Monday, 3 August 2015

The Hen House formerly known as


A chicken’s brain is perfectly adequate for the everyday experience of being a chicken. The average chicken displays great curiosity about their world and they also enjoy all of the social banter that goes on in the world of chicken.

However, the world of chicken rarely involves moving to a brand new home and when the average chicken is confronted by such an event, they fall back on old familiar patterns and try and return to their old home.

The chickens have been in their new home (the Chooktopia project) for a bit over a week now and they are enjoying the experience. I’m also enjoying the experience as the rats have failed (so far) to break into the new chicken fortress. That lack of rats is saving me a cup of free range chicken feed per day! And the rats aren’t doing their rodent like fecal business in the chicken’s fresh water supply which is also a bonus. 

As the new all-weather enclosure protects the birds from winds at ground level as well as having a proper steel roof, the chickens spend all day in their run mucking around in the deep litter mulch. As they now spend all day in their run, instead of huddling for warmth and shelter in their hen house, the hen house is much cleaner and far quicker to maintain every single day. In fact, I’m now using far less bedding straw than previously, which is an excellent cost saving.

So all up, the chickens are happy with their new housing. There is just one small problem that only time will rectify. When the chickens leave the Chooktopia enclosure in order to free range around the orchard, some of the chickens are unsure about which shed to return too. Chickens are smart creatures because they happily take themselves to bed at night as the sun sets. And, they will also retreat to their hen house for protection if a predator animal is around. However, it is a bit sad to see some of the chickens waiting patiently (or anxiously) to be let back into the old hen house!
The chicken collective exits the brand new chicken run and hen house Chooktopia project
Some of the chickens were more adaptable than others and it may surprise people that one of the Silky chickens, which is a little fluffy white thing, picked up the concept of the new chicken housing straight away. It was a bit like Raiders of the Lost Ark except that fluffy discovered the secret entrance (i.e. the front door) to the new chicken house and boldly traversed the paving!
Boss Plymie draws herself up to her full height and looks into the new chicken enclosure
As an interesting chicken side story, there has been a change of the chicken CEO. One of the Plymouth Rock chickens (aka Boss Plymie) has taken charge of the chicken collective. The former boss chicken - “Rumpole” - who ruled the chicken collective with an iron claw, has not been feeling very well the past few months and handed over the mantle of authority to the only true contender in a recent bloodless coup. Rumpole receives the perquisites of the elder statesman and she is un-hassled in her final few months whilst the other chickens treat her with both dignity and respect.

Boss Plymie is a good looking chicken and you can see her in the photo above pulling herself up to her full height (when she spied fluffy the Silky) and displaying her excellent musculature and plumage. Rumpole on the other hand is to the right of the photo and is sort of hunkered down whilst some of her staunchest supporters attend to her.

Back to the Chooktopia story......

It was a bit of a hassle for me that the chickens didn’t understand exactly which shed to return to at the end of the working day as the sun set. The first day that I let the ladies out of their Chooktopia, I had to grab every single chicken and carry them into the new chicken enclosure. That was hard work and anyone who has ever tried to grab a wary chicken will know exactly what I mean.

After the first night, I thought to myself that grabbing the birds and shoving them into their new building was a total mugs game. The next evening, inspiration in the form of memories of sheep dog trials, took hold and I grabbed two leafy branches in each hand and simply shepherded the chickens into their new house! That was a much easier process for both myself and the chickens and as of this evening, about half of the chickens now know where they live.
Inspired by a sheep dog and using two leafy branches to shepherd the chickens to bed in their new building is much easier than grabbing each of them and placing them in their new house
The farm is located in a natural amphitheatre which is usually protected from fierce winds, but last Thursday the winds howled and the trees shook and swayed. Ordinarily that wouldn’t be a problem, but as the local trees are upwards of 50m (164ft) and are swaying with the strong winds, you have to take them seriously! Thursdays are generally fresh milk days when I head off to the local general store to pick up my order of fresh organic milk and that day I thought that it might be wise to take the chainsaw and associated kit with me on that journey! Fortunately, the branches that fell on the road that day were able to be removed without chainsaw assistance and the supplies of fresh organic milk (for latte’s of course) were able to continue. Unfortunately, it did mean that there was a lot of fallen timber around which I burnt off a few days later.
Burning off the fallen timber from this week’s heavy winds
The ashes from the burn off are not lost as they get thinly spread around areas with damaged soil and then a layer of mushroom compost is spread on top of that area. What may be of interest to the soil geeks in the audience (whom I count myself amongst!) is that top soil quickly builds from such a layering technique and previously very hard clay pans can be made porous and pliable through the actions of the various bacteria and fungi.

Observant readers will note that the rock wall behind the recently in-bloom Manchurian Pear was disassembled. In fact, the entire rock wall was rebuilt a few metres (more than several feet) down hill of the original rock wall.
The rock wall below the cantina and machinery sheds was rebuilt this week
Some of those rocks weigh more than I do and required a wrecking bar to move!

I find that if a job or project has not been completed here it is because I’m uncertain about the finer details relating to finishing that particular job. Honestly, and to put it another way, inspiration is completely lacking in those circumstances. Inspiration does eventually come, and it usually involves variations from the original idea. Only at that point in time do I find that it is appropriate to continue with and finish a project.

And that is how it went with the rock walls, as a few weeks back I had the idea of meeting the two lower rock walls up at a much lower point within the existing orchard. That also meant that many orchard fruit trees were now absorbed into the garden beds. Previously (last year) any fruit trees that were incorporated into the garden beds were largely unfussed by that absorption and responded by putting on phenomenal amounts of growth.

Extending the lower rock walls so that they join has taken place in two directions and eventually they will meet. The other side of the lower rock wall was also extended about 10m (33 feet) this week and now has several relocated apricots and the king of all fruits (a quince) planted into it.
The western end of the rock wall extended towards the eastern end this week
If it looks as though I’m rugged up against the winter chill, it is because the farm has been experiencing the coldest winter in 18 years. The plants have struggled on from one light frost to another and yet it is still warmer than the long term average. Strangely, other more northern parts of the continent are experiencing their warmest July on record, and there is even a bushfire raging in the Blue Mountains (approx 1000 km north of here).

That hasn’t stopped the signs of an early spring showing themselves here at the farm, and walking around today I noticed the first bulb flower of the season popping its head out of the ground.
A jonquil braves the cold late winter conditions
With spring fast approaching, I went out today in search of additional asparagus crowns to plant and picked up four of them. Some of the many already established crowns are pushing spears up from the soil!
Four more asparagus crowns were planted today
The week’s weather has seen some very cold days, but also some sunny days and each day the sun climbs that bit higher in the sky. It will not be long before the batteries are mostly full every single day.
Battery % full at the start of the day - Amount generated by the 4.2kW of PV panels during that day
Tuesday 28th July – 78% full – 5.8kWh
Wednesday 29th July – 85% full – 4.9kWh
Thursday 30th July – 80% full – 5.9kWh
Friday 31st July – 87% full – 5.2kWh
Saturday 1st August – 90% full – 2.3kWh
Sunday 2nd August – 85% full – 5.7kWh
Monday 3rd August – 90% full – 4.5kWh

How did the house get here?
Way back in July 2011, the outside of the house was mainly finished and resistant to the winter weather, but that left the inside of the house still to be completed.

Completion of the inside of the house meant that all of the fine details of joining the plaster work and fitting the finishing timber had to be completed. I like very high skirting boards as they give the house an old world feel which you rarely see these days in new homes. Skirting boards are the bits of timber that sit just above the timber floor boards and perform the useful function of stopping drafty air movements (and also rodents) from entering a house.

Really tall skirting boards are very expensive, so I made them up from two separate and much cheaper bits of timber. The top bit of timber contained the Victorian era profile (i.e. the shape) whilst the bottom bit simply raised the height of the profile bit of timber. Once they are joined, no one would ever suspect the reality and it looks every bit as good as that of an old manor house!

The internal plaster was joined that month and the skirting boards were added
The architrave which is the fancy name for the bit of profiled timber around doorways was also added. Also all of the corner joins in the house were joined. I did not use cornice on the plaster, but simply and neatly joined the wall sheets to the ceiling sheets saving money in the process.
Architraves were installed around the doorways in the house
Observant readers will notice the beginnings of a clothes storage area in the walk in robe. That system used some bits of Ikea storage in a truly unconventional way. People refer to this activity as Ikea hacking! Anyway, in a later year I expanded this clothes/shoes storage area for the editor as a birthday present in a project I nicknamed: “The Sarah Jessica-Parker 5000 overdrive project”!

The wet areas in the house had to be tiled and so we did that task. In the photo below, the light fitting was covered in a bag to prevent it from being damaged by the sheer volume of plaster dust which was generated when all of the plaster joins were sanded.
The tiling of the wet areas occurred that month
Oh yeah, I added another couple of extra solar panels that month too. It had become obvious during the depths of winter that I simply had no idea just how many solar panels were required to keep the house adequately supplied with electricity! Much soul searching ensued.
A couple of additional solar panels were added that month
Restoration and improvement of the soil in the immediate area also continued that month. The native birds which call the farm home were only too happy to discover the nutritious compost and seeds at a time in the year when the pickings can be a bit slim.
The native birds gorge themselves on seed and compost used to restore the soils
The temperature outside here at about 9.15pm is -0.2’C degrees Celsius (31.6’F). So far this year there has been 497.0mm (19.5 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 479.6mm (18.9 inches).

PS: The title of this week's blog is a nod to a song from a well known Australian punk / alternative band. Can anyone guess who the band is?

36 comments:

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Those skirting boards were done very cleverly and look great. Do you give all your chickens names? My son only names his dogs, nothing else is a pet. The 2 goats he had at one time were called 'Curry' and 'Stew' named by a live in girl friend at the time. At least the names indicated their eventual fate.

I don't grow blackberries deliberately, they are naturally everywhere. Have only had one disastrous year when there were none. Normally I try not to be overwhelmed. I couldn't believe it the first time that I saw them for sale in the supermarkets. Is a generation growing up that doesn't know that they are out there for free?

Queensland: easily my favourite part of Australia. I did travel around every time that I was there. My favourite was Magnetic Island but that was probably because I particularly love islands.

Interested that you and the Editor have your own areas of functioning. I suppose that my husband and I did too, also with areas of overlap. In addition though either of us would do anything that we happened to notice needed doing, if possible. Either of us was capable of coping if the other was away for awhile and that included my husband being able to deal with small children. Actually he was better with the very young than I was. I come into my own with teenagers.

The road: Coaches don't come along the dirt road past my land, it is the narrow road leading to this one that is going to be worked on. Although it is tarmac, the tarmac has been laid direct on to a dirt road (ye gods!). They have a massive job to do and precious little width. The coaches come in because there is a holiday centre there for school age children. Actually the whole area is becoming a nightmare, geared to vast numbers of holiday makers. I am lucky in so far as I am up at one end and completely surrounded by trees. Only the locals know that I am there and most of them aren't quite sure where exactly.

Info. on your electricity: It won't send me to sleep unless it gets too technical. I assume that you have a frig/freezer; can the electrics drop to a point where it cuts out? After that I would regard a washing machine as the next most important thing. Hmm, electric kettles are rather nice. Anything else is a bonus. There does seem to be a lot of anti television around (ADR). Nothing wrong with the machine itself, just the use that one makes of it. Mind you American television is particularly vacuous.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

I very much enjoyed last weeks continuation of the Chooktopia saga. Indeed, I thought that the saga was now concluded. Now I find that it continues on with chicken herding! That just kills me. At least the most grueling tasks of that project appear to be over (except for the wheels turning in the little rat brains).

I really like the shot of the front of your house (just after completion perhaps?) with the solar panels and all. It shows the house with its beautifully simple and flowing lines. Lovely.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Chickens can have a mind of their own. Or, maybe it's that they get in a comfortable groove and don't like change. Like me :-). They can also be willful and selfish. Willful like the broody hen who just won't get with the program. Although, occasionally, she'll exit the hen house with the other hens. Or, when she sees me coming will get off the nest and hussle out of the henhouse. What's funny is that I can have three brown hens on the nests, and can always pick her out. She makes a very particular sound when I reach into the nest, that the other hens don't make. She hasn't caught on how I easily identify her so I can toss her out.

Selfish. When the little hen was molting, I wanted her to get some of the good bits I scatter around in the afternoon. Even though I scatter it around the yard, if she found a good patch to work, some of the others would decide it was better than whatever they were noshing on and run her off. And, single minded. Even a gentle shove with the side of the boot wouldn't get them back to the identical good bits and leave her in peace. Now that she's looking more like a chicken, again, the pressure is coming off.

That bit of molding at the top of the footplate reminded me of something. Back when I was in the antique biz, old tools were quit popular collectibles. I picked up 15 or 20 old "finishing planes." Wood and mettle contraptions that would "shave" a long piece of wood into different shapes of molding. I'm sure you know that a whole contingent of the building crew were "finish carpenters." The guys who did all the moldings, the bits around the door you mentioned, the cabinetry, etc..

Well, we're finally getting cooler weather. There were even a few drops of rain! Not a measurable amount, but rain. There was an article, yesterday, on "The Blob". An unusual huge area (now stretching from California to Alaska) of warm water that is wrecking havoc with the ocean ecosystems. There was also another article about the huge fish mortality, this year, in the Columbia River and it's tributaries. Salmon species and sturgeon have a very narrow temperature tolerance. For the salmon, anything over 68F and they start dying and stop spawning. The river water temperatures are well into the 70sF. It's all very worrying. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Nice to hear that it is finally getting a bit cooler up your way. That is quite the collection of blackberries even if there are still more required. What? Do you get bears possibly lurking around the old abandoned farm? Have you ever seen one there?

The plums are a real find. Earlier this year I came across some larger plums which have a very dark purple skin and they were really good (labelled as Angelina Plums). Yum and most plums - even the small ones - make great additions to jam.

Are the turkey vultures after carrion or live feed? Something may have died in your area and the vultures are onto it. The eagles here consume both live prey and carrion.

I do hope that you never come across the wasp nest. Ouch! They may get a bit angry. A few years back I put my hand on 5 or so European wasps that were feeding on a wild apple tree and they really did squirm, but fortunately they did not sting.

Well peanut butter is the biz! I always smear the stuff on bread cut from loaves fresh from the oven. There is no turning back to commercial breads... And I watch the lovely ladies at the bakery supply shop freshly crush the peanut butter from peanuts too. I wonder whether the children that had peanut allergies many decades ago simply succumbed to them? Dunno.

Yes, public spaces are at a premium in cities down under and they are rarely included in new developments. However, if a council sets up a park and it has shade trees, people will use it. Some reserves down here resemble bare paddocks and I've even spotted people walking their dogs from the seat of a vehicle. How lazy is that?

Ahh, it's clearly a story or drama or some such thing. Thanks for the update on the release date. Now, I've seen a photo of Dr Bryson and it's a bit of a stretch for him to be played by either of those two? All excellent actors too.

Wild blackberries ripen for weeks, so good luck and I wish you well in filling those gallons. The season down here was about 5 weeks last summer. The blackberry jam is still my favourite at this stage of the winter.

Cheers

Chris

Damo said...

Love your tales of chooktopia. We recently acquired 3 hens of unknown breed (I am still a chook noob) and I find it very cathartic to watch them scratch and peck at the ground. I also enjoy the 2 eggs a day they produce (waiting in anticipation for the day of three eggs!). I am surprised at how much just three little hens can scratch up when they set their mind to it though, I am going to need to some serious chicken wire deployment when I plant the garden bed soon...

Is the band reference Regurgitator?

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Many thanks about the skirting boards. The timber profiles actually came from a supplier of seconds hardware - it was seriously like visiting Steptoe and Son! And the whole trailer was filled with as much timber as the little white Suzuki could pull home again.

Your son is very wise to name the goats those particular names. No, I have only named some of the chickens which have been around for more than a few years. One of the chickens bears a close resemblance to the wife of a friend and was so named after her. Rest assured there is no Lewis or Inge chicken in the collective. Goat curry is an excellent meal and a great use of that meat.

I can slaughter animals here to consume on site, but not for on sale. Do you have the same restrictions there?

Oh yeah, how strange is it seeing blackberries all neatly presented in punnets in a supermarket for a huge price! Well, not many folks down here consider gleaning the wild fruit because it is a low status thing to do - however, I reckon that it is their loss. I sometimes take fresh picked fruit and other farm goodies into clients in the big smoke and everyone seems to be pretty happy to receive them all.

Wow, Magnetic Island. That brings back memories of ferry trips, sun, sea and hire cars. The funny thing about the hire cars is that the entire worlds supply of Mini Mokes seemed to have ended up on Magnetic Island. Great fun and also they had some very interesting WWII ruins from the battle of the Coral Sea days. It would have been a sleepy Island in those days. Thanks for bringing back the memories.

Ahh, yes, well perhaps we are of a similar skill set! Your husband sounds very handy, but then you have to be across many different areas if you want to be more self reliant. It is actually amazing just how many different skills are required. The editor and I split tasks up along lines of competence, but we also are able to step in if either of us gets overwhelmed with work and help out. A few weeks back when I was trying to organise a week off to finish the chicken enclosure things became very hectic for me and sometimes you are ahead and sometimes you are behind in life. That is how it goes from my perspective.

Oh. That's not good. Tarmac is best laid over a compacted road base of gravel. Oh well, such is life.

Oh yeah, I take the whole ADR TV thing with a grain of salt as I haven't watched commercial TV for many a long year - and never really picked up the habit in the first place. Full time work and part time study tends to stop that particular habit dead in its tracks and there is no free to air TV to be had in this location due to the surrounding mountain range. It takes me ages to watch a single TV show and as there are no commercials I just enjoy the storyline and don't put too many brain cells towards the problem. Clearly, it is not possible to ignore that there are actual greater social messages in those story-lines, but then I've got a huge book which I picked up for $15 with the Brothers Grimm collection of fairy tales and they have an under current in them too.

In defence of some American television I recently watched and enjoyed the series: "True Detective" and it was a very complex story line and very unlike a lot of other television shows which seem quite one dimensional to me.

Cheers

Chris

The problem with the

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks. You are very sweet to say so! Unfortunately, there is still a bit of work to do on the Chooktopia project. At the bare minimum I have to build a vestibule onto the structure, because the other day, Scritchy who is normally well behaved snuck between my legs and stormed into the middle of the new chicken enclosure. Honestly, the neighbours must have wondered what all of the yelling was about. Fortunately, she evicted herself after realising that she'd pushed it a little bit too far that time.

13 of the 15 chickens made their own way to bed this evening! :-)!

Thank you again. The house design matches what farm houses down here would have all looked like a century ago. It didn't seem worthwhile reinventing the wheel and coming up with a whole new design!

I hope the heat hasn't been too severe up in your part of the world and also that your garden is highly productive.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Mate, I don't reckon anyone likes change! Years ago, some mates used to always stir me up about enjoying my patterns of living and you know what? They live the most boring lives now of anyone that I know. The chickens are no different and you may be happy to know that 13 of the 15 chickens made their own way back to bed this evening.

Broody hens. The Silky chickens can sometimes go broody five times in one year. They do my head in, because whilst they're broody, they lose condition and become thinner and patchier and whilst I remonstrate with them and tell them off, they ignore me and just go back to being broody. Acceptance seems to be the wiser path, grasshopper! ;-)! Oh, I'm getting a bit silly tonight! Maybe the broody hens have simply broken my spirit: I kick them out and they bounce back without a second thought.

The world of chicken is a brutal place and I've long since given up on enforcing any sort of democracy. Both the chickens and I are happier with that outcome. The boss chicken rules with an iron claw but every chicken seems to do OK in there. Who am I to argue with those results?

Wow. I wondered how the old timers used to prepare those timber mouldings. It would have been very hard work indeed, but patience would have rewarded the craftsman and I've seen plenty of their work in old houses which are open to the public. Those places are to be respected and I'll tell ya what: we do it easy these days.

Most cabinetry these days is compressed and glued wood fibre with a vinyl coating. Those things are in for a good time, not a long time and are one of the few things in a modern house that are not recyclable. But they're cheap.

Oh wow! You've mentioned a Blob before. Hopefully it is not a regular appearance in your part of the world. but wow, is it expansive or what?

You know, the same thing happens here with fish deaths. The land holders are paid to remove the willows which shade the creeks and rivers and slow the movement of the water. Once the water is unshaded it either evaporates from the sluggish summer pools or heats up too much and the trout die. It is not a complex phenomena to understand and yet still the money flows towards vegetation removal.

Salmon are even more finicky about their environmental conditions. Sorry, but I don't know what to say other than it is not good.

It has been fairly cold down here, and one of the regular commenters: Jo from Tasmania has even received some good and unusual snow falls and she is not far above sea level. They're predicting more for Tasmania tomorrow too!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

No stress mate, we're all chicken noobs! As long as they don't crow, they're fine by me. Some of the cross breed chickens - or what they call in polite circles: Of uncertain parentage - have exceptionally strong and hardy genetics.

You may find that late summer / early autumn they'll go on the moult and lose some of their feathers. They'll go off the lay during the time of regrowth as it is too much for a chicken to lay eggs and grow feathers. Feed them plenty of oyster shell grit or cuttlefish and that will help them. Hey, do the eggs taste better and have darker yellow yolks?

Oh yeah, you vegetables will be toast unless you can work out a way to keep the chickens out of them. Scratching is their business, and business be good! Hehe!

Mate! You receive the gold elephant stamp tonight for picking the band. How good was the album: Unit. Sheer Genius.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, there was a bear with cub seen not far down the road to the east last year. A dangerous combination. They may come in closer because of the lack of activity around the Abandoned Farm. There was a pile of bear "sign", if you get my drift, near the old barn, last year. In memory, there was a bear in the yard at my place. So, I just stay alert. Watch for sign. There's some beaten down areas around the blackberries, but it's probably deer. No sign. Also, keep my head if I do see one. Do not look a bear in the eye (as opposed to big cats, which you should fix with a steely glare) and back off slowly. Last year when I was picking strawberries over at the old place (none this year) a deer came thundering through the brush and I almost had to change my shorts :-).

Turkey vultures are carrion eaters. So, probably not a problem for the chickens. Bald eagles are a different matter. But both seem to steer clear of the out buildings. I can't figure out who is the boss chicken in my mob. No one is a real standout.

Being a label reader, I look for the peanut butter that only has the ingredients "peanuts, salt." When it goes on sale I pick up 3 or 4 jars and store it in the pantry, upside down. That way the first "mix" doesn't go so hard.

Some global denying nit wit cited the Sydney snow fall as an indication that climate change isn't happening. Happens every time there's an unusual snowfall, anywhere in the world. The Greek Chorus strikes up the band ... Some congressman was tossing around snow balls in the Senate chambers to make his point.

In this State, if you run cattle or do logging around running water, you have to leave a band of vegetation, along the banks. Don't know how wide it has to be. To prevent erosion, for the fish. Sometimes it helps. One of the really bad floods we had here was due to logging. Though denied by the pro-logging people. A heavy rain, a logged off mountain side. It slid down and blocked a river ... for awhile. When it tore lose, it was goodbye Nuewakum (sp?) valley. And, all the farms, therein.

Took a break from "A Place to Come Home To", last night and watched "Australia". Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman (2008). An entertaining romp and a bit of a rom-com :-). Climaxed with the Japanese bombing of Darwin. Which sent me on a brief trip down the internet rabbit hole to get a little background on that. Well, the blackberries beckon. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Same here, my son is not allowed to sell the meat from his animals.

Magnetic Island: I had forgotten about the mini mokes. I don't think that they were there on my first visit Jan/Feb 86. I was with my husband and he got himself lost on a wild walk. Very stupid indeed. I believe that nowadays you have to inform a ranger before you take that kind of trip. I don't know whether or not you explored the wilder areas. Anyhow it took him hours to get out navigating by the sun and he told me that he thought that he was a goner. I returned to find him lying on a bed, utterly exhausted. He was blue, black, purple and red in an appalling state. The incredible fact was that he was 75 years old!

I believe that Julian Assange, currently languishing in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, is from Magnetic Island.

Grimm's fairy tales are indeed grim. They have been bowdlerised, so you may not have the true horrible version.

My statement about American television is based on watching (when I was there) my American brother-in-law looking for something to watch. He went through the lot and there were a lot and found nothing to watch.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis and Inge,

Thanks for the lovely comments. I got back from the big smoke quite late today and am feeling a bit tired. I promise to respond to your comments tomorrow.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - The Zen of Blackberry Picking :-). I have a good, solid 2 gallons in the freezer, now. Three more to go! Didn't have to go near as far afield to get today's quota. But then, I was hacking back the new growth (which keep you from getting at the god bits) as I went along. I pick into a two and a half quart Pyrex bowl. So, two mounded bowls equal more than a gallon. There's a meditative quality about it. At first I have to remind myself to pick 5-7 berry handfuls (or I'd be there all day). Keep the bowl level while ignoring how little is in it, at the start. That all fades away pretty quick and I have ... empty mind. :-)

Rather exciting, yesterday. Early in the afternoon, I could hear helicopters, quit close. And, a huge pillar of smoke. From what I could tell from the internet, at least a 5 acre brushfire and timber fire. Sections of the country road we connect to were closed. It was quit breezy. But, I couldn't smell smoke and no one told us to evacuate. So, I took a nap. By 7pm, the pillar of smoke had disappeared. So, I guess they got it knocked back in short order. Maybe I'll see where it was when I make my trip to the Little Smoke, today. Lew

orchidwallis said...

@Lewis

I had always understood that the reason for leaving a band of vegetation around ponds, lakes, rivers etc was so that semi aquatic creatures eg newts, could leave the water discretely and not get picked off. Granted though that vegetation would help to hold up the banks (that sounds funny, has another meaning).

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Oh, that's not good at all as I've heard that a bear defending her cubs can be quite ferocious. Sometimes though, I read accounts of people stopping to take photos of the wildlife and then it comes along and destroys them. A few months back I saw a report of 3 guys spotting a bear, and two sensibly ran off (there is nothing wrong with running to survive another day) whilst one of them stopped to take some film footage of the bear. I often wonder whether those reports are real some sort of urban legend?

Yeah, the stag would scare me too! The nightime here is full of life and noise.

Interesting about the vultures and eagles enjoying different niches. None of the wildlife avoids this place as it is like an oasis of water and food. Sometimes the wallabies will actually jump into the round raised vegetable beds and enjoy a good feed. I can't blame them, the herbage is a little lean in proteins at this time of year. They've taken an interest in the citrus trees again too. Grrr. That Pomeranian needs to get to work if he wants his dog biscuits!

The boss chicken can easily be discovered by observing who is sleeping on the highest perch in the hen house. If they're all on one level, then you can watch who is booting whom off the sleeping arrangements and then work it backwards from there.

Hey, just out of interest, did the nitwit actually say Sydney? I hope not. Sydney enjoys an almost sub tropical environment and the winters are much warmer than down south and the summers are paradoxically cooler.

The same thing goes on here too and it can be a bit sad to see a remnant band of vegetation lining a river or creek and then devastation all around. Still, I do use timber too especially in the house construction so I guess that makes me guilty. The erosion here is a nightmare too in logging areas. For some reason they don't chip and spread the cuttings which would help - but probably be very expensive to do. There was almost no top soil previously here at the farm perhaps due to the long logging history and it has been a slow process to rebuild it. Not impossible, just difficult and slow.

Ah yeah, that film was much hyped when it first was aired. It did better overseas than here - I think? My understanding is that Nicole Kidman is Baz Luhrman's muse, but I could well be wrong.

The footage is interesting and the Japanese pounded the daylights out of Darwin, but never landed there. At one stage there was some vague plant to fall back to the Tropic of Capricorn as essentially there is no way the Japanese army could extend that far south through unforgiving arid lands. They were already way over extended by the time they got to Darwin and suffered some serious set backs during the Battle of the Coral Sea. They were pretty serious opponents by all accounts though and driving them back north through the Pacific would have been a nightmare of hand to hand fighting in awful locations - like the forests, jungles and mountains of Papua New Guinea. The Kokoda Track is a place where a lot of Australians pit themselves against those conditions and even today it looks like a nightmare. Not good.

Glad to be able to respond today. There must be something in the water because everything was going along swimmingly and then a few troubles hit in short succession. That's life I guess, it wasn't meant to be easy.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Yeah, fair enough, I guess those laws came into to stop small holders from supplementing their income? Dunno, but do you know the history of them? It does sort of put the stop on selling produce. I don't actually sell any produce from here, but generally give it away and everyone seems happy with that. The cost of setting up a stall in a farmers market versus peoples expectations of what they pay for quality produce is a tough school to overcome. Still, I'll be very much enjoying your descriptions of the lovely pork products you end up with!

The moke may be a more recent thing, but certainly there is a lot of them. Glad to hear that he made it back OK. The heat, dehydration and disorientation can be a real killer, plus add in the extertion to make it back is not good. The problem is, I'm not sure how much there is to see in a short visit to those sort of places. It is really hard to take it all in during a short visit.

Julian is doing it pretty tough. I thought that he lived in Melbourne for a fair few years too. In some strange respects on reading about his background story, he's lived a similar but different childhood to myself - it was a bit errie really. Still, he's done some things that I would not have done myself. The system as it stands is very well adapted to dealing with the sort of threats that he represents. I read an interesting quote from him once and it went something along the lines of: "A lot of the time on the Internet people spend an awful lot of energy displaying their values". Or something close to that, but it was very insightful.

No worries! I've never had access to that sort of television drug ever and it has never appealed to me either. Still you never know whether you will be a recreational user or a habitual user and I'm also not inclined to find out. Some of my oldest friends are addicts of one kind or another and it becomes a defining feature of their day to day existence.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

You go! 2 gallons is a phenomenal amount of blackberries. Top work. Now truly, did you catch any barbs on your hands and were your fingers stained purple at the end of the picking? I always end up fishing out a barb or three. Ouch!

Of course, blackberries produce fruit on second year canes - or at least they do that here. Meditative is a great way to explain the work as it is really like that. You are probably more relaxed than I feel at the moment (I'm usually relaxed, but oh boy - what's going on?) ;-)!

You're lucky that it didn't spread too far to your place. Hey, how big are the helicopters? They're massive orange things and smaller ones of course. I think we share the lease on those helicopters with up your part of the world (or even north of the border). It is the wind that you really have to worry about as it provides the energy for the fire to move quickly. If we swapped the seasons around, I'd be smack in the middle of the danger period right now.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Newts? Wow. The only time I've ever heard of a newt is a Monty Python skit and I thought that they'd made it up.

Down here it is all about erosion, although people are clearing the banks too now if the vegetation is not considered to be local native vegetation (whatever that is).

We've got yabbies down here, and they're really yummy.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Newts are sweet little things. I brought one indoors, when I was a child, and placed it on my mother's white bedcover for all to admire. It looked adorable as it walked along. Afterwards, I placed it back where I found it. If you don't have them I suppose that a gecko has some similarities.

Lew's blackberries are way ahead of mine which are only just starting and taste too sharp. I think that they need more rain. I am eating my own tomatoes though, both those in the greenhouse and those outside are ripening, no difference between them.

Walking in wild country is incredibly dangerous if one doesn't know what one is doing. I have been disoriented in my own woods; coming out onto a path at right angles to the one I thought that I was heading to. This doesn't matter there because if lost one only has to go downhill which will bring one to the beach or a creek. Admittedly one can then be cut off by the tide, so can't continue to walk along the beach.

Oh my! The woods are indeed noisy at night. A couple asked me once if they could camp in my woods in order to give their children this experience. They didn't make it through the night. They de-camped to their car. They were terrified by the noise and movements and something bumped against their tent. I can hear any amount of wild life when lying in bed at night.

I think that it is illegal for my son to sell his pork in order to avoid potentially diseased meat being sold to the unsuspecting. Which is fair enough, I suppose. My son has been taught what to look for, by the slaughterer.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - We have newts and salamanders, here in Washington State. They're shy little things and I haven't seen any in years.

I have three levels of nesting perches. I thought about that ... but, 4 or 5 hens sit on the top perch. One must be boss hen. Meant to mention the picture of you with branches herding chickens looked like some strange pagan ritual you must have picked up from the indigenous people to launch of new chook house :-). Something I'll remember if I ever have to heard my chooks. Finns used to beat the corners of their houses on New Years Eve. And, pour molten lead into water to foresee the future. Grandpa could never tell me the why of it ... just that that was the way things were done. But, perhaps, I was too young and scatterbrained to be initiated into the "Mysteries." :-).

The fire was about 3 miles (4 Km) away. I drove past it on my way to town. They still had a few guys mopping up. It didn't start at the road, so, it probably wasn't a tossed butt. Looked like some logging was maybe going on. Probably get the whole story in tonight's paper. There is logging going on in the canyon, behind my place. They're an older and experienced crew, but accidents happen. Talking with the Evil Stepson is so exasperating. If you say white, he says black or gray. Of course the fire wouldn't have reached us, because it would have had to have jumped the river...which is almost bone dry and narrow enough that the vegetation forms a nice cathedral. But, he thinks he's the smartest boy on the block :-). August is forecast to be cooler with maybe even some rain.


You back off slowly, from bears. If you run, they think prey and chase you down. A friend suggested I sing, as I pick. Bears would rather move away from you. And, yes, people really are that stupid. A woman was recently gored by a buffalo at Yellowstone Park. She was trying to take a selfie with the buffalo. I'm sure you've heard of the Darwin Awards :-).

Went to town, took a nap and picked another, almost gallon of blackberries. Boy, are they ripening fast! Covered the same ground and got almost the same amount. Plenty of nicks on the back of my hands and a few on my legs, even though I was wearing long pants. A bit of an itch on the hands. Touch of sunburn. No pigment, you know :-).

I recently ran across a reference to the Yaupon plant. Ilex Vomitoria. Not an encouraging name, but early explorers confused it with another plant that had unfortunate effects. It's the only plant that contains caffeine in North America. Grows mostly in Texas and the SE. Think I'll look into it, as it isn't nearly as finicky as tea. So, I think I'll send off for some of the tea and see how I like it. I think the plants would grow here. Texas can have some bitterly cold winters ... so, that wouldn't be a problem. The damp might be a problem. But in well drained soil .... We'll see. Try the tea, first. If it tastes like ca-ca, it's a no go. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I checked out some images of newts and they look really cool. Putting the newt on the white bed spread was an inspired act, and if they're like the Skink species here then they're very clean, although you risked much in that particular effort. Hehe! How did the situation play out?

Blackberries can be very finicky about rain, sun and heat. Although they're quite prolific berries, they can be so different from one season to another. What sort of season are you having this year. Your heat wave may well have forced the berries to be slightly smaller and more intensely flavoured (as they have a higher sugar content)? Dunno, but I'd be interested in your thoughts. The last summer here was almost perfect for them, but I can't count on those conditions repeating themselves.

Yeah, tomatoes need the heat more than the sunlight and after a while the advantage of a green house becomes less. I've been wondering recently whether the advantages of artificial growing environments are offset by other disadvantages? I dunno, but my mates that live in the truly massive shed - it is huge, like an aircraft hangar - get much more produce than here because the extreme UV shuts down and slows my plant growth. But offsetting that they have to deal with pests that are a non issue here. I dunno, but I've been really wondering whether advantages can bring disadvantages. Still, they produce far more fruit and vegetables than I do here, although it is far more work. I'm essentially a lazy gardener.

Absolutely correct. It is really hard being out of sight of familiar land marks and people can get lost here too for the exact same reasons. I must confess that I cheat a bit and take a compass with me if I'm in unfamiliar forest and it has never let me down. But at the same time it also stops a person from having to rely 100% on their senses, but then that takes a lot of practice too. It would be nice to have a couple of lives to sort all of these fine details out?

Too funny! An exceptionally grumpy koala would really give them a turn! Hehe! I enjoy knowing that they're all out there doing their business and honestly I get worried when it goes quiet because I wonder what it all means? Usually nothing good, like a heavy storm is approaching fast - and it is not going to be good. How the animals know is well beyond me, but they are to be ignored at our peril. Do you get that happening in your woods?

I had a lovely conversation today with someone that I've known for about a decade and our general consensus after he handed me a baklava to eat was that sometimes people can be a bit too clean and that is not good either. Mind you, once or twice I have been very ill from something that I've eaten in a very dodgy and remote part of Asia - but the food poisoning that I ended up with here (December was it one or two years ago) was worse than anything I'd experienced overseas.

With that unpleasant note - Cheers!

Chris


Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

The salamanders are even more attractive with their spots and all. Very cool.

Really, you don't see them much nowadays? The skinks here are all over the place because of all of the rock walls leading into the garden beds. They hibernate over the winter underneath the rocks so I can't really move the rocks as they'll get disturbed. Over summer though it is like a French beach as the skinks are everywhere sunning themselves on the rocks. The dogs try to hunt them, but the skinks are much too fast and even if they're caught, they can drop their tales at will and then grow another one. I'm sure that it comes at a cost, but it is an interesting survival adaption.

4 or 5 doesn't really narrow it down very much, but the champ is in there somewhere. Incidentally, it isn't the most aggressive chicken, but simply the one that acts as if she is the boss. The boss chicken here employs her good mate (which cannot be named on the Internet) to do all of the heavy lifting. Unfortunately, I reckon that when Rumpole the ex-boss chicken dies, her mate - the enforcer - will also die of a broken heart. That has happened before here in chicken land with Claire who was overly fond of Miguel the gentlemanly Rooster who became sick one winter. Miguel was allright for a rooster. Oh, you're getting all the inside dirt on the chicken collective! Hehe!

Very amusing, but yeah it does conjure up some sort of dark Stephen King tale doesn't it? I hear you. Shaking the leaves makes the chickens think that there is a bird of prey up above them and they will travel in the opposite direction to get away from it. It isn't easy trying to work out how a chicken views the world. ;-)!

It does make you wonder how much in the way of "mystery" teachings that we've missed out on. I'm in the same boat too as my grandfather was quite the dynamic individual and far more impressive than my actual dad. Still, being young and dumb is fun too, although deep things can completely escape our grasp during such times. But then there is an obligation on those that are older and - hopefully - wiser to hand that stuff down? What do you reckon about that?

3 miles at your time of year and I'd abandon ship - really, it could potentially be that bad! As an interesting note, mopping up is called "blacking out" here.

Oh yeah, age is a good thing in an experienced forestry crew and I'd trust them as to get to that age, they would have to be inherently careful. But then a few months back I mentioned a chat to a guy down in the Otways forest who owned a herb farn and worked in a forestry crew and the accidents he mentioned with other crews was a frightening tale. Roads and rivers are nothing to a fire that has gotten into the crown of the forest - you tell him that from me! Hehe! On a serious note, a fire that crowns can reach 1.5x the height of the fuel - so a 100 foot tree can produce flames up to 150 foot. Ouch. My respect for the forest grows a little bit deeper every year.

Cherokee Organics said...

Allright so you sing, but then the question becomes: What do you sing and is your voice flat? Snakes are the same, they'll kill you only if you back them into a corner and really annoy them. Best not to annoy either bears or snakes - either way the outcome is not going to be good.

What a weird coincidence. The editor and I were talking about the selfie craze a couple of days ago. What did they die of - stupidity! There was even someone eaten by a lion because they rolled down the window of their car. I mean, what is wrong with these people? It is a very thin line between nature trying to eat us and our sense of omnipotence.

Nice to hear of your blackberry exploits and may you reach your full 5 gallons. Seriously, at this point in time, I have had an awful week and envy you your nap. Sometimes life is very unsmooth, but the worst has now past. Ouch, the sun would really hurt you down here. As an interesting note the UV has just lifted from low to moderate and today I could feel a bit of bite to the sun. Incidentally too, I noticed in the bog smoke that all of the plum trees about the place were in full bloom and the honey bees were enjoying themselves. Things are quiet here on that front.

That is an awful name! They rename native stuff down here when they've been given names like that. Not good. Yeah, the deserts can have some brutal winters and extraordinary summers. Hmmm, good drainage would be the key in your area. One of the cacti was broken in half by a wallaby (I'll bet it hurt!) and I just bung the head of the plant in the ground and it seems to have taken - which is really weird. One can only try plants as they're very adaptable.

Incidentally the tea camellia was planted in the only frost free spot on the farm and seems to be still struggling on, despite losing a few leaves. Haha! Tea camellia today, coffee tomorrow and then world will be ours!!!! :-)!

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris & Inge - The blackberries are very small and tart, this year. Due to lack of water. They sure do smell nice when I pick them. I don't taste as I go ... they seeds get stuck in my teeth and then I have to stop and go for a toothpick! I've noticed if I put the blackberries in oatmeal, I'd better have a toothpick at hand. In crisp or a pie, not a problem. Gave the blackberries (and me) a rest yesterday, but, will pick another gallon. I find the couple of hours before sunset are ideal as there are a few shady spots to work in. They will be quit tart and sour, this year. But with enough sugar ... :-).

Probably why I haven't seen any salamanders, in years. I stay out of the woods. I have the sense not to go on my own and since there's no one at hand up for an adventure ... As I remember, it has to be quit damp for the salamanders to come out. But your mention of skinks reminded me ... the rock pile I raid for, well, rocks has quit a few skins about. I just think of them as lizards :-). Shy little things. Last month, a plane with grandparents and grand-daughter crashed in the wilderness. Idaho? The grandparents were killed, but the teenager survived. And, had the sense to keep moving down hill and follow water downstream. After two days, she finally came to a road and was saved. A rather small, Stephen King book that isn't a spook show is "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon." About a young girl lost in the Main woods. A zinger of a tail.

Speaking of night sounds, the coyotes were whooping it up, last night in the back pasture. Beau was going crazy. I've found if I turn on the kitchen light, stand in the window and wave my arms about, they move off. I can't see them, but, apparently, they can see me. When I went to that late lunch (or, early dinner) someone asked me if I wasn't afraid, living out here i the boonies on my own. Well, no. I'm cautious. I wouldn't go wandering about after dark. But, otherwise, I've never been frightened, living out here.

Rather than just counting heads, I paid attention last night to who was on the top roost. No surprise, there. The three oldest hens, plus one. But, whoever is the boss hen must be a rather benevolent ruler and doesn't make a big deal out of it.

Handing stuff down. I do wish Bob the Bachelor Farmer and his mother had lived, longer. So much knowledge, lost. The old saw I've used before, "like libraries burning down." If the young won't listen and aren't curious, what ya' going to do? Like the youngster next door The one who always has a "better" idea. He once made the comment that his step-father (who has a wealth of information about all kinds of things) is ... "sometimes right." As if it is some very rare event.

Well, even though I was quit the singer in high school (Choir, went to All City, Swing Band, Barbershop ... even lettered!) I'm afraid the voice is quit gone. The booze ... the pills ... the cigarettes... :-). So, I only sing to myself. Sometimes, I carry the lyrics of something I want to remember in my pocket, as I work in the yard, so I can commit it to memory. "Come on Eileen" is a challenge :-). Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Back, again. Traditional tea and coffee are quit a trick in your, and my part of the world. The Yaupon has caffeine, but no tannin. I did a bit of looking around on the Net, yesterday, and it was frustrating. I just want to try some green, unadulterated Yaupon, and really couldn't tell if that would be what I would be getting. They kept talking about these flavors, and I couldn't tell if these were flavors naturally in Yaupon, or if they were added. Decided to wait til my next trip to town and see if the "Health" food store carries any, where I can actually look at the ingredients on the box.

Trying to make a long story short ... (ha!). I just finished a book by the restauranteur and chef, Jeremiah Tower. "California Dish: What I Saw (and Cooked) at the American Culinary Revolution." 2003. He started cooking at Chez Panisse (Berkley, Alice Waters) and was great friends with Beard, Olney, Child, David, etc. etc.. His cooking is a little ... over the top, for my tastes (and budget) but, he did have a lot to do with developing American regional cooking and, an American cuisine, in general. He helped develop the idea that in commercial cooking, ingredients should be a fresh and locally sourced, as possible. I think he's a bit over-enthusiastic about the coming of the jet era, when fresh food stuffs can be flown in from all over the globe. But, that probably won't last much longer, will it? Which reminds me, about six months ago, I read a book and watched a DVD about the cut flower industry. The waste involved in getting exotic posies to the tables of the rich ... but I digress ... :-).

But what was interesting about the book was the quit extensive bibliography ... with his comments. What I noticed was that several were Australian. Not only Victoria Alexander, who you mentioned, but quit a handful of others. Tower spent quit a bit of his childhood in Australia. But the one I spotted that you might be interested in watching for on your used bookstore tours, if you don't already have a copy on your wonderful bookshelves is: Cherikoff, Vic and Jennifer Isaacs. "The Bush Food Handbook: How to Gather, Grow, Process and Cook Australian Wild Foods. Balmain, Australia. Ti Tree Press, from the 1990s (year not listed.) Tower's comment is: "This is a serious book. Not a Birkenstock in sight. It shows how seriously the Australians took over from California in reworking regional aesthetics to make a new culture and cuisine. Fascinating and well presented."

I'll be plowing through the biography to see if there's anything I maybe want to add to my collection of cookbooks, or, what our local library has. And, what to watch out for when I hit my local thrift stores :-). Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

One can get something nasty from diseased pork but I forget what.

Our summer hasn't really been that good so far because the nights have been so cold. Those blackberries definitely need rain.

I don't remember who exactly watched the newt walk the bedcover. We were a large household as my mother fostered children and took in lodgers. I must have been at least 10 years old as we moved to that house when the war ended. I assume that my stepfather wasn't there as he would have disapproved of the newt being on the bed. It made no mess at all.

Haha! Needing 2 lives. I have always thought that one has only really learned how to live when one is about to die.

The circus has arrived on its annual visit. It had said that it wouldn't be able to come as the alternative route to that bridge was inadequate. So it was given permission to cross the bridge at 10mph with 'experts' watching. I really do expect this bridge to collapse while they go on considering the problem. Meanwhile the village is enjoying the fact that no heavy traffic is passing through in its usual nose to tail fashion.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis and Inge,

All this talk of blackberries is sending me off the farm to go and get some food (plus the once per month shop up - it is an exciting Saturday night down here)! Thanks for the lovely comments and I promise to respond tomorrow.

I'm starting to feel an early spring here, are either of you experiencing an early autumn?

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - No early autumn, here. But there is rain in the forecast. Just in time to sock us in so we won't be able to see the Perseid Meteor shower. :-(. You asked about plague a few weeks ago. Here's a short article about it. Three deaths in the western U.S., this year.

https://www.yahoo.com/health/as-child-contracts-plague-at-yosemite-a-look-at-126092139862.html

Another gallon of blackberries in the freezer. One to go! And then maybe on to apples. Start with that vinegar. I think 4 gallons. Or, maybe I'll just keep working the blackberries for jam or pies. But, I've got a pile of zucchini to deal with. Will have to look into the freezing of zucchini bread. And, I picked up a recipe for baked zucchini strips.

I am also off, today. Unexpected. The chef down the road called and wondered if I'd come help harvest, freeze and can, today. Sure! I'm taking him a dozen eggs. And, I get to raid his extensive truck garden. So who knows what else I'll be putting up? Have a fun stock-up. Have a good nosh for us. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

No early Autumn here; Summer has blasted back today and I managed to pick just one handful of blackberries dear, dear.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

The UV sun exposure has gone from low to medium this week and everyone that I know seems to want to catch up. Good fun stuff, but I also like sinking my teeth into the various projects here. That's my down time really, although that may be hard for some people to understand, but it is all good. I had a bit of a rotten paid work week this week too! What's going on? Must be the UV? Oh well, mustn't grumble, keep my chin up and all that stuff.

Too funny about the seeds getting stuck in your teeth! As a bit of a secret, I keep a roll of dental floss in the glove box of the car for such dental emergencies - that would make it a floss box (rather than a glove box?). The available ground water causes the berries to swell, but the other side of the coin is that drier and hotter seasons produce sweeter tasting but smaller fruit. Commercial orchardists over water their trees (perhaps not for cherries, as they'll split), causing the fruit to swell and gain weight and as they're paid by the weight of the fruit...

Yeah, those years here I also collect blackberries from the shady areas too as they are the slowest to ripen, but are more consistent. The ones in the full sun do it hard.

Ha! Just living where you do is an adventure for most people! Still, heading off into the woods reminds us all how unforgiving a place it can be. The only thing that may possibly find a lost soul in the forests down here is a cadaver dog. Well done to the girl for making her way out of the remote part of Idaho. On the other hand it is nice to know that there are remote and out of the way places left without other humans. There is a walking track down here that crosses the alpine areas and you could walk for weeks there without seeing another soul. The walking almost becomes meditative - like your working. The mention of that Stephen King story is enough to send me running for the nearest light switch - spooky! Misery was bad enough.

Interesting about the coyotes. My take on it is that generally the wildlife doesn't want to be disturbed in their activities and that other than that, they fear us - and for good reason. I do actually go for walks here at night and mostly it is other people in their vehicles that cause me to worry.

If there is no rooster in your chicken collective, then she probably is a benevolent dictator with favourites. But now you have reduced the question down to 4 chickens. The boss chicken always carries herself with a bit more attitude than the others in the collective. Careful observation will point her out sooner or later. It ain't no democracy in there! Watch how those 4 interact with the least of the chickens and you'll soon uncover the boss.

Yeah, that is true, but then sometimes they take their knowledge for granted. A mate and his wife are visiting here tomorrow for lunch and his parents of Italian origin look down on all of the stuff that fascinates me and my mate and deep down I know they know how to do the tomato passata thing or the home made sausage thing, but their attitude is why make this stuff when you can go to the shop and buy it. So much knowledge is evaporating and it takes a huge effort to re-engineer this stuff.

Excellent work. This is a new side to you with the singing and I respect that. I'd like to be able to sing, but music (keyboard and guitar) has taken a back seat whilst all of the infrastructure gets put into place. Seriously there are enough projects for well beyond the next 12 months and then some! I had lunch today with some people that rescued at huge expense almost an entire orchard of advanced olive trees and I can't wait to see how that turned out. I can't field the hug expense, but I respect the effort.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Now, stop it with the ear worms! Come on Eileen is an ear worm. ;-)!

Well I can't speak too soon, but if the tea camellia survives the coldest winter in 18 years, then perhaps a coffee is a possibility? If people are talking up the flavours of the Yaupon, then perhaps those flavours may be a bit dodgy? Dunno. Definitely, you could grow Chickory in your area and you can eat the leaves, but it was the dried roots that were used as a coffee substitute. I can't vouch for the coffee substitute bit, but the leaves taste nice and it is a very low care plant.

I like the guys style using fresh local ingredients. Certainly it would be hard to go wrong pursuing that strategy. With the end of the jet era, I've often wondered what diets would be like in your part of the world. Certainly there is always something to eat here - it may just not be what people want to eat, but up your way where it is colder - gee, I just don't know. Don't laugh about the cut flower industry as there is a peony farm up here which ships those flowers to China out of season. Go figure the economics in that.

Jeremiah, could do worse than to have spent time down here, we're allright! ;-)! Books about bushfood down here always tend to be from climates much further north (and thus warmer) than here. I'll keep a look out for that one though. The initial contact with Europeans was bad enough in this corner, but the gold rush pretty much did the other fatal blows to the Aboriginal population and getting information on traditional plants and there uses is very hard to come across. It isn't much different from the loss of experience going on today. I can imagine future historians commenting about today: "No one thought to ask them".

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I am not 100% sure, but I think that the disease may be Salmonella bacteria which is pretty nasty. It can affect all sorts of food too. The butchering process is complex as you have to ensure that the digestive tracts and other bits are removed reasonably intact and don't contaminate the meat. Practice is the easiest way to get around that particular problem, but it is not my area.

Thanks for the news from your part of the world. A cool and dry summer is not good. It is amazing how much heat that plants actually need to produce fruit, seeds, new growth etc.

Fair enough, it would have been fun to see that newt though! The reptiles here are very clean, just like your newts so I would have been surprised if they made much trouble of themselves, although it would have been temporarily a bit awkward for the newt of course.

That is fascinating to hear and of course the war would have assisted those sorts of domestic arrangements to become more common. Thank you, that was very interesting to read about. It is funny what information you may take for granted that may not be obvious to others who hadn't lived through such times.

Hehe! Well, yeah it is true isn't it? I don't have a clue whether the path I'm following is going to lead anywhere productive and like you wrote, who knows until they are possibly near the end? - life is a very uncertain adventure. Still, it would be nice to be able to have the time to try other existences? But perhaps that is not practical?

It is nice to know that there are experts on hand to watch the bridge collapse, although it would be rather unfortunate for your village (and the circus too) if the circus fell into the river during their passage of that bridge. ;-)! I'm unsure just how much of that heavy traffic is actually necessary?

I just burnt some of the dog biscuits in the wood oven thinking about that bridge. On a serious note, I hope it is OK as some towns get cut off here during floods when the bridges eventually collapse.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Sorry to hear that you are going to miss out on the meteor shower. It would put on quite the show. Do you know how extensive the meteor shower is going to be?

I forgot to ask you how your friends in Idaho are going during the summer? There have lots of reports of bush fires right along the west coast, but news from further inland doesn't really reach here unless it is pretty severe.

Thanks for the update. The demarcation line runs almost down the middle of the continent and the south west looks like a real hot bed compared to up your way.

Well done with the blackberries. Yum! Excellent foraging work. Now I have to ask, do you prefer blackberries to raspberries?

Oh yeah, the apple cider vinegar is so easy to make. I won't mention what a little bit of sugar and some champagne yeast may do to the mix. It is an easy vinegar to make. Have you ever tried to make white vinegar - which is really good with chips (roasted or deep fried potatoes, but much thicker than fries)?

Ha! Don't be too quick to process that zucchini as I'm still eating last summers zucchini and there are a few months left of that too (they're a real keeper and a bit longer lasting than pumpkins).

Congrats on the invite! Good stuff and enjoy your nosh. What is a truck garden and there is a story behind the invite? Like how did you score that? By the way, what is a truck garden?

I spotted the first daffodil flower today.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I believe that the problem with pork is trichinosis, a round worm. You donot eat rare pork as you do beef. Note that it is hot countries which have religious edicts re pork; very sensible.

My mother's household arrangements were of necessity, they were caused by poverty. She married my stepfather when I was 7 years old (father died when I was 5). She pursued my very, very handsome stepfather and he only agreed to marry her if he didn't have to support her brats (my sister and I). I asked her once why she went ahead with a marriage on that basis and she said that she didn't think that he meant it. Oh, yes he did! She said that when she was out with him, he always attracted attention and then people looked at her and wondered how on earth she got him. She was right about the attention, he was fawned on wherever he went. The good looks were accompanied by great courtesy and charm. Nobody would have guessed what he said about people later on in private. I had better add that I cared about him a great deal.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I SAW A BEAR!!! The first thing we did when I went over to John the Chefs was head out to a blueberry farm where he wanted to buy in bulk. We're traveling along a back country road, when all of a sudden, there's a bear! John said there were two, but I couldn't tear my eyes off the one. Boy, can they MOVE across flat open ground! It was a small, black bear. Rather cute from the safety of the road. Wisdom is, if you're being chased by a bear, best run downhill. There front legs are shorter than there back legs, so, a downhill run is difficult for them. Then there's the old climb a tree, routine. Mixed results, there, but, sometimes it works. I saw an internet headline this morning that a hiker was killed and eaten by a bear in Yellowstone Park.

Well, the day turned out different than I had supposed. All harvesting and no canning or freezing. I brought home an enormous box of veg. Zucchini (the largest is 8 pounds ... 3.63 kg), chard, yellow wax beans, green beans, basil, tomatoes, hot peppers, cucumbers, a cabbage head. I'm probably missing something. Oh, broccoli. A truck garden used to refer to a big commercial garden that's produce was "trucked" to town. Mostly veg. Now, the term is looser, usually referring to any really large veg garden. John grows his mostly organic.

Let's see. I knew John, maybe, 20 years ago. Then, as often happens, when he took up with someone, he disappeared. Now he's single, again, and I just happened to run into him in the Safeway, last month. And, it turns out we only live 6 miles apart. I tweaked him a bit about the disappearing act and made the observation that when he took up with someone, again, There would probably be a repeat. But that was fine, I'd just enjoy the friendship in the meantime. :-). John used to teach culinary in a juvenile detention center to druggies and murderers. The State closed that down, so he went to teach in a high school, south of here. Quit a commute.

I should maybe say a bit about the US educational systems, here. Of course, there's Head Start for the wee ones. After that, there's two ways educational systems can go. Grades Kindergarten, 1-8. Then four years of high school. Other places have a K-6, then a middle school that is 7-9. Then a high school that is 10-12. Things are a lot more flexible, then when I was a kid. There's religious schools, home schooling. Kids can drop out of high school, and, if they have something on the ball can take a GED test. A high school equivalency exam. That will get them into the job market, or, a trade school or community college.

End of digression. :-). The day was pretty much ideal for harvesting. Overcast and cooler. A few drops of rain, but not enough to run us out of the garden. I have blisters, a bit of sunburn and sore joints. A glorious time :-). John threw some turkey burgers on the barbie and whipped up something with the yellow wax beans, onions, a bit of bacon, basil and who knows what else. It was all very Martha Stewart :-). I showed him how to keep an eye on the local auctions, on line. We kicked around a lot of ideas for two classes he wants to teach, this year. World food (based on where his students ancestry lies) and one on herbs and spices. He takes a lot of his produce in as "teaching aids." He also mentioned that some of his students take the class because they don't get enough to eat. He's very liberal about eating their curricula and taking stuff home. Sad, really. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Teeth. Mine are bad, but they don't hurt and I can still chew with them. :-). We have wonderful little plastic gizmos, here, that are called "floss pics." A pick at one end and a bit of floss between two posts at the other. I got tired of my local drug store either being out of them, or, charging crazy prices. So, I ordered a small case on line. Ditto the other floss I use. A 12 inch bit that has about 3 inches of fairly sturdy plane flexible line on one end, and the rest floss, to get under a bit of bridgework I have. Wish I would have taken as good a care of my teeth, when I was younger, as I do now. Hindsight is 20/20. :-)

I've tried a chicory/coffee mix. OK, if a bit bitter. But, if it doesn't have caffeine, I'm not much interested. :-). But, that's not quit true. I do like some of the herbal stuff, like Chamomile.

The end of the jet era. The land here was so rich for the native peoples. Especially along the coast. Due to that, and, our long rainy winters, they had a lot of leisure time to develop some of the nicest and most complicated art in North America. I'd always stick my head in the Native American room at the Portland Art Museum to give it a look. They have a wonderful collection. I've got an eye toward developing small crops of tea, ginger and turmeric, etc. Stuff that won't be jetted in anymore if things really go to heck. For my own use ... for trade.

The meteor shower is supposed to be really good, this year. But, sometimes they say that, and it's a wash out. You never know.

My friends in Idaho are doing pretty good. Considering. They had to put one of their five dogs down. Ron had some out of control high blood pressure that resulted in several trips to the emergency room, but that seems under control. He takes real good care of himself, but has bad genes. He's already outlived his parents and grandparents. Their daughter and son-in-law who work for Forest Service fire suppression are rather restless, as the fire season hasn't been much to speak of in their part of the world. Not much excitement. Her mother and a sister visited. Always tense. He mom is a cranky old bag :-). My friend does scrap mettle wall "quilts." Has one that has a rodeo theme that won ribbons in two county fairs. She's fine tuning it for a run at the State Fair. Hot and dry. And, that's the news from Idaho!

Oh, I like all berries. It's just that the blackberries grow wild and are so close at hand :-). Eventually, I want to put in a small stand of raspberries and a strawberry bed.

Can you make white vinegar at home? I did a bit of looking around the Net, last month, and all I could find was pretty industrial methods.

Thanks for the tip on the zucchini. I'll move them way down the list of dealing with. I'm going to bust up a small one, today, and see if my mob likes them. They're rather cranky as they didn't get their afternoon treats :-). First up is the basil. So delicate. Need to get it to drying, today. Then look into what I can do with the chard. Tuna salad?

Congrats on the fist daffodil. Can spring be far behind? Lew