Monday, 20 April 2015

Hen’s teeth


Regular readers will know that I’ve been in the process of building a steel firewood shed for a few months now. I like to do projects as cheaply as possible and that means using recycled, second-hand or down-graded materials and the firewood shed is no exception. Recently a good supply of corrugated galvanised iron cladding has eluded my best scrounging efforts. However, the past Saturday morning I hit pay dirt.

Hitting pay dirt meant driving north to the inland town of Bendigo. In the 1850’s that part of the state produced some of the biggest gold finds in the world, and the town itself has a colourful history and beautiful old Victorian buildings. Precious metal is still being found there today as there are several active gold mines in the town. However, I was after a precious metal of a very different sort: corrugated galvanised iron sheeting. A visit to a house demolition and salvage yard in the industrial area of that town produced a reasonable quantity of the iron sheeting. I took everything they had. The helpful bloke, who looked exactly like the sort of person that you’d expect to find in that business, sold me the material and remarked that: “This stuff is as rare as hen’s teeth, mate!” Newer corrugated sheeting which can be purchased now is much thinner and a whole different alloy (zincalume) than this older material. There are still old houses made from this older tougher material in the inner city of Melbourne.

The steel sheets were loaded onto the bright yellow trailer, securely strapped down and then I began the slow process of driving back to the farm. If during the drive back, the steel sheets became loose, they could have easily flown off the back of the trailer and this would be a serious hazard to anyone else on the road. Just to add a degree of difficulty to the transport, the edges of the steel sheet are quite sharp and they can cut through the nylon ropes and tie down straps used to hold the steel sheets firmly to the trailer. Transporting any steel sheets requires you to keep one eye on the road and the other on the contents of the trailer. By the time I made it back to the farm only a single rope had been broken by the razor sharp edges of the old iron, which was OK as I had used multiple and redundant ropes.
Steel sheets waiting on the now muddy yellow trailer waiting to be unloaded
A couple of hours after getting the steel sheets unloaded a slow moving storm moved over the area. Then it rained, and just for good measure it rained some more. Excavations were not possible. I dislike mud and the site for the wood shed was threatening to turn into a serious mud pit. I’ve heard that some people like mud pits (perhaps for wrestling), but I remain unconvinced! Anyway, a couple of trailer loads of crushed limestone were spread around the area. The rocks are actually sourced from a nearby quarry which has long been quarried by humans for millennia because it is a major source of flint. Take that mud!
Crushed limestone has been distributed around the excavation site
Observant readers will note (soil geek alert!) that as the weather has become cooler and the rainfall is now exceeding the evaporation, the volcanic loam has turned from an orange red colour to a much darker brown. This change reflects an increase of water, organic matter and biological activity in the soil itself.

A couple of weeks back I had to move two rhubarb plants as they were in a location that was better suited to other plants. Rhubarb must be one of the easiest plants to multiply because the process involves digging the plant out of the ground roots and all. Then using a spade or a knife (or whatever) to cut the root system into as many plants as you feel comfortable making. The basic rule is if some of the root system is attached to come of the stalk and perhaps a leaf, you should get a new plant. Then bang that chunk of rhubarb root into the ground somewhere else and you’ll get another plant. It is an easy process and I’m not even remotely careful of the plants during the process.
Seven new rhubarb plants have taken hold and are starting to produce new leaves
Over the past few years I’ve been observing the various plants here to discover what plants the wallabies will eat and which ones they’ll avoid. Your average wallaby is the ultimate plant browser as they can eat plants that are very toxic to humans. In fact they can survive on a diet of 85% bracken fern, and that plant is way toxic to humans and most live stock. One summer a few years back during a severe drought the wallabies began eating the citrus trees and they caused quite a lot of damage. However, there are some plants that the wallabies just don’t like and one of them is the scented geranium. Those plants grow so fast here that I use them as a living fence and they are very effective at keeping the wallabies out of a new garden bed.
Scented geraniums used as a living fence to protect the plants behind it from the wallabies
Those scented geraniums should be renamed: Wallaby bane! And, unfortunately the plants fail to keep dogs out of the garden beds. The photo below shows a garden bed trying to get established without the scented geranium fence and you can see that most of the plants have been browsed:
Garden bed without the scented geranium living fence
In breaking tea news: The tea camellia has really enjoyed the protected spot, as well as some decent rainfall and it has even managed to put on a bit of new growth and produce a flower.
The tea camellia has produced a flower and some new growth
Autumn is still a good time for harvesting edibles. The citrus have also enjoyed the cooler, rainy weather and are producing copious quantities of fruit. The main crops here are lemons (two types), limes and pomello (a sort of grapefruit).
The citrus trees are enjoying the cooler, rainy weather
I’ve never harvested the olives grown here, but I noticed the local birds had started eating the fruit so after about half an hours work I had a tub full of almost 2kg (4.4 pounds) of fruit and there were still plenty left on the trees. The recently planted olive trees are years away from producing any fruit, but I’m starting to get very excited by the potential of the olive trees. As at the time of writing this I hadn’t commenced the salting process, but will over the next couple of days, so it should be interesting to see how it all turns out.
Some of the olive fruit picked this afternoon
As the other fruit trees have mostly turned deciduous now, I happened to spot a great quantity of medlar fruit hanging off those trees. A couple of nights ago whilst the chickens were roaming around under foot, I picked the medlar fruit. Medlar trees are a very old school fruit tree, but well worth the time. The fruit itself has to soften (it is possibly a fermentation process) before it is edible, but it then has the consistency and taste of a dried date – they are really yummy!
Some of the medlar fruit drying in the shed
How did the house get here?

By late May 2010, the plumbers had managed to install all of the steel roof sheets over the house frame. It was quite the achievement because winter was moving in quickly and new roofs are often very slippery. This is because the brand new roof sheets are coated with some sort of oil and if you mix in a bit of rain water to that oil then there is every chance that you will simply slide off the roof. The plumbers were very careful and always wore harnesses.
The roof sheets have now all been installed over the house just in time for winter
At that time, all of the beautiful and productive garden beds that you now see were simply not there! What was there was a mess of orangey volcanic loam which I had started to put a bit of woody mulch over. However, before the winter had set in, the plumbers dug all of the trenches for their underground pipes. In the photo below you can see the pipe for the waste water from the house which is gravity fed into the worm farm sewage system (which was in place at the time).
The plumbers dig the trench for the waste water pipe which is gravity fed into the worm farm sewage system
Very observant readers may notice in the photo above the very sad looking nasturtium plant next to the top of the trench. Also you may note that I had begun cladding the walls with fibre cement (i.e. non-combustible) weatherboards over the top of the blue fire retardant moisture barrier. The weatherboards joined into an aluminium channel in the windows providing an excellent weather seal.

For some strange reason, the building surveyors had decided that the house was being built in an area subject to cyclones! This was a bit of a mystery which annoyed me at the time, but given that the house has actually been directly hit by a tornado one Christmas day a few years back, I guess that there was some sort of prescience so I must not complain. They must have known in advance that something nasty was going to occur!

It is interesting to see how the entire house is held together by a whole lot of steel and timber:
Details of the house construction showing how all of the various elements are tied together
In the photo above, it is easy to see that each roof beam (the fancy name is a roof truss) is attached to the wall frames by a steel cyclone strap. That cyclone straps hold the roof beam firmly down and onto the wall frames and they do this feat through countless nails. But in addition to those straps, there are very strong X braces (the fancy name is speed braces) holding the individual roof beams into place and these braces also tye the roof beams down onto the wall frames. In the background and looking through the wall frame you can see that there are also steel X braces which are tensioned stopping the wall frame from moving and tyeing the wall frame to the ground. And as if that was not enough, structural plywood was also specified to be installed at various points on the wall frame! The structural plywood forms a very stiff frame and again stops the walls from moving - anywhere. The massive chunky bit of timber above the window is known as a lintel and the purpose of that bit of timber is to stop the roof sagging above the window. As I had two external wall frames, the strength of those bits of timber are far greater than the engineer even considered, but that is life.

After quite a few years of occupancy, the house has not moved, at all, not even 1mm (1/25th of an inch)!

The temperature outside here at about 8.00pm is 5.3 degrees Celsius (41.5’F). So far this year there has been 209.4mm (8.2 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 189.2mm (7.4 inches).

43 comments:

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

If you're Neolithic, that must make me a Neanderthal? hehe!!!

Too funny, yes, well the little thatched cottages were probably meant to be on fire and were some sort of subversive representation that could get past the censors of the day of the scouring of the commons (I'm going all Fight Club on that interpretation. ;-)!). I read that in the Scottish highlands the powers that be set fire to roofs of the commoners cottages because timber was so scarce and hard to replace.

No worries - honestly, I know so little about art but am slowly learning bit by bit. It is very hard to be across a whole lot of areas. Didn't the ancient Samurai have to learn all sorts of esoteric hobbies to be considered complete as a warrior?

Interesting that the roses were still alive under those conditions and great that you found them too. Roses are tough as old boots. Seriously. The state rose garden is not far from here - but in a much drier area as it is in a bit of a rain shadow. They do have access to humungous quantities of recycled water though: National rose garden Werribee. There is an old mansion attached to it too - open to the public. Pity the wallabies love eating roses here, but some are slowly getting established...

Yeah, the mounding is sort of like hedging your bets for the asparagus as it gives a lot more feed to the plants and a little bit of protection from heavy rain. That is what I saw the old timers do here before all of the newfangled fancy raised garden beds. Hey, I just planted out another 6 asparagus seedlings over the past few days too. Good to hear that a spear has risen above the soil at your place. if one has risen then possibly the rest will be OK. They do like swamps you know?

Wow, that would make quite the impression with me too. Glad that it may not have happened in a place that you regularly used to haunt? I'm very particular about taking people I know to places I regularly haunt as people have such long memories around here... You know what, an embarrassing faux pas would still be heard about 30 years later here... Oh, remember that time when Chris... because the story would morph over time too and get worse in the telling. I heard a story about someone I know around here from the 1970's and all I know is that it sounded like one strange time.

I'm just uncomfortable in fine dining because I know I'm being ripped off and that the establishment is not for the likes of me, despite my background. My very wealthy grandfather, just before he died, wanted to meet up with me at one of the most exclusive clubs in town and honestly I was very young and I said to him: Why? The whole goodbye thing just seemed somehow inappropriate in that awful place. Dunno, but that was who he was at the end, I guess. Maybe I was being disrespectful, dunno? Too late now, anyway.

Nice to hear that you'll make it to Idaho and I really hope that you have a good time. Are you driving across to there from your place? I reckon that it would be an interesting drive onto Boise from your part of the world.

They say that here too. Except sometimes they also say here: As comfortable as old Ugg boots. Hmmm, sheepskin.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

I noticed that the yellow peril was looking a little less bright.

I wonder what it is about scented geraniums that is disliked by the wallabies.

Currently I am feeling exhausted; I am not used to being surrounded by talkative people, much as I love them. No1 daughter has drawn a cartoon of me in which I am standing with clasped hands and saying 'Oh goody, as I look at a pile of bricks and something in a bucket. Underneath, she has written An 80 year old who only wants bricks and burdock roots as birthday presents. The bricks are for me to construct an outside brick fireplace similar to one that I had created and used in my teens when sleeping out away from home.

Bugle has been flowering for 3 days now and yellow pimpernel has just started to flower.

Re: books. I also like the works of McCall Smith. Particularly the philosophy series and anything with Bertie in it. But above all these, my favourite is the story 'The principles of tennis' which is contained within 'Portuguese irregular verbs'.

Inge

heather said...

Lewis-
I saw in last week's comments that you are considering planting some irises. I have lots of them here, which badly need dividing, but my garden and those of my friends have all met their iris quotients, so I have put it off because I can't contemplate just throwing the extra away and haven't worked out what to do with them. If you would like some, I'd be more than happy to mail you some. They might not match the color scheme you have in mind, though- they are yellow and dark purple, not blue and white- but the price would be right. :) My sweet youngest sister planted them for me on a visit nine years ago, and they make me happy every time I see them. They are very tough, they multiply like crazy, and the gophers don't touch them (though they have eaten all my tulips).
Let me know (but also feel free to decline!)-
--Heather

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Your place is looking so great! Kind of like a hill station or an upland villa. Glad you found some panels, but, you're right. It doesn't look enough to do the entire job. Maybe the old hen's teeth guy will give you a call if he runs across more?

Haven't moved the rhubarb over from the Abandoned Farm, yet. I ran it past my landlord and he said his wife had her eye on it. Not that she'll ever get around to it :-). But, he thought there was more back by the strawberries, so, I'll have to do my due diligence and check it out. If not, I'll just take a small start from the first patch. From what you've said, won't take much for me to get them started, over here.

When I was taking my daily brisk constitutional over to the Abandoned Farm, yesterday, I saw a flowering bush next to the road. Not a rhododendron. I don't think an azalea. Could it possibly be a tea? This calls for investigation! The late lamented Brother Bob the Bachelor Farmer planted some pretty weird and exotic stuff around the place. Such as, three Japanese pears. It's possible.

Interesting you mentioned fiber cement board. When my friends helped me build the chicken coop, The walls and roof deck are of that stuff. My landlord had a pile stuck up in the rafters of his shop. One observation about the innards of your house ... it's probably very earthquake proof, too.

As far as art goes, look at and learn about what you like. I like all kinds of things from all different periods. And, the Decorative Arts, too. The glass, china and furniture. I really like those tiles in your kitchen. And, yes, the Samurai were quit art hounds. Both creating and patronizing art and artists. It was all part of being a well rounded person.

Well, I'm looking forward to the trip, kind of. Hope I don't have a last minute freak out. But, I've driven most of the road, before, years ago. It's all pretty low stress and rural. I've decided to stay in Pendleton, Oregon, going and coming. It's about the halfway point. Book a motel and zip in and out.

The post lady freaked out, today. There was a "huge wasp nest" in one of the boxes. One wasp and a 3 or 4 cell nest. So, I got out my whip and chair and spray bottle and did battle. :-). Lew

Cathy McGuire said...

Hi,Chris-
Congrats on getting the corrugated steel! That's some of the hardest part of salvaging for me - the patience to leave the project til I find what I'm looking for. I get distracted and lose the original pieces, and then the project falls apart. :-}

I'm finally recuperated from my trip back east and able to read some of my favorite blogs again. :-) At almost 60, I didn't do well on a week without sleep. But since I got back,the weather here has been nice, so I'm working hard in the garden - it was almost 80 degrees today! Felt lovely but not great for the early crops! I'm working on finding ways to ease the effect of the wild swings on the plants. (It was 32 overnight!) And I'll be saving seed from those plants that do survive these swings.

You have wallabies, I have gophers... recently someone suggested I try really hot pepper in the tunnels, so they'll get it on their paws as they go through... it feels cruel, but I'm desperate. I can't put hardware cloth under my entire 1/4 acre!! :-\ Anyway, I wish there were some plants the moles and gophers want to avoid... and scented geraniums would be so nice everywhere!

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Yes, the mud was quite disturbing for someone as neat as I. hehe! Too funny, you obviously realise that the term "yellow peril" has a whole lot of funny and well, also some not so funny connotations down under? My favourite version of that reference refers to the Melbourne sculpture which created such a stink in the media when it was installed way back in the late 1970's. I still remember the official pundits outrage even now: Vault sculpture. How sensibilities were challenged by a very large yellow sculpture smack in the middle of the city square! Those were the days. Hehe! Actually the sculpture has since been relocated twice now to a more out of the way place. Public sentiment has not been appeased.

I don't really know, but the scented geraniums have a smell similar to pyrethrum and the leaves are slightly sticky, however the small birds, reptiles and insects love the plants - especially the bees. The dogs often smell of the geraniums too as they've been running around underneath them.

Your number 1 daughter clearly understands your temperament. I do hope you had a lovely birthday. PS: If it means anything to you, I love catching up with people and can happily gas bag or even do public speaking gigs for hours on end - but at the end of it, I need some quiet time by myself to recover. I believe that is the technical definition of an introvert - which is kind of funny because the common understanding of that word is very different.

Bugle flowers are very nice and they happily grow here in the shade of the Asian pear trees. The yellow primula is very attractive too. Your forest would be a true delight to watch as it progresses through the seasons.

Yes, he tells a delightful tale and it is often far deeper and more insightful than most people give him credit for. People can be a bit mean about him. Thanks for the recommendation too.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Heather,

That is a lovely offer and the irises are almost indestructible here too. Yes, tulips must be very tasty indeed as I don't really get to appreciate them and have completely given up on further plantings.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks mate. You're spot on and very observant as the sheets cover only about 90% of the shed, so I'm wondering whether I have time to visit other wrecking yards before construction and am now working on a plan B. I was near to a long established wrecking yard today, but didn't have time to visit it as I had to work. Sometimes it is hard to balance all of the competing jobs.

Yeah, I don't exactly know whether those places operate that way down here - I certainly wouldn't expect a call from them. They have this sort of Laissez-faire and very loose approach to transactions which always adds an element of uncertainty and excitement to a purchase - especially if you've just driven half way across the state - even after a phone call in advance. That is part of the reason why I stripped the place of all of their supplies. If they were local I'd build a relationship with the couple that ran the place, but it was so far away that that option was a no go. As it was a country town people would turn up and he'd greet them on a first name basis and mate I was so far at the end of that queue that it became a sort of - luck of the draw.

Did I ever tell you that the local tip here accepts steel waste for free, but will not then on sell that to the rate payers (or anything else either)? It is an absolute outrage and I have had arguments with both the tip guy and the local council! Apparently it is cheaper to send the stuff to China for reprocessing than paying for the insurance to cover the cost of local rate payers to go through the scraps. Honestly these guys have nothing on the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation! Sorry, I'm ranting... hehe! :-)!

That is certainly a difficulty. If I may suggest that it is possible to cut a small section of the root system off the rhubarb plant and then transplant that section then perhaps none shall be the wiser? Remember to thoroughly clean up after yourself and everything should be OK. Rhubarb plants are exceedingly easy to propagate by root division. They'll set seed too in late summer so that is another less invasive option? The first rule of Fight Club is don’t talk about Fight Club – however the second rule is don’t get caught! ;-)!

It is a shame that you didn't get longer access to the wisdom of the late Brother Bob the bachelor farmer. Well Japanese pears are far from exotic down here! Brother Bob would have known so much and he would not have considered that his knowledge was anything unusual. Oh well, we do what we can, I guess. Maybe the flowers of the plant will give a clue as to its type? Dunno. Plant identification can be difficult at the best of times. It is funny because when I have people visit, I go this is that plant and you can use it for this purpose and after a while I can see in the visitors eyes that it is a sort of information overload!

Yes, fibre cement sheets are a very strong and durable material. Down under I believe they have (nowadays) a plant cellulose and cement make up so they are very strong. Your chicken coop is probably earthquake proof too! Seriously the house hasn't moved and there has actually been a minor earthquake here - but centred way east of here. When I told the editor that an earthquake was actually happening when we were at a nearby restaurant and I said the walls and floor were shaking, she accused me of being drunk which was a bit unfair as it really was happening!

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

A lot of houses built on concrete slabs in this part of the world are cracking due to the very reactive clay soils. Houses can literally fall in half here which is not good as it is not repairable.

Are you saying that art is a relative experience depending on the perceptions of the individual towards the piece? Who decides what is good art or otherwise? Thanks about the tiles: Do you realise how hard it was for me to make that pattern random? If a thing is deliberately random, do you reckon that makes it actually random? I like the tiles too.

Yes, a well-rounded person has to be onto all sorts of subjects. The ancient Greeks understood the same consideration too, but I'd read about the Samurai too somewhere long ago and have now forgotten where. A good recommendation would be accepted gratefully. A few months back I almost picked up a copy of the book Musashi and was wondering whether not picking it up and reading it was an error?

I hope the trip is low stress for you too. Wow this is really weird. There is a town called Walla Walla here too (in New South Wales - the state north of here), but I believe the name has Aboriginal origins meaning Water, Water.

Not good! European wasps are a bit of a nuisance here, but otherwise the local wasps are massive clean-up insects and they happily eat all sorts of garden critters.

Thanks again. It is indeed a quest much like your quest for the forgotten about rhubarb... :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy,

Thanks. Good materials are getting harder to find and slightly more expensive every year. Old rusted out and full of holes steel water tanks which can be easily cut into round raised garden beds cost more than the new ones nowadays. Is that called progress? :-)!

Well, your approach is good too and you're getting stuff done which is more than most. I had a radical idea the other day to make a bee hive that is a cross between a langstroth and a top bar hive and hopefully I get the chance to develop that idea before spring. It should annoy absolutely everyone! ;-)!

Glad to hear that you have had a chance to recuperate. Seriously, 20 years ago, no sleep for a week (or even very disturbed sleep) would have been a true knock out for me, let alone today! You did really well and a garden is a beautiful and restful place in which to restore both your energy and spirits.

I plant closely together many hardy and less hardy species of plants so that the hardier species support the other plants. The hardier ones have to be occasionally cut back if they look as though they're going to take over.

Exactly. An excellent point as your locally selected seed will out perform any and all others and I guarantee this. The tomatoes here are requiring less water every year and becoming much hardier to the vagaries of the variable summer conditions too.

Gophers sound like a nightmare. I was actually only kidding around about the swap, please don't send them here! There must be some sort of root vegetable that they don't like? Do the gophers tunnel into raised beds too? You could put large rocks under the raised beds – but still allow the water to percolate through the soil? Dunno, really. Actually I noticed the wombats really don't like the plant Dog's bane so everything has some sort of check and balance - otherwise they'd be everywhere and literally take over the place – like a triffid. It is just finding out what that is - that is the really tough bit. Mind you, the wallabies still do a lot of damage here, but I'm slowly learning to live with them.

Cheers

Chris

heather said...

Gophers truly are a gardener's nightmare. I watched helplessly one year as they ate down a 25 foot row of onions, a few feet a day. You could literally watch as they pulled each one under- like a cartoon. They killed two of my biggest, most beautiful artichoke plants this spring, and I suspect they are the cause of my mid-asparagus bed failure too. Damage to an annual crop is bad enough, but losing my perennials really hurts! The other thing I don't like is that their abandoned tunnels then make perfect rattlesnake habitat- ugh! They do eventually get into my raised beds too, even the ones that I have lined with heavy-duty wire. Wily little devils!

I have tried lots of different repellents, and even those little solar powered stakes that make vibrations and noise. I have to say that they have not invaded the strawberry bed where I have the sonic stakes, but maybe they just don't like strawberries. (Or are too full for dessert after eating all my other stuff.) The stakes are too expensive (and a little too woo-woo?) to do the whole garden with, though. Not to mention annoying, as they make a sort of warbling chirping sound. I can only imagine the peaceful nature of the garden with a whole chorus of those things in the background. Like the invasive cocqui frogs in Hawaii!

I have recently purchased some truly barbaric Cinch traps, because it's me or them… (I feel like Bill Murray in Caddy Shack.) After reading all the Amazon reviews, I found that 1. many other people share my level of frustration with gophers, 2. People have tried lots of weird and frankly dangerous-sounding anti-goper strategies, and 3. Quite a few middle-aged-ish ladies with no more farming prowess than I claim to have quick success with the Cinch traps. I'll let you know if I have any luck. I have found so far that the traps don't catch anything unless you actually set them, however. :) I did try one, actually, without success so far, but am determined to steel myself for a widespread (6 traps) and prolonged campaign. Chris, what would Sun Tzu advise? I've studied the enemy, at least…

Wish me luck-
--Heather in CA

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

My birthday is still ongoing as the honorary US contingent only arrived yesterday. Fascinating as there are identical twin girls, 12 years old. At last I can tell them apart.

Extraversion/introversion: Many years ago I did a test to see which I was. I came out 50/50. The test said that if you weren't one or the other you had not answered the questions honestly (I had!). My mother insisted that I couldn't have been honest and said that if I agreed not to see what she wrote she would do it for me. I agreed. Haha, the result was 50/50 again.

If your reference to yellow primula was in response to my comment, I actually wrote yellow PIMPERNEL, I hope.

With regard to salvaging things, all my windows have come from skips. My son was at the tip one day and stopped a couple who had almost finished tipping a settee over the barrier. They let him take it and said that he could come to their house and get the cushions if he wanted them. Indeed, it is superb. What amazes me is that people chuck things just because they want to change the décor!

I have new neighbours on my boundary. Chainsaws and brush cutters have been going steadily for over a week. Another desert is being created, so more wildlife will be escaping to me. Spring is a seriously terrible time to be doing this. Actually one should live here for a year before doing anything so that you know what is there before you make decisions.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Heather - Thanks for the lovely and gracious offer of the iris, but I think I'll pass. I've got my heart set on certain colors. As far as getting rid of the excess, a couple of post ago, Chris and I were discussing his over abundance of zucchini. Basket on the church steps with a note saying "Please take care of my babies" works. Also, look for unlocked cars. Foist a few on the front seat :-).

Yo, Chris - It's criminal that the tip guys won't tear loose of their booty. Oh, well. One silver lining to the Great Descent is that a lot of that nonsense will go away.

My great find turned out to be a very pretty, almost miniature, white rhododendron. I've got a spray of it in a nice old Victorian glass vase next to my computer. So far, I've been pretty lucky tracking down plant ids on the internet. I put in something like "purple flower" and stare at images til I go blind. :-). When I was looking into planting some willow as an aspirin substitute, I discovered there are 3 varieties and if you want the most medicinal bang for your buck, it had better be white willow. Who knew?

LOL. That restaurant / earthquake story was really funny. We all know how you like your drink :-). When I moved to S. California, in the early 70s, when I first drove in to LA (had never been there before ... just packed the car and moved) all along the freeway was the evidence of a huge quake they had had a few years, before. Upended overpasses, etc.. The whole three years I was there, hardly a quiver. Once, 3 of us were waiting to cross the Pacific Coast Highway. I felt something and said "earthquake." One fellow didn't feel anything and the other said "Oh, it's just that big truck." Later on the news, sure enough, there had been a little trembler off the coast. But that was it! I was kind of disappointed. :-)

When I first moved in here, I was sitting right where I am now and the door started to sway a bit. I checked out the USGS, and, sure enough, there had been a really small one, centered just a few miles away.

Who cares what other people think is good art and what is bad art. What do you think and what do you LIKE. Besides, most of the "art" world is kind of a sham, anyway. And, tastes change. Van Gogh sold one painting in his lifetime. And, I think that was to his brother. :-)

There's an art museum in Seattle called The Frye Art Museum. Small, privately endowed. A Seattle, very rich German mercantile couple went trotting around Europe around 1890 buying up what was hot and popular at the time. Awful rubbish. From my point of view. Thankfully, the foundation has continued to buy, but really interesting stuff (to me.) When I think of what they COULD have bought at that time ...

Hmm. Books on samurai. "Shogun" by Clavell. Save it for winter reading. It's a real door stop of a book. And, you'll come out the other end speaking fluent Japanese! :-).

Ah, the Quest. The hero's journey. One of the oldest archetypal stores. Shades of Gilgamesh, and all that :-). Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Heather,

Wow, thanks for sharing that story and yes the image of Bill Murray in Caddyshack is always front and centre of my mind whenever gophers are mentioned. Wow.

Very amusing. Sun Tzu would advise this:

But, even if victorious, if the operations long continue, and the soldiers' ardour decreases, the weapons become worn, and if a siege be undertaken, strength disappears.

Again, if the war last long, the country's means do not suffice. Then, when the soldiers are worn out, weapons blunted, strength gone and funds spent, neighbouring princes arise and attack that weakened country. At such a time the wisest man cannot mend the matter.

For, while quick accomplishment has been known to give victory to the unskilful, the skilful general has never gained advantage from lengthy operations.

In fact, there never has been a country which has benefited from a prolonged war.

Who would have thought that some dude 3,000 years dead would have something interesting to say about gophers and their relationship to gardeners? His main point is that you go to war to win and it is very unlikely that you will ever win if the battle is over a prolonged period of time and your resources and energy are sapped.

My advice, lay down sheets of rust treated reinforcing steel underneath your garden beds and the gophers will simply go elsewhere. Even the Aboriginals had to build brush fences to exclude voracious animals from time to time. Observing nature for quite a while now has led me to the conclusion that nature is in fact very hungry and will eat your stuff if you let it. You need to feed nature that is only fair, but you also have to feed yourself.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I'll bet those two have fun playing tricks on all of the silly people that can't tell them apart - I'd fall for that trick!

How rude! I know of someone where that situation happened too. They had to undertake a series of psychology tests as part of the interview process. The results came back as indeterminate, so the employer suggested that the candidate had lied during the process and that the individual had to resit the tests. I advised the individual to go tell the employer to go and get ... (insert not nice word).

It is weird the faith that people put into those tests...

I've never been overly excited by psych testing because past experience has indicated that people tend to use the information to manipulate you. I fell for that situation once long ago and vowed never again!

Apologies, that one was my error. Too much looking at plant photos on the interweb leads to confusion...

Yeah, tell me about it. How crazy is that? What a waste and I'm glad to hear that you picked up and reused your windows. Mind you I am aware of people that had purchased a white couch long ago and to me that does actually seem like a really bad idea.

Good advice too. It is very hard to know your country until you have observed it over a few years. I'm surprised given your woodland status that the people are actually allowed to do that? You know, I've met people who actually fear the trees up here - oooo it's scary up there. I have respect for the trees, but fear? Dunno. The things they should be worrying about seem very far from their thoughts...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Too true. Mate, they won't even allow you to scrounge one old plastic plant pot from there and they have a huge skip full of them too just taunting all of the rate payers. It is just weird. No, there actually is something weird going on there. I’ve actually stopped going there now.

Rhododendrons are very nice and as tough as old boots. Yeah, I'd heard that about the willows too - although I believe the others are only slightly less effective. Willows are a hot button topic down here which makes zero sense to me. Still, it keeps people employed pulling them out of creeks and waterways. Weird though.

It was pretty funny and the walls and floor were actually shaking. The walls were brick too! Thanks for the story - it sounds like a full on disaster film. Did you ever get to see that new film we discussed a few months back?

Be careful what you wish for...

Since I started mucking around with houses, I can feel when they are either not level or off the vertical just by walking around and looking at them. It takes a bit of the fun away, because there is real beauty in older houses that are far from perfect.

Thanks for that, learning is clearly a journey and not an end point. Fads actually really do sweep through out societies. The current one here is that house prices will continue to rise regardless. I reckon they're running out of suckers to buy the over priced houses though.

Yes, the family guilt purchase. Of course. Yes, I really do like that painting. Why is it in the toilet then? Well, I'm a bit short on wall hanging space and the colours in the artwork clashed with the wall colours. On the bright-side though I do get to look at it a lot. Family member heads off in disgust…

Awful rubbish! I'm still chuckling about that one. Too funny. Well one persons wild rocket plant is another persons weed.

Thanks for the book recommendation, I'll keep an eye out for it next time I'm at the second hand bookshop.

You'll be on an actual quest to Idaho shortly! :-)!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I agree with you about psych testing, in fact I detest all labelling of human beings. There is far too much of it.

White couch, haha. I had friends who had laid a black carpet; no thought given to the fact that they had a white cat;white hair clung everywhere.

The neighbours woodland is not under quite such a stringent jurisdiction as mine is. Nonethe less he is certainly not allowed to do what he has done. I don't go in for shopping people and I don't think that anyone else can see the extent of the devastation.

I also have a copy of Sun Tzu 'the art of war'; it is a brilliant book. Last comments remind me of the law of diminishing returns. Which I think applies particularly to buying a cheap do it up property. I have watched people make a really good buy, do really good work and then lose all the profit they had intended to make, by ceaselessly titivating the place. Fine if they intend to stay but not if they intended to move on.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - New film? Which new film? LOL, we discuss so many. Speaking of film I started watching "To the Ends of the Earth", last night. It was a BBC, miniseries. From a trilogy by Golding (Lord of the Flies) that I'm going to have to look into.

Any-who. Benedict Cumberbatch is a young aristo who's sailing out to Australia to become the right hand guy to the governor. Circa 1800? A sea faring yarn. Lots of rum, the lash, etc.. So far, it mostly focuses on the upper crust passengers, but there's a whole hold full of emigres and convicts that they haven't gotten around to, yet.

Older houses are so much more architecturally interesting. I've always wanted to live in a turret of a Victorian. Or, a stone tower. Ah, well. Next life.

Well, most of the art at the Frye is stuff that was academically approved in the late 1800s. Mostly artists that had The Academies stamp of approval. Most of whom nobodies even heard of, today. But, they were rippingly popular and expensive, back then. Gloomy landscapes, religious stuff and milkmaids. The really interesting stuff was being done out on the fringes.

A lot of the Pre Raphaelites, Impressionists and other fringe groups, rejected by the Academies, wrote their own manifestos and threw their own exhibitions.

A lot of art, today, and antiques at the nose bleed level is all about investment and social one upsmanship. And, "the market" is very manipulated.

Well, the trip to Idaho is less a quest and more a trial by fire :-). Given my neurotic quirks. It is interesting that Pendleton, where I intend to spend the night, going and coming, has 4 or 5 used bookstores. And, several "antique" shops. If I can manage to propel myself out from behind the barricaded door of my motel room, it might be worth a look.

Well, time for my weekly slog to town. Lew

PS: I'll have to look into those Cinch traps that Heather mentioned. And, eventually, I'm going to try gassing the little ........ from the tail pipe of my truck.

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris: On gophers: They are the ONLY wildlife that has not found its way into our forest up from the fields below, so I am watching carefully here to see what everyone is doing in case they do show up. Rats and mice have eaten parts of our vehicles multiple times (I'm late with this); the only thing that has helped is to move the cars/trucks at least every couple of days. That spooks them. We did have a weird squirrel situation in autumn of 2013. They knew that none of the oak trees had produced any acorns that year and dozens and dozens of squirrels (we usually only have a handful) moved into our garden and ate literally everything in it. It has an 8 foot fence to keep out deer, but that would not sway a squirrel. Then one day they ALL left, except for one hairless one, who is still here (but has re-grown its hair). "The March of the Squirrels"!

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Nice to hear. I'm quite the fan of dissensus as I'd really like to see a bit more diversity in the narratives offered to people. For example: sitting here typing this dialogue I can hear a tree frog happily chirruping away outside the door celebrating the now two days of continuous and solid fog. How many people can say that? But they're more than happy to say: you should do this or you should do that, or why haven't you grown up? Honestly, it is tiring and it also bores me.

Glad to hear that you are too clever for psych testing. What a scam.

Black carpet - oh no! hehe! Scritchy the boss dog would make short work out of that bad idea and leave little white dust bunnies everywhere. :-)!

Years ago, you could find businesses down under that would re-upholster a couch and they were very good. Actually, I have a locally made couch purchased near the end of local manufacturing in the early 90's and on one of the early house construction photos you can see me using one of the cushions to lie down on the clay and clean out the house stump holes. That couch has copped some serious use and abuse and it is still going strong.

Yeah, that sort of thing can come back to haunt you later, so I would do the exact same thing as you. It is a tough call though as you have to stand by and watch the disaster unfolds.

Often with the neighbours I try really hard to lead by example and use any opportunity to explain what is going on in the local environment and animals. It is hard though and sometimes people get their noses out of joint regardless of any long term benefits. I dunno really, you just sort of do your best and hope for a good outcome, but expect the worst.

Exactly, a lot of houses sport unnecessary bling and it does them no favours. I'm embarrassed to mention that I once received more money from the sale of a house by removing the water tank (use for the garden watering purposes) and simply brought the tank up here to be reused. It was weird but car parking space was valued more highly.

Spot on too. I built this house to reflect my own desires and needs. Many people have trouble understanding that too, which is always interesting to me.

I'll bet your place is much the same?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Ahh, the disaster film set in California that you mentioned. Lord of the Flies was a good read, but it had an awkward ending when the children were rescued. It was a bit: stiff upper lip boys, we're English and we don't do such things. But then they had actually done some very unpleasant things. Perhaps the editor inserted that ending after reading the original transcript. You can't publish that... blah, blah, blah. Let's instead insert an: and then I woke up ending. hehe! !

I'd be interested to hear your opinion of the trilogy. The guy is an interesting author, no doubt about it.

Yes, being below deck might not have been the most pleasant journey in those days. What was interesting was that I don't believe a single convict ship was lost in transit. The convicts were starved for sure as the rations could be sold on arrival here, but there were no actual total losses. They must have understood the whole sailing thing very well by that stage of history? The roaring forties sound like no easy ride.

Yeah, speaking of turrets the very old Victorian mansions in this part of the world had towers which were often colloquially named “widows walks”. It is sort of eerie really. My understanding is that the towers were used as a sort of heat tower so that over summer the hot air from the house was released to the outside world through that room. They do actually work.

That makes sense. I've seen some of those gloomy paintings too: Often the great stag, head held high over the Scottish moors with a few deforested mountains in the background. All dark colours and stuff. I hadn't considered that fads could take hold of the art world too. That can hardly be a good situation?

Enjoy your neuroses because they make up who you are, and also the trip to Idaho. Ha! I'm sure you'll find a good reason to check out those used book shops? I hope they contain a lot of dust as that indicates where the really choice book finds are to be made.

Hope the trip into town was pleasant. I'm hanging around here for the next week or so as things are quiet. I've got some guys that I know coming up here tomorrow to help with cutting up some of the fallen timber as I really need some help with that big job. Hope it works out OK too, but time will tell.

Wow. Have you ever read what the local indigenous population used to do to adapt to the gophers? There may be some helpful hints there? Here, I could lay timber in the ground and that would stop the burrowing for many years and feed the plants at the same time. Dunno, they sound like a nightmare.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Almost forgot. Every time you mention Pre Raphaelites - I think wombats. Thanks for that!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Well, perhaps the well established root systems in an older forest stop the gophers from having such an easy time of it? They’d struggle here with all of that digging for much the same reason. The effort has to be worth their time as they don’t dig for fun, but that is my inexperienced take on it. Yeah, it is best to watch what other people do as the trail blazer often incurs considerable hardship and expense.

No worries and there is no late when it comes to rats eating vehicles! It was an expensive fix here too. Sorry to hear that the same thing has happened at your place. The rats are really clever and they simply adapt, but have kept out of the vehicles for a while now.

Wow, squirrels sound like a nightmare too. Down under there are possums and they can be a bit of a hassle to trees, but the owls systematically eat them. Owls love nothing better than juicy possums and they'll pick them off before a population gets established.

The hairless squirrel may have had some sort of mange which it may have eventually recovered from. What is interesting is that when I see wildlife in other parts of the state, they often have bare patches of hair and that may be an indicator of poor nutrient and mineral deficient soils. The wombats and wallabies which eat the plants here are virtually compost fed and look very glossy and happy. The fact that your squirrel survived and recovered is a really good sign about your place.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

The early purple orchid is flowering.

The widow's walk: The wife could see if her husband's ship was returning. It also would give her warning that she had better send her lover away before the ship docked.

My home is primitive and suits me, though some friends are aghast.

I am horrified by the gophers that the US seems to have. They eat onions wow! Nothing here eats the allium family.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris (and Inge) - Speaking of furniture, when I moved in here, the place came with one of those loungers, that recline and the foot tips up. Kind of an awful purple / brown color. Nothing I'd ever buy for myself. Reminds me of drunken fat guys watching football. I'm such a snob, sometimes. :-). I threw a colorful old blanket over it and it has become my (and Nell's) chair. Has become useful for treating wrenched knees and shoulders with hot and cold packs. :-).

The California disaster flick, "San Andreas", won't be out til this summer. Summer movie Blockbuster Season. I always tell myself "Well, this is one I want to see in the theatre." And, then, never get around to it. The crowds. If there was a way to discover which showings have the least attendance, I might go. But, all you get if you call a theatre, these days, is a recorded message.

Turns out our library system has the Australian trilogy, all in one book. I think I'll put it on MY winter reading list. Finished watching it last night. They never much got around to exploring the folks in steerage. Just the posh people with their own parlor / mess. Still, pretty interesting with some thrilling parts. Dodging icebergs and French warships. And, it was a damaged, leaky old tub.

I don't think the Indigenous Peoples in this corner of the country worried much about gophers. They land is so lush they never really had to do any agriculture. it was all hunting and gathering. I saw an interesting short archaeological article, yesterday, that said they constructed oyster gardens along the coast. Some of them in use for a thousand years. Who knew? Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Orchids are funny plants aren't they? Sometimes down here during summer after a big rain storm, they'll pop out of nowhere and then you won't see them for years.

Yeah, I'd heard of the first explanation, but the second explanation is a new one to me. hehe! The towers in the Victorian mansions also performed a very useful effect of acting as a chimney. The houses were very cool in summer, but probably extremely cold over winter.

It is amazing how little stuff you actually need. Houses are generally much larger than they actually need to be. It is a bit of a waste really. Glad to hear that you house sounds snug and meets your basic needs.

The gophers sound like a true nightmare. The wallabies will browse on the onions but generally the bulbs are left well alone and the plant recovers. I reckon the wallaby is thinking that there are only so many onions one can eat in a single sitting. Onions, carrots and potatoes grow well here for some strange reason.

I noticed that the Jerusalem artichokes have become soft, so I'm considering replanting the entire lot of them. I assumed that they'd stay reasonably firm for cooking? Dunno.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, purple and brown is kind of hard to explain - it actually sounds to me like a 1970's vehicle which were usually painted garish colours. One of the local manufacturers had a purple colour which was titled Barney's shirt - because presumably that was the colour of Barney's shirt that he wore to the office one day...

Yes, blankets disguise a multitude of sins! hehe. Glad to hear that Nell has some excellent perching spots, cats demand to be treated nicely.

The smaller dogs here are excellent for that purpose too - although you have to wrench Scritchy away from the wood heater and she has no shame about declaring her personal preferences - and I'm second best to the wood heater - so after a while she fidgets. Cats rarely fidget.

Ahh. Yeah screenings here can be quite busy or quite quiet and you can never really tell. I avoid the half price nights for that reason.

Your library system is pretty amazing! Glad to hear that they have copies. I can't imagine hitting an iceberg would be good for your health in an old sailing ship. The roaring forties would have given them a good dose of seasickness too.

Yeah, the same thing went on here too, but the agricultural activities were so big that us people of European stock couldn't begin to understand what were looking at. It would be interesting to time travel back and see the country as it stood at that time.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Yes, Jerusalem artichokes don't keep out of the ground. I only dig them up as required.

Ground ivy is flowering; mine doesn't seem to spread in the way that the books tell me it does i.e. it doesn't form a mat, though I have a lot of it.

Sanicle is also flowering.

To those of you in the US. Do you know the fungus 'Hen of the woods'? I am told that it is huge and fantastic eating. I don't think that we have it here though we do have chicken of the woods (not in my woods though.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Inge - Paul Stemets has some interesting books and videos on YouTube about mushrooms. He also runs a company called Fungi Perfecti that sell kits to "grow your own." One of these days, I'm going to get around to ordering in a couple, and give it a whirl.
Among his indoor kits are shitake, reishi, etc.. I noticed among the outdoor kits that there were Chicken of the Woods. His company isn't far from me. Just north in our state capitol, Olympia.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Barney the Purple Dinosaur? :-). He was so ubiquitous, here, permeating the popular culture, that several "I Hate Barney" websites, sprung up.

The past few days here, it's been scattered shower and interesting cloud formations. And a bone chilling breeze that's keeping me out of the yard. Feels like its coming right of the glaciers on Mt. Rainier. Even though the daytime highs are in the lower to mid 50s F. I have to bundle up for my morning, brisk walk.

Doesn't seem to be nipping the plants. Maybe the clematis. That poor thing has really had a time of it. I thought it had completely died, one summer. And, it wasn't even a particularly dry summer. Then I discovered a bit of garden tat (a plastic fawn) buried in the ground at it's base. I think it was preventing water from getting to the roots. I gave it a few shots of diluted worm juice and talked to it, a lot. After a lot of hesitation, it came back. We seem to be running a theme, here, as it's purple. :-). Not my favorite color, and I can't throw a blanket over it :-). But, it's had such a struggle I can't bring myself to rip it out.

Last year, once of the local garden centers had a sky blue clematis. I hope they have them again this year. I'm agonizing over where to plant it. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks for that info and I can certainly see why. The tubers will all be replanted tomorrow or Monday.

The ground ivy is a lovely looking plant. Actually, I reckon that I have some of that growing here in amongst the Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) which is an arthritis herb but also an Asian green. That plant out competes the ground ivy. It sort of tastes like fish oil which is really quite odd for a plant.

Sanicle is an interesting plant too with what seems like a long history of medicinal purposes. It is amazing what is under our very noses?

I saw Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall harvest some chicken of the woods off an old oak tree. You'd probably have to deliberately inoculate your oak trees to get them to grow.

They have those sort of fungi hanging off the side of large old eucalyptus trees here. The fungi look like old art deco wall light fittings. Again, they're probably not edible and I certainly wouldn't try.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Paul Stamets is a fascinating public speaker as he tells a passionate and delightful story about mushrooms and their role in the environment. Most mushroom systems don't scale very well as there is usually so much other competition for cellulose and sugars in a forest. But they are good stuff all the same. I tried shitake mushrooms here for a few years, but the summer heat, dryness and intense sun knocked the fungi for six (cricket reference) and they died. It was excellent whilst it lasted and in a few more years I'll give them another go but in different circumstances.

Ah, well, yeah I'm not on that particular zeitgeist so had to look up who Barney the Dinosaur actually was. Kid's entertainment is a lucrative feed trough. I had to laugh when I read a few years back about the internal problems with the Wiggles. The cheeky scamps were very unpleasant about one of the Wiggles in particular - I can't honestly remember which colour - and they said some not very nice things before publicly busting up.

Oh, the vehicles were from the 1970's - Purple Torana - so it may or may not have been a coincedence. The word Torana is an Aboriginal dialect word for "To fly". Oh yeah, the old beast, that I eventually wrote off in an accident, used to fly - but at least I understood how the whole thing worked. I've been giving some thoughts to vehicles recently as I was considering purchasing a more simple vehicle should my trusty Suzuki ever pack it in. I used to repair and service my cars but since the whole diagnostic computer thing kicked off, I've been left feeling somewhat disenfranchised? ;-)!

I hadn't heard about Mt Rainier before. It is a big mountain at well over 3,000m (10,000+ ft) above sea level. Wow, it's big and very impressive. I spotted a few glaciers in Nepal during my travels there, but given that area is more or less on the equator I had to physically walk for many days up to about 5,000m (15,000+ ft) above sea level. I'd never been so cold in my life!

I'm always a bit embarrassed about glaciers because when I was in new Zealand a few years back I waited until no one was around and then in one of my not so proud moments snuck up to the Fox Glacier face and touched it. I didn't really think anything about it at the time as you do when you are young and dumb and a few years later I came across this surprising article: Good samaritans offer to pay bills. Who would have thought that could happen? Der!

On a serious note, many years ago in a past life I used to work at the major airport here and it always surprised me that people actually died whilst in their travels overseas and the cars simply accumulated dust in the airport car park and either collected the humungous car park fee or they sold off the vehicle as an abandoned vehicle. It was mildly surreal, but everyone else seemed to think that it was more or less normal...

Now I'm going to tease you! Clematis here are a native and they pop up all over the place as a local climber. Apparently the forests here used to be dripping with the climbers - but not so much anymore. I do what I can with them.

PS: The owners of one of the very old hill stations around here opened their garden today. I met the owners too who were very delightful, but right at the bottom of their garden they have: Temple of the winds at Cameron Lodge. It is a stunning garden and a real treasure.

PPS: I had an epiphany today and have thought to try and cook up the dogs food and biscuits from scratch. I realise that sounds a bit common sense but it had actually never occurred to me before. What does Beau eat?

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I keep accounts and was amused to note that, this week, I spent £1 and 87 pence on food for myself. But £38 on a sack of nuts for the squirrels and birds. That sack will last about 4 months though. Just a small insight into a weird life!

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Pop culture is an interesting thing. I see articles about people standing in the check out line, or, on the Net. And, I haven't a clue who these people are. :-). I finally trigged to the fact that Timberlake and Spears are refugees from the Mickey Mouse Club.

I'll never forget the time a six year old boy and I were gazing in horror at a children's librarian who didn't have a clue who Sponge Bob Square Pants, is. :-)

Ah, vehicles. Now, I'm not in the least bit mechanical, but back in the day was able to do my own oil changes, points, plugs and condenser on my old VW bug. Thanks to a classic hands on VW repair guide whose name escapes me now. And, I actually pulled the engine on my old '67 GMC ford, back in the day. Three times with the help of a friend. Those old vehicles were given names. Not so my '04 Ford truck which is all computerized and seems rather soulless.

Who couldn't resist touching a glacier? The article about the car rental company reminded me of something. When the Titanic sank, the company billed the families of the famous band for the loss of the uniforms. Can't remember how that all turned out, but I think there was quit a public outcry.

As far as the Clematis goes, I'm sure there's something around here I'm hip deep in that would turn you green with envy. Just what, escapes me.
:-).

Garden Follies like the Temple of the Wind are so cool. Years ago I saw an enormous stained and leaded glass dome, hanging from the ceiling of an antique shop. What could I do with it? Put pillars under it and put it out in the garden! Not that I ever did. It's just an impulse. You see something really cool and wonder, "What can I do with that?"

There are books on making your own dog food and biscuits. I'm sure, also many articles on the Net. Beau gets some kind of dry high protean dog food that I get from the farm store. In 50 pound bags. Quite a lot for an old guy like me to haul around. Right up there with the 50 pound bags of hen crumbles. I also give him a dog biscuit, every day. I break it in half so he thinks he's getting two. And, 1/3 of a cheap wiener, with his crushed, daily baby aspirin inside. The garden store where I get his biscuits ... the folks there are very into carrying only healthy stuff for animals. They are into animal rescue and all that.

My tea plant arrived. It was packed well, but had a little branch damage, due to the shipping. The box was on it's side on the porch. :-(. Looks like there's a bit of insect damage, too. But, I can't see anything live on it. Fumigated, probably. It's in the kitchen window, but if we have a sunny day, I'll move it back a bit so the light is more diffuse. Some leaf curl. But, plenty of healthy looking little leaflets. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Tea plant, continued.

I noticed that the soil is very well drained. Something to take into consideration when I plant it outside.

Between the broken branches and what fell off in shipment, there were quit a few leaves. Which I carefully washed and dried, last night. Figure there's enough for 3 or 4 cups of tea. The mature leaves will probably be on the bitter side, but I like bitter :-).

All in all, it's a very handsome plant and I hope it thrives. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I wrote a further comment (on fungi) prior to the accounts comment; it just wouldn't go through! I'll try again next week.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

That would be money well spent and I'm sure the birds and squirrels will enjoy the produce. Nice work.

I leave water out for the local animals, birds, reptiles, frogs and insects and keep all of those water points clean and mostly full. Consistent food and water gives wildlife such an advantage and takes the pressure off their lives. Such a good thing to do.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

The editor keeps me up to date on some of the gossip in those magazines. Ha! Too funny. That is why those magazines are placed where they are at the check-out - partly to pacify the angry queue waiting for the register. But also, those magazines are like being in the presence of a television in a restaurant, I can mostly ignore them, but sometimes they can be very hard to ignore (like a car crash). I don't generally see much screen advertising, so it can be very flashy and annoying. I block them on the computers here.

Maybe the children's librarian didn't actually like children's fiction? Hehe! That is weird, why would they take that job? Anyway, I only know who Sponge Bob is because a very well respected rock band - The Flaming Lips - Spongebob & Patrick Confront The Psychic Wall of Energy - wrote and performed a song for the movie. Please don't ask me what a Psychic Wall of Energy is. :-)!

Yeah, too true. It is something to think about. I must confess that having a computer mix the air and fuel ratios in the engine based on the ambient temperature has made them much more reliable starting than carburettor engines, but still. I noticed that they sell cheap diagnostic computers on eBay for my car, so I'm going to have a think about that project.

Speaking of which, I just got another project stamped "approved" today by the editor. Woo Hoo! Replacing the chicken hut and run. That one is seriously overdue and in need. One of the Australorps died yesterday - just cold and wet I guess. It is amazing how fast a chicken can go from being healthy to being very dead...

Oh no, like the hire car company, that is just wrong. PS: The glacier face was quite cold!

Well, your climate is about near perfect and with a bit of global warming you should have some serious extended growing seasons. Speaking of which they had a massive storm, a 1 in a 100 years in the state to the north of me. NSW wild weather. SES refers to the State Emergency Service (government funded but manned by volunteers).

Yeah, the folly is very cool and the owners have repaired much of it. You can actually walk out to the temple across the pond via stepping stones. It is really cool.

Mate, 50 pounds is heavy for me too. They generally package stuff in 20kg (44 pounds) bags now. When I was younger everything was 40kg bags... Nice to hear that too.

Oh yeah, camellia's thrive in well-drained soil. They don't tolerate wet feet at all. How did the tea go? I hope that it was nice? Black tea is just fermented green tea leaves, but I like green tea too.

You know it is funny that you say that but a lot of European and Asian cultures celebrate the more bitter tasting fruits and vegetables. One of the summer greens here is French Sorrel and it is bitter for sure. The only problem with it is that the wallabies love that plant and will hunt it out even if it is planted in deep cover.

I wish you well with your tea plant - remember to talk to it from time to time. Camellias are very drought hardy here so remember not to over water it.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Blogger must have been hungry. I'd imagine that you have a wealth of fungi in your part of the world. There are mushrooms all over the place here now with the recent rain and change in temperatures.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Too funny. That same article about the guy shooting his computer was published here in the local papers too. Jolly good shot! :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

@Inge:
Last year a friend of my son's gave us a fungus that he called "Chicken of the Woods". It was so delicious stir-fried. The texture was quite like chicken (at least, to a vegetarian). I had seen it growing on oak trees in our woods, but didn't know if it was safe. Boy, am I looking out for it now!

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Yeah, computer ads are pretty irritating. I keep the sound off, unless there's something I want to hear, as noise seems to come out of nowhere. I have a pop up blocker that works pretty good. But there seem to be a lot of "pop unders." And, they slow everything down. Usually, the tip off is a quick flicker of the screen, or, they actually extend a bit beyond the page I want to look at. So I minimize, zap them into oblivion and go back to what I was doing.

Actually, Mike McGowan was a great kids and young adult "librarian." Single dad, raised a daughter on his own. Very hip and with it. Also, very funny. I put "librarian" in quotes, as he didn't have his MLS (Master of Library Science) but had learned it all in the trenches. When he'd go to conferences, he'd sometimes be treated very shabbily by the holders of the Magic Piece of Paper when they found out he wasn't degreed.

Sorry to hear about the demise of your chook. As the late Brother Bob the Bachelor Farmer used to say, "Sooner or later, livestock becomes deadstock." Sad, but true. On the bright side, you can build the Taj Mahal of chicken coops. A real folly. :-).

Little did the computer assassin know that when he drug the computer into the alley, it would be the shot(s) heard round the world. Which is an obscure reference to American History (or, sometimes, the assassination of the Archduke).

The kick off to the American Revolution was a confrontation on a bridge between Concord and Lexington, Massachusetts. His Majesty's Redcoats on one side, a motley crew of colonists on the other. No one knows who fired the first shot, but from there on out it was all downhill. Concord and Lexington have been squabbling since 1824 over who has the best claim to being the birthplace of the American Revolution. This American History Moment brought to you by ... Lew :-)

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

Thanks the the (as per usually) broad yet relevant and interesting article!

Loved your Wallaby Bane comment, and glad to hear that the tea camelia has apparently taken. We've been talking about dividing the rhubarb, to put on the new side bed I've talked about. That's on the to-do ;-)

ps. I remembered you saying that your tomatoes continue to fruit into June, so we've kept a few which are still fruiting. NExt year, we'll be more diligent with pruning and caring for them, and may increase the yield...

Do you (or your readers) have thoughts about Rocket Mass Stoves? I've been thinking about how to use less electricity on cloudy winter days. A good way would be to cook with wood, and I've considered trying to set up an indoor rocket stove. Of course, if I'm going to do that, it would be great to also benefit from the heating... I don't want to manage lots of wood though -- so perhaps a little rocket stove is the best bet. They run on just a few twigs apparently!

ps. tanks 1/2 full now. We'll be dumping water before we know it. Need more storage but don't have space ;-)

Cheers, Angus