Monday, 31 August 2015

How much can a Koala Bear?



Last week, the temperature plummeted, the skies darkened with thick heavy cloud and the rain fell liberally for days on end.

All plans for outside garden and orchard activities were abandoned. Fortunately, I have an area that is outside and protected from both the rain and the cold southerly winds blowing up from Antarctica. I store a few days firewood for immediate use in that sheltered spot, and it is also very useful for constructing projects when it is raining or the wind is blowing so hard that it feels as if you are chilled to your very bones.

Sunday was such a day. I was battling the big box store blues (more on this later) in that sheltered spot when Poopy the Pomeranian (the fancy name for his species - in a truly ironic twist to the latter story too - is a Swedish Lapphund) who had been casually lounging around on the front veranda, started making a ruckus.

When dogs communicate with humans it’s usually about a lot of rubbish. Honestly, dogs can be very boring and repetitive. Some of their conversation can include the following forgettable gems:
-          I’m hungry, where is my dinner?
-          I need to go to the toilet, let me out now!
-          Come here!
-          That other dog is infringing upon my perquisites and I’m unhappy about it!

But on this day, as Poopy the Pomeranian started barking differently from his usual rubbish, it is always wise in such circumstances to see exactly what was going on. Poopy was trying to alert me to the fact that a very strange creature had decided to make a visit. So, I went to investigate.

And what I found, completely blew me away. So, the first thing I did was to order Poopy into the house – You, in the house now! And off he trotted obediently into the house, as he didn’t want anything at all to do with this particular creature with its massive claws and wide jaw.

For some reason, a young male Koala Bear had decided that he needed a bit of assistance with his journey in life and decided that the house here was a good place to obtain that help. He did very well making that decision and things have been looking up for him ever since. The Koala followed me around like a dog and honestly there were times that I was thinking: You know what? He’d make a great addition to the household (possible name Krusty the Koala).
The author gives the newest Koala resident a little enjoyable head scratch
From the photo it is very hard to describe just how unpleasant it was outside the house that day. I had so many layers of clothing on that I felt like the Michelin Man and even then I was trying to keep my hands warm as you can see in the photo above. The Koala on the other hand had clearly been on the ground and moving across the country for a few days as he was cold and wet.
Close up of the Koala visitor
The poor little fella had a bit of blood on his ears from a burst tick and there were a few other intact ticks on his ears too which have since been removed. Ticks are an unfortunate part of life here for the wildlife (and dogs) and they were a good indication that the Koala had been on the ground for a few days searching out new territory. The ticks here are reasonably benign.
Dispirited looking Koala with food and energy drink
Koalas are not normally found in this area, so I used the bush telegraph (i.e. known contacts) and contacted people that I knew whom had experience with wildlife. The architect that designed the house here runs a wildlife shelter on his property in the mountain range to the north of here and he recounted to me the possible story of the little lost Koala. In addition to that he put me in contact with the local wildlife rescue people who know far more about Koalas than I do and who eventually came to collect the Koala. In the meantime, I wrapped the little fella in a warm towel and provided him an energy drink of: warm water, dark brown sugar with molasses and also a bit of olive oil.

I’ll recount the story about how the little fella possibly came to be up here. For a start, you can tell the Koala is a male because he has a dark patch on his chest. The dark patch indicates the presence of a gland which secretes hormones on trees for the purpose of marking that tree as that particular Koalas territory.

Unfortunately, young Koala males have to always leave the area that they were born into. This is an excellent survival strategy as it prevents the Koala population from the awful problems of in-breeding. However, it can also mean that a young male Koala may travel off into the wild blue yonder on an adventure only to find himself in a land with no food.

That is probably the most reasonable explanation for the young Koalas presence here. The dominant trees here (Eucalyptus Obliqua or Messmate) aren’t good food for a Koala. They much prefer the Manna gum (Eucalyptus viminalis) which grows along the creek beds and along the swampy and moist main ridges higher up in the mountain range. You see, Koalas don’t have to drink water to survive at all, but instead gain most of their nutrients and fluids from the leaves of the tree species which they prefer. As an interesting side note, the manna gum also produces an edible sap which was often eaten by the Aboriginals and early settlers as a sugar substitute much in the same way that maple sugar comes from Sugar Maple trees.

Koala bears have very small reserves of body fat so are unable to go many days without food. By the time the poor little fella worked his way to my front door he must have been exhausted, cold, wet and hungry. He was certainly dispirited - but still would have made an excellent addition to the household.

The lovely local wildlife rescue person quickly turned up and picked up the poor little Koala and whisked him off to another local carer who specialises in Koalas. A couple of hours in a warm spot with some proper Koala food and a dose of antibiotics and his spirits have improved. I understand that he has now attempted at least one escape and in doing so trashed a bathroom. Well done you, that’s the proper Cherokee spirit! Updates on his progress can be found on this link:


You can check out their main Facebook page for updates too. Incidentally, the Macedon Ranges Wildlife Network group is a group of locals using their own resources and they receive no funding whatsoever from any other sources. As you are all aware, I do not push – and never will – products or services on this blog, however, if you are feeling touched by this story and can donate some loose change I’m pretty sure it could be put to good use by the wildlife network people who otherwise pay for everything out of their own pockets.  Donations – if you want to – can be made via this link here:


There must have been something in the air this week as an endangered and locally very uncommon, Barking Owl (Ninox connivens) also decided to drop by one night for a visit. The owl was totally silent and I only noticed it by sheer accident.
A barking owl decided to make a special guest visit this week
It was a very impressive looking and rare owl, but it isn’t a cute Koala bear is it?

Oh yeah, speaking of Swedish dogs earlier in the blog made me recall that I had a serious case of the big box store blues a few days ago.

The paid business here at the farm was rapidly getting to the point that it was outstripping the paper storage capacity. Many long months ago, a couple of mates had conned me into assisting them with constructing flat pack storage racks for their own business. The racks were a good design, so the editor and I headed off on Thursday night to check out the racks in the big box store.

The box store assaulted my senses as it appeared to be a consumer maze with blaring 1980’s and 90’s disco music. I do respect the musical integrity of those performers but after a while it began to grate on my nerves. When the editor and I finally found the racking, we both looked at it in the cold light of fluorescent and agreed that we wouldn’t pay that much for that particular racking. Instead, we took a different approach and made the racking from scratch. That is what I was doing outside when the Koala bear turned up (Oooo cute Koala!).
The author constructing custom made racking for document storage
Seriously, this stuff cost half the price of the flat pack racking and that cost even includes enough left over materials to construct the experimental Cherokee TM bee hive over the next week or so. Getting back to the racking story though, I coated the pine with a second coat of acrylic protective coating this morning and it is now in place waiting to be filled with files.

The new racking is now in place and ready for use
The racking is good, but it’s not a cute Koala bear is it?

The desk in that office was an interesting purchase many years ago. It is locally handmade, solid European Beech timber and someone wanted to be rid of it for $80 second hand. I said to them: I can help you with that problem!

It is a nice desk, but it’s not a cute Koala bear is it?

Just to give you an idea of how cold it has been down here, when I woke up early on Saturday morning, I thought to myself that it was a bit chilly! The outside temperature was 0.2’C (32.3’F).
The temperature on Saturday morning was a bit chilly
Such days are not conducive to early starts, so I headed off to grab a coffee, a toastie and clear the mail box instead. After a coffee the world was in much clearer focus so I happened to notice that it was snowing.
Snow fell on Mount Macedon on Saturday morning
At least I felt warmer in the snow because of the coffee and toastie! But it isn’t a cute Koala Bear is it?

This winter has recently been declared the coldest winter in 26 years and it certainly feels it to me.

I’ve completely run out of time, space, dry firewood and readers tolerance to talk about house construction, so I promise we’ll get back to it again next week! I can’t promise cute Koala Bears again though!

The temperature outside here at about 9.15pm is 4.2’C degrees Celsius (39.6’F). So far this year there has been 544.0mm (21.4 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 524.8mm (20.7 inches). Oh yeah, some serious rain is forecast to hit here mid this week!

57 comments:

rabidlittlehippy said...

Hasn't anyone ever told you that koalas cannot bear to be called a bear? ;)

What an adorable fellow and he sure does look plain old miserable in those photos. I'm glad to hear he's perked up. And I can't believe he let you touch, let alone de-tick him! He MUST have been in a bad way.

I reckon the winter 26 years back was the one where we kids all took "snow" to school that had fallen in Heidelberg area in Melbourne. The timing would be about right. It sure has been cold here and we've seen snow on several occasions but nothing that sat on the ground sadly. Mind you, Ballan is a couple of hundred metres lower than where you are.

Stay warm. I reckon a mulled wine might just do the trick.

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

The koala is utterly adorable, weren't you tempted to keep him around, or wouldn't that have been practical? Once when staying with my younger daughter (inland from Coff's Harbour)there was a colossal racket one night in her garden. I was told that that was a male koala calling for a mate. I believe that koalas are often afflicted with chlamydia, do you know whether that problem has been solved?

Here it is still rain, rain, rain. Our tomatoes have been a disaster; a gardening programme mentioned this. Nice to know that it is not due to our incompetence. Blackberries remain green. Yesterday I smelt autumn in the air for the first time this year.

Inge

thecrowandsheep said...

Hi Chris,

That is one sexy rack you have there. Is that just being held together by a bit of dowel, a few brackets and some screw?

I was thinking about your batteries and the sufficient quantities of rain you are having. If your tanks are overflowing during the middle of winter, would it be theoretically possible to hook up some sort of generator arrangement to use the runoff as an extra source of current for your batteries?

Cheers

Morgenfrue said...

Aww, he is really cute!!!

If your references to Swedish things and giant boxes have to do with ikea, I can only agree with you. It's like the fast food of furniture. it looks fine in pictures but up close you can see it is more like a signifier of the item in question rather than the real thing.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Ohhhh! That Koala IS cute. So, has one ever showed up at your place, before? Taking in animals is always a terrible temptation, but then cool reasoning takes over, and one realizes that wild animals belong ... in the wild. Every spring, the local newspaper runs an article about "abandoned" baby animals. How to determine if they really ARE abandoned ... and all the local wildlife rescue outfits which also run on a shoestring.

The same impulse to take in domestic animals must be reigned in and tamped down. Otherwise, one can get too many cats, dogs, goats, whatever. When I borrowed the two goats to eat blackberries, the first year I was here ... Brother Bob the Bachelor Farmer (who had quit a menagerie) hinted, strongly, that I could keep the goats. Mmmm. No. The nanny was a sweet thing, but had some unidentified problems that rendered her almost ... sexless. So, no milk from her. The ram was magnificent, but a bit hard to handle. I think about getting a good milk goat, from time to time. But, it seems kind of overwhelming.

"Stuff" can be almost as bad. Chef John has got a new hot tub and was telling me the song and dance he must go through to keep it in optimum condition ... and, I made the comment that it was like having another pet :-).

I see a children't book in your koala adventure ... "The Koala that Came in from the Cold?" Sounds more like a spy novel :-). "Koala goes Walkabout?" "Not as Cute as a Koala?"

Your snow looks so pretty. I wonder if your cold winter is the new normal. As I wonder about our drought. Gusty winds to 25mph, here, today. Rain and showers forecast through next Friday.

Your shelves look really nice. That was quit a project to knock out. I had a similar unit (actually, two) in my bookstore. But, I took the easy way out. I found some heavy duty plastic ... joiners. Each one takes 4 .. 2x4s in various directions. You can build bookshelves, work benches, potting stations ... all kinds of stuff. Cut to length and screw together. Given my level of handyness (almost nil), it worked for me. The real trick was finding 2x4s that weren't warped. The joiners come from a small obscure company, and people were always asking me about them. So, I kept the catalog sheets handy.

On reflection, I suppose I could have used those galvanized joints that people use to put together decks, porches and ... chicken coops. They come in so many sizes and configurations. When I went to get some for my chicken coop, it was mind boggling and I had to seek the assistance of my more knowledgeable friends. When I moved out of the store, I disassembled the shelving units and have the wood. The plastic joiners (with paperwork instructions) are in a box ... at the ready for a future project. Or will be sold along with the rest of the tat from my estate :-). Lew

Debra Lacy said...

Great post. I keep having to remind myself that your seasons are the reverse of ours. Here in the Puget Sound region of the Pacific Northwest, we just got off of months of weather in the 80's and 90's (F), not much rain and the wildfires east of the Cascade range are still going strong. Saturday, the hot trend ended with a big windstorm off the Pacific that knocked over trees and knocked out power for a day or two to thousands of homes. Very unusual for August. I hope it's not a precursor to what's to come. We usually get these storms in October and November

No cute wild animals showed up at our place (in the heart of Seattle!), although raccoon have been known to come in through the cat door and help themselves to the cat food in the kitchen when we're not looking. My significant other has rifled through his T-shirts hanging in the laundry room (that has the cat door) only to find a possum hanging between them. Hisssss.

Jo said...

That's it I'm not reading any more posts unless there are koalas featured. Yours was certainly a darling:)

Unknown said...

(Deborah Bender)

I would have been afraid to say what a cute koala, knowing their reputation, but you gave permission, so awww . . .He was fortunate to find a friend. Did he drink any of the energy drink? It must have been tough to figure out what you had on hand that he would be able to digest. Young male animals in the wild have a hard time once they leave their mommas, or their mommas leave them.

I didn't get back to last week's entry to see your questions about pumpkins and such, so I'll answer here. The Mexican candied pumpkin is pumpkin flesh, but it's a reasonable question, as I have read about people pickling watermelon rind. Now I'm curious as to how they make it (candied pumpkin, not watermelon pickle). I expect there are recipes online.

My town is about thirty miles from farmland that produces a great variety of fruits and vegetables which are shipped all over the country, and there are a lot of wealthy people here, and a lot of immigrants, so there are places besides supermarkets to buy produce. There are weekly farmer's markets on different days in various towns, some small, some large, some organic (expensive), some locally grown but conventional (cheaper). There are small ethnic markets that carry some specialty produce. During harvest seasons there are roadside fruit stands in the country. If you have a car, you can make expeditions to orchards and berry patches and pick your own fruit for a fee. There is a one acre truck farm surrounded by ordinary houses within walking distance of my place, which allows people to pick whatever's ripe, weigh it and leave cash in a box. (This is fairly unusual). Tomatoes are ripe now. Some cities have year round daily covered produce markets. Unfortunately, most of this is not available in poorer neighborhoods and they don't have good supermarkets either, so the poor have a hard time obtaining fresh produce near where they live.

Back in the 1970s when I lived in Berkeley, CA, a woman named Alice Waters opened a restaurant in that town called Chez Panisse, which served a different dinner every night, with all the preparations being based on high quality, fresh, locally grown ingredients rather than fancy sauces or expensive exotica. At the time this was a new idea in America. It started a food trend in northern California, which spread to other restaurants and then to other parts of the country as California social trends often do. I walked past Chez Panisse many times but I've never actually eaten there.
Now people try to cook that way at home. I've gotten acquainted with several vegetables that my mother never cooked (though she was a better cook than I am).

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Hehe! You don't know how close it was! Unfortunately we have the wrong trees - and I was told that some Koalas adapt, but not that little guy. How cool would a grumpy house Koala be?

Beau sounds like he is doing his happy dance at the change of the season. I reckon animals are more sensitive to the changes in weather than us lot. Your long hot summer would have been a hassle for Beau - and probably made Nell a bit catty too!

But it is amazing just how much of our lives are on autopilot. It is both an easy and difficult state to get into. I find meditation to be quite mentally soothing and whilst I pursue it regularly, it is not an every day thing for me. The real world intruded rudely onto my existence way back in Feb 14 and I've been very busy since.

Yeah, the drones are seriously protected here too and I just don't get it at all. Still someone will get burnt badly using one of them one day soon.

Hehe! Nuff said really. I reckon it goes on all of the time. I once worked for a business that dealt with huge piles of cash every day and it was a total nightmare.

Yeah, I've been to Wellington and no disrespect to New Zealanders, but what people are doing living there is so far beyond my imagination that I don't get it. Auckland was stunning and vibrant. Maybe it was the very stormy weather there plus the very interesting trip across the Cook Straight on the ferry. It is not as if they haven't lost a ferry already. That was a rough trip that one.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Steve,

Exactly. Everyone knows everyones business up here too. I suspect three generations is at about the time that you're considered a local, but til then!

That is absolutely true. I read in the Conan stories that Conan considered civilised people to be uncouth because they could be so rude to their fellow humans. The comment then went on to say that Barbarians had to be polite to their fellows because you never knew when a misunderstanding and loss of face could lead to your skull being cracked open. Says it all really.

Absolutely. There are as many benefits as there are drawbacks. And sometimes the benefits of all that prying outweigh the costs. Look what that meant for the Koala.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Chris,

You have some outstanding yeasts then. Top work, it's all in the apple skins and it may be worthwhile considering innoculating your apple trees with yeasts from very old apple orchards. You never know what yeasts may be found there.

Top work with the cider / vinegar. You can play with the alcohol content by adding raw sugar (I don't use refined sugar). My general rule for a dry taste is 1 kilogram of sugar to 5 litres of mix. More than that will be too sweet for my palate.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Jessie,

That is very true, they can be quite grumpy at times. Their usual diet is quite a toxic mix and I'm sure that affects their personalities! So we'll whisper next time when we call him a bear. Hehe!

He was quite content to be touched, although the wildlife rescue people de-ticked him. I'm pretty handy at that process with the dogs by now. I didn't want to distress the poor little guy. He was in a bad way and was very cold, wet and hungry and far outside his normal territory. Mind you, things are looking up for him so it wasn't a bad gamble on his part after all. It was weird that he was following me around like a dog. His thinking must have been something like - It's you or nothing.

Ballan still has a lovely climate and good soils. The story of taking snow to school was a ripper. Up here people make snowmen and put them on the bonnets of their cars... In a fit of silliness I once scrawled the words "Help Me" onto the snow filled windscreen of the car.

Heidelberg has changed a lot in the past decade or so.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Yeah, the Koala is very sweet. I couldn't keep him as I don't have enough feed for him as the trees here are the wrong sort. But still having said that I may plant a grove of those trees and see what turns up over the next decade or so. Where there is one, there is often more.

That is very true. The Koala population is suffering from that disease. It is unpleasant for the Koalas and is possibly indicative of the lack of ability for the animals to move beyond the territory that they were born into. We create islands of habitat for animals when they actually require corridors connecting the islands.

Oh yeah, a possum having a fight is one of the most blood curdling sounds that you will hear at night in urban areas or even up in the forest. When a possum is nabbed by an owl - and they always are - the scream is almost human in its distress. It pays to know who is who in the zoo up here. The dogs have learned too and they know who to ignore and who to take seriously. Not a bad effort given they were all originally city dogs.

Sorry to hear about your tomatoes. The fruit may continue to ripen though if you can keep the air circulation around them. Down here, the tomatoes only start to seriously ripen from this point onwards (if your September was my March), so it is not a bad outcome all the same - albeit not what you expected. Don't give up on them and consider planting Cherry tomatoes next year? I started my tomato seeds today inside the house.

That is interesting that you mention smelling the change in the season. The same thing happens here too and I can generally declare the change in the season within a few days based on smell alone. It really is like that, but requires experience to be able to tell.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi crowandsheep,

By the way, crows are frighteningly intelligent birds.

Yes, the construction is held together by dowells, angle brackets (that are out of sight) and also very long wood screws. It is a very strong unit and as you can see I was sitting on it compressing the joins whilst it was under construction. I reckon I could stand on that unit and it would be fine. I would not perform that stunt with anything constructed of melamine (or compressed chip board).

Well done and top idea. Yes, the experimental types down here that live off grid have considered that matter in depth and one guy that I know has commenced constructing that arrangement. Does it work - You bet! However, it is not economical as the water tanks cost so much. It is much cheaper to continue adding extra solar panels as funds allow.

Now having said that, you live in a moister part of the world than here, so if you have access to a running creek or river, micro hydro power generation is a very good idea. Unfortunately here, the creek at the bottom of the property is well over half a kilometre away and the cost of the copper cable to bring the power up to the house would send me quickly broke.

Cheers

chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Morgenfrue,

He is a sweetie isn't he?

Yeah, absolutely correct. It wasn't always like that though. Often businesses lose their way in the world. Surprisingly, their kitchens had increased in quality since my previous visit.

What did Clint Eastwood say: All for a few dollars more?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, he'd make an excellent addition to the household. Well, they're in the surrounding forest and sometimes they travel through this area, but for one to survive that journey it is usually the more mature and tougher specimens. This one was so young and in need. My heart goes out to him.

I'm not sure what wild means anyway, we're all a bit "wild" and undomesticated here anyway! Yes, it is a bit sad how little resources those groups do and how much love they put into the animals.

A good milk goat would be an excellent addition to your place. I don't mind goat milk as long as it is fresh. I find after a few days it tastes too much of goat for my liking. What do you reckon?

Brother Bob was onto things and if he was trying to offload a goat or two onto you, I suspect he knew what he was doing. You did well seeing through the ruse and probably earned respect in the process. A goat here would eat the orchard bear in a few weeks. The wallabies are bad enough.

A hot tub as a burden. Well that is something that never would have occurred to me. It is funny that you say that, but I was thinking the other day about how each piece of infrastructure takes energy and effort to maintain, so you have to sort of be careful with the taking on that burden in the first place. Dunno, what do you reckon? I've seen that issue in businesses too.

Children's books are a lucrative feed trough that no sane author should ignore. Can you imagine a big time seller like: Krusty the Koala dances the limits dance? Dunno, it might work, stranger things have happened.

I don't honestly know as every season is just so different from the one before. All I know for sure is that on a long timeline, the place is heating up. This winter is a taste of the good old days. I wonder about your drought too as it is so severe. A similar but more extreme drought is occurring west of the dividing ranges up north and you wonder at what point does it become the new normal? Dunno.

Thank you, that unit is in for the long haul - hopefully. Those plastic joiners sound really good and you don't see them here at all. Very interesting. Exactly, unseasoned pine can warp really badly. People forget the effort that goes into making beautiful dead straight timber - and often I have to bend it back straight.

In the old days, carpenters used to go through a house and level off all of the vertical and horizontal timbers using a hand plane during construction. You don't see such quality workmanship nowadays.

Well, they'll certainly be useful. I do hope that you hang around to trade jokes and stories for a while yet! Estates are a good place for student loans...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Debra,

Yes, everything is upside down here and you can enjoy a scorching summer here during the total depths of your winter (in February! On a serious note, our climates aren't that much different really and my February which is your August is the biggest risk for bush fires. East of the ranges up your way would be pretty low in humidity at this time of year. The same thing happens here when you are north of the range - the summers can be brutal. It is the wind that you have to worry about though and sorry to hear that it is roaring strongly in your beautiful part of the world.

Those raccoons sound very clever indeed to be able to work out how to use a cat door. I've seen cats that have struggled with them and one memorable cat ended up being stuck between a glass door and the security door! It was an impressive (or is that unimpressive?) feat.

Go the possum. Those creatures down here are so well adapted to urban living. Like yours they are always up to total 100% pure mischief.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Jo,

Hew was so cute, he almost ended up as a permanent resident here! ;-)! Glad to read that you understood the subtext. Respect. Who wants to be like the actor Danny Bonaduce and as he said once: "Hit his career peak at 14" in the Partridge family television show? Just sayin...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Deborah,

They really are quite ferocious, but this little fella was in such need of TLC that he proves the exception to the rule. He was very cute!

Well, Koalas don't generally drink at all so he had a difficult time taking some of the energy drink in. I gave him that at the suggestion of a person that knows much more about such things than I do. He didn't like the leaves that I gave him either and I picked the youngest and greenest of the variety that I have here.

Yes, young males in the wild are subject to a lot of competition. There really isn't a lot of territory for them to move into without intruding upon another males territory. It is a form \of competitive pressure on the species really. Their mothers would have been very important to them.

Thanks for the info. You know, if you had left me to dwell on that subject for 100 years, it never would have occurred to me to pickle the rinds. The chickens seem to like watermelon.

Wow, you are very lucky to have all of those facilities near to your house. There are farmers markets every week here, but in different towns on a rotating basis. Some are better than others though. Roadside stalls here are quite common too, but you have to be looking for a particular fruit or vegetable and also know when it is ripe and avaiable - and that is lost on a lot of people who are used to supermarket availability. Such things don't get a look in in poorer areas here either, although there are some very old fresh fruit and vegetable markets in all sorts of areas. I travel to the one on the edge of the CBD as has been operating for well over 150 years and is just good. After a few years you even get to know the different stall holders and there is very little turnover. As a fun fact, the car park to it (which I don't use) was built over a pioneers mass grave (Poltergeist anyone?).

Great to hear about that restaurant. Yes, food trends can travel far and wide. Cooking is a real skill too that like music takes a whole lot of practice. My single mother started me cooking family dinners at the age of 12 - which was possibly a bit exploitative, but I did learn a lot about food in the process. Are you still able to learn from your mother? Apologies if that is a tough question and if it is, then there is no need to answer it.

Nowadays, I work backwards from what is in the garden ready to go and try and figure out what to do with it. Honestly, I have over 100 lemons at the moment and apart from limoncello or freezing the juice I'm at a bit of a loss?

Cheers

Chris

Stacey Armstrong said...

Hi Chris,

Great to see all the work and weather from your part of the world. An animal rescue too! I wanted to ask if you have a place set up for insects and animals to access water? My daughter and I have been rescuing bees from the chicken and goat water.

The rains have kept me inside the last couple mornings which has been rather pleasant. Tomato sauce is bubbling. Everything here is still very very thirsty. Reading time has been almost non-existent this summer; my dad always says I have my hair straight back...which I think means that I am never still?! We have hit cucumber and tomato exhaustion at this point but still no complaints at all about the lovely salads.

Have you considered salting a jar or two of lemons for out of season use? They are great for salad dressings and vegetable roasts.

@Lew. We have Nigerian Dwarf Goats here that I milk. They are about the right size for me and the milk is not a bit goaty. I am considering breeding more than two this fall so that I could try more cheese making. Dairy is the most expensive part of our grocery bill.

Best to you Chris and my regards to the editor.

Stacey

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Yeah, the animals adjusted to summer (and the drought) in different ways. Nell decided to become an outside cat ... except at night. Hasn't used her litter box in months. Now I notice she wants to be inside more, and, much to my relief, is back to using her litter box. I really think the nose dive in egg production was due to the heat. Even though the chickens have plenty of water and shade. Darn! Egg production down, yesterday, because I screwed up. After the power outage, I forgot to reset the timer on the chicken light. Sigh. Poor confused chooks.

I've never drunk much goat milk ... but I sure do like goat cheese! LOL. Yup. I had to be pretty firm with Bob when I took the goats back. "OK, Bob, I'm bringing the goats back tomorrow ... where do you want them staked?" :-).

LOL. I just had a thought. If I take on another bit of infrastructure, is it like taking on another pet or animal? Chef John said he might not have got the hot tub if he knew about all the maintenance issues ... which they told him were nil when he bought the thing. I'm probably going to buy a small "solar in a box" set up, when I cash in some CDs in December. Big enough to run the freezer and chicken house light. But, I know it will be like taking on another "pet." Eyes wide open.

I used fir for my shelving units. There's a lot of it, here, and it tends to be cheaper than pine. I screwed and wrestled the wonky ones (two) into place and screwed them tight...but, they never really straightened out. I should have replaced them ... live and learn. I also remembered that the plastic joiners were made out of recycled material. About the color of old tires, but, didn't look half bad against the fir. And, I remembered that quit a bit of those 2x4s went into the chicken house construction.

Lemons. Hmmm. I've read several places that you can preserve lemons in sugar. I wonder if honey would work? The lemon flavored sugar could be used in baking. You can also candy the peels ... which I've done (and, oranges, too). It involves getting as much of the white off, as possible (grater) and simmering them with 4 or 5 changes of water ... to get the bitter out. Since you have the wood stove fired up, anyway, this time of year ... The candied peel is good for baking, candy, or, just for snacks. Bet it would be good in mixed nuts or granola.

Well, Cliff Mass, our weather guy had some pretty interesting observations about our storm. It was the worst summer storm in recorded weather history. And, it dumped enough rain (in the last few days of the month) to make it the 5th wettest August on record. The extensive tree damage was due to the fact that the leaves are still on the trees and catch the wind. Can't quit smell fall, here, yet. But almost. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

It was the fact that the koala was following you around that made the thought of keeping him so tempting.

I do bring tomatoes in to finish ripening and they often keep for a long time then.

Have remembered that you asked me as to what potatoes I planted. Anything that produces shoots, could be my own or if I have had to buy any then those if they shoot. I once bought proper seed potatoes, they were no better and cost more, so I have never done that again.

Couldn't imagine what you would do with extra lemons, trying to do something seems too much work for little return. I thought that lemons grew happily all the year round in Australia but perhaps you are too far south. I would be surprised if I use more than about 5 in one year.

We are supposed to have had the wettest August since records began, but I guess that that varies a bit in different parts of the country. At the moment we are being threatened with more rain in conjunction with some very high tides.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Stacey,

Thank you! It is interesting hearing about weather up in your part of the world too. The descriptions sound an awful lot like a drought year down here.

Yes, I leave shallow dishes of water for the bees and other insects to drink from. There are other trays at ground level for the reptiles to drink from. The birds get an elevated drinking spot on top of the lower water tank and the marsupials enjoy various larger trays of water dotted about the place. All of these are located within easy reach of a tap.

The bees drown here too, so in the past few years I leave rocks and sticks in the water dishes for them to rescue themselves. It saves a lot of mucking around and to be honest the bees aren't particularly grateful for being rescued!

Great to hear that the season has finally turned and you are getting some decent rainfall. He sounds like an astute gentleman. Too many cucumbers are a hassle, but they grow so well during very hot summers. Every tomato has a use! ;-)! It will be very interesting to see what sort of winter you have after this summer.

I salted lemons once, but they were bubbling and I didn't think that it would be a wise thing to attempt to eat them. I may have to freeze the excess lemon juice as that is always handy for jams and preserving (canning).

Best wishes to you and your family too.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Forgot to ask how your freezer handled the recent power outage? I assume it is a chest freezer with a lid on the top?

Does Nell lay around in the sun or is she active outside? Scritchy likes being out in the sun and by lunchtime, I have to drag her inside otherwise she starts suffering from self induced heat exhaustion.

Chickens can be sensitive to all sorts of things and heat is certainly one of them. They have thick woolly jumpers on so the summer is particularly hard on chickens. Ooops! It is so easy to make a mistake with these sorts of things, that is why I was talking with you about the sheer amount of infrastructure in a place. The infrastructure is subject to diminishing returns too as the utility gets overshadowed by the maintenance. More chickens are not necessarily a good thing!

It is good to hear about drinkable goats milk. And goats cheese is very good, but sheep milk cheese is even better. Yum!

Bob - and no disrespect to him - must have known what he was doing with the two goats? I'll bet he was thinking something along the lines of: I'd like to get rid of these two and anyway, they'll make good starter goats. Been there done that. One of my oldest chickens is a white silky with a brown stain on her chest. I was told that it may have been a stain due to the water. Back then I was incredulous, nowadays I just laugh at those sorts of tall stories.

Oh yeah, brilliant and true. Exactly, every single bit of infrastructure has repercussions, involves compromises and to be honest, you can only humanly look after so much stuff before it becomes overwhelming. I use a rule of thumb - which we've discussed before - If I'm not thinking about the infrastructure, then it must be working. Chef John sure sounds like he is thinking about that hot tub! Hehe!

But then I've built things and installed infrastructure which were a really rubbish idea. One of the big ones here was the wind turbine. What a total waste of time and energy. This thing was bigger than Ben Hur and to add insult to injury, not only did it not generate power, it almost burnt the house down. What a joke on me...

What do you mean by the words: cash in some CD's. To me that could possibly mean cashing in some complex derivatives, which by their very nature are inordinately complex. You can't say you weren't warned when they disappear to nothing in front of your eyes? Or do you mean compact discs? Not sure really. I was rather fond of vinyl records myself, and they're having a resurgence in popularity.

Haha! Too funny. Fir grows down in this part of the world and yes whilst you can get some long beams out of the stuff it is exactly as you describe. And the smell when you cut the stuff is not good. A lot of energy is poured into making timber dead straight - we really are spoiled.

I believe they salt lemons, but as I mentioned to Stacey my lot started bubbling and they're not really meant to do that. Lemons of the different species grow all year around here, I just don't know what to do with the current excess.

Candied lemon peel sounds like an awesome idea. Yum. Thanks for the suggestion I'll look into that as another preserve.

That is what happens here - it is raining outside right now (maybe just shy of half an inch). Not much rain and then a massive storm, and then not much rain, but the winter storms are usually mild where it can rain for hours, but you don't get much rain overall. How much rain did you end up getting for that sort of result?

Do you not get much wind over summer?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

That is an exceptionally deep question. One of the dogs here "Toothy - long haired dachshund" came from the Lost Dogs Home. I picked him up in the depths of winter many long years ago and he was in this over sized coat shivering in a concrete and wire mesh cage. He looked cold, wet and miserable. The editor has a liking for dachshunds and I'm not too fussy about breed of dog, so we picked him up. Toothy kept it together for a few days and then seriously let loose with his personality. He was a right little rotter. I could see how he ended up discarded at the Lost Dogs Home as he had no idea of boundaries. Anyway, he's turned out alright after some serious training, rules and enforcement. The Koala reminded me of him - so it didn't surprise me to hear that Krusty the Koala trashed a bathroom.

Out of interest, are you bringing green tomatoes in now?

Hmmm, you know I've never noticed that seed potatoes were better either. Mine have been setting actual seed in the past couple of years so it will be very interesting to see what comes of that. Mind you, the seed potatoes that you buy can provide new genetics and unusual colours and shapes. Like purple potatoes.

No they grow happily all year around. Right now the meyer lemons are producing, but over summer it is the Eureka variety which comes into its own. Plus there are the lemonade and grapefruit too. I would have had mandarins but the wallaby destroyed most of the trees and they are slowly recovering now.

Oh no, I use heaps more than 5 per year, it is just that there are well over a hundred of them and more are coming ripe. Maybe I could slowly feed them to the chickens? I asked a cafe that I know that make the best coconut and lemon muffins (they use sour cream) and they're not heavy but quite light and dry. They're very tight lipped about the recipe too

Lewis, do you have any idea about what might be going on with those muffins?. Most muffins are too greasy for my liking, but these ones are quite dry and crumbly and not at all heavy. Yeah, they're the best!

Oh yeah, sorry I digress, anyway, they have access to too many lemons too. Every man and their dog has a lemon tree in Melbourne - it is an old school thing which you don't see in the newer areas. The funny thing is most of the trees are riddled with citrus gall wasp - and it is too cold for them up here to survive the winter + they're too far away to infect the orchard.

What were we talking about, I'm all over the shop tonight as I had a very long work day. Oh well, mustn't grumble.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Apologies, missed your last paragraph. What? How is the land holding together with all of that rain. You I suspect that drought is actually easier to survive (as long as there is no fire and you have water reserves) than extreme wet years where much more damage happens to the land. The high tides will wash away your cliffs - which I do hope you are far enough back from? Out of interest, how far back do your records go?

Lewis, how far back do weather records for your part of the world go?

Here, they date back to about 1870 onwards.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Stacy - Yup. If I got a goat it would be one of the small breeds.

Yo, Chris - Yeah, I have a chest freezer. I didn't open it at all during the power outage. It's in the basement ... so, cooler down there, anyway. The fridge and freezer in the kitchen ... only opened them twice, during the outage. They were fine. I run them a little cold, anyway. I have a thermometer in both ... nothing moved into the danger zone.

Well, as I'm sure you know, you have to be careful when someone's trying to offload and animal, on you. :-). I'd really like two more hens and a rooster. We have a poultry auction, here. But I've been hesitating ... afraid I'll get a hen that isn't laying, or, a rooster that's either mean or infertile.

Nell does a bit of both, outside, in the summer. Sometimes I find her in odd spots, just sleeping in the sun. Sometimes she races up the apple trees, just for the joy of it. She also does a lot of skulking about, just waiting to leap on something. Often, my boots :-).

CD's are Certificates of Deposit. Most banks and credit unions have them. You take a chunk of money and deposit it ... for a set amount of time. One year, five years. If you cash them in early, their are fees and penalties. But not so high that you would loose any of your initial investment. They pay higher interest than a regular savings account. They used to be a pretty good investment ... paying 5% or more, a year. Not anymore. Now they're down to .0003. So, say you park $30,000 in a cd for a year ... you get about $90 in interest. But, they are a safe place to park money, as they are FDIC, insured.

I anticipate your next question :-). FDIC insured. After the great depression in the 30s, the Fed set up a program where bank accounts, savings accounts and cds are insured, in case the bank fails. Up to $100,000, I think. I may be wrong, there. Of course, if the whole Fed fails (looking more and more likely) all bets are off. There's probably a Wikipedia entry for both Certificates of Deposit and FDIC insurance. I'd guess.

Time to get it together and make my weekly trip to town. I haven't forgotten weather records and muffins :-). I'll look into both, this evening. Lew

PS: That was a hair raising tale of the wind generator. I worry a bit about dabbling in solar. I understand batteries can blow up. But, along with solar in a box, I'll probably pick up copies of "Solar for Dummies" and "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Solar." That ought to keep me out of trouble. And, I have this Australian source I may consult if there's something I'm not clear on :-).

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

There are ancient weather records but they will be for small areas and only deal with certain things. When they come out with extreme statements i.e. 'wettest ever' it usually means from 1910 approx.

Yes I am bringing in my green tomatoes and there aren't many of them. Everything is rotting from the wet and humidity outdoors and in the greenhouses. I do always have 4 hanging baskets of small tomatoes, 2 red and 2 yellow. They are still outside but are only ripening very slowly.

I have bought purple potatoes to eat and then I planted some that sprouted. I don't really like them but they are interesting. Because they are the same colour as the soil (not actually purple!), some always get left behind as I miss them when digging up. They are interesting because they seem to be disease free and will keep coming up each year. Normally one doesn't re-plant potatoes in the same soil for 2 years. However I wonder whether they are good for one. It is hard to forget that the rats who ate my potatoes last year, left the purple ones alone. Very weird!

The waves tend not to be very big as it is a channel not the open sea. The constant wet weather means that my new neighbours will think that they only have water to deal with. They will be unaware of the deep cracks that occur if we have a long dry spell. Then the land slips as rain goes down the cracks.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

Unbelievable, you and your mate the koala! The poor little fellow; my, he was one of the saddest pictures I've ever seen. Thanks so much for all the great photos that you always put up. It's really neat (!) to see such clear ones, with such detail, of such interesting things. I assume that the editor takes at least the ones including you? Excellent!

The owl is impressive, too, but, as you say, not quite as cute.

Fascinating about the manna gum and its sugary sap. Boy, do I love maple syrup.

Can you have basements in your area? That is where we work when the weather is bad; the workshop is down there. Most convenient.

Your racking is ALMOST as cute as a koala! Handsome, anyway.

Snow! You have had some winter. It's almost over, thank goodness.

Canning jalapeno peppers here. Also trying to make a fermented pepper sauce from cayennes to later can. We had lots of tomatoes but have eaten almost all of them up fresh as salsa (a la Mexico) which has tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, onions, garlic, and cilantro.

Grapes will be ripe in a couple of weeks, I hope. There are dozens of vineyards in my area of Virginia, but the climate is not actually suited for grapes, so they are sprayed heavily with fungicides and pesticides. Someone that I know who works at one told me that they spray every week during the growing season. Horrible. We planted some variety (I forget what - hope I have the tag) that is supposedly best suited to the Mid-Atlantic. They have done pretty well, I think, because the skin is just like leather. I don't think a microbe dares to penetrate it.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Back again. I think I'd rather deal with muffins, than weather :-)

I found this recipe, for muffins as described, on an Australian food site, no less.

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/19233/lemon+sour+cream+cakes?ref=collections,lemon-recipes

I Googled "How to make muffins dry and light" and the advise was all over the place. As for light, I think I'd try replacing the leavening with yeast ... just as an experiment. Leavening agents must be fresh, to get a good rise (who knew?). As far as dry? Cut any liquid amounts by just a little bit. A little can make a lot of difference.

On to weather. How far back do records go? One place said the 1930s. Another, 1895. Lewis and Clark, the explorers, said it was "very rainy." I guess that's a weather record :-). It's a big state. Depends on where you are. Two sites agreed that 3.28" was our monthly total. Once place said there was a +2.40" departure from normal. That's for Seattle. Someone else said the august monthly average is .88. This month it rained 3.28". (In the last two days of the month.) Average yearly rain for the state (according to some) is 38.75. The wettest year was 1996 with 49.20. It's mind boggling, and my head hurts :-). Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi everyone,

It is with sadness, that I must let you all know that the little Koala visitor died this morning. He had a growth in his oesophagus which was preventing him feeding properly and he was not going to recover.

He came into all of our lives briefly and shone brightly. Vale little Koala matey.

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

The chest freezer is a good idea and not opening it during the power outage is an even better idea. Those units use very little energy as long as there is enough contents in it and they aren't opened very much. I've never used one though. The thermometer is a good idea - wouldn't have thought about that.

Yeah, to true. The old timers used to say "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth", but I dunno as years ago I spotted a bumper sticker on a very large vehicle which proclaimed: "Poverty is owning a horse". Nuff said really.

Poultry auctions are a mixed bag. Even the ag shows down here are a mixed bag for poultry. They've started selling chickens at the farmers market and so I've been slowly getting to know the people that breed and sell the chooks. It is a long process and even then, chickens can be very variabe in terms of hardiness and temperament.

Go Nell. Speaking of apple trees, were you able to glean much from Brother Bob's old orchard this year?

CD's - right. Of course, that makes sense. We call them Term Deposists down here and they pay up to 2.7% for different lengths of time. Of course, people used to borrow in the US and deposit here - but I suspect with our nose diving exchange rate (low $0.70 and predicted to hit $0.60's) they got burned. Incidentally, the powers that be tightened the rules here on extracting your funds before the maturity date. You virtually have to have financial hardship declared to break one of those contracts with the bank nowadays. People don't seem to think that the falling Aussie dollar is a problem, but imports are costing a whole lot more here. A couple of months back 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of ground coffee cost about $20, I noted that this week it was about $26 which is about right. The falling dollar protects the locals from international predatory financial activities, but makes everyone here poorer in the process - they just don't know it yet. Worse things can happen.

Ah, they instituted government insurance on deposits to (I believe) about $250K here. They're backed by the government. I've always misunderstood the Fed over in the US to be an arm of government policy, but then I'm a cynic in such matters.

No worries, enjoy your trip into town. I've been avoiding the big smoke this week, except yesterday and worked from home instead.

Oh yeah, I look at all wind generators a bit differently nowadays - even the really big ones. You can't turn them off, you see. The best they can do is angle the blades so that the wind puts less pressure on them. If the grid goes down... Ouch...

I'm a bit bummed out about the Koala today.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Ah, of course, their timescale is perhaps a bit smaller than it should be when they make extreme claims. This mountain range here is millions upon millions of years old and I reckon it may have seen a few extreme events in that time. Is your island fairly new in geological terms?

Hanging baskets are a good response to wet and humid weather. An excellent idea which I never would have thought about. Your description of the weather conditions sounds like a very difficult year for growing things. Too much humidity can be as bad as too little. The trees may be enjoying the extra humidity though?

Thanks for the update on your potatoes and yes, I suspect that the rats get into those too. There are thousands of varieties of the tubers over in South America and I spotted all sorts of weird and wonderful shapes, colours and textures down that part of the world on my visit. As an interesting side issue, down here we grow mustards in the off season in those patches of ground and the must emits a bio-fumigant in its root systems. If I get time to build the tomato enclosure, you'll see how I run tomatoes and potatoes over the course of a few years with mustards over the winter in the off season. Mustards me be a big ask of your winter though.

Oh yeah. They get land cracking down on the plains below. My understanding is that it is a good way to get the first rainfalls back into the deep soil without having to worry about the whole percolation thing. But as you quite rightly point out that can lead to land slippage and destabilisation if the cracks are big enough and on an incline. Ouch.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Yeah, he was a sad little thing. The adult Koalas are much bigger and more lively (when they're awake). He had a tough life that little guy.

We share the camera, but of course the editor is behind the lens on those shots. Having a good camera helps too. I picked it up second hand and it is a Pentax K-r (the thing looks as though it should be on a Star Wars film - not down here).

It is good to see the diversity of birds and animals here continually increasing. I worry about the impact of fires on them all though.

Oh yeah, maple syrup is good. I've got a couple of sugar maple trees in the orchard, but they're years away from being tapped. They're fast growing trees though.

No one really puts basements in their houses down under. It just doesn't get cold enough and culturally it would be unusual. They're a good idea though.

The snow is still quite novel. How was your summer?

Salsa is awesome, a true delight. I thought salsa was a mildly fermented food? I've never made it, but read about it.

Nice to hear that you planted an appropriate type of grape for your area. Honestly, it is a bit humid here too, although there is a winery on the northern (and sunnier - remember it is upside down here) edge of the mountain at lower elevation. Most of the grape growing areas are coastal or up in the north east of the state which is warmer and drier. I try not to spray anything. My thinking is if you spray this year, you'll have to spray next year, and then the year after. Like you, I just try and see what works in the area.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for looking up the muffin recipes and I'll let you know how I go with them. So they may be a sour cream cake instead of a muffin? Hmmm. You certainly had your detective hat on and I appreciate that.

Ahh, Lewis and Clark were clearly men of few words to come up with that description. Even down here we know that Seattle is a rainy and wet city! It has a reputation, you see.

Those averages are for the state too, so I imagine some spots along the coast and on the western faces of the mountains would be crazy wet on those years?

No worries about the solar in a box too. Feel free to ask any questions you want, no matter how silly you think they may sound. It is the unasked question which will get you into trouble with solar. I assume this solar in a box is a kit of some sort? Does it have a web link for the specifications?

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I am sorry to hear about the koala's demise. Strange how wild animals know that one can help them. 2 homes back I had a swimming pool. There was a frantic rabbit in there one day. It kept trying to master the steps and failing. I fetched a net on a pole and put it in the pool, not too close in case it frightened the rabbit even more. But oh no, it made a bee-line for the net and leapt in. I deposited it and net on the lawn. After a few seconds the rabbit headed for a hedge. Shortly afterwards a heard a pathetic little sneeze from the hedge.

Re the wet this year, yes trees and hedges have done very well. They endlessly try to overwhelm me.

Our bank accounts are protected up to £85,000 but one has to be careful as some banks and building societies are linked in which case you aren't protected for that amount in each. In January the protected amount goes down to £75,000. Sounds sinister doesn't it. I gather that this is supposed to be due to the relative value of the pound and the euro but am a bit vague about it.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I am sad that the little koala died. He had a good friend in you, though, for however short a time it was.

I was going to ask you about your camera; thanks for the info.

We've had an unusually cool summer here, way cooler than "normal', though I remember it doing this 25 years ago. The seasons, starting with this past spring, have all commenced about 2 weeks early. I have to keep a whip and a chair after myself because for awhile I don't pay attention and then everything gets ahead of me.

There are fermented and fresh salsas. Every couple of days I just throw all the fresh ingredients together in a bowl and hit it with a stick (immersion) blender and we eat it fresh. I am now trying to make the fermented version.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@Inge:

I did the same thing with purple potatoes, bought some to eat, then planted some. They were my best producers (I always have lots of trouble growing potatoes). I have no idea why.

I like your hanging basket idea, too. And I very much liked your rabbit-rescue story.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Ah, little Koala, we hardly knew ye. The little guy will be long remembered in far flung parts of the world. So for a long time, he'll never be really gone.

Yeah, I got fairly accurate thermometers for the fridge and freezer, a while back. The fridge broke down, last year. It's pretty old. But I could still get service for it. Cost a lot, but less than half the price of a cheap, new one.

Been so buys at my place I haven't got over to Bob's to glean the orchard. There's fruit there, but I don't know what state it's in.

I stopped eating commercial grapes a few years back. Even after washing, I could detect a taste like ... petroleum. Setting up a grape arbor is on the list of "things to do". But, pretty far down the list.

I'd provide a link to the "solar in a box" but ... I've been having computer problems. It seems to be a problem in my Safari browser. And I use Yahoo as my "portal" to the web. Which is really old. The whole screen goes psychedelic. Like oil on water. So, I spent a lot of last night agonizing over questions like ... do I need a new computer? What kind? Can I get along without a computer in my life?

Then I remembered that I had loaded a really old version of Chrome / Fire Fox on my computer. So, I launched it, went to Yahoo, and I seem to be back in business, again. The layout is different. I seem to have lost a couple of functions ... or, I just haven't figured out where they are yet. Expect my spelling to go to hell, for awhile. The old version had a drop down box where I could try out alternate spelling of things I couldn't spell. If you get my drift. Also, I used to be able to open another window, find a link, copy and paste ... I think the thing is, with Safari, I haven't had to deal with "tabs" in years.

I'm really very stupid about computers. People think I'm good with them, just because I know how to navigate around. But, I'm not.

Oh! Muffins! Yeah, it seems like some recipes put sour cream in the batter, others use it as some kind of glaze. Lew

But ...

Cathy McGuire said...

Hi, Chris -
So sorry to hear about the cute koala... it's tough when feral creatures come to ask for help, or even when domesticated ones get sick... the feral Siamese cat that I've been feeding sleeps almost all day on my drive, so it's either quite old or perhaps sick... I hope I can get it to trust me so I can maybe get it checked. Pretty animal... but the other hungry feral cats have found the food bowl, so I'll have to come up with other arrangements. I believe there are fewer mice in the garage, so I'm calling this an investment...

Anyway, amazing to see what you can build - I've spend some of the recent days trying to get organized - paper just seems to breed (it's probably because I'm a writer) and I don't trust computers to save my writing - so up into the attic it goes, with plastic tubs so the mice and silverfish can't eat it. Exhausting going up and down a ladder all morning, so I took the afternoon off to read my favorite blogs! Keep up the good work!

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thank you for your thoughts.

What a great story with the rabbit. Sometimes wildlife when they're in a sticky situation, they choose the least worst option. I'd grab the net too if I was drowning.

When the long summer with virtually no rainfall for 5 months occurred two years back, all of the wildlife sort of put up with other animals they normally wouldn't associate with just to get a feed and drink here. Some nights there were 6 wallabies ranging through the orchard all at a respectable distance and there were fights between them. The forest kangaroos used to upset the delicate truce and simply work as a mob and clear off the wallabies to the other side of the orchard. Meanwhile the wombats did pretty much whatever they wanted to do. That was when the citrus trees were seriously damaged.

Nice to hear that trees are doing well. I've always assumed that your over-storey trees are broad leaved oak species, but don't recall asking? I'll bet they're well adapted to your conditions after many generations of undisturbed growth?

Alright, I'm very impressed that you have hedgerows. There is a lady in a town to the north of here that trained over in the UK in the arts of growing and maintaining hedges and I only learned about her works recently. Really interesting stuff and also very common sense. Are hedgerows protected in your part of the world? They perform so many useful functions. Are your hedgerows old and well established?

Of course it sounds sinister, because the underlying message is that they cannot afford the coverage should it be called upon. Insurance is a complicated business. Speaking of which I just received my renewal of the house insurance and I see that storm and flood damage up north has impacted my premiums which have increased by almost 19% to $1,700! Ouch! Looking into the crystal ball I can see a time when insurance will be like the very rarely seen and very rare material: Unobtainium!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thank you, that was a lovely thought. He would have had a much more unpleasant demise in the forest, so I'm glad we could have helped him, but also sad that it didn't end up well for him.

No worries. After the first digital SLR camera died, with a bit of research I found that they have only a limited life span based on the use of the shutter and some cameras are better than others. Most of the photos taken on the blog are 6 megapixel, but the camera can do much better than that, but it is not usually necessary to do so. Back in the day of the old 35mm film cameras, the quality was amazing but I wouldn't be able to afford the sheer quantity of photos being developed. I used to have a Pentax MZ-50. The K-r is good too because it uses rechargeable batteries, but they last for a very long time between recharges. After a lot of mucking around with rechargeable batteries (as well as feedback from many people living off grid down here), I've found that the "eneloop" rechargeable batteries are amongst the best of the lot too.

Interesting and thanks for the feedback from your part of the world. The seasons are about 2 weeks earlier here too. Thanks for the mental image of the whip and chair too and it is good to know that I'm not the only one subject to the forces and timeline of nature - which often can be different from our expectations!

Alright, now I'm really getting hungry for some salsa! I'll be very interested to hear how your fermented salsa ends up. It is good stuff.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

About potatoes, it may have something to do with a excessive soil moisture which encourages fungal growths and defeats the natural defences on the skin of the tuber, or there are ground dwelling or burrowing animals that can eat through the skin. Sometimes they're hard to spot and the millipedes have a go at everything here so it is hard to tell.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thank you and I'm really touched by your thoughts. The Koalas do it hard down here mostly because of habitat destruction - more than anything else. Although the stress from that is causing problems with chlamydia too which is affecting the Koala population. It is unfortunate, but they don't need island reserves, they require causeways between the island reserves as well. People don't really think in terms of whole systems nowadays. Nevertheless, I'm happy to hear that the little fella will be remembered up in the PNW!

Great to hear that you could actually get the old fridge repaired and incidentally, it is probably much better manufactured than a newer model? Repairing older machines like that is a real skill, down here we call those guys that repair old refrigerators and air conditioning systems - Fridgees. Seriously!

Oh my, the spell check gremlins have snuck in as you averred! ;-)! There are still weeks and weeks to go before the fruit forms a new forest of fruit trees. Honestly, I was seriously impressed with just how many blackberries that you picked.

Incidentally, I read a review today for Bill Bryson's film adaptation of his book "A walk in the woods". I didn't realise that his mate was originally slated to be performed by Paul Newman who unfortunately had died in the meantime as the production was extended over so many years. Dead actors make for very stiff performances (sorry, couldn't help myself with that one and yes, I'm probably going straight to hell for that). Anyway, Nick Nolte is playing the friend, so that is probably going to end up being a very good film and sort of like the film "Wild" but without Reese Witherspoon - which is a bit of a shame really. I enjoyed the book and the ending was quite good and sort of reminded me of the ending of Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance. Long journeys can make a person consider their own situation and station. What do you reckon?

The bit about the grapes was just wrong. Yuk! Honestly, imported garlic has a strange metallic taste to me so I wonder why people eat the stuff. It certainly doesn't taste like garlic to me. As an interesting side note, garlic has turned into a weed here and just pops up in clumps all over the place.

Pschyedlic internet browsers are a bad thing. No worries, when you get to it. There are literally days of discussion in such a beast. I started with a very small solar system to get my head around what it was all about first. Oh yea, I use Firefox for internet surfing and it has not let me down yet.

Computers can be very basic and do what you need them to do. The fan in my business server has been making strange sounds on start up, so I took the air compressor to it recently and blew all of the dust out of it and there were clouds of dust blowing out of the machine. Not good. It still sounds not good though. All this stuff has a finite shelf life...

Fair enough. I taught myself machine code and got a good understanding of the underpinnings when I was a young kid on an old Commodore 64 computer and honestly I don't anything at all about computers nowadays. The upshot is that you are in good company. ;-)! All I know is that one day it will stop working...

Oh! I don't about the whole glazing thing, but the base certainly sounds like a good idea. Didn't they have a Seinfeld episode about muffins where they were trying to offload the muffin bottoms on homeless people?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy,

Thank you, that is a very sweet thought.

Cats do sleep a lot at the best of times, and you are in early autumn so the Siamese may be simply enjoying the sun in a protected space. Sometimes cats can adopt you rather than you choosing them, and I do recall a friend having a cat that enjoyed the feed from two households. They're very clever creatures.

The food bowl is something won in the animal kingdom. I once owned a very large dachshund which almost starved her little mate (a much more pleasant Jack Russell terrier). Once I uncovered what was going on they got fed separately. Nuff said. All the dogs here are monitored when they are fed to ensure that sort of business doesn't reoccur. Scricthy is a mean boss dog despite her advanced years and diminutive stature!

Yeah, cats are very good hunters and have a long association with humans for that very reason.

Thank you. Building things is my thing! I'm slowly moving onto plant issues though, but there is a tonne of infrastructure yet to be constructed...

Very wise too! Paper does breed more paper. Do you recall all of the rubbish about the paperless office? Hmmm.

Aww, aren't you nice. Yes, mice make excellent nests out of paper don't they!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

You might have a difficult choice if a tiger was holding out a net to you. But perhaps not if it pushed death a bit further away; hope springs eternal.

My top trees are mainly oak and ash but there is also silver birch and an occasional alder.

The hedges are not ancient. The road bounding my land was cut through about 100 years ago, so presumably that hedge was created then. It is hawthorn, blackthorn and hazel mainly. I had my internal hedges created from hazel; we laid them from the hazel which was growing all over the place and they are absolutely stunning now. The wild life certainly likes them.

I was also wondering what the potato growing problem is because on the whole they are quite easy to grow. They do need fresh ground or fresh soil in planters. I grow them in huge tubs (didn't stop all those displaced starving rats but that was a one off).

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Fridgees ... that's funny :-). My Fridgee turned out to be a big ol' guy who also has a beer making equipment business, on the side. He spotted an old stein of mine, and that got the topic rolling. Of course, I don't partake, but I can still appreciate :-). He was also quit fascinated with my old hop vine. Luckily, my old fridge was a Sear product. It seems like ... out in the rural areas, now, they outsource to whoever is interested in doing the maintenance. Took about a week to get service, another week to get the part. I was just glad that it was repairable.

Bryson movie / book = The Hero's Journey. And, yeah, I think a long grueling journey yields all kinds of insights. As in, my trip to Idaho :-). Though I can't really think of any personal insights that smack me in the face. :-)

When I went over to the Abandoned Orchard, in the spring, I noticed there was some garlic about. I harvested quit a bit of it (while leaving a few cloves, behind) and will plant it here for a fall crop. Here, you can either plant garlic in the fall, or spring. Doesn't seem to make much difference.

I really wasn't much of a Seinfeld fan ... just saw the odd episode here and there. I think I was without tv when it became popular. Still, a lot of memes from the show made it into general circulation. The Soup Nazi. The phony holiday Festtivus. Which I think is a hoot. It sounds so ... Roman. Muffin bottoms for the homeless, I'm unaware of.

Well, Yahoo seems to be playing nice with Safari, this morning. I can tell now, when I start it up, if there's going to be problems. Then I go to Chrome. Have a book on order from the library on Chrome. Soooo, I have this $3,000 computer that is 8 years old and the thought of taking it to the tip (recycle, actually) is pretty distressing. And, I've been doing a lot of soul searching over what I do on the computer ... what's necessary and are there alternatives.

I have an inkling of what I'd like to do is wipe all the Apple out of this computer, and go to Firefox. I know the Archdruid (and lots of other people) keep their old beasts running for years. But, I really don't have anyone to ask, or know how to go about that. Maybe the book will help ... some web searches ... or, I could go to Apple and see if I can upgrade this machine to something more current. Which MAY take care of the problem. Sigh. It's all so complicated and makes my head hurt :-). Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

You asked whether my Island was new in geological terms. I don't know what constitutes 'new' in those terms but I think not. It was connected to the mainland once so it is old land. It became an island about 6000 years ago.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Exactly, choices are often a situation where you have to pick and choose between the least worst option and there are no easy solutions. It sort of sounds like the type of choices that we face as a civilisation today. Fortunately, there are no tigers loose in the forest.

There are however, always stories about pumas sighted, but I believe such sightings are feral cats. The domestic feline can grow quite large and you never see them free roaming here in this forest, but in the Otways forest to the south west I've seen plenty of feral cats. Who knows what a millennia or two may do to the feline species?

Thanks for that. Ahh, Silver Birch are quite common trees in Melbourne and they often self seed. Beautiful bark and very drought hardy once established.

Wow, hedges of those plants sound very lovely. I read years ago about some of the plant diversity in some ancient hedges is quite spectacular. I have quite a few hazel shrubs here, but they're a bit young to produce nuts. Do you harvest any of the hazelnuts or does the wildlife get them all?

Speaking of nuts, the walnut seems to have survived into its second year. I was a bit worried about it and cut it back severely last autumn. The pecans lost all of their leaves in the recent frost here too (hopefully they bounce back), but the chestnut and macadamia's seem to be battling on.

Different climates and different soil flora and fauna, so who knows? Yes, the rats got into the potatoes in raised pots here too, so now I just plant them all over the place and they seem to do much better.

Thanks for that info about your island. The history is fascinating. Wasn't Ireland and parts of the mainland subject to a tsunami or inundation from the sea at some point in the past couple of thousand years or so?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Your fridgee is a handy guy to know! Of course it is also nice to appreciate from afar given your history. Given he spotted the old hop vine, he certainly was a knowledgeable gentleman! As an interesting side note, I spotted a hop vine for sale this morning, but have no where to plant it. Down under they grow hops up steel cables and the whole plant is suspended for easy picking. I read that over winter the vine dies back to virtually nothing. Does that happen to your hop vine?

Nice to hear that it is repairable. Out of interest what happened to the contents in the meantime and did the freezer develop any interesting odours?

Sometimes a journey is just a journey! Hehe! ;-)! Still, you did gain an insight into the inadvisability of subjecting yourself to an Idaho summer. That sounds like a journey well spent to me? That would be like me deciding that Alice Springs in the Northern Territory is too hot during the summer...

I don't reckon it makes much difference here with the spring or fall planting because they're bulbs - what do they care? Some garlic doesn't survive into early spring out of the ground here. The old timers used to say with garlic down here: Plant on the shortest day and harvest on the longest day. The patches of garlic here look like chives, but I rarely eat it, so I'm sort of watching to see what happens with the plant. Tell you what though, the soil in that area smells like garlic so it must emit some sort of chemical... It is good in orchards I'm told, so I'm building stocks of the plant up.

Fair enough, I only saw the occasional episode, because I thought that the characters were mean spirited and mildly narcissistic. As an interesting side note there has been quite the financial scandal down here involving what was known as the Penske file which was a nod to the George character in that program.

They're not all the same. I tend to assemble computers together out of bits and pieces so they're quite cheap to replace if something goes wrong and nothing like that sort of money - not even close. Sorry, but I stick to Firefox as it doesn't let me down so have no idea at all about Chrome or Safari. A basic desktop computer running Windows 7 or XP is a pretty basic machine these days, but I don't play games so don't have to worry about massive grunt power.

Oh, you have an apple computer. Right, I hear you man. They aren't as repairable as Intel based PC's. Just sayin... Not to stress, they make my head hurt when they go wrong too, so I try to keep them as simple as possible. Apple computers appear simple, but they are intended to rope you into a dream - as distinct from a reality where things go unexpectedly wrong.

I started building the new bee box this afternoon and constructed about half of the project. It is certainly coming along well and as an undocumented bonus, it should really annoy a whole lot of people! Hehe! :-)! I've never heard more dogma than what comes out of the mouths of apiarists. Even when 40% of bee colonies across the country die last summer for one reason or another they still fail to change their ways. Oh well.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Beginning to look like fall, here. About a month early. I went to a meeting, Thursday night, and there was a bit of fog on the way back. Our first autumn fog. The next morning, it was also foggy. Could still see the trees across the back pasture ... but it was an autumn fog.

I read in the book "Catsense" that cats sleep 18 hours a day. On average.

The tsunami in England mostly affected the east coast. A huge underwater landslide off the coast of Norway caused it.

My fridge really doesn't have much in it, at any given time. When it broke down, I moved the frozen stuff to the downstairs freezer. Ate up the perishables, and put some of them in a well insulated box. I didn't loose to much, other than a bit of dairy.

I haven't really paid much attention to the life cycle of hops. It grows up a cable to an old tv antenna. It's well mixed in with honeysuckle and a bit of blackberry. Once the leaves go, it's hard to tell one from another.

I eat two or three cloves of garlic, a day. Mixed in with anything I can squeeze it into. Keeps my blood pressure down and has a anti-inflamatory effect. I must metabolize it pretty well, as I've only had one complaint :-). Of course, what with my semi-hermit lifestyle ... Or, maybe people are just being polite :-).

LOL. "Recognized expert." Not just apiarists. You seem to find them in just about every field. There was an old babe antique dealer that every one bowed down before. Someone made the comment that "She's forgotten more than we'll ever know." I didn't say it out loud, but thought to myself "Yeah, but she's forgotten it."

Spent the night taking care of the pups. Managed to get the four pills into Mac, the golden lab, this morning. Arthritis. I used the old "hide the pill in the wienie, with a bit of peanut butter", routine. :-). Am home to take care of my chickens and hang out til the mail comes. I am going to harvest Chef John's beets for him, this afternoon. Then I'm free to do my own gleaning. The grapes are ripe and I did a bit of research. You can freeze them. I figure two or three gallons for the freezer. The windstorm last week raised hob with the tomatoes, but, there may be some I can salvage. More basil? More carrots?

Speaking of nuts, there are none around here that I can salvage. Planting a couple of walnuts is on the list. But, John has a chestnut tree. He says they are the edible variety. We have both edible and inedible. Leaf shape determines that. I want to double check, and, if edible, will bring home a bag. Never have had them, before. The prep sounds kind of involved, but I'll give it a shot.

Had unlimited tv access. Still a vast wasteland and the ads drive me crazy. Did see a thing or two that was interesting. Stumbled across "Star Trek: Nemesis." Now, I thought I'd seen every ST movie. But not this one. Don't know how I missed it. Where Picard runs across a clone of his younger self. Entertaining. But, my favorite is still "ST: First Contact." Which, strangely enough, our library doesn't have. I know it's not on many people's favorites list, but I find fascinating the bit about earth's past, after widespread collapse, that may be our near future. And when the Vulcans land, throw back those hoods and you see the ears ... well, I just get misty :-). Just an occasional fan boy, here ... :-) Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Son came in with a fruit from a strawberry tree (arbutus unedo). He found it growing in woodland (not mine) right on the edge of the beach. I had never seen it and he probably only noticed it because it was fruiting. He will see if cuttings will grow.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

One month early, is quite early. Just for your interest, two years back when I had the stinking hot summer, there was virtually no autumn to speak of. Maybe a couple of weeks and then it went straight into winter. Seriously, the long autumn this year was a real surprise to me. I wonder if that may happen up in your part of the world this year?

Winter has certainly made up for it here though. A big storm rolled through tonight and dumped half an inch of rain in under an hour - a true spring storm - and I had to go out in the rain and clear the debris from the water tank filters because the water was flowing out of the top of the water tank (rather than into the water tank) and onto the ground which can destabilise the water tank - given it weighs 25 tonnes, this is no small problem. But what was weird about me running around in the heavy rain at night was that there was snow on top of the water tank. Tell you what, my hands were cold by the end of that job... Go figure that, snow and heavy rain?

Fog is kind of nice, as long as you are not out in it or having to drive. It certainly sounds like an autumn weather experience. If fog blankets the mountain, often visibility can be down to only a few feet at best and slow is the only way to drive across the mountain roads. Do you get fog that thick up in your part of the world?

18 hours of sleep per day sounds like a nice job if you can get it! No wonder the little blighters look relaxed! The dogs sleep a lot too, but not 18 hours per day.

Really? Did a large chunk of the Norway coast subside or slip even further under water? I assume that there is some sort of fault line under the water there? I read a reference to the event in the Mabinogion which was a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Good to hear that you didn't lose much in the power outage with the freezer. Does the reference to frozen dairy refer to ice cream as I can't imagine what other frozen dairy items would be kept?

Of course, the vines would all be entangled so it really would be hard to tell what is what.

2 or 3 cloves per day is an impressive effort! It would certainly have some excellent properties for your health. As to people being polite, well, my friend that has moved to Ohio reported back to me that people in the US are very polite and generally they don't wish to cause offence. That sounds lovely to me and I respect that level of civility. He and his lady are having a good time over in Ohio so I'm happy to hear that.

Cherokee Organics said...

Very amusing! I'll bet that lady was an old battle axe? You know, I get things wrong, but my profession has taught me that the best thing to say when you don't know something is to say: "I don't know, but I can look into it". It is not reassuring, but it is better than coming across as opinionated.

You have a good arrangement there. I do hope that you can glean a beet or two from the harvest? Wow, I didn't know that you could freeze grapes? Hope that the dogs were well behaved? You'll end up having to cook food for the dogs too - Biscuits are in the wood oven right now - with so many dogs to feed. :-)!

Yeah, you don't really want to eat a horse chestnut. They're great for making a very high quality soap though so keep a look out for the nuts. The chestnuts that are edible are like opening up an ultra spiky morning star. Watch for the spikes, although they do naturally split open.

Really? All we do down here for chestnuts is crack open the spiky casing (of course make sure you have the edible varitey) and then roast them in the oven. It really is that simple - they have a taste like a starchy potato but they're really yummy. Roast them until they are brown and then consume them. You can also grind the nuts for flour and I read recently about a chestnut flour pancake recipe.

Ahh 100 channels with nothing to watch! Hehe! Yeah, I liked that one. It was good fun and they must have had to search for an actor with Picards head shape too as it was a dead ringer. A good film, but as you say not as good as First Contact. By the way the Zefram character was in Six Feet Under too in the final series. I did like when they had to delay the launch to get the stereo pumping loud in the cabin too. A very amusing touch. I was a bit of a fan of ST:6 from the original crew too. However the new crew really pump the story and it never lets up for a second.

I was out working in the forest today, just clearing up fallen timber - because of El Nino fears - and came across a massive wombat hole just on the edge of the paddocks here. I had wondered for a while where Fatso the wombat was living. He won't be out tonight with all of the rain though...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Ah yes, those are remarkable trees and how good does the fruit look. It tastes like alpine strawberries of the cardboard variety though. Those trees are very common around here and grow to a quite considerable size too and produce a lovely shade over high summer. I have two of them here, but the wallaby has taken an undue interest in consuming the branches this year – so I’m sort of hoping that it outgrows the reach of the hungry wallaby.

One of my favourite gardens down this way: The Garden of St Erth, has a lovely picnic bench under the spreading branches of one of those trees. The shade is almost complete under there with a Portuguese laurel which is nice on a hot day.

Your son may be better off considering turning the fruit into alcohol. I believe that the fruit is used to produce an alcoholic drink in the south eastern countries - bordering the Mediterranean - in Europe.

I actually have a soft spot for those trees!

Did you and your son speculate as to how that particular tree arrived at that spot? I'll bet there is an interesting story behind that particular tree?

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I believe that there was a tsunami off the west coast of Ireland about 8,000 years ago.

The silver birches, oaks and ash trees all seed like mad here. I am endlessly pulling up the little trees starting up in my vegetable growing pots. Every few years oaks have a mast year when there are a myriad acorns. I find hundreds of little trees growing. They won't last because they don't like being under a mature tree. I believe that the oaks are dependent on jays who bury the acorns hopefully somewhere open.

The horse chestnut nut (conker) has vicious spikes as well as the edible chestnut. Totally different leaves though. The red chestnut (similar leaves to the horse chestnut and equally inedible) has the smooth casing and slightly smaller conkers.

I guess that the strawberry tree may have once been in a garden. The coast is badly eroded there and there are private houses dating from victorian times. Son did taste one of the fruits, he didn't like it. I'll tell him about alcohol use but there probably aren't enough fruits. At the moment he is planning on sloe wine as there has been a good harvest of these.

A gorgeous sunny day today and I have come indoors because I was getting too warm!

Inge

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Yeah, the weather is a concern. But, it's all wait and see and take what comes. When I was over dog sitting, we had a regular deluge for about half an hour, yesterday. Knocked out the satellite tv, for awhile. Glad I did my garden raiding, early. The beets were pretty much of a wash-out. Something had been eating a lot of the tops of the beets. A lot that were even too small to call baby beets. And the weeds! I picked about 30 pounds of grapes. I see I can freeze them up, just like blueberries. And, due to the drought, a lot of them are just about that size :-). The chestnuts ARE the edible ones. But, they haven't started falling yet. When they do, I think I can interest John in an experiment in processing them. Today ... carrots, maybe sprouts. Broccoli? I keep looking at the basil, but I think I have enough. Maybe I'll pick some to freeze in ice cube trays? Easier to process than stringing to dry.

We can have very thick fogs, but not too often. But, you still have to slow down.

John's dogs are a dream. Got the 4 pills into Mac, this morning. He's pretty sore by evening, and I wonder if any of the pills are pain killers. I wonder if a baby aspirin a day would help? And, if it will play nice with what's he's already taking. Mac snores when he sleeps and Tucker grinds his teeth :-).

From what I've read, the Norway tsunami was an entirely underwater, event. A huge underwater sea cliff collapsed.

No frozen dairy. Just dairy in the fridge. About the only thing that went bad was the milk ... which was my first clue that something was up. I didn't have the thermometers, then. If I have ice cream in the house, I keep it in the basement freezer. Hard to get at, less temptation. :-).

Yeah, I learned a long time ago to say "Dunno." and "I made a mistake." Life runs a lot smoother if you fess up.

Well, I've been seeing all kinds of ads for pumpkin beer. Sounds dodgy. But since you like to experiment with spirits ...
I can't imagine. Of course, I've been sober so long, I missed the whole wine cooler, thing :-). No great loss, from reports :-). I love pumpkin spice in things. I'd like to try the pumpkin Oreo cookies (biscuits) and the pumpkin M&M candies. Haven't been able to find any in this area. And, of course, pumpkin ice cream! I wait for that, every year. It's usually a special that they run for about a month.

Well, back to raid the garden and play with the dogs. Lew