Serendipity Faux Farm

Hi All,

Calling this place Serendipity Farm is a bit of a stretch. The closest Steve or I have ever gotten to farming was in my childhood where I lived on a family farm and occasionally watched my dad or uncle feed the cows (that didn’t belong to us). Steve remembers his grandad’s glasshouse with tomatoes in it and that’s about the extent of our “Farming” experience! In saying that, we have 3 years of horticultural experience each and a massive will to learn and apply what we have learned to this place. Where do we go to when we are flummoxed? (And “flummox” is a really GOOD word for our day to day collisions with homesteading to say the least!)…we head to amazing and informative websites like Anthropogen and Milkwood farm. Here we can sit in the comfort of our computer chairs and discover the alien world of farming, agriculture, agroforestry, permaculture and through following these invaluable sources of precious free information, we are able to facilitate the changes that we want to make whilst at the same time being able to navigate and avoid the “Green Horn” (for want of a better word) mistakes that others have made before us. I discovered a lady called Harriet Fasenfest. What a delightful name for a barmaid! No disrespect dear Harriet, you look like the sort of lady that I would idolise and would listen to every silken word that drops from your amazingly literate tongue, however imagine trying to say “Harriet Fasenfest” after several pints and you can see where my skewed sense of humour just took me…

I didn’t have any photos to share with you today so I headed off around Serendipity Farm to herald in the seasons with you. First, on all walks around Serendipity Farm you have to shackle the oppressed. As you can see…”The oppressed” was trying his best “I’ll be good” eyes as he watched his older and much MUCH wiser compatriot head out the gate unshackled and wandering free straight past the chickens as if he hadn’t seen them…all good journeys start with a degree of oppression Earl and I guess you are “IT” for today…

The brown building at the rear of the photo is our wood shed. To the left of the photo are a few trees that we cleared the weed species out from underneath. These trees were NOT happy with their lot. The small stunted one in the middle is a Brachychiton populneus and has recovered admirably from its oppression (learn a lesson from this Earl!) however the taller tree, also a Brachychiton but as yet remains an unidentified species is less happy. It has apparently suffered some borer damage and is leaking a very sticky gum and has been for some time. I am under no misapprehensions that this tree is going to live but at least it will be free to enjoy the sun, a relatively weed free existance and all the chicken dung it can soak up until it decides to shuffle off this mortal coil where it will be turned into some sort of interesting wooden article to celebrate it’s life. Steve is already thinking “Totem Pole” so watch this spot…

Here is the trunk of the unidentified Brachychiton tree with some of the gummy substance in situ. You can see the enormous cordyline australis in the canopy above this tree. We have some reasonably advanced tree and shrub specimens that have managed to eke out an existance here despite their abject neglect and we are enjoying uncovering them

And here is what I thought was some sort of terrifying chicken disease when I first spotted it all over the ground in this area. I had visions of the entire flock suddenly sucumbing to a mysterious disease until I looked up at the brachychiton and realised that this was rain melted puddles of gum! Disgusting indeed but nothing to be phoning the vet about (yet…)

This lady wrote a few articles that blew me away with their forthright delivery of “A University of Grandmothers” knowledge about their past. The one phrase that knocked me over was “We knew how to be poor”…I just requested that our library buy a copy of her book “A Householders Guide to the Universe”…enough of a title to get me to take it out of the library even if I wasn’t aware of the absolute wealth of information contained within. I might even go so far as buying this book myself and that is saying something. A book has to be amazing before I will part with money to keep it close to my heart. I discovered recently (a slight aside I promise!) that The Permaculture Book of Ferment and Human Nutrition is now back in print! I typed this entire book out and now I might just have to buy it because it is a precious resource that I will turn strange colours and make it smell unusual (to say the least) as it will be used over and over again and handed down as the precious fermentation manual that it is. If you want to get a copy yourself, head to the following place…

http://www.tagari.com/store/12

I absolutely love the way that Harriet Fasenfest writes and I wholeheartedly absorb everything that she talks about. She is a passionate exponent of reintroducing home economics and teaching people how to live off the land. This woman is singing my song! Not only that, but she started out running a café (food) and headed up Habitat for Humanity, a not for profit organisation that gets people out volunteering to build cheap housing minimising the cost of the house and making it affordable for everyone. Check out this link to see more about this amazing premise…note that this is the Australian leg of this amazing principal put into action.

http://www.habitat.org.au/

Friday 25th May is the anniversary of the Glorious Revolution on Treacle Road in the most honourable book Night watch by Terry Pratchett. I think that this was the very first of the Discworld books that allowed me to see that Terry Pratchett was not only an amazing story teller, but that he had a real handle on our human condition. I loved this book. I cried reading it. There is something about an Englishman writing comedy that brings out the best in it. I dare say its comedy born of centuries of fighting, living next door to “me mam” and learning to get along with “the natives” all over the world as they slowly yielded to that stiff British upper lip. Basil Fawlty wouldn’t be Basil Fawlty if he didn’t contain a quintessential Englishman bearing humour and pathos in the same well brylcreamed head. We don’t need our humour sanitised and turned into the equivalent of Sesame Street after Jim Henson died…we don’t need to shield our children’s eyes from the truth…we need to deliver it with dignity and a large dose of good humour. We are all going to die one day, however we can be dragged kicking and screaming denying every second or we can take something precious from each and every moment that leads us from where we are right here and now to where we will one day be deposited wide eyed and ready to start again. I am not a believer in death being contained in a mouldering body or a puff of wind borne ashes. I believe in the movement of spirits wherever they go. As such, I would rather face my own mortality with dignity and with a degree of acceptance and understanding than with a bright smudge of red lipstick, some terrifying surgery and a back catalogue of beauty products that cost more than a small third world countries national debt. This book gave me a deep and most poignant reminder about mortality and like most of the Discworld series gave me some really deep thought about my own human condition. I was hunting for a set of instructions for making my own crochet hook out of wood yesterday. I need a very large oversized crochet hook that would no doubt cost me the arm and leg that it would almost be the length of and being the wily homesteader that I am (previously wild spendthrift…) I decided to use some of the sticks laying around on the ground waiting to be gathered up for “Mornings wood” (my dad’s name for kindling derived from small sticks) to give me my desired object for sweet bugger all. I LOVE “sweet bugger all”. It is the means to many of my ends and allows me (after hunting the internet like a hawk for some most generous and amazing instructions that is…) to do many things on Serendipity Farm that we might otherwise not be able to do if I was waiting for the money fairy to leave her wares under my pillow. I found a really great site showing me not only how to make an enormous crochet hook, but finding out that this hook can be used not only for oversized crocheting (my desired outcome) but also for something called “Tunisian” or “Afghan” crocheting. I then headed off (like Billy Connelly savouring the meat in one of his long winded and most delightful stories) on a tangent to hunt down information about Afghan crocheting. You might be getting an idea about how frustrating it is to be working with me when I am researching. I start off with all of the best intentions of finding out the information needed to complete my task at hand…I inevitably discover something of interest on the sites that I click and end up needing to save information, sites, Authors etc. in sticky notes, in word documents and in various other formats (all catalogued and stuck in various “boxes” and folders right through my PC presence and bleeding over into scraps of paper and the local library in the physical world). I am frustrating…infuriating and boring to work with. “I work best alone” is what probably comes to mind and poor Steve, who has negative patience when it comes to waiting for someone to find something ends up twiddling his thumbs and then heading off “I will be back in a minute…” for the next hour until I return from where my mind has taken me back to the task at hand. I found a site where I got instructions for a most enormous crochet hook as well as instructions for how to go about crocheting in the Tunisian/Afghan way. What I wasn’t expecting to find was a most poignant and insightful story about the woman who’s blog I was raiding and her relationship with her grandmother and how it changed her outlook on life (see…segued back nicely there ;)). She said (and I quote)…

‘Someone once said that procrastination is the thief of time, but since time is what life is made up of, procrastination is therefore the thief of life, and what I have learned from my dear grandmother the most is to enjoy the simple things, and not waste any day.’

And that is what I would say to you all today… don’t lose sight of what is really important here. We all share a common condition…we faced death the moment that we were born and we need…NEED to embrace the life that we are given with everything that we have. Life has a way of picking us up young and hopeful, racing us through relationships, children, mortgages, money stress, careers, responsibilities and spitting us out at retirement confused and wondering where the hell the last 50 years went! Society is running a frenetic race to the finish line…I don’t particularly want to be running to my own personal finish line. I would like to walk the road less travelled. I would like to consider the roses (those that the possums haven’t yet consumed that is…), I would like to hug a dog, watch a small child delight in discovering their world around them…I (to Quote a most snivel inducing Aerosmith song) “don’t want to miss a thing”. Good and bad…whatever it brings, its mine and it’s all I really have. Thankyou lady in a blog somewhere in Australia who I don’t know and most probably never will for reminding me to slow down and smell my life before it’s just a whisper in the ether. Another most important thing to remember about life is that your children will be the ones to choose your nursing home so keep that bit of information safely tucked in the back of your mind before you do anything rash from the point where they are able to start rationalising you in one!

Heres the view down the driveway towards the gate. We have been tidying up this area and clearing it out of debris, weeds and crown lifting the trees. Its starting to look clearer and despite several large piles of debris that need to be dealt with (example stage left…) we are starting to get on top of it.

Here you can see a VERY happy rhododendron. This rhododendron is happy because prior to a month ago it was totally covered in blackberrie vines and was unrecognisable as a shrub, let alone a rhododendron. After some severe blackberry removal and a period of warm sun and some good earth soaking rain this little fellow is truly starting to return to the land of the living. I love being able to give plants back what they need to grow. It gives me a degree of pleasure far in excess to the act of clearing them out.

This is part of a cluster of Nerine bowdenii in a garden close to the house. They are in full flower now but curiously, their red cousins Nerine sarniensis have long since finished flowering and are putting on leaf matter at a huge rate of knots. We don’t have any white nerines but I wonder if they have a different flowering time?

This little Podocarpus lawrencei (Mountain Plum Pine) along with many of its brothers and sisters (Podocarpus lawrencei being a dioecious species of conifer having both male and female plants and needing both for reproduction of the species) has been enjoying stretching their feet out in the rock gardens surrounding the house. We are hoping that they will join up in a draped carpet over most of the rockeries producing edible fruit for native animals and birds in the future.

It would have been my father’s 79th birthday tomorrow. My father and I had a difficult relationship to say the least! My mum once said “I don’t think your father should have had kids”…I would hope that she meant that he wasn’t born to be a father rather than her own personal thought about us as children 😉 but I would tend to agree with her on that one. I loved him dearly but the man was an utter conundrum. Perhaps the fact that he was born a Gemini would go part of the way to understanding how one man could have so much festering and brewing in total and abject opposition to each other at the one time. I am still trying to make sense of how he lived, who he was and what he left behind him and as of yet, despite thinking of myself as a somewhat rational, philosophical human being I can’t for the life of me see ANYTHING that I can understand in my father’s ethos, life or legacy. I do, however, get a very strong feeling that our only true legacy is the memories that we leave behind us. My mum died in January this year and already the pain of thinking about her has transposed into nostalgia and memories with wholesome fuzzy outlines. If I am honest (and this IS after all my year of living honestly), I didn’t feel that bitter loss when my father died. He was one of those men who you never quite knew what would set him off…and I am starting to think it might have been “me”. I mentioned that it was also the 25th of May that heralded the Glorious Revolution on Treacle Road in the Discworld book “Night Watch”. I personally think that dad would have fit in well with the men at the Night Watch. They strike me as being the bread and butter workers endemic in every establishment where blue collar is the name of the game and this was where my dad lived, breathed and navigated himself through life until he “fell on his feet” and inherited his partners not inconsiderable effects and chattels and tried “A bludgers Life” for a change. They say that with age comes wisdom, but I am not so sure…I think that when your parents die, its meant to be a little warning…”Don’t mess about with what you have left of your life…LIVE IT!”. Consider me told, informed and actively embracing this sentiment!

This is one of the areas of the garden that we recently planted out. As you can see, the specimens that we planted out appear to be loving their newfound release from potted slavetude and some have put on some good growth. The strappy blue/green leaves here are the Nerine sarniensis (Red Nerine) that I talked about previously. As you can see they have put some good growth into their now cleared leaves and are really enjoying being free of all of the weeds that were previously surrounding and covering them

The garden that we planted out with our dward conifers and some grasses last month is also very happy. We are still working out what to do with all of the potted specimens in the foreground, but our money is on a conifer arboretum in the paddock behind the house.

This is the area that we cleared out last week. you can now see straight through to the rear of the house and this area is going to be planted out with my cold climate shrubs, many Chilean species that I have a particulare interest in and that are particularly suited to our Tasmanian climate and conditions.

Now that we have cleared out this area it is starting to show us lots of possibilities. Its just really REALLY lucky that we are starting to get an idea of just how to go about making this garden something special and what to remove and what to leave in situ.

This is the previous scene taken from halfway up the steps (visible in the last shot) showing the side garden and lawn. This “lawn” was brown and extinct up until the first rains that we had about 3 weeks ago. It now looks delightful! It’s amazing how nice a garden can look in photographs. We can’t for the life of us see this picture when we walk through our garden!

I can hear the bells at the beginning of the ACDC standard that rebirthed the band to glory and international fame after the death of Bon Scott and the induction of Mr Brian Johnson into the new incarnation of Aussie Rock legend and history…”Hells Bells” was the very first song that I heard from the Phoenix out of the ashes album “Back in Black” and aside from being the third best-selling album of all time…it’s Aussie for crying out loud! (this colloquialism has been used and inserted into this post with the express understanding that it is in honour of my late father and his long list of Aussie colloquialisms… consider it a tribute dad wherever it is that you are currently residing…my belief is you are muttering the daylights out of some poor crow who is waiting in the garden for his wodge of dripping…), it leads me nicely (again segue…I am getting slowly better at this and am using less words to get there! There is hope for me yet dear constant readers ;)) back to the sound of the bells. Last year’s introduction to progressive garage saling, gave me both the $2 hand crafted throne that I sit on when I type my posts or use the computer and…a lesser known treasure…an enormous cast iron frying pan that looked like something you would pan gold in with a handle. I don’t know why I bought it. It was rusty, old and most probably called to my garden arty brain. I stuck it on the deck…I hung it on a nail…I forgot about it…it was removed from the nail in a fit of pique by a man who had banged his head on it one too many times and now resides on another nail up against the wall directly adjacent to the kitchen window. Tasmania is a windy place and lately, with the onset of winter and wind of greater velocity than usual, I have been starting to hear something akin to deep Church bell sounds emitting from the deck. I went hunting to find that my lovely garden art cast iron frying pan is acting as a wind generated bell up against the bricks of the house. Aside from sounding EXACTLY like the bell tolling at the beginning of the ACDC classic (which for me is reason enough to leave it there!), it is a really lovely sound reminiscent of a Buddhist gong. Steve and I both smile whenever it gongs and know that wild weather is on its way…forget my trick knee…I have my own personal ACDC Freedom bell to herald in a storm…

Remember my poor half dead remaining succulents and cacti that the ducks had rejected because they were too spiky (or poisonous) to eat? They are starting to recover nicely now and at least I have some of them left to cater to my need for symetrical and orderly plant matter!

Heres my other pot of them. I had so many more and a most delightful rose succulent that the ducks took a particular delight in scoffing… a fitting (albeit ironic) end to its life considering it was taken from one of Nat’s pots as a pup and it was the ducks that Nat inadvertently gave us that ate it…oh well…easy come…easy go!

We had a lovely crisp clean day today, the sun was shining, and we had lovely blue skies and my shiny things were shining so I thought that I would share them with you…(I am not considered a quintessential magpie for nothing you know and literary and informative shiny things are not my only passion…)

Lastly, here are my little articulated fish and our enourmous hot water tank. Anyone else want to come and have showers here because the 2 of us can’t for the life of us use all the hot water that our wood burning stove and this massive behemoth delivers! It keeps boiling over and threatening to turn any chickens under the deck to instant stock…

Steve is back from his shopping “Event” for the fortnight. Shopping has gone from being something that we could do all day every day to being something that we have to plan most carefully to ensure that we don’t waste fuel and money having to drive to our nearest town to buy something we forgot.  It’s a marathon shop now and he comes home tired but we very rarely run out of anything these days. We have learned to plan well. It’s Saturday night and we finally managed to dispatch Little Red. I thought that it would be easier to remove him from the flock because he has always been feral and lived in the conifer out the front of the house but when push came to shove it was actually harder and I felt guiltier than the others because unlike them, he was free. The things we do to satisfy the neighbours! Oh well…again, it’s important to feel compassion for the animals that you kill and to appreciate them fully for the part that they play in our lives. No supermarket packet meat for us and so we have to be faced with taking lives. We have dispatched 6 roosters now and despite being much better at being fast at doing the deed, it hasn’t gotten any easier. We have stock on to boil, the dogs have some chicken skin crisping up in the oven, the feral cats got the insides and now wait at the garage whenever we come out at night time for their spoils. Steve gets another chicken meal and we don’t allow a life to go to waste. I am proud that we use everything that we can and don’t waste anything. Tomorrow I am going to make some crochet hooks from sticks. I have been baking all sorts of interesting things and cooking lots of delicious meals of late because I want to celebrate life and remember just how precious every day that we get is. Who knows when someone is going to pull you out of your conifer and dispatch you cleanly? I, for one, am going to make the most of my clucking time! See you all Wednesday with some more “muckin abaut” (cockney spelling intended…)…

Norman Gunston eat your heart out!

Hi All,

I have to buy some ciggy papers so that I can look like Norman Gunston. No…I haven’t started full facial shaving along with my Hillbilly lifestyle (not yet anyway…) but with the first rains come leeches by the million! They are everywhere. I had 2 of them fighting over the same bit of skin the other day and today I got one in my shoe while I was helping Steve collect the first of the wood that he has chopped for what appears to be an early autumn. We found another one squirming across the floor towards us in a most determined manner and we are starting to give up on halting the advancing hoard. Anyone who hasn’t had to deal with leeches on a physical level has no idea how hard they are to kill. Imagine squashing a rubber band that is intent on slinking its way most determinedly out of the door while you are attempting to destroy it (most unsuccessfully) and you start to see the conundrum of leeches. One of two of them is no problem. We seem to have lots of them all at once and because we are out collecting wood at the moment we are up in the back bush blocks and the leeches are lurching like little rubber zombies in enormous numbers towards us as we chop. They particularly love me. Steve gets the mosquitoes and I get the leeches. I think it is something to do with my blood type coupled with me being a vegetarian. Dad never mentioned leeches as part of life here on Serendipity Farm but my guess is that apart from being loath to go outside other than straight to his car and back, dad smoked, drank and was in altogether terrible health and I dare say any leeches that had a go of him would regret the hangover and compromised tubes that would result! Our friend “who shall remain anonymous” who is also collecting wood at the moment on her 50 acre property will be tucking her jeans into her long woollen socks before she even ventures out of her home. Nat, who has visited us when the leeches were on the move, gave an amazing impression of a strip tease artist in her panic to unburden herself of all of her clothes should a leech have slinked up her leg. I must admit I don’t really care all that much if I get bitten by leeches. I seem to react only slightly and apart from the inconvenience of the bite not healing over immediately and bleeding from the tiny wound for quite some time (thus the Norman Gunston ciggy papers…) they really don’t bother me all that much. I have even taken to dropping the squirming infuriated little sods off the balcony rather than killing them if I can get them off the stick that I have captured them on. I used to throw them into the fire, but they really are not doing me much harm so I have decided that they are low on the pest list and as such can be given another elastic chance.

I am laughing here as I just checked the spelling and grammar in my word document (without which you would have a semi legible rambling nonsensical read indeed!) and saw that it wanted me to change the title of this post to “Norman Gunston eats your heart out”! Norman might have been a most persistent little Aussie bleeder but Zombie he was not! Get it right you STUPID GRAMMAR CHECK! I often get a real chuckle out of words that the spell and grammar checkers want me to change because they make no sense and they are grammatically wrong! Like Mr Kevin Bloody Wilson’s most reflective and lilting ballad to Christmas advises us most poignantly to do “Don’t listen to him mum’s and dad’s cause he tells fu#%ing lies!” Much like our esteemed state and federal politicians… so does the grammar and spell check so DON’T just change your words because they tell you to, you might just end up the laughing stock of your office…  It’s not easy to pull words out of the air (I syphon them through my “muse” first who is more like Nanny Ogg of the Discworld series than anything that Banjo Paterson claimed to be channelling…). If you haven’t read a Terry Pratchett Discworld novel you are missing out on one of life’s most rewarding experiences. If you haven’t read a Terry Pratchett novel OR laughed hysterically at a Gary Larson comic then I most definitely feel sorry for you…

http://doctorz.wordpress.com/2007/12/14/medical-ethics-by-nanny-ogg/

This is an artist’s representation of Nanny Ogg… (That looks a bit like Squeak doesn’t it Cathy?)

I am going to have to collect the last few Discworld (and related) novels that I don’t own this year. Terry Pratchett has Alzheimer’s and is slowly losing the ability to produce these amazing insights into our own human condition from the perspective of a most interesting world being held up by elephants standing on an enormous turtle flying through space…I rest my case and Mr Terry Pratchett, no matter how terrible your plight is, I would much rather die knowing that I brought sheer unmitigated childlike delight to everyone who read my books than live on until I was 100 without once giving something precious to the world. Thank you so much for your fantastic literary interpretation of how you processed your life and our communal world and condensed it down into pure gold. You will live on and on in all of our hearts and deeper and though your mind might be failing you now, you won’t ever be forgotten. Generations from now people who are not born yet will gain the same sense of utter delight that we do when they are able to imbibe in your glorious sense of outrageous humour and your unique way of looking at things. You sir are a true hierophant and I urge anyone out there who hasn’t been delighted by his work to give it a go, you just might gain something precious from the way that he looks at the world. I just went hunting to try to find some Gary Larson to share with you but your best bet is to enter “The Far Side Cartoons” or “Gary Larson Cartoons” into your web browser and see what you can find.

The chameleon before he decided to blend in with his new environment…

To this…Steve himself commented on how biafran he looks in this photo, I think it is because it was taken looking down and for a 90kg man he certainly looks a lot thinner than he is!

And here the chameleon is again trying to get Bezial (the emo wonder dog) to smile for the camera. Good luck with that chameleon, Bezial is an island…NOT an isthmus…and as such he will NOT be swayed

Thinking about Terry Pratchett and Gary Larson I am reminded of my theory that you are what you take into yourself. I am not just talking about food and drink there; I mean the books that you read, the music that you listen to and the television that you watch. Whatever you feed into your senses gets plastered onto your soul and forms a part of you no less physical than what you eat and drink. I choose to try and feed my soul all the good stuff. That’s why I shun crap T.V. because I come out of it feeling cheated, bewildered and like I am bleeding from my eyes. It’s junk food for the masses and is giving the same spiritual and mental results. The only difference is, we eat less take away than we cram in this garbage. I am not being elitist here; I am just saying that if you watch crap, you are feeding your psyche crap. I have to take a little aside here that sort of directly ties in to what I am trying to say here. I no longer judge unemployed people for sinking into a state of semi-comatose lethargy. Sit around for 8 weeks and see how fast you sink into sloth! Its amazing how easily you stop wanting to do anything other than lay around in your underpants and watch television! Far from choosing to live this way, it is an inevitable result of a lack of money and very little to do. People can poo-poo me here but if you have only just enough money (if that) to live on and none extra and you can’t join in with your friends and family whenever they go out anywhere you start to shun your friends and family and you end up becoming a couch potato. It’s a natural slide into decline and all of the social graces slide right along with it…If you are not getting stimulated and motivated and you get into the habit of sloth it is very hard to get back out of this habit and start trying again. This does tie in with what I was saying because unless you are willing to hunt around for what you need and put in the effort to find simple cheap ways to solve your problems when you are unemployed your life is just a hop step and a jump away from being overwhelmed by depression and sloth. We are cultivating a generation of unemployed people who don’t give a damn thanks to a government who is telling them that they aren’t worth the effort to find them work. Steve and I are hidden unemployed people. We are students but are 1 unit away from the unemployment line and there are many more like us scattered all over our state and Australia wide. If you added us all together the unemployment rate would start to appear somewhat alarming. The government needs to recognise that unemployed people are not the scum of the earth; they are an untapped resource that needs to be cultivated and enlivened with promise and hope. I don’t think our current prime minister is up for the job of sorting out the unemployment line or helping those of us that want to exit its throning highway to find a job. Steve and I choose to educate ourselves, research, find things out and give ourselves the best chance at living a full and rewarding life but we are the lucky ones. We are clever enough to realise that when you don’t have a lot of money you need to think smarter not harder and we also realise that “God helps those that help themselves”…we are learning everything that we can so that we can do as much as we can around here ourselves without having to pay anyone else to do so. In the process we are painting our souls in bright Picasso colours and papering our minds are being clothed in possibility. That’s what it takes to give someone hope for the future, education and teaching them to fish rather than handing them half a manky rancid fish a day and hoping that they will lay down and cease to be a problem to the country.

Here’s a photo of some of Serendipity Farms reduced cost pest control. When you factor in the amount of bread and prime free range food that goes down the upturned beaks of this lot you cant possibly list them as free pest control, but they are a lot cheaper on the environment and the hip pocket than paying out for their chemical equivalent

Another faction of the pest control squad. Lets call this lot blackberry eradication because they are in the process of eating the fruit from the blackberries tangled in this hedge.

My Hero! Back from the Serendipity Farm equivalent of The Crimean War, walking the dogs while my knee recovers

The feral kittens are playing in the Cotoneaster horizontalis below the deck. They are waiting for their evening meal and doing what kittens do best, playing with each other and learning about life. They have a very carefree life and it is lovely to watch them prancing about play fighting each other and boxing each other’s ears. The price of a bit of dog polony and a few cat biscuits to prevent them eating the native birds as a necessity is worth every cent. We have no idea what we are going to do about these feral cats. It’s like the sword of Damocles dangling over our heads at the moment. We have fallen in love with these little kittens and have no idea how to deal with our problem ethically, environmentally and most importantly fairly to everyone involved in the process. We know that we can’t let them breed on exponentially because we have seen 1 little female feral cat turn into 1 little female cat and 2 kittens and now 1 little female cat, her 2 now adult kittens and 4 new babies. Serendipity Farm is hard pressed to feed that many cats let alone another litter of goodness knows how many and so we are left tapping our heads and trying to work out a solution that will satisfy everything. Our friend who “shall remain anonymous” just phoned me and told us to come around and get some limb wood as it is lying on the ground where they have been collecting their own firewood looking messy. Isn’t it good to know that not only are we going to get firewood for free, but we are doing our friend a favour by taking this wood and minimising her bushfire risk in one fell swoop? That’s what I am talking about when I say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and what I try to allude to when I am talking about natures cycles and how we have to try to use everything that we can and recycle as much as we are able to do so. I was reading the other day when I got to a passage about thrift. I had taken a book out of the library called “Creole Thrift” and had visions of all of the interesting projects that I might be able to make from its bayou pages but on flicking through the pages I realised I had been jipped! This was a shameless self-promotion for some interior designer descendant of a plantation owner who was fixing up the old house (read mansion) by using the furniture that was left in the house and from what I could see rearranging it so that it was more modern…I hate to tell you lady but THAT ISN’T THRIFT! Sigh… I also had a bit of a letdown about the massive most promising tomb of Southern Cookery called simply “Creole” with a brightly coloured cover that was so enormous I could chock the wheels of the trailer with it on our steep driveway. I eagerly thumbed through the recipes to find that most of them are meat and almost all of them contain ingredients that are simply not available to those of us inhabiting the “rest of the world”. I can use a few of the sauce recipes to enliven our future meals but apart from about 10 recipes the rest are not worth bothering about. I guess you have to sift through quite a lot of dross once you know what you are looking for and have isolated your requirements down to a select few desirable needs. We are in the process of learning what we really need in opposition to what we merely want (albeit quite strongly!). Sometimes the edges get a bit blurry and where I need food and water every day, my want for a copy of the new Zelda game for Wii is bordering on tipping it over into the basic needs group. The lovely warm fire that Steve just lit and that Bezial has just sunk down sighing with contentment in front of (most probably for the rest of the night) is bordering on necessity and sometimes you just have to sit down and really look at what you are doing to make sure that you are simplifying your life in the right direction. As penniless student hippies we are more than aware of how far our meagre rations need to eke out. Now that we pay rates and various other nefarious government charges we have been thrust into the hitherto unknown world of constant bills and the other day we looked at each other in bewilderment after paying out most of our savings on an enormous pile of bills even though we are so amazingly lucky to not have to make mortgage payments or pay rent and wondered aloud how on earth regular people on Centrelink payments make ends meet! Where some might see having very little money as something to be terrified about, we see it as a challenge. I am just about to start work on telling my mother’s story through her garden. Up until now I haven’t felt ready to think about it but today I got the feeling that it’s time that I got started so I will be working through the guidelines that Annie from “The Micro Gardener” sent me to keep me on track and to sort my natural verbosity into key points and simple concise statements. It isn’t going to be easy because little things keep happening that remind me of how long it takes to heal from the death of your mum. Yesterday I was playing my game when I decided to have a look in the cupboard for something healthy to eat for a snack and found a cling wrapped log of home-made dried fig and walnut “stuff” that mum had brought over with her at Christmas time. Should I eat it? Mum made it in her little kitchen that I watched being deconstructed into boxes to head off to various tip shops and new homes and when it was gone would she be gone too? It’s not easy to say goodbye to your mum. Mine was always reminding me that she was there with little emails and recipes and bits of information about gardening and sustainability that she had scanned from magazines and websites etc. That is what I am missing now, mum’s constancy in our lives and where she once was, is a gaping hole that is harder to fill than I would have ever thought. I don’t want to dissolve into the melodramatic here, but writing mum’s story is going to make me think about her, about how she was and what she did and it is going to make me remember when I have done my level best to not think about it to give myself time to callous up and start growing again. I think that much as the colder weather and the leaves changing colour herald the onset of autumn, my finishing off that fig and walnut roll and forcing myself to think about mum dying last month has given me the impetus to get cracking (her words) on her story. I want to do you justice mum but I don’t want to tell fibs. Don’t you just hate going to funerals where the reprobate who made everyone’s lives a misery with his crazy selfish antic’s wipes himself off on a telegraph pole and all you can hear are what a fine upstanding citizen he was and what a wonderful son…we tend to gloss over peoples faults and vices when we talk about them after their deaths and in the process we lose their essence. Mum wouldn’t want me to tell fibs about her but neither would she want herself pared back for the world to see. In telling the story of your mothers garden when she is no longer there to tend it you need to do that garden justice. Now that her garden is metaphorical and no longer physical it is even more important to write her story, and give her garden a physical presence in the readers mind to give the truest representation of whom and what she and it was. Thank you for waiting for me to be ready Annie and for not hassling me. I truly appreciate it and will do my level best to give you the true picture of mum and her life full of gardens so that everyone can see just how she did it with very little money and bucket loads of stubborn willpower. Ok, I think that is enough for today. The kettle has just about boiled and the hot beverages are just about to be substituted for what were once our evening libations. We haven’t drunk alcohol in 2 ½ weeks and don’t miss it at all! For people who had become (perhaps too) used to at least a couple of drinks a day (isn’t it scary how insidiously these bad habits creep up on you when you don’t even notice?) we were more than a little worried that we might suffer some sort of side effects but apart from feeling a little flat, we haven’t noticed any other side effects. We were getting worried about our health and decided to give up our evening tipples and Steve has lost a bit of weight (not that he had much to lose!) and I seem to have a clearer head (and don’t fall asleep on the couch as much unless I have a book under my nose that is!…) so hopefully we have escaped the dreaded clutches of alcohol at least for this week…See you all tomorrow when it will most probably be raining on Serendipity Farm but we will be snug and warm in our little country home learning all about what we can and can’t abide in each other…(it puts new meaning into the old saying “It never rains, but it pours!”)

Not the best photo in the world (understatement of the century) but it was taken to show you the extension growth on this poor long suffering maple since we removed its mortal enemy “The Jasmine” from around its base, sides and canopy last year. It’s going for broke as we had to remove a lot of its canopy of dead material in the process. This is what nature does when you give it a chance…

This is my Elton John candle. Its small, round, dumpy and bald and has something to do with being a candle in the wind. All puns intended there and no responsibilities taken for any of your groans…it woke you up didn’t it? My job here…is DONE!

My most attractive little upsidedown pot that I bought from the Salamanca Markets when mum was visiting last year in April. I have no idea what I want to plant in this planter. I was thinking that I might be able to put my stapelia (stinky flowered amazing looking succulent) in it but it seems to prefer the glasshouse to the real world so that put paid to that. I want something ‘interesting’ to put in this pot and am keeping my eye out for just such a plant. Any ideas will be gratefully received but I am not going to put herbs, vegetables or strawberries in it, it commands something more interesting than that

Here is the hole in the bottom of the upsidedown pot. As you can see the plant that I want to choose for this pot needs to be happy with staying within this base size so no Sequoia giganteums or Cedrus atlantica’s for this baby!

I just have to add something to this post here (that seems to be an ongoing thing doesn’t it? The Serendipity Post Script…) as a long standing labour voter who once saw the labour party as the party for the “common man” I resign. I voted green in the last elections because I knew that a green vote was an indirect vote for the labour party. I no longer want to support this party that may as well be called “Mini Liberals” for their self-serving desire to look after their own jobs with a total lack of concern regarding the people that voted them in in the first place. The greens, once they got enough power to be dangerous, set about looking after their own desires including pushing gay marriage, which I am for, but not at the expense of health, law and education…and any other minority cause that they could lay their hands on so I won’t be voting for them. I CAN’T vote liberal. It would be like shooting my family in the foot. We have never been wealthy people and we have always been concerned about the welfare of the masses. I come from a long line of union reps and I couldn’t bear the taste in my own mouth (or the results of my vote) should I start to vote for the bourgeoisie of Australia. Sorry to all of you who vote liberal, but I have too much to lose to start voting for the enemy so next elections (both state and federal) I will be voting by drawing a picture of my derrière and they can take that vote as they see fit. Either way, my vote will be abstained from and I will no longer be proud to vote for my candidate in this election because no-one is good enough to be my candidate. We have no more “real” politicians. Whether you liked Bob Hawke and Malcolm Fraser or not, those men had a presence and our respect and we need someone like that to lead our lucky country onwards, labour or liberal (our only choices). We are dealing with money brokers, advertising executives and power hungry bastards who would sell us all down the river for the right to the top job. I think you need to note labour voters that labour has basically become liberal overnight. Bollocks to them all and I am just glad that dad isn’t alive to see what is happening to his precious labour party…it would have killed him all over again. This tiny next P.S.S. to this post was because as I was searching through the post for tag material (ways for the great unwashed to stumble across my humble little blog) I realised that this post has all of the fixings for a good horror story…blood suckers (both leeches and politicians) and zombies abound and when it comes to our politicians, what they are doing to our poor country is worse than a mass invasion by zombies, vampires and werewolves all at once! At least when the monsters had done their thing and calm descended (as it always does in these movies unless they are angling for a sequel…) Australia would still be in possession of its mineral wealth, its farms and its future and there would still be hope for that future. I say vote for the vampire party in the next elections!