Up in sustainable lights

Hi All,

 

Yeah…I know I only just posted yesterday but you know what? This tiny little post is to share another Serendipity Farm post that has gone overseas. This one has nestled at an amazing blog called Wodara.org where there are some completely amazing stories about how people live their lives productively and choose to make the most of what they have and do with what they are given. A while ago Krista, the owner of the blog contacted me about having our humble little story be part of this wonderful tangle of enlightening and uplifting stories. To say that I was chuffed was an understatement! Since Kym went back we have been “flat out like a lizard drinking” getting a backlog of horrendous studies out of the way and when I say “flat out” I am talking 4am starts and finishing at 2pm. No time for anything fun but I must admit I have been ducking off to pin a few surreptitious pins as a tiny aside to bolshiness but not for long! I completely forgot about Krista’s request and when I got a reminder email I knew that I was going to have to write this post. I spent my day off (Sunday) writing it and finding images and sent it off to her on Monday amid researching for media marketing information. Can there BE anything more boring than media marketing?! (Forget I said that…there is always quantum physics and economics to fall back on if my boredom quotient isn’t quite piqued 😉 ). So here we are, almost at the end of our hard slog of a unit and there is light at the end of the tunnel and I might just get to take another peek at my RSS Feed Reader. I miss you all! I haven’t had this long away from my RSS Feed Reader in ages and to say that I am missing you all is an understatement! I feel like I have lost a leg but the internet surgeons are just about to start sewing it back on and by this weekend (fingers crossed) Steve and I should have managed to knock these studies out of the ballpark. Till I am able to re-join the online community, please accept my apologies for neglecting you all but you do what you have to do and we are doing what we do best…bulldozering something difficult and turning it into a new pathway. Here’s the post at Wodara.org if you would like to head over and check it out along with all of the other amazing, inspiring and just plain great stories that Krista is collecting and collating…

http://wodara.org/2013/08/25/how-two-penniless-hippies-are-creating-serendipity-farm/

Till we step back on the online social media platform again…HUGS!

narf7 🙂

Invasion of the Choko

Hi All,

It’s 3.13am Thursday morning and I have decided to tap away here for a little bit because I am waiting for my RSS Feed Reader to load. After it reached 525 posts and my eye started to twitch involuntarily I decided to head off for a bit and distract myself. Steve and I are juggling studies and dog walking with our annual winter wind-down. I have almost knitted a pair of gauntlets. I live in the knitting world between day and night. I spend a few short moments of my time knitting furiously before I start to fall asleep and have to lay my needles down and go to bed. Usually I am pretty tired by this point and have to make sure that my half asleep brain remembers to put the knitting back into my knitting bag and hide it in the spare room. There are always a pair of eyes watching me when I knit. I must admit, the pair of eyes has learned not to jump on me and steal my wool while I am knitting. I figure the pair of eyes turning 3 this year might be part of it but it is a small victory and something to be celebrated. When I was untangling the wool that I got from my daughter earlier in the week (and no Bethany, you STILL can’t have it back! 😉 ) he trotted past the tangled heap on the table and did a classic double take. He trotted back in a most interested way and after I told him “NO” he trotted off to a safe distance away (obviously my “NO” has a personal space…) and proceeded to watch me like a hawk for any signs that my defences were down and he could launch in to take possession of the delicious tangle of fun on the kitchen table. Alas…my defences didn’t drop and he didn’t even get to sniff the wool.

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As soon as Earl realised that I had picked up my camera to take a picture of him completely upside down with his legs in the air, both he and Bezial decided to turn away…party poopers!

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Steve thinks I am not going to use this photo and the next one. Earl is looking decidedly demented in this shot 😉

Earl isn’t like other dogs. Earl is as close to a wild dog as you are going to get without adopting a wolf. Up until now we have often felt like we are walking a tightrope with him because he just did what he wanted to do and we didn’t know how to deal with it. There were times when we first bought Earl when I would look into his eyes and see “alien”. He just felt completely and utterly foreign to me. Not a dog, sort of a bunch of muscles from mars. After numerous attempts to try to train him he seemed untrainable. It would be easy to think that Earl was stupid. He doesn’t listen, he eats the furniture and even after the humans go spare he still does what he wants. Nothing worked and unlike Bezial, he didn’t learn from his mistakes, he just kept making them.  He obviously thinks he rules the roost but something has happened to Earl over the last 6 months. He has decided that he loves us. He even loves his fat old sofa buddy Bezial. In allowing himself to love us he has also allowed himself to start fitting in to the hierarchy here. He is starting to listen to commands. “NO” is something he understands now. I don’t ever think he didn’t understand “NO” I just think he chose not to worry about it. Now he wants to please us and get cuddles and have us say “Good Dog!” and pat him. Earl is an attention hog. He loves nothing more than being loved and it’s lucky that Bezial could care less about cuddles because Earl is always there to lap up any attention that anyone wants to give him.

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I think this is priceless…all 3 of my boys looking completely and utterly doo-lally! SHHH! Stop laughing…Steve will hear you! 😉

Now the following image isn’t going to make an OUNCE of sense to anyone outside of Australia and of a “certain age” but here it is anyway…doesn’t Milo bear a canny resemblance to Steve in this image?! 😉

Milo with guitar

If Steve EVER finds this post it could be enough reason for a divorce! 😉

Where I said earlier that it would be easy to think that Earl was stupid I meant that he never seemed to learn anything. We spent 6 months trying to teach him the benefits of shaking hands. He eventually learned it and if you pull out a treat bag that little front paw is straight up in the air. Earl is the least “stupid” dog I know. What Earl is, is his own dog. He might have a feral edge a mile wide but that edge is completely tempered with how a dog should act. The problem is that Steve and I aren’t dogs and Bezial doesn’t think that he is one either and Earl is trying to teach us the ways of the pack. Obviously he is top dog in his pack order but after 3 years he is starting to see that there are benefits in allowing the pink hairless ones to think that they are the boss. There are some quality games to be had when you drop the toy that you are holding. Dropping prey is foreign to a dog. Why would you drop your hard won fluffy squirrel for another dog?! Earl recently showed me how clever he was. He often brings a toy in to the computer in the afternoon and presses it gently onto the knee of whoever is using the computer at the time. It’s his way of saying “a game would be nice around about now, you obviously need to check off that seat before you start to resemble Bezial…” it is also the precursor to his long and convoluted series of stages that he goes through before his meal. He brought the toy to me and pressed it onto my knee looking up at me with enormous doe eyes. Earl is VERY good at doe eyes. Nature gave him Chinese eyes but he has learned to open them wide and can melt hearts with those eyes. I think it’s the fact that you don’t expect that adoration and innocence from that body.

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Admittedly this doesn’t look tasty. It looks like something that might once have been tasty but that has passed through the digestive tract of the enjoyer and is on it’s way to the sewer. It is, however, delicious! This is date paste that has had a good slug of Jack Daniel’s, a splosh of Hazelnut liqueur, a glug of Stones Green Ginger Wine and a gargle in some delicious maple syrup (all with the complete acceptance of my daughters who owned all of these ingredients 😉 ). It tastes like scrumptious smooth fruit mince and I am going to make some coconut vegan vanilla ice-cream and swirl some of this gorgeousness through it.

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This is a choko that has broken it’s banks and that is growing. I am happy for it to grow, in fact, I am ecstatic! Jean of the wonderful blog “allotment adventures” has been waxing lyrically about choko’s for a while now and has reignited my memories of these humble tasteless vegetables. I have eaten them boiled and this is what turned me off them BUT I have also enjoyed them immensely without even knowing that they were in what I ate. They are carriers of flavour, sort of the green vegetable equivalent of tofu (except nothing like it 😉 ). They work well in jams, marmalade and eke out the prize tasty ingredients by being content to stay in the background while the prized fruit shines. Love them or loath them, Serendipity Farm is about to have a choko vine :). Those strange looking things underneath the choko used to be red Jerusalem artichokes. For some reason once I put them into this bowl and they all deflated! The white stuff is not mould but is flour (Steve is a messy cook 😉 )

Earl and I have a special bond. Apparently he sees me as his property. He knows that as “property” I have my disadvantages. One of them is that I go ballistic at a moment’s notice. To own property like me you need to be dedicated. I am like owning an old degrading WW2 bomb, I am unstable and I am dangerous. I might look barnacled and benign but beneath my pock-marked surface I am ticking and Earl knows it. I would like to think that he has decided that I am his mistress. That I rule the roost here and that I am to be listened to but I fear I am barking up the wrong tree and Earl has just decided to let me do what I want to do so long as I keep scratching him in the right places, cuddling him and telling him he is a good boy and I let him sleep at my feet on the bed. There is a whole lot more to Earl’s love than that. I am doing him an injustice there. When Earl loves, he adores. If he was a human he WOULD be a Viking. He would be all man muscular and handsome and when he fell in love it would be that amazing real deal. There would be roses and feet being swept off and forever and lots and lots of fluffy squirrel donations but he isn’t a man, he is a dog and that makes him a little more manageable. He is satisfied with his lot aside from a constant need to be the cream that rises to the top. He knows that Bezial was here first and that Bezial has a part of Steve’s heart that he will never be able to fill. I give Earl that love that he craves and as the only “bitch” in the family I qualify for his undivided attention and Earl IS learning to fit in now. I wouldn’t trust Earl with anything other than a human but with a human I would trust him implicitly. Earl is the sort of dog that you could send your 10 year old child off with and KNOW that nothing was going to happen to them. He instinctively knows how he is supposed to act. There are no fears in Earl (aside from squirty water bottles and a strange terror of noises that come out of mobile phones that send him running) and I know that if any of us, Bezial included, were ever to be attacked he would fight for us to the death. I know that like I know the morning will come. I love Earl and my early fear of his animalistic alien-ness has mellowed to acceptance and real love. We have an understanding now that runs much deeper than the here and now and Earl and I navigate through our day’s one fluffy squirrel at a time.

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Lastly…you tell ME how you pronounce that without the library lady jumping over her desk and washing your mouth out with soap! 😉

Sorry about the bad photo but it was raining and a bit dark today so the flash kept going off. Here’s todays library haul. James Wong is a legend and the other 2 books are some recipe books that I have been interested in messing about with. The black book has some most interesting recipes in it “crack pie” and “cereal milk ice cream” are only 2 of the choices but I am having fun going through the yellow book that has recipes for making your own ramen…now who wouldn’t want to know how to make good quality ramen!

It’s windy and rainy and thundery and lightning and absolutely LOVELY! It’s great to have a bit of foul weather for once and to know that it really is winter. The weather worldwide seems to have become somewhat confused. Steve and I have been so grateful that we bought Brunhilda when we did. She is certainly paying for herself now with endless hot water, free cooking and house warming. We have been cracking through our media course and are learning heaps about Adobe Flash and have recently been animating household objects. Steve animated his coffee cup and I animated a set of 3 Babushka dolls that I picked up somewhere. Lots of fun and another feather in our caps should we ever need to look like Indian Chiefs. I am lusting after getting out into our new veggie garden. I need to source some hay but at the moment we are starting to prep ourselves for the impending visit of friends and family for my rapidly approaching “big” birthday. There is snow on Mount Wellington Kymmy! We can go up together and make a snowman. I want to post a picture of Kym and I making a snowman and throwing snowballs at each other (not sure how I am going to take a photo of us BOTH throwing snowballs but hey, leave it with me! 😉 ). My sister Pinky is coming over as is the son-and-heir and his Texan sweetie Kelsey so there will be quite a few more than usual hovering around Serendipity Farm.

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Here’s my gauntlets so far. It’s just about time to swap over to that brown wool so I am going to have to bite the bullet and cast off!

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These are my daughter Bethany’s. I forgot to take them off when I borrowed them the other day and only remembered halfway home so Steve will be taking them back on shopping day. I wonder if anyone out there would know where I could find a pattern (and the knitting ability) to make a pair of these? I LOVE them!

Steve headed off and took a few motion blur images of Glad’s little waterfall that runs through her property. She was out raking leaves (not bad for 91) and said “Knock yourselves out!” when we asked her if she minded us taking photos. She recently burned the junction where the waterfall meets the outflow pipe (into the Tamar River) to remove all of the oak leaves that were clogging it and its lucky that she did because this recent rain has caused the stream to flow wonderfully and it would have backed up into her garden if it was full of leaves. The roosters are crowing in unison under the deck. I wouldn’t care so much if they weren’t situated directly underneath me. They are big roosters and those large lungs are apparently there to increase the noise. We just discovered that one of the smaller “hens” is a rooster. It is going to be a most beautiful rooster because it is a cross between Big Yin (a standard golden Wyandotte rooster) and one of Effel Dookarks offspring (She was a blue Wyandotte) and it has a lovely grey tail. We might even keep him and see what he looks like. The other 2 are living on borrowed time. We were recently given the bones from a piglet purchased from a local producer by our friends. They were ostensibly for the dogs but Earl is “funny” about bones and when he saw how many bones were on offer he started to strut around and we decided to stop a problem (with Bezial) before it occurred. He got a couple of bones (that he promptly ran off to hide with his nose) and the rest went into a stockpot with lots of water while I was away. If I had been here, I would have done something with them but Steve just let them simmer till they reduced down to about ¼ of their original weight and the next day they had turned to jelly. The dogs didn’t want to even contemplate eating it. They are VERY fussy for big dogs. The feral cats got it all and enjoyed every single jelly filled mouthful. I think Steve just made instant canned cat food…”Jelly meat anyone?” 😉

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Here’s the back of them. Note the cute mitt conversion kit that…

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Flips over when you need your fingers to be warm

I am just finishing off todays post whilst waiting for my RSS Feed Reader to download todays haul. I have dumped a few peripheral blogs that I no longer read and am tailoring my blog feeds to what I am now interested in. My interests tend to evolve on a regular basis but revolve predominately around vegan food and recipe blogs and baking sites along with some gardening and environmental sites. Most of the blogs that I follow post infrequently which is amazingly lucky for me because I have so many of them. I have almost managed to get back to a maintenance level where I empty my feeds every day. It takes me about a week of intensive shuffling to do it after a weekend away. I am going to have a LOT of feeds after my week with Kym but there is an option called “The Panic Button” that you can press that eliminates all posts older than a specified date (you choose) so I might just have to get ruthless on them or die trying to eliminate them. My choko is sprouting nicely, my gauntlets are almost finished and now I found a tutorial reminding me how to cast off, I should be able to finish them soon :o). That should tell you how long it has been since I last knitted! We are enjoying using rainwater in our kettle to make our daily beverages now. I also use it to make my kefir. I have been batching up my excess non-dairy kefir and freezing it in ice-cube trays ready for warmer times when I can get back to drinking green smoothies for breakfast without sustaining frost bite of the lip.

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These are my lovely rainbow wool socks that my son bought for me one mothers day a few years ago. Earl “redecorated” them :(. I am in the process of pulling what is left of them apart, re-joining the hand dyed wool together and then I might just attempt to recreate a pair of those lovely hooded mitts. I know that they will probably be HUGE and I won’t be able to do or feel anything with them but as they are chunky wool, at least I won’t have cold hands!

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The biscuit barrel is starting to get low…time to bake some more! That’s my non-dairy kefir doing its thang next to the bickies

I just found an excellent blog site (that I promptly added to my feed 😉 ) all about making and using worm wicked water beds. An excellent resource and here is the website for anyone interested in this wonderfully water-wise way of vegetable gardening…

http://www.jas49580.blogspot.com.au/

And here’s another great blog with free PDF’s about soil mycology and how to build and use water wicking veggie garden beds. You can now get an idea why I never manage to get entirely through my RSS Feed Reader…I keep finding new and amazingly useful sites! 😉

http://www.wickingbed.com/

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This is one of Steve’s sponge cakes. He just tossed this one together for a friends birthday tomorrow. He will be taking orders when he recovers from the effort 😉

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I KNEW this choko had designs on taking over Serendipity Farm! This image was taken this afternoon…the image at the beginning of the post was taken about 2 hours earlier…it is growing exponentially! By Wednesday we will all be trapped inside and it will be demanding to be fed…actually…look at the end of it. it bears an uncanny resemblance to “Audrey” from The Little Shop of Horrors!

It would seem that I have fallen prey to the dreaded lurgy folks. Not bad, but definitely making me feel tender and sniffy. How lucky am I that I can settle down next to Brunhilda and fall asleep over my knitting or a book. Steve is off hunting Aurora Australis somewhere in Deviot. Apparently there are sun spots at the moment and that means a greater than average chance (60% if you care) of seeing the Aurora Australis from the Southern states of Australia. As Tassie is about as far south as Australia gets (apart from our vested interests in Antarctica…) we have a good viewpoint. Steve has plans for taking some time-lapse photography tomorrow involving the river and some yachts. This wind brings the yachters out en masse. I think I might be just about to call this post done and dusted folks. Today has been “smooth”. Not bad to be smooth when you are sick, just coasting along and nothing major…just “smooth”. Tomorrow will hopefully be just as smooth and won’t have me crusty and with a handkerchief permanently welded to my nasal area. Wish me luck and see you on Wednesday :o)

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At least if the choko manages to eat me, it will get its just deserts! 😉

Brunhilda feeds tonight…

Hi All,

You can’t stop a behemoth. By its sheer solidity of purpose it has a primal desire to flow from one state to another and good luck stopping it. Brunhilda is one such behemoth. She affects a type of reverse hibernation where she sleeps all through the bustling summer months when everything else is up, procreating and turning green. Brunhilda settles down into her long slumber in mid-October when the frosts officially cease but I have my suspicions that it might be slightly later this year. The berries on the cotoneaster and the hollies are both copious and incredibly bright red so I think we might be in for a long winter. Brunhilda rises to the call of the cold. She opens her door and yawns for the first taste of kindling and the behemoth awakes. From that first flickering flame Brunhilda is constantly in a state of fire. She “ticks over” or she burns like a funeral pyre and in between she gives us something that money just can’t buy, she makes our cold winter house a home. Brunhilda has been going since early May and aside from a few hairy moments when one or other of us forgot to add her fuel of choice and she threatened to go on strike she hasn’t gone out. After you set a behemoth on its way you have to step back and let it do its thing. We put in the fuel and she walks her primal pathway. We reap so long as we pay. It’s a pure case of symbiosis and I love it!

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I am not the only one that has complete and utter adoration for Brunhilda and all that she stands for…meet her humble servant Bezial…

Brunhilda prefers nice dry wood. She is a creature of comfort, much like Bezial who prefers steak and butter and like Bezial we have to temper her desires and she gets her version of broccoli in wood that might not be completely dry. We know that so long as we mix the slightly damp wood with lots of dry we won’t have any problems and it is amazing to see Brunhilda and her tongue of flames turn something that was a tree last year into ashes. You learn a lot about life if you observe its cycles and fire is no exception. I love my winter cycles. They seem so much more real because the cold hones your perception and forces you to focus. We collect our wood like squirrels and we stack it in well-ordered piles on the deck and we slowly feed it into Brunhilda as she works her way through the pile. When we bought this particular model of Aussie made oven I wasn’t sure whether we had done the right thing. Aside from being very expensive (although nowhere NEAR as expensive as her imported brethren) we were going out on a limb to try and support an Aussie business and there wasn’t a whole lot of information out there about their range. It would seem that people like imported Aga’s and Rayburn’s. Brunhilda is not related and where her imported cousins can be colour coordinated with your kitchen there is a degree of bolshiness about her little black attire that reminds you that a stove is supposed to heat, cook and maybe heat your water if you thought about it in advance and decided to spring for the hot water jacket…

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Steve bought these 2 filters and 3 in that little wallet underneath the box at the rear for $15 total. No postage and they got here in just over a week from Hong Kong. Steve has been buying online camera equipment now for a couple of months and so far everything that he has purchased has been a lot cheaper and a lot better than he would have imagined.

From the moment we lit Brunhilda she has been reliable and frugal with her appetite. We feed her, she burns. Because of the unique firebox position in the middle of the 4 ovens, the heat gets retained better and so long as Steve stokes her up before he goes to bed she is waiting for me to give her breakfast when I get up at 3am and open her up. We don’t need firelighters, she just keeps going and my first cup of tea is in line with the first cuppa’s that our pioneering women drew their daily strength from in the past. When you bypass the instantaneous ability to flick a switch or click a gas jet you take on a role in the processes that requires you to keep up your end of the bargain or the cycles stop. You can’t be lazy and take a holiday from hauling wood or stoking Brunhilda because you won’t be able to heat the house and fuel yourself with those soul warming cups of tea and so we become part of the cycle and the process and there is a wonderful degree of fulfilment that comes with stepping in and taking up that yoke.

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I think I might just have to buy this book. It is excellent. James Wong shows us all how to grow some pretty amazing edibles and 3 weeks worth of reading has made me want to own this book.

Yesterday we put up 2 more nets around our huge enclosed garden. We can see the scope of the area that we chose now and I am getting really excited about the possibilities. Where before it was all in my mind, now my idea is coming into fruition. It might not be pretty but it will stop the native wildlife from scarfing our precious food crops and what price that? Again we come back to cycles and our part in those cycles. How can we appreciate what we get if we haven’t had to take part in the process? Handing over a few dollars for a whisk from Shiploads (our equivalent to Wal-Mart apparently…) doesn’t give us the satisfaction of being part of the process. Some poor worker slaved on a factory line in China to make that whisk and its $1.97 price is completely unrepresentative of the true cost of its manufacture. I didn’t just pull “whisk” out of the atmospheric dictionary dear constant readers, I just bought one. I know…”SHAME ON YOU NARF7!”. I supported slave trade… I consumed… I did a bad thing…did it count that I thought about what I was doing?

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This book was in the car ready to be taken back to the library (unread…we have been VERY busy…) when I had to wait in the car for Steve to pick up some plumbing gear from the Beaconsfield hardware shop and so I started to read it and decided to take it out again. It’s a very interesting subject…not sure I would be willing to leave my body to Mr Bass when I die after reading what they do to human remains but kudos to the people that do, a lot of crimes have been solved thanks to the research and macabre generosity of people with their earthly remains after they no longer inhabit them…

While I was twitching that whisk around in a bowl of homemade soymilk and some homemade date paste that I was turning into food for my kefir I was thinking about how we really don’t appreciate the things that are available to us because we really don’t know what cost they truly represent to us. The up-front $1.97 is just a fraction of what any of us earns. Even penniless student hippies that get paid by the state to pretend that they are not actually unemployed, but are productive members of society get more than enough money to justify paying out $1.97 for a whisk but behind that heavily subsidised miniscule price there is an incredible price to pay for the ability to stir some soymilk. Raw resources are being taken from the ground in alarming rates so that we can have whisks, plastic funnels for $1.76 (a set of 2 folks…who WOULDN’T want them…), 3 sieves that fit neatly inside each other for a bargain $1.52 and more…who cares that they are flimsy and will fall apart…just throw them into the rubbish bin and buy another one! That’s the cycle of consumption folks and narf7 doesn’t want to support it. That’s why we spend our days lugging wood and feeding it into Brunhilda. For our part of the equation/cycle we get so much more than a heated house, 8 months of free hot water on tap, 4 ovens to cook just about anything we want to at the same time and our knickers dried in front of the fire, we get the exercise of cutting the firewood and carting it from its resting place to Brunhilda. We get the incomparable joy of waking up knowing that all we have to do to make our home cosy is to take our place in the cycle again and there is something truly primally satisfying in taking up that yoke

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See that “pile” just behind those white poles there? That’s narf7’s hard slog from 8.30am till 1pm. As you can see it’s a large pile of horse dung and it was in mid compost when I hauled it to it’s new residence (inside the structure). Note we have covered it with some ex fish farm netting in a vain attempt to stop the chooks from moving the entire pile back outside the fence perimeter. Lets just say that I wouldn’t be pleased if they did!

Today I take on another process. This one will give me more exercise than I could hope to get in a single day but I am less inclined to yoke myself to this process than I am to stuffing some wood into Brunhilda’s gaping maw. Today I shovel 6 trailer loads of composted horse poo from one pile to another pile 2 metres away. I need to do this so that when we put up our final net wall for our fully enclosed garden the enormous pile of dung won’t need to be manually barrowed all the way around to the other side of the enclosure where the gate is going to be situated. There are benefits to shovelling dung. Exercise is the predominate benefit (although 2 days later when I am aching from my efforts and my lats are reminding me of my impending 50ness I won’t be so chipper about the whole thing) closely followed by job satisfaction and the equal satisfaction that I am going to get from stopping the chooks from spreading the 6 trailer loads of manure to the 4 winds. They have taken their task most seriously and the pile has been somewhat levelled by their determination. Once inside the enclosure the chooks will have to stand around outside and look in as wistfully as I hope the possums will be looking in come spring.

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This is a native Tasmanian Grey Shrike Thrush. He decided to check Steve out when he was testing his new filters on the deck. This particular Shrike Thrush comes on a regular basis for small cubes of cheese that we leave out for the wrens and Shrike Thrushes. The sparrows weren’t invited but gate crash on a regular basis

After shovelling the dung I have another mammoth task that needs to be taken on before I can start creating the garden beds that will give us a huge degree of food choice this growing season. I have to chop up the branches and leaves from the sheoak and wattle trees that we had to remove to create the garden. Trees are clever things folks. Never let it be said that they are just “vegetables” in disguise. They have a primal need much like Brunhilda does and if you allow them to coexist with your vegetable garden they are going to take as much advantage of your tender loving care for your vegetables as they can. You are going to water your veggies and the surrounding trees are going to respond like ferals and send all of their available roots over to freeload. Fertilising your garden? “Cheers!” say the trees and promptly pinch your soil ameliorations before they get a chance to settle. Trees are most adventitious at surviving against the odds and if you turn the odds in their favour they are going to take whatever you give them. I am all for the trees. I love trees and Steve and I plan on populating Serendipity Farm with a plethora of them BUT to get the productive and useful trees that we want we are going to have to sacrifice some of the hardier foundation trees that have sprung up on Serendipity Farm

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This is our back block. It was cleared back when Ida owned the property and all of the trees that you see here have grown over the last 20 years. Most of them are wattles and sheoaks with the odd young eucalyptus

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Here’s where some trees have decided to die in the back block and are being harvested for their tasty firewood…Brunhilda approves

When I say foundation tree I am talking about seral behaviour. “Seral” is like viral folks. They just take off running and when we humans do our thing and clear huge tracts of land the seral community starts right back in where we left off and the earth tries to heal itself. Have you ever wondered why all of those pesky weeds spring up whenever there is a bare patch of earth or why your outdoor fire patch seems to grow the best weeds? Nature hates bare earth. It is foreign to survival and needs to be covered and so she allows those little freeloading weeds to get active for a season. What makes them pests is also what allows quick ground cover and their short lived vigour (thanks to huge amounts of available sunlight caused by a sudden lack of trees) allows some of the smaller shrub species to get a foothold in the soil amongst them. Once the shrubs start to grow some of the trees on the periphery of the area can shed some seed inside the weedy vacant lot. Once a few small trees start to populate the area nature is back on track to regaining control of her cycles. We just don’t see that these “weeds”, those ugly native shrubs, that prickly ground cover and those boring sheoak’s that shed their needles on anything that walks past them are doing an amazing job at keeping the moisture in the soil, nitrogenising the soil (sheoak’s and fast growing wattles are all nitrogen fixers) and are doing it extremely tough so that those tender useful species that we humans so covet for their ability to feed us can survive in the cycle of events.

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The branches you can see on the ground are part of Steve’s latest barrow load of wood. Today has been particularly lovely. Sunny with gorgeous blue skies but nice and cool, perfect for a shovelling narf. The lovely manicured lawn with the pretty orange coloured tree in the rear of the shot is our neighbours to the back. They would like us to clear our entire back block so that they have a better view of the water. We would like for the back block to not slide down the steep slope in the next rains so we tend to ignore them much to their disgust. It must be difficult to have awful penniless student hippies living in front of your prospective perfect view… 😉

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These little shrooms were sheltering underneath this spiders web underneath where Steve was chainsawing tonight’s firewood and they managed to survive the onslaught…kudos shrooms!

I love to learn. Shovelling horse poo and manually cutting up entire trees to line raised garden beds might not be everyone’s idea of a school room but to narf7 it is a precious opportunity to learn at the coalface. Yesterday while we were hauling ex fish farm netting from where we had stored it under the deck after cutting it in half for our purposes I noticed that the ground was unusually damp next to our glasshouse. It might be winter here in Tasmania but we haven’t had much rain over the last few days and this was more than dew…it was positively squishy. I mentioned it in passing to Steve on our first trip up and he muttered something about a tap and we didn’t think any more of it. On our second trip up to the garden hauling a larger net we were going slower and Steve looked down at the tap that he had been muttering about and was somewhat alarmed to notice that the large piece of white polypipe that surrounded it was half full of water and I was positively duck like in my squishing around the area and suddenly Steve had one of those forced life lessons that no-one really wants to take hold of…it was time to dig up the pipes.

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Check out Steve’s fixing job with assistance from some wayfaring plumbers. He hasn’t filled the assembly back in yet as we are waiting to see if it leaks…fool us once!

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Here is my choko. If you check the end it is starting to sprout and after some research that took us to permies.com (one of my go-to places to find “stuff” out) we found out that after it shoots we can plant it out. We will have to protect it from the marauding possums (remember the top of the fully enclosed gardens won’t be put on till spring) by covering it with some ex fish farm netting but this little baby is going to love climbing up and going nuts. Lets see if we can keep the choko cycle going 🙂

Serendipity Farm has been home to 3 “families”. None of them has had children living with them. The first family was an elderly couple who bought the land from their friends (Glad and her deceased husband Ted) and who lived in a caravan in the shed until the house was built. They are the creators of the gardens here and apparently the gardens were something to see back when they owned the place. The husband sadly died a month after the house was built but Ida lived here for many years and it was her love of interesting plants that forged the remnants of garden that Steve and I spend our days trying to find. Next came my father and his partner Val. They fell in love with the property and bought it from Ida and promptly realised that gardening was NOT their forte. By the time Steve and I inherited Serendipity Farm, the once delightful terraced gardens were jungles of overgrown struggling survivors and adventitious weeds.

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In my last post I talked about dehydrating kefir grains. I have way too many to keep using and don’t want to euthanise them so I decided to dry them (according to Dom’s instructions here… http://users.chariot.net.au/~dna/sharing-kefir-grains.htm ) and I just wanted to show you how my experiment went. Wendy, you will get your grains soon. We went to Beaconsfield yesterday with the duel purpose to post your grains and return my library books but in the rush to get out of the door I completely forgot to bring the grains! The very next time we are someplace with a post office we will post your grains 🙂

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The image above and this image show what the excess grains looked like after washing them carefully in rainwater (I actually HAD rainwater… “Squee!” 😉 ). I decided to put a bit of baking paper onto the mesh screen from my dehydrator as the grains were still wet and dripping. In the end I didn’t even use my dehydrator I just dried them out on the bread proofing rack above Brunhilda

The property is littered with taps. I have NEVER seen anything like it. Ida must have never wanted to be more than 20 metres away from a tap because for some reason, the entire property has been dug up and black irrigation pipe laid down in the past. The problem is that around about now, that pipe is rapidly starting to degrade. If the pipe had degraded when my well-heeled fathers partner Val was still alive, it might have been replaced but once we penniless student hippies inherited, we suddenly became the keepers of the pipes. Steve has already had to do some serious digging to fix a pipe that decided to explode down in the garden in front of the house. Aside from being somewhat annoying (more so for Steve who actually had to do all of the digging and fixing bit) we were able to fix it quite quickly. The problem comes from the fact that the water mains is right up at the top of the property, up a steep hill and at least an acre and a half away from the house…a heck of a long walk to turn the tap off…then back on…and then off…and then back on again and just that bit too far away for anyone to hear what the other person is yelling to them. It is one of the ONLY times that I am glad we have a mobile phone!

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You can see that the smaller grains have dried out quicker than the bigger grains. As the grains dried out I put them into a small bowl that contains some organic milk powder that I purchased a while ago and keep in the fridge.

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A closer shot to show you how the grains look as they dry out. They get very yellow and start to smell vinegary

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Most of the grains had dried out enough to be put into the milk powder by this stage. Only a few of the larger grains were still slightly soft and needed a bit more dehydrating. You can see how much smaller the grains are now that they have shed their moisture

Today I shovel poo…yesterday Steve had to mend a pipe. We took my overdue library books back to Beaconsfield and we paid out for overpriced plumbing equipment from the local hardware store. We might have paid more than we would have at the large hardware behemoth (my word of the week… you aren’t the only one who has Wednesday words Linnie! 😉 ) Bunning’s that we Aussies are completely and utterly addicted to BUT we supported a small business and while Steve was wandering aimlessly up and down the plumbing resources section with his out-dated tap assembly in hand he met up with 2 plumbers collecting a few doodads and doohickies that they needed for a local job. They noticed his furrowed brow and his damp appearance and decided to help a poor (obviously clueless) hippy. After asking Steve what he was after they quickly ascertained what he needed with a few questions and set about assembling the puzzle of components that Steve needed for his job. Within 5 minutes the 2 of them did what would have taken Steve about 30 minutes of frustration to do and he is eternally grateful to them. That small section of tangled pipes and brass and pressure valves is now safe and updated but there are thousands of metres of aging pipe that still remain and we are afraid…we are VERY afraid…

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Here’s the finished kefir grains in stasis in their milk powder. Wendy will get most of these and if anyone else is curious about kefir or would like to try some please let me know. From now on my excess grains will be “free to a good home” anywhere in the world 🙂

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This last photo for my post is to show you my 5kg sack of “juicing apples”. Can you see anything wrong with them? Neither can I! I have eaten quite a few already and still nothing to show me why they were separated for different treatment aside from them being somewhat smaller than what you would expect. For $5 for 5kg I will take small thankyou! You can also see the kefir grains and my enormous glass jar that I was given by a previous employer along with many more. I worked in a deli and they got lots of huge glass jars containing antipasto ingredients and didn’t want them. I got a lot of lovely big jars and still have some to this day. I can’t remember what was in this jar but pretty soon it will be full to the brim with 2 enormous cabbages and 1.5kg of shredded carrots worth of kimchi. The folded blanket to the rear was a gift from my wonderful daughters. I wrap it around me every morning while I am waiting for Brunhilda to heat up the kitchen after her overnight slumber. It is MOST appreciated and Bezial says that if I put it down anywhere lower than the table he is going to steal it 😉

Bezial just got up and decided to take advantage of his sofa in the prime position right next to Brunhilda. Her balmy warmth is his until Earl decides to brave the day and shoves him from his lofty position. Today I shovel poo and I make kimchi in a huge jar that I forgot I owned till I went hunting in the empty granny flat behind our daughters home that is littered with leftover “stuff” from our moving here and our emptying out dads “stuff”. I carried the jar reverently home and pulled my precious cup of remaining kimchi out of the fridge ready to inoculate my new batch. I have to chop up 2 large cabbages, about 1 ½ kilos of carrots need to be shredded and a whole lot of garlic needs to be crushed to be added with lots of chilli and ginger to form the basis for what is going to ferment and bubble away in Steve’s shed for the next few months. Steve won’t let me keep my kimchi in the house after I added sea vegetables (for added nutrition) to my first batch and it smelled like a dead fish on a hot tin roof. Sadly it will fester away in the shed but I am happy in the knowledge that no matter where it rests, it will do its thing and I will someday take my place in the process and reap the benefits of being part of another small cycle of life. See you all Saturday when that pile of hard work will be merely a muscle memory and where my kimchi will already be starting to “BLOOP” its first fermented sea scented burps of life…aren’t cycles wonderful? :o)

Finally here is Steve’s latest animation complete with sound. We have certainly come a long way with Flash ;). Hopefully you can all see this, Steve is rightfully very proud of his little project 🙂

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocA6y8O3Dlg&feature=youtu.be

 

Inspiration

Hi All,

What inspires you? What makes your heart sing and ignites your soul? Forgive me for waxing myself lyrically there but at 4.44am this morning (Sunday) I read a blog post that completely inspired me. I will post a link here so that you can all check out this amazing story and marvel at the level of dedication that one man was able to muster against a wealth of odds to create something amazing out of refuse and rubble and at 88, is still working on. Have you got an opus? Something that makes you get up every morning and that sends you to bed tired but completely content? Neither have I, but we are getting there 🙂

http://landscapelover.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/the-rock-garden-chandigarh/#comment-5338

I spend a lot of time getting inspired by amazing people out there. I can’t get over how clever and creative some people are! We all have something that we are good at but some people seem to be amazingly gifted and I am only wonder at the creative processes going on in their minds. Since we started working on design we have been learning all sorts of things about the creative process. Here I was just thinking that you slap a bit of paint on something or drew a picture freehand or just messed about a bit with some sort of medium but apparently there is a lot of thought that goes into art, design, music etc. The creative process usually has to follow an ordered process no matter how chaotic it may want to be…even anarchy needs to conform when it comes to web design ;). There are so many rules that you have to follow and it requires a degree of mathematics…thank goodness I covered rudimentary maths last year with landscape design and won’t have to bang my head on the wall this year trying to make it all come back from last century when I went to school…

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This nice foggy bank heralded a week of overly warm weather here in tassie that culminated in the second hottest day that we have had here this summer. The poor garden is on it’s last legs and I can’t wait for autumn!

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“NO PRISONER’S!” 😉

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Someone REALLY hates having his photo taken 😉

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It really pelted down raining today (cheers Port Hedland for that lovely cyclone that you are currently hosting 😉 ) and you can almost see the garden sighing with relief…you can also almost hear Steve and I sighing and doing “Paper, rock, scissors…” because we remembered that the guttering needs to be cleaned 😉

I have been trying to work out why cooking gives me so much more satisfaction than it should. I get the feeling that condensing your efforts down into creating things is immensely satisfying beyond the sum of the result. I think it’s another “living through the processes” moment and after reading Lynda Wallace’s small book “A Short Course in Happiness” I realised that a lot of the reasons why I feel inordinately happy for a middle aged penniless student hippy is that I am finding my happiness in simple processes. When we condense our thought processes and actions down into using what we have and our own mental alacrity in order to create something (especially if it is an original idea) we are giving ourselves a chance to explore the road to happiness. Making something is an outward expression of what makes us “us”. It is 5.59am and either “Stock” or “Pot” is crowing lustily underneath the deck just to my left. His processes are automatic and start as soon as his tiny little brain senses the dawn. My processes are often as a result of a desire. I want something, for whatever reason I can’t just go out and get something and so I have to work through a series of processes to give myself what I desire in a lateral way. I wouldn’t have ever thought that making things yourself, growing, cultivating, culturing, preparing and all of the other processes that begin with an idea/ideal and end in a satisfying dusting off of hands could give so much satisfaction, so much “happiness”.

I remember my grandmother doing all different kinds of unusual things. Back in the 70’s when I was a small child she always had something interesting for us to do when we got to her home. She had a large tin box with strange things in it. What was in the box on one day wasn’t necessarily in it when we next went. I remember a plastic spinning top, a box of dominoes, cards and my memories start to dim up a bit…it WAS last century folks! 😉 What I remember was that there were LOTS of things in that box. I also remember grandma making us small nets out of twisted repurposed (back then it was called “making do”…) coat hangers with some of her ex pantyhose stretched over the wire so that we could go fishing for the tiny shrimp in the inlet at the bottom of her property. I remember my sister and I arrived one day to new home made wooden looms that had silky smooth wood and my carpenter grandfather must have worked hard to make them. I often wonder if my grandmother was the instigator of this deep and most earnest desire to seek out and understand things. Perhaps my mum was right when she said that I always reminded her of my grandmother…perhaps I can see that now as a compliment :o). All I know is that if I am ever given the grace to become a grandparent, I, too, will have a large box that will change on a visit by visit basis. I will teach my grandchildren all kinds of things especially the incredible value of books and libraries and I will attempt to give them a deep passion for learning.

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Kefir production on target for Wednesday…we will soon be drowning in the stuff! 😉

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A nice pot of delicious rich pasta sauce made with local onions, our own tomatoes, some olive oil, herbs and lots and LOTS of garlic.

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Soon to be frozen ready for lasagne, spaghetti bolognaise and other tasty future tomato rich meals

Its amazing how fast habits, things that you do on a regular basis, become ways of life. It must be part of our human psyche to follow pathways of regularity. I have been eating a different way now for just on 7 weeks and in that time I have completely changed the way that I eat, the size of my meals, the content of my food and I actually have breakfast and have lost a fair amount of weight. It wasn’t hard, it was all just following little pathways that were initially new and that are now well worn grooves in my day. The same goes for getting up early. Anyone who knows me knows that I was a true died in the wool night person. I loved staying up late and would spend hours trawling the net hunting for information etc. and would go to bed between 12 and 1.30am most nights. Now I can’t make it past 8.30pm and as soon as my head hits that pillow I am gone! I sleep like a baby (unless Earl decides to sleep “on” me…) and wake up refreshed and raring to get up. The strange thing is that my initial reason for getting up early was to be bolshie! I didn’t want to be a hostage to feeling like a zombie for a fortnight after daylight savings crashed onto our doorstep last October so I decided that for the month before I would wake up a bit earlier in increments…15 minutes earlier each week, to allow me to make a steady transference to the hour block that they shave off in a day. I arrived at the day triumphant in the knowledge that my usual 7am wake-up was now 6am and they weren’t going to phase me THIS year! I then did what I usually do and thought “ok, so what if I keep getting up an hour earlier? Then I won’t have to do Daylight Savings ever…EVER…again!” And suddenly I went from being a night person to a morning person over a matter of months. I discovered the joys of those few quiet dark hours before Steve and the boys get up and all of that amazing time in the morning when my brain is raring to go and eager to take up new ideas. I now get up at 4am! YES 4am! I love it :o). I put the kettle on, I turn on the computer and cuddle Bezial who bravely stands guard all night on the sofa (Earl shamelessly takes the day watch and sleeps all night in the bed) and give him his early morning scratches and hugs. He shakes himself off and heads into bed and then the early morning is all MINE! I check emails and reply first, and then I head off here and check comments. I am a prolific commenter on other people’s blogs. If someone has put the effort in to share something precious with me, to give me one of their amazing recipes or tell me something that I didn’t know and am excited about finding out I want to thank them. I get a lot of replies from other blogs in the morning and its fun to read and reply to them first up. After that I head straight to my RSS Feed Reader and start wading through my morning’s blog posts. I have umpteen-eleventy-squillion blogs that I now follow and a 4am rising usually gives me enough time to deal with most of the posts for the day unless I get side-tracked by links in posts and then it might take a bit of night time reading to complete the deal. I have an eclectic mix of vegan food blogs, heavenly food porn (gorgeous photos and amazing recipes) that aren’t vegan, philosophical blogs, instructive blogs and blogs about sustainability that feed my mind and get it positively charged for the day. By the time 7am rocks up and Earl is prodding me with his nose to start the processes that eventuate at him getting a walk, I am fully charged, extremely happy (usually) and Steve gets his 7am cup of coffee and a wife who is raring to go for the day. I used to be the one lying in bed waiting for my cup of tea and stretching out the “getting up” process but no more… I am a changed woman and the possibilities of “Early Morning” only came about because I was being bolshie and wanted to take control of the situation…I wonder what you could do with your life if you tried? Do you have any habits that are dragging you down? If I can change my way of thinking, doing things then so can you. It really isn’t hard, its just a matter of starting. “Start where you mean to finish up”, another one of my grandmothers sayings and a most pertinent one for habit breaking and starting :o).

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Last minute ideas for how to use up some spare sourdough ended up with this interesting version of cinnamon rolls with a filling of chopped dates, grated left over hard caramel sauce from a sticky date pudding and lots of cinnamon

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After they were rolled up like a Swiss roll and cut I put them to prove in a greased and lined round cake tin until they increased in size a bit

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The finished results that are apparently very tasty 🙂

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Sourdough pizza prior to baking…

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And after…also, apparently, tasty 🙂

Does anyone else out there venture far and wide in their hunts for new and interesting food ingredients, how to use them and authentic recipes and cooking methods that contain them? Well I do! I love finding new things to do with previously unknown ingredients. It really excites me to delve into other countries cuisines, especially in the frugal ingredients that most of us wouldn’t think of using or don’t even know about. It’s nothing to do with elitism and everything to do with learning more about what is out there and available to eat. It’s the same thing that has me reverently placing foraging food blogs in my rss feed reader side by side with gorgeous food porn sites. When you love something you want to explore it all! ;). In my food travels I find a lot of recipes and links taking me to sites with recipes galore but all in languages that I can’t understand. A recipe that you can’t understand is an abject fail…UNLESS…you use your gourd and head on over to Google Translate and use it to translate the recipe for you. I must admit that sometimes the results are hilarious and totally incomprehensible BUT you at least have to try don’t you? And the worst you can get it a really funny read ;). I love finding blogs that skate along the fine line between Western cookery and their own culinary genius being applied to it. I found just such a site this morning and eagerly stuffed it into my Rss feed reader after exploring it for a bit to make sure that it was worth the stuffing. It most certainly was! Check it out if you would like to see some very interesting Asian takes on common recipes… http://ellenaguan.blogspot.sg/2013/02/longan-and-cranberry-yogurt-cake.html .

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The only eggs that we have had in a fortnight and all apparently laid by the same hen (the only one that has a free ticket to the next round!)

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One of our tasks for our course had us finding advertisments in various kinds of media that used “White space” to highlight and reinforce the subject matter and here is one of my examples…

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What do you do when it’s hot, you don’t want to pay “The Man” for his rubbish cordial and you have a freezer full of frozen fruit…you make your own cordial! This amazingly coloured variety is the result of a recipe for Lemon and Lime cordial that I messed around with so much that it hardly even resembles the original recipe. I used oranges instead of the lemons, I added a ziploc bag of frozen lemon juice, about 2 cups of frozen ripe mangos, the zest of the 3 oranges and about a cup full of ripe strawberries. These were all processed until smooth in my Vitamix blender and were added to 2 1/2 cups of sugar and then I added a tsp of citric acid and as much boiling water as I felt it needed to render it to “cordial” thickness. Steve is enjoying it whenever he feels the need for something other than coffee to drink and again, has pronounced it “tasty” 😉

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I needed to clarify just how “MASSIVE our harvest of potatoes actually was that I mentioned in the last post. Here you see the full extent of them being eaten by Steve for his tea last night…note the size comparison between the potato on his fork and the green pea next to it… I rest my case! 😉

Well we had a hard day today trying to find examples of design that doesn’t contain guide lines. And are planning on resting our poor addled brains this evening with a nice easy meal and an early night for me, and most probably some horror movies for Steve (his favourite genre). I am actually really enjoying this course (so far…) and we are learning an enormous amount. Steve will hopefully be picking up a copy of the student edition of the Adobe CS6 Design & Web Premium Student and Teacher edition so that we can start getting serious with Photoshop. So it’s all go around here at the moment. See you all on Saturday :o)

“How’s the Serenity?”

Hi All,

To anyone unfamiliar with the wonderfully quirky Aussie movie “The Castle” (and let’s face it, if you live outside Australia, what are the odds you WOULD be familiar with it…) have been missing out on a peek inside our Aussie ethos. If you can find a copy of this movie, watch it with a beer in one hand and a sense of humour ready and willing to go…you won’t be disappointed :o). If you can’t find it, check out this trailer for one of the most quintessentially optimistic “Aussie” views on life that has ever been documented and you can get a fly on the wall look at the “Aussie” condition. A sort of David and Goliath tale with an undertow of antipodean joy…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prnQLmVg5V8

We are starting to feel a bit guilty about still having our Christmas tree fully decorated in the lounge room but are using the excuse that we only put it up late in the season to our advantage…Earl is doing his best to shred our decorative pine cones all over the floor to give me the dual happiness of exercise and compost dry carbon material and will most probably start on the actual decorations if we don’t pack them up ready for Christmas 2013. We started a new compost heap…although “heap” seems a somewhat glorious word for a ring of weldmesh plonked over a pole to prevent the wallabies and possums from log rolling it down to the front gate. We have to put weldmesh over the top of it as well or the possums climb down into the compost and hand out the good stuff to their mates on the outside. Australian possums are like U.S. racoons…all that is missing are the masks (and Earl wears that form them). They are truly gregarious little creatures but their joy at our obvious stupidity can wear seriously thin at times…we lost an entire nectarine tree full of white nectarines thanks to forgetting to protect it with netting this year. It’s our own fault and the possums took great delight in taking a bite from each unripe fruit. It’s a game of cat and mouse here on Serendipity Farm and the closest thing that we have to mice, now that the ferals eat everything small and furry, are the bandicoots that thump around and dig little divots out of the area between the house and the veggie garden that are just big enough to stop the wheelbarrow short in its tracks and render your lower portions bruised and your temper flared. Living with nature and the local wildlife is like a waltz in black…you know you are going to have to do it but you put it off till the last moment. We had to throw a heavy sheet of weldmesh (for once I thank you for your need to hoard dad…) over the top of our bean crop as the possums had not only trampolined their way across the protective bird netting over the top of them, but were using their little grubby hands to reach into the top of the netting and pinch everything green (including the tips of the bean plants) within their questing digits reach. I can’t say that I can really blame them…our veggie garden is a little oasis of tastiness that they can probably sniff out for a mile but its “OURS” you guys…we work hard to grow it and we are going to work hard to keep it! The weldmesh stops the possums from climbing up and stealing with impunity although when I was watering yesterday I noticed that one of the tassels from the top of one of our corn plants had been snapped off…possum frustration knows no bounds! Fran 1, possums nil! 😉

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If you look really hard you can see the little eggplant flowers on my eggplants

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Remember Bert, the straighlaced pigeon fancier straight man to Sesame Streets Ernie? This photo is a “Where’s Bert” moment…

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Note the large section of weldmesh over the bean plants…the things we have to do to stop our little ambidextrous native mates!

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Here’s the reason why we had to put the weldmesh on top of the bean bed…note the lovely lush beany leaves on the left…note the distinct lack of beany greenness on the right…sigh…

Steve is out floating around on the river actually catching fish! How do I know that? Because he phoned me up and told me! This time he took his binoculars out with him and is having just as much fun looking at things as he is fishing. Bezial and Earl will get fish for their tea, the ferals can fight over the gizzards and Steve can have that U.K. special “fish supper” that he lusts after…all is well on Serendipity Farm :o). It’s gone from a heatwave to rain today. Yesterday we sweat our way through 30+ and today it’s grey and a bit cold. I don’t mind, today we walk in Exeter, we post off all of the spoons that Steve made recently to their intended recipients and we get to go to the Exeter thrift shop to see if there is anything new. A series of possibilities will eventuate…possible photo futures, possible shoulder dislocation (Earl didn’t get a walk yesterday and today’s walk is somewhat late thanks to Steve pootling/floating about in his “tinny” with his thermos of coffee and his cheese “sarnies” catching fish for all his is worth and probably not coming in till they stop biting…), possible thrifty frugal purchases and possible happiness that those spoons are FINALLY on their way. I love possibilities. I have been hurling blogs out of my rss feed reader and filling the gaps that they left instantly with other blogs. I seem to be choosing more and more unusual and eccentric blogs as I do…I tossed a Polish cooking blog (in Polish) in today…they make amazing things out of cake and biscuits and Google Translate is my new bestest friend…I found a couple who have a sustainable living blog who showed me how to cover my fridge in blackboard paint and make it my own personal shopping list (if they can tell me how to remember to put the things that I NEED on my shopping list on the board then I will be a happy little alternative camper…), I also found a scrumptiously creative geeky blog from the U.K. where they showed me how to make a set of random event invention die. Yes…just like I said it “random event invention die”…I throw them in the air and suddenly I become creative to the max! I no longer procrastinate around in my kitchen looking into the fridge for creative solutions to my hunger and ending up holding a bag of uncooked rice in my hot little hand and due to my lack of creative nonce, finding myself eating said raw rice out of the bag rather than do anything with it…possibilities folks…and plenty of them…you just have to go hunting and there they are

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Steve has been chatting to seasoned fisherfolk out on the river and was put onto these little babies (most probably they took pity on him for trying to bait up with sweetcorn!)…

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Add a few more customised river boat fishing accoutraments and suddenly the possibility of fish catching increase exponentially…

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22 fish! Steve had fish for tea, Bezial had fish for tea, Earl had meat for tea (he decided that he doesn’t like fish…) and I…I get to see my feet from my head! What more could a girl want eh? 😉

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Not fish, but linked in a round-about way…these are muscat grape vines that struck and are going to be cossetted for a bit to get them happy and then they will be planted out with the eventuality of producing some grapes…then wine…and then Steve can have wine with his fish! A bit of a convaluted pathway but we got there in the end 🙂

I planted a bag full of garlic that had sprouted out into the veggie garden and we heavily fortified the bean crop to stop the possums reaching their greedy little (almost opposable) thumbs in to grasp handfuls of bean foliage as far down as their questing little digits could go. We also stretched out the bird netting that we used to fortify the veggie garden in the first place as tight as a drum so that the wallabies can’t hurl themselves at it bodily taking little wallaby sized mouthfuls of the tender greens that inevitably protrude…what with the possums bouncing about like Olympic trampolinists on the top of the veggie gardens and the wallabies going all “strong-arm tactics” on the sides the poor veggie garden was starting to suffer. Steve did our usual fortnightly shopping yesterday and on the way home he dropped in to check out some craft wood that had been listed for sale up on a local noticeboard. He picked up some lovely pieces of timber and will be making some amazing spoons soon (when he has finished catching his weights worth of fish that is)…he had been getting tired of catching “bugger all” (a fishing term that means …”bugger all”…) and decided to get tricky. He prized my fingers from the mouse and took over the P.C. to do a bit of research about “rigs” and “river fishing” and all things “catch fish – eat fish”. He then picked up all sorts of accoutrements from the nearest K-Mart and a boat rod from the local large fishing/boating shop and some special scented lures that are practically guaranteed to catch you fish and you know what? It worked! “Bugger all” turned into “15!” by 7am this morning.

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A Cornus capitata tree on Serendipity Farm with its own little occupant. We didn’t know what this tree was until we saw this flower…horticulture pays off!

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Our little Stapelia gigantea that we smuggled back from the Melbourne Flower Show in 2010 as a bare rooted cutting has finally decided to flower!

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An interesting conundrum…this little hand powered paper shredder cost $4 from K-Mart…we purchased it so that we can finely shred paper to put into our compost heaps (that are springing up exponentially all over Serendipity Farm like hives on an allergy sufferer…) however the irony didn’t escape me that I was purchasing something in order to allow me to recycle things…$4 well spent? I don’t know for sure yet but it certainly gives paper a run for it’s money, it gives my right arm a bit of a workout and it is a lot of fun 🙂

Steve and I were sitting on the side of the deck looking through the railings looking at the river at sunset last night (as you do) and talking about how glad we were that we moved to Tasmania. We could have been still living in Albany Western Australia but for Steve’s decision to “go for it!” when dad asked us if we would like to move here. I would have stayed in W.A. in a heartbeat if Steve had decided that he didn’t want to move. Sometimes taking a bit of a risk (even for 2 worry-warted hippies like us) is absolutely, positively worth it. I HATE change…I am a bit of a scaredy-cat when it comes to forging ahead and blazing trails. I like to wander about a bit and familiarise myself with a concept before I commit and jumping in with both feet before I have Googled it isn’t my ethos. “Slow and steady wins the race”…”Slowly slowly catchy monkey”… not “Last one in is a…” curiously Steve isn’t one for racing off waving his arms about like windmills either. We both have a degree of restraint when it comes to making instant decisions. We are list makers, weighter uppers’ and careful considers and Steve’s quick decision to move here was obviously out of the ether and most definitely side left to his usual mental mechanics. Our lives wouldn’t have been as rich, as meaningful or as colourful as they are now. I have learned so very much by having to live a frugal and sustainable life out in the sticks that I can’t imagine that I would recognise my West Australian self should I meet her in an alternate universe (let’s not talk about the quantum physics of that statement or rips in the time/space continuum…). I have really learned that happiness comes from the processes that you choose to take part in, rather than your material circumstances.

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Check out some of our tomato futures

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A little bit closer to future enjoyment…

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“Tonight we dine!” :o)

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We aren’t the only ones dining…

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The little sods have been pruning the tips of our tomato plants for us in the night!

I am going a bit cross-eyed here…I have one eye on my typing and one on the word count. I have been trying to deliver shorter more succinct posts and have been falling woefully short. I didn’t make New Year’s resolutions this year but choose to be a “Doer” and I am learning and applying Pilates to my life, I am propagating edibles on a mass scale to really get that edible food forest going, I will be planting out last year’s edibles en masse and I will continue to learn, Learn LEARN everything that I can and share it here. I had a bit of a think about where I want this blog to go and decided that I am most happy with my dear constant readers and anyone who wants to come along for the ride. I don’t want to compete with statistics no matter how competitive my nature is (DOWN FRAN!) and I want to deliver concise and poignant posts with the positivity of good humour. No resolutions but a bucket-load of possibilities folks and hopefully you will all want to stay along for the ride…Happy hump day and see you all Saturday :o)

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I have added a couple of tyres that have now been planted out with garlic that had sprouted…”Waste not, want not”…I hear you Grandma! 🙂

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The things that we have to do to prevent the wallabies from eating our garlic…they adore anything allium and will munch them all down to ground level if they are not protected.

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Some of the beautiful wood that Steve picked up cheaply from a fellow wood lover who is moving. There might be a future spoon draw in some of this!

Just a quick little aside…I have decided to accompany Somer from the wonderful blog site http://vedgedout.com/ in her green smoothie week for the beginning of the year along with and a throng of veganauts from across the globe …nothing like a bit of a clean out, both external AND internal to make you feel all brand new for the New Year. She has a PDF free to download on her site with the green smoothie recipes and accompanying soup and salad meals. To be honest, the “allowed” food in this 1 week program is more than what “I” eat in a day and I eat a LOT so aside from a few kilos and a nice squeaky clean intestinal tract…what have you got to lose? Come and join us (does that sound creepy or WHAT! 😉 ) and give your gizzards a bit of a spring clean for the New Year. I might just share what I have been eating on Saturday because most of it is coming from the veggie garden and I like to share :o)

The confessions of a self-absorbed hierophant

Hi All,

I made it! I managed to stay up till after 12 for the very first time in years! Steve and I stumbled out of bed at 5am so that he could go fishing and I could get my very first post of 2013 up and running. It’s amazing how hung over you can feel without even having a drink ;). I have had a most interesting few days. In preparation for my 2013 ethos (I like to have a goal and a theme 😉 ) I have been “doing” lots of things. I want to be a better (read less lazy) cook this year and create a lot more “from scratch” things. I want to hone my skills this year so you can expect a lot more tutorial type posts and interesting recipes…at least photos of what we cooked. I made Steve a savoury pithivier the other day and rather than use milk to make the base sauce, I used white wine. It was delicious apparently and the leftovers got recycled into a huge quiche the next day using zucchini, our own eggs (14 of them…we have 9 dozen to get through and rising!) and some of our spinach. I want to become more organised and condense my processes down and get Serendipity Farms cycles integrated better this year. We are composting everything that can possibly be composted and it is amazing how something turns from a problem into an asset with a little bit of knowledge. Finding ways to effect positive change on a shoestring is what warms the cockles of my little penniless hippy heart. I found out an incredible amount of information last year and stashed it away for future use. I learned how to make hugelkultur gardens, how to ferment, how to grow a sourdough (even though Herman is still in cryogenic stasis as I type those words…) and how to do all sorts of things from scratch bypassing the consumer dollar in the process. We spend our money locally as much as we can and have stopped buying supermarket meat in favour of our local butcher Nigel from “Nigel’s gourmet on Tamar”…he didn’t give me anything to plug his business there folks…his quality produce was all that needed me to laud him and there are so many small primary businesses out there that could use a bit of a capital injection from we the public. The supermarkets are insidiously replacing all of the branded products on their shelves with their “own labels” to maximise their profit margins. Check out the back of these products and take note that they are not supporting Aussie farmers in their endeavour to rule the Australian consumer dollar…they are importing cheap foods from goodness only knows where and packaging them here in Australia to try to make them look better. Don’t support them if you have any other option…even penniless student hippies can choose to shake their moth eaten sock into their open hands to the benefit of Australian producers.

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The quiche of a million eggs for your perusal!

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Here is a photo that Steve took from his aluminium coracle whilst pootling around on the river the other day. If you look REALLY closely (or if you click the photo and make it bigger…) you might just be able to make out what that red blob is up on that deck…its me! Our house is only really visible from this position in the river and from here you can see The Auld Kirk Church, Steve’s shed and our house and those rocks in the foreground actually belong to Redwood island which Steve is conveniently anchored near to give you a bit of perspective. All of those trees are pretty much ours and the area in front of the house used to be landscaped and terraced garden…not any MORE it isn’t! 😉

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These tyres contain the entirety of a packet of seed that we were given to us by the funeral directors back in 2010 at my fathers funeral. At the time Serendipity Farm was in no condition to broadcaste seed around but we found this packet the other day and decided that our veggie garden needed some flowers to confuse the predatory insects and so Steve built this little tyre garden while I was away at my daughters house. As you can see there is a plethora of possibility here in this tyre…not being an annual person myself, I have no idea what these little green babies are (hopefully not weeds!) but whatever they are they can at least get to see the light of day from their packet and act as little first defence soldiers in the war of integrated pest management

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My little Moringa oleifera that I have been gestating in the glasshouse that will eventually be planted on Serendipity Farm

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The fecundity of the well fortified old compost heap…

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This is an old beer can…one of the cluckies who had been hunkering down for over a month in the new chook pen (before it was a new chook pen to be exact!) was actually sitting on it. I bravely checked under her and was duly repelled with great gusto and all for this remnant of my dad and his drinking buddies…sigh…

I have some dried fruit soaking in the last of the Christmas rum ready to make boozy Eccles cakes for Steve today. Steve has been steadily working his way through the Christmas booze because he wants to give his liver a bit of a rest for lent this year and wanted to start early ;). When we were taking the dogs for a walk up the highway the other day I found a tiny little metal spoon bowl that had become separated from its handle. I have NO idea how it got to be on the side of the road but I picked it up and we brought it back home and Steve make it a handle out of a Serendipitous twig and took a bit of adventitious rust off it and now it sits proudly in the cutlery draw, given a new life by someone who saw it’s intrinsic value. Steve has managed to get on top of the list of spoons that needed to be made and I even got a massive great Spoondle (a cross between a spoon and a ladle). He got creative for Roz’s spoon and decided to make a cross between a wooden spoon and a spatula…the Spatuloon is born! I love that we can both make spoons. The end results are startlingly different and entirely personalised to our own view of the wood that we are working with. I also love that the small pieces of wood that Steve cuts his spoons out of get recycled into small spoons and the remainder get bagged up ready for fire lighting futures. The sawdust gets swept up and bagged as well to use for odour control in my indoor compost bucket and for increasing the suite of organisms in our compost heap. By the way folks…add all sorts of things to your compost…add leaves and broken up twigs from all sorts of plants and trees and tip your beer can dregs into your compost bucket… they all add something exciting and new to your compost brew and make for adventurous growing seasons and who doesn’t love to see what amazing fungi grow out of their compost heap! I know that composting will never be the same for me after opening up the compost bin at Polytechnic in my very first compost turning event and seeing fungi mycelium threaded right down through the compost pile…the fecundity of it all excited me along with the cycles and processes that were initiated by what went into that compost and got me wanting to grow my own fungus…I LOVE fungi :o).  Earl has been getting restless whenever his snout manages to get within sniffing distance of the bowl of walnuts in Steve’s music room…he has personally asked us to do another spoon draw so that he can reintroduce his questing nose into that bowl full of walnuts as he loves to crack them in half and leave them lying around for foolish barefoot hippies to find… another spoon draw is on the horizon folks :o)

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Pinky my dear younger sister’s new spoon in its finished but raw state…

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If you can take your eyes off that spiders web in the top left hand corner for a bit, you will notice that the spoon is now a different colour. It has been rubbed with Eco-oil, a natural food safe blend of orange and tung oil that gives wood a lovely lustre and enhances its natural beauty

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You can tell that these hands belong to Steve…firstly by the hairy arms and secondly by the long fingernails…murphy’s law states that all guitarists must grow their fingernails at an exponential rate because fingernails get in the way of playing…

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This is my Spadle…its huge and pot ready and I can’t wait to wave it about like excalibur over my head when diving into cauldrons of bubbling harvest futures

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A selection of wooden spoons that Steve has made since he decided to become “The Spoonman”

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Earl wistfully prodding the walnuts with his nose

Not long after I found the little spoon bowl on our recent walk I noticed a large tree growing on the road verge and my horticultural bones started to twitch…”Steve…I think that might be a chestnut tree!”…my horticulture spidey senses were on full alert and indeed it WAS a chestnut tree! I haven’t seen an adult chestnut tree in flower and it was a very interesting thing to behold. The flowers are long and pendulous and have a very “interesting” fragrance…not entirely pleasant but my guess is (assisted by the clouds of flies and beetles covering the tree) that they are not aiming at bees and butterflies to pollinate them. I could see tiny chestnuts forming on the ends of the branches and another free food source has been isolated. I am definitely going to plant some chestnut trees out now. If they will grow on a road verge with no outside source of irrigation they are definitely a tree for Serendipity Farm. As we were walking back to our car I noticed a red clover (Trifolium pratense) plant growing in the gravel on the side of the road…again my horticultural senses twitched because deep in the over clogged information highway of my mind something put 2 and 2 together and came up with “bonus!”…I did a bit of research when I got home about red clover because I hauled the red clover plant out of its desert gravel pit and put it into one of our incredibly useful dog dung bags (we use them for horticultural purposes more than their intended use!) and it is sitting in the laundry sink happily bathing its toes in fresh water as I type this. My ethos is “never let a chance go by” and I am glad that I didn’t because this baby had a HUGE root system and because it was covered in seed ready to broadcast if it was worth cultivating. It’s always a good sign if your query results in 2 results lauding the health benefits of said red clover before you get to the Wikipedia entry and apparently I learned something in my horticultural endeavours because I found out that red clover has been used for centuries as a metabolic diuretic, an expectorant and a blood purifier. It contains lots of nutrients and phytoestrogens to balance hormonal activities and is being researched for its uses as a natural treatment for cancer, menopausal symptoms and skin disorders. It makes a pleasant cup of herbal tea and 1 – 2 tsp of dried flowers infused in 1 cup of boiling water for 15 – 30 minutes is all it takes to add this delightful natural remedy into your diet. See what a bit of knowledge can give you? I am going to spread the clover all over the place on Serendipity Farm…I am going to infuse the “lawn” with it, I hope to attract bees from all over the place by having a lot of it growing here. Knowledge is power of the highest degree and the kind of power that this freely sourced knowledge can give you is immensely empowering to those of us living on a shoestring

Trifolium pratense red clover

This is a lovely stock photo of red clover…MUCH better than I could take for you so you can acutally identify it in the wild using this shot

Pirate Ship

I am hoping that I can sneak this photo by the internet trolls… I am going to give full kudos to The Examiner our local rag for this shot. Its of the pirate ship that I talked about not so long ago and a Melbourne man built it from scratch and has been sailing it around since Christmas… I don’t know about pirate but at $5 a person to take a sneak peak on board, he might just be rolling in dubloons by the end of the season!

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Here is what the little found spoon looked like after I extracted it from the pocket of my jeans

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Here it is resting on the twig that I picked to be its new handle

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And here is what it looks like now after a bit of a clean up and a nice new twiggy handle 🙂

We are off to take some rubbish to the tip tomorrow. I have a plethora of amazing books to pick up from the local library as it opens again on January 2nd and Nigel slaters complete back catalogue appears to have landed in my request box ;). We try to combine as many things as we can into a single trip and tomorrow (today really but I typed this yesterday 😉 ) we will be walking the boys in Exeter, heading up to the tip and perusing the tip shop for any hardwood that we can find including floor boards to make spoons and spatulas with, going to the local op shop to see if anything new has arrived and picking up my weights worth of free books from the library. I don’t know why more people don’t take advantage of the library. I know it is easier to just buy a book but when funds are tight, it’s not an option and when time is an asset that you have plenty of, typing out the best recipes from a good cookbook isn’t an issue and if you run out of time you can just request it again :o). I have a wonderful selection of books at the moment ranging from vegan cookbooks by the iconic Isa Chandra Moskowitz, a vegan pioneer who has, along with her good friend Terry Hope Romero, dragged vegan food kicking and screaming out of the “too hard” box and directly into the oncoming path of mainstream society. I purchased “Vegan cupcakes take over the world” in a selection of vegan cookbooks from the U.S. a few years ago and now we have “Vegan pie in the sky” (on my desk waiting to be typed out) and “Vegan cookies invade your cookie jar” is waiting for me to pick it up tomorrow…I get very excited whenever I get near the library. It’s a knowledge thing…a fundamental ingredient in my makeup that gives me a “good dog!” pat on the head whenever I head into that hallowed hall of literature and I never cease to amaze myself at how greedy I can be when it comes to books. I never have a spare space on my library card of 15 allowed books and regularly use my dear non-literary husband’s library card to shamelessly hog 15 more books. I can never hope to get through all of them in my allotted 3 weeks but whatchagonnado eh? 😉

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You wanted pictures of the veggie garden…you GET pictures of the veggie garden…this is the view from the house side of the veggie gardens…

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And this is the view from the other side…that blue tarpaulin still has some of the organic compost underneath it waiting to be used to fill duckies old boatpond and used as a raised herb garden

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Some of the rainbow chard that I cut to give to the chooks surrounded by sage and cucumbers and snow peas

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3 different kinds of zucchini, some chives, some snow peas, some cucumbers and a rustic attempt at allowing the cucumbers to go viral

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English spinach, beetroot, sage, cucumbers and those exponentially grow-before-your-eyes zucchini plants

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The spinach and beetroot bed…beetroot leaves are delicious by the way and every bit as good as silverbeet

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Looking back towards the corn and silverbeet

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Tomato mania! I am standing up taking this photo and you can see how crazy they have gone!

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A bed full of lettuce, rocket (going to seed but still tasty), capsicums (peppers), jalapeno chilli’s and more! I think you will all agree that our summer veggie garden experiment appears to be paying off 🙂

I think I may have stumbled onto the next greatest thing in vegan cooking…I am saying this because I know that Hannah, the vegan degustatory equivalent of Albert Einstein reads my blog posts…I hope you are reading this one Hannah because I am sharing my new found secret passion with you right here…right now. I LOVE cheese…I love it with a passion rivalled only by my love for potatoes (and butter…and bread…and…well you get the picture!) and I have sorely missed that cheesy flavour since I went over to the bright side of the street where the vegans hang out in the hipster side of town… it was one of the main reasons that I stuck steadfastly to my vegetarian past and stubbornly refused to cross that dairy free line. Eggs…no problem…cheese and butter “NOOOO!” but cross I did for health reasons and here I am still lusting after that deep cheesy flavour that comes from well-aged cheddar and I haven’t found a vegan alternative yet. I do love the taste of aged nut cheeses and I like vegan homemade yoghurt but the nut cheeses are expensive to make and while I was staying with my daughters they introduced me to something revolutionary that gave me back my cheesy hit without any effort on my part…magic! We had a complete weekend of cooking; we made homemade pizza and 12 different Korean recipes and Asian sago pudding and delicious icecream and all sorts of things. The girls had cheese on their pizza along with all sorts of weird things. They like to experiment with their food and often take recipes to their limits in the process. They have all sorts of unusual multicultural ingredients in their home and as they are going through an Asian phase at the moment they had purchased lots of Asian products in tins and jars to experiment with. Apparently my youngest daughter Bethany had bought a jar of Chilli bamboo shoots on a whim and after opening the jar and trying them she didn’t like them and the jar had remained on their fridge shelf gathering the fridge equivalent of dust for a while. When we were considering what to put on my vegan pizza Madeline (my eldest daughter) said “why don’t you put some of those chilli bamboo shoots on it?”…never one to shirk my duty to try new things I agreed and thus was born my newfound addiction to these wonderful fermented little shreds of vegan cheesy happiness. They taste almost identical to aged vintage cheese. If you don’t believe me Hannah, head down to your nearest Asian food store and buy a jar of Double Coins Chili Bamboo Shoots and see for yourself. I know you are a very innovative girl and are not averse to trying new things and I am sure that you will be able to integrate them into some of your wonderful vegan recipes…time to start a new trend Hannah and you will be right there at the beginning :o). Don’t say that I am not a generous blogger :o). I just let Earl (who likes to stand up and give me a kiss when I am typing on a regular basis) a sniff of the chili bamboo shoots and he started licking his lips and attempting to insert his doggy tongue into my precious jar of cheesy vegetable goodness…Earl is a cheese fan of old…I rest my case!

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Here it is Hannah…it might not look very promising but these fermented little strips of pure cheesy flavoured goodness were enough to lure Earl to attempt to stick his nose into the top of the jar and Earl is a true cheese afficionado of old! Check them out and let me know if you don’t agree that these shards of vegetabley goodness are not a craze waiting to happen 🙂

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We sprayed the roosters past wishbones and were going to thread them together to make a garland for the Christmas Tree but completely forgot them and so they will have to be this year’s project. We are going to spray some of them red and some gold over the top of the green but we only had green spray paint at the time…

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The end result of an experiment to see what happens if you dehydrate a whole raw egg…what happens is that you get something surreal that the dogs ate with gusto!

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A quick mercy trip to deliver a fridge to my daughters resulted in an impromptu trip to Launceston. I took lots of photos and will share them with you over the next few posts as this post is crammed to bursting! I just wanted to share this one with you to show you how pretty Launceston is 🙂

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The genius of street art…what is it? Not sure, but it does resemble my 5am face should I ever be foolish enough to look in the mirror at that unGodly hour!

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This is OBVIOUSLY the next fashion trend for the season…Steve and I will be sure to embrace it fully the next time that we visit…

So much for me cutting my post size down for 2013! I guess you have to work at “resolutions” don’t you? You can’t just expect to go cold turkey on your muses right up…I hereby give you 300 less words this post! I expect lavish applause and multiple congratulations for that… (Good luck getting me to repeat it 😉 ). See you on Saturday and have an amazing rest of the week my wonderful dear constant readers :o)

Hava nagila!

Hi All,

Aside from being a most catchy song that I have NO idea what the words are and would no doubt make a fistful of Jewish people collapse hysterically laughing on the floor should I EVER be stupid enough to attempt to sing my erstwhile version in their close proximity, the name Hava Nagila means “Let us rejoice”! I have SO much to rejoice that I often feel guilty for having the odd whinge about how rocky our soil is and how many weeds we have here on Serendipity Farm. I just got back from a visit to my daughter’s home in Launceston. I had a really great time with them both and we spent a large proportion of the time that we had together cooking. My daughters are amazing cooks. Neither of them has ever studied technique or worked in the industry but they are very adventurous and tend to pair some very interesting ingredients that I would never think could possibly work together but incredibly…they do! The first night we had chilli. I had vegan chilli made with some ingredients that I had brought along with me (oh ye of little faith! 😉 ) and it was delicious. I think there is still a bowl of it in the girl’s fridge and I am sure that they will find something creative to do with it. On night 2 we had an amazing feast. The girls have recently become enamoured with all things Korean and had purchased some Korean cookbooks and some mixed cookbooks with Korean recipes in them. We decided to have a go at some of the recipes and ended up spending a marathon 5 hours preparing and cooking 12 dishes that were all amazing and that teamed up to make an amazing feast. We made cucumber salads, spinach side dishes, 3 different kinds of “pancakes” ranging from a very normal pancake type batter topped with spring onions (which we couldn’t buy at the local shop and had to sub the next best thing…leek…so from hereon in, wherever I specify “spring onion” you will have to insert “leek” 😉 ) and chillies through to a very inventive recipe using dried split green peas (which we couldn’t find in their local small supermarket on the day we wanted them but found the day after…go figure!) and rice cooked together then pureed and combined with various finely sliced vegetables and cooked like pancakes. The girls eat meat and so made some rice balls filled with smoked salmon and avocado which are technically not Korean and were based on a Japanese recipe BUT they were amazing and I had oyster mushrooms, pickled ginger and avocado in mine. They also had some marinated Korean chicken drumsticks and a pork dish that I can’t quite remember what it was but it looked good. We ended this marathon degustatory event with some simple but incredibly delicious yeasted pancakes that looked more like doughnuts without holes and that were stuffed with crushed palm sugar, roasted peanuts and cinnamon and that were amazing.

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Steve says that this truck is a transformer…the only thing that I can see it transforming is an empty space into a space full of wood chips…

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Another “Steve” shot…apparently this is ANOTHER transformer…I think we are being overrun by them!

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Right behind a new estate in Exeter are the remains of an old abandoned orchard. Steve, Bezial, Earl and I went exploring today and found all different kinds of apples, pears and even a nectarine tree out in the open and just waiting to be scrumped by possums and wayfaring Sidmouth Scrumpers

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By the look on his face, this scrumper has had enough of wandering around old abandoned orchards and wants to return to the civilisation afforded by 2 streets back to the main street 😉

On night 3 we could have been forgiven for having something very simple but not us! We went the way of the home made pizza. The girls used a cookbook that mum had given us last year full of homemade pizza recipes and as I have had more experience cooking with yeast, I made the dough. We made 3 batches of dough because we made a pizza for Steve (because he had obviously been a bit jealous of our cooking exploits over the weekend) and one for the girl’s dog Qi who has an adventurous palate for a dog and who gets very interesting meals. The girls made an almost “regular” type of pizza topped with chicken, a spicy hot salami, pine nuts and “other things” that I didn’t really notice as I was busy slathering tomato paste on pizza bases and ensuring that the cheese flow kept going. They also made an interesting combination of prawns, chicken, various other things (again…applied while I was otherwise occupied so I would only be speculating about exactly what went on) and coconut. I don’t think that Beth was enamoured of this pizza but Madeline seemed to like it. Qi got a meaty pizza and Steve got his favourite things (hot salami, chicken, onion, capsicum, chilli, mushroom and vintage cheese) and he has stashed it in the freezer for a delicious quick meal for the coming week when we have to finish off the chook pen and are too knackered to cook (smart man! 😉 ). I typed out lots of recipes from the cookbooks that the girls purchased and they gave me a couple of CD’s by a Korean band called Winterplay that do some really good covers of popular songs and I will be listening to them whilst trying to wade my way through my 1000+ rss feed reader blog posts that struck terror into even my seasoned mass blog reading heart when I got up this morning. If you would like to hear them and check out just how good this band is you can hear them covering “Don’t know why” a Norah Jones hit and can see why I really like them

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVhzK01Jmq4

That’s my bit for spreading the love people…I would have NEVER heard of this wonderful band if it hadn’t been for my adventurous daughters and their adventurous palates…it’s time spent like the weekend that I just had that reinforce the value of family and of simple time spent together. No matter how ragged or crumpled your family is, it’s the closest thing to “you” that you have. Spend time with your children…spend time with your parents…heal those wounds (if there are any to heal) and get back together with the people that really do matter the most, your own flesh and blood and the people that will tell you the truth (sometimes with great gusto 😉 ). I love you girls and can’t begin to thank you for that wonderful weekend…even Bella Lugosi in Chandu the Magician, a 1932 movie that we watched to fill the Bella free zone that Beth needs to quench on a regular basis. We even watched Lilo and Stitch which I really hadn’t watched before and that I enjoyed disproportionately to what I thought that I would. I especially love this drawing that was on the fridge and that we have used as a family in joke for years without me even having watched the reference for this joke…

http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=2vmiiw4&s=5

In a word, I did all sorts of things that I don’t usually do. I adjusted to Madeline’s stringent washing up rollcall and exactly how to put it back where it goes…I slept with Qi and learned how to contort my middle aged body into the human equivalent of a pretzel to accommodate her desire to spread out over as much of the bed as she could possibly take up and I adjusted my getting up time to fit in with the girls going to bed time. Who would have known…a change really IS as good as a holiday :o)

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Stage 1 of banksia flower development…

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Stage 2…

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and finally stage 3

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If you can avert your eyes from the insect nuptuals going on towards the top of this shot (I can’t pinpoint it exactly for you because I am averting my eyes!), this is a bottlebrush flower

Peter Cundall, Mr organic garden show ABC television presenter himself and who lives not too far away from Serendipity Farm told us that this was going to be a bit of a stinker this summer in Tasmania. Stinker as in heat…not as in smell. I tend to agree with him because things run in cycles and they tend to be 4 yearly in Tasmania. We have mild years and hot years and this just so happens to coincide with our first year in Tasmania where our first full summer was a real eye opener because we thought that we were going to be cold and we discovered just how hot it can be here and our first winter was so cold we got chilblains and didn’t even know what they were.  We are more aware of the seasons here now and know it is going to be hot when we start seeing the cicada husks stuck to the
grass. This year we can hear them getting the band tuned nice and early and by the time mid-summer gets here they will have coordinated themselves into a wall of united stomach rasping. We won’t see them for at least 4 more years because their life cycle takes that long for them to reach adulthood and emerge from under the ground. At least the native birdlife get a “Hava nagila” moment of their own with plenty of free clicking protein for all!

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

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Aside from me looking like I am doing some sort of a sailors hornpipe dance you can begin to get an idea of how lucky we were to get not 1 roll, but 2 of these rolls of ex-fish farm netting. There are about 50 more of them up for grabs and we will be putting our hands up for as many rolls as they would like to let us have. We have also removed that blue rope and are storing it in Steve’s shed for posterity…(I think “posterity” is like “hoarding” 😉 ).

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Looking back the other way towards the house. We will get 4 x 2.5 metre x 20 metre lengths of this netting that should be enough to enclose our wayfaring chooks and keep them from digging halfway to China in their endeavours to have dustbaths all over Serendipity Farm

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One of the Brachychitons that we liberated from anarchy and chaos earlier in the year that hadn’t flowered in years and that is absolutely covered in flowers this year. Now all we have to do is pull all of that dead dodder from around it’s leaves and it might stand a chance of surviving for a few years more

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A cicada husk…one of many (it’s going to be a noisy Christmas this year on Serendipity Farm!)

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A close-up of garnet particles used to sandblast the Batman Bridge before it gets repainted

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Christmas wreath (and all sorts of other project) futures!

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Harvested willow…the rest is up to me!

It’s suddenly Wednesday and after heading over to Exeter to send Steve’s mum a calendar and pick up some library books and giving the dogs a good walk in the process we spent the day productively by measuring one of the large rolls of ex-fish farm netting that we got a little while ago. We were told that it was 20 metres long by 10 metres wide and after measuring it we think it’s probably a good estimate. We should have enough in a single roll to complete our chook shed reno and the other roll can be used to fully enclose our vegetable garden. We have been promised more of this precious commodity in the near future and we are going to get creative with it and use it to protect our small possum weary orchard and other areas that we don’t want the possums to invade. We cut a 2.5 metre wide strip from the first roll using the knives that we bought for grafting. We haven’t grafted much with them but we have at least used them for something! In the process we liberated 20 metres of strong thick nylon rope and tomorrow we will liberate 20 metres more. No idea what we are going to do with all of the rope but you can never have enough rope out in the country ;). After we finished cutting the rope from the netting we folded the netting up and set it aside…part 1 of the chook shed. By the time we finish we will have 4 x 20 metre long segments that we are going to attach to poles that we have already installed where we want to re-educate our chooks into who is the boss around here. It was getting pretty warm under the hole in the ozone layer that is our bright blue sky here in Tasmania so we headed off to put some stakes into the veggie garden to hold our rapidly growing tomatoes and prevent them from lying against the bird netting and being nibbled by waiting varmints. I guess the varmints are pruning the wayfaring branches for us but for now, they have been trussed up and the varmints are going to have to wait. I took a few photos of how our vegetables are going and it’s amazing to see how quickly vegetables will grow when you give them enough sunshine, food and water. The only thing that grows faster is the weeds :o(

We headed over to the East side of the Batman Bridge where there is a free camping ground and a large willow tree just waiting for clever locals to harvest to collect some willow canes to make our Christmas Wreath from. I had a bit of an altercation with a local redneck who had been racially abusing some Chinese tourists but nothing that Earl and I couldn’t handle ;). I heard on the news today that 52% of Tasmanian year 8 students are not able to meet the benchmark for mathematics. That joins our dubious honour of having 1 in 2 native born Tasmanians who can’t read or write adequately. Education needs to be pushed hard in this state. I guess it has worked to our politician’s advantage, up until now, to have an uneducated and unquestioning public who leave politics to the “experts” but now that the forest industry is on the verge of total collapse it is rapidly becoming obvious that most Tasmanians are ill equipped to do anything other than cut down trees with chainsaws and a subclass of bored, unemployed rednecks is going to be a significant problem for tomorrows politicians and the heinously understaffed police force that was cut to the bone recently in a vain attempt to reign in the budget deficit. I sometimes feel like banging my head on the wall when I (stupidly) watch the local news. I am not a particularly politically motivated person but blind Freddy could see just how inept and self-serving our politicians are and the really REALLY scary thing is that there isn’t any viable alternative for us to vote for. It’s equally as scary how quickly I can turn rabid whenever I consider our endemic politicians so I might just stop RIGHT THERE for today :o)

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Some Serendipity Farm “Yellow Nugget” cherry tomatoes

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One bed staked…

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and the other…

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Can anyone “splain” to me why this tomato plant seems hell bent on only growing horizontally? Nick (our ex-long suffering lecturer) took a most entrepreneurial view of our crazy tomato predicament and said “save the seed…make sure it stays true to type and only grows horizontally and then sell it for vertical and hanging baskets…make a fortune!”…cheers Nick, but I think you have us confused for entrepreneurs rather than lazy bums…(our subterfuge worked! 😉 )

We are still getting used to having time on our hands to do things other than study. It has been lovely to get stuck into working around the house and we have even started using the calendar that comes with using Google as our home page to keep us moving in the right direction. I picked up Dawn French’s first fiction work today from the library and am going to give it a whirl around the dance floor and see how she twirls. I also picked up the cold climate permaculture book about Hepburn Springs by David Holmgren because I now have time to read it from cover to cover like it deserves. Helen, the library lady, had put a book aside about making your own beauty products for me. She sometimes sees a book that she thinks that I might like and puts it on the shelf along with my ordered books. Cheers Helen, I like the look of some of the recipes inside and goodness only knows I can do with a slather or two of natural unguents if they will lend me an air of respectability once in a while ;). We have a full week of sorting out the chook house and then finding homes for 20+ hens. If anyone wants some prime year old egg laying (if you can find them 😉 ) hens, let me know. I had entertained giving them the chop and filling our freezer but entertaining and doing are 2 very different things. Roosters can be rationalised but hens in their prime cannot. After we make the chook coop we will be hurling ourselves headlong into all sorts of projects that we isolated from our Tuesday meeting where we had a bit of a confab about what direction we wanted to go in (preferably forwards) and how setting a few goals might actually cause us to follow through on a few of our plans.

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The rocket, lettuce, perpetual spinach, capsicum and chilli bed

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Not too sure what you do with perpetual spinach but at least we have one! 😉

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Aren’t lettuces pretty?

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Can you see the adventitious little tomato plant that grew from last years compost placed reverently in this garden bed? We think that it is one of Wendy’s lovely heritage tomatoes and it has a sibling in the next bed going great guns. I will let you know what they turn out like…by the way there is an aphid on the tomato…it won’t last long because the veggie gardens are seething with little lizards that seem to be doing a sterling job on cleaning up the tiny grasshoppers that have been attracted to the veggie garden like moths to a light. A fine example of integrated pest management at it’s finest 🙂

It’s time to think about posting this post now and after I do, I will head up to the veggie garden and will pick some mushrooms, some lettuce, some rocket and some spinach to make Steve a side salad to go with his evening meal. Living close to the ground is about as rewarding as it gets and I am going to have to get pretty close to the ground to harvest that lettuce! See you all on Saturday when we may just have that chook yard sorted out and I might just have some photos to share with you of some stunned looking enclosed chooks and Yin with his beak through the netting protesting his newfound confinement…Tasmania is a penal colony of old sir…get used to it! 😉

By the way…anyone who would like to have a chance to win Steve’s hand made spoon has 10 days to let us know. At the moment there are only 10 people in the draw and Earl thinks that they are pretty good odds. We have a lot more walnuts than “10” so please feel free to enter the spoon draw…only 10% of you want to win? Think of Steve’s pride! 😉

Expectations and where they come from

Hi All,

Today (Monday) is apparently a public holiday in Tasmania. It’s been given the dubious moniker “8 hour day” which aligns it with labour day in other Australian states…I don’t know why various states have holidays on different days…may as well just clump them all together and have national holidays but apparently there is no fun in that so separate strangely named days are our predilection. I had just gotten up from my 2 hour morning rss feed read marathon and was buttering bread for the chooks and the dogs morning snack, making Steve’s morning cup of coffee in bed, getting ready to cut tiny cubes of tasty cheese for the cuckoo shrikes and wrens and I suddenly got to thinking about how these things became expected of me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind doing these things, I was just wondering how they became institutionalised on Serendipity Farm. These little occasional treats have become regular “expected” events that need to be kept up for the sake of the peace. As I was buttering the slices of shop bought bread that we don’t eat and only buy for the animals, I thought about how our own expectations of what life is meant to be have arisen. We “expect” that we will be able to go about our business safely and with rights but where did those expectations come from? Someone in the past had to fight for all of the expected normalcies that we take for granted and whenever there is a cause and a fight, there is someone fighting just as hard to keep the status quo. We expect choice in our shops. We expect to be able to find a job, to buy a house, to get credit on our purchases. We don’t even think about these things…they just “are”.  The more people “get” in their lives, the more they tend to expect. It’s a bit like getting a promotion at work with a good pay rise attached…after a while your lifestyle absorbs the pay rise and you are back where you started from…we have a habit of upping the ante whenever we get a run of good fortune and becoming blasé about how well off we actually are. In deliberately choosing to live a simpler life we all get to choose to be grateful for what life has handed us all over again. I, for one, am extremely grateful for the plate that I have been handed :o)

The ubiquitous repurposed automatic sprouter has done itself proud! Here you can see the scarlet runner beans sprouting

Here are the borlotti beans that apparently loved the conditions in the automatic sprouter. They, along with all of the other beans, have now been planted in seed trays and once they get big enough they will be planted out into our new bean garden

Here are the sprouting Yin Yang beans. If our summer is as long and hot as they say it is going to be these little babies should do well

I love meeting like-minded people through blog hunting. I recently found a wonderful Aussie blog with the delightful moniker of “Rabid Little Hippy”. Go and have a look for yourself…this blog is a frenetic blast of positive sustainable energy all rolled into a jumble of kids, a tiny tractor driving husband and a weekly commute between an old and a new life eagerly anticipated…

http://rabidlittlehippy.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/another-weekend-in-ballan/

How could you resist a name like that? Aside from the name, the blog is a wonderful blend of homesteading, sustainable living and a zest for life that is positively infectious. I have never met anyone with so much energy and I just realised that although I follow each one of this wonderful bloggers posts I have NO idea what her name is! For the purposes of this post she shall be known as “rabid”… I have had great fun conversing with “rabid” via the comments section of her blog and after a recent post we discussed a swap event that she had been to. I assumed that it was a seed swap but apparently, it involved people taking things that they no longer used/needed and that they had made/grown etc. to barter for other goods. In Tasmania times are tough. There are very few jobs to be had and most jobs tend to be part time or transient. If any state needed a boost of positive sustainable energy it’s our humble little full stop at the bottom of the wealth generation of Australia. After listening with growing excitement as “rabid” told me about where she had been and what she had swapped my nose was twitching like Tabitha from Bewitched and I had formulated a plan to head in to the next Sustainable Living group at the Tamar NRM (Natural Resources Management) centre and postulate this wonderful idea for a chance for the locals to barter their excess or unwanted goods for other excess and unwanted goods. What a fantastic idea! “Rabid”, you may have just made some Tasmanians almost as happy as your faithful reader narf7 by telling me about this fantastic way to effect change whilst cycling goods in an incredibly sustainable way to everyone’s benefit.

Here are the punnets of mixed zucchini and rainbow chard that we have since planted out into the vegetable garden. The orange punnet at the front contains some of the Cavolo Nero that we will plant in the veggie garden and after that, out in the main garden

Who could resist dinosaur kale? It has lots of names including Cavolo Nero but I am going to call it “Sideshow Bob” kale

Bev from the wonderfully informative blog with truly useful information sent me a copy of The Weed Foragers Handbook. I am over the moon! I was going to buy this little tomb but now I don’t have to :). Thank you for that wonderful gift Bev along with the purple king bean seeds that you can see here in the automated sprouter along with the moringa oleifera seed that I am optimistically attempting to sprout 🙂

Some of our past experiences with purchasing seed online have been less than triumphant to say the least. We have paid quite large sums of money for seed that refused point blank to germinate and that was most probably too old and had been sold on at a profit from other sellers. We learned the hard way and so seed swapping with locals with seed that has local provenance is truly the best way to go about purchasing/gaining seed. We really want some Moringa oleifera seed to grow this amazing tree on Serendipity Farm. We previously purchased several batches of seed in an attempt to grow it with no luck. I retained some of the seed in a fit of pique whilst muttering about the seller’s dubious parentage under my breath and promptly forgodaboudit. We found the seed the other day and after the bean seeds grew so well in the sprouter, I decided to see if the Moringa oleifera would sprout. Nothing has happened yet but if I can manage to get the seed to sprout I will be a very happy camper. The beans that we sprouted recently are now planted out into flat trays to grow on until they are big enough to plant out in their bean garden home. There is something very addictive about propagating from seed. We have grown all sorts of plants from seed but most of them were ornamental shrubs or trees and growing our own food from seed adds an entirely new dimension to the fun. Today we removed 4 loquat saplings that we dug up from the side of the road as tiny little seedlings. We stashed them in the glasshouse in pots over winter and now they are ready to harden off before we plant them out. We also brought 3 more fig trees out of the glasshouse. We planted out one little fig tree to see how it went and it is going great guns so we figure 4 fig trees are better than 1. We have more walnut and hazelnut seedlings than we could shake a sustainable stick at and none of them cost us a cent. Sometimes you have to take advantage of an opportunity when it presents itself. Three of the fig trees had ground layered on an old overgrown fig tree at a local school where we walk our dogs and we grew one from a now removed tree in Launceston city central. We collected the walnuts from a tree on the side of the road and we were given the hazelnuts from Glad’s daughter Wendy. There is a degree of primal delight to be had from helping nature to furnish your larder and growing edible plants from seed goes even deeper than that. Here is a link to show you why I am really eager to get some Moringa oleifera growing and thriving on Serendipity Farm…

http://enviro.org.au/article_moringaTree.asp

The little loquats that we rescued from the side of the road last year are hardening off prior to planting out

2 of the figs either side of the loquats and in the background you can see our little Gingko biloba that we planted out into the side garden

Another $2 roadside stall find…this time its garlic chives

Steve found this in the shed not so long ago…he promises me that with sharp blades it will be just as good as the petrol mower…for the sake of our sustainable future I certainly hope so! 😉

Steve and I took the boys for a small walk up the road this afternoon and noticed that Glad and Wendy next door had been mowing. We had a chat to them over the fence and Steve headed down to drop off some eggs and asked them what they were going to do with the pile of lawn clippings and oak leaves…”burn them” was the reply! He then asked if they would mind if we had them and they were overjoyed. Wendy pointed out another large pile of lawn clippings and leaves at the top of the property and asked him if we wanted those as well? “Darned RIGHT” we do! Now we can make a large compost heap near our vegetable garden area that will help us in the future…another example of how one mans trash/problem is another mans treasure. Whenever they mow they are going to give us their unwanted clippings and as Glad has 6 acres that amounts to a whole lot of clippings. It also highlights how proactive being part of a community can be. I was wondering where to get more compost ingredients from and the answer was right next to us all the time 🙂

I am twitching with excitement! It’s nothing to do with the $100 million lotto draw that apparently half of the Australian population has bought tickets in (not me!) and everything to do with farinaceous goods. I have been a rampant voyeur over the last month of all things Vegan and have found all sorts of amazing food blogs thanks to Annie at the fantastic blog An Unrefined Vegan. Here’s one of her delectable posts should you ever want to make heavenly peanut shortbready biscuits whilst learning some skills in the process.

http://anunrefinedvegan.com/2012/10/19/veganmofo-peanut-sandies/

Annie, along with some equally amazing vegan food blogging friends, spent a whole month coordinating Vegan Mofo…a chance for anyone with a vegan food blog to shine with as many recipes as they could post in 31 days. I followed avidly and spent every morning from 5am – 7am in a vain effort to keep up with these amazing posts, save them for future degustory delight and comment on as many as I could. At the end of the month quite a few of them got together to have a Vegan Potluck virtual meal online and again, my rss feed reader runeth over. As I pored over what was on offer I felt a distinct desire to cook and share that went as far as hinting that I might like to participate in next year’s Vegan Potluck. That gives me a year to think up some splendiferous idea to knock my peer’s socks off…an enormous vegan spongecake with multi layers filled with delicious spreads and topped with homemade vegan truffles? How about a scrumptious vegan pie? Homemade vegan lasagne? Whatever I choose to do, you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be practicing it for a while and that it will be scrumptious…why would you want to share something with your peers if they had made it before? Time to get thinking…

One of the little hazelnuts that we potted up this week after checking the bags of stratifying seeds in our overwintering esky

A wheelbarrow full of free nut trees. Most of these are hazelnuts which seemed to germinate later than the walnuts that are in the glasshouse. I LOVE free edible plants 🙂

We need a gate at the side of the dog compound. We don’t want to spend much on the gate. Steve is a clever little vegemite and has worked out a way to turn this metal gate into a perfect gate in the compound. Stay tuned to see what he does with it

Steve and I have been dabbling in the farinaceous arts as I mentioned earlier (before I veered off to the left and got mentally lost…). We are on a quest to live as simply as we can whilst at the same time living as well as we can. Life is too short for bad wine and Steve has been blending his own peculiar bad wine with his good wine to render it all drinkable. I decided to use some of the various pieces of kitchen equipment that I have stashed in the top of the pantry out of sheer guilt for having paid so much for some of it many years ago. We had a go at making our own pasta as a way to use up some of our egg futures. We decided to mess about with a spinach pasta recipe that we found online and it was a really good recipe. If you want to try it yourself here it is…

http://cookingequipment.about.com/od/maincourserecipes/r/SpinachPasta.htm

Little Pig 🙂

The home made lasagne that we made from scratch

We then made a really delicious lasagne from scratch by making our own pasta, pasta sauce, meat sauce and béchamel. Steve really enjoyed it and the amount of pasta that we made was WAY too much for our lasagne needs and so we had to come up with some ideas of what to do with the left over pasta. Steve had some tonight in a bowl of homemade Asian noodle soup and pronounced the noodles delicious. I segued nicely back to why I was so excited earlier in the post…to make the noodles I remembered “Little Pig” in the top of my pantry cupboard. Little Pig is a non-centrifugal juicer that I bought many years ago when I was on a bit of a health kick. I have used Little Pig to make fruit mince, juice a few carrots and that’s about it. I remember reading that the juicer could be used to make Korean rice cake noodles but as I didn’t have a recipe for them I didn’t attempt to try to make them. Today I remembered that Little Pig had various nozzles that extruded dough’s into different shapes and after I got Steve to heft Little Pig down from the top shelf we put the remaining wrapped spinach pasta dough out on the bench top to reach room temperature while we made some Asian chicken broth and prepared vegetables to add to it. Once we got the soup on to simmer we turned back to attempt to make a spinach pasta version of udon noodles to go into Steve’s soup. Having never tried extruding pasta or any kind of dough through Little Pig I was a little dubious about it’s ability to perform but I shouldn’t have worried because after fitting the noodle nozzle and feeding the pasta dough into the top of the machine it made perfect round green noodles that were delicious in the soup. We have a large serving of noodles left that we are attempting to dehydrate as I type this to see if we can make our own dried pasta to store for later use. The speed and ease of making pasta this way got me twitching (FINALLY she got around to why she was twitching! 😉 ). I have visions of all sorts of pasta made from all sorts of grains, legumes, and seeds with different nuts, pesto’s, herbs and spices in a wide range of natural colours. The extruding process through Little Pig means that I should be able to intertwine various colours of dough and get amazing looking rainbow noodles in all sorts of shapes. I can make Korean rice cake noodles thanks to an amazing Korean online recipe site and I get to use up some of our excess eggs in the process. If our dehydration of the remaining pasta works, we will be able to mess about with all different kinds of pasta and dehydrate them for future use.  My excited twitching comes from the realisation that we won’t ever have to buy pasta or noodles again! I feel an amazing rainbow pasta recipe coming on for the Vegan Potluck next year :o)

We decided to sprout some mung beans at the same time as sprouting our beans and we will be using these babies in a stirfry tomorrow

The only potato doing anything other than sitting in the pantry on Serendipity Farm. Our soil is predominately comprised of rocks which sadly, are not conducive to the growing of potatoes…the compost heap appears to be an option…

The little mulberry is leafing up and the garlic growing underneath it was planted by my brother when he visited my dad many years ago. You can see some overbown asparagus in the foreground and in the background we have a lovely little mandarin tree

Here you can see “Possum Damage”. This is why Australians who live rurally spend a lot of time tearing out their hair or spending a fortune protecting their precious edible specimens from these furry little larrikin hooligans. This poor little mandarin tree suffers horendously every single year while its sibling sits not further than 10 metres away from it completely untouched. I will NEVER understand the mental processes of possums!

We are almost at the end of our studies and are finalising our sustainable landscape designs. We have yet to hear if we got an interview in our chosen courses for next year but should we miss out, we can always find something else relevant to study till Steve gets his Australian citizenship and we head off to university in 2014. We might even study drafting as we already have a good handle on AutoCAD…I love the possibilities that have opened up for us since we took a leap of faith and decided to live like penniless student hippies in order to pave the way for further learning opportunities. I have no doubt at all that our lives have been made much richer in the process and that our abilities have been honed to fine pointy tips and have allowed us to make amazingly good use of what life has thrown in our direction. The quest for “Happiness” is apparently on the rise…people have discovered that money isn’t the answer to this elusive state and curiously, people want to live in a constant state of happiness not realising that happiness only gains its beauty after periods of contrasting emotions. Happiness is inside every single one of us. We all have it within our reach and it has much more to do with being grateful and thankful for our roll of the dice than it has to do with any external forces. Life has a natural balance about it and as we seesaw our way up and down through a gamut of emotions we need to remind ourselves of Newton’s law of motion… “For every action…there is an equal, and opposite reaction”…a constant striving for equilibrium and whilst we might be down at any given time…it won’t be long until we are up again. Have a great week folks and count your blessings because sometimes what we are expecting overshadows how very lucky we already are :o)

If any of you are feeling a bit down this song is bound to make you feel better…get a saucepan and a wooden spoon and do a bit of tub-thumping yourself! 😉 Or Steve says…”even better…you drink the whisky drink…you drink the lager drink…you drink the cider drink…and after that you won’t CARE” 😉

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kS-zK1S5Dws

And if you aren’t laughing yet…check out Homer singing his version of tub thumping…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFvSUi-QFX4

Bezial is NOT fat…he is just big boned…

Hi All,

Bezial is begging again. He has a sore leg because of a spate of rainy cold weather that started yesterday and a desire to race around like a spring chicken when he is effectively a middle aged man (something like those sad 35+ year olds that carry their skateboards everywhere…). This means that he doesn’t walk today and it’s my day to stay home with him while Steve walks Earl. We can’t NOT walk Earl…our home is too precious to us and as penniless student hippies we can’t afford to replace what his overactive teeth tend to expend that excess energy on when he doesn’t get his regular quotient of exercise. Earl gone = Bezials free reign at trying to get me to open the treat cupboard and feed him till he bursts. You can’t blame him for trying though. He is part labrador…his entire digestive system is Labrador along with his desire to frolic maniacally in any form of water from the chooks water bowl to the sea. He “looks” like a lovely big black American Staffordshire terrier BUT in actuality he is channelling his inner labrador most of the time. Anyone who knows dogs well knows that Labrador’s come a very VERY close second to Beagles in the gutsy dog stakes. Bezial has always had a tendency to eat to excess (a bit like his female caretaker to be honest!) and we once gave him 2kg of prime dog steak to see if he could eat it all when he was a pup…he did! Earl, even though he appears to be a heifer, has trouble with eating too much food and will leave some at the end of most of his meals. He tends to be a lot pickier than Bezial about what he will and won’t eat but unlike Bezial, he doesn’t use food avoidance to get his point across! The dehydrated dog steak treats that we give our dogs are Bezials snack of choice. We forgot to turn off the dehydrator when drying out the last of the steak the other day which resulted in amazingly crisp and crunchy meaty goodness and Bezial has his mind firmly centred on getting as many of those crispy meaty treats into his ever expanding girth as those big brown puppy dog eyes will allow. I am a sucker for those eyes. I threw Earls leftover steak out to one of the feral cats last night because of big cat eyes…I am also a quintessential over-eater so I sympathise with Bezial…I, too, am channelling my inner labrador and so am able to allow him his space to sulk when I put the lid on the treats and put them up on the treat shelf.

Here’s a few gratuitous grub shots…veggies ready for roasting

Barley and lemons…what more could a girl want?

Barley combined with mushrooms, capsicum and onions being sauted ready to make barley risotto

Veggie stock added to the barley risotto…I can’t find a photo of the finished result but it tasted delicious 🙂

Did anyone else out there realise that it’s almost Christmas time?! One of the blogs that I follow reminded me of it when I was reading my rss feed reader the other day and I almost fell off my chair! No time to panic about the Mayan calendar…CHRISTMAS IT COMING! Incidentally…the native Mayan descendants are a bit pissed about it all to be honest. They say that the local governments in South America are making money out of crazy foreigners booking “end of the world” trips to South America to party hearty while they, themselves, are celebrating the end of the old calendar and the beginning of the new. No-one is sponsoring their own new beginnings parties because there isn’t any money in new beginnings…only wildly spending desperate people who think that they won’t have credit card debts in February 2013 (let alone Christmas debt) so they are willing to go out on an exponential limb and party like its 1999. Christmas WILL come folks and with it, the usual hype, overspending, overeating and credit card woes in February… it’s inevitable…or is it? We are bollocking Christmas off this year. Not the sentiment or the actual meaning, but the rubbish that goes with it. This year we are going to volunteer (already have in fact 😉 ) at a local community church event aimed at giving people alone at Christmas time some Christmas cheer. After we get home we are going to cobble together a delicious simple meal of our favourite things and share a bottle of something tipsy to allow us to really feel grateful for our lot. We have been so very fortunate to be given the chances that we have in our lives and we just want to share that around and pay back some of what we have been given in kind. Consumerism? “Forgedaboudit!”…not this year world! You aint gettin’ ANY of our hard grafted moola! We need to stuff our moth eaten sock for prospective bills and permaculture practices so there’s no room in the inn for your overinflated projections of what makes people happy…Christmas no longer makes people happy (aside from people who manufacture anything with an “I” in front of it…and most of them are on minimum wage in China somewhere and could care less about Christmas). Let’s all take back the real meaning of Christmas this year and get stuck into feeling grateful and thankful for our lot. We really are a lucky bunch you know…let’s start acting like we know it!

MORE gratuitious grub shots…this time of the beginnings of an amazing pasta sauce containing caramelised onions and heaps of garlic, capsicum and mushrooms

Here’s the middle of the delicious pasta sauce…

and here’s the end result! Thick, rich and delicious…much like many a boy band member! 😉

And lastly heres an action shot of an incredibly delicious dhal that I made earlier in the week

Talking about Christmas has me contemplating our next homemade Christmas tree and most probably the photographic content of a future post. We have gotten quite adventurous over the last few years with what construes a Christmas “tree” here on Serendipity Farm. As rabid hippy tree hugging horticulturalists we refuse to kill a tree in the name of a seasonal holiday. This smacks of pagan sacrifice to be honest! The borers ate last year’s tree. It would seem somewhat significant because it was also mum’s last year on earth and her final Christmas with us. She died not long after Christmas and I am contemplating burying our Christmas tree somewhere on Serendipity Farm to make a bit of a statement. Steve is contemplating having me committed because aside from wanting to bury a handful of borer eaten branches, Serendipity Farm is predominately comprised of 1 part soil to 9 parts rocks and there is NO way that he is going to dig a large hole for anything  let alone some mouldering bits of twig. The alternative is to give our last year’s Christmas tree a full Viking funeral where we burn it on a pile and reinvest it into the soil rather than make a raft for it and send it out into the Tamar River which is tempting BUT we are too lazy and busy at the moment to go to that sort of an effort…  What are we going to build this year? Not too sure. Maybe an homage to a Christmas tree in the form of a vertical gabion herb spiral with Christmas baubles on it? Probably not…that’s a little bit far gone for even me but who knows… 2013 might just be the year that I finally channel my inner hippy and go nuts and totally dispense with the traditional and usher in a radical new ethos…but I doubt it…that would mean actually building said edifice to herbs and that would mean that both Steve and I would have to meet in the middle of a project that requires more than a day or so of combined effort which inevitably results in one of us exploding (usually me) and the other one sulking (usually Steve).  We certainly don’t have a shortage of rocks to donate to the project!

Here’s proof that you don’t need a shmicko camera and light box to take a good photo…I was attempting to take a photo of my garlic scissor hands for Halloween and noticed that this photo looks “FABULOUS” Darlings! I have decided to throw everything to the 4 winds and run off to become a famous French photographer…on second thoughts…I just can’t be quite bothered at the moment…I will just keep my latent amazing photography under my hat 😉

Earl sitting on one of the kitchen chairs waiting till I stop pointing that bloody thing at him till and turn back to the computer so that he can put his nose into that white bowl to the right and steal walnuts to his hearts content! He loves stealing walnuts and cracking them on the floor for unsuspecting bare footers to step on early in the morning…(you will notice that I have reverted back to my crappy photography but whatchagonna do eh? 😉 )

One of Earl’s stuffed toys fell off the deck when he was playing with it yesterday and Moustachio found it. He is mid destruction in this photo. Anyone who knows cat’s will know the position for destruction and those hind feet were going like pistons! You can see how he got his name in this shot

Steve says that he is instituting a new Boxing Day tradition on Serendipity Farm. He is going to tow the barely used aluminium tinny that dad left him down to the jetty and go fishing. No sports for him, unless he hooks a shark which isn’t an impossibility as we are just around the corner from the sea and Devil’s Elbow, the name of the little estuarine pocket of the Tamar River that we live on, which is a shark nursery and sanctuary. In that case he will be probably towed out to sea and will have to row his way back and that will be enough sports for him to last all year!  The funny thing about spring is that time seems to go MUCH quicker than the rest of the year. I feel like I only just posted my last post and Steve reminded me that it’s time to post again tonight! We are doing a lot of work in the garden at the moment to stave off more work in the future. We have been dealing with the blackberries that are threatening to take off and are removing them systematically. We have a garden bed that needs to be totally cleared out and replanted along with a very large Cotoneaster tree that also needs removing. We are then going to renovate a pond, clear out the jungle part of Serendipity Farm and start planting out some of our precious trees. We have to irrigate the trees that we have planted out so far and we have to install a gate on the side of the house so that we can get out to the veggie garden beds and relocated compost heap more easily… oh yeah…we have to relocate the compost heap! Spring is a time of barely concealed blind panic where you spend your days trying to outrun the weeds (and usually lose).

Note the blackberry tangles in this area of the garden…

The darned chooks certainly did!

Here’s another one of their well camouflaged nests inundated with brambles

We were outside bums up and heads down hacking away at blackberries when we heard a chicken’s tell-tale egg song. We are more than aware that the hens have moved their regular nests “somewhere else” and so we decided to have a look-see to see if we couldn’t find where. We found one of their nests and heard another hen down in the jungle area and if they are nesting there good luck to them! We will be sorting out which hens we do and don’t want to keep soon and will be selling some of them off. After we do so, we will be making a large enclosed area for the hens and Yin to live in with a gravity fed deep litter run. We want to be able to mulch our garden beds and our hens are most determined that we won’t. This is one battle that I fully intend to win! I have noticed that since we cleared out the side garden all sorts of plants are starting to grow. Lots of aquilegias have emerged and as waterwise perennials you can’t do much better. I noticed that some of the tall blue salvia that used to grow down next to the bird baths has shown its face in the garden. I thought that I had lost it all but it would seem that it was there all along, just tangled up in blackberries and unable to shine. We need to ensure that the soil stays moist over the coming summer months. Northern Tasmania has an extended period of hot weather without much rain. We have been leaving debris and branches around the wilder areas so that the chooks won’t scratch the soil bare but until we contain and reduce their numbers we can’t stop them from doing what hens do best. After we reduce their numbers and contain them we can start using chook tractors to get the chooks to work where WE want them to work. No more eggs off in the wilderness! No more random ferals living in trees…no more chickens emerging from the shrubs to be hoovered up by the feral cats. In effect, we will be able to take back control of our chook population and contain them where we want. I am sure that there will be some rumbling protestations by the hens but too bad…they have had it all their way up until now and the humans are taking back the farm! 😉

Billbergia nutans (Queen’s Tears), an epiphytic bromeliad native from Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina is a very hardy plant. I recently divided it in thirds and all 3 of them are flowering like crazy after being planted into the garden

Acer palmatum ‘Beni shidare’ one of Steve’s lovely dissectum weeping maples

Another showy maple…this one is called “Peaches and Cream”

Our veggies are happily growing and we bought 2 more punnets when we were last in town. We decided on some rainbow chard and a punnet of mixed zucchinis (yellow, regular green and some light green ones). We also bought a packet of Italian kale seed and found a site online that showed us how to make a seed block maker to make our own seed blocks for planting in using our own customised seed raising mix. Our dried beans that we put into my rarely used automatic sprouter have all started sprouting and we will be planting them into soil tomorrow. I am excited to see what we are able to grow and will be saving seed from this year for next year’s bean futures. Most of the punnets of seedlings that we bought are not heritage seed but we didn’t have much choice this year. Next year will be a very different situation and we will be buying heritage seed and planning out our garden beds much more carefully next year. You have to start somewhere and we have at least “started”.  We just fed the dogs a dozen hard boiled eggs and they will get more tomorrow. We have too many eggs! The end result of the dogs degustory delight at being able to freely imbibe eggs on a regular basis leaves a LOT to be desired and we might have to think of something else to do with our excess eggs. Reducing the chook population is a good start but we are going to have to start thinking of ways to use up our egg surpluses to make the best use of our resources. Cake baking time methinks! It might even be Pavlova time!

Nectarine futures on Serendipity Farm!

Abies koreana ‘Silberlocke’. Can you see why we love conifers?

“Get eating boys…we have 12 dozen to get through!” 😉

Time to wrap up another post and get it all packaged up and tied with a bow to send to your inboxes. I have a few interesting ideas up my sleeve regarding starting a seed pen-pal group to share heritage seed in Australia. I follow a Dutch blog that has done this most successfully and would love to do something similar here in Australia. We might not be able to receive certain types of vegetable seeds but most are fine so long as they come from Australia so I am contemplating how to go about starting something like this. It’s a sort of online seed swap that gives people a chance to share the genetic love around. I thought it was a brilliant idea when I read about it on the blog and think that we Aussies shouldn’t have to miss out because of our strict quarantine laws regarding the import of seed material. We have imported a lot of seeds from other countries but you never know how they are going to react and many imported seeds are unviable or unsuited to our climate. It would be amazing to swap seeds amongst like-minded people with minimal cost (aside from postage) involved. Let me know if you think it’s a good idea and if it could work and I might start thinking more strongly about it. See you all on Wednesday and enjoy the rest of your weekend :o)

The Voles are coming and I have become a hoarder

Hi All,

Having just planted out 7 garden beds with precious vegetable futures we now have to consider the fact that we aren’t the only ones who love vegetables…there are apparently hoards of creatures out there who can’t wait to take a scrump of our loot. Short of buying a rocking chair, a shotgun and putting a straw in my mouth I figure that we are going to have to do some detective work regarding “pests”. Pests come in a couple of forms…invertebrate, including most of the creatures that are going to totally ignore our bird netting cover and who are going to buzz right on through. Because we have covered the beds with bird netting (and here is the total irony of it all…) the little insectivorous birds, like the wrens that patrol our windowsill bossing the tiny cheese cubes out of us, can’t actually get in to scarf the aphids etc. who will carry on regardless. For these insectivorous critters we need to think smarter not harder. Integrated pest management is the way to go. We are using permaculture principals to give Serendipity Farm a whole new ethos. We are reusing, recycling and repurposing just about anything that we can get our hands on because it’s both sustainable practice and cheap and as penniless student horticulture hippies we need to be mindful of “cheap”. We have learned a few things over the last 4 years about building strong foundations for your hopes and dreams starting with the soil and building up from there. I am constantly amazed and excited with the prospects of working with nature rather than against it. As we learn more and more about permaculture through practical application we realise that it is the quickest most trouble free way to get what we want from our land. We are using what we have learned from our mainstream horticulture studies to branch off laterally into permaculture and learning about design has given us a new set of eyes each (like spiders 😉 ) to see how it all fits together. Some of what we are doing at the moment includes: –

Integrated pest management:  if you make conditions ideal for beneficials they will come…they will stay and they will eat your pest populations. We are prepared to wear a bit of insect damage till the beneficial population builds up to meet the pest populations and we are in the process of building overwintering bug houses and installing them around the area. We hand pick snails, slugs etc. and use the most ecofriendly choices for slug pellets that won’t hurt native animals and that biodegrade safely around our vegetables that have been covered and everywhere else has Sargent ducky on patrol. No slugs or snails shall pass by her probing dibbling beak! One of the most valuable tools you can have to deal with invasive pests before their populations become a problem is very simple. Just walk around your garden and “LOOK”. If you are doing this often enough you will notice the tell-tale signs of plant predation and will be able to nip it in the bud early.

Integrated weed management: weeds are just plants in the wrong place guys! I have been learning from some amazing sites where people go hunting for weeds and use them for all sorts of edible and medicinal reasons. No more “bollocks a weed!” for me, aside from some of the invasive grasses and should they become a serious problem, methinks it is time to get that pair of geese that I have been thinking about who eat their weights worth of grass which is their predominate food of choice. Just have to dig a little goosy dam for them and as our subsoil is solid yellow clay, no problemo! Use your weeds and you will be amazed at how they suddenly become managed problems. Use Bernard and Manny’s weeds for an example, Bernard and Manny are our two Javanese finches. They LOVE dandelions and I headed out to pick their favourite snack daily. Pretty soon there were no dandelions left in the front yard and I found myself in the ironic situation of having to steal weeds from other people’s gardens at night just to feed my finches habit. Use those weeds and you can bet your derrière that they will disappear! Murphy’s Law works both ways folks ;).  Don’t use herbicides, use your brains.  Hand grub and use the weeds to make weed tea for yourself (dandelions and nettles) or for your plants. They pinched the nitrogen from your garden in the first place, may as well take it back! No weed can survive a good drowning.  Try chopping the weeds with no seed heads up fine and putting them in the compost or cover the heap of weeds and solarise them with some black plastic. We all have to learn to put away the quick fix because most of them come with a steep price tag both for our pockets and the earth. This site, in particular, is a wealth of knowledge about weedy species and how to use them to your advantage

http://urbanherbology.org/2012/10/30/365-frankendael-day-193/

Here is a way to deal with your weeds thanks to good old Aunty ABC…

http://www.abc.net.au/gardening/stories/s2267268.htm

You can also make liquid manure to mix in with the weed tea and you can make compost tea as well. Crush up some charcoal and add it and aside from something that will attract flies for kilometres; you will have a valuable source of nutrients in their more easily assimilated liquid form. Just remember to hold your nose when you are measuring out!

Companion planting: Cheers to my long time gal pal in Perth Kymmy for sending me some information on companion planting. Kymmy has her garden totally together and it’s lovely to wander about in the greenery and tropical lushness that spills onto her undercover area. No tropical here aside from a poor long suffering philodendron that dad was trying to starve to death for 20 years. It’s now under a large tree and its leaves are slowly turning from yellow to a nice dark green…rescue 101 Pimblett style!  Many plants actually grow better with certain other plants. American Indians realised this and grew corn, pumpkins and beans together forming a symbiotic relationship of nitrogen production (beans), green mulch (pumpkin) and height for the beans to grow (corn stalks). I have been hunting around and found a really wonderful comprehensive permaculture companion planting PDF that want to share with you…

http://permaculturenews.org/2010/07/30/companion-planting-guide/

Confuse-a-cat: Plant your food in the garden and your garden with your food. Plant herbs and flowers in with your food garden and why not kill 2 birds with one stone? Make them edible flowers as well. Use plants like borage, comfrey, marigolds, pansy’s (especially Johnny jump-ups that keep on keeping on no matter what the conditions are) Italians have known about this forever. Back in Western Australia (or little Italy as it shall be spoken of from here on in…) the Italians were the market gardeners and started all of the green grocers all over the place. They certainly knew how to grow a tomato and you always saw their front gardens full of vegetables and flowers en mass. That’s how to confuse your pests too folks…mass planting with everything. I just have to get my chooks under control (for under control read locked up!) to start practicing what I am preaching here because they scarf everything edible in the garden and take dust baths in my hard work.

Mulch…mulch…MULCH!: Soil microbes need moisture to carry on their day to day activities and if the soil dries out they will head for damper pastures. Your veggies/plants won’t like it much either. Water has become a precious commodity and its price is starting to cause us to conserve it. Nothing like a hit in the old hip pocket to make you care about something. The perfect solution is to ensure that your soil is mulched to retain its moisture. You can use all sorts of things to mulch soil including organic and inorganic materials. We have a massive heap of Photinias that we removed from the fenceline that we are leaving in situ for the summer so that the leaves will drop off and mulch the soil and the branches will dry out and we can use the larger branches on the fire and we can use the smaller branches to form hugelkultur beds. Mulch will make your garden happy and will significantly reduce your water bills. Couple this with harvesting rain and using it on your veggie garden and you are in a win-win situation

Nothing to do with today’s post but a couple of random dog walking photos taken recently

It was a lovely still morning…

I am waiting to get some seed from that lovely bluey green leptospermum (tea tree) behind that banksia

I will never tire of looking at this beautiful Japanese Maple. Maybe one day some of our little babies will be this beautiful

Finally we get to the vertebrates! These are the boned critters with hearts that pump warm blood…those hearts might pump warm but their thoughts run to cold…stone cold stealin! On Serendipity Farm they run amok and range from rabbits, potoroo’s, wallabies, possums  and the most dangerous of all are “chookus Serendipitus”…the dreaded Common house chook. After reading the gardening blogs that I follow in the wee small hours of the morning I have suddenly become aware of a problem sweeping the US that I had never thought about before…voles! Voles: tiny field mice that remain faithful to their partners for their whole lives that eat seeds and grain and that reach sexual maturity in a month and that can wreak havoc on a good root crop…wait a minute… WE plan on having a good crop! I have unprotected beetroot in the ground that voles could tunnel underneath and lay in wait for those tender red bulbs to form and slowly digest them around their expanding family while I wait on tenterhooks for a vole scented gnawed handful of leaves!

This might be a water vole but its the only stock photo that I could find! No vole lawsuits for me!

I realise that voles are not endemic in Australia. I also realise that most voles could care less about vegetables BUT with global warming who knows where the voles will migrate…there could be voles right now stowing away on cruise ships with tiny sticks over their shoulders and all of their worldly seedy belongings stowed in a tied up gingham kerchief…stealthily and steadfastly wending their way to Australia to start a new beginning. If the Irish can do it…so can the voles. They keep telling us that we now have foxes in Tasmania although most people haven’t seen them and there is a sneaking suspicion that some wily Tasmanian decided that working in the forestry was a bit of a dud and that he might spread the rumour that “there be foxes!” so that he could sit back in a cushy “hunt the fox” job and get paid a handsome sum to stay in bed all day and postulate about “yup…me mate saw one the uva day!”. Most of Tasmania wants to end the “Fox Taskforce” as a bad joke BUT I can see a new direction for it…”Vole Taskforce!” Why not? If foxes can weasel their way over here in the boot of someone’s car (probably said aforementioned wily Tasmanian who ferried them in as “evidence” for his new income venture…) then so can voles! I could put an entire extended family of voles under my hat and a banana in my handbag and run the gamut of the sniffer dogs and insist that I didn’t realise that I wasn’t allowed to bring in a bit of fruit to eat for morning tea whilst the dogs rabidly tried to digest my legs. Once my contraband fruit was handed over they would pass me through customs…no banana “no worries luv”! But I WOULD have a hat full of voles and a new income generating venture for the coming season 😉

This is just to prove to myself that I CAN make fishcakes! Secret = use the potato ricer rather than mash the spuds

Earls potato sack halloween costume. He figures that he can trick people into letting him into their homes and then he can treat himself to whatever he likes and carry it away in his sack

Steve catching Earl in the act as he tried to head over to Frank and Adrian’s place next door and almost fell off the deck…

Stevie Kruger joining in on the halloween festivities…”One two Stevie’s coming for you”…

A plethora of vegan food blogs have exploded exponentially in my rss feed read thanks to vegan mofo. Vegan mofo is a month of crazed recipe creation where every day my inbox is cram packed full of awesome and exciting vegan recipes. I can officially be called a hoarder of vegan blogs and Steve is considering an intervention (but not before I collect a whole lot more!) These blogs freely share homemade cheeze recipes, how to make creamy vegan sauces, all sorts of wonderful sauces, salsas, spices and herby goodness to excite my tastebuds… now could I resist? My rss feed reader is bursting its seams but I just can’t stop! They are all so amazing, so promising, so full to the brim with wonderful creative and scrumptious looking food that my gluttonous fingertips keep clicking “Add to rss feed reader” before my brain kicks in. It IS 5am when I am reading them folks…who is awake then? I am NO exception! I am actually going to make one of the “cheeze” recipes tomorrow. This recipe is made with coconut cream and the resulting cheeze looks like cheddar, melts like cheddar and gives a nice cheesy result for pizza, quesadilla’s and all sorts of previously unattainable recipes. This is why I get up at 5am folks…I am hunting vegan wabbits! I will share this recipe with you because I am the magnanimous and most caring person that I am. If you are brave, give it a go. If you are lactose intolerant, can’t eat nuts, are vegan etc… it could be a life saver.

http://sweetroots.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/vegan-quesadillas-homemade-coconut-milk.html

We built a bean bed today. It involved us removing ancient enormous nails from some old treated pine poles, hammering those poles together to form bed sides with the old enormous nails and putting some scarlet runner, yin yang and borlotti beans into my almost unused electric sprouter. I added some mung beans as the machine has 4 compartments and I may as well get something I can eat out of it in the short term. We were given the scarlet runner beans by Wendy, Glad next doors daughter. I was given the other two kinds of beans by someone from the Sustainable Living Group on one of my brief forays into what they were going to teach as permaculture. The teacher was using a book to teach from and wanted payment for her services so I figured that I would get the book myself and bollocks to paying someone to read a book to me…I can do THAT myself ;). The local Sustainable Living Group is part of Tamar Natural Resources Management and has regular seed swap days to get heritage seed circulating throughout the population. I will be attending the next seed swap day and will be taking some of my little walnut trees to trade. I could almost start a walnut farm with the amount of them that germinated. It pays to use local sources to select your seed for growing whenever you can because it has adapted to your local conditions and has provenance in your area. I chose local walnut trees to get my seed from and most of it germinated without stratification over winter. The same goes for vegetable seeds. Buy what grows best locally and what is suited for your growing conditions to guarantee yourself the best chance of a good result. We decided that rather than waiting 10 days for our little baby beans to struggle through the soil and spread their tiny cotyledons to embrace the fresh air and sunshine on Serendipity Farm that we would use my sprouter and see if they don’t sprout faster. This is a whizz bang sprouter that sprays a fine spray of water over the beans, seeds, grains (whatever you are kidding yourself that tastes good when it is sprouted) and regulates the humidity etc. I bought it in a moment of madness when I had deluded myself enough to think that I was going to eat only raw food. That lasted till winter and fizzled when sprouts and vegetable pulp wraps suddenly become decidedly unappealing. I am sure that I heard Steve muttering something about “no more gadgets!” but he knows better than to get between me and a bargain whose-a-ma-jig that I don’t have in my kitchen already (sigh).

Steve working out how to make a bean bed out of some random treated pine poles

Hoarded building futures…

Isn’t it amazing how much room a man needs to build a small bean futures garden bed?

Voila! Using recycled old nails and hoarded treated pine poles Steve made a bean futures bed ready to be relocated tomorrow. Note that bench with steps, a previous project of Steve’s

The you-beaut sprouter doing its thang with the scarlet runner beans at the front. We have put the sprouter in the shed because it makes so much noise!

Our veggies are standing up happily and are so far free of vermin, pests and disease. Our bean futures are bathing in a light misting of water to facilitate their enhanced germination period, We have a bean bed ready to transport over to where we have chosen to grow our veggies tomorrow when it stops raining and to be filled with the remaining rich compost and some of our compost heap that has been mouldering away all winter long. Let’s just call it an anaerobic compost heap and be done with it because when it was raining I couldn’t find it in my nice comfy position next to Brunhilda to don my raincoat and get turning that friable heap. Thanks to a red wriggler compost worm injection from our friend at Inspirations Nursery Exeter, we have worms in the compost heap and Steve found a container that we are in the process of turning into a worm farm so that we don’t farm off our worms into the veggie gardens at the expense of our new compost heap. We have a gate to build in the dog’s compound around the house so that we can get out to the veggie garden area more easily and we have all sorts of pressing things to do on Serendipity Farm. The difference between this year and last year is that this year we have goals, a purpose and a direction that permaculture has been able to deliver. Last year we were hacking away at what appeared to be a never ending problem. This year our problems are rapidly turning into benefits and suddenly it all looks achievable.  I have some surreptitious ground cover “pinching” to do over the next few months and am going to raid the girls place in town for comfrey and various other cuttings from lavenders and rosemaries so that we can mass plant them all over Serendipity Farm. I now have visions in my head rather than dread. I love it when a plan comes together! See you all on Saturday when it isn’t Halloween and no-one will be knocking at your door asking for candy/sweets or throwing bricks through your window because you forgot to buy any 😉

I couldn’t resist it! Watch out…the vampire voles are coming!

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