Where do I start…

Hi All

This week has been a study in restraint for me. I have been holed up planning everything that I am going to do to those fecund, exponentially explosive blackberry bushes out there waving at me every time I walk out onto the deck. I have SUCH nefarious plans that I can’t even talk about them here in case those clever buggers have learned to read and find a way to hook into my internet connection to find out what I am up to. I SWEAR I killed them all last year…I swear often to my shame, but they must be made of sterner stuff because they are all back and twice as prickly. I am doing my best to minimise them by eating their tender, black, juicy babies but to no avail…they think they have me bested but not THIS little black duck. Come the cooler weather when I won’t wilt into a puddle of blackberry coloured narf, I am going to systematically remove all of the blackberries from Serendipity Farm. It’s not a wistful want…it is a driven need! Oh “Its ON” blackberries!

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“What have we here? A snoring troubadour if I am not mistaken!”

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“Yup”…he is fast asleep and still ready to spring into action as soon as he wakes…now THAT is a true musician 😉

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We had to make a quick trip into town recently when one of the second hand games that Steve had bought recently refused to work and he had only a couple of days left on his warrantee and we noticed an Indian grocery shop on the way and being me, Steve (without a word being spoken…I have trained him well 😉 ) stopped the car, handed me the wallet and got out to let some breeze into the car as it was a particularly hot day and we had the dogs with us. Look at all of this deliciousness! There was SO much more but I felt too guilty to peruse the shelves for too long as the dogs were hot. I am going to have to return ASAP but this time sans Steve and dogs 😉

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Sometimes Steve can make me snort wine out of my nose. Here is one of his nefarious ways to turn my nose into a wine tap (would that make me a cask? 😉 ). This recently purchased “interesting” packet of the Indian equivalent of Asian prawn crackers (except containing no prawn) is, according to Steve, Crash Bandicoot’s Indian Cousin…”Far Far” It took me a few seconds but as soon as I got it the wine started to flow…copiously! 😉

I received a post bag in the mail yesterday (Monday) and when I flipped it over and had a look at the sender I had a little “SQUEE!” moment. To everyone out there who hasn’t been infected by Jess/rabidlittlehippies amazing word that signifies and documents that precise moment where you think your head is going to explode with joy closely followed by your heart thanks to a delicious and most precious discovery/thing that has just happened to you…”SQUEE!” say the word…test it, roll those vowels around in your mouth and couple them with those expletive consonants and “SQUEE!” like a girl in a shop full of 90% off designer shoes ALL IN YOUR SIZE! Yeah I KNOW you know how to “SQUEE!” now! 😉

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“Earl…its hot…start the car!”

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You can actually see the point at which Earl realises he doesn’t have opposable thumbs…by the way NO comments about how dirty our car is. We are currently living in a dust bowl where whenever you set foot outside the house you raise a small puff of dust as you walk.

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I need this…I need this NOW! An old round trampoline base turned into a stringy magic carpet 🙂

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I reckon it might be time to plant these cuttings out don’t you? 😉

My mad “SQUEEING” that brought the boys racing up the deck thinking that one of the chooks had turned feral and was pecking me to death (got to protect your interests you know…Steve isn’t the one that feeds them 😉 ) was due to seeing that the parcel was from one Ms Pauline, one of my wonderful and most deliciously artistic followers. I have NO idea what I did to deserve Pauline following my blog. I started off our blogging correspondence by roundly insulting her. She kept coming back for more! What can I say; the girl LOVES a challenge obviously 😉 Seriously though, Pauline makes the most beautiful, insightful comments on every single blog that she follows. You know when Pauline has gifted you her wonderful sense of humour and her delightfully lyrical use of the vernacular because you feel right royally hugged by butterflies.

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My camera doesn’t do justice to these delightful hand painted tiny little works of whimsical art. They are all gorgeous and Pauline is the cleverest thing since sliced bread and twice as talented 🙂

Pauline created some cards for me to remind me of just how very lucky I am. She and I share a beady-eyed magpie desire to collect and adore shiny things and each and every one of the cards that she made for me were bright, blissfully coloured and shiny out the wazoo! It was all I could do to not lick them Pauline, I wanted to ingest all of that gorgeousness…they are now OFFICIALLY my preciouses…good luck to anyone or anything that would like to liberate them from me. I am off on a studious hunt for gorgeous frames to frame them all in and will be mounting them on the wall above my enormous desktop monitor along with my sacred “Biscuit of Loveliness” card sent to me by the gorgeous thinkingcowgirl all the way over the seas in old Blighty where they actually get precipitation coming from the sky folks…I know! It really does happen in some places in the world 🙂

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This mornings breakfast of cooked buckwheat porridge (fresh ground from whole grain), a chopped red apple, some date paste and some homemade sesame milk. It was delicious 🙂

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I now realise why people who post about brownies rarely have good images. Do you KNOW how hard it is to take a good photo of a brownie?! This is the best shot I could get. These are vegan brownies that contain a hefty 2 cups of grated zucchini (something that Steve swears he is allergic to 😉 )and instead of the walnuts (that Steve doesn’t like) I added the equivalent amount of chopped dates that gave these delicious brownies some incredible body and texture. For a man that doesn’t like zucchini he certainly woofed down more than his fair share of these babies. They are dense and gooey and I am SUCH a good narf7 that I am going to share the recipe here with you 🙂

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/zucchini-brownies/

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Here’s an image of the 2 mixes ready to be gently folded together. I used raw sugar but the zucchini melted it nicely

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This is the point at which you would fold in the walnuts…feel free to sub them with anything you like…dates, chocolate chips, dried or glace fruit, squid, jars of vegemite (aHA so you were reading it eh? Just testing 😉 )

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Here is what the mix looked like spread into a buttered and floured cake pan. It rose nicely and was entirely delightfully easy to cook although we did have a bit of crusticular caramelisation occur due to it being baked in a covered bbq. Easy fix, cut off the “caramelisation” 😉

Aside from the cards that are now stamped on my heart, Pauline most generously sent me 3 of her gorgeous printed cards (all destined to be framed and mounted), a splendiferous and most beautifully written (you have lovely handwriting Pauline 🙂 ) card with an image of King Orlando on the front of it and 2 of her gorgeous prototype hippy bo-ho bracelets that I am going to wear shamelessly until they fall off me ragged and sweaty and full of narf7 skin cells most probably someplace in the veggie garden where the beads will turn up embedded in a scarlet runner bean pod at some day in the future where I need me a “shiny thing” moment. Pauline you floored me with your generosity and your talent. All I sent you was a wooden spoon…I didn’t even send you a card! I actually forgot your kefir grains! All will be remedied this week 🙂

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I purchased this packet of brown rice pasta when I was staying at my girls and heading to Hobart last. I decided that I might use it to make something delicious out of some leftovers…

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Cooked pasta at the back, a pan with butter and plain flour on the left ready for me to cook and add milk to form a roux sauce (which I then tossed cubed feta cheese and an indecent amount of grated cheddar cheese into to make rich and thick cheese sauce) and the leftover component of the recipe, some Bolognese meat sauce from spag bol 2 days before

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Tip the bolognaise sauce into the pasta and shovel copiously into a tagine that has NEVER been used to make a tagine

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Ladle on vats of rich cheese sauce and then cook in your oven of choice (ours is a covered bbq at the moment) until the top crisps and browns most deliciously. Steve could have cared less that he was ingesting brown rice pasta. He woofed down most of that large tagine full of this creation so I call this re-use of leftovers a success!

Pauline has a delicious blog where you can drool over her gorgeous artwork BUT I need to make this clear…no matter how gorgeous her artwork looks on her blog…don’t be fooled. It is 10 times lovelier in the flesh! Pauline has a delightful Etsy store where she sells her gorgeous things and where everyone can take advantage of Pauline’s amazing ability to take colour and splosh it about and end up with magic…pure shiny magic. As Molly Meldrum, an old Aussie music show host once said…”Do yourselves a favour and race out and buy these”!

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Taken just up from our driveway at 6am on my early morning walk with Earl

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As you can see it was pretty dark…

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A long stretch of road where Earl gets to sniff the delicious smell of fresh warm cows. I wonder if that is the doggy equivalent of fresh coffee and bread to us?

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This is the point at which we normally turn around and head back down this hill but today…we didn’t!

I have been walking Earl at sunrise lately. I have been enjoying heading out before the day heats up and we have been catching up with Jan and Mica most days and having a lovely “pack walk”. We were even joined by Bezial a couple of days last week when his dicky leg was up to it but the group frolic after party at Micas house might have just been a bit too much for him. All that frolicking and jumping and racing around left him hobbling around the next day so we are giving him a few days of “light walking duties” before setting out on a longer walk again. Bezial might not need long walks but Earl is the king of long walks. We set off on Sunday morning in order to burn off some of Earls excess energy and we walked our usual beat and when we arrived at our usual turning point to head home, I looked at Earl and said “let’s go a bit further eh?” He seemed up for it so we headed off up the hill and down the road to Bonnie Beach. Once we got to Bonnie Beach we decided (mutually) to keep going around to the end of Camm’s road (just so that anyone reading this who would like to stalk our walk on Google Earth or Google Maps can get a reference 😉 ) where we had a brief sniff of the gate of Rebecca Gibney’s of “Packed to the Rafters” fames gate before heading back home.

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We kept going and saw this old fellow on the way…

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A sunrise shot of Bonnie Beach where I asked Earl if he would like to keep going…you can probably guess his answer to that 😉

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Around the corner from Bonnie Beach and I just wanted to share this image of a “Dead Tree Walking” 😦 That branching fungus fruit there spells the end of this tree. Its a real pity as this is a most magnificent tree in a lovely place. Earl gave it the 3 legged salute to show his solidarity and we moved on…

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This embankment completely parted way with the road (that I am standing on) in last years incessant rain and so come clever thinking was put into action resulting in this gabion retaining wall. Most attractive and functional at the same time 🙂

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When you are walking 8km and you have to stop every 50 metres for “someone” to have a sniff it certainly makes a long walk turn into a L…O…N…G… walk!

We got almost home when Earl pricked up his ears and the familiar rumble of our little 4 x 4 came hurtling around the corner driven by a worried looking Stevie-boy and one most energetically prancing Bezial “sitting” in the front passenger seat. Apparently Earl and I had been gone for 3 hours…3 hours! And Steve and Bezial had gone for a walk and not been able to find us so they mutually decided to get out the “rescue van” to hunt further afield. Earl and I think that we were taken by aliens because it most certainly didn’t feel like 3 hours’ worth of trundling.  Earl was officially knackered but I was not! Obviously, I was being carried by all of my little microscopic kefir and kombucha inhabitants. I reckon I could have walked a few more kilometres quite happily. We worked out that we walked 8km and I think I might make that our “Sunday walk” from now on

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One rodent that I wouldn’t mind communing with 🙂

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Almost to the halfway point of our walk!

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Earl checking out the fortification on the jetty at the end of our first leg

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Lots and LOTS of oysters but you can’t eat them (even if you aren’t vegan!) because they contain 4 times the level of heavy metals considered to be a safe dose…cheers industry!

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On our way back and I couldn’t resist taking a shot of this gorgeous Corymbia ficifolia eucalypt. You can see how dry it has been around here by looking at this lovely “lawn” and this is a green one!

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It looks like Woolworths and Coles have successfully fooled nature with their nefarious desire to put Easter eggs into shops the day after Christmas…the Easter lilies are here!

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This would have to be the loudest beagle on the Pecos in full “BAAAOOOOO” 😉

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Heading back home and this shows where we are in relation to where we live. Those buildings are (from left to right respectively) Franks house, The Auld Kirk Church and we are somewhere in the midst of that pile of dark green there to the left of that small island 😉 still quite a while to go but unaware that the rescue wagon is on its way! 😉

I took a lot of pictures along the way and am using them predominately to decorate this post. I am more than aware that most of my dear constant readers don’t “read” my posts and I am down to a select core of stalwarts who are as mental and type A as I am who read the paragraphs between the images. The images are to satiate my followers for whom my aberrant and eccentric use of the vernacular isn’t appreciated (“PLEBIENS”! 😉 )

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Now we get to the ubiquitous shots of the veggie garden. Here you can see narf7’s patented (well it should be!) door closing device.

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I have stopped trying to achieve order in the garden and am just letting it go feral to its hearts content. Its heart is VERY content!

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More feral

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Both recent rescue figs are alive along with another adventitious compost tomato plant

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If you water them…they will come!

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Don’t ask me why this corn is so far away from its brethren…it “vants to be alone”?! No idea! I must have dropped a seed out of my pocket or gumboot (if I had one) or something but here it stands, the tallest of the corns and most majestic in its stately happiness. Are you starting to get an idea about how much planning I put into planting out this garden? 😉

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These are garlic chives. Are they meant to be this tall?!

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Remember that baseball sized pumpkin from last week? Well it is now basketball sized and has a baseball sized brother

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The pumpkins have decided that there isn’t enough room in this crowded spot to grow horizontal so they are growing vertically

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There is an experimental compost heap under this lot

Does anyone know what a Nutritarian is?!!! I am hazarding a guess that it is someone who is desperately attempting to make themselves appear to be a whole lot more interesting than they really are. Is it just me, or has there been an explosion of “crazy” when it comes to what people eat these days? It used to be that you ate “food” and some people were a bit more restricted than others due to true allergies, religion or personal choice but these days there are new “arians” coming out of the woodwork on a weekly basis! Someone even has a “Nutritarian” page on Pinterest. As far as I can gather by a quick perusal of the page, a “nutritarian” eats food. Go figure eh?

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We cut this sheoak down but it appears to want to come back. Who am I to argue? I might just keep it coppiced or whatever the equivalent is of allowing it to live and look like cousin IT in my veggie garden

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Kale that has been growing for almost a year now and is finally starting to look like kale!

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I have my suspicions that these aren’t pattypan squash. When they are “pattypan” sized they are bright green…they grow to football size before they turn yellow…

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“Oh what a tangled lot we weave when first we practice to get lazy and plant everything out wherever…”

It keeps threatening to rain here today but is holding it in and is making me cranky…”Just RAIN already!” I was guaranteed of a 95% chance of rain today and I had better not be disappointed weather men or I am going to start a campaign to save a WHOLE lot of money and have you all fired. The best way to tell if it is going to rain or not is to stand outside for a bit. If you come back in wet, it most probably rained. Some people get paid an exorbitant amount of money to translate that bit of wisdom 😉

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My bottle find that made me happy today. I guess it is natural selection at its finest. I am learning about Permaculture thus it is changing my way of thinking. I no longer see this bottle as “rubbish” I see it for all of the possibilities it contains. SO many possibilities! You just have to head to Pinterest to see what you can do with a humble glass bottle to get excited. I then pick up the bottle from where it had been thrown and take it home with me, thus removing the problem of litter and creating a nice clean patch of soil for someone else to throw out another bottle…Perpetual Permaculture 😉

I am starting to think that there might be something a bit strange going on with me lately. Does anyone else find bottles on the ground and hoot with glee? I was walking Earl over the Batman Bridge this morning and discovered a most delightful bottle sans cap that I found not too far from its bottle and I picked them both up (cap for my bottle cap wind chime) and carried them home along with a pair of twin bottles made by the same company. Here in Australia we do some fine boutique spirits but our old stalwart booze comes in the form of rum made in the sugar cane refinery rich state of Queensland. Distilling your own spirits is illegal in Australia where in New Zealand it is entirely legal (another reason for me to pack my bags and wing it over the Tasman…). The bottle that I found this morning appears to be new on the market for Bundaberg Rum and I was most interested to see a combination of Creaming soda and red rum! Sounds like a kiddies party drink to me but I am assured that it was 4.5% alcohol by volume and the 500ml bottle that I found, when full, could have rendered a child paralytic methinks.  My joy comes from collecting another bottle towards my stockpile that I am going to start using in interesting ways soon. Watch this space…

I have a lot of images to share with you in this post so I might just stop with DSCF7131

Take one packet of organic tofu…

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Combine these ingredients any which way you like and then pour them over the tofu that you cubed in between images

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Cubed tofu marinating in deliciousness

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Sprinkle furitake on top and serve to a husband who could care less that there is no meat in here…”it’s ALL good” 😉

the verbosity about now. I add comments to my images and even a few words add up to an exponentially long post when I use a lot of images. As our hot weather starts to (hopefully) cool down a bit I am hoping a swing in weather occurs for you northerners who could probably do with a bit of sunshine on your pasty snow covered countenances. We brown Aussies will be MOST glad to surrender it to you at your nearest convenience. Have a wonderful week and enjoy your weekend enough so you remember it with hazy joy and see you next hump day when I will have most probably done something but I am not promising anything! 😉

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Hot, hot HOT down in sizzling Sidmouth

Hi Folks,

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

Garden Advisory Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Here you have Serendipity Farm partially completed…

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Then we painted the weather damaged cedar…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Coming up the driveway today…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The view of my fecund vegetable plants (trifids)

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Beetroots! 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philosophy 101 narf7 style

Philosophy 101 narf7 style

Hi Folks,

Uncle Travelling Matt

I decided that 2014 was going to be a year where I learned/tried something new every day. Here are my first weeks reporting’s back to you, my dear constant readers. I feel like Travelling Matt from Fraggle rock, out reporting back so that you can all sit in your armchairs in the relative safety of your homes and learn from narf7’s mistakes…here we go…

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The deck prior to starting work

 

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The deck as of today. I have yet to paint the area in the foreground but that is on the cards for tomorrow

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Around the side of the deck

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The western red cedar that had deteriorated badly due to not being treated in 20 years is now a nice sage green. There used to be a large rose and clematis clump over this area of the deck but as I was pruning it decided to part ways with the deck and now lies on the ground in front of it. A problem for another day!

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Painting the deck step rails

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Bezial surveying his land

1. New Year’s Day – Starting the New Year with a sinus headache sucks. I had a bonus lesson today in the shape of “when sanding the deck on New Year’s Eve, wear a face mask in order to not have a sinus headache on New Year’s Day”…lesson learned TICK!

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A headache isn’t going to stop narf7! It might look like I am lying down on the job but some jobs require a degree of horizontality

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In my “Smurfette” phase…I have since been through my Kermit the frog phase and a brief stint with thinking I was Casper the friendly Ghost. Now I think I am a Jackson Pollack original. I am going to sell my bespattered trousers off to the highest bidder 😉

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Clever green washing to attract the unwary husband. Steve brought this home the other day on the shopping pronouncing it “organic”. He associated the green colour, the name “nutrients” the image and the “premium” with organic and figured it was better than the brand that we usually buy. I said “did you check where it was grown?” (he obviously hadn’t…) and surprise, surprise it is grown in China! It might have worked once but they won’t fool him again

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The awesome 8 litre jar that Steve bought for me the other day. I am going to get a couple more for my buckwheat and my sesame seeds

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Some of the bargain plants I have been picking up from small roadside stands lately. I am collecting monocots (grasses and iris type plants) for the driveway

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Who needs chia when you have buckwheat? I soak my buckwheat now for my morning breakfast smoothies and it forms a thick layer of gel. I love how these smoothies keep me going for the whole day until I am ready for my evening meal. Combined with my homemade kefir and Kombucha they are nutrient powerhouses

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A pint of free blueberries from our crazy American friend…trying to win us back 😉

2. Breaking large seemingly insurmountable tasks into small manageable chunks prevents you from hiding under the bed with Earl and not coming out. I realised that Steve’s desire to “do the deck” could be considered to be an insurmountable task and when I found myself shuffling mindlessly sideways towards the bedroom on Thursday,  I chose, instead, to pick up a paint brush and just “start”. A few hours later and many small chunks of painting and I had finished off the deck stairs and most of the deck railing. I learned the value of small chunks from Mr Adam Richman of “Man vs. Food” fame. When faced with having to ingest a hoagie the size of his not inconsiderable derrière, he would always break it down into small bite sized pieces…lesson learned TICK!

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I am probably going to get sued for using this image but this is the lengths that some jewellers go to in order to not have to do ANY work at all and get the maximum profit. The ultimate in middle man…poor cadis fly larvae!

3. Life IS like a box of chocolates. Mr Gump’s mama certainly knew what she was alluding to. When faced with a full and open box of chocolates we all go for something different. My personal favourites are chocolate covered Turkish delight. I was walking back over the Batman Bridge today after heading off with Earl for his daily exercise (and my daily drag) when I noticed a little trail of “jellybean stones” on the roadside. Jellybean stones are little smooth stones in the shape of jellybeans and I collect them whenever I see them on the side of the road. A truck delivering garden stones to a nursery must have passed by and lost some of its cargo and ever the magpie I bent to pick them up. We are all different. What one of us finds irresistible is so much “meh” to someone else. We pick and choose what we find attractive and worthwhile as we travel through our lives. We collect little piles of whatever we fancy and we stockpile them like Caddis fly larvae (Put picture in of those jewelled cadis fly larvae) in order to make our lives comfortable and attractive to us. I learned that I like simple natural things. I also learned that you don’t head out into the road part of the bridge in front of large log trucks to pick up tiny stones or that life that you wish to add those little stones to might be somewhat shorter than you imagined it…lesson learned TICK!

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My BAD in situ ready for me to elbow open the pantry door…I LOVE gifts from the universe, they are always perfect and exactly what I need, when I need them 🙂

4. “Keep your eyes open today” was one of my grandad’s favourite sayings…”why grandad?” “because you can’t see with them shut!” Most of us walk around as if we have our eyes closed most of the time. We think about all kinds of other things while we are doing our day to day tasks. We are miles ahead of ourselves and plotting up to the middle of next year while today is slipping away from us. Right this minute is the only time that we are guaranteed of. I learned that keeping your eyes open is a good thing. I found a BAD today while I was walking Earl. What’s a BAD you say? As Steve so succinctly put it “that is one BIG ARSED doorknob!” so BAD it is now known as. I put it in my bag and wondered at how it got on the side of the road. I had no idea what I was going to use it for, or if indeed, I was going to but when I got home when Steve was joking around about what we could do with it, I realised that one of his suggestions was actually pretty clever. We screwed the BAD into the pantry door that contains the rubbish bin and the compost bin. I am usually approaching this pantry with something unsavoury or wet in my hands and now I can just elbow open the door via the BAD. Not bad for something that the universe gave me 🙂

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Our almost new 10 000 litre rainwater tank. We got a pump with it and at just over half the new price

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The lady of the house gave me this New Zealand lily. She bought one plant and she has managed to line her entire driveway by dividing that same plant up! It is growing in hard clay so it should find life here on Serendipity Farm pretty cushy after that

5. The universe gave me something else today. It ALMOST gave me a hernia but let me backtrack a little here to give you the details. Today I learned that sometimes, when you put something out into the ether you get a reply. Everyone who is anyone knows that narf7 has very few actual desires. I am a pretty simple little spud who enjoys simple pastimes and my favourite things are usually free. I am a cheap date. My 2 biggest desires are to get hold of a rainwater tank in order to have a continuous supply of clean rainwater and to afford a small wind turbine for Serendipity Farm. In the scheme of things, they are pretty small requests. Whenever you go to a website you are faced with the site loading you up with cookies. The cookies that the site loads you with won’t make you fat but it will fatten up and customise the advertising that you see from that point onwards. Steve has been visiting Gumtree (our Aussie equivalent to Craig’s List as far as I can see…) in order to see if we can get more 200 litre blue barrels in order to put his genius plan into action. While I was perusing my early morning blogs in my RSS Feed Reader I kept noticing advertisements for Gumtree on the sides of the blogs and my eye was drawn by a blue barrel for sale! Pity the blue barrel was on the other side of Bass Strait in Victoria but the next series of ad’s that were all rainwater related contained a large rainwater tank. For some strange reason I decided to click on the rainwater tank knowing that it was probably in the Northern Territory but when the advertisement opened it was for a 10 000 litre rainwater tank and pump for $1000 and the best part about it was it was in the suburb next to us! I looked eagerly at the date of the advertisement and noticed that it was early December and figured that the tank would be long gone. I sent a tentative email off to the seller asking if they still had it and received an email back by lunchtime saying that he did so Steve and I phoned him up, set off to check it out and on Monday morning we headed around to pick up our new rainwater tank that we ended up paying half price for (after Steve did a bit of dickering) and one of my 2 biggest desires can now be ticked off the list. The moth-eaten sock under the bed dragged itself off to die but we now have a tank that will supply us with more water than we can use and the blue barrels are about to be creatively used to collect and supply rainwater to the veggie garden. Sorry that was a big one, but it taught me the value of waiting and of keeping my eyes open, “cheers grandad!”

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Gratuitous vegetable shot of the yellow zucchinis with the spuds in the background

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A mystery is afoot! I might have prevented the larger vertebrate critters from scarfing my precious veggies but obviously something pretty hungry is giving my silverbeet the old college try! No idea what but I bet it comes in caterpillar form…mutter!

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Lush garden full of “stuff”

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More lush garden…more stuff

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The beans that are growing in the compost

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The compost heap with its volunteer brigade of stalwart veggies

6. Monday saw me doing some serious hard yards on the deck and today I learned that sometimes, when something isn’t really important to you, it doesn’t hurt to give it up. Steve wanted me to paint all of the cedar walls the same colour and I wanted to leave one wall (the best preserved) as a feature wall. I usually get my way but this time I had a think about it and realised that Steve really wanted it to be the same as the rest of the walls and so I painted it over for him. It made him happy. I learned that making Steve happy makes me happy, a win-win situation 🙂

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2 very happy yacon plants

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Last week these zucchinis didn’t have fruit and I noticed that the beetroots have small beetroots the size of Ping-Pong balls

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Patty pan squash

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A little tomato plant that was growing outside the veggie gardens that I dug up to prevent me from trampling it

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All of these tomatoes are volunteers! I probably should have transplanted them…I wonder if it is too late?

7.  Tuesday was a doozy of a life lesson. I learned that sometimes the choices you make can have amazing results. I walked Earl and decided to take him over the Batman bridge and feed the 2 little chooks that have been abandoned there. I try to do this once a week just to make sure that they get at least 1 square seedy meal a week. When we got there I noticed that the little black bantam hen has had babies! 8 tiny little fluff balls. As I started to throw the grain on the ground 2 completely different chooks emerged to peck at it! Obviously the Batman is a prime dumping ground for unwanted poultry 😦 I thought about going to the loo at the public toilets but that would involve taking Earl into the loo and I didn’t quite fancy that level of intimacy so kept walking. We got back home with me almost bursting for the loo and I took a small detour to relieve myself in the bushland at the front of the property. I then decided to head through the tea tree garden and take a look at how some of the small trees we planted are doing (well as it turns out) and on the way back to the house I happened to glance down at the ground and saw a dead puffer fish! Obviously the feral cats brought it back to our property and they chose to dump it right where Bezial goes to sniff when we let him run down the driveway off his lead. If I hadn’t chosen all of the sequence of choices that I did this morning, Bezial would now be dead. He can’t resist eating blowfish. Only last week we had to prevent him from picking one up at the beach and he would have eaten this one as fast as he could with dire results. Is our life made up of choices or is it actually directed by our choices? I would like to think that our lives are the result of an incredibly long and convoluted “Choose your path” book. You start out as a baby and once you get to make choices they form your pathway to your life. YOU get to choose your pathway. That is really the only thing that we get in life, our choices.

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I thought that this was just a pretty weed but it is a useful herb called “self heal”

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The property is covered in oregano. This one is in flower

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Golden oregano

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A mystery…this hydrangea had bright blue flowers last year. This year the flowers are obviously pink. Nothing, aside from some bark, was added to this garden bed so why on EARTH have the colours changed? The pH is somewhat acidic (which would account for the blue flowers) so changing to pink is very strange indeed!

8. That brings me to today. What has narf7 learned today? I learned that on February 2nd I am going to head off to Hobart with my 2 wonderful daughters for what is ostensibly a trip to pick up a boot load of Korean foodstuffs and ingredients that my daughters can’t source here in Launceston. I am also going to head off to a park to find a statue of John Woodcock Graves who wrote the poem/song “Do ye ken John Peel” and take a photo of a book of poems compiled by a fellow bloggers dad (with lots of assistance by her) alongside the statue. Social media can assist people to do things that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do. I am honoured that I can help Joanna (Zeb Bakes) to make her dad happy. The lesson is that if we can do something small/simple for someone else that will make them happy, why not? We are all in this together and if we share and we help other people we make the journey a little better.

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After I finish painting I am going to tackle this. You could be forgiven for thinking that this was a jungle. It is actually an archway, heavily fortified and the garden behind it is being guarded by 8ft tall Scotch thistles. I imagine some of the lessons that I am going to learn next week are going to be painful ones…sigh…

That’s about all I have to report today folks. I am absolutely knackered after painting half of our deck and after I get tea on I am going to settle down and have a bit of a rest. A bonus thing that I learned over the past week is that hard work makes me feel incredibly satisfied. I might be dog tired but I feel satiated body and soul. This learning thing is turning out to be fun 🙂 See you next week when the vegetable garden will have probably outgrown its enclosure and gone on the rampage…

All you need – an elegant sufficiency

Hi Folks,

Armed only with my trusty library card narf7 is on the hunt. I am hunting a book called “Pigs tits and parsley sauce” a most worthwhile read by all accounts. A book about how to live more sustainably for less and wouldn’t you know it? The library didn’t let me down…another blow against the middle man and another point to narf7, the penniless middle aged student hippy who point blank REFUSES to say “can’t” this year. We just had our 600 litre borrowed water tank repossessed. Our Crazy American “friend” decided that another couple he has just met are more deserving of fluoride free water and we had to empty out 600 litres of prime rainwater but not before thrifty problem solving came into play…

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Exhibit A, Crazy old American

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Part 1 of 7 blue barrels that are going to make up our rainwater system

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Baking soda and cornflour…we made decorations but they still aren’t dry!

We recently found a large blue barrel floating on the tide close to shore on the riverbank near Serendipity Farm. I waded out to ferry it in to shore (Steve has delicate city feet 😉 ) and we managed to get it into the back of the car and back to Serendipity Farm complete with freshwater oysters. It had apparently been used as part of a pontoon and had broken free from its moorings to come and live on Serendipity Farm as a much prized single entity…obviously has Napoleonic tendencies (much like everything else on Serendipity Farm so it will fit in here well). So we were able to syphon 200 litres of our precious water into this makeshift rainwater tank. What to do now? Well, we have devised a most interesting gravity fed system that we are going to add to as we find more blue barrels. Steve has been hunting Gumtree for the elusive and most rare blue barrel but it would seem like most of Tasmania has the same idea.

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Our wonderful friend Roxy gave us a lovely little basket of home-grown happiness for Christmas 🙂

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This is my new most delicious healthy treat…homemade coconut cream yoghurt using coconut cream, blended up fruit and some of my finished non-dairy kefir to culture the brew…DELICIOUS! and a most satisfying substitute for “real” yoghurt

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Steve took some artistic shots of his Christmas food…

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Pork pies and sliced meat never looked so good! Sorry you didn’t get images of my nacho’s, they weren’t very photogenic but they tasted like heaven 🙂

Steve logged on for a final look as we are heading into Launceston today (Sunday) to pick up a Karcher high pressure cleaner from Steve’s mum for Christmas. A MOST appreciated gift indeed Pat 🙂 and some sundry cleaning products (sanding pads and sandpaper) so that we can prepare the deck and railings for painting when Stewart and Kelsey arrive on New Year’s Eve to help us paint the deck, rails and part of the house. Aside from 2 bedrooms, it will be the very last part of making Serendipity Farm completely “ours”. The whim paid off and we found another blue barrel in Launceston for $15 so now we will have 400 litres of rainwater storage…we just need to find 5 more blue barrels to make our plans complete.

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Buying your pet supplies through a small local producer sometimes yields benefits that you wouldn’t get from a large generic supplier. This is one of our boys bones gifted for Christmas by Suzie, our lovely pet food lady

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I saw and photographed this on Christmas Day for Jess and Bev and anyone else who would get a chuckle out of this mindful graffiti 😉

Well it is now 2014. “Happy New Year” everyone! I have a really good feeling about this year. Not because it isn’t going to contain its share of pain and heartache, but because I have learned to accept that without pain and heartache, the stark simple beauty of this amazing thing we call life is so much dimmer. This year finds Steve and I hard at work rubbing away years of dirt, grime, rust and neglect from our deck, the deck rails, guttering, downpipes and part of the house that was clad with Western Red Cedar as a feature. It has been exposed to the weather without protection now for a good many years and so we are going to paint it. After perusing the Karchers in our price range we decided that handing over good money for something cheap and plastic that we probably wouldn’t use much wasn’t something that we wanted to do and so we made a decision to carry on as we are and we have almost prepped every surface ready to start painting today.

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Wild foraged harvest…the larger red fruits are sour cherries from roadside trees (possums aren’t all that partial to sour) and the strange looking fruits that resemble cashew fruits are Native Cherries that for some reason, the possums haven’t scoffed from the trees this year like they usually do

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A before shot of the deck, by next week we should have painted the deck, the railings and the upright posts you can see here

2013 was a very important year for me. After half a century of life I finally learned that food is fuel, not comfort and managed to get down to a healthy weight with very little fanfare and fuss but with an incredible amount of happiness and contentment. I spent the year learning, living, and Steve and I managed to complete our media course and have the bits of paper to prove it. We built a huge fully enclosed veggie garden and Stewart and Kelsey who are glamping outside informed me that “something” spent most of yesterday evening attempting to breach the deck without luck…SCORE! I have a vision of a large sad possum laying spreadeagled out over the top of my vegetables pawing sadly at the netting in the direction of my magnificent lettuce tantalisingly close but completely out of reach.

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Can’t say I blame the possums and wallabies…this all looks quite tasty

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IT looks like my yacon decided that living is fun and are putting on lots of growth. They are surrounded by spuds we planted out 2 weeks ago that are also having a great time in the veggie garden

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My compost heap experiment. We trucked this load of compost from over next to the chook shed where we had a large compost bin (that we never turned) and dumped it at the rear of the veggie garden in order to soften up the soil in this area. It was full of worms so I keep adding compost to the front of the pile to feed the worms but I noticed that there were all different kinds of seedlings growing in the pile so decided to let everything grow. The larger plants that you can see in this photo are melon plants that my eldest daughter Madeline grew and gifted to me. They have small flowers on them already 🙂

2014 feels good to me. We are starting it how we mean to finish off, busy and “doing”.  I can feel 365 days ahead and they feel fecund with possibilities. They are sending out tantalising rays of interest to me. I want to taste each one of them fully…to savour my moments and to enjoy those flavours, whatever they may be. There will be bitter days. There will be days that taste of sadness and hopelessness but underneath those days will be the surety that things will get better…that life is an incredibly rich tapestry of flavours, colours, textures and choices that will lead us from one day to the next. How lucky are we? How incredibly blessed to be allowed to experience this wonderful life each day and to have the chance to step out in the new day with a slate wiped clean of yesterday and all of the possibilities of today laid out before us like a huge pile of Lego waiting to be built

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Some of the adventitious food seedlings that are starting to grow

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And a few more

This year I am going to grow all of my vegetables from seed. This year I am going to learn something new every day, even if it is only something simple. I am going to challenge myself to wake up each morning and fully appreciate the moments that make up each day. I am going to go looking for the beauty in the simple and the mundane. I am going to look for the lessons in what life hands to me and I am going to try to be a better narf7 in the way that I both see things and react to them. I want to grow this year and learn and understand. I want to do more, see more and feel more and in the process I want to sample everything that life hands me in 2014

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We tipped compost in this area prior to me shovelling horse manure into this area and you can see a plethora of pumpkins are all starting to grow amongst the potatoes…nature doing her thang

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Not so tiny yellow zucchinis

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A tangle of herbs and Swiss chard and carrots

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Everything is growing like topsy and our efforts to build this garden look like being rewarded 10 fold 🙂

This is going to be a small post. Apparently WordPress has sent me a report about how the blog went this year. I could care less about stats to be honest. They are the annoying thing that makes my desktop take longer to load than it should. I don’t care where my dear constant readers are coming from, so long as they “get” us and our vision…you are all welcome. We don’t discriminate here (much 😉 ). Serendipity Farm has become our own tiny little island in the stream. Its where Steve and I can march in time to the cycles and heartbeat of the earth…an ancient and primal sound that most of us can’t hear any more. We get to say “BOLLOCKS!” to the speed of society and we get to put our feet up and just “be” us. We know how incredibly lucky we are to be us, right here, right now. Some people would say that we were part of the great unwashed masses…they would be right in the unwashed bit…our shower has been out of action now for 3 days thanks to someone (who shall remain anonymous) deciding to remove the door and put in the new shower door at the very same time as we decided (most insanely) to tackle the deck and house painting. We are part of the great unwashed. We are tumbled in with everyone else and we are incredibly happy that we have the chance that we have here on Serendipity Farm. Life is wonderful…life is good…a simple life full of compassion, hope, joy at simple things and gratefulness and where sharing is tantamount to societies lust for power, we find ourselves rich beyond riches in our simple life.

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More experiments…this circle of mesh contains old compost that I threw in here in order to soften up the soil beneath it ready to plant out a food tree. I tossed the last of the silverbeet that we pulled out a while ago into here and as you can see, some of it is growing again! The bonus of experimentation is that you never know what you are going to get and sometimes you get more than you expected

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Bezial and Earl’s Boxing Day bonus

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Steve whipper snipped the tea-tree garden area and I whipper snipped a 15 metre firebreak around the back block. Here you see a before shot of the back block with Franks whipper snipped side already done

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A lovely little yellow fungus inside an old tree stump on the back block

My wish is that 2014 will bring happiness to you all. That it will provide you with opportunities to learn and grow in yourselves. That the lessons that you learn will not break your hearts and won’t be too hard to bear. I hope you will taste the breeze of contentment, that sunshine will fall in equal measure and that you and yours will grow in the light of understanding and possibilities that this wonderful New Year brings. Here’s to sharing Serendipity Farm and our lives with all of you my dear constant readers. Some of you may never comment but that doesn’t matter. All I hope is that you are still getting something out of my mad ramblings and our crazed middle aged Hippy antics and that there is an opportunity for us to touch the lives of someone whom we may never have been able to meet without this amazing platform and all of us will emerge the richer for that brief interlude as we pass

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Before we got started on the side of the house…

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We had to put gates in to stop the fabulous Mr E from absconding off the side of the deck to hunt cats and chooks after we sanded down the deck timbers and removed the chook netting (Earl resistant) in order to paint this side of the deck rails. As you can see, we also had to remove a fair bit of vegetation in the process. That tyre to the left of the image contains a poor long suffering well chewed artichoke plant. Hopefully we will have some complete transformation shots to show you by next Wednesday 🙂

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Not entirely sure how long these pears are going to last but I get the feeling that possums don’t like pears much. Those peaches that I refused to consider disappeared sometime in the night after I posted their tentative image last Wednesday 😉

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Earl “helping” to sand the deck…sigh…

See you next week folks. Hopefully the deck will be finished by then and we will have some good photos to share with you all but for now you are going to have to be content with what I have managed to find today (note to self “get out there and take some photos!”) 😉

“On the scrounge again…”

Hi All

“I just can’t wait to get on the scrounge again…” (ALL apologies to Mr Willy Nelson for taking his sterling effort and narforising it…)

Disclaimer…just before you start attempting to wade through this post it is probably one of the longest posts I have ever put on this blog. I completely and utterly forgive you if you just want to flick through the images and get a visual idea of what the post is about today. I guess summer has just taken over my brain…its my excuse, and I am sticking with it! 😉

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These are Gladioli carmineus corms. Gladioli carmineus (Mini Gladioli) are a low growing gladioli that grow quickly and spread like wildfire. I got these bulbs when leaning over a gardeners fence and admiring her plants on one of my morning walks with Earl

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Steve gets the bucket and I get the tahini from inside it…a win-win situation

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Whatever these plums are they are not cherry plums. I noticed these on a small tree amongst some wild cherry plums so I picked some before the possums stripped the tree and am going to plant out the seeds

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geranium cuttings and the reason why you pick fruit when it is green around here…the possums sampled my pilfered plums…cheeky sods!

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I am a manic list maker…here you see some of my lists, some clasps to ensure that the hose doesn’t blow (again) and bags of chia, quinoa and amaranth seed that I am going to plant along with some buckwheat as experimental crops this year

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The hay bales in Steve’s shed have just been appropriated for “other purposes”. I don’t mind, at least I know where this nest is!

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Looks like it has more than one occupant!

Well here I am again on Wednesday but what a difference a couple of weeks makes to this little black duck. 2 weeks ago I was a spent husk. Today I am bursting with possibilities. December 1st was apparently the first day of summer but Tasmania seems to have decided to succeed from the rest of the world and do its own thing and we have had spring, autumn, winter and a tiny hint of summer thrown in over the course of the last 2 weeks. I can’t say I mind. I love all of the rain that we are having and so does the garden. 2 weeks ago the veggie garden was a sad reminder that I had been hiding under the bed with my fingers in my ears a little bit too long but the season appears to have been hiding under the bed with me so everything is rosy on Serendipity Farm.

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Steve’s Chinese (larger) bonsai Japanese maple that he sourced from under the deck as a tiny seedling and has been training for 3 years now with it’s own nitrogen fixing crop of clover growing with it

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A little primrose and a strappy liriopes both bought from the little stall at the top of the hill for $2 each

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When I sorted through the potted plants I found this succulent that is just about to flower and a lavender that I can plant out in the garden

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My newly purchased Egyptian walking onion and perennial leeks along with grape vines grown from cuttings from a Muscat grape and pelargonium and scented geranium cuttings sourced from one of our walks

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Healthy melon and capsicum (pepper) plants that my daughter Madeline grew from seed and that are excess to her needs so I get some (cheers Madeline 🙂 )

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More geranium and pelargonium cuttings. I usually take a whole lot more care with cuttings but geraniums and pelargoniums are very hardy and should all strike no problems

The vegetable garden is going great guns. Because of all of the rain that we have been having, the rest of the garden is great gunning as well; especially the forget-me-nots that I am studiously pretending don’t exist much to their amusement. I looked down at my jeans yesterday after I had gone hunting for eggs amongst the undergrowth (I live in hope and am ever optimistic…) and I was covered in forget-me-not seeds…the little buggers LOVE me! Earl, who had accompanied me on lead was also covered in forget-me-not seeds BUT the difference was, he just shook himself and they magically dropped off him…I attempted to follow suit and nothing happened…I was still scraping them off my jeans and muttering under my breath when I managed to haul Earl up the deck steps to the deck above. If truth be told, the jeans aren’t the only thing that is covered in forget-me-not seeds but every time I get infested I toss the item into the washing and continue on regardless “I CAN’T hear you forget-me-nots!”

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Wheeling loquat seedlings, cherry plum seedlings and displaced herbs around to the veggie garden from the shed

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An oak leaf hydrangea flower on the way

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The only thing stopping this artichoke and the Jerusalem artichoke in this photo from being scoffed are the forget-me-nots and other “garden miscellanea” in this garden bed preventing the chooks from being able to see them

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Looking back from the first garden to the house where you can see one of our fine specimens of guard dogs on alert…pity they weren’t on alert the other day when we had some Jehovah’s witnesses breach the compound, walk up the steps, come onto the deck and tap on my window for a good 5 minutes before I realised that it wasn’t Earl’s tail on the window, it was (shock horror) PEOPLE! I calmly informed them that I had NO idea why our big dogs hadn’t bounded around the corner barking to greet them, politely said “no thank-you” when offered literature and said goodbye to them as they headed back down the steps. Suddenly the deck started to rumble, an eruption of barking ensued and shamefaced dogs who had been sleeping on the job pelted down to bark off the intruders…sigh…

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I hope you are all getting the picture as to why I am hiding under the bed and have NO idea where to start in the garden. Everything has gone completely mental and who would know what most of this is!

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Our mountain of home grown compost underneath some ex fish farm netting that has been dampened to keep the worms in it happy

Now that I am free to wander around the garden at will (forget-me-nots and all…) I have rediscovered my love of gardening all over again. It goes dormant for winter and appears to have erupted out of me with a vengeance this year. As a penniless student hippy who desires to live simply and sustainably I have to find all kinds of different ways to get what I want that don’t involve the green folding stuff (or even the silver stuff to be honest 😉 ) and the last week has seen me scrounging with impunity to our advantage. Here is a list of recent scrounges…

  1. Live Christmas trees scrounged by Stevie-boy, the son-and-heir, his Texan sweetie and my daughters from the firebreak between a pine plantation and our friends property
  2. 2 x 20 litre tahini buckets scrounged by Stevie-boy from Wholesome House health food shop for his shed that contained enough organic tahini to fill a large glass jar…BONUS!
  3. A visit to the Deviot Heritage Apple and Pear enclosed orchard yielded rooted cuttings of various kinds of herbs that had gone rampant into the path and that are now replanted into a large pot
  4. More angelica seed from the same garden scattered all over the place on Serendipity Farm
  5. Some cuttings of Tagetes lemmonii (an aromatic shrub native to south-eastern Arizona and south into Mexico) that I have on the windowsill in a mug of water with the hopes that the cuttings will produce roots
  6. 4 more small loquat trees that are now potted up and happy as clams in the veggie garden
  7. Lots of cherry plum seedlings found on a recent walk down at Bonnie Beach that are going to become the welcoming fence line trees on Serendipity Farm in the future
  8. A selection of pelargoniums and geranium cuttings that were sourced from plants growing on the side of the road on another one of our walks recently. I realised that some areas of Serendipity Farm are always going to be pretty arid so have decided to grow plants that will be able to tolerate low water conditions and geraniums and pelargoniums are perfect cheerful specimens. Soon to come will be lavender cuttings, rosemary cuttings and anything else that I deem drought ready and willing
  9. I walked with Earl over the Batman again and took my secateurs and a large plastic bag this time and arrived back home with cuttings from Cistus x “Purpureus” (Pink Rock Rose) and that unknown grey leaved sage type plant that I am experimenting with. I have put half of them in a glass of water on my kitchen windowsill and the other half are in potting mix in the veggie garden
  10. Seeds, seeds and MORE seeds…collecting like a crazy woman from wherever I can see something that I like (that doesn’t involve pole vaulting over someone else’s garden fence 😉 )
  11. I found a stash of possum sucked loquat seeds underneath a large loquat tree that I may, or may not have been going to predate (but the possums got there first…) and brought them home and shoved them into the ground in likely places of survival all over Serendipity Farm. I kept 5 back to plant in potting mix as I love loquats and want them all over the place as part of my lines of defence between us and the marauding natives. I figure, by the time they get to the heart of our garden where the “good” things are, they will be so stuffed full on lesser fruits that they will hardly be able to waddle…ever the optimist is narf7 😉
  12. I have been snacking on native cherry fruit as I have been walking Earl in the mornings down Auld Kirk Road. There is a particular tree that Earl likes to make a fuss over (due to a large brown hound once attempting to accost Earl in this exact place…) that gives me a little time to snack on the large native cherry tree in the vicinity. The fruits are small, reminiscent of cashew fruit with the seed sticking out the bottom of the fruit and the same shape (except a lot smaller) and quite tasty when they are ripe. There are so many of them the birds can’t actually keep up with them this year.
  13. Free seedlings from Madeline, my eldest daughter including red capsicum seedlings and some kind of melon (either rock or honeydew). I am just about to clear them their very own mountain of horse poo to grow happily in. The pumpkins that sprouted from compost hurled under the horse poo before we sunk the first pole in the veggie garden are all starting to grow like crazy so some melons may as well join the parade
  14. Still finding lots and lots of beer bottle caps on the side of the road that I am collecting to make this

That’s only a small selection of free or minimal cost things that I have been hunting out with a view to utilising them on Serendipity Farm. I get so excited about the possibilities of growing free plants and guess what I did this week…I FINALLY managed to sort through all of the potted plants and move them to one area. Steve helped me set up the overhead watering system so that most of them get watered without effort and only a few are going to need to be watered with the hose but pretty soon we will be taking some of them off to one of the Deviot Saturday morning basket markets with a large painted sign saying “Free to good home”. I would like to think that people will make the most of some free plants for their garden and that our potted babies will make someone else happy 🙂

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Even the possums have been hiding under the bed when faced with the wealth of crazy undergrowth that Tasmania is generating. I am starting to think that we have switched poles and Tasmania is the new Bali! This rose bush is usually twigs. It lives as twigs for most of the year and then goes twiggily dormant…this year it has been allowed to keep it’s leaves and these little roses smell amazing. “Cheers possums!”

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Steve’s Strelitzia’s are just about to bloom and this large black cicada has just hatched out of his pupae and is waiting for his wings to harden enough for him to fly off to the trees above and join hundreds of his brethren in a chorus that will herald the heat of summer. They are great food for birds and other animals and every 4 years we get invaded by these huge slow chirping behemoths

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The offending pipe that kept blowing apart when we turned the tap on in the veggie enclosure. This pipe is all that stands between water and the garden so I mended it today with some of those clips that you saw in an earlier image. Soon we will get another water tap inside the enclosure but for now this one is good enough

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This used to be the first series of 3 garden beds in our original set-up. We were late to the game this year so decided to use the existing infrastructure to get going sooner and after pulling out the now unnecessary partitions we have a fair bit more room to grow veggies

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The bed in the foreground contains silverbeet that our horticulture friend Jenny gave us months ago. They were languishing in a cardboard box with most of their soil washed away and I am amazed that they survived, let alone are growing like crazy now! It can only attest to their hardiness

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Next time I plant carrots I will use seed tape…as you can see “someone” accidentally tipped a few extra seed halfway along that third row…oh well, the packets were only $1 each and the thinnings should be prolific

I have been studiously ignoring Christmas almost as much as I have been ignoring the forget-me-nots to the same effect…it is just flowing past me regardless. I have reached a point where I am just about ready to tentatively stick my toe into the Christmas tide BUT I will be doing it at my pace and point blank refuse to get caught up in the hype. The television is manic with “GREAT DEALS FOR CHRISTMAS” but narf7 is content with “slowly, slowly catchy monkey”. Wouldn’t a monkey be great on Serendipity Farm? He could live in the veggie garden and have fun with the possum marauders on their nocturnal visits…but seriously, this year will be spent doing what we want, when we want. A most glorious wish and one that I get the feeling I just might get.

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Rows of peas going crazy…now I just have to work out how I am going to support them when they get bigger

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On the left hand side of this small garden bed are some scarlet runner beans that formed large bulbous tubers last year and that the chooks scratched most of the soil away from. I didn’t expect them to grow back this year but once we topped up the soil and added lots of horse manure they started growing again. Bonus crop with no sowing effort at all!

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The nut trees that had been living in Steve’s shed to protect them from the native animals are much happier out in the open

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My 2 yacon plants surrounded by the pallid tendrils of a forgotten bag of potatoes in the back of the pantry

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Horse poo mountain that I am going to leave in this spot because all of these pumpkins spontaneously grew here. I must have dumped some household compost underneath this spot and now they are growing happily…more plants that I didn’t have to coax to seedling height and transplant out…I LOVE this gardening lark!

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More free plants. This time they are some of the strawberries that I sourced from a stack of strawberry runners that someone threw onto the green waste at the local dump. Their loss, my gain! This pot is one of almost 15 that we will be planting out “somewhere” inside the veggie compound

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The Egyptian walking onion and perennial leeks in situ. Is it just me or does that Egyptian walking onion look like Earthworm Jim? 😉

Bev, from the wonderfully inventive and sustainable blog “Foodnstuff” posted a post this week that was completely invigorating and got me out and about collecting plant material and getting stuck into the garden. Sometimes you just need a gentle shove and Bev’s post was mine. If you would like to see how a real garden works, click on the link above and head on over and check out Bev’s garden full of possibilities. I love Bev’s blog because every time I see a new post it gives me some new ideas and new ways of doing things that I didn’t know before. I am ever on the scrounge for useful information and Bev’s blog is cram packed full of it

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The sum total of the lettuce population in the garden…a bit sad really but we are just about to remedy this problem. I have to use slug/snail pellets in the garden at the moment because they appear to have heard on the grapevine that there is free grub on Serendipity Farm and I am NOT losing any more food to freeloading varmints…

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Looking into the veggie garden at the possibilities…note the amazing architectural construction of the gateway into the garden. Another one of my dad’s “wonderful creations”. I am just REALLY glad that he didn’t build the house! 😉

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Note the garden is now taking over the “lawn”. Note also that someone has to mow the lawn! (Note to self…mow the lawn BEFORE you show them another photo of this area! 😉 )

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This is what is commonly called “Elephants Ears” or Bergenia cordifolia by people who want to appear horticulturally clever “You KNOW who you are!”

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Note Earl has just about had enough of me walking backwards and forwards and taking photos…We picked up that Cray pot full of floats for $5 at the last progressive garage sale in march…I love the progressive garage sale 🙂

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Sadly, I don’t know what this is. I bought it in a pot at Wychwood because the lady told me that it was hardy. Here you can see it fighting a loosing battle against some native raspberries (note to self add “make tepee’s for the native raspberries as number 732 on your to-do list”…sigh…)

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Unlike the unknown perennial that the native raspberries are attempting to throttle, these little guys are edible. They are going great guns in the garden under the deck and you can see the small fruit forming on the vines now

I am just about to gird my loins and head off to a local friend’s home and spend some time chatting to her about making my idea about developing local community a reality. I know that there are a lot of people living in the area who might be interested in getting together with other like-minded people in order to develop our local community and share our combined knowledge to everyone’s advantage. My idea is to have a meeting to see how many people are interested, to start a group of us that are interested in getting together over a cuppa for a crafting group, baking circle, gardening group etc. all invested in teaching each other new skills and forging a sense of community here in tiny little riverbank Sidmouth. Stevie-boy suggested the name “Sidmouth Sustainability Group” which sounds like a plan to me and my friend is the perfect place to start because she has been a “hippy” for most of her life and knows more about sustainability than I have had hot dinners (and that is a LOT folks 😉 ). Together we should be able to at least host a few interesting talks about various subjects ranging from keeping goats, making goat cheese, spinning, gardening (Roxy) through to keeping ferments, cooking for allergies etc. (me). The idea keeps lodging itself in my head and I think it’s the right time to bring it to fruition. I will keep you in the loop about how it pans out but I doubt I will do anything about it till after Christmas (oh NO! I said it! If you acknowledge it, it will come! Sigh…)

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This spot under the deck is very dry and this is where I am going to plant lots of those pelargoniums and scented geraniums in order to keep moisture in the soil and to grow other shrubs that wouldn’t otherwise survive in this arid spot. There was nothing here last year and as you can see, we have some plants growing. A note to anyone who thinks that where they live won’t grow flowers. Plant snap dragons. Those snapdragons are self sown from “somewhere” (dad most certainly didn’t sow them!) and keep coming back and spreading year after year.

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This was a scented geranium that I potted up as a cutting last year that we planted out earlier in spring

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So is this one. They are hardy, have pretty flowers that stay on the shrub all summer and whenever they are touched by anything (including wind or water) they release a lovely scent. The perfect plant for under the deck on a hot summers day 🙂

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This bottlebrush seems happy out the back but it will soon be enclosed inside the dogs compound (we are going to extend it) so I can’t vouch for it’s continued happiness. We can only hope that Earl decides to “mark” things a bit further afield but I won’t hold my breath…

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Steve’s collection of “Solar Groovers”, little solar powered things that he has collected that wiggle in his music room window. You can see one of his tab books on the music stand in the background.

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Back on the deck now (much to Earl’s delight) and looking back towards the veggie enclosure. Note the gypsy hoards of chooks wandering around pinching things…sigh…

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Our bedroom window with assorted vegetation

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“Someone” who wishes to remain anonymous because he was a very silly man, left the door to the pantry open where he had placed his nice new crocs that he had purchased the day before…

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We can’t be having Earl get ALL the attention now…better do my cute “upside down” number and have a bit of a chew on what was left of that croc while I do…

Looks like I have earbashed you again but like the large black cicada’s that are hatching out all over the place, my summer exoskeleton is firming up nicely and I will be ready to fly in a week or so. I have even been contemplating the Christmas meal! Next week I will have the tree put up and decorated (although it will probably take me a month to take it down again…), decorations made of an interesting baking soda clay from this site… and goodness only knows what else will be fermenting on Serendipity Farm so stay tuned for the next summery instalment of simple sustainability on Serendipity Farm and enjoy your nice warm fires and hot chocolate because at the moment, I am doing the very same thing! 😉

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The cherry plum seedlings that I found on our walk at Bonnie Beach

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The loquat seedlings that I found on our walk in Deviot…if you keep your eyes open and look for things you would be amazed at what is right there on the ground

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I was happy to get a red cherry plum seedling so it should remain true to type and stay red as it grows with red cherry plums

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The herbs that I pulled out of the sawdust path at the Apple and pear heritage orchard in Deviot. No idea what they are but probably some form of mint. They look a bit sorry at the moment but they will soon perk up. Anything with a square stem (minty sage type families) tends to be very hardy

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Some of the cuttings that I took from the park over the other side of the Batman bridge while I was walking Earl the other day on the kitchen window ledge

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The Scented marigold shrub cuttings that I am hoping will strike in water also on the kitchen window ledge that is pretty full incidentally. Note the collection of shoes that need to be removed before we come inside due to being coated in something insidious and the lengths that we have to go to in order to ensure that they remain wearable and out of doggy reach.

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And now we are three…

Hi All,

Technically we are 4…but if you add our peripheral family in we are 9 but the title refers to this…

nowwearethreeBecause yesterday Earl turned 3.

Here is a photo of the original toys that the stories were based on…

Original and real Pooh bear and friends

Eeyore and Bezial are very much one and the same critter and Earl has “Tigger” written all over him but maybe this Tigger is not as representative as this one…

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That’s an image of the very last Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger) in captivity. Earl and this “Tigger” are more closely related methinks 😉

DSCF5350Because he is a “Big Boy” now, Earl got to drive the car for his birthday. He was checking the rear view mirror here…

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Remember the old Batman series on the television when the villains were on screen everything went sideways…Here is our own resident Serendipity Farm villain with one of the 25 balloons that he had the BEST time bursting.

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I emerged from my OH&S repressed state like Heimlich from A Bugs Life…I felt like a “Beeoodiful butterfly” and headed out the door to go flitting from flower to flower but was met by this…overgrown weeds EVERYWHERE!

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Get a gander at that grass!

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So being the tenacious narf7 that I am I headed down the driveway to rid it of its weedy extremities

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When I say “weedy extremities” I mean “Extreme weeds”. Here you see a gorgeous forest of Scotch thistles and forget-me-nots waving in the breeze

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Here one minute…gone the next…

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Everything was going swimmingly until I tackled this scotch thistle and it ate my whipper snipper line

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Back to the shed to get more…I found plenty of it BUT I couldn’t work out how to get the whipper snipper head off so that was it for the day…but then I headed off and did a lot of pruning, mulch shovelling…

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and general tidying up until lunch time and after lunch the boys and I headed up to the veggie garden to fill in the holes left by pulling out the walkway partitions that were previously installed and I spent 3 hours shovelling horse poo into the wheelbarrow and driving it to the garden beds to fill them…

DSCF5391At least SOME of us were working hard…

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Ducky still sitting on her clutch of chook eggs

DSCF5384Earl hunting lizards…Earl nil, lizards 1

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Earl hunting watering cans…Earl 1, watering can reduced to rubble 😦

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Got to make sure that the boys don’t go thirsty…all of that lizard hunting and laying around tires a body out you know

DSCF5380Scarlet runners from last year have decided to grow again!

DSCF5406Sorry Pinky…those lovely pristine gardening gloves that I dare say you imagined me pottering around like Margot Ledbetter out of the Good Life in her rose garden with got a sterling workout yesterday.

DSCF5416The rest of the images in this post are of this mornings walk with Earl. I figured that you might all be interested in a narf7 perambulation. Here you see the newly shorn driveway and the newly 3 Earl eagerly forging ahead…note the taut lead…

DSCF5423The first sniff for the day…

DSCF5424The first pee for the day, and we haven’t even gotten out of the driveway yet. It’s going to be a long 5km

DSCF5446For all my New Zealand readers “we have them too!” A lovely tree fern growing on a steep incline on a hairpin bend. Probably the only reason why no-one has pinched it 😉

DSCF5455The only thing holding this section of bank together are this trees roots. You can see a good cross section of what our soil is like here…can you imagine trying to dig this?!!!

DSCF5458“You KNOW you want to give me a treat now…”

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“Cheers!”

DSCF5555Standing over the road from the Auld Kirk Church looking at the Batman Bridge where we are heading

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Walking across the Batman Bridge

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Looking back at the Auld Kirk Church and that red and white “thing” is the lighthouse where we took that picture of the Batman (are you dizzy yet? 😉 )

DSCF5480Some of the incredibly water wise plants that are growing sans water in the park on the other side of the Batman. This is a hebe and hebes will grow just about anywhere and are very drought tolerant. Apparently it is “Earl’s” park…just so’s you know…

DSCF5482Another incredibly water wise plant, an Escallonia. These will grow from a cutting stuck into the ground and produce lovely honey scented flowers that bees adore

DSCF5486This is a Cistus x purpureus and originally comes from the Middle East. There is a white variety called Cistus ladanifer that is equally as hardy

DSCF5494No idea what this is aside from it having squared stems so it is most probably in the laminaceae family but it’s pretty, the leaves turn a lovely grey colour as they age and it gets HUGE. I am going to take hard wood cuttings of all of these shrubs and get them growing on Serendipity Farm. A wise gardener takes good note of what is growing well around them because that’s what will grow well in your garden too. These plants don’t get watered ever and so they are perfect for Serendipity Farm and most of them are pretty as well so its a win-win situation

DSCF5513Council chopped down all of the old HUGE Pinus radiata that were in this area of the park. I know that a few branches blew down in the strong winds but this makes me sad.

DSCF5519To give you a bit of scale to see how big the trunk was on this smaller one

DSCF5523Guess which narf7 will be taking the trailer back for a few of these gorgeous big pine chunks to make into features in her new veggie garden. Council is just burning them and I feel like that is sacrilege…so does Earl. Here he is contemplating just how much urine he is going to have to produce to make sure that EVERYONE knows that they are all his

DSCF5563We finally arrived back home and decided to take a final shot of Serendipity Farm peeking out from behind the Auld Kirk Church…all of this before 8.30am “bring on the rest of the day!” 😉

I hope you don’t mind me giving you another image intensive post. I had a very busy day today with an unexpected drive by “dropping in” from a friend who decided that we were going to plant out a vegetable garden there and then…the garden is now FULL of veggies and I will have to share photos in my next post as for now I am absolutely knackered! See you next week when I should hopefully have some good photos of how the garden is progressing. I have plans to fill tyres with soil and plant out pumpkins to grow all over the place in the top part of the veggie garden that we won’t be developing till next year (no time this year) to cover the soil and keep the moisture in. I will also be planting out lots of sprouting spuds that I just found in my cupboard and that my friend brought with her and will be wheelbarrowing a couple of cubic metres of home grown black gold compost to make a large compost heap at the top of the garden. It’s all hands on deck…it’s summer on Sunday! See you in Summer/Winter 🙂

Inspiration

Hi All,

What inspires you? What makes your heart sing and ignites your soul? Forgive me for waxing myself lyrically there but at 4.44am this morning (Sunday) I read a blog post that completely inspired me. I will post a link here so that you can all check out this amazing story and marvel at the level of dedication that one man was able to muster against a wealth of odds to create something amazing out of refuse and rubble and at 88, is still working on. Have you got an opus? Something that makes you get up every morning and that sends you to bed tired but completely content? Neither have I, but we are getting there 🙂

http://landscapelover.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/the-rock-garden-chandigarh/#comment-5338

I spend a lot of time getting inspired by amazing people out there. I can’t get over how clever and creative some people are! We all have something that we are good at but some people seem to be amazingly gifted and I am only wonder at the creative processes going on in their minds. Since we started working on design we have been learning all sorts of things about the creative process. Here I was just thinking that you slap a bit of paint on something or drew a picture freehand or just messed about a bit with some sort of medium but apparently there is a lot of thought that goes into art, design, music etc. The creative process usually has to follow an ordered process no matter how chaotic it may want to be…even anarchy needs to conform when it comes to web design ;). There are so many rules that you have to follow and it requires a degree of mathematics…thank goodness I covered rudimentary maths last year with landscape design and won’t have to bang my head on the wall this year trying to make it all come back from last century when I went to school…

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This nice foggy bank heralded a week of overly warm weather here in tassie that culminated in the second hottest day that we have had here this summer. The poor garden is on it’s last legs and I can’t wait for autumn!

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“NO PRISONER’S!” 😉

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Someone REALLY hates having his photo taken 😉

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It really pelted down raining today (cheers Port Hedland for that lovely cyclone that you are currently hosting 😉 ) and you can almost see the garden sighing with relief…you can also almost hear Steve and I sighing and doing “Paper, rock, scissors…” because we remembered that the guttering needs to be cleaned 😉

I have been trying to work out why cooking gives me so much more satisfaction than it should. I get the feeling that condensing your efforts down into creating things is immensely satisfying beyond the sum of the result. I think it’s another “living through the processes” moment and after reading Lynda Wallace’s small book “A Short Course in Happiness” I realised that a lot of the reasons why I feel inordinately happy for a middle aged penniless student hippy is that I am finding my happiness in simple processes. When we condense our thought processes and actions down into using what we have and our own mental alacrity in order to create something (especially if it is an original idea) we are giving ourselves a chance to explore the road to happiness. Making something is an outward expression of what makes us “us”. It is 5.59am and either “Stock” or “Pot” is crowing lustily underneath the deck just to my left. His processes are automatic and start as soon as his tiny little brain senses the dawn. My processes are often as a result of a desire. I want something, for whatever reason I can’t just go out and get something and so I have to work through a series of processes to give myself what I desire in a lateral way. I wouldn’t have ever thought that making things yourself, growing, cultivating, culturing, preparing and all of the other processes that begin with an idea/ideal and end in a satisfying dusting off of hands could give so much satisfaction, so much “happiness”.

I remember my grandmother doing all different kinds of unusual things. Back in the 70’s when I was a small child she always had something interesting for us to do when we got to her home. She had a large tin box with strange things in it. What was in the box on one day wasn’t necessarily in it when we next went. I remember a plastic spinning top, a box of dominoes, cards and my memories start to dim up a bit…it WAS last century folks! 😉 What I remember was that there were LOTS of things in that box. I also remember grandma making us small nets out of twisted repurposed (back then it was called “making do”…) coat hangers with some of her ex pantyhose stretched over the wire so that we could go fishing for the tiny shrimp in the inlet at the bottom of her property. I remember my sister and I arrived one day to new home made wooden looms that had silky smooth wood and my carpenter grandfather must have worked hard to make them. I often wonder if my grandmother was the instigator of this deep and most earnest desire to seek out and understand things. Perhaps my mum was right when she said that I always reminded her of my grandmother…perhaps I can see that now as a compliment :o). All I know is that if I am ever given the grace to become a grandparent, I, too, will have a large box that will change on a visit by visit basis. I will teach my grandchildren all kinds of things especially the incredible value of books and libraries and I will attempt to give them a deep passion for learning.

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Kefir production on target for Wednesday…we will soon be drowning in the stuff! 😉

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A nice pot of delicious rich pasta sauce made with local onions, our own tomatoes, some olive oil, herbs and lots and LOTS of garlic.

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Soon to be frozen ready for lasagne, spaghetti bolognaise and other tasty future tomato rich meals

Its amazing how fast habits, things that you do on a regular basis, become ways of life. It must be part of our human psyche to follow pathways of regularity. I have been eating a different way now for just on 7 weeks and in that time I have completely changed the way that I eat, the size of my meals, the content of my food and I actually have breakfast and have lost a fair amount of weight. It wasn’t hard, it was all just following little pathways that were initially new and that are now well worn grooves in my day. The same goes for getting up early. Anyone who knows me knows that I was a true died in the wool night person. I loved staying up late and would spend hours trawling the net hunting for information etc. and would go to bed between 12 and 1.30am most nights. Now I can’t make it past 8.30pm and as soon as my head hits that pillow I am gone! I sleep like a baby (unless Earl decides to sleep “on” me…) and wake up refreshed and raring to get up. The strange thing is that my initial reason for getting up early was to be bolshie! I didn’t want to be a hostage to feeling like a zombie for a fortnight after daylight savings crashed onto our doorstep last October so I decided that for the month before I would wake up a bit earlier in increments…15 minutes earlier each week, to allow me to make a steady transference to the hour block that they shave off in a day. I arrived at the day triumphant in the knowledge that my usual 7am wake-up was now 6am and they weren’t going to phase me THIS year! I then did what I usually do and thought “ok, so what if I keep getting up an hour earlier? Then I won’t have to do Daylight Savings ever…EVER…again!” And suddenly I went from being a night person to a morning person over a matter of months. I discovered the joys of those few quiet dark hours before Steve and the boys get up and all of that amazing time in the morning when my brain is raring to go and eager to take up new ideas. I now get up at 4am! YES 4am! I love it :o). I put the kettle on, I turn on the computer and cuddle Bezial who bravely stands guard all night on the sofa (Earl shamelessly takes the day watch and sleeps all night in the bed) and give him his early morning scratches and hugs. He shakes himself off and heads into bed and then the early morning is all MINE! I check emails and reply first, and then I head off here and check comments. I am a prolific commenter on other people’s blogs. If someone has put the effort in to share something precious with me, to give me one of their amazing recipes or tell me something that I didn’t know and am excited about finding out I want to thank them. I get a lot of replies from other blogs in the morning and its fun to read and reply to them first up. After that I head straight to my RSS Feed Reader and start wading through my morning’s blog posts. I have umpteen-eleventy-squillion blogs that I now follow and a 4am rising usually gives me enough time to deal with most of the posts for the day unless I get side-tracked by links in posts and then it might take a bit of night time reading to complete the deal. I have an eclectic mix of vegan food blogs, heavenly food porn (gorgeous photos and amazing recipes) that aren’t vegan, philosophical blogs, instructive blogs and blogs about sustainability that feed my mind and get it positively charged for the day. By the time 7am rocks up and Earl is prodding me with his nose to start the processes that eventuate at him getting a walk, I am fully charged, extremely happy (usually) and Steve gets his 7am cup of coffee and a wife who is raring to go for the day. I used to be the one lying in bed waiting for my cup of tea and stretching out the “getting up” process but no more… I am a changed woman and the possibilities of “Early Morning” only came about because I was being bolshie and wanted to take control of the situation…I wonder what you could do with your life if you tried? Do you have any habits that are dragging you down? If I can change my way of thinking, doing things then so can you. It really isn’t hard, its just a matter of starting. “Start where you mean to finish up”, another one of my grandmothers sayings and a most pertinent one for habit breaking and starting :o).

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Last minute ideas for how to use up some spare sourdough ended up with this interesting version of cinnamon rolls with a filling of chopped dates, grated left over hard caramel sauce from a sticky date pudding and lots of cinnamon

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After they were rolled up like a Swiss roll and cut I put them to prove in a greased and lined round cake tin until they increased in size a bit

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The finished results that are apparently very tasty 🙂

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Sourdough pizza prior to baking…

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And after…also, apparently, tasty 🙂

Does anyone else out there venture far and wide in their hunts for new and interesting food ingredients, how to use them and authentic recipes and cooking methods that contain them? Well I do! I love finding new things to do with previously unknown ingredients. It really excites me to delve into other countries cuisines, especially in the frugal ingredients that most of us wouldn’t think of using or don’t even know about. It’s nothing to do with elitism and everything to do with learning more about what is out there and available to eat. It’s the same thing that has me reverently placing foraging food blogs in my rss feed reader side by side with gorgeous food porn sites. When you love something you want to explore it all! ;). In my food travels I find a lot of recipes and links taking me to sites with recipes galore but all in languages that I can’t understand. A recipe that you can’t understand is an abject fail…UNLESS…you use your gourd and head on over to Google Translate and use it to translate the recipe for you. I must admit that sometimes the results are hilarious and totally incomprehensible BUT you at least have to try don’t you? And the worst you can get it a really funny read ;). I love finding blogs that skate along the fine line between Western cookery and their own culinary genius being applied to it. I found just such a site this morning and eagerly stuffed it into my Rss feed reader after exploring it for a bit to make sure that it was worth the stuffing. It most certainly was! Check it out if you would like to see some very interesting Asian takes on common recipes… http://ellenaguan.blogspot.sg/2013/02/longan-and-cranberry-yogurt-cake.html .

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The only eggs that we have had in a fortnight and all apparently laid by the same hen (the only one that has a free ticket to the next round!)

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One of our tasks for our course had us finding advertisments in various kinds of media that used “White space” to highlight and reinforce the subject matter and here is one of my examples…

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What do you do when it’s hot, you don’t want to pay “The Man” for his rubbish cordial and you have a freezer full of frozen fruit…you make your own cordial! This amazingly coloured variety is the result of a recipe for Lemon and Lime cordial that I messed around with so much that it hardly even resembles the original recipe. I used oranges instead of the lemons, I added a ziploc bag of frozen lemon juice, about 2 cups of frozen ripe mangos, the zest of the 3 oranges and about a cup full of ripe strawberries. These were all processed until smooth in my Vitamix blender and were added to 2 1/2 cups of sugar and then I added a tsp of citric acid and as much boiling water as I felt it needed to render it to “cordial” thickness. Steve is enjoying it whenever he feels the need for something other than coffee to drink and again, has pronounced it “tasty” 😉

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I needed to clarify just how “MASSIVE our harvest of potatoes actually was that I mentioned in the last post. Here you see the full extent of them being eaten by Steve for his tea last night…note the size comparison between the potato on his fork and the green pea next to it… I rest my case! 😉

Well we had a hard day today trying to find examples of design that doesn’t contain guide lines. And are planning on resting our poor addled brains this evening with a nice easy meal and an early night for me, and most probably some horror movies for Steve (his favourite genre). I am actually really enjoying this course (so far…) and we are learning an enormous amount. Steve will hopefully be picking up a copy of the student edition of the Adobe CS6 Design & Web Premium Student and Teacher edition so that we can start getting serious with Photoshop. So it’s all go around here at the moment. See you all on Saturday :o)