And now we are five…plus 45 more…

Hi All,

It’s official. Stevie-boy turned 50 on Tuesday. He celebrated his day by helping a friend make a patio and had a very rich pie that was 2 days in the making with pastry (pate brisee) that could kill a lesser man (a ratio of almost equal proportions flour to fat) and a deceptively simple looking “cake” that contained 600g of chocolate. I figure he thought if he was going to hit 50, he may as well do it in style. He says he doesn’t feel a day older and he doesn’t look it either so he’s quite happy with achieving his half century mark.

 

Luxury pie

Luxury 50th birthday pie

It's not pretty but apparently it tasted amazing. Lots left for post 50th birthday snarfing

It’s not pretty but apparently it tasted amazing. Lots left for post 50th birthday snarfing

Looks decievingly demure but this baby has 600g of chocolate and a lot of brandy hidden in this innocent exterior

Looks decievingly demure but this baby has 600g of chocolate and a lot of brandy hidden in this innocent exterior

Birthday booze. Cheers Stewart and Kelsey for the Jacob's Creek Reserve Shiraz :)

Birthday booze. Cheers Stewart and Kelsey for the Jacob’s Creek Reserve Shiraz 🙂

I had a request to post the recipes for the vegan brownies and the zucchini and lemon curd recipes from Yelana of the gorgeous food blog Cooking Melangery in a recent comment. Yelena shares food from her home country Russia but lives in the U.S. Her blog is amazing. Incredibly beautiful photography, wonderful recipes and Yelena herself is a wonderful person. I couldn’t resist! So here they are just for you Yelena 🙂

http://www.theyummylife.com/Zucchini_Brownies

http://www.food.com/recipe/zucchini-cream-130433

Note you really don’t need the butter in the zucchini cream recipe but it does add an authentic “curd” texture and taste to the recipe

I may as well go whole hog and share a recipe from Amy’s amazing blog Fragrant Vanilla Cake that is vegan, contains both zucchini and lemons and is absolutely scrumptious. Everything that Amy makes is amazing. If you like healthy, delicious food, go and have a look at Amy’s amazing site

http://fragrantvanillacake.blogspot.com.au/2011/09/vegan-zucchini-lemon-cake.html

It’s the middle of summer here in Australia and most of us are scratching our heads trying to work out what to do with zucchini’s so I thought that Yelena’s request might just be of benefit to some of you out there who are heartily sick of all things zucchini to find something else interesting to make with it.

This is one section of one of our insect hotels that I made a few years ago for our native insects. I checked it the other day and noticed that something is using it and that it is plugging up the holes with wattle leaves.

This is one section of one of our insect hotels that I made a few years ago for our native insects. I checked it the other day and noticed that something is using it and that it is plugging up the holes with wattle leaves.

Stewart and Kelsey came to visit on Saturday afternoon and brought me a few kilos of satsuma plums from their back yard tree. I decided to dehydrate them

Stewart and Kelsey came to visit on Saturday afternoon and brought me a few kilos of satsuma plums from their back yard tree. I decided to dehydrate them. First you stone and slice them

Then you load up your dehydrator sheets with slices

Then you load up your dehydrator sheets with slices

Once they are dehydrated you add them to your stash in the pantry. The plums are in the bottle on the left. The rest of these are dehydrated cherries

Once they are dehydrated you add them to your stash in the pantry. The plums are in the bottle on the left. The rest of these are dehydrated cherries

I often have serendipitous moments where something I have learned or researched suddenly pops into my head when I see something else. Today I was scrolling down my Facebook feed and noticed an article about a plant called Mullein (Verbascum thapsus). FINALLY I have a name for the plant that came up in the garden, all by itself and that keeps on keeping on no matter what. It moved into the “lawn” (along with the 2 blackwood saplings) and strutted it’s, not inconsiderable, stuff. It grew to almost 11 ft tall and I had a feeling that it was useful so rather than chop it down (or mow it…that’s what you are supposed to do with lawns isn’t it? 😉 ) I let it go and now I dare say we are going to have a lovely mullein explosion on Serendipity Farm. I don’t care. I am in the process of letting my globe artichokes go to seed so that I can save some to share and sprinkle them all over the place. It’s the same thing that keeps me planting out little patches of Jerusalem artichokes in sheltered spots where the grazing wallabies can’t chew them down to the ground. I love food and herb plants that don’t need molly-coddling and that just get on with it in our long dry summers. Here’s an article about how valuable mullein is in our gardens…

http://www.motherearthliving.com/plant-profile/herb-to-know-mullein-verbascum-thapsus.aspx?PageId=1#axzz3Q3gqA8DR

The strawberry water wicked boat is keeping these strawberries nice and moist and they are all very happy that they migrated to the good ship strawberry. I even have some new fruit being produced.

The strawberry water wicked boat is keeping these strawberries nice and moist and they are all very happy that they migrated to the good ship strawberry. I even have some new fruit being produced.

It's a foolish man that lays on the floor when there are dogs around ;)

It’s a foolish man that lays on the floor when there are dogs around 😉

This is what your hair looks like if you get your hair wet when you have a plait and you don't take the plait out for 2 days ;)

This is what your hair looks like if you get your hair wet when you have a plait and you don’t take the plait out for 2 days 😉

Serendipity Farm from the deck this morning. Another glorious mild summers day 2015 :)

Serendipity Farm from the deck this morning. Another glorious mild summers day 2015 🙂

I was looking at Gumtree the other day and saw this ad for a spinning wheel for $100 in Launceston

I was looking at Gumtree the other day and saw this ad for a spinning wheel for $100 in Launceston

Look what now lives at narf's house :)

Look what now lives at narf’s house 🙂 Thank you SO much Stewart and Kelsey for picking it up and bringing it out for me

I am learning to appreciate “weeds” for their tenacity as well as their actual uses. Spear thistles are not just there to spike me mercilessly whenever I attempt to go down to the second garden (obviously I want to have a mental breakdown…), blackberries have many uses that their thorny angst would bely. Most of our common weeds are European edibles that we just see as pests. I think it’s important to know that “weeds” can also tell you about your soil conditions and tend to be the fixer-upperers of the soil web. Nature knows what she is doing, it’s just us that keep wanting to interject with our obviously superior wisdom 😉

 

Black radish flowers. Once they go to seed I will collect the seed. Note, these black radishes were very hot and spicy. If you like your radishes mild, these might not be a good variety for you to grow

Black radish flowers. Once they go to seed I will collect the seed. Note, these black radishes were very hot and spicy. If you like your radishes mild, these might not be a good variety for you to grow

It's a jungle of tomatoes in Sanctuary. Most of this mass tangle is tomatoes. I am going to have to learn how to prune tomatoes one of these days!

It’s a jungle of tomatoes in Sanctuary. Most of this mass tangle is tomatoes. I am going to have to learn how to prune tomatoes one of these days!

Curly kale and red Russian kale  babies that survived being planted at the wrong time and that haven't bolted to seed as I planted them in a shady spot. Fingers crossed I might get some kale!

Curly kale and red Russian kale babies that survived being planted at the wrong time and that haven’t bolted to seed as I planted them in a shady spot. Fingers crossed I might get some kale!

More mass tangle but at least it is green and most of it appears to be flowering and producing tomatoes

More mass tangle but at least it is green and most of it appears to be flowering and producing tomatoes

I found this tiny little tomato growing in among the strawberries in one of the pots that I transplanted into the strawberry boat so he got potted up with this chive plant for companionship. I am a champion of the underdog and even though it is probably WAY too late for this little tomato to be productive, who cares, he was tenacious so he gets to live :)

I found this tiny little tomato growing in among the strawberries in one of the pots that I transplanted into the strawberry boat so he got potted up with this chive plant for companionship. I am a champion of the underdog and even though it is probably WAY too late for this little tomato to be productive, who cares, he was tenacious so he gets to live 🙂

My moringa's growing like topsy

My moringa’s growing like topsy

My cherimoyas enjoying the sunshine

My cherimoyas enjoying the sunshine

This is a King orchid. I never realised that it is an Australian native orchid but all I know is it was dad's "beer orchid" and he only ever watered it with the dregs from his cans of beer. We are going to mount it on the tree to the right of this image in sphagnum moss to make it happy

This is a King orchid. I never realised that it is an Australian native orchid but all I know is it was dad’s “beer orchid” and he only ever watered it with the dregs from his cans of beer. We are going to mount it on the tree to the right of this image in sphagnum moss to make it happy

This bit of the garden looks a bit more "normal" as veggie gardens go. Still chaotic but you can at least see a bit of variety. The pots of artichokes are growing really well now

This bit of the garden looks a bit more “normal” as veggie gardens go. Still chaotic but you can at least see a bit of variety. The pots of artichokes are growing really well now

It’s been a most wonderful week on Serendipity Farm. We had some rain and our temperatures are in the low to mid 20’s (celcius). Life has been very good to us in 2015. The rest of this blog post is going to be in comments. I hope you enjoy the garden and other images and can feel a bit of our lovely sunshiny summer in them. Have a scrumptious week. I am animating some sourdough starter that was sent to me by the amazing Ms Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial (isn’t that a lovely name? 🙂 ). Ms Celia’s sourdough is called Priscilla and we, the lucky recipients of little packets of Priscilla, were urged to incorporate something of her name in our new starters names. I decided that I wanted to take back sourdough baking in my kitchen this year. I have dabbled in sourdough before with very mixed results (vinegar brick loaves) so I needed a name for my new starter that was going to waylay my fears and give me a fearless attitude. I came up with Godscilla and hope that my starter lives up to it’s lofty name.

 

Some of the many sprays of tomatoes that my 2 San Marzano tomatoes are producing. Hopefully we get lots of ripe ones so that I can turn them into amazing sauce :)

Some of the many sprays of tomatoes that my 2 San Marzano tomatoes are producing. Hopefully we get lots of ripe ones so that I can turn them into amazing sauce 🙂

My pepino's have had lots of flowers but haven't set any fruit this year. It can't be for lack of pollinators as there are bees all over them. Maybe they are a bit overwhelmed by the close proximity of the ever present tomato clan? Any ideas Bev?

My pepino’s have had lots of flowers but haven’t set any fruit this year. It can’t be for lack of pollinators as there are bees all over them. Maybe they are a bit overwhelmed by the close proximity of the ever present tomato clan? Any ideas Bev?

My 4 turmeric plants planted out into what was a horse manure pile last year. It is now amazingly black soil that retains moisture well. Hopefully the turmeric like it here

My 4 turmeric plants planted out into what was a horse manure pile last year. It is now amazingly black soil that retains moisture well. Hopefully the turmeric like it here

My poor long suffering cardamom plants finally got planted out. They are already starting to grow new leaves and I can almost hear them saying "thank GOODNESS!" ;)

My poor long suffering cardamom plants finally got planted out. They are already starting to grow new leaves and I can almost hear them saying “thank GOODNESS!” 😉

One of the tomatillo babies that I planted out into the first of the new veggie gardens a few weeks ago. Everything is starting to take of in the new garden beds but the tomatillos are galloping away and some are even flowering. I will be most interested to see what they look like when they fruit.

One of the tomatillo babies that I planted out into the first of the new veggie gardens a few weeks ago. Everything is starting to take of in the new garden beds but the tomatillos are galloping away and some are even flowering. I will be most interested to see what they look like when they fruit.

These are my terracotta pots that I used to have cactus and succulents in. There are still a few in the pots but the pots have a new use, to stop the hose from invading the garden bed. They are doing a great job :)

These are my terracotta pots that I used to have cactus and succulents in. There are still a few in the pots but the pots have a new use, to stop the hose from invading the garden bed. They are doing a great job 🙂

My cucamelons (aka mouse melons) have flowers! You can see the tiny fruit forming behind the flower

My cucamelons (aka mouse melons) have flowers! You can see the tiny fruit forming behind the flower

My pumpkins are fruiting all over the place. Without the possums chewing the fruit as they form it looks like I might get a lot of fruit this year :)

My pumpkins are fruiting all over the place. Without the possums chewing the fruit as they form it looks like I might get a lot of fruit this year 🙂

The new red currant grape that we picked up from Bunnings the other day. I am saving up for a red finger lime now but that's a LOT more expensive than my little red currant grape ;)

The new red currant grape that we picked up from Bunnings the other day. I am saving up for a red finger lime now but that’s a LOT more expensive than my little red currant grape 😉

A close up of one of my grown from cutting sweet potato vines

A close up of one of my grown from cutting sweet potato vines

That feathery green thing is an asparagus plant that was in one of my strawberry pots so it got transplanted out as well. Nothing goes to waste on Serendipity Farm :)

That feathery green thing is an asparagus plant that was in one of my strawberry pots so it got transplanted out as well. Nothing goes to waste on Serendipity Farm 🙂

Looking down from the far back of Sanctuary. It looks a lot neater now we gave it a haircut ;)

Looking down from the far back of Sanctuary. It looks a lot neater now we gave it a haircut 😉

 

I got this succulent from a friend that I met via a Facebook page I have just started to follow.

I got this succulent from a friend that I met via a Facebook page I have just started to follow.

She also gave me these amazingly HUGE figs and a promise that I can take some cuttings in winter. Aren't they gorgeous?

She also gave me these amazingly HUGE figs and a promise that I can take some cuttings in winter. Aren’t they gorgeous?

This is Shrek. I bought him when he was in a teeny tiny pot and he is one of the only succulents that the ducks weren't partial to so he lived to find a home in Sanctuary

This is Shrek. I bought him when he was in a teeny tiny pot and he is one of the only succulents that the ducks weren’t partial to so he lived to find a home in Sanctuary

The colour of the flower tends to be the colour of the potato under the ground. I am hoping these adventitious spuds that grew from the compost bucket are pink eyes :)

The colour of the flower tends to be the colour of the potato under the ground. I am hoping these adventitious spuds that grew from the compost bucket are pink eyes 🙂

Myer lemon futures :)

Myer lemon futures 🙂

A pot full of oca and very healthy leaves. I am going to have to work out a place to make them a garden bed but for now they are in a nice big pot and seem happy enough to grow there for the moment.

A pot full of oca and very healthy leaves. I am going to have to work out a place to make them a garden bed but for now they are in a nice big pot and seem happy enough to grow there for the moment.

Steve captured this native hyacinth orchid (Dipodium punctatum) beautifully. I tried about 20 times but every shot was blurry. I guess sometimes you just have to know when to fold em'! ;)

Steve captured this native hyacinth orchid (Dipodium punctatum) growing up next to the chook yard beautifully. I tried about 20 times but every shot was blurry. I guess sometimes you just have to know when to fold em’! 😉

Steve's new camera is giving him a lot of happiness. He is taking some seriously lovely photos with it.

Steve’s new camera is giving him a lot of happiness. He is taking some seriously lovely photos with it.

Like this one

Like this one

And this one. He did use a polarising filter with this one though

And this one. He did use a polarising filter with this one though

He took this photo from the small jetty at the boat ramp just down the road from us

He took this photo from the small jetty at the boat ramp just down the road from us

And this one of my ingenious ability to drink beer when I can't use my hands because they were sticky with cherry juice

And this one of my ingenious ability to drink beer when I can’t use my hands because they were sticky with cherry juice

And after a while, when your husband insists on taking "urban degradation" shots from every industrial area known to man you develop a stoic resilience and just smile and wave whenever you are told to ;)

And after a while, when your husband insists on taking “urban degradation” shots from every industrial area known to man you develop a stoic resilience and just smile and wave whenever you are told to 😉

I was going to have this corner shower unit as a pond in Sanctuary but now that the strawberry wicking beds are doing so well, I might make it a water wicked bed for cranberries.

I was going to have this corner shower unit as a pond in Sanctuary but now that the strawberry wicking beds are doing so well, I might make it a water wicked bed for cranberries.

This is our walnut tree. This year we mulched underneath it with hay from Glad's place next door. It seems to be much happier than it usually is but then again, we have had a much milder season this year with a lot more rain so I can't be sure.

This is our walnut tree. This year we mulched underneath it with hay from Glad’s place next door. It seems to be much happier than it usually is but then again, we have had a much milder season this year with a lot more rain so I can’t be sure.

Walnut sap is incredibly full of bitter tannins. That doesn't stop the wallabies from stripping all of the leaves that they can reach from the ground. I think they must have cast iron stomachs!

Walnut sap is incredibly full of bitter tannins. That doesn’t stop the wallabies from stripping all of the leaves that they can reach from the ground. I think they must have cast iron stomachs!

These are some of the tea trees (Melaleuca alternifolia) at the front of our block. We have about an acre of them growing and a new friend on the "Fans of Grassroots Magazine" page that I am now following on Facebook has just told me how to extract tea tree oil from them if we ever choose to. I am learning SO much from that page! :)

These are some of the tea trees (Melaleuca alternifolia) at the front of our block. We have about an acre of them growing and a new friend on the “Fans of Grassroots Magazine” page that I am now following on Facebook has just told me how to extract tea tree oil from them if we ever choose to. I am learning SO much from that page! 🙂

Earl (Mr Big Head) surveying his drive way

Earl (Mr Big Head) surveying his drive way

Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum tee-hee!) are incredibly hardy and drought tolerant. This clump grows down the driveway and never gets watered. They pop up all over the place and unlike their unwanted friends the osteospermum (Margerita) daisies, I really like them :)

Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum tee-hee!) are incredibly hardy and drought tolerant. This clump grows down the driveway and never gets watered. They pop up all over the place and unlike their unwanted friends the osteospermum (Margerita) daisies, I really like them 🙂

Part of the jungle we call a "garden" at the front of the house on the side of the driveway. The canna lily is growing really well and I picked up a few more pots of them to add to the mix. I love anything that grows well with no water and that has pretty flowers and edible roots. It all adds up to a win-win situation for Serendipity Farm :)

Part of the jungle we call a “garden” at the front of the house on the side of the driveway. The canna lily is growing really well and I picked up a few more pots of them to add to the mix. I love anything that grows well with no water and that has pretty flowers and edible roots. It all adds up to a win-win situation for Serendipity Farm 🙂

We still have green grass in the middle of summer! It has been a very mild summer this year and I love it! :)

We still have green grass in the middle of summer! It has been a very mild summer this year and I love it! 🙂

Here's my little packet of Priscilla promise. She is an 8 year old starter that works like magic. I am hoping that she will rub off her glorious possibilities onto my hereto pathetic sourdough baking efforts on Serendipity Farm. Her new name is Godscilla and long may she reign in the kitchen! Wish me luck folks, I am going in! :)

Here’s my little packet of Priscilla promise. She is an 8 year old starter that works like magic. I am hoping that she will rub off her glorious possibilities onto my hereto pathetic sourdough baking efforts on Serendipity Farm. Her new name is Godscilla and long may she reign in the kitchen! Wish me luck folks, I am going in! 🙂

And so we arrive at the end of another week on Serendipity Farm. So far, 2015 has been a glorious year and we have enjoyed it a lot. I will have hopefully had a go at spinning the alpaca fleece that I have sitting in my spare room by the next time we meet and I can show you what my efforts look like but I am not promising anything! Have a wonderful week whatever you are doing and wherever you are in the world. See you next week on Serendipity Farm 🙂

Hot humid post in images

Hi All,

It is hot and humid here today after a solid torrential downpour that lasted all night. I think we woke up and had moved to Queensland! It was a toss-up between slaving over a hot blog post and giving you images today so I went with the images so to all of my dear constant readers who like words, you are going to have to satisfy yourself with the image captions. I hope it cools down soon or I will have to type my next blog post prostrate on the bathroom floor! Have a great week and see you next Wednesday…

Before we get down to garden business, look what arrived in the mail today just in time to get into today's blog post.Ms Pauline made me bunting and sent me some most desirable bottle caps that I don't have.

Before we get down to garden business, look what arrived in the mail today just in time to get into today’s blog post.Ms Pauline made me bunting and sent me some most desirable bottle caps that I don’t have.

And here is the gorgeous outdoor bunting that Ms Pauline created. Isn't she clever? It's beautiful Pauline and you are very clever and talented and I am in awe of your sewing ability :)

And here is the gorgeous outdoor bunting that Ms Pauline created. Isn’t she clever? It’s beautiful Pauline and you are very clever and talented and I am in awe of your sewing ability 🙂

Steve has been going nuts with his new Nikon 7100. SO nuts in fact that I have had to take evasive action in order to prevent myself being photographed unmercilessly.

Steve has been going nuts with his new Nikon 7100. SO nuts in fact that I have had to take evasive action in order to prevent myself being photographed unmercilessly.

Steve took a series of photographs and used Photoshop to meld them into a panorama. This was taken at Beauty Point this week when we were walking the dogs.

Steve took a series of photographs and used Photoshop to meld them into a panorama. This was taken at Beauty Point this week when we were walking the dogs.

Here's another panorama taken further down the beach. This is Bezial's absolutely favourite place to be as he occasionally gets allowed off leash and gets to have a swim. He tends to occupy his time hunting for (non existant) fish but whatever floats your boat Bezial ;). He only ever goes up to his chest.

Here’s another panorama taken further down the beach. This is Bezial’s absolutely favourite place to be as he occasionally gets allowed off leash and gets to have a swim. He tends to occupy his time hunting for (non existant) fish but whatever floats your boat Bezial ;). He only ever goes up to his chest.

I thought this was a nice photo of Earl standing on the deck and as he has fans out there, I decided to share it with you. You know who you are ;)

I thought this was a nice photo of Earl standing on the deck and as he has fans out there, I decided to share it with you. You know who you are 😉

We walked in a sticky hot Beaconsfield today and the sole saving grace was this find...the blackberries are starting to ripen! This small enclave of blackberries are always the best so now that I know that they are starting to ripen, we will be visiting Beaconsfield quite a lot ;)

We walked in a sticky hot Beaconsfield today and the sole saving grace was this find…the blackberries are starting to ripen! This small enclave of blackberries are always the best so now that I know that they are starting to ripen, we will be visiting Beaconsfield quite a lot 😉

This is the cloud cover we are getting today. It is hot, sticky and very opressive. It happens whenever there is a cyclone on the top end of Australia and they decide to share their humidity with us (how generous Queensland! ;) )

This is the cloud cover we are getting today. It is hot, sticky and very opressive. It happens whenever there is a cyclone on the top end of Australia and they decide to share their humidity with us (how generous Queensland! 😉 )

These are shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum...I know, hilarious isn't it and who says that horticulturalists have no sense of humour ;) ). They are very easy to grow and will grow in the most inhospitable conditions. We have a lot of them dotted around Serendipity Farm.

These are shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum…I know, hilarious isn’t it and who says that horticulturalists have no sense of humour 😉 ). They are very easy to grow and will grow in the most inhospitable conditions. We have a lot of them dotted around Serendipity Farm.

I appear to have a gnome in Sanctuary. The grass that you can see growing here is about to get a haircut but it was too hot to do it today so you have to see it unkempt and feral (it's usual state ;) )

I appear to have a gnome in Sanctuary. The grass that you can see growing here is about to get a haircut but it was too hot to do it today so you have to see it unkempt and feral (it’s usual state 😉 ). I decided not to waste last years Christmas tree and am going to use it as an artistic plant stake.

I grew some trays of kale (2 kinds), cabbages and cauliflowers after looking at the back of the packet of seeds and seeing that they could be planted through summer here. They fibbed. Apparently they should be considered winter crops so I just left them outside the glasshouse and forgot about them. Some of them were still alive the other day so I took pity on the survivors and planted them out in the main garden.

I grew some trays of kale (2 kinds), cabbages and cauliflowers after looking at the back of the packet of seeds and seeing that they could be planted through summer here. They fibbed. Apparently they should be considered winter crops so I just left them outside the glasshouse and forgot about them. Some of them were still alive the other day so I took pity on the survivors and planted them out in the main garden.

One of my natural pest strategies and the top of the food chain in Sanctuary (if you don't count that big toad I rehoused in amongst the oak leaves). There are lizards everywhere inside the safety of Sanctuary and they, in turn are eating many of the pests that invade. We have a bit of a grasshopper plague at the moment but I am going to leave them to the lizards unless they build up numbers and then I will have to formulate an alternative plan...

One of my natural pest strategies and the top of the food chain in Sanctuary (if you don’t count that big toad I rehoused in amongst the oak leaves). There are lizards everywhere inside the safety of Sanctuary and they, in turn are eating many of the pests that invade. We have a bit of a grasshopper plague at the moment but I am going to leave them to the lizards unless they build up numbers and then I will have to formulate an alternative plan…

These are apparently "Egyptian brown beans". Forgive me but they look a whole lot like broad beans to me! ;)

These are apparently “Egyptian brown beans”. Forgive me but they look a whole lot like broad beans to me! 😉

Silverbeet growing well and pots of transplanted artichokes

Silverbeet growing well and pots of transplanted globe artichokes with the ever-present lurking lesser spotted tomato photo-bombing

Silverbeet going to seed and scarlet runner beans

Silverbeet going to seed and scarlet runner beans. The wooden pole is to stop the possums bouncing up and down to reach the green foliage

My lone tomatillo. I have others planted out in one of the new garden beds but this one has flowers and is making a statement. I have never grown tomatillos before so it will be interesting to see how they perform

My lone tomatillo. I have others planted out in one of the new garden beds but this one has flowers and is making a statement. I have never grown tomatillos before so it will be interesting to see how they perform. Every tomato in this garden bed was self seeded.

A compost bucket grown potato with one of the grasshoppers that should feed the lizards nicely for the next few weeks :)

A compost bucket grown potato with one of the grasshoppers that should feed the lizards nicely for the next few weeks 🙂

Our kafir lime tree. It will be feeling right at home with this sticky tropical weather!

Our kafir lime tree. It will be feeling right at home with this sticky tropical weather!

I only planted these beetroot seeds the other day. They must like the conditions. This is my first attempt at succession planting. Their brothers are big enough to eat now so I figured I would grow some more to stave off that "I wish I had planted more!" condition.

I only planted these beetroot seeds the other day. They must like the conditions. This is my first attempt at succession planting. Their brothers are big enough to eat now so I figured I would grow some more to stave off that “I wish I had planted more!” condition.

The Chaotic state of the garden beds in Sanctuary. I go by the CHAOS theory, you "chuck handfuls all over space". My ethos! I like to think that in all of the mass confusion, the pests are unable to decide what they will eat first and die of anorexia...I like to think that but I doubt that it is true ;)

The Chaotic state of the garden beds in Sanctuary. I go by the CHAOS theory, you “chuck handfuls all over space”. My ethos! I like to think that in all of the mass confusion, the pests are unable to decide what they will eat first and die of anorexia…I like to think that but I doubt that it is true 😉

One of the new garden beds with basil planted out. I don't like basil. Stevie-boy doesn't like basil...why did we plant it? Because our friend likes basil and gave us the seeds. I think it was a hint.

One of the new garden beds with basil planted out. I don’t like basil. Stevie-boy doesn’t like basil…why did we plant it? Because our friend likes basil and gave us the seeds. I think it was a hint.

This area was where the pumpkins grew from a pile of compost last year up at the rear of Sanctuary. It was a very dry, hot area and I was wondering what to plant there this year when some pumpkins sprouted and a couple of tomato plants so I took that as a statement of posession and left them to it. I added a large marigold to the mix and some Jerusalem artichokes as they will grow on a hot tin roof. So far, they all seem to be getting along famously...we shall see...

This area was where the pumpkins grew from a pile of compost last year up at the rear of Sanctuary. It was a very dry, hot area and I was wondering what to plant there this year when some pumpkins sprouted and a couple of tomato plants so I took that as a statement of posession and left them to it. I added a large marigold to the mix and some Jerusalem artichokes as they will grow on a hot tin roof. So far, they all seem to be getting along famously…we shall see…

We cut the grapes back to single leaders (as per instruction from a tutorial we found online) and they are going gangbusters now. Apparently we need to let them go mental this year to achieve their final height and we need to make sure that we pull off all of the fruiting bunches for the first 3 years to let the plant strengthen to get the best grapes. We have 7 of these muscat grape vines planted out together that we grew from cuttings so one day we will have plenty of grapes for eating and for turning into muscatel raisins :)

We cut the grapes back to single leaders (as per instruction from a tutorial we found online) and they are going gangbusters now. Apparently we need to let them go mental this year to achieve their final height and we need to make sure that we pull off all of the fruiting bunches for the first 3 years to let the plant strengthen to get the best grapes. We have 7 of these muscat grape vines planted out together that we grew from cuttings so one day we will have plenty of grapes for eating and for turning into muscatel raisins 🙂

These are sweet potato leaves. Apparently they are just about to go ballistic and I am going to have to keep them in check with the whipper snipper but I don't care because the leaves are edible and so narf will be tucking into both ends of the prolific sweet potato with gleeful abandon :)

These are sweet potato leaves. Apparently they are just about to go ballistic and I am going to have to keep them in check with the whipper snipper but I don’t care because the leaves are edible and so narf will be tucking into both ends of the prolific sweet potato with gleeful abandon 🙂

Last Wednesday they were stalks, this Wednesday they are leafy and next week they will probably be about half a metre tall and covered with leaves. Spuds don't muck around!

Last Wednesday they were stalks, this Wednesday they are leafy and next week they will probably be about half a metre tall and covered with leaves. Spuds don’t muck around!

More pumpkins and my cucamelon (also called "Mouse melons") babies in their weld-mesh tube

More pumpkins and my cucamelon (also called “Mouse melons”) babies in their weld-mesh tube

This garden bed has eggplants, basil, tiny tim tomatoes, tomatillos and chillies in it. They were languishing in the glasshouse and I had nowhere to plant them but now I do so in they went! I have put silverbeet, perennial spinach and some other seeds that I have NO idea what they are (and the beetroots) in here as well. I found the seed packets where I had forgotten them a while ago and the snails had eaten the outer packets. I could recognise the spinach but the others are mystery seeds. Here's to interesting gardens! ;)

This garden bed has eggplants, basil, tiny tim tomatoes, tomatillos and chillies in it. They were languishing in the glasshouse and I had nowhere to plant them but now I do so in they went! I have put silverbeet, perennial spinach and some other seeds that I have NO idea what they are (and the beetroots) in here as well. I found the seed packets where I had forgotten them a while ago and the snails had eaten the outer packets. I could recognise the spinach but the others are mystery seeds. Here’s to interesting gardens! 😉

One of my experimental compost beds. I dumped buckets of compost into these areas and covered them with aged horse manure and oak leaves and have some interesting things growing out of the mix but mostly potatoes and pumpkins.

One of my experimental compost beds. I dumped buckets of compost into these areas and covered them with aged horse manure and oak leaves and have some interesting things growing out of the mix but mostly potatoes and pumpkins.

Leeks and carrots that went to seed. I plan on collecting the seed when they get around to ripening

Leeks and carrots that went to seed. I plan on collecting the seed when they get around to ripening

I don't think I will plant zucchini's next year. I either end up with blossom end rot or with so many zucchini's I can't even think straight. I might go with pattypan squash next year.

I don’t think I will plant zucchini’s next year. I either end up with blossom end rot or with so many zucchini’s I can’t even think straight. I might go with pattypan squash next year.

More pumpkins... can you tell I love them? ;) All of these pumpkins grew from compost bins. I didn't plant a single pumpkin this year.

More pumpkins… can you tell I love them? 😉 All of these pumpkins grew from compost bins. I didn’t plant a single pumpkin this year.

These look like "plums" to me, but they could also be sloes. I threw all of my old fruit seeds that I collected into the compost heaps and am digging out anything that resembles fruit as it pops up.

These look like “plums” to me, but they could also be sloes. I threw all of my old fruit seeds that I collected into the compost heaps and am digging out anything that resembles fruit as it pops up. Don’t you love our rustic glasshouse floor? 😉

 

 

My turmeric are up again and I NEED to get a garden bed dug for both them and the cardamom that is threatening to give up the ghost if I don't plant them out.

My turmeric are up again and I NEED to get a garden bed dug for both them and the cardamom that is threatening to give up the ghost if I don’t plant them out.

This year we plant out all of our combined nut trees that we have been growing on for a few years now. Most of these are walnuts but there is an avocado in the mix as well.

This year we plant out all of our combined nut trees that we have been growing on for a few years now. Most of these are walnuts but there is an avocado in the mix as well.

This is a cutting grown myer lemon that I am just about to plant out

This is a cutting grown myer lemon that I am just about to plant out

 

Baby indigo seedlings (Indigofera tinctoria) for future dyeing "events" on Serendipity Farm

Baby indigo seedlings (Indigofera tinctoria) for future dyeing “events” on Serendipity Farm

Baby Moringa trees (moringa oleifera) that have the awesome reputation of every single part of them being useful. When they first sprout they look like blades of grass and I almost pulled the biggest one out!

Baby Moringa trees (moringa oleifera) that have the awesome reputation of every single part of them being useful. When they first sprout they look like blades of grass and I almost pulled the biggest one out!

We still have raspberries ripening inside Sanctuary

We still have raspberries ripening inside Sanctuary

Blackberries ripening...

Blackberries ripening…

Inside Sanctuary..."EEK!"

Inside Sanctuary…”EEK!”

Earl protected baby figs

Earl protected baby figs

Earl protected nectarines!

Earl protected nectarines!

But wait...there's MORE! Earl has done an amazing job of teaching the possums who is boss inside his new compound and patrols all hours of the day and night so that the possums don't get comfortable with "routine" ;)

But wait…there’s MORE! Earl has done an amazing job of teaching the possums who is boss inside his new compound and patrols all hours of the day and night so that the possums don’t get comfortable with “routine” 😉

The very first fig(let) to ripen on Serendipity Farm :)

The very first fig(let) to ripen on Serendipity Farm 🙂

Blueberries! :)

Blueberries! 🙂

This is a piece of snapped off blueberry "stick" that I shoved into the ground when it was snapped off while we were covering the blueberries and it has struck! A new baby blueberry in Sanctuary :)

This is a piece of snapped off blueberry “stick” that I shoved into the ground when it was snapped off while we were covering the blueberries and it has struck! A new baby blueberry in Sanctuary 🙂

Steve had me splashing this water under instruction the other day "No...don't splash there, splash in the middle, but splash "quickly" and make a wave..." (sigh...)

Steve had me splashing this water under instruction the other day “No…don’t splash there, splash in the middle, but splash “quickly” and make a wave…” (sigh…). This is one of the birdbaths on Serendipity Farm. The wasps were a bit upset at having to wait for Steve’s artistic creativity to wane before they could get another drink 😉

I managed to get some fresh macadamia nuts. In order to get the best chance of germination, they need to be under 3 months old so I soaked them overnight and have 12 macadamia nuts potted up. I love adding new possibilities to Serendipity Farm :)

I managed to get some fresh macadamia nuts. In order to get the best chance of germination, they need to be under 3 months old so I soaked them overnight and have 12 macadamia nuts potted up. I love adding new possibilities to Serendipity Farm 🙂

Steve playing the mouth organ for the dogs to howl to...we have our telly, they get to howl. It's a fair swap ;)

Steve playing the mouth organ for the dogs to howl to…we have our telly, they get to howl. It’s a fair swap 😉

These are 2 bowls of porridge for the next few days. This mornings breakfast consisted of ground up millet, brown rice, sesame seeds, chickpeas, green and yellow split peas, lentils and barley with coconut and dates. It tasted a whole lot better than you would think ;)

These are 2 bowls of porridge for the next few days. This mornings breakfast consisted of ground up millet, brown rice, sesame seeds, chickpeas, green and yellow split peas, lentils and barley with coconut and dates. It tasted a whole lot better than you would think 😉

Here are what's left of our potted babies. Can you spot the intruder in the midst? ;)

Here are what’s left of our potted babies. Can you spot the intruder in the midst? 😉

The view of sodden Serendipity Farm this morning. Note the debris on the driveway

The view of sodden Serendipity Farm this morning. Note the debris on the driveway

A sodden (as opposed to "sodding") rooster on the lawn

A sodden (as opposed to “sodding”) rooster on the lawn

Steve wants me to show you the metal shovel that he bought for me the other day. It cost him $4.95 and is completely made of welded metal. Is there anyone else out there wondering how on EARTH you could make a shovel from go to whoa for $4.95?! Steve says that this proves that he loves me. When you buy your wife a shovel, that's true love ;)

Steve wants me to show you the metal shovel that he bought for me the other day. It cost him $4.95 and is completely made of welded metal. Is there anyone else out there wondering how on EARTH you could make a shovel from go to whoa for $4.95?! Steve says that this proves that he loves me. Anyone can suck up to their wife with flowers or chocolates but when you are comfortable enough to buy your wife a shovel, that’s true love 😉

Well, as Bug’s Bunny would say…”That’s all folks!”

 

Where do I start…

Hi All

This week has been a study in restraint for me. I have been holed up planning everything that I am going to do to those fecund, exponentially explosive blackberry bushes out there waving at me every time I walk out onto the deck. I have SUCH nefarious plans that I can’t even talk about them here in case those clever buggers have learned to read and find a way to hook into my internet connection to find out what I am up to. I SWEAR I killed them all last year…I swear often to my shame, but they must be made of sterner stuff because they are all back and twice as prickly. I am doing my best to minimise them by eating their tender, black, juicy babies but to no avail…they think they have me bested but not THIS little black duck. Come the cooler weather when I won’t wilt into a puddle of blackberry coloured narf, I am going to systematically remove all of the blackberries from Serendipity Farm. It’s not a wistful want…it is a driven need! Oh “Its ON” blackberries!

DSCF6941

“What have we here? A snoring troubadour if I am not mistaken!”

DSCF6942

“Yup”…he is fast asleep and still ready to spring into action as soon as he wakes…now THAT is a true musician 😉

DSCF6944

We had to make a quick trip into town recently when one of the second hand games that Steve had bought recently refused to work and he had only a couple of days left on his warrantee and we noticed an Indian grocery shop on the way and being me, Steve (without a word being spoken…I have trained him well 😉 ) stopped the car, handed me the wallet and got out to let some breeze into the car as it was a particularly hot day and we had the dogs with us. Look at all of this deliciousness! There was SO much more but I felt too guilty to peruse the shelves for too long as the dogs were hot. I am going to have to return ASAP but this time sans Steve and dogs 😉

DSCF6947

Sometimes Steve can make me snort wine out of my nose. Here is one of his nefarious ways to turn my nose into a wine tap (would that make me a cask? 😉 ). This recently purchased “interesting” packet of the Indian equivalent of Asian prawn crackers (except containing no prawn) is, according to Steve, Crash Bandicoot’s Indian Cousin…”Far Far” It took me a few seconds but as soon as I got it the wine started to flow…copiously! 😉

I received a post bag in the mail yesterday (Monday) and when I flipped it over and had a look at the sender I had a little “SQUEE!” moment. To everyone out there who hasn’t been infected by Jess/rabidlittlehippies amazing word that signifies and documents that precise moment where you think your head is going to explode with joy closely followed by your heart thanks to a delicious and most precious discovery/thing that has just happened to you…”SQUEE!” say the word…test it, roll those vowels around in your mouth and couple them with those expletive consonants and “SQUEE!” like a girl in a shop full of 90% off designer shoes ALL IN YOUR SIZE! Yeah I KNOW you know how to “SQUEE!” now! 😉

14020005

“Earl…its hot…start the car!”

14020001

You can actually see the point at which Earl realises he doesn’t have opposable thumbs…by the way NO comments about how dirty our car is. We are currently living in a dust bowl where whenever you set foot outside the house you raise a small puff of dust as you walk.

meditation_floating_bed

I need this…I need this NOW! An old round trampoline base turned into a stringy magic carpet 🙂

DSCF7189

I reckon it might be time to plant these cuttings out don’t you? 😉

My mad “SQUEEING” that brought the boys racing up the deck thinking that one of the chooks had turned feral and was pecking me to death (got to protect your interests you know…Steve isn’t the one that feeds them 😉 ) was due to seeing that the parcel was from one Ms Pauline, one of my wonderful and most deliciously artistic followers. I have NO idea what I did to deserve Pauline following my blog. I started off our blogging correspondence by roundly insulting her. She kept coming back for more! What can I say; the girl LOVES a challenge obviously 😉 Seriously though, Pauline makes the most beautiful, insightful comments on every single blog that she follows. You know when Pauline has gifted you her wonderful sense of humour and her delightfully lyrical use of the vernacular because you feel right royally hugged by butterflies.

DSCF7089

My camera doesn’t do justice to these delightful hand painted tiny little works of whimsical art. They are all gorgeous and Pauline is the cleverest thing since sliced bread and twice as talented 🙂

Pauline created some cards for me to remind me of just how very lucky I am. She and I share a beady-eyed magpie desire to collect and adore shiny things and each and every one of the cards that she made for me were bright, blissfully coloured and shiny out the wazoo! It was all I could do to not lick them Pauline, I wanted to ingest all of that gorgeousness…they are now OFFICIALLY my preciouses…good luck to anyone or anything that would like to liberate them from me. I am off on a studious hunt for gorgeous frames to frame them all in and will be mounting them on the wall above my enormous desktop monitor along with my sacred “Biscuit of Loveliness” card sent to me by the gorgeous thinkingcowgirl all the way over the seas in old Blighty where they actually get precipitation coming from the sky folks…I know! It really does happen in some places in the world 🙂

DSCF7181

This mornings breakfast of cooked buckwheat porridge (fresh ground from whole grain), a chopped red apple, some date paste and some homemade sesame milk. It was delicious 🙂

DSCF7172

I now realise why people who post about brownies rarely have good images. Do you KNOW how hard it is to take a good photo of a brownie?! This is the best shot I could get. These are vegan brownies that contain a hefty 2 cups of grated zucchini (something that Steve swears he is allergic to 😉 )and instead of the walnuts (that Steve doesn’t like) I added the equivalent amount of chopped dates that gave these delicious brownies some incredible body and texture. For a man that doesn’t like zucchini he certainly woofed down more than his fair share of these babies. They are dense and gooey and I am SUCH a good narf7 that I am going to share the recipe here with you 🙂

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/zucchini-brownies/

DSCF7055

Here’s an image of the 2 mixes ready to be gently folded together. I used raw sugar but the zucchini melted it nicely

DSCF7057

This is the point at which you would fold in the walnuts…feel free to sub them with anything you like…dates, chocolate chips, dried or glace fruit, squid, jars of vegemite (aHA so you were reading it eh? Just testing 😉 )

DSCF7060

Here is what the mix looked like spread into a buttered and floured cake pan. It rose nicely and was entirely delightfully easy to cook although we did have a bit of crusticular caramelisation occur due to it being baked in a covered bbq. Easy fix, cut off the “caramelisation” 😉

Aside from the cards that are now stamped on my heart, Pauline most generously sent me 3 of her gorgeous printed cards (all destined to be framed and mounted), a splendiferous and most beautifully written (you have lovely handwriting Pauline 🙂 ) card with an image of King Orlando on the front of it and 2 of her gorgeous prototype hippy bo-ho bracelets that I am going to wear shamelessly until they fall off me ragged and sweaty and full of narf7 skin cells most probably someplace in the veggie garden where the beads will turn up embedded in a scarlet runner bean pod at some day in the future where I need me a “shiny thing” moment. Pauline you floored me with your generosity and your talent. All I sent you was a wooden spoon…I didn’t even send you a card! I actually forgot your kefir grains! All will be remedied this week 🙂

DSCF7065

I purchased this packet of brown rice pasta when I was staying at my girls and heading to Hobart last. I decided that I might use it to make something delicious out of some leftovers…

DSCF7070

Cooked pasta at the back, a pan with butter and plain flour on the left ready for me to cook and add milk to form a roux sauce (which I then tossed cubed feta cheese and an indecent amount of grated cheddar cheese into to make rich and thick cheese sauce) and the leftover component of the recipe, some Bolognese meat sauce from spag bol 2 days before

DSCF7071

Tip the bolognaise sauce into the pasta and shovel copiously into a tagine that has NEVER been used to make a tagine

DSCF7080

Ladle on vats of rich cheese sauce and then cook in your oven of choice (ours is a covered bbq at the moment) until the top crisps and browns most deliciously. Steve could have cared less that he was ingesting brown rice pasta. He woofed down most of that large tagine full of this creation so I call this re-use of leftovers a success!

Pauline has a delicious blog where you can drool over her gorgeous artwork BUT I need to make this clear…no matter how gorgeous her artwork looks on her blog…don’t be fooled. It is 10 times lovelier in the flesh! Pauline has a delightful Etsy store where she sells her gorgeous things and where everyone can take advantage of Pauline’s amazing ability to take colour and splosh it about and end up with magic…pure shiny magic. As Molly Meldrum, an old Aussie music show host once said…”Do yourselves a favour and race out and buy these”!

DSCF6948

Taken just up from our driveway at 6am on my early morning walk with Earl

DSCF6952

As you can see it was pretty dark…

DSCF6958

A long stretch of road where Earl gets to sniff the delicious smell of fresh warm cows. I wonder if that is the doggy equivalent of fresh coffee and bread to us?

DSCF6961

This is the point at which we normally turn around and head back down this hill but today…we didn’t!

I have been walking Earl at sunrise lately. I have been enjoying heading out before the day heats up and we have been catching up with Jan and Mica most days and having a lovely “pack walk”. We were even joined by Bezial a couple of days last week when his dicky leg was up to it but the group frolic after party at Micas house might have just been a bit too much for him. All that frolicking and jumping and racing around left him hobbling around the next day so we are giving him a few days of “light walking duties” before setting out on a longer walk again. Bezial might not need long walks but Earl is the king of long walks. We set off on Sunday morning in order to burn off some of Earls excess energy and we walked our usual beat and when we arrived at our usual turning point to head home, I looked at Earl and said “let’s go a bit further eh?” He seemed up for it so we headed off up the hill and down the road to Bonnie Beach. Once we got to Bonnie Beach we decided (mutually) to keep going around to the end of Camm’s road (just so that anyone reading this who would like to stalk our walk on Google Earth or Google Maps can get a reference 😉 ) where we had a brief sniff of the gate of Rebecca Gibney’s of “Packed to the Rafters” fames gate before heading back home.

DSCF6963

We kept going and saw this old fellow on the way…

DSCF6967

A sunrise shot of Bonnie Beach where I asked Earl if he would like to keep going…you can probably guess his answer to that 😉

DSCF6970

Around the corner from Bonnie Beach and I just wanted to share this image of a “Dead Tree Walking” 😦 That branching fungus fruit there spells the end of this tree. Its a real pity as this is a most magnificent tree in a lovely place. Earl gave it the 3 legged salute to show his solidarity and we moved on…

DSCF6979

This embankment completely parted way with the road (that I am standing on) in last years incessant rain and so come clever thinking was put into action resulting in this gabion retaining wall. Most attractive and functional at the same time 🙂

DSCF6986

When you are walking 8km and you have to stop every 50 metres for “someone” to have a sniff it certainly makes a long walk turn into a L…O…N…G… walk!

We got almost home when Earl pricked up his ears and the familiar rumble of our little 4 x 4 came hurtling around the corner driven by a worried looking Stevie-boy and one most energetically prancing Bezial “sitting” in the front passenger seat. Apparently Earl and I had been gone for 3 hours…3 hours! And Steve and Bezial had gone for a walk and not been able to find us so they mutually decided to get out the “rescue van” to hunt further afield. Earl and I think that we were taken by aliens because it most certainly didn’t feel like 3 hours’ worth of trundling.  Earl was officially knackered but I was not! Obviously, I was being carried by all of my little microscopic kefir and kombucha inhabitants. I reckon I could have walked a few more kilometres quite happily. We worked out that we walked 8km and I think I might make that our “Sunday walk” from now on

DSCF6982

One rodent that I wouldn’t mind communing with 🙂

DSCF7012

Almost to the halfway point of our walk!

DSCF7017

Earl checking out the fortification on the jetty at the end of our first leg

DSCF7020

Lots and LOTS of oysters but you can’t eat them (even if you aren’t vegan!) because they contain 4 times the level of heavy metals considered to be a safe dose…cheers industry!

DSCF7026

On our way back and I couldn’t resist taking a shot of this gorgeous Corymbia ficifolia eucalypt. You can see how dry it has been around here by looking at this lovely “lawn” and this is a green one!

DSCF7001

It looks like Woolworths and Coles have successfully fooled nature with their nefarious desire to put Easter eggs into shops the day after Christmas…the Easter lilies are here!

DSCF7027

This would have to be the loudest beagle on the Pecos in full “BAAAOOOOO” 😉

DSCF7039

Heading back home and this shows where we are in relation to where we live. Those buildings are (from left to right respectively) Franks house, The Auld Kirk Church and we are somewhere in the midst of that pile of dark green there to the left of that small island 😉 still quite a while to go but unaware that the rescue wagon is on its way! 😉

I took a lot of pictures along the way and am using them predominately to decorate this post. I am more than aware that most of my dear constant readers don’t “read” my posts and I am down to a select core of stalwarts who are as mental and type A as I am who read the paragraphs between the images. The images are to satiate my followers for whom my aberrant and eccentric use of the vernacular isn’t appreciated (“PLEBIENS”! 😉 )

DSCF7124

Now we get to the ubiquitous shots of the veggie garden. Here you can see narf7’s patented (well it should be!) door closing device.

DSCF7090

I have stopped trying to achieve order in the garden and am just letting it go feral to its hearts content. Its heart is VERY content!

DSCF7091

More feral

DSCF7093

Both recent rescue figs are alive along with another adventitious compost tomato plant

DSCF7099

If you water them…they will come!

DSCF7103

Don’t ask me why this corn is so far away from its brethren…it “vants to be alone”?! No idea! I must have dropped a seed out of my pocket or gumboot (if I had one) or something but here it stands, the tallest of the corns and most majestic in its stately happiness. Are you starting to get an idea about how much planning I put into planting out this garden? 😉

DSCF7104

These are garlic chives. Are they meant to be this tall?!

DSCF7106

Remember that baseball sized pumpkin from last week? Well it is now basketball sized and has a baseball sized brother

DSCF7107

The pumpkins have decided that there isn’t enough room in this crowded spot to grow horizontal so they are growing vertically

DSCF7108

There is an experimental compost heap under this lot

Does anyone know what a Nutritarian is?!!! I am hazarding a guess that it is someone who is desperately attempting to make themselves appear to be a whole lot more interesting than they really are. Is it just me, or has there been an explosion of “crazy” when it comes to what people eat these days? It used to be that you ate “food” and some people were a bit more restricted than others due to true allergies, religion or personal choice but these days there are new “arians” coming out of the woodwork on a weekly basis! Someone even has a “Nutritarian” page on Pinterest. As far as I can gather by a quick perusal of the page, a “nutritarian” eats food. Go figure eh?

DSCF7113

We cut this sheoak down but it appears to want to come back. Who am I to argue? I might just keep it coppiced or whatever the equivalent is of allowing it to live and look like cousin IT in my veggie garden

DSCF7119

Kale that has been growing for almost a year now and is finally starting to look like kale!

DSCF7120

I have my suspicions that these aren’t pattypan squash. When they are “pattypan” sized they are bright green…they grow to football size before they turn yellow…

DSCF7121

“Oh what a tangled lot we weave when first we practice to get lazy and plant everything out wherever…”

It keeps threatening to rain here today but is holding it in and is making me cranky…”Just RAIN already!” I was guaranteed of a 95% chance of rain today and I had better not be disappointed weather men or I am going to start a campaign to save a WHOLE lot of money and have you all fired. The best way to tell if it is going to rain or not is to stand outside for a bit. If you come back in wet, it most probably rained. Some people get paid an exorbitant amount of money to translate that bit of wisdom 😉

DSCF7188

My bottle find that made me happy today. I guess it is natural selection at its finest. I am learning about Permaculture thus it is changing my way of thinking. I no longer see this bottle as “rubbish” I see it for all of the possibilities it contains. SO many possibilities! You just have to head to Pinterest to see what you can do with a humble glass bottle to get excited. I then pick up the bottle from where it had been thrown and take it home with me, thus removing the problem of litter and creating a nice clean patch of soil for someone else to throw out another bottle…Perpetual Permaculture 😉

I am starting to think that there might be something a bit strange going on with me lately. Does anyone else find bottles on the ground and hoot with glee? I was walking Earl over the Batman Bridge this morning and discovered a most delightful bottle sans cap that I found not too far from its bottle and I picked them both up (cap for my bottle cap wind chime) and carried them home along with a pair of twin bottles made by the same company. Here in Australia we do some fine boutique spirits but our old stalwart booze comes in the form of rum made in the sugar cane refinery rich state of Queensland. Distilling your own spirits is illegal in Australia where in New Zealand it is entirely legal (another reason for me to pack my bags and wing it over the Tasman…). The bottle that I found this morning appears to be new on the market for Bundaberg Rum and I was most interested to see a combination of Creaming soda and red rum! Sounds like a kiddies party drink to me but I am assured that it was 4.5% alcohol by volume and the 500ml bottle that I found, when full, could have rendered a child paralytic methinks.  My joy comes from collecting another bottle towards my stockpile that I am going to start using in interesting ways soon. Watch this space…

I have a lot of images to share with you in this post so I might just stop with DSCF7131

Take one packet of organic tofu…

DSCF7133

Combine these ingredients any which way you like and then pour them over the tofu that you cubed in between images

DSCF7139

Cubed tofu marinating in deliciousness

DSCF7162

Sprinkle furitake on top and serve to a husband who could care less that there is no meat in here…”it’s ALL good” 😉

the verbosity about now. I add comments to my images and even a few words add up to an exponentially long post when I use a lot of images. As our hot weather starts to (hopefully) cool down a bit I am hoping a swing in weather occurs for you northerners who could probably do with a bit of sunshine on your pasty snow covered countenances. We brown Aussies will be MOST glad to surrender it to you at your nearest convenience. Have a wonderful week and enjoy your weekend enough so you remember it with hazy joy and see you next hump day when I will have most probably done something but I am not promising anything! 😉

Who do you think you are?

Hi Folks

After some recent email conversations with the most delightful Pauline from “The Contented Crafter” where narf7 did her VERY best to alienate and enrage a potential dear friend by likening her to the most (in my eyes) gorgeous Kate Bush much to her chagrin, I started to think about who we think we are vs. who we “actually” are. I got to thinking that we should all take a good look in the mirror and then head over to get someone without a vested interest in their safety, to explain what they see when they look at us. I know that I see someone completely different to the person that everyone else sees because those photos are all LIES! I don’t look like that! Same goes for the voice but that’s another story…

DSCF6359

Kym, Bruce and Stevie-boy looking decidedly feral in his Hong Kong Phooey shirt but note the altogether happy face…”beer makes EVERYTHING good!”

DSCF6360

The same Kym and Bruce but sans Stevie-boy and a narf7 appears to have attached herself to one side of them. No beer though, straight kombucha for this little black narfy duck 🙂

I told Pauline that I had been prancing around the kitchen singing The Police hit song “Roxanne” at the top of my lungs and she expressed a degree of concern for my neighbours that is entirely unwarranted (if you know Frank, you would know what I mean 😉 ) however it did get me to thinking about my obviously incredible singing voice as experienced from inside the middle aged husk of narf7 vs. my “actual” singing voice as experienced by the rest of the world.

82e4501696b12a572bdce29ec746a5e4

Talking about Pauline, she makes wonderfully artistic mixed media art. This isn’t one of hers but it is similar to her fantastic works of art and I just really loved this saying :). Says it all really

DSCF6363

I have been an entirely spoiled narf7 this week. I received 2 boxes of the most gorgeous dark chocolate covered marzipan from a wonderful fellow blogger in the U.K. who pens the delightful Zeb Bakes. Cheers for the deliciousness Joanna, it didn’t last long but while it did, it most certainly did the trick! 😉

DSCF6371

Bev from The wonderfully enlightening, sustainable and altogether Permaculture soaked blog Foodnstuff sent me this wonderful tome (see girls…I SPELLED IT RIGHT THIS TIME but I am no WAY going back to amend it in back posts 😉 ) it is cram packed to the back gills with wonderful and most sustainable hints, tips and recipes and like most things from New Zealand, it is pragmatic and straight to the point…”No bullshut” here folks!

DSCF6395

And I also received a most unique and wonderfully practical gift from Jess at Rabidlittlehippy who sent me 12 beautifully sewn (not a seam out of place…how does she do that?!!!) produce bags so that I won’t have to put my veggies into plastic bags from now on. I will be able to use these wonderful bags and do my little bit to reduce plastic waste :). I am thinking that I might do some potato printing on the front of them (knowing lazy narf…I will just cut the potato in half and dab it into some ink and make smiley faces on the bags but whatchagonnadoeh? 😉 ) and when anyone asks me where I got them, I am going to direct them to Jess’s site. You had best get that Etsy stall going Jess as the customers are going to be lining up… 🙂

I had to make a voice recording of myself for last year’s course. I had to do this because my lecturer is a sadist who wanted to torture me. I had to listen to myself and hear someone who I didn’t recognise and who made me cringe. Did I really sound like that? I thought I had a rich cultured voice but it turns out I have a decided Aussie twang, I sound like Denise Scott with hay fever and if that’s how I sound when I talk…what on EARTH is my singing voice like?!!! Have I been torturing everyone for too many years than I wish to admit? Was my ex-husband actually right?!!!

DSCF6373

“A vat of carob and buckwheat smoothie and thou (Mr Terry Pratchett) sitting beside me in the wilderness (on the couch)” is pretty much all I need to make narf7 a blissed out little hippy 🙂

DSCF6378

An early morning image of what an 8 litre jar of buckwheat looks like…and eggs…

DSCF6459

What looks to be an uneasy truce between my kombucha on the left and my non-dairy (sesame milk and date paste) kefir on the right…

DSCF6462

One of the (many) benefits of having 2 daughters who are not only excellent cooks, but who like to experiment with Asian cuisines and unusual recipes and ingredients is that the shop owners of the places that they frequent and spend vast amounts of cash in, tend to be most grateful for their patronage…SO grateful in fact, that they give them 2 calendars for the New Year. One for them and one for their mum :). “Cheers Anthony!” If you are ever in downtown Launceston Tasmania and feel in need of some Aloe juice, or you want some Korean bean paste or some fermented beanshoots, you could do a whole lot worse than heading off to Tsing Wah and spending a few of your tourist dollars to support this excellent business 🙂

DSCF6467

This is my new brain. I got tired of relying on the old one to have it let me down again and again and again. I also got tired of trying to sort through all of the scraps of paper with hurried and fervent little notes from my inside self to my outside self scribbled down in unreadable handwriting so I decided “enough was ENOUGH!” and here is my new brain. Contained within shall be neat and most tidy lists of things to do, the order in which I want them done and copious quantities of dates, numbers and other most interesting and important things that I want to keep track of…or…most probably…I will still keep scrawling notes in the dark and leaving them strewn around because that’s what I am used to 😉

Who is that middle aged greying long haired golem impersonator gambolling about waving her liver spots at the camera and attempting to be sued by Denise Scott for impersonating her voice very badly? Is that me? IS THAT ME??!!! If so, why is Steve still here?! What DOES he see in me?! Why on EARTH hasn’t he fled screaming never to darken the gateposts of Serendipity Farm again? I have no idea folks. I get the feeling that we should all be anonymously and secretly videotaped going about our daily business. We should then be sat down and made to watch the results. The puddle of expired ego that results should be scooped up into a pretty bottle and stashed on a shelf at eye level where we can be reminded that sometimes we just aint who we think we are…but for the most part I am…I sing like an angel “ROXANNE!”, I look like a tanned and happy Valkyrie and my voice is strong but pleasant and in NO way contains any form of Aussie drawl…I said IN NO WAY! And we shall speak no more of this alarming and most enlightening of thoughts because my ego is sploshing sadly at me from the shelf next to the phone…sigh…

50 no way

I found this when I was trying to find an image of my daughter Madeline’s mug to share with you…altogether more appropriate for me!

Lol

Then I found this…and quickly became enamoured of it…

I know everything

Anyone who knows me (and many people who don’t) would say that this was the absolutely ideal mug for me 😉

Lol2

I LOVE this mug…no pressure! 😉

Oh YEAH

This one is even better! Entirely up to me what “shit” I want to get “done”  and in what order

Where was this mug when I needed it

Oh WHERE was this mug when my kids were refusing to eat their dinner! 😉 That’s enough pilfering humorous mugs for today. I am probably on Amazon’s most wanted list for flogging images (shhhhh!…you never saw it here!)

Its Tuesday suddenly. Where did the rest of the week go? Oh yes THAT’S right…it melted! I am feeling a little melancholy today for some reason and so I have decided to immerse myself in good music and sing my way out of it. I listened to the best of The Killers first and that did the trick. Now I am onto U2 and Mr Bono and I are strangely in tune…in sequence, because I was cutting up the dogs meat and was suddenly struck by a need to pee…I am only ever desperately struck by a need to pee when I am up to my armpits in something nefarious and Mr Bono started to sing “She moves in mysterious ways” and I was, indeed, moving in mysterious ways. Sort of shuffling and hopping like those African Bantu tribes men just before they do that big hop. I wasn’t quite game enough to attempt the big hop and was having enough trouble with the shuffle bit but I had just been reading Wendy who pens Quarter Acre Lifestyle  from over the water’s (New Zealand) post about how the universe rises up to meet you if you are prepared to meet it half way and it made me smile that Mr Bono and I should meet each other half way in order to attempt to make my dear constant readers have a bit of a chuckle on hump day. “Your job here is DONE Mr Bono”…you can go back to your castle or wherever it is that you live with the Dali Lama and Mother Teresa’s ashes content that you were of use today…

DSCF6465

My latest Mr Pratchett novel that I am devouring and savouring slowly because it’s the last one (in my possession) in the Discworld series. I am waiting on the latest novel to be printed in paperback so that I can add it to my collection and savour it at my leisure 🙂

DSCF6456

Proof that I am a shameless hoarder…

DSCF6457

More proof…

DSCF6453

Now you can’t blame me for wanting to hoard that fossil! Nothing like outing yourself for the blogging world to see (but it won’t stop me hoarding 😉 )

DSCF6383

Talking about hoarding…pantry 1…

DSCF6385

Pantry 2…

DSCF6381

And a VERY tidy pantry 3 complete with Earl the wonder dog photobombing the shot 😉

My eldest daughter Madeline turned 26 today. That means that I am the mother of a 26 year old woman. Not only that, but I am also the mother of a 24 year old in April and most shockingly, a 32 year old in that same month. How can that be? Surely I am only 30 myself?! Madeline has a mug that says that “It took me 50 years to look this good” (don’t ask). The sad thing is that in my case it is true! I have been holing up inside ostensibly to reduce my RSS Feed Reader that ate Paris while Kym and Bruce were here visiting but in all honesty I am frankly terrified of what the garden has metastasised into out there. The long wet winter and the sudden onset of heat seems to have awoken the Kraken (blackberry) in a most alarming way and what should be tendrils are giant squid sized branches reaching out to grab the unsuspecting (read narf7 on her way out to the washing line). Anything thicker than my wrist is to be feared and we are just about to transcend that goal. I am doing my best to eat the blackberries young to prevent them from spreading but they have awoken to my plans and have decided to triple fortify themselves AND give the chooks somewhere amazingly impenetrable to lay the few eggs that they feel like laying in between hatching out huge clutches of chicks…I am starting to panic about how focussed and virulent everything that isn’t human has become on Serendipity Farm…

DSCF6402

The ubiquitous garden (triffid) shots that you, my dear constant readers, have come to expect each week…

DSCF6403

As you can see, the garden has taken over the area and is doing whatever it damned well pleases and who am I to argue?

DSCF6407

This photo was an attempt to show you the compost heap experimental garden without actually having to haul my lazy carcass over to the far corner of the garden…did it work? 😉

DSCF6440

Part of the reason why Serendipity Farm is full of asparagus with more growing every year. Most of the existing asparagi (is that the plural?!) are covered in these little red fruits that apparently taste good to birds because they get ingested and the seeds “dumped” all over the place and I, for one, am absolutely delighted! I can’t vouch for Frank but I reckon that’s another tick against my name in his “most despised” list 😉

DSCF6412

Jerusalem artichokes going mental. I will be transplanting them in a better (more protected) area where they will be allowed to spread to their hearts content with no complaints from me!

DSCF6445

Steve’s shed looking suspiciously tidy for once…oh wait a minute…that’s because “I CLEANED IT!” sigh…

“Oh I LOVE this song!” Every time I hear Mr Bono sing “One” it makes me melt…it bleeds deep into me and Mr Bono and I are “one” :). Does that happen to anyone else out there? When you read, watch an amazingly good movie, listen and sing amazing songs do they become part of you? I often find myself dancing around the kitchen twirling like a narfy dervish to the songs that I listen to and infusing like a fine aged cold pressed coffee. MAN I love music :). I was told a story regularly by my Grandmother and my mother about how when my Uncle Wally brought home the Beatles single “Aint She Sweet” that I raced out of the room that I was otherwise occupied in and suddenly started to dance like crazy. I obviously amused them because they recanted that story well into my adulthood. The thing is, I DO love music. It isn’t just “music” it really does become part of me and I can lose myself in it for hours. I can bliss out and completely change my mood if I am feeling grumpy or twitchy (both to be avoided) and I could just listen to music all day and all night if Stevie-boy wasn’t partial to watching crap T.V. and complaining about how loud the music is and how he can’t hear the loggers cutting down the trees or the Mountain men hunting “bars” (yes…I deliberately spelt that wrong…that is how they say it!) over the top of my exemplary singing (he would say “screeching” but what would he know eh?!)

DSCF6411

Prospective olives…

DSCF6408

Prospective Myrtus communis berries…

DSCF6400

Prospective figs

January seems to have lifted up her skirts and is in full pelt to get out of 2014. February is going to be a bit grouchy about having to take over so soon methinks. I am SURE January fudged it a bit and is going AWOL too soon. February will hardly have finished his cup of coffee before he will have to put on his bowler hat and come to the party…it’s just NOT cricket January! Steve turns 49 on Monday and has decided that he and The Mumbly Cumumbus are going to meld this year and so gifts are to be of the fishy persuasion. I don’t mind. Steve has the best fun out pootling around on the water and I am all for him having the best fun in life 🙂 I feel for my daughters who are going to be ferried around the local fishing shop as Steve takes the lead pointing at lures, shiny things, red beads, squidgy little plastic prawns that stink to high heaven and goodness only knows what else in order to amass his “present” from them. It is always an adventure to trail behind Steve. That’s why I will be staying put and “watching the dogs at home” 😉

DSCF6431

3/4’s of Serendipity Farm is covered in agapanthus flowers at the moment

DSCF6427

This is a salvia…it is blue…it is tall…it is pretty…it comes back every year after dying down over winter…if you want to know any more about it you had best Google it because narf7 isn’t going to deprive you of precious time researching (and she can’t be bothered to go look up the name 😉 )

DSCF6425

Another gratuitous flower shot, this time Nigella damascena, one of my imports

DSCF6413

This is the only gazania on Serendipity Farm. Most probably because I love them 😉

DSCF6416

Crocosmia and Feverfew ensuring that the soil doesn’t turn into dust and blow away

DSCF6419

Buddleia davidii or butterfly bush

DSCF6417

Buddleia globosa, a yellow ball shaped version and as you can see, favourite fodder for bees 🙂

DSCF6390

A narfs eye view taken from the newly painted bench where I parked my derierre to read the other day

DSCF6389

Same bench, but a slight swivel of the wrist to the right…

DSCF6386

And lastly, the view behind the bench (and yes…those ARE Christmas lights in the window…thankyou for noticing 😉 )

I have just been outside wandering around aimlessly taking photos for this post so I guess that means that it is “all over red rover” and “finito” and “Arividerci Roma” for another Wednesday. It’s drop dead gorgeous day today on Serendipity Farm. The sky is blue, the trees are (still) green, there is a lovely cool breeze blowing and what a difference to last week! I am revelling in just being alive today and feeling incredibly grateful and thankful for my lot :). Have a fantastic week and see you next week when I will probably be covered in scratches from head to toe because I fully and most DEFINITELY intend on tackling those blackberries…”NO PRISONERS!” 😉

About the best thing a bike could be used for

Finally, I would like it known that this is the absolutely, positively BEST use for a racing bike yet! 😉

Hot, hot HOT down in sizzling Sidmouth

Hi Folks,

Back to my normal posting style (if, indeed, I have one) for today’s post. My life lessons for this week have been tangled up in painting and hacking through blackberries and walking Earl at a somewhat brisk pace, sometimes doubling back on ourselves at an alarming speed and with humorous results but that’s another story…The temperature continues to rise on Serendipity Farm and all over Australia. I got back from walking Earl this morning (Sunday) and found Steve and Bezial sitting on one of the rugs on the deck. It’s a lovely place out there now and an additional “room” that we can take advantage of over the summer period. Our local government gave “cash back” incentives to people who had their fireplaces removed and who installed electric heat/cooling pumps in order to “minimise pollution”. For a government who is pushing this pulp mill like flogging a dead horse and who can’t be bothered policing anything environmental you have to think that there might just be an agenda involved with that decision and you don’t even have to poke it with a stick before you see that as the primary shareholders in our power, the government has somewhat vested interests in us all cashing in our solid fuel heaters and paying through the nose for electricity.

Garden Advisory Service

I pinched this from Mr Leunig. I love it 🙂 If you feel like suing me Mr Leunig, I will pay you in zucchini, the legal tender on Serendipity Farm 😉

DSCF6331

If you don’t believe me…here I am, using Earl’s not inconsiderable bonce as a size comparison for this monster. Last week this was a tiddler. A week later it is over a foot long

DSCF6279

This is to show you how hot it has been around here of late. This candle was artistically doing duty out on the front deck. It had been doing duty out there for years. Not even Earl had bothered with it, but this year it decided to take one look at our summer and gave up the ghost. It melted. THAT is how hot it is here folks!

DSCF6295

Aren’t these bumper stickers amazing? Linne of the eclectic and most crafty and world wise blog A Random Harvest sent these beauties to me so that I can put Trogdor in pride of place on our little 4 x 4 battle wagon’s tailgate. Every time I look at these stickers I smile because I am reminded of how amazing it is to be able to share a good friendship with someone on the other side of the world. Back when we were kids, Linne and I would have had to send snail-mail letters and be pen pals but now we can chat, send messages and comment almost instantaneously…and they say that technology is bad! Thankyou from the bottom of my little Trogdor infused heart Linnie and BIG (hot sweaty) hugs from Sidmouth to you 🙂

The catch 22 situation involved with that is that Tasmanian’s are sooky la-las when it comes to any variations in Temperature. They have real problems when the temperatures go up any higher than 25C and down any lower than 0C and those heat/cooking pumps and air conditioners start humming like a swarm of bees on the move. Tasmania is a relatively small state but when the entire population turn on their electrical cooling at the first sign that it might just be a warm day, something’s got to give and what happens is that we have rolling power outages. We just lost power for about 15 minutes. I could care less because everything that we need for the duration is gas or “other” powered. It is more of a nuisance for us to be honest but think of how later in the day when it really IS hot, those outages are going to impact on when the coolers are really needed…numpties tend not to think. That is my explanation for a “numpty”, “People who try their very hardest NOT to use the brain that God gave them”. Simple…and the sad thing is that ¾ of Tasmanian’s are like that through no fault of their own and through a systematic and most nefarious  population control by corrupt state government and big business (predominately the forestry industry and its key players).

DSCF6264

This is matcha green tea powder. My wonderful daughters purchased it for me. By the way girls I found that small baggie I pinched from you! Want it back? 😉 I used some of it to make myself a delicious hot matcha sesame milk sweetened with date paste. It was delicious 🙂

DSCF6285

This is how we Earl proof Steve’s music room in order for him not to roast every time he wants to play guitar in there

DSCF6291

We didn’t have the luxury of more of those gate/door thingo’s to put on the middle room but it needed airing out and so we had to formulate an Earl proof plan…do you like it? I call it “Chair…like you are going in THERE sunshine!” 😉

DSCF6238

I shall show you this once. We shall speak of it no more after this one time. This…is the letter “P”. It once took pride of place between the “O” key and the “{[” key on our keyboard. I closed Earl and Bezial in the house when I was painting the deck boards and when I came back inside I checked for collateral damage (like you do) and couldn’t see anything. I sat down to check emails and was oblivious to anything until I attempted to type the letter “P” and found an empty space. I went hunting for the letter and discovered it on the floor with these tell-tale tooth marks on it. What I want to know is how the heck did Earl manage to extract this key from a keyboard without moving the keyboard from its original position and without doing any other damage to the keyboard?!!! (Be afraid… be VERY afraid!)

When education is pushed down to sub-necessary, it is very easy to fool the population most of the time when half of them can’t actually read or understand how to fill in a form. So when the state government tells them to “get a heat pump” most of them mindlessly “baaaa” their way to the nearest Harvey Norman store where they can hock themselves up to the eyeballs for the next few years. Don’t forget, most of we Taswegians are unemployed or underemployed and thus expensive new heating and cooling systems represent a large proportion of our income. The poverty cycle in Tasmania means that many Tasmanian’s are unable to pay the huge power bills that are being accrued by their adhering to state government urging and a spiral of poverty is forcing people into heading to charities in order to make ends meet.

DSCF6143

Here you have Serendipity Farm partially completed…

DSCF6147

Then we painted the weather damaged cedar…

DSCF6247

Then I decided to paint this old bench that Steve and I built years ago with timbers on the property…

You won’t hear about that on the news or read about it in the newspapers. You find out about it by living here and seeing how things work. It does foster a sub culture of resilience however. It is amazing to see how people get by, get around and just “get” themselves from A to B when they need to and there are none more generous than people who know how hard it is to be down and out. Tasmanians are very generous givers to charity. They help out a mate and they will share what they have. I have found that this occurs wherever there is a welfare belt or when people are subject to living below the poverty line. My grandmother would have said “needs must…” and she was right. When you can’t get what you want with the folding green, you have to find another way. There are good and bad things about every situation and learning how to be resilient is right up there with the best skills you can learn in life.

DSCF6243

Then after what felt like an ETERNITY we ended up with this 🙂

DSCF6249

Which turned into this. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea but it suits us just fine 🙂

While the power was out I headed up to water the veggie garden (triffids). Steve hooked up the Mumbly Cumumbus and headed out with a spring in his step, his battered old straw hat with an imported beer logo on it a past gift from our generous daughters and a 20 litre bucket just in case he actually catches anything. Steve loves to trawl around the Tamar in the sunshine with the smell of the salty air, the breeze blowing up his shorts (why do they call them shorts when they are down to his knees?!!!) and as many fishing rods in the water as he has digits to hold them. Much like a “mans shed”, a “man’s tinnie (small aluminium dinghy)” is vital to his happiness when he lives in close proximity to any body of water.

DSCF6292

Knowing that we had an impending visit from Kym and Bruce I decided to tidy up a bit. I moved a lot of things and simplified and this is the new kitchen setup. Nice and simple and clean lines. No doubt it will take me all of a week to take it back to cluttered but I now have this image to remind me how nice it looks when there aren’t bits of sea glass, stones, seed pots, plant material etc. littered all over the place 😉

DSCF6255

Here we have Stevie the fix-it-man wonder boy (who is turning 49 at the end of January) putting the “new” shower door on the shower. We got given the door by a friends wonderful mother and it certainly makes our lives happier. Now Earl can sit and stare at me as I shower…not disturbing at ALL! 😉

I started to sketch down ideas for this post but as usual, I am free forming. I need to check out if choko’s (Chayote’s) are annual, biannual or perennial because my choko from last year is still in a pot in the glasshouse and I have a nice spot in the garden for it to climb up one of the supporting poles (circus poles) so that it can grow with impunity.  I just went and checked and it is “a long lived vigorous, tender herbaceous perennial vine with tuberous roots”. “WOOT!” so that means I now need to find someplace it can grow happily in perpetuity. I also found out some interesting and useful information about it…”The leaves and fruit have diuretic, cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory properties, and infusions of the leaves were used to dissolve kidney stones.” Always good to know that your food has other uses

DSCF6257

Here you can see just how bewildered Stevie-boy can get when faced with an appliance that is more bolshie than I am. He eventually got this hot water system to go but he can’t tell you how or he would have to kill you

DSCF6355

This is what is left of our 900 potted plants that we ferried here as wide eyed city folk. We had SUCH plans! Those plans have faded into obscurity and we are still trying to work out where to put these last few plants on Serendipity Farm or if, indeed, they have a place here at all. They are revelling in water here. Narf7 forgot that she had put the overhead sprinklers on and came out about 2 hours late (I know CRINGE!) to find the duck wading in water and quacking merrily. At least someone was happy with all of that water gone down the proverbial and literal drain 😦

I also wanted to share this paragraph from a post that I read this morning from the blog Zenhabits. It came from a list of shake-up’s that the author had given himself to get himself motivated out of a blue funk. It affected me predominately and made me really think about living each day to the fullest…

“I remembered that this day counts. I only have so many days left on earth. I don’t know how many that is, but I do know it’s a very limited number. I know that each one of those limited days is a gift, a blessing, a miracle. And that squandering this miracle is a crime, a horrible lack of appreciation for what I’ve been given. And so, I reminded myself this morning that this day counts. That I should do something with it. That doesn’t mean I need to work myself into the ground, type until my fingers are mere nubs, but that I should do something worthwhile. Sometimes taking a break to nourish yourself is a worthwhile activity, because that allows you to do other worthwhile things, but just sitting around in self-pity isn’t helpful, I’ve found. So I got up and did something.”

Often, just getting up and doing something is enough to get you someplace where life looks and feels a bit better. I looked out over the Batman Bridge at the expanse of water below and the gorgeous countryside I was walking through and the beauty of the early morning tinged with the warmth of the sun’s rays and felt truly blessed.

DSCF6298

I took this shot this morning when I was walking Earl to show you how overcast it was. Overcast, foreboding and humid out the wazoo! Not my favourite kind of day but at least we have a nice breeze blowing and that makes up for too many degrees on the thermometer (almost…)

DSCF6300

We saw this lovely little fellow taking a rest on the road. You can see how dry the soil is in this image

DSCF6304

We also saw this…”EEK!” Council have been mowing the grassy roadside verges and this little fellow appears to have been “reaped”

I discovered a food blog yesterday that made me sit up and take notice. I am a bit of a habit former when it comes to what I eat. I develop a repertoire and tend to just plod along eating the same old same old because by the time I get to my evening meal I am usually semi-asleep on my feet. Not anymore! I have seen this blog in my peripherals as I wade through the morass of vegan food blogs and “alternative” foodie sites in my early morning exploration of “grub”. I discounted it for 2 reasons.

  1. “Veggie num num”.  I REST MY CASE! Anything with a name as ridiculous as this is likely to drive me insane in the first 5 minutes of perusing it.
  2. It is a “vegetarian” blog, not vegan

So I have been sliding around the edges of this blog for a while now. It keeps coming up and waving at me from a distance and I keep putting my head down and walking in the opposite direction. Yesterday we collided. You know when you see the love interests in a movie collide? Well it was like that. I think I just found my new passion on a wholesome tasty stick. I stumbled over one of Trudy’s scrumptious looking, most inventive recipes on Pinterest and it piqued my interest to visit the site ostensibly to plunder the recipe but also to have a stickybeak around. It was love at first site! I don’t think I have found a single recipe yet (and there are legion) that I didn’t want to race out to the bbq and cook. I will be working my way through this amazingly creative ladies recipes for the foreseeable future. My wooden spoons will be redolent of spices and interesting flavour combinations and I will be substituting buckwheat for rice, rice noodles for wheat noodles and mucking around with the components of the recipes that are vegetarian and turning them veganise.

DSCF6354

I love Shasta daisies 🙂 I HATE Osteospermum daisies. Not much difference between them really but the Shasta’s are welcome here, welcome to spread all over the place but I frown whenever I see an invading Osteospermum daisy. Horses for courses folks… horses for courses 😉

DSCF6353

The ONLY way we are going to get sunchokes/Jerusalem artichokes on Serendipity Farm is to protect them like this. Apparently wallabies love artichokes of any kind and even though they are hardy and drought tolerant, being chewed down to stumps makes it awfully hard to survive 😦

I learned about perseverance and the power of extreme passion when it comes to overcoming adversity. Narf7 + blackberries = “adversity” on STEROIDS. The extended wet winter that we just had combined with our inability to get out into the garden has seen the blackberries and spear (scotch) thistles take over Serendipity Farm. While I was focussing on the forget-me-nots I forgot that there are worse things than having your upper eyelids stuck to your hairline. Spear thistles are not my friend. I don’t care that you can make vegan rennet from them because to get that rennet you have to allow them to grow and my mission in life is to hamper their growth at all costs. I wasn’t intending to tackle the spear thistle and blackberry problem that now inhabits the second garden almost completely when I headed down with my trusty secateurs yesterday. I was going to spend 10 minutes pruning a few stray tendrils of blackberry and a lot of plectranthus that went feral with all the rain. I didn’t even take gloves…

DSCF6313

New growth on one of  the Brachychiton discolor that we planted out. They are all adapting well and none of them have died yet

DSCF6306

Coming up the driveway today…

DSCF6311

Part of the tea-tree garden where Steve whipper snipped. It might be full to the brim with forget-me-not seeds but at least it looks tidy now 😉

You would have thought that I would have realised that this task might be a little more complex than was immediately apparent when I couldn’t actually see through the archway to the garden behind it, but not narf7…I am not known for my observatory powers, and so I headed into the battle completely unaware that I was going to have to fight tooth and nail for my tiny patch of ground. I also should have known that it was going to be a hard slog because Steve had abandoned his hedge trimmer in the immediate vicinity and was in his shed “cleaning up” and whistling in a most nonchalant way… I started by noting that some of the blackberry canes were HUGE! I was a bit bemused because last year I cut them all back and wouldn’t have thought it possible for them to have grown so enormous in the space of a single year. I was wrong. The blackberry mother (like the alien mother…) is a very protective creature. The worst and most thorny canes are usually on the outside of the blackberries boundaries and are the fruiting canes. You have to tackle them first before you can breach the mother and she ALWAYS puts up a good fight.

DSCF6351

Here’s that little choko that I have yet to find a forever home for in the veggie garden. He seems to be very happy at the moment in the glasshouse but I am sure he would rather be climbing up one of the garden poles or a tree on the side of the garden

DSCF6350

Avocado trees grown from seeds, turmeric starting to shoot (in the black pots at the front of this photo) and over to the right, my little mango trees that I grew from seed. Aint nature grand? 🙂

DSCF6347

A closer shot of those turmeric shoots absolutely loving the conditions inside the glasshouse now it is covered in protective netting and feels like tropical North Queensland inside

2 hours later narf7 was in the blazing sun, howling like a banshee at each small victory. Cut to ribbons with blood streaming down my arms and each cane cut and thrown onto a large tarpaulin felt like a major victory in the war. I managed to get the archway opened up and was faced with a dense forest of spear thistles that were equally as defensive of their territory…add to that the blackberries had spread to most of the gardens in the area, everything has grown exponentially over spring and no-one has mown the grass in this area and you can probably see why I decided to decamp back to base to plot my next move. This coming week will see me triumph. I know I will triumph because unlike blackberries, I don’t have to rely on my spines, I have a mind so sharp you could cut cheese with it and I am formulating a cunning plan (hopefully not as cunning as one of Baldric from the Black Adder series “cunning plans”…) The blackberries and spear thistles may be heavily fortified, in possession of the territory and heavily outweigh narf7’s in this war BUT I have my trusty secateurs, a pair of welding gloves (that I WILL remember to take down with me, “forewarned is forearmed”!) and a trusty pair of loppers to bypass those nasty reaching canes that grab you on your nether regions when you bend to pick up their fallen brethren. I SHALL triumph!

DSCF6340

The ubiquitous weekly compost shot. I know that some of you poor polar vortex infused Northerners are living vicariously through my compost heap so here is a gratuitous shot just for you to print out and put on your fridge 😉

DSCF6344

Not “Where’s Wally?”…”Where’s Bezially?”

DSCF6346

One of 2 cardamom plants that seem to be tough as nails that are still surviving here on Serendipity Farm after years of neglect

DSCF6328

The view of my fecund vegetable plants (trifids)

DSCF6332

Beetroots! 🙂

DSCF6337

Tomato “weeds” that seeded outside the garden. Best kind of weeds methinks

DSCF6334

I dug this red clover up from the side of the road last year and lugged it back home in my bag. It is now almost a metre across and loving it and flowering prolifically. Weeds? Nope, very useful plants 🙂

DSCF6339

My potatoes are all starting to flower. The only think I know about potato flowers is that if they are white, the spuds are white and if they are pink, you have pink skinned spuds. That is ALL I know. I also think it means I might get some potatoes this year but I am not holding my breathe 😉

Well it looks like this is a long post and I am going to finish up here for the week. At the beginning of the week, my zucchini plants had small fruit on them about as long as my little finger. At the end of the week they are pick able. The yellow zucchini appear to be much slower growing but I am going to have to watch the green zucchini and the patty-pan squash as they are off the chart when it comes to exponential growth and now that Veggie num num has come to my rescue and suggested some excellent recipes for me to try that use the humble zucchini and I noticed this gorgeous Chocolate, cherry and zucchini cake on Angela of Canned Time’s blog and am going to have to make it because it looks like moist, unctuous, dark chocolaty heaven on a stick that I can use up zucchini in and that I can actually eat…and no doubt I am going to have to think of ways to preserve it for later use. I will be fermenting some, using it in just about everything and offloading it to my unsuspecting children (girls…you don’t suspect alright? ;)).

DSCF6327

It’s too hot to cook indoors so tonight Kym, Bruce, Steve and I are having a bbq. They are having narf7’s homemade beef burgers with the lot – bacon, Serendipity Farm eggs, cheese, sliced pickled beetroot (its an Aussie thing 😉 ), salad and tomatoes with condiments. I then decided that I should probably go out on a limb and provide some kind of nibblies for when we have drinkies… so I bought some bbq crisps, made some narf friendly hummus with rice crackers and veggies and made this strange 70’s hedgehog. I have NO idea why our mothers were not all neurotic and insane for having to produce these hedgehogs at a moments notice right through the decade of the 70’s. They were haute cuisine at the time and I have my suspicions that they were made out of processed cheese as feta and crumbly tasty cheddar do NOT like to be forced onto cocktail sticks!

enhanced-buzz-10821-1389281128-13

Lastly, I found this wonderful delight on the interweb…I was contemplating making it for Kym and Bruce’s meal tonight. I just KNOW they would have loved it. I might save it for when the queen comes to visit Serendipity Farm. She looks like someone who would truly appreciate this delightful vintage 70’s dish. I will stick with the hedgehog 😉

I just found an awesome book that I am trying to request from the library (but those rolling power outages seem to have hit their site so I will have to wait a bit and retry) and that I am going to buy ASAP called “Perennial Vegetables: From Artichokes to Zuiki Taro, A Gardener’s Guide to Over 100 Delicious and Easy to Grow Edibles” by Eric Toensmeier. I used the Google book format to find out the information about the choko/chayote via this book and just had a little look at it and it is wonderful! Book Depository, here I come! I just found the book 25% off at a local seller called Fishpond.com.au so narf7 is even happier! Have a great week folks. To my northern friends suffering under the umbrella of frigid cold that the Polar Vortex has brought to you all, enjoy your marshmallows and hot chocolate because sooner than you know you will be back up to your armpits in the heat of summer again 😉

Philosophy 101 narf7 style

Philosophy 101 narf7 style

Hi Folks,

Uncle Travelling Matt

I decided that 2014 was going to be a year where I learned/tried something new every day. Here are my first weeks reporting’s back to you, my dear constant readers. I feel like Travelling Matt from Fraggle rock, out reporting back so that you can all sit in your armchairs in the relative safety of your homes and learn from narf7’s mistakes…here we go…

DSCF6067

The deck prior to starting work

 

DSCF6158

The deck as of today. I have yet to paint the area in the foreground but that is on the cards for tomorrow

DSCF6162

Around the side of the deck

DSCF6202

The western red cedar that had deteriorated badly due to not being treated in 20 years is now a nice sage green. There used to be a large rose and clematis clump over this area of the deck but as I was pruning it decided to part ways with the deck and now lies on the ground in front of it. A problem for another day!

DSCF6133

Painting the deck step rails

DSCF6209

Bezial surveying his land

1. New Year’s Day – Starting the New Year with a sinus headache sucks. I had a bonus lesson today in the shape of “when sanding the deck on New Year’s Eve, wear a face mask in order to not have a sinus headache on New Year’s Day”…lesson learned TICK!

DSCF6139

A headache isn’t going to stop narf7! It might look like I am lying down on the job but some jobs require a degree of horizontality

DSCF6136

In my “Smurfette” phase…I have since been through my Kermit the frog phase and a brief stint with thinking I was Casper the friendly Ghost. Now I think I am a Jackson Pollack original. I am going to sell my bespattered trousers off to the highest bidder 😉

DSCF6230

Clever green washing to attract the unwary husband. Steve brought this home the other day on the shopping pronouncing it “organic”. He associated the green colour, the name “nutrients” the image and the “premium” with organic and figured it was better than the brand that we usually buy. I said “did you check where it was grown?” (he obviously hadn’t…) and surprise, surprise it is grown in China! It might have worked once but they won’t fool him again

DSCF6154

The awesome 8 litre jar that Steve bought for me the other day. I am going to get a couple more for my buckwheat and my sesame seeds

DSCF6215

Some of the bargain plants I have been picking up from small roadside stands lately. I am collecting monocots (grasses and iris type plants) for the driveway

DSCF6161

Who needs chia when you have buckwheat? I soak my buckwheat now for my morning breakfast smoothies and it forms a thick layer of gel. I love how these smoothies keep me going for the whole day until I am ready for my evening meal. Combined with my homemade kefir and Kombucha they are nutrient powerhouses

DSCF6232

A pint of free blueberries from our crazy American friend…trying to win us back 😉

2. Breaking large seemingly insurmountable tasks into small manageable chunks prevents you from hiding under the bed with Earl and not coming out. I realised that Steve’s desire to “do the deck” could be considered to be an insurmountable task and when I found myself shuffling mindlessly sideways towards the bedroom on Thursday,  I chose, instead, to pick up a paint brush and just “start”. A few hours later and many small chunks of painting and I had finished off the deck stairs and most of the deck railing. I learned the value of small chunks from Mr Adam Richman of “Man vs. Food” fame. When faced with having to ingest a hoagie the size of his not inconsiderable derrière, he would always break it down into small bite sized pieces…lesson learned TICK!

jewelled_caddisfly_riverfly.co.uk

I am probably going to get sued for using this image but this is the lengths that some jewellers go to in order to not have to do ANY work at all and get the maximum profit. The ultimate in middle man…poor cadis fly larvae!

3. Life IS like a box of chocolates. Mr Gump’s mama certainly knew what she was alluding to. When faced with a full and open box of chocolates we all go for something different. My personal favourites are chocolate covered Turkish delight. I was walking back over the Batman Bridge today after heading off with Earl for his daily exercise (and my daily drag) when I noticed a little trail of “jellybean stones” on the roadside. Jellybean stones are little smooth stones in the shape of jellybeans and I collect them whenever I see them on the side of the road. A truck delivering garden stones to a nursery must have passed by and lost some of its cargo and ever the magpie I bent to pick them up. We are all different. What one of us finds irresistible is so much “meh” to someone else. We pick and choose what we find attractive and worthwhile as we travel through our lives. We collect little piles of whatever we fancy and we stockpile them like Caddis fly larvae (Put picture in of those jewelled cadis fly larvae) in order to make our lives comfortable and attractive to us. I learned that I like simple natural things. I also learned that you don’t head out into the road part of the bridge in front of large log trucks to pick up tiny stones or that life that you wish to add those little stones to might be somewhat shorter than you imagined it…lesson learned TICK!

DSCF6228

My BAD in situ ready for me to elbow open the pantry door…I LOVE gifts from the universe, they are always perfect and exactly what I need, when I need them 🙂

4. “Keep your eyes open today” was one of my grandad’s favourite sayings…”why grandad?” “because you can’t see with them shut!” Most of us walk around as if we have our eyes closed most of the time. We think about all kinds of other things while we are doing our day to day tasks. We are miles ahead of ourselves and plotting up to the middle of next year while today is slipping away from us. Right this minute is the only time that we are guaranteed of. I learned that keeping your eyes open is a good thing. I found a BAD today while I was walking Earl. What’s a BAD you say? As Steve so succinctly put it “that is one BIG ARSED doorknob!” so BAD it is now known as. I put it in my bag and wondered at how it got on the side of the road. I had no idea what I was going to use it for, or if indeed, I was going to but when I got home when Steve was joking around about what we could do with it, I realised that one of his suggestions was actually pretty clever. We screwed the BAD into the pantry door that contains the rubbish bin and the compost bin. I am usually approaching this pantry with something unsavoury or wet in my hands and now I can just elbow open the door via the BAD. Not bad for something that the universe gave me 🙂

DSCF6194

Our almost new 10 000 litre rainwater tank. We got a pump with it and at just over half the new price

DSCF6213

The lady of the house gave me this New Zealand lily. She bought one plant and she has managed to line her entire driveway by dividing that same plant up! It is growing in hard clay so it should find life here on Serendipity Farm pretty cushy after that

5. The universe gave me something else today. It ALMOST gave me a hernia but let me backtrack a little here to give you the details. Today I learned that sometimes, when you put something out into the ether you get a reply. Everyone who is anyone knows that narf7 has very few actual desires. I am a pretty simple little spud who enjoys simple pastimes and my favourite things are usually free. I am a cheap date. My 2 biggest desires are to get hold of a rainwater tank in order to have a continuous supply of clean rainwater and to afford a small wind turbine for Serendipity Farm. In the scheme of things, they are pretty small requests. Whenever you go to a website you are faced with the site loading you up with cookies. The cookies that the site loads you with won’t make you fat but it will fatten up and customise the advertising that you see from that point onwards. Steve has been visiting Gumtree (our Aussie equivalent to Craig’s List as far as I can see…) in order to see if we can get more 200 litre blue barrels in order to put his genius plan into action. While I was perusing my early morning blogs in my RSS Feed Reader I kept noticing advertisements for Gumtree on the sides of the blogs and my eye was drawn by a blue barrel for sale! Pity the blue barrel was on the other side of Bass Strait in Victoria but the next series of ad’s that were all rainwater related contained a large rainwater tank. For some strange reason I decided to click on the rainwater tank knowing that it was probably in the Northern Territory but when the advertisement opened it was for a 10 000 litre rainwater tank and pump for $1000 and the best part about it was it was in the suburb next to us! I looked eagerly at the date of the advertisement and noticed that it was early December and figured that the tank would be long gone. I sent a tentative email off to the seller asking if they still had it and received an email back by lunchtime saying that he did so Steve and I phoned him up, set off to check it out and on Monday morning we headed around to pick up our new rainwater tank that we ended up paying half price for (after Steve did a bit of dickering) and one of my 2 biggest desires can now be ticked off the list. The moth-eaten sock under the bed dragged itself off to die but we now have a tank that will supply us with more water than we can use and the blue barrels are about to be creatively used to collect and supply rainwater to the veggie garden. Sorry that was a big one, but it taught me the value of waiting and of keeping my eyes open, “cheers grandad!”

DSCF6176

Gratuitous vegetable shot of the yellow zucchinis with the spuds in the background

DSCF6172

A mystery is afoot! I might have prevented the larger vertebrate critters from scarfing my precious veggies but obviously something pretty hungry is giving my silverbeet the old college try! No idea what but I bet it comes in caterpillar form…mutter!

DSCF6173

Lush garden full of “stuff”

DSCF6166

More lush garden…more stuff

DSCF6183

The beans that are growing in the compost

DSCF6184

The compost heap with its volunteer brigade of stalwart veggies

6. Monday saw me doing some serious hard yards on the deck and today I learned that sometimes, when something isn’t really important to you, it doesn’t hurt to give it up. Steve wanted me to paint all of the cedar walls the same colour and I wanted to leave one wall (the best preserved) as a feature wall. I usually get my way but this time I had a think about it and realised that Steve really wanted it to be the same as the rest of the walls and so I painted it over for him. It made him happy. I learned that making Steve happy makes me happy, a win-win situation 🙂

DSCF6186

2 very happy yacon plants

DSCF6178

Last week these zucchinis didn’t have fruit and I noticed that the beetroots have small beetroots the size of Ping-Pong balls

DSCF6181

Patty pan squash

DSCF6188

A little tomato plant that was growing outside the veggie gardens that I dug up to prevent me from trampling it

DSCF6189

All of these tomatoes are volunteers! I probably should have transplanted them…I wonder if it is too late?

7.  Tuesday was a doozy of a life lesson. I learned that sometimes the choices you make can have amazing results. I walked Earl and decided to take him over the Batman bridge and feed the 2 little chooks that have been abandoned there. I try to do this once a week just to make sure that they get at least 1 square seedy meal a week. When we got there I noticed that the little black bantam hen has had babies! 8 tiny little fluff balls. As I started to throw the grain on the ground 2 completely different chooks emerged to peck at it! Obviously the Batman is a prime dumping ground for unwanted poultry 😦 I thought about going to the loo at the public toilets but that would involve taking Earl into the loo and I didn’t quite fancy that level of intimacy so kept walking. We got back home with me almost bursting for the loo and I took a small detour to relieve myself in the bushland at the front of the property. I then decided to head through the tea tree garden and take a look at how some of the small trees we planted are doing (well as it turns out) and on the way back to the house I happened to glance down at the ground and saw a dead puffer fish! Obviously the feral cats brought it back to our property and they chose to dump it right where Bezial goes to sniff when we let him run down the driveway off his lead. If I hadn’t chosen all of the sequence of choices that I did this morning, Bezial would now be dead. He can’t resist eating blowfish. Only last week we had to prevent him from picking one up at the beach and he would have eaten this one as fast as he could with dire results. Is our life made up of choices or is it actually directed by our choices? I would like to think that our lives are the result of an incredibly long and convoluted “Choose your path” book. You start out as a baby and once you get to make choices they form your pathway to your life. YOU get to choose your pathway. That is really the only thing that we get in life, our choices.

DSCF6192

I thought that this was just a pretty weed but it is a useful herb called “self heal”

DSCF6198

The property is covered in oregano. This one is in flower

DSCF6199

Golden oregano

DSCF6200

A mystery…this hydrangea had bright blue flowers last year. This year the flowers are obviously pink. Nothing, aside from some bark, was added to this garden bed so why on EARTH have the colours changed? The pH is somewhat acidic (which would account for the blue flowers) so changing to pink is very strange indeed!

8. That brings me to today. What has narf7 learned today? I learned that on February 2nd I am going to head off to Hobart with my 2 wonderful daughters for what is ostensibly a trip to pick up a boot load of Korean foodstuffs and ingredients that my daughters can’t source here in Launceston. I am also going to head off to a park to find a statue of John Woodcock Graves who wrote the poem/song “Do ye ken John Peel” and take a photo of a book of poems compiled by a fellow bloggers dad (with lots of assistance by her) alongside the statue. Social media can assist people to do things that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do. I am honoured that I can help Joanna (Zeb Bakes) to make her dad happy. The lesson is that if we can do something small/simple for someone else that will make them happy, why not? We are all in this together and if we share and we help other people we make the journey a little better.

DSCF6212

After I finish painting I am going to tackle this. You could be forgiven for thinking that this was a jungle. It is actually an archway, heavily fortified and the garden behind it is being guarded by 8ft tall Scotch thistles. I imagine some of the lessons that I am going to learn next week are going to be painful ones…sigh…

That’s about all I have to report today folks. I am absolutely knackered after painting half of our deck and after I get tea on I am going to settle down and have a bit of a rest. A bonus thing that I learned over the past week is that hard work makes me feel incredibly satisfied. I might be dog tired but I feel satiated body and soul. This learning thing is turning out to be fun 🙂 See you next week when the vegetable garden will have probably outgrown its enclosure and gone on the rampage…

All you need – an elegant sufficiency

Hi Folks,

Armed only with my trusty library card narf7 is on the hunt. I am hunting a book called “Pigs tits and parsley sauce” a most worthwhile read by all accounts. A book about how to live more sustainably for less and wouldn’t you know it? The library didn’t let me down…another blow against the middle man and another point to narf7, the penniless middle aged student hippy who point blank REFUSES to say “can’t” this year. We just had our 600 litre borrowed water tank repossessed. Our Crazy American “friend” decided that another couple he has just met are more deserving of fluoride free water and we had to empty out 600 litres of prime rainwater but not before thrifty problem solving came into play…

DSCF5954 - Copy

Exhibit A, Crazy old American

DSCF6051

Part 1 of 7 blue barrels that are going to make up our rainwater system

DSCF6042

Baking soda and cornflour…we made decorations but they still aren’t dry!

We recently found a large blue barrel floating on the tide close to shore on the riverbank near Serendipity Farm. I waded out to ferry it in to shore (Steve has delicate city feet 😉 ) and we managed to get it into the back of the car and back to Serendipity Farm complete with freshwater oysters. It had apparently been used as part of a pontoon and had broken free from its moorings to come and live on Serendipity Farm as a much prized single entity…obviously has Napoleonic tendencies (much like everything else on Serendipity Farm so it will fit in here well). So we were able to syphon 200 litres of our precious water into this makeshift rainwater tank. What to do now? Well, we have devised a most interesting gravity fed system that we are going to add to as we find more blue barrels. Steve has been hunting Gumtree for the elusive and most rare blue barrel but it would seem like most of Tasmania has the same idea.

DSCF6019 - Copy

Our wonderful friend Roxy gave us a lovely little basket of home-grown happiness for Christmas 🙂

DSCF5972 - Copy

This is my new most delicious healthy treat…homemade coconut cream yoghurt using coconut cream, blended up fruit and some of my finished non-dairy kefir to culture the brew…DELICIOUS! and a most satisfying substitute for “real” yoghurt

IMG_3302

Steve took some artistic shots of his Christmas food…

IMG_3304

Pork pies and sliced meat never looked so good! Sorry you didn’t get images of my nacho’s, they weren’t very photogenic but they tasted like heaven 🙂

Steve logged on for a final look as we are heading into Launceston today (Sunday) to pick up a Karcher high pressure cleaner from Steve’s mum for Christmas. A MOST appreciated gift indeed Pat 🙂 and some sundry cleaning products (sanding pads and sandpaper) so that we can prepare the deck and railings for painting when Stewart and Kelsey arrive on New Year’s Eve to help us paint the deck, rails and part of the house. Aside from 2 bedrooms, it will be the very last part of making Serendipity Farm completely “ours”. The whim paid off and we found another blue barrel in Launceston for $15 so now we will have 400 litres of rainwater storage…we just need to find 5 more blue barrels to make our plans complete.

DSCF5967 - Copy

Buying your pet supplies through a small local producer sometimes yields benefits that you wouldn’t get from a large generic supplier. This is one of our boys bones gifted for Christmas by Suzie, our lovely pet food lady

DSCF6031

I saw and photographed this on Christmas Day for Jess and Bev and anyone else who would get a chuckle out of this mindful graffiti 😉

Well it is now 2014. “Happy New Year” everyone! I have a really good feeling about this year. Not because it isn’t going to contain its share of pain and heartache, but because I have learned to accept that without pain and heartache, the stark simple beauty of this amazing thing we call life is so much dimmer. This year finds Steve and I hard at work rubbing away years of dirt, grime, rust and neglect from our deck, the deck rails, guttering, downpipes and part of the house that was clad with Western Red Cedar as a feature. It has been exposed to the weather without protection now for a good many years and so we are going to paint it. After perusing the Karchers in our price range we decided that handing over good money for something cheap and plastic that we probably wouldn’t use much wasn’t something that we wanted to do and so we made a decision to carry on as we are and we have almost prepped every surface ready to start painting today.

DSCF6056

Wild foraged harvest…the larger red fruits are sour cherries from roadside trees (possums aren’t all that partial to sour) and the strange looking fruits that resemble cashew fruits are Native Cherries that for some reason, the possums haven’t scoffed from the trees this year like they usually do

DSCF6067

A before shot of the deck, by next week we should have painted the deck, the railings and the upright posts you can see here

2013 was a very important year for me. After half a century of life I finally learned that food is fuel, not comfort and managed to get down to a healthy weight with very little fanfare and fuss but with an incredible amount of happiness and contentment. I spent the year learning, living, and Steve and I managed to complete our media course and have the bits of paper to prove it. We built a huge fully enclosed veggie garden and Stewart and Kelsey who are glamping outside informed me that “something” spent most of yesterday evening attempting to breach the deck without luck…SCORE! I have a vision of a large sad possum laying spreadeagled out over the top of my vegetables pawing sadly at the netting in the direction of my magnificent lettuce tantalisingly close but completely out of reach.

DSCF6080

Can’t say I blame the possums and wallabies…this all looks quite tasty

DSCF6090

IT looks like my yacon decided that living is fun and are putting on lots of growth. They are surrounded by spuds we planted out 2 weeks ago that are also having a great time in the veggie garden

DSCF6093

My compost heap experiment. We trucked this load of compost from over next to the chook shed where we had a large compost bin (that we never turned) and dumped it at the rear of the veggie garden in order to soften up the soil in this area. It was full of worms so I keep adding compost to the front of the pile to feed the worms but I noticed that there were all different kinds of seedlings growing in the pile so decided to let everything grow. The larger plants that you can see in this photo are melon plants that my eldest daughter Madeline grew and gifted to me. They have small flowers on them already 🙂

2014 feels good to me. We are starting it how we mean to finish off, busy and “doing”.  I can feel 365 days ahead and they feel fecund with possibilities. They are sending out tantalising rays of interest to me. I want to taste each one of them fully…to savour my moments and to enjoy those flavours, whatever they may be. There will be bitter days. There will be days that taste of sadness and hopelessness but underneath those days will be the surety that things will get better…that life is an incredibly rich tapestry of flavours, colours, textures and choices that will lead us from one day to the next. How lucky are we? How incredibly blessed to be allowed to experience this wonderful life each day and to have the chance to step out in the new day with a slate wiped clean of yesterday and all of the possibilities of today laid out before us like a huge pile of Lego waiting to be built

DSCF6095

Some of the adventitious food seedlings that are starting to grow

DSCF6098

And a few more

This year I am going to grow all of my vegetables from seed. This year I am going to learn something new every day, even if it is only something simple. I am going to challenge myself to wake up each morning and fully appreciate the moments that make up each day. I am going to go looking for the beauty in the simple and the mundane. I am going to look for the lessons in what life hands to me and I am going to try to be a better narf7 in the way that I both see things and react to them. I want to grow this year and learn and understand. I want to do more, see more and feel more and in the process I want to sample everything that life hands me in 2014

DSCF6102

We tipped compost in this area prior to me shovelling horse manure into this area and you can see a plethora of pumpkins are all starting to grow amongst the potatoes…nature doing her thang

DSCF6104

Not so tiny yellow zucchinis

DSCF6107

A tangle of herbs and Swiss chard and carrots

DSCF6109

Everything is growing like topsy and our efforts to build this garden look like being rewarded 10 fold 🙂

This is going to be a small post. Apparently WordPress has sent me a report about how the blog went this year. I could care less about stats to be honest. They are the annoying thing that makes my desktop take longer to load than it should. I don’t care where my dear constant readers are coming from, so long as they “get” us and our vision…you are all welcome. We don’t discriminate here (much 😉 ). Serendipity Farm has become our own tiny little island in the stream. Its where Steve and I can march in time to the cycles and heartbeat of the earth…an ancient and primal sound that most of us can’t hear any more. We get to say “BOLLOCKS!” to the speed of society and we get to put our feet up and just “be” us. We know how incredibly lucky we are to be us, right here, right now. Some people would say that we were part of the great unwashed masses…they would be right in the unwashed bit…our shower has been out of action now for 3 days thanks to someone (who shall remain anonymous) deciding to remove the door and put in the new shower door at the very same time as we decided (most insanely) to tackle the deck and house painting. We are part of the great unwashed. We are tumbled in with everyone else and we are incredibly happy that we have the chance that we have here on Serendipity Farm. Life is wonderful…life is good…a simple life full of compassion, hope, joy at simple things and gratefulness and where sharing is tantamount to societies lust for power, we find ourselves rich beyond riches in our simple life.

DSCF6116

More experiments…this circle of mesh contains old compost that I threw in here in order to soften up the soil beneath it ready to plant out a food tree. I tossed the last of the silverbeet that we pulled out a while ago into here and as you can see, some of it is growing again! The bonus of experimentation is that you never know what you are going to get and sometimes you get more than you expected

DSCF6050

Bezial and Earl’s Boxing Day bonus

DSCF5945 - Copy

Steve whipper snipped the tea-tree garden area and I whipper snipped a 15 metre firebreak around the back block. Here you see a before shot of the back block with Franks whipper snipped side already done

DSCF5949 - Copy

A lovely little yellow fungus inside an old tree stump on the back block

My wish is that 2014 will bring happiness to you all. That it will provide you with opportunities to learn and grow in yourselves. That the lessons that you learn will not break your hearts and won’t be too hard to bear. I hope you will taste the breeze of contentment, that sunshine will fall in equal measure and that you and yours will grow in the light of understanding and possibilities that this wonderful New Year brings. Here’s to sharing Serendipity Farm and our lives with all of you my dear constant readers. Some of you may never comment but that doesn’t matter. All I hope is that you are still getting something out of my mad ramblings and our crazed middle aged Hippy antics and that there is an opportunity for us to touch the lives of someone whom we may never have been able to meet without this amazing platform and all of us will emerge the richer for that brief interlude as we pass

DSCF6068

Before we got started on the side of the house…

DSCF6117

We had to put gates in to stop the fabulous Mr E from absconding off the side of the deck to hunt cats and chooks after we sanded down the deck timbers and removed the chook netting (Earl resistant) in order to paint this side of the deck rails. As you can see, we also had to remove a fair bit of vegetation in the process. That tyre to the left of the image contains a poor long suffering well chewed artichoke plant. Hopefully we will have some complete transformation shots to show you by next Wednesday 🙂

DSCF6114

Not entirely sure how long these pears are going to last but I get the feeling that possums don’t like pears much. Those peaches that I refused to consider disappeared sometime in the night after I posted their tentative image last Wednesday 😉

DSCF6075

Earl “helping” to sand the deck…sigh…

See you next week folks. Hopefully the deck will be finished by then and we will have some good photos to share with you all but for now you are going to have to be content with what I have managed to find today (note to self “get out there and take some photos!”) 😉

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

Hi Folks,

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

DSCF5934

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

DSCF5935

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

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

DSCF5895

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

DSCF5928

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

DSCF5930

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

DSCF5904

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

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

DSCF5894

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

DSCF5923

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

DSCF5919

I thought this tree was dead…apparently not.

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

DSCF5881

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

DSCF5883

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

DSCF5890

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

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

DSCF5900

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

DSCF5885

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

DSCF5899

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

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

DSCF5873

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

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

13120011

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

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

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

DSCF5921

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

DSCF5932

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

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

DSCF5861

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

DSCF5866

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

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

DSCF5938

My thrifted plastic tub ready for action

DSCF5859

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

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

DSCF5915

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

DSCF5911

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

DSCF5912

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

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

DSCF5907

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

DSCF5910

More exponential growth of “stuff”

DSCF5909

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

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

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

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

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

 

DSCF5940

Look what just turned up in the mail… 🙂

“On the scrounge again…”

Hi All

“I just can’t wait to get on the scrounge again…” (ALL apologies to Mr Willy Nelson for taking his sterling effort and narforising it…)

Disclaimer…just before you start attempting to wade through this post it is probably one of the longest posts I have ever put on this blog. I completely and utterly forgive you if you just want to flick through the images and get a visual idea of what the post is about today. I guess summer has just taken over my brain…its my excuse, and I am sticking with it! 😉

DSCF5713

These are Gladioli carmineus corms. Gladioli carmineus (Mini Gladioli) are a low growing gladioli that grow quickly and spread like wildfire. I got these bulbs when leaning over a gardeners fence and admiring her plants on one of my morning walks with Earl

DSCF5734

Steve gets the bucket and I get the tahini from inside it…a win-win situation

DSCF5706

Whatever these plums are they are not cherry plums. I noticed these on a small tree amongst some wild cherry plums so I picked some before the possums stripped the tree and am going to plant out the seeds

DSCF5749

geranium cuttings and the reason why you pick fruit when it is green around here…the possums sampled my pilfered plums…cheeky sods!

DSCF5716

I am a manic list maker…here you see some of my lists, some clasps to ensure that the hose doesn’t blow (again) and bags of chia, quinoa and amaranth seed that I am going to plant along with some buckwheat as experimental crops this year

DSCF5739

The hay bales in Steve’s shed have just been appropriated for “other purposes”. I don’t mind, at least I know where this nest is!

DSCF5696

Looks like it has more than one occupant!

Well here I am again on Wednesday but what a difference a couple of weeks makes to this little black duck. 2 weeks ago I was a spent husk. Today I am bursting with possibilities. December 1st was apparently the first day of summer but Tasmania seems to have decided to succeed from the rest of the world and do its own thing and we have had spring, autumn, winter and a tiny hint of summer thrown in over the course of the last 2 weeks. I can’t say I mind. I love all of the rain that we are having and so does the garden. 2 weeks ago the veggie garden was a sad reminder that I had been hiding under the bed with my fingers in my ears a little bit too long but the season appears to have been hiding under the bed with me so everything is rosy on Serendipity Farm.

DSCF5731

Steve’s Chinese (larger) bonsai Japanese maple that he sourced from under the deck as a tiny seedling and has been training for 3 years now with it’s own nitrogen fixing crop of clover growing with it

DSCF5709

A little primrose and a strappy liriopes both bought from the little stall at the top of the hill for $2 each

DSCF5746

When I sorted through the potted plants I found this succulent that is just about to flower and a lavender that I can plant out in the garden

DSCF5712

My newly purchased Egyptian walking onion and perennial leeks along with grape vines grown from cuttings from a Muscat grape and pelargonium and scented geranium cuttings sourced from one of our walks

DSCF5708

Healthy melon and capsicum (pepper) plants that my daughter Madeline grew from seed and that are excess to her needs so I get some (cheers Madeline 🙂 )

DSCF5697

More geranium and pelargonium cuttings. I usually take a whole lot more care with cuttings but geraniums and pelargoniums are very hardy and should all strike no problems

The vegetable garden is going great guns. Because of all of the rain that we have been having, the rest of the garden is great gunning as well; especially the forget-me-nots that I am studiously pretending don’t exist much to their amusement. I looked down at my jeans yesterday after I had gone hunting for eggs amongst the undergrowth (I live in hope and am ever optimistic…) and I was covered in forget-me-not seeds…the little buggers LOVE me! Earl, who had accompanied me on lead was also covered in forget-me-not seeds BUT the difference was, he just shook himself and they magically dropped off him…I attempted to follow suit and nothing happened…I was still scraping them off my jeans and muttering under my breath when I managed to haul Earl up the deck steps to the deck above. If truth be told, the jeans aren’t the only thing that is covered in forget-me-not seeds but every time I get infested I toss the item into the washing and continue on regardless “I CAN’T hear you forget-me-nots!”

DSCF5750

Wheeling loquat seedlings, cherry plum seedlings and displaced herbs around to the veggie garden from the shed

DSCF5753

An oak leaf hydrangea flower on the way

DSCF5754

The only thing stopping this artichoke and the Jerusalem artichoke in this photo from being scoffed are the forget-me-nots and other “garden miscellanea” in this garden bed preventing the chooks from being able to see them

DSCF5757

Looking back from the first garden to the house where you can see one of our fine specimens of guard dogs on alert…pity they weren’t on alert the other day when we had some Jehovah’s witnesses breach the compound, walk up the steps, come onto the deck and tap on my window for a good 5 minutes before I realised that it wasn’t Earl’s tail on the window, it was (shock horror) PEOPLE! I calmly informed them that I had NO idea why our big dogs hadn’t bounded around the corner barking to greet them, politely said “no thank-you” when offered literature and said goodbye to them as they headed back down the steps. Suddenly the deck started to rumble, an eruption of barking ensued and shamefaced dogs who had been sleeping on the job pelted down to bark off the intruders…sigh…

DSCF5758

I hope you are all getting the picture as to why I am hiding under the bed and have NO idea where to start in the garden. Everything has gone completely mental and who would know what most of this is!

DSCF5763

Our mountain of home grown compost underneath some ex fish farm netting that has been dampened to keep the worms in it happy

Now that I am free to wander around the garden at will (forget-me-nots and all…) I have rediscovered my love of gardening all over again. It goes dormant for winter and appears to have erupted out of me with a vengeance this year. As a penniless student hippy who desires to live simply and sustainably I have to find all kinds of different ways to get what I want that don’t involve the green folding stuff (or even the silver stuff to be honest 😉 ) and the last week has seen me scrounging with impunity to our advantage. Here is a list of recent scrounges…

  1. Live Christmas trees scrounged by Stevie-boy, the son-and-heir, his Texan sweetie and my daughters from the firebreak between a pine plantation and our friends property
  2. 2 x 20 litre tahini buckets scrounged by Stevie-boy from Wholesome House health food shop for his shed that contained enough organic tahini to fill a large glass jar…BONUS!
  3. A visit to the Deviot Heritage Apple and Pear enclosed orchard yielded rooted cuttings of various kinds of herbs that had gone rampant into the path and that are now replanted into a large pot
  4. More angelica seed from the same garden scattered all over the place on Serendipity Farm
  5. Some cuttings of Tagetes lemmonii (an aromatic shrub native to south-eastern Arizona and south into Mexico) that I have on the windowsill in a mug of water with the hopes that the cuttings will produce roots
  6. 4 more small loquat trees that are now potted up and happy as clams in the veggie garden
  7. Lots of cherry plum seedlings found on a recent walk down at Bonnie Beach that are going to become the welcoming fence line trees on Serendipity Farm in the future
  8. A selection of pelargoniums and geranium cuttings that were sourced from plants growing on the side of the road on another one of our walks recently. I realised that some areas of Serendipity Farm are always going to be pretty arid so have decided to grow plants that will be able to tolerate low water conditions and geraniums and pelargoniums are perfect cheerful specimens. Soon to come will be lavender cuttings, rosemary cuttings and anything else that I deem drought ready and willing
  9. I walked with Earl over the Batman again and took my secateurs and a large plastic bag this time and arrived back home with cuttings from Cistus x “Purpureus” (Pink Rock Rose) and that unknown grey leaved sage type plant that I am experimenting with. I have put half of them in a glass of water on my kitchen windowsill and the other half are in potting mix in the veggie garden
  10. Seeds, seeds and MORE seeds…collecting like a crazy woman from wherever I can see something that I like (that doesn’t involve pole vaulting over someone else’s garden fence 😉 )
  11. I found a stash of possum sucked loquat seeds underneath a large loquat tree that I may, or may not have been going to predate (but the possums got there first…) and brought them home and shoved them into the ground in likely places of survival all over Serendipity Farm. I kept 5 back to plant in potting mix as I love loquats and want them all over the place as part of my lines of defence between us and the marauding natives. I figure, by the time they get to the heart of our garden where the “good” things are, they will be so stuffed full on lesser fruits that they will hardly be able to waddle…ever the optimist is narf7 😉
  12. I have been snacking on native cherry fruit as I have been walking Earl in the mornings down Auld Kirk Road. There is a particular tree that Earl likes to make a fuss over (due to a large brown hound once attempting to accost Earl in this exact place…) that gives me a little time to snack on the large native cherry tree in the vicinity. The fruits are small, reminiscent of cashew fruit with the seed sticking out the bottom of the fruit and the same shape (except a lot smaller) and quite tasty when they are ripe. There are so many of them the birds can’t actually keep up with them this year.
  13. Free seedlings from Madeline, my eldest daughter including red capsicum seedlings and some kind of melon (either rock or honeydew). I am just about to clear them their very own mountain of horse poo to grow happily in. The pumpkins that sprouted from compost hurled under the horse poo before we sunk the first pole in the veggie garden are all starting to grow like crazy so some melons may as well join the parade
  14. Still finding lots and lots of beer bottle caps on the side of the road that I am collecting to make this

That’s only a small selection of free or minimal cost things that I have been hunting out with a view to utilising them on Serendipity Farm. I get so excited about the possibilities of growing free plants and guess what I did this week…I FINALLY managed to sort through all of the potted plants and move them to one area. Steve helped me set up the overhead watering system so that most of them get watered without effort and only a few are going to need to be watered with the hose but pretty soon we will be taking some of them off to one of the Deviot Saturday morning basket markets with a large painted sign saying “Free to good home”. I would like to think that people will make the most of some free plants for their garden and that our potted babies will make someone else happy 🙂

DSCF5764

Even the possums have been hiding under the bed when faced with the wealth of crazy undergrowth that Tasmania is generating. I am starting to think that we have switched poles and Tasmania is the new Bali! This rose bush is usually twigs. It lives as twigs for most of the year and then goes twiggily dormant…this year it has been allowed to keep it’s leaves and these little roses smell amazing. “Cheers possums!”

DSCF5772

Steve’s Strelitzia’s are just about to bloom and this large black cicada has just hatched out of his pupae and is waiting for his wings to harden enough for him to fly off to the trees above and join hundreds of his brethren in a chorus that will herald the heat of summer. They are great food for birds and other animals and every 4 years we get invaded by these huge slow chirping behemoths

DSCF5780

The offending pipe that kept blowing apart when we turned the tap on in the veggie enclosure. This pipe is all that stands between water and the garden so I mended it today with some of those clips that you saw in an earlier image. Soon we will get another water tap inside the enclosure but for now this one is good enough

DSCF5781

This used to be the first series of 3 garden beds in our original set-up. We were late to the game this year so decided to use the existing infrastructure to get going sooner and after pulling out the now unnecessary partitions we have a fair bit more room to grow veggies

DSCF5782

The bed in the foreground contains silverbeet that our horticulture friend Jenny gave us months ago. They were languishing in a cardboard box with most of their soil washed away and I am amazed that they survived, let alone are growing like crazy now! It can only attest to their hardiness

DSCF5784

Next time I plant carrots I will use seed tape…as you can see “someone” accidentally tipped a few extra seed halfway along that third row…oh well, the packets were only $1 each and the thinnings should be prolific

I have been studiously ignoring Christmas almost as much as I have been ignoring the forget-me-nots to the same effect…it is just flowing past me regardless. I have reached a point where I am just about ready to tentatively stick my toe into the Christmas tide BUT I will be doing it at my pace and point blank refuse to get caught up in the hype. The television is manic with “GREAT DEALS FOR CHRISTMAS” but narf7 is content with “slowly, slowly catchy monkey”. Wouldn’t a monkey be great on Serendipity Farm? He could live in the veggie garden and have fun with the possum marauders on their nocturnal visits…but seriously, this year will be spent doing what we want, when we want. A most glorious wish and one that I get the feeling I just might get.

DSCF5787

Rows of peas going crazy…now I just have to work out how I am going to support them when they get bigger

DSCF5790

On the left hand side of this small garden bed are some scarlet runner beans that formed large bulbous tubers last year and that the chooks scratched most of the soil away from. I didn’t expect them to grow back this year but once we topped up the soil and added lots of horse manure they started growing again. Bonus crop with no sowing effort at all!

DSCF5791

The nut trees that had been living in Steve’s shed to protect them from the native animals are much happier out in the open

DSCF5794

My 2 yacon plants surrounded by the pallid tendrils of a forgotten bag of potatoes in the back of the pantry

DSCF5795

Horse poo mountain that I am going to leave in this spot because all of these pumpkins spontaneously grew here. I must have dumped some household compost underneath this spot and now they are growing happily…more plants that I didn’t have to coax to seedling height and transplant out…I LOVE this gardening lark!

DSCF5804

More free plants. This time they are some of the strawberries that I sourced from a stack of strawberry runners that someone threw onto the green waste at the local dump. Their loss, my gain! This pot is one of almost 15 that we will be planting out “somewhere” inside the veggie compound

DSCF5808

The Egyptian walking onion and perennial leeks in situ. Is it just me or does that Egyptian walking onion look like Earthworm Jim? 😉

Bev, from the wonderfully inventive and sustainable blog “Foodnstuff” posted a post this week that was completely invigorating and got me out and about collecting plant material and getting stuck into the garden. Sometimes you just need a gentle shove and Bev’s post was mine. If you would like to see how a real garden works, click on the link above and head on over and check out Bev’s garden full of possibilities. I love Bev’s blog because every time I see a new post it gives me some new ideas and new ways of doing things that I didn’t know before. I am ever on the scrounge for useful information and Bev’s blog is cram packed full of it

DSCF5810

The sum total of the lettuce population in the garden…a bit sad really but we are just about to remedy this problem. I have to use slug/snail pellets in the garden at the moment because they appear to have heard on the grapevine that there is free grub on Serendipity Farm and I am NOT losing any more food to freeloading varmints…

DSCF5813

Looking into the veggie garden at the possibilities…note the amazing architectural construction of the gateway into the garden. Another one of my dad’s “wonderful creations”. I am just REALLY glad that he didn’t build the house! 😉

DSCF5814

Note the garden is now taking over the “lawn”. Note also that someone has to mow the lawn! (Note to self…mow the lawn BEFORE you show them another photo of this area! 😉 )

DSCF5817

This is what is commonly called “Elephants Ears” or Bergenia cordifolia by people who want to appear horticulturally clever “You KNOW who you are!”

DSCF5822

Note Earl has just about had enough of me walking backwards and forwards and taking photos…We picked up that Cray pot full of floats for $5 at the last progressive garage sale in march…I love the progressive garage sale 🙂

DSCF5824

Sadly, I don’t know what this is. I bought it in a pot at Wychwood because the lady told me that it was hardy. Here you can see it fighting a loosing battle against some native raspberries (note to self add “make tepee’s for the native raspberries as number 732 on your to-do list”…sigh…)

DSCF5827

Unlike the unknown perennial that the native raspberries are attempting to throttle, these little guys are edible. They are going great guns in the garden under the deck and you can see the small fruit forming on the vines now

I am just about to gird my loins and head off to a local friend’s home and spend some time chatting to her about making my idea about developing local community a reality. I know that there are a lot of people living in the area who might be interested in getting together with other like-minded people in order to develop our local community and share our combined knowledge to everyone’s advantage. My idea is to have a meeting to see how many people are interested, to start a group of us that are interested in getting together over a cuppa for a crafting group, baking circle, gardening group etc. all invested in teaching each other new skills and forging a sense of community here in tiny little riverbank Sidmouth. Stevie-boy suggested the name “Sidmouth Sustainability Group” which sounds like a plan to me and my friend is the perfect place to start because she has been a “hippy” for most of her life and knows more about sustainability than I have had hot dinners (and that is a LOT folks 😉 ). Together we should be able to at least host a few interesting talks about various subjects ranging from keeping goats, making goat cheese, spinning, gardening (Roxy) through to keeping ferments, cooking for allergies etc. (me). The idea keeps lodging itself in my head and I think it’s the right time to bring it to fruition. I will keep you in the loop about how it pans out but I doubt I will do anything about it till after Christmas (oh NO! I said it! If you acknowledge it, it will come! Sigh…)

DSCF5831

This spot under the deck is very dry and this is where I am going to plant lots of those pelargoniums and scented geraniums in order to keep moisture in the soil and to grow other shrubs that wouldn’t otherwise survive in this arid spot. There was nothing here last year and as you can see, we have some plants growing. A note to anyone who thinks that where they live won’t grow flowers. Plant snap dragons. Those snapdragons are self sown from “somewhere” (dad most certainly didn’t sow them!) and keep coming back and spreading year after year.

DSCF5833

This was a scented geranium that I potted up as a cutting last year that we planted out earlier in spring

DSCF5836

So is this one. They are hardy, have pretty flowers that stay on the shrub all summer and whenever they are touched by anything (including wind or water) they release a lovely scent. The perfect plant for under the deck on a hot summers day 🙂

DSCF5840

This bottlebrush seems happy out the back but it will soon be enclosed inside the dogs compound (we are going to extend it) so I can’t vouch for it’s continued happiness. We can only hope that Earl decides to “mark” things a bit further afield but I won’t hold my breath…

DSCF5846

Steve’s collection of “Solar Groovers”, little solar powered things that he has collected that wiggle in his music room window. You can see one of his tab books on the music stand in the background.

DSCF5848

Back on the deck now (much to Earl’s delight) and looking back towards the veggie enclosure. Note the gypsy hoards of chooks wandering around pinching things…sigh…

DSCF5851

Our bedroom window with assorted vegetation

DSCF5684

“Someone” who wishes to remain anonymous because he was a very silly man, left the door to the pantry open where he had placed his nice new crocs that he had purchased the day before…

DSCF5691

We can’t be having Earl get ALL the attention now…better do my cute “upside down” number and have a bit of a chew on what was left of that croc while I do…

Looks like I have earbashed you again but like the large black cicada’s that are hatching out all over the place, my summer exoskeleton is firming up nicely and I will be ready to fly in a week or so. I have even been contemplating the Christmas meal! Next week I will have the tree put up and decorated (although it will probably take me a month to take it down again…), decorations made of an interesting baking soda clay from this site… and goodness only knows what else will be fermenting on Serendipity Farm so stay tuned for the next summery instalment of simple sustainability on Serendipity Farm and enjoy your nice warm fires and hot chocolate because at the moment, I am doing the very same thing! 😉

DSCF5698

The cherry plum seedlings that I found on our walk at Bonnie Beach

DSCF5699

The loquat seedlings that I found on our walk in Deviot…if you keep your eyes open and look for things you would be amazed at what is right there on the ground

DSCF5700

I was happy to get a red cherry plum seedling so it should remain true to type and stay red as it grows with red cherry plums

DSCF5702

The herbs that I pulled out of the sawdust path at the Apple and pear heritage orchard in Deviot. No idea what they are but probably some form of mint. They look a bit sorry at the moment but they will soon perk up. Anything with a square stem (minty sage type families) tends to be very hardy

DSCF5702

Some of the cuttings that I took from the park over the other side of the Batman bridge while I was walking Earl the other day on the kitchen window ledge

DSCF5729

The Scented marigold shrub cuttings that I am hoping will strike in water also on the kitchen window ledge that is pretty full incidentally. Note the collection of shoes that need to be removed before we come inside due to being coated in something insidious and the lengths that we have to go to in order to ensure that they remain wearable and out of doggy reach.

DSCF5726

One Fran went to mow…

Hi Folks,

I can feel it starting…it feels like a small itch in my brain. A tiny little irritation that I know is going to grow a little every day until I am consumed by its scratchiness and am forced to itch. I have felt this before on many occasions. It’s the herald of a new beginning…the start of something new and the tiny flicker of a flame that I know is going to be a raging bushfire furnace by the end of summer. I have become…a “Gardener”. A small tendril of green twined around my soul while I was out watering my new veggie garden. I felt it start to unravel and a little leaf came into existence. I think it’s a beanstalk. Narf7 doesn’t do anything by half and neither do beanstalks. Addiction comes hard and fast and soon I will be waxing lyrical about potatoes and moon planting and gumboots and powdery mildew but at the moment it’s just a small twinge where my addiction valve appears to have developed a little leak… the garden is trickling out and it wants me to do its bidding

DSCF5683

Can you feel it pulling me in? That honeysuckle is rampant!

DSCF5674

Grass mowed and left to mulch the “lawn” as the weather gets hotter

DSCF5679

Steve’s Strelitzia (Bird of Paradise) just about to flower for the first time

DSCF5655

Amongst all of these weeds there are raspberries!

DSCF5356

My haul for the walk included these 4 little loquat japonica trees

DSCF5539

They might be considered weeds here in Tasmania but I love dog roses 🙂

DSCF5360

The key to Steve’s heart 😉

I don’t mind being a garden slave. It’s something that pays you back. I have been a slave for lesser things and this makes a refreshing change.  However there is the delightful pastime of “pottering” and there is “solid hard work” and I am afraid that Serendipity Farm requires less of the first and a whole lot more of the latter. We just had a couple of days of real summer. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the plants decided to make hay while the sun shone and so did I. We officially finished our course on Thursday last week and on Friday I headed over to my daughters to stay overnight in order to get a nice early start on a trip to Hobart. I love how my daughters have inherited my adventurous spirit when it comes to cooking and food. They are wonderful cooks and they use some very interesting ingredients. Whatever you get is always delicious and you probably won’t get the same thing twice.

DSCF5345

The Deviot Heritage apple and pear enclosure where I shamelessly pilfer seed and cutting material. That large “stalk” on the right hand side is angelica and I discovered that it was just about to seed…

DSCF5317

That’s not rolled oats in my bag folks, that’s angelica seed!

DSCF5342

Another view of the enclosed garden. This is where I got the idea to build our own fully enclosed garden and ours is bigger than this one 🙂

DSCF5323

One of the lovely gardens that we pass on our Deviot walks with the boys…

DSCF5328

And another one…

DSCF5326

And another one

We got up early on Saturday and headed off to Hobart so that the girls could do their Christmas shopping. We had a great time on the drive down and the girls had thoughtfully provided me with homemade iced coffee made with agave nectar as they know that I don’t have sugar. It certainly kept me awake for the drive. We arrived nice and early to get a car park at the Salamanca Markets and spent 2 hours wandering around testing delicious products. I had a scrumptious vegan pie for breakfast and then just before we headed off I had a vegan burrito which was delicious also. Hobart seems to be a much more cosmopolitan city than Launceston. The place that we stayed was amazing value and very central to where we wanted to be in Sandy Bay. The Korean restaurant that the girls had picked out for us to have our evening meal at was right at the front of it and we were surrounded by Japanese, Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants and there was even a German bakery for dessert. We walked around a bit to check out the shops and found a small Korean shop that the girls got very excited about and a new trip has been planned for early next year in order to go on a Korean food shopping spree.

DSCF5607

Cue one delicious Korean meal

DSCF5610

Followed by a nice brisk uphill walk to wear it off

DSCF5626

Bethany reliving her childhood

DSCF5623

And me having a second one 😉

We got up early the next morning and packed our things and headed out to hunt for the elusive breakfast. We parked at one end of the city and realised that we would have to hang around as the meter didn’t start till 9 and we were early. We noticed a sea of blue tents that heralded an outdoor farmers market and we headed in to be told that “we can’t officially sell anything to you until 9”…sigh…9 is apparently the magic Hobart number. I had noticed some perennial leeks and an Egyptian walking onion for sale that I needed…yes…I NEEDED! So after checking out an indoor (sad) market we headed back to the outdoor market and I got my perennial vegetables. Madeline wanted some Tatsoi and Mizuna to try in her garden so I bought her some. Now I need to get my hands on some potato onions but I have to wait till late December before they become available again. At least the supplier is in Tasmania so that means I won’t have to jump through hoops to get them.

DSCF5630

Gotta love anyone who has a Trogdor the Burninator sticker…I am dead jel!

DSCF5635

I loved this little mustard yellow leather couch that was in our room

DSCF5639

The rest of the room was excellent as well, 2 huge queen sized beds and a large bathroom with a bath

DSCF5595

The view just outside our door

DSCF5603

Under one of the walkways in the undercover open air area outside the rooms

DSCF5605

The “roof”, a large canvas circus tent type arrangement that covered the entire area

We drove back home slowly and after depositing the girls at home and taking the son-and-heir out to buy a plastic jerry can to fill with fuel in order to mow his lawn I drove back home ready to be jumped on and I wasn’t disappointed. Dogs certainly know how to show you that they missed you :). For the rest of this week I have been mowing. The title of this post is somewhat accurate because I mowed some of the meadow which made it even more obvious that I am going to have to get out there and mow/whipper snip  the rest of it in order to skip around the outside of getting a fine. We have started watering our potted plants again and I have been eating strawberries from my pots as I head out nice and early to walk Earl. It’s almost cherry season and cherries herald Christmas in Australia. It looks like it is going to be a really good cherry season this year as we even have cherries on our poor old specimen…the possums ate the leaves but not the cherries (so far…). We will be starting work on extending the dogs enclosure soon which will give them a much bigger area to run around and play in. Earl will be able to spread his territory around a bit and hopefully won’t rust the deck poles any more in the process

DSCF5647

The next day we headed into the city to have breakfast. You can see Mt Wellington in the background

DSCF5583

Delicious wood fired pizza at the Salamanca Market

DSCF5579

A ragtime band of buskers called “Mangus” playing for the crowds at the markets

DSCF5645

A lovely atrium idea linking 2 businesses

DSCF5649

The outdoor markets where I got my Egyptian walking onion and perennial leek

I would have liked to have started sinking the poles for the enclosure a bit earlier but time is against us this year and we will have to do the best that we can. The chooks have gotten cleverer and I have NO idea where they are laying most of their eggs. One chook has been laying on a hay bale in the shed so I know where to get her egg and her underlings that all lay in the same nest so I get a couple of eggs a day and we have a LOT of chooks…so many we have had to start buying more chook food in order to keep them happy. We noticed another hen down in the teatree garden with a small flock of chicks. I also noticed a larger chicken in the outside enclosure that I have NO idea where it came from. We shuffle chooks and babies into this area in order to give them a chance against the feral cats that spend their days waiting to catch chickens. For some reason they stay clear of the outside compound (maybe the rooster is fierce!) so we figure if we can herd them into this compound, they have a better chance than most to stay alive and so far we have been right. There are 7 babies of varying ages inside this compound with their mums.  I just went on a very hopeful egg hunt of the outside part of the chook run and noticed this chick that hadn’t been there before. Maybe I have just missed it in passing as it has a rather striking camouflage look about it. It is mostly brown like a Wyandotte but has white and black markings on it as well. Whatever it is it’s a clever little critter to find its way into the safe part of Serendipity Farm. I know it doesn’t belong to anyone inside the compound because it is the lowest on the pecking order but it is determined and it’s pretty and I applaud its spirit for being able to recognise where the chances of survival are the best. I had best watch this chook, most of them are lacking in velociraptor ancestors? 😉

DSCF5641

Bethany is an insomniac and stays awake for ages but Madeline and I were absolutely knackered…the only way that we could see for her to stay up reading and for us to get some sleep was to get clever with pillows…

DSCF5643

My pillow had obviously been stolen by this point 😉

DSCF5578

On the way down to Hobart some bright spark had amended this sign 😉

My daughters have come up with what they believe to be the answer to the conundrum of Christmas. Now that Stewart and Kelsey live here in Launceston we are all together for Christmas but in saying that, we are all quintessential hermits who like our own space. Getting together just because we are told to get together breeds resentment especially when people have their own ideas about how Christmas should go (read the girls EXTRAVAGANZA and our simple…) so I got Madeline to throw some ideas around with Bethany and they have decided that we should all start a new Christmas tradition of getting together the day before Christmas for our communal celebration. Technically most of Europe starts their celebrations the day before Christmas and in central and eastern Europe (in particular Russia, Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania have a traditional meatless 12 dish Christmas Eve Supper before opening gifts. I won’t mention the “meatless” part but the opening gifts are going to be part of it. At least I will be standing in solidarity with my Russian brothers and sisters and won’t be eating any meat ;).

DSCF5564

Looks like we have a hairy visitor…

DSCF5319

The birds are hatching out babies all over the place

DSCF5673

The Jerusalem artichokes that I shoved in here last year are apparently alive and well and growing exponentially

DSCF5670

One of many pumpkins coming up from compost dumped on top of the spent horse manure

DSCF5667

These peas were planted last Wednesday…

DSCF5664

So were these carrots…Jenny doesn’t do anything by halves, there are 1000 carrot seeds and 10 rows of peas

DSCF5658

Just about to start transplanting these and their brothers and sisters into the ground inside the enclosure along with red currants. The wild raspberries are going crazy this year and all have tiny fruit developing. I will try to see if I can get a few photos to share with you all before the birds scoff them all. Much like wild strawberries, these tiny little wild raspberries have the most intense exquisite flavour, the birds are clever sods!

I like the idea of sharing a communal meal the day before…everyone bringing something that they have made to the table and a dessert each…sort of an Aussie thanksgiving for us all being together and then on Christmas day we get to celebrate however the heck we want to. Even Steve is happy about this new tradition so the girls are on to a winner there. Sorry about talking about Christmas but you are all going to have to face it soon…it’s coming for another year and it’s like a steam train this time. At least all of you Northerners get a “proper” Christmas, we Aussies are wandering around in our t-shirts wondering how little we can wear to Christmas lunch before we offend one of the neighbours and they call the police! The weather will be hot, most of us will eat a HUGE hot meal and will roll off to the beach to watch the kids play cricket…Aussie Christmas is NOTHING like a Northern Christmas.  Before you know it we will be up to our armpits in 2014. I hope you all get a handle on your Christmas preparations and that it goes incredibly smoothly and wonderfully this year. By the way…don’t look now, but it’s snowing on Serendipity Farm! I noticed it earlier…must be something to do with global warming… ;). See you all next week 🙂

Previous Older Entries