The saga of the factotum and the printer

Hi All,

Steve and I have finally started our online course in web design! We headed over to check out what we had to do and ended up signing up for a new WordPress blog each (part of the course requirements) and doing the equivalent of an online introduction. Reading the other participants intro’s was a bit like waving at the other inmates from your cell when the other inmates are from a different planet to you and you hope to goodness that you never have to come out of your cell and mingle any day soon… Did anyone see “School of Rock”? I did…lots of times. I love “School of Rock” and if those of you who did watch School of Rock cast your mind back to the part where Ned Schneebly (don’t ask me to spell that correctly, it AIN’T gonna happen folks! 😉 ) first comes up against “Summer”…the class “Factotum”. We have our own Summer. She has not only done everything on the list that we are supposed to do, but she has completed the first assessment (only an hour after it was posted) that is due next Monday. We also have an anti-social member of the class whose only threat, as outlined in his S.W.A.T. was that he didn’t want to invade Russia in the winter. This person bears a distinct similarity to my daughters in his view of the world and our class in general and if I didn’t know better, I would say that one of them has decided to crash the class. After reading the credentials of the remainder of the class, my natural instinct is to run screaming but if you ignore the other class members (not too hard to do when you are studying from home) the course content is very interesting. If you play your cards right, you might get lucky and get to see some of our work 😉

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An early morning picking for my daughters in the city

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Earl bagses the eggplant…

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Steve’s tea last night…homemade sourdough bruschetta liberally slathered with garlic butter and with home grown tomatoes, some bought avocados, spring onions and chilli topping. It was DELICIOUS (apparently) and the sourdough had a gorgeous crunchy crust :). Audry is now part of our Serendipity Farm family forever 🙂 (just don’t turn orange Audrey…orange is the blue screen of death for sourdough starters! 😉 )

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Free white nectarines from Roxie and blackberries from the hedgerows on our walk with the dogs this morning. The seeds will be planted and the tomatoes were also from Roxie. The tomatoes behind the fruit are the beginning of our tomato harvest and are left over from last nights bruschetta feast

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Aren’t these blackberries in the height of ripeness (and heady sweetness) gorgeous? I froze the tray with the chopped white nectarines and these blackberries to use in my breakfast green smoothies

Jessie a.k.a. “Rabid” of http://rabidlittlehippy.wordpress.com/  sent me instructions for how to knit a dishcloth out of cotton. She made me a lovely black one from some organic cotton that she had and I had mentioned that I had some bright yellow (almost mustard to be honest) cotton that I had picked up from the Beaconsfield op-shop a while ago and thus began our discourse regarding knitting and its foibles. I must admit at this stage, I am NO knitter. I can knit a scarf…bits of a jumper (no cuffs, no collar and DEFINITELY no cable!) and generic squares and after perusing the pattern I decided to hide my knitting needles and go back into my comfort zone and crochet a dishcloth. The progress is slow because I have to work between the hours where Earl is active (approximately 7am to 6pm) and nightfall (at the moment about 9pm). Earl is unpredictable and can suddenly launch into action when an interesting mustard yellow ball rolls past his nose where it just dislodged itself from my knee and aside from being unpredictable, he is quick. He is a master of the grab and run attack because if you grab and “stay” whatever interesting thing you have appropriated tends to get taken off you so running is your best bet. At least you get to chew whatever it is a bit before your humans (arms waving and yelling) catch you and retrieve said item. I have crocheted half of a dishcloth and Earl has been eyeballing me out of the corner of his eyes as I crochet…he is waiting for me to drop off to sleep (highly likely) and he will be on my cotton like a tick on a dog!

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I had to race out with the camera last night because the sky was the weirdest colour! I didn’t think I would catch the weird lighting but I sort of did.

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This was taken a few moments later and you can see a rainbow over the river…Steve has pinpointed where it was pointing as that is his leprachaun pot of fish 😉

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A nice thick layer of free mulch has made the garden under the deck a MUCH happier place to reside for our poor long suffering parched plants

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One of the large enclosed compost heaps that I planted potatoes in and a single sweet potato that is growing! The white patch is a species of fungus known as a “dogs vomit” fungus…it is harmless but as you can imagine, it isn’t all that aesthetically pleasing 😉

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Another one of the large enclosed compost heaps full of pumpkins and a few potatoes that the slugs haven’t managed to scarf (yet)

I have been inundated with kefir. I have at least a litre of it in the fridge and am scratching my head how to use it. I have decided to bake a chocolate sourdough cake with kefir and a large tray bake spice cake with kefir to replace the milk. I am also going to make the kefired equivalent of labneh so that I can make small balls of extra thick kefired labneh and preserve them in herbed olive oil with chillies. Our jalapeno chillies are doing amazingly well and it looks like we might have a bumper crop of them this year along with the small fingerling eggplants. I am so glad that we decided to go with the smaller eggplants to make sure that they had the best chance of ripening fully before the cold season sets in. The excess kefir grains (that are growing exponentially on plain old “ordinary milk” Jessie 😉 ) are going to be given to customers who would like some at our local health food shop. I believe in sharing excesses and David can pass them on to interested customers. I have also offered him the same deal with excess sourdough if he gets customers asking about it. I am starting to get into the flow of feeding and working with my small batch of homely cultures. Now I need to find a kombucha Scoby and some water kefir grains and after that the sky is the limit! I will be spending a lot of time reading my fermentation books this winter and learning all about just what I can, and can’t culture here on Serendipity Farm.

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Not sure if we can use this photos but I liked it. Nice and clean and isn’t that sky a gorgeous colour?

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This old ramshackle building is right in the middle of the city. It has stood, unthreatened, for years and is situated between a boutique pub and our local Centrelink office. Considered an eyesore for years, developers have just obtained permission to remove it. I just wanted to remember it in a photo and I quite liked how this one turned out

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These buildings all belong to Boag’s brewery (including the grain silo’s in the background) and are part of the inner city industrial area. I love how they have restored the older buildings and made this a really attractive part of the city

I noticed some unusual small black pods on the side of a tiger lily in the side garden. It has ceased flowering a long time ago and has seed pods on top of it. I know that they form bulbs that spread under the ground but on closer inspection, the little pod-like thingo’s had small leaves growing out of them…I headed inside to check out my good friend “Google” and discovered that these pods are called bulbils and not all lilies produce them. Tiger lilies are well known for producing them and they are another form of plant division. Each little black bulbil is an entire new little lily. After a while, the bulbils will form leaves (as mine are currently doing) and will eventually form roots and will push themselves off the stem of the spent lily flower and will drop onto the ground where they will take root and start growing. After 3 years they will start flowering and you have a plethora of new lilies for free to either plant out or give to your friends. Aren’t plants the bomb? :o). I will need to collect all of the little wandering bulbils to pot them up so that I can find them in spring when they start growing again but for now I will let them cling tenaciously to their mum for as long as they see fit. I also discovered that lilies are extremely hardy belying their delicate appearance. Many plants that we might think are tender or delicate are actually incredibly hardy and I am in the process of compiling a list of incredibly hardy plants for Serendipity Farm. A friend from down the road (Boof’s owner) gave me a bag of fragrant ripe white nectarines and tomatoes today as we walked past her house when we were walking the dogs this morning. She also gave me a bag of curly leafed parsley seed to plant out. We swap all sorts of things and have a really good bartering system going. Roxy is a very resilient lady and knows a whole lot about growing vegetables, keeping goat’s etc. and how to do just about everything herself. I love sharing knowledge and “stuff” with her because it is a win-win situation for us all. We are just about to give her one of our feral roosters as she doesn’t have a rooster and is tired of having to ask for fertile eggs from friends. This way she will have all of the fertile eggs that she likes to put under her clucky chooks and can have lots of hens to sell her excess eggs from the roadside. The value of community and individual knowledge when combined with others is priceless…the resilience of a community is only as strong as the individual members that group together to share. I love forging community here in Sidmouth :o)

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My gorgeous chooky potmits that are WAY too nice to use with Brunhilda 🙂

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These are cuttings of Tagetes lucida, Mexican marigold or Texas tarragon were sourced from a local plant and are apparently easy to grow so I am letting them get legs in this mug of water.

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This long suffering philodendron had been almost on the brink of extinction for years before we inherited him and decided to release him out into the wild. He had bright yellow leaves and only had 1 leaf and now he is happy in his new environment

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A nice new stem on a lovely orchid that we inherited that dad only watered with beer. He said that the beer made it flower and maybe he was right because it hasn’t flowered this year on its new regime of water…might be time to reintroduce that vitamin B quotient to make it happy 🙂

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Look what the wallabies did to my Loquat japonica’s :(. They had been growing completely untouched for months and suddenly the wallabies decided to eat all of their leaves. They are incredibly hardy small trees and will grow more leaves but the wallabies are skating on very VERY thin ice! It just goes to show that you can’t take it for granted that ANYTHING is safe on Serendipity Farm

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This little fig tree has some figs on this year. We grew it from a cutting and this year it just might keep those figs to full term 🙂

We had to go to Launceston this morning because as we were reading up about our course and our very first assignment we realised that we were going to need printer ink and our printer was out of ink. We had already walked the dogs and I had already watered the veggie garden and released the baying hens so we hurled the eager dogs into the car and set off for an adventure to buy printer ink. We checked out what we needed to accomplish for our second assignment (technically “Assignment 3” but it’s the second one that we have to hand in…already they are trying to trick us! Not WE wily black ducks! 😉 ) and realised that we needed photos of billboards, advertising signs and road signs and we threw the camera into my bag so that we could take as many artistic shots as we could. We hadn’t read up on what we actually needed but we took all kinds of photos so hopefully we can use some of them for our assignment. We then headed off to pick up some printer ink, only to find that the shop that sold us the printer had just superseded it and were no longer stocking the ink! They recommended K-Mart but Steve knows that K-Mart don’t sell the ink either so we looked at each other and decided to buy a new printer. We managed to buy a printer with ink for less than we were going to have to pay for the ink alone on our old all-in-one printer. I can’t believe that this sort of equipment is so “throw-away” these days! How can they justify selling something if they are not going to stock the peripherals for any length of time? We have 2 of the printers that we can’t get ink for…one was ours and one we inherited from my dad when he died…what to do with them? I am NOT going to throw them into landfill and am going to be spending some ingenious time finding ways to use them rather than disposing of them. Perhaps I need to cram them full of cacti and succulents and sell them at the market? ;). We got back to discover that my bestie, Kymmy from Norseman Western Australia had sent me 2 absolutely gorgeous pot holders that she had quilted. What a doll! Kymmy, you are so talented! I am refusing to use them till you get here and we can cook up a storm on Brunhilda because they are too pretty to use and get grotty :o). I might even have to frame them and put them on the wall as I can’t bear the thought of Brunhilda and her messy ways turning them into sad representations of the lovely things that they are today :o). Your gooseberry seed is drying nicely and will be ready to send to you soon…bartering is SO sweet :o)… oh, and Bev from http://foodnstuff.wordpress.com/ has offered to send me some leaf AND seed amaranth! I love you guys! Along with Jessie and a plethora of people I have yet to meet and barter/swap with in various seed swap meets etc. this bartering thing is absolutely ripe with mutual possibilities :o).

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Bulbils! Note the leaves growing out of the bulbils…each one of these dark coloured “pods” has the propensity to become a new lily

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A native hibiscus (Alyogyne huegelii) flower on a crown lifted tree that is much happier since we started giving it a helping hand

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Finally I get a cornflower! The wallabies have been snipping the tops off them as they protrude from the top of the ex-fish farm netting but this one escaped to flower 🙂

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This Aquilegia vulgaris (Grannies bonnet) grew right next to the back door…note the dandelion…I would have normally removed it but now that I know how amazing they are (and how much Bernard and Manny our Java Finches LOVE them) I leave them to carry on regardless 🙂

I think that might be all for tonight folks…I have to race out waving my arms around now to find you some photos to decorate this post and I will be starting with the bulbil’s so that you can see what I am talking about. Tomorrow we will be juggling with the new course and tap-dancing on unfamiliar territory all over again. I can’t count the amount of times that we have gone back to kindergarten with new areas of study and it’s all in the processes…my favourite place of all! :o)

Fibonacci numbers or proof that God exists

Hi All,

I get regular updates of posts from a site called Permaculture Power. Now that I am not only researching about Permaculture for my own personal interest but actively using it for our Diploma studies this blog has become an even more valuable resource to me. I decided to go for a bit of a look-see of some past posts and ended up finding some information about Fibonacci numbers. Nature is cram packed full of them and most of our seeds, flowers, trees and just about EVERYTHING has series of them. If you want to know what a Fibonacci number is (my head is STILL hurting from watching the videos that I am going to share with you but maths has always been foreign to my brain…) check it out here

http://www.maths.surrey.ac.uk/hosted-sites/R.Knott/Fibonacci/fibnat.html

Or here (which is a prettier site with more pictures)…

http://britton.disted.camosun.bc.ca/fibslide/jbfibslide.htm

And here are the videos made by what looks like a 15 year old mathematical girl genius who is hell bent on making me insane…

http://permaculturepower.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/nature-by-numbers/

(Yes…that comment that says “my head hurts” is me…). Math’s is an anathema to me. I don’t understand it and even when it is carefully explained to me it seems to spill out of my head like stormwater running off into the Tamar. I can’t retain mathematical concepts and while the Fibonacci number series thingo impresses the heck out of me and makes the hair stick up on the back of my inner neck where incredible truths hit home…I just know that the thing that the girl said about the angle of 137.5 (Or “Phi” angle) is one of the most important things that I really should know and that thing about “Irrational numbers” is also very important I just know that the minute I get up from here to go make a cup of tea or head off to feed the dogs it is going to slosh out of my brain so I am documenting it here for posterity, your education and ultimately for me to find again. I figured that because everything has these numbers and angles that our random existence can finally be squashed and all of you atheist’s, non-believers and nay sayers can just get over yourselves and finally see that there had to be an ultimate creator to get these amazing number sequences over…and over…and over…and over again. If you don’t believe in an ultimate creator, that is your choice…me…I am no fool and when I am constantly being made aware of these repetitive patterns, natures constant desire to reach equilibrium and cycles in all walks of life that revolve around order I find it mind blowing to note that people are out there toting chaos theories and that we arrived at this point from a random chaos event. Check out fractals and you know what? Chaos is striving to achieve order…I REST MY CASE. Perhaps I am being too simplistic there but you know what? It is really easy to complicate everything and bamboozle people and get them to agree with you because they really don’t understand a word of what you are saying and don’t want to appear numnuts, but if you postulate something simply THEN you are really open to people understanding what you have said and challenging your theorem. Fractals + Fibonacci = God. Nice and simple and my meaning of life… (I wonder if 42 is a Fibonacci number?)

Just quickly, I went hunting and found out that the girl that made those videos has her own site and it is mind blowing involving maths, music and all sorts of cool mathematical things and I, for one, am going to be bookmarking this site to revisit in small bites so that my head doesn’t explode. It is like sucking on a sore tooth…you just KNOW that it is going to hurt like heck but you still can’t help doing it…

http://vihart.com/

This was the foggy sunrise that we got this morning. I love watching the fog roll down the river (and then back to the sea)

On our way to walking the dogs in Gravelly Beach (it was hot today) I spotted this lovely garden almost completely consisting of conifers. The owner had no problem with me posting photos of her garden so take a look…I think its lovely

Nice use of buxus all over the place to tie all of the conifers in as well as the mulch

I wouldn’t have all that grass but it takes all kinds to make a world

This little courtyard has a real Mexican or Spanish look to it and the structured formality of the conifers, buxus and dry stone walls help the image

I really like this garden. It makes a statement.

The world is a very small pace thanks to technology. Not 50 years ago each country had a physical presence of its own in the scheme of things. Without the internet you had to send letters and parcels to your relatives and friends in other countries and I remember sending letters to a distant relative in the U.K. when I was a girl. Now we are all interconnected. If we want to find out something we no longer have to wait for a letter and with Skype we can talk to relatives in real time as well as using webcam’s. An email travels incredibly fast for free and we have become so very used to being able to keep in touch and make contact with people on the other side of the earth that we take it for granted now. I sit here in Tasmania Australia at the derrière of the world typing posts that are read in the U.S.A., Canada, the U.K. and various other countries that I haven’t ever set foot on, let alone thought much about. How small is this earth of ours now when a total stranger can sit down with a cup of tea and we can share a brief moment in time together with the probability that we will never meet. One really good thing about making the world a smaller place is that it is so much more difficult to hide things now. Governments can’t lie about what is going on and news of atrocities and civil unrest are beamed around the world as they happen thanks to youtube and Facebook and various other social sites. We can connect with people that think like us. We might not have ever had the chance to form large communities online that hold similar values, ethics and beliefs but now we are able to share a wealth of information and make the world a richer place in the giving. I love the internet as it stands at the moment. I love how I can find things out for the cost of my small monthly payment to my internet provider. I love how I can isolate and access an incredible wealth of information from all over the world and store it for later use. To me, the internet has opened up a whole new world of possibilities and windows of opportunity and as a quintessential magpie for knowledge and information I am swooping in and carrying away as much as I can to feather my nest for a rainy day. I really hope that “The Cloud” doesn’t eventuate. I have a sneaking suspicion that there are secret deals being done with entire governments as we speak but that makes me sound a bit like a loopy survivalist and despite me being suspicious of the motives of any big business or government, I haven’t quite sunk to the need to hoard and lose faith in society quite yet. I prefer to remain optimistic about our chances because the alternative doesn’t bear thinking about.

This photo was taken in Beaconsfield at the mine museum. This is for all of my subscribers and readers who are Certificate 3 students who can’t for the life of them find Ageratum houstonianum (like we couldn’t).

Lots of flowers Harvey…that would be 1 less than 80 plants to collect…let us know if you want us to get you some when we are next there

That’s why I want to learn about sustainability. Not to hoard my cabbages and set up electric fortresses around Serendipity Farm but because I want to engage with other like-minded people and see what we can’t do when we put our minds and our efforts together to create a new sense of importance about local communities and how they are going to become so much more important as our resources start to run out. I get so excited when I read about entire communities saving up and purchasing wind turbines that will power their entire community. I love reading about finding alternative ways to get what you want, often bypassing the need for money at all. It gives me hope that with the shared power of knowledge and a sustainable based plan that the world might be able to get back on track albeit a changed direction, and that humanity will adapt to this total change of mind set. We can’t keep using resources like we have been. Steve, our lecturer and I were talking the other day about what might happen should governments decide to ignore the warning signs and carry on regardless and these non-renewable resources start to run out…we most probably won’t be around to see that happen but as our lecturer said “It would be chaos and devastation and a fair proportion of the world’s population would die”. It doesn’t have to be like that. We already have the knowledge and understanding to facilitate change…it’s just no-one has worked out how to make a profit out of it yet. Consumerism is the reason for everything that is happening to us and first we need to dismantle the power of the media and the middle men in society. We also need to remove the power of supermarkets and start funding some sort of system for primary producers to sell their produce direct to the public. I realise that I am no marketing executive but for too long we have allowed people who are solely profit based to make our decisions for us regarding our future. Society can’t carry on as it is and it will be most interesting to see how it changes to facilitate the necessary changes. I would imagine they won’t go quietly…

This looks a whole lot like a possum but it’s actually one of the feral cats getting a drink from the bird bath…take note birds!

Steve and I got heartily sick of EVERYONE with a horticultural blog of any kind (ESPECIALLY sustainable blogs) using that little picture of a small green plant in soil in a pair of hands. We know that someone out there is hunting scalps and that one day that little picture is going to net some copyright troll a whole lot of moola but you know what? Bring it on troll! We made our own picture…

It’s actually Sunday when I am typing this post. I am very thoughtful today and since adding a few tags and changing when I post I have noticed that Serendipity Farm is starting to go global. That is why I have been talking about distance, technology and change. We are all in this together. I might not know you personally but we all live on this blue planet together. We all have the same basic needs and no matter what colour, creed or nationality we are we have a common bond in our humanity and everything that we do as nations, countries, communities and individuals does make a difference. It is so easy to put everything in the “too hard” basket. It’s not easy to make changes and looking at the big picture you might be forgiven for having a panic attack and needing a large supply of brown paper bags to hide in and breathe deeply. We can all do something, no matter how poor we are or how small our living space is. I think what has deeply wounded society more than anything is fragmentation and disassociation of individuals and communities. Most of us live in enormous cities surrounded by a seething mass of commerce and humanity but how many people do we really know? How can you get a sense of purpose and direction when life seems to be streaking past you faster than you can keep pace with and consumerism has an incredibly short lifespan… what is going to happen when this all has to stop? Where is that going to leave each one of us and how are we going to adapt to living a sustainable life? That’s why we are trying to learn all that we can and implement as much as we can here on our little 4 acres of “home”. I have gone from idealistic misty eyed visions of a life spent with a lovely reed basket (most probably made by “me”) filled with eggs wandering between scented meadow flowers watching the bumble bees with the dappled sunlight on my face as I look out over the beautiful Tamar River to sometimes having to drag my sorry ass out of bed before dawn has even woken up, being dragged around the dusty back roads of Sidmouth by overenthusiastic dogs and returning to an ever lengthening list of “chores” that seem to be growing exponentially each time we try to affect any sort of change on Serendipity Farm. My confidence in my own abilities has taken a severe dent to it’s bumper as I try to work out how to deal with not being able to dig in the soil (too many rocks), living on the side of a steeply sloped block (the water runs straight down and out into the Tamar) and coping with the most amazingly over-run tangle of weeds that I could have imagined and sometimes being so shell-shocked that I just didn’t have the will to even head outside because I would see the huge piles of debris generated by any sort of effort to clear the place up. Country life isn’t idyllic people. I occasionally buy Grassroots magazine, a fantastic publication for homesteaders in Australia produced sustainably and by a little home printing press and an icon of the Australian green movement. I love this magazine because it links people with very little money (as most of us are these days) with other people to barter goods, services and anything else that you can possibly imagine and people help each other through the question and answer pages, letters sent in with “How do I do this?” and Answers in the next edition and it feels like an amazingly homespun community that is all held together by a family working to facilitate this priceless magazine. That’s what got me thinking about communities. Online communities, communities that we live in, communities of likeminded people all over the world getting together and sharing what they know, how they do things and how to get the best results for whatever they are doing. Grassroots magazine tries to take the rose coloured glasses from people’s eyes about life in the country and homesteading. It is far from easy. It isn’t sitting about on hay bales around lovely crackling fires in the winter time roasting marshmallows but that can be part of it. Mr. Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall does no favours in portraying his countryside idyll as something next to perfect. It all looks so “marvelous darling” but in reality it is a very hard way to live. In saying that it gives you a sense of connectedness that you simply cannot get when living in the city and I dare say that is why so many people harbour a secret closet desire to move out to the country.

Its most definately a cat’s life on Serendipity Farm

Jacko is one of our feral cats and spends most of his days laying like this on the driveway underneath the deck. Not a bad life I guess and he seems to be enjoying it

Now that Serendipity Farm has gone global, I would like to inform you all about a little known fact about Australia that you might never have known. We make AMAZING chocolate biscuits called “Tim-tams”. Forget shrimps on the Barbie and crocodile Dundee, we Aussies are not like that. We are laid back and humorous people because you have to be when you live in a country that contains so many poisonous things that are all out to kill you and that was founded on Irish convict labour. I get the feeling that the rest of the world sees us as harmless larrikins who inhabit the pubs of the world as waiters, cooks and travelling backpackers and our image is of youth, excitement, adventure and a reckless abandon for our own lives. We don’t take ourselves very seriously and tend to put people down who think of themselves as better than anyone else. In fact we actively “take the piss out of them”. Forget a class system…that is what sent our forefathers here in the first place! We most CERTAINLY don’t want that to take affect here and we would like to remain relatively free of guns and antiballistic missiles please. We have a sense of humour that sometimes goes over the rest of the world’s heads and that comes from deprivation and hardship that would only be understood by other wandering pioneers of desert wasteland. Australia is not an easy place to tame. It was here before humanity and I dare say it will be here after the last man drops and so we Aussies have learned to adapt, overcome and cling on tenaciously to our little dry arid rocky clump of desert in the junction of the Southern, Pacific and Indian oceans. Our laconic good humour makes us appear to be harmless but our tenacity is boundless and when you come from a hard place you most certainly know how to carry on. It’s built into us and is part of our ethos and I am proud to be adapting my heritage to the task at hand here on Serendipity Farm. I wonder why I occasionally get these sorts of posts flowing out of me. No idea really but they are quite cathartic! I will try to keep them to a minimum but I can’t promise anything. My muse is no delicate fairy, she is made of sterner stuff and swears like a trouper, she can drink you under the table and she is just waiting for someone to make the first move before she jumps right into the thick of it. You see I can’t help these posts…See you all tomorrow when it is back to work as usual on Serendipity Farm…it’s just funny that we did more work on Labour Day than we have all week?