Monday, 23 February 2015


The blog can be heard in mp3 format here: Sound Cloud - Chookflation

The northern half of Australia was hit this week by not one, but two tropical cyclones (Marcia and Lam). Cyclone Marcia was declared a category five cyclone which is about as strong as a cyclone gets. Both cyclones have caused significant damage with the extent of that damage only becoming clear over the past day or so.

Down here in the south eastern corner of the continent, the mornings this week started hot. By lunchtime the clear blue skies and unrelenting sunshine made it even hotter. And by evening the heat simply carried through into the next day. And that pattern continued for four days in a row. Needless to say that this week has been a total write off for work around the farm. Still, I’m not complaining as I haven’t had to deal with a category five cyclone, which even washed a Great White Shark up onto a beach. Fans of very dodgy B grade horror films would have called this tropical cyclone a “Sharknado” – nuff said.

Dodgy humour aside, the weather really has been hot and humid here this week and the weather station read out says it all: 38.1’C is equal to 100.6’F

Weather station readout yesterday afternoon
The spiders are thoroughly enjoying the continuing hot weather and I captured this photo of a golden orb spider, lurking on her web between two veranda posts with the sun setting in the background:
Golden orb spider with sun setting in the background

Despite the heat, the farm is still looking quite green for this time of year, and as I have plenty of water to spare, the vegetables, herbs and flowers are all growing very strongly:

Blue skies reign supreme over the farm

The house has ceiling fans installed in every room, but no air conditioning. Instead, to keep the temperatures inside the house pleasant on a hot day, the house is very well insulated. The insulation works to resist the transfer of heat from the outside. However, that means that during very hot days, I have to be careful to avoid heating the inside of the house any more than is absolutely necessary. There are plenty of simple things a person can do to achieve this, and one such idea is doing your cooking outside. The photo below shows a tray of biscuits happily baking away outside in a portable electric oven (solar powered, of course) whilst the thermometer next the oven shows the temperature in the shade is 34.9’C (94.8’F).
Biscuits baking in the portable oven whilst the air temperature in the shade is 34,9’C (94.8’F)

The heat has provided a bumper crop of blackberries in this part of the world and the picking this morning produced not only several interesting bites from the very unpleasant march fly insects, but also several kilograms of berries. I’ve been picking blackberries for a few weeks now, freezing them and hopefully by mid-March my order for jam bottles will be available from the supplier and I’ll turn all of that frozen fruit into yummy blackberry jam. I’ve completely run out of glass storage bottles here!

Blackberries picked this morning

It is hardly surprising that this week was hot, because the Seymour Alternative Farming Expo ran from Friday to Sunday. The expo is great for small holders as it has all sorts of things relevant to that type of farming. I’ve been to other farm field days dedicated to broad acre farming and I spent ages walking around going: what does that large green machine do? The Seymour expo on the other hand is just right and I look forward to the event every year. This year was particularly notable as I must have looked like I know what I’m doing because on several different occasions people asked me what my opinion of this or that was. On the downside, that expo is always hot and the sun is unrelenting.

Now, Seymour is a town which is about an hour and half drive north of the farm. If you head north from here, you’re heading inland and as you do that it just gets warmer. So, I’ve devised a sneaky way of dealing with that heat: Get there as the gates open early in the morning and leave before lunchtime.

The other great thing about the expo is that the local poultry association has a chicken sale. You have to get there early to grab the choicest chooks though!

So Friday morning found both my lady and I eagerly waiting at the gates to the expo near the head of the queue in a long line of people. Apparently the organisers were having technical difficulties with their cash registers which were eventually resolved through the use of an extension power cable. You could feel the tension in the air from the people waiting in line as the technical difficulties were being discussed inside the ticket booth. Queue jumpers were politely sent to the back of the long line. And what was really fascinating was that I only spotted a single individual with their head buried deep in an electronic device as everyone else was either quietly waiting or chatting to other people in the queue.

Once inside the expo grounds, we made a bee line to the poultry shed to assess our potential chicken (chook) purchases. What surprised me was that over the past few years there has been chookflation (the technical term for ever increasing prices of chickens). Only five years ago a chicken would cost you around $15 to $20 each. Nowadays, they are upwards of $50 or more per chicken. I’m unsure whether the chookflation is a result of increasing demand for chickens or decreasing supply of chickens because I’ve heard several different theories espoused over the past few days.

Anyway, I picked up two Isa Brown and two Blue Laced Wyandotte chickens. The average cost of those four chickens was $38.75 each. Chookflation indeed!

One of the Isa Brown chickens and two of the Blue Laced Wyandotte chickens

Economics aside, I introduced the new chickens to the flock that same afternoon and to my absolute horror, the two new Isa Brown chickens proceeded to attack the boss chicken and her enforcer sidekick. Both the boss and enforcer were stalked around the enclosure and quickly humbled by the two new Isa Brown interlopers. This was not a good situation. The two new chickens then started systematically picking fights with every other chicken in the enclosure and won. It looked as though a new order would soon be established in the chicken collective!

The new interlopers hadn’t counted on Big Plymie, the very large Plymouth Rock chicken who normally has a very pleasant disposition. Unfortunately for them, she was having none of that foolishness from the newbies. Big Plymie simply stalked out into the centre of the chicken enclosure – looking very angry that her important chicken business had been interrupted and took on all four new chickens at once – and won by fighting and pecking them into submission. At one point she even jumped on top of the new Isa Browns and grabbed their head in her beak. Honestly, Jackie Chan could not have done better and harmony was quickly established in the chicken collective. Big Plymie having assured all the other chickens of her superiority, simply went back to her chicken business.
Big Plymie brooks no nonsense from the new comers

Just in case anyone is in the area next Saturday 28th February, I’ll be at the Macedon Ranges Sustainability Festival in Woodend between 10am and 4pm. It is held in the park opposite Bourkies Bakery (which does the best vanilla slices in the state, and not a bad Moroccan Lamb pie!) and I’ll be representing the Riddells Creek Seed Savers group. Come and say hello! Also on that day in the area the Macedon CFA is holding its annual flea market at nearby Macedon which is a big event. Strangely enough, the 70/80's rock band 'The Eagles' are also playing at nearby Hanging Rock. There must be something in the water? The forecast for the day is 31’C (87.7’F) and sunny with late showers!

How did I get here?

Designing and building a house that was constructed to resist damage from fire would be a daunting prospect for most builders. Fortunately, I had an ace up my sleeve.

In early September 1666, a fire broke out in Pudding Lane in London, which over a few short days destroyed 13,500 houses and displaced more than 200,000 people of all ranks and stations, such was the destructive force of the Great fire of London. The heat was so great during that firestorm that it melted metals which required temperatures of between 1,100 °C (2,000 F) and 1,650 °C (3000 F) in order to melt.

In the aftermath, the authorities decided that buildings should be constructed with walls made of brick and stone and not wood. Thus our cultural preference for brick buildings was born. And that was also the beginnings of the new profession of surveyors. It is interesting to note that in the aftermath of the Black Saturday bushfires, I saw roadside guard rails which are made of very strong steel twisted as if they were merely ribbons.

Anyway, having built and repaired houses in the inner city, I understood the issues relating to maintaining fire rated walls between your house and the neighbour’s house. So, I set out to work within the regulations and design a house that utilised the sort of fire rated walls that normally divide apartments.

Unfortunately, no one had actually designed and tested either windows or a roof that met the exacting new bushfire design standards – which is a kind of weird situation, so I was able to build only so much of the house before having to ask the awful question: what now?

To be continued…

The temperature outside here at about 8.00pm is 12.3 degrees Celsius (54.1’F) at 99% humidity. So far this year there has been 105.6mm (4.1 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 104.2mm (4.1 inches). 


LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; I really feel for the folks in the cyclone zone. It brought back so many memories. During the Columbus Day Storm, over 1/3 of the trees in Portland, Oregon (a city of parks and trees) came down. You couldn't even get IN the parks for all the downed timber.

I admit I caved in to the hype and picked up Sharknado II off the cheap rental rack at the local grocery. I'm a sucker for disaster flicks. Lots of chain saws were involved ...

That photo of the spider and sunset are beautiful. Soon to be seen on some expensive calendar. That shot of the farm is just lovely.

When I'm stuck in a queue like that I just whip the paperback out of my back pocket. Happy as a clam. Be prepared :-).

The blue/gray (slate?) Wyandottes are just stunners. Haven't seen anything like that, around here. Good for Big Plymie. I was just reading about the reshuffling of pecking orders when introducing new birds. I used to worry about my little Barnvelder getting picked on when the new hens started getting some size on them. She's kind of a sad little thing. Only survivor of the coyote attack and crop bound, to boot. But the other day I noticed one of the other hens was crowding her at the waterer. She just gave the interloper a sharp, no nonsense peck and order was restored. Good for her!

Two films I like are "Forever Amber" and "Restoration." The movie posters should read "It's got the Plague! It's got the Fire!" See "sucker for disaster flicks, above." :-)

It was a glorious late afternoon, yesterday, and Carl and his wife showed up to prune my apple trees. He's worked at a local nursery for years and knows what he's doing. They did the initial cut last year on my very neglected trees. They pruned and I hauled branches out of the way. And, picked both their brains on growing this and that and local growing conditions. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Be careful what you wish for, although there is plenty of warmth from here to share around. ;-)!

Would you believe that I'm not sitting out in the orchard supervising the chickens and I had to put on my woolen hat it is so cold! Brrr. Maybe you did get some of the warmth from here?

What are you earliest spring flowers? There are always flowers here year round, but I find the jonquils, snow drops and daffodils are usually amongst the first expected spring flowers.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Top work for being instrumental in sparking the great shaving debate of 2015! hehe! Dare I say it: You were on the leading edge. Sorry mate, I couldn't resist! hehe!

I understand about your great uncle as it is always surprising to discover who are the people that really make an impact on your life. And usually you never have enough time with them.

Interesting about the stainless steel grills. I've seen them here and they usually have a drain hole for the oils and fats to drop into. I wonder why you had to avoid circular motions with the cleaning? Stainless steel does scratch though. I've noticed that hamburger places here often have cast iron grills and they look pretty heavy duty, but I guess they get a solid workout?

Hey, the new chickens are having their first day at school as they exited the enclosure by their own steam and seem to be enjoying themselves in the orchard. Brrr, it is cold though for me!

The covers were clearly meant to attract your attention and often had very little relevance to the text inside the covers! Jack Vance had some great works of fiction that were strangely decorated by those covers. All in good fun though. Thanks for the links, I'll check them out.

That's what I thought of too, when I read about your meringue efforts. Too clever! Omelets are the best way to eat eggs. Yum, you are definitely onto a winner with those. I read that the UK chef Gordon Ramsay often tested his potential chefs by getting them to make an omelet with the thinking being if they can get the basics right then...

Don't bag off the Anzac or Lamington unless you've tried it! hehe! My thinking with the lamington is that it requires a cut in the middle of the sponge to have a layer of quality jam to be under serious consideration. Your mission should you choose to accept it is...

No no, that is a perfectly fine response. Unless you know what the gold standard is, how do you know when you have achieved excellence? We are definitely straying into the realms of philosophy here, don't you think?

Who knows why chickens do what they do. Do you know that this morning I went to check and see what 17 chickens can produce and only got 2 eggs. A stern lecture was in order but they never responded which was slightly annoying. If they were graded a la school reports, I'd give them the comment: "The chickens have put in a conscientious effort, but overall I felt they could do better".

Your chickens are punching well above their weight.

Yeah, March - like September here - may be the go for you. I'm constantly amazed by the parallels between your climate and here. It is uncanny.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, I feel for them too. As an interesting side note, I had to contact many people in that part of the continent today to ask for payment and I employed the utmost of diplomacy skills and asked them how they were doing etc. The stories were all very interesting and it was a pleasure to hear how the people up that way were mostly prepared and toughed it out. Quite a few of them told me that the damage looked worse in the media than it actually was on the ground. Still, I don't know as someone who may have to deal with major disaster sooner or later perhaps I'm overly sensitive to their plight?

Just had to sort out some chicken foolishness...

Cherokee Organics said...


Yeah, the high winds really knock over trees, which in turn take a long time to clean up. It is no small matter doing that sort of work.

Glad to hear that you succumbed to the temptation! How awesome was that concept. Sharknado - nuff said! hehe. It is just so wrong, the whole thing is completely funny. On a serious note, the speculation was that the Great White shark on the beach was already dead prior to the beaching.

Many thanks. The spider was a ripper shot. I had to climb up on a small step ladder and do a manual focus. How good are the sunsets too? That spider had been there for months too just getting bigger and bigger. Who knows where it goes when it rains, but it always seems to come back. At one point it had a little friend, but I think she ate it...

Of course be prepared and that is excellent advice! Nice work too, because when I'm in the city waiting for people, I pull out a book find a good cafe and enjoy a coffee and cake and simply indulge in the sheer pleasure of reading. I've been to places in books that I may never see in the real world.

Hey, I'm reading "Twilights last Gleaming" at the moment and it is a very fast paced book. I'm having trouble putting in down too and was a bit late this morning because I was lingering over an excellent coffee and muffin with my nose buried deeply in that book.

It is interesting to note that a lot of the older couples around here are happy to sit in the local cafe on a Saturday morning enjoying the newspaper. I respect that enjoyment of the quiet pleasures in life.

Many thanks. They have very pleasant natures too as they integrated far more easily than the Isa Browns which have far too much attitude for my tastes. Doesn't Big Plymie have the evil eye? She looks angry at being disturbed for sure, but she is such a gentle spirit with the smaller birds. I often find a silkie or two literally underneath her wing. She is like their mascot.

Good on your Barnevelder too. I once selected a dog from the lost dogs home because I felt sorry for him shaking in the winter cold in his pen in a seriously oversized dog coat. He's been a loyal dog too. You never quite know how things will turn out.

hehe! Too funny. Have you ever seen the zombie film 28 days later (or 28 weeks later)?

Lucky you. It is amazing sometimes to pick peoples brains who really know what they're doing. You learn so much. Sometimes, I reckon they take their knowledge for granted.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Kath (Purple Flowers),

Yes, I'd be more than happy to part with some of the walking onions. I've got heaps of them. What do you suggest would be a fair swap for them and how would you like to organise it?



orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

I agree with Lewis, that spider photo is one of the best photos that I have ever seen. I am sure that it is worthy of entry into some competition.

Our weather has just been ghastly again. The woods are the wettest that they have been all winter and the cold has been enough to strip ones ears from ones head. Perhaps I have a teeny weeny bit of your warmth today. Actually I can cope up to 40C (which we never get here) above that one melts.

2 more signs of Spring. My rhubarb is just starting to come through and I have death watch beetle tapping; knocking would be a better word, it is really loud. The first time that I ever heard this was in our first ancient cottage. We thought that we had poltergeists. I finally caught one and put it in a match box where it started to tap. Do you have them? They only go into old hard wood and are the bane of churches.

The very first Spring flowers in the UK are snowdrops. I don't have them which makes me wonder whether they are really a garden flower. The daffodils that I get are garden flowers as well. The first wild flowers are primroses after that it is a bit weather dependent and different flowers may all arrive at once e.g. violets, wood anemones which turn the ground white as they are so prolific. I have gone blank. I'll let you know what arrives as they arrive.

I have wondered why you have problems with meringue. What kind of meringue are you trying to achieve? The hard white shop bought kind, an intermediate restaurant kind or home made which comes squidgy in the centre and a bit dark on the outside and is far and away the nicest?


LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; The grills I worked on had a trough at the front. Grease would be scrapped into there and made it's way through a hole to a slide out drawer that could be emptied. Doing that job was right up there with the occasional cleaning out of the deep fryer. Probably why I am resistant to deep frying at home. Nasty jobs.

"Your mission if you choose to accept it." Too funny. Is my computer going to melt down and blow up in 15 seconds? :-). Obscure cultural references.

LOL. "Straying into philosopy." No, just wallowing in my neurosis. :-). They had a similar scene in "The Hundred Food Walk." Great movie and book. One taste of an omelet and she knew he was culinarily gifted. I really like what I call "food movies." Just got one from the library called "Le Chef." French of course. Very funny in a low key way. About the battle between Classic French Cooking and molecular cooking.

"Conscientious effort ..." Funny how we can still remember those phrases from school report cards from so long ago. I often hear "plays well with others" or "doesn't play well with others" in conversation.

Of course I saw "28 Days." And, the sequel, "28 Days Later." I'm looking forward to this summer's release of "San Andreas." But I don't think anything can beat "2012". Great slabs of flaming LA sliding into the Pacific. Not exactly a disaster flick, but "30 Days of Night." had a rather creative idea. Small isolated Alaska town. Of course, up in the arctic circle, the days get shorter and shorter until there's no sun at all for 30 days. Now imagine a tribe of vampires shows up. Total mayhem, 24 / 7, for 30 days. It's a small niche, Alaskan vampire movies :-).

I also stayed up way to late last night, reading. A French novel! In translation, of course. My two years of high school French (and the two years of Latin) are long gone. We had a tv series over here. "The Paradise." From a novel by Zola, called "Ladies' Paradise." The development of department stores, circa 1890s. That series was knocked out by "Mr. Selfridge", which was a lot more popular. Pretty much the same topic. So, curious about what became of all those characters, I had to read the novel.

No eggs this morning. I'm sweating it because I need to deliver 2 1/2 dozen eggs on my weekly trip to town and I'm 9 eggs short. My chickens pay about as much attention to my lectures as yours do. I've been plying them with extra sunflower seeds, oats and yogurt. A little appreciation would be appreciated. :-). Lew

PS. My apple trees have Anthrasnose. :-( .

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thank you, that is really lovely. I may just do that. I'm not sure if you know, but if you click on a photo, it will display in high resolution.

I climbed up a ladder to take that photo so that the sun set was behind the spider. Nature is always surprising me around here, there is just so much to see, and so much going on. The spider has been there for weeks now happily collecting bugs as they fly around.

Brrr, that sounds cold. Look after your ears too as they don't regrow! hehe! 40'C is bad, but not too bad as long as you are not required to work outside in the sun.

Isn't funny how plants act in different parts of the planet. Rhubarb stays green all year around here. Glad to hear that it is showing signs of life up your way.

Fortunately, that dreaded beetle doesn't exist here. There are plenty of wood borers (witchetty grubs) and termites, but they all prefer green, damp timber. If you can keep timber dry here, then it is impervious to insect attack. Keeping it dry is sometimes easier said than done, as your churches would know all too well. Historic buildings are beautiful, but they certainly require some upkeep.

As a bit of advice, messing around with poltergeists seems as though it may have poor consequences for ongoing good health! That film scared me silly.

Incidentally, the city council wants to develop the land which is currently a car park attached to the Queen Victoria market in Melbourne - which is very old. Unfortunately the settlers used that land as a cemetery back in the day and who knows what may be unearthed should they ever actually be allowed to build upon it.

I guess it depends on the origin of those plants and who knows these days? Actually, I grow both yellow and pink primroses and they are very hardy plants that put on a good show. The local gardening group leader was a bit annoyed with me because she considers them to be a bit weedy. But the wildlife has no problems eating them, so it is good feed as far as I'm concerned.

You've hit the nail on the head as mine tend to look dark on the outside but have the squidgy centres. I can't seem to replicate peoples expectations which are a very different meringue... Don't really know why either?



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

That would do it for me too! That clean up job has a very high yuk factor. Actually, years ago, I was in a kitchen that had that drain overflow and you could barely walk on the floor it was so slippery. Only the high pressure hot steam cleaner did the trick.

I like to slip in a dodgy film reference from time to time. Funnily enough over at the ADR you get the occassional reference to dodgy 80's films and it is always a pleasure. There was much discussion about Back to the Future 2 a few weeks back. I remember it promised the world of 2015. It looks a bit different to me nowadays. It would be interesting to re watch it and make a comparison.

Actually on a side note, I saw that Lena Dunham (who is being described as the voice of her generation - and it may be so) had one of the characters in her show say that: "The system is broken" in reference to the economy, getting jobs etc. Interesting and I wondered whether she read the ADR as I hadn't heard that sentiment stated anywhere else - word for word.

Someone is shooting stuff way down below and well away from here... Sometimes heard, but not often...

Thanks for the film reference. Right back at you with...


Cherokee Organics said...

Had to put the chickens to bed as it was getting dark...

I saw this film last year at the cinema and really enjoyed it: Chef (2014). It combined a road trip and food in one film. Nice work. I really loved the scene where they were down south and collecting meat from a slow cook oven arrangement. Oh, it looked good.

Those Alaskans would probably be quite safe over the summer. Migratory vampires anyone? ;-)! Hey, wasn't the Shining filmed in that part of the world? Here's Johnny!

Did you find out what happened to all of the characters? I must confess that I've read the entire "Dexter" series by Jeff Lindsay - it is my secret guilty pleasure, you known when you're reading it you shouldn't be enjoying it, but you are all the same. He's got a new book in the series due to be published shortly. Writing would be a tough gig these days as there is no money in it...

Yes, you tell them! And on your way out of the chicken enclosure turn around and say: "And don't make me tell you a second time". Apologies for the Monty Python reference! 2 eggs here today, what do you do?



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Oh yeah, I wouldn't worry too much about the trees, just give them a good feed of some manure or other such stuff. There are apple trees by the roadside here that get no pruning, no feeding, and only rain water and they produce copious quantities of apples year after year.

Just sayin...



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Inge - The first flower I spotted here was a lone crocus. Now the daffodils are blooming. Funny you should mention primroses. When the pruners were coming I was checking about among the trees to make sure the ground was clear and there were two primroses! Now, this is my 4th spring here and I have never seen a primrose. Where they came from I don't know. Maybe the birds brought them in? I confirmed the identification with the pruner. Don't know if they grow wild here, and will have to look into it. Will have to move them as they are in the middle of the lawn. Although I didn't ask, when the pruning was done, Carl mentioned that the primroses were intact.

Portland, Oregon often gets ice storms blowing out of the Columbia River Gorge. Years ago, I wasn't paying attention and just thought I HAD to get to the grocery store. Which involved waiting for a bus ... that was late, both ways. When I was combing my hair, that night, I discovered I had lost all feeling from the crown of my head to the top of one ear. A mild case of frost bite! It was such an odd feeling. I could comb and feel it, and then ... nothing. Like half my head was missing. It lasted for about 6 months. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - "Chef" the move. Been there, saw that, skipped the t-shirt :-). It was a great movie! A road trip movie with food!

"The Shinning" was mostly filmed in the Rockies of Colorado. I read the sequel, not long ago.

Ah, yes. "Dexter." I didn't read any of the books, but the tv series was my guilty pleasure. Got all 7 seasons from the library.

I'm still plowing through the Zola, but picked up a book I've had kicking around for awhile, to take a break. "The Hermit in the Garden; From Imperial Rome to Ornamental Gnome." by Campbell. The author, a professor of Renaissance studies at the University of Leicester even refers to his book a "Pythonesque." :-).

It's about the "phenomenon of the ornamental garden hermit and his hermitage." The height of the craze was in the 18th century when people were building "follies" in their gardens. One was the hermitage. And, you'd go out an hire a hermit to live in it. Some of the job requirements were pretty stringent. Couldn't cut your nails, hair or beard for seven years. Couldn't talk to anyone or leave the estate. It was all quit mad.

Another chicken theory advanced by my neighbor is that all the coyote activity has made the ladies nervous. Might be. There's been a lot of howling and yipping about the place, late nights and early mornings. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I know about clicking on a photo, But computer info. is always welcome as I only find things out by accident.

We don't have termites, thank goodness.

Meringues: You are cooking them at too high a temperature. You need almost as cool an oven as you can manage so that you are drying them. My oven won't maintain a cool temperature but I don't mind as I like meringues to be sqidgey inside.


Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I really enjoyed it too. Combining both food and a road trip was a masterstroke of genius and it was such a lovely film too. Plus it was a film about relationships.

Ahh, Colorado is quite central. For some strange reason, I thought that it was much further north on the continent. The film made it look as though the climate was much further north. I also didn't realise how tall and extensive that mountain range was either. It certainly is very scenic and not heavily populated for good reason!

It was a good watch too. Did you enjoy the ending? I've heard a lot of different opinions on that particular subject. A lot of people expected the main character to ride off into the Argentinian sunset but the actual ending was probably more consistent with the actions of a psychopath - just sayin...

A real live hermit in the garden sounds like a true delightful eccentricity! A very quirky fad. How is the book otherwise?

Yeah, apparently chickens don't like loud noises, so that theory sounds pretty true. I'll bet the coyotes are eating the rats and field mice which would be living in and around the chickens? The fox here certainly is. I purchased a rat trap at the Seymour alternative farming expo, and went out last night to set the trap and there was no activity at all.

The dogs chased off the fox one morning last week, but they're pretty fast and clever creatures, so they simply wait.

We've been chucking ideas around about the chicken enclosure because I accidentally built it back to front without knowing what the consequences would be... So much to learn...



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I found that one out by accident too!

You're lucky not to have termites. Your soil is probably too damp for many species of ants, you are quite lucky because you have worms instead. Ants are the worms of the dryland soils.

As the top soil has increased here over time, worms are slowly replacing the ants. Worms don't bite, so that is a good outcome.

Many thanks. I will try that and see what happens. Home made meringue just tastes better too!

I just picked up a second hand Yamato 5 thread overlocker for my lady's birthday. I don't have a clue whether it is any good or not, but it looks very industrial and repairable which is a good start. The brand new ones looked very plasticky to me and looked as though they were in for a good time and not a long time.



foodnstuff said...

Hi Chris, just came here from the link you provided at the Archdruid's blog and am absolutely stoked to find that you are the same Chris from Ferndale Farm who regularly posts at the PRI site and whose posts there I enjoy so much. Small world. Will be adding this site to my bookmarks.

Cathy McGuire said...

Great post, Chris! Wow on the chookflation!! That's scary... I wonder if Australia has the same shipping problem as the US (see my comment on JMG's blog)... I am tempted to go local on my chook purchases this year, and I definitely need to start prepping for that... but I also need to get the bee boxes set to entice newcomers, and today I have to plant out the iris rhisomes I got for free at the seed swap... oh, and the seeds need to be started indoors... sigh... and instead I've spent the morning writing the novel. ( I can see the ending coming up and like a horse seeing the finish line, I'm pushing harder and harder.:-} Also want to write while I can, because no homestead is free of sudden emergencies...

I loved hearing about your pecking order... I've generally introduced new chooks in one of two ways: I convince some broody hen to take very young chicks literally underwing and she defends them, or I raise them up separate and let them graze a fence apart from the old flock for at least a week, then sneak them into the coop overnight when the flock is asleep. Apparently they wake up and think, "gee, I'd forgotten about that one"... and take them in stride. LOL!

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

A 5 thread overlocker sounds terrifying. I am only a basic seamstress. Have an ancient treadle Singer sewing machine which is probably older than I am. It has mainly been used for making curtains. I preferred knitting and crochet, some cross stitch stuff as well

At the moment there isn't a single flower blooming in the woods. A daffodil is in bud on my path. It has been trodden on every single year and now I am trying to protect it as I think that it may be a wild one. It is in a very strange place all on its own and very small.


LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Well, King just hated the film version of his book "The Shinning." And, makes no bones about it. On the other hand, he has said that when you sell the film rights to a book, it's out of your control and you shouldn't get to wound up about it. I just look at the film and the book as two different things, and I enjoyed both.

"Hermit in the Garden" is a bit slow going, in parts. But, every once in awhile, the author "lets down the academic side" and has a bit of fun with it.

With four cats cruising around the chook pen, I don't think there's much left over for the coyotes. I've only seen a mouse, once, in the hen house. A few screws and a bit of scrap wood, pounded into place and his entry hole was stuffed. Lew

PS: I just have to ask. What is a "Yamato 5 thread overlocker?" I'm thinking, sewing machine?

rabidlittlehippy said...

Hey Chris,

Seems my last comment disappeared into the ether. I will be at the festival tomorrow and look forward to meeting you. :)

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi foodnstuff,

Glad to hear that you enjoy the stuff over at the PRI too. They're a good bunch of people with lots of interesting stuff to read.

Welcome along for the ride! There is always interesting stuff going on around here, so hope you enjoy it and please ask questions.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy,

I read your account of the chook shipping disaster. Not good...

There may be an opportunity for you to make money raising some locally bred chickens up your part of the world? I tend to support the Seymour poultry group which displays at the Seymour show and have never had a moments drama with the chickens sourced from them.

My understanding of the chicken situation here is that apparently only two or three families control the local commercial egg production market and apparently a few years back they had a massive cull of chickens to apparently raise the prices paid for eggs...

Glad to see that your novel is progressing at a crisp pace. How you keep that up and do all of the other things is well beyond me! The list of chores at your place was starting to make my head spin... Have you thought about converting your story into a spoken podcast?

On a serious note, I read the very well written piece that you wrote about your experiences with the legal system and wanted to let you know that I felt that you approached the problem from a very thoughtful perspective. Well done. Incidentally it is worth noting that your experiences match mine here. I avoid that system at all costs. Although we do have an administrative appeals tribunal here which is very easy to access for such matters and in simple English, although it is still a legal quagmire to wade through.

Yeah, the chickens have short memories, but I generally leave their business for them to attend too.

Your ideas are great and would seriously work too. Have you thought about purchasing an incubator because fertilised eggs can be very cheap to purchase and I don't believe that it matters at all if the eggs get cold prior to them starting to produce baby chickens. I have not tried this myself though and have that info second hand on good authority.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

It was terrifying for me too as I have no idea about such things but given it was a surprise present...

The bright yellow trailer went out on its inaugrual journey this afternoon and after a couple of hours driving the beast (the overlocker) is now on site. I got a demo of the machine in action before I packed it onto the trailer and it looks semi-industrial but wow, it was quick and quiet.

PS: My lady looks a bit frightened by the machine too.

You are very lucky to have kept that machine. My lady actually disposed of her mothers singer sewing machine when she was a very young girl. Perhaps her interest in sewing is driven by some subliminal guilt? Those singer machines hold up to the modern competition very well these days.

My mum used to knit me pure wool jumpers when I was a very young lad and I used to hate them. They had a very chunky weave. Nowadays those jumpers would be quite respected and very well received here. Over winter I have a very toasty sheepskin jacket which I really love. If the house was burning down, that is the one bit of clothing I'd race in to recover.

Nice to hear about your daffodil. It will be interesting to see whether it grows any larger as the season progresses. You never quite know how long plant seeds can stay in the ground and still stay viable.

I have many species of orchid here which only turn up after warm wet weather and it is always surprising.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Stephen King is an awesome author. He struggled a bit giving nice endings to his books though. I remember reading "The Tommyknockers" and it had a sort of and then I woke up ending. Still, I can't write fiction to save myself and his mostly short stories turn into very good films, but the longer stories don't translate into film well.

Still, once you sell something, it's gone and there's no point complaining about it as you point out.

Oh, a strange car just drove past, so I did my best Deliverance look at them. It is surprisingly effective!

Yeah, hermit in the garden sounds like a whole lot of fun. My lady reminded me this morning that a very large property once sold around these parts and the sale included contractual provisions relating to an individual that lived on site. The advertisement left no one in any doubt that that individual would continue living on site. Anyway, it put me in mind of the hermit in the garden.

I once had a mate that had a guy living down the back paddock in a tent and from historical accounts of the Great Depression, such things were not uncommon in rural areas. On a serious note, I have been giving such ideas consideration.

Ahh, you are very lucky to have the services of four cats. The rats actually live in a hollow on a very large eucalyptus tree not far from the chickens, so the fox has been cleaning them up on the path backwards and forwards.


Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Disaster struck tonight as I found a very scared wallaby stuck in the strawberry netting. The escape for the wallaby involved ripping giant holes in the netting, so now I'm having to rethink the whole design...

No, it's much more than that: The machine joins two pieces of fabric together very neatly whilst cutting off any extra ragged excess.

A sewing machine can't quite manage that feat easily all in one go - if at all. It is what manufacturers use to sew up seams neatly and quickly.

Hope that makes sense? My lady has no idea about the machine either, but hopefully it gets some good use.

I've been assigned the job of reconditioning the machine and fixing all the rough edges, fortunately the motor seems quiet and strong. Perhaps a brand new machine wasn't such a bad idea after all...



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi rabidlittlehippy,

Blogger gets hungry sometimes. Be careful that it doesn't take a finger or two?

Great to hear. Look out for the Riddells Creek Seed Savers Marquee and be sure to say hello.

I collected some walking onion bulbs (or Egyptian tree onions) which you can have free of charge. It should be a lot of fun, but warm.



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Sometimes, I think, when I think that the blogger ate my post, that maybe I didn't do the second step in the two part posting process. Old and senile, ya know :-).

I to have a Singer treadle sewing machine. Haven't given it a whirl, yet. It needs a new belt and bobbins. Luckily, we have a rather archaic sewing machine and vacuum cleaner repair shop that has many parts. They even had a horse hair brush that fit the hose of my hand held vacuum. Horsehair is soft enough to clean books without damage.

Made my monthly trip to the grocery to rent 3 dvds that a.) the library may not carry or b.) the hold lists are so long I'd never see it in my lifetime. First up was "The Giver" which is a teen flick dystopian romp. But, hey, it had Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges in it.

But the real gem was a film with Simon Pegg! These Simon Pegg films just come out of nowhere. I think he's really under appreciated as an actor. It's called "Hector and the Search for Happiness." It's kind of a Walter Mitty film. Hector is a young psychiatrist who searches the world to try and discover what happiness is. It's gently humorous in parts, terrifying in others, and Nick Frost is not in evidence. Pity that.

In this part of the world, you can rent autistic albino banjo playing children to sit on your front porch :-). I once knew a woman, who, back in the 1950s worked for an agency that would rent out Beatniks. To add a little color to your parties. All this may be an outgrowth of hermits in the garden.

You may have to delete this post. I figure I've probably offended the autistic, albinos, beatniks, and probably, banjo players.

Sigh. Live long and prosper. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I bought the sewing machine, from an elderly friend, about 50 years ago. It is completely enclosed in a cabinet, one just opens the doors and swings the actual machine upright. It is incredibly sturdy for it had survived a house fire; the wooden cabinet is stained by the water from the firemen's hoses.

My mother had a slightly later treadle Singer. I spent a lot of time on it in my teens, turning sheets from sides to middle for her. When sheets wore in the centre, one cut them all the way down and then sewed the outer edges together, thus prolonging their life. Of course one had a central ridge then, but it wasn't bad. I bet that people don't reckon on having to do that nowadays!


Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, that is really quite strange how blogger asks for a second confirmation on some websites, but I reckon you are on the money. You really do have to wait until you get the confirmation from blogger that the comment is awaiting moderation.

Do you still have to do the identification of a number or letters before you post a comment? It just shows up here now as "I'm not a robot". Anyway, I don't know much, but I do know that neither you nor I are robots!

As a related and interesting side note, you may be interested to know that one of the blog entries is being repeatedly spammed over the past few days. Why, I don't know, but yesterday over 1,000 readers turned up. I find that statistic to be quite unlikely, and instead believe that perhaps a large number of robots turned up... Weird times. If anything weird happens to the blog, I'll simply reboot and we'll carry on as if nothing happened!

Were you ever subjected to those 1960's / 1970's "Carry On" English films? Even as a youngster I used to cringe at them... Still, strangely entertaining, but just somehow so wrong...

If you're senile, then I'm senile too! Very pleasant to be in good company.

You are very lucky to have that shop. Is it in Portland or is it more local-ish? Interestingly enough, there are such shops in the inner city areas here too. I'm in the process of cleaning up the whole machine and hopefully it is OK.

Yes, I remember brushes being described as being made from horse hair, but have never actually seen one. That is interesting because the books here collect dust. What do you do to keep them clean?

That is too funny: yourself, Inge and I all only ever go to the grocery about once a month. I used to like shopping for food, but got to a point where I knew too much about processed food. Instead, I started growing my own and buying in bulk. Surprisingly the outcomes are better and the quality is better.

Dystopian romps are no bad thing for film material. Have you ever seen the film "Warm bodies" which was sort of like a zombie romance film - if that is actually possible?

Ahh, I had not understood Walter Mitty references before. Many thanks for the clarification. Did you know that I saw a Wicked camper today with a sign on the back of it declaring: "We can't stop here - this is bat country" which is a quote from the film Fear and loathing in Las Vegas. I really struggled to watch that film, but since you mention film references...

Many thanks for the Simon Pegg film recommendation. I will check it out. PS: Your comment ending was not lost on me either! hehe!

Are you making that up? Remember such things would be frowned upon here, so I have to ask: Are you serious?

I mentioned a few days ago that the rock band, The Eagles are playing at Hanging Rock tonight. Well, unfortunately, there is a really big thunderstorm just about to rip through the area... Ooops! Oh well, I'm sure they checked the weather forecast? Maybe?



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

It is certainly not an evening here to be outside watching a rock band. In between clicking on the "Publish Your Comment" button the wind hit with a level of seriousness that couldn't be ignored and it is now raining heavily. The entire evening was lit up with pink flashes of lightening. I hope they're OK on the other side of the mountain range at the concert...

Scritchy the boss dog is having a bit of a freak out with all of the thunder. She'll probably sneak under the bed tonight.

Wow, great to hear just how sturdy that Singer sewing machine is. They're beautiful and very elegant looking machines too. I've never seen one in a cabinet here as they only ever really appeared as stand alone units.

I'll bet you are right in that. I remember flannelette sheets as a child and they always kept on going beyond the point of repair.

You know, over the past few years, I've switched back to woollen blankets and truly, I wondered why I ever switched to doona's (European quilts) in the first place. Australia is just too hot for such things...

I manned a store at the Macedon Ranges Sustainability Festival today and really enjoyed myself. It was good fun just gas bagging with people all day. Good fun!

Hope the frost has lifted a bit at your place. I picked the first really ripe tomatoes today.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi everyone who popped by to say hello today at the festival!

I hope you all had a good time at the festival, ate some good food, saw interesting things and just generally had a good chat with the people there.

I'll give a special shout out to rabidlittlehippy: It was a pleasure meeting you and your family and I sincerely wish that your garden grows strongly.



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Well, I used to get the numbers and letters and then they vanished, for awhile. Now, they're back. The Internet giveth and the internet taketh away :-) . For the longest time I didn't have any Spam problems on either of my two internet e-mail accounts. Suddenly, one is overwhelmed with spam. 50-60 a day. The amount seems to rise and fall. I must have gone somewhere dodgy, in my travels.

Yeah, the "Carry On" films kind of left me cold. My tastes ran more to "Passport to Pimlico" and the St. Trinians films. I was lucky growing up in Portland, in the late 50s and early 60s. There was such a wealth of silent and foreign films.

The repair shop is local. Centralia. It's been there at least from the early 80s, when I moved here. Got to get in there before it disappears. Clean the books or clean the brush? I periodically clean the brush by just pulling it off the hose and use the hose to clean the brush. My old Singer Treadle is in a really nice oak case. The treadle and legs are very elegant cast iron.

Oh, I liked "Warm Bodies." The book was pretty good, to. A Seattle author. Marion. According to the jungle drums of the book world, there's a second book in the work. A prequel, if I remember right.

Oh, the Wicked Campers is quit a web site. I'm sure I'll waste too much time there. Reminds me of a "hippie" van I saw on the freeway, back in the early 70's. It was all painted in day glow colors and the windows had wild curtains. A hand done bumper sticker said "Don't laugh. Your daughter is in here."

Well, I'll return the "favor." :-) You can't look away. It's like a traffic accident. You have to scroll down to the bottom to find the next page thing-y.

Making which up? Renting children, yes (note smiley face). Rent a Beatnik, no. True story. I also heard, but not first hand, that there were Rent-a-Hippy agencies in the late 60s. Same MO. Add a little color to your parties. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yes, the interweb is a fickle beast and skips to its own beat - whatever that happens to be at the time.

Sorry to hear about the spam, what a nuisance. My web domain provider runs a spam filter which keeps the coyotes (yes, dingoes or wolves would be appropriate too... ;-)) away from the door here.

Hey, just to be a little bit silly, does the extra ) in the ;-) winking emoticon look to you like a beard? Maybe we have just developed the bearded winking hipster emoticon? Who knows? Perhaps we should rush out and patent it? hehe!

I hear you, man. They left me feeling mildly uncomfortable and slightly squeamish too. I hadn't heard of the Passport to Pimlico, what was that about? Yeah, St Trinians films were very funny, mate I had to reach back into my memories for that one.

You were very lucky to have access to such films. I often travel into the big smoke here to visit the cinema nova in Carlton which runs independent and foreign films and they're usually very good. Occasionally the films are rubbish, but films are an entertainment gamble anyway, so why worry? I've seen plenty of films that were hyped but were in fact rubbish.

Very interesting. I had no idea that Portland was almost on the border between Washington and Oregon. There are a whole lot of lakes and mountain ranges up your part of the world. The cast iron ones are the same ones that you see here. I’ve never seen one in a specially made cabinet.

I didn't know that the film was based on the book. Nice to get your recommendation. Ahh, a prequel is an excellent idea.

I believe that Jeff Lindsay has completed a new Dexter book due for publication shortly. Not saying that I'm looking forward to it, but really hope it hurry's up and gets edited and printed. Apparently the ending is similar to the final Sherlock Holmes story in that there is a small out for the central character if demand is big enough to add a further story.

I'm sure that you will. Did you know that the wowsers have censored the wicked campers? Absolutely appalling is my thought as they are much more tame these days. My understanding is that the guy that set the whole company up apparently grew up in a cult and has an interesting back story.

Yes, that bumper sticker used to appear as an accessory to: Sandman panelvan which was a much desired and locally made vehicle of my youth. Allright, I always wanted one of them but never quite got around to purchasing one of them.

haha! That site is quite shocking! Nuff said... PS: I was aware of that one already. What's with the... oh well, I shall not ask as I may unfortunately get an explanation that I could perhaps do without! To quote the Hangover film, some things you cannot un-hear. hehe! You are a shocker. Respect.

Thought so. You know, it sounded a bit farfetched for me, which is why I called you out on it. Down under I would have said to your face: "Yeah right. Good onya" and that would be that...

Now rent a hippy during the 60’s, I can actually believe as it sounds plausible. Yes, I remember Scooby Doo and seriously what was with the whole HR Puffin Stuff? A very dodgy premise.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Forgot to mention, although I could hear the Eagles band distantly and they kept playing even with half an inch of rain and high winds, the storm last night was pretty serious: Victorian storms: Family left shattered after 'tragic' death of toddler in wild storm

Not good.


orchidwallis said...


It sounds as though we have the same make of Singer treadle. Mine is in a heated shed but I haven't used it for quite a while. I went to have a look as I know that I have its booklet. However, the bit that contains things and is inside the left hand door, refused to swing around as it should do so I couldn't open it.

'Passport to Pimlico' was a superb film as were almost anything produced by Ealing Studios. St Trinian films were fun though not as good as the above. Carry on films were variable; I enjoyed some of them.


orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Doonas are called duvets here. I love them but not suitable for hot climate. Have recently read (don't remember where) that dust mites don't like wool. Once upon a time we all had wool blankets and fewer synthetic winter clothing. Less wool might help to explain increase in dust might allergies.

Very sad, the death of the little girl in the storm.


LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; The extra ) in my emoticon is when I'm closing a parentheses. "Parentheses ... end parenteses." The "end" parentheses part. Actually, I think they look like double chins :-) . Which, luckily, I don't have.

"Passport to Pilimco" is about a little sliver of partly bombed out London, after WWII, that discovers they can cede from London due to some ancient document.

The Sandman panel vans are quit nice. I can see why a young man would hanker after one. Over here it was Woodies. Station wagons with wood paneled sides that were popularized by the Beach Boys and the whole surf culture.

I looked up "Wowser". There was a term here, that I don't hear much any more. "Blue Noses." Same bunch. Working at the library, it seemed like we were always in a running battle with the Wowsers wanting to ban a book, movie or, the entire internet. Some people spend entirely too much time laying awake at night, worrying about what other people are doing. :-) .

Portland is such a beautiful city. I've often said that if I had to live in a city again, it would be Portland. Lew

Stacey Armstrong said...

Hi Chris,

These are indeed interesting days to be the servants of poultry! Here we have a strange quarantine situation which does not allow poultry to travel between farms without veterinarian visits to both farms. Because of where I live this is a five hundred dollar vet visit. ouch! Avian flu has been detected in the lower mainland which is two ferry rides and four hours of driving. Currently we are on the look out for broodiness.... We have hatched our own chicks au naturel before and this seems to be the best option this spring given the constrains on adding to my flock. We lost our two smallest birds to a red tail hawk this last month. We currently have a very courtly rooster in residence.

I have begun work on the top sloped garden. As questions are welcome I have a few for you....I am wondering how you marked out your swale(s) before you began to dig? How long do you let your mulch and compost layer sit before you start planting? Do you have huckleberries in residence?

Nice score on the serger! They are great for finishing edges. I picked up a 1950's nechi sewing machine for $15.00 at a local fire department auction. It looks like it can be retro-fitted with a treadle!