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

Hi All,

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

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Earl bagsed top bunk…

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

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“I prefer to be chauffered…”

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“Any fish in here?”

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

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

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

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

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

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Walking down the driveway to check the mail…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A nod is as good as a wink to a blind bat

Hi All,

What the hell is she talking about now? At least I don’t bore you dear constant readers ;). What today’s post is about is communication. That vital synaptic leap between the brain of one to the brain of another… a mutual process of understanding we know as “communication”. You might have the best most amazing idea in the world…you turn it around in your head, you feed it with possibilities, you craft it carefully and lovingly…you sample it and it tastes sweet and you want to share it with your friends but unless you are able to take that kernel of an idea and plant it firmly in the damp earth of someone else’s mind you are lost. I spend my mornings reading blogs through my rss feed reader. I keep evolving with what I do and don’t like and regularly throw blogs into the ether to make way for amazing new blogs. My new blogs are all about possibilities…fermentation, making things yourself, xeriscape gardening (and one combines xeriscape gardening with vegan cooking… what’s not to love!)And what I love about these blogs is their ability to communicate their ideas and processes with a wider audience. I am a processes girl. I learn through following processes and getting familiar with those processes. When my guitar teacher (who ran away from his wife leaving her available to become my dad’s partner and who inevitably left us Serendipity Farm but that, my dears, is another story! 😉 ) told me that practice makes perfect…aside from lying, he was outlining the perfect way for me to learn. Not everyone learns like this. There are many ways that people learn. Some people (take Steve for example) learn on the fly. They like to hurl themselves into the “experience” and pick it up as they go along. That way of learning scares the hell out of me! I need to start at a point where I understand “something” about the process and work in incremental stages from there till I arrive at the other end. To see Steve jumping in at the deep end and swimming with the fishes of his creativity is like being probed by aliens…frankly terrifying. Are you starting to get a bit of a picture of how difficult it is to sometimes translate what is going on inside “my” head to that of my wildly arm waving Don Quixote of a husband? 😉

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“Well what do we have here then eh? A lovely little Aussie Christmas beetle (Anoplognathus montanus) still hanging about after Christmas Day…”

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“RUN!”…

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The fixin’s for a batch of Steve’s favourite calzones. He has gone from being very suspicious about the idea of a calzone to demanding them on a constant basis 🙂

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This is a Boozy Oatwell Slice…the hybrid result of a man who just couldn’t make his mind up “I would like an oat slice…but then that bakewell slice you made the other day was delicious…and I could go a batch of eccles cakes…” rather than bake 3 separate things, I combined them all and a new classic is made…AND Steve loves it! 🙂

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“Quick Steve…get the chilli and garlic spray…there is something in the vegetables!”

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“Beetroots conquered and divided SIR!” Not only do we get the root but we get the delicious leaves to use like silverbeet in whatever we want. Tonight I am having some in my soup 🙂

Serendipity Farm is all go at the moment. Not the sort of “go” that eventuates in enormous swathes of things being done, but lots of little patches of “done”. I am spending a lot of time in the veggie garden much to Steve’s surprise. He expected that he would have to be the brawn where the veggie garden was concerned but Dame Elizabeth and mum are spurring me on and won’t let me rest if something needs doing out there. Yesterday I was mulching everything with some of the tinder dry lawn clippings and dead oak leaves that we got from Glad’s place. They were perfect to grab handfuls of and shuffle between the plants. The veggie garden is looking suitably smug now in its new blanket of deceased vegetative matter and I know that once it rots down it can only add to the fecundity of the soil. I am already learning the distinct benefits of being a “Doer”. This is my year of “Doing” and instead of thinking about projects I am actively hurling myself into them. When I say “hurl” I mean Fran’s planning type hurl rather than Steve’s jump in with both feet hurl. When mum used to be in her garden for most of her days I simply couldn’t understand the attraction…what is out there?! Now I know. Mum’s final communication with me (aside from her stint as chief muse that is…) was received, planted and has grown to fruition. I finally “Get it” mum :o). The sum of the process is worth so much more than the little bits that make it all up. We almost had an Hitchcockian case of extreme vertigo when faced with the garden when we first got here. Nothing would have changed unless we stepped out in the faith that we could, indeed, make a difference. We are slowly introducing cycles to the property…compost heaps to take care of green waste, food scraps and anything that will rot down to minimise landfill and to maximise our soil; vegetable gardens to feed ourselves; chickens for eggs, meat (roosters), nitrogenous manure and spent hay bedding that can be used for mulch and composting and many more. Today I took another wheelbarrow of oak leaves and dry lawn clippings to mulch the strawberries that are in containers by the side of Steve’s shed. I can feel the information that I have been collecting flowing out of me as I work…”make sure to cover all of the bare earth so that you minimise soil evaporation…don’t use the green leaves, make sure you only use the dead ones to minimise nitrogen draw-down…Don’t plant those chives with those snowpeas! They release substances that limit the growth of the peas…” It takes knowledge AND action to effect change. Incidentally, if you would like to see a good companion planting guide check this one out via Sustainable Gardening Australia…

http://www.sgaonline.org.au/?p=6986

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One extremely squished ex-golden nugget tomato courtesy of “The possums”…

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How much more fortification do we need?!!! Aside from buying a long metal chain and situating Earl in the wood shed to the right of this photo, we are not too sure what to do next…barbed wire perchance?

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Lets just call these pears “Romeo and Juliet” because they are together and still alive only because the possums haven’t found them yet…say goodbye to Romeo and Juliet 😦

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The butterfly Romeo and Juliet…for some reason butterflies love to hide under this tarpaulin where I keep the grass clippings and spent oak leaves that we got from Glad and every time I open it up, I find a few dead butterflies…

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The potato futures that we tossed into the compost heap the other day are all starting to grow!

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Some of the recent items harvested from Serendipity Farm including the rare golden nugget tomatoes (well NOW they are 😦 ) and a bouncy ball that was found in the bushy area next to the Auld Kirk church…”throw it over to the filthy heathens children…we shall save them YET!”

I have been singing the praises of the Tamar NRM for a long time now. They are an amazing source of information and practical application for how to manage your land using natural resources. Amanda, the powerhouse behind all communications and the lady that keeps everything running smoothly and efficiently recently asked me if I would like to write an article about my attendance at many of their workshops last year and how it has affected what we are going on our property for their next newsletter and I accepted. I just sent her 2 pages of words which was very difficult to do because my muses would have liked me to write a small novella, but for the sake of those reading (most probably mainly farmers who could care less to be honest) I reined them in this time. You can only imagine how difficult that was! ;). I sent a few photos to accompany the article but it will be interesting to see what Amanda does with my words and photos and how it looks in the next Tamar NRM newsletter. I might even link it so that you can all see it. Well the possums did it this time! I was out walking Earl this morning because Bezial is having one of his sporadic limping episodes. It curiously coincides with Bezial running maniacally around Serendipity Farm like a mad dog but he insists it is NOTHING to do with that. Earl and I arrived back home to Steve twitching more than normal. Apparently, while we slept, the possums decided that waving their hairy little arms through the bird netting to grab the occasional snack wasn’t enough…they decided to chew their way through to our tomatoes! We had a beautiful golden nugget tomato loaded with almost ripe perfect golden little orbs that were completely trampled flat and all of the gold stolen. I WOULD phone the police, but after heavily fortifying the entire “fruiting” bed (containing anything that a possum would be vaguely interested in…) and throwing some ex-fish farm netting over the top for good measure (they might chew their way in from the top!) we realised that what we had just made looked suspiciously like we were trying to hide “something” amongst our tomatoes…the spotter plane, most fortuitously flew over right at that time and we are waiting for the cops to bust down our door and demand to be taken up to see our illicit grown products. Best not trouble them while they are plotting the downfall of the Sidmouth 2 😉

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This is the “Queen of Hearts” jam making spoon with it’s own little heart for Valentine’s Day. It was a very clever idea but Steve isn’t happy with the watermark in the wood on the spoon bowl so away he went to make you another spoon…nothing is too good for our dear constant readers!

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Enter the gorgeous Ms. Myrtle…a stunning example of a local Tasmanian wood and something that I want to enter the draw for, let alone you lot! You get to choose which spoon you would like should you happen to win the spoon draw…be sure to let us know in time for this Saturday’s draw!

Well it’s spoon day again! Steve spent a few hours making what he called “The Queen of Hearts” on Thursday. He made it out of a lovely piece of Ash but in his haste he didn’t notice a little watermark in the wood that made the spoon look a little discoloured. Ash is pure white wood and this little watermark is very distinctive. He went to the trouble to make The Queen of Hearts spoon a true jam tart spoon with a little heart and a smaller tsp measure at the end for tasting the jam…you have to hand it to him, aside from being a great ideas man (re- booze bus…) he tried to make this spoon for multitasker’s…”make the jam, feed the baby…make the jam, put sugar in your tea…make the chutney, add some spices and salt…” but that little watermark made him twitch…he rubbed the spoon down and now it feels like smooth bone…light as a feather. Ash is hard wood…it broke 3 of his blades but this spoon is delicate looking. I can see this spoon lasting through the tough times, much like the Ash tree that it was made from, it is a stayer. Not happy with the watermark, Steve headed off and came back out of the shed today with a gorgeous Tasmanian Myrtle spoon. It is the most gorgeous colour and is just as light and smooth as the Ash but now he isn’t sure what to do with the Ash spoon. He has asked me to ask you to see which spoon you would like for the draw. Anyone who reads this blog, who wants to enter the draw for a spoon, please let me know in the comments and I will put you into the draw. This spoon draw will be drawn on Saturday so you really don’t have much time to get yourself into the draw. Steve wanted it to be drawn and sent so it has a chance to get to the recipient for Valentine’s Day and as mentioned, the choice of spoon is yours. Earl is twitching with happiness to be drawing another walnut draw. Little does Earl know that I have added a few ex-Christmas nuts to the bowl and there will be a choice of walnut, Brazil nut, Almond and Hazelnut. Again, if you would like to enter the draw please get back to us ASAP to get your name in the draw…we already have 7 people on the list so don’t wait or you might miss out :o). I will leave you with this Facebook reply that my little brother made when I was ranting about our recent tomato loss to the possums…

”I feed my possums to stop them running amok, and it works but the possums here aren’t as invasive nor as big as over in Tassie…brush tails ringtails and pygmies are full after a piece of bread some apple and a dried apricot. And because I’ve been bribing them with food, the nectarine tree near my back door has tripled in size and is well loaded with good fruit…in saying that, when the fruit has a week to go from being ripe and pickable, I’ll be camping out there with a metal colander /strainer on my head and a fly swat chanting subliminal messages to them under my breath.!”…

Oh NO dear constant readers…it runs in the family 😉