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…

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

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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.

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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

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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! 😉

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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!

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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?!!!

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“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 🙂

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

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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…

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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 🙂

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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…

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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!

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

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

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I LOVE this mug…no pressure! 😉

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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…

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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 🙂

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Proof that I am a shameless hoarder…

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More proof…

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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 😉 )

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Talking about hoarding…pantry 1…

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Pantry 2…

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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…

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

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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?

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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? 😉

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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 😉

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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!

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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?!)

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Prospective olives…

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Prospective Myrtus communis berries…

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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” 😉

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

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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 😉 )

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

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

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

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Buddleia davidii or butterfly bush

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

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

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

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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! 😉

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Holy crap I turned into Denise Scott!

Hi All,

Did you all miss me on Saturday? Don’t tell fibs! You were all happy to get a solid 15 minutes to yourselves without having to wear a literary snorkel and come up for air at regular intervals thanks to my completely bolshie disregard for the use of correct grammar. Who needs commas and full stops when you can just go on…and on…and on… ;). I blame the liberal Australian school system in the 70’s where we were being used as experiments. I think my own personal school experience shows that liberalism DOESN’T pay! Glad they got over their need to go all existential on our young tender derrières and that a generation of 40 something’s (rapidly approaching 50 something’s) can’t spell or do complex maths.  Steve has been away and I have been left here to accomplish studying by myself. It was bound to end up in tears and with me almost burning down the house but he has NO-ONE but himself to blame, leaving a technophobic Luddite in charge of the computer. I spent all yesterday twiddling my thumbs and wandering around the house finding “other” things to do (remember, Pinterest was unavailable to me so whatchagonnadoeh?!) because when trying to follow our lecturers wonderful video of how to convert a video to Roto scoping, our Adobe tool to convert didn’t look like his and by the time I fiddled a bit I had rendered it completely different. I didn’t want to erase the program (also accidentally but there must be a bit of wishful thinking going on there 😉 ) so I had to leave it till Steve came back to sort it for me. I pride myself on being a pretty knowledgeable person but technology and “programs” in general leave me cold and twitching. I really can’t fathom how most of them work until I get practicing and I can’t practice on this one if I just stuffed it up! ;). The highly pathetic thing was that Steve got in, said “easy fix” and reset the program and showed me how simple it was to do what our lecturer’s vid wanted us to do. The problem was I am a creature of sequences…I am like the dreaded computer in that aspect (like repels? 😉 ) I need a series of processes to get me from “A” to “B” and if there is a break in transmission in any of the sequences I just never arrive at “B” till it is fixed and I can progress. Steve jumps straight in at “J” and then doubles back. He instinctively just knows how to deal with technology and I am eternally grateful that he does. My natural instinct is to hit whatever isn’t working or shake it around or if it is being really bolshie, throw it off the deck. Luckily Steve is able to rescue most technology from my grasp before I get that frustrated ;). I couldn’t progress through the video from “A” to “B” because my program didn’t look (or act) like his. How was I expected to follow the process if my program was different!!! Steve has officially been elevated in my eyes to necessary technological genius. That pretty much guarantees that he is safe from rat poison in his coffee no matter what he does 😉

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This image was to show that you Americans used to call “cookies” biscuits like we do! When did it change? Was it after that Boston tea party where everyone decided to bollock of the English or was it the civil war and when the Yankees won they decided to change all of the names so that they wouldn’t be aligned with the Brits? Either way…here’s the proof that cookies ARE biscuits!

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Butter, sugar and dates, a match made in date cake heaven

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One of my experiments with making apple butter with no added sugar. The end results are scrumptious. All I did was simmer these apples and those dates together till they turned into mush and all of the liquid evaporated leaving me with a delicious caramel flavoured apple paste that can be used in all kinds of things…now I just need to experiment to find out what!

After having to align dialogue and audio to our latest media assessment I am officially disillusioned with my voice. I was labouring under the false apprehension that I had the dulcet tones of a radio announcer. I learned that the reality is that my voice is a sad cross between Steve Irwin and Denise Scott. I realise that most of my dear constant readers have NO idea who Denise Scott is. Denise Scott is a wonderful Aussie comedienne “of a certain age” who much like myself grew up prior to mummies being concerned about their daughters sounding like Aussie fishwives and who just let us drawl our way into adulthood when our ingrained speech patterns could no longer be dealt with even by the likes of one Henry Higgins…sigh…here is a picture of Denise.

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Denise is the one on the left. The other “lady” is Judith Lucy, they are seen here in their Short and Girly show. Hopefully they won’t be too grumpy that I used this image. I consider it promotional material and as a blog that supports strange and interesting (the feminine equivalent of “windswept and interesting”…) women I consider it my duty to promote their show…(do you think I got away with it? 😉 ). I think I might need to make myself one of those costumes by the way…I need something to wear out on my 50th birthday…

And here is a 17.35 minute Youtube video of Denise in prize form. Feel free to just listen to her Aussie drawl and picture narf7 hiding under the bed with Earl or if you have 17.35 minutes to spare you can sit down, grab a cuppa and laugh your bollocks off at Denise doing what only an Aussie Sheila of “a certain age” is able to do. I promise you, you won’t regret donating 17.35 minutes of what is left of your life to this healthy pursuit…what have you got to lose folks? 😉

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nk5KkGs_SE

And here is what she sounds like. I am going to post a link to our animation. I am NOT going to post the audio quotient of it. After listening to Denise Scott you will know why. I am officially traumatised by this whole experience and after posting my assessment off to my lecturer I am going to slither under the bed with Earl to share 2 pints of good ice cream and I might even let Earl lick the spoon with me…

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Earl telling Steve that his dirty socks might be past their use by date…

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The gallon jar of New Yorker chocolate chip cookies that I found the recipe for on Pinterest. It is good for some things aside from wasting time 😉

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More excess kefir grains…these things just keep on getting bigger and breeding! I put the teaspoon next to them to show you the size of them. If living most of the time in non-dairy milk is harming them I can’t see how 😉

Not only did I have to upload my Aussie drawl to my lecturer but I had to do something technical unsupervised! I may just have burned down the house by accident folks…I had to download Google Drive so that I could share Steve’s animation (MUCH bigger than mine) with our lecturer because it exceeded the size limit on our TAFE website. I also had to zip our animations involving me first finding where “zip” was on our computer (admittedly I IMMEDIATELY phoned Steve up knowing that he was still in phone range and able to be reached), second putting the animations and their accompanying movie clip into the zip folder and thirdly sending the zip off. As mentioned, mine was small enough to slip under the TAFE Nazi size limit ruler but Steve’s was well over the limit. As he is over the limit, Google can “Drive”. Get it? I made a pun folks. Well “I” thought it was funny! ;). All of this technology has my brain whirling and I don’t know how to “share” Steve’s uploaded document in Google Drive with our lecturer! I just sent of a missive to him dumping it fair and square into his lap. You want me to wantonly engage in random technology sir, you show me how!

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How pretty is where we live? This was taken by my humble little Fuji point and click camera off our deck last evening as the sun was starting to set. This makes all of the blackberries, the weeds, the rocks, the clay, the everything else (possums and wallabies I almost forgot them!) worth it 🙂

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I zoomed in on Redman Island so that you could see the reflections in the water. I want to get a kayak and pootle around these waters, a great way to get upper body and back strength…I had best get an industrial sized life jacket as I can’t swim 😉

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A little clump of lilies up for another year down in the wilderness part of the garden

Next I have to wait indoors near the telephone. Steve ordered some camera cleaning fluid, some camera cleaning swabs and a blower to hoof the miniscule specks from his new camera lens so that it no longer looks like it has measles in every photo. He was unaware that heading out at night time in the freezing cold trying (unsuccessfully) to get an elusive shot of the Aurora Australis would result in no image and a whole lot of water spots. They certainly don’t tell you about THIS when you are paying over a considerable portion of your children’s inheritance to purchase a new DSL camera do they! I will keep my little point and click any day rather than have to either pay someone $100 to clean the lens or learn the precarious art of “how not to stuff up your DSL lens and have to buy a new camera”.

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This is a Brachychiton populnea that we grew from seed. We have lots more like this one and it has been planted next to a large specimen that is on it’s last legs thanks to borer predation

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Another Brachychiton, this time a rupestris or “Queensland Bottle Tree”. A lovely little specimen that we also grew from seed. They aren’t supposed to grow down here…this little man has other ideas about that!

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You probably can’t see the “canopy” of this Brachychiton. It’s a discolour and has taken off like topsy. It was half this size when we planted it earlier in the year and it absolutely LOVED our hot dry summer. In the background you can see our inherited tractor. One day it will get fixed but for now lets just call it an oversized piece of garden art and be done with it!

Back to the story…I got sidelined…never happened to me before in my life! 😉 So he ordered his innocuous enough products from Melbourne, just over the brine from us and discovered that it couldn’t be sent in the post because camera cleaning fluid is listed on the “DANGER WILL ROBINSON” list of things not to send through the post. O…k… so it had to be sent via the ferry and then delivered by a local franchise of “Star Track” a delivery service. He ordered the products on Monday and on Thursday he got a card left in the mail saying “signature needed”…sigh… so he phoned up Star Track and the nice receptionist pulled up the details and told him that all he had to do was leave the signed card in the mailbox and Bob would be our ubiquitous uncle. He dumped the card into the mailbox and headed down on Friday to find another card in the mailbox along with the first. This one had “SIGNITURE REQUIRED!!” underlined 3 times…so we phoned and found out that apparently this humble little delivery requires an electronic signature from the customer…sigh…just wondering why the receptionist couldn’t have told us that at the time? We phoned…again…and were told that they would redeliver on Monday…today. I said “get them to phone me 10 minutes before they get here so that I don’t have to camp on a deck chair for the entire day awaiting their majestic presence.”

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This is an Indian Hawthorn. They are quite happy in dry conditions and so this one is doing really well here on Serendipity Farm

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If you want something that you can use as a hedge, that is an Australian native and that could care less about cold, dry, wet, clay, sand whatever you want to throw at it get yourself a Westringia fruticosa. They will grow on a hot tin roof

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This is a grevillea. Not sure which one but I think they must be endemic to Tassie because there are lots of them around here growing in the wild.

Is anyone out there getting the picture that Steve isn’t here today? Well he isn’t! He is off with a mate and has left poor narf7 to cope, alone, with nightmares of technology swirling in my head…sort of the anti-sugarplums of the Christmas story AND I have to hightail it down the driveway to sign a card by some pompous delivery guy that I am most DEFINITELY going to give stink-eye to when he gets here! That means that I can’t walk Earl until the parcel has been signed for and delivered…that means the furniture isn’t safe. So far he has satisfied his testosterone by barking at the feral cats from the deck several times and forcing Bezial to play rough house with him. I know that soon it isn’t going to be enough to roll Bezial over on his back (pretending to be dead all the time) like a turtle and he is going to start nudging my elbow and bringing toys for me to chase him with around the house. Ignore that at your own peril narf7!

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A large clump of Dracena with a large palm tree peeking out from behind it

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The same palm tree taken from the other side and surrounded by Senna…yes…the kind that yields pods to be used for limbering up your digestive tract 😉

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This is a Mahonia or Oregon Grape. It is just starting to flower and after flowering it will produce electric blue fruit that jam can be made from. Last year I left the fruit too long and something scoffed it so this year I am going to keep checking and jam shall be MINE!

I experimented on the weekend. I made a batch of date paste like I normally do and then I decided to use up 3kg of small granny smith apples that were threatening to go over to the dark side and make applesauce. As I was pouring boiling water over my dried dates I suddenly had an epiphany moment…”what if I added a packet of dried dates to the applesauce? What if I then cooked them both down till they were thick and reduced and made an apple/date paste?”…good thinking narf7! So I did. And then I went all experimental again and did it with pumpkin and dates. I love the flavour of both of them but think that the pumpkin butter might just need some spice to give it more oomph. I have 11 jars of unctuous brown thick all natural fruit based pastes in my fridge to be used in all kinds of ways over the next week or two. I might try making my non-dairy kefir with some… I might also mess around with soaking almonds and making raw almond butter out of them which I inadvertently managed to do while I was trying to process some soaked almonds to make almond flour the other day. After using half of the almond paste to make my friand’s and crossing my fingers that they would work out (which they did) I then wondered how to use the rest of the paste? I tasted it and it was lovely so I added some date paste to it and used it in my morning pumpkin porridge.

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Here’s part of the reason why the wilderness area remains a wilderness area. That is a HUGE palm tree behind those blackberries…whatever lives underneath it is welcome to it! 😉

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A very trustworthy dog having a bit of a sniff around outside our front gate. I am standing at our front gate taking this image and the river is just on the opposite side of the road

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If you thought that growing azaleas was hard and that they were delicate think again! This azalea has spent the last 20 years down at the bottom of the property with bucklies and NONE chance of getting supplemental water. It seems to be happy enough with it’s aggie mates. Mass planting keeps soil moisture in and that’s what I plan on doing here…planting the wazoo out of Serendipity Farm so that it naturally forms cycles of growth and decomposition that perpetuate the cycles. All I have to do is get those cycles going…(and get myself motivated! 😉 )

The fully enclosed garden is scratching on my subconscious. I can feel it reminding me that all of the various seeds that I have littered all over Serendipity Farm are going to need to be planted out soon so that I can get them into the garden for the start of spring. Frankly, that’s a terrifying thought! We are still missing a wall, a gate and the roof at the moment and nothing much has happened up in the garden since I last posted about it aside from the odd chook invasion. We are being promised 3C days for the foreseeable future and our workload is conveniently huge allowing me to bury myself in study and avoid the fact that there are entire decomposing trees inside the 3 standing walls of the veggie garden where in a few short months some crazed idealistic part of me has visions of green fecundity. I wish I had bought more ice cream…”MOVE OVER EARL I AM COMING IN!” 😉

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Another one of our leaf piles, this one full of decomposing oak leaves under one of Glad’s massive big oak trees. Bezial had a bit of a dig, and is enjoying his freedom

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Here is the reason why you didn’t get a closeup of those snowdrops. Mr E decided that he absolutely POSITIVELY had to follow Bezial and as he weighs more than half my body weight, I didn’t have much say in the matter 😉

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Bezial investigating.

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In a few short months this entire area will be completely covered with lush green oak tree branches and you won’t be able to see the water. Deciduous trees give you a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to landscaping and are well worth their upkeep 🙂

I am in the process of writing a weekly post for a wonderful conglomerate blog called “Not Dabbling in Normal”. As you can see by the name of it, I am perfectly cut out to post in this blog. I am waiting on one of the co contributors to get back to me to show me around the ropes but at the moment I am footloose and fancy free on Mondays for now. With Steve off and gallivanting around the countryside I can get down to working my way through our next study unit. There won’t be any Steve to call on when I undoubtedly hit a brick wall so I am going to have to suck up my bolshie Luddite ways and just try to work it out for myself.  It would seem that the universe is telling me to “get over” my Pinterest addiction. The problem with Pinterest is that it is a combination of pretty pictures (the lure) with the added bonus of taking you (usually) someplace that you can find what you are after; usually a recipe or a pattern thus taking away from time spent searching nicely. That makes it highly addictive to knowledge hounds like narf7. I have been spending a bit too much time on there hunting and pinning and suddenly I find that Pinterest is having a few problems. It won’t let me pin! It’s not just me, it’s happening all over the place so I am being guided forcefully by the universe to get back on track and stop living my life in a delicious online community where I get to control the knowledge flow, again, like crack to we little black duck knowledge hounds 😉

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The Ash trees are telling me that it is going to be spring soon

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The one image that Mr E would allow me to take of the new veggie garden before we hurtled off after Bezial. Note the dead trees that need to be cut up as base material for garden beds

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This is what our entire first paddock looks like…sheoak needles all scratched up to blazes thanks to a herd of marauding chooks that must have drumsticks of iron with all of the energy and passion that they put into it…they certainly take their job seriously 😉

The veggie garden is calling me. I have been taking the dogs for a bit of a walk around the property lately and the veggie garden is telling me in no uncertain terms that I need to get bums up in it. I have trees to cut up and use to layer in the base of garden beds. I have that mountain of horse poo that is mouldering away nicely and I have piles of leaves with tarpaulins all over them waiting to be distributed nicely over the branches and the horse poo. I also have a plethora of loose chooks all doing their level best to scratch up everything inside the area. We have to get 4 more poles sunk (a new addition but needed to support the netting over the top and the fat possums that are going to try to trampoline their way down to my precious vertical growing veggies) and the final net wall up (already cut and ready to put up) and then get the door (donated by our good friend Jen, she who used to be in the witness protection but who can be outed with impunity now) up and suddenly that space will be all mine :o). I will be hauling rocks from all over the property to form garden beds. We have lots and LOTS of rocks. We are positively rich in rocks and for once, I am happy about it! We also have a new shower screen door that a friend gave us from a recent renovation. Our current shower screen door was from the early 80’s and wants to keep coming off its rails whenever you least expect it. This is a solid toughened glass door that opens out and allows you out of the shower where our current door sometimes doesn’t without a fight! We didn’t have to pay for it and it is in amazingly good condition…BONUS!

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This is the first paddock, the back bush block is just behind that fence to the rear of the image. You can see that there are rocks…these are only the rocks on the surface…once you try digging you are always going to find more of them to add to the piles…sigh…

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Our humble little home :o)

I have just about hit the 2800 mark that tells me it’s time to stop waffling and time to bugger off and let you good folk have a break. We have had some gloriously sunny days here in Northern Tasmania, frigid but sunny. Brunhilda is my new champion and has been working for us this year and has been on a nice lean diet of lovely dry wood keeping her happy and productive and very economical. It has only taken me 2 years to learn how to manage her but finally we are at a point where we can work together and both enjoy the benefits. I don’t think of her as an inanimate object, I think of her as a friend :o). Well, that 2800 mark just got crossed and it is time to let you head off dazed and confused after another assault by the literary equivalent of a rush attack by narf7. Have a great day/week and remember to stop and admire the daisies, the bees LOVE them and there is a daisy for every single climactic condition on earth…I wouldn’t be surprised to see them on the moon! ;). See you next Wednesday folks :o)

How to win friends and profile them

Hi All,

I was going to title this post “Proactivity on Serendipity Farm”…I might have to keep that one for a later date because this post wants to be let out…NOW! ;). One thing that you may not be aware of when you employ a landscape designer is that they like to snoop. They have actually been taught to snoop by their lecturers. If they want to come into your home…only let them if you want to be judged…indeed prepare to be judged whether you let them in or not.  Landscape gardeners tend to be viewed as some of the more benign creatures in the workforce. Lovely gay men wearing wonderful Gucci suits and directing their workers with a wave of the hand…in reality landscape designers are akin to psychiatrists and as such are to be feared and shunned at parties (especially when you are drunk and are attempting to dance Gangnam style…). Steve and I have been trained in the ways of the ninja landscape designer. We both know how to lull you all into a false sense of security with our heads on the side pretending to listen to every single word that you say when in reality our eyes are flickering about your person, your house, your dog, your car all in an attempt to profile you for the type of garden (and coincidentally…the amount of money you are willing to spend) that you want to create. My friends are certifiable and would take me down with them should I ever be stupid enough to attempt to profile them and leak out the results (like wikileaks but with far more widespread results when it came to my own personal safety). We would all have to spend the rest of our lives huddled together in some mental institute being prodded and dissected like all good aliens are.

we just spent 2 days creating another garden bed (this one has 4 beds in it) and preventing possum/wallaby/rabbit/chook/dog/vole damage is the hardest bit of all. After all of the work we have done I am tired to the bone after shovelling acres of compost and bags of mushroom compost and planting out the 4 beds with the vegetable seedlings that we bought the other day. We now have corn, eggplants, beetroot, English spinach, cucumbers and snow peas. Steve is addicted to the process of building vegetable gardens because they are so very rewarding. First you have a paddock with rocks and native wallaby grass and not much else and suddenly you have vegetable futures! We will wait until we assemble some more funds before we make the next of a series of veggie garden beds that will culminate in a large area of Serendipity Farm being turned over to food production. I also planted out some chives and some sage plants for herby goodness and a bit of companion planting. I am really not in the know about companion planting (thanks to being too busy to actually pick up a hort book and see whether sage and chives actually ARE companion plants for anything…) but I have only the best intentions and sometimes that is enough to get you through. My tiredness and the fact that we only just finished and it’s now after 5pm, means that you are getting another reprieve from my 2000+ wordy posts. Today we will attempt to profile ourselves…we will look at our own home through the eyes of a landscape designer and we will see what sort of concept they would come up with specifically for us…

“Obviously outdoor type people…with dogs…

AND alcoholics…

That fork has attitude… what’s in that bag…is that dirt?! And whats in that jar?…

A bookshelf full of cookbooks and gardening books…

Not too sure what this thing is but it IS decorative…

On closer inspection this is a coconut that has been turned into a bag…curiouser and curiouser!

(obviously the alcoholic and his dogs…look at his eyes…just back out of the room and hopefully they won’t notice us…)

Always look at the fridge…you can tell a lot about a person by looking at how they personalise their fridge…this one has more expired calendars than anything else

Several recipes, more expired calendars and more of those recycling magnets…

Ummm……

Ditto!

a somewhat “unusual” interior design scheme…

Lots of very sharp knives…must cook…or kill things…

Definately into cooking…

so the alcoholic is also a musician?

What a messy computer desk! Obviously myopic and in denial by the size of that screen and more of those “flowers”…obligitary cute photo of children…rubber chicken…

Ok…lets just see what a landscape designer would come up with for us with those photos to go by…

“Alcoholic, outdoors people…who have a lot of gardening books and the house is full of weird collections and soil in bags in strange places…Wait a minute! YOU are landscape designers!”…sigh…you got us! Yeh…they would know we were “one of them” from just about the moment that they entered our house…I didn’t even show you the glass full of avocado seeds, the mint in a glass of water, the bowls of various seeds all over the place and the filthy shoes outside the door (but up and away from where Earl can reach them…fool me once Earl…FOOL ME ONCE!…sigh…).

I realise that this is a mere shaddow of a post…there are only 887 words in it! I know…how about a few more photos? What about some photos of what we did today? Ok, after these I am outta here guys…I am so tired I doubt that I will make it to 7pm which is a very sad state of affairs for a woman in her prime on a Saturday night. Thems the breaks when you start to effect change 🙂

The view from the deck yesterday as the sun was going down

The construction of the garden beds that we did yesterday (thank goodness or I may not have made it through today to post!) to save us having to work so hard today

Too tired to wrestle the camera from Steve but you can see that I am at least attempting to wield that mattock…Can you see the big stainless steel cylinder in the background?…Moonshine futures! 😉

Earl cam…

The desk flower is still in shock and unable to face the world after we discovered that it had been “appropriated” from the computer desk while we were hard at work yesterday and Bezial had managed to take it from the lips of doom and was almost to the point of exhaustion in his valiant attempt to save it from certain death…”what a good boy Bezial!” He got an extra pat 🙂

Left to right…Tasmanian quinoa, Tasmanian chia seed, Amaranth and Buckwheat…all organi…all desirable plants on Serendipity Farm and all of them are soon to be experimented on to see if they will grow. I was warned that chia seed once germinated and grown can become a pest species…I can think of worse things to be overrun by guys! 😉

After 2 trips to Exeter to bring back 2 cubic metres of wonderful organic compost (and walk the dogs…don’t forget WALK THE DOGS…) we were able to start filling the veggie garden beds. Here you can see for yourself how tired (and filthy) I am…

Planting out seedlings and a couple of small plants that have been languishing in the glasshouse for 6 months including some small sages and a couple of chives

You can see the first garden that we built and the new garden bed we completed today along with the glasshouse in the background

Some of the remaining delicious black gold compost that we can use to innoculate a new compost heap in the area. You can see how steep the block is from this picture

Steve…either about to go Gangnam style OR The Full Monty…(Hopefully Glad doesn’t see either of these performances!)

Steve predated a “Plants for $3” stall today. Everyone is suddenly active again in Tasmania…all it takes is a few days of warm weather and the Garage Sale signs go up again, the plant sales come out and the yachts start sailing on the Tamar again.

Steve knows that I love Aquilegias. They are pretty, perennial, they seed, they are incredibly hardy and will survive living conditions that would have ME shrivelling. A fantastic plant for Serendipity Farm 🙂

The finished garden beds…planted…slug protected and protected from marauding critters (especially chooks!). Note that the far end of the garden bed is somewhat higher than the rest of the bed…the reason being that we planted corn at this end and knowing how tall corn can get…we figured that we should plan for this eventuality in advance. We ran out of bird netting and recycled some old shadecloth that we pulled from a ricketty structure that was in between the glasshouse and the woodshed.

Last but by NO means least…Steve decided to rename the very first garden bed on Serendipity Farm in honour of mum. If it wasn’t for mum we probably wouldn’t have gotten started with our veggie gardens at all and one of the last things that she ever said to me was “get those veggie gardens built!”…so here you are mum…we finally did it 🙂

Ok, thats enough…I am dog tired and I can’t think of anything more to say. I love you all dearly but its time for Fran to rest her poor aching body that needs a good rest. Tomorrow is going to be a complete and most delightful slothing day :). I can taste it now! See you all on Wednesday and I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend as much as I am going to enjoy mine 🙂

There’s a mole in my head

Hi All

I am in the enviable blogging position of having too much to post today. I have at least 4 posts worth of material ruminating about inside my head and am going to have to divide them (much like amoeba) and sift through their content to make sure that no cross breeding goes on. I have an entire post of how I spent an hour on Sunday with my daughters and what we all created. I won’t be posting about that today because I have photos to jolt my memory for that post and need to document the rest because after a few days it fades into the ether and may never have the opportunity to resurface because my head tends to be constantly crammed full of “stuff” and my poor addled brain spends its days sifting through useless information and discarding it ad hoc (Note to self…you need to pay that poor overworked organ more!). I liken my condition to watching a mole at work. It makes a concerted start on an area of earth and starts flinging soil out in all directions until it achieves its holey goal. Most of the dirt that has been displaced just settles into a moley angle of repose that erodes away to nothing after a few days leaving no trace of mole activity. You wouldn’t even know that a mole had even dug aside from the hole, a few missing turnips and the erroneous dirt. Thus is the fate of my thoughts. The main reason for my visit to town was to attend a Sustainable Food Day. I attended last year and many of you can still remember my aversion to the felt hat brigade. Well I am pleased to say that the felt hat brigades were very conspicuous by their absence this year. It might have been too cold for them and aside from one lady who appeared to have made a career of being negative, the rest of us were there to learn. The most interesting (to me) talk revolved around Biochar and the speaker, Mr Frank Strie, was passionately eloquent about how the process of Pyrolysis can produce carbon negative energy whilst achieving increased soil fertility and locking down carbon in the soil at the very same time. Who couldn’t help but get excited about prospects like that?!

Frank is the very first person in this line of speakers all waiting for us to quiz them about their areas of expertise

Despite morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea supplied free of charge and all being substantial and delicious this is the sum of the local interest in food sustainability in the Tamar region. The speakers almost outnumbered the audience! It did make for a very cosy and friendly atmosphere though.

Here is Franks carrot experiment. The small carrots were grown in soil minus charcoal and the large carrots were grown in charcoal (Biochar) rich soil with the same packet of seeds and the same soil/growing conditions. This alone was enough for me to consider hosing down my burning piles before they reduce to ash in the future

Franks basket of tricks containing various jars of charcoal in different grades from coars through to dust and the “tin” at the back of the basket was actually a small model of a pyrolysis set up where the heat harnessed from slowly burning the charcoal is converted to power. A VERY interesting premise and one that I will be looking into in the near future

I met an amazing array of people and some of them are shaping up to be wonderful sources of discount information. A group of us are having a meeting this Saturday about Permaculture and what exactly “Zone 1” means. To keep the costs down we are going to meet up in each other’s houses and supply our own food for the duration of the meetings. Some of us live in far flung places and have started applying Permaculture Principals already so it is going to be very interesting to see just what other people are doing with their own little patch of Nirvana. We are building our own communities and taking what we are learning to friends, family and the wider community in the hopes that we can develop real community relationships that work. Frances (how could she NOT be an unmitigated genius with a name like that 😉 ) is also talking about Permablitzes where a group of like-minded Permies (cute name…like Kermit the frog is “Kermie”…) get together and blitz someone’s garden in a day. Everyone gets a turn to share in the work as well as a turn in getting their own garden blitzed. Frances is an amazing person who is incredibly knowledgeable about Permaculture and who has applied it in various places throughout the world. I can’t wait to see what we can do about Serendipity Farm and the obstacles that have now started turning from huge blockades into something usable. The more I learn the more excited I get because we can use our “problems” to work for us. Piles of weeds and debris? No problem! Use them to make weed tea, compost, and mulch or row compost.  Soil full of rocks that sets like porcelain in the summer? No problem! Use the rocks to form swales for the problem of the sloped nature and water run-off problem and kill 2 birds with one stone! As our lecturer Nick likes to remind us on a regular basis…”for every action, there is an equal, and opposite reaction”. It’s up to US to work out how to use whatever we have here to gain positive change.

A Daphne odora at the back door at my daughters home in Launceston. If you have never smelled Daphne in full flower you are missing out!

Some Hellebores that keep on keeping on also at my daughters home in town the irises just starting to emerge are a lovely bright yellow when they flower

A large camellia that Steve and I crown lifted when we lived with our daughters in town before we moved to Serendipity Farm. The dead looking mass of sticks in front of the camellia is actually a small cherry plant

A mass of my favourite flower, violets. I LOVE spring! 🙂

I think that spring is shoving the rear end of winter a little hard this year as it appears to be overriding the cold and ignoring the last bastions of winter. Everything is leafing up and starting to flower and the birds are all agitated and pairing up for the breeding season. I dare say we have a season of chickens just about to land on the doorstep but we are too busy to care at the moment. It would seem that just as nature has increased her activity, so have we. I seem to be steering a course for real activity on Serendipity Farm with all of the information that we have been getting and we are itching to get out into the garden and start working on our first year of vegetable gardening and planting out. We are going to try to get as many of our potted plants into the ground as we can in the next few weeks. Those that remain are going to be repotted and those that we don’t want, rehoused. My mind is a bit of a maelstrom with everything that I am trying to force into it at the moment and all of the new processes that we are starting. Usually winter blends pretty seamlessly into spring around here but this year seems to have an urgency about it that demands to be acted upon so never one to shirk the urgency of a season (who knows WHAT might happen if I did!) we have been rudely awakened from our winter hibernation and flung head first into instant activity. I just received the last of the fermentation books that I ordered from The Book Depository on Monday and an enormous tomb it is. It’s more an explanation of fermenting various things than actual recipes and allows the reader to experiment with ideas. It would seem that just about everything can be fermented and that segues nicely with my next book arrival, this time from Amazon. I had a bit of birthday money burning a hole in my already holey pockets. When pockets as holey as these start blazing its best to spend your dosh while it still lasts and before the bills arrive so spend I did! I bought 3 books, 1 of which isn’t in stock apparently and I have to wait. Guess which book it was Hannah… ;). One of them I have been waiting for most excitedly and with my latest round of fermentation it will fit in wonderfully. I can’t wait for Miyoko Schinner’s book “Artisan Vegan Cheeses” to get here. I have been using the bread prover over Brunhilda to give my ferments a chance to bask in her radiant love, much like Bezial lies lovingly at her feet with his big black head up against the warming oven.  They have been rewarding me with exponential growth and after giving away 3 of the 8 sourdough starters that Steve and I have been cultivating (to share the love) there are still 5 of them bubbling away ready to move to new homes when the desire arises. Up until lunch time today they were sharing the proving rack with a glass jug of wine yeast doing its thang that is now swimming free and winning the Serendipity Farm equivalent of the Olympic 100 metres breast-stroke in 17 litres of “Skeeter Pee”. Skeeter Pee is apparently potent quaffable lemon wine best drunk chilled in the summer after working hard in the garden. At 14% alcohol you wouldn’t want to drink too many of them in between shifts! We are enjoying seeking out alternatives to paying the middle man our hard studied dosh for something that we can make ourselves out of seasonal produce and by harnessing natural bacteria and fungus to work for us.

My idea of the juxtaposition between winters last bastion and the first flush of spring

Rescued rabbits from a battery meat farm in the North rehoused at Big Ears Animal Rescue where the girls rabbits have now found their new forever home. More about this admirable place in future posts.

Christi and The Bearded One land safely on Serendipity Farm. I am going to put this little picture in a small frame as original artwork by Keith to accompany the wonderful book that Christi sent to me along with some amazing Farmlet jams and some long gone dog treats that are but a fond memory in a sleep twitching dogs dreams now. I am going to use a little bit of this wonderful jam in a small cake that I am taking over for Glads 90th birthday this Saturday. Thank you SOOO much for you open friendship, your incredible generosity and your sisterhood Christi 🙂

I was chatting to the owner of Inspirations Nursery in Exeter the other day when we were picking up some mushroom compost. I love mushroom compost and its propensity to give. Why spend $25 on a mushroom kit when a few bags of mushroom compost will give you pretty similar yields and a whole lot of usable compost to hurl into your garden for quarter the price. We have 7 bags and are just about to lug it into the hidey hole under the house. I have some interesting ideas about what we can do with this wasted space directly beneath the house and growing mushrooms might be a good way to utilise it. After we picked up the mushroom compost we headed inside the nursery to have a little look at the range of seeds that were developed along with Steve Solomon and that are now propagated by a school as a partnership project. I found out that one of the local Resource Management groups is also partnering with the school so the children grow native plants for revegetation. It’s a win-win situation all round and a great way to show children that trees aren’t just for cutting down (it IS Tasmania after all 😉 ). While Steve was roaming about the outside looking at plants in pots I had a look at this amazing seed range and was struck by the wonderful rare old bean selection that was being offered. Apparently the owner has also partnered with another man who is passionate about cold climate beans. This struck a chord with me because one of the points that came out when one of the speakers was talking about food security was that Tasmania doesn’t grow its own grains or legumes. The selection of wonderful looking beans got me very excited. Most of them are grown to dry out and store for use as pulses and ground for high protein flours. Once the owner realised that I was very interested in his selection of beans he opened up and told me about some of the history of the beans. One long black bean was an American Indian variety called “Field of Tears” and was their staple bean crop named after their displacement from their homeland. There were beans of all shapes and colours and one particular kind of bean got me very excited. Getting excited about beans is lame, by the way, and only a fellow vegan could understand how excited I got with this one ;). It’s called a Tepary bean and is a Northern American bean that is just starting to discover a new audience thanks to its incredible drought tolerance and good texture and flavour and keeping qualities. The beans were grown in the desert and living on one of the driest countries on the planet anything edible that promises to perform well in drought conditions is my kind of food! Inspirations Nursery sells 2 kinds of Tepary bean, one nondescript light brown squarish bean and its gaudy white with blue spots cousin, also drought hardy and very nutritious. Here’s a good website with some quality information about Tepary beans if you are interested…

http://www.seedsofchange.com/enewsletter/issue_56/tepary_beans.aspx

The lazarus almond that was stone dead only last year, so much so that I had thrown it up the back of the garden and completely forgotten about it where it spent all summer devoid of water has apparently decided to live! My girls told me that it was alive and I didn’t believe them. It goes to show that plants can be a whole lot more resilient than you might initially think and it also goes to show that I have at least 1 almond tree ready to plant out on Serendipity Farm 🙂

This poor little Pieris japonica had been completely squashed by vegetation all around it last year. We liberated it and gave it a hair cut and it is repaying us (and the bees) by putting on an amazing floral display this year.

The chickens are not content with being able to roam freely all over Serendipity Farm horizontally, now they are determined to conquer the vertical! If they start laying on the chook shed roof you can just about forget paper, rock, scissors Steve!

One of the speakers at the Sustainable Food day talked about spreading various hardy edible plants around your garden and allowing them to go to seed and take up residence all over your property. I dare say this man’s garden isn’t ever going to feature in “Home and Garden” magazine but the idea struck a chord with me. He suggested broadcasting silverbeet, parsley, coriander, rocket, bok choy, chicory and another lady chimed up with celery, carrots, fennel and parsnips as also being easy to let run free on your property. The same man turned what is an incredibly invasive pest plant, Allium triquetrum (Three cornered Garlic) from something that was almost impossible to remove without herbicide to a positive asset by showing that it was indeed a culinary herb, edible and delicious! I love finding ways to turn a negative into a positive and the ultimate revenge is to eat your pest! Making weed tea or piling weeds up and covering them with black plastic for a few years is also a wonderful way to expunge your pent up frustration at a garden full of nitrogen scoffing weeds. Make them work FOR you. Everything has at least one positive (and usually several negative) points and if you can exploit that positive, you are ahead as far as I am concerned. I have a small patch of nettles in the veggie garden area that Steve has been itching to whipper snip since it grew. I am saving my nettles. Not only are they a good vegetable source of iron, make excellent soup and wine BUT they encourage beneficials, they are an indicator that the soil is very fertile (especially in phosphorus) and that the soil has been disturbed. They can be used as a compost activator and can be used to make weed tea that is low in phosphate but has good amounts of magnesium, sulphur (which is low in Tasmanian soils) and iron and coincidentally, they are one of the few plants that can tolerate and flourish in soil rich in poultry droppings ;). For every action (negative) there is an equal and opposite reaction (positive). Cheers Nick! Permaculture teaches us that everything has a use. We were just about to burn some piles of debris and wood and I mentioned this to my new Permaculture guru Frances and she said “DON’T”! She and I had talked about how water runs down our property and how we can’t dig swales to slow the descent and keep the water in our own soil thanks to the rocks. She pointed out that forming the vegetation into rows will act as a swale along with rocks heaped over them. I have SO much to learn but I am going to enjoy every single minute of it :o).

All kinds of fermenting bubbling experiments on Serendipity Farm. This bread proving rack is situated above Brunhilda and is the perfect place to ferment warm cultures. After receiving my latest big book of fermentation I can see this place being populated by some pretty weird foodstuffs…watch this space!

Kipfler seed potatoes ready to be planted into bags…having soil full of rocks is NOT going to stop me from enjoying my new kipflers fresh from the ground! The brown rice in the jar was used last night for blind baking Steves chicken, bacon, mushroom and beer pie pastry.

Another couple of thousand words just flew out of my fingertips. Get in line Merlin I have the magic touch! I might just spend the rest of this evening formulating my next post because I am just getting started and it’s time to finish. Steve is making me vegan pea and “ham” soup by substituting smoked paprika for the ham and green split peas for the regular yellow ones so tonight I will be dining on experimental food. I think that spring is full of experimentation. All sorts of new chances to mess about in the garden, to spend time working on projects outside, to give new life to our poor long suffering potted plants that are envious beyond belief at their already planted brethren. So much to do before the heat sets in and robs us of our energy and will to head out into the garden as surely as the winter rain does the very same thing. Serendipity Farm is awakening to all of the possibilities of spring and it would seem that so am I :o). See you all on Saturday and here’s hoping that all of you in the Southern Hemisphere are enjoying the heralds of spring. Sorry you lot in the North, you HAD your turn! 😉