Making your choices count

Hi All,

I belong to a couple of survey sites and am occasionally sent surveys to complete online and yesterday I was asked several questions about how happy I was with my lot. As I worked my way through the questions I thought about how very lucky we are to be living the life that we have here on Serendipity Farm. Most of the questions were a selection between two polar opposite answers and for most of them I was genuinely able to choose the positive option. Prior to inheriting Serendipity Farm from dad, we were living a somewhat aimless life as nomadic students. We lived in one of my dad’s rentals that was empty and studied in an attempt to gain a foothold in the job market in a state where 34% of the population live on welfare payments. Tasmania is a desperate state. Anyone who wants to throw a few dollars around here can pretty much do whatever they like because both of our major political parties are desperate for solutions to our own tiny island GFC that defies Australia’s robust economy.  We are a state on the edge and employment here is not a given right, but a lucky break.  As I waded through my survey choosing my answers I thought about how a simple stroke of luck took us from a spiral of increasing bills with a stagnant income to a place where we get to make choices. I heard on the news that people receiving government payments are living below the poverty line. As students, Steve and I receive the lowest payments on the government payment line and are considerably below the poverty line…so why was I choosing the positive answers from a survey obviously designed to test the waters of debt in Australia? The answer is very simple… because I AM happy.

One of the overgrown grevillea shrubs on the property

A prostanthera ovalifolia/native mint bush, one of 3 overgrown specimens down in the jungle part of the garden

I didn’t get happy overnight. I spent a fair bit of my life feeling adrift and separate and unconnected. It was only when I started to make choices about what I did with my life that it suddenly started to fall into place. Choosing a goal (studying) and working through to where we are now has given us choices. We have gone from statistics to anomalies in a single fell swoop. We are no longer welfare victims; we are people who choose to live simply. We don’t see ourselves as “poor” because the life that we choose to lead is rich with possibility, choice, pathways and self-governance. When we chose to take positive steps towards living a more sustainable life we started to remove obstacles to happiness and even though everything about our lifestyle should shriek “fear” and “unhappiness”, the steps that we are putting into place to amend Serendipity Farm from the soil up are going to build positive changes at every stage to allow us to live a simple and debt free life. We are debt free by choice but Serendipity Farm gave us back a whole lot more than being debt free. We have somewhere to call home, to grow our own food, to implement energy saving and water saving techniques and to start a series of cycles incorporating permaculture principals that will live on long after we are gone. The future is nothing but positive when you take control of your choices and you choose to live simply and discover that happiness doesn’t come out of a wallet, it is a state of mind.

A large Mahonia aquifolium against one of the large palms in the jungle part of the garden. You can see why I am expecting to see monkeys whenever I head down into this part of the garden

The Mahonia has wonderful blue fruit and lovely bright yellow flowers along with spiky banksia looking leaves which makes it a striking and hardy specimen for water wise gardens

I finally got around to bleeding my rss feed reader of all of the blogs that I didn’t really need to be reading. Most of them were food porn and as each delicious morsel checked out of my reading list it was difficult to let them go. I am a prolific commenter. I believe that people who write blogs give us a special part of themselves. They sit there, week after week, month after month thinking of insightful things to titillate us and educate us. Some of these blogs were works of art. The photography alone was drool worthy. As a vegan I had no use for some of these blogs. They positively dripped butter and triple layers cheesy meaty goodness but I lusted after them because they were simply beautiful. Someone out there thought enough of their unseen readers to put that much effort into what is effectively a diary. It takes very little time to give people positive comments about all of that effort. Whenever I get an especially exciting recipe from a blog, or a beautifully written post, I have to tell the poster that their work has hit home and feedback is part of the reason why we blog and to connect with strangers is delightful. Many of my dear constant readers are now long distance friends. All of your blogs are still gracing my rss feed reader and your posts are awaited with glee. I deleted posts that were not relevant to me “right here and now” and even then, I lamented their loss. When you have 600+ posts a day to wade through, you know that you need to do SOMETHING to remedy the problem and the problem is that I am greedy when it comes to wonderful blogs. I know that I haven’t even tickled the surface of the blog world. There are glorious blogs out there that I am not even aware of. I found one the other day that was cram packed full of amazing Chinese recipes for how to make all sorts of wonderfully exotic things from scratch including making your own starch noodles, spring roll wrappers, all sorts of amazing Chinese pastes, condiments, pastries and all sorts of steaming techniques and it opened up my eyes to getting a real handle on Chinese cooking that I hadn’t even thought relevant to my kitchen. I can see all sorts of steamed buns, gowgees, chilli oils and water roux’s in my kitchens future now all thanks to a lady who I will never meet who is generous enough with her time to share her precious knowledge with me personally. The internet allows us all to be authors and our viewing public votes on how good we are by liking, commenting and following us. THAT is why I comment. Because what you are doing is precious to me and I value every single comment that teaches me something that I don’t already know.

Sorry about the blue jellyfish in this shot but I just wanted to show you the 2 Tasmania varieties of Telopea truncata/Waratah, one light yellow and the other bright red that are in flower at the moment. We have 2 small specimens and after seeing how well they do in our local area we will be planting them out ASAP

A lovely old Cornus kousa rubra that we noticed on one of our walks with the dogs

We have been working our study futures on Serendipity Farm in the last week. We worked on some plans for a drainage system for our course last week and finished off our costing for our Landscaping unit. We are now putting out tentative feelers in the direction of our unit in creating a show design garden but are holding ourselves back because we aren’t yet aware of what our lecturer has in mind for us. That hasn’t stopped us from thinking about our ideas and planning what we want to do. Steve, as gung-ho as ever, has forged ahead, has designed blocks on AutoCAD, has basically formulated his entire garden along with a pencilled in plan for what he wants to do for his concept plan. I have a list of items on a piece of paper. I am a lot more cautious than Steve and would rather wait to see what Nick actually wants us to do BEFORE I commit to hurling myself into action. I love Steve’s idea. We are both working on small courtyard gardens in urban settings (our choice) and although we have worked closely together on most of our units our ideas are wildly different. I have chosen to run with my heartfelt passion for sustainability to design a garden that will combine function and form with simple food growing strategies in the most aesthetically pleasing way possible. I want to integrate water wicking garden beds, vertical gardening (including green walls), aquaponics, composting and worm farming along with lots of other ideas that I have been finding in my research for my project online. Steve has headed off to create a beautiful garden with incredible simplicity that is quite formal but that allows the owner to recreate the garden as they see fit. A very clever idea that got me excited when he was discussing it with me yesterday. We should hear from our chosen area of study next month to see if we are able to get interviews into the art course that we both want to undertake next year. We are very excited about this course because we have been working with horticulture for 4 years now and a sideline off into another discipline, albeit one that is relevant to what we are doing, has us heading into the unknown again. If we both get interviews and we are both selected for what is apparently a highly sought after course, we will be studying all about art and design using the Adobe suite of programs. Having learned to ride AutoCAD like we stole it, we figure that Adobe will soon yield to our combined efforts and we are really looking forward to learning how to manipulate the pictures in our heads and turn them into a visual interpretation of what we want to say…words in pictures…communication…what it’s all about.

A most beautifully constructed stone wall in Beauty Point. The stone is endemic to the local area and Serendipity Farm soil is predominately comprised of this stone so we are thinking about looking into learning how to make dry stone walls and taking the lemons that our soil has handed us and making dry stone wall lemonade!

“Herman” the orphaned magpie before he went to live with the wildlife carer.

Steve and I decided to take a break yesterday from studies to plant some larger maples that have just revealed themselves to BE maples by growing some leaves and ceasing to be nameless sticks in pots. We have all sorts of maple trees, predominately Japanese maples collected from road verges around prolific seeders that started out as tiny seedlings that wouldn’t have made it through their first summer in the gravel and the pathway of oncoming traffic. We have given lots of them away but there is still a forest of them out there to plant and we decided that there are worse things to have a forest of than maples. One of them is an Acer saccharum or sugar maple, a native of the North of North America and Canada and aside from being a beautiful specimen; it has worth as a food producing plant. Global warming might reduce that worth but in my mind’s eye, I can see the glorious colours that a forest of maples interspersed with edible food trees would bring to Serendipity Farm. Perennial food plants and trees that produce food are the best way to shore up your food futures for generations to come. We are like squirrels on Serendipity Farm but we are not collecting nuts, we are planting them. I learned that pecan nuts will grow in Tasmania and now all I have to do is source some. Along with Almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts we can grow a source of energy rich protein that will allow us to make our own oil, flours and pastes and in my case, milks, to add to the food spectrum. Self-seeding annuals, perennial food shrubs like currant bushes and berries, prolific fruiting vines like passionfruit and kiwifruit are all on the cards and knowing that we can guide nature and assist it to give us the eventuality that we want along with gaining positive benefits to the soil, the ecology and the native environment around us has given us the impetus to get stuck into the hard work that it takes to turn 4 acres of neglect into a going concern.

The “Cluckies”…a group of old biddies hell bent on waiting out our enforced eviction from the nesting boxes. They lay in this spot all day waiting for us to reopen the coop doors and scramble to hop back into their empty nests. A sad indictment of a hens desperation to hatch out a clutch of babies…NO MORE BABIES!…sigh…

A tray of dehydrated bananas that might make it to storage but that are so tasty that I might end up eating them before they get put into a jar

The maples that we plucked out of our “pick me…pick me…” pile, were assembled and ready to plant. All we needed to do was pick where we were going to put them. Steve chose an area to dig and I pointed out that the tree was going to grow to a considerable size and that we didn’t want it to take away our view and so perhaps it might be better moved slightly over a bit…I chose a spot and Steve started to dig…and suddenly we had a water spout…a water spout? Yup…we hit a pipe. In effect “I” hit a pipe with my choice. We have been very lucky not to hit one of the networks of black polypipe that spreads like a subterranean system under the soil just about everywhere on Serendipity Farm. The owners prior to my father and his partner were like water seeking moles that were determined not to lose access to water anywhere on the property. There are taps EVERYWHERE and most of them are within 50 metres of another tap and to have missed them up until now is a sheer miracle. The next hour was spent shoring up the system until we head into town next and pick up a more permanent fix for the system and at the moment the pipe is graced by an old metal stopcock that Steve found in the shed. Steve is an amazing Mr Fixit. I thought that country living conditioned you to being able to find solutions to problems but as a city dweller for all of his life, Steve was dumped into the deep end of country living and was able to take what we have on site and work with it to fix just about everything that needs fixing and work out a solution for most of our needs that doesn’t involve the moth eaten sock under the bed. Bedraggled, covered in mud and after flooding one of the chooks predominate nesting spots (that we know about) we looked at the rapidly assembling mass of dark clouds and decided that the maples were just going to have to wait for another day. Sometimes the best laid plans of mice and men are not enough to get your maples planted.

Effel Dookarks daughter in the compound sitting on 12 new fluffy babies

You can see the new fluff balls in this shot as well as Effels daughter AND Effel in the background watching her grandkids

We had a very eventful day today. We decided to walk the dogs in Rowella which we haven’t done in ages but for some reason we decided to do so again. Towards the end of our walk we noticed what we thought was an old bottle in the middle of the road but when we got closer we saw that it was a magpie. Steve’s first thoughts were that the magpie was dead but as we got closer it put its head up and looked at us. Thinking that he was going to have to euthanise the injured magpie Steve was considerably upset but as I walked closer I noticed that the magpie was much smaller than a normal adult magpie and realised that what we thought was an injured magpie was a fledgling that had fallen out of its nest. We decided to remove the little guy from danger as there was a large crow watching him intently and his parents were nowhere to be seen. After rescuing him I put it under my jumper because it was very cold. We got home and put it under an infrared heat lamp that we bought back when we rescued Pingu last year until we could contact an animal rescue centre who told us the name of a lady living in Legana who cares for injured and orphaned wildlife. We were not considering taking another trip to town but we popped the baby into a hay lined shoebox and loaded the dogs into the back of the car and headed in to town. After dropping the baby magpie off we headed into town to pick up a few things that I forgot on the shopping list on Mondays shopping event and to give the dogs another walk around town. We got home and were sitting on the deck having a well-deserved cup of tea and as we were talking I noticed a hen that looked suspiciously like Effel Dookark wandering around outside the compound where we have contained her for her own good with her 2 remaining babies. On closer inspection we realised that Effel was still inside the compound but one of her daughters was wandering around with 12 tiny little fluff balls that she had hatched out in one of the nests that we missed! We managed to shuffle them into the compound with Effel and hopefully she will manage to keep some of them alive longer than her silly mother. As it stands, we have over 50 chooks on Serendipity Farm and it’s time to think about how many chooks we actually need here. 50 might be a tad too many methinks! After a long hard day I think I might let you off a couple of hundred words early and I might call this post finished for today. I think I might be asleep before my head hits the pillow tonight :o). See you all on Saturday.

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Is this the way to Tamarillo?

Hi All,

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

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

“Word”

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

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

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

Yeh…you really DO need to paint that deck…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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