One man and his dogs

We may mow a meadow today if it don’t rain.. Ok so here is the great steve boy , and I will guide you into this blog post. What I am going to do is a little tutorial on my Christmas tree  design and then I will talk about the week here and what we have been up to . I for one have chopped and split a lot of wood and Fran have finished the great gift at last. No I cant say a word about it but its done J . Ok I need a drink of something here as its Tuesday night and we went out today to sign up for a new exciting course . Cert 4 in digital Media. This consists of playing with lots of cool things and developing phone apps and playing with other cool things and looks like it may be a good year .

Heres a sureal image i made

Heres a sureal image i made

Frans a little nervous but she is very good at all these things when she gets the idea , I am very good but I fiddle to learn which is a very infuraiti8ng way for her to see me do things as sometimes I cant even remember what I have done. I am not a great typist so that’s going to do something next year as I will have to more than likely improve at it …Ok I want a little glass of Sol. Better .. ok where was I then , oh yeah I have been playing in photoshop here a lot of late and as you may know I will be getting a new camera for my 50th so I will become a more prolific photographer, its something g I have enjoyed for years and now with the technology about I can reuse some of my old Nikon lenses with a new state of the art camera.

Same image different look

Same image different look

I have just been online checking out mobile phones with android software and have found one I think we may have to buy as then we can just take the card out of the nokia and use that for the next season of study ( we could use an android device to test apps on ) One problem with Sol beer is it comes in a 940ml bottle but its not a screw cap so I have to drink it all now , shame eh .

the bottom of the drive

the bottom of the drive

Now my Tree , ok I used a threaded steel bolt and some corresponding nuts to tighten it all up at the end , I ran some timber down to about 20mm square and then cut them to some lengths , the length isn’t that important, ok then I made some little spacers of the same wood and they are to separate the branches a bit and allow you to put ornaments on it, I sprayed it green and then voila a tree that you can shape and pose and make look how you like , again we didn’t cut any trees down (personally) in the making of this tree and its flat pack and can be stored any place and if I wasn’t so quick in making it I could have made all the edges nice , or here’s an idea folks used some dowels for the branches and build in the same way … that would look very nice , the possibilities are endless really

The finished article

The finished article

I am sorry about the punctuation I use when I type I’m not a great fan of full stops I like to use commas better , lol  I’m artistic you see and that means I can have free reign over my words and how I use them J I will however spell check this document before I send it to Fran’s blog.

Framed

Framed

The boys are both here with me and they are snoring on the sofa, I have never really owned a dog , I did have one for a short time as a kid but not for long, I love dogs and they seem to like me a fair bit , we ran into a friends dog Bonnie today and she likes everyone I think, but I bent down as she was tied up outside the shops and went close and said hey bonnie and she climbed on my leg . If I ever ( which I never ever will ) left the boys tied up Bezial would jump crazy at anyone that came near him and scare them  and Earl would do his big cute face and melt them and then steal all there treats as well as their hearts. Bezial is a lovely boy but he has issues , many including Fran would say the same of me ,  Bezial hates to walk home and always drags , he loves to splash in puddles and is all-round a good guy, Earl is a great friend and is filled with enthusiasm ( again yes Fran says like me) and would if he had half a chance go mad at the drop of a hat , when I say mad I mean frenzied racing around , barking with exuberism and generally loving what he is .. Earl Dog.  The girls rang the other day saying they wanted to take Qi our little girl to an emergency vet as she had a lump , we didn’t like the sound of it as we feared the worst and she is an adorable little thing , it turned out she had an abscess from a grass seed in her neck or something and she’s going to be ok and may not even have to have a cone of shame on , which is good as we want to take the boys over when we go for Christmas and Qi in a cone would just be way to much fun for Earl to bear lol.

The man himself

The man himself

 

Ok back tomorrow as I’m done today my eyes are sore and I have a headache from lack of coffee ( yes I hear you all say then what are you drinking beer then ) (cause I want to lol)

Ok i am dreaming as i dont have a photography business lol

Ok i am dreaming as i dont have a photography business lol

Wednesday morning, dogs waled back home and I was going to whipper snip the back compound today but as I sit here at 9am its become very dark so I may have to change my plans .

A bit of Frame fun

A bit of Frame fun

Ok I have to spray my tree now so you can have a pic of it, done ok did I mention earlier that you have to drill the dowels at 9 mm? or whatever size rod you get? Ok now I am going to make a base for it , I was going to use a log but I may go and make a base from some wood and spray it green to , I will see how it goes and let you know, but the tree is starting to look a lot like Christmas .

Meika

Meika

Tree is done and I made a new base for it also , whipper snipping’s done to as it didn’t rain today (yet) ok well that’s this weeks blog folks , I have a few images here to attach nothing to good but it’s a small post with a few images, ok bye for now hope you enjoy this break from normality

Launceston on a lovely day

Launceston on a lovely day

 

Steve

 

I’m just doing the do…how about you?

Hi All

September appears to be a month of change on Serendipity Farm. Last week we found out that the son-and-heir was moving down to Tasmania with his Texan sweetie Kelsey and suddenly all of the piles and boxes of debris and memories that we had left languishing in the unit at the rear of our daughter’s home in the city needed to be removed, revisited and revised. The 3 “R’s” of the apocalypse folks and it has seen us moving a lot of things around in the process and getting rid of lots of “stuff” that we simply don’t have the space for and will never need.  We inherited a lot of cut glass that had lived in a glass cabinet in the spare room until last week when we decided that we would offer Stewart and Kelsey the queen sized bed it contained and would swap it for our old bed that Steve made for me about 10 years ago. Steve and I headed into town and cleared out a lot of boxes and bags of “stuff” and brought them home with us and at that point we merely thought it would be a case of “open a cupboard and stuff them in”…

Steve's "emo" respray on a little bedside set of draws

Steve’s “emo” respray on a little bedside set of draws

Still trying to make the internet his minion...

Still trying to make the internet his minion…

Nope…it wasn’t. We ended up going through the boxes of old papers, bits-and-bobs and “stuff” and have spent the better part of a week working out whether or not we want it, will need it, or have anywhere to actually put it. Most of the old papers had been kept by my father and just need to be burned so methinks a baked potato bonfire complete with roasted marshmallows is in our immediate future, however there were lots of nick-knacks etc. that hold no sentimental value to us (or anyone else still alive) so what do we do with them? They aren’t technically “worth” anything and aside from sticking them back into the glass cabinet that we liberated what should we do with them? So we found ourselves in a bit of a quandary and what made it worse was that we had our OWN “stuff” that we had been hoarding and carting around from pillar to post to deal with as well so as you can imagine, we have had piles of rubbish all over the place and Earl has been seen at regular intervals sneaking away with various articles in his beak

Cheap and plentiful, apples are my morning mainstay these days

Cheap and plentiful, apples are my morning mainstay these days

We found this teeny "faeries" egg in amongst the other eggs in a hidden nest

We found this teeny “faeries” egg in amongst the other eggs in a hidden nest

We erected the 4 poster bed that Steve made for us back when we lived in W.A. in the small middle bedroom and were amazed at how tiny the room now looks. We have decided to put our interior design skills to work and paint the whole bed white to minimise its impact. It’s a sort of stained jarrah at the moment which makes it look huge and oppressive. Aside from being a hulking great thing, nothing that was in the bedroom before fits there now so we had to take a look at the furniture in the room and move it “elsewhere”. In the process we ended up moving bedroom furniture, furniture from the lounge room (twice), things moved back and forwards and in the end we found a happy medium that took us all day Sunday to accomplish. We still have that pile of cut glass so if anyone knows what we should do with it, feel free to let us know

A most pathetic attempt to add character to a Stromboli...note to self... don't use spaghetti in the oven

A most pathetic attempt to add character to a Stromboli…note to self… don’t use spaghetti in the oven

How much more character could I want?! ;)

How much more character could I want?! 😉

Chicken, mushroom braised onion and red capsicum pie in homemade butter shortcrust

Chicken, mushroom braised onion and red capsicum pie in homemade butter shortcrust

Steve decided to tidy up his music room and go hunting for a camera charger that he needed and took all day to find it and when he did, it was in one of the boxes that he first looked in. You know those moments where you are BURSTING to say something but think better of it because of the sake of world peace? Well I had a moment like that. If I am being honest, I had about 10 moments like that all in a row and aside from having to stifle the urge to bang my head on the computer desk in front of me I am completely unable to get it through Steve’s head that if you insist on “man checks” you are going to spend a LONG time looking for anything. Couple that with a chaotic organisational system that involves “putting things away” but in no particular order or place and you can only imagine what it is like here sometimes when “something” needs to be found…sigh…

The grapes are alive!

The grapes are alive!

So are the avocado's and the hazelnuts...stick some seeds in the ground folks...whatchagottalose?

So are the avocado’s and the hazelnuts…stick some seeds in the ground folks…whatchagottalose?

The weather has been typically spring weather of late. Lots of drizzly rain and I certainly am not going to be the first one to complain about it. I want it to rain for as long as it can because the alternative is hard baked clay and blow-away silt to contend with and the longer it stays wet…the longer it stays in place and is easy to dig. The trees that we planted out are all still alive so that’s a bonus and we have decided to take a day and pull all of our potted plants out and go through them and sort them into a pile of keepers that we can justify keeping and that we actually have an area put aside to plant them out into and a pile to give away to someone. Steve wants to put them on gumtree as “free trees pick up only” and while I am all for giving them away, after our last attempt to give things away via gumtree I am not so sure that I want to engage with the natives who usually want you to drive 200km and deliver…sigh…Anyone with any good ideas about what we can do with the wealth of free trees that are going to come out of our ruthless cull please, again, let us know.

Remember that tree that wouldn't fall down?

Remember that tree that wouldn’t fall down?

It fell down

It fell down

It’s Wednesday again! How come 2013 has flown away so fast? Suddenly we are on the cusp of both hotter weather and Christmas and I am prepared for neither. I woke up at 2.30am to a loud clap of thunder and we had a small electrical storm with pelting rain that has passed now. SO glad I didn’t end up doing the washing like I was lamenting yesterday evening ;). Steve and I are starting our final course unit and have been working on a list of questions to prepare us for entering the world of Web Publishing and “Dreamweaver”. We had a problem with a link that we needed to access to complete the questions and after sending off a missive to our lecturer we decided to head off to the Beaconsfield tip and take some old bed bases that someone might get some use out of complete with headboards. I like the Beaconsfield tip, it has a really great tip shop and depending on the day that you visit, you get great bargains. The weekend lady is a tough nut. She wants profit at all costs. The weekday lady is a friend and you get your bargains extra cheap. After poring through old books and other peoples discarded treasures I ended up finding a very large baking tray that fits perfectly on Brunhilda’s over-large shelves, a complete walk through book of a game that my daughter owns and loves, a small sturdy round Huon pine cutting board, a book on recipes and crafts for fetes with lots of great cake and toffee recipes and under a heap of old books we found a book on how to use Dreamweaver! BONUS! It’s an older version but most programs don’t change all that much so we at least have something to use if we get really stuck and we can start working through how to use this complex program over the holidays

DSCF4374

It might be older but at 20c I figure it is worth it’s age in gold

What we have to do to prevent theft by stealth chook on Serendipity Farm.

What we have to do to prevent theft by stealth chook on Serendipity Farm.

Have you ever thought of developing your own website? I know that I watch how much of my WordPress blog I have used up so far and am mindful of keeping my image size low so that I don’t run out of space too fast. I have been blogging about Serendipity Farm for over 2 years now and have used up 42% of my space. For the first year I blogged daily so I don’t think I am doing too bad but the time is coming when I am going to have to pay up or ship out. The course that Steve and I are currently doing was a sort of “gap year” thing. I let Steve pick a course to do because we can’t go to university until Steve becomes an Aussie citizen (and takes the dreaded citizenship test…). Well… technically we CAN go to university but Steve would have to pay up front, something that we just can’t find a way to do so until he gets his act together and learns the inside scoop on what our past Prime Ministers ate for breakfast and what size their underpants were (in chronological order…) we have been learning about Web Design.

Now that leaves are coming back things are starting to look pretty again

Now that leaves are coming back things are starting to look pretty again

I am going to be the very proud owner of a flowering May Apple this year! "WOOT!" :)

I am going to be the very proud owner of a flowering May Apple this year! “WOOT!” 🙂

Aren't these Ceanothus beautiful? Steve pruned them well last year and they are happy

Aren’t these Ceanothus beautiful? Steve pruned them well last year and they are happy

The course might have been a gap year thing but it has opened up a wealth of possibilities to us. We have learned that with a bit of effort and a desire to learn how to get our hands a bit dirty in the world of simple code etc. we could start our own website and this blog could gain a much greater degree of security than it currently has. The more we look at it, the more interesting it becomes and with Steve the wonder techy behind us (more stubborn refusal to give in than technological genius really 😉 ) and the son-and-heir who is also technologically minded I figure we could bumble our way through the stages required to design and bring and new website to life. Whenever I see a blog that I follow mentioning “moving to a new site” I start to twitch. It usually means that we are just about to be inundated with advertisements’ and posts full of product placement. I am not blogging for fame or fortune folks. I am blogging to release the pressure of my muse’s constant undercurrent hum of “sound” so you can be assured that when we do move, it will be to nice clean unadvertised premises with a decided middle aged hippy flavour.

One of our inherited orchids in a mass of blooms

One of our inherited orchids in a mass of blooms

I thought I had killed this lovely red azalea but they are as tough as old boots. Plant them, they are incredibly hard to kill!

I thought I had killed this lovely red azalea but they are as tough as old boots. Plant them, they are incredibly hard to kill!

I love bulbs :)

I love bulbs 🙂

Steve picked up our new bbq the other day and it has been languishing inside its massive cardboard box in the shed ever since. It’s not because we don’t want to tear open the box and assemble it. Steve and I both have that gene that wants to assemble, I think it is called the Scalextric, Airfix or Lego gene and requires you to mindlessly put things together…if glue is a part of the equation, all the better! It’s like knitting in front of the television…a semi-conscious pastime that feeds something inside you and leaves you replete. The problem that we also have is that Steve has a “hurry UP!” gene and I have a “Slow and steady wins the race” (and doesn’t arrive at the finish line with a hand full of nuts and bolts that probably, really, SHOULD be on that assembled item…sigh…) gene and the two genes are incompatible. You know how like poles on magnets repel? So do Steve’s and my working genes.  It’s not just the fact that assembling a simple bbq is going to probably result in our own revisitation of the battle of Britain…we have an added problem in the form of Earl.

45 balloons and an oxygen starved narf7 makes for happy dogs on Bezial's birthday

45 balloons and an oxygen starved narf7 makes for happy dogs on Bezial’s birthday

Bezial and one of his birthday stash of toys. This one sings and so Bezial decided to let it live...for now...

Bezial and one of his birthday stash of toys. This one sings and so Bezial decided to let it live…for now…

How could a huge hulking lunk like this be so cute?

How could a huge hulking lunk like this be so cute?

Earl has a BIG problem with anything setting foot on his deck. He is fine with Steve, Bezial and me but anything else is an invader and needs to be repelled. He spends his days in an endless cycle of snoring upside down on the couch, begging for walks and parading around the perimeter of the fence that keeps Earl inside (much to the world’s relief) and the invaders out. Earl has more than his fair share of foreign invaders including feral cats and possums that invade in the night to steal the cheese that we put on our kitchen window ledge for the birds in the day, the birds that come for the cheese are included on the invader list apparently…butterflies, ants, wasps, bees ANYTHING that dares to come onto Earls deck is fair game for his displeasure…included in the process of “repelling all boarders”, is the process of making sure that the invaders KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that this is “Earl’s turf”. To do that, Earl needs to spend an inordinate amount of time peeing on anything that he feels is especially “his”.

The large arty pot prior to Earl's stamp of ownership

The large arty pot prior to Earl’s stamp of ownership

Soaked almonds that need skinning. I don't buy milk, I make it.

Soaked almonds that need skinning. I don’t buy milk, I make it.

It might take a while but the results are infinitely superior to what I can get from the shop

It might take a while but the results are infinitely superior to what I can get from the shop

We brought home a large unusual arty pot that we inherited when dad died and that has been languishing in the unit out the back of our daughter’s home in the city since we moved to Serendipity Farm almost 3 years ago. It’s most unusual, most impractical and highly visible and when we decided to place it on the deck because we had NO idea where to put it otherwise, Earl immediately homed in on it and put his tag on it. Steve noted this and headed out with a kettle of boiling water to de-mark the afflicted item and was bemused to note as he was coming back in with the empty kettle…Earl casually strolling up to the pot and re-marking it! We can only imagine the joy that Earl is going to feel when we are talking to each other again after the assembly of the bbq and we haul this shiny black behemoth of a “possession” onto the deck for summer gustatory delights and in the name of keeping the house cool in the coming hot months. I can only begin to imagine how many water bowls are going to be emptied through Earl onto our new bbq and that’s why it is still in its box and awaiting the Pimblett version of W.W.3 to rise like the phoenix from the shreds of cardboard and become the mainstay of our summer (albeit urine tinted) cooking space.

Here's what happened to narf7's veggie garden over winter...

Here’s what happened to narf7’s veggie garden over winter…

It went completely and utterly feral! Those sow thistles have stems as thick as my wrist

It went completely and utterly feral! Those sow thistles have stems as thick as my wrist

Spinach and mushrooms, both serendipitous harvests

Spinach and mushrooms, both serendipitous harvests

Its 4.39am and I am just about to pat this post on the head and send it off to the blogging version of “the printers”. I know it’s a bit less entertaining than usual and indeed, so am I. It’s the cusp of the damp and cooler weather and unlike most Northerners who are already starting to sulk about the impending rain and cold, I am sad to see our cooler, wetter weather go. I really don’t like hot weather. I am not a fan of sweat or sleepless nights bathed in the stuff. I don’t like trying to walk grumpy hot dogs on hot days or mosquitoes or the smell of the river when the oysters dry up (ECH!). I love spring and its possibilities but the long hot dry months of summer leave me restless and twitchy. I am a Northerner living in a Southerners body. I also have a vegetable garden that is NOWHERE near ready for planting out with new summer veggies. I headed up (most bravely) yesterday and waded through the mud to see that the spinach that has been the mainstay of the garden for the past year has finally decided to go to seed and is now up to my chest. I am not short. I cut some for tonight’s evening meal whilst trying to simultaneously shield my eyes from the sow thistles doing their damnedest to get into the Guinness World Book of Records for having the thickest stems.

Clivea flowers

Clivea flowers

Clivea seeds from last season's flowers

Clivea seeds from last season’s flowers

Enormous Camellia flowers

Enormous Camellia flowers

Headily fragrant Daphne odora flowers

Headily fragrant Daphne odora flowers

It’s time to haul ass and get out of winter “inside” mode and back into summer “outside” mode and I am scared. Steve and I have 2 weeks of holidays coming up and we will be outside pouring concrete, setting the final poles into the ground for our big outside enclosed veggie garden. I have plans to make a garden bed out of the various coloured wine bottles that we have been storing in the small shed that I was going to make a bottle wall out of but that I am now going to turn into a lovely raised garden (thanks to Pinterest for the idea 😉 ). The rest of the garden beds will be assembled from existing enormous wooden beams that are in situ inside the perimeter (thank goodness!) and lots and lots and lots and lots of rocks. We can spare the odd rock. Serendipity Farm is predominately made up of rocks ;). Well that’s all for today folks. Narf7 is entering “doing” territory and that’s my least explored territory of all. I am great at planning…implementing isn’t my forte but as this is my “year of doing” I had best get my act together and at least “DO” something! ;). See you next week when I should technically have some photos of lots of hard work and misery loves company so feel free to get out into your own gardens so that we will meet next Wednesday as the confraternity of hobbling, tired, scratched and maimed gardeners ;).

If Steve ever suggests that you "just pop down to the gate for a little walk with the dogs it's SUCH a lovely day..." best you pretend you didn't hear ;)

If Steve ever suggests that you “just pop down to the gate for a little walk with the dogs it’s SUCH a lovely day…” best you pretend you didn’t hear 😉

Today's word cloud image. Steve got mentioned head and shoulders above everything else so he got to sit stage left ;)

Today’s word cloud image. Steve got mentioned head and shoulders above everything else so he got to sit stage left 😉

Forget the Ides of March, we have the Daffodils of September

Hi All

“Daffodils are like ideas, they spring up in the middle of waste land and they give you hope for future possibilities”

That quote is a narf7 original. It sprung out of the ether in my overstuffed brain one day when I was walking Earl and noticed a pile of rubble in the native bushland on the side of the road with a daffodil flowering profusely in the middle. Life is a bit like builders rubble sometimes. We make our “buildings” and we might not always build them strong. Many times they fall down and we are left with our own piles of “builders rubble” that need to be sifted through to salvage what we can from the experience and to start again but there is always a daffodil in every pile of rubble, we just have to sift through and find it.

The dogs have gone mad...they appear to be begging for cauliflower! "NO It's MINE!"

The dogs have gone mad…they appear to be begging for cauliflower! “NO It’s MINE!”

White men might not be able to jump but 50 year old white girls can certainly head-bang with the best of them

White men might not be able to jump but 50 year old white girls can certainly head-bang with the best of them

Earl is VERY impressed with my ability to rock

Earl is VERY impressed with my ability to rock

The son-and-heir just managed to pull an almost extinct rabbit out of a hat and find a job in Tasmania. Not only did he find a job, but his new office was so eager to have him join their crew that they created a position for him with extras to the job that was being offered. It’s always nice to feel appreciated and now Stewart can move to Tasmania with his Texan sweetie Kelsey, who has become a firm part of our family, and start to negotiate his way around the “real world”. Living in inner city Melbourne is like living in a bubble. You are surrounded by commerce and an artificial bustling reality that has very little to do with the real world. Moving to Tasmania will allow them both to relax a bit and to stretch out their minds to other pursuits. Both of them want to explore the beautiful scenery here in Tasmania and as they are moving into the unit behind the house where my daughters live in the city, they won’t have to pay rent and will be able to pay off outstanding bills and start saving towards their future life together

I asked my brother in W.A. to send me some stone worn smooth by the Southern Ocean from where I came from.

I asked my brother in W.A. to send me some stone worn smooth by the Southern Ocean from where I came from.

He walks for miles on deserted beaches taking photographs and sent me these 4 beauties earmarked as the heralds of my kettle boiling

He walks for miles on deserted beaches taking photographs and sent me these 4 beauties earmarked as the heralds of my kettle boiling

Hmmm Might need to dust the kettle! Pebbles in situ ready to tap-dance their way into Serendipity Farm history

Hmmm Might need to dust the kettle! Pebbles in situ ready to tap-dance their way into Serendipity Farm history

We were given a very similar chance when my father extended his offer to allow us to live in the house that my daughters live in. At the time we were working and studying and paying rent in Western Australia. I love Western Australia. It’s where I was born and where I grew up and it forged what makes me “me” but I also love Tasmania. I am ever the adaptable narf when I can see the benefits of a long haul move. Stewart and Kelsey will be able to split the annual bills that come with living in a house with his sisters which will leave them both a lot better off. Sometimes life changes the gameplay and you find yourself riding an entirely different bus…you think that you are headed in one direction and next minute you are looking out the passenger window and you are in Albuquerque and it’s time to get off. Your experience lies in how you deal with your bus ride and what you do with your new surroundings when you get there.

The spare bedroom is the only room with old carpet still in it

The spare bedroom is the only room with old carpet still in it

Steve and I both decided that we would remove the carpet in a recent burst of Spring cleaning. We removed the bed and  Earl realised that he could see outside

Steve and I both decided that we would remove the carpet in a recent burst of Spring cleaning. We removed the bed and Earl realised that he could see outside

I am affecting change...Bezial HATES change...Earl is wrapped up inside change...

I am affecting change…Bezial HATES change…Earl is wrapped up inside change…

A job well done and now the bedroom floor looks like the rest of the house :)

A job well done and now the bedroom floor looks like the rest of the house 🙂

Stewart and Kelsey have been given a chance to change their lives and mould them how they see fit. Not everyone gets that chance in life. Some people are stuck in lives and jobs that they see going nowhere and that they feel have no value. It’s hard to see other people making a break for the sun when you are stuck under a rain cloud but you just never know where that rain cloud is going to take you. You might just be marking time until your ship comes in. How you mark time is going to shape your personality and how you deal with what eventuates in your life. I am very philosophical here today aren’t I? I guess you get milestones in your life and although this isn’t my personal milestone, it might be a significant moment in Stewart and Kelsey’s life path. It looks like “Thanksgiving” might become part of our new family traditions…we wouldn’t want Kelsey to feel out of the loop but I am NOT eating sweet potatoes and marshmallows girl…THAT is a step too far for this little black narf 😉

Earl and a little friend... or is it?!!! This was an image that Steve found online. Doesn't this look a whole lot like Earl!

Earl and a little friend… or is it?!!! This was an image that Steve found online. Doesn’t this look a whole lot like Earl!

This week has seen us planting trees like crazy. Actually it’s been a fortnight of tree planting and now we have come to the point where we have no idea where to plant the remaining trees that we want to get into the ground. We have so many trees and not enough Serendipity Farm to do them justice. As horticulturalists we know how big these trees grow and how much space they are going to need to be happy and we can’t simply cram them all into the ground close to each other and claim ignorance at a later date. We owe these trees more than that. Most of them we grew from seed that we collected, some from other countries, sourced from the stashes of friends, new acquaintance’s, adventitious “over the fence” seed collection and gardeners that we chatted with over the gate who are incredibly generous with information and cuttings most of the time. As a penniless student hippy I have learned how to be very savvy when it comes to collecting plant material and when I want something for the garden, it’s not hard to get it and most of the time it’s free.

"If...I...Just...stretch...a...tiny...bit...more..."

“If…I…Just…stretch…a…tiny…bit…more…”

I have been communicating with Jess from the wonderful sustainable blog “rabidlittlehippy”. She is putting into practice everything that I want to do here. She tends to be a lot more active than I am and gets stuck in where I procrastinate a little too much methinks. You are more likely to find me pinning on Pinterest than out in the garden hacking blackberries but Steve and I are moving out of winter mode and back into the garden. Jess has been telling me about various plants that I want to institute on Serendipity Farm and never thought that I could get here and we are cooking up how to get hold of Yacon, an amazing root crop from the Andes that promises to be a natural sweetener that should do well here. It’s all an experiment really and who knows what is going to grow happily here. We have a rough idea of what the seasons are going to deliver to us now that we have been living here for almost 3 years (in December).

Rincewind in human form...

Rincewind in human form…

The tree that was dangling like the sword of Damocles in the side garden and that had us using extreme gardening techniques whenever we had to mow underneath it has been felled. I didn’t even hear it fall! Apparently the crash made the dogs jump and Steve and our friends Guy and Lee pulled it down with a thick rope and Lees Toyota Landcruiser (note Toyota…if you notice this advertisement in my obviously influential blog please feel free to send me a box of Landcruisers. I will be sure to share them with friends and family and praise your products worth to anyone who will listen 😉 ). Aside from squashing a poor shrub that had already been split down the middle by fat chickens perching on its lower branches, the side garden suffered miraculously little damage and now I can start using the area to plant out smaller shrubs and perennials that I wasn’t willing to risk being squished like grapes till that tree fell.

"ExCUSE me...I am Pinteresting here!"

“ExCUSE me…I am Pinteresting here!”

The recent planting endeavours has shown us that there are way too many trees being held captive in small pots that really should be given away to people who will appreciate them. It’s hard. Not because we don’t want to give them away, but because we grew these trees from seed. We nurtured them while we learned and those trees signify our horticultural passion and a stage in our lives where a lot of doors opened up for us and changed our direction. Moving to Serendipity Farm back in December 2010 allowed us to have space to grow but it also showed us that our city plans weren’t going to be all that compatible with our actual country reality. There are a lot of obstacles that appeared in the way and it’s our job to find a way to jump those hurdles and see those daffodils that are growing up, most determinedly, through our early piles of builder’s rubble. When you are 50 and there are 4 acres of determined weeds and invasive exotics waving in the breeze at you taunting you from the deck it’s sometimes hard to know where to start but Steve and I have plans…

Doesn't this look pretty? Well the camera tells fibs folks! It never ceases to amaze me how pretty photos of Serendipity Farm look and how rangy and terrifying reality actually is!

Doesn’t this look pretty? Well the camera tells fibs folks! It never ceases to amaze me how pretty photos of Serendipity Farm look and how rangy and terrifying reality actually is!

I SWEAR I removed all of the garlic from this area last year. I actually dug around in the soil and pulled everything I could find out! It would appear I didn't. The little mulberry tree above the garlic probably benefits from it's protective pest resistance

I SWEAR I removed all of the garlic from this area last year. I actually dug around in the soil and pulled everything I could find out! It would appear I didn’t. The little mulberry tree above the garlic probably benefits from it’s protective pest resistance

There is a stand of tall spindly Melaleuca alternifolia at the bottom of our property. It denotes an area that gets swampy in winter. Melaleuca alternifolia are also known as Tea Trees. Their leaves contain an essential oil that is known world-wide as a natural antiseptic and as such, they are a valuable resource however the Melaleuca alternifolia on Serendipity Farm are a dime a dozen and those in the tea tree garden area are predominately spindly and falling over due to over-competition and a distinct lack of light. We haven’t touched them aside from the odd thinning out event to generate a few poles to use as makeshift fencing but the other day I was looking at them and thought “why don’t we cut them down and use the area to plant out our nut trees?” Why not indeed? There is about half an acre of land being occupied by tea trees and aside from keeping a band of them (thinning out the spindly ones and letting the healthier trees reach their full potential), why not avail ourselves of some of that land to our advantage? Nut trees are a perennial food source. They keep on keeping on and like fruit trees; they offer you a source of long term food. In our family, nuts feature more than just snacks and additions to baked goods. I am vegan and make my own nut milk to use in my tea every day. They can be ground and used in many different ways and as Tasmania is perfect for growing hazelnuts, walnuts and chestnuts, why not put this half an acre of land to better use?

Green and purple asparagus! Cheers to Bev for reminding me that it is asparagus season :)

Green and purple asparagus! Cheers to Bev for reminding me that it is asparagus season 🙂

There are always compromises to be made. Serendipity Farm is bookmarked to be a food forest. To do this, we have to weigh up what we do and don’t want to remove from the garden and how we are going to mix native and exotic species to get the best of all worlds. We are playing horticultural alchemy here folks and throwing climate change and instability of world markets into the equation and suddenly a food forest is a lot more important than a few spindly Melaleuca alternifolia that are reaching the end of the line. I think, as custodians of the land, it’s up to us to make the most of it. We need to be aware of the natural cycles that are currently operating on Serendipity Farm and make sure that we don’t dent them too significantly. We need to find ways to get what “we” want, whilst maintaining equilibrium or in Serendipity Farm’s case, achieving equilibrium would be a good start.

(what's she showing us this wonky pile of debris for?)

(what’s she showing us this wonky pile of debris for?)

"BUGGER!"... three more chicks on Serendipity Farm...sigh...

“BUGGER!”… three more chicks on Serendipity Farm…sigh…

This is entirely off topic folks. When Stewart was here visiting on Sunday after having a job interview the day before he was checking something on our computer and accidently closed one of the windows that he had open that he wanted more information from . Did you know that if you do that, you can call that window back by pressing the “Control”, “Alt” and “T” buttons? Neither did I! How many times have you accidentally closed a window and had to go through the process of searching all over again or having to sift through your computers history for the day to see if you can’t narrow it down…well NO MORE FOLKS! Now, thanks to second hand info from my genius son, you can just press Control, Alt and “T” and your page will miraculously come back. This only works for the last page that you closed…if you open another page or do anything in between closing your page and using this shortcut you are on your own, but it’s great to at least know that you can catch your mistake after the event.

I had to share this with you all as this is the cleanest you are EVER going to see Steve's shed. Don't let him fib and tell you that he is tidy...he is chaos on legs!

I had to share this with you all as this is the cleanest you are EVER going to see Steve’s shed. Don’t let him fib and tell you that he is tidy…he is chaos on legs!

It’s been a whirlwind of a few weeks. I have so many photos and not enough posts to share them in! Last weeks excited bread post took over from the norm and the images are starting to back up and fall off the factory conveyor belt. I met Jo who blogs at “All the Blue Day” yesterday in our shared health food shop of choice. Poor Jo was under siege as I was distracted with the HUGE shopping day ahead of me (that started at 6.30am and  didn’t end till I got home at 3.30pm) and my adult daughters were hell bent on out consuming each other to the max…”how much is that imported Canadian maple syrup with the maple leaf shaped bottle?”…I can only thank my lucky stars that as Bethany, my youngest daughter reminded me “it’s our money and you don’t have to pay for it!” ;). Seriously though, it was lovely to meet Jo over the dates and mixed nuts and to furtively exchange lemons for dehydrated kefir grains and a dozen free range eggs…I am hoping the lovely lady behind the counter ignored us and poor Jo might not recover from our bombardment of her sensibilities but meeting a fellow blogger was a lovely experience and perhaps we can have that “cuppa” one day and really meet each other on a level, un-twitching, playing field :o)

A local thrift shop was having a winter clothing clearance and I picked up lots of clothes for $2 an item. This shot is for my daughters..."I am Robbie Rotten!" ;)

A local thrift shop was having a winter clothing clearance and I picked up lots of clothes for $2 an item. This shot is for my daughters…”I am Robbie Rotten!” 😉

I went back to the op shop a few days later and everything was going out for 50c an item! Here you see Narf7 modelling a $1 Spring outfit

I went back to the op shop a few days later and everything was going out for 50c an item! Here you see Narf7 modelling a $1 Spring outfit

Why not have some fun when you are cleaning up the detritus of ex stuffed toys...wearing another 50c jumper and rocking to Pearl Jam's "Evenflow"

Why not have some fun when you are cleaning up the detritus of ex stuffed toys…wearing another 50c jumper and rocking to Pearl Jam’s “Evenflow”

That’s the end of the line folks. It’s 5.14am on Tuesday and I have a few things to fix up before my lecturer is going to let me pass my assessment. I am learning that “criticism” isn’t always personal and that I tend to take criticism to heart rather than see it as a tool to educate me. I have been offered a chance to grow…I am choosing to take it. We need to head into town and clear out all of the boxes of past life (ours and dad’s) detritus from the unit so that Stewart and Kelsey can move in and make this small space their own. It’s a chance to clear out old papers and items that are no longer used. Let’s face it…if it has been in a unit out the back of a house in town for almost 3 years, methinks it isn’t crucial to our survival on Serendipity Farm ;). We also need to deliver the queen-sized bed that is in the spare room to the unit and swap it for the high rise bed that Steve made for me back when we lived in Western Australia. I LOVE that bed and it was our bed for many years before we moved here. Steve is going to cut the legs down a bit because aside from it being VERY high, the people that might want to visit and stay (read Kym and Bruce who are visiting in January…) may not want to have to use a step ladder to get into bed. Time to clear things out…regroup and march on…just like the daffodils do year in and year out, and hopefully we manage to flower beautifully in the process. See you all next week folks when I have a LOT of photos to share with you and no doubt life will tumble us around in some kind of interesting way to your reading advantage ;).

Today would have been my mum's birthday. I started this blog so that she could see what we were up to over here so I owe her for where this space has taken me. Thank you mum...we miss you

Today would have been my mum’s birthday. I started this blog so that she could see what we were up to over here so I owe her for where this space has taken me. Thank you mum…we miss you

Today's word cloud

Today’s word cloud

Anzac Day lest I forgot

Hi All,

How odd?! I find myself sitting here at 3.13pm on a Sunday with no dogs noses demanding anything (they have already had their tea…), Steve is tucked up watching something actually worth watching on the television and I cooked him a delicious chicken curry from scratch last night so he wants the second half of it for his tea tonight so all I have to cook tonight is a bit of steamed rice to accompany it. I made 24 Anzac biscuits today…I like to think of them as “Résistance Biscuits”…never one to be mainstream if I have a choice folks, I am aligning them with the French Resistance because “Resistance is futile” when it comes to not eating them. Today’s batch deviated from the recipe that I found on the Aussie recipe website “Taste”…here’s how it started out…

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/21104/anzac+biscuits

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The first batch of biscuits was a teensy bit über crunchy and so I baked the second batch a little less. The tartlet case was baked only till it was set because I didn’t want it to be too hard to cut when Steve was eating it later in the day

Nice and easy…a good recipe to send to the troops by savvy and canny Aussie housewives who didn’t want their menfolk to have to eat soggy or mouldy treats. The secret is the golden syrup that sets them nice and crispy and crunchy and as I had decided to make “biscuits” today Steve said “what about making Anzac’s? After all…it IS just about Anzac Day isn’t it?”…Bugger…the Pom remembered and I didn’t…my patriotic father would be spinning in his grave! My family has a very strong tradition with Anzac Day in many different ways and so Anzac biscuits (as penance along with a bit of self-flagellation in the privacy of the shed, Frank has suffered enough! 😉 ) were my saving grace. I also forgot my sisters 48th birthday yesterday. “SORRY PINKY!” I made you a nice card in Photoshop and you can consider some of that shed flagellation penance as yours ok? 😉

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A close up of the leftover Anzac biscuit dough pressed into a small individual tart pan and baked

Of COURSE my Anzac biscuits were not the same as the recipe. Nothing to do with pretention mind you, I could care less about elevating my recipes by cramming them full of super foods and strange overpriced ingredients. I would rather source something locally that would do the trick thank you! The reason for the swapsies was that this little black duck had run out of golden syrup :o(…I had also run out of coconut…now coconut and golden syrup MAKE Anzac biscuits so what was I going to do to save the day? First I remembered a pot of strange Chinese malty stuff that resembles almost set toffee in my pantry. I bought it back when I lived in Western Australia on one of our jaunts from the south up to Perth the capital city and our favourite place to go hunting for interesting ethnic ingredients. I bought it…I opened it…I looked at it…I tasted it…I forgodaboudit. It wasn’t that there was anything predominately “wrong” with it; it was just bland and stiff, sort of like über thick glucose on steroids. I figured that it would approximate the desired effect of golden syrup and after wrestling an approximation of 2 tbs of it out of the tub I forced the lid back on and hid it at the back of the pantry where it will probably stay till the next time I need golden syrup.

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The finished desert full of sticky toffee apple pieces cooked in a vanilla butter toffee sauce. Steve said it was lovely. The only thing missing was a great big dollop of thick whipped cream 😉

Coconut was harder…I then remembered that I HAD coconut flour! I had made homemade coconut milk and had dehydrated the resulting pulp and had jars of the stuff languishing on my pantry shelves! I tossed a cupful of it into the mix and crossed my fingers that the recipe would work. I mixed the bicarb soda and water and was assured that I had to remove the melted butter and pseudo golden syrup from the heat as it would fizz up majestically once the bicarb was added… I was expecting Vesuvius and removed the small saucepan away to the sink where I dumped the bicarb and water mix into the pan and cringed…nothing happened. Not even a pathetic “bloop”… I mixed everything together and then rolled the sticky mass into tablespoon sized balls and squished them down onto a baking paper (fool me once!) lined baking tray and after the prescribed time in the oven they emerged brown, über crisp and a complete success!

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This was the dog door prior to today. As you can see it had developed a curious coating of “filth” over the top of that wonderful silver colour that Steve found in the shed. Note the fluffy bathrobe…apparently “Earlvis has left the building” 😉

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Behold…the new dog door! Steve made it bigger so that Bezial doesn’t have to do the limbo when exiting and we don’t have to keep getting up to open up the sliding door at night time when he thinks he senses a possum invading his personal space

Steve was most pleased. Steve is a grazer and likes to open the fridge and cut a bit off “something” to walk around with in his hand…he likes to open a lid and extract another “something”, he loves nothing more than 1 ½ cheese sandwiches at odd times of the day smothered in the latest condiment of his choice wrestled from the fridge. Cold butter is the bane of this man’s life ;). The ability to walk past the newly instated biscuit barrel, do a double take and walk back…followed by a furtive lid lifting and extraction moment will give him endless pleasure. I have promised to ensure that the newly instated biscuit barrel remains half full at all times. I am on a baking jag and that won’t be hard. I found a recipe for chocolate sourdough biscuits (that would be “cookies” to you Northern folk) that I want to try so I might just fill up the biscuit barrel tomorrow and whenever I notice the level falling below half I can bake another batch of biscuits to ensure the barrels “never-ending” status.

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Here’s the new dog door in situ. Note the “Not A Barn” sign…you saw it? Steve doesn’t …sigh…

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Bezial showing his willingness to exit the dog door (at least in the daytime when it’s not all that cold outside…)

I have been threatening to adopt a Biafran…to go doorknocking to deliver baskets of goodies that I want to bake. I want to get stuck into perfecting a really good loaf of sourdough so that I can regularly turn out something both presentable AND delicious. Not a whole lot to ask is it? I think it’s time to get into the neighbours good books and start dropping off fresh baked loaves of bread and home baked treats. I love to experiment and as Steve so succinctly put it the other day “I can only eat so much, I am only 1 man!” When my recipe wanderlust sets in it’s hard to get it to stop. The freezer is full to the brim of lasagne, chilli, pasties, calzone and lots of individually portioned soup (my food of choice for my evening meal) and can’t handle anything more. This happens to me occasionally. I think the cold weather brings out a primal need to nest and my baking up a storm seems to be linked to that desire.

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Here’s a cute shot of Earl for all of his multiple fans around the globe…

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And here’s Earl thinking “I’m SURE celebrities get something for all of this posing!”

Did you notice that I have started splitting my posts up into MUCH smaller paragraphs? You can thank the wonderful wordstress “Thinking Cowgirl” for that. She reminded me that I am actually typing for an audience here and not just to vent my muses. She has a wonderful blog that you can check out here…

http://thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com/

Her latest post on Baroness Thatcher’s demise really got me thinking. We got most of Ms Thatcher’s thrashed and broken union leaders who came out to the Antipodes to lick their wounds. No matter what you thought about the woman, she certainly knew how to scare people! This cowgirl knows how to write…her style captivated me from the very first post that I read and I wouldn’t miss a post now. I like to hoard them, like Mr 23 Thorn’s posts, and savour them over a nice big mug of tea when I haven’t got anything else to detract from the wonderful flavours that these wordy alchemists are able to infuse their posts with.

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We went to Launceston yesterday after visiting our friend in the witness protection and took a few photos for our course while we were there. This beautiful old Acer vitifolium caught my eye and I decided to share it with you

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I love Boston Ivy/Parthenocissus tricuspidata (or Virginia Creeper as mum used to call it). It’s a very useful plant for covering up unattractive areas and it turns the most glorious colours in autumn each year.

Words are beautiful folks. If you can weave them into something that can reach out and grab the attention of a complete stranger and carry them halfway around the world and enlighten them with your common condition you have something special at your fingertips. You ALL owe her a huge “thank you Thinking Cowgirl” because now you don’t have to stick a piece of chewing gum onto your monitor if you get interrupted when reading a Serendipity Farm blog post ;). Now if I can only learn to harness my muses for good who knows what I could do? Just thinking…it might be best to let sleeping dogs lie! 😉

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An interesting number plate that we noticed on our walk with the boys in town. This one is from my home state of Western Australia (3886.8km or 2415.14555 miles away from Launceston for those of you who aren’t sure of the translation). We were curious to see this obvious “work vehicle” parked in a leafy suburb in Launceston Tasmania… when the driver gets home do you think he will have some “splainin’ to do?” 😉

I am going to backtrack to where I told you that I made 24 Anzac biscuits and add “and I had some mix left over”. I could have made another 4 biscuits but I decided to get creative. I filled a small individual round flan tin with the mix and pressed it into the tin. I then baked the mix but not to crunchy brownness because I didn’t want Steve to chip his teeth on what was “supposed” to be a dessert treat! I then cooked some of my traditional “toffee apple apples” by peeling and slicing them and tossing them gently in butter and spices (in this case cinnamon, mixed spice and a pinch of ground ginger) and cooking them until tender and then adding about ¼ of a cup of sugar. I did this to make a sort of sticky toffee sauce that you could replicate with rapadura or coconut sugar or even honey if you wanted. After removing the caramelised mix from the heat and cooling a little I added some vanilla and then heaped the mix into the flan tin. I then made some vanilla custard and Steve got dessert, a rare but most welcome event

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Bezial just demanded to get in on the “cute” action as well…he says he is every bit as cute as Earl but without the chicken plucking capabilities

Well we made it through Monday and we collected some wood. We also made a plan to tidy up the driveway (at least the bits you can see) and haul off the brushwood that is littering the area to burn or to stockpile somewhere less visible. Half of what makes a “lovely garden” is what you see; it’s a pity that most “lovely gardens” are so maintenance intensive folks! The best thing for the garden, a “natural” garden, is to let everything stay where it drops. Let the wood lay there, the leaves, let the chooks scratch and dig and let the fungus grow. Your garden will look like utter shite BUT it will be a happy garden :o). Is there a happy medium? Apparently there is. I have seen them. Gorgeous green gardens full of fecundity and health…permaculture paradises that make Serendipity Farm look like something that slithered directly from the surface of Mars. Do I know how to turn Serendipity Farm into something approximating these gorgeous vistas? Nope. I have all of that horticultural “stuff” crammed inside my head…so does Steve…but we found ourselves wanting to take the easy way out and just “BURN THE LOT” when it came to brushwood and fallen branches and Steve did the WORST cut with his chainsaw on a poor tree resulting in a massive branch bark tear…time to send that Chainsaw license back methinks Steve!

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We live in a very pretty state (I DO feel sorry for that poor woman lugging her groceries up that steep pathway though 😉 )

What is it about “stuff” that you have crammed in your head that makes it SO difficult to get it to translate out into the real world? What do these magic green fingered permaculturalists have that we don’t? Is it because we are lazy middle aged sloths? Most probably. I dare say the vim, vigour and verve of some of these idealistic creative people would make me tired just to be in their presence. I am a bit like Garfield…I occasionally have to curl up and fall asleep in a sunbeam. These people put in dawn to dusk hours and the results speak for themselves. Steve and I wander around our “garden” hand in hand in hope that the fear that rises whenever we venture from inside the house will somehow abate if there are two of us sharing it… it doesn’t. Everywhere we turn there is something else to do and sometimes it is as much as we can do to just go outside!

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Most of the older houses in Launceston have these lovely old balconies and stained glass windows. I love the eclectic mix of styles that has evolved over the years and am not sad that we moved to this pretty part of the state 🙂

I have vision…I have all kinds of PDF’s and word documents and friends online who can give me ideas and help and hope but that all amounts to sweet bugger all if we don’t take all of that wonderful “stuff” and use it…”DO” it. We look at each other sometimes like we are both thinking “paper, rock, scissors…YOU DO IT!” but it needs both of us to work together and I can’t help thinking that there is some kind of life lesson here. We are at least planning the work and I guess that is a start but Steve and I take dragging our feet to a new level. I guess we just have to keep our eyes on the big picture and not the nitty-gritty stuff that we have to do to get there. The initial start-up capital in a permaculture garden and food forest is the work that you have to do to observe, to plan, to implement and to work out how you are going to do what you want to do with your property. Part of the problem is that we have to do what we can with a very small budget. One could almost say a minuscule budget. What the hell, “No budget at all folks!” This results in a lot of frustration and a lot of invention. In the process we learn a lot and you can’t really ask for more than that…aside from a ready-made permaculture garden and food forest I guess 😉

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This is a HDR rendered image. Please don’t ask me what that means. The net was down this morning and I couldn’t find out so you might have to do a bit of detective work yourself on this one. All I know is that you end up with something a whole lot brighter than the original 3 photos that you use to compile the shot, you have to take a normal an underexposed and an overexposed photo using a tripod so that you don’t get any movement and then Photoshop does its magic on them and turns them into this.

We are off to our friend in the witness protections home today for a visit. We hermitage dwellers very rarely deal with humankind. Aside from blogging and sharing online, I probably go to town once in a blue moon…make that every second blue moon but today we visit and we talk garden and we reinvigorate ourselves and our friend back into all things horticulture. It’s a kind of tribal thing. You start to lose perspective and purpose and one or other of us pulls in the reigns. This time our friend wants to start making some spiral gardens. She is a victim of Tassie’s treacherous native animals as much as we are but add rabbits and bush rats into the equation and even her unmitigated optimism is starting to flag. She no sooner plants things than they get eaten. She has been growing hardy pentstemons on her property for years. NOTHING touches them folks. They must be poison on a stick for these creatures because they will scarf potato and rhubarb leaves with glee and live to tell the tale. She bought a lovely white pentstemon and low and behold, it got scarfed! It gets hard to keep yourself buoyed when you read other people saying “just plant LOTS of things” and you know that if you do that, you are going to have lots of sticks in the ground :o(. Everything has to be fenced off or protected in some way or it gets inhaled and digested by something out there.

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This looks a whole lot like photos that were hand painted in the early part of the 20th century.

Today we regroup…if only to revive our flagging spirits and pass on some info on keyhole gardens, spiral gardens and other permaculture processes to take our mind off our dry dead stick gardens. After a couple of cups of tea anything is possible! I might take a bit of my latest sourdough carrot cake with chocolate icing for her and we can plot our plans of our own little world’s domination. “We are the top of the food chain damnit! We DEMAND you stop eating our plants!”… Yeah… that’ll work! ;). After we visit our friend we will head into Launceston. We will drop off some eggplants and dehydrated bananas for our daughters. Dehydrated bananas are THE BOMB people. They look like something that Earl just deposited high in a shrub (he is weird with where he will “deposit”…) but taste like heaven. After Steve picks up some thick dowel from the shed in town, we will head to the city and will take some photos of “stuff” for our course. I will hold (read get dragged around the park Willy-nilly by…) the boys while Steve sets up the tripod and camera. After that we head off to Bunning’s (hardware heaven to you Northerner’s…) to pick up some plywood to make a better dog door. Bezial is having problems going through our limbo inducing door and we are tired of getting up and opening up the sliding doors onto the deck for him to go out and join Earl in his nightly forays into possum heckling.

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This last HDR shot really shows you the dramatic look you can get when you use this technique. It looks more painted than real and I really quite like how it looks. What do you think?

I have been promised the lure of a few thrift shop hunts if I hold the dogs in the park (you can read me SO well Stevey boy! 😉 ) and after we tussle our way around the city with two very boisterous country dogs hell bent on peeing on every single lamppost, phone booth, sign, traffic light and anything else that stands still long enough to be considered as a perfect place to scribble “Earl woz ere’” in pee… we will allow them to drag us back to the car and will head home. I have 2 mature coconuts to crack and deal with. Not sure what I am going to do with them but Steve bought them for me on shopping day and I will probably make some coconut kefir out of them. I want to try souring some cream with kefir for making Steve nachos. I am drinking my second fermented date sweetened alcoholic non-dairy milk kefir daily now. It’s great stuff! Who’d-a thunk that chickpeas could be milked let along turned into kefir? The curious thing is that rather than curling up their little brainiac like curds and croaking in the weird things I am trying to culture them in, Kid Creole’s coconuts are thriving and breeding exponentially! What have I done! I am starting to feel like Frankenstein with his monsters…how far can a vegan go before she is entering territory too strange for even we crazy plant based fools?!

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(Bugger…I just ran out of photos for this post…do you think they will notice I am using an old photo? Did I mention that a possum ate all of the foliage off that lovely begonia? Do they know that I gave that leather chair to the girls? Can they see a slightly more rotund me taking a photo of herself accidentally in the kitchen window? Nah… I think I got away with it 😉 )

It’s just hit 6am. Time to wrap this post up for the press tomorrow. Are they easier to read divided up into smaller paragraphs? I hope so ;). I am only here because my RSS Feed Reader threw a tantrum and decided not to work from 5am onwards so I am taking advantage of my spare time and value adding it. See you all on Saturday folks…hopefully you spring living folk in the North can post something other than salads and smoothies for us poor autumn dwelling folk here in the South ;). See you then :o)

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http://www.notquitenigella.com/2012/11/02/sketti-with-buttered-ketchup/

I am driving this image like I stole it alright? I didn’t have time to make a batch of sketti and butter BUT this wonderful lady did! Not only did she make this fine upstanding recipe but she wrote a post about it AND she is a food snob! Go check out her wonderful post (not that I did but hey…I owe her SOMETHING for the lend of her photo!) and marvel at how delicious 2 meals for $4 can look…Steve…you have a foodie future 😉 now I just need to find Honey Boo-boo’s mum June’s email address and beg forgiveness for pinching her families secret recipe…

Just a very quick post script here…Steve wants to add something to the post. He was watching Curtis Stone who shamelessly went to the U.S. and traded on his “Aussieness” to get himself a television show and is now back in Australia flogging Coles supermarket and his “feed your family for under $10 a meal” deal. Steve says that anyone out there who needs to fill up on less than $3 to feed the family should use his “Skettie” recipe that he borrowed from Honey Boo-boo’s mum June a few posts ago. He also says that the first “Skettie” meal would cost you $3. The second one you would only have to pay $1 for the packet of pasta as you would still have half a bottle of tomato sauce and half a container of margarine left. That’s 2 meals for $4 Curtis…Steve says “BEAT THAT!” 😉 Just a note to Woolworths…Steve is waiting for your call…

What a Mingy Comumbus a.k.a. “Oh COCK!”

Hi All,

To find out what the title of today’s post means you either have to find Series 2, episode 4 of James May’s “Man Lab” or you need to get your fingers googling. No laziness here folks…this blog is all about educating the masses and how are you EVER going to get ejamicated without a bit of work from your side eh? Steve actually prefers his version (well…the version that he was hunting for this morning online and curiously finding nothing at ALL to do with it…) the “Mumbly Comumbus”. Steve loved this SO much he has renamed “The Tubby Piggins” to “The Mumbly Comumbus”…A fitting name for his little aluminium coracle…go look it up! I KNOW it is driving you crazy! ;). I had a Mingy Comumbus of a day on Monday. I went to town with Steve and the dogs to do the fortnightly shopping on a hot day when the dogs and I spent most of the time in the car because I can’t hold both excited boys myself and we were forced to endure extended periods in a hot car. I KNOW that dogs die in hot cars but so do middle aged women! We had the windows down and doors open (well my door was open, Earls door was decidedly NOT! 😉 ) but that doesn’t make up for having to sit in the sun while Steve dashed in and out of various shops hindered by an exponentially grouchy wife and 2 panting pups. I completely forgot half of what I wanted to buy in town because I was feeling so twitchy, I have lost my city legs and was swaying from side to side mentally the whole time I was in the city. We got home and Steve had to race out to go and pick up some more craft wood from a man who is moving away from the area but Steve teed up to buy some more delicious varieties of wood from so he had to be there for 2pm. I hurriedly opened the kitchen window to give the insistent cuckoo shrike some cheese cubes and in the process hit our knife sharpener that caused a chain reaction that knocked a little blue and white flowerpot that had been on mums windowsill in her tiny little unit over. The pot didn’t break but every single one of my lovely blue and white ceramic jam spoons that it contained flew out all over the place and shattered into smithereens…”OH COCK!” as James May would say…the day was just “one of those” days…we all have to bear them…it wasn’t particularly fundamentally “bad” but it wasn’t one that I would have chosen and we all need days like this to show us how good our normal days really are. Update: not all of my ceramic spoons are broken! I found one in the cutlery draw…Steve must have put it there and for once, I am glad of his absentmindedness about where he puts things after he washes up :o)

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Earl bagsed top bunk…

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“Is this how you drive? Why isn’t it going?”

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“I prefer to be chauffered…”

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“Any fish in here?”

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Tilly, Nat’s dog enjoying one of the dogs treats

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“So you won’t get up for me to sit down eh?”…

I don’t watch a lot of television but I do LISTEN to a lot. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen/living room because that is where my base station is. Our desktop P.C. is the centre of my day and I have invisible threads that allow me to head out and do everything that I do in my day but I inevitably end up back checking something, researching something that I thought of while I was bum’s up in the garden or making sure that I didn’t forget to do something. I was doing the dishes the other day when I heard that Tasmania is going to have the driest January on record. We have a very lean 3 months in Northern Tasmania over the summer period as it is and rather than see this as an imminent threat, I prefer to see it as a challenge. Enter my arid food growing guru Bev from the wonderfully informative blog http://foodnstuff.wordpress.com/ she is my kind of problem solver. She uses a variety of permaculture principals on her property and reading about her exploits is both interesting and informative. I especially love her water wicked containers. In her latest post she shows how she has grown salad veggies in one of her wicked boxes and in arid conditions where water is likely to be limited these wicked boxes give you a whole lot of control over your food supply. I found a tutorial on how to make self watering raised veggie boxes here… http://www.josho.com/gardening.htm But I have to say that Bev had an equally excellent tutorial on her website that you can check out here… http://foodnstuff.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/preparing-a-wicking-box/  . Bev is also an incredibly generous gardener with sharing her hints, tips and spare seed. I am eagerly awaiting some parsnip seed that she managed to grow in copious quantities…no parsnips but plenty of seed and when life hands you parsnipless seeds, you pass them on! Lesson learned…no snips BUT a plethora of new interstate friends who love to collect seed and share as well. I am still ruminating the Aussie seed swap. I think it’s a fantastic idea and just because I have had to go back to horticultural kindergarten with my sideline into vegetable gardening

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One of Steve’s finds whilst pootling around on the river the other day…isn’t this place lovely?

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Part of the lovely house in the last photo and we think that they might be walnut trees

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Walking down the driveway to check the mail…

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And walking back up again…it’s no wonder Steve has skinny legs 😉

I have just realised why I am willing to be kicked out of bed at 3.50am by the dog and head out into the dark early morning to read blogs through my rss feed reader…it enlivens and invigorates my mind. I LOVE learning…I love the cut and thrust of replying to comments and sharing my opinion and I love that I can do it from the comparative safety of my own little kitchen miles away from the coalface of the original idea. I can wander through a list of amazing personally selected blogs that feed my mind and act as jumper leads to my day. I flick from amazing food blogs…lots of innovative vegan blogs and gorgeous foodie blogs with amazing recipes to cutting edge fermentation sites and sites where I learn how to make just about everything. Then I have my environmental sites. I hate depressing doom and gloom sites and refuse to frequent them. I love positivity in the face of insurmountable odds and that’s the sort of blogs I frequent…”the world is going to hell in a hand basket but we will be bullocked if we are going down without a fight…” that sort of site. I had best clear up now that I don’t frequent crazy stockpiling hillbilly “shoot the neighbour Brandeen…they are stealin’ our food stores!” sites that sort of site can make you crazier than you already are! I might occasionally veer side left to pinch a plan for a rocket stove or wood fired oven plan but I cover my eyes because I KNOW they are probably taking on other forms! ;). I have blogs in my rss feed readers that defy classification…one such blog I actually hoard. It’s called “23 Thorns” and if this man puts out a book I am buying it. I don’t care if I have to work down t’ coal mines for a month to do so, his writing is that entertaining. Check it out if you want to end up on the floor laughing…this man is the bomb! This link takes you to his series of “The Lowveld Posts” an absolutely hilarious look at the wildlife that inhabits his local area. You should go there merely to read about these amazing creatures in Africa and woven through his amazing posts that are incredibly well written (the man is a wordsmith) is a background of Africa warts and all…

http://23thorns.wordpress.com/category/the-lowveld-posts/

One day when I have more time available to me when I won’t feel guilty for taking perhaps an entire tea fuelled week, I am going to wade through every single one of this bloggers posts. He is the Patch Adams of blogs and I, for one, prefer 23 Thorns to chocolate! There…I said it :o). I urge you all to at least have a look at these wonderful posts that will hopefully bring a smile to your day :o)

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Steve got a shock when this seal shot out of the water right next to his boat the other day

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A visitor to Serendipity Farm hunting for insects (or maybe a drink of water?) on his way through

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Our friend in the witness protections front garden (well a bit of it) to show you how dry it is in our region at the moment

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Our friend in the witness protections all enclosed veggie garden doing as well as ours is. That compost is pure gold!

Today we are heading back into town. We need to get some fruit (for my daily green smoothie habit) and chia seed that I completely and utterly forgot on my “diem horribilis” on Monday. We are also going to visit our friend in the witness protection ostensibly to “visit” but really, for me to have a good perve at her fully enclosed garden and see how her partner Glen made it. Her veggies are also going great guns and she has runaway snow peas going crazy all over the enclosure. We can only assume that because of our widely varying soil conditions, our joint success has come from the rich organic compost that we purchased by the trailer load from Exeter Landscaping. I don’t think that they are going to benefit from my free plug there because their office receptionist, although eminently pleasant and approachable, is completely unable to navigate her way around their new website and completely bypasses it should anyone make a web enquiry…sigh…(and they wonder why Tasmania is lagging behind the rest of the world?). We have some young junipers and other hardy conifers that we don’t intend on planting out on Serendipity Farm that we are going to give her to plant out on her 40 acre property. She needs drought tolerant species that don’t mind getting their feet wet in the winter. Her property goes from arid desert in summer to swamp in winter and is festooned with possums and wallabies and rabbits at night time, all wanting to completely consume everything that she plants as soon as the sun goes down. Despite these drawbacks she is surprisingly willing to keep trying and her horticultural persistence is starting to pay off. I will take some photos of her garden unless it is starting to look like Serendipity Farm, dry, arid and like a 70’s Instagram version of its modern self all turned up corners and orange hued where I will allow her a degree of anonymity. We are also going to walk the dogs in the city again and also on Jenny’s property. They are going to have a ball! I have to say “Hi” and “Welcome back” to Nat, one of my best mates and a dear constant reader of this humble blog. She is back at Polytechnic working as a horticultural lecturer for another year which allows her to occasionally take a brief foray into the world of Serendipity Farm and keep her on the cutting edge of insanity on a regular basis. I do my bit girl… I do my bit! 😉

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Our friend in the witness protection gave me this enormous sack of silverbeet, carrots and snow peas…Earl had a bit of a sniff but found them all wanting

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My fruit haul including 7kg of bananas @ .90c a kilo, 5 enormous mangoes @ $1.00 each and some nectarines and apricots @ $4.99kg. I have enough fruit for green smoothies to last me a month!

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The bananas have already been frozen and just the mangoes and sundry fruit to go 🙂

It’s now 5.23. Bezial threw me out of bed at 3.50am and the young rooster that lives under the deck is tentatively crowing the new day in. Another series of processes is just about to begin and as they weave their way into our psyche let’s just hope that today isn’t a repeat of Monday and to make sure, I am going to hide that one remaining ceramic jam spoon! See you all on Saturday and remember to tell us if you would like to win the spoon that Earl will draw on Saturday morning. EVERYONE can enter. We don’t care if you live on the moon…we love sharing with you all and please don’t think that you can’t enter the draw because you live in Timbuktu…so do we! We know what it is like to live in the sticks and feel out of the loop and we love to share with fellow out of the loopers all over the world. Secretly, Steve wants his spoons to be represented in every single continent so I am going to have to work hard to market this blog to several underrepresented countries (Africa…”who wants a spoon!”…same goes for India, Russia, China, Korea, Japan…sigh…)… you have to be in it to win it folks 😉

Sustaining and the ability to smile while the felt hats spout their wisdoms

Hi All

I posted my hump day post yesterday and suddenly I have to write another post today thanks to me heading off tomorrow to my daughters place to spend the weekend with them and to attend an all-day Food Sustainability series of talks by various local speakers on Saturday. I am looking forwards to learning something from this and am taking my camera so that I can share the day with you all. Our Serendipity Farm soil should be winging its way across our wide brown land and launching into the stratosphere to head to the U.S. to be analysed and then the results sent back here for us to learn just how nutritionally deficient it really is. I wonder what they do with all of the soil from all over the world that gets sent to them. Is there a little multicultural compost heap out the back fermenting all sorts of soil nationalities into one small melting pot of ex worm castings and sifted hopes and dreams? I have been researching taking cuttings from kiwifruit vines because a new acquaintance has kiwifruit vines (both male and female) on his property and has most generously told us to knock ourselves out and take whatever plant material that we want. I was all prepared to head off secateurs in hand with my right index finger twitching in anticipation when I discovered that I am exactly 6 months early for the window of cutting viability opportunity…the story of my life! We are just about to prune the same acquaintance’s peach tree grown from a peach smuggled from the U.S. many years ago. I didn’t have the heart to lecture him as the tree is now a mature specimen and Tasmania hasn’t suddenly been overrun by U.S. peachy boll weevils. He also has a large walnut tree and several hazelnuts, all of which I will gladly take advantage off should the offer be made. He also gave us several currant shrubs that had been hacked down to the roots that I thought were dead, but noticed the other day are coming back from the base. One man’s trash is most definitely this adventitious gardeners treasure and I wonder what else is out there that I might be able to trade for something else?

This is the old Beconsfeild mine building

Steve and I walk the boys around Bonnie Beach in Kayena on a regular basis. It is quite close to home, has a plethora of barking dogs that greet the boys with varying degrees of excitement and is a mix of beach walk, bush walk and country lane stroll with various stop offs for Steve to feed his new pony friends bits of apple and carrot. It was on one of our walks that we noticed a lemon tree full to the brim of ripe lemons and many lemons rotting underneath it on the ground. We had been planning to make lemon wine and were lamenting how people didn’t use the resources available to them. We wondered if they would swap some of our free range eggs for some of their lemons. We keep forgetting to write a note to put into their mailbox when we head out for our walks but I wonder how many people have fruit trees, nut trees and other natural resources on their properties that they don’t take full advantage of? This all comes from me thinking about making the most of Serendipity Farm and the upcoming Sustainable Food series of talks. I have agreed to do a talk next year about minimising your carbon footprint by eating locally and more sustainably. As a vegan I can share lots of unfamiliar (but tasty) recipes with people who may never have thought that living without meat and dairy products and eggs was possible. Tasmanians eat more meat than their mainland counterparts and tend to shun any vegetables other than potatoes and peas and carrots, all of which grow very well here in Tasmania. It’s difficult to change the habits of generations and many Tasmanians’ don’t see why they should have to. It’s not up to me to harangue the natives and alienate them and they are much more likely to listen to me if I present them with delicious food, prepared well and with a low carbon footprint. As they say “you get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar” and I would tend to agree.

A arty pic from Deviot looks gloomy earl looks concerned

I have to leave Steve in charge of Herman my new baby sourdough starter. Steve has to feed him and divide him up twice while I am away. He had quite a traumatic journey through the post and has crossed several states to get to his new forever home and I would hate for him to expire before I get a chance to bake at least SOMETHING with his heady yeasty boozy oozy little body. I have great plans for Herman. He will be the father of millions all over Tasmania and will answer the prayers of several sourdough losers’ lovers who like me, have not been able to negotiate the mystery of the magic starter for whatever reason.  I have been known to sniff the sourdough loaves surreptitiously in the supermarket and linger longingly in the bakery around the large crusty loaves. I have even been known to fondle the wrappers wistfully and never once did I think that I would EVER be able to bake my own sourdough but now, thanks to Rhianna, I have the opportunity to raise my own little sourdough boy. He might develop strange nuances thanks to the local strains of invaders but he will rise above all of the challenges and will produce loaves, pitas, muffins, bagels, pretzels, pizzas, focaccia and more…that’s IF he survives this first critical weekend…I have been reading all about sourdough starters and have learned all sorts of interesting things including how sourdough starters can be represented in different states including liquid and solid and how they can also be lumps of older dough that get mixed into the new batch. What an amazingly versatile ferment! The more I look into fermenting food the more excited I get. I am a naturally excitable person and fermentation pushes my excitement buttons BIGTIME. Just about everything can be fermented with varying degrees of nutritional enhancement, increased digestibility and development of flavour and aroma. My kimchi is still emitting an “interesting” aroma. I put it down to the enormous quantity of garlic that I added to the paste. Steve has made it known that I don’t have anything to worry about him sneaking out Nigella style in the night for a midnight snack involving my kimchi in ANY form. All the more for me babe…all the more for me!

A little spot we stopped with the boys on our morning walk what a beauitiful place we live in

I headed into the bedroom to pack my suitcase tonight and was shadowed by the two boys who instantly put two and two together and decided to stop me from going. Bezial distracted me by giving me seal eyes and Earl promptly unpacked my case and ran off with my shoe. After a brief tussle/scuffle with him for repossession of my shoe I returned to packing my bag and two seal eyed dogs balefully watching me from the bed. They don’t like it when the pack is divided. I don’t know why…If I was them I would be happy to take advantage of being able to steal my spot in the bed, not having to listen to me telling them off and no “fat anchor” dragging behind them on our walks but love is thicker than sulking and I think they have forgiven me after some chin scratches and ear stroking. I will spend the weekend patting Qi, learning about food sustainability and having my daughters cook for me. It will be nice to have someone else cook something for me and the girls are both very good cooks so I am looking forwards to some good meals. Steve was sad when the Olympics finished but he has his Hillbilly television back now so has settled down into gator wrangling, crazy survivalists, hog wrestlers, pawn stars and storage locker raiders. He can watch his horror movies with impunity this weekend, he can fall asleep on the couch without me teasing him and he can bring his shed projects inside and work on them on the kitchen table and I will NEVER know. He can eat whatever he likes and so long as he feeds Herman and the dogs and chickens I will be a happy camper.

I love this mail box

Steve and I spend all of our days together. Unlike most couples, we have learned to coexist together 24/7 even though we are like chalk and cheese. Steve bagses cheese so I guess that leaves me with chalk. It’s curious that the two of us are so very different but when we are able to work together, we tend to be able to do a really good job thanks to the very things that make it hard for us to understand what the heck the other one is going on about. It’s like putting Yin and Yang together and making that nice little black and white swirly symbol. When you separate them you get black and white tadpoles but put them together and you get harmony. We are learning to work together better and not a moment too soon as next year we are hoping to be accepted into an online graphic arts course to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator so that we can use it to create amazing concept plans for our garden designs. I met a lady (also named Fran/ces) at the Transition Town day that I went to back at the beginning of August who is a certified Permaculture teacher and who is interested in taking Saturday classes in Permaculture rather than large blocks of residential lecturing which tend to be very expensive and totally out of our reach. To be able to learn all about Permaculture and to apply it to what we are currently learning and hybridise everything we have learned with a sustainable lien has my excitement valve steaming. Everything seems to be falling into place and pointing us towards a truly sustainable lifestyle on Serendipity Farm and now that we don’t spend our waking study hours like Homer and Bart Simpson alternating with exhibiting protagonist and antagonistic behaviour we are starting to see the possibilities that our studies may present to us. I would love to teach people how to live sustainably and how to design their available spaces to fit their food requirements. I love solving problems (apart from cryptic crosswords…what the HECK are they all about?) and being able to help people AND solve problems would be my idea of a wonderful job. Who knows where we might end up? All I know is that we are certainly enjoying the ride to get there

A cool plant that made our old teacher James very excited and happy

This post is going to be a bit shorter than my usual posts. I will choose to ignore all of you who just cheered and will simply smile wistfully at you in a very enigmatic way to shame you. Consider yourself shamed! I hope to have all sorts of interesting food stories to share with you including the meals that I ate at my daughters, photos of a townie sort of bent and despite all of the fun, frivolity and camaraderie I will no doubt be blissfully happy to return back to the folds of Serendipity Farm and back to Steve, Herman, the boys, the chooks, Brunhilda and our simple but incredibly satisfying life here on Serendipity Farm. A change is as good as a holiday folks and the best part of a holiday is realising that there is no place like home. See you all on Wednesday :o).

same plant pretty isnt it , its from new zealand

I was going to do a little post of my own but have decided to hi jack frans post here while she’s away… I was paying for my petrol today and I was waiting and hoping that I hadn’t forgotten how much was in the bank as it was taking a while to process and the girl said “sorry the machines are running slow today” this struck me as something from an old time film or some old future doom and gloom book or similar. We are so reliant on “the machines” can we function if the actually stop? God forbid we have no power, no machines. We will spiral into chaos I think, teens will be holding their mobile phones in bemusement saying “no Facebook” This is the scenario for the ultimate terrorist strike , kill all the machines and you have the ability to become almost invisible to all you are trying to strike against. I know I sound like a doom merchant here but I just had a George Orewllien moment today lol. Big Brother is watching and if he loses his power grid he becomes blind, we are  at the mercy of machines each day , cash , petrol, you name it we can’t shop without a machine. The local store that used to take (uk here remember) 10 bob now accepts MasterCard and visa and pay pass on a daily basis. I was a kid my machine was a bike and some pegs with playing cards on the  forks to make a cool sound, I had a battery operated tape player and a few other things that ran on power but the main thing I had was cash , coins and folding filthy luka (go check luka out). I had to make sure I had 10p for a phone call if I needed it.  In 30 something years I have gone from a boy on a bike to a man that checks mails and Facebook. The machine are slow some days and I love that we can use them to get stuff and to meet folks , if it wasn’t for a machine I would not have met my wonderful wife (I can say what I like she can’t stop me tonight lol) thankyou machines thankyou technology but I know that if tomorrow came and all went I would not scream to bad , can’t say I would be happy but I could adjust and hey we could all do the same if we had to. I guess what I am saying is we have all this stuff at our fingertips and we don’t seem to realise what we have.

Cloudy paper beach

Ok that’s my bit here and I have to say that I think I have come across sounding like John Connor from terminator lol if the machines rise then they shall fall as they need man at this point in time to start them up , we should worry when they have no needs for man and then we have to ask if the machines are slow today can we take advantage and make the most of the slow day or do we just say oh that’s ok we can wait …… deep ? confused? that’s Steve after a few wines and control of this machine

Yeah not many of these pics relate to Frans post but they are nice pics and im in charge of posting them lol

Sorry that I spouted here babe but I had the feeling that I could add a little to your post lol I will sweep the rugs in penance lol bye folks and remember if the machines are running slow smile and says that’s ok as they are still running and that for now is all we need till they stop and then we will all get creative ….. Bye ( hope this made some sense)

Holy Crap Batman…they’re effecting change on Serendipity Farm!

Hi All,

We all have them and April is one of our birthday months on Serendipity Farm. My oldest child turns 30 and my youngest turns 22. Don’t feel left out Madeline, you already had your birthday (24). Since we moved to Serendipity Farm we no longer spend a large amount of money on people for birthdays. This came about due to us considering how much money we had, and how much money they had and working out that we were the lowest common denominator in the money chain so we now give gifts rather than moola. No doubt my son is racing out to take up bungie jumping, sky diving and anything else that he can to deny his descent into 30 and my daughters will spend the day together celebrating with an amazing feast revolving around gourmet products. Since we moved out, the girls have become gourmands. I talked to them yesterday and was informed that they had just been shopping and purchased goat shanks…GOAT SHANKS! What on earth does one do with the shanks of a goat? No idea, but the girls saw merit in them and purchased them along with a dozen oysters, a kilo of mussels and various weird and wonderful varieties of sausage that they bought from a tiny local smallgoods firm directly opposite where Bethany attends Polytechnic as an art student. Their fridge is like Aladdin’s cave and always contains something new and most interesting. Their shelves are full of weird and wonderful Korean concoctions along with various weird grains, strange brands of noodle and couscous and all sorts of unusual sweets and biscuits. I now have to think of what to get someone who lives in the “Paris” sector of Melbourne for his birthday and what to get my gourmet daughter for her birthday 7 days after my son’s. I have a week or so to think about it but the clock is ticking…

Steve was determined to not miss getting a home grown tomato this year. We started late…VERY late and this is the sum of our most delicious tomatoes that have been raised in the glasshouse.

Stretch was complaining about how cold it is moving from Western Australia (hot) to Tasmania (cold) when you are a stretchy bean filled naked rubber chicken. Apparently Stretch is working on it…

Figs and Juglans regia (English walnuts…even though they come from Persia…go figure!) collected in Beaconsfield and subsequently eaten (figs) and stratified (walnuts…apart from 1 that Earl decided to crack and sample and find wanting…)

Hi guys! It’s Monday and Steve is racing around town having a wonderful time on his own. Steve likes to establish, maintain and keep up an alarming pace whenever confronted with shopping and town and despite my best efforts I am totally unable to keep up with him. Aside from my 2 steps to his 1, I have a “curious mind” and need to pick things up…turn them over…sniff them (which has gotten me into trouble more than once I can tell you!) and generally savour this new and unfamiliar product where Steve grabs it, bungs it into the trolley on the run, pausing only to pay the checkout chick before they arrest him for motorised shoplifting. He will be munching his way through a couple of Macca’s sausage Mcmuffins (both held in one hand) and slurping noisily on a boiling hot beverage (most probably Gloria Jeans…) with the other hand…driving with his knees in the expert way that only someone who has lived most of his life in enormous cities knows how to do. I panic at the first sign of a brake light, but he lives vicariously enjoying every thrilling heart stopping minute (of our 100 000 odd population teeny tiny city) of the chase. He phoned me about 30 minutes ago (I have been commenting on some great blog posts that I got in my inbox today) at 7.30am to tell me that he had done all of the shopping and was just waiting (Mcmuffins in hand) to get the dogs meat, my stuff (can you hear the impatient sigh?) at the health food shop and then he is off to get a brand spanking new razzmatazz phone from the Telstra shop. Our 24 month contract is up and he has the desire for a smart phone burning a hole in his psyche at the moment. After doing some research we found the perfect phone for regional use (most important) to get coverage out here and that will allow him to play “Need for Speed” whenever he wants (no doubt with Mcmuffins in the other hand and driving with one foot…). I could care less about mobile phones…so long as they are able to be used for the purpose of “Phone” (obviously hidden under all of the aps, games, music etc.) and have nice easy steps to get there I am happy. Steve is a techno geek and loves new things and will be messing about with whatever he ends up getting for hours muttering under his breath at regular intervals about GPS…MP4 etc. and speaking that foreign language that people who love technology attempt to pass off as normal conversation. Have fun babe…just make sure that I can press something to phone a friend should the need ever arise!

I would like to call this photo “What you lookin at Willis!” for all of you who are older than 10 and remember the sitcom Different Strokes. Pingu could have gone one of two ways after her last attempt at scaling the Pearly Gates. The first time Earl broke her leg and left her for dead (although she was very much alive and only playing possum…) the second time she was standing at the gate waiting to be let back in to her rightful home or be fed a piece of bread, whichever came first when she made the mistake of getting a teensy bit too close. Earl seized the day/moment and pulled her under the gate and Steve came out to find feathers all over the deck…Pingu coloured feathers! We thought for sure that she was dead and were not at all surprised as she liked to stare through the gate at a slavering Earl on a regular basis. She was, in fact, relatively unharmed after her plucking as Earl had stupidly taken his mouth off her and she ran and then flew straight off the 3 metre drop from the deck to the ground. She was waiting for her bit of bread at the bottom of the steps! Now, as previously mentioned, this would leave you one of two ways…scared witless and terrified of EVERYTHING or…in no mood whatsoever to tolerate any sort of aggressive behaviour and with a massive chip on your shoulder…Pingu chose the latter. She can now be found terrorising the feral cats and stealing food out of their mouths. She runs at them full pelt with her wings out and pecks any part of animal that she can. Bezial is now allowed out to wander around with impunity as he totally ignores the cats and the hens (with age comes wisdom…) but Pingu ran up to him and decided to check him out tempting fate severely. She has decided that he might be alright and didn’t actually attack him but she follows Earl (on the lead) at a safe distance now… watching and waiting for her chance to pounce! That’s one ANGRY little bird!

I love finding like-minded souls on the other side of the world. Back in the olden days (20 years ago) when I was actually alive (shock HORROR!) I didn’t even think about the “other side of the world”. It was like thinking about the moon and anything “American” or “English” was consigned to history, newspapers or social studies in school. Now, with technology (specifically the internet) making the world a much smaller and more immediate environment, I am able to wake up, settle down in front of my PC in the wee small dark hours of the morning and slowly wake up with a cup of tea nestled lovingly in one hand and the other one caressing the mouse. Do I love my newfound “overseas” friends? Damned right I do! I don’t know these people who share their passion, humour and essence across the miles but I consider them soul buddies (as wanky and hippy as that sounds) because whenever I get one of their carefully considered (although some of you might want to consider using the spellcheck every now and then!) content rich posts I am getting a little glimpse of their lives way over there in the U.S.A. or the U.K. or Canada or any of the other places that I regularly poke my nose into to have a careful sniff around. I found a really great blog when I was nosing around at The Soulsby Farm. A fantastic blog in its own right and a great source of information and cheap makes for we homesteading pioneers (read poor sad fools who have fallen prey to weed infestation and under the spell of animals en masse) and right there on the blogroll (some people actually do look at them you know…) I discovered Hanna and her wonderfully honest blog “This Garden is Illegal”. I will give you a little soupçon of Hanna’s fantastic way of looking at things and her great writing skills here in her latest post…

http://www.thisgardenisillegal.com/

Not only is she informative, money wise and clever (all A+ features of a blog that I want to read) but she is funny, wry and honest and this elevates her right up there with the best. Go check out her blog and you tell me that she hasn’t got an edge on writing about gardening and its foibles. I could most probably write all of this post today if I wanted to but we are planning on being bums up in the garden for the rest of the week and so I would no doubt miss out on telling you about how one of our new roosters has turned into a rapist and is just about to say hello to God, I will no doubt be covered in leech bites and will resemble something out of a John Carpenter movie by the end of the week (bring on the Jehovah’s Witnesses then!) and we will hopefully have had many opportunities to take interesting photos for you to ooo and ahhh over. Welcome to everyone who has recently subscribed to the blog by the way. Cheers for your faith that I will be able to amuse you and inform you whilst performing acts of super human strength out there in the jungle of a garden that we call Serendipity Farm. Someone on the road to Beaconsfield got pigs. Now I know that it isn’t like “got nits” or “got worms” but for me it is almost as contagious because I WANT PIGS. I love them. They are most probably the closest animal to my own personal state. Pigs are smart (tick) they are funny (tick) they tend to run to seed (tick…tick…tick…) they spend their lives looking for somewhere to wallow and cool down (oh MAN that’s a tick!) and love nothing better than standing next to a tree rubbing their large expanse and grunting in extreme satisfaction. I figure I must have been a pig in my past life. Steve wants goats and in particular miniature goats. My daughters ate goat shanks the other day and have been lauding the delights of said goaty meat ever since so you might want to think about those goats VERY carefully Stevey boy… Harvey (The Tassie Farmer) thrust pigs into my semi-awake mind this morning and coupled them with Eliza Wood who is a country livestock morning presenter on our local ABC who has rare Essex saddleback’s on a property up in Penguin (YES we have a town named penguin…sigh…) and who recently had an open day on her and her partners farm. Lots of rare breeds of things and all no doubt VERY exciting but you lost me at pigs Harvey. I sat there daydreaming about how Brian up the back (the tree felling neighbour with the sanctimonious wife) would LOVE to have pigs living in the bush block adjacent to his property (who wouldn’t?) and how they would fit in most incredibly well with the rest of us here on Serendipity Farm. Indeed…should I ever want to head off into town on secret nefarious business I could just put a pair of my jeans and a sun hat on one of the larger ones, plonk it down into the middle garden and let it do what it did best and Steve would never know the difference! It is with regret that I stop typing here and leave some space for future “events” to occur. When I get on a roll it is like a wellspring opening and the words just want to keep tumbling out. See you later on in the week 🙂

I allow my mind to be gloriously and most vicariously innovative and exciting. I try to learn all sorts of new and interesting things and tend to slide right off the Richter scale when it comes to weird and wonderful “stuff” to cram in the few spaces left in my mental capacity but as chaotic and exciting as my mind is, the rest of me is the exact antithesis of chaos and I love nothing more than to be soothed by routine and a dearth of change going on at any given time. I mentioned this only because I have just gotten hungry and have ventured into the previously foreign territory known to others as “Breakfast” recently. Working hard in the garden needs a degree of staying power and last night’s tea simply doesn’t cut the mustard when you need to lift, heft and hack on a massive scale especially if you intend on carrying on the process rather than making one fell swoop at glory. Staying power aka “energy” has been an elusive dream of mine for quite some time. Since I started eating something in the morning I have had energy for the first time in many years. Coupled with eating nutritious food and totally knocking out sugar and white refined products I have suddenly developed a new spring in my step and have lost 6kg without even trying. I think I have discovered a precious secret here about “weight loss” but at the moment I am still in familiar territory and when I have lost 10kg I will let you know about the true nature of my new eating regime. My breakfast this morning (and every morning if the truth be known) is “some minute oats”, “some dates cut up with a pair of scissors” with boiling water poured over them and set aside to absorb said boiling water all topped off with a finely chopped apple. Might sound boring but it tastes lovely and keeps me going till mid-afternoon when I have my main meal. I used to eat 1 enormous meal in the evening but now I eat 2 meals and something nutritious if I get hungry in between. I use olive oil in my cooking and I eat however much I want to. I am a big eater and so if anything is going to make me fall off the wagon it is portion control. I can live on broccoli and carrots (and have done so before) but if you make me weigh them out I am outta there! Gone are the days where I would get “funny” and start minimising my portion sizes, cutting out entire food groups and trying to scrape every last skerrick of fat out of my diet. It’s there because we need it folks to metabolise some of our most important vitamins and minerals and without it we look like deflated balloons (skin etc.) and apart from working hard in the garden we are walking the dogs 5km a day. Easy ways to lose weight and get healthy without even trying. I added some ground cloves and a pinch of ground cinnamon to my breakfast today and it tastes lovely. I know that at some day in the future even I, with my endless need to categorise and follow a nice sensible routine, am going to get a tad bored with this meal and so I am already looking out for interesting nutritious alternatives. In my travels I found a recipe for fermented muesli (An Instructable) which really caught my eye. I love the idea of using my dehydrator (second in cost and lack of use only to the “you-beaut” $1200 blender) to make this amazing healthy looking muesli containing equally amazing probiotics. I am a sucker for a bacterium, and even found an instructable for harnessing your own little greeblies to work for you (isolated from buttermilk should I ever find a live source in Australia that is…). This brings me back to my life’s work. I have a fever… A FEVER I TELLS YA for hunting out how to make basic things and compiling them. Recipes for healthy home-made margarine, baking powder, sourdough starter, potato yeast as well as how to make just about everything that you could possibly need/want yourself. Bugger the middle man (my arch nemesis…) bring on “do it yourself” in a way that it actually relates to our inner need to feel competent rather than societies need to foist all kinds of consumerist goods that we don’t need and can’t afford in the name of D.I.Y. Does anyone else get “Better Homes and Gardens” magazine? Has anyone else noticed how it is just an enormous advertisement from cover to cover? D.I.Y. sells BIGTIME people and don’t think it took the middle man long to work that one out and harness themselves to all of our grindstones as we did the work and they flogged the products. I have dabbled in all sorts of weird and wonderful food rituals over the past few decades and was originally one of those poor lost souls that bought each and every new super food and gadget that popped up promising eternal life. With age comes wisdom and I would like to think, a healthy degree of cynicism for these sorts of claims and products. I would even join a sceptics society for new food fads should they ever develop one. I do, however, make sure to check out as many informative food blogs as I can and use bits and pieces, recipes, hints, tips and anything of worth. A good magpie never wastes information and I would classify myself as a “Top Bird” in the magpie confraternity :). Here is a link to a PDF template of home-made seed packets. Only a “Top Bird” would find and share this sort of thing (can you see me preening my feathers?). I plan on using this template a lot and working out how to print some pretty (also pilfered) images on the front of my packets to enable me to both use collected seed and be delighted by the process. Take your own delight and get printing! (And when you do…could you let me know how you did it…sigh…). The link below also gives you a few predesigned templates to get you started (guess I had best only save tomato, sunflower and pea seeds eh?)

http://www.finegardening.com/how-to/articles/make-your-own-seed-packets.aspx

Here’s another great blog just waiting for you all to trundle over there, find a few minutes peace and quiet to have a little look-see over a nice beverage of your choice (chocolate biscuit optional but preferable). All sorts of lovely crafts and fun things to do all revolving around “Gardens”. Love it, just subscribed to it and will be going there often.

http://gardentherapy.ca/diy-rock-spiders/comment-page-1/

Veggie burgers waiting to go into the oven and Copycat (I will take the secret to the grave!) Hobnob (U.K.) biscuits fresh out of the oven. Even when we couldn’t climb the stairs we still managed to eat…

In one of the videos about permaculture that I found online (somewhere in the ether) I was made aware of (discovery was “mine” they already knew about it…) a most interesting premise about soil. Topsoil is precious. I already knew that…I had it drummed into my head by my poor long suffering lecturer James when I was completing certificates 2 & 3 in horticulture. I dare say he was quite glad to see the back of me because I was one of those students who always wanted to know “why?” and “how?” thus making him have to come up with answers. Usually I had found my own answer by the time he gave them to me so I stopped asking after a while but the value of topsoil was one thing that we learned very early on in the piece. Australia is known for being an inhospitable arid place populated by a highly poisonous population of just about everything and what isn’t poisonous wants to kill you anyway. We get hot dry conditions and our soils are ancient and can’t afford the extreme weather events that we are starting to see as a result of our continued pillaging of natural resources at our own detriment (anyone outside looking down might just be wondering why the human race has suicidal tendencies…I know I am!) and as such we all need to be building our topsoil for future generations. Preventing it from drying up and blowing away is a good start so incorporating organic matter and mulching and getting decent soil holding root systems (preferably arboreal) into place are not a bad start. I watched a most intense, passionate thin man telling me about how the most amazing soil is produced underwater every day. Leaves, twigs, insects, anything organic falling into water and becoming subject to anaerobic bacterial activity forms amazing soil much more quickly. I must admit to being a little bit sceptical about this. Scepticism is a very healthy thing. It allows you to exercise your right to choose what you believe in and gives you the impetus to go searching for proof and information to back up said claims. I promptly forgodaboudit as is my usual way when confronted with information for more than 10 minutes…too much knowledge…such a little brain… something’s gotta give!  I was reminded of this interesting piece of information when Steve was fixing the guttering and drain system on the side of our new wood shed. We had removed a massive ancient blackberry shrub that was reclining all over the surrounding area and that had a really REALLY bad attitude. Deprivation had made it hard and lean and it really didn’t want to give up its position of power. Once we had put paid to its sequel by grubbing it out of the ground Steve headed up the ladder to clean out the slurry in the guttering. He called me over to take a look at the “amazing soil” that was coming out of the guttering. I have no idea how long the leaves and twigs had been falling onto the wood shed roof and into the guttering but they had rotted down in a puddle of stored water to a rich, dark wonderful smelling soil. I wonder if we can “make” our own soil by using water to facilitate a speedier process (waiting several millennia is a little out of my ability to wait…) and if that sludge in the bottom of the duck pond/boat could be put to good use somewhere in the garden? Having little money to spend on luxuries like additional soil I am starting to turn to more adventurous ways to get what we want around here and thanks to the internet, there is no shortage of wild eyed, hirsute, dreadlocked thin people lining up to tell me how to effect change on a shoestring budget.

Ok…time to bite the bullet! The weed species that have been allowed to run rampant for 20 years need to be taught that they have a new master and his name is pain! Here we go…

 Take that Elisha’s Tears! (Leycesteria formosa, follow suit blackberries, osteospermum daisies and twitch grass and you can just about forgedaboudit Rosa canina your asses are MINE!…

The first person to comment on how that “crown lifted” conifer looks now is going to have said comment inserted where the sun don’t shine… just a warning folks! Apart from the Truffula Tree, this area can now be considered cleansed brethren! Do I hear an AMEN?!

While I was wading through the blackberries, Steve was pruning, raking and generally clearing out the first garden “grassed” (HA) area. It now doubles as a lovely sandbath for the hens

What do you think? Not too bad for a water stressed garden at the end of summer

The view now from the stair end of our deck

If you haven’t yet gone to check out the blogs on my new blogroll more fool you! I am not going to force you to go there but it’s you that are missing out. I am anything but magnanimous in my desire to spread the word about sustainability and one of my favourite sites “Permaculture Power” had a most interesting full length documentary called “Garbage Warrior” about “The epic story of radical Earthship eco architect Michael Reynolds, and his fight to build off-the-grid self-sufficient communities.” I watched most of this video tongue in cheek because this man is a typical 60’s hippy with accompanying utopian dreams and some of his “Earthships” were bizarre to say the least. In saying that, I was totally engrossed with what he and his friends were and are trying to do. Using garbage like old tyres, beer cans and rock hard New Mexican soil baked under the sun for 9/10’s of the year and frozen solid for the remainder removed from the ground with brute force and inserted unceremoniously into the tyre walls to create thermal mass. They used different coloured bottles to give jewel coloured stained glass effect to their buildings and despite taking years to build, they were very cheaply constructed and totally off the grid. Wouldn’t you like to be totally off the grid? So would I! Now I just have to learn how to make my own composting toilet (I have actual plans…), plumb that sucker in (might have to take a plumbing course at Polytechnic in my gap year 😉 and get Steve drinking again except using cans rather than bottles…”it’s for the sake of the earth Steve…GET DRINKING!” If you would like to check out this bit of hippy environmental history and you can turn a blind eye to the architects annoying accent and outbursts of manic enlightenment, Harley Davidson and enormous F200 SUV while he is spouting all about how the earth is going to hell in a hand basket because of humanities actions (apparently it is “do what I say…not what I do” in this man’s case or perhaps he has bought some trees in Guatemala and is therefore allowed to produce as much carbon dioxide as he wants…hmm) this is a really informative documentary and no doubt it will spur you on (like me) to continue saving your bottles (I have 2 wheelbarrows full already), aluminium cans (NOT aluminum…) and heck…after watching the poor sods try to remove some of that hard baked New Mexican soil to fill their tyres I feel positively decadent about our rock filled clay bollocks soil! I feel a garden shed constructed out of tyres (on the property…dad was too tight to pay the $5 each to throw them out so we got them left to us along with Serendipity Farm), beer cans and Serendipity Clay. Who knows where this will end? Most probably with Steve in the mental asylum, but at least we will have lots of “Thermal Mass” in all sorts of unexpected places on Serendipity Farm… Might have to rename it “Earthship Farm”! Here’s that link…

http://permaculturepower.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/garbage-warrior-full-length-documentary/

I think this post is going to be gargantuan. I have SO much to share! I went hunting on some of my friends Facebook pages to see if they were all doing well (as none of them post regularly and I just wanted to see if they were doing alright) and on Florida’s page I found a link to a “Britain’s got talent” entrant called Jonathan Antoine. This 17 year old boy was wearing a Jimi Hendrix tee-shirt, a pair of track pants and had long curly hair and was very large. The girl that accompanied him was very pretty and well dressed. As they came out onto the stage you could see Simon Cowell (the chief judge) mouth to the judge sitting next to him “and you didn’t think it could get worse”…You could feel the lack of interest and disdain dripping from every word that Simon uttered and it was almost as if he wanted the act over and done with before it started. “Do you think that you can win?” he asked them somewhat incredulously and only the girl answered. The boy fumbled a little bit at the beginning of the song and started a teeny bit early but after glancing at the girl they started to sing and it was the most amazing sensation to be listening to someone who at 17 rivalled Pavarotti. This kid, shy, grossly overweight and bullied who had suffered a nervous breakdown and was no longer able to go to school thanks to “normal society” and its need to be perfect, wiped the floor (and Simon Cowells gaping maw) and had everyone giving him a standing ovation. Simon had to eat his words (once he found them again) and admitted that they were listening to a future star. Thank you so much Florida for sharing that with me. Now we just have to hope that “normal society” don’t stuff this amazingly talented kid up by “grooming” him to within an inch of his life and turning him into a money making machine to his detriment. If you haven’t watched this amazing performance I urge you to check it out here.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kt3Utn4mjeg

Awesome eh? Good luck Jonathan, although with that incredible natural talent I doubt that you are going to need it!

Look at this lovely little Cercis canadensis (Judas Tree) that we discovered hiding underneath a mountain of blackberries alongside the driveway. We also found a lovely weeping camellia, lots and LOTS of weird and wonderful bulbs all in the first flushes of growing and all sorts of foundation plants just waiting to be given a helping hand after we weeded all of the invasive species from over the top of them.

Can you see that nice camellia to the right of this picture? Can you see the Clivea miniata? Nope?…neither could we till we liberated them from underneath this mass of blackberries  and (I am guessing) Brachycome Iberidifolia or Swan river daisies that have taken over every available bit of space that the Erigeron karvinskianus (seaside daisies) have left vacant. We also discovered under this mass a Daphne odora, a dead specimen of Cistus ladaniferus and an almost alive one that I don’t know why I am mentioning because in my frenzied secateur offensive I clipped off the only piece of shrub that remained alive…sigh…

Here we have a wider shot of this area. It’s cram packed full of blackberries and Vinca major (Periwinkle) and any other invasive species that could take advantage of 20 years of freedom to explore their natural surrounds.

This shot was taken just around the corner from the last shot and shows that this area is indeed somewhat overgrown and in serious need of attention by two penniless horticultural student hippies who have been avoiding this mess like the plague! Can you see 2 specimens of Brachychiton populneus in this shot? Neither can I and I know they are in there!

There one is! These poor sorry suffering specimens of Brachychiton populneus have done their level best to survive in less than sterling conditions for a very long time. One of them is stunted and on its last legs and the other is weeping sap at an alarming rate. Even though we have cleared out under them and have given them back their sunlight we severely doubt that they will make it. We have been growing Brachychiton populneus from some locally sourced seed for a few years now and we can replace them should they die, but I feel an incredible camaraderie with all of the long suffering plants that survived their 20 years in the wilderness with my horticulturally challenged dad and to arrive where they are now and die is incredibly sad to me

We are always accompanied by our feathered friends whenever we venture out into the garden in any capacity. Here, we have Big Yin and his girls clearing an area of newly exposed insect life and injecting their own special brand of highly nitrogenous fertiliser onto this poor denuded soil.

Remember what this area looked like only a few hours prior to Steve and I launching our offensive? Go back a few photos and check again… After a bums up, secateurs flying, whipper snipping marathon that ended with us sitting on the deck being slobbered on with impunity by happy pooches because we were too tired to defend ourselves. The sense of accomplishment is what is keeping this old hippy chick going and it would seem that hard work and great results are somewhat addictive…you are going to be seeing some interesting things happening on Serendipity Farm, fueled by some newly invigorated hope filled land carers :o)

We have been laying low like Brer Rabbit around here for a while. It’s lucky we have only just started on the briar patches in that case isn’t it? Steve and I spent Wednesday and Thursday of this week totally changing our aspect. We have been collecting wood, removing blackberries from the poor long suffering plants along the driveway and generally skirting all around the outside of having to deal with the massive problem of the overtaking blackberries. We have been working really hard and over the last 2 days we most certainly effected change! We started in the enormous conifer on the driveway and removed a massive clump of wild briar roses that had been growing there for as long as I had known this place (2004) and got stuck into removing the weedy species from the garden next to the conifer. We fully intended on “bumbling around” which is our way of saying “taking it easy” for the day as we had really done a lot of work the week before and were just going to work to rule for a few days to recover. In the end we did a solid days work and totally changed this area. We had to remodel a tall thin conifer that now looks somewhat like a weird helter skelter lollypop but we can plant things underneath it and make it look less like something out of Dr Seuss. We then decided to tackle an area of the garden that I doubt dad had ever bothered to deal with. It was absolutely cram packed full of blackberries, Periwinkle, dead shrubs and trees and a massive tangle of dodder (a native mistletoe species) that was threatening to take over the entire area. In the process we found a nest with 4 eggs in it. Speckled Bob (one of our original hens) had been felled out of her last nest by Steve dropping a tree right where she used to lay her eggs and had only just made this nest and it was plundered. We know it was Bob because she headed straight to the nest and looked into it to check her eggs were still there thus allowing us to spot the culprit! Steve pruned the trees in the area and crown lifted as we proceeded and I waded in with my trusty secateurs and dealt with the blackberry invasion. They were none too happy with my efforts and despite vanquishing my arch nemesis (for now…) I am covered in blackberry bites…so much so that the mosquitoes left me alone last night as they couldn’t find a bit of me that hadn’t already been punctured.

It’s Good Friday today as I type out this bit of my post and last night, after working hard in the garden and being almost incapable of moving due to extreme fatigue, I set myself the task of making hot cross buns for the occasion. We don’t like shop bought hot cross buns. They always let you down by being stale and tasteless and so last year we made our own. Mum was here at the time and we set about making what ended up being stodgy and heavy buns that although Steve and mum ate them stoically, I just knew that they were being polite when they muttered encouraging words about them. As someone who earned her living from cooking before we moved here I figured I could do better and so last night, scratched, knackered and resilient I set about melding 2 recipes that I had found to make 1 successful recipe and hopefully at least a few buns that would be edible and in fact, tasty, today. I made the dough and set it to prove and then noticed that the buns took 12 hours to rise! It was 6pm at the time and so I decided to form the buns into their bunescent shape, put them onto a buttered baking tray and after buttering the tops of the buns, slid the entire kit and caboodle into a massive big black garbage bag (sans garbage) and shoved them into the fridge till today. I got up early this morning and removed the bag of buns from the fridge and put it up on the bread warmer to sit while we walked the dogs. When we got back I made up the cross mix and did my best to put the crosses on and we then cooked them on the bbq (our old work-horse oven that we used for a year when we first moved here and the stove was broken). Steve, and the dogs, pronounced them delicious and light and fruity and full of flavour which made me very happy. Sorry I couldn’t give you light fluffy hot cross buns when you were here mum but I dare say you are smiling wherever you are that I at least got to make 1 batch well :o)

Here we have our newly crossed buns after they emerged from their enormous black garbage bag to be baked in the outside bbq because it was early and we couldn’t be bothered lighting the fire…

Here they are, fresh out of the bbq (oven?) and glazed with a tasty mix of brown sugar and jam melted in a saucepan (Simon Rimmer style)

The proof is in the eating and these babies were delicious! Full of cinnamon, ground ginger, cardamom and ground cloves (who would remember to buy mixed spice when it was coming up to Easter?) they were a very interesting mix of whatever “sweet spice” I had in the cupboard. Steve had some toasted today and apart from me forgetting a batch and setting off the fire alarm they were, apparently, delicious!

We walked the dogs in Beaconsfield the other day and I collected a lot of fallen walnuts from a Juglans regia tree. My motto is “Waste not want not” and as no-one was collecting these fallen nuts I decided to take avail of their tasty neglect and they are now stratifying in peat in the shed ready to spring to life (hopefully) in spring. I also collected some lovely ripe figs that I had for my lunch later on. Nothing like figs picked perfectly ripe from the tree to make you know the full meaning of happiness. I had to wonder if the pairing for figs and walnuts was merely a culinary thing as they are both ripe at the same time so that would make them seasonally available at the same time as well. I managed to collect some more walnuts (also regia) from another tree on our walk around Bonnie Beach yesterday so we have a decent representation of local specimens of walnut so hopefully choosing nuts from trees growing well in the local area I will get a good germination rate and they will be adapted to the local growing conditions. We also collected some Washington Hawthorn berries to stratify and grow as well. They have really beautiful autumn colouration and edible berries and massive thorns making them a really good choice for using for hedging around Serendipity Farm. The native birds will love them for habitat and for food. The specimen that we got the seed grew from seed spread by birds so it shouldn’t be all that hard to get ours to grow. We can also take cuttings (hard and semi-ripe) in winter and summer respectively. With our hard work in the garden, Steve and I are both starting to get a bit of hope that we can make this garden ours.

I celebrate Easter in my own way. Steve was looking up why Easter is at different times every year. This came about because Easter fell on April 24th last year and this year it is April 8th…that is quite a variance! It turns out it is to do with the Vernal (lunar) equinox and that it is all about plastering religious ceremonies over the top of pagan ceremonies. Easter, Eostre, oestrus Esther and symbolic fertility all linked to the moon and tangled into each other in a melding of religious beliefs. I actually believe that Jesus died for humanity. I also believe that he rose from the dead. That is about where my actual beliefs veer massively from those of most common religious teachings. My dad was an atheist and mum was “Church of England” whatever that meant to mum I don’t know as we were never privy to her understanding of “church” in any way other than a vague need to adhere to it’s guidelines. My aunty used to drop by and pick my sister and I up to take us to Sunday school and we both fell into attending church. We had some interesting times and far from falling away from God, he has always been part of my life. I look back on my earlier understanding and cringe. Church isn’t where God is, he is everywhere and in everything. I once explained my concept of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit to my daughters. I need to explain here that none of my children are mindless vacuous shallow creatures and every single one of them has an excellent brain that they occasionally use when promoted. They all have some very interesting ideas about “things” in general and after I explained my concept my 2 girls both told me that I was mad and most probably would be stoned by the members of the Auld Kirk church for my beliefs. I guess my children are not the only unconventional thinkers in our family! I don’t think it’s all that hard to digest, but it has taken me a fair while to arrive at this point and I have had to sift through a fair amount of life and literature to get to where I am happy to be. Whatever you believe let Easter be a time of contemplation, gratefulness and thankfulness for your life and everything that you have and are.

We left Earl and Bezial on the deck watching us as we worked in the garden. Earl likes to keep us guessing and has a most chaotic way of acting so that he just lures us into thinking that he is a “good dog” and suddenly he strikes like a canine viper. Earl mastered table jumping at an Olympic level not so long ago and so we really should have been more sensible leaving things on the table when we headed out to work in the garden for hours on end. Steve headed up to the house yesterday to get us a cold drink and noticed Earl eating something on the floor. Earl was halfway through chewing and digesting his large leather collar that we had bought from a man at the markets especially for him. He had eaten past the tightest hole on his “Shackles of oppression” and there was no point in attempting to remove the collar from him as he had done his worst with it and rendered it useless. Earl is going to have to wear a large black heavily studded collar that we used to have for Bezial until we realised the effect that it had on passers-by when we walked him. Earl had not only eaten his Shackles of oppression, but he had sampled a walnut (only 1) and found it lacking. He had selected a walnut, cracked it and had a taste of the nut and the remains were left on the rug under the table which is where Earl strews his spoils of war (and their remains). I guess we were very lucky that he didn’t decide to eat Steve’s new mobile phone, but perhaps he was warming up to tackling it. Luckily we will never know because Steve arrived to stop him from sampling anything else on the table.

I have been doing online surveys for a few years now. I started off with 1 group in answer to a referral from my son (for which he got 200 points) and just kept going. I am now doing surveys for 4 survey groups and have received $170 up until now for my efforts. I just got $140 of gift cards in the mail from one of my survey groups and have $130 to be claimed in another group. It’s actually good to be able to have a say in consumer goods manufacture and make my opinion heard whilst gaining some kind of reward for my efforts. I am going to stop dealing with one group because they make it incredibly hard to claim rewards whereas the other groups are much easier to deal with. Here’s a shot of my latest haul and also of what I am going to spend $100 (the Bunning’s vouchers) on.

Here’s my “winnings” from my reward surveys

And we are going to buy one of these D.I.Y. 3 spotlights for the lounge room with the Bunnings cards. Gotta love the barter system eh? I give them every tiny little bit of information about myself including my underpants size and they give me a loungeroom light a win-win situation!

I had to pay the library $1 for an overdue book on Wednesday. I hate forgetting to take library books back to the library and incurring fees and most begrudgingly paid the library the money in 5c pieces. It’s MY protest and I can be as petty as I like thank you very much! I picked up my next book from Mary Anne Schaffer’s list and it is going to be a doozie of a book to read by the look of it. It is called “Covenant with Death” by John Harris and is “the tremendous story that traces the fate of one battalion of men from the time they obeyed Kitchener’s pointing finger until the morning they ‘climbed over the top’ to meet their baptism of fire – and death”. Ok, so that is pretty intense isn’t it! I am a sooky la-la (thanks for that Kym, it suits me down to the ground :o) when it comes to things like that and couldn’t bring myself to watch the final episode of Black Adder thanks to it being about just this topic. I took back my copy of “Under the Tuscan Sun” due to its boring, shallow and most uninspiring of content even though I had been waiting for it for months and ended up coercing the librarian into ordering the large print copy for me. Nothing is worse than anticipating a great read and being sorely let down. I am still waiting on Flaubert’s parrot to arrive. I was assured by T.A.L.I.S. (online library site) that it was “in transit” on Tuesday which meant that it should have been there on Wednesday to pick up but it wasn’t so I guess I am meant to read “Covenant with Death” at this point in time. How coincidental that I am to read this just before ANZAC Day eh? I am obviously meant to be digesting this book while I remember the lives that were senselessly lost to humanities need to elevate themselves to a position of power above the masses. What a total waste of life that we most certainly didn’t learn enough from. I am really starting to get a feeling for what made Mary Anne Schaffer tick and what moved her and filled her with compassion and the desire to put pen to paper. Each one of these “favourite books” that I read gives me a little taste of what she felt when she read them. Apart from 1 shameless romance novel and one that I can’t get because it isn’t in the library thanks to being banned because it explained how to make a bomb, the majority of books on her list are soul feeding comfort food that are leaving an indelible mark on me as much as they apparently did on her. My favourite to date has been Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. I loved this book and I loved how it was written and can’t wait to get stuck into my secondary list (other books by the authors that I enjoyed from the initial list…I LOVE my lists ;o) when I can read the rest of Louis de Bernieres no doubt wonderful books. If you like to read,  this man is a true story teller.

We have been “Flat out like a lizard drinking” (a little tip of my hat to our Forefathers colloquialisms… in fact forget forefathers, my father was a great one for colloquialisms “stone the crows!”…”Stiffen the bandicoots!”) This week and I have had to really drag myself tiredly to the computer to tap out these faint pathetic utterings this week. So tired…so little sleep thanks to Earl shoving us off the bed most nights and acting as a thermo-nuclear heat device. We have done so much this week that I can’t even begin to fathom it all and I love it! I haven’t had time to miss sitting about doing nothing because we have been busy cleaning out forgotten corners of Serendipity Farm and tackling the big issues rather than sliding them under the mat for another year. We have actually effected change this week and I am so very proud of we two penniless hippies for our dedication in crawling out of bed each morning to walk the dogs and iron out our spines as we walk from the day befores hard slog. Hard work is addictive. We had a day off and I wanted to get back outside and into changing our vista. We did heaps today as well but I am going to use what we did today to start next week’s blog. I don’t think I have room for any more photos do you? Have a fantastic week this week and remember not to sweat the small stuff that’s what we are doing so you may as well put your feet up and enjoy the sweat free ride!

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