Sickness and Shakespeare

It’s been a wild week – in more ways than one!

In truth, I feel more than a little cheated. After unseasonably warm weather, I was out in the rain and wind and got cold early in the week. I even picked ripe strawberries earlier in the week!

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I started to get the sniffles on Wednesday and by Thursday I was a mess! I’ve spent (for me) a lot of time in bed with David Tennant and a box of tissues.

Now before you get the wrong idea, I’ve been watching and (when I’ve been able to) reading a lot of Doctor Who for my current unit at Griffith University. Doctor Who has become a legitimate area of academic study, which makes me even more inclined to consider post grad work in Screen Studies! So I re-watched a good deal of the Tenth Doctor. Although I really like all the actors cast as the Doctor, I think Tennant has been my favourite so far, largely because of his versatility 😀

So I’ve been watching Tennant in Hamlet (Doran 2009) with Patrick Stewart and Much Ado About Nothing (Rourke 2011) with the utterly brilliant Catherine Tate. That led on to Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V and (somehow) to Excalibur (Boorman 1981) which features the late Nicol Williamson as Merlin, one of the greatest actors of his generation and reputedly the best Hamlet ever.

Last night I moved on to The Hollow Crown: Richard II and tonight I’m planning to snuggle up with Jeremy Irons in The Hollow Crown: Henry IV and if I last long enough, Tom Hiddleston in The Hollow Crown: Henry V. Apparently, there’s a new season coming out this year and I also want to  – more DVDs I need to find room for 😀

As you might have gathered by now, I love Shakespeare. I was thinking recently with all the celebrations for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death that I should re-watch what I’ve got and replenish my collection. For me it’s the musicality of the language, the silliness of the comedies, the depth of the tragedies – it’s pure comfort food when I’m feeling like this. While I’m still sniffly, it’s nothing more than an autumn virus but it’s left me very foggy and aching.

Those of you who follow my blog will be pleased to know that the Elderberry Cordial I made earlier this year is a winner! I’ve been having a hot cordial before going to sleep and it’s really helped break this virus – and it tastes lovely 😀

So there’s been little gardening but the autumn vegetables are booming (next week I must plant onions!) and the six baby rabbits are turning into eating machines!

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Finally, (and I’ll likely be soundly told off for this!) it was this beautiful little cherub’s 24th birthday earlier this week and I think this is my favourite photograph of him as a little boy. I cannot begin to express how much this man has changed my life – undoubtedly for the better – and how proud I am of him and to be his mother. Of the many things I’ve done in my life, he is without doubt the finest.

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Anyway, I’m off to bed with Jeremy Irons and an Elderberry Cordial. Wherever you all are, I hope you’re well and happy ❤

Do you like Shakespeare? What’s your favourite play? Leave a comment below – I love to hear from you all! 

Surviving the Storm – A Sunday Night Recap

Well, it’s been quite a week! I’m not sure where it disappeared to, but I’m rugged up on the couch and it’s Sunday night here in Hobart.

At the moment, Tasmania is in the path of a series of westerly fronts, bringing much needed rain but some very damaging winds. There was some respite yesterday so I took the opportunity to spend some time in the garden, rearranging mulch, repairing torn bird netting and salvaging what I could of the broccoli crop.

And of course, I got to spend some quality time with the chickens and the now month old rabbits ❤

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Earlier this week I processed the rest of the chestnut crop, which was pretty poor this year due to very little rain in summer and no water to spare for the trees. But I find them so delicious and useful that every little piece has become precious to me and my family. I’d never really paid much attention to chestnuts until I moved here, with a mature tree in the backyard that provides several kilos of nuts every autumn with minimal care.

For any of you interested in how I process them, I did a post here a couple of years ago.

On Friday, I got a parcel in the post from a woman I met through Facebook, who lives in northern Tasmania. In it was a self addressed post bag for some chilli seeds – and two beautiful, handmade beanies.

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The photo doesn’t really do them justice, they are really a very dark black and a luscious purple – my favourite colour 🙂  Fran is also a blogger and you can find her here. I finished packaging her seeds during the week, I’ve been drying them slowly on paper.

IMG_20160513_210229Like most repetitive tasks, I think there’s something incredible meditative about sorting seeds. For me it’s akin to weeding or planting but a little more demanding, particularly when you’re trying to keep track of numbers and sort out obvious broken or dud seeds – much easier with peas and beans!

Nevertheless, it’s one of those jobs that I really enjoy doing on a cold night with some good music or a favourite movie on.

One thing I should’ve done though is wear gloves. Despite using broad head tweezers, I still got enough capanoids on my fingers to sting!

Once sorted, I put the seeds into paper packets I make from old (preferably heavy weight) paper. The recent batch for all my seeds this autumn came from some old (and quite dreadful) music books I found in the local tip shop. Although I revere books, I’ve recycled these so that no innocent child is ever forced to play those songs again – they are truly dreadful!

 

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I think the finished product looks rather nice and I hope Fran and her family enjoy the produce. One day we’ll meet in person I’m sure 🙂

The rain and wind came back with a vengeance today, so I took the opportunity to catch up with my current studies at Griffith University. I’m doing an online degree and this unit is Television Studies. My head is still full of textual analysis and particularly David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. For something most of us take for granted, television is really quite a complex and surprisingly demanding area of study – and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning some of the history and depth of the medium. This week I have to finish drafting my major essay on the enduring appeal of Doctor Who which has meant I’ve had to watch quite a lot of it (mostly David Tennant) in recent weeks.

Seriously, I love my life 😀

Stay well and be happy wherever you are ❤

Strange Days – Autumn 2016

In light of all the sadness of recent times, I thought I’d give an update on the urban farm. Along with music, writing and all my magnificent friends, this has undoubtedly been the glue that’s been holding everything together these past months inside my head.

I’m grateful not only that I have these things in my life but I recognise and celebrate their importance.

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As I type, we’ve finally had some rain but it has been a very warm and dry autumn for southern Tasmania. In years past, the Prune Plum pictured above would be bare stems by now but early May and it still refuses to drop its leaves!

Elsewhere around the garden there’s other odd things happening……

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The picture above is some of my Raspberries that really shouldn’t be producing this late in the season – they are generally a summer only variety! And in the greenhouse, I discovered Strawberries and new flowers and fruit on many of the chillies!

One of the better things about this protracted warm weather has been the amount of growth in the vegetable garden. I’ve been literally inundated with chillies this season and they’re not letting up – some of the well established plants are still flowering and setting fruit!

At the moment, I’ve got the dehydrator packed with the last of the Roma tomatoes and various chillies and the basil is just crazy! The winter broccoli is starting to head and there’s plenty of growth on the Silverbeet (Swiss Chard) and the winter Endive and Chicory plants are almost ready to start picking. The Asparagus I grew from seed over the summer is looking positively lush in its permanent bed, producing lots of surprisingly large feathery fronds before winter bites. My big fear at the moment is that all the Kale I’ve planted will bolt to seed before it’s big enough to pick!

I’m going to do a last big cut of Rhubarb this weekend and cook it up for winter desserts. Then, once the plants shut down for winter, I’m going to dig all the crowns up and divide them. For any of you in Tasmania, contact me if you want a Rhubarb crown – I’m happy to barter 😀

And then there’s these little moppets…….

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They’re three weeks old now, their eyes are open and they’re out “exploring” (read constantly annoying their mother). In truth, I’d given up on Bella being pregnant (this was the second time she’d been serviced by our lovely buck) and I’d even put her back in her regular two tiered hutch near the others in preparation for winter. She is so big it’s really hard to tell if she’s pregnant anymore!

Then my gorgeous neighbour Karen came up early Saturday 16th April to let me know she found a little pink, blind newborn outside Bella’s hutch. (She is now officially the Best Neighbour Ever!) We all raced out to find two in a nest Bella had made in her upstairs sleeping area and about four more in the bottom of her hutch. They were cold so it was all hands on deck! Normally, I don’t like to disturb or touch newborns until they have their fur but we had little baby buns up our jumpers (I even had one in my bra) to warm them while we carefully checked the rest of the hutch and made sure Bella was alright. We ended up with a very smug mamma and six very healthy little kits ❤

Last weekend we moved them all back into the ground level nursery hutch and everyone’s thriving 😀

Tuesday we had the first snow on kunanyi/Mt Wellington for the year and I went to Launceston on Wednesday to attend a memorial service for Kevin Gleeson, who passed away recently. While it was great to catch up with many friends, it was a very sad day. When I was driving up, I noticed deciduous trees (looked like Prunus sp.) budding up and flowering – strange days indeed!

Take care friends, wherever you are and may all your gardens grow well ❤

A Day of Quiet Bliss – Day 29 NaBloPoMo 2015

It was very overcast and quite humid in Hobart most of today. Although I was supposed to go to an event nearby, I decided to stay home and potter around the garden. The girls were very pleased because this meant lots of extra treats for them and they rewarded me with eggs as usual. Boudica Bunny is also eating enormous amounts at the moment and all the babies are out and starting to get the hang of this eating solid food caper.

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I potted up more basil, chillies and Green Shiso (Perilla fruitescans var. crispa), a wonderful Japanese annual herb, which I primarily use in stir fries and salads. I’ve grown it in the past but never had such a fabulous strike rate as I did with this year’s seed supply. It’s looking wonderful and already has that unmistakable flavour and aroma. I find it likes a rich potting mix and lots of warmth for quick growth, similar to basil.

And then there was the completion of half the “corner of shame”. This is a classic before and after situation.

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Before

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After

Admittedly, we’re only half way there but that’s a lot further than we were a few weeks ago!

After removing the worst of the perennial weeds, I put some dolomite limestone over the area and covered it with several layers of cardboard.  Then we laid some cotton mats, donated by family members, that were old and worn and heading for the rubbish tip. (I think half our garden is recycled!)

A thick layer of coarse sand went over that and it was topped with some well composted native bark mulch, which I’ve found considerably less acidic than pine bark mulch. We did the same thing behind the chicken house and I’ve planted two Australian Tea-Trees (Leptospermum sp.) there to provide some extra wind protection for the ladies who lay.

The weeds will grow back – but not as quickly or as vigorously as they have in the past. I want to plant a couple of English Lavender here in the next few days and I’m planning to put netting or shade cloth above the fence to give a little more height for growing climbers in tubs and privacy both for and from our neighbours. Next spring, this is the likely spot for my beehive, angled in towards the garden.

I also finished the garlic crop, which has been curing inside the last two weeks. It’s now cleaned up, the tails have been clipped and it’s in three plaits, hanging off the laundry/kitchen door. It’s quite a decent amount this season, considering I’ve used and given away at least half a dozen or so heads already – and there’s more in the ground that needs pulling!

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Tomorrow is back to music work and teaching, the beginning of my birthday week, first day of my next university semester and the last day of NaBloPoMo – and I’m picking up my birthday present to myself tomorrow too 😀

 

 

More Small Joys – Day 24 NaBloPoMo 2015

I’ve had a great day – bustling and busy – but great nonetheless. This morning I fed and watered the hungry hoards and said hello to the baby bunnies, who are all growing at a phenomenal rate! Their eyes are open and they are getting quite inquisitive about the world.

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I picked raspberries (a daily job now) and I’m hoping to have enough to make a spectacular birthday cake for myself next week 🙂 When I went to give Boudica her daily raspberry leaf treat, I discovered someone had come out to see mummy and see what she eats ❤

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There were six eggs from six chickens this morning, so after watering the greenhouse, I pickled another dozen eggs using the recipe I shared  here recently and started another loaf of sourdough bread. This weather Wee Beastie is very active and needs more attention (and feeding!)

My son came over and hung out, he’s in the process of moving out of his old place and in with a friend who lives just up the road from here. I think he was just sick of sorting out the junk from the stuff he wants to keep and needed some chill out time. So we kicked back, drank lots of tea and watched cooking shows on television. We’ve agreed to have a birthday dinner at home for me next week – Roast Pork with all the trimmings, maybe some new potatoes from the garden – which will be perfect!

I’m gradually getting my head around this final assignment, which is due Friday afternoon. I’ve opted to write three poems for plus a 500 word exegesis. Although I’m a professional songwriter (and prolific blogger) I don’t have much experience with poetry and it’s a form I find quite fascinating. Interestingly, I’ve found the easiest way to start is take and idea and just write. Stream of consciousness seems to be the key way into it for me. Then I edit and arrange the words on the page so they make sense to me – and hopefully my tutor! So my poems are largely about the strange weather we get in Tasmania, the changing seasons, growing things, musicians and music.

The sourdough went in the oven late this afternoon and, as a light dinner I took fresh sourdough slices, slabs of Pork Brawn I made on Sunday and crumbled over feta cheese I made a few weeks ago. We put the slices under a hot grill for about 10 minutes – until the feta started to melt – and it was so delicious! The sharp saltiness of the feta worked so well with the rich, meaty Brawn on the fresh sourdough.

I was also reminded by HeWhoMustNotBeListenedTo that everything on our plates was made by me. It was a very satisfying moment……

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So, tomorrow will be even busier – sand and pine bark chips are arriving for a project in the back end of the garden. I’ll have pics to show you all tomorrow night 😀

Sunshine, Rhubarb & Good Ideas – Day 13 NaBloPoMo 2015

So, Friday again – where did the week go? I had to take the day off work today, my back is not behaving itself and I’m going pretty slow at the moment.

Still, I managed to feed the hungry beasts this morning, check that everything survived the rain and enjoy a little bit of sunshine. In the midst of my “go slow”, I had some gentle exercise, pulled a few weeds and picked some rhubarb. I have six plants of “Victoria” – the green variety – that get fed heavily a couple of times a year and give back a load of wonderful, tart stalks from the end of winter until the end of autumn.

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I tend to roast bite-size pieces coated in brown sugar instead of stewing these days but I’ve got so much I’m thinking of making sparkling wine and syrup with some, as well as the usual crumble and Rhubarb Fool. (Any unusual suggestions or recipes would be appreciated!)

Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) is actually a vegetable rather than a fruit but it’s generally used for sweet dishes and drinks. Just make sure to remove the leaves before preparing and never let your chickens have any part of the plant – the oxalic acid make it lethal for poultry or rabbits.

And speaking of rabbits, I checked the babies this morning too. All are thriving, getting chubbier and growing fur 🙂

One week old 13th Nov

I found fresh mushrooms last night from the compost bags so had a filling breakfast of mushrooms on sourdough toast. I’m heading to my local plant nursery for some more mushroom compost next week!

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Do you have any favourite recipes or bright ideas for using rhubarb? Please leave a comment below. 

A Quick Update – Day 10 NaBloPoMo 2015

Wow, it’s Day 10 already – one third of the way through the month of blogging! It’s a little scary how fast the time has flown but I still haven’t run out of things to write about 😀

As many of you will be aware, there was much excitement on the weekend when the beautiful Boudica Bunny gave birth on Saturday morning.

I’m very pleased to say that all seven of them are very healthy, plump little bunnies, obviously being fed and already showing a light sheen of (mostly) white fur. There’s a couple with speckles of black skin like their mother but I think most of them are going to be like their father Beelzebun, who’s a crossbred Californian/New Zealand White. Newborns are more or less hairless and look like little pink peanuts but within the first week they grow an awful lot of fur! By this time next week they’ll be starting to open their eyes and get curious about the world.

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For the next fortnight or more I’ve got loads of work coming my way, mostly with regard to my final assignment for my current online unit at Griffith University. I have to complete a creative piece (short story, short screenplay or three poems) and a 500 word exegesis about my process. I’ve decided to go with the poems as it’s closer to lyric writing which I feel comfortable with but different enough to be of value to my learning. Interestingly, I’ve been reading far more prose lately but it’s flavouring my work in an interesting way. I hope my tutor agrees!

And next Thursday I’m playing a gig at The Homestead in Hobart, supporting my good friend, Cassie O’Keefe. I’m really looking forward to it and hoping we can find the time to rehearse some material together between now and then. If you’re in southern Tasmania, Cassie’s playing a set this Friday the 13th at the Worlds End in Sandy Bay, which I’m hoping to get to.

So, posts will still be daily – I don’t want to stop now I’m a third of the way through – they’ll still contain bunny and gardening updates but they might be a little shorter…….

To finish, here’s a photo of Boudica and my other doe Bella, when they were little girls – about four or five months old. Note the overturned bowl, something Boudica still does when she’s finished her daily kibble ration ❤

Bella & Boudica

Bella & Boudica