Monday, 2 March 2015

Stumpy seizes the day

The mp3 version of this blog can be found here: Soundcloud Stumpy seizes the day

Stumpy the house wallaby was up to a bit of mischief earlier this week.

I like strawberries and grow plenty of them here. It is an unfortunate fact of life that just about everything else here loves strawberries too. Years ago, I found the dogs in amongst the strawberry plants happily munching away on the choicest strawberries. They were really enjoying themselves. It was at that time that I decided that the entire strawberry bed had to be enclosed, otherwise I would never see a fresh strawberry.

Over the years I have tried various methods of enclosing the strawberry patch and eventually settled on commercial grade black woven bird netting. That netting is strong stuff.

This week however, Stumpy the house wallaby proved that the bird netting wasn’t strong enough. Somehow the naughty wallaby sneaked into the enclosure only to become trapped inside. She seemed happy enough inside as she was enjoying herself and eating the strawberry plants. Unfortunately, once Stumpy spotted me she became distressed and even though I’d opened the entrance to the enclosure and quickly walked away, she had other plans. Her plans involved ripping a giant hole in the commercial grade bird netting and making her escape.
Stumpy has ripped a giant hole in the strawberry enclosure

Sometimes you have to abandon a project as a bad idea and use the lessons that you have learned on a new project. The strawberry enclosure has now been declared a failed experiment. Not to worry though as the first of what will be multiple new berry beds are now under construction.

Before any of this could begin, I had to fix one of the hardest working tools here: My 20 year old electric hammer drill. That drill gets some serious punishment and just keeps on going. Unfortunately after some of the recent steel work, I pushed a drill bit through the original 20 year old chuck and pretty much destroyed it. A chuck is the fancy name for the bit on the very front of the drill where you insert the drill bits and it holds them in place. I didn’t even know that it was possible to destroy one, but there you go.

I was a bit sad because other than the totally destroyed chuck, the drill worked just fine. It is amazing what is on the Internet, because after a couple of minutes searching, I had an instruction on how to go about replacing the damaged chuck. I immediately ordered a new chuck and it arrived in the mail this week: Yay!

Trusty electric hammer drill with brand new chuck

Honestly, fitting the new chuck was a 10 minute job, despite the damage to the original unit.

Now that the trusty drill was back up and running, I could get to work and start building a brand new Stumpy proof berry enclosure. The new enclosure will have a sturdy treated pine post and rail fence, a steel gate and utilise locally sourced saplings as pickets. Take that Stumpy!

Long term readers may remember that the posts have already been cemented in the ground for the new berry enclosure before Christmas. Also the steel gate has already been welded, hung and latched in place. The steel gate actually began life as a very solid security door which I modified for this particular use.

The newly refurbished electric drill was again hard at work installing rails for the new fence.
Rail being installed onto the new Stumpy proof berry enclosure

The chainsaw was used to cut holes into the posts and that was a really awkward and difficult task. Looking at the photos now, it looks like I’m developing some sort of funky dance move. We can call this funky new dance move: The Cherokee Shuffle (Everyday, I’m shufflin’)!

Cutting holes into a post for a post and rail fence – dance move 1
Cutting holes into a post for a post and rail fence – dance move 2

Earlier this afternoon, all of the rails had been installed on the new berry enclosure. Hopefully over the next few weeks, I’ll begin installing the pickets which will be cut from local saplings.
All of the rails have now been installed on the new berry enclosure

It is definitely blackberry season here because I travelled up to my favourite, non-sprayed blackberry patch and picked another couple of kilograms (about 4 pounds) of blackberries. It has been the best year for blackberries here that I can recall as the rain has fallen at exactly the right time and in the right amounts for those plants.
More blackberries in amongst many bottles of mead and some home baked bread

The first of the Black Russian cherry tomatoes have started to ripen over the past few days. They’re ripening about 2 weeks early this year. By July, I’m expecting to harvest about 50 kilograms (over 100 pounds) of the fruit. Yum!
Black Russian cherry tomatoes have begun ripening about two weeks early this year

The Southern brown tree frogs are continuing to enjoy the warm and humid conditions at the farm this year and I spotted this healthy specimen on the new concrete staircase a couple of nights back.
Southern Brown tree frog on the new concrete staircase

The bright yellow recently repaired trailer made its maiden voyage this week and it was all in a good cause too. The trailer travelled from here to the outer northern suburbs of Melbourne to pick up a very industrial looking Yamato 5 thread overlocker machine for my lady’s birthday. The machine itself works very smoothly and also alarmingly quickly, but it does require a bit of a clean and freshen up, which I’ll do over the next few weeks.

Refurbished bright yellow trailer on its maiden voyage to bring back a serious overlocker machine to the farm
It is very disappointing to now have dirt on the paint work of the trailer, it somehow just doesn’t seem right now! Hehe!

On Saturday, the Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group held its annual festival in Woodend. I manned the stall for the Riddells Creek Seed Savers Group for the day and had an absolute ball. It was a whole lot of fun and thousands upon thousands of people came to the festival. Honestly, it was no hardship for me to rubbish on about plants and seeds for hours on end and so many people visited the stall, that they almost wiped out the Groups entire stock of seeds and seedlings. It was a pleasure to meet one of the regular readers of the blog too (shout out to rabidlittlehippy). And everyone that I met had such great questions about all sorts of things. It was a real pleasure.

Me banging on to someone at the Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group festival

How did I get here?

My thinking aligns with the old saying: “Strike while the iron is hot”.

So way back in November 2009, I commenced building this house – even though neither the roof nor the windows had been designed to meet the new bushfire standards. In fact, I started construction even though I was unable to commence any work at all on the roof. Unfortunately, I’d already purchased the double glazed and toughened glass windows by that date so it was a real gamble as to whether I’d even be allowed to use those particular windows in construction.

Yeah, it was a little bit stressful, but I simply got on with the job at hand, whilst sorting out the paperwork nightmare at night.

How did the house get here?

As I already had a level house site, in November 2009 I commenced construction of the house.

Fortunately for me, the editor of this blog has a better brain for geometry than I do, so she calculated the mathematics required to ensure that the building ended up being square by working out where to put the stump holes. That is no small feat! We then painted yellow on the soil where the stump holes had to be dug. A bobcat and driver was hired to dig the 115, 2 metre (7 feet) deep holes as required by the soil engineer. That depth seemed like a bit of overkill, but the house has not moved at all since it was constructed all those years ago.

A bobcat was used to dig the very deep holes for the concrete stumps for the house

The holes had to be cleaned out prior to inspection, and this usually involved a tool that had a long shaft with a round Pacman style flat plate which was used to lift loose soil from the bottom of the hole. Sometimes I had to dive in to the hole to grab the dirt with my hands and once I was stuck upside down in a very deep hole and had to wait until the editor could pull me out!
Me about to dive into another hole in order to clean it prior to inspection

I was very grateful to be able to commence actual construction work and the photo below shows several concrete stumps in place. There was nothing fancy about the method used to ensure they were all positioned properly as it usually involved tape measures and string lines.
Several stumps have now been installed

The temperature outside here at about 9.00pm is 15.6 degrees Celsius (60’F). So far this year there has been 131.2mm (5.2 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 105.6mm (4.1 inches). 


Miss Bee said...

My strawberries tend to be a favorite among the wildlife as well. It looks like your enclosure may be the ticket. I wish you luck that it works.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Thanks for the tale of the strawberry patch. I was going to go with bird netting or deer netting but think I'll go with something more substantial. The abandoned strawberry patch at the old farm is cyclone fencing.

The Internet has its' uses. No wonder the old farmer guys around here piled up so much stuff. I bet there's replacement chucks at the abandoned farm. The shop is a stuffed wonderland of bits and pieces. The late Brother Bob the Bachelor Farmer could lay his hands on whatever he was looking for. Unfortunately, he didn't leave a treasure map behind. A positive effect of the Internet may be that one doesn't have to pile up so much "stuff." Or, can be a bit more selective about the "stuff" piling up. Maybe you should get another chuck, carefully grease it up and stash it away? The Internet probably won't be around, forever.

The festival looks like a lot of fun. You mentioned the disappointed "gleaning" couple over at ADR. And, wondered where they came up with such ideas. Oh, it probably goes back to the Bible. Lots of gleaning, there :-). A fellow named Euel Gibbons came out with a lot of books in the 70s ("Stalking the Wild Asparagus", etc.) that gave a lot of people the idea that they could live fat off the forest and fields. The whole wilding, Paleo hunter-gatherer meme.

I think I read somewhere, years ago, that the Germans plant their autobahns with fruit and nut trees. With the express idea that anyone can harvest the fruit and nuts. And, the thrifty Europeans, at least in the past did just that.

Three of my chickens did a bit of a walkabout, yesterday. A few handfuls of sunflower seeds in the pen brought them running back AND betrayed the hole they had got out through. A bit of chicken wire had come loose.

Saw something interesting on the Net, yesterday. And, an Australian invention, no less. The Flow Hive. Taps your hive without getting the bees all stirred up and produces honey you don't have to process so heavily. But my question was: but what about the wax? What if you want some of the wax?
An interesting concept, none the less. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge, Lewis, Stacey and Miss Bee!

Hope that you are all well. Just to let you know that I will be unable to reply to your comments this evening, but will respond tomorrow.

PS: I should also have the mp3 file loaded tomorrow too!



orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

I have a problem with wild life eating my strawberries, as well. Curiously, the squirrels don't eat them; I watch them give a sniff and then back off. I have been cleaning up the plants which have kept some leaves this winter.

Son has just brought me down his home prepared smoked bacon. The smell is gorgeous.

A neighbour who rents out caravans, has a new tenant coming in in a few weeks. She is bringing 3 Alsatian dogs (in a caravan!). However it appears that one of them is an ex police sniffer dog. Many of us, but not all, are highly amused. You can't tell the dog that it is retired now so stop sniffing.


rabidlittlehippy said...

Last year I had a major problem with some of our local creatures eating my strawberries too - my 3 kids. They would raid anything with even the slightest hint of colour and they were remarkably thorough at looking under leaves too. ;)

Nice work on the mend and make do with your drill too. I know my husband fought long and hard to replace the batteries in his old drill as the quality of powertools these days isn't so good as the old ones I've been told.

Was lovely to meet you at the festival this weekend too Chris. It's potato onion planting time from now so I'll have to get some to you soon. Email me and we can work out how best to do so. :)

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Duvets are just inappropriate here as they're too hot. I use a couple of woollen blankets and simply adapt to the different nighttime temperatures. It rarely gets cold enough to require more than 3 blankets and usually is only 1.

Incidentally, I read years back a local dermatologist commenting that the rise in skin conditions in this country probably had a bit to do with the fact that people were now too hot at nighttime...

It is very sad, the loss of the little one up that way. When it is an adult killed, the media rarely reports it.

Over the years I picked up two bits of wisdom about trees from very unlikely sources:
1. They never get smaller; and
2. Never leave them within dropping distance of your house.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, I got that about the parentheses! hehe! It just that the second one looked so much like a beard - they're very fashionable these days with the hipster crowd. I heard some cheeky wag call them lumbersexuals. Very amusing.

Glad to hear that you are free of the double chin. A very bad thing for a persons sleep, I'm told. One of my mates and his lady both use an air machine which pressurises the air when they sleep. They swear by that machine as being a good thing.

A most amusing story, I wonder if the film is still available?

The station wagons were big over here during that time too, but the Sandman really epitomised the surfing culture here. They always painted them wild colours too. I read once that the Purple colour was called Barney's shirt - because that was the colour of the shirt that he wore to work one day... Alas the car industry here is soon to be killed off. 250,000 out of work is not going to be pretty...

Yeah, I'd seen one of the woodies on the Brady Bunch of all places. Have they ever made a come back or become a collectable item?

Well, I reckon that they're the ones to watch. What does JMG say: What you contemplate, you immitate. Says it all really.

One of my all time favourite local obscure bands called TISM (stands for This is Serious Mum) had an album called Censored due to legal advice. Nuff said.

Is that an active volcano looming above the city scape of Portland?



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Stacey,

Yes, of course, like cats, they are the masters and we are but humble servants!

Wow, that bill would make me hesitate too. I assume that is to bring them onto the island? The wild birds will bring bird flu anyway. The best you can do is to keep your poultry healthy, strong and happy.

A local intensive duck farm here was shut down the quarantine authorities and most of the birds were culled because of bird flu. Do you know that they sell bags of manure at the front gate?

That is the way to do it. Harvest that broody energy that would otherwise go to waste. I have plans for the chickens here. Good on the rooster. A gentlemanly rooster is to be appreciated!


I located the various swales about the place for ease of access to the running water on or near the farm. To ensure that the swale is on contour I dug with a level stick and just got it more or less level. When you fill it with water, you'll know for sure and can then adjust as necessary. Some people use tripod levels. Excavators use laser levels. They all achieve the same thing.

Just ensure that it can handle the volume of water likely to enter it and have an overflow just in case. Some well placed rocks in the overflow (or cement one) can really help if you get massive storms.

I plant into mulch here, although you have to keep them watered just to stay alive. Very hardy things like comfrey, borage and mints just don't seem to care terribly much. It generally takes between 1 and 2 years to break down the mulch into a rich black loam - oh it's good stuff.

Compost, I'll plant into straight away again, but put less hardy plants and they all seem to do OK. Although, again it will take up to 12 months to really get it forming good soil depending on how much carbon material is in it (like straw in mushroom compost). The more the slower.

I'll try and chuck a photo on next weeks blog of what a really new garden bed looks like here.

I have never seen a huckleberry here for sale.

Great questions.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Miss Bee,

Lovely to hear from you and sorry to hear about your strawberries.

I'll post updates on the enclosure as the project progresses. It is really hard to tell whether it will work or not, but time will tell.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Cyclone fencing maybe just the thing? Wallabies have a lower centre of gravity than deers, so they may not be able to push through bird netting but who really knows?

I reckon they were smarter than us. That whole just in time thing was near the beginning of the death of manufacturing here, so I'm always a bit dodge on. Still, I would never have thought about keeping a spare chuck for the drill. Have you got one at your place. I dare you to find it... hehe!

They just know don't they and no matter what mess the place is in, if one thing is out of place, then you'll hear about it. How they know where everything is, is well beyond me...

Euel would be a handy guy to know. There is a bit of a foraging / edible weed movement here too and no doubt you are right. It was really hard to get the concept across to them that there aren't vast untouched sources of food out there - especially in Australian forests. It is a tough school.

I grow a lot of survival plants that I don't eat, but am aware of and propagate all the same. They just don't taste very nice - which is why no one ever bothered to grow them deliberately in the first place.

The other day, I picked up a couple of perennial wild rocket and spinach plants for summer greens. I just don't have enough to get through summer, so am going to set aside just for those two species. By winter, I'll be drowning in greens, but not quite now.

They're very clever doing that. I had a neighbour once who had an old apricot tree in her front yard and she hated the fruit bats getting into the tree, but wouldn't let me pick the fruit either. And this tree used to provide buckets of fruit every year. I had to wait until I knew she had travelled elsewhere before harvesting the fruit. ;-)! Well, you can't be good all the time, is what I reckon!

Glad to hear that your ladies came back home. A very clever way to lure them back to the roost.

Yeah, all I reckon is that your points are all very valid and so far have been unanswered. It is an interesting concept, no doubt about it and it would be nice to do something for the bees as they're in a bit of strife across the world.

You know, I looked at the design and admired it, but it fails to take into account human nature which would strip the bee hives of their winter stores without thinking twice.

I wish that the bee problems could be solved that simply. Still, I wish them the world of success and beekeepers certainly need a rocket put up them.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

You are definitely in good company as everything - excluding squirrels - eats strawberries. Even the field mice get in there...

They're an interesting plant because here they only go slightly deciduous so they do keep their leaves, although to be honest they don't really look in good health over winter.

Mind you, Spring has sprung in both yours and Lewis's part of the world. Nice work. The days are getting shorter here and the chickens are in bed by a bit past 8pm now.

I'm really jealous of that home cured bacon. I'm starting to salivate just thinking about it. Is it good? I'll bet it is!

Well, that'll be a bit of a squeeze. Down Under they have a saying about very cold nights: It's a three dog night. That'll certainly be the case in the caravan as those things radiate the cold. At times it is often colder inside a caravan than outside.

I reckon the sniffer dog would be an exceptionally clever extortion scam? Maybe. Anyway, you don't know what the dog was trained to sniff out. It may have been a cadaver dog or a search and rescue dog. Just sayin.

They use beagles down here for that sort of job. I used to watch them get trained by customs when I worked at the airport and the handlers really loved those dogs.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi rabidlittlehippy,

hehe! Too funny. A mate helped picked strawberries once and it was a similar situation. One for me, one for me, one for me. It was a pleasure to see them enjoying the food here.

Good on him. That is a worthwhile battle as the internal components on the older drills are actually made with better quality steel than some of the newer tools. The batteries are a nightmare to fix though.

Thanks for the offer and I'll contact you to organise a suitable trade in kind.



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; I saw a coyote, this morning. Beau had been barking, on and off, through the wee small hours. I was up just before sunrise and it was getting light. They are hard to spot in the winter stubble of the back pasture. They have really sharp ears. I knocked on the window and he stopped and looked at me for the longest time. I knocked again and he ran off into the woods. Only the second time I have spotted one. I sure hear them a lot.

Oh, yes. Woodies are collectible. Of course, it seems like just about every old model of car has it's followers.

Oh, yes. Just about all the mountains you can see from Portland are volcanic. You probably saw a picture of Mt. Hood. It's usually the one they use on postcards of Portland. It is active, but "sleeping." Vents steam every once in awhile.

Just about every mountain in the Cascade Range has the potential to erupt. They are closely monitored. Especially since Mt. St. Helens did it's thing. That one can also be seen, very clearly, from Portland. I can see both Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier from near my place.

Mt. Rainier is sort of active. But, it's make up is different. Mostly a pile of shattered rock. It's more a mud flow volcano. Steam vents, melts the snow and ice and gravity takes over. According to geological record, these can either head south (through the towns of Morton, Mossyrock and Randle. Or, NW through Orting and all the way to Tacoma and Puget Sound. Most of the above named towns have warning siren systems. Just in case. Residents are advised if they hear the sirens to not stop for anything, but to move uphill as fast as possible.

Within the city limits of Portland is an extinct volcanic cinder cone ... Mt. Tabor. Every school child takes a trip there when studying local geology. Pick up bits of pumice, obsidian and volcanic slag. Have a picnic. Maybe learn something. :-) . Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I haven't tried the bacon yet.

I didn't comment on this latest blog of yours because it made me feel exhausted. I am staggered at the amount of work that you get through. How you began to build your house is amazing. I really shouldn't be astonished as I have seen the things that my husband did and now what my son does.

Long ago my husband pulled a chalet back up to a new site. Not a small building; 3 bedrooms, living room, kitchen and bathroom. He did this single handed with block and tackle, jacks and surrounding trees. Even my son says that he has no idea how his father managed it.

My husband was the 8th of 11 children, left school at 13 and went to Canada when he was 15 to work on farms. I tend to worry about many of the modern young who remain children for far too long.

I agree that the sniffer dog might have had a different use but it is odds on that the locals are correct. One of the amazing things about extreme rural is that everybody seems to know far too much about everyone else. Incomers can get quite a shock. Never say anything about anyone when in the local pub. You will certainly be talking to a relative or a friend.


Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Beau is pretty clever. It is nice to have a dog on your side as they see, smell and hear things we can't. It is amazing that the coyote felt comfortable enough to stare you down. The really big bull kangaroo's will do that here too and it is unnerving to see them sizing you up.

Oh man, I reckon there'd be some good examples of those station wagons floating about the place. You don't see too many of the older 1970's vehicles about the place here anymore. There is cheaper registration for vehicles older than 25 years here and it is funny to see cars being treated as classic vehicles when I grew up with them and saw them brand new on the roads!

Nothing to see here, it's only an active volcano, don't panic! I'll bet they said the same thing in Pompeii! Nothing to worry about, moving along now... It is pretty spectacular looking.

I remember when Mt St Helens went up. Did any ash end up in the area you lived in? It is good fertiliser (after a while of course).

That is good to see the kids getting out into the field. Volcanoes are kind of hard to ignore when they are up close and personal!

I'm making my antenna today for the FM radio. Should be fun. The blackberries are still in season. The chickens are regrowing their feathers after the moult so eggs are thin on the ground here... How are you going with eggs?



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

You're in for a treat. A mate of mine cured som bacon which I sampled a few months back and it was good!

Yeah, it is amazing what you can achieve if you set your mind and body to the task. On a serious note, I feel as though I have limited time and, again it is also just a feeling, life slips past so quickly.

I have no idea how he would have managed that one either! I probably would have deconstructed it and then rebuilt it (or something slightly different to the original building) in the final place. I had to do that with the cantina shed here - but it is a much better building for all sorts of reasons in its present location. It didn't take very long to do. But moving a building... Yikes!

I worry about that too. I left home at 18 and had to make a living on a very small wage. It was very tight living.

A film of my generation "The Breakfast Club" which is a favourite of mine, had a line where one of the characters said something along the lines of:

Brian: wanna get in on this? Allison here says, she wants to run away, because her home life is unsatisfying.
Andrew: Well everyone's home lives are unsatisfying. If it wasn't, people would live with there parents forever.

My opinion for what it is worth is that children living as young adults with their parents (and I'm not referring to your situation which is entirely different due to both of your differing ages) is that the parents are winning because they can delay the inevitable process of having to reconnect with the local community. The young adults are losing the best reproductive and active years of their lives - and they don't even know it.

Historically of course, children were more likely to live with parents and social arrangements an niceties were very different, but of course we live with that shadow - and it will happen again - but expectations and relationships are very different and don't necessarily support all of the compromises and limits that such living arrangements actually imposed.

Phew, that was a mouthful. You're getting my brain working too you know!

My gut feel is that it is only a moment in time and some generations simply don't rise to the challenge of their time.

Oh yeah, everyone up here knows more about my business than I do - it is a running joke between the editor and I. I'm very careful not to talk about other peoples business up here where it casts a negative light on them. In 8 years I have made one error on that front - and I still regret it today, although I believe it is water under the bridge so to speak. It is a fascinating path to negotiate as you'll possibly be bumping into the same people in many decades time (it is much like don't dump rubbish in your own backyard)!

Local singer songwriter wrote a song recently about the depression involved in getting into the property market as a young adult: Depreston. I'm assuming that that Courtney is referring to the suburb of Preston here? It is a good insight.



orchidwallis said...

Hello again

My son doesn't live with me, heaven forfend. He is in the same woods but a 5min. walk away.
I finally had to get the dragged back chalet demolished before the sea took it. An horrendous job that took 2 people 3 weeks. It was a stunning hard wood build from the days when these things were done really well.

My son's place is his self re-build of this place; no longer in danger from the sea.

My husband did demolish and re-build another one as the gradient would have made a pullback impossible. However he underestimated how bad the land was and had to do a pullback on that one. A much easier job as it wasn't as large and anyhow having built it, he had a better idea as to its make-up.

Oh dear 'limited time' and you are conscious of it already! The extraordinary thing is the way in which the passing of time speeds up. I have no idea as to how I could possibly have reached my current age.

I left home at 19. My 3 children and 2 more (who I brought up from the ages of 11 and 13) all left between 17 and 19. Clearly I am a pain in the butt! When I was working full time, any child at home with nothing else to do would be left with a list of things that I expected to find done when I got home. I am appalled at friends who nursemaid their adult children.

You mention the tight wage when you left home. Indeed, I remember, when I was 20, I used to pass a second hand clothing shop each day on my way to work. One day I saw a blouse in the window for 5 shillings (25 pence now). It was there for some weeks, oh how I wanted it. No chance, I didn't have a penny to spare. I still remember it with regret.

Extended families: My mother was very involved with the Hindu community in this country. She said that it wasn't always as good as it looked. The young bride coming into the household could have a hard time with her mother-in-law. Much later on when the positions became reversed, she would get her own back.

Knowing about your neighbours: This can be funny. For some weird reason the bad boys assume that one doesn't know about them. One who is always charming to the ladies including me, has no idea that I know his whole history! He is small beer but his father was champagne. It must be tough to be a minor criminal when your father was a master one. I am sure that there is a book or even a film there.


LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; I forgot to mention a story about the Mt. Rainier mud flows. About six years ago, due to a steam vent, there was a flow that tore through a camp ground. Boulders the size of Volkswagens. Luckily, it was the off season and the campground was empty.

When Mt. St. Helens blew, I was living in Portland. Ring side seat. Most of the ash blew east, but Portland had a few heavy ash falls. Everything looked gray for days on end. Clouds of the stuff billowing down city streets. Every ATM in Portland went down as the grit got into the works. Cars were a problem and panty hose or some other filter had to be put over the air intakes. I didn't have a car at that time, so, no problem for me. You'd dust and dust and an hour later, there would be a fine film on everything.

My chook's egg production is up and down. Nothing like last fall. Got 6 this morning, only 4 yesterday. When I let the hens out this morning, the Partridge Wyondotte went right to the place in the fence where they'd got through and began pecking at the wire. Ah, so she's the one leading the rest down the garden path!

I left home the morning of my 18th birthday. Things were bad at home. You aren't legally emancipated, here, until you're 18. I had always worked, so I had a little money set by. Had a job. Got another. Was signed up for college in the fall.

I had rented an apartment and painted it. Slyly moved a few things into it. Rounded up a room mate. At 10 am, a friend picked me up and I was gone! Dad used to come down at least once a week and tell me "Son, you're killing your mother." Well, she lived another 25 years. He tried to bribe me with all kinds of things to move home. A car, full college tuition, etc. But, I dug in my heels. Freedom was to precious. My younger brother stayed home until he was 27. Money has always been tight. Some of my friends see me as being very thrifty. I don't see myself that way, at all.

"...funny to see cars being treated as classic vehicles..." LOL. Well, that's Father Time tapping at the door. It only gets worse from here :-). Oh, I suppose it's human nature to gloat a bit. When actually, we should be saying "Come join us! It's wonderful, here." The actress, Helen Hayes, who lived to be about 93, is credited with the saying "Old age isn't for sissies."

Like Inge, I occasionally think "I'm 65. How did that happen?" :-). I sure don't feel 65 inside. I think it's possible to stay spry and alert well into old age. With a bit of luck and paying attention to what you eat and how you live. No excuses. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge and Lewis,

Apologies, but I can not respond to the comments tonight, but will respond tomorrow. Sorry! I'm off to see the film Birdman with Michael Keaton, Ed Norton and Naomi Watts - apparently it is meant to be quite good, although, I'll provide a bit of a review tomorrow.

Plus, I hate to say it but a decent hamburger, may just feature in my immediate future...

Hey Lewis, speaking of which did you ever get a chance to try the beetroot in a burger? Maybe it doesn't translate so well?



Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

Nice one. Particularly like that you repaired the drill. It's a great mindset to get into, and takes a bit of adjustment, but it's very satisfying. I recently repaired the base of a pedestal fan using some scrap oak I had lying around (vastly over-engineered -- previous base was crappy pressed tin). It's amazing how much gets thrown away that would be not too hard (and a lot of fun) to fix!

Have you seen people grow strawberries vertically? You'd still need netting, but you don't get many flying wombats ;-)

ps. our tomatoes are almost finished!

pps. I reckon we've got a bit over 1 kL available in our rainwater tanks. If we don't get rain next week (I'm not hopeful -- forecast says "shower or two" for one day, which usually translates to nothing here) then we'll be back on town water. Ah well, nearly made it and I think we will next year (system was only completed in December, so missed some good spring rain)

Cheers, Angus

orchidwallis said...


I would like to congratulate you on the way that you managed leaving home and resisting the subsequent emotional blackmail. I consider that the aim of parenting (apart from love of course) is to produce people able to function in the adult world and to let them go when they are ready.


LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Got the beets but haven't given it a whirl yet.

There's a very good ROI post over on the ADR about the "new" flow hives. Oilman2, 3/5/15 3:48 pm.

At one of the archaeology websites I check out every once in awhile, there was a picture of a Roman apiary. Wow. They were huge. Looked like truly industrial operations. Given honey was about the only sweetener at that time, makes sense.

Also, a lot of the Roman big industries were the result of the army. Contracts for all kinds of things from outside sources, hides, pottery, etc. etc.. I'm sure those contracts were real plums and there was probably all kinds of graft and corruption.

The picture was a Twitter thing, which I really don't understand. If you Google "Roman Apiary Images" there are all kinds of pictures of Roman apiaries.

Enjoy the movie and the burger. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Wow, that coast line sounds brutal. I saw a house in Grand Designs UK which was in the process of falling into the ocean and apparently the authorities had the attitude that it was an unpleasant situation, but you could do nothing about it.

The landowners eventually back filled the land that had slipped into the ocean, but still a few rocks wouldn't hurt...

Glad to hear that you re-used the materials from the chalet. So many useful materials are dotted around the landscape. The funny thing is that in order to deconstruct something so that the materials can be salvaged, you have to know how that thing was built in the first place. Most people these days hire an excavator and simply destroy all the materials and have the site cleaned in a day. Bit of a waste really...

I wanted originally to build the entire house here from salvaged or recycled bits and pieces, but was not allowed...

Still, made up for it a bit with the sheds.

Your son is a very practical individual to have done that. People pay so much for houses these days it is not good for anyone. I salute his efforts.

Actually redoing something like that you can fix all of the things that you didn't like about the previous place.

What defines bad land? I read that some parts of the UK are subject to land slippages and was wondering whether that was what you meant?

I've always felt the pressure of limited time, but as you say it speeds up as you get older. I can't understand how I got to this age either! Time has a habit of slipping past when you aren't watching closely or are busy doing other things.

Yes, well the old adage of "idle hands are the devils workshop" ruled in my youth too. hehe! I'm sure you were a delightful mother given that your son is only 5 minutes away. Mine is about 4,000km away! ;-)!

Thanks for the memory. Yes, things were tight here too. I remember not having enough money to purchase a new pair socks for months. You know, years later on a wet day I remarked to a much younger lady that it was a bad day to find that you had a hole in your shoe. I instantly regretted saying it because she looked at me and said: "why would you have a hole in your shoe?" Some of my friends who are a few years younger than me have never known a time other than strong economic growth and I worry for them.

Ouch! Yes mother in laws can be a pain as they try and exert their authority. My mother in law was a lovely person a real gentle spirit, unfortunately she died a year into our marriage...

There probably is a film in that. Have you ever seen "Lock, stock and two smoking barrels" which captures that spirit exactly. It is nice to see that he can pull off the charm with you!



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Wow. Those flows would have been something to see. There are boulders here in strange hard to explain places and I've wondered whether that sort of thing may have happened. Have they ever had a serious eruption wipe out a town or city up your way? Not to put the kiss of death on them, but still you live in a geologically active part of the world.

Thanks for the memories. That would have been something to see.

Chooks have gone to bed...

Cherokee Organics said...


Sorry, just had a chook drama. Bronze neck, the australorp cross whom is the only chicken to survive illness went missing. The editor eventually found her and bronze neck is sulking and perhaps a bit sick because she has some mites on her feet. The australorps here are prone to mites and I'd never buy another one because of that. But bronze neck is a fighter and I feel a bit protective of her.

Did you know that the same thing happens here with very big bushfires? Ashes get everywhere. In fact they can end up in New Zealand if the fire is big enough. Yeah, cars had to do the whole panty hose thing here a few years back too when they had the locust plague north of here. Any locusts stupid enough to show up here were rapidly eaten by the local birds.

You could see the locusts jumping around in the sunlight, but the birds made short work of them.

Haha! You now know who the ring leader is. Sometimes there can be a bad egg! The Partridge Wyandotte's are good looking birds too. They look as though they are a good all round bird.

Yes, if your mother lived another 25 years, then perhaps it didn't have as much of an impact as your father stated. Freedom is precious and money is tight here too. Thanks for the history. Did you get along better with them once you were at arms length? I did.

My story is a bit more shameful, because I'd made plans to move in with friends: 5 people in a very large house that was one step below a mansion. It was a very large house. Anyway, after quite a few drunken escapades my mother said to me: "I think it's about time you moved out" and I moved out the following Saturday. I genuinely believe she was surprised, but more over I was earning $1,000 a month and she took $400 of that in board. After bills, there really wasn't much left. She later told me that she missed the board money and I had very little sympathy. Relations were distant at the best of times.

Noooo! Thanks for the reality check and of course you are correct. I have no doubt about that.

You are both an inspiration!

The movie was enjoyable but crossing the fine line between arty and crowd pleaser. It was a good story and the actors certainly gave it everything they had. I've always enjoyed Ed Norton as an actor ever since I saw him in Fight Club. Very intense. The burger was well worth the trip into the big smoke too.



orchidwallis said...

Hello again

The coastline is not too bad, it is the land slipping. It is steadily on the move down. Over the years 2 different holiday makers have told me that they spotted the remains of a Roman Villa at very low tide. Both indicated the same area. My husband and I hunted for it without success. They may have been wrong but it is odd that 2 quite different accounts were of the same place. At extreme low tide one can take a walk parallel with the shore on what some people think is a wall. It isn't, it is a natural chalk ridge. I don't tell people about the walk as though it is fascinating to look back at the shore from it, it is all too easy to be caught by the incoming tide.

I spotted some primroses in flower 3rd March. Have put it in my diary and shall continue to do same each year.


Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

Many thanks for a window into your household with your recent blog entry: The heart of the house

Yeah, how rubbish are those pedestal fan bases? Glad to hear that you fixed yours. The motors in things will go for 30 years, but bits and pieces will fall off along the way...

That is a good idea. I have an embankment I may just try that on. The more commercial vertical systems require a lot of water so I probably couldn't do that here, but the steep embankment is certainly worth thinking about.

No, tell me it isn't true. My lot have only just begun ripening and will continue into June. If you're ever in the area, please do drop in!

Man, sorry to hear about the water. All of these systems work that way, in that you start off with them and then either adapt or expand. It just takes so many years... I respect the fact that you have begun that journey.

Glad to see that it is cooling down up your way too.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Go on, I dare you! hehe! I reckon they're very tasty, but I did grow up on them so who knows what your palate will make of them?

Thanks for the tip off. I had a few minutes this morning so got to vent my spleen as they say. I genuinely wish them well, but I reckon it may be bad for the bees.

Yeah, they're really impressive as they used to use massive baskets and all sorts of setups. The bees aren't too fussy about that as long as you don't destroy the hive in the process of extracting the honey (or go too hard and take their winter stores).

How funny. I'm reading Sun Tzu's classic The Art of War again and he's many millennia dead and still has something fresh to say about people today. What do they say: the more things change, the more they stay the same. I liked JMG's description of revolutionary being that it involves going around in circles. I worked that into my story about GM zucchini when I quoted him as saying: "I like circles". It still makes me giggle, but I wonder how many people got the joke?

The same thing goes on today. Politics certainly stinks of it, which is why I don't take very much notice of it.

I don't get twitter either. Imagine if we had a conversation in 140 characters or less? How would that work? Dunno...

Complex ideas and stories, yeah I don't think so. Still a lot of people enjoy it.

PS: Thanks, I did enjoy them.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

This is almost in real time! It is Saturday night here and I spent today digging in the morning for the new wood shed and this afternoon refurbishing the overlocker machine. I tell ya what it was dirty and cobbled together with dodgy fixes, but is much healthier now.

I'll tell you a funny story about that machine. It has a large reservoir for sewing machine oil. So I was thinking to myself, that stuff is really expensive and is only a clear mineral oil. Hey, what a good idea, I'll use clear mineral oil that is used in air compressors as you can buy it in larger quantities and it is much cheaper. Except I didn't quite factor in that being clear, I couldn't tell when the oil level was correct in the sight glass... Oh well, I hope I didn't add too much oil, I just can't tell.

That would be awesome to spot the remains of an old Roman Villa on the shoreline. Well a lot of natural features can be confused for man made structures.

Yes, people can be very oblivious to the dangers of an area. Only the locals really know that sort of thing. I've often wondered if that is why we such a cultural preference for signage everywhere warning all and sundry about the inherent dangers?

Very wise. I'm starting that long process too. The primroses here have just produced seeds.

Speaking of which have you or Lewis ever heard of the: Mahogany Ship. It would not surprise me that if at one time such a wreck existed. The Dutch / Spanish / Portuguese were certainly all over the place here and the wreck of the Batvia was one such notable example.



Cathy McGuire said...

Wow! That is a huge strawberry bed!! I hope Stumpy isn't too mad at you... I'll likely have to re-do my whole strawberry bed this year - the runner grass has completely overrun it. really hard to pull grass and weeds and not pull up the runner strawberries! And the slugs get most of them anyway... I'm fortunate to have two good strawberry farms nearby, and usually buy a couple flats for my annual jamming (just the best jam!) and then pick fresh from my garden.

Once again, I haven't been here (or on ADR) for an extended time because I'm sooo close to finishing my novel! It will need rewrite, of course, but I'm really anxious to know how it works out (non-authors might think this is a weird statement, but characters do get dictatorial sometimes) I've posted Chapter 12 on and I appreciate the feedback from those of you following it.

We had a seed swap a couple weeks ago and it was really well attended. A talk by a local heritage seed farm started us off, and I was really planning only to take the photos, but I just can't resist free seeds! :-} So I have another couple of packs, as well as some iris. About half of the dozen native bare-root shrubs and trees have been planted (my half acre is getting crowded!) and I'm doing more today... but first I have to put in my couple hours of writing!

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I have not seen the film 'Lock stock and 2 smoking barrels' I see very few films. Never go to the cinema because the amplification of sound hurts my ears. Very occasionally a film comes on TV that I want to see.

I haven't heard of the mahogany ship, will have a look later.

I don't know whether or not what your mother took from you was fair. The clue is, were you better or worse off when you left home? When I went to work at 17, I earned £10 per month. My mother took £4. Hey that is the exact proportion that your mother took! My school friend started work with me; her family were wealthy. Her mother came to mine and asked how much she was deducting for my keep. Then the same was done to my friend. Unbeknowst to her, the money was saved and it was given back to her on her 21st birthday (the age of majority at that time).

You will have to say if you don't want your blog to stray around in this way, but I do enjoy it.


LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - I had the distinct feeling if I didn't cut the apron strings, I'd never get away. To quote something I read years ago, "Mom used guilt like a scalpel" and Dad and I were too much alike to get on :-). And, to answer Chris' question, things were rough for a few years but then leveled out.

I envy you your Roman ruins. I just finished the first in a series "Medicus" by Downie. About a Roman military doctor in Britain, circa 100 C.E..

Yo, Chris - I don't know about using re-cycled building material, here. I hear you can't, and then I read articles about houses built entirely out of recycled material. I suppose it varies from place to place. I've mentioned that this house was built out of wood from an old prune dryer. Nice and seasoned. And, has made for a nice, tight house.

No, no towns wiped out, here. At least, not from volcanic eruption. Of course, there's the Oso landslide we talked about. But, that wasn't a town. It was a community. A neighborhood. There was also Ozette Village, which was a native village that was buried in a landslide, out on the coast in the 1500s. It was archaeologically dug, a few years ago. A real time capsule.

If she really IS a Partridge Wyondotte. :-). She's a pretty stringy looking bird. Not plump like the rest. I look at the pictures of particular chicken breeds and there is so much variation. But, she was raised from a chick with Wyondottes and was mixed in with them.

What I have read about "Birdman" ... well, it just doesn't grab me. But, I'll probably give it a whirl when all the excitement dies down. Speaking of "Fight Club", of course, it was from the book by Chuck Palahniuk. I picked up his "Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon." the other day. Thought it might be something I could sell on Amazon ... turned out they're a dime a dozen. Read it years ago, will re-read it again and pass it onto a friend. It's kind of a travel guide. Sort of ...
"No other travel guide will give you this kind of access to "a little history, a little legend, and a lot of friendly, sincere, fascinating people who maybe should've kept their mouths shut." You know, several years ago there was a social movement "Keep Portland Weird." Bumper stickers, t-shirts and posters. If you've ever watched any of the episodes of Portlandia on YouTube, you get the idea. Short comedy sketches.

Oh, gosh. Chris and Tripp, two of my favorite people have a flame war ... over bees. I'll keep that one at arms length :-). I've just been reading about the War of the Roses, so I know how these things escalate .... :-) .

Never heard of the Mahogany Shipwreck, but I'll do you one better ... the Beeswax Shipwreck. Probably a Spanish galleon that wrecked off the Oregon Coast, way back when. A long article, but interesting.


Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Fair enough, I stopped going to see live music because it was just too loud and damaged my hearing.

The mahogany ship is very much like your Roman villa ruins. I suspect that at one time it actually was on the coastline because there were a number of credible witnesses. To be honest, someone probably cut it up for firewood or for structural timbers, or the ocean reclaimed its own. There were sealers and whalers operating in the area long before settlement. And it is not as if the Dutch and Portuguese were far away.

Your friend was very lucky. My lot disappeared into general revenue and was not to be seen again! Seriously, I don't begrudge the payments, but leaving was no hardship. For obvious reasons we were not close - as an adult she bit off more than she could chew and from hindsight I can see that. I've been guilty of such things myself, but have generally had to clean up the ensuing mess. That is life, we have very little common ground.

Incidentally, I didn't quite appreciate when I penned yesterdays comment that both of your daughters moved Down Under. It is worthwhile mentioning that my mother moved north due to the severe economic recession here in the early 1990's and never returned. Of course I was merely commenting on my own situation and not implying anything about yours. Heaven forbid!

No, I actually enjoy hearing about others stories, thus straying around is a very good way for us all to get to know each other better. Of course, we may have misunderstandings from time to time, but that is part of the colour and rich tapestry of the human existence! Not to worry.

Thanks for mentioning the 21st birthday. So long ago now! My mother gave me one of the best presents that I have received to date. It was a 100+ piece Sidchrome toolkit which I have to this day and have used so many times it is not funny. Unfortunately a flatmate who was somewhat obsessed with Austin 1800 cars cleared off one day and stole all of the imperial measurement spanners. Fortunately most things here are metric so I have not noticed the loss.

It never had previously occurred to me that a flatmate would peruse so completely through all of my stuff. It was both a very weird and an excellent insight into the darker side of the human mind. He eventually was caught by the police speeding 40km/h over the speed limit (a license losing event) and I only discovered this to my absolute horror because the reason that he upped sticks one day out of the blue was that he had assumed my identity and it was my license on the line. It was a messy legal problem to navigate, but I resolved it quickly and definitely to my satisfaction. I was pretty angry about it and I have not seen him since. I was dating his sister at the time - nuff said.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for your honest reply. Glad to hear that thing eventually leveled out. Things have a habit of doing that, although it can be tough at the time.

Yeah, I'd love to see those Roman ruins too. You know there is an Aboriginal quarry not too far from here that is cordoned off, but I'd love to be able to have a look at it. The original forest here would have told some interesting tales about human activity, but it was mostly cut down. I only know of a few trees that predate European settlement. My neighbour has one and it is massive. The Aboriginals were amazing gardeners and so much has been lost since that time.

The codes here vary from state to state, but I had to conform to strict bushfire systems which were designed by manufacturers who of course wanted to recoup the money spent on development, so they controlled the system.

There are certainly plenty of other ways to respond and I could have achieved similar standards without the cost, but wasn't allowed.

The dig at Ozette village would be very interesting to visit. If you went there, I hope you didn't disturb the spirits? That put me in mind of the village in New Zealand which was buried by the massive volcanic eruption: Wairoa village. The north island of NZ is really volcanically active. The south island on the other hand is a chunk of Gondwanaland.

No worries, I have a few chickens of uncertain parentage, so we shall say no more on the matter lest we embarass the poor girls! hehe! No one really needs their background looked into too carefully? I read recently that most people these days have something like 2% Neanderthal genes in their systems? Some people have more for sure! hehe!

I'd imagine that Chuck has some very unique insights into the city of Portland? Oh yeah, he'd be very amusing. Did you enjoy the book? I'll bet they should have kept their mouths shut - I've sometimes been guilty of verbal diahorrea and it has come back to bite me...

Not to stress, people know far less about bees than they think. Incidentally both yours and his points are valid, but he did not address them adequately. Pah, cheeky Sophistry! Reading comprehension is sadly lacking these days... Shame really...

Too funny. Another similarity between here and your part of the world. Sometimes, I'm unsure whether it was the times or the same people travelled from your part of the world to here? Certainly those claims would boost tourism?

I'll check out the link.

Today has been a superb day here and not far off the ideal weather day. I got the Triple J antenna installed and wired in to the wall socket today. All good fun. Unfortunately, tomorrow is a public holiday here, so I've had to cancel my normal Monday routine with brekky at the local cafe as the hordes will be out en masse!



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Ah, before I forget, again ... :-). I see tht there's a new 7 part series coming up ... "Banished" about the settling of Australia. Going to star Russell Tovey, one of my favorite actors.

Well, up until 1983 I pretty much always had room mates. And, there are many interesting stories attached to them. Way to many to go into here, and the stories are probably only interesting to me. (James Brown, a scrawny little ginger, standing on a dresser wearing only his shorts in the middle of the night. Beating on the wall with a clothes hanger screaming "Damned squirrels are dancing in the walls!" )

But, luckily, I'd never had a thief. My good friend, my go to guy for advice on all things mechanical, who I take eggs to, every other week, was not so lucky. He rents a room out. The last renter he had stole a large set of Alaskan antique walrus ivory handled utensils. Carved. Worth thousands. Well, he did manage to get most of them back, and, the young man is going to prison for a few years.

I think, every once in awhile, about getting a room mate for the financial advantage. I have the space. But, no, I don't think so. Not so long ago, before he died, my Dad floated the idea of moving up here, getting a trailer and living together. I told him he hadn't lived with anyone in 15 years and I hadn't lived with anyone since 1983 and I just didn't think it would work out. I have had to step lively over the years to avoid entanglements of all kinds.

Not much of what we call "old growth" here. It's all been logged off at least once. The odd protected hold out, here and there.

Oh, yes. I enjoyed Chuck's book. And, will re-read it before passing it along. I mean, Portland was my home town, and it was full of stuff I never heard about. Who knew you could kayak through the sewers, all the way from the West Hills to the Willamette River? :-).

I also lay low on the holidays. The worst of it is Thanksgiving to New Years. The simplest tasks take twice as long as everyone else is nuts. Then there's all the local stuff you have to keep an eye on. We have the STP. Seattle to Portland. A two day bicycle extravaganza, over a week-end. Centralia is the halfway point, so the thousands of riders spend Saturday night in Centralia. After a half an hour commute took me 3 1/2 hours, I started marking that week-end on the calendar and either blocked those days out (when I was on call) or took a vacation day, when I had a regular job. I still mark it on the calendar and don't stir off the place. The route meanders through our county. Lew