Monday, 4 May 2015

Building Walls


Winter is slowly exerting its grip here. And with that knowledge in mind, you sometimes have to know when to ask for a bit of help. This week I hired a couple of guys for two days to help turn some of the many fallen trees way down below the house into firewood. I’m pretty handy with a chainsaw and was an accredited chainsaw operator for the local fire brigade, but seriously five guys can do far more work in two days than I can do in many long weeks.

So for those two days of roaring chainsaws, the larger birds and marsupials packed their bags and left for elsewhere. For the small birds, who constantly bounce through the shrubs, it was a serious party time.

It was no party time for me though. During those days the steel frame for the roof of the new firewood shed was constructed and then secured into place on the shed frame. It was really exciting to see the final form of the new wood shed come to life and seriously this thing is built tougher than most people’s houses!

The steel frame for the roof was installed onto the firewood shed frame
After another days work the horizontal rails which are used to secure all of the steel corrugated cladding sheets to the shed frame were installed. This firewood shed is quite unusual not only because it is a custom design using only recycled and down-graded materials, but because the firewood shed will have not only the usual external cladding of corrugated steel, but it will also have an internal lining of steel. That internal lining of steel will (hopefully) stop the very heavy mass of firewood from pushing the external steel cladding away from the frame.

I’ve observed quite a few firewood sheds in this part of the world that have had the external walls pushed outwards because of the serious mass of firewood that has been kept inside them. Once the external cladding comes away from the shed frame, rainfall, insects and reptiles can all enter the firewood shed and cause all sorts of damage to the firewood stored inside! Plus, an additional layer of steel cladding may perhaps assist with the chance of that firewood and shed surviving a bushfire. Also, it is probably not a good idea for your health, to disturb a snoozy snake happily hibernating underneath a mass of firewood. Whilst the snakes here are not the deadliest in the world, being the second deadliest is not much of a consolation should you ever be bitten by one!

The horizontal steel rails were installed onto the shed frame and the external door was hung
The photo above shows the huge pile of rocks that were liberated from the clay / volcanic loam during the excavation process. Also there is a huge pile of timber pickets which are happily drying and waiting for the day that they are installed on the blackberry enclosure. And there is also the bright blue bushfire sprinkler which is always ready to go in an emergency. Plus, it is worth mentioning the other pile of timber and other odds and ends that I haven’t quite worked out what to do with yet. Just in case anyone was overly concerned with that, then rest assured that sooner or later, they’ll be dealt with, as there is no better thing than a clean work site!

Now that the chainsaw dudes have done their task, I have plenty (i.e. A few decades at best guess) of aged firewood to utilise. The bright yellow trailer (7 x 5 foot) was put into action and with the help of the trusty little Suzuki, I pulled a load of firewood up from way below the house. The drive was quite steep in places and not for the faint of heart, but the Suzuki can best be described as the little white engine that could! Eventually I hope to use that vehicle and trailer to fill the firewood shed – when it is completed.

The little white Suzuki with its friend the bright yellow trailer bring a load of firewood up the hill
Needless to say, I consider a full storage bay of firewood to be akin to money in the bank!

Just in case that wasn’t enough work, I then proceeded to clad the external walls of the shed in the beautiful and recycled corrugated galvanised iron sheets. The iron sheeting is good stuff and each individual sheet has its own history. I’ve even bent the sheets around each corner of the firewood shed (and that is no easy thing) to provide really excellent weather protection. The red door that will be seen in a later photo also has had a layer of sheet metal placed on its outside face to provide excellent weather and fire protection too.

The external steel wall cladding has been installed onto the new firewood shed
Hopefully over the next week I can install the roof sheeting, the internal steel lining and connect up the new 4,000 litre (about 1,100 gallons) water tank to capture some of the winter rainfall, but I only really ever know how long any project is actually going take, once that project is complete!

In the above photo you can also see how big some of the trees are here and the tree behind me in the photo is a young one! Sometimes I feel as if I’m living in the land of the giants.

Now that the weather has turned much cooler, there are mushrooms of every description all over the place.

Mushrooms are popping up everywhere
How did the house get here?

In a previous house, I’d sanded the timber floors. The thing I learnt undertaking that activity was that: (a) I wasn’t very good at it; and (b) The floor sanders that you can hire have been so badly punished by other people that they’re not very good themselves! With those lessons in mind, I hired someone to sand the timber floors in this house. I can honestly say that they did a much better and quicker job than I ever could.

Timber floors require a protective coating otherwise they can be easily stained and damaged. Previously I had used polyurethane (plastic) as well as natural Tung wood oils to coat timber floors. The plastics provide a very shiny and even finish, however if they are ever damaged, they are a true nightmare to repair. On the other hand the Tung oil is very forgiving, very long lasting, easy to repair and simply smells beautiful. I always remember as a child at the start of the school year they had always re-oiled the floors over the summer and the natural wood oil smell is one of my strongest memories from that time. I hope they taught me something else too during those years!

A protective layer of Tung oil is applied to all of the raw timber floors
It was the middle of a very wet (but mild) winter here back in August 2010 and I waited between rain storms to install more of the fibro-cement weatherboards over the blue moisture barrier and the very heavy duty fire rated plaster. Sometimes installing the weatherboards was easier than at other times:

More of the outside of the house was covered in fibro-cement weatherboards
The plumbers were very busy during that month and they had installed the two solar hot water panels right next to four of the photovoltaic panels which charged the house batteries. The solar hot water performs very well and even today in late autumn they stored quite a lot of heat. On the other hand, I was quite naïve about the solar photovoltaic potential during the absolute depths of winter and originally installed only 8 panels believing that would be enough. How wrong I was! Today, it is worthwhile noting that there are in fact 23 photovoltaic panels installed here. Very observant readers will note the red door which is now part of the new firewood shed.

Solar hot water and solar photovoltaic panels have been installed
As I was considering moving into the house within a matter of weeks – even in its unfinished state – I put together a temporary kitchen. The internal walls of the house at that time had this crazy pink hue which was due to the very heavy duty fire rated plaster having to be installed over yet another internal layer of fibro cement. You can see both layers on the walls over the yellow insulation batts in the photo below.

Temporary kitchen and the pink internal 90 minute fire rated walls
To be continued…

The wind is howling outside and the conditions are threatening a storm. The temperature outside here at about 8.30pm is 13.3 degrees Celsius (56’F). So far this year there has been 226.4mm (8.9 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 224.0mm (8.8 inches).

43 comments:

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks for that. You learn something every day. Of course, it makes sense from hindsight! It sort of like the Latin "Officinalis" in plant names which indicates a medicinal plant too.

The willows are very hardy here too, so we'll see how it goes. Unfortunately the wallabies like munching on the plants too.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for the update. I'd heard that some people candy angelica plants - but have never tried that. They're very hardy here and I have one plant that happily self seeds every year.

Yeah, the fruit trees would be about done for flowering at your stage of the year. You can look forward to some fresh fruit over the coming months from the old orchard. Yum!

Nell is clearly a sensitive soul. Thanks for the book recommendation too.

It is a mixed bag working with the public and they can be quite shifty - but mostly honest. It sounds like the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - mostly harmless. :-)!

I remember the days working retail when the stores all closed at 12.30pm sharp on a Saturday and the boss always forced me to go and tell customers to go away - I was very polite, but they were often less than polite. Eventually a hardware store owner went to jail on multiple occasions before they changed the laws and allowed Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday trading. The powers that be are trying to get rid of weekend penalty rates. Too bad if a person is forced to work on a Sunday night... I don't believe that it is either a good or smart move on the employers part.

The possums here are nocturnal here too. It is funny, there aren't that many big things that will kill you here, but plenty of very small deadly things. Over your part of the world, the things that will kill you are quite big and ferocious. I'll just take this video footage of this angry looking Black Bear - surely he won't hurt me...

Scotch broom is a funny one as sometimes it smells like coconut but it is hard to capture that essence. It only grows in disturbed land here. Gorse is a real problem as it can burn very fiercely and produces and impenetrable hedge of thorns. Ouch.

Yeah, I'd heard about the problems in Florida. Fortunately no one has let loose a salt water crocodile otherwise there'd be real dramas. They'd like it there too and easily finish off the alligators.

Never heard of the flying squirrels but ecological niches tend to get filled.

Good luck with the tea plant. Dry feet is a non negotiable requirement for those plants. Curly leaf is a fungal problem here, but aphids can be a drama too. The small birds tend to clean up affected plants though.

It would be great to nab some of Cathy's time and I'd greatly appreciate her input as she is a far more accomplished fiction writer than I. Yeah King's book is on the to do list. So many books, so little time! Yeah best not to encourage them, however should they make their presence known, rest assured they will get no air time here.

Cheers

Chris

Rich Brereton said...

Hi Chris,

I'm loving the series on building the house. Very inspiring, thanks. Tung oil - didn't know it was used on flooring or other indoor applications. We used to use it for tool handles at the company I used to work for in Colorado. Love the smell of it. I'll keep it in mind next time I need to finish a floor.

Best,
Rich

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Ohhh. The firewood shed looks really nice. The photos make it look like it's springing up through magic. A very hard won magic, I'm sure :-).

I'm sure you can juggle chain saws with the best of them, but hiring "chain saw dudes" (that's a keeper) is a good idea. If nothing else, just to have people around, to call the medics, in case of emergency. :-)
Also, as when I had my trees pruned, they've got all the right equipment.

I noticed the wild geraniums have started blooming. They don't have a strong scent, like "regular" geraniums, but never seem to have any insect damage. Sprayed down the tea plant and it seems ok. I took a look at those little dots under a magnifying glass and they are some kind of insect form. The plant is getting some leaflets. I'm thinking about taking off some of the severely curled leaves, as there are probably critters hiding in there that the soap spray can't get to.

I finally sat down with "Homegrown Tea: An Illustrated Guide to Planting, Harvesting and Blending Teas and Tisanes" by Liversidge. I gather a "tisane" is any kind of herbal drink OTHER than from the tea plant. Some 40 other plants. And, as the title promises, it covers, in detail, the whole process for each plant. With lots of illustrations. An oversized paperback for $23.99. Well worth the toll, I think.

Ah, closing time. Actually, I kind of liked it. Flash the lights at quarter to and approach each customer that didn't take the hint and let the know they had so many minutes to beat it. Slowly plunging the store into almost darkness. "Is it closing time?" "No, we're just testing the fluorescents." Sometimes, there were barnacles that you had to almost physically removed. Rudeness was occasionally resorted to. "We have homes and families to go to." As I closed the big gates, I could look down the mall and always see two or three people throwing themselves into any open doorway. Sad.

Scotch broom here was introduced down on the Oregon Coast in the 1880s. Some guy had the bright idea that it could be converted into oil. That didn't go anywhere, but the scotch broom remains. It is high in oil and is a fire hazard.

I'm very concerned about Nell. She's under the weather. Not visibly ill, but very listless. I don't think she ate or drank anything, yesterday. She's a little more perky, today. Jumped up on the kitchen counter a got a good long drink. But now she's back on her perch in the office and doesn't look like she's interested in going anywhere, soon. Lew

Jo said...

Chris, I am loving the red door on the shed with no walls. Very Alice in Wonderland. Also admiring the very nice wrought iron chair placed nicely to view the wall-less shed. It looks like an avant-gard art installation!

We sealed our wooden floors with tung oil too, and apart from the kitchen which really needs another coat, the rest of the floors are still looking lovely after five years.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Rich,

Thanks. It was actually a very enjoyable process to build the house from scratch.

The tung oil is a good coating for hardwood timber floors as it is very hard wearing - which is probably why they use it on tool handles. It doesn't give the sort of wet timber floor look that people want from the plastic coatings, but it preserves timber as it gets into the grain. It has a long history of use on timber floors down under. Yeah, it has a great smell too. I always found that eventually the plastic coatings lift and/or flake off the timber surfaces.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, maybe it is magic? hehe! Thanks. It is great to get to the end of each work day and see how the building is developing. I may pick up the water tank tomorrow morning which should be an interesting trip. It is quite windy here today and the tank will be quite massive compared to the trailer!

No worries. hehe! It is amazing how quickly things can actually go wrong in chainsaw land. I have and exercise a great deal of respect for that tool. I'm always a bit nervous about younger tree fellers as a few years under their belt and a few errors teach them a bit of humility. I'm just uncomfortable about providing them with that learning experience... Fortunately this job was just cutting up many of the fallen trees down below. I could have done it, but it would have taken months of work.

Watching people drop large trees makes me feel a bit anxious really... Large trees are to be treated with great respect.

Great to hear that you have some wild geraniums there too. Yeah, not much eats geraniums here either. The local species of geraniums are actually pretty boring looking... Have you thought about making a spray using some geranium leaves (steep for a day or so in water and perhaps a touch of olive oil?). Dunno, it might work?

The tea plant would probably appreciate having some of the diseased leaves removed. Dunno though. Glad to hear that it has some leaflets, that is a good sign. Where there is life there is hope - as they say. The plant here has quite a few flowers now and seems to be doing well in the spot that is very protected from the wind. I have high hopes for that plant (maybe a coffee shrub may make another appearance here?)

Thanks for that, I didn't know that about the word tisane. What other sort of herbal teas does it recommend? I sometimes make a lemon / lime balm tea at night over winter to warm up.

Flashing the lights. Too funny. They do that at the local supermarket, but will actually start just turning the lights off at 15 minutes to closing time. It gets very dark in there! hehe! Well some people are quite rude themselves in that they can't take a hint, so I approve of your methodology... Borders used to stay open here until about 11pm and it was a good way to while away a few hours.

It is a fire hazard here too. Fortunately it is easy to remove and I only really see it in very disturbed or drier areas than here. How invasive is that plant along the coastline?

Sorry to hear about Nell, I hope she comes good so that she can dream before the moon on her perching spot.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Jo,

Thanks for that. It was great to find a use for the red door. The chair is an item that the editor found and restored. It is very hardy to the weather and it is very convenient to hand when a break is required!

I was thinking about making some steel bench chairs and putting them about the place.

Great to hear. The tung oil is very hard wearing. It is easy to recoat after a good clean of the timber and then you can simply paint it on and leave it dry for two days. The warmer the weather, the quicker the floors will dry. A good excuse to pack up the kids and go for a short holiday somewhere!

PS: The kicthen has been fine here, but the bathroom has copped a bit of wear - particularly where the sun streams in over summer. The rest of the house is fine though. Who knows?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Just after I posted those comments, I went outside because the dogs were barking at something and there was a huge owl sitting on the strawberry enclosure just checking the place out - surveying its domain. :-)! I hope it eats some rats or possums, although I'm sure it will!

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

I love reading about wood, because everything on our property (including the log house) is about wood. We cut all of our own firewood - only dead trees are used - because we depend in a large part on it for heating our house. Our baseboard electric heating is very expensive and we try to use it as little as possible.

Our "wood shed" is a very large and ramshackle "stable" (because once upon a time a pony lived in it; it was much nicer then). It is also open to a lot of the elements and the black rat snakes (saw a 5 1/2 foot one the other day) love it because of the car-eating mice. Boy, yours is nice enough to live in, as are all of your outbuildings. Good for you!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

You're so funny: how often do people hang their doors before they have built more than the frame (I'm sure there is a very good reason).

I very much like your house design: practical, simple, yet beautiful.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I am so glad that you reminded me of tung oil. We used it years ago in refinishing our dining room table and it has performed just amazingly. We have yellow pine floors throughout the whole house, which look terrible as their water-based varnish (stupidest thing anyone could do) is long worn off. Hard to refinish with all of the people and animals living in here, but one must find a way! Perhaps in square-foot increments? Fencing off each section as it dries?

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Work in the woods is very dangerous. I think I saw in the newspaper that last year, in our county, 8 guys were "killed in the woods." About a yearly par for the course. And, it's usually young guys. Don't know if they counted the log truck driver that died of a heart attack in our "back 40."

Hmmm. I'll have to give the wild geranium leaf a squeeze when I'm feeding Beau, tonight, and see if it has much of an odor. The scotch broom as spread well away from the coast and can be found just about everywhere. Miles of it along the freeways. Don't remember seeing any of it up here on our ridge. Will have to pay attention, this year.

Let's see. Herbal teas in the book: Anise hyssop; Bergamot, Cardamom , Hyssop, Lemon Balm, Lemongrass, Lemon Verbena, Manuka, the Mints, Mountain Pepper, New Jersey Tea, Raspberry, Rosemary, Sage, Scented Pelagonium/Scented Geranium, Stevia, Sweet Tea Vine, the Thymes, Tulsi/Holly Basil, Cilantro/Coriander, Fennel, Fenugreek, Blueberry, Lemon, Myrtle, Rose hip, Strawberry, Calendula, Chamomile, Honeysuckle, Jasmin, Lavender, Rose, Saffron, Violet, Angelica, Chicory, Echinaccea, Ginger and Licorice. So endith the Reading of the Table of Contents :-). And, the tea, teas. Going to give my tea plant a good soap spray, today (I figure every other day is good, until the infestation abates) and take off another curly leaf.

Nell seems on the mend. Still isn't eating, but drinking water. And, moving around a bit more. Wanted to go outside for awhile yesterday afternoon and this morning. I love her dearly, but have always prepared my mind for the inevitable and have a plan. Straight to the local animal shelter for another kitten. Not a replacement, as they're all so individual. But, another cat.

Have not seen any owls, around here, but I certainly hear them. Also, grouse. Now that there isn't much activity around the Abandoned Farm, they seem to be moving in from the east. Weird drumming noise. Like wood on wood.

Once when I was managing our little B. Dalton Books, here, we had a fire in the mall. The electrical room across the mall and down a hall. The lights went off, you could smell smoke and the alarms were going off. The dim emergency lights kicked on. I dropped the gate, hussled everyone in the store out the back door into the parking lot. I made one more sweep through the store to make sure there weren't any straggles and lock the til. There was one of our barnacle customers, standing under the weak light of an emergency lamp, reading. "Excuse me Sir, you need to exit out the back. The mall is on fire. NOW!" "Oh, ok." Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Great to hear about your use of wood. It is without doubt the most sustainable fuel source around and it is used for everything here (cooking, hot water and internal heat). Great to hear that you use only dead trees as they'd have very seasoned timber and burn hotter than green trees.

I use green trees here, but thin some of the young saplings in the forest. Honestly, three to four trees provides an entire years supply, but because they're green I have to season them for a couple of years. The dead and old trees here provide hollows for the birds, insects and animals whereas here not much lives or eats the saplings. If the possums had their claws on a few oak trees, those trees would be toast!

Thanks. The white shed was originally built as a form of temporary accommodation and it is very nice, insulated and even has a wood heater inside it for those cold winter nights. 5 and a half foot is a decent sized snake in anyones language! I wonder about the snakes getting into my sheds too. It is one reason I don't have a pond here as that would attract the snakes.

Very observant and also very true. I hung the red door first so as to test the steel frame for trueness and also because I wanted to ensure that the door opened fully flat to the wall when the cladding was installed. Good pickup!

Houses are funny things because they really are just boxes with cladding. But not all houses are made the same and project builders appear to cut a whole lot of corners these days to save money on the things you can't see. The house was deliberately designed to be small so that it uses very little ongoing energy. It replicates an early 20th century Victorian farm house that you'd see around these parts.

Glad to hear that you've used the tung oil too. Yeah, I fell for the same marketing speak years ago and like your place the plastic water based finish lifted off the floor in parts and was almost impossible to fix.

You know I was thinking of trying that exact thing next time around. Fence a small section off and give it a light sand and then apply the oil. Even a bit of dust won't be too much of a problem for the oil, but dust would set like a rock in the water based plastic finishes. Not good.

Cheers

Chris



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

It is dangerous. That is quite a lot of people really. Do you know, they don't report on those deaths here. I usually hear about them because of the bush telegraph as someone, will know someone, who... Caution is definitely the watchword when working in the forest as things can go wrong very quickly without notice.

I wonder if they don't report the deaths here because we have a very unusual relationship to trees down under and everyone thinks the forest is this amazing untouched place a wilderness, whatever that means - they couldn't be further from the truth.

The other thing you get working in the forest here are ant bites, spider bites and there are little scorpions under logs and rocks too. Everything wants to give you a bit of a nip! As they say in Sean of the Dead, they were a bit bitey! :-)! I'll watch the Warm Bodies film over the next week or so. Zombies!

Ah well, freeways be very disturbed land, so the scotch broom will take advantage of that opportunity. It will be interesting to see what you spot.

That is an extensive list of herbal teas. There is a lemon scented tea tree growing here which makes an excellent herbal too. It is good stuff. You've probably got most of those herbs growing about your place?

Glad to hear that Nell is on the mend and I agree wholeheartedly with you. Every animal has their ups and downs and hidden talents and you just never know what you might end up with. They can never replace, but they always bring something new.

Wow, I didn't realise that grouse was a bird. They look like they have some pigeon in them. As a fun fact, did you know that the term grouse is a slang word here meaning excellent. You'd say use the word like this: "Hey Lewis. That's a grouse bird, mate!" Truly, although you don't hear it spoken very often anymore.

How funny is it calling those people barnacles and that story is too funny! The question I was wondering and given that you have inside knowledge: Did the barnacles regularly purchase books or was it a social outing for them?

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again.

I dislike chain saws, know of far too many accidents.

I know the word 'grouse, apart from a bird, as meaning a complaint.

A gale has been blowing here for 48 hours. I risked life and limb yesterday when I walked through the woods to the road in order to check my post box. Not today though, it is too dangerous. One of the worst gusts that I ever remember, has just blasted through.

Have planted tomatoes in the greenhouse but the outside ones will have to wait, too windy. Am closely watching my strawberries as I am sick of eating rhubarb. The family would probably think that I am nuts as, if I have grown food, I eat it even when I can think of things that I like better. The glorious thing about strawberries is that I don't get sick of them.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Ya, newspaper reporting is funny. Here we have a column of "Sirens." All the arrests in each main town and the country. What irritates me, and what I don't understand, that if a person commits a crime, names and ages are listed. If a crime is at a business, the name is not listed. It's always "...in the 400 block of SW Tower." Dumb.

You'll maybe like "Warm Bodies." It's a romance, you know :-). Yeah, I'm all for Zombie! movies. Can still remember seeing "Dawn of the Dead" back in the 60s. My favorite, by the same director, is "Dawn of the Dead." All takes place in a shopping mall, with a heavy handed sub-text on the Consumer Culture. Or, maybe, a cigar is just a cigar :-).

One of the director Romero's recent movies (forget which one) had an extra on the DVD that was kind of fun. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost got to play zombie extras. Have a sit down, with the great man. They turned into such fan boys :-).

The Barnacles brought back to mind some of my customers. No, they don't usually buy. Just take up space and use up all the oxygen. :-). One comes to mind that I still feel a bit bad, about. A young man of perhaps 20 who was probably somewhere on the severe autistic spectrum. He was there EVERY day. It was the smallest B. Dalton and the aisles were very tight. He'd show up at opening and be there til 5 or so. In the way, underfoot and he frightened some of the customers. Well, it turned out his Dad was dumping him off every day. I told him I needed to talk to his Dad. Poor guy. A single dad, construction worker. I told him (gently, I hope) that he couldn't be dropping off his son for us to take care of, for the above reasons. The best I could come up with, in this back water place was the local library. Then when I worked at the Yelm library, there was the guy with Tourette's :-).

"Got most of the herbs." HA! Getting there, but not by a long shot. Forgot to check the geranium, last night. It was raining hard and I was out and in.

Nell seems back to normal. Must have been a 24 hour bug. Off to town. Tung oil is on my list. Picked up a hoe, yesterday, and the handle is in bad shape. Hmmm, I thought. tung oil. Lew



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Fair enough about the chainsaws. I have a great deal of respect and regard for both them and the trees. Neither gets used lightly.

Too funny. Fancy that. A bird in the US. A complaint in the UK and an exclamation in Australia. It seems to be a very versatile word!

I don't doubt that. Stay safe and be careful. Wind storms are very dangerous things in a forest. It is akin to natures preferred method of pruning. Large brances can be fatal. People camp underneath eucalytpus trees, but they can drop huge branches without warning. The first you'll know of it will be a sharp crack sound. A tree almost took me out once and I only had a few seconds warning and it was a still and calm day too.

Do you add sugar to your rhubarb when you stew it - or do you cook it some other way? It is a very reliable plant here and produces stems all year long - but I hear you, it is probably nice for the first six months...

Strawberries are a true delight.

Not to scare you but I've experimented this year with a rhubarb and strawberry wine and it is a winner. It has a dry taste to it and tastes more like strawberry than rhubarb.

I often add rhubarb stems to my jams as they are full of pectin and help set the jam. I'm swimming in quince jam at the moment too and have again run out of bottles...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Not saying the local traders association is at work, but it certainly looks that way. I can imagine what they were thinking at the exclusion: Don't give people ideas!

Yeah, my kind of zombie film - as you know! hehe! Too funny, thanks for the laugh. Actually I'll check it out over the next week or two and we can discuss it then.

Oh yeah, George Romero is the man for zombie films. I saw the one that you mentioned at the cinema and I really enjoyed it. I can still recall Dennis Hopper saying: Zombies. I hate zombies...

No I think in that particular case a cigar is actually a carefully narrated tale of the stupidity of consumer culture. Plus I really liked the bit when the zombies stormed the up market restaurant. Unforgetable!

I'll bet they did, it would have been good fun for them too.

One must not overstay their welcome, seems like sound advice. Yeah, that situation is hard on everyone. It is considered impolite to mention that particular possibility before procreation. I mentioned my mate has two disabled children and that is a tough gig. What surprised me was that he knew the odds of the second child having the condition was more than very high and yet went ahead and had the kid anyway. He is very expectational about others time assisting him with the kids, but at the same time has an underlying current of anger, which is just below the surface. Dunno, really, no one wins.

Hehe! Well it is a matter of time. Anyway, my thinking about herbs is that some are more useful than others and some grow more easily in your area too. I'm going to try and track down one of those white willows that you mentioned a few weeks back. They'd probably grow well up your way too?

Really great to hear about Nell! May she have many more years contemplating the moon and thinking her feline thoughts. Even at the risk that they might be: Day 3,000 of my capativity, almost tripped Lewis up in the hallway. Tidy work and for my next feat...

Ah, it is raining here today too. I installed half of the roof sheets yesterday in the cold, windy rain and it is just unappealing. Speaking of travelling to the big smoke to pick up supplies, did you get the tung oil. It takes a couple of days to dry properly, but should do the trick nicely. Went to the big smoke myslef this morning to pick up a water tank for the new shed and ... the bottom of the tank had a defect so they had to send it back and I'll get a replacement in a couple of weeks. So much for catching all of the winter rain here! The water tanks are almost impossible to repair so it is not worth the trouble of taking the tank and hoping for the best.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Back from voting in the general election. Results will be more exciting than usual. I remember, 'no politics on this blog' so nuff said.

Buttercups have started to flower.

I cook the rhubarb with dates and dark sugar. My husband used to make a wonderful rhubarb wine; I don't make wine. Don't usually make jam anymore either as I seem to have lost a sweet tooth with age and hardly ever eat jam.

If one has enough rhubarb to make it worthwhile to force some plants, then that pale rhubarb is wonderful cooked with orange juice and (I guess) some white sugar.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, I suppose the newspaper doesn't want to offend the advertisers. Those who are left. And, being a small town, it's a pretty tight group of old families that scratch each others back.

I see willows around. Not a lot of them, but the one's I see look pretty healthy. Don't know which of the three varieties, they are. Something to look into.

I checked out the geranium leaves, last night. Not much odor, at all. Guess I'll have to look into getting some "real" geraniums. :-)

Yup. Picked up the tung oil. I need to use that hoe for a couple of days, so, shall put off the oiling. Might be a good thing to do just before my trip. Let it sit and dry out while I'm gone.

Land line is out ... again. And, the company doesn't seem very interested in tracking down the problem. The screen where I could do a line test states that my account is "inactive." Shot off an e-mail into the void, last night.

Well, anyway. I'm coping with the idea that I may have to do without a landline, and, I suppose the Net won't be far behind. No cell reception, here. I looked into a satellite phone. Really expensive. And, I'm just so dumb about tech.

The Jupiter's Beard looks like it's getting ready to bloom. Another pastel pink, about the place :-). Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I have just read 'on ADR' that you receive a water bill although you don't receive water! Sounds shocking to me; what about sewage?

Although water and sewage come in one bill here, one is told how much for sewage and how much for water. I am not on main sewage so don't pay that part. One certainly does not pay for water if one isn't on the mains.

Inge

heather said...

Chris- is that a firewood shed or a bomb shelter? Nice work!

Seeing the photo of you on the two ladders when you were putting on the siding boards gives me the shivers. My dad was on a similar setup putting siding on our house, only his was more like a scaffolding, with a board between the two ladders. The scaffolding collapsed and he went down with it, getting his legs tangled in the mess and almost breaking both of them at the shins. Thank god he came through with only severe bruising, but he was still months and months on the mend. I'm sure you don't need to be reminded that construction can be a dangerous business. Be careful battling the winter weather to get your shed roof on!
--Heather in CA

heather said...

Lewis-
I'm astonished that raspberry, and blueberry, but not blackberry, is on your book's list of teas. (Ok, tisanes.) Mmm. Gets my vote for best use of an invasive species around here, especially in a blend with hibiscus.

I'm sorry about the situation you describe, of gradually seeing your utilities and communication lines dropping off. I feel a complicated mess thinking about what's happening to you- indignant, amazed, sad, not a little frightened as I realize that your story is likely to become more and more common... It must be very difficult, though the attitude of acceptance you describe sounds very brave. Selfishly, I'll miss reading your comments here and elsewhere if things go as you predict. Good luck.

--Heather in CA

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge, Lewis and Heather.

I started at 7am this morning at first light and finished about 6.30pm this evening (well after dark). The chickens missed out on their afternoon run in the orchard today - they'll probably be angry birds tomorrow...

The roof on the shed is now on and the ridge capping has also been installed. Even half of the internal steel cladding has been installed - I can put the rest up even if it is raining as it will be nice and dry inside the shed now.

I don't how this was possible, but somehow I also found the time to bring up 3 (7x5 foot) trailer loads of firewood about half of which has been split and stored in the shed.

It was a big day and I'm crashing now and feel that an early night is in order.

Thanks for the lovely comments and I promise to respond tomorrow evening.

Rain is predicted everyday for the next seven days so it was worth the massive effort. Spare a thought for the people up in the north west of the continent who are experiencing a heat wave: Western Australia's Kimberley swelters while the southest cools off. What a interesting and mildly crazy planet that we live on!

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Lew:

I have been reading and enjoying and learning from your comments, both here and on ADR for a long time now and I, too, just as Heather mentioned, would miss reading them. So - I certainly hope that the problems you have with Internet access (and phone, and water!) will be fixed.

As has been proposed over at ADR, perhaps there might be some way - should some of us (most?) lose Internet access - that our dear host might set up a newsletter to keep up the exchange of information that Chris has nurtured here?

Chris:

How was it possible to bring up 3 trailer loads of wood when there was NO time? Why, because Chris was behind the endeavor!

Thanks for the WA link. My thoughts are indeed with the people (and all creatures) suffering through such temperatures. That's so hot! It reminds me a bit of where I grew up in Texas. We thanked God every day for the air-conditioning. Don't know if those people have any; perhaps best if they don't and already have strategies in place.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Hmmm. How can I explain this. Here in the US, there's a lot of "systems" (water, power, property taxes), that even if your use, or, the value of your property falls, there are still basic rates to pay, just for the maintenance of the whole system. At least, that's the talk and reasoning, now, as everything goes into decline.

@Heather - Thanks for the kind thoughts. Of course, the thought crosses my mind to move somewhere where utilities and communication would be more reliable. But then I ask myself how connected to the world I want to be ... or think I should be. How important is it?

My Dad was a painter, all his life. He had really sturdy ladders, with really sturdy clamps to hold the ... deck board between the ladders. cgvvvvvvvvvvvdf (that was the cat jumping in my lap :-). He also had a "paper hanging table." A kind of collapsible table to lay out and paste wallpaper. He sold all that to a younger painter when he finally hung up his brush :-).

Honeysuckle tisne might come in handy. I've got one invasive patch, here. Just using the flowers won't really knock it back. The hummingbirds like it. I'm surprised they didn't include hops. I've got a nice, old hop vine. Since I don't drink, I haven't really done anything with it. When looking to see if there were any other uses, I discovered a tisne. Will try it this year.

LOL at myself. That sound I've been hearing that I thought was grouse? Sometimes it's an eerie wooden knocking noise. Sometimes more metallic. When I was on my morning walk, yesterday, I could hear the metallic knock. When I got up to the Abandoned Farm, there was a woodpecker, banging away at the pole that holds up the yard light!

Chris - Saw your post over at ADR. Yes, we've always been a restless bunch. "Go West, young man!" "Westward, the Course of Empire!" Of course, there was a lot of displacement, during the Depression. People in search of jobs.

But, I was still kind of ... shocked? During the 80s when the Rust Belt started hollowing out. Small rural towns started to be abandoned. Social networks unraveling. The media just seemed to take it as a given that one had to move for a job. Follow the employment. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Yeah, I like to keep things politics free. However, even down here in this little remote corner of the world I heard on the radio that there were some serious accusations of voting fraud. That's a big call.

Out of interest, I worked as a vote counter at the previous federal election here and the process was exceedingly honest and the counting was watched by members from several different political parties. Voting is compulsory here too and it uses a preferential and proportional voting system which is much more complex than simple first past the post systems.

Nice to hear about the buttercups. The dates with the rhubarb and dark sugar would be very nice indeed. YUM! The really dark sugar has molasses in it which is very good for you.

Everyone is different and your tastes change as you age too. Years ago I used to enjoy the sweeter home brews, but am favouring the drier taste now. Just trying some of the many Australian round limes in a brew today. It is an experimental batch, but there is so much fruit. I put 30 in the brew and there are still 50 of them on the tree.

Forcing plants is a new term for me. Interesting concept too. I must confess that I have a lazier strategy which involves having as much genetic diversity as possible and some of the plants will grow at each end of the season. The 40 or 50 odd rhubarb plants here produce stems all year long. They're like triffids.

What is your season like for rhubarb?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

That is fair enough too. In a small town where you can't necessarily move away from your social faux pas, then you tread lightly and carefully through the social maze. The internet is like a monster that eats all of the local advertising revenue and local goodwill in front of it and leaves very little behind.

The willows tend to grow alongside creek and river beds here. They perform the valuable function of slowing the water down as it moves across the landscape, but other people look at them differently. It is really the white barked willow that you have to keep your eye out for. You'll know it when you see it. There are a couple of them locally here.

Too funny, yes the concept of real geraniums is much like the concept of "real" small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri! Ah, those were the days...

Sorry mate, I don't even know what to say to you about your landline. There was a bit of a discussion recently on one of the off grid / renewable energy forums that I subscribe too and they were whining about internet access in remote parts of the country and I said to them: the connection has to make economic sense for it to be provided. Well to say my opinion was dismissed out of hand is to put it lightly... I dunno, you have your neighbours and a small town, that is what it will eventually get down too and it is perhaps the thing that most people - present company excluded - are avoiding.

Jupiter's beard is an amazing looking flower and prolific. Didn't Jupiter smash the Titans? I only ask that because it isn't a very manly flower. Just saying! hehe! Sorry, I couldn't help myself. How did it get that name?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks. It is a very annoying situation, especially given that the worm farm sewage system here set me back almost $10k. I eventually installed it because it was the right thing to do and not because it was even remotely economical. I almost fell over when they quoted me the price. The wombats and wallabies love it over summer too.

The funny thing is now that I understand the process, I could replicate it for only a few hundred dollars, but that isn't certified by the EPA (Environmental Protection Authority) is it?

And I didn't even mention the sheer cost of the water tanks, pumps, pipes and energy involved in supply a small quantity of water to the household and garden here.

Oh well, it is nice to be self sufficient and I'm propose to respond on the ADR this evening if I get the time. Should be interesting as I've had the day to consider an appropriate response.

Nice to hear too. If you don't receive any service then you should be responsible for your local environment. That is a mature response to the situation. It is a shame that our legal system doesn't quite see it that way. Oh well!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Heather,

Hehe! Too funny. Thanks for that. As you probably understand too, the threat of bush fire means that many of the structures here are seriously over engineered. But, having said that I am pleased to hear your thoughts. I hope that it doesn't get tested though...

Sorry to hear about your dad. That is awful. OMG he was very, very lucky to not be permanently injured! Injuries can happen very quickly and without warning. It is amazing how many people that I know have had falling injuries. I even fell off the roof once here and have taken very serious steps to ensure that does not happen again.

It is hard to see in the photo, but I was only working on one ladder. The second ladder was in place to support the other end of the fibro cement weatherboards so that I didn't have to juggle the weight of the board whilst being high off the ground at the same time.

I respect Lewis's attitude of acceptance to the situation too. My only hope is that he has provided his postal address to JMG, which I'm almost certain that he has done so. If he hasn't then, possibly it wouldn't be a bad idea...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

No worries. I'd suggest that you send your postal address to JMG via either a "not for posting" comment on blogger or the AODA website email and all should be well. The postal service has been around for a very long time, so it shouldn't be a drama.

If internet connectivity looks as though it may be a problem, I'll put the call out and see if there is any demand for a newsletter, so not to stress. It is very cheap to send letters (snail mail) to and from here and the US. In some ways it could be a whole lot of fun.

Thanks for your thoughts, the birds and animals there do it very hard. There is a lot in common between those two areas. However, it is very unseasonable for it to be that hot at this time of year. It is not good. That area does include the hottest town in Australia though (Marble Bar).

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I wonder about that too as the property taxes for the local council here are based on land valuations. They call them council rates here. Your experience is probably quite instructive though in that the taxes stay the same whilst property values fall.

Sorry to add this but I grew up without the internet and experienced my first computer as a wee young lad (the Sinclair ZX-80 and the Commodore VIC-20) and I lusted after one of them because of the games that you could play on them. It never actually occurred to me to go out and buy one though. As a young lad I often worked two or three jobs as there was no pocket money forthcoming from my single mother, so money may not have been the big issue that I thought that it was at the time... I eventually scored a Commodore-64 courtesy of my wealthy grandfather - what a great games machine and I learned it's insides too...

Hops adds the characteristic flavour of beer, but I've often wondered just how important an ingredient it actually is? I don't have much experience with beer brewing.

A woodpecker! Too funny. The birds can be surprising. Are they usually in your area?

Yeah, well I've wondered about the propensity for people to move in search of employment. It happens here, but mostly the population is rarely mobile. I've never lived far from Melbourne for example. I've travelled widely, but always returned. Somehow it just felt right, I dunno really.

Yes, exactly, that is what I suspect is the underlying message behind the Detroit and Baltimore shutoffs. Move elsewhere young man, or else!

Cheers

Chris

Angus Wallace said...

Shed's looking good, Chris. Like the idea of cladding it inside and outside.

It's been eye-opening to me to see your successive building photos of house and shed to see what goes into bushfireproofing buildings. My wife is doing a PDC at the Food Forest (just North of Adelaide) at the moment, and David Holmgren was one of their teachers, taalking about bushfire risk management. That's been interesting too.

We went for painted floorboards when we sanded them here. We were rushed and wanted to quickly get rid of the carpet and move in. If I did it again, I'd go for tung oil, no question

Spent today cutting down ivy with the kids. I still can't believe that people actually plant that stuff!
Cheers, Angus

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris, et all - Oh, I realize that rural landline are "not cost effective." And, will not have a meltdown, when it's gone. As far as the internet goes. Phone service is ... another thing, though. I don't use the phone, that much. But, it's handy when I need it. And, I am on the ADR potential mailing list, if it becomes necessary. Oh, when the internet goes, out here in the boonies, I'll just use the library computers on my once weekly trip to town, when necessary.

Have no idea how the Jupiter's Beard got it's name. Doesn't seem to spread, here. But, the bush does get bigger and bigger. LOL. Not many "manly" flowers around here. My landlord's wife was partial to pastels.

Same with septic systems, here. Used to be, you could put in your own system. And, there are books kicking around that tell you exactly how to do it. But, now it's mandated that you have them designed and installed ... at a substantial cost. I'm sure the system in this house was "home built". And, it's still (knock on wood) perking along quit nicely.

We have two kinds of woodpeckers, here. A small one and a large one. I've only seen the large one, once. Quit a sight. They're usually shy of buildings and seem to hang out in the woods, or on the fringe of the woods. I think the one the other day was at the yard light, because there's just not much activity over at the Abandoned Farm.

Well, I'm off to your alma mater, Radio Shack, this morning. In search of a cell phone. Something simple, pay as you go. I was in there, yesterday, to see if I could get an old phone of mine up and running. Probably 5 years old, but the batteries are almost impossible to get.

I understand that the aerials inside them are better, these days. Service might be spotty, where I live. Neighbor says you have to move around a bit, but it's doable. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris and Lew

Here we only have to pay council tax, the amount being based on the value of ones house. In addition I pay for water, electricity and landline, the last being a bit more expensive because I get the internet on it.
If I had none of the services, I would only have to pay the council tax. I believe that in Australia and the US you have both state and federal taxes. Not so here thank goodness.

Woodpeckers: I have 2, the green woodpecker and the greater spotted woodpecker. The latter comes onto my squirrel/bird feeder. I also hear their loud knocking on the trees.

Rhubarb forcing: There used to be clay pots for the purpose; people will pay quite a bit for these. It produces a very pale and delicate tasting stem but knocks the hell out of the plant.

Willows: They have the widest spreading root system of any tree here and therefore are particularly good at holding this slipping land in place. When they fall over they continue to grow, producing vertical stems from the trunk and thus creating a hedge.

Voting: This is not compulsory here and I know many people who never vote and who remain off the voter's list which results in a certain anonymity.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

Thanks. The inside cladding really stops the shed from falling apart because no matter how careful you are sooner or later you'll throw in a chunk of timber and bend or break the outer cladding. The the rain gets in and the shed slowly falls apart and the firewood inside starts to rot... It is not a good outcome.

Your wife is very fortunate to be doing that course and I hope that she gets a lot out of it. David is a nice bloke and his farm isn't too far from here and they regularly open it. It is full of good systems. He's written extensively about bushfires and house design so he'd have something interesting to say about the subject for sure.

Yeah, wow! I've seen a video about the food forest which is near Gawler, South Australia and they're doing some very good stuff.

Glad to hear that you are enjoying the AS3959-2009 bushfire standard approach to houses. It works like a telephone book, with successive layers which are really hard to burn - if you've ever tried.

Painted is good too. Strangely enough the paint cures in about the same time as the oil. I like painted floorboards and once had radiata pine which was lime washed and they looked pretty good too. Once I saw a place with Japan black finish and the thought of all of the marks and dirt sort of scared me off using that, but it looked really good.

Yeah, ivy is very invasive. Top work, just out of interest how did you cut into the main ivy trunks - they can be harder than floorboard timber...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I feel much the same and I salute your attitude of stoicism. If the inevitable occurs, we shall just (hopefully) become pen pals in the old school mode and it will add a certain element of enjoyment and anticipation as to when and who may have written to whom when the post office box gets cleared. Don't get me wrong though, as I enjoy this forum too.

Ahh, the culprit has now been revealed! I doubt many flowers are very "manly" anyway... Who cares about such considerations. I remember reading an essay written by a gardener who worked for the English during WWII who hated canna lilies because part of his job required burying dead horses and then planting the same lilies over the subsequent mound. The gardener wrote that the lilies did particularly well over those mounds and it left an impression on me because I sort of figured that that was part of the cycle of life and I hadn't understood that other people would see it differently. Anyway, the lady at the local plant nursery told me that I enjoyed flowers because I was quote: "getting on in years". Thanks for that one... :-)! Too funny.

Your depth and understanding of art is beyond me, so the thought of mentioning pastels is a bit, well, difficult... Hehe! Pastels are alright, you know! ;-)!

Exactly. About a decade ago, I spent a lovely afternoon with a guy that had a substantial heritage orchard - he actually had the national collection of quinces - and he told me that he owner built his own house and back in the day was not even required to obtain a permit. Not saying that I smell a rat, but there is certainly the wiff off rodent in the air!

It is quite amazing that you have an abandoned farm near you. My gut feel is that nature will claim all such things back for her own in due course. The cockatoo birds here will quite happily eat through timber frames, windows - you name it... Nature is hungry.

I'm glad to hear that despite the trials and tribulations that Radio Shack is still operating - for a while. The batteries for your phone can be sourced from Ebay sellers. My very old flip phone here has had the battery replaced once or twice now. Better to re-use than buy new. How did you go? Although, I'd consider a phone with big buttons and serious volume if the current one requires replacing.

It is like here in that different spots in the area can have very different service levels from cell towers, so you never know. I don't really know about the aerial in the phones so can't really comment, however I suspect that they do use an amplifier for the signal, but who knows really?

Mate, it bucketed down here last night and into this morning!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

The same thing occurs here too in relation to taxes. The land tax goes towards the provision of services by the local council. Those council rates set me back about $2,300 per annum.

The state government receives most of their revenue from the 10% Goods and Services Tax (a VAT equivalent) which is collected by the Federal government and redistributed to the states. They also enjoy stamp duty on the sale of real estate and that has been a lucrative feed trough...

The Federal government receives income from personal and company income taxes as well as a host of other taxes (fringe benefits tax for just one example).

The conversation about rhubarb is quite interesting because the plant originated in China and forcing it to produce stems is a foreign concept to me. Thanks for the information. It is without doubt the most productive plant here and will produce stems all year round - although I don't really pick it for eating during summer as there are so many other things to eat. It is very interesting to hear how it performs in your part of the world.

The willows do the same thing here and they perform the exact same function but tend to hold the creeks together so that they do not simply just disappear. I'm not sure what sort of Internet bandwidth that you have, but the sort of erosion that can occur here is visible in the following video: A tale of two neighbours

I can understand the desire for anonymity. However, those people get fined here by the government for not voting. The whole compulsory voting thing was introduced because the general population was largely apathetic. It is interesting to note that the voting process brings out 96% of the eligible voting population, so there may be something to be said about compulsory voting. It certainly was very busy for about a 13 hour solid shift that day. The election people work hard and well into the night...

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again.

I only pay for a limited internet download and it is slow.

My rhubarb dies right down at the end of summer, then re-grows in the spring.

Have been making bread this morning so the place smells wonderful. Mind you, kneading 100% wholemeal dough is hard work for me. I have a friend (now in his 90s) who used to be wonderful to watch when he kneaded his dough. He was a professional potter and used to throw the dough around as if it were clay. He made very good bread.

Had a phonecall yesterday to say that there were sheep wandering around in the road. So I rang my son who knows the owner. Son then went to start sending the sheep in the correct direction while he phoned the owner. This is just one of the things that I love about true rural living; the co-operation. Mind you incomers get it all wrong.

Pink and white bugle is flowering. I believe that the white ones are quite rare.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris & Inge - At the simple end of things, there can be State income taxes and State sales taxes. Washington State has a sales tax, but no State income tax. Oregon has no sales tax, but a State income tax. Most States have both. There are all kinds of taxes that are kind of ... hidden in things. My communications bill (land line and internet) runs about 3 pages of very fine type. There are taxes, scattered throughout. Fuel of any type has State and Federal taxes. If you buy oil, there's taxes and, maybe, a disposal fee tacked on.

I haven't paid a Federal income tax in a couple of years as my income is so low. People tell me I don't even need to file, anymore, but I keep doing it. Habit. And, I get a couple of discounts on things that are based on income ... that can be proven by your tax returns.

Voting. Not mandatory. Presidential elections seem to turn out a fair vote. Off year elections or special tax levys, not so much. One pitfall of registering to vote is that you are liable to be called up for jury duty. Which can be onerous.

Oh, there's quit a few flowers that I like. I've been training a climbing rose along the back deck. It's about to bloom. Hundreds of small vibrant red blossoms. I can spend an hour or two, just deadheading them and talking to Beau.

Well, of course what I call the Abandoned Farm is where Brother Bob the Bachelor Farmer and his mother lived. Owned by my landlord, now. He says it would take around $15,000 to make it rentable (which, he'd rather not do) or, sellable. So, it languishes. He says it really depresses him to even go over there. Don't know what will happen when he passes on.

Well, I got a phone from Radio Shack, and it seems to work, out here. Cost me $20 for the phone (plus numerous taxes :-). $30 a month for service. Unlimited phone service, texting (which I don't do). Has a camera. If I can figure it all out, maybe I'll post some pictures to my languishing blog. No contract. Just a month to month. Lew

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

Yeah, removing ivy is hard work. We had loads at our place (maybe 8 cubic meters?). This is the last couple of m^3, and is particularly difficult because it's all in amongst plants that I want to keep (slowly throttling them ;-).
I've been using a mattock, axe and tree saw (the latter is good for the trunk as it's extremely sharp). Getting the roots out is proving a challenge though, as access is difficult... We'll get there... On the bright side -- lots of fodder for compost!

Being near the centre of town we have no bushfire preparedness at my place. I have a second 25mm water pump in the shed, and have considered getting it connected
to a tank with a hose, just in case.

Incidentally, my dad got me a piece of firemen's hose from a neighbour. It has a 25mm internal bore and is rated to 300 psi. That would pack a serious punch!

Cheers, Angus

susan said...

Having read a number of your comments to the Archdruid Reports I decided to come and visit. While I don't own land (or a house) ,and being far too old to start the process, I'm still very impressed with your efforts.

Best wishes