Monday, 1 December 2014

Steel Yourself



The boss dog here is nicknamed, “Scritchy” and she is so nicknamed because without warning she will jump up and scratch your legs out of sheer exuberance for life. Scritchy is a white short haired miniature Fox Terrier. Like all boss dogs though, Scritchy has her good and bad habits. One bad habit is that she like to sunbake and the hotter it gets, the more she likes it.

Yesterday, I think it would be fair to say that it was fairly warm here. At 7.24pm I took the following photo of the weather station which displays the inside and outside air temperatures. For those that don’t use metric, inside the house it was 25.9’C degrees Celsius (78.7’F), whilst outside, the air temperature – in the shade – was 38.3’C degrees (100.9’F). Have I mentioned before just how much I love having the weather station here? Very observant readers will note the 0.3mm (0.01 inch) of rainfall recorded which was from testing the bushfire sprinklers that afternoon – which incidentally also has the added benefit of cooling down the sprinkler operator!

Man, it's hot out here
Back to Scritchy the boss dog. Scritchy had been sunbaking, whilst I was installing galvanised steel cladding on the new shed (more on this later). Being boss dog here is a good job if you can get it.

At one point in the early afternoon, she finally moved out of the direct sun and I took this photo of her partner in crime of Toothy, the black long haired Daschaund looking outside through a glass door at Scritchy and asking the hard question:

Dude, what’s wrong with you? It’s really hot out there!
By 2pm, I’d called it quits as the sun was intense and I had no desire to suffer from the effects of heat exhaustion. During summer, I get up at sunrise to get things done around the farm. Waking up at sunrise is not my natural inclination and so by 4pm, I was quietly having a siesta which some people these days unceremoniously refer to as a disco nap.

Scritchy retired into the house at about the same time where she also proceeded to have a quiet nap.

However, this morning, Scritchy was not her normal exuberant self. She toddled onto the verandah, swaying slightly from side to side with her back arched in an unusual pose and couldn’t make it down the stairs on her own. At that point, I thought to myself: looks like I might have to get a new boss dog.

Anyway, I thought about what may be ailing her and put two and two together and realised that the dog was suffering from heat exhaustion.

As they say Down Under, Scritchy was: “coming down like a mongrel”! It is probably a fair thing to say that Scritchy felt this morning as if she had the worst hangover in history.

A good cure for heat exhaustion is to increase hydration and get some salts into the patient. In these situations, rehydration solutions work for me, so I thought I’d try something similar with Scritchy. Needless to say, dogs don’t naturally like to consume salt, so I had to bribe her with a mix of peanut butter and salt plus some beef jerky (which I keep on hand as a dog treat).

She appears to have now made a full recovery.

It isn’t all about dogs that have cooked their heads this week as the new shed is now in the process of being clad with galvanised steel sheeting. The photo below shows the new steel shed behind the white shed – which soon will become the farms cantina. In some parts of the world, a cantina is a Mexican bar, but here a cantina is the place where preserved goods and all of the miscellaneous equipment required to produce them are stored.

New shed under construction behind existing white shed
Hopefully, all being well, by next weekend all of the cladding will be installed onto the shed and the drains on the roof can then channel any rainfall into the storage tanks for later use.

New shed is under construction
Mowing the farm by hand has also continued this week. It is a big job, but at least it only has to happen once a year. Because of the strong sun, early mornings are the only time to mow the herbage now.

Mowing continues
The above photo shows just how long the herbage can grow at this time of year. For the remainder of the year the native animals browse the herbage which keeps it short. However, at this time of the year, the herbage grows much faster than they can eat.

Grey forest kangaroo enjoying the recently cut herbage
The push mower that I use cuts and mulches the herbage and I simply let the end product fall out of the mower. Within a few weeks, the insects and soil life here ensures that there is nothing to be seen. The geeky technical term for this process is called: “chop and drop” and it is a good way to speed up the process of building top soil. I am always stunned to see people carting away mown grass only for all that organic matter to end up in a landfill.

Anyway, I also mow a bit of the surrounding forest using this chop and drop method. It is a great way to turn forest litter quickly into top soil. The results are interesting and here is one example:

Results from chopping and dropping forest litter
The yellow button flower is a Button Everlasting and the green mossy plant is known as a Honey Pot. But also, Bidgee-widgee’s, Dichondra Kidney-Weeds, Tall Bluebells and the carnivorous Tall Sundew are all becoming more common under the canopy of the Eucalyptus forest as I continue the process of speeding up the recycling of organic matter by simply chopping and dropping whatever is there.

With an increase in the health of the top soil and the diversity of plants at the farm, so to have the insects increased in number and diversity. I captured a photo of this stick insect. She’s a big insect and you can see in the photo below there is a treated pine post to put her into some perspective.

Massive stick insect near the chicken enclosure
Last week, the state government – which incidentally changed hands after the weekend’s election – continued with the forest fuel reduction burn offs around the mountain range. This week, they burned the forest in Macedon.

Burn off of forest fuels in Macedon this week
The strawberry harvest has continued this week. With the bit of extra heat, the plants have gone feral and I now have a massive quantity of strawberries. Certainly there are now far too many for me to eat – and believe me, I have valiantly tried! The photo below shows strawberries awaiting their fate of being converted into a strawberry and rhubarb jam.

Strawberries awaiting their awful fate
How did I get here?


When I was a wee young lad, my grandfather used to take me camping up into the high country to a spot he and all his old World War II drinking buddies knew about on the Jamieson River. It was a very remote spot, far from any town. His mates were a rough lot too, from all corners of society (high to low), but they shared a common heritage and experiences. I suspect it was a form of therapy and ritual for them, and I was brought along to keep out of the way and fetch the water and firewood. My grandfather worked in the very top end of town, so he always had the final say on matters and I was tolerated.

It was a highlight of my youth because I could run feral, explore the bush and nobody seemed to mind – as long as I kept up the delivery of water from the river and firewood for the fire-pit.

The old guys put up a massive permanent heavy duty, all seasons tent plus outside all weather shelters, bedding and permanent fire pits. The state government in their wisdom demolished the site a few times as the site was on Crown land (i.e. government owned land). The old guys usually said to hell with what the government thought, so every time their gear was demolished, the old guys simply came back and just built a bigger and better site. They clearly felt that they were owed for their sacrifices and as a youth I was completely oblivious to these machinations.

So, running around the high country, like a complete feral, I learned to love the mountains and forests of this part of the world.

To be continued…



The temperature outside here at about 7.00pm is 24.4 degrees Celsius (75.9’F). So far this year there has been 732.2mm (28.8 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week’s total of 717.2mm (28.2 inches).

32 comments:

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

I have wanted to comment for a long time but have only just acquired a suitable id. Shall now see if it works before I write more.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; I'll remember those tips for curing a heat exhausted doggie. Beau seems to like the shad when it gets hot, but you never know! Not a problem right now. Got down to 19F last night. Oh, well. The cold will break on Wednesday night.

I finally remembered what they call that awful meat that was stuffed into so many sandwiches in my misspent youth ... lunch meat!

Hmmm. Never heard the term "Disco Nap." Over here, one hear's "power nap."

Finished "Extra Virgin" last night. Sigh. What a good read. Wow. Things sure did change fast in that little Italian backwater, when the EU money started pouring in. Or, World Bank money. Which Italy, and a lot of other countries discovered, didn't come "free." And, now it's time to pay the piper.

Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Just a quick note to let you know that your comments were received. The blog is moderated, which means that I have to approve comments before they appear in the comment section. That process usually takes about half a day (as I'm at the bottom of the world)!

Comment moderation is the best method of enforcing the simple rules for this blog which you can read on this web page under the "Leave your comment" heading.

Look forward to speaking with you.

Cheers

Chris

thecrowandsheep said...

Hi Chris,

I see you are steel forging ahead with your shed. Your peanut butter/salt cockertail must have really quenched Scritchy's thirst. Those strawberries look grate!

Cheers

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I'm currently in the process of turning 2kg (4.4 pounds) of strawberries plus an equivalent amount of rhubarb into jam. It is taking a bit longer than I thought tonight and the pot almost overflowed onto the stove top... It was like watching a bubbling lava field - and it would have caused about as much damage to the kitchen.

When I was in New Zealand - which has a massive amount of volcanic activity - they had bubbling lakes of mud and elsewhere there were hot springs and creeks. The hot springs were quite nice to spend some time in - I'm not convinced about the mud though. That is what the jam sort of looks like right now. Actually, just out of Darwin in the Northern part of the continent, they have hot springs too, but that is due to the ambient temperature more than anything else. The caves up that way are also hot. I felt that they were stifling, but that is just me I guess. Still, the house smells like strawberry and rhubarb jam at the moment which is very pleasant - unlike bubbling mud!

There are actually cold mineral springs around these parts. Some are sulphur tasting, but others have a zingy iron taste.

Isn't it weird how the more extreme weather comes after the solstice? The same thing happens here in that the really hot weather happens after the summer solstice. New Years day is always a cooker. Someone once explained to me that this was due to thermal inertia, as the ecosystem takes a long time to heat up and then a long time to cool down.

I'm envious of your snow and would quite happily accept some here.

Was that a partial recommendation for the book? Hehe! Yeah, every single spot on the planet is different from every other. It was really strange though that he took the nitrogen fixing trees from around these parts though... Of all the trees from across the planet he could have chosen... Japan has a fascinating culture and history.

Wow, there are no book shops that large here. I would be lost in there for days. Apologies, but I’ve forgotten, did you work there, or only visit the store?

I haven't seen Portlandia, but have heard references to it. It is pleasing that a culture is secure enough in itself that it can send itself up with humour.

The horseradish leaves have very little flavour, but they are edible and a very hardy summer green here (along with silver beet, perennial rocket and perennial spinach). The chooks here eat both lemon balm and fennel though and don't complain. I like the aniseed taste of fennel. When I was young, they used to make a candy aniseed (white with black stripes), but you don't see it anymore.

You know what, your sandwich of choice sounds quite good. I add sunflower and pumpkin seeds to my toasted muesli and they're both good! The growing season is a bit short for sunflowers here, alas. Pah, they may wrinkle their noses, but they're the ones missing out! Some of my friends have told me that the food here tastes a bit strong, but I reckon the food at their place tastes like cardboard as it has no flavour at all! I took their criticism as a compliment as the food here still tastes like what I remember food tasting like as a kid. Something changed during that time and sort of passed me by.

I hear you. At the bottom of this property is a beautiful fern lined creek. However, it takes me 30 minutes to walk down there from the house, and if I don't take a compass, getting back can be a real challenge - because it all looks the same to me (a very dense forest). It wasn't always that way, but it is now.

I have no idea how the yabbie carcass ended up near the house. Perhaps a bird brought it up here. Part of the role of birds and animals in a forest ecosystem is bringing fertility back up hill - but I digress.

It is interesting that there are so many parallels between up your way and here. Were the crawdads good eating?

Seriously, I'd swap some of your cold weather for the hot days I'm getting here.

Cherokee Organics said...

cont...

I hope Beau is smart enough not to get heat exhausted. If I had to give Scritchy a critical review, I'd say: "has potential, but could do better". At least she isn't easily distracted.

Oh yeah, lunch meat is to be avoided at all costs. The term meat should not even be applied to the stuff.

Yeah, they say power nap over here too, but it usually relates to driving long distances. It is sort of funny, but there ain't no powering going on around here when I'm having a nap. hehe!

Finishing a good book is like saying good-bye to an old friend. Really glad that you enjoyed the book, she tells a great tale. It was uncanny just how fast things changed around there. It must have been hard on old school folk like Frank the Knife and his Albanian connections. What do they say about chickens coming home to roost?

Thought you may appreciate some of the architectural history from these parts: Iron clad aesthetic that never grows old. The new shed here is a bit more than a nod to the originals.

Hope I’m making sense tonight as I didn’t finish making the jam until after 10pm when I could then relax and have some dinner…

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi crowandsheep,

Forging and steel together in one sentence and mostly in context too. Respect! hehe! Nice work.

Poor Scritchy is feeling a whole lot better today thanks. Yeah, the combo really worked to get some food and salt into the poor dog. It really brought her back from the dead. Honestly, I thought she was done for...

Thanks, all of those strawberries have tonight been converted into about half a years jam. Yum!

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Was 21F here, last night. Very frosty here, this morning. Very "winter wonderland." Quit pretty.
Oh, well. One more night of intense cold. Wednesday night is supposed to be 35F and steady warming after that.

I always wondered why it got colder, as the days got longer, after the solstice. Thermal inertia. Makes sense. Learn something new every day! :-) .

I found the beginning to your "how you got there" very interesting. My "how I got here" is very long and convoluted with life zinging off in unexpected directions. I often ask people "not from here" how they got here. Just nosy, I guess. Or, intensely interested in people's stories.

That's an interesting little "bug" you have there. I was on line last night looking at seed catalogues and also beneficial bug suppliers. Lady bugs, mantis and green lace wing.

New Zealand sure is geologically active. I've been following the story of poor Christchurch. Where I'm going to visit in Idaho in the spring, they have several hot springs. Probably the tail end of the Yellowstone caldera.

No, I didn't work at Powell's. Damn the luck. :-). I worked for Walden Books (which morphed into Borders) and B. Dalton Books (which morphed into Barnes & Noble ... all after my time.)

Don't know why my chickens leave the fennel and lemon balm alone. Regional differences in chicken taste, as in people? But, sometimes people get adventurous. Years ago, before anyone knew what it was, I took a big bowl of Tabouli to a pot luck, fully expecting to take most of it home. Not a spoonful was left.

My family wasn't very culinarily adventurous, but there were a few high spots. The first time I bit into an organic banana, I was swept back in time to my grandmother's banana cream pies. Like Proust and his biscuit. :-). As I go through the seed catalogues, I keep an eye out for a pea I had as a kid. Electric green, huge and tasting of ... peas. Haven't seen one of those in years. Probably a heirloom variety.

That was an interesting article on the iron clad buildings. The open garden shed next to my chicken coop has an iron clad roof. There is a long string of storage sheds (used to be horse barn) full of junk that are entirely iron clad. If I get around to water catchment, that will be the roof I use. There's a lot of other sheet iron laying around the place, a great deal of it buried in the ground.

Just for fun, I Googled "Abandoned Italian Hill Towns." Wow. Some really interesting pics popped up. If I were 20 ... or even 30 ... But, I suppose a lot of them are being repopulated, now. A couple of months ago, I got a DVD from the library on abandoned, or almost abandoned French farming communities, way back in the hills. It was filmed 15 or 20 years ago. Even then, there were some signs of new life. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Do you get that sort of frost where the whole world turns black and white? That happens down in the valley below and it looks amazing when the sun starts shining on it all too.

Well, I hope they weren't lying to me about thermal inertia. It sounds plausible though.

People's stories are fascinating. All the different directions, decisions and dramas are what provide the colour. Many thanks, I miss the old guy. He feared retirement more than anything else so pretty much died at the age of 71 which was a few weeks before the retirement date.

Wow, you have beneficial bug sellers. That never would have occurred to me. The place here is full of insects and the more I plant, the more that turn up. I'm not fond of the mosquitoes though, but am happy enough with them being outside the house.

How good are seed catalogues? There are always so many tempting new plants and varieties. I chucked in another Echinacea cone flower today. After this one, I give up on them.

The tea camellias have struggled here too. So who knows what's going on with them?

Oh yeah, Christchurch got hit hard and it was a beautiful city too. They're still reconstructing it - the aftermath was like a war zone with bubbling and oozing mud.

I didn't know Idaho had hot springs. I always thought that it was a dry-ish state - is this opinion incorrect? Interesting stuff those hot springs. Yellowstone National Park looks amazing from the photos and videos I've seen.

Bummer. I always liked Borders and it was usually full of people until closing time too, which was unusually late at 11pm (or maybe it was 10pm, I forget now).

Too funny. Who can account for the tastes of chickens. You probably have a wider selection of greens for them to eat which explains it?

Tabouli is quite exotic and a summer salad here. Apart from the wheat, most of the ingredients can be found in the garden here. Parsley and mint are a bit weedy! I grow both the flat leaf and curly leaf parsley, but the curly leaf is my favourite. People can get a bit funny about exotic salads, but Tabouli just tastes good.

They grow the bananas up north of both the east and west coasts. This is a good thing because both those areas are cyclone prone and every year or three, one side gets wiped out. I once spotted a banana truck up north in this remote spot in flames as the fruit off gasses ethylene gas which is flammable.

Organic sun ripened bananas are something else aren't they! Yum!

Peas are good, but my absolute favourite which is in season right now is snow peas. You can eat them fresh off the bush they're that good. A mate from New Zealand always ransacks the bushes for the snow peas when they visit. Funny name snow peas given they're ready to pick in summer?

Haha! We'll make a proper ruinman of you yet! hehe! Yeah, I'd kill for all of that old iron sheeting. I've run out here to finish the shed off so I'm ransacking the firewood storage bays and gambling on finding more and building the next firewood shed before autumn / winter. Hopefully it will be all right?

Speaking of which, my lady spotted this website the other day: Abandoned America. The photos are amazing.

There is a tropical storm dumping rain with lightning and thunder here. It is weird because it is warm outside. I sat on the veranda and watched the lightning - some of it was close. Hopefully, it will dump half an inch tonight!

I mowed for about four hours today so hopefully the rain will help break down all of the cut herbage quickly. The dandelions are starting to pop up everywhere here, so they're putting on a good show.

PS: A few years back, a close lightning strike took out my internet modem (there's an antenna on the roof you see).

Hope it warms up soon up your way.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Getting warmer. Only down to 28F last night and will be above freezing, tonight. I know what you mean by black and white frost. Here, not so much. Too many evergreens.

I really think sometimes, people decide when they are going to die. I did a little hospice work, and there was a fellow I was "sitting" with. To give his folks a break. His mother mentioned that he was diagnosed 10 years before, on Valentine's Day. Which was a few days later. On Valentine's Day, I stepped out into my yard to visit the fellow. It was night. A big full moon. I stopped to take a look and thought "He's going to die, tonight. He decided to make it 10 years." And, he did.

Another thing I've notice, from personal experience and talking to people ... you sit and sit for hours with a person who is slipping away. You step out for a quick cupa or pee. Just for a minute. And when you come back, they're gone. Needed a little privacy? Angel of Death doesn't like an audience? Who knows.

The thing I need to look into before I order in any bugs is if they would negatively impact the Cinnabar Moths. Don't want our main line of defense against tansy ragwort to die.

Oh, I was just poking at seed catalogs on line. Pollan had mentioned several in his gardening book, but it was written a long time ago. Still, many he mentioned were still around. And, I wanted to see how available a couple of exotics I wanted to try were. Cardone and blue poppies. Etc..

Because of Continental Drift, Yellowstone used to be under Idaho. Parts of Idaho are very dry. But parts are also very mountainous. That's where you get more rain and green forest.

I think abandoned places are pretty interesting. There are many "ghost malls" or "dead malls" in the US. Maybe because I spent so much of my formative years in them, I really find them poignant. But, you can Google just about any kind of a structure and see some pretty interesting stuff. "Abandoned libraries." "Abandoned churches." "Abandoned neighborhoods." You get the idea. "Idle hands ..." :-) . Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Ooops! I picked up a new colony of bees this morning and I'm in a bee frame of mind (that's a really bad pun on "bee frames", anyway, moving along).

I sort of started ranting over at the ADR and now have no time to reply to your comment today. Apologies (with a dose of embarrassment too).

PS: I'm enjoying Sue Hubbell. At about half way through the book, she sort of relaxed a bit and started writing from her heart. The first couple of chapters she spent trying to establish her intellectual bona fides. It was a bit unnecessary really, but now she has hit her full stride and it is a delight to read. Many thanks for the recommendation.

Cheers

Chris

Rich Brereton said...

Hi Chris,

Sounds like Scritchy found out the hard way that it's already the dog days of summer down there. 101 degrees Fahrenheit? That's one hot dog! [Ahem] Yes, well, moving on.

"Coming down like a mongrel" will be a permanent addition to my vocabulary and, repeated often enough, to the vocabularies of all within earshot.

Also, next time I see a neighbor mowing the lawn and collecting the grass in one of those silly bags, I'll say "Dude, you don't chop and drop???" Around here a few weeks ago they finished blowing the fall leaves into piles, raking or vacuuming them up, and taking them to the landfill. Same idea. Brilliant use of fossil fuels. Not to worry about the organic matter and nutrients carted off; that's what Scott's Turf Builder is for.

Great stuff about you and your grandpa and his WWII buddies. My grandpa's birthday is Sunday December 7th, a day that will live in infamy (not his fault, you see). He would be 104 today but alas he only made it to 95. On the day of the Pearl Harbor attacks he turned 31 on a snowy backpacking trip with friends in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. He didn't find out that his nation was at war until a few days later. I never got to head out to the backwoods with him, but he planted the seed for my parents and I grew up walking those mountains.

Looking forward to hearing more of your story.

Cheers,
Rich

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; More bees! How exciting. Bad puns and all. :-).

I also hit ADR for this weeks post .. or, got a hit of ADR. Didn't look like a rant, to me. Just a well thought out response to JMG's post.

Glad you like the Hubbell. I'm well into Hawes' "Journey to the South." Am enjoying it immensely. When you strip off the cultural overlay, humans are pretty much the same, world wide.

Haven't had water in a week. Haven't mentioned it before as I try and steer away from "moan and complain." And, coping has been kind of complex. But, I'm muddling through. Today, though, depression over the whole situation has moved in. Soon to move out. A good wallow in the "blues" isn't necessarily a bad thing, as long as I don't let it get out of hand :-).

And, there will be some hard and complicated decisions to make to mitigate future problems with the water. Lew

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

Enjoyed the post as always, glad all turned out OK.

I didn't realize how steep your land is till I saw the one photo. No wonder you mow parallel to the contour - besides being safer for you and better for the land, it's also easier to do!

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I didn't know that about having too many evergreens. I assume you have a mix of native deciduous trees too?

The brain is a funny thing and some people exist on sheer force of will. Sometimes it is just your time and people know it. The old guy just didn't want to retire as his work was who he was - it defined him. I've got a bit more of a loose attitude to work - I do a good job and work hard for lots of other people, but if it wasn't for the money...

Tansy ragwort has so many flowers. The thing must set millions of seeds. Yikes!

I grow tansy here, but it is of the cottage garden variety - not that one.

The blue poppies look really intense. It is amazing how many blue flowers there are and the bees love them particularly. I grow a Himalayan poppy which is pretty similar. The blue ixia's are my favourite though as it is such a weird blue colour.

Many thanks for the explanation. I didn't know that Idaho had mountainous area. It is sort of like here. The mountainous areas along - or not too far inland - from the coast are pretty cool and moist. The bits along the coast line are usually pretty green, but inland from the mountains, it drys off quickly. The centre of the continent is one massive arid land - it is huge, that is why the population (23m) is so small for such a large land area.

You were the avid explorer! They would have been fun and slightly spooky places to explore as a kid.

Yeah, the pun was pretty bad. hehe! The bees are settling in nicely and starting to explore the area. They're a docile bunch unfortunately Scritchy went over to say hello to them today and was stung for her efforts. She puffed up like a puffer fish - she isn't having a good week. I'll put a photo up on the next blog. It is a sad tale of woe... I fed her an anit-histamine and she has started to deflate and have a good sleep.

Many thanks, I appreciate that. People sometimes think of bees as an agricultural unit to be used as needed, but they're a really complex creatures. How good is the ADR?1 I always look forward to the next entry.

Yeah the Journey to the South was a real eye opener about the history of the south of Italy. A whole bunch of problems for sure. It was an excellent read as she tells such a good tale.

Oh no! At least the rain barrells will fill up quickly in your current weather? That is one positive, the rest of the situation is a disaster. It wouldn't be good over summer. What are you thinking about doing? Doing nothing is always an option too.

Yeah, someone once told me the secret with mental stuff is to experience it, but don't indulge it. Dunno. The same person also told me that if a person goes past a certain tipping point, then it can become a one way street. Scary stuff, but we don't come with an instruction manual - which would be kind of handy sometimes.

PS: Went to see the Interstellar movie. It was good, but I wouldn't rush out to see it.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Hurrah! I have been without my laptop for a few days, so didn't know that I had got through.

I am an old lady who lives in a shack in ancient woodland in the UK. Have come to your site via ADR and also read Kunstler. Went off the latter for a while after he wrote a pro Israeli anti Palestinian rant but have now returned to him.

I have always admired your courteous responses to comments on your blog. Shall have to read back to remember comments that I wanted to make.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Yeah, I'm partial to blue, too. Most of the flowers I have added to the place are blue, mixed in with white. There's a couple of books on Blue Poppies I'm going to pick up, as I guess they are very hard to grow.

Abandoned places. I grew up in N. Portland, and between there and the Columbia River, there used to be a town that was flooded out the year before I was born. Vanport.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanport,_Oregon

My buddies and I used to ride our bikes down there. Can't say it was spooky, but it sure was interesting. All overgrown with streets and foundations. The "sloughs and backwaters" mentioned created an interesting situation. 5 cent goldfish were all the rage in the late 1940s. The flood waters came in, the goldfish floated out of their bowls and when the water receded, there was enough of them to populate the sloughs. When I was a kid, a lot of people in N. Portland had backyard ponds. They caught enormous goldfish down in Vanport to populate their ponds.

My mother remembered the flood and said the sirens went all day long ....

Poor Scritchy! Glad he's on the mend. Around here, dogs have problems with getting porkypine quills in their noses. I have never had to do it, but I know how to remove them. You have to clip the ends to break the suction. Dogs also have a problem with skunks. If Beau had more interaction with "the wild", I'd keep large quantities of tomato juice on hand.

I think ADR is very important. Any day now, I'm getting a final chunk of change from my father's estate. I've decided to contribute a chunk of that to JMG's tip jar. He'll have a happy solstice. :-).

Cont.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Rich,

Nice one - yeah for both of the puns too! hehe!

It is good isn't it? Incidentally, Scritchy is coming down like a mongrel again after an encounter with the new bee colony... As I said earlier in the comments, if she had to receive a grading it would be: "Could do better".

It is weird isn't it, taking organic matter away from a system and then bringing in the turf builder? Strange days. You know, that occurs on a massive scale too? I think about that every time I have a coffee here and the coffee grounds end up back in the soil. The marsupials really enjoy the herbage that grows over the worm farm trenches. It's what keeps them coming back - even in high summer.

Sorry to hear that. 95 is a good innings though. I hope that you had the chance to drink a quite ale to celebrate his life, I'll salute him tonight over a quiet mead.

Wow, the White Mountains of New Hampshire are stunning (the Internet is a wonderful thing). Wow.

If you get a chance, here are some photos from around the area my Grandfather used to take me: Photos High Country Victoria

The prominent hut is Craigs Hut on the top of Mount Stirling (about 1,700m - 5,577ft). I've camped out there a few times and off peak it is quiet as. I think it was built for a film - The man from the SNowy River, although there are a number of original historic cattlemen huts up in the high country.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Many thanks, but she is in further mischief yesterday...

Thanks, I was interested in and appreciated your scything experiment for that reason: Off with their heads: mowing and trimming with the European scythe

It is steep here at about 12% to 16%, but then I can't really afford flat quality land and it does get reasonable rainfall here - so you win on some aspects and lose on the others.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Glad to hear that your laptop is up and running again. They're fickle beasts.

Ancient woodland in the UK sounds like a beautiful place full of life and delight.

haha! Well, we certainly won't be discussing international politics here unless it somehow relates to marsupials - which would be a difficult stretch for sure - not impossible, just very, very difficult.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. - I read another couple of chapters of "Journey to the South" last night, before turning in for the night. And, went to bed a little distraught. I got to the part where it was revealed that Ciccio's mother's marriage was arranged ... and she was none to happy about it and still VERY angry after 50 years. Poor Francesca!

And then my cat Nell saw something out the front window, at 6:30 in the am that really set her off. She screeched like the world was ending and began to tear around my futon screeching her head off. I shot bolt upright in bed. Whatever was out there was gone. Coyote? Cougar? Fig Newton of her Inauguration? Well, that got my old heart beating.

The water came back on about an hour ago. Hooray! I rose to the occasion and muddled through. Pat on my back. Might break my arm :-). My landlord/friend came by and is mulling over the possibilities. Maybe even getting a new well dug on this place. Or, upgrading and connecting to the well over at the old place.

But anyway, I found a recommended "real" plumber that knows what he's doing. Looks like I'll be doing a lot of organizing and tossing in the "spooky old basement" so he can GET to the plumbing.

I still think about rain water catchment, but, I had thought to empty it out in the winter so it doesn't freeze. But, this latest go-around, during a freeze means I'll either have to well insulate the tank or heat it. Or, I could put a tank in the basement ... but will be limited by size of what I can haul down there ... you see how it goes.

Yeah, "Intersteller" is on my mental list of films to see. I'm pretty patient. I'll wait for the DVD. The library hold list will probably be so long that I might not even see it in my lifetime :-). Our local grocery store has a pretty good selection of rentals. Once a month I pick up three that either have an impossible library hold list or, the library might not get.

Any-who. Time to restock my water jugs and take a SHOWER!. Wash the dishes and eggs that have been piling up. So it goes. Lew

Rich Brereton said...

Hi Chris,

Scritchy, Scritchy, Scritchy, you're staggering from ailment to ailment it seems. Bet you thought things were going swell until all those bee stings left you all puffed up (but not with pride).

Our boss dog Mona was not faring much better this week - sick as, well, a dog with stomach troubles - but fortunately appears to be on the mend now. Proud alpha dogs laid low (whether by their own doing or by bad luck) are truly pitiful to behold.

By the way, do you use the expression "hair of the dog" Down Under? Speaking of dog metaphors and hangovers.

Thanks for pointing me to the pics of the Victoria high country. Quite beautiful. So where are the Macedon Ranges in relation to Mt. Stirling? The Man from the Snowy River - worth checking out? The White Mountains have a system of remote huts too, open in the summer only. I have wonderful memories of staying in them as a kid with my family. The Macedon Ranges appears to be a fascinating region with colorful and diverse geology, geography, ecology and history. What's this about a place called Hanging Rock where people like Bruce Springsteen come to play shows?

I've wanted to visit Australia for a long time, especially since becoming a rock climber in my teens and being electrified by photos of the climbing at Mount Arapiles and the Grampians (which I just learned are in western Victoria!). Such wild, steep, orange cliffs!

I think a lot these days about how much I'd like to travel, for example to Australia. I could probably come up with the dough for such a trip, but from a peak oil and climate change-aware perspective it's hard (okay, impossible) to justify air travel purely for the sake of tourism. But what a once-in-human-history thrill while it lasts (for those lucky few who can afford it), getting to jet all over the world! To judge by the conversation between you and Lew it sounds like you make time to read a lot of travel memoirs. Does this contribute to satisfying your curiosity about the great big world? When I read climbing publications these days it just stokes the fire to get out there like I used to.

Yes, my grandpa lived a good long life and we had many chances to lift a glass together. And I have certainly enjoyed a quiet ale in celebration of his life. Many thanks for the sentiment and by all means have a mead in his honor. He was a thoughtful, lovely man.

Cheers,
Rich

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Great to hear. It is amazing just how many flowers are blue and the bees really seem to prefer them. It is going to be interesting as the season progresses to see what stays flowering during January and February when the heat is extreme.

It is really stormy here, but warm at the same time. About half an hour ago, the skies dumped a bit over 1/10th of an inch in only a minute or so. I had to quickly grab the umbrella and clear the inlet filters on the water tanks of interesting looking gunk which had washed into them. If the inlet filters clog up, the water overflows and washes under the water tanks which can destabilise them. When the tanks are full as they are now, they weigh an awful lot and you don't really want them to subside or tip over...

Wow, the photos of Vanport are something else. Wow. It was interesting that the article made reference to Katrina too. The flood read like a perfect storm: reclaimed land in a basin with a huge catchment (it is absolutely massive); above average snowfall; above average temperatures; and above average rainfall.

A major city was wiped out here too, but on Christmas Day in 1974 but by a cyclone: Cyclone Tracy. I don't know what it is about Christmas day Down Under, but I got a direct hit from a tornado about 2 years back now. It dumped 4 inches of rain in under an hour.

There are some good photos of the current east coast storm (the farm is right at the bottom end of things, so it is pretty mild really): Amazing images of storms. A whole lot of rain has dropped here which I'm grateful to receive.

Thanks for the memory. It would have been a fascinating place to comb through. It is a big call to abandon a city, so I wonder if anyone was living there rough and beyond the system? It certainly would have added a spooky factor to the place.

Yeah, dogs have inquisitive personalities so they are always putting their snouts where it probably shouldn't be. The pack here is learning as a group, but there is always the unexpected learning experience which catches them out.

How does the tomato juice work in such situations?

Donation is an honourable thing. I feel that it is a valuable source of insight too.

Yeah, it would be a bad idea to be on the bad side of Francesca. It was an unusual match too as Salvatore - who is wise in the ways of the world - was raised as a lonely goat and sheep herder in the south of Italy. No wonder he moved to the north and had no real desire to travel back south.

Salvatore made a very wise remark too: "Land is not there to earn you money, it is there to save you money". The more I have pondered this remark, the more insightful it has been revealed to be. He is a guy that has known some seriously hard times.

Spooky. The animals are not to be ignored lightly. Although having said that, poopy the very large pomeranian has no problems chasing off groups of riders on horseback...

Glad to hear that you have your water back. What could possibly have happened?

Ahh, plumbing here is very highly regulated. People end up in jail for impersonating licensed plumbers. I can do stuff here, but only with the sheds and their associated tanks, otherwise...

Yeah, freezing could be a potential problem for water tanks and water expands when it freezes. The tanks do have a large body of thermal mass, so may not necessarily freeze? Who knows? It is a mature technology here, but then the ground rarely freezes too. Being the trail blazer is an over rated experience...

Good call. Definitely wait for the DVD.

Enjoy your water!

PS: The water tanks here are as full as, which is a great situation going into summer.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Rich,

I spoke your kind words to Scritchy and she told me to get lost because I was disturbing her quiet repose on the beanbag. She's obviously feeling much better. Many thanks for your thoughts.

Sorry to hear that Mona has been brought low by a stomach bug. I hope she is feeling better now. It is truly amazing the things that a dog will consider to be edible. In fact some of them can be just downright wrong! Mind you, alpha dogs don't tend to let a near death experience affect their standing in the pecking order. The anti-histamines served a double purpose of sending her into a sound sleep which was a relief for us all.

Yeah! That is definitely used Down Under. I knew of a young lady - no relation - who worked at the Australian Taxation Office and once remarked to me after a big night out that: "I'm not hungover. I'm still drunk, the hangover will come later". Ahhh, the benefits of working in the public service (not a recent experience of mine to be sure).

Google maps leaves few stones unturned in this part of the world. Images Macedon Ranges.

The Macedon Ranges is a volcanic massif in an elevated plain which is west of Mt Stirling about 100 miles as the crow flies, but about 5 hours in the car.

Yeah, I don't know about the film. A lot of Australian films tend to over sell a story and the characters. The film was based on a poem by the famous bush poet Banjo Patterson: The man from Snowy River poem

Yeah, the Rolling Stones were booked in to play a few weeks ago, but they cancelled - twice... I bet the promoter was grumpy about that. They get a lot of big name acts there, but being on the other side of the mountain range, I can't hear a thing. I think Leonard Cohen played a few years back too.

There's a famous film about Hanging Rock called Picnic at Hanging Rock. It is a bit of a classic, although I felt that it was a bit arty and honestly how they ended up lost around that place is beyond me... It is a bit Darwinian really.

You know your stuff. Mount Arapiles and the Grampians is the place to climb in this part of the world. It is west of here again. Probably about 3 to 4 hours drive. The Grampians is a beautiful mountain range too, although it is slightly drier than here, but being a bit higher makes up for that lack. Good stuff.

They climb up in this range too at a place called the camels hump which is the highest point in the range. Bush rangers used to live in the caves up there and attack the gold convoys heading to Melbourne.

Actually the Brisbane Ranges about an hour to the west of here has a sheer cliff face with anchor bolts maintained by the government. It is a popular climbing spot and I stumbled upon it by sheer accident a few months ago.

Well, you never know where you'll end up. Visitors are welcome here as long as they give advance notice. I don't do drop ins as there is so much going on.

Actually, I have travelled quite a lot through South East Asia to all sorts of unusual destinations there. I have also been to Peru for over a month and travelled around to all the different spots. I set limits on my travel activities now is all.

The world needs more lovely thoughtful people and I salute him!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Loved reading where you came from.

Oh the joy of a feral childhood! I had one too; my choice not the family's. It has left me wondering about the interplay (chicken and egg) between loving the natural world and having such a childhood. Mine started when a childhood friend taught me to climb a tree.

After WW2 there were abandoned estates, dangerous walls and overgrown gardens; fabulous to explore.

I remember a past reference to nasturtium seeds. I preserve them in vinegar and add them to potato salad.

Nothing wrong with brown strawberry/rhubarb jam. At least it shows that it hasn't been coloured.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Rich - Hmm. Do travel books fill my need for travel? Travel and I are kind of a complex thing. Let's see. I'm 65. When I was young, I used to travel a bit around the W. U.S. Road trips. But as I've gotten older, I've become quit the bundle of being neurotic, in one form and another. I swore off flying when I was about 25. The older I get, the worse my Social Anxiety Disorder gets. I'm planning a trip to Idaho in the late spring. That will be quit an adventure for me and I've already started the process of "getting my head set" for it. Might bail at the last minute, who knows?

Yes, I have some mild regrets that I'll never see some of the places that interest me. But I also realized, lately, that a lot of the places I read about are "past." Even Annie Hawes books ... if I were to go to Italy, today, it would probably be quit a bit different than the Italy she wrote about.

Yo, Chris; Glad you've got your water for the year nailed down. Now you can sleep at night :-). Cleaning out the water filters ... in the rain. I've often thought about that. I've thought for quit awhile now that to be really ... alternative in living, you have to be "on site." I don't think living in the boonies would have been possible for me, before retirement.

Poor Darwin! Boy, our little Columbus Day Storm can't hold a candle to what they were hit by. I see there's a disaster flick called "Cyclone Tracy." I'll have to see if I can hunt it up.

I can't imagine 4" in an hour. We have some downpours here, but nothing approaching that. I don't think. Those are really beautiful (and, probably deadly) cloud formations.

I think it's the acid in the tomato juice that cuts the skunk smell. I hear it works on humans, too!

The water situation here is kind of complicated. We get our water from an RV park ... long story. They get it out of the river and treat it. First, the story was that the river was too turgid and they had to shut it down. Next, it was that the State had pulled a surprise inspection and they had failed.

Anytime there is a water issue, we get the tag line "oh, and by the way, you must have a leak. The meter is spinning." Something that I thought about that I asked my landlord about, and he agreed ... I think they'd just like us to go away. The people he made the original water agreement with, no longer are the owners of the RV park. But, plans are in the works to cut loose of them.

Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont: I had a talk with my cat last night, before bed, that if she didn't want to see anything scary, she should just NOT look out the window. Seems to have worked :-).

She's such a funny little creature. Her "preferred place to sleep" kind of moves around, but half the time she curls up on me! I sleep on my side and she usually curls up on my shoulder or hip. Whatever the highest point of my futon happens to be. Of course, if I roll over, she goes flying :-). And, comes right back.

Yes, I think Salvatore is a wise old bird. I also picked up on that bit about the land being to save money. Mine sure does, and saves more as time goes on.

Salvatore certainly had a rough childhood. If you could call it that. Made me think of my Dad (or, I had thought of my Dad in the past). he had a rough upbringing, too. Huge family during the Depression. Some of the stories he told, or hinted at. He left home at 14 to "ride the rails." Can't say my Dad and I were close, but as I grew older, I understood him better. LOL. I think I was around 23 when he and I had a big blowout, which ended when I said "You know the reason we don't get on is because we're so much alike!" He laughed and said that was true. After that, we were pretty mellow.

But, all things considered, Salvatore and Francesca made the whole thing work. Pretty much. What's that old saw? "All happy families are alike; all unhappy families are unhappy in their own way." Tolstoy. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

A mate of mine is of Italian origin and he travelled back there with his parents when he was a much younger lad (I've known him for about 26 years now).

He said to me after the trip that his parents were of a time that no longer exists. He reckons they came out here and preserved their culture in a form of stasis but their memories stayed the same, whilst their heritage changed.

hehe! Yeah, well, sometimes I'm not here and it all fails, but mostly I'm here to keep an eye on things. The roof and gutters were clean of organic material, but the pipes themselves contained algae and it rushed out during the downpour and blocked the filter. It has been wet here the past few days...

When trees were leaning over the house, it did disturb my sleep if the wind blew strongly enough. Too many heavy branches fell onto the house. Once a year someone is killed by a falling tree up this way - sometimes in their car or house or out in the forest, you never know when your numbers will come up. You have to keep your wits about you. It cost me a small fortune, but I removed the large tree that was leaning over the house and 2/3rds the way up the trunk was a termite nest and the top third of the trunk was only held in place by paper thin timber. It really gave me a fright as an arborist had given the tree a clean bill of health.

I reckon the cyclone was really bad because it was intensely focused on just a small area.

The tornado a few years back here dumped 4 inches of rain in an hour, but it lacked the serious winds of a cyclone so all I had to do was deal with was the water - and oh boy, was there a lot of that. I built the house to withstand really serious wind loads, so it would have to be a mega storm to take the house out. You never know though...

I think the article said that a documentary was recently made as it is the 40th anniversary. Interestingly too, I noted that an Aboriginal elder was predicting that another storm is due there anytime soon. I spotted another story about Cyclone Tracy which had an unfortunate end: Cyclone Tracy heroism and heartbreak Blackie the dog heroism

Yeah, your water supply is a convoluted story with unexpected difficulties. I once made an agreement with a neighbour to build a brick wall because that's what they wanted (which I didn't want to do) and they'd pay 50% of the costs. Anyway, they moved out and I was left building a brick wall and covering the full cost. The wall had recycled hand made bricks which ended up looking beautiful, but took so much more work as each brick after a 100 odd years is a unique shape and the new owners told me they hated the look of the wall as it looked old. Then they started sneaking around behind my back making inquiries as to whether I had a legal obligation to cover over the wall with concrete render.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

I wish your water plans every hope of success.

It is nice that the cat was open minded enough to consider your request. The dogs do the same thing here - their memories for such things are short though!

Nice to hear. Cats are excellent companions and they see the world so very differently from us.

Exactly. Salvatore went to the school of hard knocks but learned his lessons well and knew when to move on. It was interesting that he didn't want to accompany them on the trip to Calabria. He must have treated his chickens well though. How funny was it when Annie got manipulated into looking after them? hehe!

Tolstoy knew what he was talking about. A wise man.

It looks as though it has finally stopped raining. The chickens got out for a run around the orchard tonight, but it is the last day before fire restrictions are put in place so I had to burn off the fallen branches etc which had accumulated over the past few weeks. While my back was turned, I found them scratching up the driveway again.

You know, it would be very hard living in a place such as we do if you had to be absent from it 5 days per week.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Many thanks. It was enjoyable to reminisce too and share that.

haha! Tree climbing is an excellent habit. When I was really young, I knew of a very old lemon tree that could be climbed. I used to sit in it for hours whiling away the day and imagining far and exotic places.

Yeah, the abandoned places would be amazing to explore. Up this way after WWII, the local history recorded that there was only a single soul living up in this remote part of the mountain range for about a decade. It is hard to imagine.

The seeds, leaves and flowers are all edible. Nasturtium is a reliable summer source of edible greens here. Wow, the seeds would provide a bit of kick to a salad!

Many thanks and too true. The jam tastes alright, which is good. There is an awful lot to learn with preserves. I spent an hour or so today bottling (canning) about 10kg (22 pounds) of tasty apricots. That works out to about a quarter of a years supply. It is a real art trying to work out just how much you can use during a year.

Cheers

Chris

Cathy McGuire said...

Hi, Cherokee -
Not sure if my other comment got through - it seems like Blogger blows up every time I try here. I'll check back and if I don't see that you got this, I might try to let you know via JMG's comments section - computers! Easy until they're not... ;-}

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; "....they hated the look of the wall as it looked old." How silly. Probably wouldn't like the look of me, either, as I look old :-). All part and parcel of the technophilia JMG is always going on about.

I once worked with a woman who's two, very hip children, absolutely refused to watch anything in black and white. Well, as the old saying goes, "There's nothing so queer as folks."

Who knows why Salvatore didn't want to go back to Calabria. Might be something as simple as not wanting to subject himself to what turned out to be, pretty much, a three week long hen party! :-)

Ah, climbing trees. When I was a kid, there was a bit of land, down the street behind our place. Usually just referred to as "the lot." There was one enormous old Italian Prune tree that was great to climb and just hang out in.

Out at my uncle's farm there was some pasture and forest, a creek, way down at the end of his property. There was an ancient apple that had fallen over. Still alive, but the trunk was at about a 45 degree angle. Maybe a little less. I used to go down there on my own and spend hours just stretched out on that trunk.

It's the place I go in my memory when I want to calm myself down. Say, when I'm getting my teeth worked on :-). Or, if I'm having trouble getting to sleep. It's a useful knack. Lew