do they take to grow/fruit? When do I need to be planting the seed in order to get the maximum benefits of our short growing season? I am alarmed at reading posts about people chitting and planting and seedlings up and out of pots and time ticking…ticking…TICKING and Sanctuary stagnant in a pool of nasturtiums and acidic soil and me with NO idea how to remedy most of what I perceive as “threats” to our growing season (forgive me…I am in S.W.O.T. mode…you can’t drive all of those studies out of your mind en-masse…some of them hang about to interject at inopportune moments…). I have had most wonderfully kind people tell me to email them with my plan…my “Plan”…so that they can help me with it. For me to email my “Plan” I need to HAVE a “Plan”…eek! See I have a confession to make. Trees and shrubs do things themselves. I am a tree and shrub person and after digging a “root growth zone” (James, my long suffering cert 3 horticulture lecturer would be beaming now if he heard me call a “hole” a “root growth zone” like it rolled naturally off my tongue 😉 ) and amending the soil interface (beaming…positively GLOWING! 😉 ) so that the tree/shrub has the best chance of integrating itself with its new surroundings, it’s a matter of a bit of water at the right time, a bit of fertiliser (if it is needed) at the right time and away she goes…job done…hands dusted and off to cook the dinner.

Steve spent most of the other day standing on the deck with his binoculars and a camera trying to get a shot of "the remote control warship" that someone was sailing around Redwood island...on closer inspection it was just someone in a canoe... time for glasses Stevie-boy ;)

Steve spent most of the other day standing on the deck with his binoculars and a camera trying to get a shot of “the remote control warship” that someone was sailing around Redwood island…on closer inspection it was just someone in a canoe… time for glasses Stevie-boy 😉

Maybe it was too dark to see the canoe properly? ;) We called this image a rain-beam as it was right smack bang in the middle of a day full of rain.

Maybe it was too dark to see the canoe properly? 😉 We called this image a rain-beam as it was right smack bang in the middle of a day full of rain.

Veggie gardening (on the whole), annual and perennial gardening appears to be a different kettle of fish. You know how some fish are big and laconic and just lie like slugs at the bottom of the creek and occasionally swish so that you know that they are still alive? Well they are the “Tree” fish… they don’t need much. They wait for their food to come to them via the water and their huge gaping mouths. There are other smaller fish that move around a bit…hover in the shadows of tree branches and overhanging edges and wait for smaller fish to dart by so that they can inhale them…they are the “Shrub” fish. Sometimes they need other “fish” to grow with them so that they are happy but on the whole, they are pretty self-sufficient and just do their own thing. Then you hit the fish that need a few mates in order to feel comfortable. They may or may not have complex patterns of relationships whereby they feel a strong need to travel a gazillion miles upstream in order to produce seed or tubers that are vital to their ongoing survival and quite a few things can go wrong in those processes that could result in these fish not getting the results they need. They are still pretty self-sufficient but they have various stages of development that might need a bit of close attention and actual intervention in order to keep them going. These are the “Perennial” fish folks…they keep on keeping on but they sometimes need a bit of work, the odd clump broken up, a bit of a cut back when they die back down (hibernate kiddies, don’t panic, “STOP CRYING!”  They aren’t dying just having a big long sleep for the winter…) and while it isn’t a lot of attention, it’s a whole lot more than the “Tree” fishes and the “Shrub” fishes need

Stevie-boy made this feast while I was AWOL at my daughters. He used Guinness to make his beer batter and it turned out really well. Looks like that beer batter translates internationally ;)

Stevie-boy made this feast while I was AWOL at my daughters. He used Guinness to make his beer batter and it turned out really well. Looks like that beer batter translates internationally 😉

I would like to point out here that while I am not aware of any young person’s reading this blog at the moment you just never know what the future may bring so I feel it necessary to occasionally address them personally in order to keep my audience fully satisfied. You are just going to have to deal with it my dear constant readers with the narf switching between the vernacular for my regular audience and the odd hip and happening smattering of kidenese that may just slip out…yeah baby, I am dead hip and happening…positively GROOVY baby! 😉

Isn't this a clever idea for a chair? It would be really easy to make and it is even solid enough to resist the avid attentions of one Mr E. Dog...love the room as well :)

Isn’t this a clever idea for a chair? It would be really easy to make and it is even solid enough to resist the avid attentions of one Mr E. Dog…love the room as well 🙂

Now we get to the fishies that make me twitch. I am already twitching. I have a facial tic going as I type this stressful line…we get to the “Annual” fishies. The little buggers that flock in huge swarms in order to survive…the ones that get picked off by all of the bigger fishies (or in our case, all of the swarming waiting native animals that would call them sustenance) and that panic and bolt and that are entirely unpredictable, needy, over-reactive and just plain pains in the derriere. You need to hold their hands to nurse them through and to make sure that all of their needs are met or BAM…dead. Yup…dead kiddies. Deceased. Sorry about the abrupt lesson in vegetable gardening doom but I am with you on being bewildered and befuddled. I am a kid when it comes to understanding the rites and passages of annual vegetable life and I can only stand on the bank of confusion watching the little buggers dart about in other people’s gardens. Some people (who shall remain anonymous because I am DEAD JEALOUS of them and I would have to type their names in green) have these little fishes all corralled. They have made little fishy farms and have herded them in with great aplomb. Their fishy farms have special gates and they feed their fishies all kinds of weird and wonderful things. They talk about “growing conditions” and “putting things in the soil/water” and making up strange unguents to feed the fishies and how they apply strange and wondrous spells that involve moon cycles and moon plantings and seaweed (see…it all ties in to fishies!) and permaculture massaging and all KINDS of strange and wonderful things that are entirely foreign to me. I watch from the bank getting more and more bewildered and spring is rising inside me and making me wild eyed and crazy…”I have to do something NOW!” but what the bloody hell am I supposed to be doing?!

Oh the SHAME! We were overtaken going up a hill by "this" today... :(

Oh the SHAME! We were overtaken going up a hill by “this” today… 😦

Back under the bed…under the bed is safe (aside from Earl who is prone to licking you when you can’t move your arms…) to those people whose names shall remain anonymous and most decidedly green by both association and application I love you dearly. I admire you SO much I might start fan pages for you all but I just…don’t…get…it 😦 Could some of you write a book? A lovely thing that I could hold in my hand and carry up to Sanctuary and pretend that I am Dr Livingstone (and Stevie-boy is my willing helper chimp) and that I CAN conquer the strange and wonderfully terrifying new continent that is “Vegetable Gardening”…please?…Pretty please?

Steve found this to lure me off the computer... apparently there is a big wide world outside?! Whodathunkeh? ;)

Steve found this to lure me off the computer… apparently there is a big wide world outside?! Whodathunkeh? 😉

Well…looks like I am on my own for now folks. A terrifying proposition as those little fishies are swarming and seething and started earlier than usual this year and if I don’t coral a few of them they are going to disappear and my chance to harvest fishies this year will be all done and dusted. Might be time to take a few photos of Sanctuary, swallow my sad middle aged horticultural pride and send my “plans” (pathetic, sad and such as they are) off to one of my Greenest of the green online mates to give me a bit of a run-down of what I should be doing and when…oh how the mighty have fallen! Wish me luck folks…between the studies, the guilt and the lack of food (I am back on the healthy food wagon) I am a pathetic husk of a woman, but a most determined one. See you all next week when all being good, Stevie-boy, my helper chimp and narf the intrepid will have at least conquered the inner sanctum of Sanctuary and stopped the possum invading hordes from being able to invade and moral will have been restored considerably 😉

 

 

Study sucked all of my time

Hi All

 

Well another Wednesday just appeared out of the ethereal fog of study and I just realised that I haven’t chiselled a blog post out of the possibilities between my ears. It’s 5.22am and I am on the mental prowl for some choice narf7 tid-bits for you all to marvel at and wonder what you did prior to learning but you know what? My head is full of bampf! Last week it was OH&S where we were able to use a bit of what we did last year (but not much) to satisfy the requirements but this week it is hard slog and nose to the grindstone and all of those painful things that require you to spend hours online trying to remember how to type in a useful query that will garner you the best results. As of this moment in time I SUCK at useful queries even though we learned about them only a few weeks ago

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We had to go hunting for an image stored on a hard drive the other day and we found a few images of Bezial back when he was numero uno dog all on his own. This is Bezial in town when he was a year old

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Bezial in his favourite position on the back of the sofa in a sunbeam 🙂

I have been wandering lonely as a cloud in the early mornings that have just been padded out by an hour thanks to daylight savings going back to the hole that it crawls out of in October every year and my brain being crammed full of study thoughts…a walk with Earl is a dangerous thing when you are fully conscious of where you are stepping and what you are being dragged into but when you are preoccupied and thinking about other things you don’t notice the rabbit warrens or the rocks or the fact that you have suddenly veered off the beaten track and are being dragged backwards through woodlands of sheoak’s that really REALLY want to eat your hair. Earl is very good at sniffing out those kinds of woods

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Bezial casting his vote on just how delicious Madeline’s amazing white chocolate vegan mud cake (for her sisters birthday) was… I think he gave it 9 out of 10. It would have been 10 out of 10 if it was about 10cm closer to the edge of the counter…

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My experiment in kefir and buckwheat, a wonderful study in how to make prize hooch without doing much at all. The layer on top of this amalgamated mass is pure alcohol. Not entirely sure what I am going to do with this but for now, it’s a fun experiment. Might toss it out for the possums to fight over…now THAT would be fun! 😉

 

Instead of dealing on a daily basis with my RSS Feed Reader (that now contains 123 unread posts …”EEK”!) I am spending my early mornings wading through research so that Steve and I can formulate what I have found into some semblance of notes in order to answer the questions we have been asked. Most of our classmates are lamenting this part of the course but they don’t realise that we have the lament x 2 and then boosted on steroids because we have to come up with twice the examples that they do and twice the research because there are two of us. Thems the breaks I guess but sometimes it feels like I have cotton wool between my ears and I spend my days in a kind of fuggish haze. Today we have an online class where we have to share what we have found out about the questions that we have to answer. Forgive me for being a little cynical but if I have just spent the best part of 24 hours of my life slaving away researching and compiling I am somewhat loath to share all of my information. I am not being mingy or mean, I am just wondering why we have to share this information prior to it being submitted whereby other class members who may have been watching dvd’s, listening to music with their feet up, playing video games etc. for the first part of the week can sit around their PC with a pen and paper and take notes on everyone else’s hard slog and then hand those answers in… there is collaboration and there is blatant lazily riding home on someone else’s coat tails. I will leave you to make up your own minds about that

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The app that Steve downloaded for his Nokia the other day (Pic Sketch Free) can do some pretty impressive things

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Taken this morning when I was attempting to wake Steve up…Earl was NOT amused by the flash

Enough about the studies! My life seems to be taken over by them and I have planted out babies that are actually starting to sprout! Tiny little brassicas that are waving at the sunlight and making me happy. I have most cleverly labelled most of them but I have a tray of “Misc. and boobity boo” that are all mixed in together. I like a mixed bag. There is something good about getting what you are given and something tells me that because I didn’t carefully label each row and I have NO idea what is going to come up in this tray that this tray is going to grow the best 😉

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Can anyone explain to me how these “cactus thing-a-ma-hoozits” are surviving on nothing but air? We dug them up when we were building the veggie enclosure last year!

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The ubiquitous “Pie, mash and liquor”

I have also been attempting to reduce the amount of tinny packetty things that Steve likes to call “food”. Being from the U.K. he is predisposed to eating things out of tins and packets. Fresh fruit and veggies are much more expensive over there and when we visited in 2006 we practically lived on cheap frozen foods from large frozen food chains where you can buy a 10kg bag of chips (French fries) for 2 pounds. Well you could back then! We ate frozen burgers and pies and cakes and roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings and when we were out and about sightseeing we ate pub lunches where you had “buy 1 meal, get 1 free”. There were 5 of us so we paid for 3 meals, not bad but it left my daughters with a complete disdain for “chips” of any kind. I, on the other hand could eat chips for every single meal and NEVER grow tired of that but then I am a freak of nature ;).

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Can you guess there are at least 2 of us that are VERY keen to get out of the front gate?

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It has been a grey old drizzly day today but I won’t be complaining about the weather for at least a couple of months yet…

Steve is from Northern England and as such he has his regional preferences when it comes to food. They eat a meal called “Pie, mash and liquor” which he likes to make healthier by adding frozen peas into the mix (SO proud of you babe 😉 ). It comprises a couple of pies from a packet, some mashed potatoes (would have been “Smash” a proprietary brand of dehydrated potato flakes in the U.K.) and a packet of purest green masquerading as “parsley sauce”. Much like having a good old U.K. fry up occasionally, he is prone to wanting this sort of thing on enough of a regular basis for me to want to tinker with it a bit and render it “safe”. I can’t completely change everything at once. That would be MADNESS! So I have sneaked in good mashed potato first. He didn’t mind that. He likes that. Next thing was the pies. I can make a good homemade meat pie but at the moment I doubt that I am going to liberate Steve from his shop bought pies any day soon so it’s back to the drawing board and that leaves us with the “liquor” quotient. When I mentioned to Steve that I was going to have a go at making “liquor” for his meal I got those eyes…you know “those eyes”. The eyes that tell you “O…K… you are going to expect me to actually eat this?” Those eyes…

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We took a slightly (higher) route for our walk this morning going up a steep hill which eventuated in this magnificent view.

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This was taken on Steve’s phone at the same time as my image on my little old Fuji.

So I cooked and mashed the spuds, Steve cooked the pies on the bbq (a maestro on the bbq with a shop bought pie…) and I set about making a good roux which I then turned into a delicious white sauce and added lots of fresh chopped parsley from the garden. I checked online and compiled a list of flavour requirements for “liquor” and ended up using a recipe from BBC Food, a more sterling U.K. food endorsement you couldn’t get unless it was from Delia Smith herself! They suggested adding a little white wine vinegar to the sauce to get that peculiar “liquor” quotient so I added a touch and after serving it up to Mr suspicious and having him prod it a bit and then give it a tiny taste he pronounced it “delicious!” Good-O it looks like another packet can be relegated into the “do not buy” basket 🙂 1 for narf7 and nil to the ubiquitous “liquor” middle man!

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Taken on the way home. This image shows an approximation of where our property is. That big oak tree behind that interesting (and still working) light house is just on the other side of our fence. You can see how close the river is to our driveway

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Another shot of Glad’s front “garden” and that overgrown mass of trees is our place 🙂

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Glad’s place was the old church manse (ministers home) and is MUCH neater and tidier than our place even though Glad is 92 this year and we are not 😦

I recently bought some wool in order to make a pair of slipper boots. A wonderful fellow blogger who goes under the delightful moniker of “The Snail of Happiness” made me a very happy narf7 camper by sharing this free pattern. Head on over and grovel a bit and she might share it with you too. Her site is well worth visiting and she is a dead set U.K. legend when it comes to promoting hand crafts, permaculture and living sustainably. I am now following The Snail of Happiness. Thank goodness snails are slow buggers because her blog starts with a “T” and as Pauline will tell you, it can take me a while to get to “T” in my RSS Feed Read especially when I am otherwise occupied ;). Anyhoo, I have the wool. I have 3 new nice shiny pastel coloured crochet hooks in big…Bigger…and BIGGEST! Goodness only knows what I am going to crochet with the biggest one but the packet of 3 was cheaper than buying a single hook so far be it from me to snaffle a bargain when I saw one, 3 I bought. I haven’t had time to put hook to magic circle yet (let alone learn how to make a magic circle in the first place) and there are a few abbreviations I am going to have to Google as my crochet tends to be of the simple and long lasting (unless Earl finds it first) kind whereby I sit…I pick up my wool and hook and I watch television and crochet. Repeat this exponentially and that’s what crochet is to me. I rarely finish anything, it is a lovely repetitive action that soothes my inner savage beast (I have a narf7 “Earl” living inside me 😉 ) and allows me to just mindlessly create something whilst preventing me becoming a statistic on a government health list

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I bought this little pot of chocolate mint for $2 from Di’s little plant stall at the top of the hill because I finally have somewhere to plant it that the wallabies can’t scarf it in! Also because I deserved SOMETHING for walking up that hill!

Autumn has brought blessed relief from the heat but in saying that, it has also brought dogs to bed. Dogs that were content to lounge around on the cool wooden floor are now feeling that early morning coolness and are migrating to those nice warm lumps of meat in their feather and down doona that you can snuggle up to and freeload from their radiant heat. I don’t mind sharing the bed aside for 2 component’s of the bed sharing arrangement (when I say “arrangement” I mean all one way!)

  1. Earl jumping on and off and on and off and on and off the bed all night in order to check various noises, to patrol his territory (there be cats!) and to urinate on a regular basis on the stoic aquilegia that is still growing at the back door despite getting “watered” at least 10 times a day by Earl. I am now a heavy sleeper so the getting off the bed doesn’t bother me, the problem comes when Earl gets back ON the bed and has to jump on my stomach every single time! I might be a heavy sleeper but I challenge even the heaviest sleeper to not wake up when a 33kg American Staffordshire terrier has performed a jump worthy of the Olympic trampoline team fair and square in the middle of your solar plexus
  2. Earl radiates his own heat. He is like a little hot water bottle and when you are snug as a bug in a rug in your feathery down doona you have enough heat. Once Earl starts cuddling up you start to think that you are radiating more heat than a coal fire furnace and you need to remove the doona from your person…problem is, once you do that you get cold again so for the rest of the night, while your canine “friend” is snuggled up to you, you are intermittently getting hot, hurling the doona off your person and then, getting cold and pulling it back on you again…all…night…long!

Bezial doesn’t snuggle up to you, Bezial doesn’t radiate heat, and Bezial isn’t the dog that insists on sleeping on our bed, sigh…

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I think “someone” stole a squash!

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And ran away with it…dropping it on his way around the corner…

Well looky here! I managed to make it to just on 2000 words through sheer complaining! There has to be an award out there someplace for bloggers who are able to complain their way through an entire blog post?! Steve is still fast asleep, so are the dogs, so are the birds for that matter. There might be some possums outside with stomach aches from attempting to eat the diabetes inducing date and chocolate blondies that I made the other day that the bbq decided to turn into rocks and despite Steve’s best (kindest) efforts to consume remained stoically tough and inedible to the end and that I may or may not have tossed over the balcony in a fit of pique (there was 250g of butter in those blondies!) to the chooks below who couldn’t even manage to peck their way into them. Pretty soon my day is going to begin. I haven’t read a single post in my RSS Feed Reader but I did finish off the last of my own learning tasks which frees Steve up to do his while I am off walking Earl this morning. He can then upload all of our work to the various places that we have to upload it to (another bugbear…why do we have to upload all of our work to 3 different places?!) where I employ the sanity instilling mode of “ours not to reason why, outs but to do or die!” when it comes to comprehending why we are required to do anything that I don’t comprehend as logical or essential.

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“You want the squash? Come and get it!”

After that we have to sit down and compile a watered down list of answers to the questions that we have been asked. A sort of chef’s shared version where you just KNOW they left out the most important ingredient of their prized recipe…that sort of share 😉 we then have to take part in the online discussion which will involve Steve and I hopping the computer chair and making each other cups of tea (me) and coffee (Steve) and attempting to look like we are vaguely interested (which neither of us are). We then get the afternoon to work on our assessment tasks for this unit and we should be able to knock them out by late afternoon and then we can start on our negative space/white space unit to hand in for Monday. I don’t know how people who work are able to accomplish the amount of work needed for these courses but most of the people in the course with us work full time. SO glad we are penniless student hippies and can give this course everything that we have got…just not entirely sure I WANT to give it everything I have 😉

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“Oops! When I said “come and get it” I didn’t mean NOW! better pick it back up again and run for my life!”

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“My squash slid off the deck at about 60kph and landed on the ground…I almost “squashed” the chooks!” sigh…Earl and his thieving ways! 😉

Have a great week folks. I made it to just on 2500 words. Aren’t you glad? I might just give you one of those Wordles of today’s post that I shared a while back. I think they are pretty and it’s one less photo that I have to attempt to take on my walk with Earl the terrible this morning 😉

Wordle 4

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes…

Hi All

Or as Mr Bowie may well have sung if it was at ALL easy to rhyme…”ex-ex-ex-ex-experiments”… which comes off sounding somewhat like “Com-pu-pu-pu-(add 10 more pu’s here…by the way I know  that there are 10 more “pu’s” because I counted them 😉 )-computer game” by the NZ band with the dubious name of “Mi-sex”. I say dubious because from what I have managed to glean from dealings with some of my New Zealand blogging confraternity, they are pretty cluey when it comes to spelling so my guess is that the members of the band Mi-Sex are just Aussies that swam the wrong way across the channel as everyone knows that Australian males could care less about spelling. Consider it a fair swap for Crowded House (and by the way, cheers for the pavlova and the lamingtons, they were delicious! 😉 ) . If you would like to count the amount of “pu’s” yourself or you are interested in seeing how computers used to look last century (before anyone was allowed to touch one or own one themselves) or if you are at all, even vaguely, interested in 1979 New Zealand rock feel free to watch the song here…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-m8IOD-wk9g

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This tree has been a dead tree standing for a while now. It was quite close to our house so a friend came over and gave Steve a hand to chop it down on the weekend. It’s completely dead and most deliciously fire ready. Perfect for this coming season of feet up around Brunhilda and tussling for the chairs either side of her before the dogs become permanently welded to them for the next 6 months

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Doesn’t look all that impressive but it’s over a cubic metre of uber dry firewood that we didn’t have to lug from the back block or pay for so “WOOT!” 🙂

I have been having a few “LEARN YOUR LIFE LESSONS NARF” moments here of late. I would like to share some of them with you for the sake of posterity…

  1. When you reduce your feral cat population significantly and are feeling self-righteous about what excellent neighbours and hail-fellow-well-met sterling examples of society you are, you may notice that suddenly your pumpkins are all scoffed by bush rats and the quolls move in and start snarfing your chooks…just sayin’
  2. When you set out to create a lush green oasis in the middle of a parched and arid landscape, every insect from this side of the Pecos is going to invade Poland
  3. When you focus on “lush and green” rather than any sort of thought process that might arrive at an increase in garden produce you get lush and green and not a whole lot to eat
  4. When you fall prey to the ideals of Permaculture and imagine your garden full of delightful helpful chickens who scratch delicately and eat all your pests you probably deserve to end up with no eggs and sixty quintillion baby chicks turning you every slowly more insane with their incessant cheeps
  5. If something tastes good, and you eat a lot of it, it makes you fat. If something doesn’t taste good and you eat a lot of it, it makes you fat
  6. When you give strawberries not enough water they refuse to fruit. When you give strawberries too much water you end up with mushy tasteless fruit…

I hope they can be of some assistance to those of you contemplating the delights of living in the arid wasteland formerly known as “Northern Tasmania” now, most accurately, an extension campus of the Gobi desert

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Here’s some firewood that we prepared earlier. You can tell that we prepared it earlier because a) it is stacked, b) it is dry and c) nature appears to be attempting to take it back…most notably that bollocking blackberry!

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Another one that nature prepared earlier. As you can see, this tree fell over our fence from Glad’s property next door. We cut up the wood that was blocking the driveway but the rest is going to be dealt with soon…not sure when soon actually is. Not even sure if it can be quantified. “Soon” on Serendipity Farm is like “Manana” to a Spaniard 😉

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Here’s another stack of logs that we cut from the tree that fell over Glad’s fence. You can see the pile of debris next to it and I have plans for any debris that we generate from now on. Soon I am going to start a concerted hedge building effort involving striking as many hawthorn cuttings as I can and interplanting them on hugels formed of hacked up debris along the boundary fences on Serendipity Farm. Our neighbours are going to LOVE us but you know what? Bollocks to them. This is for nature, for Permaculture and to redress the loss of topsoil washed down our steep slopes in winter

Today’s post was brought to you by the letter “H”. In particular, the word “Honesty” I read Pauline’s revealing and excellent post about her life and how facing up to the problems and behaviours that were blocking her from her full potential and taking a first step on the road to recovery initially physically, but closely followed by mentally and I dare say spiritually as well led her to become the vibrant, vital and most awesome person that she is today. When you are healthy you see things differently. Life has extra colours, there is hope around every corner and you can’t help but get out of bed feeling like today is going to have some interesting possibilities come what may and you are perfectly able to deal with them. In the spirit of this post I got to thinking about my own journey and the blockages that prevent me from living my life more fully and one of my worst habits kept making itself obvious again and again and again…

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Not a blockage per-se but this little fellow loves to live in our drainpipes and comes out to bumble around on the lawn where he hunts for insects

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One good habit that I cultivated was eating breakfast. Here you see narf7’s breakfast. A large mug of tea (2 teabags) and a bowl of buckwheat porridge with chopped apple, date paste and sesame milk.

I have been having more than my fair share of moments lately where I am lucid AND aware and my synapses are all firing in a similar direction and thought has been the order of the day. I have decided to challenge my longstanding habits on a daily basis. Why would I do something as inherently foolish as that? Because I realised that if we stick with what is safe and what we know we never learn anything and we never move forward. I have been reading a lot of blog posts lately where people have soldiered on against the odds and have come out the other side older, wiser and with a greater understanding and appreciation for their lot than they went into this exchange with. I want to ensure that I am not clinging tenaciously to old habits that might just be inhibiting me in my day to day life. Here’s a few of them that might be on the chopping block in the immediate future

  1. I always want things done my way.
  2. I get stressed when things aren’t done my way
  3. I sulk when things aren’t done my way
  4. I protest vehemently and loudly (and often into the night) when things aren’t done my way
  5. When ANYTHING negative eventuates (I will be waiting for years for just such a gleeful occasion) with anyone else’s interpretation of how things should be done I rise, like the Phoenix in gleeful schadenfreude

Now in looking at this list you might not immediately be able to pick out any common denominators. I am a reasonably well balanced woman who has managed to make it to 50 without going to jail for strangling anyone but I am starting to get the picture that I might just be a teensy little bit of a control freak.

Control freak

noun

informal

noun: control freak; plural noun: control freaks

a person who feels an obsessive need to exercise control over themselves and others and to take command of any situation.

Oh Dear 😦

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“Thank the Lord…we aren’t going to starve today!” Our amazing harvest for Monday… 😉

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Dates soaking in boiling water to make them soft to whizz up in my vitamix blender to make date paste and we actually grew this celery! Never tried to grow it before. It always smacked of “too hard” and so this year it got planted. Delicious stuff and I cut the bases off leaving about an inch so that they can regrow

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Mr Zuke is too cool for school but maybe not too cool to turn into 2 pans of zucchini brownies…

I have a lot of other habits that might need a bit of a tweak but this habit arose like the phoenix apparently in order to prevent me from needing to hyperventilate into a paper bag at least 100 times a day. People who are control freaks are afraid of being out of control. Knowing myself reasonably well (after having to live with “me” as an erratic flatmate inside my head who I might just be going to kick out if she doesn’t stop Pinning on Pinterest and get outside and do a bit of yard work in the immediate future!) I think that this might be a reasonable assumption to make. Throw me a curve ball and I start to twitch. I am not good at change and freely admit that anything out of the ordinary is viewed with suspicion first until it has proven to be anything other than nefarious where I may, or may not frolic in delight when proven wrong. Here’s a website for anyone else who thinks that they might be a control freak or be dealing with one.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-freedom/201010/how-deal-control-freak

I am sure that Steve would be most happy to have me attempt to deal with my incessant need to have my way because that would open the door and allow HIM to have his way all of the time. Steve and I are both control freaks but I am the more dominant (dominatrix?!) one and so I tend to manipulate things a little more than I should. I can’t stop Steve from turning into Napoléon but I CAN stop myself from limiting my enjoyment of life’s day to day experiences and for that, it will be worth unleashing Attila the Steve on society

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This is what kefir grains look like when you feed them non-dairy milk exclusively. Mine revel in homemade sesame milk mixed liberally with homemade date paste. Here you see my little hard working grains sitting in some finished, cultured kefir

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I lift them out of the finished kefir and plonk them straight into some nice new sesame milk/date paste mix ready for them to get cracking with turning it into finished kefir

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This heinous and most unusual looking jellyfish creates cracking caffeine rich probiotic kombucha. The outside of this large container might leave a bit to be desired but the inside is pure deliciousness

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One of the most interesting things about kombucha (booch) SCOBY’s is that they swell to fill the space that they are allotted. My container is square with ridges and so my booch SCOBY is square with ridges :). Here you can see her basking in some of her finished booch ready to be dunked into her next vat of cool sweet tea to feed for another 10 days before narf liberates her and places her reverently into some more…slave? “Moi?!”

Nature has conspired to assist me in my desire to relinquish my need for control. She has thwarted my ways most successfully of late and through gritted teeth I am “grateful”. Where I desired a fecund oasis of productive garden I have had to tackle a sagging enclosure roof that has allowed the possums to bounce their way to snapping off my sunflower heads and chomping the tallest tomatoes off at the stalk. I have discovered that you actually need to be proactive when it comes to potatoes and mound “something” up around their stalks because otherwise you get a lot of green and not a lot of “edible”.  When you think you have a handle on something horticultural because you spent the best part of 4 years studying horticulture and you really should know what you are doing you don’t. There are SO many life lessons that have been tapping me on the head with the duelling wooden spoons of nature and life that I think I might stop there. I am of the firm belief that life hands you life lessons for a reason. I am also of the firm belief that you keep getting those life lessons revisit you like the ghost of Christmas past, if you steadfastly refuse to acknowledge them and deal with them.

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This box contains par of the solution to the problems that we have on Serendipity Farm. I discovered these day lily tubers languishing in a ditch on one of our walks…they have brothers…and sisters…and aunties…and uncles…and about a squillion cousins and I can collect a few surreptitiously each time I decide to ambulate up this road and soon I will be able to populate Serendipity Farm with Day Lilies out the wazoo!

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Here they are having a nice relaxing spa and catching up on all the gossip with their kin

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What my poor kitchen looks like at any given time. There is always something being soaked, or dried or cooling (those 2 bowls of buckwheat porridge) or ground (I have 2 mortar and pestles), or washed, or thrown (“EARL!”) and its just lucky that I designed an UBER simple kitchen in order to keep clutter to the minimum (note…I am NOT showing you a picture of my kitchen table 😉 )

It turns out that we have been tackling Serendipity Farm all wrong.  We have been trying to force our ideas and ideals on the land rather than spending time observing it. Our gung-ho attitude has seen us grow and plant out things that are completely unsuitable for our property and its climactic conditions and it’s time to relinquish control and watch nature at work. Over the coming autumnal period and the ensuing winter, I am going to go back to basics with how we are going to deal with our property and what our outcomes are. Serendipity Farm has a lot of problems but it also has a lot going for it and it’s up to us to work WITH nature to effect positive change rather than try to keep banging our heads on the brick wall that refusing to admit defeat when it comes to our own wants and desires has become. There are some compromises to be made and they aren’t going to be pretty. They might see me having to rethink some of my ideas and ideals and renegotiating exactly what I want for our property. Permaculture is the only answer but each situation is different and I can’t try to apply principles that work elsewhere to here…back to the drawing board…observe, note, THEN plan once we are armed with what we need to move forwards.

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Our new lecturer (who is a darling by the way and who I adore already 🙂 ) told me to take pictures of all sorts of things, to get creative and to find design all over the place. I fear I may be stuck on our “50 pumpkins” task from our course last year. This year we get to design “50 bananas”…I am NOT going to tell you what Steve said…

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Another random shot of my kitchen. This time I have 4 bottles ready for the sesame milk and date paste mix (sesame milk is already in that big bowl and the date paste is in the vitamix blender), the celery was waiting to be chopped along with those carrots for last nights most delicious soup (I have been taking lessons from The Soup Dragon and am now the apprentice Soup Dragon 🙂 ) . I had a delicious moment the other day when for some reason I decided to try and stick one of my spatulas to my magnetic strip…NO idea why I tried it but I found out that it is, indeed, metallic on the inside! That means I can stick my kefir spatula up with the knives away from my other “regular” spatula (also magnetic) so that it doesn’t get cross contaminated and I start culturing my cakes and more to the point, my sesame milk for everyday use

We signed up and paid for our course yesterday. We are now about to commence study in a field that is SO far off centre to what we are used to that my right eye is twitching as I type this. We dabbled with design last year but within strict parameters. This year we are given a lot more creative freedom and as a quintessential planner, releasing the muses is tantamount to sending in the hounds. I think I hide behind my lists. I think that under all of this collective of knowledge that I have been collating and stashing away is a little narf7 who is frankly terrified of being of little worth and who has assumed a hermitty crab shell of great control in order to assuage that fear and reassure myself that I am, indeed, “relevant”

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The son and heir purchased this vacuum sealer for me as a gift WAY back when we lived in Western Australia. It has taken me all of this time to use one box of bags…I am hoping that they still sell them!

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These are dehydrated kefir grains. The yellowish ones were purely fed on cows milk and the darker ones were fed dually on cows milk and non dairy milk with date paste added. The powder around the outside is just dried milk powder. Apparently it keeps them happy while they are in stasis in the fridge. When I fed my kefir on 2 days of non-dairy milk and 1 day of cows milk they grew considerably and I dried them as they produced new babies and the container became too full of them. Here you can see the results of all of that drying

Anyhoo…back to Mr Bowie and his ch-ch-ch-ch-changes and how they pertain to narf7 and Serendipity Farm as a whole. Well I have actively decided to change those habits that are supporting my need to be a control freak. I am going to recognise them for the fear mongers that they are and I am going to learn my life lessons as fast as I can because I am impatient and SUCK at waiting. Whilst working through what makes narf7 tic (not a spelling mistake…) I am going to see if I can’t initiate a few good habits to replace the bad ones. I am considering having a go at Pilates. I hear it’s like yoga with an eye patch…if so…”ARRGHH! Narf7 be ready for that kind of mellow jaunt across the high seas of life”. I am also going to read more, listen to good music more and explore my creative side without having to create “perfect” examples of anything and allowing myself to fail abysmally in the process. All life lessons…all good.

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I used my vacuum sealer to bag up 2 selections of my dehydrated kefir to send to Pauline (The Contented Crafter) and Tanya (Chica Andaluza) so these little babies are winging their merry way to New Zealand and to Spain respectively. I am not sure if either of them will make it through customs let alone get dunked into fresh milk at the other end but at least we are trying girls 🙂

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A close up of their little vacuum sealed bodies…still in stasis but one step closer to their goal of Serendipity Farm kefir grains taking over the world! (Oops…did I say that out loud? The masters will be angry! )

It looks like we have arrived at the end of this post. Sorry about the philosophy 101. I actually typed up an entirely different post earlier in the week that I decided to discard because it was too philosophical but it would appear that my muses are insisting on philosophy this week and you are stuck with my erstwhile attempts to find my navel where I don’t actually have one. I may, or may not have a chakra but navel…nada. It was removed in a past surgery so I guess that leaves me to attempt to find my third eye without going cross-eyed in the mirror.  Hopefully normal service will have resumed next week but I think part of this introspection is partly to do with the change of seasons. My brain is INSISTING on changing the seasons with the calendar month this year. I get the picture that nature will again insist otherwise…”nature is a control freak” 😉

And now we are three…

Hi All,

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

nowwearethreeBecause yesterday Earl turned 3.

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

Original and real Pooh bear and friends

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

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

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

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

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

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Get a gander at that grass!

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

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

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Here one minute…gone the next…

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

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

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

DSCF5391At least SOME of us were working hard…

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Ducky still sitting on her clutch of chook eggs

DSCF5384Earl hunting lizards…Earl nil, lizards 1

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

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

DSCF5380Scarlet runners from last year have decided to grow again!

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

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

DSCF5423The first sniff for the day…

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

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

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

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

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“Cheers!”

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

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Walking across the Batman Bridge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life, death and the endless progression of OH&S in between…

Hi All

There has to be a degree of irony in me, hunched over…floppy spined, myopically peering at my monitor with terrible lighting and trying to show the world how enlightened I am about office OH&S…does ANYBODY listen to or care about this stuff?!!! Come to think of it, does anyone ever stop eating peanut butter because some rake thin anorexic plastic “expert” in the health field tells them to? If we were ever vaguely inclined to follow “expert” advice we would have dangled on our parents every word…we would have learned to “fly right and steer straight” immediately as we were told and we would have made something of ourselves rather than arriving at 50, dazed and confused with only “windswept and interesting” as our chief saleable asset.

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The young rooster on the right of this image died this week. He was never a “normal” rooster and spent his days sitting in this coop with his sisters keeping them company. He wasn’t prone to leaping on hens or crowing. He was gentle, beautiful and like so many of his Byron reading compatriots, he died too soon. R.I.P Little Boy Blue. In saying that, there are chicks hatching out all over the place on Serendipity Farm. The same day that Little Boy Blue died, another hen emerged triumphant and bedazzled with fluffy chicks…the poultry cycle of life goes on…

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When all else fails eat fruit!

That brings me to today’s post… I have managed to tear myself away from OH&S for a whole blissful day. It doesn’t even bother me that it’s grey, dreary and raining outside because I didn’t have to try to wrap my poor addled brain around another “Act”; “Award” or “Industry Standard” when it couldn’t comprehend the first Act, let alone the last that I tried to stuff into the one remaining brain cell that appears to be on the ball. Today I got to sit here and type out interesting and sustainable hints, tips and anecdotes about how to live better with less. Steve and I have almost finished our websites that we have to create from scratch for our final assessment. Mine is called “Sustainability on a Shoestring” and despite it being entirely fictional, not available to the naked eye (apart from our lecturers …) and just something that we had to knock up at the last minute I have developed a motherly sort of fondness for it and am driving Steve nuts by my need to make it look good and function well. “No-one can see it!” is his mantra…”I can see it” is mine 😉

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This shower door is about to be changed to a clear glass door that doesn’t get stuck when you are trying to open it with shampoo in your eyes because you forgot to get the bottle of conditioner that is over on the window ledge…Steve was given the shower door by a friends mum who is renovating and who didn’t need it. I doubt she realises how happy she has made me with her generous gift. Now I can open the door blinded by shampoo and not worry about having to call Steve to free me when the door sticks when I am halfway out of it…

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My container of bread ties (still haven’t worked out what to do with them but I will!) and some of the bottle tops I am collecting on my early morning walks with Earl. If anyone out there drinks anything other than Boag’s beer and would like to send me a few bottle tops please feel free to let me know 😉

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What happens when you discover some “fresh” pineapple that you juiced, put in a bowl in the fridge and promptly forgot about that when you rediscovered it and gave it a sniff (as you do) and realised that it was halfway to being pineapple vodka and you cleverly decide to pour it into the top of a bottle of second fermented Kombucha erupts like Krakatoa …”VESUVIUS”…that’s what happens

I have just finished off the last of the text for the various side panels, spry tabs etc. that we are required to show our lecturer to satisfy this unit. We are using Dreamweaver to create our sites making it a much easier process than having to write the HTML ourselves but I am still clueless about what most of it does but can see it has great possibilities. The best bit is that we got to buy the Student version of the Adobe suite at a significant discount because students = poor (damned RIGHT they do!) and educational institutions don’t want to force us into becoming shoplifters in order to satisfy their requirements. Lucky really because I suck at pinching things, unless they are cuttings when I am able to abrogate my guilt long enough to snip off a stray tendril and call it urban guerrilla gardening 😉

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“I know what will make all of this study better…a litre bottle of homemade Kombucha…”

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And another one…

I spend a lot of my life in the dark. It’s my choice, getting up at 3am seals the deal but if I want to get some quality “me” time to study, to read the blogs that I follow and to research the things that I am interested in I have to find an alternative to daylight hours where we tend to be studying or working in the garden. I now love getting up early and am firing on all cylinders by the time I wake Steve with a coffee at 7am after indulging my brain to the max with a wealth of fantastic possibilities that I have just waded through for the last 4 hours. Fennec foxes have enormous ears and narf7 has small ears…fennec foxes manage to navigate their way around in the dark with ease and agility where narf7 has bruises on her legs and hip where she bumbles hopelessly into furniture and walls…coincidence? I think not!

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“What say we have another one?” I reckon I am starting to feel a bit like Keith Richards in that photo about now…

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I am stuck inside the house when outside it looks like this…

One interesting thing that I have noticed about the dark is that you can see your brain sending messages to your eyes. Seriously…if you are sitting in the pitch dark and close your eyes you can see little chains of light where your brain is communicating with your eyes…in my case it is saying “watch out she is just about to bump into another table!” but as my eyes are officially closed (or I can’t see the synapses…) it’s too late…”OUCH!” I can, however, manage to find the correct place to spray the air freshener in the toilet in complete darkness…maybe there is a chance for future employment opportunities for my amazing newfound skill?

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And this…

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and this!

Earl is almost 3 and is just starting to “get it”. I must be a late bloomer because here I am at 50 and I still haven’t “got it”. One of life’s mysteries is that we only start to make sense of all of these lessons that life throws at us on a regular basis when we are past the point of impetuous youthdom and it leaves you wondering “surely it would have been so much better to have learned these lessons BEFORE all of those stupid mistakes we made?” I am left to believe that maybe we need to have made lots of stupid mistakes to “get” the life lessons in the first place…my head is starting to hurt with that conundrum so I might just leave it there for now folks as I have to keep a few functioning brain cells in reserve in order to complete our studies before next Thursday when the last of our units is due in.

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Some of us are enjoying the lovely weather

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Note the lack of a care in the world and the amazing growth in that garden bed under the deck that we only planted out in April this year

I have been busy fermenting potions in between doing the hard yards with study and am learning how versatile cultures can be. My last batch of kombucha was flavoured with ginger and rosewater and turned out to be really delicious. It takes the mother SCOBY 7 days to culture a batch of black tea with sugar in it. I choose to double ferment the mix by adding a litre of juice to the results and fermenting it for another couple of days before putting it in the fridge. The results are fizzy and delicious and with summer promising to be long and hot I think a large quantity of kombucha in the fridge will be a definite asset. I have also been using my non-dairy kefir that I now make with homemade sesame milk (rather than the organic homemade soymilk that I used to make it with) to culture the sesame pulp left behind after making the milk. I use the resulting fermented  mix to make hummus that I ferment for a day at room temperature. One very interesting thing about fermenting hummus is that it rises up alarmingly in its bowl a bit like sourdough starter does. I guess that means that the culture really likes beans. Whatever it means the results are really delicious and I am enjoying seeing what else I can ferment

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Fermented sesame seed pulp and some leftover cooked dried chickpeas and borlotti beans that I have been using from the freezer

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The hummus before it decided to rise up out of the bowl and threaten to take over Serendipity Farm unless I took it to Cuba

I have been having porridge in the morning made from finely ground buckwheat flour and sunflower seeds that I add a bit of date paste to and cook. I then top it with sesame milk with a bit more date paste in it and a dash of rosewater. Now that the weather has started to warm up I might be able to start drinking my green smoothies again but if today is anything to go by, winter hasn’t quite given up yet. By next Thursday our course will officially be over. Steve and I are working as hard as we can to knock these final units on the head but they can’t be finished soon enough in our minds. We are really going to enjoy the free time that we get in between this course and the start of our next course and  hopefully we will get lots of time out in the garden in the coming month to make up for all of the time that we have spent chained to the PC.

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The view out of my kitchen window this morning. Note the Grey Cuckoo Thrush sitting on the deck rail waiting for her early morning cheese cubes to be put out on the window ledge and note also how grey and rainy it is because I am not chained to the PC being forced to study OH&S until my brain melts…Murphy is a bollocks!

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Its still grey out there but at least the grey cuckoo shrike has her cheese and I have a cup of tea and suddenly, after a few sips… all is right with the world again 🙂

Christmas is getting very close. I know it is because all of the advertisement’s on the television keep telling me it is. Is anyone else incredibly jaded by the mass push towards commercialisation this year? It started back in October and suddenly we are lighting Christmas trees mid-November and come mid-December we will be implored to buy next year’s Easter Eggs… what should be a time for people to get together with their families and friends to see out the old year and be thankful for our lot has been hijacked by the need for massive pre-Christmas profits. The spirit and the message of Christmas were born of humble circumstances and I think the still quiet message is slowly being drowned by all of the Christmas sales. Has anyone else worked out what they are going to do for Christmas this year? Neither have we! We were going to have a very quiet Christmas like we did last year but now Stewart and Kelsey are here we might all get together at my daughter’s home on Christmas morning and have Christmas breakfast together…or we might not…whatever we do it will be in the spirit of Christmas and nothing to do with how much we spent on food, drink and presents. Steve’s one stipulation is a bottle of brandy so that he can make the brandy and chocolate milk that he remembers from a long ago holiday spent falling over in Greece. Sounds like a plan Stevie-boy! 😉

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A little Cassia fistula growing amongst the forget-me-nots. Cassia pods are used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine so this little guy is welcome on Serendipity Farm

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From one gorgeous thing to another…These marvellous track pants were inherited from my daughter Madeline who was about to throw them away because they were torn on the bottom. I decided to cut them (mainly to stop me falling over the frayed bits) and what you can’t see here is that one side is at least 10cm longer than the other even though I SWEAR I measured them! I mention this so that all of you wonderfully crafty folk out there realise that some of us are not as gifted in the crafty stakes as you are…but we are doing you a HUGE service by suffering the slings of craftless arrows that rain down on us whenever we pick up needles, hooks, material or dare to sit down at a sewing machine…we bow before your creative genius but some of you were born for craft greatness, some (like me) just have to satisfy ourselves with being born fashionistas…The jumper is warm. Narf7 cares not for fashion folks and its darned lucky that she doesn’t because if I EVER went out wearing this ensemble, I would be committed. The black socks that I am wearing in this picture were stolen from Steve’s side of the wardrobe by “moi” and were subsequently eaten by Earl when they were abandoned (foolishly) on one of my outdoor forays. Socks are not safe on Serendipity Farm…they are an endangered species

I think I might love you all and leave you there for today. I fear I am probably not at my best after a week of brain numbing rehashing of boring statistics. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible on Serendipity Farm but for now, this pays the bills so rehash we must! See you all next Wednesday when I will probably be giddy with happiness thanks to it being the final day before we are set free from our shackles of oppression…can you tell I’m a bit over this? ;). Have a great week folks and enjoy what you are doing wherever you are doing it 🙂

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!

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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)

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