Monday, 26 January 2015

The seed of an idea



It’s the 26th of January here and for people in Australia that means Australia day which is a public holiday. Yay! The public holiday celebrates the landing of the First Fleet on the continent way back on the exact same day in 1788. For those that don’t know it, the First Fleet comprised quite a few ships carrying a whole bunch of criminals, some military to supervise them and a couple of free settlers of questionable sanity. The first sensible act upon arriving on this continent was to send ships off to obtain more supplies from the nearest English colonies. It quickly became evident that a bunch of criminals from urban areas of the UK really knew very little about farming in a strange and unfamiliar environment.  Needless to say, the whole lot of them almost starved.

I have a wide streak of irreverence so for me the 26th of January is to be celebrated for the national government funded and commercial free youth radio station which is broadcast across most of the continent: Triple J - because that radio station hosts the Hottest 100 countdown. As a fun fact listeners vote over the Internet for a limit of 10 songs per listener and just to show how much attention the countdown receives here, there were more than 2,000,000 votes. That’s right 2 million votes. That’s a whole lot of votes. In fact it is the biggest music poll anywhere on the planet. And yes, I’m outing myself here as something of a youth music tragic because I’ve been listening to the countdown and also the radio station since 1994. Long live the government funded commercial free youth oriented music radio station Triple J! That alone makes me happy to pay my taxes, it does.

Back to the real world and in breaking farm news: The first steel step has been installed for the cantina shed. It is looking good and most importantly of all, steel is far less prone to bouts of spontaneous combustion during a bushfire than a treated pine step (which was the material it replaced)!
The steel step is cemented into position for the cantina shed
The yellow spirit level sticks as well as the pencil mark on the shed itself ensures that the step is level on both axes as well as being visually level with the cantina shed itself.

Another coat of undercoat is painted onto the cantina steel step
The concrete stairs reaching from the courtyard to the future strawberry and potato beds have now also been finished this week. I’ve even brought in enough trailer loads of woody mulch and mushroom compost mix to establish the new larger garden beds on either side of those concrete stairs. That particular mix needs to settle over the next few months before I can place plants into it, but eventually it will be a massive garden bed of flowers, herbs and mixed vegetables. It may be of some interest to those readers that are interested in all things soil to see just how thickly I apply such a mix. Very observant readers will also notice the low tech method I use to dry my clothes!

The concrete stairs to the future potato and strawberry beds are now finished and the dogs approve
Oh, well done Hilltop hoods and Peking Duk – sorry everyone who has no idea what I’m talking about as I’m listening to the Triple J countdown as I write this.

When you live on the side of a mountain, you really need stairs. So this week I’ve also commenced constructing the steel stairs which will replace the final combustible item of building material which are attached to the house. The steel construction involved welding four individual steps with supports which will replace a timber set of stairs currently attached to the house. I had an interesting experience whilst welding the stairs because after a few hours I’d drawn so much electrical energy from the solar power system and on such a hot day that the thermal overload safety switch kicked in on the inverter (the machine that converts battery DC power to mains AC power) and for only a second time in my experience the entire system shut down. And, I was let with no power at all – nothing…

Four new stair treads have been manufactured for the new stair treads
Pah, not saying I picked it, but I definitely picked it: Chet Faker, number one for his track “Talk is cheap”. Oh sorry, apologies again to everyone who has no idea what I’m talking about.

The weather has turned cooler here today and for the next week, however bushfires are still on my mind so I cut a steel sheet to perfectly cover the solid timber door which will be used for the future firewood shed.I later refitted the handle and deadbolt lock.

A steel sheet has been cut this week to cover the solid timber door which will be used for the future wood shed
The apples are starting to ripen this week so I’ve been busy making both apple cider and apple cider vinegar. It is a good indoor activity for when the afternoon temperatures are scorching. Those two products must be the easiest things to make. The apples are simply cut into eighths and then added to a food processor so that they can be blitzed. You don’t actually need to blitz them, but the increased surface area speeds up the entire process. For every bowl of apples blitzed I then add half a lemon and a bit of water. The lemon is there to provide citric acid which stops the apples from going brown. If apples go brown - and they will very quickly even if cut with ceramic or plastic blades – it doesn’t actually affect the taste of the cider, it is more a visual thing than anything else.

Me looking unimpressed after an hour of cutting fruit for apple cider vinegar
Add a bit of water and some yeast – if you want – and after a few weeks the whole mass will commence fermenting. Initially, it should look like this:

Apples in a plastic bucket at the beginning of their journey into apple cider and apple cider vinegar
Some of my favourite local native trees are the Blackwood’s (Acacia Melanoxylon) because they are broad leafed, long lived, produce valuable furniture timber, also they produce great shade and fix nitrogen - in combination with certain bacteria - from the atmosphere into the soil so that it is available for other plants to consume. In parts of this state they form the over storey trees. Also the Japanese natural farming guru Master Fukuoka (him of the One straw revolution fame) used these as his favourite nitrogen fixing tree.

Blackwood trees producing copious seeds in Cherokee
The trees themselves produce copious quantities of seeds as can be seen in the photo below:

Blackwood seeds on the tree
I propagate these trees and plant them about the farm. I headed out today to pick a bucket full of seed pods and will shell them over the next few days as time permits. The shelling process is not dissimilar from that of shelling pea pods.

Scritchy the boss dog investigates the Blackwood seed pods collected today
As well as collecting Blackwood seeds, I’ve also been collecting seeds from the many Tree Lucerne (Tagaste) trees on the farm also with the intent to propagate them.

Seed pods on the tree Lucerne tree
Those trees are so named because not only are they exceptionally hardy in very challenging conditions, but the leaves contain more than 20% protein and are exceptionally good hassle free fodder for chickens, pigs etc. If you are not growing them and you could be, then I have to ask the question: Why not?

It might be my imagination and I certainly could be wrong, but autumn looks as though it has arrived early this year. The recent massive continent wide monsoonal storm has dumped a huge quantity of water in the centre of the continent and things there have become greener. Here though, the Araucana chickens have started moulting and gone off the lay which they normally do in autumn and some of the fruit trees are showing a touch of autumn colour. It is weird because a year ago and in two weeks time I was facing a serious bushfire threat.

Autumn looks as though it may have come early this year
How did I get here?

My experiments with growing food crops quickly progressed in the small inner city terrace backyard and I learned many useful lessons. Unfortunately I couldn’t escape the fact that I quickly ran out of space. The backyard soon became much too small and crowded, so I yearned for a larger chunk of land.

Now, anyone who has tried to purchase land in Australia will know that land is expensive and the closer that land is to a major city, the more expensive it is. How anyone can make a profit in agriculture in this country with land prices the way they are is a complete mystery to me.

Anyway, so I looked around for a long time before realising that the only reason that land would be cheap was because no one else would want it. Thus with that thought at the back of my mind, I stumbled across the block of land here.

It had lots of things going for it such as the high risk of wildfire which really seemed to scare people for some strange reason. As another positive for me, the owners refused to spend any money at all on advertising the sale, so to say that the property was really hard to find was a true understatement.

On a serious note, being on the side of the saddle of an extinct (hopefully) volcano, the soils were deep, and the volcanic massif reared out of elevated plains so was an excellent cloud catcher and thus rainfall was more reliable than other parts of the state.

The title also stated that it was permissible to build a house on the land, so I took a gamble and bought it.

To be continued…

45 comments:

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; That's quit a project with your steps. Looking good. Of course, you're place looks wonderful. Heavily photoshopped? :-).

Interesting about the Lucerne trees. I did a quick look around the Net. I was surprised that Amazon didn't have any on offer. E-Bay, did. From Australia :-). Interesting. The local store brand of dairy products is called "Lucerne." LOL. Probably the Swiss town, not the tree. I'm thinking about it because that high protein content ... for chook food.

Music countdowns are fun. Probably didn't hear "Come on, Eileen." You'd need an oldie countdown, not a youth countdown.

You're autumn is coming early. I think our spring may be coming VERY early. I noticed I have an ornamental cherry budding out. But then, it's close to a SE facing wall.

Have decided to take a "wait and see" attitude on the bees. I was "up before the bees" this morning and it wasn't a problem taking care of the chooks. No problems putting them to bed last night, either. I hope the bees will settle down and stop swarming all over the place. Settle into a nice stately coming and going. Noticed there were several dead bees in the bottom of the chook food scoop. I figure they either ODed on the protein or, maybe the feed just dried them out. Lew

Cathy McGuire said...

Another good post, Chris!
I've been a bit absent here because we in the PNW are getting...SUN! And almost summer temps! Lewis probably mentioned that on the previous blog, but I haven't had time to look because I'm spending as much time as I can in the garden trying to get ahead of weeds, especially the runner grass. I had mulched a lot but not all the beds, and now I'm trying to get the rest weeded and mulched, so they'll be in decent shape for planting season (technically still 2-3 months away). We always seem to get a warm week in January, which suckers plants and humans into thinking it's spring... I'm resisting the urge to plant (except poppy and sweet pea) and focusing on clean up and weeding

Anyway, your place once again looks amazing - as you say, very green! The apple cider sounds yummy! Good luck with it. :-)

Skippyherron said...

Yay for JJJ....it was my station for many years until kids came along.
How great is that lucerne tree! Hope the shelling or seed removal goes well. Your place is looking fantastic, nice and green.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Well done with the bees. It is a strange time of year for them to swarm - it is usually a spring thing, but they may have been evicted from their previous premises? Who knows the minds of bees? You did say that things are strangely warm there...

Glad to hear that you are adapting to them. They're usually peaceful sorts unless you disturb the hive. The trick is - and I haven't quite mastered this yet - that if a bee bangs you on the side of the head it is telling you to go away. Now, they won't sting if that is happening unless you start trying to swat them away from you. It is very hard to get all Zen like under such trying conditions...

I'd perhaps consider moving the chicken feed - the bees are usually sluggish in the evenings or before the sun is shining strongly. Incidentally the chickens will probably eat their fair share of the insects so that is free feed - winning!

Yeah, it is pretty low key here really. There isn't a great sense of national pride really as people are rather apathetic - which suits me just fine. Still, it is the Hot 100 day which I've been listening to since way back in 1994! Woo Hoo! Yes, and maybe a bit of the old celebratory concoction was imbibed last evening which made replies to you perhaps an unwise decision. So, in that case, I went with my gut feeling and it was saying: No, Chris...

How weird is it that you are getting warm sunny weather up in the Pacific NW, whilst the NE is copping a serious storm - even we've heard about the warnings. I'm not sure whether the reports are exaggerated or not, but they’re saying words such as unprecedented. Not to diss anyone on the NE coast, but if I had to choose I’d say NW is the best!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Many thanks. Well, you know, living on the side of a mountain steps become all important. Hopefully this week coming up I'll have time to build the remaining set of steel steps, but who knows how long all these things take? I have no idea half the time.

Incidentally, the new potato and strawberry beds will have to wait until the wood shed is built. Time is marching on and it feels like autumn here - which is just weird. It did not get warmer than 59'F here today and last night when I was writing the post it was 48.2'F. Honestly, I'm running the wood heater today - what's going on? It was 100.4'F last week.

Wow, that is really interesting as I think the plant comes from the Canary Islands originally. It grows prolifically here - in fact it is the fastest growing tree I have ever seen. It is double the speed of the Blackwoods and about 10x faster than the Oaks. It is like a triffid. The interesting thing is that the chickens love the leaves. I just cut some branches and chuck them in the enclosure. The reason I recommend the trees is that they are more reliable than grain crops and cold hardy to 15.8'F. They may well do OK in your part of the world.

I believe Stacey outed that particular song as an ear worm and I have to agree with her. It is a good song and I clearly remember it taking over the airwaves years ago... Ahh, where did my misbegotten youth end up - I haven't checked behind the couch, maybe it accidentally dropped there? I'll keep an eye out for yours too at the same time too - you never know! ;-)! Hehe!

I grow ornamental cherries here and I really love the look of the bark - and they are really hardy trees. Actually they've self seeded about the place, so I may at some point in the future have 100ft ornamental cherry trees. The birds still love the sour cherries and I believe the old timers used to cook with them - or am I mistaken in that? Have you ever heard of that?

Spring was early here - In fact I've never had such a long spring before as this one. It is interesting that you are having such weird weather up your way too.

Again, well done with the bees. My motto with them is never assume for a moment that you know more about their business than they do. Seems to work for me.

I'm now launching out into the cold to supervise the chickens.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, well outside here in the orchard, the chickens are happily roaming around underneath the fruit, but for summer it is seriously cold here and I had to chuck on the sheepskin jacket. Brrr. It is like a hot winters day here today...

The really good thing about having the wood heater going though is that the pizza stone is now hot and ready for the wood fired pizza. Yum!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy,

Great to hear that you are having a mild winter. I look into the crystal ball and almost spy an avocado tree in your future. hehe! You never know and they are very hardy when grown from seed - which is very easy to propagate.

A good feed for the soil makes the world of difference here, so I reckon it would be doubly so up your part of the world.

Speaking of sweet pea, do you grow broad beans? They seem to be an exceptionally hardy bean here.

Poppies are very hardy too and often you'll find the real deal just gone feral in this part of the world. It is a massive cash crop further south than here.

Many thanks! For the record there is no photo shopping of the photo's - but it is a good idea and I hadn't thought of that... I'm not sure given my computer skills as to whether it would be quicker than actually doing the various things here?

Glad to hear that you are getting some warmer weather there. It is freezing here which is really weird. Please don't be in any hurry to send it back and remember - just when you think that you've put enough mulch down, add some more! ;-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Skippyheron,

You're cool and you know it! Respect for understanding the J's.

Many thanks. I appreciate the green here at this time of year and all of the plants and animals are enjoying it too!

Cheers

Chris

Morgenfrue said...

Lucerne is another name for alfalfa; I think that's why the dairy has that name.

Things are really looking good on the farm. It's amazing to see everything looking so green, the weather here is absolutely miserable.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Well, the bees may have disappeared. But it is rather "misty" here, today. But there was a small hand full in the chook food scoop this morning. I feed crumbles, which are small nuggets. But it's still pretty dusty. I watched one lone bee fly into the chook feeder this morning and he tumbled down the sloop and out the bottom ... thoroughly covered in dust. There were a lot in the feeder yesterday, and the girls were clustered around. I thought they were going for the feed, but maybe it was the bees? The poor old queen must be sitting in her hive and wondering where all her workers are disappearing too.

Don't think they moved in from a disturbed hive. Over in one of the abandoned buildings, there's a hive in the wall that's been there for years. They may have come from there. I think Cathy mentioned just putting out a hive and hoping bees move in. I may try that next spring. Put an empty hive where I want it and see if anyone moves in. If I can screw up my courage to deal with bees :-).

Thanks for the tip about bees banging into you. I'm pretty Zen around the bees. I don't want to say it too loud, but I'm surprised I haven't been nailed since moving out here. I just move slow or move off if they get to curious. I had dozens of bees flying around me the last two days and didn't have a problem.

Yeah, as far as the internet goes, I often find myself NOT making "unwise decisions." But that took a few years of practice :-). I just have to remind myself that I don't have to respond to everything that raises my blood pressure. And how important it is to not feed the trolls. Once, I asked something on an E-Bay chat board about some comic book I happened to run across. I got a very snarky reply (probably from some 15 year old living in Mum's basement.) I ignored him. A couple of days later I got a well considered reply from the same source. Got the information I wanted.

Ah, yes. Where did our misspent youth go? Maybe the same place as lost socks? If I find yours, I'll send it along. Reciprocation is appreciated :-).

Well, the cherry I mentioned is going to come down. It's right about where I want to put a grape arbor. No great loss. There are plenty of others around. I'm sure the pioneers ate them, but probably as more of a starvation food or, perhaps in a medicinal manner.

When I was a kid I read a children's book about the "Tree Wagon." Based on a historical event. In 1847 a nursery man from Iowa brought out over 700 fruit and berry trees in a specially constructed wagon. Over the Oregon Trail. Quit the tale.

http://offbeatoregon.com/H1001b_Lewellings.htm

Well, the water just came back on! 10 days this time. I was getting nervous. My 100 gallons that I use to flush the bog and water the animals was getting a little low. And, by the way, when I drew some water this morning, there was a wasp floating around clinging to a bit of grass!

The eternal gardner conundrum. Is it too early to plant? Well, yeah, probably. Like Cathy, I think I'll just stick to clean up and soil prep. The leaves are almost all off the blackberries, so, it's easier to trace the stems to cut them to the ground. Lew

Chris said...

Love your blog Chris! I also used to watch your youtube channel as well. I haven't looked at all your previous blog posts yet but I was curious how you make a living there. You mentioned that land is expensive so how do you make ends meet? Are you selling your fruit and produce? Just curious. Thanks!

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Oops! I accidentally overlooked your previous comment in all the excitement. Apologies.

I'm trying to imagine a thick carpet of fallen leaves and it is a bit beyond me. The forest surrounding the farm is an evergreen forest, so dry dead leaves fall during summer (!) but otherwise they tend to hang on to them. Does the thick carpet of fallen leaves stop water getting into the soil?

Yeah I've heard of conkers too. The hot water here is solar in summer and wood box in winter so there is plenty of it, I just wash in cold water to keep the colours fast. Horse chestnut soap

The rain water here is very neutral. I can taste all the chemicals and minerals when I drink the stuff elsewhere now... Hard water is a nightmare.

Yeah, I was just being silly. I was never much for team sports either. Years ago I held a voting membership to the MCC and gave it up because it was better for that place to be with someone who actually cared about the sport. Actually I enjoyed cricket a lot more when it was less of a one sided event.

Rhubarb is not all the same I'm finding out. Some here produce all year long. They are the most reliable food plant here and I suspect the cutting is well over 100 years old. It was a true gift. I've got about 30 of the plants here.

That sounds really nice. I stew it up with a bit of sugar and add it to the muesli.

Yup, that sounds about right for sunburn. My feet were exactly the same so you are in good company. They have never seen the sun since... The UV radiation is extreme here for months on end every year. People don't understand it unless they've been stung by it. Sunscreen is bad, but the alternatives - i.e. skin cancer and burns - are worse.

Ah but of course, the government would have paid for a universal service obligation - i.e. free connection - to get people onto the system in the first place. That happened here too. Now that it is too expensive you have to fork out for it yourself. You'd be surprised how only a little bit of electricity can make a huge difference. I only use about 4kWh / day here - unless I'm welding or baking...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Mike,

Oops! I accidentally overlooked your previous comment in all the excitement of the weekend. Apologies.

Nice to hear from you and thanks for the comment.

Yeah, I've been to Perth and the soils are pretty sandy and old. The 300m ASL moderates the summer climate a bit too. Do you get the off shore sea breezes up that way?

The difference between Gippsland and Perth is quite marked! Parts of Gippsland have deeper soils than here too. I really love the area around Yarram and Port Albert and up in the hills behind that area with the Tara Bulga forest. It is a pretty special place.

How did you end up in Perth from Gippsland?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Morgenfrue,

Exactly, alfalfa is also known as lucerne and have a really high protein content too. Thus tagaste is "Tree lucerne". I read up on alfalfa and I didn't realise how long the plant lived and how deep its root systems are. Amazing stuff.

Not to stress, last year at about this time I was evacuated due to a bushfire and the place looked really dry! Seriously I reckon as time goes on I'm less and less sure about what a normal season actually is.

Sorry to hear about how miserable the weather is there.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Wow. Misty weather really forces bees to keep close to home. They deal very easily with cold weather, but not cold + wet weather. I read that the damp getting into their honey stores starts the fermentation process - which uses up the sugars (I think? not sure) - and makes their stores less edible. Basically it puts them under stress when they can least afford it.

Yeah, I'll bet the queen was confused, although the workers would never have left her.

Well, they will set up new colonies from the older ones as the years go on, so that is probably about right. It is a good idea and Cathy was very lucky that it happened. Mate, bees are hard so if they turn up uninvited then both you and Cathy are probably in a very good paddock! Are you hearing anything in your part of the world about die off in bee colonies?

Definitely don't put the kiss of death on yourself ;-), although if you can achieve a zen state around the bees then you are doing well. I was stung on the side of the head early last summer so I'm not quite close to zen. Slow and steady is the way to go for sure.

You out cooled the troll - well done.

Years back when I first wrote articles for the Internet I was quite taken aback by trolls as I was completely unaware of their existence. I'd only ever written for magazines before - and there is no feedback there. What an eye opener is the human race! I was looking forward to dialogue and once the trolls stepped in - dialogue stopped abruptly.

It took me about a week to adjust my mind to the fact that some peoples responses are simply not worth considering. I also don't contribute to sites that are not well moderated - it simply isn't worth the time. Some people are just bored and small.

Ah but of course! hehe! Too funny.

No worries. I have seen recipes with sour cherries but have never eaten them myself - to many other good things to eat. They self seed around here and I've noticed quite a few of them about the place. The funny thing about this mixed orchard is that it is starting to self replicate.

You'll never hear me say: "Don't cut it down..." If it needs to go, it needs to go. Even the Aboriginals used to drop large trees for all sorts of reasons. I remember reading recently that they dropped large trees across rivers to use as bridges. Very clever.

Thanks for the link. Intrepid. Fascinating to read that the guy only lost half the trees on the way to the west coast. Mate it sounded rough.

Exploding whales? What were they possibly thinking? Surely, they did it just because they could?

Great to hear that your water is back on. 100 gallons would make me nervous too. The poor wasp was probably going in for a drink. I get a lot of native wasps here, but they're mostly harmless - unlike the other critters.

Not saying it is too early, but even here at your time of year it would be too early! hehe! ;-)! Interestingly too the thornless blackberries are ripe here, but the thorny ones are still about two weeks away.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Chris,

Many thanks and great to hear that you're enjoying them both. I don't make as many videos any more because the video camera died mid last year. The digital SLR camera has a video function but the audio isn't as good, but who knows what the future holds.

Haha! Well you're in for a surprise as I've been writing about that exact story for a while now. At the bottom of each of the past few months blogs is a story detailing how I ended up here. The story aint finished yet though.

I won't repeat all of the past writing - your homework is to go back and read them. ;-)! I'll give you a clue though: I live with and accept limitations that many other people these days would be uncomfortable with - my experiences so far in life taught me that accepting limitations is actually the easier way to go. Just sayin...

Land is crazy expensive Down Under, but this property wasn't and for reasons I covered in this weeks blog.

I don't sell produce from here as there is very little money to be made - from my perspective - in agriculture. Produce is usually gifted to people that I know. It is usually appreciated.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Spotted your comment about the historian Ruth Goodman and will try and check it out over the next few days. Nice one!

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; I noticed some rhubarb over at the abandoned farm. It was late in the season, so I'm keeping an eye on it so I can move some over here.

Yikes! I just checked my daily KwH use. 50 per day. Of course, I can waffle and hem and haw around, but the bottom line is, I've got to do something to bring that down. Radically. Of course, during that billing period, we had a week long cold snap; about half my heating is electric, it's the middle of our winter etc. etc.. I saw you're comment about a microwave using about as much power as an arc welder. Which, I didn't know.

The whole "westward migration", the Oregon Trail and all the other trails ... it's a real cultural event. Something planted deep in the American psyche. Even if you're parents and grandparents didn't get out of the midwest until the 1940s (to work in the west coast shipyards during WWII) it permeates how we see ourselves.

Yeah, Ruth Goodman is really something. She just doesn't study the different time periods, she lives them. From making clothes to trying out hair products, she makes them herself from the old instructions and recipes. And, it's never a one-off. She lives with whatever for awhile.

Well, I got on-line last night and went a little crazy ordering seed and root. The stuff I couldn't source locally. Cardoon, elderberry seed. Pyrethrum. A couple of ground covers I thought the chooks might like. Some Jerusalem Artichoke root. Saffron bulbs. A tea plant... Time to start digging holes :-)

Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Your place looks wonderful as usual, incredibly neat and tidy as well.

I am assuming that bush fires move through very fast. Otherwise, surely steel would get so hot that the wood behind it would combust. I don't think that I would want to live with such a possibility of fire. Having said that, I have reached the time of year when I get fed up and wonder why I live this way. I don't like the cold and wet and as it tends to be too cold for me outside, I start to get cabin fever.

Our last storm has removed a number of sheets of glass from my 2 greenhouses. Worse, one of the 2 has been shifted off its base. Son reckons that he has to remove all the glass before he can move it; but it will get fixed to the base this time.

For the last 2 days son has been re-placing my old oak decking. It has come to the end of its life and is giving way. Prior to being decking it was a jetty, so has had a hard wet life. I asked what wood the new decking; son said with a grimace 'some sustainable forest stuff'. He said that he once returned a whole lorry load of the stuff because it was so bad.

Water slowly turns the leaf carpet to mush. It won't penetrate the soil because the water table has reached the top anyhow.

Thanks for the horse chestnut soap info. I had a look at it all. A pity that there are none of the trees in my wood.

For goodness sake! I am sounding as though nothing is good. Hey, everything is good and daffodils are already poking through the ground. Spring must be coming.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

That is a great score. The 100 year old rhubarb plant was an interesting learning experience - it is worth noting that they don't go dormant here - although I've had one or two unexplained deaths (out of about 30 of the plants which isn't too bad though).

Anyway, so I helped out a local lady that I know with her garden (brought in and spread around some mushroom compost for her fruit trees) and she repaid me by giving me some of the rhubarb. Now I thought this was going to be difficult to remove, but all I was told to do was put the spade through the plant and then dig it up. Dividing the single plant up into about six separate plants with the spade was pretty easy - but my spade is sharp (you should have large roots, stems and leaves). I replanted them back here (it may have been spring at the time) and they all took. Plants that easy, make you look like you know what you are doing! hehe! ;-)!

Oh well, it is what is. Most of your electricity would be hydro anyway I would have thought? Yeah, the microwave oven is a real bummer. Defrosting with that beast is not an option here - leaving stuff out on the bench in advance of its use is though (or in the fridge overnight). I don't have that many frozen food items anyway - I rarely use the freezer - probably just to keep the bread yeast in and maybe some pastry sheets. Anyway, you now know why I heat with firewood!

Isn't that interesting. You hear about the trails but the greater meaning is lost in translation. Most people here hug the coastline (even here is 40 miles in land from the top of Port Phillip Bay which is massive) as it is probably the most habitable part of the continent and even then it is mostly along the east coast, the south west coast and the very top of the north at Darwin. Large parts of the continent are either uninhabited or sparsely populated. Even the Nullabor plain meets the sea with massive cliffs - it is quite impressive to see. It is interesting because the vegetation on the top of the cliffs is arid land.

Thanks for the referral. Anyone that can do that would have some interesting things to say. I dread asking this ;-) but what do you recommend?

Good luck with the tea plant - both of the ones here died so that is three and out as far as I'm concerned. It is weird because other camellia's do so well. I grow most of the others here and they all tend to self seed so they should be quite vigorous up your way. The Jerusalem artichoke seems to be particularly vigorous here. A couple of years back I picked up a box of them for $5 so just went about the place randomly planting them. They spread and will probably make excellent chicken feed at some point in the future. They haven't flowered yet though this year. Things are still cool here though which is sort of appreciated but also a little bit strange for this time of year. I didn't get much of an autumn last year, so perhaps the weather is making amends.

On a serious note, I've noticed that we have big fires one year and then a cooler summer the next year. Something to do with airborne particulates? Dunno.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Many thanks. I like keeping things neat and tidy here plus it does remove a lot of hazards if and when the next fire comes through.

Yeah, the fire front moves through pretty fast - it usually is all done within 15 minutes. However a house can burn to the ground in 4 minutes. It is difficult because people always say: The house exploded - but what they're usually seeing is the roof igniting and then collapsing. Now the other difficult thing is that before the fire front even comes through and long after it has passed burning embers are flying around everywhere blown by the strong winds. It is like being under attack by an orange sparkler. Many of those embers get lodged in peoples roof cavities where they smoulder and then the fire front gives the extra energy for the embers to really go off tap.

For the life of me I can't understand why people living up here have tiled roofs which are virtually open to the fresh air or evaporative coolers which are giant paper and plastic holes on roofs. I don't get it. It makes no sense at all.

Incidentally the risk of destruction for houses from bushfires is no more or less high than for normal house fires - insurance costs me no more than for urban areas. Black Saturday bushfires - I believe - killed 173 people in one night and destroyed 2,000 houses. However flooding up north took out - I believe - 40,000 houses.

In the last 100 years only about 1,000 people have died in bushfires here. More people die on the roads in car accidents in an average year. I reckon it is a fear of nature thing - mind you I take some pretty serious preventative measures here (most people don't though). It'll happen sooner or later.

Many people historically moved from the UK to Australia for health reasons. The heat gets to me though and after a few days of it... Still, I get cabin fever too so I hear you.

Yeah, you have to tie / anchor things down as the storms are getting stormier! That is another reason I keep things neat and tidy here, it isn't usually windy, but when the wind hits, fortunately the big trees around here keep the brunt of it well above ground level. It is something to see a giant 50m (150ft) eucalyptus tree getting thrown around in the wind. They're far more flexible and well anchored than you'd think. I'll try and get some video next time it happens.

Still I heard a massive tree fall over last night whilst I was out with the chickens. You can hear the tree stressing, then splitting and then a very big crash. It was a fair bit away from here.

Nice to see that water is not a problem there. You have to assume that the forest knows what it is doing with the leaf litter? I'll bet it is chock full of fungi and bugs making a living out of eating it.

No worries, they're a street tree here (along with plane trees, oaks and elms) and no one has any idea that the conkers have a valuable use! hehe! Actually I have a young horse chestnut tree growing here and it is really hardy and sets the most amazing flowers in spring.

Buck up little camper! hehehehe! No worries, you've just got cabin fever that is all. It'll pass and the sun will shine again. Nice to hear about the daffodils. I grow hundreds of them and jonquils, bluebells too. One of my favourites is the blue ixia - which won't do well though in your damp soils. It is almost a duck egg blue.

Speaking of bluebells though, I accidentally dug some up when building the new stair case and, then I dug some more up and then some more. Those thing multiply by the dozens. After a while I just went "stuff it" and left them. It was amazing to see.

Cheers

Chris

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

It was fun to listen to the hottest 100. I don't usually listen to JJJ, so didn't know most of the songs, but enjoyed it anyway. I was happy to find that a local station (3D radio) that I often listen do had their top 101 songs on the same day ;-)

love the look of the lucerne tree -- will try to get one as I never have enough food for the chooks!

Picked up a heap of Fowlers Vacola jars second hand yesterday -- lots of canning ahead! ;-)

Cheers, Angus

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Yeah, it's mostly hydro in the Pacific Northwest. On the other hand, right in this county we have a natural gas fired electrical plant and a coal fired electrical plant.

I have some kind of a fancy convection microwave oven. Like the old dog Beau, it came with the place :-)
It even still has it's manual. But, the one time I tried to figure out how to defrost something, it was a wash. Couldn't figure out the instructions. So, I use the tried and try. Time and patience. I mostly use it for tea and one pot dinners.

By recommend, do you mean Ruth Goodman? Her latest is "How to be a Victorian: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Victorian Life." Pick you're favorite time period :-). I just searched "Ruth Goodman" over at Amazon books. She did several programs for BBC, "Tudor Monastery Farm", "Victorian Farm", "Edwardian Farm", "Wartime Farm (WWII)". Also, one called "Victorian Pharmacy." Those are all on YouTube. What I didn't realize is that there were also companion books to go along with the vids.

Yah, camellias grow really well, here. There was a huge red bush next to the front porch in the house I grew up in. The plant I ordered is a northern variety that's supposed to be viable down to 0F. From what I've been reading, the soil should be like blueberries. Slightly acid. I wonder if I should whack it in half, as you mentioned for fruit trees, to encourage root development?

LOL. Your mention of the R-Rated bookstores brought back such memories :-). JMG explained that here, they are called X-Rated or, the more euphemistic "Adult Bookstores." These days, they are well lit (and well advertised) big box stores out on the freeways. Of course, the "Adult Entertainment Industry" has fallen on hard times. Just too much free stuff on the Internet. Never mind the pirating of "films."

But I degres --- About a thousand years ago, a good friend of mine was the night manager in one of those places. I used to drop by from time to time to relieve the stark, staring boredom. I usually came baring Vietnamese humbows from a near by take out place (steamed bun stuffed with a boiled egg and some kind of a tangy meat sauce.)

But really, the point of this story is that the friendship got me in as a plus-one to a very low level Mafia wedding reception. A much to long story to relate here, but it was the tackiest social event I have ever attended. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

Glad to hear that you enjoyed it. They're playing the songs that made 200 to 101 on Sunday. Does that make it the Hot 200? Anyway, it's all in good fun.

I see you have a new post up: Canning and packaging

The lucerne trees will do well in your location. If you drop me a "not for posting" comment with your postal address, I'll send you some seeds - I've got plenty of them left - just don't leave it too long as the pods are starting to fall off the tree. You just need to soak them overnight and then plant them out the next day - and hope a wallaby doesn't bounce along and destroy them. ;-)!

Well done with the Fowlers. What bottle number did you get? I run a stove top unit here with number 27 bottles. That glass is strong stuff - the newest bottle was last manufactured in the 70's. They've still got a shop front in North Melbourne too.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

You are lucky to have hydro and the coal and gas plants aren't as bad as the brown coal fired plants down here. I've read reports saying that apparently they're the worst in the world because the brown coal has such a higher moisture content. They do have hydro here too up in the snowy mountains in the far east of the state and I think they can draw from Tasmanian hydro too now.

You've scored allright! hehe! Fair enough too. I've never had the tried and true method of putting the frozen whatever on the bench or in the fridge go wrong here. I reckon the old dog was a total score - you can keep the fancy oven. Last year I saw a film, American hustle and they had a funny skit called: Science Oven. When we're joking around here, we start calling things science this and that. The machinery shed has become a science shed because it is dimensionally square. Fortunately my lady has a better brain for maths than I do. ;-)! Sorry, I digress... It is an unfortunate habit, but makes for entertaining conversation. You're guilty too and you know it. hehehe!

I went out last night and saw the film American sniper. Wow, what a film, very well acted and I was a bit in shock by the end of it. Good stuff. Directed by Clint Eastwood.

Yeah, of course that was the reference. Many thanks for letting me know it is on YouTube - I'll check it out over the next few weeks as bandwidth here permits. I have limited internet bandwidth due to being in a remote location. It is very fast, but there just isn't that much of it.

That doesn't surprise me as you'd be in a perfect location for growing camellias. They do really well here too as well as their mates the azaleas and rhodendrons (which can self seed here - apparently). Just that pesky tea plant keeps dying and I have no idea why. I'd be interested if you could let me know how it goes?

Haha! Yeah, well JMG worked out there was more to the story. He's astute that one. X Rated was banned in the states of Australia, but could be sold in the various territories for some strange reason. Along with fireworks too. Incidentally the Australia Capital Territory (a territory is like a state - but less than one as there are not enough people) has the national capital of Canberra and the thus the federal parliament which is literally out in the middle of nowhere. Now I'm unsure about what that says about our federal politicians but the area was known for selling those two particular items. Just sayin...

It would be a most unusual place to work at. You know, contraception just couldn't be purchased anywhere else other than there or the chemist and really at the end of the day the adult bookshops were a whole lot less creepy than the chemist dude - who may well know you or your parents. People don't know how lucky they've got it these days...

Too funny, I can well understand what you mean by tacky. All cash no class...

Gotta bounce as it is Mexican food tonight. Yum!

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Thanks for the link to Angus' blog. Another interesting blog to check out!

"Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!" Some line from some old movie I can't remember :-) .

"American Sniper" is just one of those movies I'm not very interested in seeing. Don't know why. Can't say I'm particularly against "war movies." I really enjoyed "Monuments Men" and a few others. My friends who moved to Idaho? Well, Ron is a very good shot and there have been some talk about how he was a sniper in the army. But, no details. I think he happened to serve when the US wasn't involved in any ill conceived over seas adventures.

Oh, I understand about bandwidth. Checkout an episode or two on YouTube, and if it peeks your interest, go for the books.

Oh, I understand about different jurisdictions having different levels of prudery at different times in history. I was living in LA county when "Deep Throat" was released. Couldn't be shown in LA county. My mates and I all had to pile into a car and cross the border into San Bernadino county to see the darn thing. My MOM went to see it with her side-kick and neighbor friend. They fell out laughing so hard they had to leave the theatre. I have a really funny story about a trip to the chemist, but I hesitate to tell it in mixed company.

Two interesting things in the mail, yesterday. I get a catalog of books from an outfit that sells publisher's overstock and remainders. There was a lot of talk over at ADR this week about people not wanting to give up their washing machines. There's an entry in my catalog for "Do It Yourself 12 Volt Solar Power" (2d edition revised, no less, $11.95) I found the bit of text describing the book, amusing. "...and even a 12 volt washing machine, the "holy grail" among those living off the grid." Ruth Goodman rated laundry THE worst ongoing job in Victorian times. And, had quit a section on how one kept one's clothes clean with variations.

My bi-monthly "Countryside & Small Stock Journal" arrived. It's like the old Mother Earth News before they sold out and got all yupped out. Gosh. I don't know how they do it, but they always seem to have a timely article that applies directly to me. When I was planting asparagus, up popped an article on ... wait for it ... planting asparagus. I notice looking at this months cover that there's an article "Build Your Own Off-Grid Water System". And, more in their continuing series on beekeeping. I've got "Beekeeping for Dummies" on hold at the library. Latest edition. I'm thinking about it. If I decide to do it, next year.

The weather continues to be strange. And, I read and hear bits dropped into conversation that indicate it's not just me. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

PS: Mexican food is hard to beat. I've always thought it interesting that although there's a lot of prejudice here, against Mexicans, their restaurants are packed with blue collar, rednecks who strongly dislike Mexicans as a people, but love their food! Odd that.

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Thanks for putting bush fires into perspective. Personally I don't have a fear of nature, I love it; but the media clearly adores a bush fire, so visual!

I assume that the flowers on your horse chestnut are white. Do you have the red chestnut in Australia? It has red flowers, conkers with spineless casings and doesn't grow so large. There is also a yellow buckeye, yellow flowers. This latter can only grow in the south here and that is the absolute most northern bit of its range. I had one in a previous home and it would start losing its leaves in August.

Bluebells: I have a bluebell wood here. Some years they are so thick on the ground that you are surrounded by unrelieved blue and you can feel disoriented. Mine are the true wild bluebells with drooping heads. People grow the Spanish bluebell in their gardens, a much sturdier plant. Unfortunately it interbreeds with the wild bluebell.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I'm putting a line under that particular conversation as I'd like to keep the comment section family friendly and we are rapidly approaching that boundary (or may have indeed crossed it).

I hold in you in high esteem and will reply to your comment tonight.

Cheers

Chris

Cathy McGuire said...

Hi, Chris -
Lots of good comments this week - between this and JMG's blog and my own, I'm barely getting to all the comments! :-} It's past bedtime, so I'll keep it short. I'm amused by thinking of you enjoying Mexican food down under, but of course all the various ethnic foods have traveled the world by now. When I first got out to Southern Cal. in 1979, mexican food hadn't even made it to the East coast of the US, so it was a very different taste! Not to mention learning how to eat burritos without them spilling all over... how much has changed in 30-something years (okay, that sounds like a long time... but it doesn't feel like a long time).
Weather here continues warm for the season... I'm waiting for the arctic blast that usually hits just when we are suckered into planting. I've sorted and alphabetized all my seeds, though, and glad I did - I probably don't need to buy any this year!

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

The movie was quite good, although it has copped some negative reviews for failing to explore the bigger issues involved in the conflict. Actually, I thought it just told a story about a bloke involved in the conflict that just happened to also be a pretty good shot. Plus it explored the very deep issue of the impacts of PTSD (post traumatic stress syndrome) on returning soldiers.

Personally, I wanted to see the film "Wild" which was based on a book, but was over ruled as it wasn't my choice for the evening - I picked last film "Interstellar".

Thanks again for the book referral and I'll check it out on YouTube as bandwidth permits. Up here, there is no extra internet bandwidth to be had for love or money.

You might not realise it but today I had an article for the 500 days growth video get published: 500 days of food forest. And then we just happen to have this one off completely off topic and out of context conversation and along drop a whole lot of new readers who are probably going: "what the...". In context, it makes sense, out of context it just appears to be a bit odd. Anyway, whatever, I prefer to keep a small and intimate dialogue going here like in the early days of the ADR. I trust you are understanding?

What? Are they really discussing washing machines over there? What do they reckon people used to do? When I was travelling in India they had a class of people that did the washing called: Dhobi Whalla and I have great respect for their work because the clothes were sent out and then came back clean and how they knew what was what and whose is a guild secret. I read somewhere that they put guild marks on all clothes which only they could read - but I did not lose a single item. It was mildly uncanny.

I read long ago about a hippy household that used to have their clothes in a bucket for washing with a bit of soap and whomever entered or left by that door had to stir the bucket up prior to entering the household or going about their business. It seemed to work for them.

Haha! You'll have an off grid water system before you know it! hehe! Too funny. I run two separate off grid water systems and they work really well. Losing the water for unknown periods of time would be a nightmare here.

Well, you never know what the future holds and bees are a good hobby. Sue Hubbel can't be wrong - although I'm having trouble trying to understand why she moved back into the big smoke?

No it isn't just you. For the past two weeks, I've been experiencing March weather and everything is just earlier this year. I can't get my head around it, but just sort of roll with whatever nature happens to dish out.

I've been cutting more steel over the past few days and am feeling quite congested because of all the years of in ground organic matter which was liberated during that process as serious quantities of dust...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah Mexican food is de best! I love that stuff: Burrito's, Nacho's, Taco's, Quesadilla's, Frijoles. Yummo. Those guys know how to eat good food. Plus I have a now not so secret confession: Sangria is just nice. Take a rubbish red wine and add some fresh fruit and a bit of soda water and you have an outstanding summer refresher.

Yeah it is odd! There just isn't that sort of preconception here - truly no one would even notice.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Greetings to you too!

It is kind of weird to me because sometimes the bushfires are relatively small and they're reported overseas and people will email and ask: Are you allright? I hope everything is OK? And it wasn't even remotely close to here.

Meanwhile if the place was wiped out by a bushfire, no one would perhaps even notice...

Anyway, I never doubted that you loved nature and that is clearly obvious given where you live - which is sort of like here, just cooler and damper.

Actually the flowers on the horse chestnut were red-ish from memory as are all of them around here, but the conkers most definitely look like a morning star that has had the nasty bits filed down. Wow, real chestnuts just hurt, but the nuts are amazing roasted in the wood oven here. They drop all over the ground in the area here and most of the time they are in private gardens so I can't really go foraging - unless I'm sure no one notices. hehehe! People have such long memories around here that I'd hate to get caught. 30 years later you'd still be hearing about it.

Yeah, the yellow flowered horse chestnut tree sounds a bit marginal. I've noticed a lot of autumn foliage around here which is mildly surreal for this time of year. Mind you, I also have the wood fire burning this evening, so who knows what is going on?

The true blue bells would be something to see. They sound sort of like the white snow drops here which flower at the same time - but are also bulbs.

It is a bit sad about the inter-breeding of those wild plants, however having a diversity of genetics can also be an excellent hedge against future (or current for that matter) shifts in the climate. You just never know. The growing season here is very long - I'm starting to understand - so it is good to have a diversity of plants because something will always produce.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy,

Nice to hear from you. I'm struggling to keep up too and keep hoping that JMG puts his seven league boots on in earnest to kill the comments for a bit. How he even keeps up is well beyond me.

Well isn't that funny? Did you know some cheeky wag here must have spotted Taco Bells in the US and introduced it here as Taco Bill's (sic) back in 1970? That is 45 years of Mexican food, that is. Now on a point of differentiation, they do take away, but predominantly do sit down in house meals. The funny thing is that there are some high end Mexican restaurants in the big smoke here, but those Taco Bill guys rate pretty highly, plus there are usually large groups of people wearing silly hats, laughing raucously and drinking brightly coloured unidentifiable alcoholic drinks - and you can't hate that. All good fun.

Burritos are served on a plate here with rice and usually some frijoles so the problem is avoided completely. It is all very civilised.

That is an excellent situation to be in and I'm getting there too with the seeds. Incidentally, I've been donating excess seed to the local seed savers group recently too. Also, I’ve been experimenting with striking cuttings for some of the more favoured plants which don’t seem to self seed for one reason or another. I’ll drop in a photo on the next blog. Plants are taking over the kitchen!!!!!

The weather is quite weird this year.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Every time that I try to start this comment, someone appears and I have to abandon it. Please, no more visitors for a bit.

Washing machines: I am glad that people are fretting about the possibility of losing them. As said before, I regard them as a gift from the gods. Dhobi wallahs were men; the work is very hard as Ruth Goodman said. Why do people just refer to clothes? What about sheets, towels, curtains etc. I can remember my mother treading a blanket in the bath. Climate is important too. I remember a room full of wet towelling nappies drying around an open wood fire. Nuff said.

I also try to read all the comments on ADR and think that it has got out of hand. Dare I say that a lot of them have become repetitive and pathetic?

One of the things that I like about your blog (even if it wasn't your original intention) is the fact that the subject matter roams around; helped on by Lewis. I agree about keeping it family friendly, I find that easy. I find it rather more difficult to remain non-political while agreeing that it should be. To give an example: Discussing sunburn I wanted to comment on skin colour and climate; then I thought perhaps I would be misunderstood. The context being an upsurge of rickets in this country; this had been eradicated. At least partly this upsurge is due to the use of sunscreen but not totally.

I am trying hard to keep off 'global warming'. I lived through the supposed coming of the next ice age. It is now being denied that this was seriously posited. Oh yes it was. Last winter was extremely mild, this one is much colder. The only change that I have noticed in my lifetime is that the weather is becoming rougher. Wind gusts instead of being steady. Rain comes in bursts instead of a constant drizzle.

Thanks for indicating the Angus blog, I have also looked and like it.

Horse chestnut trees: Of course, when you get up close you see that the white flowers are partly pink/red.

Yesterday I heard a strange rasping noise and thought 'what on earth is that'? All the squirrels (I feed them) came to attention. Interesting as they will ignore a chainsaw. I then realised that it was a raven. these are recent arrivals around here. At present they just fly over. The squirrels must have some genetic memory.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Yup. I think I get it. Stick more with farm / country living / permaculture topics. Done and done.

Cathy's right about us getting lured into planting too early and then an arctic blast comes along. Another problem is that sometimes we have a very wet spring and things rot in the ground and need to be replanted.

So, I think what I've gathered from your posts and what I can see in your pictures is to scatter smaller clumps of plants (say garlic) in different places, instead of clumping them all in one place. With an eye to as many perennials as possible. Or, at least annuals that self seed freely. And, another eye on my companion planting book.

Yeah, band width in the boonies is a problem. Mine isn't too bad, and, I could get more if I paid more. Not interested. I usually steer clear of any video news reports. I stick with print as much as possible. The jerky start and stop makes me crazy. So, sometimes I just let it start loading as I wander off for a cuppa. I also recently discovered that some video content lets you pick a lower definition that HD.

Our libraries had problems with that. When the kids would all thunder into the branches after school, about 3PM, the whole system would slow down. A few times, entire branches crashed. And, since the internet, phones, catalogues were all tied together, the whole branch went "dark." Then our clever IT boys figured out how to limit, say, Facebook to 15% of the band width. Lots of screaming and gnashing of teeth among the younger set.

I see your author Colleen McCullough passed away. She provided me with a number of good reads. I was always amazed that she wrote such different kinds of novels. Always a surprise. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Oh yeah - too true. You know I remember my grandmothers washing machine - and this is really reaching back into my memories - which had a copper tub and a manual ringer which you fed the clothes through at the top. Oh yeah, that would be hard work. But sheets, towels and curtains are something else altogether. Hard work.

Actually, when I was a wee young lad, they used to take rugs outside and beat them with a broom. It was amazing just how much dust fell off them in thick clouds.

I'm in awe of how you would go about drying cloth nappies in a cold and damp UK winter. Brrr. You saw on this post that I just chucked the clothes outside and they dried in a couple of hours. Over winter I use those same washing horses and just chuck them in front of the wood box. Even sheets dry within day or two.

Oh, well, I don't actually read all of them anymore so have to reserve my opinions. You can sort of smell which ones are going to be interesting and which ones you can skip over. I struggle finding time to spend in front of the computer screen. Fortunately I can type very fast - due to a government experiment with multi-skilling in the very late 1980's when I was a public servant.

OK, I appreciate and value your point of view and will discuss this with both yourself and Lewis in a comment or two.

That isn't funny, but people are being diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency here too. Too much time inside, I guess. I was told off recently by my long time hairdresser for getting too much sun.

Exactly, the storms are getting stormier! The heat is getting hotter, the winters are getting milder, the rain is getting more sporadic but heavier and the wind is becoming gustier. That about sums it up as I believe the climate is shifting to a more tropical and extreme atmosphere. Yes, and I believe that will eventually alter your environment too. It isn't the end of the world, it is just a very different climate.

My pleasure. Angus is up in Adelaide and we get different cold weather patterns, but the hot weather here comes straight past his place.

Many thanks as I didn't know that about the horse chestnuts. They're very beautiful trees and very hardy once established.

Ahh, the ravens. My local contacts inform me that those birds are a real nuisance on their properties down below in the elevated plains. There are a lot of native birds living here which are very territorial and they would give such interlopers a good kicking if they dared to show up here.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

That isn't actually what I meant, so it may be that I didn't explain myself very well and I apologise for that.

On the next comment, well, you'll see.

Wow, those are difficult problems to deal with. Did you succumb to the temptation and plant something?

Well, that is the general strategy and I treat the annuals as if they were perennials by allowing them to self-seed.

Yeah, that is a real relief being able to view things in lower resolution. The internet is crazy expensive here because of the location.

Haha! That is too funny. You know when I first moved up here the same thing used to happen over school holidays and at night the internet was unusable. So I chucked the biggest aerial on the roof that I could buy and it helped a whole lot. The provider put up another tower too and after that I haven't had a problem since. Except when a near lightening hit blew up the modem (maybe the aerial was a bit too big?). Are you on Facebook, I'm not?

I read about Colleen McCullogh's death in the newspaper. Did you know she lived on Norfolk Island and was probably their most famous resident. She scored an honorary doctorate for her work on the I Claudius book. I haven't read it but the book was well respected for the storyline and intricacy of detail.

It has drizzled here all day today, but not much actual rain has fallen - perhaps 0.1 to 0.2 of an inch.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Forgot to mention, but Jackie French was declared senior Australian of the year for her work in literature. Well done, Jackie, top work!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis and Inge,

It is very hard to have conversations across the internet and I appreciate and enjoy both of your comments.

I'd like to point out that I have never written a blog - or moderated one before - so am in new territory and understand that both you and I will all say silly things from time to time. I'm cool with that and hopefully you two are too?

It is my only hope that we can maintain an intimate and broad ranging discussion similar to that of the early days of JMG's blog. It was a lovely place to virtually hang out. I’m far more interested in quality over quantity and hopefully you can see this reflected in my own actions.

Therefore I use JMG's moderation guidelines as a guide to moderating the comments here - but please do not confuse me with being a dogmatic and inflexible person.

In fact, I rather enjoy intellectually roaming all over the place and discussing all manner of things. That is fun and we all learn from each other’s perspectives and life experiences. And I respect that.

However, there are some things that neither of you will be aware of, so I thought that it may be necessary to explain them to you:

- Lewis we are in a lovely virtual living room because far more than half of the regular and semi-regular commenters here are female. That is a good thing.

- You may not be aware, but I am a semi-regular contributor of articles to the long running Earthgarden magazine (and I believe that it is sort of like a Mother Earth news that hasn't sold out). And, they regularly link to this blog from their Facebook page.

- I also am a semi-regular contributor to the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia's website. And they link to this blog. For your info the previous YouTube clip which I linked to last week attracted over 2,800 hits over the weekend alone.

Phew, with that out of the way we can get down to the nitty gritty. With the blog, I'm only interested in having a nice chat between friends / pen pals who live in different parts of the globe. I seriously look forward to that each day - it is good fun – it is like waiting for a hand written letter (that hopefully isn’t a wedding invite!) to drop into the mail box. However, the other two groups that I provide articles to are a hobby for me as well and they may very well have readers that are under 18 and may well drop by this blog – as they actually are doing - that is my main concern.

So because I have no idea, I'm putting the question to you two - who are both friends / pen pals: what are your thoughts in relation to moderating this blog? I'd be very interested to hear them if you could please take the time to consider the issue? I appreciate any time and thoughts you could put towards that matter. Thanks!

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Well, I see by the weather report that, after a nice spell, we're going to have rain for the next 10 days. The worst, today. There's a huge storm up in the gulf of Alaska and we're getting an edge of it. The forecast temperatures are rather odd. Low to upper 40sF at night, low to upper 50s during the day. Not much spread between the two on any given day.

As it's the 1st, I checked my propane usage. Only 6% (a 500 gallon tank) over the last month. A really cold month, or cold snaps and I usually use 10% or slightly more. And yet it "seems" like I used a lot. I saw the electric man take a reading, day before yesterday. Will be interesting to see my usage. Being old and getting senile, I check the propane on the first, and put the magic powder in the septic on the 15th. Easier to remember.

Ravens can be a problem here. When Brother Bob the Bachelor Farmer was raising some sheep, he lost a few lambs to Ravens. They would peck at their back ends to get at the innards. Sounds ghastly.

No, I refuse to sign up for Facebook and don't do any of that "social media" stuff. I've drawn a (virtual) line in the sand. I'm always curious about how people in the "boonies" get their internet. In case I ever end up in a situation where I'm living somewhere where it would be a problem. I think I've mentioned that where I am, we get no, or little, cell phone signals. No wi-fi. My internet is a weird combination of line to the road and an odd box, a snarl of wires under the porch and a wireless connection (via an odd box in the front bedroom) to the back office. I've considered living life without the internet, and it doesn't give me the horrors.

I knew McCullough lived on Norfolk Island. Reading her obituary, I didn't realize her extensive background in medicine. I liked most of her books, but for some reason, could not get into her books on Rome. Odd that, given my interest in Roman history and archaeology.

I once owned a little house in Vancouver, Wa.. Mid 70s. It had an odd little building out back. One room was a wash room for laundry. With a shower and a wood fired boiler. The "fire" part of the whole thing was in the other room, which was a sauna! Shower in the laundry room. Pipe ran from the boiler through the sauna fire box. Being part Finn, I understood the whole thing.

During a long time when I didn't have gas, I put it all to use. Lew

August Johnson said...

Hi Chris, figured it's time I said something here as I've been reading since you started this blog.

I've been talking with another GW on the east coast of Oz and she's interested in getting her Ham license also. I got the email when you signed up on my GW Radio forum so I now have your email address. The two of you would have an easy time communicating.

I'm hoping that I can get more conversations going on the Green Wizards site about Ham Radio, I think that Radio is a very valuable skill to have in the coming times.

August

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

I had the coldest night of the winter last night. It was 12C in the kitchen as I ate breakfast and I had had heating on, all night, in there. Well below freezing outside.

I don't know much about moderation. I see that a whole comment can be removed before publication, but can you edit a comment i.e. can you remove a sentence or a paragraph and let the rest go through? I would be perfectly happy to have any comment of mine edited if you felt it necessary. I can see that it can be very easy to offend unintentionally. I have done so when e-mailing nearest and dearest!

I like your pen friend analogy and feel the same way.

Re this week's blog; all that metalwork! I dislike metal but naturally I see the necessity. I also dislike metric. Here we live with a mish mash of both. Son has to be very careful when ordering building supplies, it isn't always metric. For myself recipes and knitting needles became a problem. The worst though are American recipes with their wretched 'cups' oh and American knitting yarns are different thicknesses from UK ones.

I am delighted that Jackie French received this great recognition, highly deserved.

I watched the television programme 'top gear' BBC2 yesterday evening. I don't usually watch this, very much a male programme, but they were driving through the Northern Territory. It is witty/amusing and the scenery was fabulous.

Herewith my absolutely last comment on washing. Where my mother was born, no linen washing was done in winter. A bride was supposed to bring as dowry, enough linen to last through until spring. Then all the neighbours could see how much you had as it was washed and hung out!
I wonder whether Lewis knows whether the same was true of the Finns (same climate). My mother also remembered travelling in those huge sleds drawn by horses. That makes me think of fairy tales.

By the way, I still take rugs out and beat them!

I am appalled that anyone can be short of vit D in your climate. Clearly, when they venture out into the dreaded outdoors, they overdo the protection. We need sunshine on our skin, just don't get burnt.

Bees/wasps have flight paths; you can see where they are if you sit and watch. They can then be avoided.

You say that your Jerusalem artichokes didn't flower. Do they ever? Mine have never done so and I have grown them for years. They spread underground.

Asparagus is a sore point with me. I had them growing for years, then they got very old and less fruitful. I started again from scratch and after 2 years the plants all died. I have no idea why and am not sure that I can be bothered to start all over again. They are grown commercially here and it is just too easy to pick up a bunch when I want an asparagus risotto, which I love. My major reason for growing my own anything is to avoid chemicals.

@Lewis What on earth is the magic powder that you put in your septic tank and why? I have a septic tank; I don't add anything to it.

Inge

Brent Haines said...

Hi, I am a maker of Native American Flute, http://woodsounds.com/singleFlute.php?s=J46B. That particular flute that I sent the link to is made from Tasmanian Blackwood. I am sending out a video about some Tasmanian Blackwood ad I am talking the wood and such in the video. Wish I had read your article before I shot the video. It would have been great to talk about what you are doing. At any rate, I would like to use the photo of your blackwood trees and the photo of the blackwood pods in the video. I would put a link to your blog in on the photos so that people can find your article. Would this be ok with you?

Thanks so much,

Brent Haines

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Brent,

No problems at all mate! The tree is native to the entire east coast of the continent, although as you go further north into the tropics the tree becomes smaller in size as it prefers the cooler and damper conditions to be found in the south. That particular species of tree produces the most beautiful and dense furniture timber too and I am glad that you are using it for the production of flutes. It may also surprise you to know that they were once one of the boss trees down here.

Cheers

Chris