Sharing is good for everyone. The book that Dr Seuss forgot to write

Hi All,

 

I can hear the 3.30am mail plane flying overhead as I start typing this blog post. In the midst of my fogyish haze of sickness I pulled a blog post all about soup out of my head. I haven’t re-read it and what seemed like a masterpiece in the midst of my delirium may just be complete and utter rubbish so I am creating a backup blog post just in case. I started off this morning by not wanting to get out of bed when the alarm went off. Now that the mornings are getting colder it is a lot harder to vacate that delicious warm space (especially when there is a questing black nose just waiting to take up residence as soon as you get out…sometimes before you do!) and drag my sorry derrière out in the dark to the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, I love my early mornings, I am just not very coherent or lucid prior to that first cup of tea.

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Brunhilda prior to her inaugural relighting ceremony for the year. Note the lack of a couple of doors. Steve ran out of the special heat proof paint that she needs to be painted with at the beginning of each new burning season and was waiting to pick up another can to spray the last 2 doors. Aside from those 2 doors she is looking pretty shmick

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Doors on and you are now sharing the happiness of Serendipity Farm as Brunhilda arises, like the phoenix (without burning herself to smithereens), and starts her tour of duty for our cold season. Note the close proximity of the dogs. They didn’t move from that spot for 2 hours 😉

Since Friday Brunhilda has been back in action. We lit her because Friday was frigid. I even have the chilblains to prove it. It looks like we are going to have a very cold winter period here in Northern Tasmania and Brunhilda is going to be invaluable in getting us mind, body and soul through it. I can’t explain the symbiotic relationship that we share but needless to say we need each other. She purrs like a kitten when I feed her those first few small logs and I purr like a kitten when I get that kettle tic-tacking with the stones that my brother sent me from the beach from my home town that herald boiling point and the imminent arrival of the elixir of great happiness of the soul. After shuffling Bezial from the couch where he has nested in one of the blankets that we leave heaped up so that he can snuggle down for the night, to my warm patch in the bed, I can then begin my mornings.

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3am and awakened from her overnight slumber and purring like a kitten full of (logs) cream

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Narf7 doing the happy dance to celebrate the awakening of  Brunhilda

Most of the time I read my emails, answer a few blog comments and get started on my RSS Feed Reader but lately I have been discovering some wonderful Pinterest boards that follow my own boards and this morning was no exception. Firstly I have been downloading an amazing haul of precious information that Ms Rabid put me onto. She sourced it via her amazing hunter-gatherer husband Martin and all kudos to him; he is a hunter extraordinaire when it comes to finding the good stuff for the brain. As a penniless student hippy I know the value of free information and he has a goldmine of the good stuff. It would take me a year to get access to all of the pdf’s and precious info that Jess just sent me via the library and the hold and wait scheme let alone the time it would take me to process the information and copy out what was important to me so this is an amazing and most wonderful gift and sharing this information is what forms incredible communities.

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“Red sky in the morning…sulking dogs…

 

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The first of the trailer loads of free aged horse manure that we are about to use as part of our veggie garden renovation. Watch this space…

 

I just discovered that humans are the only thing that balks at change. We hit this seasonal “change” thing enough in our three score years and ten to be more than aware that it is happening and yet we sit back and watch and wait. The rest of nature/the world is all “Alrighty then…let’s get going!” Where Narf7 is holed up with 2 sulking dogs tapping away on a blog post (when she should be stoically braving the rain and getting out into that garden!), our chooks are out tunnel mining their way to China, the garden is waving it’s greenery at the sky the moss, that looks dead and crispy on the rock pathway that leads down through the semi civilised and jungle parts of the garden is “mossing” and the mail lady just sailed right on past our house like she does most days of the year. See continuity is going on all around us. We might be digging in our heels against the cold/heat coming our way but most things just don’t think about it, they are too busy living in the moment.  I have a lovely trailer load of horse manure that needs to be emptied come rain or shine (note to self… “You know when it was nice and sunny yesterday? You remember how that trailer load of dry horse manure sat there all day out in that lovely sunshine? Well next time SHOVEL THAT SHITE YOU LAZY NARF7 BOLLOCKS!” 😉 ) as there are another couple of trailer loads just waiting for me to shovel them up at the stud where Stevie-boy managed to score the owner using his backhoe to shovel the entire first load into the trailer without Stevie-boy having to put shovel to shite once. Autumn is one of the busy seasons and I needs to get me some BUSY

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When it’s very cold and you want your yeasted dough to rise you think outside the box. Under that towel is another towel, and under that towel is another one. Under THAT towel is a bowl containing yeasted calzone dough up against a freshly boiled kettle

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Calzones prior to baking. Note the dough contains Italian mixed herbs, Parmesan cheese and chilli flakes

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Didn’t Brunhilda do a magnificent job and not a speck of caramelisation to be seen 🙂

In saying that, it is SO nice in here. Brunhilda has been pumping out that gorgeous radiant heat that she is so very good at pumping out (…”dear auto-correct…PLEASE stop changing “pumping” to “pumpkin” thank you…) and she now has 2 American Staffordshire terrier “earrings”.  I am just loving all of that free stove-top space, oven space and the ability to just cook something as and when I like. I am going to bake Stevie-boy an apple cake to go with cream for his dessert tonight. Just because I can. The rain is hard, fast and steady outside and I figure it is set in for the day.  Lucky really because otherwise I may just have procrastinated myself out of another day of working on my studies.  I have arrived at a point where I have to sit down with small squares of paint swatches (by the way, “cheers” to the paint manufacturers who are now doing trendy things with paint swatches thus rendering them completely unusable as “squares” by poor long suffering design students…) and stick them into a blank journal in some kind of artistic manner. As a creature of order I have to stop myself from just sticking them all around the outside edge, forming a nice frame and being done with it as I get the feeling that “design” might have more to do with creativity than neatness. Might be time to crack out the kefir, drink me a couple glasses of the bubbly stuff and after about 30 minutes let’s just see how “creative” old Narf7 can get 😉

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Good old Sao crackers. Steve picked up a packet in the shopping as he figured he hadn’t had them in ages. Here they are topped with cheese and homemade zucchini, capsicum and chilli relish that our friend Jenny gave us

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Anyone for a sandwich?

I had a fan girl moment yesterday. I was checking my emails and one of them notifies me of everyone who has commented on Facebook, This blog and Pinterest and lets me know if I have any new followers (“Hi new followers :)”). I follow a multiple author blog called “Punk Domestics” which is a wonderful source of interesting ways to preserve, grow and “do” things. Yesterday I noted that one of my followers was “Punk Domestics”… “SQUEE!” Oh how PROUD I am! All of the painstakingly pilfered posts and the long hours bent over double myopically peering at the monitor have paid off, I am officially “cool” :). Seriously though folks, it’s always nice to get positive feedback from your peers. If anyone that I admire even looks sideways in my direction I will lay down on the floor and let them walk all over me. I might have to work on that reaction a little bit but generally I am in all consuming awe whenever someone that I admire and respect acknowledges my existence (I can’t believe it…I just spelled “acknowledge” correctly…without the spell checker!)

 

 

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2 blank journals with little bits of cut up paint swatch. As of 3.20pm today, they are still 2 blank journals with little bits of cut up paint swatch on them…I see no change in the immediate future…

I think I deserve an award. Not one of those awards that you give to someone who has done something majestic or magnanimous or even magnificent to advance the human race, but an award for something that I excelled the rear end out of today. I would like to say that it was something productive but alas it was probably the antithesis of productive. I would just like to ask you all, what is it about us humans that will allow us to go to tremendous measures in order to avoid doing something that we HAVE to do that we don’t want to do? The award that I would like to have bestowed upon my noble narfy brow is the award for incredible procrastination in the face of a rapidly approaching deadline to hand in our studies. Rather than sit down with a pot of glue, a pile of snipped up paint swatches and a brand spanking new blank art journal and start sticking as per instructions, I just spent the better part of 3 hours completely rearranging the lounge room. Not only did I shuffle a few books and sweep the floor, No, I completely rearranged the sofas, the book cases etc. so that it looks completely different.

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A friend gave Steve 3 cleaned abalone to try the other day. Flattened to within an inch of their lives and stir fried in garlic butter and Steve says “YUM!” I might not have tried these delicious little mollusks but I do get the shells 🙂

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Thanks to most of Tasmania (stupidly) cashing in their wood burning stoves and buying heat pumps we have been having a lot of brownouts and blackouts of late. The power needs to be maintained in the cities so we smaller country outposts have to suck it up and wear the odd blackout. I used up all of my tea-light candles and got Steve to buy me some bigger candles for the next time that it dips below 15C and all of Launceston fires up their heat pumps. Steve stuck the candle into this bottle because it wouldn’t fit on my candelabra (too thin) and it bears a striking resemblance to a most intolerant breed of Southern Americans that shall remain anonymous. Needless to say, I call it my “klu klux kandle” 😉

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I steamed these meatballs rather than having them turn out dry from the bbq (prior to Brunhilda being lit) and tossed them through some stir fried veggies and noodles. Apparently they were delicious. Another experiment that worked. I also used some sourdough breadcrumbs that I had dried out ages ago and completely forgotten about but that I found when fishing around in the back of the pantry for something else and used them in these meatballs. Waste not, want not 🙂

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Steve’s ÜBER stash of candy coated chocolate balls that I considered eating my weights worth of in order to stop myself from doing my studies today prior to getting stuck into rearranging the lounge room. You will be happy to know that I didn’t eat any and no-one will be more happy to hear that than Stevie-boy 😉

I did have an ulterior motive (other than trying to avoid doing what I am supposed to do at all costs…), when I got back from walking Earl this morning I could smell something in the lounge room, something unpleasant. I have smelled this smell before and it’s usually emanating from something dead of the rodent persuasion. After completely rearranging the lounge room and sniffing everything in turn with my highly suspicious nose, I came up blank. I have a blank journal AND a blank space where a dead rodent should fit. I also found lots of earls hair banked up into a corner doing battle with a small pile of nail clippings from someone who shall remain anonymous. I then realised that the most likely place for the deceased rodent to be festering is in the roof where Steve laid rat baits. The roof space has heated up nicely over the last few days and a semi mummified ex rodent’s foetid carcass would have had just enough time to start reeking to high heavens by now. Problem solved but my studies still aren’t done…

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What we are subject to for the whole day when it is pouring down raining and it has sunk in that a walk is highly unlikely

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Little wooden hearts that Steve made last year when he got bored of making wooden spoons. I am just about to coax him out of his boredom in order to elicit another lovely wooden spoon out of him so that I can have a blog give away

I won’t show you any photos of the new furniture arrangement in the lounge room because I haven’t quite decided if I like it or not. I am reserving my (procrastinating) right to completely dismantle everything tomorrow and spend the rest of the day hauling it all back to where I dragged it from today. I think the next time that Steve wants me to do something particularly nefarious, he should just give me the alternative action of having to do some studies and I will be SO there. I hope you are all settling into your new weather patterns. Ours appear to be wet and cold and I, for one, couldn’t be happier. Brunhilda is back and pumping out the happy rays of warmth and Earl and Bezial are now firmly welded to her deliciously heat wafting side panels. I am relishing all of this newfound cooking time where I can actually bake a cake that might have a normal base rather than half (burned black) caramelised. I baked a delicious apple blondie last night and it turned out fantastically. Steve had some warm from the oven with a large splodge of cream and even though he had eaten a large serving of spaghetti topped liberally with a hefty smattering of my slow cooked bolognaise, he actually had another serve of apple blondie. In my books, that means that it’s a winner! No protestation about “I am only ONE man” and a most content Stevie-boy. Looks like it might be time to crack out El Camino, my wonderful white sourdough starter from Spain and see if narf7 can get back on the sourdough horse…”YEE-HA!”

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A little reminder of winter in the middle of summer …

Hi All,

There is beauty in a rainy, grey day folks. When you look outside and the whole garden resonates and shimmers in heat stress and you can see the leaves curling up in an attempt to save that life giving sap a day of cloud crying is a blessing. I am sitting here listening to the rain fall on the tin roof. It’s a glorious sound and I can almost hear the garden singing Vivaldi’s 4 seasons (all of them!) as it steadily pounds the roof…”Keep it up chaps…you are all doing very well!”…funny how the rain brings out the old Blighty in me ;).  I love rainy weather. You won’t find me complaining about it (aside from how the leeches suddenly reconstitute from their benign one dimensional stasis and turn into 3 dimensional sluggy vampires…). I have my wonderful winter rituals carefully tucked away, wrapped in mental tissue paper because these precious processes sustain me through the cold winter months. I love waking up nice and early in the dark…to be honest it doesn’t get light till quite late in winter so this could be accomplished even if I slept in, but there is something magical about getting up hours before the rest of the household…special time to yourself and most precious to me now. Soon, I won’t have to spend this time alone. Brunhilda, who is currently semi naked and being painted and primped ready for her coming 10 months of solid hard work, will be my constant companion. I missed her. I missed waking up and throwing a few sticks onto the slumbering behemoth that is “fire” on Serendipity Farm. I totally “get” why cavemen were so enamoured of it…fire is the bomb people! That early morning crackle of the first few tinder dry twigs as Brunhilda has her breakfast and rev’s up for the day. We learned how to feed her slowly and regularly last year. In our first year she suffered indigestion thanks to our constant stuffing and her constant overheating…last year we honed our relationship with Brunhilda and we know how to keep her lean, mean and keen… I can’t wait till that crackling companionship returns. This morning it is dark, raining and cold and I feel the lack of crackle keenly. I get to keep the kettle on the side of the stove…I fill it up at night before I go to bed (I LOVE processes 😉 ) and just move the already warm kettle to the flame and suddenly that first and only cup of tea becomes part of the process of awakening and lends my winters days a real sense of being grateful for my lot. Our water heats through the back of Brunhilda…we don’t have to worry about gas bottles…she does it gratis. She will allow me to dry things out and keep things warm in her lower ovens…she is a most gracious friend. She never once let me down last year…she never once refused any of my requests…she may have added her personal touch of a bit of “caramelisation” but to her credit, I should have read her better…we share a mutual relationship together…Brunhilda and I are mano-a-mano, kindred spirits and our symbiosis is what makes winter on Serendipity Farm a privilege rather than something to be endured…that’s Steve’s job…”winter endurance”…well SOMEONE has to chop the wood! 😉

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A weedy Passiflora caerulea (Blue Passion Flower) that we found recently on a long walk…the fruit is juicy and sweet but quite bland

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The vine we picked the passionfruit from

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Our friend in the witness protection gave me a large bag full of snow peas from her enclosed veggie garden. Some of them had gone over to the dark side and I decided to keep them for seed to grow next year. The stapler and tape are most probably what Steve has come up with to graft my poor jam spoons 😦

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A nice bright hippy shop…our friend in the witness protection and I (and Steve for that matter) are all old hippies and this sort of shop attracted us in like moth’s to a flame…

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A lovely little street display to lure passers by into a small garden shop

Steve’s birthday (Sunday) was spent doing what he wanted to do including alternating between playing his guitar whilst watching television and wandering out to the shed to make teaspoons out of wood. He is truly addicted to making wooden things and has plans for all sorts of creations. He recently saw a gardening dibbler and wants to make them now. I, for one, am not complaining. I tend to get the prototypes as part and parcel of his efforts and have some pretty interesting things that his most creative mind has come up with including a wonderful enormous teaspoon with a carved bowl on one end and a spike on the other for negotiating my VitaMix blender. He is working on making me another long teaspoon but this one will have a small bladed scraper on the other end to allow me to get the little bits out from underneath the blade (that take so long to remove)…it is positively blissful having a talented husband who can make things :o). Steve also spent yesterday dictating what he wanted for his birthday tea…”I want fried rice…and I want curry…like in the fish and chip shops in the U.K…and I want sticky date pudding for dessert…” Expat’s tend to get teary eyed at things that they used to buy from the local “chippies”. We get fish, and chips and the odd dim sim and potato cake from our local fish and chip shops but in the U.K. they had pickled eggs, pickled onions, curry sauce to go with their chips and all sorts of odd things! Never one to shirk my duties we fired up Brunhilda and made the lot! Steve had a great day and will most probably have a hard time getting out of bed as he had as much red wine as a teetotal wine lover could imbibe without falling over sideways…birthdays are barleys apparently! 😉

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This Asian beauty was parked out the front of a small country shop that we passed on the way to Wychwood…the locals are certainly “characters” ;)…Rose Porteous anyone? It would appear to be her shoes…

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A little leaf hopper that fell in love with my finger when we stopped to admire some gorgeous Rugosa roses in a small park…

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Isn’t this a glorious garden bird feeder? I fell in love with the garden art placed strategically and most tastefully around Wychwood

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Another beautiful castle bird feeder complete with copper turret

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The small kitchen garden at Wychwood which was a mix of traditional and interesting veggies along with lots of beneficial attracting plants and flowers

It’s raining in Queensland and they are drowning in the results. I read a few Queensland blogs and it seems so ironic that on Saturday they were bone dry and one blogger was about to sell her cows and suddenly it’s time to build an ark. Australia isn’t an easy country to farm in. You can try to find a property where the conditions are somewhat even but then something happens…drought, flood, fire and you lose everything. Farmers have to be the most optimistic people alive. They keep on keeping on long after the ever ready bunny batteries have run out and they deserve more than what they get because they truly are the backbone of our world. It is a bitter irony that people are so removed from their food supply and have no idea that the plethora of items available on their supermarket shelves once started life as an ingredients list of humble primary produced items (unless they are aimed at children and then they are usually 100% man-made from artificial chemicals and glow in the dark…) Today I did it. Yes…”IT”. I actually managed to get through my rss feed read blogs nice and early with time to spare to tap away at this post in advance. How did I do it? I woke up at 4am! I am already considering continuing on with waking up at what will be 4am in April when the clocks go back. I find myself scrambling to get through my rss feed reader blogs, answer the comments for the blog and write lucid and relevant comments for particularly beneficial posts on the blogs that I follow and 4am seems to be the magical number that keeps recurring…4am isn’t for chumps…it is for dedicated maniacs who are addicted to lists and doing things the right way…I have to blame the latent German in my genes. It has been watered down with good old Blighty tempering and a smattering of Scottish blood but the German is strong in this specimen young padawan and my list making, tidy, clean line desires cannot be denied. “You put that back in the cupboard wrong!…Why oh WHY did you leave that there?…no…you have to do “X” before “Y”…” sigh…I love order and I hate chaos and often my order collides with Steve’s need for chaos and the inevitable result is explosive (on my side) and a visit to the shed (on Steve’s side)…no wonder he has started making wooden things! 😉

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A most interesting grass maze located near Mole Creek at the outer edge of Wychwood

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I purchased some organic turmeric from a local health food shop and FINALLY it is starting to grow!

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My little Moringa oleifera looking decidedly happy with it’s lot in the heat of the glasshouse

Steve and I spend our lives together pretty much 24/7. We have been living like this since he moved here from the U.K. We are both reclusive hermits and obviously reasonably well suited or we would have killed each other by now. No retirement problems for us…our friend in the witness protection has been having some pretty spectacular fights with her partner but when talking about them on our recent road trip she made an interesting correlation…”I just noticed (she said)…that all of our big fights just so happen to coincide with Glen being home for an extended period of time!”… Is it any wonder that so many people end up divorced when they retire? Steve and I are learning to accept that we are complete polar opposites. I can’t even begin to fathom how his brain works, but work it does and he seems to be able to navigate some pretty choppy water with that brain whether I can understand the processes or not so I am willing to concede that there are other ways of doing things than the way that my mind takes me when I process my information and churn out the results. The problem is that we both think that our process is the best…we spend a lot of time trying to push our idea and in the process completely miss out on the opportunity to join together to form a formidable self-contained yin/yang idea that would knock the socks off the project that we are making. One day we will learn, but for now, we are still in “work together” kindergarten and making very VERY slow progress 😉

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Nothing gets wasted on Serendipity Farm and that includes avocado seeds. These 3 small trees are all the result of previous avocado consumption and go to show just how easy it is to grow them. We have quite a few home grown avocado plants that we will plant out in Autumn

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I found this picture on a blog that I follow…After I got up off the floor from rolling around there in hysterics I asked if I could use this photo in my blog…guess whose chooks are going to be wearing beanies in the latest fall colours this year…

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Ah the elastic band spine of youth! 😉

I have a cure for all you insomniac’s out there…get up at 5am, walk all over the place and go to bed after 9pm. Simple really. If you think that 5am is NO place for a civilised hipster like yourself to be inhabiting you are where I was a few years ago. I didn’t surface till 8am when I expected a cup of tea in bed, about 30 minutes “eye time” (our expression for lazy bollocks that doesn’t want to get up yet) and the pained expression of dogs who know that a walk is just around the corner but who have to be a little bit polite as otherwise those morning dog treats might dry up and blow away… now I not only get up and have 2 hours to myself…2 precious hours where I can read whatever I like when my mind is active and raring to go…but I fill that mind with all sorts of possibilities…I have my morning processes sorted out before I deliver Steve’s morning coffee after 7am and am raring to go…I even beat the dogs to the punch line! We walk the dogs for at least 1 1/2 hours a day and where I used to be a “STEEEEEVE…can you take these to the shed? Can you get me “such and such” can you put this compost in the compost bin?” Now I walk there myself. Steve doesn’t need the exercise, he has spindle shanks that will never see an ounce of fat but my legs need double the attention being my chief fat storage areas and stubborn fat releasers at that…so I walk to the compost bin up next to the veggie garden…I walk out to the shed, several times because I am always forgetting to bring something from or take something to the chest freezer out there, I walk down the driveway with Earl who needs more than a single walk or he eats furniture (or at least threatens to…whoever said that dogs are stupid…doesn’t have a dog!)…I walk back up the driveway (2 times up our driveway in a day is enough to make anyone knackered!)…I sometimes just go out for a walk around the place just for fun! I don’t even wait to go to bed before I am asleep…”Wake up Fran!”…that’s Steve’s Hue and Cry these days before I stagger off to sleepily brush my teeth (too tired to even consider looking for wrinkles in the mirror BONUS!), head to the foot of the bed (Bezial has already stolen my pillow at the top of the bed and no point arguing with a 40kg Amstaff who is sulking for the queen…too tired!) where you have left a pillow (happens a lot…sigh…) and flop into bed…Wait for Earl to trot in 2 seconds later and you might or might not remember Steve giving you a kiss goodnight but within 3 minutes you are out like a light…Insomnia…you used to be shackled to me…you ran roughshod over my nights where you pounded me with my secret fears (December 2012…old age…death…) but I don’t have time to lay awake contemplating my aging lack of a navel (don’t ask…just believe me…I have NO belly button 😉 ), I am out like a light…and not only do I not need sedatives, but falling into bed and blissful sleep is delicious! Truly folks, if you have exhausted your body and given it more than enough food for thought at 5am it rewards you with the most amazing sense of blissful achievement coupled with the heady beauty of “rest”. Cheers old books, whoever coined the phrase “Early to bed and Early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” was giving truly sage advice…(aside from “a man” and “wealthy” I totally agree!)

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Serendipity Farm cucumbers…99% water…1% purest “Green”…

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Steve found a recipe for making lightly pickled cucumbers and this is the result…they are really tasty and well worth donating a percentage of our purest green to

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Steve has taken a left turn at Albuquerque and has headed off into teaspoons and spice spoons and has visions of plant dibblers, tatting shuttles, earings, pendants and some amazing wooden guitar picks…he gets bored easily 😉

Well it’s a nice early post from me and it’s chilly outside and Brunhilda is lit and everything is right in our world (for the time being…) so I might try to hold my eyelids open and read a Patricia Cornwell or Ruth Rendell book…I have both, taken out of the library on a wistful whim that I might have time to read them and both calling me from their lofty position in the spare room. Reading is good for your soul…about time I did more of it :o). See you on Saturday when I will share the lengths at which 2 penniless hippies will go to in order to stop a small battalion of most determined chickens from escaping from Alcatraz…

The Sidmouth Kimchi Queen

Hi All,

Well its official…I just fell under the spell of fermented foods all over again. My daughters will be grimacing as they read that sentence because I have been known to dabble in the fermentative arts on past occasions. I had a failed crafts cupboard for all of the crafts that I started and then my interest dwindled and slowly died for the evidence to be placed into storage in said cupboard. It’s just lucky that I don’t have a failed fermentation cupboard or the contents would be heinous to say the least! I made yoghurt, kefir (both milk and water) and let’s not forget the contents of my fridge crisper that must surely contain some long established microbial/fungi symbiosis that could split the atom. I have had a brief hiatus dabbling only in the more acceptable art of yeasty goodness of late but always…fermenting and brewing (forgive me…I couldn’t resist…) in the back of my magpie homesteading brain the desire to create bubbling pots of strange smelling creations lays latent and smouldering…I dare say it’s something primal from the beginnings of food storage. I dare say our ancestors learned to eat things that had turned to the dark and fuzzy side as they didn’t really have any alternatives and after a while decided that green and fuzzy or bubbly and even solidified and stinky wasn’t half as bad as it could have been and thus began humanities quest for preservation utilising our teeny little mates bacteria and fungi. Many times they form a little partnership to share the raw ingredients and occasionally one will start the project, and then they will hand the half-finished result over to their industrious little mate to finish it off. Without this active desire to change ingredients into other ingredients through the digestive systems of miniscule creatures we would have no alcohol, no cheese, no bread and umami would not exist.

With the crisp cold mornings that we have been having lately we headed off to walk at the boys favourite spot for their morning trot “Bonnie Beach”. We saw this pair of birds as we got out of the car.

I went off road with Earl and didn’t heed the warning signs with this (now obviously…) strange patch of ground. Steve made me keep my foot in so that he could first laugh, and then take photos to put on Facebook…

The end result was a shoe full of wet ash and clay that I stoically decided to ignore and carry on with our walk. The further we walked…the squishier the action of my feet made the new contents of my shoe and when I got home it took AGES to get the emulsified mass washed and scrubbed out of my trainer

I have been ruminating about making some generic “fermented things” for a while now and up until I actively took out Sandor Elix Katz book “Wild Fermentation” from the library (again…) it had stayed on the backburner raising its head occasionally as I muttered about “Must get some more kefir grains” and Steve would nod his head absently pretending not to hear me because most of the time my mutterings rarely amount to much but this time I decided to do something about it. I made Kimchi. I had a large quarter of a cabbage sitting in the fridge that was calling out for me to do something with it. I usually let cabbage take its natural course and turn into liquid plant fertiliser in my vegetable crisper (don’t you all say EWW! You KNOW you do the same!) But this cabbage kept lightly touching my hand as I delved beyond it to grasp the more familiar and desirable paper bag of mushrooms…red capsicums…spring onions…It must have felt so rejected :o(. I decided to use this small chunk of cabbage and what better to make of it than kimchi so that I could kill 2 birds with one stone. I collected together all of the ingredients along with my old standby sprouting jar that Steve had doctored for me in the past (another fad…) with metal mesh on the top so that the sprouts could simply be rinsed through the top of the jar. It was sitting on the top shelf of the pantry (along with the soy milk maker…the pasta maker…the mandoline and the high rise electric sprouter…I guess you could call it my failed fad cupboard: o) and was ideal for making kimchi. I will let the photos tell the story…

Garlic, ginger and Korean red chilli paste (no added preservatives) and a bit of white miso to help the flavour and the bacterial development

Hey…lets have a really CLOSE look at the resulting paste. This is the part that makes the cabbage kimchi and not sauerkraut…

This is my salting station. The veggies have to be soaked in quite a strong brine made from water and seasalt and here you can see the salt being weighed out before adding to the bowl

The salt needs to be totally dissolved and if you look carefully you can see the undissolved salt in the bottom of the bowl. I like to use a whisk to do this as it seems to take less time

The main reason for the recipe…here is the sliced up quarter of cabbage that I decided to use. The recipe called for Chinese cabbage but I didn’t actually HAVE Chinese cabbage and I am NO racist…so here we have common English cabbage and the kimchi is just going to have to live with it!

The recipe called for cabbage and carrot and radishes (which I also didn’t have…it being the middle of winter here in Tasmania made that somewhat difficult…) but it did say that you could put pretty much whatever you liked in it so I put some red capsicum…will I?…should I?…Yeh! Why not…

At the risk of ending up with Barbie pink kimchi I decided to add some purple carrot that had been languishing alongside the cabbage for more time than I would like to admit to the mix and it certainly perked up the colour a bit.

The vegetables needed to be submerged under the brine and this was the only plate that sit low enough in the bowl so I had to wing it…I added a bit more brine to make sure that all of the veggies were covered

The recipe said that you could add fish sauce (nope) and seaweed…NOW your talking Mr Katz! I knew that I had some seaweed in one of my ethnic food storage bins and went hunting through and found these 2. The lower seaweed was kelp (for my vegan sushi efforts) and as always the top packet was in an Asian language which I can’t understand so lets go with that one eh?

Hmmm…I wonder what kind of seaweed it is? They have kindly added “Dried Seaweed” to the top so that I know its not loose leaf tea but the actual variety remains a mystery…

After some further inspection I noticed the above directions and was able to identify the seaweed…WAKAME! My favourite seaweed and most DEFINATELY going into my Kimchi 😉

Aside from being the tastiest of all seaweedy comestibles, this particular brand is actually Korean which is the birthplace of Kimchi so its doubley fitting. This is what Wakame looks like when you first put it into water…

and this is how much wakame eventuates after a very short soak…BONUS!

Next we need to get some onion chopped up finely to add to the paste…

Heres the wakame, the onion and the paste ready for the vegetables when they have finished their stint in the brine.

Here they are mixed together ready to add to the soaked veggies when they come out of the brine.

I decided to warm the large repurposed jar that was once an ex delicatesen jar of Sundried Tomatoes in a past life to discourage any existing greeblies that might take up residence unheeded in my precious kimchi experiment…if it goes bottom up I want it to at least be because of something quantifiable so that I can work on it next time…

Steve used silicone to fix this bit of metal gauze to the top of the jar so that sprouts could be rinsed in situ and this makes a perfect non airtight jar to make kimchi and other fermented things in to stop the risk of the jar exploding…never a good thing!

Here’s the finished result with 2 small ziplock bags filled with water weighting the kimchi vegetables down underneath their resulting brine. This book has now become a “must buy” book and the more I look at the amazing fermented things inside it, the more I want to make them. I can actually feel Steve twitching as I type that :o). The small pot covered in the background with another little ziplock bag contains little cubes of cheese that we give to the Cuckoo Shrikes that come on a regular basis throughout winter to supplement their diet when the insects are conspicuous by their absence.

The kimchi’s current residence on my custom bread proving rack above Brunhilda where it sits snuggly festering in its own little warm haven… hopefully by the time I post again I will be able to use some of it

After making the kimchi I blended up my soaked (overnight) almonds to make the almond milk for my tea for the next few days and the sesame seeds to make the sesame milk for my morning porridge. I then put the left over ground up nuts/seeds individually into a baking paper lined tray and slid them into Brunhilda’s coolest drying oven to sit overnight and dry out slowly. Tomorrow I will remove them and will grind them individually in my Vitamix blender and turn them both into flour to be used in a future baking project. I like being able to make my own staple foods, it makes me feel sufficient. That’s NOT self-sufficient…just “sufficient”.  It’s now Wednesday evening and I have to post this post. “EEK!”…where did our week go? It went the same place that last week went…into the fervent world of AutoCAD and plan production and we arrive at this point tired but very happy with our progression from hair pulling incomprehension to actual understanding and utilising the potential of this difficult program to give us some pretty classy results. Our latest planting plan looks like something that we would see in a magazine and that, my dear constant readers, is what it’s all about :o). I would also like to thank Spencer from the amazing blog Anthropogen (Check on my blogroll as it’s one of my must read blogs) for sharing some quality precious information with us here on Serendipity Farm. Spencer has been dabbling in growing some of the trees that I lust after here on Serendipity Farm and I am watching the progress most carefully as Spencer lives in Greece and Greece and Australia are not all that far apart in their temperature variations. I have met some really amazing people through blogging that I would never have met if not for learning how to blog. My life would have been less rich and most definitely the poorer for not having met you all. Cheers for inspiring me to blog in the first place and for giving me the will to carry on. If you guys can do it…I can! :o)

We use the coolest of Brunhilda’s warming ovens to thaw the dogs meat from frozen and to dehydrate things overnight like this pulp left over from making the almond (on the left…I leave the skins on so its darker than it could be) and sesame (on the right) milk. The next day its dry and has a decidedly malty smell. I store them in separate jars in the pantry for future use. Dehydrating things allows you to extend their storage period and I love not having to waste the pulp from nuts and seeds as they are not cheap and using everything involved in the process is a much more sustainable outcome

Here is what Earl thinks of my kimchi making exercise…

And if Bezial’s expression here is anything to go by he would rather have been left asleep than forced to share his disdain with the world…

The sun was just coming up and Steve took this interesting shot on one of our early morning dog walks

We took this photo of a little native fern ensconced between 2 lichen covered rocks along the way on our walk

One of the old dead trees along the Auld Kirk dirt road on the way home from our walk that possums use for habitat. You can see the river down the steep bank in the background

Another cold morning on the river. This shot was taken just over from our front gate and shows you how pretty where we live actually is

The view back down Auld Kirk Road towards where we live gives you a good idea about where we head off to in the mornings when I say that we are walking the dogs.

My kimchi is sitting up above Brunhilda as I type this on the comparative warm haven of my customised bread proofing rack. I have tasted it daily as instructed by Mr Katz and have really noticed the flavour changing from predominately “salty” to a more complex mix of salty and tangy. I don’t like buying things that I can’t make myself and probiotics are one thing that I refuse to pay money for when they can be produced at home. Kimchi promises to satisfy my desire for savoury flavours whilst giving me the added bonus of being actually good for me. Next step is the more down to earth Sauerkraut to see if my German heritage emerges with a “Wunderbar!” It remains to be seen… Again I think that I will let the multitude of photos tell you a bit more about the last few days as I have over 30 photos to share with you. We seem to spend our days walking the dogs and studying in between rain showers and the odd bit of Zelda (me) and television (Steve) but they say that a photo can speak 1000 words…I am sure that you will be glad of the opportunity to see if they do :o) so I will finish up here for today and leave you all with this little reminder of why I love Brunhilda so VERY much…

Lastly…heres another great reason why I love the multifunctionality of Brunhilda. This coolest warming oven is perfect for drying off wet items without heating them too much…its perfect for dehydrating and in this case…for making “Shoe” pastry 😉 Oh go ON! You know you liked it :o)

Stewart and the Kong

Hi All,

Today we pick up Stewart from town. I dare say he has had a good time with his sisters. They all have the same weird sense of humour and are all intellectual and no doubt they will be sharing various favourite websites, comics and will be playing computer and PlayStation games and Stewart will hopefully be rested and relaxed. I dare say he will be well fed as the girls are both good cooks and like to experiment with gourmet items so at least he will get something nice to eat. We will bring Qi back with Stewart so that she can have a day with her “brothers” and chaos will ensue on Serendipity Farm. Qi loves to visit us here but is always on the lookout to advance herself up the social ladder. She does this because she is the only female in the bunch and because that is what females do. Bezial allows her to do this but Earl doesn’t. Qi is very clever and has worked out that if she has Earl on “her side” she can do whatever she wants and so she spends hours playing with him and ripping up the boys toys and generally having a great time bossing everyone (including us) around while she is here. A big thank you to my daughters for letting her have the odd holiday here with “Grandma and Grandpa” because she really does enjoy herself. Stewart can help us walk them all (that will make him very glad that he is heading off to Melbourne) and can generally do what he wants, take a walk around the property and will most probably end up playing Mario Kart with Steve. I hope that the 3 days that he is here will give him a degree of separation between leaving Albany and heading over to his new life in Melbourne. There is nothing like spending some time with your immediate family to ground you. No-one is telling you how great you are…in fact; your immediate family is usually telling you the opposite! We will drop Stewart at the airport on Sunday to head off to Melbourne and to go apartment hunting with real estate agents and then will head off to Evandale markets as they are just up the road from the airport and as we are in the area anyway…we may as well take a look. I will take the camera and will share the markets with you all. I wonder if the bee lady will be there. She takes a Perspex hive of bees with her to show people how honey is made (as well as selling amazing honey)…I wonder if the little coffee cart will be there? It’s very decorative and sells good coffee. Evandale is generally cold in the mornings and a nice hot cup of coffee is a prerequisite to wandering around bargain hunting first thing. It wakes you up and it speeds up your cold addled brain so that you can recognise bargains when you see them (it’s only a pity that it also wakes Steve up and makes him think about how much money he could save if his wife wasn’t hell bent on finding bargains…). There are regular stall holders and there are fly by night stallholders who come and go. We like a stall holder that goes by the name of “Bluey” (because he has red hair…to the rest of the world…I don’t know why we Australian’s call people with red hair bluey, but you call them bloodnuts so you are not much better! :o) who sells all sorts of well-priced fruit trees and nut trees. We have bought quite a lot of trees from him over the years that we have lived in Tasmania. I particularly like the stalls that sell second-hand goods. I love books and pottery and weird and wonderful terracotta “stuff” and glassware and all sorts of unusual and eclectic “stuff”. Are you starting to see why Steve twitches whenever I walk into a market place? I am the same when I head into grocery stores that sell unusual ethnic grocery lines and health food shops. Steve would rather hand over the wallet (sighing heavily as he does…) than set foot in one of these sorts of shops with me. I am really looking forwards to the markets as we haven’t been in so long.

Most of Tasmania is covered in these at the moment. Should you want to take advantage of this amazing bumper crop of the biggest blackberries that I have ever seen, feel free. There are plenty of them to go around!

This is what most of our blackberries that I am slowly harvesting as they ripen are going to become. I may even go blackberry scrumping out on the road verges and make double the amount as this was excellent and most quaffable wine…

Earl and Bezial are now a whole lot easier to walk thanks incredibly to the people at Black Dog head halters (and accessories). We got our halters yesterday and after fitting them to each individual dog, Earl and his black head halter (black because you may as well start out as you mean to finish off!) and Bezial and his purple head halter (for the regal hound that he is) had a bit of a perambulate around the house and Earl had a walk amongst the chickens. The house remains unscathed and more to the point…so do the chickens! “Hoc factum” (or so I am lead to believe by my online Latin translator…meaning “IT WORKS!”) and a pair of most satisfied people and 2 dogs who are not all that phased by their new nose adjustor head halters but our walk today will be the test. Incidentally, should any of you more learned or interested constant readers ever wish to translate your modern everyday English language to Latin (and appear to be a total wanker in the process :o) here is the site that I used. I make NO claims that this site is accurate in any way. Should you say something to a Hells Angel (or any other rough type) in the future derived from this site and have your face rearranged in an entirely unpleasant way I accept NO liability for sharing this site with you (but I will bring you a bunch of grapes in hospital :o).

http://www.latinwordfor.com/

Back to my infectious joy regarding these Black Dog head halters. I went on and on about Caesar Millans collars right up to actually attempting to walk the dogs in them and discovering that they really don’t work. These collars worked instantly. Previous to fitting Earl with his, if we had taken him out into the big wide world full of delicious and most enticing chickens running madly about clucking we would have been dragged from one side of Serendipity Farm to the other by a most excited mutt. Now, we have Earl standing still and trying to work out how to get the head halter off because he has chicken wrangling to do. The head halter applies no pressure whatsoever to the dogs nose (unlike the old version that we had for Bezial) UNTIL they start to pull. Pulling causes the head halter to increase pressure over the bridge of the nose. Bezials old head halter used to pull at the side of his mouth causing his eye to be also pulled up and some of his fur was rubbed off. This old halter worked but this new incarnation of halter will hopefully give us a much greater gift, the ability to walk with our dogs in the morning without arriving back home totally exhausted and frazzled to the bone. When I was in W.A. I bought Earl a Kong. If you don’t own a dog, you might not even be aware of the clever person who invented this item. Earl can be a bit of a handfull (and a milder word for Earl was NEVER heard!) at times and sometimes he gets a bit bored, even though we walk him within an inch of his life. He spends his life in perpetual motion, even when he is asleep and chasing bears. A Kong allows us to settle him down for a while and give him something to put that clever little brain to work for (besides working out how to get the chickens and feral cats). Its essentially a bit of hollow moulded rubber in the shape of an old fashioned bee hive. The idea is that you stuff it with edible things that are difficult for the dog to extract and it takes them some time to work out how to get them out. It’s a bit along the lines of giving chimpanzee’s sticks to get termites out of termite mounds (or people’s houses if you are a clever entrepeneur and only want to pay your workers peanuts…literally!) and Earl loves his Kong. We stuff it with all sorts of Earl treats and set him off with it. Bezial has gone from being a bit jealous to treasuring those moments when Earl is too busy with his Kong to use Bezial as his own personal squeaky toy. Earl is probably the equivalent of a boisterous A.D.A.H.D. child with too much stimulation and not enough to relieve his condition. Anyone wanting to spend a few hours walking, running, cycling (desperation allows me to contemplate that “strange bedfellow” request there…) or flat out pelting around on a horse with Earl on his lead pelting out in front of you (he is VERY fast…) please let us know and we will be very happy to oblige. Never let it be said that we would deny any one of our dear constant readers from the adrenaline rush commonly known as Earl…

Talking about Earl (how was THAT for a segue! :o) we come to a picture that is sort of between a rock and a hard place. When this rose was inside the compound and at the mercy of Earl, it got pruned very severely. It is a red Pierre de Ronsard and a most lovely thing it is when it is allowed to flower. Earl + red Pierre de Ronsard = sad panda. It has been moved out of the compound and is now starting to take off again which brings me to the conundrum here…this rose no longer has that flower…it doesnt have those leaves…it is a stick. The possums love roses and reduce all of my lovely Delbard and David Austin roses to ugly stalks. Which is worse? A pruned rose (with a few scraggly leaves) or a denuded rose with only stalks? If you can figure that out…let me know.

This is one plant that has definately benefitted from us moving to Serendipity Farm. Before we moved here I always wondered what the purple stalk was with the single leaf. It persisted long after it should have given up the ghost and now that it is situated right next to the overhead watering system and it hasn’t stopped raining after we installed it AND we cleaned out this entire area allowing this poor (normally indoor) plectranthus to see the light and take advantage of a bit of rain it is taking off and rewarded us with this pretty flower. The lord only knows who planted this poor house plant outside under a large conifer and then forgot all about it. It is a survivor and I prize that in anything so it will always be allowed it’s space here on Serendipity Farm…

Steve was most proud of this creation the other day. Steve occasionally likes to delve into creative cooking for himself. I let him (I don’t have to cook that night…I am NOT a fool :o) and this was the result of his desire for a “Potato pie”. I actually made the shortcrust pastry on this one and it turned out really well. I think that the powers that be thought that Steve had made it. That is why it worked out so well…

Here’s the inside of that potato pie with mashed spud, lots of cheese, chilli and American mustard (Steve LOVES American mustard and we buy it all of the time) and lots of black pepper. It is slowly being worked through in the fridge and makes a great lunch or snack on the run. I think you can make this one again Steve :o)

We have been using our wood stove lately due to the extended rainy and cooler conditions that we have been having lately. I love this sort of weather. It is lovely to cook your food and heat your water at the same time using good old fashioned wood. I don’t care about all of the politically correct people out there holding their silk hankies over their noses and protesting loudly about “wood smoke” because those self-same politically correct people have failed to do a darned thing about the pulp mill that looks like it is just about to start being built (thanks to Gunn’s finding themselves someone even more corrupt than they are to back their mill. This man has links to the Russian mafia and was thrown out of Geneva for being a money launderer and now both sides of government are lauding this “saviour” as the next best thing since sliced bread…I give in!) And once the pulp mill goes in, we will be burning our tyres as we don’t want to pay the $5 fee to take them to the tip. Bollocks to anyone from any sort of environmental protection agency from that point onwards! Sorry about that mini spleen venting event but it is very hard to ignore the ever increasing risk of this pulp mill being built just around the corner of Serendipity Farm. Our corrupt state government (both labour and liberal) should be thrown in jail for what they are doing but there is no-one to stand up to them and most Tasmanian’s are too numpty to be able to see what is being done to them. Forget welfare state…forget “clean and green” we are just about to become toxic Tasmania and no-one can stop this from happening. The worst bit is that Gunn’s (the prospective and likely builders of this mill) have managed to get themselves indemnified for 2 years from ANY form of legal action resulting from anything that happens to do with the pulp mill…how did they do that unless our state governments are both on the payroll? I feel another bout of head banging on the wall coming on so I had best have a cup of tea and play some Animal Crossing to sooth my inner “savage beast”. My savage beast seems to be living very close to the surface these days. I think we need to start on our new Diploma course to give us some focus again. This year has been somewhat stressful to say the least and we need something to centre us and give us a goal to accomplish. Serendipity Farm isn’t helping much at the moment. What with our overrunning population of both chickens and cats and our difficulty in being able to isolate a space to heap up our ever burgeoning piles of debris until we are able to deal with it accordingly our little oasis of calm appears to have dried up along with everything else affected by the extended period of hot, dry weather.

We found another hidey hole for eggs. I hope we find all of them soon as otherwise we are going to be either overrun by feral chicks or up to our armpits in rotting, exploding and most foetid eggs…

We are doing our best to do what we can on the property and now that the weather has started to cool down, it is most conducive to working out in the garden. I have a personal quest to eliminate all of the blackberries that are growing in various shrubs lining the driveway. It’s not a hard task and I can do it in a couple of hours armed with my long sleeved welding gloves, my secateurs, a pair of loppers and the trailer and 4 x 4. I actually really enjoy pottering around removing blackberries it gives me an amazing sense of achievement because they are such bollocks of plants (apart from their tasty fruit that is :o) and they fight back. We are just about to take our whipper snippers down to the teatree garden again and give the forget-me-nots and periwinkle another thrashing. I think that we might be winning the battle there because this time last year (not too long after we moved in) the forget-me-nots and vinca covered the entire area and were a dense carpet of foliage and bright blue flowers and sticky seeds to a height of 40cm. The forget-me-nots are suffering from repeated removal of their leaves and stems down to the base. We have been removing the flowers (via whipper snipper) whenever we see them and so we are minimising the seed bank in the soil. The periwinkle is a harder plant to kill. We will be whipper snipping them for many years to come but we fully intend on ensuring that they never gain a foothold again on Serendipity Farm. Autumn is going to be all go on Serendipity Farm. Our certificate 2 and 3 in horticulture lecturer told us that autumn planting is ideal and we are going to actually listen to and implement something that you told us James! The cooler weather also allows us to head off into the wild undergrowth and hack away steadily without losing most of our body fluids through sweat in 10 minutes. Tasmania is right underneath the massive great hole in the ozone layer. Everything that the industrial world has done to the ozone layer, we are paying for and the sun can give you a heat stroke in less than 10 minutes on a particularly warm day. We have to be more than careful when working in the garden between 10 and 3 (and often 8 – 5 in the height of summer). We are determined to hack our way through to the cleared areas around the perimeter of Serendipity Farm’s 1 acre of once landscaped garden. I don’t care if it looks like a cyclone has gone through the place, we need to deal with this tangled mess as soon as possible and Steve and I are just the people to thrash it into submission. I might be slow to get stuck into something (starting is the hardest bit for me…) but once I start, I am most determined. I am especially determined if something tries to fight back (read blackberries…). I have a blackberry waiting for me to render it harmless up near a small shed up near Steve’s boat shed. I was finding things to take to the rubbish tip along with a load of rubbish that we needed to get rid of and this blackberry not only grabbed me, but bit hard with its thorns. I have a pair of secateurs with that blackberries name on them and the next time that I am out in the area (tomorrow…it’s out near our potted plants) that blackberry shall be no more…

I think I might finish this post there. It’s actually Friday and I wanted a post sorted and ready to go so that we can spend the day that we have with Stewart without stressing to get a post sorted out. I know that you will understand and I will share anything interesting with you in a future post. Most likely Stewart spent the day playing Mario Kart with Steve, wandering around Serendipity Farm (and the accompanying river bank) and playing with the dogs who will no doubt love him. There is something about Stewart that dogs love. I have no idea why because his father has the opposite effect and dogs hate him. Bezial adores him, having met him on his previous visits to Tasmania and I dare say Earl will be just as enamoured of him. Qi has been sleeping on his bed in town and he mentioned his “Qi hot water bottle” when I last chatted to him. We will probably have the wood stove on to heat the house, cook something nice for tea and heat enough water for him to have a long shower before he heads off to Melbourne to find himself someplace to live. I think he is being very brave. Braver than I would ever contemplate being. I would need to have everything planned to the last degree before I even thought about moving somewhere but he said that he decided by tossing a coin. I hope that he finds happiness and fulfilment in Melbourne. What more can you hope for your children? Sometimes you have to be willing to pull up your tent and head off into greener and more remote pastures and Stewart is forging his way into new territory indeed. See you all tomorrow :o)