Monday, 30 March 2015

Watching the detectives

The mp3 audio file for this blog is available on the Souncloud. Regular listeners will be happy to note that I have purchased a new high quality microphone so the audio quality is a whole lot better. Enjoy. Oh yeah, here's the link: Soundcloud watching the detectives


Scritchy, the miniature fox terrier, who is the boss dog here, has both some good and bad qualities. One of the good qualities is that she can obsessively hunt rodents. Whereas it would take me days of observation to work out where rats were living, she can just have a sniff around the place and tell me: Here they are human boss! Scritchy is in fact, a rat detective. And so this week she has found where the rats are living near the house and informed me of her find. The rats are living in a storm water drain next to the house.

Scritchy lets me know that the rats are living in a storm water drain next to the house
The dogs here are well fed and don’t seem to enjoy the taste of rat, as this week they have presented me with one dead rat carcass – which was promptly put into the worm farm compost system. Top work guys! Along with the kitchen scraps, grey and black water, that rat carcass will go towards enriching the soil and feeding the wildlife. A nice end (for now, anyway) to that tale (tail!!) and hopefully, the rats will think twice before eating my car again.

Construction of the new wood shed commenced and there are now 4 steel posts cemented into the ground with a further 5 steel posts yet to be installed. The photo below puts the steel posts for the new wood shed into context with the other sheds. The trees behind the new wood shed are quite large, but really, they’re still babies especially when compared to some of the other trees on the farm. The big tree closest to the new wood shed will be up lit at night, so it should look quite interesting when completed – hopefully by the end of April. I am yet to track down a supplier of the second hand galvanised corrugated iron which I’m hoping to use on the new wood shed, so any local suggestions would be appreciated.

Construction on the new wood shed has commenced
Excavations continued on that new wood shed site too. Excavating, levelling that site and moving the soil by hand is physically quite a hard job, so I’ve been doing a half a day’s work on those activities in the cool of the mornings and then other activities in the sunny and warm afternoons. At a guess, I reckon that there are probably about 3 more days of digging soil before I’m able to have all of the steel posts cemented into the ground for the new wood shed. Three days is really just a guess, because it all depends on whether I find any rocks or old tree stumps hidden in the ground as they can both take quite a while to remove.

Excavations and levelling for the new wood shed continued
Very observant readers will note that the steel posts for the new wood shed are on an entirely different angle to the house and the existing sheds – and they’d be correct! The new wood shed is actually parallel to the rock wall.

In the photo above, you can see that with the excavations I have tried to build an almost flat and level site. The reason for such neatness, is not because I appreciate neatness, although that is a worthy goal, but because firewood weighs quite a lot and if that mass becomes unbalanced, the whole lot can place quite a strain on the structure of any shed and possibly even push a shed over. I have seen many firewood sheds around this area that are on some very unusual angles – which I suspect is due to the sheer weight of all the firewood inside of those sheds!

Earlier in the week the weather was quite cool and moist outside, so I abandoned the new wood shed project and instead had a monster cook up. How good are cook ups? The apple cider vinegar that had been bubbling away in a bucket in the laundry for months was finally poured (the technical term for those so inclined is called: racking out) into wine bottles. Word up too, to my good Kiwi friends who have kept me supplied with used wine bottles over many years and without which I could not indulge in all of this wine and cider making activity. Respect!

The frozen blackberries were also taken out of the freezer (there was seriously no more space in there!) and turned into blackberry jam:

Apple cider vinegar is racked out and the frozen blackberries prepare for a jam
The cooler weather meant that the repaired wood stove was fired up and seriously, there is no point wasting any of that heat. The fire box heats both the house and the hot water supply, but it also has an oven so I set about using that heat to slow cook some poached quinces. The poached quince recipe not only produces very yummy candied poached quinces for my breakfast, but at the same time it yields a couple of jars of quince jam – which is seriously good stuff on freshly baked bread. If I was down with the kids, I’d say: It’s the bomb – whatever that means!

The repaired wood stove is used to cook some poached quinces and keep the demijohns bubbling away
The heat from the firebox is also used to keep the 8 x 5 litre (1.32 gallons) demijohns happily bubbling away producing: ginger wine; mead; and lemon wine. They are all very easy mixes to make and reasonably consistent. Those demijohns next to the fire box will be racked out (which as you now know means poured into wine bottles) over the next few weeks and then new batches will be started in those same demijohns. Those wine bottles will then sit and age for more than 10 months before being consumed.

Whilst all of that was going on, the blackberry jam slowly boiled away on the stove top and over a few hours, those blackberries all turned into jam. I’ve now completely run out of jam jars, but other than quince, I won’t be making more jam until about Christmas.

Blackberries are slowly turned into jam. The poached quinces are in the background slowly cooling down
In the photo above you can also see the poached quinces sitting in quince jam. That quince jam has to be drained from the mix before the whole lot cools down otherwise the poached quinces will set into the jam which incidentally would taste nice, but it is possibly not the outcome that I was looking for!

With the weather turning cooler – and the new wood shed not yet complete – I’ve filled up the remaining firewood bay with firewood that has seasoned for 24 months and that should be plenty of firewood to keep me going right through autumn into early winter. July and August are the cold months here and that is when firewood is really needed.

Scritchy approves of the full firewood bay for her winter heating requirements
How did I get here?

Over the past 10 months I have regularly fielded a few of the same questions from people who are curious about my life. So, below are a few questions which are regularly posted in the comments and some answers:

Qu: Do you ever sleep?
- Thanks for your concern. I actually sleep quite well most nights, but usually I require a lot of sleep and have been told that I am grumpy in the mornings. I honestly do not know what this means though!

Qu: How do you achieve so much every week?
- Well, I've sort of operated at this pace for over two decades now and probably don't know any better. It is worthwhile noting that I had to move out of home once I completed high school and that meant working full time in order to support myself. In addition to that I studied an undergraduate and postgraduate degree part time over many, many years. It did take a while. In addition to that I kept up friendships, dated many young ladies before eventually marrying my lovely editor. Over the years that has meant juggling many different activities all at once. Occasionally, I have had 10 different activities on the go at once and 8 of them actually worked out - we won't speak of the 2 that didn't though! Needless to say that I employ lists so that I can forget about all the different activities going on and focus on the task at hand. Nowadays, I only have a couple of activities on the go at the same time, so the pace of activities feels (usually) pretty relaxed to me nowadays.

Qu: How did you learn how to build?
- As a young lad, I attended a very strange high school that employed some unusual hippy dippy ideas but did actually teach metalwork and woodwork classes. Something must have stuck in my brain because when I became an adult I tended to purchase complete dumps of houses and then fix them up. I moved into this house here when there were no lights and the walls were not even completely sealed to the outside environment. To be truly honest it was a bit cold. I learned how buildings where constructed by trial and error, reading books, working out what the old timers used to do and also nosing around building sites after hours seeing what current builders do. Many times I've had to face building industry professionals going over my work and it was like sitting an exam where you have no idea what the content will be and usually they were very positive about my work. One building surveyor went so far as to ask why there were no cracks in the plaster work (drywall) after a few years of habitation.

Qu: What do you do for money?
- I am an accountant. I work for many different small businesses providing taxation, bookkeeping and business advice services. I haven't always worked for small business and for many years I worked in big business, eventually as a financial controller. However, I love working for small business and very few accountants anywhere provide a similar service.

Qu: How often do you work?
-  I generally work between two and three days per week as an accountant. I then try to have one day off per week whilst the rest of the time I work on the farm here. It is quite a good balance between all of the different activities.

The temperature outside here at about 8.30pm is 12.1 degrees Celsius (53.8’F). So far this year there has been 162.6mm (6.4 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 144.8mm (5.7 inches).

35 comments:

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Good grief! Now that I know about the accountancy, I am even more amazed at the amount of work that you get through. I think that only your spirit sleeps while your body keeps on working.

When I worked in public libraries it was illegal to sell the books on when the library wanted to dispose of them. They always went to be pulped. One day a book was to go which I particularly wanted. I asked the librarian if I could have it. 'No' was the answer. Later on someone retrieved it for me. The librarian had stripped the spine off. What he didn't know was that I wanted it for the illustrations which were by Salvador Dali.

I completely agree with your rant on ADR.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; I bet the woodshed is going to be quit nice. I thought it a little distant from the house, but I suppose you can always team up the dogs. Or, buy a yoke of oxen. Kangaroos? Hope you find you're steel. I'm sure you will. I haven't heard anything about peak steel, yet.

All that stuff cooking, jamming and fermenting away. I have to remind myself that this is your harvest time.
Your autumn.

Where would we be without lists? When I pick up stuff from the library, there's always a 3"x6" hold slip with my name printed at one end. I always have to remind the library ladies to leave them in. First they serve as bookmarks, and then as lists. Periodically, I've got to shovel out the blizzard of the things that seem to collect around the computer.

Lighting up the trees. It never ceases to amaze me that you may be off the grid, but your place has such beauty and ambiance.

Sigh. You spilled the beans. And here I thought you were an International Man of Mystery, forever jetting of on Her Majesty's Secret Service. Clandestine meetings in foreign ports and popping off the occasional bad guy. :-). Having had a few small businesses, accountants were the folks that helped me sleep at night.

Whoa! Whoa! After just about writing off the asparagus bed as a bad deal, the first spear appeared, yesterday. Of course, I won't touch them, this year. I feel like a new father :-). Whatever they feel like. I noted the date on the calendar so I won't get so antsy, next year. Lew

thecrowandsheep said...

Hi Chris,

I see snitchy the dog ratted out some unwelcome neighbours. He probably said, "Ro-dent you get rid of 'em?" To which you likely replied: "Do these steel posts look accurat?"

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy,

Many thanks for the advice. It could sort of be summed up as: If at first you don't succeed, then practice some more! Thanks for the pep talk.

Exactly, sheer enjoyment is an excellent motivation. Thanks again.

Well that all makes sense, and I wouldn't let them go to waste either. ;-)!

I wish you well in your travels back east.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Oh yeah, those northerlies would be cold as up your way and over winter with the deciduous trees... Brrr! Nice to hear that the warm southerlies pass over the top of your place, although I can't imagine that they are that hot given they're blowing directly off the coast? What sort of temperature extremes do you get?

The hot winds blow here from the centre of the continent and they're usually a scorcher and can occasionally get as hot as 45'C (114'F). Those days are a true knock out - but usually they are no more than once per year. Other than that it is usually pretty pleasant.

Thanks for that response. An island climate can be almost ideal from all sorts of perspectives. Are you very far above sea level? The weather here are very variable which can be tough on the plants. The farm is in the midst of an Indian summer this week for example and Easter looks like it is shaping up to dump some rain on the farm.

Lucky you having fresh strawberries! Yum! The wild and native alpine strawberries are a bit bland here, but occasionally one fruit will show true promise so it is probably a matter of selection. There is also a native raspberry which I should purchase one day...

So much to do...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

That sounds like an excellent read and it is truly amazing how much information is contained in those books. Don't you love all of the disclaimers in them though?

There's really no side notes here, as it's all side notes from my perspective! hehe! I collect herb books too and this is really weird but I have a herb book too called: Natures medicines - but it is from Readers Digest. Strangely enough for a recent release on that topic, it is actually very good and covers about 170 plants. I received it in payment for an article.

Climate is very difficult to control. It would have been interesting if someone had bothered to document the local plant lore from the original inhabitants in your area. So much hard won knowledge has simply disappeared. The same thing happened here. White truffles and all sorts of mushrooms and toadstools growing here and I have no idea whether they are toxic or not and it seems a bit of a shame really.

Hmmm, did you just retract a book recommendation? hehe! Too funny, I'll take that one under advisement. Seriously, the characters in the book sounded very neurotic (almost Seinfeldian or even a bit Woody Allenish) which may not appeal to me, so no stress.

Well done and you know what, I would have done exactly the same. What a waste. As bad as book burning.

Thank you, I'll take that recommendation and keep an eye out for it locally. Stephen King tells a ripping good yarn, so he is the man.

Ah well, my tastes may not be the flavour of the month in the art world but perhaps dissensus is unknown in that particular sphere? Norman Rockwell seems to have a knack for painting quite candid paintings which tell a story when viewed. Oh yeah, he's good and also very inspired. Thanks for that one. Wow.

Halloween isn't celebrated here, although I've had the occasional trick or treat over the years.

Thanks for the explanation. The job market can be quite hard here too. My New Zealand friends for example, moved here to get work. I've never lived outside of the state that I currently reside in - Victoria. My heart really is in the island of Tasmania way down at the bottom of the continent. It would be a nightmare to try and support myself there though.

Very glad to hear that you enjoyed that! They hold that competition every year and there are some really wacko and entertaining book titles. Too funny. What were those authors thinking? Still, as I read many years ago, any promotion may be considered good promotion. I don't personally subscribe to that philosophy, but then I'm not trying to sell books either...

Were your ladies broody or laying?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

That sounds like an excellent read and it is truly amazing how much information is contained in those books. Don't you love all of the disclaimers in them though?

There's really no side notes here, as it's all side notes from my perspective! hehe! I collect herb books too and this is really weird but I have a herb book too called: Natures medicines - but it is from Readers Digest. Strangely enough for a recent release on that topic, it is actually very good and covers about 170 plants. I received it in payment for an article.

Climate is very difficult to control. It would have been interesting if someone had bothered to document the local plant lore from the original inhabitants in your area. So much hard won knowledge has simply disappeared. The same thing happened here. White truffles and all sorts of mushrooms and toadstools growing here and I have no idea whether they are toxic or not and it seems a bit of a shame really.

Hmmm, did you just retract a book recommendation? hehe! Too funny, I'll take that one under advisement. Seriously, the characters in the book sounded very neurotic (almost Seinfeldian or even a bit Woody Allenish) which may not appeal to me, so no stress.

Well done and you know what, I would have done exactly the same. What a waste. As bad as book burning.

Thank you, I'll take that recommendation and keep an eye out for it locally. Stephen King tells a ripping good yarn, so he is the man.

Ah well, my tastes may not be the flavour of the month in the art world but perhaps dissensus is unknown in that particular sphere? Norman Rockwell seems to have a knack for painting quite candid paintings which tell a story when viewed. Oh yeah, he's good and also very inspired. Thanks for that one. Wow.

Halloween isn't celebrated here, although I've had the occasional trick or treat over the years.

Thanks for the explanation. The job market can be quite hard here too. My New Zealand friends for example, moved here to get work. I've never lived outside of the state that I currently reside in - Victoria. My heart really is in the island of Tasmania way down at the bottom of the continent. It would be a nightmare to try and support myself there though.

Very glad to hear that you enjoyed that! They hold that competition every year and there are some really wacko and entertaining book titles. Too funny. What were those authors thinking? Still, as I read many years ago, any promotion may be considered good promotion. I don't personally subscribe to that philosophy, but then I'm not trying to sell books either...

Were your ladies broody or laying?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Too funny. The cat is really out of the bag now. Many thanks and it would be very nice if that actually was the situation.

Wow! That is quite rough. The libraries here have clearing sales and invite the public to come in and purchase all of the books and magazines that they wish to dispose of and they get a little bit of cash at the same time.

I trust that you don't think less of me, but I would have rescued more than a few of those books? A very wise move on your part.

Thanks very much, over at the ADR there are a few people that believe that nature owes them a living. I'm in awe of nature as it can be very harsh and impolite in its dealings with us.

PS: I almost ran out of water a few years back and was on absolute tenterhooks for months on end. The head of the city catchment authority during that time said something like: Pray for rain - and I'm still unsure whether the guy was joking or not?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

An excellent observation. Being full of dry firewood the shed is sort of like having a very combustible refinery (or storage tank) and you want it as far from the house as feasibly possible - whilst still being close. It is still level with the house so moving firewood back and forth with the wheelbarrow during the depths of winter shouldn't be too much of a problem.

I speak with a guy to the west of here who lost all of his firewood when a bushfire ripped through his property a few years back. It was an instructive lesson.

It is that upside down thing again! Yeah, harvest is in full swing here and there is not much left out there: mainly olives, medlars, citrus and chilean guavas - plus a huge variety of vegetables and herbs. Some of the grapefruit (strange name for something that doesn't taste like grapes) are just about ripe.

Well lists are good aren't they? Glad to hear of the mountain of lists at your place. I use them here too so that I can let go of an idea and know that I can come back to it later. Otherwise my head fills up with too much rubbish and truly there is only so much that can be held in there before I pop - and no one wants that - least of all me. As a dodgy film reference: Think: "Scanners" - it didn't end up too well for some of them!

Thank you. It is a bit of a balancing act between making the infrastructure functional but also making it nice to look at. The up lights on the big tree will use some wasted solar power and I'll post a photo when they're finally installed. They'll be on a timer. Hopefully it doesn't attract too much interest from the flat landers way down below. ;-)! Someone up on the mountain up-lit a tree and I looked up one clear night and sprained my eyes. You would be amazed...

Yeah, the bad guys still get popped off, they're just sort of furry - and really smart - with sharp teeth and pointy snouts. Does the local cafe here count as an exotic foreign port? Dunno, but when the tourists descend on the place it does seem that way to me? hehe! Thanks for that.

I'm always visiting the small businesses I'm involved with as I provide a very old fashioned hands on and personalised service. Thanks, glad to hear that they were of help to you. A very wealthy guy and very well connected guy that I worked for once told me the exact same thing.

I saw a film a few years back called This is 40. Apparently it was meant to be a comedy? Who'd have guessed it because I did not laugh once. Anyway, they had a scene with one of the main characters visiting her accountant who said: "We're here to help you". She replied something like: "What can I do?" and then they replied: "I'm sorry but we can't help you". I'm sure it was meant to be funny, but I just didn't appreciate any of that film.

Well done you. Now you have to resist the temptation to pick the spears. No asparagus for you, TWO YEARS! Speaking of Seinfeld... ;-)!

A garden calender can be a help, I constantly forget what is going on from year to year and that is probably not a good way to go.

I hope you are getting some warmer and drier weather up your way?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi crowandsheep,

Oh, that is good. I had to read it a few times to get all of the jokes. Very nicely done and quite subtle in parts. Top work.

I trust things are going well up your way?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Renovation in Galicia,

Welcome to the discussion and many thanks for the excellent photo.

That is definitely a system that I will try here.

I trust that your spring is warming up and starting to become productive?

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I forgot to say that I think that your jam saucepan looks dangerously full.

I think that 'pray for rain' is something that people say without thought, neither as a joke or as a serious suggestion to pray.

It is legal to sell library books now, don't know when that law was changed. I certainly agree about saving as many as possible, but life was stricter then and the chap who saved the book for me, was taking quite a risk.

I estimate that I am about 50ft above sea level. Temperature range, hmm. I don't have an outdoor thermometer so this is using official temperatures which no longer allow for wind chill and my guess work. 30C would be rare, I think that 32C is the highest that I have known here. Snow is rare here but in the early 60s one year we had so much snow that it was 3 months before we could drive on our road, over a week before we could walk out across the fields. I would guess that -7C would be unusually cold. To all these temperatures one has to add are extreme humidity.

I agree about respecting nature. I both hold it in awe and really love it. Visiting Uluru and watching those annoying people climbing it, I wondered why it didn't just shrug its shoulders and get those ants off.

Are your native raspberries the same as our wild ones? We don't get them here, they grow further north. I ate them once in my life and thought them some of the best fruit that I had ever tasted.

You mentioned fungi to Lewis. I asked my elder daughter (the one with the web site) about Australian fungi. She said that when she is being educated by aboriginal elders, they have never mentioned fungi. Next time she is in the Northern territory, working with them, she is going to ask. I have since seen, on the internet, they are regarded as from the devil by some tribes. That suggests that they have been poisoned on occasion and have shied away from them.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; I'll have to keep an eye out for the Reader's Digest book. Usually, Reader's Digest and National Geographic books are pretty cheap. And, a lot of them around. National Geographic also has an older book called "Nature's Healing Arts: From Folk Medicine to Modern Drugs." Doesn't have a plant section, but lots of great background material, and, per usual for National Geographic, wonderful photos.

The NG "Nature's Medicine" has a great plant section. Also, lots of discussion about how most explorers tended to ignore local native wisdom. Also, a lot about how modern medicine tries to identify one component of a plant based drug and ignores the complexity of the plants, themselves. And, of course it's all about economics.

There was an interesting news report on the Net, yesterday. The URL was way to long to cut and paste, but if you Google "AncientBiotics - A Medieval Remedy for Modern Day Superbugs?" It will pop up. There's an article and a 7 minute video.

Seems the good people at Nottingham University have been testing a recipe out of the 10th century "Bald's Leechbook." It involves garlic, onions, bull gall and who knows what else. It seems to have a real impact on the superbug MRSA.

I think "Propagation of Pacific Northwest Native Plants" (on my very long list of books to buy) makes slight mention of First Peoples uses of native plants. I'm sure there's books and monographs floating around. The trick is to dig them out. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. - Of course, Norman Rockwell is considered "just an illustrator" by the snotty art crowd. But, that's changing, due to the astronomical money his paintings have been bringing at auction :-). Sure, he could be sloppy and sentimental, but also screamingly funny, at times. Maybe he was over the top, as far as his portrayal of America, goes. But, it was an America we all kind of aspired to. Also, from about World War II on, he occasionally had a real social conscience. Some of his stuff from the racial desegregation period in the 60s have real impact.

Tasha Tudor was another artist (children's books) who was really interesting. I saw a video about her life and how she lived. When she was being interviewed, she rejected the label of artist and embraced "illustrator." She also claimed that out of the thousands of drawings and paintings she did, she was happy with maybe two or three. Such a humble person.

What's really interesting about her is that she lived a 1830 life style. Talk about "off the grid." :-). I won't forget the footage of her wandering around her garden and farm, goats and Corgis on her very gnarled and cold looking bare feet.

As far as book titles go, perhaps some of the authors have a touch of Asperger's and can't see the humor in their titles? Or, they take their works so seriously that they can't see any humor at all?

I don't think my hens are broody. 11 hens, 45 eggs last week, 50 the week before. Walkabout hen seems to be able to hold an idea in her head, about a week. Day before yesterday, she was out again. So, I just ignored her as I fed her mates their afternoon treat. One demented hen having a nervous breakdown outside the coop. She was safely in at dusk and didn't go walkabout yesterday.

I think I mentioned that in "Fire Monks", two days after the wildfire swept through, the woodshed went up as underground roots continued to smolder.

Well, from my point of view, you're local cafe IS an exotic foreign port :-).

I usually have to dig through a small pile of calendars. I keep threatening to throw a great swath of butcher wrap up on the wall and lay it all out so I can take it in at a glance.

Weather here is warm and, on and off wet. Actually did a fair bit of mowing, yesterday. First of the year. Doesn't look like it's going to happen today, so I'll do stuff that can be done between rain showers. Probably hacking at the blackberries :-). Lew

Chris said...

Hey Chris,
Your quince bubbling away in the wood stove has inspired me to buy a quince! I've read about them a few times in the nursery catalogs but never tried one. I know they're good for making preserves :) Are they fairly care free? I like to follow Fukuoka's method of not pruning/spraying if I can.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Well done. There is a good reason why I stick to what is actually happening here rather than trying to "talk it up" as they say nowadays (ripping yarns or tall tales would be equivalent sayings).

Yes, the pot was dangerously full and I didn't mention that to stop the whole mess bubbling over I had to remove some of the liquid until the bulk of the product had reduced a bit. I really aim for conserves here rather than the more traditional jams. I find conserves tend to keep more of the bulk of the fruit at the expense of it being slightly runnier. A top observation!

Perhaps so. The guy that made the comment was lambasted in the media for saying it. I consider that there is no possibility of control in that situation, but people seem to demand some sort of response which allows them to continue using water thoughtlessly. I can see that the pot was stirred up over at the ADR and if I get time, I'll respond, not that it will do any good.

It was a very nice thing to do taking that risk and saving the book for you. Some people are quite thoughtful and they are always nice to know. Glad to hear that the books can be sold nowadays too. Destruction just seems a bit silly really. I'm sure the authors would be appalled?

Thanks for that, it helps build up a mental picture. Those extreme temperatures are generally considered to be pleasant summer days here. Yes, the wind really makes a difference in the cold. Wow, the snow would have been something to see. I hope that you had enough provisions though? That much snow must sort of have a thermal inertia effect and so it takes a whole lot longer to melt? Dunno. Humidity can be a huge difference. 30'C and high humidity is very hot indeed, whereas 30'C and low humidity is really quite nice. I'm guessing your place would be more humid than dry?

Nice! Yes, climbing Uluru is a bit of a no no and offensive to the indigenous people as it is a sacred site. I must confess though I did climb it as a youth, but last time I just walked around it (I think it was 9km in circumference). It is quite a shock at just how big the rock is and after a rain fall, water runs off the rock for hours. Very few people walk around it and it was a very quiet and lovely place.

No, my understanding is that raspberries are also native to this continent and there are some varieties up and down the east coast. I believe they are even of the Rubus family: Atherton Raspberry. The local one isn't quite as healthy looking as that species.

Your daughter is very lucky indeed. Yes, that is probably very wise and many people end up being poisoned - often fatally - every year so I can't really argue saying they're not the embodiment of bad spirits. My local fungi book is not very forthcoming on matters such as edibility and there isn't a lot of difference between safe and toxic fungi.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

The Readers Digest book is quite good, but the best in my collection here is worth keeping an eye out for too: The encyclopaedia of herbs and herbalism - edited by Malcolm Stuart. The publisher was Orbis and the copy I have is a 1986 reprint. It is awesome.

hehe! Well arrogance and ignoring the local custom led to the death of a few explorers here: Burke and Wills comes to mind... Honestly...

Yeah economics really does rule the roost when it comes to that sort of research. It is a bit hard to spend millions researching a plant for a new chemical when you can go and buy it at the local nursery for $3 and it'll self-replicate too. hehe!

Plenty of herbs have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties - whether they're effective or not in a specific use is another matter so such findings are unsurprising. Something must kill MRSA in the environment or it would be everywhere.

Wow a propagation book relevant to your part of the world. That would be something to get hold of. Most of the books I have on the subject are sort of general discussions on the different methods of plant reproduction. I got a huge batch of Acacia Melanoxylon seeds started this week in the tree nursery bed, so there should be some photos in the next blog. They grow fast indeed here and are sourced from local stock!

Aren't they full of opinions? hehe! He was an excellent artist - good stuff thanks for the mention.

How good are the photos from Tasha Tudor's home. Oh my, a new standard has been set for beautiful gardens. Very bohemian and an excellent artist as well, although I'm not convinced about the no shoe thing with all of that snow. Dunno. I used to own a corgi years ago - she was 3 boss dogs back, she was actually a dorgi but the lost dogs home doesn't tend to label dogs too accurately. Anyway, it is not considered polite to look too closely at a persons parentage if it is a bit uncertain. ;-)!

ha-ha! Yeah, maybe. What do they say, can't see the forest for the trees?

Mate, your chickens are doing a solid job. Walkabout hen would be eagle, owl, dog or fox food here. She really wouldn't last long. Still at least she is learning to come back to the roost - slowly. Have you considered the Escape from New York option for your Houdini?

That is excellent advice. Thanks. I'm removing all organic matter in the ground as I go and just leaving a clay base. I'll add some local limestone based toppings before putting the wood down. A lot of thought goes into that stuff. A local bloke that I know had a tree root smouldering for over two months and lightning strikes can start trees burning underground...

That is how goes! hehe! At least you can find it in there somewhere.

Nice to see that you are getting some warmer weather and rain - the place will turn into a jungle with those sorts of conditions!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Chris,

Welcome to the blog discussion.

Yeah, quince trees are really good. Very heat and drought hardy - although they will require a bit of water from time to time when they're getting established. I grow the Smyrna and Champion varieties. Give it a go - they're for cooking purposes only although I have seen a person eat one fresh but I'd advise against it.

Yes, they are very care free trees. I try not to prune or spray much here either and that includes nectarines and peaches that get curly leaf which is a fungal disease - those two types of trees get over the fungus if you feed the trees really well with lots of manure in about late winter - or any time really. If you keep spraying them, then you have to keep spraying them in the future…

If you're in Down Under then check out: Woodbridge Fruit Trees. They have (or did have at one time) the national quince collection. About a decade ago, I spent an afternoon chatting to Bob Magnus who runs (I think his kids do nowadays) the place and had an awesome time. It was him that got me onto making my own cider. A top bloke.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, I just have to remember to figure out the right term to do a search :-). What I mean is, I was reading along in "Nature's Medicine" and came across "ethnobotany." So, I checked out our libraries subject catalog and it turns out they have 4 or 5 books on our Natives take on local plants. Put one on hold that happened to be in my local branch and will probably pick it up today.

The local native plant propagation book was pretty interesting as it recommends which method of propagation works best. Air layer, seed or division. I was surprised that the native roses (5 or so varieties) run the spectrum.

The business over at ADR about California water ... well, one thing caught my eye. 95% of garlic comes from California. I've been complaining to my local Vegi store that for the last few months, the garlic has been ... subpar. What looks like a nice plump clove turns out to be 3 or 4 segments. A real hassle to peel. Wonder if that's because they're not getting enough water? Oh, well. Looks like I'll have plenty of my own garlic, this year.

That rats down the storm drain got me thinking. I saw an ad for gopher bombs, yesterday. It said they would take care of gophers, moles AND rats. The storm drain might be a prime candidate.

For the longest time you couldn't sell library books because, the reasoning went, they were bought with taxpayers money and to sell them wouldn't benefit the taxpayer. Cooler heads have prevailed and now the thinking is that it does benefit the taxpayer as the money is plowed back into kids programs, replacement furniture and newer books. Most of our branch libraries have a "Friends of the Library" group that either runs a perpetual sale (space allowing) ... of "weeded" books and donations. Some branches cull the donations to see if there's anything that can be added to the collection.

Well. Yesterday was a bit of wild weather. A bit of thunder and one hailstorm that left a sprinkling of hail. Gone in less than an hour. Scattered rain showers all day. But, in between I managed to pull together a load of blackberries to take to the dump, today. I had a thought about the blackberry canes. I wonder if I could put down the really dead (so they won't sprout) canes to create paths? The minor paths. The major paths I'm slowly rocking in.

Yes, it's becoming quit a jungle here. I really let the lawn go too long. Mowing Beau's yard is going to be ... hard. But, the blackberries are not so far along that I can't see the base of the canes to get a nice low cut.

I looked into "broody hens." The thing is, it seems it's my brown hens and I really can't tell them apart. Seems the advice is, just keep taking the eggs till they throw it in. Any thoughts?

Another thought I had about accountants. They sometimes tactfully tell you when it's time to throw in the towel and stop beating your head against a wall. Sometimes it IS hard to see the forest for the trees. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for that tip. I'll keep an eye out for it here as I wasn't aware of that term at all. It will be interesting to see whether the book is good or not?

Yeah, some plants are just feral - I've got a few of them here. I like those ones as they make gardening easy.

Well, most of ours comes from Mexico and China I last noted when I went to the market. Locally not much is grown at all. I had about 35 varieties of garlic growing last year and most of them have popped back up again, but the bulbs are small for some reason. Glad to hear that you've got your own garlic. It is good stuff. Onions grow in crazy amounts down here too! So hardy.

You'd think with all of the carryon over at the ADR I really must have hit a sore point. Ouch! I should keep my trap shut...

Lewis, that is very Bill Murray in Caddyshack of you. Gopher bombs - seriously? I was always thought that was a joke?

Thank goodness cooler head prevail. It is such a waste to destroy perfectly good books.

Oh no! It's a jungle out there. I hope you haven't lost Beau in there - what was that distant barking noise? September and October is the growth time here for grass too and I've decided to cut it back to ground level by mid October. I've always left it too late in previous too so I hear you. It is hard work. It is a compromise too with mowing all of the bulbs flat, but usually the flowers are finished by that time? Maybe?

Wow, I didn't think that you got much in the way of thunder up your way? Hail is not good. In warmer areas than here they can be the size of cricket balls and they destroy cars and roofs. Oh yeah - and solar panels. Up here, I've only ever seen really small sized hail - must be cooler or something? Dunno.

Yeah, 21 days I'm told. I speak with a guy up in northern NSW who uses broody hens as a freebie incubator for purchased fertile eggs. Sigh. Something else to look into...

Delivering bad news is a speciality. That's one of the reasons I head out and do bookkeeping at businesses because I can let business owners know of problems before they go on for too long. I don't know any other accountants who want to do that work as they reckon its a bit beneath them and not very profitable. Still, only a few decades ago, thats what accountants did and probably will again in the future.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Wood anemones have started flowering. Eventually they will turn the entire woodland floor white. At the moment, yellow primroses are the dominant colour.

Cock pheasants are strutting around and I must remember not to wear the colour red. They are programmed to attack red. A fight between 2 of them is ferocious.

MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus): we have created it. Staph. au. has always been around but it has endlessly mutated as we use ever more antibiotics against it. Finally we run out of new antibiotics as the pharmaceutical companies find it too expensive to create drugs that cure people.

Inge

thecrowandsheep said...

Many thanks for your kind words Chris. Of course, feel free to delete any of my pun-ditry, I won't be offended. In fact, it will most likely be deserved.

Over here we are waiting for spring according to the Vonnegutian calender, at least at these lattitudes:

Jan-Feb: Winter
Mar-Apr: Unlocking
May-Jun: Spring
Jul-Aug: Summer
Sep-Oct: Fall/Autumn
Nov-Dec: Locking

Everything is slowly unlocking at the moment. On the other hand, your part of the world gets all six seasons on one day unless I am mistaken?

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - I saw a cock pheasant along the road the other day. I also heard a very weird noise at night, not long ago. Kind of like a owl, but not quit. My neighbor tells me those are grouse, which I've never seen. I hear (introduced) turkeys are moving over our way. I've seen one, who I think was blown in during a storm.

Yo, Chris - I picked up the book from the library, yesterday. "Respecting the Knowledge: Ethnobotany of Western Washington." 1996. A paper book of about 72 pages. Printed by The Washington State Capital Museum. "A Division of the Washington State Historical Society." Pretty good line drawings and some so-so black and white photos. Each species is clearly divided into a plant use section and a physical description and habitat section.

I was quit interested to learn that this is a guide book to the Delbert McBride Ethnobotanical Garden, which is, apparently at our State Capital Museum. Who knew? I may have to check that out.

Well, with your collection of books and practical knowledge you'll soon be known as The Old Herb (pronounced yarb) and Root Man of the Macedonian Mountains." :-). Perhaps in a small way I can become The Old Herb and Root Man of Wuthering Heights."

Our hail is about the size of rock salt. I have seen bigger. We're lucky. Very rare to cause damage here.

I stop into a local club and talk to my friend Scott and take him some eggs when I make my weekly trip to town. There is an elderly woman (another Chicken Goddess) and I was asking her about broody hens. Keep taking eggs and leave them alone, seems to be the best advice. But, she also said that at times when she didn't have a rooster, and wanted more chickens, she either picked up some chicks and slipped them underneath, or, bought some fertile eggs at the local poultry auction. Lew

PS: I seem to be back in the good graces of the captcha. It hasn't had me figure out the squiggles, in awhile. But yesterday when I clicked on "I'm not a robot", I got a delightful little dancing robot animation. Maybe a little April Fool gift from the blogger :-).

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris and all,

Here near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, I have been digging beds for annual vegetables. I'm learning how to use cover crops to hold the soil and minerals in this part of the garden over the winter. Last year I sowed winter rye in fall. It worked very nicely and had greened up and started growing around mid March. Only thing is, to dig the beds by hand with a shovel as I do, I needed to do so very soon, or the rye would rapidly get too large and tough to cut through. Luckily I got all eight beds with the rye turned under, with the help of a gardening friend who is moving and sold his land. I've planted peas and will soon be planting lettuce, some herbs, and cabbage and broccoli.

I don't manage most of the yard this way. All the fruit and nut trees, and the shrubs and herbaceous plants around them, are planted and managed in a way you would recognize. I haven't taken a permaculture design course but learned as best as I could from books and from practice. The vegetable beds are in a clearing between the sets of trees - a model of the woodland or savanna that seems to be the ecological community of this area.

I'd gotten as far as your rant in last week's ADR but realized it was time to stop reading and start doing other things so I missed it and its aftermath. But I caught enough of it from what you said this week.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi crowandsheep,

No worries. It all made sense and was quite clever - Snitchy (sic) has been mildly pleased with the attention - although I'm trying not to let her get a big ego.

Err, is that a reference to Kurt Vonnegut the author, by chance?

That calender pretty much reflects the reality here and you are very correct: Climate variability is the order of the day in this corner of the world - in fact we're somewhat famous for it. The farm can have serious heat one day and then later that day a cool change will come through and you'll be thinking about putting on a woolen hat: Crowded House - Four seasons in one day.

As an interesting side note, I sometimes tell my New Zealand friends that the Finn brothers (and Lorde too) are actually Australian. It never fails to annoy them and gives me plenty of laughs at the same time.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I thought the average turkey in the US was too over bred to be able to survive in the wild? Is there wild stock around? Interesting that they should be moving up your way.

You have an excellent library system. Some of the photos in old books were completely indecipherable. You'd look at them and go what is that blob meant to be? Hopefully they're not showing fungi which could be quite harmful to your health if misidentified?

There were photos for that garden on the internet and it looked like it was worth the trip. You'll have to report back. The building was quite attractive too. I despair of modern museums with all of those interactive displays. I hope they have some information boards about the plants scattered throughout the garden otherwise it is sort of hard to know what you're looking at and what the plants are used for?

Well, it is something to aim for I guess, but seriously how did you come up with the Wuthering Heights bit? Don't know whether it is just me or not but the whole "wuthering" name sounds sort of indecisive: You could use it in a sentence and say: Chris is wuthering about other peoples water supplies! Hey, I reckon you could could come up with a good usage for that word too? ;-)!

The funny thing is I don't reckon you have to know much about such things to know more than most? So yeah, that name would be well deserved for you too! On a serious note, do try and keep a look out for the encyclopedia book as it is excellent. I reckon people from around this area are reading the blog! Too funny. I guess they'll know who to come to in crunch time?

The same thing happens here with hail - it is very small for some reason - maybe due to the altitude - which is a good thing as the solar photovoltaic and hot water panels would get smashed. Hail damage on cars is quite mind boggling and usually ends up writing them off - although someone once told me that they put a golf ball in a sock and...

Yeah, your other chicken Goddess seems to be on the money - very wise. Trying to get a hen to kick the broody habit is a lot of stress for the hen and unnecessary work for you and I. It seems much easier to leave them get on with their job and perhaps put them to some good use. 3 weeks and they're done anyway.

You're a brave man. I don't dare click on that thing just in case all of the captcha's start having to be validated again. Just sayin...

It is pretty cool here today, but very sunny. I spent many hours just digging out the site for the wood shed and will have to go back there again tomorrow. The wood fire is even going tonight baking some biscuits but I don't have enough energy for a wood fired pizza. Did you get your water back on?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

You are doing some excellent and very interesting work on your garden. I hope that your yields increase with every passing year – it does here. I read a few years back about an old timer Down Under who used do a similar thing with rye, except that he would cut small sections of the winter rye (soil and all) in the paddocks and then simply turn those small sections upside down so that it encouraged the worm activity in the soil. Digging the green matter in is a very good idea.

You may be surprised yet about the fruit and nut trees here as I haven't had enough time this past summer to properly attend to them. However, over the next 6 months some interesting things should take place. A local lady was showing me her beautiful garden recently and a few of her fruit trees had grown particularly strongly so I was examining the how and why of it and started doing a few experiments here which have yielded some quite surprising results.

It is a bit late now though for the fruit trees as many - but not all - are going deciduous. In a few days, the olives will be harvested so it will be interesting to see how much fruit is harvested then I'll begin processing them in brine. Plus the medlars need to be picked – they taste great, they just look unappealing.

More can be learned by actually doing things with all of the messiness that that implies, than sitting in a classroom talking about doing things! A course is the beginning of a journey and not the end point.

I found the number of faith based statements in relation to water to be very disturbing which is why I spoke out about the subject. Water is everything here and there is no pussy footing around the matter.

Glad to see you here and I always enjoy reading about your lovely garden. PS: I didn't get the back to front spelling either as my brain just doesn't work that way. I looked at them and went, well yes, there is obviously something clever about the names, but I really don't have any time to put any further thought into the matter. The larger context and message was clear enough to me. Once it was explained about the names, then I could see it, but there are just only so many hours in a day.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hey Lewis,

I just showed the images of the Tasha Tudor garden to the editor and she said that a nearby farm had a remarkably close parallel: Lavundula Lavender farm

The garden is based around an old 1860's stone farm house built by Swiss and Italian immigrants.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I did a quick Net search about turkeys in Washington State. Some species of turkeys almost went extinct in the US. A long time ago, breeding programs were established to boost their numbers.

Washington State had no native wild turkeys. Three species were introduced, depending on climate and habitat. It's been pretty successful and there are now limited hunting seasons. I'd heard that there were turkeys to the east of me. One poor hen blew in with a storm and she was around for about two years. She was cool to watch, but I always felt a little sad for her, never finding her way back to the flock. Maybe she was just a loner, like me :-). I have one chook, like that. Always hangs well back and seems to amuse herself. Now that there's not much activity over at the Abandoned Farm, the turkeys are moving in from the east.

No fungi in the ethno book. Paul Stamets has a lot to say about Pacific NW mushrooms in his books. i bet there's a book out there, titled something like "The Ethnobotany of SE Australia."

Looking at the definition of "wuthering", it's a noisy wind. So I guess "Chris is windy about other people's water supplies." would work :-). I think you're comments were spot on. My place gets pretty windy, at times. Being on a bit of ridge top. Nell, my cat, is named for a character from "Wuthering Heights."

Let's see. The water was out for a week, on for a week, and now it's been out for 3 days. No worries. My rain barrels are full. AND my neighbor / landlord had the well fixed over at the Abandoned Farm. I can haul over as many jugs as I need and not have to go to town. He also figured out how to switch the water from there to my place. If it goes on for a long time, I'll do that. He also went to town yesterday to arrange for a new well to be dug here. For our four households. But, I still intend to put in some rain catchment of my own, when the next bit of estate money comes in. Landlord was also talking about an emergency holding tank.

Lavundula Gardens are beautiful. Being a commercial operation, a lot more regimented than Tudor's wild gardens. The long shots of Lavundula made me think of Peru. Northern Italy works, too. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Ha! An excellent observation as I often wondered what happened to all of the waste on the Starship Enterprise too! Personally, I can't hang on that long between all the shore leave. Which series did you end up watching? Temporal anomalies seem like a bad deal for the crew, but good for the writers ;-), don't mess around with them seems like good advice. I always used to joke about in the Next Generation series they’d have the special guest death ensign (beware the character that has only just appeared for the first time as the future doesn’t look good for them).

Nice to hear about the introduction of the turkeys in your part of the world. Are the wild turkeys a completely different beast to the farmed birds? We don't eat a lot of turkey here, but my mates whom I visited over Christmas - one of whom is an outstanding cook - roasted an amazing turkey - it was surprisingly juicy. Turkey meat in the past has always seemed a bit dry to me? Dunno. Heavy roast meals for Christmas lunches on hot summer days just makes me want to go and have a lie down and sleep afterwards - the disco nap!

So are the turkeys moving towards the coast from inland areas?

I'm not quite sure what you mean by the term "loner", because I enjoy social stuff, but I really enjoy my alone time too and can happily go for days not seeing anyone other than the editor. So who knows what it all means? You're never really alone in places like these because there is so much animal and bird activity going on anyway.

Well, you've just earned yourself the gold star for the rest of this month: Aboriginal Plant Use in south-eastern Australia. Most of those plants are actually quite common and grow here. I've been watching the native cherries for a few years now and the birds have been getting the fruit before I could harvest them. Did you notice the native raspberry too?

Yes, well, we're all guilty of noisy wind from time to time. Seriously though it sounds like an unpleasant place to live: Twas a dark and stormy night... Go Nell. Yes, again guilty as charged too – absolutely no shame whatsoever.

Good to see that you eventually installed the rain barrels. Tidy work. Were they hard to purchase? Clearly they are unhappy with the situation too? One of the problems with sharing a resource that an uncaring individual (e.g. a campground) controls is that sometimes your concerns are not their concerns despite the gentleman's agreements in place. I like to keep things simple and understandable for all involved otherwise it tends to breed aggravation. Actually, you seem very cool about the whole matter. Have you tipped over into acceptance?

Very observant, Lavundula is north of here and at a lower elevation so they get less rainfall and hotter summers. It is a very beautiful place and the owners, and actually also the original builders, had a very sensitive eye. It was the 1860’s stone cottage, terraces and mixed vegetable and herb gardens that brought back the memories from that farm. At one point they had a black snake in their vegetable gardens and I wasn't really sure how I felt about its presence - they get a bit annoyed if disturbed you know, sort of like me in the morning but a little bit more bitey (sorry, I slipped in a Sean of the Dead comic reference)! At least the Cherry Ballart trees aren't too far away.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - The link to the pictures of your dust storm over at ADR looked just like pictures from our dustbowl in the 1930s. There seems to be a lot more dust storms down in the SW and, in Eastern Washington and Oregon. But never any comments on the causes of the dust storms. Odd that. :-).

Re: Your Australian fires. Somewhere along the say, I saw an Australian film. Can't remember the title, or even what it was about. But I do remember that there was an arsonist, a very nasty individual, who got caught up in his own brushfire and came to a very bad end. I didn't shed a tear.

Oh, I've watched every darned Star Trek series. Usually after the fact, getting whole seasons from the library. One of my favorite films, that I re-watch every couple of years, is "Galaxy Quest." A parody of Star Trek. Rather clueless aliens have caught our tv signals and think the tv show Galaxy Quest is real. They kidnap the has bin actors, expecting them to save them from a ravening hoard of galactic bad guys. One of the actors is VERY nervous, as he was one of the unnamed crewmen, and we all know what happens to them. :-). By the way, I saw that Simon Pegg is one of the writers on the next ST movie.

The domestic turkeys are pretty much incapable of breeding. Barbra Kingsolver has a pretty funny chapter in her "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" about trying to get her turkeys to breed. I don't think the Eastern Washington birds are migrating toward the coast. They are pretty particular about climate and habitat.

Here, turkey is mostly eaten once a year. Thanksgiving. But, there are turkey sausages, ground meat, etc. Supposed to be more healthy, due to the reduced fat. But, since they are raised on factory farms, probably not so much.

Another myth smashed. Sigh. Turkeys do have tryptophan which is a precursor to the sleep inducing serotonin. But, as I just found out, it has to be taken on an empty stomach. Not about to happen on Thanksgiving. More likely, the sleepiness is caused by the size of the meal and the amount of sugars, natural and otherwise, contained therein.

Nothing so like a "real" rain barrel. When my friends moved to Idaho, they left me with two enormous plastic tubs (with covers) that had chicken feed in them. 50 gallons? 100? Plus there was an enormous plastic planting pot kicking around the place. Due to the mosquito larva I saw last time around, I fill them with a hose when the water is on. And, cap them. But, a "real" rain catchment system is in my future.

Acceptance? Oh, I guess. Some depression, too. But I'm better set to withstand long periods (a week to 10 days) without water. In more comfort. I've learned the drill? :-). And, now that the well is up and running at the abandoned farm, no worries about running completely out. But I'm still going to put in a "real" rain catchment system. Lew

Jo said...

Chris, I am visiting here from ADR - I always enjoy your Australian point-of-view comments there.

I am a Tasmanian suburbanite from Launceston - attempting to live a life of LESS in the modest circumstances I find myself in - single parent, kids, dog, budgies, garden, aspiring-to-chickens etc.

I am loving seeing the results of decades living a low-impact, permaculture way documented on your blog, and I can see this will be one more resource on my journey.

You have a great community of commenters here too, by the way!

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis and Jo,

Thanks for the comments. Apologies, but I am unable to reply today and will reply tomorrow.

Cheers

Chris

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris (and others! ;-),

I too read your water comments on ADR, and was sympathetic. Water really troubles me. I live in Adelaide, where I think we get similar rainfall to California (about 500 mm or 20" per year, mostly in winter). Currently, Adelaide is fairly dependent on River Murray water to supplement catchment. This water is pumped at least 100 km, over a mountain range, and then treated. As the river Murray becomes more saline, this becomes more expensive. Adelaide has also recently built a desal plant, which is expensive.

Currently, domestic customers pay $2-3 / kL for water, but I wouldn't be surprised to see prices go up enormously over the next decade of two (I would believe a 100-fold increase if a time-traveler told me).

At my house, we've now run out of rainwater, and have used about 3 kL of town water over the last month or so. I'm hoping we get some proper rain in the next few days!

I went to a wicking bed workshop the other week -- any one have experience with these? Apparently you can save 50% water use, but grey water is a no-go.

Cheers, Angus

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I watched an interesting DVD, last night, that I got from the library. "The Queen's Garden." It's about the garden, at Buckingham Palace. It's 39 acres and about 500 years old.

There is a 3 acre lake with an island in it. A lot of it has been left "wild." There are 350 species of English wildflowers, 2,500 species of insects and 83 species of birds.

The Queen prefers :-) that there be little or no pesticides used in the gardens. What's interesting is that she's pretty much thrown the place open to scientific investigation, of one sort and another.

Fairly recently, she asked that 4 bee hives be placed on the island. There is also a glass bee hive over by the rose garden, and there are ongoing studies of the bee dances.

There's a mulberry garden with 30 varieties. James I, failed attempt at kick starting a silk industry. Nobody told him you needed white mulberries, not red. :-). But, waste not, want not. Mulberry jam and deserts feature on the royal table. That, and honey from the hives are often gifted to foreign dignitaries ... like the Pope.

All clippings are mulched, mixed with the 2 tons of horse poo that arrive from the Royal mews each day (called "The Arising" in polite circles), composted and returned to the beds. Must work. There are about 1.000 species of fungi on the place.

Being in the middle of a heat island (London), everything blooms and matures about a month early. English robins look quit a bit different from our American robins. Not as robust looking, but I found them quit pretty and appealing. There are camera traps all over the place to observe the birds. Right in some of the nesting boxes. Several rare species (for the area) have been spotted and even a small number of escapee parakeets live on the grounds.

All silly, I know, but interesting, anyway. Lew