A fence, is born…

Hi All,

I forgot what was on the list! I can, however tell you, that we did a lot of things. Whether they were on the list or not is another matter. Stevie-boy the magnificent, a magician of a man who can make a hole appear out of pure rock, dug 19 holes this week (prior to today which is Sunday so he has dug 20 holes since Wednesday 😉 ). 2 of them now hold large round treated pine poles that are going to accommodate a large farm gate that we repurposed from the back block and that is going to allow car and trailer access to our new much larger dog compound/yard. They also hold a good deal of concrete. One of the 20 holes contains a deceased chook and a small quince tree that is housed inside the parameters of the new dog compound. I am starting to get excited about all of the trees and plants that I can plant out inside the new compound but am going to have to be careful about just how excited I get because if I plant too many it is going to be more of a jungle than a yard.

Silo's being turned into luxury accomodation right on the river in Launceston. We took this photo last Friday when we headed in to price up timber.

Silo’s being turned into luxury accomodation right on the river in Launceston. We took this photo last Friday when we headed in to price up timber.

I love the sound that these big gulls make. It reminds me of the sea. Must be all of those movies about Northern climes that I watched when I was a kid as the only seagulls we had in W.A. were small and squawky ;)

I love the sound that these big gulls make. It reminds me of the sea. Must be all of those movies about Northern climes that I watched when I was a kid as the only seagulls we had in W.A. were small and squawky 😉

The new compound includes a small stand of Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) wattle trees that provide a good amount of shade in this particular area. We made sure to include this stand of trees in our plan because the dogs, in particular Bezial, will love lazing around in the shade in the heat of the summer. I wanted to name it after Bezial and went hunting for words for trees; shrubs; undergrowth etc. that started with “B”. I wasn’t holding out much hope but was quite surprised to discover that a small stand of trees is known as a “Bosk” so this small stand of wattles is Bezial’s Bosk. Earl needs something as well. He once found the nesting spot of a chook that had gone clucky and dived in up to his shoulders to try to catch her in the vicinity of Bezial’s Bosk and the only thing that saved her was a blackberry bush that she had conveniently made her nest in. This area is going to be known as “Earl’s Chookberry patch” 😉

Steve explaining to the dogs what a "Dog Wash" is...

Steve explaining to the dogs what a “Dog Wash” is…

Bezial looking interested but Earl explaining to Steve what "NOPE!" means ;)

Bezial looking interested but Earl explaining to Steve what “NOPE!” means 😉

The holes that Steve dug last Wednesday filled up with water and resembled little ponds at the end of the day. Only some of the holes contain water still and hopefully they will have dried out by Wednesday when we start concreting poles into them. Thursday saw Steve digging most of the rest of the holes. It is amazing how many rocks can fit into our soil and how little soil is left after you remove all of the rocks from the picture. I am trying, very hard, to keep permaculture first and foremost in mind and remind myself that there is a silver lining to everything and that rocks are valuable resources for making garden beds, circles around planted trees etc. to stop the chooks and other critters from rootling around and digging up mulch etc. but it is hard to be enthusiastic about rocks, especially when you have to dig them up, out and some of them are enormous!

The dogs looking into the Tamar River in Launceston. The interesting thing is that in the city the river is fresh water, out here the river is salt (where it joins to the sea). Either way you can tell which dog is comfortable around water and which one is very VERY suspicious ;)

The dogs looking into the Tamar River in Launceston. The interesting thing is that in the city the river is fresh water, out here the river is salt (where it joins to the sea). Either way you can tell which dog is comfortable around water and which one is very VERY suspicious 😉

Steve took this panoramic shot where the last photo was taken of the suburbs of Trevellyn and Riverside (where we used to live). I think it's lovely :)

Steve took this panoramic shot where the last photo was taken of the suburbs of Trevellyn and Riverside (where we used to live). I think it’s lovely 🙂

On Friday we headed off into the city. Ostensibly to price timber for the dogs compound but the real reason was to find a clam shell wading pond/sand pit to shut the duck up! She had been complaining vociferously ever since we upturned her foetid algae filled boat/pond and pressure sprayed it clean. She initially complained over at the site where the boat had been taken from but then moved over to the boat in the driveway to voice her concern. We were both very tired of duck accusation every time we headed out of doors and so we did a bit of research and found that where K-Mart sold clamshells for $27 a single half, Bunnings, (a huge hardware store for all of you Northerners) had the same thing for $12.50. We bought 3. 2 for ducky, so that we can rotate the algae nicely, and 1 for the dogs to splash around in when summer starts making itself felt.

Wait a minute?! I think Earl was tricked!

Wait a minute?! I think Earl was tricked!

This stainless steel drum was left on the property prior to my dad dying and thus we inherited it. NO idea what it was but it looks like a still to me... hmmm...still... hmmm... You can see the planting area for the little quince tree that we planted out recently which is inside the parameters of the new compound

This stainless steel drum was left on the property prior to my dad dying and thus we inherited it. NO idea what it was but it looks like a still to me… hmmm…still… hmmm… You can see the planting area for the little quince tree that we planted out recently which is inside the parameters of the new compound

This is a Rubus parvifollus, otherwise known as a native raspberry. This fellow and his mates have moved in under the deck and taken over but they are helping the soil retain moisture and they give this exposed bit of garden shade so I might just let them stay there. They do fruit but the birds quickly gobble them all up so we never see them.

This is a Rubus parvifollus, otherwise known as a native raspberry. This fellow and his mates have moved in under the deck and taken over but they are helping the soil retain moisture and they give this exposed bit of garden shade so I might just let them stay there. They do fruit but the birds quickly gobble them all up so we never see them.

Bored dogs surveying their empire

Bored dogs surveying their empire

This is a beautiful handmade card, bookmark and envelope by the gorgeous and most talented Alys she had an amazing idea for how to send her dads stamps back around the world after he passed away and left his stamp album to her. It was a healing journey and they arrived back in the antipodes where they will be appreciated to the max and that bookmark will grace my books from now on. Thank you to the gorgeous Alys for my wonderful and most poignant gift :)

This is a beautiful handmade card, bookmark and envelope by the gorgeous and most talented Alys she had an amazing idea for how to send her dads stamps back around the world after he passed away and left his stamp album to her. It was a healing journey and they arrived back in the antipodes where they will be appreciated to the max and that bookmark will grace my books from now on. Thank you to the gorgeous Alys for my wonderful and most poignant gift 🙂

If you would like to see how to garden in conditions even harder than those here on Serendipity Farm, head over to Ms Alys’s blog and check out how she does it…

http://gardeningnirvana.com/ 

This is another parcel. It contains aHEM "craft supplies". I adore my "craft supplies" to the max and may one day get to share my "crafting" results with you all. Thank you SO much Hannah from http://bittersweetblog.com/

This is another parcel. It contains aHEM “craft supplies”. I adore my “craft supplies” to the max and may one day get to share my “crafting” results with you all. Thank you SO much Hannah from http://bittersweetblog.com/

Saturday saw the last of the holes being dug. Steve only had to dig 5 holes and they were nice and easy because they were situated in a cutaway segment of the slope near the house block section and thus all of the rocks had been removed prior by some large excavating device and Steve only had purest yellow clay to dig in. Luckily for him, he was digging when it was wet. Not so sure it would have been so easy if he waited till it dried out. He had to dig through about 30cm of road base that had been compacted down to form a driveway and a very thin shim (for ONCE we were happy about bodgy Tasmanian “workmanship” 😉 ) of tarmac that covered it. Steve only took 30 minutes to dig 6 holes and was inside playing the “Grand Turisimo 6” game that he bought himself as a reward for all of that hole digging by the afternoon. The peace and quiet was interrupted by a mass barking session by the dogs who had spotted our friend Gordon, from down the road walking up the pathway that leads up to the house. He was carrying what looked like half a trees root system over his shoulder so we hurried out to stop the dogs barking and see what he had and was after

Don't you LOVE these dead fish hats? I am SO going to make Stevie-boy one for wearing out on the Mumbley Cumumbus this summer :)

Don’t you LOVE these dead fish hats? I am SO going to make Stevie-boy one for wearing out on the Mumbley Cumumbus this summer 🙂

If you would like to try your hand at making the dead fish hat feel free to head on over to this site and have a go…

http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEwinter08/PATTfishy.php

This is a HUGE asparagus stalk. Those eggs are large. That asparagus spear is larger. A whole dinner in one stalk! I found it growing in a large hebe that was as dead as a dodo and so I was removing it. If this baby is anything to go by, it probably killed the hebe!

This is a HUGE asparagus stalk. Those eggs are large. That asparagus spear is larger. A whole dinner in one stalk! I found it growing in a large hebe that was as dead as a dodo and so I was removing it. If this baby is anything to go by, it probably killed the hebe!

 

It turns out he had an enormous rhubarb root with 6 crowns attached to it for me. He knows that Steve HATES rhubarb but I like it and want to plant it and last year’s rhubarb just disappeared under all of the pumpkins. I am going to plant Ruby rhubarb in her own bed this year to see if I can’t at least get some rhubarb to make mum’s pink rhubarb champagne. I am even thinking of fermenting the results and see if I can’t make a rhubarb version of cultured ginger beer (maybe throw some ginger in as well…YUM!) Gordon also gave me his recipe for vegetable pakora that I had tried and loved. I, in turn, gave him (offloaded) two dozen eggs. I love possibilities and bartering 🙂 So I am rhubarb rich, raspberry future rich, I have lemon trees, an orange tree, a lime tree (that Earl tried to squish when he was lizard hunting inside Sanctuary the other day), 2 figs to plant out, another olive that I got as a cutting from a fellow student in horticulture of an olive tree that no longer exists (was removed). I also have 2 carob trees that I grew from seed, a bay tree that needs planting out that dad gave me ages ago and lots of other things that I need to work out where to plant ASAP because they are either going to need to be planted out or re-potted up for the season.

Some more asparagus from the asparagus patch. I tend to just eat them raw. They are delicious that way :)

Some more asparagus from the asparagus patch. I tend to just eat them raw. They are delicious that way 🙂

Breakfast kasha (buckwheat groats) cooked up with dates and served with coconut and almond so good. Nice with the porridge but not so nice in a cup of tea

Breakfast kasha (buckwheat groats) cooked up with dates and served with coconut and almond so good. Nice with the porridge but not so nice in a cup of tea

Early morning narf gustatory event imminent

Early morning narf gustatory event imminent That’s not intestines on the monitor, it’s pistachio stuffed turkish delight and yes…I got the recipe 😉

Madeline and Bethany, my daughters, made these delicious pies. Steve just ate them and they contain goat and beer and sweet potato, goat and whisky and an apple pie for dessert. Steve said that they were delicious

Madeline and Bethany, my daughters, made these delicious pies. Steve just ate them and they contain goat and beer and sweet potato, goat and whisky and an apple pie for dessert. Steve said that they were delicious

I have been walking Earl for the last couple of days because Bezial needed a bit of a rest as he has a bit of a limp at the moment. He wasn’t used to walking every day like we have been doing since Steve stopped working and we forget that he occasionally needs a day off. Steve has no problem with sleeping in an extra hour as Earl and I head out the door at 6am for our early morning perambulation. Yesterday we got back to find that Steve and Bezial had been outside pulling all of the potted babies that still remain out onto the driveway. We are going to go through them with our friend Jenny (formerly of the witness protection scheme but who outed herself so I can safely identify her now 😉 ) to see what she wants before we give the rest away to anyone who wants them. I noticed that I must have missed a few hazelnut trees as when they are deciduous they look pretty much like just about everything else that is deciduous and so I will go through them and see if there is anything edible that I missed. We are keeping Steve’s Dragon’s blood trees and his Yucca and several natives that should grow alright in our conditions as well as a few potted specimens that are going to be bonsaied in the near future or repotted and kept as potted specimens but the rest need to go. We don’t want to spend another summer watering them and feeling guilty as we watch them shuffle off…one, by one.

Burning off debris prior to getting the fence poles sunk

Burning off debris prior to getting the fence poles sunk

Stevie-boy is a natural born tightrope walker (or did I just catch this shot moments before he fell off in his wellies? ;) )

Stevie-boy is a natural born tightrope walker (or did I just catch this shot moments before he fell off in his wellies? 😉 )

Stevie-boy back with the timber for the railings on the new fence

Stevie-boy back with the timber for the railings on the new fence

A man needs nails and screws and this is a serious amount of both

A man needs nails and screws and this is a serious amount of both

Timber resting in the shade to try to prevent it warping in the sunshine. Yes... we actually have sunshine :)

Timber resting in the shade to try to prevent it warping in the sunshine. Yes… we actually have sunshine 🙂

Fence posts sunk and that fire is still smouldering 2 days after we burned that debris!

Fence posts sunk and that fire is still smouldering 2 days after we burned that debris!

At least the gate is on now ;)

At least the gate is on now 😉

Today I got back to find that Bezial and Steve were still in bed. I would usually call them both lazy sloths but today is Bezial’s birthday and he could do whatever he liked and if he wanted to stay in bed with Steve, he could! So far Bezial has been allowed outside to wander around to his hearts content (whilst Earl has been firmly contained on the end of a lead, much to his discontent) and has eaten lots of meat treats, been able to bask in the sun and had the ultimate revenge on Earl…he stole his soft drink bottle. Earl had found an empty soft drink bottle in the shed and was chewing on it when a freight train formerly known as Bezial raced up and stole it right out from under Earl’s nose. He then ran away with it and chewed it up. I guess revenge is sweet, especially on your 7th birthday 🙂

Prior to adding the meat...

Prior to adding the meat…

Meat and cheese added and a plate of leftover bacon and smoked sausage for the dogs...

Meat and cheese added and a plate of leftover bacon and smoked sausage for the dogs…

The enormous cooked result. Steve ate half for his dinner and was stuffed fit to burst. I think I need more people to cook for ;)

The enormous cooked result. Steve ate half for his dinner and was stuffed fit to burst. I think I need more people to cook for 😉

While Bezial has been enjoying the delightful 20C day that nature put on just for his birthday, Stevie-boy and I have been slaving. Steve concreted in 2 poles for the gate and then we decided to burn off a large pile of debris that has been waiting for the right burning conditions. The problem is, we have lots of piles of debris and so we spent the next 3 hours lugging large branches in various stages of decomposition over to a most enthusiastic fire. We tidied up an area on the fence line between our property and Glad’s next door and discovered 2 treated pine logs that we can use as poles as a reward. We are going to put another smaller gate in closer to the house so that we can access the side area of the house easily. After lugging heavy branches and burning them for 3 hours we decided to call it a day and that’s why I am here typing out a blog post on a gorgeous spring day. The main reason I am typing rather than Pinning, is that I know that tomorrow is going to be busy. Steve is off to pick up a car trailer that he is hiring in order to bring home a whole lot of treated pine that we need to create the fence. He then needs to return the trailer, come home, and then return to Exeter to pick up a trailer load of road base ready for concreting in the holes on Tuesday. Tuesday will see our friend Jenny arriving to take some plants and watch us concrete poles or burn more debris or both if we can manage it. As you can see, I will be flat out for the next couple of days and so I took this opportunity to at least get a really good start on today’s email (on Sunday).

"BONESEED!" Once it flowers it identifies itself and this cheeky stand of them was masquerading as "trees" among a small stand of hakeas. These boneseed are dead trees walking...

“BONESEED!” Once it flowers it identifies itself and this cheeky stand of them was masquerading as “trees” among a small stand of hakeas. These boneseed are dead trees walking…

One of the debris piles (one of MANY) on Serendipity Farm that need to be burnt

One of the debris piles (one of MANY) on Serendipity Farm that need to be burnt

This little banksia was on it's last legs when we first moved here and after we cleared out all around it, it has come back with a vengeance.

This little banksia was on it’s last legs when we first moved here and after we cleared out all around it, it has come back with a vengeance.

My little magnolia stellata is blooming. Amazing since I thought it had died last year ;)

My little magnolia stellata is blooming. Amazing since I thought it had died last year 😉

Lucky really because I spent the whole day today doing battle with blackberries and helping Stevie-boy hack away at the undergrowth so that we can start putting up fence railing tomorrow. I am very tired but very content. So can we all agree that I may just have collected a “Tick” for effort there?  🙂

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Ho ho ho and a sack full of quinces

Hi All,

 

Did you know that there are only 203 days until Christmas? Just thought that you might like to know that. The past week has seen us throw ourselves into more studies here on Serendipity Farm. We are attempting the world study land speed record and are attempting to get our work into our lecturer as soon as she funnels it into Google Drive. The studies have been interesting and dare I say “fun?” Yes…I dare! We are familiarising ourselves with InDesign, a most useful program, which is the industry standard for creating e-pub books, brochures, posters etc. It feels completely familiar to us as last year we used Adobe Flash, Photoshop and Dreamweaver for our previous course in Media and InDesign takes little bits from all of these programs and is also very similar to Word. For once, when I opened up a new program I wasn’t completely out of my depth which is always good for me. My initial reaction to most new programs that when opened appear to have been created by alien technology, is to head straight under the bed where I suddenly realise how long it’s been since I swept under the bed…

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Stevie-boy told me that we have a tool/function in Google + that allows us to turn a humble little (rat and possum chewed) pile of pumpkins into this…

pumpart

Looks like something for Halloween doesn’t it? And he used it to turn an image he took yesterday into this…

urban deg

He calls it “Urban Degradation”. It was urban, and degraded, so technically he was absolutely spot on 🙂 We discovered this little old jetty on a walk that we took the dogs on to reduce their excitement at being allowed to come to the city (Steve wasn’t so easily able to get MY excitement out at being able to come to the city…that took a mop bucket, a new mop and 2 rugs to quell 😉 )

InDesign is functional, relatively easy to use and eminently practical and it isn’t often that I can see a lot of promise in a program but InDesign is one such exception to the rule. Last week we created a poster and a CD cover and yesterday we were asked to reproduce a poster from early last Century. Our lecturer had hinted about an interesting page on a site called “What the Font” whereby if you have a selection of text converted into an image, you can upload the image to this page and it will give you it’s best guess at the typeface used in the image. We uploaded a portion of the poster (What the Font deals with a maximum of 100 characters at a time) and found out that the font used in the poster wasn’t a free font and so the Sherlock and Watson hats went on. In this case Stevie-boy was Sherlock and went hunting. What we needed was a font that had a lot of character varieties (bold, italic etc. ) so that we could attempt to reproduce the various kinds of characters that the poster used and in the end we were pretty proud of what we managed to produce.

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This is my brain with a list of what I am expecting to do today. I am under NO misapprehensions that my list will still be pretty much untouched by the end of the day but at least I will have crossed a few items off it. Those bits of grubby crumpled paper on the left hand side are notes that I scribble down when I am on my morning drag with Earl. It is amazing how many ideas pop into my head when my little legs are perambulating faster than they were designed to perambulate and if you can see the writing you will realise that narf scrawling on the trot takes me right back to grade 1 in the writing stakes 😉

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More “to do’s” including test our soil, a paint swatch used for a recent design assignment that hasn’t made it back into storage, the latest free newsletter from Beaconsfield House and a pot of pink bluebell bulbs dug up when creating the enclosed veggie garden (should probably plant them out but whatchagonnadoeh? 😉 )

The most important thing that I am taking from this exercise is don’t be afraid to fiddle around with these programs. I tend to just do what is asked of me when I start using a new program but Stevie-boy just launches himself in off the deep end and asks not what I can do for my program, but what my program can do for ME. He has a very different idea about how to use technology and usually he can be found up to his armpits in it pretty much as soon as he opens it up for the first time. I went out to lunch with a couple of local ladies on Sunday and while we were out Stevie-boy had discovered all kinds of things about InDesign and when I got back he was able to show me some amazing features and functions that we wouldn’t have known anything about unless he had said “I wonder what would happen if I did this…” I am not adventurous with technology. It is all about doing what I ask of it but Steve is another kettle of extremely jumpy and bright fish when technology enters the ballpark and can’t rest until he fandangles his way around it and gains a good understanding of what this baby will do

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Cold, damp, frosty logs…

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Hot toasty logs!

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Hot toasty logs now cooled down enough to feed to Brunhilda who LOVES her new tasty treats

Aside from hurling ourselves into mastering InDesign we have been trotting around in between showers, walking the dogs, chopping lots of wood, stashing most of that wood in Brunhilda’s ovens whereby she creates her own favourite snack, “hot toasty wood”…yummO! When removed from the ovens the now tinderbox dry wood does smell amazing and we feel like clever clogs for thinking of the idea. I have been cooking lots of delicious comfort food and Brunhilda has been bubbling away vats of minced meat with all kinds of delicious herbs, spices and thickened with beurre manie, a one to one mix of softened butter and plain flour, and topped with cheesy potato scones, resulting in Stevie-boys favourite meal of the moment, “Mince Cobbler”.  I had never cooked this before but according to Steve it’s one of his favourite comfort foods so I set about trying to recreate it from his sketchy memories and what I could find online. He seems very happy with the results so another “tick” on the comfort food happy stakes to narf7

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The ultimate in multi-tasking for someone who can only do one thing at a time…here you see the production line for hot toasty logs from cold frosty logs on the floor through to hot toasty logs that spent all night in the cooler oven being moved to that pile to the right. Earl and Bezial are being warmed (and thus sedated) and there are various items of clothing draped around various items of furniture in order to allow them to dry. On top of Brunhilda we have a pot with some minced beef and olive oil and an onion cooking nicely in order to do something with it as I only needed half of it and couldn’t re-freeze it so in order to be a clever clogs I cooked it up and will freeze the results ready for the start of a quick meal some day in the future. This is about as multi-tasked up as a narf can get before terror sets in

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“STEEEEVE I THINK BEZIAL IS BROKEN…AGAIN…!”

After my lunch with ladies on Sunday I dropped off some of my small stash of Jerusalem artichokes to one of the ladies that I had lunched with on one of our early morning walks. She and her husband are interested in growing them on their property and one thing about the humble Jerusalem artichoke is that it loves to grow! I could care less about it’s reputation of taking over. It’s food…it grows easily…it is drought tolerant…is good. That’s my motto when it comes to edible produce wanting to take over the planet (unless it is blackberries…that’s another kettle of thorns!) I also gave Jan a few to try (eating) so my stash is a bit dented now but I am going to plant out the rest and might even leave a note in the persons mailbox where I fandangled the couple of tubers (where they had escaped the garden and were growing on the verge) to see if I can’t buy a few more tubers off them. Having 4 acres allows us the luxury of being able to set areas aside to things that can take over. We already have boneseed, blackberries, spear thistles, periwinkle and the nefarious forget-me-nots running amok so why not add something useful to the manic plant population that we can actually eat and that has a pretty stalk full of sunflowers when it decides to announce itself to the bees?

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“Hello little quince tree!” (That I was entirely too lazy to get close to and photographed from the comfort of the deck…)

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A sack full of quince futures…some of them are about to be reduced down to pink perfection with some dates and some pumpkin but most of them are earmarked for quince wine

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Well what do we have here? It would appear that some sort of “Quince pest” has invaded my nice big sack of ripe quinces!

I have managed to save 1 artichoke from extinction via chooks and wallabies/kangaroos and noticed that another one down in the garden has started to sprout back. I noticed that the other day and forgot to throw a few tyres over it so it might just be extinct again but today I will head down and if it is still alive I will toss a couple of tyres over it to protect it from its natural enemies. There is another one that may or may not have survived (they are tough little plants) in the side garden and I will check that one out for signs of life and will tyre it up as well. I am slowly learning that function sometimes has to be employed over form on Serendipity Farm. My natural desire to cringe away from the delightful form of the ubiquitous black tyre, has given way to a grudging admiration for its free nature and its ability to withstand wallaby, possum and chook onslaughts. It is my new-found best bud in the garden and as we are hermits and very few people make it through our front gate I feel the luxury of being able to ugly up our garden a bit in order to gain a bit of ground against the natives and the ever destructive chooks

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Apples that will be added to the cooking vats on top of Brunhilda

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Potato onions that will NOT be added to the cooking vats on top of Brunhilda (in this present incarnation anyway…) and that I have to get into the ground STAT!

Frank smiled at me the other morning. That means he is pleased with us again. I like to cultivate a good relationship with our neighbours. We might be penniless student hippy FREAKS but we are always amenable to getting along with our neighbours. It is sometimes hard when we have umpty-eleventy roosters all going off at 3am but now that we have dealt with them it’s like banging your head on a brick wall…when you stop, it is MARVELOUS what the culling of a few errant roosters can do for your neighbourly relationships. Talking about neighbourly relationships…I need to get my derrière down and rake the leaves from under the massive big oak tree that borders our property and Glad’s next door before she outsources the job to her gardener. Oak leaves make a fantastic leaf mould and if I can liberate them from her side over to my side of the fence and can get them mounded up and a bit of chook netting over the top to ensure that they don’t relocate into the Tamar River come the first puff of wind, I WIN. Now I just have to find the time, the energy and the motivation to get out there and rake…rake…RAKE for the queen

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Looks like this small Jap/Kent pumpkin was a bit too alluring for some wayfaring possum

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Here we have double pest action. The middle (older) damage is caused by bush rats and the big chomps are fat brush-tailed possums who will eat just about anything that stands still long enough

I love how going out to lunch can forge relationships and community in one fell swoop. I am not usually very good at multitasking and didn’t realise that by sharing lunch, a mug of coffee and a chat that community started to meld. I dropped off some Jerusalem artichokes to Kim’s house and yesterday her husband Gordon dropped off a HUGE 10kg sack of ripe quinces and a lovely quince tree in a large pot! I have been lusting after a quince tree for ages as aside from producing food, the native animals tend to shy away from them, they are hardy, they don’t mind drought and are from the Mediterranean which coincidentally, Northern Tasmania tends to resemble in climate in summer. Quinces, persimmons, olives etc. do magnificently here and now I have my very own little quince tree and I am going to plan where to plant it out today. I want it to have the best chance at survival and will ensure that it is planted somewhere I can water it for the coming season. Once it gets a foothold it should be right after that. I have loquat trees that need planting out this season as well as nut trees that should be planted out into the ground and now I just need to work out a sturdy way to protect them all from the natives…a never ending problem here on Serendipity Farm whereby they are both hungry and tenacious, a trick combination to defend against

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This silverbeet just keeps on growing, and reproducing, and growing some more and I just got given some babies to put into my veggie garden. Here’s hoping that the possums can keep their thieving little teeth off them

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Meet “Woosh woosh the first”. This is the oldest and most forward of the feral cats that we have left on the property. He looks very much like his dad “Pink” who occasionally comes back to Serendipity Farm for something to eat. As you can see he isn’t inclined to eat chooks (although that might not have been a clever thing to cultivate looking at our current overpopulation…) and tends to just sit and watch me. The cats are all called “Woosh woosh” (1, 2 and 3) because I feed them early in the morning and didn’t want to be calling out loudly “HERE KITTY KITTY!” and so just mutter “woosh woosh” under my breath and they come running

The fungi is growing thick and fast around the district. I really do love fungi :). People tend to use wood mulch around here and as it breaks down it feeds a plethora of fungi that are always eager to take advantage of some free grub. On a recent walk around Deviot I saw the most magnificent specimen of Amanita that was about the size of a large dinner plate, resplendent in it’s brilliant post box red coat with gorgeous creamy white spots apparently living off the roots of a large conifer. As a horticulturalist I can’t help but get excited about the relationships that plants form and how important those relationships are for our soil and the health of our planet. Fungi aren’t just the mushrooms/toadstools that we see in autumn, that’s just their fruit. Under the ground they form a tangled mass of mycelium that spread unseen and that feed off dead plant material. Fungi are the plant equivalent of crows…they pick off the dead stuff and breaking it down to feed off it. We need fungi as part of our natural ecological systems and whenever I see a toadstool or a mushroom I am happy knowing that there is a whole mass of enterprise going on under my feet in order to keep the soil happy

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To think that Bezial used to be the one wrecking all of the cardboard tubes and shoes and plastic bottles…I guess you have to pass the baton some day Bezial but it looks like you might not be quite ready to hand over that torch…Note the new jute mats. They probably won’t stay this clean for long but we have plans to dye them when they get filthy (most likely by tomorrow)

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Proof that the chooks are planning a coup…they have been massing at the top of the steps for quite some time now (judging by the number of deposits that they have been leaving). I reckon Big Yin (at the bottom of the steps) and Garden Chook (on the landing) are a delegation…they haven’t made their demands known yet but give it time…

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I never thought that I would be the kind of person that would get completely and utterly enthusiastic about a mop bucket and a mop made from recycled fibres but I am. There…I said it…”I LOVE TO MOP”…sigh…

Remember that sack of quinces? Well I have a problem. My problem is that Stevie-boy doesn’t like the flavour of quinces. He has been known to be a fussy lad (part of the reason his mum threw a HUGE party when he moved over here to Australia…) and I have had to fandangle (my word of the week incidentally, that’s why it has featured in this post so many times 😉 ) my way around the dance floor in catering to his food “intolerance’s”. No rhubarb! No meat with bones…no suspicious new ingredients…no mashed potatoes with butter (yes…I KNOW…the man is mad…) and now, no quinces… so what is a girl with a 10kg sack of quinces to do eh? Well there is always something that Stevie-boy is going to take to with gusto that can be produced from just about anything with the addition of sugar, yeast and water that I am going to attempt with most of these delectable heavenly scented babies…wine. Quince wine, here I come!

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Excuse the delightful yellow tint to this image and just pretend that I Instagrammed it OK? (We both know better but whatchagonnadoeh?) Jan gave me this lovely little book relevant to our local growing conditions and surprisingly packed full of all kinds of pertinent information about our local climate. Cheers Jan, I will keep growing and sharing our veggies 🙂

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I forgot to share a mince and onions shot with you! How could I be so remiss? I know that you all hang on my every word and that the lack of a close-up mince shot may have damaged some of you to the core so hopefully this late addition will allow you some closure on the matter

Today I create food mania. I have a stack of pumpkins sitting on a folding table on the deck that I stopped the large bush rats munching on, but the possums now think I have set them a personal gustatory table and when we got back from our early morning shopping trip to check out the new Bunnings store (hardware heaven for all of you northerners who don’t know the Aussie delight of Bunnings…) situated in the centre of Launceston Steve headed out to get some wood out of the wheelbarrow load on the deck to load up Brunhilda and said “er…are these new munches on your pumpkin?” I headed out and immediately noticed that the “bites” were indeed fresh! We have been growling at Earl for the last few days as he has been racing out in the middle of the night barking. We figured he was woofing at cats, his very favourite of all pass-times (aside from plucking roosters but we won’t talk about that…) but it turns out he was protecting my pumpkin stash against foreign invaders! I need to process them and quickly before the possums eat what the rats didn’t manage to eat! I have my pride and need to get SOMETHING from this years veggie garden that I can stuck in a jar, roast and make into soup for the freezer.

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More multi-tasking. This shelf is actually a bread proofer that Stevie-boy made to prove bread and as somewhere to keep my cultures alive over winter. It never really gets that cold inside now that Brunhilda is on the case so I just put the calzone dough up here to prove and as you can see the dogs meat is thawing in a tin and the rest of the space is used up as baking tray and bread tin storage. Those triangles were a free giveaway to go with Brunhilda (how very generous 😉 ) and are used to even out the heat distribution in pots on the stove but I rarely remember to use them

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When you can’t go out, you go up. This is our version of a pot rack and Steve built it for me in order to keep some of my pots handy. As you can see there are quite a few pots “handy” 😉

We picked up some jute mats from K-Mart yesterday. My old red rug that we bought second hand from a garage sale when we lived in the city and that I loved to bits was one of the first casualties of “Earl” when he moved in with us back in 2011. He was a most voracious and excited pup and pretty much anything was fair game for his wandering mandibles. I noticed these rugs the other day when my eldest daughter Madeline and I were hunting for some form of fold away mattress as their cousin is coming to stay with them for a few days and they needed something comfortable for her to sleep on other than the couch that has seen better days. Madeline ended up buying one of those inflatable flocked single bed mattresses that will do the trick nicely. Her cousin Sabrina is stringy and tenacious, a gene that appears on the odd occasion in our familial melting pot but as a rule our family represents their Germanic heritage (in my children’s case, doubled with Danish heritage) and are “solid” (cheers nature…) My brother is of the stringy persuasion as well but as Sabrina is wiry and tenacious, a blow up flocked mattress should do her nicely. I really like the new mats that we bought and especially liked the $29 price tag. This way, if Earl decides that he is going to snack on one, we can afford to replace it. I must admit the first thing that Bezial did when we laid the mats was to sit down, stick his legs in the air and scoot his bottom along the surface so I guess that’s his way of saying “welcome to the fray rug!” 😉

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Large containers of sesame seeds and dates to be used today to create all kinds of things ranging from homemade date and sesame milk for my kefir’s gustatory delight through to tahini, date and pumpkin butter and combined with some homemade coconut butter, to make delicious healthy fudge. It might be labour intensive to cook like this but I get the satisfaction of knowing that I can do it myself as well as knowing exactly what goes into the ingredients that I am using.

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Meet “Bob”. He is a hawk. He is apparently fond of a chicken dinner and by the look of him he hasn’t been short on the odd chook meal in the past. He attempted to get himself another chicken dinner but one of their mums took offense at his close scrutiny of her (now largish) baby and  jumped up in the air and pecked him mid flight. He was somewhat unnerved at this display of chook aggression in something that elsewhere just accepts their fate…not here on Serendipity Farm. Things are different here for some reason. The time space continuum isn’t the same as it is everywhere else and if there is going to be a time travel wormhole open up somewhere you can just about BET it will be here. Not that I would be eager to see it…just it would be likely to be here is all I am saying. Mr hawk had to make do with whatever else he could find to snarf on this occasion as a most angry mother hen who is jumping around maniacally and clucking to the high heavens is enough to make a smallish hawk thing twice about swooping again…

Well another post has just spilled from my brain and hopefully you have gotten something out of it. I sometimes wonder at the mental disposition of my readers. I have a mental image of you as stoic, “never give in, never surrender!” type people who refuse to give up on something once you have found it. I am VERY glad that you keep on coming back here to read and comment on our crazy life because it would get a bit lonely around here without your little voices of reason in the wilderness. I love this community of like-mindedness around the globe that we are fostering here folks. I love that we can share and uplift and teach each other. I love the openness and the honesty that blogging can bring. I guess what I am trying to say is that I really do appreciate you all. I appreciate your candid responses, your enthusiasm and your honesty. Keep it coming folks, I need the motivation! See you next Wednesday…wish me luck with the raking, but I fear that I may have put it in the list with ironing and sweeping under the bed…

 

 

 

 

Do ye ken John Peel…

Hi Folks

It is Friday and most of what I found in our back yard today was grass…very tall, going to seed grass. It would be easy to start complaining about the obvious workload coming up when faced with a sea of waving grass (friendly but feral…) and knowing that a stint on the whipper snipper perhaps for a couple of days is going to be warranted. For now I am managing to whistle my way past the long grass and look in the other direction. As soon as I get lost in that waving sea I will wave Betsy (my whipper snipper) around and will valiantly tackle it.

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Not quite the back yard but you could probably make a halfway decent lawn out of these carrots 😉

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I have never been able to grow nasturtiums before and here is one of my 2 nasturtium plants. They, like everything else in the veggie garden, are growing like crazy. They keep moisture in the soil through acting like a ground cover and they attract bees that pollinate the veggies. They also take up a LOT of room 😉

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just a tiny proportion of our happy spuds. Looks like we at least have a good crop of leaves. Whether or not we get tubers to taste is an entirely different kettle of fish

I have had a most busy weekend that I am only just recovering from. I headed off to my daughters home in Launceston as we were heading down to Hobart on a Korean grocery shopping venture. My daughters are very adventurous cooks and will tackle pretty much anything, usually with excellent results. Their current cuisine of interest is Korean and when we were last in Hobart we discovered an excellent Korean grocery store and decided that as soon as funds would allow, we would head back down and plunder said grocery shop…on the weekend we plundered!

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We noticed this wall of old gravestones that were removed when they developed the site from a church to the park and accompanying court house but it is good to see that they decided to recycle them in a wall of remembrance.

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My girls pretending to be interested in the wall when really they are just avoiding me taking their photo 😉

I headed off to my daughters on Friday afternoon in order to take the son-and-heir and his sweetie Kelsey to the airport to catch a flight to Melbourne in order to catch a longer flight to America. They will be there for 2 weeks frolicking in the snow and generally reassuring Kelsey’s folks and relatives that she is still alive and kicking and enjoying her life. I drove them to Hungry Jacks where as we were collecting their meal the both suddenly realised that they had forgotten to bring Kelsey’s driving license and we had to return home. We made it to the airport with lots of time to spare and according to Facebook they are both happily frolicking in the snow

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You know its a hot day in Hobart when you can see the top of Mt Wellington and it isn’t covered in clouds. This photo was taken in Sandy Bay near where the Korean grocery shop that we visited was

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I figured that Joanna wouldn’t want this photo of some crazy hippy woman desecrating the monument of John Woodcock Graves so decided to share it with you. If anyone knows who this CRAZY woman is, please telephone your nearest police station 😉

I returned home and we headed out to buy takeaway Chinese and Korean food for Chinese New Year (Friday Night). We walked Qi, the girls little brindle staffy around at the same time and when we got home we enjoyed a most delicious meal. I had tofu in a delicious sauce with vegetables along with vegetarian spring rolls and the girls had all kinds of interesting things involving crab claws and prawns and Korean kimchi pancakes and mandu (Korean dumplings) and we called it a night pretty early in order for us to get up the next morning bright and early to head to Hobart.

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Back in Launceston on the way to Target to pick up Steve’s latest paramour and I spotted this. What a waste of a delicious red Kombi van!! 😉

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Madeline sporting the latest Pyo JiHoon (aka P.O.) band member hair colour from the Korean band “Block B”

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And here is the original P.O. for comparison…not bad Madeline…you might need a BUCKET of hair gel to manage that quiff!

We spent the day initially hunting for Bellerive in Hobart and after finding the markets we didn’t manage to find the perennial leeks that I was after however a lady selling herbs at the market did tell me that I should head to Island Herbs website and fire off a missive to “Lindy” who had sold her perennial leeks in the past. She ships in Tasmania so for once…I might just get what I am after! We then headed off to the park next to the Salamanca markets called St David’s Park where we hunted down the monument to John Woodcock Graves. Why on EARTH did we do that? Because Joanna of the splendiferous baking blog “Zeb Bakes” (LINK LINK LINK) asked me if I would head down with a copy of a book of delightful Cockermouth poets (of which John Woodcock Graves is apparently “one”) that she and her father collated and take a picture of the book on the monument for her dad. How could I refuse? 🙂

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This is the main street of Launceston at 8.30am on a Sunday morning. Aside from this obviously sporty couple and their baby there was pretty much no-one around!

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This Dragon Boat was on display at Tsing Wah in order to drum up some new recruits for the club.

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I would ONLY volunteer if I got to sit in this venerable seat and whack that venerable drum but alas…that position has been filled 😦

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It would appear that the Dragon Boat club have inadvertently decided to make Trogdor the Burninator their club mascot… check out that big beefy arm coming out of his back…

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Another drum and another chance for narf7 to make some serious noise but alas…this drum belonged to the Chinese New Year Dragon and he was keeping a good eye on it…

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Yeah…I don’t think I will attempt to bang the drum with Mr Dragon watching me THIS closely…

After taking a large amount of photos that Joanna can sift through at her leisure (and critique … if she can work out which side is up and which is down that is 😉 ) we zoomed off to Sandy Bay where we found the Korean grocery store and where my daughters proceeded to make a bored looking Korean man a most happy and smiley Korean man by spending a lot of money. The day was getting very hot when we finally finished lugging boxes back to the car and we headed off for a Baskin and Robbins store that Madeline had found online. After finding the shop inside a large arcade we discovered that they only stocked the most boring of flavours and turned to head out the door when the girls spotted a bubble tea stand. After they both ordered a bubble tea they noticed that the stand was selling something called Ice cream balls. They were small spheres of various flavours of icecream and you could pick and mix the flavours if you liked. The girls both bought a serving each and pronounced them delicious

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Here we have “The man that whacked the gong”. Apparently a most esteemed position and he had obviously heard about my desire to make as much noise as I possibly could because he kept a tight hold on those gong sticks the whole time I was taking his photo…

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2 more members of the New Year brigade. This time they were both beefy enough to not have to worry about narf7 pinching their musical equipment. The man on the right beat the drum and the man on the left was the nether regions of Mr Dragoon. Not much fun when you have to be the rear end AND support another smaller but much wirier Chinese man who is wearing a heavy head.

We then decided to head back to Launceston and after an uneventful trip (aside from me forgetting to tie up my hair and arriving back home with the equivalent of punk teased hair on the right hand side and having to brush out the knots whilst protesting LOUDLY…) we made it back to the girls place and enjoyed a delicious Korean curry for our evening meal to which the girls added some delicious leftovers from their takeaway the night before. I didn’t have any delicious leftovers because I believe in storing my leftovers inside me ;).

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Here they are taking the Dragons drum out to the front of the shop where the beginning of the ceremony was about to start when I realised that Neil from The Young One’s had photo bombed my image! The girls pronounced him “a cross between you and Steve” but I recon he looks more like my little brother 😉

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Mr Dragon practicing looking fierce before he headed out to do his thang

Madeline and I headed out early on Sunday to go shopping. Steve and I figured that as I was in the city anyway, I may as well save us a trip and do the shopping while I was there. We were going to the Tsing Wah New Year’s celebrations at 12 lunchtime so we had to get a wriggle on as we had a lot of shopping to do. As we were heading out the door Steve rang to tell me that Target was doing a special deal on PlayStation 3’s and as all of the children and his mum had put in money towards him buying one for his birthday Madeline and I said that we would head in to Target and take a look. When we got to the city we managed to park right in the city centre and walk a short distance to Target. It was 8am but the city was deserted. Part of the special was the inclusion of a free game and there was a list of titles to choose from. Obviously the good titles were all gone but Steve had already assumed that they would be and said to get whatever we could and he would buy the games that he wanted from EB Games. We could only find titles that no-one wanted but Madeline, being the very clever cookie that she is, said that people sometimes hide copies of games that they want behind less desirable copies in the hope that the good copy will be there when they come back to buy it. It worked to our advantage as I found a reasonable game that Steve was more than happy to get as part of his package deal.

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A very energetic (and tall!) Dragon practicing his moves

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Here he is just about to head into the front door of the shop. As you can see, Mr Gong still has a firm hold on his gong sticks…

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Mr Dragon doing a good job of terrorising small children as he ran up and down the aisles of the well stocked shelves of Tsing Wah

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Dragon motion blur! 😉

We managed to get back with 15 minutes to spare and as Bethany was ready we just had to head out the door. It was hot and humid and we parked and walked to Tsing Wah where there was a reasonable sized crowd waiting to see the Dragon usher in prosperity to Anthony’s shop. The celebrations attracted some interesting characters. There were several girls dressed in ornate Japanese costumes. I asked 2 of them if I could photograph them and include them in today’s post. They both agreed and I took both of their names but can’t for the life of me find the piece of paper that I wrote them down on! If you are actually reading this post girls, could you please comment with your names and I will amend the post accordingly 🙂

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This immaculately dressed girl told me that her entire outfit had come from Japan and that the ensemble was called Sweet (I think… remember, I lost my bit of paper!) Lolita. She looked amazing and check out those shoes! I would like to amend this to add that this gorgeous girl’s name is Emi and if you want to check out her Tumblr page you can find it here… http://imcherrysparkle.tumblr.com/

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This pretty princess had glorious green contact lenses, a most delightful outfit and was picture perfect. She had a single name like “Cher” or “Pink” but neither of those and a whole lot more Japanese. If you are reading this post girls, please drop me a note with your names in the comments box. These outfits were absolutely delightful and completely perfect for this event. Kudos on your efforts 🙂 Again, I now know that this lovely girl’s name is Kiyu and here is her delicious ode to Japanese clothing http://kiyu-yuki.tumblr.com/

After checking out a dragon boat and eating some steamed taro buns and delicious dumplings we watched the dragon do his thing and afterwards I did a bit of Chinese shopping of my own. I love Anthony’s shop but if I was to send Steve in on shopping day I wouldn’t know what to tell him to buy. I like to pick things up, turn them around, check them out and ruminate about what I could make with them but Steve is a “bung it in the trolley and race to the finish line” kind of guy and you just can’t expect someone like that to give 2 hoots about ingredients. He is more concerned with the final results 😉

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Not steamed taro buns or dumplings but I DID buy these dried shiitake mushrooms and dried lily mushrooms from Anthony at Tsing Wah. I have used the dried shiitakes a lot in the past. They are a good cheap way to add mushroomy goodness into your Asian meals without having to rely on fresh mushrooms. The lily mushrooms were entirely new. They are purported to be good for your brain and very nutritious (according to the packet) but the only thing that Steve and I think they would be good for is tying up your boat to the jetty. I have never tasted tastier rope! Got to say I did eat them, but it took me a long time to chew my way through them. I have NO idea how Chinese people prepare these shrooms to eat them but following the packet instructions aint gonna cut the mustard this time…

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Sometimes picking Asian grocery items from a shelf is like throwing caution to the wind. I could ascertain that these were noodles. That they were very thin noodles. I could also ascertain that the manufacturer had a somewhat rude last name. Anyone with a delicate disposition PLEASE don’t look too closely at this package (you did didn’t you…sigh…well go and have a little lay down till you recover alright?). Aside from that I wasn’t entirely sure what these noodles were made of or how I was supposed to use them. I love a good food adventure! As usual, anything vaguely strange I test out on Steve first. I decided to make him a chilli, garlic, ginger and lime chicken stir fry with lots of vegetables, the soaked dried shiitake mushrooms and the lily mushrooms and lots of fresh veggies as he hasn’t been eating many veggies of late. I cooked the noodles (that didn’t look to be made from wheat) and when I tossed them into the pot of boiling water as instructed, I noticed flavour sachets in the bottom! It would appear that these “noodles” were actually an unusual form of ramen. Steve pronounced his tea “Delish!” and rightly so too! I had hand picked out all of the lily mushrooms before I served it to him myself! 😉

The tarmac was shimmering by the time we emerged from Tsing Wah and we headed off to check out EB Games for Steve as he had mentioned that they had some good game titles second hand. I like that EB Games offers second hand titles for sale. Aside from being cheaper, you can pay a little extra to make sure that if the game has any unforeseen problems, they will refund your money. We picked up 5 car racing games and now Steve is in car racing hog heaven. After dropping the girls home and picking up my groceries that I had stashed in Stewart and Kelsey’s flat and picking up some frosty cold beer to top off Steve’s PlayStation gifting event, I headed home to be welcomed by 3 happy boys all wagging their tails 🙂

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This is nothing to do with Chinese New Year. I don’t even know what it is, but I thought that it was pretty. I bet Pauline thinks so as well…so if 2 of us think it is funky/pretty it IS! 🙂

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What is this? This, my dear constant readers, is a Nissan “Cube”. My daughters most desired car of all cars and it was parked right out the front of Tsing Wah as we were heading off to check out EB Games…that tells me that someone who went to the Chinese New Year celebrations arrived in this stately jalopy.

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The only one not grumbling about how hot and sweaty they were was this clever Australian Raven (aka crow) who had decided to take up residence on top of the fountain in Princes Square. He certainly looks as cool as the proverbial cucumber doesn’t he?

It has taken me 3 days to catch up with my RSS Feed Reader and thankfully the weather has cooled down a bit so that we get a little respite before the next heatwave wafts in with a vengeance. Earl got to walk with Mika, a large and most attractive Rottweiler from down the road this morning and aside from a bit of eyebrow twitching and the odd bit of drooling he was a real gentleman. I got back from our walk and after watering the plants and the veggie garden I headed down into the garden in front of the house and deadheaded all of the pink valerian that was looking mostly dead and chopped it up into small pieces with my secateurs as mulch. We don’t believe in wasting things here and if something has done us a favour and grown exponentially and we can’t eat it or use it for anything else, it gets chopped up and turned into free mulch

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I found this Serendipity Farm version of Heimlich from “A Bug’s Life” ootching along the deck

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Forget Dragon motion blur…Heimlich made that Dragon look like he was standing still! Check out the lime green motion blur on this fellow!

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Earl learning the hard way that happiness doesn’t come from the bottom of an empty bottle…

Ok, I think it might be time to mosey on off and finish my book. I haven’t been as keen to log on and Pin and research over the last few days as I usually am. I think my brain just wants a bit of a rest from the net for the rest of the week so that I can reformat and get back next Wednesday bright, chipper and raring to tap. I hope you all have a wonderful week and that whether the weather is hot or cold, you find a comfortable place to spend your days until I next get to sit and chat with you 🙂

Who do you think you are?

Hi Folks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

50 no way

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

Lol

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

I know everything

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

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I LOVE this mug…no pressure! 😉

Oh YEAH

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

Where was this mug when I needed it

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

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

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

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Proof that I am a shameless hoarder…

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More proof…

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

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Talking about hoarding…pantry 1…

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Pantry 2…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Prospective olives…

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Prospective Myrtus communis berries…

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Prospective figs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Buddleia davidii or butterfly bush

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

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

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

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

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

About the best thing a bike could be used for

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

Hot, hot HOT down in sizzling Sidmouth

Hi Folks,

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

Garden Advisory Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Here you have Serendipity Farm partially completed…

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Then we painted the weather damaged cedar…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Coming up the driveway today…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The view of my fecund vegetable plants (trifids)

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Beetroots! 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hi Folks,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I thought this tree was dead…apparently not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My thrifted plastic tub ready for action

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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More exponential growth of “stuff”

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Look what just turned up in the mail… 🙂

One Fran went to mow…

Hi Folks,

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

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

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

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

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Amongst all of these weeds there are raspberries!

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

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

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The key to Steve’s heart 😉

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

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

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

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

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

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And another one…

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And another one

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

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Cue one delicious Korean meal

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Followed by a nice brisk uphill walk to wear it off

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Bethany reliving her childhood

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And me having a second one 😉

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

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

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

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

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The view just outside our door

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

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

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

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

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Delicious wood fired pizza at the Salamanca Market

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

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A lovely atrium idea linking 2 businesses

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

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

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

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My pillow had obviously been stolen by this point 😉

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

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

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Looks like we have a hairy visitor…

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The birds are hatching out babies all over the place

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

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

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These peas were planted last Wednesday…

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

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

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

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