“I’m not dead…I’m just busy!”

Hi All,

I feel like copying and pasting that sentence into several emails to friends and family and using it as my Facebook epitaph. I have decided not to use Facebook any more. It sucks time and energy out of you and it is totally addictive. I don’t want to waste valuable time sitting on my bum indoors when I could be outside in the sunshine (albeit the cold sunshine) facilitating change on Serendipity Farm along with my dear long suffering husband who might be dragging his feet, but he is still coming along for the ride. We have enormous gardens to build. Yesterday, when I was picking the last of the tomatoes and some ripe red chillies for The Virtual Vegan Potluck entry that is now all done and dusted and ready for posting in early May, Steve was planning aloud. That was difficult because Earl was on the end of a lead, Bezial was frolicking free and was up for a game with his harnessed kennel mate and when 2 American Staffies want to play, it’s not so much fun to be the man on the end of the rope! He was planning (while he was being pulled from pillar to post, spun around in circles and was anchoring himself to the nearest sheoak tree…) our plan of attack.

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This is Gok…prior to his recent cooking television series I had nothing but derision for this man-Gumby hybrid. I would see adverts for his television show about making naked women feel good about themselves and would cringe…one of those “empowering the people” shows that was really all about self denial and delusion but then I had nothing to do one evening and decided to watch television and was too lazy to get up when Gok’s Chinese cooking show came on. Truth be told my interest was piqued and I am now a complete convert of Gumby-Gok. I love the man. He has elevated himself into the stratosphere and I totally “get” why hundreds of women would strip for him and parade themselves naked around on television…Gok is the new Nigel Slater and he is the hipster king of U.K. cookery that this wonderful book was sent to me by the wonderful Tanya from http://chicaandaluza.wordpress.com/ a wonderful blog that I have been following for quite a while now. Tanya and I share an ethos, a sense of humour and a deep love for frugality and for living our lives to the fullest and Tanya decided that she wanted to send me a copy of Gok’s Chinese cookbook and I am absolutely rapt :). There are so many recipes that I want to make but the very first one is going to be congee. After that there is an amazing Chinese rice wrapped in dried lotus roots and after that the sky is the limit! I love you Gumby-Gok and I love  Tanya and Toli’s generosity as well 🙂

Steve is the heavy duty practical side of the equation…I am the numbers “man”. Together we figure it out and we put it into play and we usually end up with what we were after. It’s a great result when we work together… the only problem is that we work in such different ways that most of the time we spend trying to figure out what the HECK the other person is doing at any given time. Steve has plans…”those trees there are in the way…they will have to come out (read Steve wants some firewood for next year)… and after that we will put some poles in (read dig holes, concrete poles into the ground where only days before there was a perfectly good tree that we could have used for the same purposes…sigh…) and we can stretch that netting tight between them and after that…” I wasn’t listening by then…I was bums up doing callisthenics in an attempt to try to source some tomatoes from the jungle that used to be a tomato bed. “Next year we stake!” I say loudly and Steve looks at me in a somewhat alarmed way…obviously I must have interjected at some crucial point that most certainly DIDN’T require staking!

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I took this book out of the library recently on a whim…looks like I am going to be exercising my brain for the foreseeable future…

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Here is the button box that I recently gave my friend Kym. We swapped that lovely doily book for buttons…a great swap! We both get something that we want for something that we don’t want…the best of frugality mixed with barter 🙂

Steve says the magic words “after this garden, we will take out those trees over there and will make another one…” and THAT is part of why I love you still you smelly footed, stubborn mule of a man… you feed me what I want and I WANT more gardens :o). I have big plans for the first paddock on Serendipity Farm. Most of it is going to be a fully enclosed series of walk in, walk out vegetable gardens. I want to be able to grow chickpeas, amaranth, chia and quinoa along with buckwheat and various other hardy grains and lots of dried beans. Protein and calories are the order of the day. I am even going to have a go at growing peanuts after Sarah from http://gardeningkiwi.wordpress.com/ fame (and she IS famous folks…she has written a book :o) ) said that she bought a packet off her supermarket shelf (the ones in shells) and is growing them! She said “I like to experiment”…so do I Sarah…so do I! So peanuts are on the cards.

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This is the front cover of a wonderful crochet doily book that my friend Kym from Western Australia sent me recently. I finally found where I hid these photos! Linne wanted to see the cover so here it is…

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And here is one of the lovely doilies inside that I am going to attempt to tackle in the near future

I was going to have a go at growing Brazil nuts but found out that they won’t fruit/nut anywhere other than Brazil because they need a specific and most endemic little pollinator before they will produce the nuts…but the tree looks lovely and I might just grow one…”because I can!” I dare say no-one else in Tassie has a Brazil nut tree growing in their garden and narf7 is bolshie enough to give it the old college try. I have grown mangoes, avocados, walnuts, hazelnuts, figs, carob trees and copious quantities of chestnut trees (easy peasy to grow folks, I just fished a forgotten bag of chestnuts out of the fridge and threw them into some moist coir peat in a plastic bag in a covered esky and almost all of them grew!) and love to grow something for free. It feeds the frugality in me and gives me a sense of purpose to produce things.

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These pumpkin vines are WAY too late in the season to survive the coming winter and were harbouring some small mango saplings that had grown in the compost, so I decided to sacrifice the pumpkins to save the mangoes

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This is what the compost heap looks like today and the sad withered greenery was once pumpkins…next season I am going to have amazing pumpkins that no native animal is going to have a chance to sniff let alone get close enough to taste!

I might have to have a stall somewhere to offload all of the excess food producing plants, however, because even though we have 4 acres, 20 walnut trees and 15 chestnut trees might just be a few too many for that kind of acreage if we want to have a hope in heck of planting anything else ;). That’s part of the problem. If we were rank amateurs we could head out with our heads full of hope and just “plant” but we aren’t…we are fully fledged, dyed in the wool, fully away horticulturalists and we KNOW how far apart we should space things, we KNOW how big they grow, we KNOW about forest plantings and pH and depth of planting and we just KNOW which makes it all the harder to plant out our wonderful free little babies. I might just go doorknocking in the neighbourhood and see if our long suffering neighbours would like some “excuse me…we live just down the road…you might have heard our dogs barking…here…have a tree for your suffering…” ;).

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There might not be many but these potatoes were found when we were digging up the mangoes from the compost bin…SCORE!

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The 2 mangoes in their overwintering palace, the glass house. Lets just hope they survive the winter

I need to self-flagellate…I missed Leonardo Da Vinci’s 561st birthday on April 15th! I also missed that crap mini-series that someone (trying to make a fast buck out of jumping on the bandwagon to link famous long dead (read “can’t sue me anymore”…) people with crappy vampire series…) made about him recently but unlike my sheer unmitigated glee at escaping that utter pile of dog excrement, I am a little bit sad that I missed giving this amazing man the kudos that he deserved. Some people deserve über kudos and Leonardo is one such man…let’s all give him a minute’s silence, heck, let’s give him 2! for being one über cool dude WAY back then that was likely to get you lynched, tarred and feathered or just plain tortured and dispatched. It just goes to show that the brain will out, no matter what is standing in the way (or how much armour or pointy weaponry they are carrying at the time…). I offer you the quintessential anthem to kudos that you deserve sir…ringing down through the ages you ARE remembered…you live on in so many people’s minds and as ACDC would sing, loudly and repeatedly…”for those about to rock…WE SALUTE YOU!”. We most certainly do Mr Da Vinci. :o)

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We didn’t think that these poor long suffering potted babies would survive the long, hot dry summer that we had, let alone live to give us any kind of winter display but here they are looking beautiful and begging us to plant them out this autumn…”I hear you babies…I HEAR YOU” 🙂

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We grew most of these small trees from seed. We aren’t too sure what we are going to do with them all but we might just find someone starting out anew and give them an unexpected bonus of some gorgeous trees 🙂

It’s just turned 3.29am Saturday 20th. Bezial turfed me out of bed because it’s COLD out here and he heard me telling Earl to stop shoving ;). I don’t mind, all the more time for me to tap away here and tie up online ends before my brain turns itself off early this evening. I am now the mother of a 23 year old youngest child. My daughter Bethany had her birthday yesterday and was celebrating with her sister Madeline (25) by having lunch at a new local Korean BBQ house. I hope they had a great time and I know that Bethany’s birthday cake will have been MOST interesting because they were using some purple bubble tea as the basis. They like to experiment with cooking and tend to only use recipes as a basis for their imaginative recipes and 9 times out of 10 they are successful. I tend not to be as inventive as they are but I am reasonably inventive and like to mess about with cultures and letting the cultures metabolise ingredients partially to see what happens to the end result.

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I COMPLETELY forgot to post this heart for valentine’s day! We noticed it when we were walking the dogs AGES ago in Launceston at the university campus…I heart trees 🙂

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This is a leaf hopper…usually leaf hoppers = BAD but this one is in someone else’s garden so he gets to be admired for his beauty and left to nibble another day 😉

I am going to be making more kimchi this weekend. I have a precious cup of kimchi left from my last batch that is going to culture my new batch. Steve rust treated and sprayed my new fire set black that I got for $1 from the tip shop and remembered a fire poker that we had inherited so that got the black spray treatment as well. The handle doesn’t exactly match the set we picked up but who cares? It pokes the fire and that’s fine by me! The best thing about that $1 fire set is that it is solid cast iron and was built to last. I don’t know why someone threw it out in the first place but I have noticed that garage sales are rich playgrounds for savvy people here in Tasmania. The average Tasmanian doesn’t like to get out into the world until around about 10am. We used to head off to the Evandale markets (when we lived in the city) nice and early at 8.30 and we would be finished and on our way home before the long lines of Tassie traffic were passing us in the other direction.

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This is the shop at Wychwood…isn’t it lovely?

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This is the family home at Wychwood but I couldn’t resist sharing this lovely trough of succulents with you all 🙂

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Just around the corner from that lovely trough of succulents is this lovely brick oven. I have a pile of used bricks in town with an oven just like this’s name on it…

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These are the sort of rocks that you find on the beaches around Tasmania. Beautiful weather worn, smoothed by the ocean rocks. It’s hard to leave them on the beach!

Steve shops at 7am in the supermarkets because there are only a few older people there at that time of day…he is usually finished shopping by about 10am and we only shop once a fortnight so these shopping forays take all different kinds of shops into account. We plan this once a fortnight shop meticulously and Steve has his plans of attack. Sometimes the plans of attack involve grabbing things off shelves without looking at them and then finding out when you get home that someone had decided to dump a more expensive product for a cheaper one on sale and Steve just so happened to have grabbed the more expensive product in his hast to be “OUTTA THERE” but that is happening more infrequently now that he is starting to realise that it just isn’t worth handing your tea addicted wife (since she was 2) a packet of über expensive teabags that don’t deliver that rich tannin flavour!  It takes me almost a whole day to do what Steve does in a couple of hours and even then I forget things and come home with heaps of other things that weren’t on the list. I did the shopping the last time that I stayed at my daughters. I did a GREAT job…I was very proud of myself for my efforts BUT (that year of living honestly has forced me to tell the truth 😉 ) I did have the entire weekend to chip away at the shopping list and stretched out the actual shopping over the 3 days that I was away. Some people are built for speed and Steve is one such person :o). Now he just has to allow the concept of “accuracy” to filter into his mindset 😉

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Who would like one of these gorgeous little birdhouses in their garden?

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I took a side view because I am going to have a go at making something approximating this birdhouse…wish me luck!

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I LERVE this chair folks…it is official. We have driftwood from the sea that washes down the river and onto the pebbly riverbank right in front of Serendipity Farm…we have Teatree saplings on the property that need thinning out that would be perfect to make something like this and we have lots of misshapen woody bits lying around from past thinning out ventures. This chair has my name all over it!

Remember how I was complaining about how hot it was in February and March? It WAS hot…it was dry…it was HORRIBLE and now it is cold…it went from 30+C temperatures down to 5C in a matter of weeks. My recent weight loss efforts have handed me energy to spare. It shielded me from our long hot summer and I certainly didn’t miss my extra layer of fat in summer. Everything has good and bad points right? That includes weight loss! Yeh, I might be able to power up our steep driveway in a wave of determination…yeh my knees might be happier than they have been in years…yeh I might almost have broken out into a run with Earl the other day and I might be able to keep up with Steve when we are walking the dogs and yeh I might be able to fit into clothes that I haven’t fitted into for years BUT then the frigid Antarctic autumn descends and suddenly my obsolete layer of fat has taken on a nostalgic quality in my mind…like a nice round nana (cheers for that analogy Jess 😉 ) that gives you a cuddle and a couple of her chockie bickies (that’s chocolate cookies to you Northerners) out of the biscuit barrel when you visit her and you KNOW that the roast dinner she is going to dish you up that night will have more than enough delicious roast potatoes AND there is desert!

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This is an avocado…it appears to be trying to sneak away because it is MORE than aware of it’s fate. Tonight…this avocado will be made into sushi. “Fear me avocado!” 😉

My 25 extra kilos cuddled me in winter. They wrapped themselves around me and insulated me from the worst of the cold and I KNOW WHY SEALS HAVE BLUBBER! I might be able to zip around the place like Speedy Gonzales on steroids…I might be constantly marvelling at how loose cloth feels on my legs and how I have so much energy now but I fear winter. I really do FEAR winter. I am sitting here wearing 2 jumpers, a pair of leg warmers (YES leg warmers 😉 ), my warm slippers and I am STILL cold. Is this what you “normal” people feel in winter? I am going to have to scratch a chalky little note on our shopping list…my chalky little note is going to read “dear Steve…could you please pick me up 14 hot water bottles from K-Mart this shopping…I KNOW 14 seems a little extreme but humour me… I am going to strap them to my body for winter…I am going to knit myself a full set of long john’s (brightly coloured with flares…CMON’! Would you expect any less of me?! 😉 with little flaps where the hot water bottle necks are situated…I am going to sew myself into the long john’s (cheers for that analogy Linnie 😉 ) and I am going to spend winter in my improvised suit of warmth to take the place of my fat. I can just do a few cartwheels to empty them each morning, shiver for a little while as I fill them all and sink into happy hot fugishness through my days. I don’t suggest anyone visits me over winter (bad luck Kymmy, you already booked!) as my new suit might start to reek a bit BUT them’s the breaks folks and you do what you have to do to keep yourself warm and sane 😉

DSCF0920Some of the fire utensils from the $1 tip shop bargain that I got recently. The poker and broom are still in the shed awaiting second coats but already it looks a whole lot better than $1 in my books 🙂

Bezial just got up. He who tossed me out of bed at 2.30 is lying in front of Brunhilda at 3.57am demanding that I poke her and get her going. I am starting to wonder just who is the boss around here… Apparently Bezial already knows! 😉 Bezial has been waiting for this…he and I share a winter tradition of getting up together and me waking Brunhilda up from her overnight slumber so that he can lay in front of her for the rest of the day. Bezial just decided that she wasn’t warming up quickly enough and has gone back to the comfort and warmth of being tucked under my feather doona next to Earl and Steve…sigh…that leaves Brunhilda and I to do the work of warming up the kitchen together…she is crackling into life as I tap this here and its WONDERFUL! :o).

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Still harvesting things from our veggie garden and the spinach is showing no signs of going to seed or giving up the ghost any day soon which is great because I pick it every day 🙂

Last year I got up a whole lot later than I do now…Steve tamps the fire down before he goes to bed at 11 and I will be waking her up again at 3…she seems pleased with the new routine…she  and I have lots of possibilities as the colder weather progresses. I can now add a few new routines of my own into the equation. Now that I am up 3 – 4 hours earlier than the rest of the household why not use some of this time with Brunhilda’s early morning warmth to good avail? Time to start factoring in the warmth of the bread proofer that Steve made for me, essentially a shelf a metre above Brunhilda with a metal mesh allowing the wafting heat to rise through and slowly warm whatever I choose to place up there…I could prove bread up there overnight. A nice slow proofing so that the next day I can get Brunhilda cranking and an hour later I could bake bread…fresh baked bread before the sun comes up? Now THAT is an interesting premise!

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A gratuitous bum shot…I still can’t get over where it went! I have lost more weight since this photo but you are looking at the part of me that was the most significant to say the least…now I know it was there to keep me warm in winter!

Steve recently received a gorgeous jar of Christi from Olalla’s jam. He allowed me a tiny taste but I know that this jam is precious to him. It’s a matter of supply and demand. No matter how much jam he demands, there is a very limited supply. Christi is one of the most generous and wonderful people that I know but it costs a FORTUNE to send things between Australia and the U.S. My daughters send a 4kg (that’s over 8lb) package to my son in a neighbouring state for his recent 31st birthday and it only cost them $17 to do so. I would have to SELL said 31 year old son to pay for the costs if I wanted to send the same parcel to Olalla…that should give you an idea about how expensive it is (AND he is a practicing accountant who won’t get out of bed for under $200/hour so factor that into the equation!). I am just going to have to try to get Christi’s jammy goodness recipes out of her. In the name of transcontinental happiness she just might grace me with the recipe to make Steve happy over his morning toast but the problem is that aside from not being able to get some of the more exotic ingredients, Christi has her own alchemy when it comes to jam. I have NEVER tasted better jam folks. This girl could jar it up and sell it, it is THAT good. I bow to her jammy genius and can only hope that my homemade spadle could do justice to one of her recipes. I have a couple of kilos of blackberries in the freezer…I have a homemade spadle that could stir for the queen and I have a 20 litre stainless steel pressure cooker base that doubles as an “Ace” jam pot…now all I need is that fairy dust that makes “jam”…something that Steve wants to dip his spoon into and eat from the jar 😉

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Who could resist these 2…butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths now would it? 😉

Another tome? “Et Tu Brute?!”…sigh…I guess some of you are still reading my posts and maybe I might be able to coax some strangers from the ether (via unusual tags 😉 ) to stray onto Serendipity Farm and spend the time it takes to get through a BIG mug of tea to read them. I told someone today that my blog is my way of allowing my muses to vent. I guess you, my dear constant readers, are starting to realise just how many muses this poor husk of humanity endures! Brunhilda has managed to heat a kettle of water from cold to just on the point of boiling in under 2 minutes…not bad old girl! She is in fine form and just the crackling is making me feel warmer. Apparently the roosters under the deck are feeling the love as well because they just started to crow…sigh…have a fantastic weekend folks…remember you only get 1 life and this is IT. Do something that makes you feel alive this weekend…bugger it…do something that makes you “SQUEE!” with delight :o). Have the best damned time that you can this weekend and when you have to trudge back to work they are going to wonder what that little smile of contentment is that  is hanging off the side of your mouth…don’t tell them, it’s all yours. See you Wednesday :o)

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

Hi All,

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

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Earl bagsed top bunk…

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

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“I prefer to be chauffered…”

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“Any fish in here?”

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

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

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

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

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

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Walking down the driveway to check the mail…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When “The Booze Bus” comes to town…

Hi All,

We might like to imbibe a little of the amber fluid on the odd occasion on Serendipity Farm but don’t panic dear constant readers, we didn’t drink and drive and live to suffer the consequences…Steve just had a brilliant idea for a business. We are in NO position to take this idea anywhere and even if we had the money to facilitate its start-up, we have much better things to spend our money futures on than the rabid New Year’s delusions of a man fond of a tipple who is currently on the wagon…we were walking the boys this morning and I could see a light bulb of an idea switch on while we were talking…”I have a GREAT idea for a business” said Steve. “You know icecream trucks?”…Yes…yes indeed I know icecream trucks, or the legend of “icecream trucks” anyway as everywhere that I have ever lived has managed to maintain a severe dearth of the perambulatory frozen sweetened dairy variety of truck. “What if someone delivered alcohol to people…what if they were on the road from 6pm till 12 and were open for delivering booze to people out in the country who either couldn’t be bothered to head into town or who were unable to do so for whatever reason…”…yes…yes I can see where you are going Stevey boy…a constant stream of supermarket trucks up and down the Batman Highway delivering to our immediate vicinity has lent this idea a bit of strength…”It could be called “The Booze Bus” and the driver could wear a suit and a pork pie hat and dark sunglasses and could be called a “Booze Brother”…”…o…..k….. “And the bus could actually trawl for business like an icecream truck only instead of Greensleeves…it could play Tubthumping!”… I have to give it to him. The man can certainly navigate himself around an idea! No funds Steve…no endless tap on the keg of life is going to deliver you that dream any day soon but to anyone out there entrepreneurial enough to take this idea on board and take advantage of the fact that whenever there is an economic downturn and funds are low there is a distinct spike in the sales of alcohol and people go back to the movies…the masses have to have SOMETHING to entertain them…feel free to take Steve’s dream BUT there is one clause…when you are millionaires from the profits of another man’s dream…could you just send one of those booze buses down Auld Kirk Road with “Tubthumping” blaring as loud as it can and stop right out the front of the Auld Kirk Church, drop off a freebie carton (you owe him that much…) and make a broken man’s day? 😉

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The Booze Brother himself with his entourage…

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Looks like one of the entourage has left the building! Thems the perks of being a “good dog” when you go out…

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“Me Alone”…what happens when a dog thinks that he is cleverer than he is…this one thought that because I was making a cake, we were going to leave them on their own the day after (our usual polytechnic routine)…this one refused his tea…this one’s stomach was grumbling and THIS one won’t look at the camera…

Somer of Vedgedout blogging fame http://vedgedout.com/ has given me permission to blog about my experiences on her green smoothie challenge. She recently made a free PDF of this plan available for anyone who wants to start the New Year off with clean gizzards who doesn’t want to resort to falling prey to salmonella or a wandering gastro bug to give them the same results. I decided to try it because after taking a look at the plan, it certainly gave you a lot of choice and aside from the obvious health benefits, you might just lose a bit of weight in the process. I still have a few kilos to lose before I am completely happy to call my weight acceptable but I like to lose weight slowly now because years of yo-yo dieting has taught me that if you get something quickly and with very little effort or determination to change it very rarely lasts.  Admittedly it took me about 30 years to learn that but better late than never is my motto! I am really enjoying the processes of this plan. I like working through the choices and I am even enjoying my pond water with frog spawn. You don’t have to choose “pond water with frog slime”…I am just partial to it now. I add chia seed that has an interesting tendency to swell up and become decidedly frog spawny and I put tonnes of home grown fresh spinach into my smoothies so they end up verdant green and reminiscent of algal bloom on a duck pond. The best thing about this plan is that it gives you the ability to customise it to your own wants and needs. It is completely meat free and grain free (aside from a bit of quinoa in one of the soup recipes) but I figure that anyone could handle a week of this. I very rarely manage to eat/drink everything that I am supposed to eat in a day because there is so very much of it! It just goes to prove that you can eat a low calorie diet without feeling empty…you just need to be clever about what you are eating. If you like to eat a LOT (like I do…) then increase the veggies in your diet…eat HEAPS of them, especially the green ones because they tend to be low calorie and very filling. I no longer diet and if I wasn’t expected to weigh myself to share with the rest of the group of people worldwide that are undertaking this challenge I wouldn’t bother. I go by how I feel and I am feelin’ fine my dear constant readers…I am waxing lyrical, I am not grouchy in the mornings and I have lots of energy so I am calling this plan a success. You could technically eat this kind of food for the rest of your life. It is full of vitamins and minerals and it is positively brimming with vitality but I love my grains and starches and want to integrate them back, albeit in smaller portions, to my regular diet so I will be revisiting this green smoothie challenge on a regular basis to keep my intestines happy. I might do this once a month it is that easy to follow and I am someone who quintessentially bucks following “programs” of any kind. I heartily endorse this free program and anyone wanting to feel a bit healthier or lose a bit of weight feel free to head on over to Somers and download the plan. She is a most gracious host :o)

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Prime crunchy sweet organic home grown cucumbers 🙂

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A barrow load of chicken coop hay about to be used to mulch the capsicum garden

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What happens to rocket when you show it a good time…note the capsicum in the foreground (a bit of a “Where’s Wally?” moment 😉 )

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The pile of rocket extracted and mulching complete!

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A newly refurbished capsicum and chilli garden bed well covered in spent hay to keep the moisture in the ground where it belongs to cut down on watering in the month and a half of summer that we still have in front of us

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Possum invaders!…sigh…back to the drawing board!

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Bread clips from too many loaves of supermarket cheap bread 😦

I just tossed another bread tie into a small bowl that I keep them in. I once saw a blog post on how to turn them into things…to repurpose them but all I have is a bowl full of them. It stands as a constant reminder that I should be baking bread…baking bread is actually very easy and incredibly therapeutic. It doesn’t even take all that much time aside from the proofing so my only excuse is that I am too lazy to bake it and these little tags remind me of how I am a slave to the bread “man”. This recipe doesn’t even require the obligatory kneading! I have NO excuses… http://gggiraffe.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/no-knead-honey-and-oat-bread-ii.html I try to give myself excuses “It’s only for the chooks…Steve doesn’t eat much of it…it’s cheaper than making your own…” but it all ends up at the same place sustainable “FAIL!” I don’t like failing…I fear I have a type A personality and failure is tantamount to …well…failing! I know how to make bread. I make GOOD bread…I will feel a sense of accomplishment when I make bread BUT there is something stubborn and primal inside me…call it my middle aged child that bucks my desired ordered system and wants to read a book or go online or phone a friend…it’s a sad sorry state of affairs when you are having a parent teenager battle with yourself! “Get off your derrière and bake some bread and while you are at it, you could wipe those crumbs off that breadboard, put that washing on and you could wipe down that counter”…”You NEVER let me have any fun! It’s NOT FAIR! I HATE YOU”… a body could end up needing therapy if they allowed their teenaged selves to win!

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Isn’t this Stapelia hirsuita gorgeous? At this stage it looks like a beautiful purple hairy star…

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It then turns its petals up and forms an orb of foetid stinkiness to attract the blowflies and other carrion scavenging insects that it needs to pollinate its beautiful but nose-holdingly stinky flowers…we don’t care, its too beautiful not to love 🙂

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Myrtus communis (Common Myrtle) a wonderfule xeriscape plant that has edible fruit that are used to make a type of liqueur in the Med. I just love these flowers and might propagate some more of this lovely shrub for some of the dryer areas on Serendipity Farm

I was just considering retitling this post “Never mind the bollocks…this means WAR!”… We are fighting an ongoing battle with possums that sees them gaining ground in the night and us having to rethink our fortress and add all sorts of protective devices to the best of our abilities to stop the little buggers! Yesterday I removed an enormous crop of rocket that had gone to seed and was bitter and inedible. Obviously the possums thought so too because they had left it well alone, even though I now realise that they had been into the veggie garden questing for food! I thought that Steve had left the veggie garden open yesterday because the netting was loose. Steve had been checking out the size of his capsicums nestled amongst the tangle of rocket and I thought that he had just done his usual half-assed job of closing up the veggie garden when he emerged but today I realise that the rocket actually did a sterling job to protect the veggie garden against the possums that had tentatively pushed the netting till they were able to get in. Not so much luck today (for us, anyway) because the bitter rocket was gone and the tender capsicums were exposed and highlighted by a lovely empty garden bed full of easily navigable hay…you can guess what happened and they took some tomato with them and although I know that capsicums are perennial, the two that were completely decimated are most probably not going to bear fruit this year. We were walking the boys in Deviot today and stopped at the hall where the wonderful community of Deviot have built a lovely fully enclosed heritage apple, pear and herb garden and we had decided that we were going to copy their idea to build our much larger fully enclosed veggie garden. Steve, after inspecting the damage to his capsicums (not only did they chew the leaves, they took a single bite out of his precious first capsicum rendering it rooned!), has decided on using a large yacht mast that was left in the tangled pile of metal next to the veggie garden to erect a sort of circus tent style roof for the veggie garden when we make it in autumn (so that we have softened ground after the rains) and it will be fully enclosed in ex-fish farm netting. It will be a HUGE enclosed garden and good luck to the possums even getting a sniff at our coming season’s veggies! I want to enclose our small orchard eventually as the possums hoovered the pears from the last of the pear trees the other day. I didn’t cover them so I guess I deserve the dearth of fruit but I am starting to wonder at how many possums are parading the grounds of Serendipity Farm after dark there must be a veritable army of them!

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Our local “Loire Valley” equivalent “Marrion’s vinyard”. The West Tamar region is well known worldwide for its quality wines and this little vinyard is a fine example of its ilk

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Lonicera hildebrandiana (Giant Burmese honeysuckle) in a garden on one of our walks this week

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2 of the scented geraniums that I have grown from cuttings taken from plants on the road verge on past dog walks

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Bakewell slice made for a man who was lusting after “something sweet”…

Steve is off pootling again…he pootles at will now and spends lots of his time creating spoons out of enormous piles of wood shavings. I am using the wood shavings in my compost bucket and can’t wait to see the fungi that grow from some of the exotic woods that he is working with. I have just finished a week of green smoothie challenging and aside from losing 2 ½ kilos effortlessly I feel amazing! I feel bright and vibrant and clean and have decided to incorporate this plan into my everyday eating repertoire. If it aint broke, don’t fix it! I was broke…I fixed it ;). It would seem that the possums were held at bay last night with the measures that Steve and I took yesterday to curtail their night scoffing. Nothing was touched and I noticed that our eggplants are going gangbusters and since I mulched with hay around their bases they are taking off and are flowering all over the place. I love a good eggplant in the morning and these little finger eggplants promise to give us a good harvest this year (so long as the possums aren’t hatching any plans that is…). Aside from bouncing around full of good health I have a spring in my step because everything is starting to come together and work in cycles like I had hoped. Where we cleared out the side garden the buddleia is not only attracting bumble bees, regular and native bees and a plethora of exotic looking butterflies, it is shading everything underneath it and giving it respite from the heat of the sun. The garden is starting to take off how we want it too and I have been collecting seed and cutting material on our morning dog walks that I can then propagate or broadcast around the garden when we get home. I got some Washington hawthorn cuttings yesterday that we are going to trial and see if we can’t grow some of these valuable habitat plants that have edible fruit and that have the most amazing autumn foliage display. The thorns on these babies would dissuade the most persistent predator and if we can grow some, they will be planted around Serendipity Farm as hedging for the local birdlife to nest safely in. All in all I am feeling incredibly happy with my lot these days despite us remaining the penniless student hippies that we were last year. The sun has stopped frying everything in its pathway and the lovely 25C days that we are having have allowed Steve and I to be both creative and relax at will over our holidays from Polytechnic. We are doing what we want to do and are enjoying every single minute of it. We will be back at school soon enough, but for now, we are loving our time to ourselves bums up in the garden and in a wild flurry of woodchips.

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Two more beautiful spoons…the top one is made of Native Tasmanian Olivewood (Doral) and the lower spoon is made from Blackheart Sassafras (Atherosperma Moschatum) and the black line is actually caused by an interesting fungal relationship with the plant and makes for a very striking result…who KNOWS what wood Steve is going to use for the Valentine’s Day spoon 😉

I might finish todays post there folks. This Saturday we will be offering you another chance to get one of Steve’s beautiful handmade spoons…this one is specifically for Valentine’s Day and will be perfect to give your sweetie so let us know if you want to enter to win a spoon and you will make Earls day! The more walnuts in that bowl, the happier Earl will be :o). The draw will be open to anyone, anywhere because the cost to send a wooden spoon to just about anywhere in this wonderful world is extremely cheap and we truly enjoy sharing See you all on Saturday :o).

All things are GO on Serendipity Farm!

Hi All

I think that we are going to have to get Stewart and Kelsey to threaten to come over to Tasmania from Melbourne more often as we have done more this week than we have for 6 months! Admittedly, in our defence, it WAS winter, but we have been dragging our collective feet for a little while now about taking tentative baby steps back into hard slog in the garden. It’s not that we don’t want to…it’s not that we don’t like the results…it’s the ever-present memory of just how much hard slog there actually still is to even get the garden to a state where we can start to begin to think about planting our potted plants out and actually buying and propagating things again to put into it. I got excited the other day and actually thought about buying some annuals to spread around the garden beds visible from the house but after noting a hardy Hebe’s complete disappearance by what I can only assume was a mass chook dust orgy, I thought again. It’s wise to save your moth eaten sock under the bed for when it counts and fluffy short lived annuals are NOT a wise bet around here.  We have painted and coordinated the door, meter box and the seldom used gas hot water system and today, after we got back from stocking up on suitable “grub” for the Prodigal son and Kelsey’s visit (which we now think is on Sunday night rather than Saturday as always the parents are the LAST to know!) Steve whipped out a can of green outdoor emulsion and painted the rust crumbly mailbox. It might be sagging on its pole (“Stand up soldier!) a bit, but at least it looks the business now and may just pass muster till the poor mail lady tries to drop a letter into it and it slides slowly and dejectedly down its pole to half-mast like an aging pole dancer past her prime.

“Ok Herman…you stay in your bag and you THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU DIDN’T DO!”…sigh…

Anyone else ever started to remove cobwebs and suddenly drowned in them! See that teeny little spider on the roof? Thats responsible for this uber spiders web!

Our haul of eggs and mushrooms. Not too shabby 😉

Steve’s new enterprise “4Q”…

Our vigorous activities have left us tired, satisfied and very happy. It’s amazing how much we can achieve when we have a deadline! I read somewhere the other day to forget motivation as it’s a fleeting concept but that discipline is the only way to achieve what you want. Discipline, meaning doing things when you really don’t want to…keeping something going till it grabs hold of you and becomes habit like my new “No Diet” lifestyle. I found my knees the other day people. I have been afflicted with excess adipose tissue for most of my life and while we were driving home I looked down and saw actual, real, human lady type knees! For a minute there I didn’t think that they were mine, but considering there was only Steve, Bezial, Earl and I in the car and I am the only one vaguely womanly I had to concede that this No Diet way of living really does work! It’s funny that it’s taken me so long to work out that if you want something you have to work for it. I have been bucking the system for quite some time waiting for miracles to fall from the sky and for my fairy Godmother to wave her magic wand and I would wake up in Angelina Jolie’s body Living in the South of France and with the key to a rather large (even for Switzerland…) Swiss bank account at my beck and call but it never happened. I was jipped! My fairy Godmother is a lazy so-an-so who seems more intent on granting everyone else’s wishes to get around to my humble wants and so I have decided to bypass her and go it alone. Find happiness all by myself! I started with dealing with the things that I really don’t like about myself and the things that I want to change. The “No Diet” weight loss is going along swimmingly but the “Stop being a bad tempered old stoat” seems to be taking a bit longer in coming to fruition. I guess it’s persistence over procrastination every time and like many years ago when I used to cycle 40km a day and purposefully chose the biggest hills to climb…it’s a case of looking down at that white line and just carrying on until you are suddenly over that ridge. Consider the lesson noted and ticked off the life list.

We both thought that this stone looked like an old fashioned milestone so decided to give it a job…

We have lots of little Muscari botryoides sprouting up all over the place on Serendipity Farm. I love their vibrant colour and their tenacity. You are going to need it if you live here little guy!

This is the top of our driveway

We might be living in a temperate climate but we will darned well have at least 1 palm tree!

Steve picked up a heap of guitar leads and paraphernalia when we were in town today. It had been stored in the unit out the back of the girl’s house while we were renovating out here and was promptly forgotten. He is messing about in his music room and I get the odd flashback to the 70’s with some incredibly loud Led Zeppelin and Hendrix and then sudden silence perpetuated with clicks, buzzes and strange tapping. I don’t know what he is doing in there but it involves a large unfolded map of words that he keeps muttering about whenever he emerges from his music room and saying things about one of his amplifiers. I find it best to not ask. It’s better that way. I have my own form of musical history but mine tends to be unplugged and involves a degree of lip pursing and blowing the contents of my lungs into a set of glorified pipe fittings. Steve’s musical liens are cooler. He used to be a guitar teacher and has been known to rock the suburbs in a most funky way. His walls are laden with drums, banjo’s and slide guitars and he is hunting for a violin and a lute if anyone has one going cheap. It’s a cornucopia of class and it suits him to a tee. A man needs his shed and Steve has both a shed AND a music room to retire to whenever I get too much to handle (and that is a daily event!). After he emerges from his music room the television is suddenly too quiet and needs to be turned up and he can’t quite hear what I am ranting about…a win-win situation all round! ;).

“Alas…poor Yoric…I knew him well Horatio…”…well that’s a fib because I never knew this little fellow. The feral cats dispatched him before he could grow and cause us to have fits. I guess there are some good things about feral cats!

Anyone would get the feeling that we get a bit of wind here on Serendipity Farm!

From the garden in front of the house

Steve caught these 2 naughty black cockatoo’s stripping the bark from this dead eucalyptus

It’s now Saturday and we are informed that Stewart and Kelsey will be coming tomorrow. It sounds like they have all had fun down in Hobart but I am not quite sure that Hobart is ready for all three of my children to be reunited in one place with the addition of Kelsey. Go get em kids! I am juggling typing the rest of this post, making potato salad, roasted sweet potato salad (both white and orange), marinated mushroom salad, marinating olives (black and green) with some of our home dried, home grown flavourful tomatoes and herbs to go with tomorrow night’s meal. We walked the dogs in Exeter this morning, picked up some more cream to allow us to double the size of the black forest spongecake that we are making for desert (photos in Wednesdays post) and we got home to stock up on wood for Brunhilda as she has a busy day ahead of her. We have baked 2 sponge cakes and everything is on track for tomorrows towering construction that we still need to make the Morello cherry filling and whip vats of cream and grate chocolate. We might even make some chocolate leaves.  Steve zoomed around and took some photos for you before the sun set and hopefully we can pull everything together and tie it with a pretty bow tomorrow. Steve made one of his 4Q forks and is now wailing away with Eric Clapton in his music room. Just to make it clear…Mr Clapton is not physically present but I bet he wishes he was! We have been listening to some amazing music all day. We started with Pink Floyd “The Wall”…then we progressed to David Bowie “Hunky Dory” closely followed by “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust” (NO spell checker…I do NOT want to change “Ziggy” to “Piggy”! I doubt that Mr Bowie would have had a hit with “Piggy Stardust”!) And now Eric Clapton. What more could you want? A lovely sunny day…your washing gets dried on the line, the dogs are behaving and even Earl isn’t trying (too hard) to eat the sponge cakes cooling on the table.

Looking back to the house from the second (now tidy) garden

An old tree stump that we decided to repurpose for bird baths. This is Steve’s maple garden now and one day it will be a mass of different coloured grafted maples

Our bug house finally up and ready for it’s new inhabitants

Firewood futures and our other small bug house ready for whatever fancies moving in.

I have a nice grainy mustard to do in my potato salad, my coleslaw has an Asian lien with chopped roasted cashews and I am hoping that my avocados ripen before tomorrow. In fact I stuffed their brown paper bag full of ripe bananas in the hope that all that ethanol should force some sort of ripening action. We are going to have a bonfire tomorrow night and Stewart and Kelsey are bringing marshmallows, chocolate and cookies to make smores (glad to see that you don’t know what “smores” are spellcheck…at least you have a teeny bit of Australian in you!). We unearthed some ancient old wire forks on the property that I decided to keep and they can use those should they ever get close enough to the flames to manage to do anything other than singe their arm hairs, eyebrows and instantly burn their marshmallows. I just burst out laughing because spellcheck wanted me to change “arm hairs” to “arm chairs”! I am getting my money’s worth out of spellcheck today! Well my dear constant readers, I think that in this lull before the food induced storm that is rapidly approaching I might just bid you adieu. Have a wonderful weekend wherever you are and see you on Wednesday :o)

Cher stampedes my early morning brain

Hi All,

I am starting to get the feeling that Earl is one of those dogs that is prone to falling prey to his instincts. Earl likes to taste things. He likes to sample…savour…chew (especially chew) and masticate just about anything that he lays his eyes on. He has settled down a lot lately and we have been getting somewhat complacent about the damage that used to occur on a daily basis. Steve headed in to the lounge room today to vacuum the floor. He plugged in the vacuum cleaner and got most of the way through vacuuming when the vacuum cleaner stopped. He assumed it had pulled out of the wall because the lead doesn’t reach all of the way into the lounge room. He turned back to plug it in again…and noticed the smoke coming out of the cord…THE CORD!!! Sigh…Earl…(the little darling) had been allowed into the middle (spare) room where Mr Vacuum Cleaner (his arch nemesis) lived about 3 months ago and in the tiny space of time that it took for him to wander into the room and be ushered out, he had nibbled the vacuum cleaner cord. Dyson vacuum cleaners are NOT cheap Earl…sigh… In saying that…I wouldn’t swap Earl for anything. He is starting to turn into a really great dog and one day, much like his big black well behaved kennel mate Bezial, he will earn our complete trust. Bezial is allowed outside the gate on his own amongst the chickens…the feral cats etc. He is completely trustworthy and lies down in the sun whenever he is allowed outside. Earl is on high alert for ANYTHING that he can hunt. Bezial used to be like this and we often found dead (curiously unmarked) baby blackbirds on the back step when we lived in town. We know it was Bezial because we watched him lay on the back step and suddenly launch himself onto an unsuspecting sparrow and catch it. We chased him around the back yard with his squeaky toy and if we weren’t so concerned to get the sparrow off him we would have been laughing because the very much unhurt sparrow was watching our efforts with his head out from between Bezials tightly clenched canine teeth. We eventually managed to catch him and release the unharmed sparrow from him where it promptly took off soggy on foot underneath a large gas bottle to hide and elude further capture. Bezial was quick, he was accurate and he was worse than Earl because he KNEW what he was doing was naughty!

Here’s the dog himself. Do you see why poor Mr Vacuum Cleaner didn’t stand a chance?

We took Qi for a walk in town…she had a great time and posed nicely for me only once. For the rest of the walk she was too busy to pose and this is the only shot of her standing still

I was once told by our horticulture lecturer that Serendipity Farm must have its own little microclimate because we were able to grow things here that couldn’t be grown in most other places in Tasmania…curiously we had the same little microclimate factor when we lived in town…I am starting to suspect that the combination of Steve and I as a whole create our own microclimate and perhaps even our own little micro world! Nothing that we live with for any amount of time or that chooses to live with us ever manages to act or react in any sort of logical way. Our chickens are the masters of the farm (after Earl that is…he is the Grand High Master of the lodge and they had best not forget it!) and hold supreme pecking order in their complex little society of hens. When most other people are lamenting the dearth of eggs…our chickens have just started to lay copious quantities of eggs…most of the way through autumn and almost into winter and (fingers crossed) show no sign of stopping any day soon. Last night, Steve, who shuts the hens in at night and checks the 2 nests (that we know about) that we pepper with 2 eggs each day to ensure that the hens don’t think that we are onto their hiding spots, discovered one of our newly laying white hens has decided to go clucky…CLUCKY…right on winter! We just had our Silver Laced Wyandotte hen hatch out 3 babies and a Golden Laced Wyandotte hen go clucky on no eggs at all. They ended up sharing the parenting of the 3 babies of which all 3 babies got eaten by feral cats…2 mothers and 3 babies and they STILL couldn’t manage to look after them. Wyandotte hens are big girls and tiny little Houdini the feral chook mum was able to hatch out 2 clutches of 5 and then 7 babies and all 12 are still alive thanks to her tenacious ability to attack ANYTHING that threatened her babies. It just goes to show that you can’t judge a hen by its size or breed. Effel doocark is a terrible mum…she is a Blue Laced Wyandotte…are we starting to get a picture in our minds about the parenting habits of Wyandotte hens? All in all, any sane…normal chicken is off the lay and prepared to sit on a perch contemplating her chicken alternative to a navel all winter. Not ours…they appear to have other plans. Perhaps world domination? Who would know…whatever they are planning they had best remember who brings home the sacks of seed that feed them

Here are some of those chickens skulking around as we had just chopped some firewood and they were allowed to hunt through it to find all of the insects. We had just tidied up the area and apart from being a grey day with more rain on the way at least the yard looks tidy now

Doesn’t this look like I was messing about with black and white photography? That would be crediting me with some sort of photographic comprehension. This is the result of attempting to share with you just how foggy it gets around here with the fog rolling up the river early (like it is here) and back down the river later on

Again…this looks pretty shmick…”what a clever photographer…” nah…sheer fluke. Black and white bleeds into a bright blue sky all painted by God and sweet nothing to do with me!

I started the fire this morning on my own. There is something primal and ancient about starting your own fire. It harkens back to when a fire meant the difference between survival and death and lighting my own little fire this morning kindled (yeh I know…I am HILARIOUS ;o) something inside me that rewarded me with much more than the act of fire lighting. I don’t think it ignited (I am on a roll here…) any latent pyromaniac tendencies in me, but I feel more satisfaction than the simple fire starting act should give me. I am not going to take off all of my clothes and do a celebration dance around the kitchen because aside from requiring more effort than I am willing to put in at this time of day, Bezial has to cope with my irrational outbursts and crazy antics on a daily basis…he is just making it through to the end of the day somewhat sane. He spends his days with one eye open watching for any elevation in my naturally semi manic state from which he is ready to spring into action and race over to sooth my inner savage beast (the actual quote is “breast” but that would just be weird folks so I am going with the bastardised version for the sake of the flow…). Bezial is a very clever dog…he now knows that to stop Earl from careening around the lounge room in a state of mental bliss after his evening meal all he has to do is bring him a toy to stop him bouncing from one lounge chair to the other. It works…he soothed the savage (in this case) beast and he tries to do the very same thing with me. I don’t know whether I am flattered by his attention or slightly disturbed that my dog thinks I need soothing on a regular basis and lumps me in with Earl in the “CRAZY” basket but it’s nice to know that someone is willing to mellow me out when I am raging. He doesn’t deserve me prancing about in the nude first thing in the morning though. I don’t think his fragile dog psyche could take that much fear and we might be up for paying for a good dog psychologist.

Here’s a few photos from Steve’s new mobile phone. I am starting to think I might toss the camera into the river and use the phone! It makes our view looks stunning!

Isn’t this lovely? Steve took it walking along the river when we were walking the dogs one morning (again, with his phone…)

This is a really lovely shot. The sun has just come up, we are walking along the side of the river and it just goes to show what a beautiful place we live in. Its like the sky is bleeding into the river…again…a phone shot

I keep fighting against my natural inner geek. I don’t know why I am fighting so hard apart from the fact that I am married to a naturally cool man. He plays lead guitar…he used to be a guitar teacher… when I first laid eyes on him he looked like Justin and Dan Hawkins’s from the band “The Darkness”  big brother. He was a punk in the U.K. in the 80’s. He loves Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and followed cutting edge musical genres as natural progression in his musical development. I feel like a super nerd sometimes when we go to youtube and check out our “old favourites”. He is watching David Bowie and The Pogues and I am pretending that I was in a coma through the late 70’s and early 80’s because ABBA and The Bay City Rollers were about as uncool as you could get. I guess it really is true when they say that complete opposites attract because that’s exactly what Steve and I are…exactly opposite. We have birthdays 6 months apart…we come from opposite sides of the world, we have temperament’s on complete opposites of the spectrum and we often find ourselves with no-one to back us up when trying to explain what it is that is going on inside our heads. We are like Felix Unger (me) and Oscar Madison (Steve) in “The Odd Couple” and despite everything going against us, it works. Why did I mention this? Because I am cursed with having one of the songs in the first stanza of songs played on the clock radio by our local FM radio station in the morning becoming wedged inside my skull and repeated on an eternal loop for the rest of the day…sometimes for the rest of the week if it was a particularly annoying song. Today I had a choice. I could have gone with Rod Stewart’s “Young Turks”. Not particularly “my thing” but not a bad song…not uncool…definitely my period of music (I was young once you know…this little interjection is for the benefit of my daughters who now read these posts and can be summarily ignored by anyone else). Then we had “Sultan’s of Swing”. I know which song is going to be stuck in Steve’s head all day…if songs do indeed get stuck in his head that is. His dad was a major fan of Dire Straits. His dad also played lead guitar… in a band…in the 1950’s…in pubs and clubs and his dad was a friend (wait for it…this is a big one) of Ringo Starr of the Beatles fame! Steve comes from musical royalty and it appears it has bled through to the present day. So we had “Young Turks”…we had “Sultan’s of Swing” and 1 other song… I am cursed to spend my day yodelling at the top of my lungs (because that is how you sing it…) “Jessie James” by Cher. Yes…I rest my case…I am a TOTAL NERD GEEK and I have the children to prove it. All of my latent nerdiness bled into my highly intelligent children and revealed itself as a most obvious truth and you know what? I am coming to appreciate my natural lien towards the nerd side. It’s now cool to be a geek (or Hip to be a Square…Mr Huey Lewis and the News was years ahead of his time) and I can “come out” blazing (or in flames)…”just like Jessie James”…sigh…

This is a Fly Agaric mushroom. It is the quintessential toadstool that fairies choose to sit on. For once I am glad that Steve won’t let me eat the mushrooms that I find! This one lets you turn blue and see God

I love that weeds can find just about anywhere to settle down to grow. This little fellow has chosen a very lofty position of power. Who knows? Perhaps he will grow up one day and “Rab-o-bank”! (Oh come ON you lot…do NONE of you have a sense of humour? 😉

This is the Polytechnic in Launceston. Steve and I attended this Polytechnic where we studied business and small business. Its a really lovely old building and my youngest daughter went to Launceston College for year 12 just over the road

Its two and a half months since I started my “No Diet” approach to getting healthier. I haven’t felt deprived; I haven’t yielded to temptation because I haven’t felt tempted. I eat when I am hungry and the only “rule” if there is one, is that I just don’t eat anything that isn’t nutritious any more. I eat as much as I want to eat and although I am losing weight slower than on a strict diet, I am losing weight consistently and without any effort at all. I think I have found the answer to my lifelong weight problem. I fully expected to lose very little weight. I wasn’t aiming for weight loss, I was aiming to make myself healthier and to hopefully minimise the damage that being overweight for most of my life has done to my joints. I walk with Steve and the dogs for a minimum of 4km a day and no longer shirk a bit of hard work. In the 2 ½ months that I started eating this way I have lost 11kg. Not bad for not even trying and if I was following one of my old strict diet plans I would have fallen off the wagon by now, tempted beyond belief and feeling completely resentful and weak. Stop dieting people, it doesn’t work.  I used to have very little energy but now have more than enough to help Steve around the property and spent the day today helping him drop dead trees, cut them up and lug them into the trailer, and then out of the trailer and into the wood shed. It’s a vicious circle being on a diet. I should know…I think I have been on just about all of them. I once fasted for 21 days and have subjected myself to some pretty crazy schemes in the search for eternal thinness. I don’t care if I don’t reach my “ideal weight” I would like to know who it is that decides what someone’s ideal weight should be. I get the feeling that they are being paid by the diet industry to make it incredibly difficult to attain and I could care less about the dieting industry now. I am going to plod along doing what I am doing now. I am going to see if my body reaches a place where it is happy to move around easily and settles in to stay at that point. Life is too short to spend your life fantasising about food and I plan on spending what I have left of it living. I will keep you posted with my experiment on minimising the waist in my life (ha-HA :o).

Isn’t Launceston pretty? This road leads out of town. It leads to the West Tamar Highway and we used to live 3km from this spot on this road. I sometimes miss being able to duck into the City at any given time. I liked being able to walk the dogs in the city centre early on a Sunday morning when no-one was up and the only sound came from the street sweeper that we used to wave to. At least I appreciate it whenever I walk in town now and the dogs LOVE it 🙂

We spent the day logging and lugging yesterday and while we were hauling some kindling to add to the wood in our trailer for our girls in town we decided that rather than Steve take the wood in next Monday on his regular shopping day event, we might just be a bit adventurous and head in today (Tuesday) with the load, walk the dogs in town and spend half a day in the big smoke. I was reminiscing on Sunday about how we took for granted the ability to just head into town to do all sorts of things before we moved out here. I guess I am feeling a bit stir crazy at the moment. Part of it is because I have run out of wool and have thus eliminated one of my stress relief crafts and the book that I am reading at the moment is less than satisfying. It’s “Ok”… but apart from dealing with turning a barren wasteland into a productive vibrant organic farm it feels like another planet away from what we are doing here. Being an American book, the forests, the land, the entire ecosystem is completely different and the feeling of united horticulturalists leading the way appears to have left me dragging behind and feeling somewhat dissatisfied…oh well…NEXT BOOK PLEASE. I have ordered 3 more from the Mary Anne Schaffer bucket list of books. I would have to say that I have enjoyed immensely about half of the books that I have read so far. The other half has been mostly enjoyable but are not my particular sort of book that delights my soul. I am reading my way through them all (the ones that I can get from the library that is…2 have not been able to be obtained) as a sort of homage to doing things properly. So many times the voice of my grandmother peels back the layers of my psyche with her forthright comments…”start out as you mean to finish off”…”clean up as you go along”…”do it properly the first time and you won’t have to do it again”… cheers gran. I identify with my grandmother who was YEARS ahead of her time. After my mother’s death we discovered all sorts of things about my grandmother by proxy and it was quite interesting to see just where our family came from and what sort of ethos they held sacred. My grandmother was a pioneer. She left a family of women after her parents divorced (unheard of back then) and headed out to forge a new life for herself in Australia from her Northern England home town. She was brave, strong and taught her daughters and granddaughters that women were naturally strong and that men had to be looked after. Not too sure if that ethos rings true today gran, the world has changed a bit, but the combination of our genes coupled with the strong German genes inherited from our father have indeed resulted in strong women. I inherited a strong face. I inherited a strong personality and a strong desire to affect equality from somewhere. I spend most of my days trying to soften myself because it’s very hard for a man to be married happily to a strong woman. Sorry Steve…forgive me for occasionally taking over…I was taught to do so and it runs like molasses through  my veins and it’s just as hard to stop once it gets flowing. My grandma taught me tenacity…to never give in…never give up…I have passed on my need for perfection that I inherited from her, her inventive spirit, her lateral problem solving skills and for that I thank you gran. You and I didn’t always see eye to eye… when you raise them strong you are making a rod for your own back…but you live on in my heart, my mind and my actions and whenever I am utterly pissing Steve off by saying “don’t do that job by halves…may as well do it properly the first time” it’s actually you that he is pissed off with ;o)

Well looky here…Urban agriculture! Apparently someone is growing City Millet…I wonder how long this is going to last when the blackbirds and sparrows realise that there is a veritable feast right on their inner city doorsteps!

We just got a text message to tell us that we are rich! We won 750 000 pounds! How very fortuitous on the day that we are going to town…all we have to do is give them our bank details…our names… our address…a deposit to get the money put into our bank account…why let’s set about doing this forthwith Steve!…sigh…will these people EVER give up trying to scam us? I can’t count the amount of times someone from an obviously foreign country has told us “you have a virus on your computer” and attempted to get us to turn over control of our PC to their “windows service” department. Steve actually strung one of them along for about 30 minutes till he told them to shove it in no uncertain terms once. They are vermin…right up there with most lawyers and patent and copyright trolls. They just didn’t get a fish today…no doubt they will be trying harder in the future although I dare say they will change the bait…Well look at that! If I have any followers left on this blog (cheers WordPress… you appear to have eliminated most of my followers along with your latest update and your stupid comments coming thick and fast from anyone other than my followers) I hope you have a really great day and week ahead. I know it’s getting tough right through the world. I read that cafes and restaurants are going broke all over the U.S.A. whilst McDonalds is flourishing…a sign of the times? We just have to learn to think laterally…think smarter people…don’t see things negatively, the baby boomer generation screwed us up just see this lot as challenges that our generation were born to solve. Or…you can stay in bed for the day with a cup of tea and a good book and “FORGEDABOUDIT”…your choice 😉