Hot humid post in images

Hi All,

It is hot and humid here today after a solid torrential downpour that lasted all night. I think we woke up and had moved to Queensland! It was a toss-up between slaving over a hot blog post and giving you images today so I went with the images so to all of my dear constant readers who like words, you are going to have to satisfy yourself with the image captions. I hope it cools down soon or I will have to type my next blog post prostrate on the bathroom floor! Have a great week and see you next Wednesday…

Before we get down to garden business, look what arrived in the mail today just in time to get into today's blog post.Ms Pauline made me bunting and sent me some most desirable bottle caps that I don't have.

Before we get down to garden business, look what arrived in the mail today just in time to get into today’s blog post.Ms Pauline made me bunting and sent me some most desirable bottle caps that I don’t have.

And here is the gorgeous outdoor bunting that Ms Pauline created. Isn't she clever? It's beautiful Pauline and you are very clever and talented and I am in awe of your sewing ability :)

And here is the gorgeous outdoor bunting that Ms Pauline created. Isn’t she clever? It’s beautiful Pauline and you are very clever and talented and I am in awe of your sewing ability 🙂

Steve has been going nuts with his new Nikon 7100. SO nuts in fact that I have had to take evasive action in order to prevent myself being photographed unmercilessly.

Steve has been going nuts with his new Nikon 7100. SO nuts in fact that I have had to take evasive action in order to prevent myself being photographed unmercilessly.

Steve took a series of photographs and used Photoshop to meld them into a panorama. This was taken at Beauty Point this week when we were walking the dogs.

Steve took a series of photographs and used Photoshop to meld them into a panorama. This was taken at Beauty Point this week when we were walking the dogs.

Here's another panorama taken further down the beach. This is Bezial's absolutely favourite place to be as he occasionally gets allowed off leash and gets to have a swim. He tends to occupy his time hunting for (non existant) fish but whatever floats your boat Bezial ;). He only ever goes up to his chest.

Here’s another panorama taken further down the beach. This is Bezial’s absolutely favourite place to be as he occasionally gets allowed off leash and gets to have a swim. He tends to occupy his time hunting for (non existant) fish but whatever floats your boat Bezial ;). He only ever goes up to his chest.

I thought this was a nice photo of Earl standing on the deck and as he has fans out there, I decided to share it with you. You know who you are ;)

I thought this was a nice photo of Earl standing on the deck and as he has fans out there, I decided to share it with you. You know who you are 😉

We walked in a sticky hot Beaconsfield today and the sole saving grace was this find...the blackberries are starting to ripen! This small enclave of blackberries are always the best so now that I know that they are starting to ripen, we will be visiting Beaconsfield quite a lot ;)

We walked in a sticky hot Beaconsfield today and the sole saving grace was this find…the blackberries are starting to ripen! This small enclave of blackberries are always the best so now that I know that they are starting to ripen, we will be visiting Beaconsfield quite a lot 😉

This is the cloud cover we are getting today. It is hot, sticky and very opressive. It happens whenever there is a cyclone on the top end of Australia and they decide to share their humidity with us (how generous Queensland! ;) )

This is the cloud cover we are getting today. It is hot, sticky and very opressive. It happens whenever there is a cyclone on the top end of Australia and they decide to share their humidity with us (how generous Queensland! 😉 )

These are shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum...I know, hilarious isn't it and who says that horticulturalists have no sense of humour ;) ). They are very easy to grow and will grow in the most inhospitable conditions. We have a lot of them dotted around Serendipity Farm.

These are shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum…I know, hilarious isn’t it and who says that horticulturalists have no sense of humour 😉 ). They are very easy to grow and will grow in the most inhospitable conditions. We have a lot of them dotted around Serendipity Farm.

I appear to have a gnome in Sanctuary. The grass that you can see growing here is about to get a haircut but it was too hot to do it today so you have to see it unkempt and feral (it's usual state ;) )

I appear to have a gnome in Sanctuary. The grass that you can see growing here is about to get a haircut but it was too hot to do it today so you have to see it unkempt and feral (it’s usual state 😉 ). I decided not to waste last years Christmas tree and am going to use it as an artistic plant stake.

I grew some trays of kale (2 kinds), cabbages and cauliflowers after looking at the back of the packet of seeds and seeing that they could be planted through summer here. They fibbed. Apparently they should be considered winter crops so I just left them outside the glasshouse and forgot about them. Some of them were still alive the other day so I took pity on the survivors and planted them out in the main garden.

I grew some trays of kale (2 kinds), cabbages and cauliflowers after looking at the back of the packet of seeds and seeing that they could be planted through summer here. They fibbed. Apparently they should be considered winter crops so I just left them outside the glasshouse and forgot about them. Some of them were still alive the other day so I took pity on the survivors and planted them out in the main garden.

One of my natural pest strategies and the top of the food chain in Sanctuary (if you don't count that big toad I rehoused in amongst the oak leaves). There are lizards everywhere inside the safety of Sanctuary and they, in turn are eating many of the pests that invade. We have a bit of a grasshopper plague at the moment but I am going to leave them to the lizards unless they build up numbers and then I will have to formulate an alternative plan...

One of my natural pest strategies and the top of the food chain in Sanctuary (if you don’t count that big toad I rehoused in amongst the oak leaves). There are lizards everywhere inside the safety of Sanctuary and they, in turn are eating many of the pests that invade. We have a bit of a grasshopper plague at the moment but I am going to leave them to the lizards unless they build up numbers and then I will have to formulate an alternative plan…

These are apparently "Egyptian brown beans". Forgive me but they look a whole lot like broad beans to me! ;)

These are apparently “Egyptian brown beans”. Forgive me but they look a whole lot like broad beans to me! 😉

Silverbeet growing well and pots of transplanted artichokes

Silverbeet growing well and pots of transplanted globe artichokes with the ever-present lurking lesser spotted tomato photo-bombing

Silverbeet going to seed and scarlet runner beans

Silverbeet going to seed and scarlet runner beans. The wooden pole is to stop the possums bouncing up and down to reach the green foliage

My lone tomatillo. I have others planted out in one of the new garden beds but this one has flowers and is making a statement. I have never grown tomatillos before so it will be interesting to see how they perform

My lone tomatillo. I have others planted out in one of the new garden beds but this one has flowers and is making a statement. I have never grown tomatillos before so it will be interesting to see how they perform. Every tomato in this garden bed was self seeded.

A compost bucket grown potato with one of the grasshoppers that should feed the lizards nicely for the next few weeks :)

A compost bucket grown potato with one of the grasshoppers that should feed the lizards nicely for the next few weeks 🙂

Our kafir lime tree. It will be feeling right at home with this sticky tropical weather!

Our kafir lime tree. It will be feeling right at home with this sticky tropical weather!

I only planted these beetroot seeds the other day. They must like the conditions. This is my first attempt at succession planting. Their brothers are big enough to eat now so I figured I would grow some more to stave off that "I wish I had planted more!" condition.

I only planted these beetroot seeds the other day. They must like the conditions. This is my first attempt at succession planting. Their brothers are big enough to eat now so I figured I would grow some more to stave off that “I wish I had planted more!” condition.

The Chaotic state of the garden beds in Sanctuary. I go by the CHAOS theory, you "chuck handfuls all over space". My ethos! I like to think that in all of the mass confusion, the pests are unable to decide what they will eat first and die of anorexia...I like to think that but I doubt that it is true ;)

The Chaotic state of the garden beds in Sanctuary. I go by the CHAOS theory, you “chuck handfuls all over space”. My ethos! I like to think that in all of the mass confusion, the pests are unable to decide what they will eat first and die of anorexia…I like to think that but I doubt that it is true 😉

One of the new garden beds with basil planted out. I don't like basil. Stevie-boy doesn't like basil...why did we plant it? Because our friend likes basil and gave us the seeds. I think it was a hint.

One of the new garden beds with basil planted out. I don’t like basil. Stevie-boy doesn’t like basil…why did we plant it? Because our friend likes basil and gave us the seeds. I think it was a hint.

This area was where the pumpkins grew from a pile of compost last year up at the rear of Sanctuary. It was a very dry, hot area and I was wondering what to plant there this year when some pumpkins sprouted and a couple of tomato plants so I took that as a statement of posession and left them to it. I added a large marigold to the mix and some Jerusalem artichokes as they will grow on a hot tin roof. So far, they all seem to be getting along famously...we shall see...

This area was where the pumpkins grew from a pile of compost last year up at the rear of Sanctuary. It was a very dry, hot area and I was wondering what to plant there this year when some pumpkins sprouted and a couple of tomato plants so I took that as a statement of posession and left them to it. I added a large marigold to the mix and some Jerusalem artichokes as they will grow on a hot tin roof. So far, they all seem to be getting along famously…we shall see…

We cut the grapes back to single leaders (as per instruction from a tutorial we found online) and they are going gangbusters now. Apparently we need to let them go mental this year to achieve their final height and we need to make sure that we pull off all of the fruiting bunches for the first 3 years to let the plant strengthen to get the best grapes. We have 7 of these muscat grape vines planted out together that we grew from cuttings so one day we will have plenty of grapes for eating and for turning into muscatel raisins :)

We cut the grapes back to single leaders (as per instruction from a tutorial we found online) and they are going gangbusters now. Apparently we need to let them go mental this year to achieve their final height and we need to make sure that we pull off all of the fruiting bunches for the first 3 years to let the plant strengthen to get the best grapes. We have 7 of these muscat grape vines planted out together that we grew from cuttings so one day we will have plenty of grapes for eating and for turning into muscatel raisins 🙂

These are sweet potato leaves. Apparently they are just about to go ballistic and I am going to have to keep them in check with the whipper snipper but I don't care because the leaves are edible and so narf will be tucking into both ends of the prolific sweet potato with gleeful abandon :)

These are sweet potato leaves. Apparently they are just about to go ballistic and I am going to have to keep them in check with the whipper snipper but I don’t care because the leaves are edible and so narf will be tucking into both ends of the prolific sweet potato with gleeful abandon 🙂

Last Wednesday they were stalks, this Wednesday they are leafy and next week they will probably be about half a metre tall and covered with leaves. Spuds don't muck around!

Last Wednesday they were stalks, this Wednesday they are leafy and next week they will probably be about half a metre tall and covered with leaves. Spuds don’t muck around!

More pumpkins and my cucamelon (also called "Mouse melons") babies in their weld-mesh tube

More pumpkins and my cucamelon (also called “Mouse melons”) babies in their weld-mesh tube

This garden bed has eggplants, basil, tiny tim tomatoes, tomatillos and chillies in it. They were languishing in the glasshouse and I had nowhere to plant them but now I do so in they went! I have put silverbeet, perennial spinach and some other seeds that I have NO idea what they are (and the beetroots) in here as well. I found the seed packets where I had forgotten them a while ago and the snails had eaten the outer packets. I could recognise the spinach but the others are mystery seeds. Here's to interesting gardens! ;)

This garden bed has eggplants, basil, tiny tim tomatoes, tomatillos and chillies in it. They were languishing in the glasshouse and I had nowhere to plant them but now I do so in they went! I have put silverbeet, perennial spinach and some other seeds that I have NO idea what they are (and the beetroots) in here as well. I found the seed packets where I had forgotten them a while ago and the snails had eaten the outer packets. I could recognise the spinach but the others are mystery seeds. Here’s to interesting gardens! 😉

One of my experimental compost beds. I dumped buckets of compost into these areas and covered them with aged horse manure and oak leaves and have some interesting things growing out of the mix but mostly potatoes and pumpkins.

One of my experimental compost beds. I dumped buckets of compost into these areas and covered them with aged horse manure and oak leaves and have some interesting things growing out of the mix but mostly potatoes and pumpkins.

Leeks and carrots that went to seed. I plan on collecting the seed when they get around to ripening

Leeks and carrots that went to seed. I plan on collecting the seed when they get around to ripening

I don't think I will plant zucchini's next year. I either end up with blossom end rot or with so many zucchini's I can't even think straight. I might go with pattypan squash next year.

I don’t think I will plant zucchini’s next year. I either end up with blossom end rot or with so many zucchini’s I can’t even think straight. I might go with pattypan squash next year.

More pumpkins... can you tell I love them? ;) All of these pumpkins grew from compost bins. I didn't plant a single pumpkin this year.

More pumpkins… can you tell I love them? 😉 All of these pumpkins grew from compost bins. I didn’t plant a single pumpkin this year.

These look like "plums" to me, but they could also be sloes. I threw all of my old fruit seeds that I collected into the compost heaps and am digging out anything that resembles fruit as it pops up.

These look like “plums” to me, but they could also be sloes. I threw all of my old fruit seeds that I collected into the compost heaps and am digging out anything that resembles fruit as it pops up. Don’t you love our rustic glasshouse floor? 😉

 

 

My turmeric are up again and I NEED to get a garden bed dug for both them and the cardamom that is threatening to give up the ghost if I don't plant them out.

My turmeric are up again and I NEED to get a garden bed dug for both them and the cardamom that is threatening to give up the ghost if I don’t plant them out.

This year we plant out all of our combined nut trees that we have been growing on for a few years now. Most of these are walnuts but there is an avocado in the mix as well.

This year we plant out all of our combined nut trees that we have been growing on for a few years now. Most of these are walnuts but there is an avocado in the mix as well.

This is a cutting grown myer lemon that I am just about to plant out

This is a cutting grown myer lemon that I am just about to plant out

 

Baby indigo seedlings (Indigofera tinctoria) for future dyeing "events" on Serendipity Farm

Baby indigo seedlings (Indigofera tinctoria) for future dyeing “events” on Serendipity Farm

Baby Moringa trees (moringa oleifera) that have the awesome reputation of every single part of them being useful. When they first sprout they look like blades of grass and I almost pulled the biggest one out!

Baby Moringa trees (moringa oleifera) that have the awesome reputation of every single part of them being useful. When they first sprout they look like blades of grass and I almost pulled the biggest one out!

We still have raspberries ripening inside Sanctuary

We still have raspberries ripening inside Sanctuary

Blackberries ripening...

Blackberries ripening…

Inside Sanctuary..."EEK!"

Inside Sanctuary…”EEK!”

Earl protected baby figs

Earl protected baby figs

Earl protected nectarines!

Earl protected nectarines!

But wait...there's MORE! Earl has done an amazing job of teaching the possums who is boss inside his new compound and patrols all hours of the day and night so that the possums don't get comfortable with "routine" ;)

But wait…there’s MORE! Earl has done an amazing job of teaching the possums who is boss inside his new compound and patrols all hours of the day and night so that the possums don’t get comfortable with “routine” 😉

The very first fig(let) to ripen on Serendipity Farm :)

The very first fig(let) to ripen on Serendipity Farm 🙂

Blueberries! :)

Blueberries! 🙂

This is a piece of snapped off blueberry "stick" that I shoved into the ground when it was snapped off while we were covering the blueberries and it has struck! A new baby blueberry in Sanctuary :)

This is a piece of snapped off blueberry “stick” that I shoved into the ground when it was snapped off while we were covering the blueberries and it has struck! A new baby blueberry in Sanctuary 🙂

Steve had me splashing this water under instruction the other day "No...don't splash there, splash in the middle, but splash "quickly" and make a wave..." (sigh...)

Steve had me splashing this water under instruction the other day “No…don’t splash there, splash in the middle, but splash “quickly” and make a wave…” (sigh…). This is one of the birdbaths on Serendipity Farm. The wasps were a bit upset at having to wait for Steve’s artistic creativity to wane before they could get another drink 😉

I managed to get some fresh macadamia nuts. In order to get the best chance of germination, they need to be under 3 months old so I soaked them overnight and have 12 macadamia nuts potted up. I love adding new possibilities to Serendipity Farm :)

I managed to get some fresh macadamia nuts. In order to get the best chance of germination, they need to be under 3 months old so I soaked them overnight and have 12 macadamia nuts potted up. I love adding new possibilities to Serendipity Farm 🙂

Steve playing the mouth organ for the dogs to howl to...we have our telly, they get to howl. It's a fair swap ;)

Steve playing the mouth organ for the dogs to howl to…we have our telly, they get to howl. It’s a fair swap 😉

These are 2 bowls of porridge for the next few days. This mornings breakfast consisted of ground up millet, brown rice, sesame seeds, chickpeas, green and yellow split peas, lentils and barley with coconut and dates. It tasted a whole lot better than you would think ;)

These are 2 bowls of porridge for the next few days. This mornings breakfast consisted of ground up millet, brown rice, sesame seeds, chickpeas, green and yellow split peas, lentils and barley with coconut and dates. It tasted a whole lot better than you would think 😉

Here are what's left of our potted babies. Can you spot the intruder in the midst? ;)

Here are what’s left of our potted babies. Can you spot the intruder in the midst? 😉

The view of sodden Serendipity Farm this morning. Note the debris on the driveway

The view of sodden Serendipity Farm this morning. Note the debris on the driveway

A sodden (as opposed to "sodding") rooster on the lawn

A sodden (as opposed to “sodding”) rooster on the lawn

Steve wants me to show you the metal shovel that he bought for me the other day. It cost him $4.95 and is completely made of welded metal. Is there anyone else out there wondering how on EARTH you could make a shovel from go to whoa for $4.95?! Steve says that this proves that he loves me. When you buy your wife a shovel, that's true love ;)

Steve wants me to show you the metal shovel that he bought for me the other day. It cost him $4.95 and is completely made of welded metal. Is there anyone else out there wondering how on EARTH you could make a shovel from go to whoa for $4.95?! Steve says that this proves that he loves me. Anyone can suck up to their wife with flowers or chocolates but when you are comfortable enough to buy your wife a shovel, that’s true love 😉

Well, as Bug’s Bunny would say…”That’s all folks!”

 

How my grandmother would have loved the internet

Hi All,

Steve's new camera view from over our deck

Steve’s new camera view from over our deck

I always remember my grandmother as a very strong and resourceful woman. As children we used to love visiting her house as she always had some new and most interesting thing for us to do and if she hadn’t gotten around to getting grandad to make us a small loom or some other craft, we always had a large box of the most interesting puzzles and homemade games to keep us amused. If we weren’t in the mood for a game or puzzle, we had their wonderful garden to explore or we could always push off in the bootle bumtrinket, a tiny little rowboat that we could explore the small island that was just off a point not too far from their home on the inlet. My grandmother was a most interesting person and it showed.

What do you have for tea when it is 37C inside the house and you really don't want to cook and heat it up even more? You cook good old fashioned Aussie sausage rolls on the bbq! ;)

What do you have for tea when it is 37C inside the house and you really don’t want to cook and heat it up even more? You cook good old fashioned Aussie sausage rolls on the bbq! 😉

Steve took this lovely shot of some lichen on a branch at Hollybank

Steve took this lovely shot of some lichen on a branch at Hollybank

Another "Wait a minute while I take a photo!" moment...This is half a cooked artichoke that I am actually in the process of eating prior to being used as a hand model ;)

Another “Wait a minute while I take a photo!” moment…This is half a cooked artichoke that I am actually in the process of eating prior to being used as a hand model 😉

We no longer dread taking down the decorations as our "Ikea flat pack tree" makes it such an easy process. It's now under the spare bed taking up NO room at all :)

We no longer dread taking down the decorations as our “Ikea flat pack tree” makes it such an easy process. It’s now under the spare bed taking up NO room at all 🙂

She always had some kind of interesting thing that she was learning. She knew how to knit, to crochet, to tat and much more. She grew herbs in her garden and she was always learning as much as she could. I am sure that the local library gave her a gold card she used it that much. My grandparents weren’t wealthy but they had a wealth of knowledge between them. Grandad was a carpenter and could make just about anything to do with wood and Grandma was one of the most resourceful women that I know.

Steve using some kind of "mode" on his new camera that makes things look extra teeny tiny from high up. All you tech heads probably know what this function is but whatever it is, it looks pretty shmick ;)

Steve using some kind of “mode” on his new camera that makes things look extra teeny tiny from high up. All you tech heads probably know what this function is but whatever it is, it looks pretty shmick 😉

Lunch that consists of onion lightly sauteed in olive oil with lots of garlic, peas and beans and covered with water, brought up to the boil and some veggie stock powder added and then some ground brown rice flour. A most interesting and tasty lunch

Lunch that consists of onion lightly sauteed in olive oil with lots of garlic, peas and beans and covered with water, brought up to the boil and some veggie stock powder added and then some ground brown rice flour. A most interesting and tasty lunch reminiscent of polenta

A nice shot of moss from Hollybank

A nice shot of moss on an old dry stone wall at Hollybank

A tiny (1.5cm) frog on raspberry leaves at our friends house the other day

A tiny (1.5cm) frog on raspberry leaves at our friends house the other day

I was hunting for information about natural dyes this morning and found this amazing link

http://maiwahandprints.blogspot.ca/p/guide-to-natural-dyes.html

Practically a whole library book of information available to moi, sitting here in my early morning fuggish haze tinged with excitement from my glorious find. Anything that I want to learn about is online. I just have to do a bit of sifting and hunting for the quality stuff. It is getting harder and harder to sift through as so much utter garbage is being shuffled about in the name of twitter, hash tags and links that don’t actually lead anywhere but that’s the minefield that is the net. If you want quality information, you are just going to have to go out there and find it and that’s where I step in.

Bezial would like it to be known that he is NOT fat, he is big boned!

Bezial would like it to be known that he is NOT fat, he is big boned!

A Tasmanian trigger plant (Stylidium graminifolium) that Steve took a photo of with his new camera

A Tasmanian trigger plant (Stylidium graminifolium) that Steve took a photo of with his new camera

 

I love learning. I am also a penniless student hippy who lives a fair way away from the library. I adore the library and use it a lot (although not so much recently) but the internet allows me to hunt from my inner sanctum and save this information to my own little library of great happiness. As soon as I get interested in something (and lets face it, just about everything interests little old me 😉 ), I go hunting. My 3am starts are part RSS Feed Read and part “lets just see where this will take me…” a most delightful way to find things out.

A lovely young Tasmanian fairy wren sunning himself early the other day when we walked the dogs in the park over the Batman bridge

A lovely young Tasmanian Superb fairy wren sunning himself early the other day when we walked the dogs in the park over the Batman bridge

Steve headed over to the Gorge restaurant site in order to see if he could get some nice pictures the other day when he was in the city doing the shopping. This male peacock was most insistent that he take his photo. Isn't he lovely?

Steve headed over to the Gorge restaurant site in order to see if he could get some nice pictures the other day when he was in the city doing the shopping. This male peacock was most insistent that he take his photo. Isn’t he lovely?

My grandmother would have adored the internet. She would have immediately realised it’s intrinsic value to her as a long standing magpie. Information…for free…that you didn’t have to drive to town to get? SCORE! Grandma didn’t drive and my grandad only had his motorbike license so they had to wait till mum drove them to town so the internet would have given my grandmother a degree of freedom that she couldn’t have thought was even possible. She would also have been able to keep in contact with her sisters and other family in the U.K. for free. OH what an amazing resource we have at our fingertips for pennies. My grandmother would have called me a “lucky bugger” and I am fully cognisant of just what a lucky bugger I am.

New Years day cocktails

New Years day cocktails. Enough fruit and veggies in this one to call it lunch! 😉

Hot days = cold beer and shandies

Hot days = cold beer and shandies in our redneck drinking mugs 😉

Me sorting through my beer bottle caps that I have been collecting for a year

Me sorting through my beer bottle caps that I have been collecting for a year

(do you see what I have to put up with! ;) )

(do you see what I have to put up with! Apparently this is motion blur and focal points 😉 )

Getting jiggy with the hammer and flattening out the remaining beer bottle caps to turn them into teeny tiny alcoholic bunting for Stevie-boys music room

Getting jiggy with the hammer and flattening out the remaining beer bottle caps to turn them into teeny tiny alcoholic bunting for Stevie-boys music room

We have been very busy little beavers this week.  On New Years Eve I stayed up and both Stevie-boy and I welcomed in the New Year for once. We had a little basket with coal (that my mum had given me on her last Christmas here, I must have been naughty! 😉 ), bread and money in it and as Steve is naturally dark haired, he had to walk in to the doors (both opened up to let out the bad and let the good in) and receive the basket. By the sound of it, we were the only ones in Sidmouth up at 12 to see in the New Year. NO idea why we did this aside from sticking with someone else’s tradition and then we popped a cheap bottle of peach flavoured passion pop that Steve picked up as he thought that I wouldn’t stay awake for 12 and we wouldn’t need it. OH how wrong he was! It was pretty much undrinkable so we had a sip each, grimaced and then went to bed.

My prototype drop spindle until Steve can get around to making me a Turkish drop spindle

My prototype drop spindle until Steve can get around to making me a Turkish drop spindle

Gorgeous caramel coloured alpaca fleece for spinning on the drop spindle

Gorgeous caramel coloured alpaca fleece for spinning on the drop spindle

Even lovelier kid alpaca silvery grey/white fleece for spinning

Even lovelier kid alpaca silvery grey/white fleece for spinning

Steve has been taking SO many photos since he got his new (baby) camera. Here you can see me attempting to eat breakfast whilst being coerced into being a "model" for his practice ;)

Steve has been taking SO many photos since he got his new (baby) camera. Here you can see me attempting to eat breakfast whilst being coerced into being a “model” for his practice 😉

New Years Day arrived and we decided to spend it crafting. I hammered out bottle caps to make beer bottle bunting and a beer bottle lamp shade for Stevie-boys music room and researched how to nailbind. Nailbinding is an ancient Nordic craft that preceded knitting and crochet that the Vikings used to make clothing. It involves using a “nal” or a kind of long needle made out of bone or wood. Steve knocked me up a “nal” and I am ready to go once I start spinning my alpaca wool…alpaca wool?! Yes, Stewart and Kelsey came out and gifted me 2 enormous garbage bags of the most beautiful caramel and silvery white alpaca fleece for me to learn how to spin on. Stevie-boy had made me a drop spindle and they were out hunting for more wool for Kelsey as she is learning to spin on a drop spindle as well and thought that they might get me some as well. MUCHO happy guys :).  Now I just need to find the time to get started!

It always looks like Steve is doing all of the work around here but someone has to duck away to take the photos! ;)

It always looks like Steve is doing all of the work around here but someone has to duck away to take the photos! 😉

After hauling the 2 long sections of garden bed up the hill and into Sanctuary we hammered small star picket stakes into the ground in front of the bed to keep it in place when we loaded it up with soil

After hauling the 2 long sections of garden bed up the hill and into Sanctuary we hammered small star picket stakes into the ground in front of the bed to keep it in place when we loaded it up with soil

Looking back from the mountain of manure and oak leaves to the site where the new garden bed was being built

Looking back from the mountain of manure and oak leaves to the site where the new garden bed was being built

We then decided to create the next 2 gardens from the great and mighty mountain of aged horse poo and rotted oak leaves. Steve and I cobbled together  a garden bed out of old half rounds that we had found on the property and bits of rubbish timber that we had been storing for “a rainy day” (or a garden bed 😉 ). We then used it as a sort of terrace in Sanctuary. Steve headed off to do the shopping on Monday and I shoveled the second of the two new garden beds into place. We had generated some “char” in a recent burn off of branches (after we cut off any usable wood). I wouldn’t call it “biochar” as it wasn’t produced properly but most of the pile was charcoal so “char” it is and I am sure it will be good for the garden so after it cooled down I hauled it up to Sanctuary in a wheelbarrow and tipped it onto the ground before I dug the second of the new beds.

My wheelbarrow of "char". Nothing gets wasted around here!

My wheelbarrow of “char”. Nothing gets wasted around here!

Earl "helping" in Sanctuary

Earl “helping” in Sanctuary

Earl helping some more...

Earl helping some more…

Steve noticed this really wonderful way to make a good water hand pump out of PVC pipe and a few easy to get hold of cheap items (to make the valves) on Facebook the other day. I will share it here with you all as you can never have enough hats, bags and good cheap water pumps!…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vaho7JSVS1I 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DG6own141z0&feature=youtube_gdata_player 

The first video shows you how to make the pump and the second one shows you how to make the one way valves. The pump can be used to pump water or air. I am going to make 4 of them, one for each limb 😉

King Earl of the dung heap ;)

King Earl of the dung heap 😉

The sweet potato cuttings that I got from our friend Jenny's house last Friday. I read that the best way to grow sweet potatoes was by cuttings.

The sweet potato cuttings that I got from our friend Jenny’s house last Friday. I read that the best way to grow sweet potatoes was by cuttings.

I am in awe at how quickly these roots grew. This was 3 days after I put them into some water in the kitchen and just before I planted them out

I am in awe at how quickly these roots grew. This was 3 days after I put them into some water in the kitchen and just before I planted them out

My new large bench and a potted up cucamelon for a friend

My new large bench and a potted up cucamelon for a friend

Yesterday Steve and I pruned our 7 little grape vines that I grew from cuttings from our muscat grape vine in the city. We researched how to do it and we staked them up so that next year we can start training them to grow on a trellis. Steve made me a lovely big bench to use in Sanctuary and then knocked up another one because I said that I could carry the bench around with me and sit down and water (and Don Burke thought that HE was the lazy gardener! 😉 ) and now I don’t even have to lug the bench around :). It got pretty hot then so we hunkered down inside and spent the rest of the day relaxing. Today has been spent out in the garden potting up my 10 long suffering artichoke babies that desperately needed moving to bigger pots to grow on before I plant them out in the main garden. I also planted out my cucamelon/mouse melon (Melothria scabra)  babies (and potted one up to give to a friend). I was sent the seed by the wonderful Bev from Foodnstuff on the mainland after lamenting that I would never find the seed here in Tasmania. I then found out that my son was growing cucamelons as well. When asking him where he got his seed he said “Bunnings”…oh well! 😉 I had 19 of them germinate and gave 8 of them away so I have 11 left. That was my mathematics lesson for the day folks! (Did I pass?) If you would like to know more about this most interesting of fruits/vegetables (one of the two 😉 ) here is an interesting link that also contains a recipe for how to preserve them…

http://homegrown-revolution.co.uk/savoury-fruit/growing-cucamelons/

The top new garden planted out with potatoes that had gone to seed and sweet potato cuttings (that you can't see but that are already growing leaves :) )

The top new garden planted out with potatoes that had gone to seed and sweet potato cuttings (that you can’t see but that are already growing leaves 🙂 )

The new garden bed planted out with all kinds of seedlings from the glasshouse. I have since added basil and bergamot seedlings to the mix.

The new garden bed planted out with all kinds of seedlings from the glasshouse. I have since added basil and bergamot seedlings to the mix.

The second new garden bed is very long. I didn't have enough manure/oak leaf mix to fill it all so the last bit is now my new compost heap where I will create my own soil for another garden. I love the possibilities of gardening :)

The second new garden bed is very long. I didn’t have enough manure/oak leaf mix to fill it all so the last bit is now my new compost heap where I will create my own soil for another garden. I love the possibilities of gardening 🙂

I also planted out basil, bergamot and some chilli’s that had been languishing in with the artichokes as now we have room to plant them. I had already planted out eggplants, tomatoes, tomatillos and capsicum plants. I am not really bothered that it’s a bit late for them, I just didn’t want to waste them in the glasshouse and now they at least have a chance to grow out in the sunshine. Steve and I often walk our dogs over in Beaconsfield, a small town about  10 minutes away from here and on one of our walks we noticed an old cast iron bath out the back of the local council buildings. We kept seeing it on our walks and so I decided to phone up council and ask if we could have it. I got a phone call back today to say that I could pick it up whenever I wanted it and so Sanctuary is just about to get a nice pond. I have been lusting after a bath ever since Bev from the amazingly informative permaculture blog “Foodnstuff” posted about storing water in the garden in non-conventional (and cheap) ways…

https://foodnstuff.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/storing-water-for-the-garden/

Can you see one of your baby pepino's in the jungle that is Sanctuary Bev? ;)

Can you see one of your baby pepino’s in the jungle that is Sanctuary Bev? 😉

Towering 8ft tall Jerusalem artichokes dwarfing rhubarb that has gone to seed and raspberries in a compost heap

Towering 8ft tall Jerusalem artichokes dwarfing rhubarb that has gone to seed and raspberries in a compost heap

Potted up artichoke babies and one of the chaotic garden beds that forms the bulk of Sanctuary

Potted up artichoke babies and one of the chaotic garden beds that forms the bulk of Sanctuary

My little tiny loquat seedlings that I dug up from the road verge last year are growing like crazy now that I have planted them out inside the new dog compound. Nothing touches them and the fruit is delicious :)

My little tiny loquat seedlings that I dug up from the road verge last year are growing like crazy now that I have planted them out inside the new dog compound. Nothing touches them and the fruit is delicious 🙂

Cucamelons ready to plant out

Cucamelons ready to plant out

The new cucamelon enclosure. Apparently they can grow to 3 metres high so maybe I should have planned a bit better but they are over in the top of Sanctuary where not much else exists so if they want to invade Poland they can knock themselves out ;)

The new cucamelon enclosure. Apparently they can grow to 3 metres high so maybe I should have planned a bit better but they are over in the top of Sanctuary where not much else exists so if they want to invade Poland they can knock themselves out 😉

A regular sweet cherry and a sour cherry that our friend Jenny gave to us. She can't plant them on her property as the possums would simply hoover them down. Now that we have an Earl protected (at all hours of the day) inner sanctum compound, these cherries should grow and flourish free from possum invasion

A regular sweet cherry and a sour cherry that our friend Jenny gave to us. She can’t plant them on her property as the possums would simply hoover them down. Now that we have an Earl protected (at all hours of the day) inner sanctum compound, these cherries should grow and flourish free from possum invasion

So we have been busy as beavers here in sunny Sidmouth on Serendipity Farm. Hopefully you have all had a most excellent first week of the new year. We have certainly started out as we mean to finish up. I have even been writing things in my new day to day diary to make sure that I don’t forget things (that probably won’t even last till February but whatchagonnadoeh? 😉 ). I am tired but in a good way and very excited by all of the different things that we are contemplating this year. Have a great week everyone until we get together again next Wednesday to have a chat and a cuppa and catch up where we left off 🙂

Earl had a hard night on the bottle ;)

Earl had a hard night on the bottle 😉

Past, present and future

Hi All,

I hope everyone who celebrated Christmas has managed to not only survive, but have crawled out from under the bed and dusted themselves off and are now upright and functioning again. Stevie-boy and I had a really lovely Christmas. The day started out raining as we walked the boys but then suddenly the sun came out and the rest of the day was magnificent. I can’t remember much about it but then those fruit punch drinks that Steve was making me had a LOT of rum in them. We found an excellent Christmas music YouTube channel that kept us rocking and feeling particularly festive and I multi-tasked and managed to do 2 loads of Christmas washing and watered Sanctuary. The dogs were very suspicious of all of the festivities and point blank refused to eat any of the special treats that we gave them as we were obviously trying to poison them. Aside from the slinking suspicious dogs, Christmas was lovely

Steve's arty shot of his idea of the very best Christmas

Steve’s arty shot of his idea of the very best Christmas

Bezials idea of the very best Christmas

Bezials idea of the very best Christmas (note, the shorts were still intact in this image)

Narf7's idea of the very best Christmas. Earl was slinking around somewhere and is still suspicious of "Christmas" on the whole

Narf7’s idea of the very best Christmas. Earl was slinking around somewhere and is still suspicious of “Christmas” on the whole

I have decided not to make a New Year’s resolution because most resolutions are programmed to self-destruct by February. I have some plans for this year that include taking what I have learned in the past 50 years and applying it to the next 50 (should I be so lucky as to be gifted that kind of longevity). I have even started early and Stevie-boy and I have spent the last few days of 2014 working hard to make a good start in 2015. We shoveled 7 trailer loads of aged horse manure and rotting oak leaves from where they have studiously sat for many months now into our trusty little trailer and hauled them up the steep incline to the rear of Sanctuary whereby we removed the wallaby proof rocks on the base of the netting and backed the trailer in and shoveled it all out again.

Stevie-boy contemplating the consequences of his actions

Stevie-boy contemplating the consequences of his actions. Note Sanctuary is to the rear of Stevie-boy and open to the elements

Small tree down. Note the close proximity to the car when the cuts that we made were supposed to drop the tree in the other direction...maybe we should hand our chainsaw licenses back? ;)

Small tree down. Note the close proximity to the car when the cuts that we made were supposed to drop the tree in the other direction…maybe we should hand our chainsaw licenses back? 😉

Err...the fallen eucalyptus appears to be attempting to steal our car!

Err…the fallen eucalyptus appears to be attempting to steal our car!

Luckily, it doesn't have opposable thumbs (a problem that it shares with Earl) and thus was unable to make a fast getaway

Luckily, it doesn’t have opposable thumbs (a problem that it shares with Earl) and thus was unable to make a fast getaway

However it did leave behind several "passengers" that quickly took up residence and had to be forcibly evicted

However it did leave behind several “passengers” that quickly took up residence and had to be forcibly evicted. One or two of them even manged to keep their shed skins on their heads in the melee. Our car is now full of shed head stacker caterpillar skins…EWW!

Our plans were not without a degree of drama as we decided to remove a small eucalyptus tree that was growing in the way and if it wasn’t for Stevie-boys quick thinking (and fast arm) we might have dropped it directly on top of our car but his quick wits caused the canopy to end up in the front seat, delivering a collective of dazed head-stacker caterpillars onto the driver’s seat, well out of their natural habitat. We also had to heave a large rock out of the way to make backing the trailer up easier and in the process, Stevie-boy tore a hole in his favourite EVER shorts. Everything is OK though because I am going to use a recent blog post by the wonderfully creative hooky maestro Phil at the twisted yarn  to create some hooky magic to salve his shorty wounds…problem is, Stevie-boy apparently doesn’t want me to crochet a peacock on his nether regions (I KNOW what is wrong with the man? 😉 )

We headed out early to Paper Beach where our dogs love to walk and even though it was raining we attempted to inject some Christmas Spirit into the crowds of people that were yet to wake up and smell the Christmas Roses

We headed out early to Paper Beach where our dogs love to walk and even though it was raining we attempted to inject some Christmas Spirit into the crowds of people that were yet to wake up and smell the Christmas Roses

Stevie-boys wonderful new camera that makes him twitch with happiness and that hasn't been out of his hands since we bought it last week even though it is SUPPOSED to be for his 50th birthday next year...sigh...

Stevie-boys wonderful new camera that makes him twitch with happiness and that hasn’t been out of his hands since we bought it last week even though it is SUPPOSED to be for his 50th birthday next year…sigh…

So aside from some ripped shorts and some very sore fingers we have been doing a lot of maneuvering, moving and hauling on Serendipity Farm. We mean to start out as we are inclined to finish off 2015 by being very active in the garden and by making positive changes around here. We were recently given a trailer load of refractory bricks from a good friend and where once we were contemplating making an adobe pizza oven, our thoughts have now turned to a full on masonry oven. Hopefully 2015 will see it come into fruition. Steve suggested that I turn the spare room into a craft room and we spent some time moving furniture around (I would like to say dusting behind it but I didn’t so whatchagonnadoeh? 😉 ) and thinking about the possibility of moving the internet cord that Steve routed through the roof and into the lounge room for me to use the laptop while he watches TV that I am always too tired to use by the time I get into the lounge room, into the spare room, enabling me to be able to access the net in my new creative bolt hole.

Steve took this shot with his Canon on Christmas Day (prior to buying his new Nikon 7100 in an incredibly good sale in the city)

Steve took this shot with his Canon on Christmas Day (prior to buying his new Nikon 7100 in an incredibly good sale in the city) This was after the sun came out around mid day

This is Melaleuca alternafolia also known as "Snow in Summer". It's in flower all over the place at the moment. Who says we Aussies don't get "Snow" at Christmas time eh? ;)

This is Melaleuca alternafolia also known as “Snow in Summer”. It’s in flower all over the place at the moment. Who says we Aussies don’t get “Snow” at Christmas time eh? 😉

We headed into the city to buy Steve's camera on Saturday morning so we took the boys for a bit of a walk around the university arts campus. Here's Bezial posing with one of his kin...

We headed into the city to buy Steve’s camera on Saturday morning so we took the boys for a bit of a walk around the university arts campus. Here’s Bezial posing with one of his kin…

And here is Earl with his long suffering fat anchor posing on what can only be a metal dragon?!

And here is Earl with his long suffering fat anchor posing on what can only be a metal dragon?!

Steve got some nice shots of a tram that has been set up to take advantage of the tourist dollars flooding into the state at this time every year. The tram drivers were sitting in a little hut and didn't mind Steve taking a few photos as no-one else was around at the time. Isn't it pretty?

Steve got some nice shots of a tram that has been set up to take advantage of the tourist dollars flooding into the state at this time every year. The tram drivers were sitting in a little hut and didn’t mind Steve taking a few photos as no-one else was around at the time. Isn’t it pretty?

Towards the back of the tram

Towards the back of the tram

Not a lot of room for commuters and lots of room to stand up. Most probably a good thing that we don't use trams like this in the city any more or lazy commuters would complain ;)

Not a lot of room for commuters and lots of room to stand up. Most probably a good thing that we don’t use trams like this in the city any more or lazy commuters would complain 😉

 

The dogs were (again) suspicious of our actions. I keep reading things about how dogs are loyal and loving and never jealous or judgmental and obviously, the 2 furry things that we have living with us in the house on Serendipity Farm are not dogs because jealousy, suspicion, manipulation and dissent are their middle names. They slunk around as we tidied up and moved furniture and gave us pathetic enormous furry creature eyes in order to attempt to manipulate us to stop what we were doing and return to the status-quo. Bezial soon cheered up when he realised that the new craft room meant that he would be able to sleep on the bed in the spare room (covered with a nice thick blanket to prevent dog contact with the bed) and promptly lay down and wagged his tail. Earl isn’t so easily bought and has been keeping his eye on Steve and I now to make sure that we are not planning any funny business.

Stevie-boy with some wonderful Christmas earrings that he received as an Early Christmas gift this year ;) raising a toast to you all :)

Stevie-boy with some wonderful Christmas earrings that he received as an Early Christmas gift this year 😉 raising a toast to you all 🙂

From this point on, the photos in this post are all taken on Stevie-boys new precious baby. Feel honoured that he could tear himself away from taking artistic shots of butterflies to take a few photos for this post ;)

From this point on, the photos in this post are all taken on Stevie-boys new precious baby. Feel honoured that he could tear himself away from taking artistic shots of butterflies to take a few photos for this post 😉 These are the refractory fire bricks that a kind friend gave us in order to make a masonry oven, stacked up at the rear of the shed where spiders rule the roost

This is my Lazarus artichoke that rose from the dead stump and that now has 4 chokes on it. I am suitably delighted at both it's tenacity and it's desire to produce food despite it's recent traumatic events

This is my Lazarus artichoke that rose from the dead stump and that now has 4 chokes on it. I am suitably delighted at both it’s tenacity and it’s desire to produce food despite it’s recent traumatic events

This is a passionfruit. It is most likely to be one of those round yellow weed species with red fruit but at least it makes a change from the elongated yellow banana passionfruit with pink flowers that are the usual rulers of the weed species around here ;)

This is a passionfruit. It is most likely to be one of those round yellow weed species with red fruit but at least it makes a change from the elongated yellow banana passionfruit with pink flowers that are the usual rulers of the weed species around here 😉

Some of the blueberries that are growing in the enclosed "Blueberry hut" in front of the deck. I thought that they would die but they appear to have other ideas :)

Some of the blueberries that are growing in the enclosed “Blueberry hut” in front of the deck. I thought that they would die but they appear to have other ideas 🙂

Parsley futures

Parsley futures

Cherimoya futures (so far 3 of them : ) )

Cherimoya futures (so far 3 of them : ) ) You can see my cucamelons trying to take over the shot on the right hand side. I need to make a patch in the garden for them before they take over the glasshouse!

The one peach left on the tree that Earl is studiously protecting from the salivating possums

The one peach left on the tree that Earl is studiously protecting from the salivating possums

Stevie-boys amazing wood futures. Hardly any chopping to do in our 2015 winter period as this stack is only 1 of 4 other stacks that he recently worked very hard to create. He can put his feet up when it is raining and just stoke Brunhilda with joy :)

Stevie-boys amazing wood futures. Hardly any chopping to do in our 2015 winter period as this stack is only 1 of 4 other stacks that he recently worked very hard to create. He can put his feet up when it is raining and just stoke Brunhilda with joy 🙂

Earlier in the year we were gifted some very large, very old blueberry bushes from a friend who is moving out of the district. When we got them home we dug holes in the manure and oak leaf mountain that was in front of the deck at the time as a temporary home for them until we worked out where we wanted to put them. That was about 6 months ago and the blueberries that we expected to die, have taken off in their nice fertile home and are covered in berries that are all starting to ripen. We built a possum and wallaby proof structure around their perimeter and they have done so well (when everything that I read said that they hate being transplanted and would probably die) that they are going to be allowed to stay put where they are. My artichoke that was cruelly destroyed by anarchistic possums re-sprouted at the base of the stem and has regenerated enough to produce more artichokes. Aside from being magnificent architectural plants they are very hardy, are perennial and most importantly, they are edible. When you find a plant that is incredibly happy to grow in your particular environment and it isn’t a weed, treasure it. I treasure my artichokes and am just about to pot up 10 more to add to the mix when they get a bit older

Steve's new camera takes awesomely detailed images. My camera would just see this as a mass of shadows with a bit of blue water. His camera is much more detailed. This is the view through the Nikon 7100 from the deck. He hasn't learned how to use it properly yet so he says you are going to have to bear with him as he learns

Steve’s new camera takes awesomely detailed images. My camera would just see this as a mass of shadows with a bit of blue water. His camera is much more detailed. This is the view through the Nikon 7100 from the deck. He hasn’t learned how to use it properly yet so he says you are going to have to bear with him as he learns

This photo is one for the books. Steve NEVER reads anything, especially instruction manuals. He is actually reading this one for his new camera. I almost fainted when I saw this but recovered my composure enough to take this shot

This photo is one for the books. Steve NEVER reads anything, especially instruction manuals. He is actually reading this one for his new camera. I almost fainted when I saw this but recovered my composure enough to take this shot

The driveway looking back towards the house (just around the corner at the top of the driveway). I don't know how photos make everything look much better than it really does but I, for one, don't mind ;)

The driveway looking back towards the house (just around the corner at the top of the driveway). I don’t know how photos make everything look much better than it really does but I, for one, don’t mind 😉

We gave away 6 kitchen chairs that we no longer needed and Steve is going to re-purpose the kitchen table to make extra work benches in his shed. He plans on getting creative this year and his first project is to turn a large slab of myrtle that a friend gave us and a vintage wrought iron bed head into a bench for Sanctuary. We both have some creative plans that have us excited at the prospects of learning new skills and honing old ones. 2015 looms on the horizon as 365 days of wonderful possibilities, chances to grow, to learn, to live and to love. We are both planning on making the most of the opportunities that come to us this year, on expanding our horizons, on forging community, sharing our time and our energy productively and not wasting resources that come our way. We have lots of branches/debris littered all over Serendipity Farm and we could just burn them or we could cut up the branches into smaller pieces and make hugels out of them that we could cover with soil, leaves, compost, manure etc. and make the most of this resource, or we could turn it into bio char, another most valuable resource in the garden.

What have we here? It appears to be the glorious illustrations of one B.O. and half of the glorious team of Keith and Christi, the ex Olallaians who are now native Hawaiians. I wonder what they are sending me? (Steve would like it known that he is a hero for removing the address lines so well in Photoshop. Please feel free to marvel at his amazing skills in the comments below ;) )

What have we here? It appears to be the glorious illustrations of one B.O. and half of the glorious team of Keith and Christi, the ex Olallaians who are now native Hawaiians. I wonder what they are sending me? (Steve would like it known that he is a hero for removing the address lines so well in Photoshop. Please feel free to marvel at his amazing skills in the comments below 😉 )

Its an amazing banner! I am in the process of turning our spare room into a narfish craft room. Fuelled by Ms Pauline's glorious efforts I have decided to follow suit and get myself away to a creative place to commune with my muses. This 4 poster bed was built by Stevie-boy way back last century as a birthday gift to me. It was once 2ft taller than this but we cut it down to fit it into it's current situation. I am going to create an enclosed nook and this bed shall be my "creative space". Christi's banner and any other bunting/banners that I am most privilaged to receive from amazing people out in the wide world of the net that are not waterproof will be given a home in here. You will have to watch this space to see how this room evolves. I have wooden chairs to yarnbomb and a lampshade to do the same with so this is a work in progress. Thankyou with all of my heart to Christi, my twin in Hawaii who just knew instantly what I would love :)

Its an amazing banner! I am in the process of turning our spare room into a narfish craft room. Fuelled by Ms Pauline’s glorious efforts I have decided to follow suit and get myself away to a creative place to commune with my muses. This 4 poster bed was built by Stevie-boy way back last century as a birthday gift to me. It was once 2ft taller than this but we cut it down to fit it into it’s current situation. I am going to create an enclosed nook and this bed shall be my “creative space”. Christi’s banner and any other bunting/banners that I am most privilaged to receive from amazing people out in the wide world of the net that are not waterproof will be given a home in here. You will have to watch this space to see how this room evolves. I have wooden chairs to yarnbomb and a lampshade to do the same with so this is a work in progress. Thankyou with all of my heart to Christi, my twin in Hawaii who just knew instantly what I would love 🙂

Even Stevie-boys messy shed looks posed with his new camera ;)

Even Stevie-boys messy shed looks posed with his new camera 😉

Some of Steve's bonsai babies given the Nikon treatment

Some of Steve’s bonsai babies given the Nikon treatment

This one is for Linne. I love this shot! There is a pink t-shirt that had been used as a pumpkin sling last year in this image. Again, Stevie-boy has removed it. He did a good job didn't he? :).

This one is for Linne. I love this shot! There is a pink t-shirt that had been used as a pumpkin sling last year in this image. Again, Stevie-boy has removed it. He did a good job didn’t he? :).

There are so many possibilities for 2015 and it’s up to us to make the most of them. Here’s to a year of forging good community, of listening, creating, understanding and learning from our mistakes and here’s to each and every one of you, my dear constant readers, who has spent the time to come and read about what we are doing here and some of you have become very good friends. We thought about how to say thank you to you all and as we have been learning how to wangle some Adobe programs over the last few years we decided that we would attempt to make a calendar for you all to download and print off if you like. If anyone would like a background colour change or any special dates or text added please let us know and we can customise this basic calendar to your needs. Again, thank you all for your support through the year. Both Steve and I truly appreciate all of the comments, time and energy that you put into visiting Serendipity Farm. We have made some truly wonderful online friends through this humble little blog and hope to see you all in 2015. Happy New Year and here’s to many more 🙂

Calander 2015

And so we meet again…

Hi All,

It only seems like yesterday when I was tapping away, tongue sticking out of the side of my mouth, attempting to amuse bouche you guys and here we are again with a new blog post knocking around inside my brain and a deadline of “NOW!” So what’s a girl to do but go all freestyle on your derrières and just wing it with the muses. This week has been a whirlwind of secret crafting business tangled up with gardening and a good dose of telling Stevie-boy what a good husband he is. It’s around about this time of year when everything comes together in the small time and space continuum vortex that is Serendipity Farm and all of the things that I have been putting off all year rise up like phoenixes (or the ghosts of Christmas past more appropriately) to wave their talons/apparition fingers at me and tut in whatever language phoenixes/ghosts tut in.

#Earl loves bloons

#Earl loves bloons

#Earl loves bloons AND walking on the coffee table ;)

#Earl loves bloons AND walking on the coffee table 😉

Stevie-boy, ever the creative genius, has made our youngest daughter Bethany (or Beenz as she has been tagged for a while now) something wonderfully special for her Christmas gift this year. Those of you dear constant readers who have been trying to make head or tail of my blog posts for a while now will know that we are both working on secret Christmas gifts for our daughters as part of a “give us something we like and you might win a $50 booze voucher”. Initially it was that booze voucher that piqued our sense of intrigue but that lasted all of about 10 seconds when the competitive part of the challenge stepped in…”there be WINNING to achieve here folks!” And thus it began…

It's not all about Earl today. This lovely photo of Bezial was photoshopped by Steve

It’s not all about Earl today. This lovely photo of Bezial was photoshopped by Steve

Happy first day of Summer Southern Hemisphere! ;)

Happy first day of Summer Southern Hemisphere! 😉

Stevie-boy listened to my idea for my gift and said “might as well not bother, you have it in the bag”. Which was a great ego boost but to be honest, I didn’t even know if I could create what was inside my head. As I started working on what I have created for Madeline (we got given a daughter each) Stevie-boys competitive streak started to rise up and suddenly he was full of ideas and waving things around in front of my concentrating nose and there were many interruptions to my concentration where I had to “ooo” and “ah” with sufficiently admiring sounds in order to get back to what I was doing. As his creation started to take shape I started to feel the tables flipping and suddenly there was a real competition! Stevie-boy, being Stevie-boy went at his creation like a bull at a gate. He has tamed his desire to finish everything “yesterday” though and is now much more aware of aesthetics and has honed his desire to create quality items rather than “quick” items. I must admit to playing a big part in this transformation…me and my desire to not have the house fall down around us…

Stevie-boy on Saturday faced with this mountain of banana passionfruit that all needed removing

Stevie-boy on Saturday faced with this mountain of banana passionfruit that all needed removing

Most of the banana passionfruit removed and now we just have to remove the dead shrubs under the passionfruit and cut the remainder down to hedge height

Most of the banana passionfruit removed and now we just have to remove the dead shrubs under the passionfruit and cut the remainder down to hedge height

So Stevie-boy’s gorgeous creation is sitting in his music room all finished and ready to be gifted. It is beautiful. I will share it with you in the blog post on December 17th which is immediately after our little familial un-Christmas Christmas celebration as our children are celebrating with their dad and his family who are coming all the way from Western Australia for the occasion. We will have our own delicious Christmas sitting out under the shade of a (not) coolabah tree looking out over the river and giving constant thanks for the circumstances that landed us here on Serendipity Farm.

Narfs breakfast beans

Narfs breakfast beans

The "Dead possum" lily is back for another year. Our friend Jenny just bought one of these. We have hundreds of them that return to reak of death just on Christmas.

The “Dead possum” lily is back for another year. Our friend Jenny just bought one of these. We have hundreds of them that return to reak of death just on Christmas.

My gift creation isn’t so easy. Not only have I had to learn several new skills in order to create this gift, but I have also had to take those newly learned skills and riff on a theme. What I am creating is pretty out there and I have to adapt things from all over the (most wonderful) sharing caring colony of crafters and their wonderful “free tutorials” and then change them to suit my needs. I am quite pleased with the results and everything is starting to come together nicely but it aint finished folks and I am starting to twitch because today is December the third and I need to be finished by this weekend as I have other projects to get stuck into ASAP and this one is starting to take on epic proportions. I can’t wait to share our creations with you and our daughters gave us an amazing gift when they thought up this challenge in the first place. They gave us the gift of actually thinking about the person we are giving a gift to and really homing in on what they like and both Stevie-boy and I have learned a lot in the process so we all win in the end. Stewart and Kelsey have both been given a giftee as well and I know what Stewart has got Madeline  and she is going to be hard pressed to choose between his gift and mine (so that is why I am going to have to slip sleeping pills into his morning coffee and render him AWOL on the day! 😉 ) NO idea what Kelsey is contemplating but now she is a most honorary Aussie (her visa to stay came through…”HOORAY!” 🙂 ), she can stop worrying about heading back to frozen Texas (does it freeze in Texas?) and can spend Christmas Day sweltering away like the rest of us southerners ;).

A wasp is moving in to our bug house! :)

A wasp is moving in to our bug house! 🙂

Stevie-boy is finishing off cutting up last years logs ready for our next load to be delivered.

Stevie-boy is finishing off cutting up last years logs ready for our next load to be delivered.

Stevie-boy deserved a beer after this! :)

Stevie-boy deserved a beer after this! 🙂

So what else has narf been up to (apart from twitching about the rapidly approaching gift giving celebration day that is…), well the garden has taken up a good part of our week. I have been carrying on with my newfound idea to shove all kinds of veggies etc. in all kinds of places. The thing about pests is that they tend to flock when they get a sniff of something in a row. I don’t know what it is about pests but they appear to be regimented and like mass plantings. The problem is, most veggie gardeners love nice neat rows of things as that makes it easier to garden, to harvest and to keep tabs on what you have in your garden and what you can plant in the recently vacated soil. Not for narf, this nice easy life that is “rows”. I have planted out beetroot, okra (the few that the slugs didn’t scoff… see, slugs eat it as they need to replace all of that slime!), Roselle’s (that are developing a gorgeous rosy colour on their little round leaves), beetroot, a single tomatillo (that will be joined by a few of its brethren soon), lots of silverbeet and spinach as they are two of my most consumed foodstuffs over the summer period, 2 cucumber plants (gifted from a friend) and 3 very sad Roma tomatoes from the self-same friend who had just plonked the plants into her small pond and left them there for over a week. Tomatoes are survivor’s folks. These tomatoes were living a semi aquatic lifestyle! There is a whole lot going on in narf7’s garden but only the potato onions and the radishes (yes “radishes” Madeline! 😉 ) are in rows. Everything else is scattered all over the place like a particularly fecund Salvador Dali or Picasso painting.

Steve has been messing around in Photoshop with this lovely original image taken at Hollybank, a lovely reserve 15 minutes east of Launceston.

Steve has been messing around in Photoshop with this lovely original image taken at Hollybank, a lovely reserve 15 minutes east of Launceston.

This version is a reflected version with a soft glow

This version is a reflected version with a soft glow

This version is a reflection in "water"

This version is a reflection in “water”

This one reminds me of the Blair Witch forest!

This one reminds me of the Blair Witch forest!

This is my favourite version. Its haunting but lovely. Isn't Photoshop amazing if you learn how to use it well?

This is my favourite version. Its haunting but lovely. Isn’t Photoshop amazing if you learn how to use it well?

In my first year of gardening I tried to create garden beds but the possums and wallabies caused them to be covered to the back gills with bird netting, wire, chook netting and sticks and although the harvest was pretty good, most of it went to seed as the cruel irony of all of my protective devices was that “I” couldn’t get into there either! Year 2 saw us with Sanctuary but my “get-up-and-go” had gotten up and went. I wasn’t in the mood to vegetable garden and it was only through my friend Jenny and our compost heap contents that anything grew in Sanctuary at all. We shall call it “The year of the pumpkin” for that very reason and the pumpkins took over and ruled the bit of Sanctuary that the possums couldn’t reach. The possums ate everything green as well as quite a few pumpkins and until we managed to completely stop them from gaining entry, they had free reign. Not THIS YEAR possums! This year Sanctuary has been fortified with plastic coated wire clothes line. It looks like a green oasis of possum envy and I have had the incredibly satisfying experience of planting out citrus trees, seedlings and all sorts of berry bushes underneath a sea of seething and most envious possum activity. I know they are up there because their little deposits are fertilising Sanctuary 😉

 

Steve's prototype most awesome new Christmas tree. We haven't sprayed it green yet but it has spacers between the "limbs" and we can move the limbs around to wherever we like

Steve’s prototype most awesome new Christmas tree. We haven’t sprayed it green yet but it has spacers between the “limbs” and we can move the limbs around to wherever we like

And one of the best bits (the bit that makes Steve call this his "Ikea" Christmas tree) is that it folds flat for under bed storage for the rest of the year! :)

And one of the best bits (the bit that makes Steve call this his “Ikea” Christmas tree) is that it folds flat for under bed storage for the rest of the year! 🙂

I have been experimenting by planting things like silverbeet, spinach and the odd Roselle directly into small heaps that I have put compost on one side of and spent horse manure and lots of oak leaves on the other. I learned that a big pile of well-aged horse manure is like gloriously fertile soil to most plants. I also learned it dries out pretty quickly though so adding extra’s to it is part and parcel of working with this wonderful medium. Enter the oak leaf mould and the compost. My experiments have me seeing if adding compost to the higher side of the pile (everything is on a degree of slope on Serendipity Farm aka “Slippery Slope” Farm 😉 ) will cause nutrient run off down to the rest of the pile. I have 3 smallish piles in between all of the citrus trees as I know that they are heavy feeders and I am attempting to kill a whole mess of birds with a single stone. I have a very large compost heap full of compost, horse manure, oak leaves and a lot of dried grass from Glad’s back paddock next door, on the other side of Sanctuary in which a small but most determined crew of red and yellow raspberries is going it’s best to take over the world. I know that they won’t be able to achieve world domination because they have an even bigger and more determined patch of Jerusalem artichokes surrounding them to get through before they can conquer Sanctuary. “Good luck with that raspberries!”

Jenny's raspberries that grew from a single raspberry plant that she planted last year (note to self WATCH those raspberries inside Sanctuary! ;) )

Jenny’s raspberries that grew from a single raspberry plant that she planted last year (note to self WATCH those raspberries inside Sanctuary! 😉 )

Everything eats Jenny's plants but what they don't eat I pay close attention to. If they don't eat it at Jenny's place, there is a very good chance that they won't eat it here! Guess who is about to buy some dianthus...

Everything eats Jenny’s plants but what they don’t eat I pay close attention to. If they don’t eat it at Jenny’s place, there is a very good chance that they won’t eat it here! Guess who is about to buy some dianthus…

And some penstemons...

And some penstemons…

And How about elderberries. Jenny has a particularly nice selection of these beauties. Nothing eats them because aside from the fruit they are completely poisonous :)

And How about elderberries. Jenny has a particularly nice selection of these beauties. Nothing eats them because aside from the fruit they are completely poisonous 🙂

The excitement of propagation has returned and poor Steve had to dig a “root growth zone” (aka “hole”) for me to plant out a new Emperor mandarin that our friend Jenny gave us to add to our growing collection. She has also gifted us a couple of cherry trees as the native wild life at her home just hoover anything fruity down. We are working on creating a Mediterranean garden for her as they won’t touch figs, quinces etc. and so I am thinking that the best bet for her is to plant what the possums can’t stand. You have to work within the parameters that your situation hands you sometimes and then when you have the basics set up, you can start fandangling with the principle of the thing. That’s how we gardeners roll. We are never happy to call it quits because there is always something new around the corner that piques our interest.

A lovely rose at Jenny's house

A lovely rose at Jenny’s house

And the reason why it is still alive ;)

And the reason why it is still alive 😉

We visited Jenny yesterday and gave her a sack of small agapanthus that we crowbarred up from near our front gate. When we were studying our Diploma in Landscape Design we had to come up with a plan each for a Design and we ended up using Jenny’s place as our Design. We came up with a lovely rosemary, lavender and agapanthus series of low hedges surrounding a potager style garden full of things that possums and wallabies and rabbits (and now native crayfish!) wouldn’t like to eat. It was a challenge but the real challenge is that Jenny wants to actually create this garden for reals! So thus finds us crowbarring up agapanthus babies for the near future and sharing the things that we can and can’t grow between us. It is awesome having a good friend who just “gets” us and our crazy desire to be plant slaves and to be like Dr Frankenstein when it comes to grafting all kinds of strange things onto other strange things (cue the thunder, lightning and crazy laughter…)

Lambs ear and (the dreaded) osteospermum daisies and wallflowers. There are a lot of plants that our native animals find unpalatable, I just have to find out which ones they are and plant them :)

Lambs ear and (the dreaded), Arbutilons,  osteospermum daisies and wallflowers. There are a lot of plants that our native animals find unpalatable, I just have to find out which ones they are and plant them 🙂

This is what happens when Jenny tries to plant out fruit trees...

This is what happens when Jenny tries to plant out fruit trees…

The old "stuffed toy to scare the natives away" obviously doesn't work ;)

The old “stuffed toy to scare the natives away” obviously doesn’t work 😉

Visiting friends has benefits, especially when they don't like broad beans :)

Visiting friends has benefits, especially when they don’t like broad beans 🙂

Oh dear. I have manically arrived at a long blog post again. I can’t say that I am sorry as I am not. I love sharing what excites me with you all. Pretty soon you will get to see what has been keeping Stevie-boy and I busy for the last few months (well Stevie-boy for a weekend or two and me for about 3 months now!) in the gifting arena. I would like to thank both of our daughters for giving us all this challenge as we have both learned SO much from having to adapt what they like to what we are capable of creating. ALL kinds of lessons learned, challenges raised to meet and exciting possibilities arising thanks to this desire to stop Christmas from turning into a series of gift voucher or cash handouts. Let’s all take Christmas back this year folks. It doesn’t have to be a commercial crazy rush of cash flowing out of your account/cards, it can be carefully thought out and meticulously planned but if you don’t end up feeling like you have taken part, what’s the point? Lets take Christmas (whatever it means to you) back from the middle men and place it firmly in the creative bent of our own little hot hands. I know that Stevie-boy has had a lot of fun creating our latest “Christmas tree” and that we are creating all of our own decorations this year. That’s how you feel “Christmassy”…Christmas is in the processes, the lead up, the wonder of creation and the enjoyment of sharing a good meal with good friends and family. Being thankful for the year that has past, the year that is about to hit us (EEK!) and being grateful, thankful and most joyful for our continued existence on this small blue planet navigating it’s way around a small bright star somewhere out there in this wide expanse of a universe. See you all next week 🙂

I will leave you with a parting shot of Serendipity Farm on the first official day of summer just to make you Northerners feel a bit happier about your own bad weather ;)

I will leave you with a parting shot of Serendipity Farm on the first official day of summer just to make you Northerners feel a bit happier about your own bad weather 😉

Just a quick note, next week I will be in Hobart with my 2 daughters getting ready to attend a Ben Folds concert (“SQUEE!”) my Christmas gift from my daughters so Stevie-boy will be left to hold the fort and will be responsible for next weeks blog post. He has just informed me that he wants to write next weeks blog post. You can be assured it will be smaller than my usual blog posts ;).

 

Wednesday wanderer

Hi All,

Guess who was spoiled last Friday night and who got ferried in style into the city to go and see my favourite comedian Mr Bill Bailey? “ME!” that’s who :). Stewart and Kelsey bought me tickets way back when it was my birthday for last Friday’s concert and the big day finally arrived. We had a lovely Japanese meal and wandered around the city for a while till it was time to head over to the theatre and be seated. We were very close to the front and the concert, although it was the very last one in this current tour, was hilarious and thought provoking in a most musically intelligent way. As one of Mr Baileys very closest friends on Facebook (along with about 130 000 others…) he shared some photos of his exploration of our little state of Tasmania over the weekend and it looks like he had a really excellent and enjoyable stay before jetting back home to old Blighty where the temperatures will no doubt be several degrees colder than when he headed off at the start of his tour. Thank you Mr Bailey, your thoughtful, clever and most insightful humour always broadsides me and I am in your debt and Stewart and Kelsey’s, for allowing me to sit in on a couple of hours of pure magic genius.

I really liked this meme when I saw it recently and decided to share it with you all. Douglas Adams insights 101

I really liked this meme when I saw it recently and decided to share it with you all. Douglas Adams insights 101

The guttering shamed us this week...

The guttering shamed us this week…

Stevie-boy helping Kym (hopefully) to find a way to put an image header in her blog

Stevie-boy helping Kym (hopefully) to find a way to put an image header in her blog

Stevie-boy and I have been working like Trojans in order to get as much as we can done around here before the temperatures start to soar and no-one wants to set foot outside. We planted out our new little kefir lime tree which will provide us with fragrant and most authentic delicious Asian flavours in our curries and stir fries for many years to come. I am looking into buying some lemongrass seed if I can’t source some lemongrass locally as I think it would do well here on Serendipity Farm. We also planted out two thornless youngberries and a thornless loganberry that we picked up at Bunnings (Australia’s answer to hardware heaven) and they are now safely ensconced in the ground with trellises constructed of star pickets and plastic coated wire clothes line that we had left over from our fencing job.

2 pots of thornless youngberries, a pot of thornless loganberries and a kaffir lime tree to be planted out

2 pots of thornless youngberries, a pot of thornless loganberries and a kaffir lime tree to be planted out

Everything is growing well in the ideal growing conditions that Sanctuary has thanks to all of that netting that acts as shade cloth

Everything is growing well in the ideal growing conditions that Sanctuary has thanks to all of that netting that acts as shade cloth

Earl was allowed to visit Sanctuary as he has been extra especially good lately

Earl was allowed to visit Sanctuary as he has been extra especially good lately

Earl, still being extra especially good. He was so good he got to walk down to the driveway from the house off leash!

Earl, still being extra especially good. He was so good he got to walk down to the driveway from the house off leash!

We then hammered an old blue pipeline bunk bed base in between two of the garden beds to act as a climbing frame for our adventurous scarlet runner beans that are growing for their third year in a row. This year they will be able to grow vertically and should do better than the previous two years where they had to scrabble along the ground, up the odd pole and contend with being choked out by pumpkins. Steve removed the last of the logs that were in the way of the car and trailer being driven up to the shed that backs onto Sanctuary where we shamelessly hoard all kinds of wood, star pickets and “stuff” that could possibly be used in the garden. You could be forgiven for thinking that we were hillbillies just by taking a surreptitious glance into this shed. The mess is going to be short lived though as we have plans to turn this shed into a potting shed and storage shed in association with Sanctuary where we can store tools etc. to free up Stevie-boys shed.

The big white water container has made it up to the shed next to Sanctuary! That's one step closer to being installed. Note the state of the (hoarding) shed ;)

The big white water container has made it up to the shed next to Sanctuary! That’s one step closer to being installed. Note the state of the (hoarding) shed 😉

The boysenberries trellis and some of the grass we "imported" into Sanctuary. May as well do double duty till we turn it into another compost heap

The boysenberries trellis and some of the grass we “imported” into Sanctuary. May as well do double duty till we turn it into another compost heap

One side of the young-berry trellis with one of the young-berries planted out

One side of the young-berry trellis with one of the young-berries planted out

Talking about Stevie-boys shed, we cleaned it out…not just a rudimentary clean, a real proper one that involved hauling out bags and boxes and going through everything and seeing if it still had any place on Serendipity Farm. A few hours later and Stevie-boy has a whole lot more room in his shed and a whole lot less garbage.

 

"The heap" of grass clippings futures, thanks to Glad and Wendy next door :)

“The heap” of grass clippings futures, thanks to Glad and Wendy next door 🙂

One happy scarlet runner with something to hang onto this year. Fingers crossed for a good bean harvest :)

One happy scarlet runner with something to hang onto this year. Fingers crossed for a good bean harvest 🙂

The little kaffir lime in it's new forever home

The little kaffir lime in it’s new forever home

Some ornamental grape cuttings that fell off a shed that we were passing the other day on our morning dog walk...

Some ornamental grape cuttings that fell off a shed that we were passing the other day on our morning dog walk…

On the left is a thornless blackberry cutting that has been studiously examined for thorns before it got potted up and on the right are some thorny young-berries that if they grow are going to grace the fence to teach the possums a lesson ;)

On the left is a thornless blackberry cutting that has been studiously examined for thorns before it got potted up and on the right are some thorny young-berries that if they grow are going to grace the fence to teach the possums a lesson 😉

 

We drove the large trailer load of grass clippings that Glad wanted us to take from her back block and dumped it inside Sanctuary where it is going to be wheelbarrowed up to join a whole lot of trailer loads of oak leaves and manure and anything else we can get to throw into the mix. We started to think about how difficult it was going to be to wheelbarrow heavy manure and damp oak leaves up the steep incline in Sanctuary and Stevie-boy had a moment of pure genius and decided that we were going to forge a path past the side of Sanctuary and up to the rear of the garden in order to wheelbarrow the manure and oak leaves down into Sanctuary rather than uphill. I like that idea!

I forgot to take "before" photos but this is after we whipper snipped the first part of the new driveway for the car to deliver us to the rear of Sanctuary..."SQUEE!" :)

I forgot to take “before” photos but this is after we whipper snipped the first part of the new driveway for the car to deliver us to the rear of Sanctuary…”SQUEE!” 🙂

Stevie-boy giving you a bit of perspective as to how wide Sanctuary is and how little room we have between Sanctuary and that tree that fell down

Stevie-boy giving you a bit of perspective as to how wide Sanctuary is and how little room we have between Sanctuary and that tree that fell down

Nasturtiums that have escaped from Sanctuary :)

Nasturtiums that have escaped from Sanctuary 🙂

I say “Pure genius” but now that we have done it I have renamed it “Pure madness”. We took our whipper snippers and we headed up. Stevie-boy also took one of his chainsaws with an old chain and an old bar because he was going to commit a cardinal sin…he was going to hack away at the base of some old tree stumps that had been left in the ground and that were in the way. 2 hours later and a whole lot of hacking, sawing, (swearing), and stubborn pigheadedness, we managed between us to hammer and block split the rocks and stumps that were in the way and level out a big dip that may have been our undoing. Thank goodness that we had the foresight to buy a little 4 x 4 when we had the chance. There is no WAY that we could have lived out here without her.

This was once 3 large tree stumps and a pile of large rocks that Stevie-boy and I refused to submit to! Never let the fact that you are middle aged stop you...stubborn angst will take you a whole lot of a distance when common sense would tell you to stop ;)

This was once 3 large tree stumps and a pile of large rocks that Stevie-boy and I refused to submit to! Never let the fact that you are middle aged stop you…stubborn angst will take you a whole lot of a distance when common sense would tell you to stop 😉

The little orange and black thing in the background is an old ride on lawnmower we inherited along with Serendipity Farm. Note the size of the fallen tree and the hole in the ground that we filled with rocks that we levered out from among the tree stumps

The little orange and black thing in the background is an old ride on lawnmower we inherited along with Serendipity Farm. Note the size of the fallen tree and the hole in the ground that we filled with rocks that we levered out from among the tree stumps

Stevie-boy standing at the gate between the back block and the middle block and wondering whether we could call The Examiner and say this was a crop circle... ;)

Stevie-boy standing at the gate between the back block and the middle block and wondering whether we could call The Examiner and say this was a crop circle… 😉

Looking back towards Glad's place next door. That blue tarp is covering some more oak leaves that need to be moved into Sanctuary when we make a way in

Looking back towards Glad’s place next door. That blue tarp is covering some more oak leaves that need to be moved into Sanctuary when we make a way in

This is how tenacious Jerusalem artichokes are. I planted a few in here last year and thought that I had dug them all up (and replanted them inside Sanctuary) but obviously I missed a few! The start of what is going to be many stands of Jerusalem artichokes all over Serendipity Farm :)

This is how tenacious Jerusalem artichokes are. I planted a few in here last year and thought that I had dug them all up (and replanted them inside Sanctuary) but obviously I missed a few! The start of what is going to be many stands of Jerusalem artichokes all over Serendipity Farm 🙂

Stevie-boy (skiving off) inspecting the back netting of Sanctuary to work out where to put a nice new entry point

Stevie-boy (skiving off) inspecting the back netting of Sanctuary to work out where to put a nice new entry point

More perspective to show how steep our block is

More perspective to show how steep our block is

So we were hacking and twitching and stubbornly refusing to give in when suddenly we realised that we had done enough to get the car over…”SQUEE!” We made a swift exit back to the house to hurl the dogs into the car and we tentatively headed up to test out our new drive through. It worked! Aside from a bit of scraping up the side of the car (to join all of the other scraping up the side of the car…) from some branches of the tree that fell down in the last lot of storms and that we just haven’t gotten around to cutting up yet, our driveway worked amazingly well and Steve not only drove up, but he turned around and then drove back down again.

I planted these "brown Egyptian beans" and they look suspiciously like broad beans to me! ;)

I planted these “brown Egyptian beans” and they look suspiciously like broad beans to me! 😉

Look at how crazy the Jerusalem artichokes are going!

Look at how crazy the Jerusalem artichokes are going!

I was so happy to see this, another red clover as my old one that I dug up from the roadside got smothered by the pumpkins last year :)

I was so happy to see this, another red clover as my old one that I dug up from the roadside got smothered by the pumpkins last year 🙂

These nasturtiums are specifically for Linne who loves them. I saved these from the furious whipper snipper of Stevie-boy so that you can see them in my future blog posts Linne :)

These nasturtiums are specifically for Linne who loves them. I saved these from the furious whipper snipper of Stevie-boy so that you can see them in my future blog posts Linne 🙂

We had to drive to Exeter to pick up some tap fittings so that we can transfer a tap from the fence (don’t ask) over to Sanctuary where I can use it to set up an irrigation system and to be used with a hose for hand watering. While we were there we took advantage of the warm day, the fact that we had worked very hard and the desire that had just flooded Stevie-boy to pick up a couple of bottles of ice cold beer. Ice cold beer has never tasted so good as when you drink it after you work hard and you are hot and tired. We were still hot and tired when we got home courtesy of our two furry tanks who managed to give us dog eyes and wangle an extra walk out of us.

Walking down from the rear of Sanctuary and past the garden I can't help but notice how many roses have managed to grow this year thanks to the close proximity of Earl in their immediate vicinity. He is officially a hero of the roses :)

Walking down from the rear of Sanctuary and past the garden I can’t help but notice how many roses have managed to grow this year thanks to the close proximity of Earl in their immediate vicinity. He is officially a hero of the roses 🙂

This time last year this rose was a series of sticks with no leaves. This year it is lovely. Cheers Earl :)

This time last year this rose was a series of sticks with no leaves. This year it is lovely. Cheers Earl 🙂

"Peek-a-boo Foxglove!"

“Peek-a-boo Foxglove!”

The side garden is no longer predated by wallabies on their way through as they are scared of being so close to Earl the avenger and refuse to go near the fence. Earl is earning himself a medal :)

The side garden is no longer predated by wallabies on their way through as they are scared of being so close to Earl the avenger and refuse to go near the fence. Earl is earning himself a medal 🙂

More roses and this stand of orange crocosmia has never looked this lush. Usually it has been scoffed back down to nubs but citizen Earl is on the case "Now wullibeez weel eed mai plandz!" however there is nothing that he can do to stop the chooks from nesting in the middle of it (I found their nest ;) )

More roses and this stand of orange crocosmia has never looked this lush. Usually it has been scoffed back down to nubs but citizen Earl is on the case “Now wullibeez weel eed mai plandz!” however there is nothing that he can do to stop the chooks from nesting in the middle of it (I found their nest 😉 )

And so here we are…I am still working feverishly on my Christmas gift for my eldest daughter Madeline. I have less than a month to get it finished but I am quite sure it is possible. It has been hard work and I have had to completely learn how to do something from scratch so if you are reading this Madeline, I really REALLY hope you appreciate my efforts and even if what I produce might be a little wonky, or a little “rustic” I am hoping that you are able to keep your laughter in check just long enough till we head off in the car ;). I won’t even talk about Stevie-boys effort that is AMAZING and that is sure to garner him the $50 prize booze voucher for what he has created for our youngest daughter Bethany. You can all be sure that I will share lots of photos of what we made in my December 17th blog post (we are giving the gifts on the 14th).

A pot of mint and bergamot that I pulled some out of when I found them growing in a pathway. They appear to like living in a pot in Sanctuary better than living on a pathway :)

A pot of mint and bee balm that I pulled some out of when I found them growing in a pathway. They appear to like living in a pot in Sanctuary better than living on a pathway 🙂

Isn't this lovely? I never even knew this rose existed but it is now inside the safety zone of Earl's kingdom and is saying thank you in the most beautiful way (hopefully Earl doesn't pee on it! ;) )

Isn’t this lovely? I never even knew this rose existed but it is now inside the safety zone of Earl’s kingdom and is saying thank you in the most beautiful way (hopefully Earl doesn’t pee on it! 😉 )

Stevie-boy gets beer, I get juice a perfect way to finish a long hard day :)

Stevie-boy gets beer, I get juice a perfect way to finish a long hard day 🙂

I might just finish there for this week folks. My fingers are a bit sore from “flummoxing” the heck out of some serious stumps and hurling rocks into a gaping cavernous hole, the result of the tree falling over and inconsiderately taking its roots with it. I think I might just head out onto the deck with a nice mug of tea in my nice new mug courtesy of one of my lovely blogging friends who knows what makes a narf tick :). Have a fantastic week everyone. Some of you are almost up to your armpits in snow, some of you are living the life in tropical climes and some of you are wondering just how fast weeds can grow and why we can never seem to keep up with them here in the Southern hemisphere in our rapidly receding spring. Whatever you are doing and wherever you are have a magic week 🙂

My wonderful, splendorous, spanky new great big mug that is officially my new mug of choice :)

My wonderful, splendorous, spanky new great big mug that is officially my new mug of choice 🙂

 

Spring has sprung down the Morlock mines

It’s that time again…the time when I need to produce a blog post out of my magicians hat without letting on that I am not a very good magician and there is more lint in my hat (and dog hair and fire ash…) than I would like to let on thanks to weeks on end of studying and twitching and feeling the heady pull of spring but not being able to do all that much about it. Stevie-boy aka Slavemaster General is doing an amazing job of keeping me sitting here focussed on the “task at hand” but I would rather be fishing…or wandering in the garden, or potting things up…or…anything really… just not welded here to the PC…

 

Wouldn't it be lovely to just head out in the Mumbley Cumumbus today Stevie-boy? No? Sigh...

Wouldn’t it be lovely to just head out in the Mumbley Cumumbus today Stevie-boy? No? Sigh…

It looks like we might just have sorted Sanctuary (for the near future anyway) as there is an upturned (and most tempting and alluring) bucket of compost that has been doing its level best to attract possums en masse but that is still in a mounded shape and still full of unnibbled pumpkin seeds as I type this. That shows great promise for veggie gardening futures for Serendipity Farm this year.  I am starting to amass planty goodness from all over the place. I was potting up some pepino cuttings that somehow found their way to Serendipity Farm from a wonderful donor elsewhere in Australia (as much as I am going to say about that aside from THANK YOU my wonderful donor who shall remain anonymous as I want to keep these channels alive and well and under the radar 😉 ). If you don’t know what a pepino is, heres a bit of blurb about them…

http://www.growyourown.info/page145a.html

Chocolate eclairs, part of Stevie-boys Father's Day Indian feast with eclairs

Chocolate eclairs, part of Stevie-boys Father’s Day Indian feast with eclairs

I have a desire to grow all kinds of things on Serendipity Farm. I want to hurl any and everything that will grow in our conditions into the mix. I have a small quince tree in a pot that our local permie guru Gordon gave me a while back that is budding up and demanding to be planted out and I have just the place to plant it picked out. Quinces and figs and olives and various other Mediterranean plants do well here as we have a very similar climate and our native animals are not partial to the way that plants that have gone through natural selection in order to survive tough conditions taste so they tend to get left well alone. I call that a WIN situation and will be planting them out as soon as I can get my hot little hands on them. Mulberries are another tree that do extremely well in our local conditions (long dry summers) and I am going to get a couple of extra trees to plant. If it grows, if they don’t touch it, it is welcome here on Serendipity Farm

This image isn't mine. I just saw it and thought that this would be a wonderful use of an old lamp and a cheese grater to keep them out of landfill

This image isn’t mine. I just saw it and thought that this would be a wonderful use of an old lamp and a cheese grater to keep them out of landfill

More cheese graters used as light fixtures... lubbly jubbly :)

More cheese graters used as light fixtures… lubbly jubbly 🙂

I have learned that growing what you want is not necessarily the best option if you want to stay sane and happy. Learning to grow with your local conditions includes having to deal with your local native animals at the same time. I don’t mind sharing but I do mind wanton destruction and it’s just about time for the possums to set up shop in our poor fruit trees for another year. Possums are fat, quick to anger and very furry…I think I am becoming a possum by default to be honest as I age but that, my dears, is another story! For now I am content to find a way to live with these overtly cute looking but inwardly heinous little critters whereby we both get what we want. I am hoping that possum dung is good for the soil because there is so very much of it around the place here! It looks like we might have an army of them coming out at night and just wandering over everything. I saw some possum deposits on our bedroom window sill the other day…they are spying on me while I sleep!

I LOVE this idea! I have been hoarding large coffee cans for just this sort of reason. Guess which narf is going to give this a go...

I LOVE this idea! I have been hoarding large coffee cans for just this sort of reason. Guess which narf is going to give this a go…

 

Or this! Why on earth would you throw cans out if you could use them to make something like this?

Or this! Why on earth would you throw cans out if you could use them to make something like this?

You all know that I put small cubes of tasty cheese out for the local grey shrike thrushes but it has been disappearing rapidly of late and much faster than usual. I was wondering if the sparrows had built up in numbers because they are quite partial to a bit of tasty cheese but aside from a little male sparrow that accompanies the grey shrike thrush up to the deck on a regular basis who is most tenacious as the shrike thrush is three times his size and prone to pecking him on the head if he dives into the cheese futures first, there aren’t any more sparrows than usual on our kitchen window ledge so a mystery was afoot!

 

Isn't this mailbox a hoot? :)

Isn’t this mailbox a hoot? 🙂

I kept watching the window sill as I walked past. As I have been chained to the PC I tend to be in the kitchen a lot making cups of tea (anything but sitting staring at that screen!) and I just so happened to look out the other day when one of the grey shrike thrushes was collecting some cheese cubes and noticed that the shrike thrush had big eyes…”Oh shrike thrush what big eyes you have? All the better to see you my dear…” now even I, with my limited ornithological abilities, know that grey shrike thrushes are not overly endowed with large eyes. I have seen enough of them collecting up bundles of cubed cheese to take back to their nests to know a bit about them by default. We share a common space albeit on other sides of the window and this “shrike” was a wolf in sheep’s clothing! I had a closer look at the obviously antsy shrike and noticed that it was a little bit more brown than grey…she was watching me closely while she crammed a very large bundle of cheese cubes into every angle of her beak and then she flew off…hmmm…another kind of shrike perchance? But then the mystery was solved by her partner who flew up and started collecting cheese cubes as well. He was as black as the ace of spades with beady little eyes that I would recognise anywhere and he looked at me through the glass as if to say “Don’t make any sudden moves missus or the dog gets it!” Blackbirds!

Stevie-boy on his day off playing his guitar

Stevie-boy on his day off playing his guitar

One of the photos that Steve took for me today to use in my final assessment in Prepress

One of the photos that Steve took for me today to use in my final assessment in Prepress

They had obviously been watching the grey shrike thrushes most carefully. We have a few pairs of blackbirds on the property and I quite like them. There aren’t any cleverer birds in this neck of the woods if you ask me. They watch…they learn…they take advantage of what they just learned and that tells me that there is more than rudimentary brain activity going on inside those small skulls and I admire that. The first time I noticed Ms Blackbird she had a crust of dirt on her beak which is what made me look closer at her in the first place. Grey shrike thrushes are arboreal and rarely go to ground. They are insectivores and tend to peel bark from trees and eat tree dwelling grubs. The do a great job of clearing out the house spiders from between the bricks as well but never poke their beaks in the soil so this made me pay attention…Ms blackbird appears to have found a much easier option to rootling around in the vain hope of finding a worm with one eye constantly watching for cat attack at any moment…Ms blackbird is now living the high life with Mr blackbird and all because she wondered “what if I headed up there and took a bit of a look…”

We have to use all of our own artwork in our final assessment in Prepress and that means recreating whatever we need. I created this today...

We have to use all of our own artwork in our final assessment in Prepress and that means recreating whatever we need. I created this today…

See animals get it…they get that you have to put an effort in to get anything that is worthwhile. I get it as well but in the back of my cerebral cortex…the bit that gives me dreams and that warns me when I am about to do something stupid (my cerebral cortex works overtime…) and that holds past memories and those ancient life lessons that humanity appears to be forgetting en masse these days but that we kept getting reminded of by hair rising up on the back of our necks by our dear unforgetting cerebral cortex…I “get” that all of this study is good for me…I “get” that it is good for my brain, keeping it active learning new things…I “get” that this is much better for me than working for the dole at a local thrift shop sorting through clothes BUT that doesn’t make the front bit of my brain, the impulsive bit that wants to head to Pinterest and eat cake in my undies and socks at ALL appeased. Another reason why I have admiration for those blackbirds is that they are taking a short cut…they learned and they took advantage and they made their lives easier in the process. Kudos big eyes…you shall go to the cheese ball 🙂

Earl was most happy with the tasty mud and the deliciously fecund odour coming from duckies old boat. This is going to be used to make a water wicked strawberry bed inside Sanctuary in the near future

Earl was most happy with the tasty mud and the deliciously fecund odour coming from duckies old boat. This is going to be used to make a water wicked strawberry bed inside Sanctuary in the near future

So I have 2 x 8 page booklets to produce today…all of the artwork for said booklets, a few lessons in how to tart up a drop cap to narf7 standards (that means downloading ornate Art Nouveau and Art Deco fonts, twizzling around with metal gradients in Illustrator and trying my hardest to create gold out of purest Adobe), I then need to create a logo (but I have a good idea for that one) and try to cobble it all nonchalantly together to make it look like I could care less (apparently how designers do things) about the end results and that everything flowed easily and languidly from my truly talented fingertips…”Au Contraire my dear, it just flows from me like purest champagne…” that’s not the only thing that just flows from me 😉 Seriously folks, there is a lot of hard slog that goes on behind the scenes. Much like anything else that is worth it, you need to put in the hard yards to get to look that casual and on the fly…sometimes the simplest logo has taken some poor sap a month down the Morlock tunnel gulags turning from a healthy shade of human pink into a sort of insipid luminous pasty white with eyes that are no longer able to look at the light in order to casually drop onto someone’s letterhead only to be screwed up by the recipient as “MORE JUNK MAIL!”…sigh… plebeians!

Steve's entry into the "abstract architecture" section of his photography group this week

Steve’s entry into the “abstract architecture” section of his photography group this week

Yeah I “get it”…but…BUT…spring is calling! That cerebral cortex that keeps me from wetting my bed at night (several times over if you must know…) also has some kind of primordial sap rising in my veins that must be appeased. I was up to my armpits in compost and horse manure and oak leaves and straw yesterday making a sexy mix for my four new baby pepino’s. I don’t like getting my hands too dirty but I was actually enjoying squidging everything together…the sap was rising! Soon I will be twitching about planting out trees…albeit small ones…I will be thinking, no DREAMING about haybales and hugelkulture and permaculture will start invading my every thought. I won’t be able to concentrate on my drop caps because I will see that lovely leafy font and my mind will start to drift. It’s like the call of the wild in reverse. I don’t want to head off and go feral (well…any more feral than I already am…), I don’t want to wear coon skin hats and float down the river on one of my precious 2 palettes that I am keeping for a compost heap…no not THIS little black duck…I just…want…to …get… out…in…the …sodding…garden…for…a…BIT! That’s all I need…just a bit of garden therapy to go with all of this drop capping and sentence indenting and border creating and text wrapping.

Naughty narf and Stevie-boy went sniffing around the abandoned Beaconsfield mines on the weekend

Naughty narf and Stevie-boy went sniffing around the abandoned Beaconsfield mines on the weekend

This used to be used to grind up gold bearing ore

This used to be used to grind up gold bearing ore

The landscape is littered with massive great holes dating back to the 1800's so it is best to stick to the roads

The landscape is littered with massive great holes dating back to the 1800’s so it is best to stick to the roads

Unless you want to fall down a bottomless pit that is!

Unless you want to fall down a bottomless pit that is!

I just want to feel part of “outside” not firmly and strategically reinstated on this chair for the day. The sun might shine today. It didn’t yesterday and I wasn’t so keen to get out in the rain. A perfect day for studying but it was Stevie-boys day on the PC yesterday…I bet the sun will shine today. The sun loves schadenfreude. I often catch it peeking in at me, laughing and sucking on its trousers at me when I am filling the kettle near the kitchen window, watching the birds carry away cheese for their future. Another day down the Morlock mines BUT…”I get it!” another day closer to that garden! I am going to head off now in order to get a bit closer to my day in the sun that I will no doubt be complaining about soon enough but for now it is a blissful cerebral cortex memory that needs to be appeased. Wish me luck folks…I am going in!

One of Stevie-boys lovely abstract photos of some of the old machinery we found

One of Stevie-boys lovely abstract photos of some of the old machinery we found

If you look closely you can see the big boots of the narf 7...I am playing at being Amish (or was that just that all of my jeans were in the wash? ;) )

If you look closely you can see the big boots of the narf 7…I am playing at being Amish (or was that just that all of my jeans were in the wash? 😉 )

Isn't this wattle lovely? You don't often get to see wattles that are able to grow to their full height. This one is in full flower.

Isn’t this wattle lovely? You don’t often get to see wattles that are able to grow to their full height. This one is in full flower.

 

Enter the lizard hunter

Hi All,

 

Well hot diggety dog my dear constant readers, we are right back here again and little has changed on Serendipity Farm except the slave albino Morlock’s have been freed from their shackles of oppression and are now footloose and fancy free of studies for at least a couple of days. We collated our final two assignment tasks and all of the peripheral bampf that makes them take a much longer time to complete that we are required to submit along with our work and handed them in on Monday. That left us shell-shocked and twitching and with NO idea of how to live in the real world aside from sitting on a PC and working to rule. It was sad to see us wandering around like little lost lambs without a clue and even sadder when we were joined by the dogs because it started to rain and thus became a washout for working in the garden and walking dogs…four pathetic souls walking around the kitchen table following each other like shrews in a perpetual circle…

An example of what we have been doing lately

An example of what we have been doing lately

 

A caravan of shrews

A caravan of shrews

We had planned to forge ahead…to drive to Exeter and pick up a half trailer load of compost from the local landscape supply centre then head off to buy some seeds from a small local nursery that specialise in breeding their own heritage seeds to our local conditions. Less variety but more likely to survive…I like those odds! We had SO many plans! We were going to fix Sanctuary and Stevie-boy would be my hero and would drill holes in the poles and we would string up the possum repelling top netting with plastic coated clothes line wire that the little swine’s wouldn’t have a hope in heck of chewing through and would be relegated to bouncing furiously on with no dent in the netting allowing them to trampoline their way down to the tender greens below. I had visions of all sorts of things but then the reality of the rain…slow…constant…and unlikely to stop rain set in and so we walked a few more circuits around the kitchen table in a slow progression of sadness and broke off eventually to pursue other indoor activities.

One of the gorgeous sunsets we have been having lately to welcome spring into the Southern Hemisphere

One of the gorgeous sunsets we have been having lately to welcome spring into the Southern Hemisphere

 

We can’t handle another day of Earl sulking so we are going to have to get out and walk the dogs today. I can hear the wind chime heralding more rain but we have the curious situation here in my local borough, whereby it tends to stay dry till about 10am here and then rains. Excellent for early morning dog walkers, not so good for people who want to garden after they walk. We did go to Exeter yesterday to post off Ms Pauline’s dangler things for her dangler of International Happiness. I hope she isn’t expecting too much as there is a bag of harvested bits-and-bobs that we thought might just make interesting inclusions to her dangler.  I can’t wait to see how it looks when Ms Pauline has put her touches to it. Anyone who would like to add something to Ms Pauline’s dangler of great international happiness please drop me a line and we can talk. Ms Pauline could do with some aqua beads if anyone has any lying around. I did find something sort of green but that’s about as aqua as it gets in my mixed bag so anyone who dabbles in the beady arts who has some strange leftover beads please get in touch. The cause is worthy, admirable and will result in your cast offs being turned into frugal sustainable art by Ms Pauline who is a most clever minx when it comes to the creative arts.

We are getting a LOT of eggs lately. At the moment they are happy to lay in a haybale in Steve's shed but any day soon that will change and we will be back to hunting high and low for them

We are getting a LOT of eggs lately. At the moment the chooks are happy to lay in a haybale in Steve’s shed but any day soon that will change and we will be back to hunting high and low for them

I also sent off a delicious wooden spoon handcrafted by Stevie-boy to a wonderful lady who wanted to trade on her blog. I have been following Belinda’s blog for a little while now and  I had shared a post by Belinda with you all before and in this post  Belinda posed a most interesting case for trading something rather than selling. I think she was testing the waters to see just what she might end up with if she wanted to trade. I need to point out something here about why I was SO excited about wanting to trade with Ms Belinda. My daughters are both Koreanaphiles. They love all things Korean but especially K-Pop, a subculture of Korean pop music that has bled over into the West. The very first band that they liked was a band called Shinee and although I could remember most of the guys in the band I could NEVER remember one called “Minho”. Minho was my nemesis and my daughters would tease me mercilessly saying “which one is Minho”?  And I would invariably pick the wrong band member. It turns out “Minho” isn’t just a member of a Korean K-Pop band but it is also a region in Portugal famous for inventing Caldo Verde and for it’s gorgeous hand spun wool. Ms Belinda had made some wonderful hats out of some of this unctuous wool and was offering them up for trade! I could have my own Minho hat! I would never forget Minho again! Long after my daughters had forgotten who he was…”I”…the forgetful narf…would remember 🙂

 

Minho hat! :)

Minho hat! 🙂

So you see I “had” to at least attempt to trade with Ms Belinda (who appears to be hugging herself in the first image in this post…hey, if you can’t hug the one you love, hug the one your with eh? 😉 ). She accepted the offer of a trade for one of Stevie-boys wooden spoons and I promptly forgot about it till Steve came up the driveway with a parcel that I wasn’t expecting…it turns out the wonderful Ms Belinda had sent my Minho hat and a second Minho hat for one of the girls! Looks like we are ALL going to remember who Minho is ;). Steve found some lovely blackheart sassafras, a rare and special Tasmanian endemic wood, in his woody collection to turn into a lovely spoon for Ms Belinda and for some curious reason I forgot to take a photo of it before I sent it off yesterday…”Doh!” Oh well…I can show you the Minho hats and my daughters can fight over their hat when I get around to delivering it to the city ;). I love the idea of trading things. No money need change hands (which is a good thing when there isn’t a lot of it lying around to trade) and you end up forging community, making new friends, getting something awesome and handmade and sharing the creative love around. I think Stevie-boy needs to make more wooden spoons…his creative muse is delicious. Stevie-boy thinks that I need to shut up 😉

Steve both made these pork pies and took this lovely photo. This is for all of you carnivorous ex-pat's from the old country who can't live without their pork pies at Christmas...make them yourself! :)

Steve both made these pork pies and took this lovely photo. This is for all of you carnivorous ex-pat’s from the old country who can’t live without their pork pies at Christmas…make them yourself! 🙂

this photo is 40+ years old. It was taken by my mother on an 100 acre farm that we once lived on and is of her gaggle of geese that she kept. It might look like the Kalahari desert in this photo but it's mid summer and the geese have eaten all of the grass.

this photo is 40+ years old. It was taken by my mother on an 100 acre farm that we once lived on and is of her gaggle of geese that she kept. It might look like the Kalahari desert in this photo but it’s mid summer and the geese have eaten all of the grass.

It might be windy outside but it hasn’t rained since I got up and its 5.10am now. Bezial heard the alarm go off this morning and headed in with determination to take up my warm spot in the bed prior to me evacuating it so I did what any good dog owner would do and got out of bed. I need to tidy up my RSS Feed Reader that is wilder than Serendipity Farms front jungle at the moment but that’s easily tamed and apologies to my dear constant readers who I haven’t been commenting on your posts of late but our study load was formidable and now that we are out the other side (and the slave master general had his whip eaten by Earl) we have a bit of breathing space. The last thing that I want to do when freed from my seat on the PC is sit here all day knocking out my RSS Feed Reader so it might take me some time but I will get there 🙂

Spring has definitely sprung and here's the proof...the nectarine tree is flowering

Spring has definitely sprung and here’s the proof…the nectarine tree is flowering

The shadow of a narf and the actuality of a power cord that made all of the work we did today possible in Sanctuary (remind me to hide that power cord next time... ;) )

The shadow of a narf and the actuality of a power cord that made all of the work we did today possible in Sanctuary (remind me to hide that power cord next time… 😉 )

I might share our school blog with you all so that you can head over there and see what Stevie-boy and I have been doing for the last 2 years. That’s a lot easier than clogging up this blog with our erstwhile efforts and you can head over there and take a peek or not…your choice. Last year we weren’t expected to put much up on our blogs but this year our lecturer has us putting up our final assessments…I am not sure that I agree with her logic. Feel free to head over and have a nose around on our blogs but remember they are our school blogs so please vet your comments accordingly (looking at YOU Ms Twinn! 😉 )

https://heartwoodspoons.wordpress.com/

This is Stevie-boys school blog

https://veganscousewife.wordpress.com/

And this one is Narf’s school blog

Note if you want to look at the links, WordPress seems to have a mind of its own when it comes to how it opens them. Sometimes it expects you to download them to your desktop, sometimes it opens up a pdf on the page you are viewing (so you have to click back to where you were) and sometimes it opens up a pdf on another page…NO idea what it is going to do at any given time but that’s part of the experience right? 😉 By the way Bethany…if you do happen to go and have a look at our work and you see an image of a girl dressed up in fancy dress with a flower in her hand that looks strangely like you when you were about 8…it’s just a figment of your imagination! 😉

This artichoke is only alive because of those tyres around it. Note the tangle mass of deceased plant matter to the left of the artichoke. This is possum damage and the reason why we need to fix Sanctuary before we try to plant a veggie garden this year...

This artichoke is only alive because of those tyres around it. Note the tangle mass of deceased plant matter to the left of the artichoke. This is possum damage and the reason why we need to fix Sanctuary before we try to plant a veggie garden this year…

On Tuesday morning we had to walk around like hunchbacks in order to traverse sanctuary as the possums had trampolined the top almost down to the ground

On Tuesday morning we had to walk around like hunchbacks in order to traverse sanctuary as the possums had trampolined the top almost down to the ground

It’s only Tuesday at the moment so you just never know. I might get up to Sanctuary today and there may or may not be photo’s. I can at least get a photo of Earl’s craziness when we let him off lead in Sanctuary and he realises that he is FREE! which is part of the reason why you are NEVER going to be “free” in the real world Early boy…pity you don’t learn a bit of self-restraint as it would be lovely to let you off the lead and let you forage around but you were built to hunt and your primary objective is to sniff, to find and to eat 😦 Oh well…your choice sunshine! Bezial is happy to curb his desire to scarf a chook in order to wander free (like Kung-fu) among them (with the occasional beak pressing episode that we won’t talk about 😉 ) That’s given me a good head start on tomorrows email now. I can add a bit, take a few photos and I don’t have to produce a rabbit out of a hat at the starting gate… I tend not to perform well when put on the spot or on command. Probably best that I wasn’t born male 😉

Kale gone to seed YAY! :)

Kale gone to seed YAY! 🙂

Might be time for our resident sheoak inside Sanctuary to have a hair cut again...

Might be time for our resident sheoak inside Sanctuary to have a hair cut again…

I can plant these loquats out this year as they are big enough to survive a summer in the ground without a lot of extra watering

I can plant these loquats out this year as they are big enough to survive a summer in the ground without a lot of extra watering

I am SO tired! I went from twiddling my thumbs on Monday to slaving in the Sanctuary gulags for the last two days and I couldn’t be happier :). We started sorting out the top of Sanctuary, my fully enclosed (supposedly) native animal proof veggie garden yesterday. It was hard going because Stevie-boy had to drill holes in all of the steel poles that we concreted into the ground in order to make Sanctuary in the first place so that we could thread through and tie off sections of plastic coated metal clothes line that we are using to ensure that the possums etc. can’t pass. He broke 3 drill bits in a row they are so tough and we had to take a trip to Exeter to pick up some new bits so we also bought some compost and seeds at the same time. We like to multitask. We had a bit of a twitching moment yesterday where Stevie-boy decided that he would release the ring of clothes line that I had entrusted him to hold in order to do “something else” and it twisted all over the place and became hopelessly entangled. Needless to say I think I need to sign up for anger management classes and possibly hypnotherapy to teach me not to swear like a duchess whilst threatening Stevie-boy with every threat I could possibly think of if he EVER touched the plastic coated wire ring ever again… we got over it…not sure the neighbours have yet though…

The great lizard hunter

The great lizard hunter

The great lizard hunter again

The great lizard hunter again

Bezial has sworn off lizards and is enjoying a sunbeam

Bezial has sworn off lizards and is enjoying a sunbeam

Today, after walking the dogs with Jan and Mieka who appears to be developing a Mieka fan club and who has gone from Jan wondering what she was going to do with her to 5 people wanting to adopt her (the best possible outcome), we headed up to Sanctuary with steely determination and set to with the final push to get our garden back from the (filthy) possums. Earl and Bezial were most happy to be returning to sunbeams and lizards and the first thing that Earl did was frolic…a lot. We managed to shore up all of the top of Sanctuary and I sorted out one of the areas where the possums can get in. Tomorrow we have about an hour to sort out the other join and then Sanctuary is MINE! It would be OURS if Steve really cared about it but it’s my baby and my dream and Steve would rather be doing something else but is entirely happy to indulge me in my (crazy) pursuits.

 

Earl gave up on lizards and found a much slower golden beetroot to chew instead

Earl gave up on lizards and found a much slower golden beetroot to chew instead

The view from Stevie-boys gumboot

The view from Stevie-boys gumboot

Sanctuary liberated! :)

Sanctuary liberated! 🙂

So here I am…tired but incredibly happy on what has turned out to be a gorgeous spring day. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, it’s still crisp and cool and the soil is nice and damp (gluggy and muddy in some places) and I feel vegetable futures in MY future :). I will be soaking seed today to plant out tomorrow as we bought some compost and will be adding other things to it to make a happy place for seeds to grow. This year narf 7 actually IS going to grow all of her own seedlings and I have the seeds to prove it! Wish me luck folks because there is a whole lot of work to be done before I can plant out those little prospective seedlings but at least they are changing hands from being mental seedlings to physical seedlings. Thank you SO much to all of my gardening dear constant readers who have given me encouragement and help and thanks to spring for filling me with spring possibilities. No doubt I will be less than happy with spring tomorrow when I can’t get out of bed because I am too sore but whatchagonnadoeh? 😉

Vegetable futures!

Vegetable futures!

 

 

 

Narfs triple bottom line

Hi All,

 

It’s 5.12am on a Friday. I should be up to my armpits in RSS Feed Reads, being furtively read whilst I tap out comments on a notepad blank page whilst contemplating how to answer those people who have kindly decided to maintain email communication with me even after finding out who I “really” am (I KNOW…amazing eh?) but I am not doing any of those things because yesterday we had the internet and telephone equivalent of The Weaselman visit Serendipity Farm. Mr Windy (for want of a better word) decided to wreak a bit of old school destruction on Serendipity Farm and trees fell over our phone line tearing it out of the pole which meant that we had no house phone. Curiously, for a while, we did have the internet! We had it right up to 4am this morning when it decided to fizzle out and die so after sitting blinking for a while I decided to think of something productive to do that didn’t involve the internet

DSCF1227

We headed into the city the other day and the whole city of Launceston was misty. Very cold, and misty. Steve took this photo of a spiders web

 

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Something else that we saw in the city, LOVE these little Croc men

Aren't the doors of our city Commonewealth bank lovely? Almost as lovely as this passing guard dog ;)

Aren’t the doors of our city Commonewealth bank lovely? Almost as lovely as this passing guard dog 😉

 

I would like to inform you that I have just worked out that I am officially seriously addicted to the internet. My whole life revolves around it. I didn’t realise how addicted I had become until we couldn’t access it yesterday and I was adrift. No email communication, not Facebook, no ability to research! Steve phoned up our lecturer and told her about the situation after a 45 minute ride over a cliff with an Indian lady who although assured by Stevie-boy that our phone line was indeed down and in hiding underneath a selection of Serendipity Farms finest greenery, insisted that he run through a series of “tests” that took the better part of 30 minutes to complete before she would even contemplate going any further. Next time we fib Stevie-boy, we pretend to do what she asks for and say “Nope, still doesn’t work” while standing still and doing bugger all…funny how we were supposed to get the opportunity to complete a survey on the phone about our “experience” with this most angst inspiring of ladies but she hung up on an obviously frustrated and twitchy Steve prior to putting him through to the “survey department”…bad luck ma’am, they sent us the survey in an email. Just before the net shuffled off, I saw it sitting there waiting for us when we finally get the net back on.

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Someone wasn’t all that impressed with the mist and the cold…

 

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We spotted this door in the mall in the city with a dog handle…maybe this is Earl’s inner city bachelor pad?

 

Talking about that…I have NO idea when that is going to happen because Ms Indian lady was more engaged in telling us how much we were going to have to pay the technician for a “false callout” than she was in giving us any kind of firm idea when said technician was going to bother to turn up. Wafting’s of “weeks” and “we will need to keep testing the line” were mumbled but nothing firm so goodness only knows how long we will be sans phone and sans net. It looks like we are going to have to reacquaint ourselves with the Beaconsfield online centre for the foreseeable future and that is how this blog post is going to get posted next week unless a miracle happens and a technician turns up in that time

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Earl is like one of those big hairy spiders…they look HUGE when they are stretched out on the wall but when they curl up they are tiny. Earl is all head and here is is doing his best to look small on Bezial’s couch

 

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Another lovely Grey day on Serendipity Farm but at least we didn’t end up with half of our house blown away in the recent wild storms like some poor people did

 

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“Someone”  decided to scratch up the covers that we have put over the sofa to protect it and when we heard him scratching away we headed into the lounge room and found “this”…it wasn’t moving but we figured out what had caused the problem…

 

So what is a narf to do while she is forcibly ejected from her chief source of contact with the outside world? Aside from going mad, I have decided to throw myself wholeheartedly into getting Sanctuary, my fully enclosed vegetable garden, up and running on all cylinders for our coming growing season. I have plans for a large bay of straw bales full of manure and compost etc. that is going to house my pumpkin community this year. I have plans for Stevie-boy to relocate a tap that is currently residing on the fence not too far away from Sanctuary down “to” Sanctuary where it will be easier to access water and I have plans to haul an enormous mountain of horse manure and oak leaves back up to Sanctuary to start forming gardens around the perimeter of the enclosure. I have mature blueberry bushes that need pruning and planting. I have grape vines that need planting. I have all kinds of trees that need planting but they will need a bit more thought as they will have to go outside Sanctuary and when anything is outside a protective zone, it is a sitting duck when it comes to possums and wallabies and anything else that feels like a snack.

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The son-and-heirs partner Kelsey turned 23 the day before my birthday and I wanted to make her a cake. Not easy because Kelsey is from Texas and as anyone who is anyone knows, everything is bigger and better in Texas. Here are two of the three cakes that I made

 

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A chocolate cake, a vanilla cake and a red velvet cake sandwiched together with jam and cream…

 

 

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The finished cake

 

 

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Kelsey’s quails

 

 

I seem to have allowed my addiction to the internet to have taken me away from the real world for quite some time now and this forced hiatus might just be the impetus I need to get me back into the real world and establishing some new habits involving the garden, exercise, planning, and the execution of those plans which tends to be my weak point. I am taking a lot of heart from the relentless efforts of Jessie of rabidlittlehippy fame. Although she had NO idea of what she was doing initially she has started to turn her half acre of urban normalcy into a permaculture paradise that might just go a long way to feeding her family over the coming year. I had aspirations of doing the same but somehow my addiction to the internet got in the way…no more. I don’t plan on sitting here twiddling my thumbs in angsty frustration until Dodo (yes…Dodo…I am not holding out any high hopes…) get around to sending out a technician to sort out our line. It’s time for narf7 to get proactive on her own derriere!

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Earl inspecting the workmanship in Steve’s gumboots…

 

 

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Some of my new bowl haul that I got for my birthday. I LOVE bowls 🙂

 

Steve headed off into the wilderness the other night to pick this up from a lady who had advertised it on Gumtree. A great bargain and it is currently filtering our tank water for us :)

Steve headed off into the wilderness the other night to pick this up from a lady who had advertised it on Gumtree. A great bargain and it is currently filtering our tank water for us 🙂

So what’s first old girl…well there are all of those poor long suffering potted babies languishing (most of them upside down after the gales yesterday) in the side garden that need dealing with. I NEED to give them away. I can’t feel guilty if I give them away. Time for some serious culling and if I want to keep it, I HAVE TO PLANT IT OUT. That’s a really good incentive to give most of them away because planting anything out on Serendipity Farm is hard work so if you are a local, you know me, you are likely to open your door some day in the future to a box full of potted plants courtesy of narf7. Be warned!

We wanted to thank Jan's brother Peter for walking with Bezial when Steve can't at the moment and so we bought him some chocolate and chips and made him this card

We wanted to thank Jan’s brother Peter for walking with Bezial when Steve can’t at the moment and so we bought him some chocolate and chips and made him this card

Earl multi-tasking, basking in a sunbeam whilst keeping those freeloading grey thrush shrikes away from the cheese

Earl multi-tasking, basking in a sunbeam whilst keeping those freeloading grey thrush shrikes away from the cheese

An early morning shot of Earl at the bottom of the driveway and ready to go on his walk as soon as the flash wears off and he can see again ;)

An early morning shot of Earl at the bottom of the driveway and ready to go on his walk as soon as the flash wears off and he can see again 😉

The Earl, in it's natural habitat...

The Earl, in it’s natural habitat…

Stevie-boy has been home all week and most happily home too. We have knocked a couple of units out of the ballpark over the past week and even though the material that we are working with could bore an accountant to tears (and we all know that accountants LOVE boring statistics 😉 ) we are soldiering on through acres of stats and (were) researching our brains out and wading through government departments in order to try to find out what we are required to find for our assignments but sometimes it is like finding a needle in a haystack to be honest and as Stevie-boy and I study in completely different ways, this kind of frustrating slow pace isn’t conducive to peace on Serendipity Farm. I will give you an example of how we differ in our approaches…

Narf7: – “Ok, so what do we need for this task? Read the Word doc, read the supporting blurb, go to the websites that we have to go to in order to complete the task, read them, list down the bits that we need in a blank notepad and make sure that we have answered the question appropriately, and in triplicate…”

Stevie-boy: – “Have a brief glance at the question. Deem it not important to read the whole question and race off to the website where you also have a brief glance at the website and start answering the question with a few brief words so that you can get back out to your shed where the REAL action is taking place”…

Are you starting to get the picture that we are like chalk and cheese when it comes to studies? Now that we no longer have the “research” abilities that we had yesterday we are picking out the bits of assignments that we can do without research and they are few and far between. It would seem that we might be going to have to head to the online centre to study and in the process; we might have to learn to study together in a more “friendly” way lest we get ejected from the online centre forcibly and told “NEVER COME BACK!” Now this is going to be a challenge!

Birthday food time!

Birthday food time!

 

First, I got these slipper socks from a wonderful friend who also sent me some gorgeous handmade soaps and here I am attempting to desensitise Earl to their presence...

First, I got these slipper socks from a wonderful friend who also sent me some gorgeous handmade soaps and here I am attempting to desensitise Earl to their presence…

"Lets make vegan orange poppyseed bundt cake!"

“Lets make vegan orange poppyseed bundt cake!”

So today is the day after my 51st birthday. I don’t feel any older or wiser but I certainly am regretting eating so much of the gorgeous beer battered tempura veggies that we made for dinner last night or maybe it’s the combination of beer batter and vegan orange poppy seed drizzle cake accompanied by homemade vegan Brazil nut ice cream with peanut butter cookie dough chunks and when you are not used to eating anything that isn’t steamed or raw you end up with a bit of a food hangover. I will wear it because my birthday meal was delicious. The vegan orange poppy seed cake was something that we are going to make again and again. It was really delicious, didn’t use eggs or butter and was very light and moist thanks to an orange drizzle that was spooned over the top of the cake while it was still warm. Here’s the recipe if anyone would like to have a go of it…

http://holycowvegan.net/2011/12/lemon-poppy-seed-bundt-cake-with-lemon.html

Please note, I substituted orange for lemon as I am not a great lemon fan and the orange swap involved just substituting orange juice and zest for the lemon juice and zest

An action shot of Stevie-boy who is too masculine to bother with using a stand mixer to cream ingredients

An action shot of Stevie-boy who is too masculine to bother with using a stand mixer to cream ingredients

Here is what happens when you are too masculine to use a stand mixer to mix in flour (sigh...)

Here is what happens when you are too masculine to use a stand mixer to mix in flour (sigh…)

 

One hot and most glorious smelling vegan orange poppyseed bundt cake fresh out of the oven

One hot and most glorious smelling vegan orange poppyseed bundt cake fresh out of the oven

 

And here it is after it has had orange drizzle ladled over the top... " Bellisimo!" :)

And here it is after it has had orange drizzle ladled over the top… ” Bellisimo!” 🙂

I am going to head off now folks. Most of this email was prepared earlier due to the threat of us losing the net for the rest of the day as we are getting a visit from a Telstra lines man who needs to hook us up a new junction box after last week’s storms pulled our wires down. Turns out, in the process, that he discovered that “someone” (DAD!) had done their own rudimentary wire fix by twisting two wires together and duct taping them together…sounds like something that dad would have done to me! They need to be properly housed in a junction box so I am going to finish up here now and get this scheduled to post as otherwise I might lose the net and not be able to post today. Have a great week everyone. I haven’t had time to read my RSS Feed Reader properly for the last week or so because we have been working hard on relentless studies but hopefully, everything will be back to normal (or something approximating normal) on Serendipity Farm in a week or so.

 

 

Vegan peanut butter cookie dough mix chilled in the freezer and ready to cut up to add to vegan Brazil nut ice cream

Vegan peanut butter cookie dough mix chilled in the freezer and ready to cut up to add to vegan Brazil nut ice cream

The ingredients for making Japanese wakame (seaweed) salad

The ingredients for making Japanese wakame (seaweed) salad

It might look like something from the black lagoon, but wakame seaweed is delicious and makes a really wonderful addition to any Japanese meal

It might look like something from the black lagoon, but wakame seaweed is delicious and makes a really wonderful addition to any Japanese meal

Wakame salad (sans toasted sesame seeds) and pickled carrot salad. Both of these were needed to cut the HUGE amount of battered gorgeousness that we consumed with gusto :)

Wakame salad (sans toasted sesame seeds) and pickled carrot salad. Both of these were needed to cut the HUGE amount of battered gorgeousness that we consumed with gusto 🙂

Stage 1 of the production line to make tempura, bear battered veggies for a most happy narf's Japanese birthday feast :)

Stage 1 of the production line to make tempura, bear battered veggies for a most happy narf’s Japanese birthday feast 🙂

 

 

Steve's Japanese beef in the frypan and one of the trays of delicious beer battered happiness

Steve’s Japanese beef in the frypan and one of the trays of delicious beer battered happiness

A mix of battered sweet potato, whole spring onions (NOT chook feet ;) ) broccoli florets and mushrooms

A mix of battered sweet potato, whole spring onions (NOT chook feet 😉 ) broccoli florets and mushrooms

The salads and more mushrooms...you can NEVER have enough battered mushrooms according to Stevie-boy ;)

The salads and more mushrooms…you can NEVER have enough battered mushrooms according to Stevie-boy 😉

Possums ahoy!

Hi All,

Well it has been an interesting week on Serendipity Farm that has seen my RSS Feed read of posts swell to 467 and I am not even breaking out in a cold sweat over it…looks like my need to control is if not broken, at least severely bent. It’s 4.17am and so far this morning I have answered a few emails, commented on last week’s post and spent some time pinning “green” things…I need to regularly head over to Pinterest in order to know what holidays are on the go at any given time and apparently it is almost St. Patricks Day? Not that I celebrate it in any way, shape or form but it’s a good excuse to pin Avocado recipes 😉

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All that’s left of a large bag of nashi pears from an orchard around the corner from Serendipity Farm (lucky I have another one in the fridge…)

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Manfood art…

water

A photo that Steve took with his new camera phone. Not bad but when you start out with 40 megapixels the odds are you are going to get a nice clear image 😉

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One of Earl’s guilty little pleasures…walnut munching. First he cracks the shell and then he chews out the meat and eats it.

So what’s narf been up to then? Well it’s more of the 3 steps forwards and 2 steps back when it comes to our running battle with the natives. The quoll appears to have been somewhat sedated by our concerted efforts to make our presence felt in its chosen area of slaughter. After last week’s mass slaughter of mums (a total of 4 😦 ) we set out to ensure that the quoll knew that there were bigger, more aggressive carnivores than it could have possibly imagined. Watching an episode of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s magnificent “River Cottage” where in order to dissuade foxes from eating his hens he urinated on all of his fence posts, we figured it was worth a shot and took Earl and Bezial down to the second garden area where we haven’t been in a while (thus the quoll felt safe in her activities) and let them go hog wild on every plant that was silly enough to be tall enough to be noticed…Steve even joined in on the action (with more enthusiasm than was called for to be honest) and has been “decorating” strategic poles and posts all around the garden. I would like to think he was being environmentally aware in his endeavours to use less water flushing the loo but I just think he is revelling in his feral alter ego and is enjoying urinating on everything and allowing his inner child some serious freedom…

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In the spirit of complete transparency (and a complete lack of any “nice” images to share with you) I show you what Serendipity Farm has descended into…I call this image “jungle with roosters”

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This is looking up at the bamboo and one of the large palms that flourish down in the jungle area of Serendipity Farm where I had to venture today to see what the (stupid) escapee roosters were having a fit about. Never did find out but I decided to take some photos for you while I was incarcerated amongst the blackberries. Note the lovely enormous wild rose

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This is the “down” view of that last image facing to the left. You can still see that enormous wild rose but you can also see a large dracaena and 2 very dead tree fern stumps

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A bit more walking and you get to this lovely (dry and arid) vista. Dotted amongst the native trees are lots of camellias and other European exotic shrubs but if it is surviving down here, it is tough!

After doing a bit of research even I am in on the game. I have been collecting my own urine and watering it down and using it on the veggie garden. Why on EARTH are we flushing it down the loo?! A huge waste of water and all of that precious nitrogen being flushed out into our waterways to pollute our rivers and cause algal blooms when we should be treating it like the precious material that it is. The only problem is “collecting it”… it has been a most interesting week learning the best way to collect it and when to head out to the garden with it. I take 2 trips a day…one about midday up to the veggie garden with my precious cargo and the other at the end of the day after my final trip for the evening that benefits the side garden (too dark for that trip up to the veggies 😉 ). I realise that to some people reading this it might make them a bit squeamish to be thinking about peeing in a bucket and spreading it around the garden but you would be amazed how much living in the country and wrangling with nature on a regular basis can change you. I thought that Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall was a bit extreme peeing on his fence posts but if it works DO IT! Using diluted urine in your garden is a win-win situation. We use worm wee…why not human? Hopefully I won’t be reporting back in a few weeks to tell you that I killed off my entire garden en mass. I am very enthusiastic about this venture 😉

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An example of how some things do extremely well in our climate and some…not so well. The tall sapling at the front of this photo is a Brachychiton discolor that Steve and I grew from a seed that we bought on EBay from the Australian mainland. Every single one of these Brachychitons that we planted out earlier in the season has survived and flourished despite a complete and utter lack of care or water of any kind. The Japanese maple in the background (the one with the crispy beige leaves) didn’t fare so well. It is still alive and will probably go on to live long and prosper but it got hit quite badly with a complete lack of watering all summer long.

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Both of these species are supposed to be tough and water wise. The half dead cornus at the front isn’t very happy but the taxus behind it is going great guns. It just goes to show that you just never know how something is going to behave until you plant it. You can get a good idea though by checking out what is growing well and flourishing in other gardens in your local area

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Although this might not look like a very big shrub Steve can stand up underneath it. I took this image from the deck and this large cornus is usually a ground cover. This one has delusions of grandeur. It has housed feral chooks, feral cats, quolls and anything else that wants to hide up close and personal to the house. The tree next to it we call the lollypop tree. We had to crown lift the branches that were all dead and rather than remove the tree we decided to make it a large topiary of sorts

It finally rained! Not much more than to make the soil damp but it IS rain. There is more forecast for next weekend. I don’t believe the weather man anymore because he is a big fibber but I DO believe the claret ash at the end of our road that is turning an amazing shade of purple/scarlet and I do know that all of those green tomatoes on my poor tumbledown tomato bushes can’t POSSIBLY be allowed to ripen so rain/autumn here you come!

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A prime example of enormous green tomatoes…one of many…

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Carrots used in Steve’s evening meal last night. Apparently they were delish

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More honest photos. The state of our side lawn (yup…we STILL haven’t cleared up the branches of that tree…). Isn’t that a magnificent weed? I have NO idea what they are but they have a very tall spike of small yellow flowers on them. I quite like it so it can stay 🙂

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I decided to keep this little Cordyline australis that must have grown from a seed in this pot (the spiky thing)

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Sorry about how dark this image is but notice that tall palm like thing in the background? That’s it’s mum 😉

I think I finally found where that pumpkin munching swine of a possum is getting in to my (almost) fully enclosed veggie garden. I headed up yesterday to water as I do every second day now and discovered MORE pumpkins chewed down to the stem…he/she selectively targets pumpkins growing on the perimeter of the patch and works their way inwards. Possums don’t really like walking around on the ground unless they are HUGE possums (which we have a few of) that can walk wherever they damned well please with impunity because NOTHING (short of an escaped Earl…) is going to touch them…they would rather leap from tree to tree and climb all over things like my wonderful puzzle of a veggie garden. Not only did I make them a garden full of delicious lush tasty things, but I gave them a fun play park as well! They spend their nights jumping up and down snapping off sunflowers, corn, yacon and chewing/snapping off any pumpkins that were foolish enough to think that they could climb. What they don’t jump on and snap, they urinate on so some days watering my veggie garden is a highly scented event. I was getting somewhat discouraged (to say the least) watering silverbeet stalks (obviously possums LOVE silverbeet…) and watching my promising pumpkin harvest get gnawed and guzzled bit by bit so yesterday, when I noticed that they had started on my squash, I was galvanised into some serious action.

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Reasons why I am not keen on possums. This is what used to be a container of grape vines waiting to be planted out…

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And this was a bed full of silverbeet…

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This was a squash…

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This was a pumpkin…

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And they don’t confine themselves to a single specimen 😦

Using my possum knowledge (1. They are SWINES and 2. They like to climb and don’t like to be on the ground) I decided that I would head off around the perimeter of the veggie garden and would check for places where they could have forced their way into the enclosure. We have used several live trees in the construction of our veggie garden and these places are a natural weak spot for possum entry so I wandered around the perimeter checking out the trees and just around from the glasshouse area where we don’t tend to go I found, what I believe to be, the possum portal! It was big enough for a large fat hairy behemoth of a possum to fit nicely through…it had obviously been recently squeezed through as you could see possum grease (they are oily little critters) marking the netting and it was obviously well used (by the stretch marks) so Steve and I set about nailing it shut and making sure that if the possums do, indeed, get in again tonight, they are going to have to work hard to do so! “One step forward for narf7…queen to king, checkmate methinks possum!” (But I doubt we have seen the last of Mr oily possum…)

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“Take THAT Mr Oily Possum!”

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And this for good measure!

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This is what he did to my yacon

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But I am not so grumpy because the bit you eat is on the other end and that is buried in the ground

My wonderful sister Pinky (the keeper of our history) has been wading through boxes of “stuff” that my mum had kept including most of what my grandmother had collected over her lifetime and came across grans knitting needles. Pinky doesn’t knit and so she decided to package them up and send them to me along with several books on herbs and how to grow them and a couple of books on how to make fruit and “other” unusual wines. I know that mum used one of the little wine books a lot and made all kinds of homemade wines. Some of them will go down in posterity as “interesting” batches (including her potato wine 😉 ) but some were pure heaven like her rose petal wine. I unrolled my gran’s homemade knitting needle holder and as I tucked my own collection in next to her motley crew I felt a distinct connection to the past…a continuance that comes from lessons passed down and time spent learning and watching… gran despaired of my strange crocheting and how I held/hold my knitting needles. I guess it really doesn’t matter at the end of the day so long as you arrive at a point where you get “something” worthwhile (to you) for your efforts and I will use grans knitting needles with all the love and deference that they deserve 🙂 Thankyou Pinky!

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A lovely slobbery dog fest for you all

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Mica and Earl mentally discussing just who is going to take possession of that rubber bone

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Earl rumbled with this large zucchini that I am going to give to Jan on Friday

Steve was given a most interesting electrical cable thingo yesterday. It was going to be thrown out but Steve being the clever clogs that he is, decided to kill 2 birds with one stone

1 bird – give Fran a gift that costs nothing but that will make her “SQUEE!” so bonus (cheap) points to Stevie-boy…

2 bird – recognise that this item could possibly be turned into a knitting loom, something that Fran has been hassling Stevie-boy to make her for quite some time now

This electrical cable thingo has a lot of possibilities but using the French knitting technique that knitting looms employ I recon I could make tube socks with this baby! All I need is to get hold of some nails to nail into the top of it and get French knitting…stay tuned…you just never know what I am going to make out of this recycling score…

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How excellent is this? That hole in the centre is amazingly about the same size as a narf7 ankle so methinks I might be able to fluke making some tube socks with this baby (or it might end up in my failed crafts cupboard 😉 )

I actually managed to grow celery this year and I have carrots as well! Cheers to Jenny for forcing me to plant them all out in the first place or the garden would have consisted of tomatoes, potatoes and pumpkins that grew from the compost heap 😉 I am going to harvest a bunch of celery and a bunch of carrot thinning’s to make soup tonight. I will also bake some chilli cheese bread for Steve and will use my mashed potato idea to make sure it has a lovely moist crumb. I used some Dutch Cream spuds that The Garden Chook dug up just prior to her being rehoused in the chicken coop and a couple of carrot thinning’s from the garden yesterday in Steve’s evening meal last night. It is incredibly satisfying to actually be able to use something from the garden that you grew. As I mentioned, my silverbeet hasn’t been usable this year (apart from acting as a decoy to stop the possums from venturing further into the garden jungle and finding more pumpkins to scoff…) and I didn’t plant any spinach but over the next few weeks I am going to take a leaf out of Jess from rabidlittlehippy’s  book and am going to start planting out garlic. I am going to give red onions a go this year and leeks and am going to attempt to grow kale again along with any other winter crops that take my fancy.

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You know that song “One green bottle…”? Well this is “One green pear” (and there won’t be ANYTHING accidental about it falling I can tell you now! Mr Oily Possum is going to be mighty grouchy now that he can’t get into the enclosure any more and I reckon this pear has a very limited lifespan)

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My pumpkin vines seem to think that it is absolutely fine to keep producing flowers and fruit. That’s AOK by me

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One of about 10 pods that I actually found amongst the garden jungle and got to eat. They were delicious!

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Just so you get an idea of how big these pumpkin vines actually are. Here’s a leaf…

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And here’s a few more

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This corn was grown from seed and did a whole lot better than last years corn seedlings

My yacon experiment has been a success in as much as the plants managed to stay alive. NO idea what is going on under that soil apart from noticing that my initial 2 stalks/plants have now spread to 7 stalks and are showing no signs of stopping there…the thing about experiments is that you just never know how they are going to work out. Jess and I have been ruminating about using straw bales inside glasshouses to insulate them over our colder winters. We don’t get frost here but Jess does in her home town of Ballan and using straw bales in glasshouses/greenhouses is a good way to insulate them thermally. Another great idea is to plant into the straw bales and we found a really good tutorial on planting out sweet potatoes into straw bales on Pinterest. I have a hankering to mess about with some rooty crops this year and want to try peanuts like Sarah the Gardener  and yams. I realise that we aren’t tropical here in Tassie but we do have a long dry summer and so long as I can keep water up to the yams I can’t see why they wouldn’t at least give us ground cover to keep the moisture in the soil. Apparently Taro is an amazing plant and every part of the plant can be eaten…might be somewhere to start. Even if it doesn’t work out, it is a most interesting lesson to have a crack at 🙂

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A gratuitous garden shot for Linne

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One gratuitous garden shot deserves another…

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I am starting to wonder if the early slime bombs that formed on my green zucchini vines were actually a result of blossom end rot because being the lazy narf7 that I am, I left the trimmed plants in the ground and they have been producing actual fruit now…don’t ask me why, I am only a novice veggie gardener

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Every time I take an image of the garden I have to move further back. I am just about on the back wall of the enclosure to take this one

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These flowers are going to provide me with seeds for what ended up being an ENORMOUS lettuce that spanned almost a metre once it went to seed

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Turmeric happily ensconced in the glasshouse along with avocados and a banana

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Those fig cuttings that I took a little while ago along with a tomato plant

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The possum obviously doesn’t like green beans because he didn’t touch these scarlet runner beans that were in the silverbeet bed. His loss!

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Another flower…it hasn’t stopped flowering all year!

Well it’s just on 5am and today I head off with Earl to meet Mica and Jan and walk around Sidmouth. Ever since we have been walking with Mica and Jan, Earl has settled down and has become a much more placid boy. Prior to expending his racing energy on hurtling around Jan’s enormous lawn with Mica in tow, he would have to expend his energy elsewhere like on our shoes and on poor long suffering Bezial, but now we get in and he gives Bezial a lick and lays down for the rest of the day in a sunbeam. After we get back in its breakfast time and after a bowl of fortifying buckwheat, date paste and sesame milk I have to get stuck into studies again. At the moment we are wading through acres of “research questions”. Research questions are the online lecturer’s way to ensure that we have at least been exposed to concepts. Whether we decide to learn anything or not from them is besides the by, we can’t say we didn’t get the opportunity to learn from them 😉

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Another honest image. Note the colour of the “lawn” in the background and the lovely in situ dried flower arrangement that used to be a live hydrangea

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The brown and crispy shrub in the front of this image didn’t make it over summer but that lovely bright green sapling is a Pistachio chinensis and the grass behind it is looking amazing. Guess who will be planting out lots of grasses next year?

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The sheoak that we had to cut down inside the veggie enclosure has been growing a totally rad and gnarly hairdo dudes

The problem with answering research questions is that it takes SO long to find information that is accurate and pertinent. Most of what you find is sales material or outdated or completely biased and you have to try to find something worthwhile and usable in the enormous mountain of “words” that constitutes the internet. Occasionally I will strike a site that is pure gold. It has so much information that it spills into other questions that I need to answer and I do a narf7 happy dance around the kitchen. The biggest problem that Steve and I have with online studies is that it takes us twice as long as the average student to amass what we need because there are 2 of us. We need to turn in individual answers and so we need double the references, double the sources of information and double the searching through the rubble to find the golden nuggets of pure precious information. It also takes us twice as long to post our information, we have to keep logging in and out of blogs, school sites etc. in order to post/log in our information/assessments etc. and as we work from the same computer whenever we are instructed to “title your word document “X”” we have to get creative because we can’t sore 2 x “X” on one computer! I guess most people don’t attempt to complete online or even physical study courses with their spouses and having 2 of us plough our way through a course isn’t an average event.

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That spiky plant in this image is an Araucaria bidwillii. We grew it from a seed and he has 2 brothers elsewhere in this cluster of plants. We are going to plant it out on Serendipity Farm in this Autumns planting venture

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Another Brachychiton plant that Steve and I grew from a seed. This time it is a Brachychiton rupestris or a Queensland bottle tree. They develop a very large trunk and look amazing. It seems to be quite happy in Tasmania for a tree designed for Queensland conditions

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Our remaining potted babies. They actually fared really well this year thanks to us paring them down and being able to keep watering them easily. By next year this selection should be halved (at least) and most of what is here should be out in the ground. Whether it survives or not, at least it will get it’s chance to put its roots down in the soil

This year’s students are an interesting bunch. Most of us are older and most of the class are very artistic. Steve and I stand out like sore thumbs but we are less inclined to freak out this time thanks to knowing that if you persist, you will eventually succeed, even if you are not naturally talented in a particular area. Last year we were completely overwhelmed by everyone at the start of the course. Most of them waffled and waxed lyrical about how proficient they were in “X” and “Y” and left us feeling completely out of place and like we didn’t fit in…by the end of the course most of the lyrical waxers had dropped out of the course leaving Stevie-boy and narf7 the clueless persistent little middle aged stubborn hippies to plod our tortoise like selves over the finish line. We learned a valuable lesson and this year we are NOT panicking about our lack of prowess in Graphic Design…we will pick up what we need as we go along.

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Another honest image. This is a hebe. Hebe’s are tough as nails. This one died this year. that should tell you something about how difficult it has been to survive the conditions that we Tasmanian’s have had to put up with this year. Note the green asparagus waving from the top of the hebe

I have met and really like this year’s lecturer. Sarah is very friendly, vibrant and passionate about what she does. When I met her she was taking photos of her desk and surrounds. No doubt as part of some Graphic montage she was creating for our future lessons and she said “take LOTS of photos. Create things, look at things from all kinds of angles” I get the feeling like we aren’t in Kansas anymore Toto…

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I really didn’t expect this small tree to live and I planted it out early in the season and it hasn’t had any supplemental watering but it seems to like where it was planted (right in front of that large pile of debris 😉 )

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I won’t ever have to trust the weather men again when it comes to them telling me that it is about to start cooling down and the rainy season is about to hit…I will just have to head out and take a look at mums little memorial scarlet ash 🙂

Well I have managed to fandangle my way up to a somewhat large post folks. I reckon I will stop ear bashing you now and will let you meander off and do what only you can do best in your neck of the woods. I hope that all of my northern readers are starting to get those sunny days that they so crave to give their pasty white skins a bit of colour and that we southerners keep getting regular sprinkles from our sky bling (clouds) over the coming few weeks. See you next week…let’s just see if we didn’t halt that possum in its tracks…want to lay odds? 😉

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes…

Hi All

Or as Mr Bowie may well have sung if it was at ALL easy to rhyme…”ex-ex-ex-ex-experiments”… which comes off sounding somewhat like “Com-pu-pu-pu-(add 10 more pu’s here…by the way I know  that there are 10 more “pu’s” because I counted them 😉 )-computer game” by the NZ band with the dubious name of “Mi-sex”. I say dubious because from what I have managed to glean from dealings with some of my New Zealand blogging confraternity, they are pretty cluey when it comes to spelling so my guess is that the members of the band Mi-Sex are just Aussies that swam the wrong way across the channel as everyone knows that Australian males could care less about spelling. Consider it a fair swap for Crowded House (and by the way, cheers for the pavlova and the lamingtons, they were delicious! 😉 ) . If you would like to count the amount of “pu’s” yourself or you are interested in seeing how computers used to look last century (before anyone was allowed to touch one or own one themselves) or if you are at all, even vaguely, interested in 1979 New Zealand rock feel free to watch the song here…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-m8IOD-wk9g

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This tree has been a dead tree standing for a while now. It was quite close to our house so a friend came over and gave Steve a hand to chop it down on the weekend. It’s completely dead and most deliciously fire ready. Perfect for this coming season of feet up around Brunhilda and tussling for the chairs either side of her before the dogs become permanently welded to them for the next 6 months

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Doesn’t look all that impressive but it’s over a cubic metre of uber dry firewood that we didn’t have to lug from the back block or pay for so “WOOT!” 🙂

I have been having a few “LEARN YOUR LIFE LESSONS NARF” moments here of late. I would like to share some of them with you for the sake of posterity…

  1. When you reduce your feral cat population significantly and are feeling self-righteous about what excellent neighbours and hail-fellow-well-met sterling examples of society you are, you may notice that suddenly your pumpkins are all scoffed by bush rats and the quolls move in and start snarfing your chooks…just sayin’
  2. When you set out to create a lush green oasis in the middle of a parched and arid landscape, every insect from this side of the Pecos is going to invade Poland
  3. When you focus on “lush and green” rather than any sort of thought process that might arrive at an increase in garden produce you get lush and green and not a whole lot to eat
  4. When you fall prey to the ideals of Permaculture and imagine your garden full of delightful helpful chickens who scratch delicately and eat all your pests you probably deserve to end up with no eggs and sixty quintillion baby chicks turning you every slowly more insane with their incessant cheeps
  5. If something tastes good, and you eat a lot of it, it makes you fat. If something doesn’t taste good and you eat a lot of it, it makes you fat
  6. When you give strawberries not enough water they refuse to fruit. When you give strawberries too much water you end up with mushy tasteless fruit…

I hope they can be of some assistance to those of you contemplating the delights of living in the arid wasteland formerly known as “Northern Tasmania” now, most accurately, an extension campus of the Gobi desert

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Here’s some firewood that we prepared earlier. You can tell that we prepared it earlier because a) it is stacked, b) it is dry and c) nature appears to be attempting to take it back…most notably that bollocking blackberry!

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Another one that nature prepared earlier. As you can see, this tree fell over our fence from Glad’s property next door. We cut up the wood that was blocking the driveway but the rest is going to be dealt with soon…not sure when soon actually is. Not even sure if it can be quantified. “Soon” on Serendipity Farm is like “Manana” to a Spaniard 😉

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Here’s another stack of logs that we cut from the tree that fell over Glad’s fence. You can see the pile of debris next to it and I have plans for any debris that we generate from now on. Soon I am going to start a concerted hedge building effort involving striking as many hawthorn cuttings as I can and interplanting them on hugels formed of hacked up debris along the boundary fences on Serendipity Farm. Our neighbours are going to LOVE us but you know what? Bollocks to them. This is for nature, for Permaculture and to redress the loss of topsoil washed down our steep slopes in winter

Today’s post was brought to you by the letter “H”. In particular, the word “Honesty” I read Pauline’s revealing and excellent post about her life and how facing up to the problems and behaviours that were blocking her from her full potential and taking a first step on the road to recovery initially physically, but closely followed by mentally and I dare say spiritually as well led her to become the vibrant, vital and most awesome person that she is today. When you are healthy you see things differently. Life has extra colours, there is hope around every corner and you can’t help but get out of bed feeling like today is going to have some interesting possibilities come what may and you are perfectly able to deal with them. In the spirit of this post I got to thinking about my own journey and the blockages that prevent me from living my life more fully and one of my worst habits kept making itself obvious again and again and again…

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Not a blockage per-se but this little fellow loves to live in our drainpipes and comes out to bumble around on the lawn where he hunts for insects

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One good habit that I cultivated was eating breakfast. Here you see narf7’s breakfast. A large mug of tea (2 teabags) and a bowl of buckwheat porridge with chopped apple, date paste and sesame milk.

I have been having more than my fair share of moments lately where I am lucid AND aware and my synapses are all firing in a similar direction and thought has been the order of the day. I have decided to challenge my longstanding habits on a daily basis. Why would I do something as inherently foolish as that? Because I realised that if we stick with what is safe and what we know we never learn anything and we never move forward. I have been reading a lot of blog posts lately where people have soldiered on against the odds and have come out the other side older, wiser and with a greater understanding and appreciation for their lot than they went into this exchange with. I want to ensure that I am not clinging tenaciously to old habits that might just be inhibiting me in my day to day life. Here’s a few of them that might be on the chopping block in the immediate future

  1. I always want things done my way.
  2. I get stressed when things aren’t done my way
  3. I sulk when things aren’t done my way
  4. I protest vehemently and loudly (and often into the night) when things aren’t done my way
  5. When ANYTHING negative eventuates (I will be waiting for years for just such a gleeful occasion) with anyone else’s interpretation of how things should be done I rise, like the Phoenix in gleeful schadenfreude

Now in looking at this list you might not immediately be able to pick out any common denominators. I am a reasonably well balanced woman who has managed to make it to 50 without going to jail for strangling anyone but I am starting to get the picture that I might just be a teensy little bit of a control freak.

Control freak

noun

informal

noun: control freak; plural noun: control freaks

a person who feels an obsessive need to exercise control over themselves and others and to take command of any situation.

Oh Dear 😦

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“Thank the Lord…we aren’t going to starve today!” Our amazing harvest for Monday… 😉

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Dates soaking in boiling water to make them soft to whizz up in my vitamix blender to make date paste and we actually grew this celery! Never tried to grow it before. It always smacked of “too hard” and so this year it got planted. Delicious stuff and I cut the bases off leaving about an inch so that they can regrow

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Mr Zuke is too cool for school but maybe not too cool to turn into 2 pans of zucchini brownies…

I have a lot of other habits that might need a bit of a tweak but this habit arose like the phoenix apparently in order to prevent me from needing to hyperventilate into a paper bag at least 100 times a day. People who are control freaks are afraid of being out of control. Knowing myself reasonably well (after having to live with “me” as an erratic flatmate inside my head who I might just be going to kick out if she doesn’t stop Pinning on Pinterest and get outside and do a bit of yard work in the immediate future!) I think that this might be a reasonable assumption to make. Throw me a curve ball and I start to twitch. I am not good at change and freely admit that anything out of the ordinary is viewed with suspicion first until it has proven to be anything other than nefarious where I may, or may not frolic in delight when proven wrong. Here’s a website for anyone else who thinks that they might be a control freak or be dealing with one.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-freedom/201010/how-deal-control-freak

I am sure that Steve would be most happy to have me attempt to deal with my incessant need to have my way because that would open the door and allow HIM to have his way all of the time. Steve and I are both control freaks but I am the more dominant (dominatrix?!) one and so I tend to manipulate things a little more than I should. I can’t stop Steve from turning into Napoléon but I CAN stop myself from limiting my enjoyment of life’s day to day experiences and for that, it will be worth unleashing Attila the Steve on society

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This is what kefir grains look like when you feed them non-dairy milk exclusively. Mine revel in homemade sesame milk mixed liberally with homemade date paste. Here you see my little hard working grains sitting in some finished, cultured kefir

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I lift them out of the finished kefir and plonk them straight into some nice new sesame milk/date paste mix ready for them to get cracking with turning it into finished kefir

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This heinous and most unusual looking jellyfish creates cracking caffeine rich probiotic kombucha. The outside of this large container might leave a bit to be desired but the inside is pure deliciousness

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One of the most interesting things about kombucha (booch) SCOBY’s is that they swell to fill the space that they are allotted. My container is square with ridges and so my booch SCOBY is square with ridges :). Here you can see her basking in some of her finished booch ready to be dunked into her next vat of cool sweet tea to feed for another 10 days before narf liberates her and places her reverently into some more…slave? “Moi?!”

Nature has conspired to assist me in my desire to relinquish my need for control. She has thwarted my ways most successfully of late and through gritted teeth I am “grateful”. Where I desired a fecund oasis of productive garden I have had to tackle a sagging enclosure roof that has allowed the possums to bounce their way to snapping off my sunflower heads and chomping the tallest tomatoes off at the stalk. I have discovered that you actually need to be proactive when it comes to potatoes and mound “something” up around their stalks because otherwise you get a lot of green and not a lot of “edible”.  When you think you have a handle on something horticultural because you spent the best part of 4 years studying horticulture and you really should know what you are doing you don’t. There are SO many life lessons that have been tapping me on the head with the duelling wooden spoons of nature and life that I think I might stop there. I am of the firm belief that life hands you life lessons for a reason. I am also of the firm belief that you keep getting those life lessons revisit you like the ghost of Christmas past, if you steadfastly refuse to acknowledge them and deal with them.

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This box contains par of the solution to the problems that we have on Serendipity Farm. I discovered these day lily tubers languishing in a ditch on one of our walks…they have brothers…and sisters…and aunties…and uncles…and about a squillion cousins and I can collect a few surreptitiously each time I decide to ambulate up this road and soon I will be able to populate Serendipity Farm with Day Lilies out the wazoo!

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Here they are having a nice relaxing spa and catching up on all the gossip with their kin

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What my poor kitchen looks like at any given time. There is always something being soaked, or dried or cooling (those 2 bowls of buckwheat porridge) or ground (I have 2 mortar and pestles), or washed, or thrown (“EARL!”) and its just lucky that I designed an UBER simple kitchen in order to keep clutter to the minimum (note…I am NOT showing you a picture of my kitchen table 😉 )

It turns out that we have been tackling Serendipity Farm all wrong.  We have been trying to force our ideas and ideals on the land rather than spending time observing it. Our gung-ho attitude has seen us grow and plant out things that are completely unsuitable for our property and its climactic conditions and it’s time to relinquish control and watch nature at work. Over the coming autumnal period and the ensuing winter, I am going to go back to basics with how we are going to deal with our property and what our outcomes are. Serendipity Farm has a lot of problems but it also has a lot going for it and it’s up to us to work WITH nature to effect positive change rather than try to keep banging our heads on the brick wall that refusing to admit defeat when it comes to our own wants and desires has become. There are some compromises to be made and they aren’t going to be pretty. They might see me having to rethink some of my ideas and ideals and renegotiating exactly what I want for our property. Permaculture is the only answer but each situation is different and I can’t try to apply principles that work elsewhere to here…back to the drawing board…observe, note, THEN plan once we are armed with what we need to move forwards.

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Our new lecturer (who is a darling by the way and who I adore already 🙂 ) told me to take pictures of all sorts of things, to get creative and to find design all over the place. I fear I may be stuck on our “50 pumpkins” task from our course last year. This year we get to design “50 bananas”…I am NOT going to tell you what Steve said…

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Another random shot of my kitchen. This time I have 4 bottles ready for the sesame milk and date paste mix (sesame milk is already in that big bowl and the date paste is in the vitamix blender), the celery was waiting to be chopped along with those carrots for last nights most delicious soup (I have been taking lessons from The Soup Dragon and am now the apprentice Soup Dragon 🙂 ) . I had a delicious moment the other day when for some reason I decided to try and stick one of my spatulas to my magnetic strip…NO idea why I tried it but I found out that it is, indeed, metallic on the inside! That means I can stick my kefir spatula up with the knives away from my other “regular” spatula (also magnetic) so that it doesn’t get cross contaminated and I start culturing my cakes and more to the point, my sesame milk for everyday use

We signed up and paid for our course yesterday. We are now about to commence study in a field that is SO far off centre to what we are used to that my right eye is twitching as I type this. We dabbled with design last year but within strict parameters. This year we are given a lot more creative freedom and as a quintessential planner, releasing the muses is tantamount to sending in the hounds. I think I hide behind my lists. I think that under all of this collective of knowledge that I have been collating and stashing away is a little narf7 who is frankly terrified of being of little worth and who has assumed a hermitty crab shell of great control in order to assuage that fear and reassure myself that I am, indeed, “relevant”

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The son and heir purchased this vacuum sealer for me as a gift WAY back when we lived in Western Australia. It has taken me all of this time to use one box of bags…I am hoping that they still sell them!

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These are dehydrated kefir grains. The yellowish ones were purely fed on cows milk and the darker ones were fed dually on cows milk and non dairy milk with date paste added. The powder around the outside is just dried milk powder. Apparently it keeps them happy while they are in stasis in the fridge. When I fed my kefir on 2 days of non-dairy milk and 1 day of cows milk they grew considerably and I dried them as they produced new babies and the container became too full of them. Here you can see the results of all of that drying

Anyhoo…back to Mr Bowie and his ch-ch-ch-ch-changes and how they pertain to narf7 and Serendipity Farm as a whole. Well I have actively decided to change those habits that are supporting my need to be a control freak. I am going to recognise them for the fear mongers that they are and I am going to learn my life lessons as fast as I can because I am impatient and SUCK at waiting. Whilst working through what makes narf7 tic (not a spelling mistake…) I am going to see if I can’t initiate a few good habits to replace the bad ones. I am considering having a go at Pilates. I hear it’s like yoga with an eye patch…if so…”ARRGHH! Narf7 be ready for that kind of mellow jaunt across the high seas of life”. I am also going to read more, listen to good music more and explore my creative side without having to create “perfect” examples of anything and allowing myself to fail abysmally in the process. All life lessons…all good.

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I used my vacuum sealer to bag up 2 selections of my dehydrated kefir to send to Pauline (The Contented Crafter) and Tanya (Chica Andaluza) so these little babies are winging their merry way to New Zealand and to Spain respectively. I am not sure if either of them will make it through customs let alone get dunked into fresh milk at the other end but at least we are trying girls 🙂

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A close up of their little vacuum sealed bodies…still in stasis but one step closer to their goal of Serendipity Farm kefir grains taking over the world! (Oops…did I say that out loud? The masters will be angry! )

It looks like we have arrived at the end of this post. Sorry about the philosophy 101. I actually typed up an entirely different post earlier in the week that I decided to discard because it was too philosophical but it would appear that my muses are insisting on philosophy this week and you are stuck with my erstwhile attempts to find my navel where I don’t actually have one. I may, or may not have a chakra but navel…nada. It was removed in a past surgery so I guess that leaves me to attempt to find my third eye without going cross-eyed in the mirror.  Hopefully normal service will have resumed next week but I think part of this introspection is partly to do with the change of seasons. My brain is INSISTING on changing the seasons with the calendar month this year. I get the picture that nature will again insist otherwise…”nature is a control freak” 😉

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