“How’s the Serenity?”

Hi All,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Check out some of our tomato futures

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A little bit closer to future enjoyment…

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“Tonight we dine!” :o)

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We aren’t the only ones dining…

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

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

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

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

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

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

An ounce of sustainablity is worth a pound of prevention…

Hi All,

It’s almost Wednesday again and I find myself scrabbling for time to post. I must admit, most of my free time is currently being monopolised by the Wii game Zelda Skyward Sword. It’s been a fair while since I found a game like this that I can actually play! Technology and gaming seem to have decided to bypass my motor neurons in every stage of game development increasing flipping between screens, weapons, items etc. and decreasing the amount of time spent hunting for bright shiny things which, if I am pressed, is pretty much the only reason that I like to play games. I get tired of them very easily and would rather spend time reading than gaming. In saying that I haven’t finished “Tuesdays with Morrie” yet, or “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café” which I took out on a whim. Reading is such a romantic retreat from real life that I love to take every opportunity that I can to explore my imagination. With the cold weather around here it is very tempting to put everything on hold and call an immediate hiatus to all things “gardening” and “outdoors” but ironically this is the best time to garden. Steve and I have a few days of fine weather this week with no studies that we have to do and so we have set aside the next few days to plant out all of my beautiful cold climate shrubs so that they will survive the summer with less water and so that they will be able to stretch out their roots and be “real plants” in the soil. No more potting mix (and subsequently, no more annual potting up…) and I have started tuning my radar to isolating cutting material, plants and seeds for our Edible food forest.

“GET OFF THOSE!”…damned rabbits are EVERYWHERE…

The reminder of roosters past…lest we forget

After a year off from propagation I can feel my horticultural bones starting to emerge from their enforced sleep and shaking me gently to remind me that penniless hippies NEED to produce most of their own plants and so I took advantage of some of my time in town to prune back the large Muscat (Vitus Vinifera ‘Poloske Muscat’) grape vine that we planted when we first moved to Tasmania and lived in town. It has done its level best to take over the fence between our place and Margaret’s home next door. I removed the honeysuckle and jasmine from the fence as they are invasive garden destroyers here and had started taking over not only the small side garden but the jasmine had migrated, via runners, across a length of concrete to another garden further on. There is no stopping jasmine! I decided that since I was pruning the grape vine to facilitate us digging it up soon and bringing it back to Serendipity Farm, that I would take some cuttings from the canes and not waste this chance to grow more Muscat grapes. While we were attending Polytechnic on a daily basis in Launceston, we learned as much as we could from anyone who would talk to us about all things horticulture and we spread ourselves around with learning as much as we could about all forms of propagation. We used to talk to the head of the viticulture department as wine is one of the major exports of Tasmania (especially Pinot) and after each course, the students would prune the small vineyard and Mark would use the pruning’s to teach the next group of students how to grow grapes from canes. He gave us some good pinot grape canes and some American table grape canes (not sure which variety) that we got going in our garden. I gave the table grapes away at the time but kept the pinot and we still have a pinot grape vine struggling along in the front garden. He taught us how to take the cuttings, how many nodes to look for, how to cut the top of the cane at an angle and leave the bottom straight so that once the canes have overwintered, had formed callous and were ready to plant out that it would be easy to identify top from bottom. With all of this acquired knowledge I took 30 cane cuttings from the material that I had to work with and stored them in damp newspaper till I could get them into some damp sand to overwinter. Hopefully we get some callous (precursor to root formation) starting and I can plant a selection of Muscat grapes along the fenceline between the church and the veggie garden giving everyone the best of both worlds. At a later date Steve and I are going to plant out a few rows of various grape vines in the top area of the property. It gets full sun and has been cleared of trees by past owners and is on a steep slope so it is perfect for growing a few grapes with the eventuality of us being able to make our own wine.

So you want to grow some grapes from canes eh?

First source some canes…Grape preferably…

Find a recepticle to contain the canes (we used a large plant pot…) make sure it has holes in the bottom and you have a compliant and willing (compliant is more important that willing in this case…) helper to hold the canes while you pour in the sand…

Did I mention the coarse river sand? No? Well perhaps I should have…you need some at this point…

Pour enough sand from your bucket into the recepticle holding the canes so that they are well covered

Shake your pot a bit to settle the sand, water them in well and set to one side with the rest of your potted plants out in the open until you feel like checking to see if any of the canes have produced callous. If you want to know more you can sign up for one of the short wine courses at your local TAFE/Polytechnic…you just exhausted my experience in growing grapes.

That brings me back to my slowly awakening desire to propagate again. My tip find strawberries are behaving like ferals and are going crazy in the shed. I potted them up expecting a large rate of attrition thanks to their languishing in the tip for goodness only knows how long and then spending a frozen night in our trailer and another 2 days lying neglected on the floor of the shed. Nothing kills them! When you take something that has been neglected and show it a bit of tender loving care it rewards you exponentially and my tip strawberries are no exception. Even the teeny tiny little “buddling’s” are greening up and taking off. We have a steep rock wall around the side of Steve’s shed that was previously covered with weeds and African daisies (Osteospermum) that we pulled out and discovered the precarious nature of this area whilst at the same time working out where the cut and fill was taken for the house plot. Our soil is a sad mix of reactive clay laying on bedrock of volcanic stone and covered with silty shallow topsoil due to our proximity to the river. We can ameliorate the soil and make it a whole lot better, but silt has the next finest particles to clay soil (that’s what causes it to be so densely packed) and tends to wash away at the first sign of water and strangely become very hydrophobic (water runs off the top of it) when it becomes dry…which it does VERY easily and so you can see that combining this sort of topsoil with a steep slope is going to lead to problems with soil migration. We were going to plant alpine species in between the rocks to hold the soil in place but Edelweiss (Leontopodium alpinum) is considerably harder to source here in Tasmania than strawberries from the tip and segue right back to the strawberries. They are extremely hardy…they love full sun…they produce runners and make their own new plants (the lazy food gardeners heaven) and the produce an edible crop and love to grow in crevices. The ducks think twice before heading down steep slopes and so the strawberries should require only minimal protection but we will ensure that they are covered with some mulch and protected from possums until we have enough strawberries to form a dense mat. I love finding edible free solutions to our gardening problems that arrive at a win-win situation for both us and the wildlife around here.

One of the pots of strawberries that show no sign of shuffling off this mortal coil any day soon

The sign posted between the Exeter Thrift/Op shop and the golf course next door…I guess it’s one way to stop people wandering onto the greens!

A mans dog needs a mans drink! (Any representitives of the Guinness corporation reading this post can feel free to contact me about sponsorship money 😉 )

I spent Monday checking out the height and width parameters for my cold climate shrubby babies that have been living in pots for about 3 years now. When we first got bitten bad by the horticultural bug we went on a mad propagation and collection run that encompassed all kinds of plants. I started out with cacti and succulents that the ducks recently took great glee in eating almost to extinction and branched to other exotics (living in the glasshouse) and finally settled on cold climate shrubs before moving to Serendipity Farm and getting serious. Having both Steve and I fall victim to horticulture meant that there was no-one to put the brakes on when it came to propagation and collecting and we spent a lot of time and initially money on increasing our potted plants to the vicinity of 900 (300+ conifers alone) and whilst it was quite easy to keep these babies happy in town, out here on Serendipity Farm it’s a nightmare! We have to fight off the possums, wallabies, rabbits and anything else that feels like a snack (including Earl) whilst trying to minimise our potable water usage and our precious babies have slowly been falling by the wayside as the real world interjects itself and teaches us some life lessons. No more precious babies that can’t take a period of water stress…no more cossetting plants and no more wasting water on them. If our potted plants can’t take the lean times then they can’t live on Serendipity Farm. We have been giving away plants to our city dwelling friends to save them from the possums and everything that is left in our collection is hardy, water wise and able to survive out there in the garden because it’s been sitting there and surviving all of the unprotected night time raids for over a year now so we can be confident that it should survive planting out in the garden.

Some of my thrift shop bargains sourced in Exeter

My $3 glow in the dark strip designed to stop cars from squishing me in the dark…now I just need to source something that will get me out of bed and actually “walking” in the dark…

“Bargain…”

An attempt to justify paying $3 for something that I know I am most probably (still not giving up on it…) never going to wear

This hand made non tip pottery mug was my idea of a way to stop the dogs from tipping over Steve’s coffee in the loungeroom…Steve has a London mug that he is choosing to use at the moment in patriotic fervour (that won’t last long…) and so it’s not being used. I wonder if it works?

I sadly also discovered that in our horticultural zeal to isolate and collect many species of conifer, that many of them grow HUGE and that 4 acres isn’t enough to do them justice. We will be (sadly) giving away a fair few of our conifers to ensure that our collection is able to be integrated with our food forest ideals. We have several conifers that yield edible seeds and indeed spruce needles can be used to make a vitamin C rich tea (no scurvy for us!) and there is room on Serendipity Farm for our Bunya nut (Araucaria bidwillii) trees that we grew from seed collected in Carlton Garden’s in Melbourne where we attended our very first International Garden Show. Most of our other conifers are water sucking atmospheric generators that future generations (you know who you are…) will stand at the bottom of looking up into the stratosphere wondering at the mind that thought it possible to plant Giant Sequoia’s at the entrance of their property when said Sequoia has now taken over the entire driveway and is threatening to uproot the house. The reason why people (who shall remain anonymous as is their constitutional right according to the law…) would want to plant a Giant Sequoia next to the entrance of the driveway is because said anonymous person grew that Giant Sequoia from a teeny little seed. That teeny little seed was the ONLY BLOODY SEED out of the entire packet of “Bonsai Mix” that grew and by HECK it is going to be planted next to the gate so help me them!  We shall speak no more about the subject…I said NO MORE!

Sequoia gigantea grown from seed in his first horticultural certificate course and soon to be planted with pride and joy at the front gate…take note Stewart…we are putting a caveat on this tree so you have bollocks all chance of removing it! 😉

I cleaned out the freezers on Monday because I like to torture myself. There was no room left in either of them and “stuff” needed to be frozen so I was forced into it. The main problem was that since we had killed and subsequently gotten the most out of 11 roosters over the last 3 months or so there was an inordinate percentage of freezer space being taken up by chicken stock. I have discovered, since waxing lyrical about the benefits of chicken stock, that we tend not to use it much. This has resulted in a glut of chicken stock in every orifice of the house that is somewhat cooler than room temperature and it was breeding exponentially. Having completed with a “PASS” certificates 2 and 3 in commercial cookery I am MORE than aware of the dangers of chicken stock when not kept at a specific temperature over extended periods and after adding up the dangers and needing more than my 2 hands and both my feet to count them I decided that desperate times called for desperate measures…something had to be done about that chicken stock! At this point of time the super hero usually appears and “BIFF KAPOW’s” something and everything is sorted out and Gotham City is saved. The superhero wasn’t available on Monday for some reason so a tired addled sleep deprived Zelda addict had to work out a solution all by herself…not a pretty sight especially on a Monday morning. I came up with a brilliant solution if I say so myself. First you analyse the problem…”no space thanks to tonnes of chicken stock”. Next you remember that your life mantra is “Think smarter NOT harder” (that’s the one that I share with the public…my REAL life mantra is “Shit! Maybe no-one will notice?” but that is another story…) and so I slowly formulated an excellent plan. I had only recently been reading my rss feed reader. Yes, I am THAT clever 😉 and realised that the solution was right in front of my eyes…

http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/homemade-bouillon-recipe.html

No…I am sorry. I have spoon fed you enough! If you actually want to see what it was that I did, you are just about going to have to go to that website and take a look you lazy bollocks!…I will wait here while you do… (Insert elevator music and wonder if they play “The girl from Ipanema” in Korean elevators…)…ok so I KNOW that you didn’t go there…look maybe this will help…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJkxFhFRFDA

Can ANYONE tell me why elevators chose to use this song?!!! Just watching Astrud makes my eyelids start to droop! I guess it was last century and who can guess at what olden day’s people were thinking about when they wrote music like that…

Ok I made concentrated stock! Easy peasy. I turned a kitchen sink overflowing with bags of stock into an eighth of a stockpot of gelatinised rubber that the dogs will do tricks for. I am going to bounce it all off the deck down to the waiting chickens and feral cats and see if I can’t skim some down to the Tamar River. Again…we shall speak no more of this!

I found this website online and you can get this fantastic catalogue on recycled paper sent to you once a year. I doubt I could source the seeds through this guide but its full of hints, tips and other fantastic “stuff” to help people who want to live sustainably and thats us!

What I am reading at the moment…(I LOVE you library!)

The latest copy of Feast magazine (FAR better than Delicious magazine you ABC snobs and MUCH more interesting) accompanied by my bucket cup  of tea that enhances my reading pleasure (durex for the mind)…by the way dearest daughter Bethany…if you are reading this post, I really REALLY would like you to renew my subscription for my birthday for another year 🙂

Ok we are getting close to me having to wind up this post and I haven’t told you everything that happened since Saturday. Here is a quick rundown…

  1. Fatty ate one of Effels babies and is skating on thin ice even though it was a rooster (it’s the principal of the thing!)
  2. We went to Exeter and I got bargains from the thrift shop that I will share pictorially and kill 2 birds with one stone
  3. Steve is very tired of his shed being liberally coated in nitrogenous chickeny deposits and is about to integrate Pingu into the main herd post haste…
  4. I can’t bring myself to clear out any of my hard sourced blogs from my rss feed reader even though I can’t hope to read all of the posts that I get a day in a 24 hour period let alone fit anything else into my day. Sorry to anyone that I usually comment on regularly… you now know just what it takes to get me to shut up…DON’T tell Steve!

There you go. A couple of manic days in the life of “Us”. I hope you liked it…I can honestly say that it’s kind of too bad if you didn’t…it’s in the public domain now and I guess you are stuck with it. My daughters “Madeline and Bethany” now have to read this post because their names have been mentioned and my son is having a ball dressing up as an ancient Sumerian Godlike creature and getting in the Roswell times whilst wearing a pair of “Butterfinger” underpants given to him by the purveyors of this diabetes inducingly sweet American treat. I am totally engaged by Stewart’s American holiday and it certainly appears that he has been packing it to the rafters with non-stop memory inducing episodes. He does appear to have inherited his grandmothers ability to take photographs of nondescript road scenes and blurry road signs (they say that it skips a generation…) but his whirlwind tour of the USA is just about over and he is heading across the Atlantic ocean and then a hop-step-and a jump across the Irish sea to Ireland (Not much of a quiz question that one is it?). I hope he has an amazing time and his memories are burned into his mind so that he never forgets. Ok, so photos might be a good alternative…I was being metaphorical there! (Sheesh you guys are a tough audience!). You got off lightly today because I now have to go and tackle that behemoth also known as “RSS Feed Reader”. I am going to have to tear out my ongoing desire to hoard each and every blog that touches a nerve and keep a core group of blogs that feed my soul. Please don’t take offence if you never hear from me again. I didn’t dump your blog…I just couldn’t find a way to separate myself from ANY of my 729 (and growing every day) blogs that I am currently following and decided that hoarding blogs is NOTHING like hoarding rubbish or cats. See you Saturday when I might just have collected enough colourful gems to save Spain, Greece AND Ireland (I owe it to Stewart and Kelsey) in Zelda. Whatever you choose to do in the meantime…do it well people and don’t skip bits…you only get to pass this way once…you may as well enjoy the ride :o)

Is this the way to Tamarillo?

Hi All,

“Every night I’ve been hugging my pillow…”… mad? Possibly, but most definitely a good segue into my Saturday post. I am just sitting down now at lunchtime Saturday to get started on this post. The title is related by proxy…We went for a walk with the boys like we do pretty much every day. Yesterday was a bit different because we had to go for a meeting with our lecturer and so Steve walks Earl nice and early while it’s still dark and Bezial usually declines the offer of a walk because he is well aware of what day it is whenever Earl gets walked in the dark. Bezial is a very clever dog who is able to work out what we are doing by “the signs”. If walking in the dark is involved, he is going to be left alone with Earl for a bit. If I walk to the bedroom and get changed and put on my walking shoes he is going to go for a walk…but only if I go to the bathroom and brush my hair and put it up…AND pick up the leads on the way past the door…all sorts of signs and portents rule Bezials waking life. I am not sure what rules his sleeping life but I think he is a jaguar on a limb as we often see one of his feet twitching as he attempts to sleep run. They got their walk nice and early this morning and we met a little 7 month old Bow nosed terrier called “Oink” and had a ball frolicking. They don’t get to play with dogs much because most dogs are either scared of them or up for a fight. Bow nosed terriers are the exception. They are lovely well-tempered dogs who love to play and the boys have a new mate on the block. After we headed off from meeting Oink, we walked down a small gravel road and up a hill to make sure that the boys get some good walking time and on the way up the hill I found 2 ripe tamarillo fruits lying on the ground. I keep my eyes open for “stuff”. I like found things and collect old rusty bolts, bits of broken pottery and rumbled glass (on the beach) and use them in my attempts at artistic interpretation in my succulent pots and around the garden. The tamarillos were picked up, pocketed and are currently sitting waiting for me to cut them open and spread their seeds out on some kitchen towel to dry and then I will attempt to grow some. I don’t personally like tamarillo’s much but some of their cooked by products are nice. I don’t mind planting things that the native critters and birds can feast on as the more diversity that we get here the better as far as I am concerned. I have the utopian dream of one day producing so much food here that not only can we share with others, but the wildlife can share with impunity. Bring it on possums…I will stuff you to bursting with kindness :o)

Here are my 2 little tamarillos that I found…I don’t think that I have mentioned them yet apart from the tantalising post title…well…when I DO talk about them you can picture them in your mind…

“Word”

Its amazing how quick the weather can change around here. This was thursday. Sunny and bright and briskly cold. Today it is grey, rainy and windy. 4 seasons in one day is a complete understatement for Tasmania!

I take advantage of thrift shops and tip shops to buy things that are not only cheap but are also recycled and often unavailable these days. I found some amazing heavy ceramic bowls yesterday in a thrift shop for 50c a bowl. Steve and I bought 2 bags of toys for the dogs that amused them no end when we got home for $1 a bag. I bought 12 bottles of candle votive oils at the tip shop for 50c and use them in our oil burners to scent the house. I see it as sustainability. I am not wasting resources to buy “new” things and am learning by all sorts of means how to recycle, repurpose and reuse. I can thank Rhianna of http://envirorhi.wordpress.com/ for my newfound epiphany for reusing etc. She showed me how to use rss feed readers and I have been stuffing my reader full of amazing sites ever since. The flip side, Rhianna, is that I find it hard to get through all of them and haven’t been to your site in days! With some amazing repurposing sites, Instructables, my “Go To” site for learning how to do pretty much anything and Google, I am able to find out everything that I need to reuse just about everything. I am thinking about building a composting toilet out the back. As far as I am concerned, using precious water to flush the toilet is the stupidest thing that we Aussies, living in a water stressed climate, should be doing! Composting toilets result in no water loss, friable compost and reduced sewerage problems. We should all be given the incentive to install them wherever practicable. I was able to download some very good plans online in a series of PDF’s to allow me to make my own composting toilet and am seriously considering flouting our laws to make and use one. Water rates are skyrocketing this year and as penniless sustainable hippies we think that it is ludicrous that we are not being offered alternatives to the current system of water wastage involved with out of date sewerage systems. We could save an enormous amount of precious potable water if we changed over to these systems. Much like growing hemp. Tasmania is in the process of considering making the growing of hemp legal for seed and fibre. Hemp seed is a delicious source of Omega 6 and Omega 3 and lots of other tasty goodness but we have to import it from Canada at an exorbitant price and it has to be crushed and marketed as “Pet food”… Tasmania is crying out for industries to employ unemployed and underemployed people and yet we are not getting behind the growing of something that has a fantastic intrinsic value! You would have to smoke the equivalent of an entire field of the stuff to get a mild high so what’s the issue? I would imagine it’s something political…or big business…

Bezial would like to mention here that he is HEARTILY sick of Earl (a.k.a. “Dumbass”) being overrepresented on this blog. He is too well behaved to start acting in a naughty manner to get more attention but you just never know so we had best get posting photos of him or else! Oh… and we need to paint the deck!

Yeh…you really DO need to paint that deck…

Can we come down and frolic amongst all those chickens and feral cats please?…Pretty please?…

The tamarillos being most fortuitously discarded (probably fell off the back of a trailer taking their parent to the tip) made me think about our throwaway society and how dangerous that premise is. I was watching one of those animal rescue shows the other day while I swept the house. I can’t sit down and watch as I end up in tears and wanting to adopt every dog in the pound with Steve having to wrestle the phone from my plaintive fingers so I “sort of” watch while I am otherwise occupied. I do the same thing with television. I “listen” to television while I am in the kitchen working on posting, typing out recipes or studying. Anyhoo… they were talking about an elderly lady who was a hoarder…she hoarded pets…she hoarded “stuff” and she hoarded bags of garbage resulting in her not being able to move in her house. I am not talking about hoarding when I say we should be careful about what we throw out. Hoarding is a mental condition and seems to be a result of war time deprivation in some baby boomers…my parents both tended to hoard things that they were never going to use and I put it down to them living through W.W.2 and being subject to thrifty parents who drummed into them that they should never waste anything. So many of their generation took it literally and hoarded jars of rusty (unusable) screws, jam jars, old plastic bread wrappers and had wardrobes full of them because they were never actually needed in the affluent conditions that followed. We have inherited their rubbish in more ways than one and it’s up to our generation to try to make the best with what they left us. Rather than hoarding for the sake of not throwing things away we need to learn a new lesson. If you don’t want it and can’t re-use it, give it to someone who can. Stop hoarding and start sharing. Unless you are going to use it you should clear it out of your life. I think that ethos should spill over into our day to day lives and when we share, we enrich other peoples and curiously, our own lives.

Here’s one of our thriving  Eucalyptus viminalis (Manna or Ribbon Gums) against the lovely blue sky. I think Steve must have taken this shot whilst laying on his back in complete submission to the work that he had just done…

This is the latest area to receive the “Pimblett scud missile drop” on Serendipity Farm. It looks quite pretty here but under all of that purest green is a seething sea of jasmine roots strangling everything

This area contained a nest of eggs WELL past their useby date (lucky we found them as they are pretty close to our olfactory zones) and a mass of overgrown jasmine and several dead and straggly plants. We spent a day working in this area and tidied it up. It would be lovely if when we finished the area looked like a lovely manicured garden but it looks like a tonne of agent orange got dumped in the near vicinity…sigh…take note ANYONE with anything to do with horticulture…you are NOT allowed to set foot on Serendipity Farm until it starts to look a bit better!

This is the same area a bit further back. It doesn’t look like this now…the pile of debris has quadrupled and we HAVE to take a green waste tip trip on Monday or face certainly being crushed by a mountain of debris in our sleep…

This is looking through the area that you saw in the last 2 pictures back out over the driveway. Our chicken avengers are on duty ferreting out anything that is stupid enough to move so we left them to it and headed inside broken horticulturalists…

This area is cleared of blackberries and my nemesis Osteospermum (Marguerite) daisies. On our walk around Rowella the other day I noticed that someone had actually bought a punnet of these…BOUGHT! They should be listed on the declared weed species list ASAP in my opinion!

My little ripe discarded tamarillos are my gain. I am able to use them to my advantage. No-one cares if I found those tamarillos (well…perhaps the possums that might otherwise have eaten them…) and I am going to use them to propagate something that I otherwise wouldn’t have done for our property. Life is full of little opportunities that constantly present themselves for our choosing pleasure. It’s up to us whether we choose the road less travelled with its scary possibilities or stick to the safe well-worn highway and perhaps never reach our full potential. I keep reminding myself that we only live once so I am going to do the most that I can with what I have left. We want to leave something positive out of our being allowed to stay on the earth for so long and do what we can to give something back where so very much has been taken. Kudos to the people trying so hard to fight for the earth…we “Hippy Loraxes” are passionately and headily in love with this world and want to give it every chance that we can to rest and regenerate. All that from a pair of small ripe tamarillo’s laying on the ground…funny what makes us think isn’t it?

The front of the house is starting to look a bit better at least a bit more civilised. That’s as close as you are going to get to me being in a photo and Earl is just an attention hog. The best thing (apart from our wood burning stove Brunhilda that is…) that we purchased last year was this little trailer. It has paid for itself several times over and we will be hopefully picking up a small 2 seater couch from a thrift shop that we saw the other day on Monday with it after we dump a load of blackberries and debris at Exeter Transfer Station. I was watching Tom and Barbara sitting in front of their wood burning “range” in an episode of The Good Life and realised that a couch near the fire would be a true assett…somewhere to sit and read a book in the dead of winter where you stick your foot out the door and pull it in 10 seconds later laden with chillblains, or somewhere for Bezial to stretch out in blissful solitary somnolence at night time as Earl is hogging our bed and snoring upside down (sigh) so a couch it is and we saw one for $30 at one of the thrift shops and if its still there on Monday, we are going to buy it and install it right smack bang in front of the wood fire stove and I am sure that I will spend the rest of my life fighting to get a seat on it…sigh…

Check out some of the liberated bulbs that are starting to emerge all over the place on Serendipity Farm. Most of them have been stuck under a mountain of overgrown weeds and shrubbery for the last 20 years and I doubt that has stopped them emerging stoically each year to do their thang and die back unseen. This year they can sample the sun on their blossoms…they can emerge into sunlight…they can photosynthesise with impunity and they can return to the earth spent and satiated with the knowlege that their bulbs are storing up next years spring hope.

Steve took this photo with his phone of 2 horses that love him. He faithfully collects a pile of long green grass from ditches along our Rowella walk to feed these 2 and they run up to see him every time he appears. Steve didn’t have much to do with horses before he came to Australia like many city people and its great to see him getting up close to them and enjoying stroking them and they love him right back :o)

I am in the process of typing out some recipes from a really good cookbook called “Food for Friends and Family” by Sarah Raven. A U.K. cookbook writer of the type of food that I love, hearty, real and delicious. Much like Nigel Slater, Nigella Lawson and Simon Hopkinson she carries on the long tradition of reminding us that simple is often much MUCH better. Soul food is what comes to mind when I tap furiously at my keyboard not wanting to lose a single delicious literary morsel and I go to bed red eyed and tired with cranky fingers after a marathon typing session but rich with future possibilities for our adventurous cooking episodes in Brunhilda our mammoth wood burning stove. I can’t tell you how many recipes have trickled from cookbooks through to various tombs throughout the house through the years. My children will all remember me scribbling furiously before computers came along and made me less liable for the endless reams of paper needed to create the books that I filled exponentially. I think it might have been my way of collecting knowledge but at the time it was a burning addiction and my ability to pinch recipes worthy of my culinary tastes from websites all over the world is only hampered by the occasional party pooper who makes it hard to copy and paste. That’s when I am reminded about how much work used to go into assimilating the massive collection that I have today (perhaps I DID inherit a desire to hoard from my parents!)

Like I said…4 seasons…is fog a season?!

Underneath the beaches laden with smooth pebbles that are endemic to Tasmania there is dark volcanic sand. This is one of Steve’s “artistic” shots. You won’t get many of them from me because they involve contorting yourself into somewhat unusual positions to get close to the ground…you may be my dear constant readers but you wouldn’t want to put me into hospital would you?!

Same beach and looking a lot like caruso beach in Denmark where I come from…the only new thing is “Old Klunka” the tractor that some bright spark uses to tow his kayak down for his morning splash

Moss…nothing unusual about moss…I am in the process of harvesting a bit from every moss habitat that I find to populate Steve’s new Maple garden…wish me luck…I should be finished sometime mid 2050…

This is to show you all what we have to deal with when it comes to our soil…actually…these people are LUCKY (much like the “you were LUCKY” Yorkshireman Monty Python sketch…) because they don’t have their clay stuffed full of rocks. There is about 1mm of topsoil…10mm of silt that turns abruptly into reactive clay. Reactive clay is the sort of clay that swells and shrinks…so its the sort of clay that can break your house…in winter it sends underground water shooting along its surface and erodes everything in its path…maybe we are LUCKY to have the rocks to hold it together?!

As a horticulturalist you have to be able to act like Sherlock Holmes when it comes to “What happened here”?…I deduce that the dodder (Cassytha melantha.) that has tangled around the base of this long deceased eucalypt had something to do with its demise…whatever it was it did a good job!

Thank you to all of my dear constant readers who are commenting on my posts of late. I realised that I get as much out of posting for you as you do reading my posts (hopefully “something”! 😉 ). I have been learning heaps from Anthropogen lately and Rhianna has been posting some amazing recipes that I can’t wait to try. I recently discovered Joan in Queensland with her allotment gardening and can’t wait to read about her trips to her allotment and what she is up to. Blogs are only as worthwhile as the informative sharing that goes on and it’s up to us to make sure that the good ones are kept alive, well and thriving. That wasn’t self promotion there folks…my blog is more my need to verbally talk my way through my mind than it is to gain kudos in any way :o). Best I get it out here than have you all read about me in the world news…Christi in a tiny little town called Olalla in the USA has an amazing blog called “Farmlet” and has a very close ethos to what we are doing here on Serendipity Farm. I found her wonderful blog http://farmlet.wordpress.com/ when hunting for pictures and instructions for how to make a hoop house to extend our growing season. I had plenty of hoop house Instructables but Christi and her husband “The Bearded One” of the deep booming baritone fame and stick picture aficionado had not only made a hoop house, but had used branch wood to do so creating a charming and most functional customised unit out of very little. Reusing and recycling what they could. She has been rallying against a Pebble mine at Bristol Bay, again big business lobbies their way into profits over the environment and our future. I just looked up what a pebble mine is having decided that no-one aside from landscape contractors could make money out of the obvious connotation and found out that a pebble mine is…

“Pebble Mine is the common name of an advanced mineral exploration project investigating a very large porphyry copper, gold, and molybden”

Yup…that’s why the USA wanted Alaska in the first place, to plunder it dry of its resources. If you have a look at a map of the world you will note that Alaska should surely be part of Canada NOT North America. I haven’t had much to do with learning anything about the logistics or geographical topography of the America’s but since my son is heading over there in a few weeks’ time I decided to check out a few things. We learn very little about the U.S.A. in our schools in Australia and I had to look up where several places of interest were and that’s when I realised that Canada is right next to Alaska and surely should be the caretakers of its beauty and wealth? I have to thank Christi again for allowing me to find this bit of information out. When I was checking out Olalla on Google Earth (I like to see it as being curious Christi and NOT stalking you ;)) aside from finding “AL’s Café” obviously the local shop, I noticed how very close to Alaska Washington was. I also discovered that Washington is on the West coast of the U.S.A. See…blogging has allowed me to learn more about North American geography in a couple of months than I learned in years at school. Well done Christi and The Bearded One for standing up for the earth. Consider yourselves honorary penniless hippy Loraxes and know that we might be on the other side of the earth but we are there with you in spirit, placards in hand and tennis rackets at the ready to defend our precious earth and the resources of our future generations. By the way…you live in a very pretty part of the world and it must be damned cold up there being so close to Alaska!

How small is the world now? I can talk in real time with someone on the other side of the world…I can tap away in Facebook to my family who live 3800km away from me and I feel like I am so close I can touch them. I have friends that live in Perth WA (Kymmy and Bruce) who I can send emails to, talk on Facebook to and who read my posts faithfully every time. I can meet people from all over the world who are able to give me precious information about what we are doing here like Spencer from Anthropogen. I can comment on a cookbook writers Facebook page and she replies to me with warmth and humour…the world is a MUCH smaller place now that we have the ability to share in an instant. I am able to isolate and quantify information that otherwise would have taken me ages to find in library books and text books in seconds online. Googling no longer has Cookie Monster connotations, it’s all about learning and finding and understanding and feeling incredibly privileged to be sharing with you all. I would hate to see the internet become contained and the information that we currently take for granted become like aps are on a paid basis. The internet has been the most important and influential tool of our generation. Steve and I were talking as we were travelling between our home in tiny sleepy (smoky) Sidmouth to the big sticks of Launceston for our meeting with our lecturer yesterday about how different our lives are from those of our children. When we were kids (ITS HAPPENING!…I am talking like my parents…sigh…) we didn’t have the internet. We didn’t have mobile phones…we were watching The Good Life and marvelling at the lack of automated CAD programs and how they had to design and draw on paper and draftsman boards. How could they live without CAD! Everything is so fast…instant messaging, instant communication and instant noodles…we are all constantly on the phone…on Facebook and online…I guess this has all been thrust on us in a very short space of time and we are going to have to learn to regain our spare time by learning to minimise our exposure to “instant”. I am personally glad that we have such a small world. I love how no-one can contain information and that we can all find out about the atrocities and shame of political corruption and that of big business. You can’t hide…everyone can see you and what you are up to. Forget the big brother fear; big brother is being subject to its own scrutiny by the likes of humble old “we”. Undoubtedly this will all change soon. Someone out there wants to make the net pay. To do that we have to be corralled into paying for information that we currently get for free. My guess is that it will be along the lines of Apple making their IPhone and I pad users pay for aps. I am going to spend every single day up until then finding something precious and saving it so that I won’t have to pay for my laziness in more ways than one in the future! I just hit 3000 words and that’s my cut off…I can’t be subjecting you all to my endless ponderings and I need to get stuck into typing out the rest of that amazing cookbook.  Spend your weekend wisely. Wind down, chill out, enjoy what you are doing to the max and recharge for next week. Thank you all for reading my posts and for giving me some of your precious time to ponder alongside me about our common human condition. See you on Wednesday when we might go fungal for a change :o)

A bushel of beans

Hi All,

It’s been predicted by the weather man (why do I keep believing him?!) that this weekend is going to be a bit of a wet one. I have decided to collect some firewood and cross my fingers and hope that he is actually right this time as Steve has wanted to make some miniature pork pies for ages now and it has been too hot to light the wood burning stove. We have the meat and the bacon in the freezer ready to go and we have a packet of lard for the hot water pastry and all we need are the right conditions to light the fire and do it. When the fire is on I can also do a bit of bread making. I found lots of bread books and pizza books in my cookbook selection that I managed to keep hold of the other day and think that I might make a few different loaves. I might make some cinnamon buns with some glaze icing. I might make some focaccia or perhaps some pizza for Steve’s tea one night. I love to cook but like everything else I need to have it all prepped up before I start. I guess that comes from my past cooking life where mise en place was the only way that we cooks could keep up with the frenetic pace that we were forced to work under. I mentioned a book that contained a recipe for activating your septic tank the other day. I know that most of you are going “EWW!” right about now and wondering why ANYONE would want to even talk about septic tanks but those of us that own them would rather eat our own feet than call up the septic tank pumping man and so keeping those little bacterium happy is the way to minimising those trips to the pumping station. Here is that recipe should any of you find yourself suddenly living in the country and off the sewer grid (like we are) and Nigel the Septic Pumping man is breathing down your neck for his next Mercedes…

Whether you like this tree or not, you have to admit this Rhus tree is a lovely specimen

 I would make a minor change here…I would remove the word “coffee” and insert the word “tea”

You can see that some deciduous trees are telling us to get our firewood in and to get ready for a long hard winter ahead. Forget the weather man… I believe the trees and the ants that are stocking up all over the place for winter

Please note that all of these recipes/hints and tips come from The Readers Digest book of “Homemade” over 700 everyday items that are easy to make and will save you money. This book suggests all sorts of ways to recycle and use simple household ingredients to make your own cleaning products and other basic things that we usually get from supermarkets…in other words it gives us back some of our own control over how we spend our money. Always something good in my book! Cut out that middle man…that is where we are all being ripped off!

Septic Tank Activator

If you detect a persistent unpleasant odour from your septic tank, it’s probably due to a ‘die-off’ of sewerage digesting bacteria. Before you call in your local septic tank specialist (a.k.a. “Nigel”…) try using this simple recipe to give the little beasties a boost… 2 cups (440g) sugar 4 cups (1 litre) simmering water 2 cups (300g) polenta (yellow cornmeal) 2 x 7g packets dry yeast 1. Dissolve the sugar in a saucepan of simmering water and cool to lukewarm. Mix in the polenta and the yeast. 2. Once the solution has been mixed, flush it down the toilet (flush twice if necessary). For best results, do this before turning in for the night, or when there will be no activity in the bathroom for several hours

There are heaps of really interesting “recipes” in this book for all sorts of things. I think that mum gave us a priceless book here at Christmas time. Not only was it the last thing that we ever received from her, but it passed on some amazing thrifty and handy hints…reminding us of the very essence of mum and what she was. Thanks mum…I will always think of you whenever I am using this book :o)

I just might share a few more of these “recipes” with you here now…

Aspirin Systemic Insecticide

1 ½ regular strength aspirin (450mg in total) 10 litres of water Plant experts have experimented successfully with watering plants with aspirin water as a systemic insecticide and promoter of plant growth. Plants naturally produce some salicylic acid, which aspirin contains, as a natural protection. When watered with the aspirin solution, treated plants absorb extra salicylic acid, which helps them repel sucking insects, and they produce strong, healthy growth 1. In a large watering can, stir the aspirin into the water until dissolved. Water plants as usual with treated water or put it in a spray bottle and use as a foliar spray 2. Treat plants twice monthly with aspirin water

Alcohol Insect Treatment

Methylated spirits is a tried and true homemade treatment for soft bodied garden pest insects such as aphids and mealybugs. Traditionally, it was advised that you dab it onto individual insects with a cotton bud but this is a time consuming task. Try this speedy spritz instead…

1 cup (250ml) methylated spirits 1 cup (250ml) water 1. Combine the alcohol and water in a spray bottle and shake to combine 2. Before treating, spray one leaf of the infested plant as a test to make sure that there are no reactions, such as browning. If not, spray the entire plant, including undersides of leaves and flower buds. Avoid spraying open flowers, which may turn brown if treated with alcohol 3. Repeat every other day for 3 days to kill hatchlings. Monitor plants and spray again as needed. Label the bottle and store it out of the reach of children and pets 4. I would add here personally…if the pests are becoming altogether too much for you to bear and nothing (including this spray) is working, drink a few large stiff glasses of spirits (NOT methylated…) and forgedaboudit!

Ammonia Plant Conditioning Spray

 Ammonia is a concentrated form of nitrogen, which is the nutrient most needed by green plants. You can make an inexpensive all-purpose fertiliser and insecticidal spray using ammonia and soap. The soap helps the ammonia stick to the leaves and also kills soft-bodied insects. Mix as much as you need for garden plants and lawns. Store all garden treatments, such as this, in a sealed and labelled bottle in a childproof cabinet 1 part household clear ammonia 1 part dishwashing liquid (do not use laundry or dishwasher detergent) 7 parts water 1. In a large container combine the ingredients 2. Fill a spray bottle and apply the mix to stems and both sides of leaves for garden plants. Use a hose end applicator to spray the lawn

Houseplant Food (or mum’s liquid manure…ech…)

For an easy organic food for houseplants (or other potted plants), try this recipe for ‘manure tea’ 2 bucketful’s of fresh horse or cow manure or 1 bucketful of chook (poultry) manure 1 hessian bag Rope 1 barrel or rubbish bin Water 1. Dump manure into the hessian bag. Tie the bag shut with one end of a long rope and put it in an empty barrel or rubbish bin 2. Fill the barrel or rubbish bin with water and leave the bag to steep for a week, using the rope occasionally to jerk it up and down and mix the liquid (like a huge teabag…) 3. Thin the ‘tea’ to the colour of weak black tea and apply monthly to the soil around houseplant roots. Keep reserved tea in labelled containers with tight lids out of the way of children or pets but goodness only knows how stupid your child would be to open this up and decide to take a drink! Mum was always trying to get me to make manure tea out of our chook dung. I KNOW it’s great stuff, but you know what? So is castor oil and I have steadfastly refused to take part in that little event either. I remember mum’s manure tea…Compost and weed tea are a totally different matter.

There you go. Some hints and tips from that wonderful book as listed above the recipes. If you are a slave to Readers Digest (like mum was) you might be able to get yourself a copy of this book. It’s actually well worth buying and keeping and something that we are most definitely going to be using over the years and one day handing down a well-thumbed and well-used copy to following generations.

This is a dog who is tired of walking around on what was shaping up to be quite a warm day…

Here is the progression of a dog who has learned how to manipulate from a master (Bezial) in attempting to manipulate Steve into taking him for a walk. We had to wait till 10am to walk the dogs yesterday which is a good 3 hours later than usual and “somebody” didnt’ like it…

Giving his most pathetic “see how sad I am?” eyes when I was taking documented evidence of his sulking…

Bezial was taking the offensive stance and decided to wreak havoc on the loungeroom floor and rip up as many of his toys as he could to show his displeasure…

The lead had been “appropriated” from its spot on the table and “someone” was attempting to put on his own lead and take himself for a walk. I noticed him trying to push his nose through the gate to head out a little while after this shot…Earl has had enough of his lazy humans and is sure that he can work those pedals in that car…he sits in the front seat behind the steering wheel whenever he can so no doubt he has had a good look at them

I am going to be spending a little bit of time tonight typing out a few recipes from a cookbook that I am donating to the thrift shop. Most of the recipes are never going to be even looked at but a select few are really good and as such I would like to keep them so I add them to my large document collection that I am amassing for a rainy day. I might just pop off now and type them out so that I have a good bit of time to play Animal Crossing before I have to start winding down our day and doing all of the necessary chores that need to be done at the end of the day on Serendipity Farm. See you all tomorrow when apparently it is going to be raining, cold and a perfect day for sitting reading a good book next to the fire. Just before I go, I just got this most interesting post sent to me by Anthropogen, with a link to the following PDF called “Sturtevants Edible Plants of the World” and thought that there are some of you that might be interested in it. I am collecting (and collating) as many of these free PDF’s as I can at the moment because I don’t want to have to pay Google for them should they be able to (and with the size of the 3 biggest players…Google, Apple and Microsoft why do we think that they won’t have the political clout to ram this through the courts?) implement the “Cloud” system that I talked about in a previous post, I will at least have found as many of these precious free resources, currently out there for anyone interested enough to find and saved them for future reference. Here’s that PDF if you are interested…

http://www.swsbm.com/Ephemera/Sturtevants_Edible_Plants.pdf

This spider wasn’t angry, it was starting to shed it’s skin. We were able to watch this facinating process over the period of a couple of hours and now know that the spider husks that we have been finding are not victims of a larger spider, but actually belonged to a spider that got too large

Some of the bottles that we are going to recycle into a bottle feature wall “somewhere” on Serendipity Farm. We are collecting multicoloured bottles and storing them in a small shed on the property. One day we will have enough and we will share what we do with them here

The pile of books that headed off to the Thrift Shop yesterday

I really liked this photo. I think I captured Big Yin, Houdini and Big Yin’s progeny perfectly. Not the best photo but definately showing who is the boss. Houdini won’t let ANYONE else next to her babies. As you can see they are starting to change from tiny fluffballs into tiny chooks. They are already playing and watching out for each other and as ferals (living outside the coop) they are true survivors on Serendipity Farm where just about everything wants to try a tasty little chicken (including Bezial and Earl if they got out…)

The last photo for today is of my enormous quantity of dried beans soaking. I have left them soak overnight and will spend most of today cooking this lot on top of the wood fired stove. I will also be baking bread, making miniature pork pies and various other things in and on top of this wood fired stove. I try to do whatever I can to ensure that I take full advantage of this great “free” (at the moment because we are using wood from the property) cooking source.

1 small bargain for Fran and 1 great leap for the contents of Steve’s wallet

Hi All,

It’s market day! It’s also the day that we take Stewart into town to catch his plane over to Melbourne to go house hunting. Bonne chance Stewart and good luck to us in finding some extreme bargains at the markets. I have a list of things that I look for at markets. The list has been trimmed according to my changing tastes but there are a few core items that are always hunted for

  1. Terracotta kitchen ware
  2. Unusual vintage kitchenalia and interesting kitchenware especially bowls
  3. Weird and wonderful items especially musical instruments, ethnic “things” and items that fit in with our rustic beach-house theme
  4. Plants and interesting pots for plants and anything weird and wonderful for the garden
  5. Strange foodstuffs
  6. BARGAINS!

The last item is very important as sometimes I will buy something that I don’t need merely because it is a BARGAIN! I once tried to get Steve to buy 2 lawnmowers from the man up the street who was having a garage sale because he was only charging $10 each for them. BARGAIN! Steve is not easily swayed by something being a bargain…he is highly unlikely to listen to my protestations even when I am hopping from foot to foot (a good sign that I think something is an EXTREME BARGAIN rather than merely BARGAIN!) and is my constant leveller (and oftwhile miserly stingemeister!) when it comes to spending (he would say “wasting”…) money at markets. I must admit to buying things and once I get them home, they get put into a cupboard until I pack them up into a cardboard box, along with several of their fellow cupboard mates, and drop them off at the local thrift shop. I freely admit to enjoying the process of buying the bargain somewhat more than actually owning the bargain but in the thrill of the hunt, I often need Steve to remind me about the last BARGAIN! That I bought that I absolutely POSITIVELY had to have and that hasn’t seen the light of day since I bought it. Hopefully I find some really good BARGAINS and Steve allows me to purchase at least 1 of them to salve my poor overactive bargain brain synapses.

Here is one of the bargains that I got today. This little fellow has only survived so far because his friend (below) was much more interesting…

As you can see…this little man is a leg (and an eye) short of the full insect…

This was my 1 little bargain today. I missed out on a lovely cutting board for $1, but I already have lots of them so hopefully the lady that bought it is going to use it. I picked this nice little set of condiment bowls for $3. The stall that I bought them from had all sorts of bargains. There were all sorts of really nice cushions for $1. I knew better to buy any of them (no matter how much they screamed BARGAIN at me…) because all I had to do was put BARGAIN cushion + Earl together in my mind and I got more mess than I was willing to clean up no matter how cheap the original package was…

I can see these little bowls with lovely mixed marinated olives, a mix of marinated grilled vegetables and perhaps some home made tapenade or guacamole to accompany some lovely fresh crusty bread, a large bowl of mixed salad greens, some nice freshly made dressing and something grilled on the bbq. As far as I am concerned these had BARGAIN written all over them :o)

I think winter is here. Ever since we erected the overhead watering system (indeed it started raining the second that we turned the sprinkler system on for the 1st time…) it has been cooler and has rained pretty much every day. We are thinking of hiring our services out to arid regions and desert prone areas as “rain makers”. Who needs to shake sticks around and seed clouds…we just have to pull out some black poly pipe and a few sprinklers and the rain sets in hard. I have a sneaking suspicion that this sudden decent into winter has a lot to do with the fact that Festivale is on again in Launceston. Festivale is Launceston’s ultimate wank fest that encompasses old has been singers, top quality wine (no other kind is available apparently in Tasmania), degustation (can’t be just “grub” has to be something wanky), all kinds of “boutique”; “Slow food”; “Truffle infused” (Tasmanian truffles at that…); “Clean green” and any other cliché that can be pulled out and recycled from last year to generate a massive elevated profit from what usually gets washed out from the rain. “Festivale” is an anathema to me! It symbolifies everything that is wrong with Tasmania and with society as a whole. I totally understand that people need to make a profit for their hard work but sometimes people only buy something because it is so expensive that it phases out the riff-raff and this sort of audience is thick on the ground at Festivale. Good old Darryl Braithwaite of sad old Sherbet fame is singing along with Richard (NOT Eric) Clapton (of the “girls on the avenue” fame) and everyone will be sipping their chardonnay and Pinot out of plastic glasses that they will toss into the shrubs around City Park (that has been fenced off to keep the riff-raff out…) for “someone else” to deal with once Festivale is over and done with for another year. I hate wankers. I can’t stand people that want to elevate themselves above everyone else for any reason. Pretentious people are an ugly blight on the potato of life and should be scraped off as soon as possible for the good of all mankind.

Meet Henry (of the Rollins’ variety) the rooster. We are quite sure that this is a rooster. He hasn’t actually crowed yet but he changed colour from pure black to this more interesting colour and is much bigger than most of the other chooks. He is most interested in humans and what they are up to. He is interested because humans = food and wherever they are, there tends to be some sort of grub so Henry follows me around (the provider of most of the food that gets thrown to the chooks) and he decided that as we were spending an inordinate amount of time outside messing about with the trailer (moving plants around to the other side of the house under the new overhead sprinkler system) that there must be some form of grub hidden in that big shiny thing somewhere…sorry Henry, nothing to eat here!

Here you can see 2 dogs that are now able to be walked together by 1 person. Bezial is well aware of what this thing over his nose is (a loss of his freedom) but to Earl, this is all very new. The photo after this one (blurred as it was) showed Earl with his nose down and looking like someone had eaten his dinner. Humans 1; Dogs nil…

We dropped a box of “stuff” off at the Beaconsfield Thrift shop the other day. Thrift shops are like markets to me. I love recycling and buying recycled things. Where once purchasing items from Thrift shops was looked down upon, it is now a place that you can find people from all walks of life bottoms up hunting through boxes, shelves and racks. Vintage clothing sellers…people hunting for items to on-sell on eBay…people with market stalls…genuine bargain hunters (like me) and “Indie kids” who roam in packs to bolster their street cred. Thrift shops, recycling centres, tip shops and various other businesses that have sprung from people’s desire to tread more lightly on the planet are now big business and people are taking pride from buying recycled items and giving them new life. I had a bit of a hunt through the thrift shop and bought a toy for the dogs and a very old (probably 50’s/60’s) rubber squeaky toy that I was going to give to the dogs but decided against because it is so very old. I have no idea why I didn’t give this lump of rubber to the dogs to dissect apart from feeling guilty because it is probably older than I am and it is such a shame to turn it into dog dung when it has survived until now despite being something that usually gets thrown out. It will be stuck into a cupboard somewhere until I take it to another thrift shop or perhaps I will sell it on eBay (if I can negotiate my way around all of the other seller’s hell bent on ripping everyone off…). EBay used to be somewhere you could get bargains. The online thrift shop of great happiness and indeed, my daughters spend a good proportion of their ready income on eBay purchases from all over the world. The mailmen must sit around the mailroom taking bets about where their next parcel will come from. They have bought Icelandic candy, clothes from Singapore, videos and D.V.D.’s from the U.K. and all sorts of products from America. I have bought a fair bit on eBay also but after a long hiatus I decided to have a bit of a look-see and was horrified to find that you now have to wade your way through Chinese sellers masquerading as Australian sellers. I like to support our local sellers and as such I select “Australia only” to filter out other countries. Nefarious Chinese sellers have decided to rort this system by listing themselves as “Country of origin – Australia” and no-one is checking up on them. Far from being somewhere to find a bargain, eBay is now a genuine rip off and somewhere where overpriced rubbish is dumped on an unsuspecting public. I don’t think I will be buying much from eBay any more. It’s sad really, it had real promise but even with the time on our hands that we are able to spare I couldn’t be bothered sifting through the piles of cheap overpriced garbage to find the few items of worth any more…

I thought I might take a few pictures of Evandale for you. Its a pretty town about 5 minutes away from the Launceston Airport. We headed there today as we just dropped a newly refreshed and ready to embark on his new life Stewart off to catch his early flight to Melbourne. The Evandale Markets are a great place to check for bargains and pick up some really good fresh veggies should you ever be out that way. We walked the boys afterwards and I took some photos to show you how pretty this little Tasmanian town is

Evandale is full of old buildings with stately gardens. It’s a great place to start when you want to work out how to give your garden a formal touch. Lots of conifers of all shapes and sizes and a really good use of shrubs.

This is the community centre

Another pretty old house with some lovely clipped hedges and a pair of large cedrus

This is an old water tower, once the source of Evandale’s water and now a nice tourist attraction

It’s raining…it’s coincidentally still Festivale…I wonder if tomorrow (when it is all over and some poor council worker is dragging a bin around attempting to extract hundreds of plastic glasses from various shrubs in City Park) will be a lovely sunny day? One case of Murphy’s Law that makes me smile. I forgot to mention that Saturday was “The fishing tourney”. That might not mean ANYTHING to most of you but it meant that I spent some of Saturday (while Steve and Stewart were watching television AFTER playing Mario Kart as I needed the Wii to play…) attempting to catch the biggest fish on Animal Crossing. Never let it be said that I am unable to fill my day with meaningful and important tasks. When I reach the pearly gates, I might not be able to list “Brain surgeon”, “philanthropist” or “life saver” in my list of attributes, but St Peter and I can have a really good natter about how big my Sea Bass (or Carp…depending on whether we are river or sea fishing…) was. At least I am off the streets and confined to Serendipity Farm which most of you should be quite grateful for :o) I am alternating between reading and playing Animal Crossing. Both Steve and I can’t help but feel like we should be doing “something”. It is past the time when we usually start Polytechnic classes for the year but with the recent upheaval (thanks to our useless state government who sold us out for 15 pieces of silver (stupid to the end!) and who have just decided to take their 15 pieces of silver back from the health system, the police force and most pertinently the education system) in the Polytechnic system our course hasn’t even been listed yet and so we have to wait until it is so that we can sign up for it. We are getting a bit stir crazy at the moment and want to get back to our regular routine. Both Steve and I dislike change and love a good routine. That might make us sound boring but we don’t have time to worry about how boring we sound, we need that stability and process to keep us heading in the right direction.  Today has been a most enjoyable finish to a week. The weather has fined up and is sunny, windy and about 22C. How lucky are we to live in this lovely place? The rest of the afternoon is ours to enjoy as we see fit. Tomorrow we might potter around in the garden for a bit and see if we can’t do a bit more tidying up. Depending on the weather we might do some lumberjacking and chainsaw some more firewood towards winter. It’s great to have a bit of choice about what we can do and when we want to do it. Whatever we choose to do tomorrow its a brand new day full of all sorts of possiblities and you can be sure that we will take full advantage of what we have been given :o) See you all then…

Isn’t this a really great mailbox?

We are thinking about making these ourselves for our market stall. One thing that we have an endless supply of on Serendipity Farm is small branches! If we used them to make mailboxes, it would save us having to spend time and effort to burn them and might even make us a bit of spare change. A win-win situation for sure

Isnt this a lovely Brachychiton populnea? The bottle trunk is developing well and its canopy is nice and green and well structured. Not bad for something from Northern Queensland living in Evandale where it regularly drops below 0C in winter is it? We have 2 of these on our property and we sourced some seed from a lovely specimen in City Park in the middle of Launceston so they seem to quite like it down this way

I will just finish off with 2 photos of a lovely old weatherboard house in Evandale that obviously houses a family of Penny Farthing riders. Evandale is well known for holding a Penny Farthing race all around the houses once a year and there are many Penny Farthing riders living and actively cycling their way around Evandale on a regular basis.

You all know how I feel about bike riding, but if I was forced to ride one of these Penny Farthings I think I would settle for that little trike at the back :o)