Monday, 28 September 2015

Berry nice!


Around two decades ago, life found me hanging out with friends at their house. It was the usual sort of hang out in those days which meant talking rubbish, partaking of the occasional ale, making up rubbish plans to take on the world, but mostly it just involved us talking pure rubbish.

The memorable thing about that particular visit was that my friend’s father was visiting from New Zealand and had decided to stay in Melbourne for a few days.  My friend was the youngest of about eight siblings, so the father was of quite advanced years and I'd never met him before.

Clearly, the father was a man of few words, because once the introductions were made, he shook my hand and said, “Very Nice!” – and that was that, because we did not enter into further verbal discourse!

So, I’ve been left with this long unsolved mystery. What exactly did he mean by that phrase? I’m not usually lost for words, and in fact it can be very hard to shut me up sometimes, but on that particular occasion, I was completely stonkered for a reply, so I simply shook his hand and must have looked like a deer in the headlights… It didn’t actually help that my friend for many years afterwards, usually with a highly amused grin on his face, used to rib me by repeating that exact greeting phrase.

And back in those days, it wasn’t as if you could jump on the internet and type in a search request for the actual social meaning of that phrase as a greeting. Agony aunts were plentiful and actually useful in those days in such a situation, but it was a bit touch-and-go as to whether they would actually reply to your question as they were a law unto themselves and wielded their powers for both general amusement and self interest.

Spring has sprung here. That is "Very Nice!".

This week the weather has warmed and the sun has shone strongly. On the other hand, some of the nights have been actually colder than the recent Antarctic anomaly, so please spare a thought for poor Poopy the Pomeranian who stoically endured a haircut last week and then had to spend those cold frosty nights quietly asleep in front of the wood heater (instead of his usual outdoor sleeping arrangements)! Unfortunately for me, Poopy enjoys waking up at the crack of dawn and so he has been a bit of a nuisance.

However, the days have been warmer, the sun is a little bit higher in the sky and you can now feel its bite. A lot of the fruit trees are still only just producing buds, whilst many others are producing blossoms. The Echium plants have gone from strength to strength.
The Echium plants have started producing flowers in abundance
The bees think that the Echium flowers are "Very Nice!" too, because they are all over them during the day, doing their bee like thing. The activity in the bee hive is starting to pick up pace and I’m wondering whether I should add an extra box to the current hive. An observation port would be a very useful thing in that existing bee hive.
The bees are enjoying the warmer weather and the copious early season flowers
Another very reliable and very early flowering plant is rosemary. I have quite a few different varieties of rosemary growing here at the farm and I read that Pliny the Elder from way back in the days of the Roman Empire reckoned that rosemary plants are excellent herbs for memory (I can’t recall
(edit - hahaha) how many different varieties of that plant that I have growing here!). The rosemary flowers come in many different shades and I spotted this unusual duck egg blue coloured rosemary which the bees were clearly enjoying:
European honey bees are enjoying the unusual duck egg blue coloured rosemary flowers
The locally derived white fleshed peach, so named after the ANZAC soldiers, has produced a huge quantity of flowers this week:
Anzac peach enjoying the warm spring conditions
What was very nice to see this week was that one of the very early fruit trees (the almonds) had actually passed from the blossom stage (that is the fancy name for a flower on a fruit tree) to actual fruit. In the photo below you can see all of the various stages of an almond tree. In the fuzzy and out of focus background there is a blossom basking in the sun. In the foreground of the photo there are two blossoms where the flower petals have fallen off. It is important to note that at this stage, those blossoms, may or may not have been pollinated. The piece de resistance however, is the little green fuzzy almond fruit swelling on the tree, where once a blossom showed off it wares to the pollinators.
Almond tree, with blossom, blossom with no petals that may or may not be pollinated and swelling fruit
Alright, I have to fess up. The whole "Very Nice!" theme of this week’s blog came about because I’d finished installing the last of the sapling pickets on the new berry bed enclosure this week – get it: “very = berry”. Yeah, it is a bit lame, but I was enjoying myself anyway, so whatever!

By the time that construction of the new berry bed enclosure had been completed this week, I’d installed around 320 picket saplings around the entire outside of the enclosure. When I’m inside the enclosure I feel as if I could single handedly hold off an invasion of Vikings and that isn’t a bad thing because the wallabies and wombats here are just about as ruthless and cunning as a longship load of Viking warriors when it comes to sampling the various berries plus their leaves and canes.
The berry bed enclosure using local saplings as pickets, has finished construction this week
The wombats and wallabies have really enjoyed eating all of the berry canes that I have ever planted over the years. Interestingly, the berries always regrow from such unrelenting punishment and over the next few weeks I’ll move many of them into the new enclosure. However, I was so relieved to have installed the final sapling picket that I went a bit silly and went out to the local nurseries and purchased many new berry plants to plant into that new enclosure. Regular and observant readers will also note in the photo below the very rare white with brown head berry variety: Rubus Scritchii.
Newly purchased berries to be planted into the now completed berry enclosure. Note the very rare white with brown head berry variety: Rubus Scritchii
Once the berry enclosure was completed, I was then able to plant it out with all of the purchased berries plus some of the berries that I relocated from elsewhere on the farm.
The berry enclosure was planted out with all of the purchased berries plus some additional berries that I relocated from elsewhere on the farm
On one outside edge of that berry enclosure near the worm farm outlets, I have planted a further dozen or so berry plants and cuttings such as: currants; gooseberries and jostaberries. So far, the wallabies and wombats have shown no interest in such plants, but you never know what the future holds.
Currants, gooseberries and jostaberries were planted this week
The berry enclosure took far longer to construct than I’d originally intended. There is so much free space left over inside that enclosure that I’m now considering planting the many tomato seedling plants that have since germinated over the past few days.
Tomato seedlings have germinated and gone feral and Triffid like this week
The cherry tomato seedlings in the above photo represent the results of about four year’s seed selection. In that mix there are yellow, red and red/black cherry tomatoes. The interesting thing about those seedlings is that they were raised in mushroom compost as distinct from the more usual very sandy seed raising soil mixtures. Mushroom compost is not an ideal seed raising mixture, but it is what I have on hand for that task and I take a very tough love attitude with seedlings. The seeds germinated in under a week and have been growing strongly ever since. I understand that the trick with seedlings is to transplant them once they have grown their first adult leaves. It is worthwhile noting that when there are only one or two leaves on a seedling, those leaves are often referred to as juvenile leaves and at that stage, it would be unwise to transplant the seedlings.

There was a minor correction to a dog’s breakfast of a problem here this week. With the recent new chicken enclosure, I had constructed six concrete round stepping stones which allowed me to walk across the deep litter mulch which the chickens spend most of the day scratching around in. Anyway, these beautifully crafted, bespoke round stepping stones were a good idea, but a complete waste of time. This is because the chickens simply buried them every single day in their deep litter mulch. I couldn’t even find them most of the time, until the rake which I use to turn over the deep litter mulch, clunked into them. Over the past few days I simply removed them from the chicken enclosure which only took a few minutes. The concrete will not go to waste either as I will break it up using the – now fixed – solar powered electric jackhammer and incorporate the rubble into new concrete steps in the future.
The round concrete stepping stones were removed from the chicken enclosure this week
Fixing the electric jack hammer was an interesting project too, because the plastic handle that broke on the tool, put it completely out of action. So, I contacted the manufacturer who supplied me - for a price - with two replacement handles. It took about a month for the parts to arrive, but after about 20 minutes of installation, the tool was ready to use again. I requested two handles on the basis that if one broke, then another handle will almost certainly break down the track.

I did promise to write about the continuing history of the house construction this week, but that was a total lie because this week I’d rather write about: Dog food! I do realise that I’ve lost credibility, but I promise we’ll get back to the house construction story next week.

A dog’s breakfast
Observant readers may have noticed that there are a few dogs here at the farm. They take a lot of feeding. So, over the past couple of months I’ve been experimenting with replacing commercially purchased dog food with home cooked dog food. The results are now in and I’ll share them with the readers here.

Scritchy the boss dog is an old girl. Time waits for no canine and there is no getting around that fact. A couple of months ago, I noticed that Scritchy had been turning up her nose and rejecting her usual breakfast feed and had begun getting thinner. Her mate Toothy was also likewise turning his nose up at the breakfast feed. Yet, they both were clearly hungry and eating other things. My maxim: If it seems odd, it is probably because it is odd, came into play.

I started wondering what is in this stuff that I’m feeding the dogs. The product labels did not explicitly disclose what exactly was in the feed, which left me totally in the dark about the product. Then I started thinking, I’m spending several thousand dollars a year on this stuff and I’m not even sure exactly what it is and the dogs don’t seem to like it as much as they like wombat manure.

Anyway, I modified my own muesli and biscuit recipes for the purposes of producing the dogs breakfast muesli and night-time biscuits. Here are the recipes.

Take any old vegetables (with the exception of onions which I’m led to believe are toxic to dogs) and fruit then cut them up into small chunks and roast them until they are soft. I include whatever is in season but in the photo below are: apples; bananas; potatoes; carrots; pumpkin; and radish. I’ve also put in ginger, garlic, sweet potato, zucchini you name it – whatever is to hand.
Vegetables ready for roasting in a Pyrex dish
Once the stuff in the dish is properly roasted so that it is all soft then blitz the lot until it is a paste. Blitz is just a fancy word for turning the whole lot into a mash. And just because I like saying the word here it is again: Blitz!

Then take three scoops of that mash. Add two cups of flour and then mix the lot until most of the moisture disappears and the whole lot becomes sort of crumbly. Add in two cups of oats. Add one cup of sunflower kernels. Add one cup of unsalted roasted peanuts. Add four eggs to the mix. It is a total shame that I cannot use the word blitz here, as you have to mix the lot together instead.
The entire dog food mash waiting to be mixed
Then using a small spoon, plate out the individual biscuits onto a tray so that you can chuck them in the oven. Before you place the tray in the oven it is not a bad idea to drizzle a small amount of olive oil onto the biscuits.
Tray of dog biscuits waiting to go into the electric oven
In the oven they require a slow cook over about an hour to an hour and a half so they get really crunchy and brown – remember that black is burnt (edit - a famous Gordon Ramsayism "if its brown its cooked and if its blacked its fooked - whatever that means) – although the dogs will still eat them even if black. For a gas oven I set the temperature to 180’C (356’F). For the electric oven they are cooked at 150’C (302’F) and the wood oven they are cooked at 110’C (230’F).

And here is a photo of me making dog biscuits and not getting tricked by business! These things are really tasty to eat too.
The author enjoying the sight of dog biscuits baking in the solar powered electric oven
Muesli is the same mix but instead of making individual biscuits you add more oats, flour and sunflower kernels to the mix so that it is drier again. You can even chuck in some dessicated coconut to the mix too. The difference is that you drizzle honey instead of olive oil over the mix. The other difference with baking the muesli is that you have to turn the mix over every half hour or so. 100% too easy, and much cheaper than buying commercial dog food.

As an interesting side note, the local native birds now consume all of the dog manure here, which saves me the hassle of having to pick it up and put it into the worm farm. The other interesting thing is that the dogs themselves smell very neutral and their coats are also quite dry and clean feeling.

The temperature outside here at about 9.30pm is 8.0’C degrees Celsius (46.4’F). So far this year there has been 600.2mm (23.6 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 595.8mm (22.7 inches).

46 comments:

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

That is one glorious berry enclosure, I am envious.

I reckon that 'very nice' is just a shortened version of 'very nice to meet you'. In this class ridden society I enjoy leaping in very fast with 'how do you do' when the people I am being introduced to, clearly think that I come from the gutter. It is amusing to see their faces. Otherwise my norm would be 'hello'.

One of the new neighbours has digging machinery on the go plus something cutting. I await them cutting through my water pipe! Have filled some containers in case.

Woke up in the middle of the night and looking at the time realised that I was okay for the eclipse of the moon. Made a cup of tea and sat outside with a pair of binoculars. I thought that it was most disappointing. It looked like a muffin once completely obscured and it was not red. The stars were gorgeous however. I have seen partial eclipses which were far better.

@Chris and Lew

Bill Bryson has written a second book about the UK; it is out 8th Oct. called 'The Road to Little Dribbling'

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Very nice post and pictures! :-). As far as meeting you're mates Dad, were you perhaps the only one to actually stand and shake the old guys hand? Perhaps the only one to address him as "mister" instead of being overly familiar, and using his first name? Even a faint stab at "manners" goes a long way with the older crowd. Maybe you were a bit more "well kempt" on that particular day? Stood out a bit from your mob of mates that looked like refugees from a bad squat? :-). Maybe he just intuited that you'd go on to bigger and better things .. like Ferglade Farm. That you had a bit of drive.

Coldish nights, here, too. Working in Chef John's garden, yesterday, he was of the opinion that perhaps his garden had got just a touch of frost. He may be right. The tomatoes sure looked it. Lots of die back in the pumpkin and squash vines. Chestnuts finally coming off the trees and I scooped up a bag to experiment on.

GAH! I didn't realize that rosemary came in varieties. Now I'l lay awake at night trying to figure out what variety mine are.

The berry enclosure is really great. It does look medieval. Reminds me of our reconstruction of Plymouth Plantation ... or those medieval reconstructions Ruth Goodman is always mucking about in.

Oh, that's sad about your stepping stones. Come on man! I'm sure there's somewhere useful they can be used in their present form. Put your mind to it! :-). Well, I suppose the same ruthlessness that goes into culling tomato starts, carries over to bits of infrastructure that don't live up to their intended uses. Sigh.

Thanks for the dog biscuit recipe. Here, the commercial stuff isn't a mystery. I just checked Beau's dry food and the ingredients run to 6 lines. And, there's a fairly elaborate nutritional breakdown. Some of it sounds a little dodgy. But, overall, I don't think switching to the home made biscuits would save me any money. But I think I'll give it a whirl and use a combo of commercial and home made.

Was also interesting to see what muesli actually is. You had referred to it a number of times, and I always thought, in the back of my mind, that it was some kind of slightly Germanic / European form of breakfast granola. :-). Now I'm curious to see what it's all about. Recipes and such. Lew

Jo said...

I agree with Lew - that berry enclosure is magnificent and very medieval/colonial stockade-like. You could definitely repel the barbarian hordes from there. And how many berries will you have this year? Amazing!

Thanks for the dog food recipe, I will definitely be giving that a go. I notice there is no meat in it. Are your dogs wholly vegetarian, or do they get meat as well?

Lew, muesli is granola - I am fascinated by the concept of dog muesli:)

orchidwallis said...

@ Lew

Muesli comes from Switzerland, invented by the Bircher/Benner family. I knew a branch of the family long ago.

Inge

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Son has just brought me a parasol mushroom 7 inches across the cap. This is the only white gilled fungus that I eat. It is sad that there is so little info. on Australian fungi. I gather that many aboriginals have legends that ban them from eating them so clearly there were disasters in the past.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

The light are interesting and I'm not sure about their longevity either - I have seen one of them blown elsewhere - I don't get power surges and the globes aren't mishandled so who knows? They use about 25W each whereas a normal small fluro globe uses about 15W for an equivalent light output. That is rats and mice power here so it won't make any difference. They do use a bit of power when they first start up, but it is nothing at all in the greater scheme of things.

How was the blood moon? Fun stuff. It was near to a full moon last night, so I'm assuming that it was a full moon over the weekend.

Hey, lists work. I do exactly the same thing here and if an idea is captured, it is usually remembered - otherwise it disappears completely. Ideas are ephemeral!

Yes, those bookshelves were unnecessary extras; it is good they've gone to a good home. On a serious note, I would have thought that Mt St Helens would have been easy to spot from a distance. Is there much in the way of regrowth there? GPS - I'm sure that there is an appropriate acronym out there for that!

The apple corer is something else! What a great little unit. Incidentally, adding lemon juice does actually work. What? Lemons expensive? That is a difficult concept for me to comprehend.

Yes, that would certainly be quite the effective technique - public flogging can be a very instructional experience for library thieves! ;-)! You're not telling me anything new, I did debt collection for over four years during the recession way back in the early 90's as it was the only job I could get... I reckon I've heard it all.

Fair enough about the Galbraith book. If you're getting 10% then there are still plenty of good lessons that you would have picked up on. What was interesting for me about it was that the rhetoric that is used today is almost repeated word for word and the sheer speed of the crash was difficult to contemplate.

Thanks and that is interesting - there has been an increase in strike activity down here too. Interesting. It is a shame that we can't work co-operatively though: On one hand the train and tram drivers (as well as I believe the brewers) are seeking pay rises and on the other hand there has been loud calls to remove Sunday penalty rates for aged care and hospitality workers and they're often very lowly paid in the first place...

Seth's all right - in fact they both make excellent characters.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Forgot to mention, but you may have missed one of the final silly Seth Rogen references in the 50/50 film: "Kuato lives" from the film Totall Recall. Very amusing.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thank you, I can't wait to pick all of those future berries in mid to late January! Yum. Although, I think most of them won't produce much in their first year. I'm going to let some of the plants (thornless varieties) tip propagate - which is a very lazy way to produce even more thornless berry plants.

Incidentally, that sounds like an answer to the conundrum!

Hello is pretty standard, but I do like the "how do you do" - you don't hear that much down here. Well, I must be down there in the gutter with you because I was once introduced to Lord Vesty and I said: "G'day. Nice to meet you" - I strongly suspected from his reply that he'd heard it all before.

Isn't it getting a bit late in the year for digging in your area with winter fast approaching? It does make you wonder exactly what he is up to. That is a wise precaution. Does your neighbour ever talk to you about such matters in advance? They don't tend to down here, although I do because I like to avoid later surprises.

Glad to read that you enjoyed your star gazing, but it was a bit of a shame about the lack of the lunar eclipse or blood moon. An observatory in the UK would be a hard ask because of the cloud layer and reputation for damp weather. Do they have many observatories in the UK?

A lovely and cheeky title - he always wrote of the UK with fondness (with the exception of the last book before he returned to the US - he came across a little bit grumpy and jaded). Thanks for the heads up, he is an outstanding author and always tells a great tale.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Well done, nice work and very amusing! Yeah, I've noticed that too and I probably would have shaken his hand on the introduction. Refugees from a bad squat (reminds me of "He died with a falafel in his hands?). Apart from a bit of wayward gear during the early 90's grunge era I've always presented a neat and clean appearance to the world at large. Some of my older friends forget such basics - but I always reckon that it is indicative of their mental state. We give ourselves away in all sorts of social cues. I used to be in denial about that sort of thing, but oh yeah, it happens.

Thank you that is appreciated.

Well, frost is an inevitability. It is going to be pushing into the 30'C (68'F) over the weekend - the first taste of summer. Ouch, it is not early or anything like that... Excellent work with the chestnuts and I'll be interested to hear how you enjoy the taste of roasted chestnuts (or are you planning to turn them into a flour)? I read today that acorns used to be a staple crop in some parts of the world (obviously after the tannins had been leached or boiled out).

Yeah, it is medieval isn't it? So far a wombat has tried to break out of it (when it wasn't completely enclosed, but it seems to be holding the hungry hordes at bay! I spotted a wombat this morning in broad daylight, just cruising around eating a bit of this and that. I took some photos so hopefully they turn out OK?

Evil genius chuckle!!!! Hehe! What sort of rosemary do you actually have? What colour are the flowers and is it an upright bush or a hanging variety?

Exactly, the stepping stones were actually a bit of a hassle in the end. Because of the roof, the deep litter mulch is dry-ish and I don't actually need the steps to stand on because there isn't any chicken manure floating around their run to stand in. It smells very clean and neutral too which is a good sign. Hey, I forgot to mention that I've been able to start re-using the bedding straw because the whole lot is cleaner and drier - the whole thing just uses far less materials and time to maintain.

No such luck here, and if they did, the ingredient list would sound like an industrial chemical process anyway. A broad selection of food is a good idea for any system. Incidentally, I chop and change the chicken feed on that basis too. You never know what nutrients may be lacking - didn't there historically used to be areas with soils deficient in one or more particular mineral? I know for sure that phosphate down here is a real worry - not that anyone thinks about such things...

Very good! Inge alluded to the history of muesli and both myself and the dogs eat a toasted variety - but it doesn't have to be toasted at all.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Jo,

Thank you. I'm looking forward to harvesting some yummy berries about mid to late January depending on the weather and rain. Photos will be forthcoming.

I grow a huge variety of berries here because different climate conditions favour different species and the harvest is much longer - so you get to eat berries for many months rather than having a glut of them over two weeks or so.

I take my hat off to you, I'm so impressed by what gets noticed from week to week. Elephant stamp for you! Well done! Yes, the dogs are primarily vegetarians - although that is not their preference. They do get half a shmacko's treat (which is a beef jerky strap) every day and that is it. Mind you, when they are out and about they consume all sorts of stuff around the farm. Since I've changed their diets, their coats and drier and more neutral smelling and they seem happy enough.

Oh yeah, it is toasted muesli which is not much different from the same stuff I eat. They don't like pumpkin seeds for some reason though?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I'm salivating thinking of yummy field mushroom, lightly fried in a bit of butter, with maybe a small quantity of tasty cheese melted onto it too, just for good measure of course. I do hope that you enjoy your mushroom! Have you ever grown mushrooms to harvest? I tried shitake and oyster mushrooms here and they produced very well for quite a while, but the bush fire scare hit a couple of summers back and I've had to re-prioritise things.

It would be a brave and perhaps very hungry soul that ate any of the numerous - and there are a whole lot of them - mushrooms here. The returns are just not worth the risk and no one has the funds or inclination to test them - even if they could.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

My water has just gone off. I knew that would happen. I walked over and the poor bugger was trying to get through to the water board. I had to disillusion him; it is nothing to do with the water board, it is his problem. The stock tap is seized up solid. Anyhow my son has gone there now (his water being off too). At least he knows where the next stopcock back is, though that will turn off other peoples water as well. Someone is going to become unpopular.

Sorry, I know nothing about observatories here. The sky was completely clear and I saw the full eclipse, it just bore no resemblance to the hype.

Won't the birds take your berries? I have to have mine caged. Not the blackberries of course as they are wild and everywhere (when the harvest is good). Getting the tips to root seems to work very well with my loganberries. With the wild blackberries it is a pain as one gets overwhelmed, I try to catch them before they get into the ground.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Thanks for the tip on the new Bryson book! When I'm done here, I'll race right over to my library web site and see if they've got it on order. I not, I'll check frequently until they DO have it on order :-).

Yo, Chris - Well, where we got lost, looking for Mt. St. Helens, we were at a lower elevation (along the Columbia River) and couldn't see it for the trees. Also, there was some road construction that really threw the whole thing off. The land effected by the eruption began to "heal" almost immediately. There has been intense study by botanists and biologists.

Finished "The Great Crash, 1929." I think it was interesting that there seems to be a general consensus that the Depression, after the crash was ... unexpected. I didn't know that. That there are some mysteries surrounding why that happened. He pretty throughly hashes out the possibilities. But, what he didn't mention (or so slightly I missed it) was that agriculture had been in a depressed state through most of the 1920s. Then there was the great Mississippi flood of 1927. And, the Dust Bowl in the early 30s. The arc of booms and crashes seems pretty predictable, looking back. No matter if it's the stock market, Bennie Babies or baseball cards.

Oh, I'll just be roasting the chestnuts. Not enough of them to experiment with flour ... I don't think. Yes, many of our native American tribes had large parts of their cultures built around the processing of acorns for flour and meal. Not long ago, I read "The Best Thing I Ever Tasted" by Sallie Tisdale. Early in the book she tells the story about how when she was quit young, the idea of Native Americans and acorns caught her fancy and she plunged into making acorn flour. It did not end well. Her telling of the story was quit humorous.

The rosemary is quit upright and has a sky blue flower. Whatever the variety, it's probably an old one. Been growing at the old farm, forever. My efforts to root and transfer cuttings came to naught, this year. I'll try again, next year.

I mix it up, feeding my chooks. One day, besides their usual layer crumbles, they get rolled oats and black sunflower seeds. The next day they get that, plus yogurt, maybe ground up shells, a bit of scratch and oyster shell. And, anything that's veg and going a bit off, in the kitchen. Most recently cucumbers and grapes. Oh! and banana peel. A real "dog's dinner." But poor Beau doesn't get much variety. His dry food and a biscuit.

Well, if the dog biscuits are a bit overdone (much to polite to say burnt :-), look at it this way. The charcoal will help clean their teeth and do away with that offensive doggy breath. :-).

I think what threw me about the muesli was the addition of veg. Fruit, yes ... but veg?

We were talking about sink holes, a couple of weeks ago. I see you had a pretty spectacular one, Down Under. Queensland, Inskip Point Campsite, near Mainnow Beach. About the size of a football field and 10 feet deep, right on the beach. The pictures were pretty awful. I guess there was a lot of running and screaming, but no fatalities. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Oh no, what a disaster, and you predicted it too. You would think that a civil engineer of all people would be very careful when they commence excavating. Too often we are rather blasé about the impact of our earth works. Has the water supply been reconnected yet? The pressure that water mains are actually under is often something that people tend to under estimate.

A few years back I accidentally took out the local electricity grid here and was fined rather heavily by the utility company. It was an unfortunate event, but I was trying to do the right thing by removing a dangerous and bifurcated tree which was leaning towards the power-lines. The fine for my error certainly ensured that I will not assist again in the future.

No worries. The blood moon here a few months back was just like a full moon - but red and honestly I don't actually know whether the red colour of the moon was a result of the volcanic ash from the Indonesian eruptions or otherwise. Every sunset is quite red and the high atmosphere is clearly full of particles.

Fair enough, I hear you. The birds mostly leave the berries alone, but time will tell how effective the picket enclosure is. The wildlife adapts about as fast as I can keep up with their innovations. Someone spoke truly when they remarked that there is no such thing as a free lunch - and I find that to be true over and over again. I've done the tip propagation thing before, so I know what I'm getting myself into. You should hopefully be interested to see how the berry bed continues to be completed over the next few weeks. Free edible plants are never a pain for me, but your soils are more fertile than here.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Haha! You have placed yourself in the role of the trail blazer - so I anticipate a rapid review of the book when you eventually receive it. Plus, I'm still in total awe of your library system.

The eruption at Mt St Helens is like the workings of a giant fertiliser factory, so I'm hardly surprised when the country began to heal quickly (New Zealand has the same process as the PNW). The same thing happens here after a bush fire, as all of those stored above ground minerals get released back into the soil for further plant growth. I try to replicate that process every year by chopping and dropping (plus mulching) all of the organic matter on the ground. Working out the timing has always been a difficult task and I'm only slowly getting my head around it. Honestly, I am in awe of the Aboriginals knowledge of country - they just understood what to do and when. Me, I make a thousand mistakes and in the process of that learning make a few wins. Oh well. Hey, at least you made it to Mt St Helens - was it an impressive sight? Do they have a lookout spot up there?

That was an interesting perspective to take away from that book, and of course you are totally correct in that observation. I never saw it from that perspective, but that is pretty much what happened. Top work too and you are correct - events rarely happen in isolation. The trick is though in: asking yourself how resilient is the system which supports us? From my own experience, I can easily shrug off a single problem, no matter how complex and disastrous. However, facing two large problems at any one time, weakens me. Three and it is much harder to respond well again. I reckon you are starting to get my drift. That drought impacted down here during those years too and on top of that the rabbit population went completely feral. I remember reading and watching an account of a very clever bloke who'd succumbed to polio during those days and just happened to work in my field: I can jump puddles - Allan Marshall.

Alright, that sounds like a complete teaser, what happened to the author? A person does have to actually remove the tannins (a form of acid) from the acorns before consuming them - it is not a complex process...

That is interesting to hear, because the rosemary here have either really deep blue flowers or the duck egg blue flowers. There are hanging forms available too. I'll keep an eye out for the sky blue ones... The cuttings don't seem to have taken here either, but it is still early in the spring and there have been some ripper frosts this year. Brrr...

However, you don't have to wait long for a change in the weather here: Wave of heat to bake Victoria. Not a good sign of things to come... At least the water tanks are full. Mind you, it is consistent with global warming.

Honestly, your chickens are the most pampered ladies in the PNW - nuff said really! Hehehe!

Thank you, but things here can sometimes get occasionally burnt - especially in the wood oven. One must learn not to imbibe a glass of tasty ginger wine and cook at the same time. It does sound like good advice, but circumstances and time can occasionally get away from you. ;-)!

Oh yeah, you can chuck whatever you like into a toasted muesli. On a serious note, sometimes I find myself snacking on the dog food and biscuits - they really are good. I chuck organic dessicated coconut and apples into the dog biscuits and I often wonder whether it is too good for them - given their predilictions.

I saw that in the news too! Ouch. Do you ever get mud flows up in your local part of the world?

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

The water is back on okay. It wasn't the civil engineer, it was the other new neighbour. He has done the work himself with one small hiccup; he put the new stopcock in the wrong way round but sorted now. Nice to know that he is competent.

I had noticed your vegetarian dogs but hadn't commented because I don't approve, but now you know! Their different smell is interesting. Weren't European meat eaters supposed to smell disgusting to some Asians? I don't remember the details. I had a vegan boyfriend once and he smelt wrong, sort of sickly sweet.

I only knew of one variety of rosemary, upright and blue. Dpn't remember the shade of blue as I don't grow it any more.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - LOL. Well, don't get to excited about a timely review. The Bryson book isn't going to be released here in the States, until January 19th! That surprises me. You think the book trade would want to catch the Christmas season. But, I'm going to keep an eye on the library new list, just in case they release it early. I want to be in the low numbers on that hold list.

Yes, Mt. St. Helens has some boffo view sites and a great interpretive center. It's where the geologist was killed by the blast ("Vancouver! This is it!") and is named after him. They never found him. Just a few bits of his camping gear. The center is on a hillside, overlooking a sweeping valley and right into the blow out side of the caldera. Pictures do not do it justice. It's like a huge, craggy amphitheatre. Hall of the Mountain Gods, indeed.

Oh, yeah. We have mud slides in this part of the world. In prehistoric times, one rumbled down all the way from Mt. Rainier, to Puget Sound, near Tacoma. There's all kinds of little towns, now, along the course of the slide. They have elaborate warning systems. There was an article a few years back, in Scientific American magazine, about the potential routes of mud slides off Mt. Rainier. Another possible route is through our county ... but, since I'm up around 600', nothing I have to worry about.

Oh, yes. Problems seen to come in threes. That's about the time you feel like there's just too much coming at you, all at the same time.

I seem to remember about some rabbit drives, in the US, during the Dust Bowl. Odd that.

Finally got to those two packets of goat stew meat, last night. It was getting to use it or loose it, time. Braised it ... which is a fancy term for long, slow and wet. :-). Took me about three hours to pull it all together. But, there's probably 6-8 meals in that pot and I'll freeze some up. The meat was melt in your mouth ... the onions had completely disappeared. Carrots and potatoes were a bit underdone, but that ought to work out in the re-heating.

I'll have to take another look at that acorn story ... been to long to remember the details. Mind is going. :-). I'm off to the Little Smoke, this morning. Going to stop and see my friend who's just back from a long slow trip into the middle of the country. He ranged as far east as South Dakota. Will be interesting to get his take on what's going on "out there."

Yeah, my hens are spoiled :-). But, I just want to make sure I get good egg production for the time and energy I put into them. Out of 11 hens, I got 2.75 dozen eggs, the last two weeks. Not bad. Could be better. One or two are molting. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge and Lewis,

Before I forget, did I mention that the guy that picked up the surplus bookshelves here last week became lost on his way here - because despite my advice, he blindly followed his GPS toy and oh boy, did I give him heaps about that. There has only been one person - out of all the people that visit here - who followed the map and instructions and they arrived. Every single other person has become lost because they blindly follow their GPS toys. There is certainly something very deep in that...

So, I'm looking in the newspaper and spotted this article: Car hit by train after man follows GPS onto tracks in Coburg

That guy is possibly very dumb, perhaps suicidal, or have maybe has very poor eyesight, because I know that road well and the trainlines look nothing like a road to me - they look like a trainline...

It constantly surprises me that people have given up on map reading skills.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Two new neighbours. We get a lot of turnover in properties here too because people buy in the spring, worry about the summer, enjoy the autumn and get knocked over by the winter. If they can get past two winters, they'll usually be OK. The thing is though, houses down here are generally constructed with absolutely no reference to the actual environment that they exist in.

Well it is good to know that your neighbour has a degree of competency. That is a good thing. I can't even imagine how a stopcock could be put in the wrong way around? We call them valves down here, but there are non-return valves and all sorts of other arrangements. Plubing is a complex trade.

Hey, I forgot to ever ask the question and was wondering how do you get your water? Is it town water or some other shared supply? I'd be stressed out here if I had to share my water supply with others as I'm not quite sure they could restrain their usage when summer circumstances dictate that that would be the appropriate course of action to take. Dunno. Some of the people down below here were telling me that in the last drought, they were using 600 litres per day to keep their gardens going which is phenomenal amount of water to use. The average usage in towns is usually much lower, but still that sort of usage by locals surprised me.

Thank you for your honesty. Well, it does offend people - why I'm totally unsure - so I wasn't sure whether I should mention it at all. Honestly though, the dogs are like me, they're mostly vegetarian. They eat plenty of eggs and get some dairy, they're really not doing it tough. And if there is meat around, they'll share. One of my NZ friends brought a kangaroo steak around for Christmas one year and I was totally cool about it a respected the life that had been given up for our enjoyment.

Well, the smell thing is true, people who eat a lot of meat smell differently to me - and the Asian people smell differently again to westerners, but they are mostly neutral from what I've noted. It's a diverse world.

Vegan's are a whole different matter as they have to consume all sorts of strange things (liquid smoke anyone - honestly!) - in addition to lots of sugar - thus the sweetness. I fed my chickens a huge quantity of pineapple skins once and the eggs tasted like pineapple for many days later - I didn't go back for seconds with that experiment, but ate all of the eggs! ;-)!

The dirty little secret of the vegan movement is that it is a political stance rather than a common sense stance and I've heard this strange conundrum about whether it is ok for vegans to purchase second hand leather shoes versus buying brand new plastic shoes. Firstly plastic shoes are a bad idea for all sorts of reasons. Secondly, plastic is generally derived from Oil products - which originated from long dead sea creatures. Nuff said really. If they have time to worry about such niceties, well all I can say is that it is a first world problem.

That is a shame, fresh rosemary is a wonderful herb. The plant may not have enjoyed your damp soils over winter, but if it was in a raised mound - no problems at all. The plants are very long lived too. Did yours die?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

What, no review yet? ;-)! No worries, I'm still now only halfway through the Conan chronicles - it's not to be rushed as it is a great tale. You're very astute to get onto the order list now at the library.

Oh no! Well, there is irony in using that name. Sort of like the Harold Holt memorial swimming pool really. Makes you wonder what he was doing up there? He probably suffocated from the gases long before the ash buried him. I wonder if he experienced any moments of doubt at the end? Wow, you paint an impressive picture, what a beautiful part of the world that you live in.

Thanks for that. I assume the elevation of your place means that any mud slide would be very slow moving or avoid your place all together? I'd never heard of mud slides before speaking with you about them. They do have land slips to the far south west of here and sometimes they dam up rivers causing natural lakes to form behind the dam, but that area is much wetter and much steeper than here.

Yeah, multiple problems at once are a real bummer, but that is part of life's rich tapestry. Lists and prioritisng are helpful in such circumstances. I read recently a quote from our former Prime Minister (honestly, there are so many of them now - nothing quite says unstable like four in four years) where she regretted spending time on the urgent things at the expense of the important things. A very astute call.

Yummo! Goat stew is awesome and slow cooking is definitely the way to go. Enjoy your yummy goat stew.

Rosemary? Hehe! Sorry, that was a bad joke... Yeah, they're OK as long as you either rinse or boil the tannins from the acorns.

Wow, South Dakota is a fair hike from your part of the world. Just out of interest, did the fracking works make there way into South Dakota? Winters there would be brutal. Brrr...

Chickens are a lot of work, in between cleaning, feeding and supervising, I reckon that is about the equivalent of a full days work each week. I could reduce that time by not supervising them, but chickens are getting more expensive down here every year. And speaking of chookflation - plants have jumped in price massively this year, but no we're not having any inflation or so they tell us. Yeah, right! Do you see that up your way?

Cheers

Chris

Jo said...

Always interested to note your rainfall, by the way. Our Launceston average rainfall to October is 580mm, but this year we have had just 380mm to date. 200mm short of average is extreme, going into spring, and a real worry.

Your rainfall looks plentiful - is it a normal year for you?

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

No, the previous neighbours had been there 8 and 12 years respectively. In both cases, the wife wanted to go and the man wanted to stay. One woman hated the winters and the other one had become phobic about high winds in the trees.

I am on mains water (town water). Right at the end of the line, so when any works are done, I tend to get all the air and mud. All the pipework on private land is the land owners responsibility though; the water board is only responsible up to ones boundary.

All the vegetarian dogs that I have known are owned by vegetarians and I see a difference between an omnivore and a (mainly) carnivore animal. I believe that vegans have to add vitamin B12 to their diet. Being an omnivore does seem to make for success in a species e.g. us and rats. Are cockroaches omnivores?

I do remember that you are a courteous vegetarian.

If one really wants to stink, eat fenugreek.

Had a vegetarian friend who went back to leather shoes after researching the making of plastic ones. Canvas not very useful in this wet climate.

Rosemary: I moved house and didn't grow it again as I am not particularly fond of it.

@Lew
I don't cook potatoes in stews. Potatoes will already be going off if you keep some for the next day. Better to cook and freeze stews without and then just cook the potatoes fresh with each meal.

Inge

Dennis D said...

Here is an idea for your bee hives, that a friend in North Carolina uses. She noticed that the hive was stationing a large number of workers to stand at the entrance and fan their wings to increase air flow in the heat. So she took a small 12v computer fan, with screen on both sides, and hooked up to a small solar panel. This was mounted on the top of the hive with the solar panel facing towards the afternoon sun. This allowed the hive to redirect the workers to more productive tasks, as the fan turned on only in the hottest part of the day.

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Thanks for the potato tips. Potatoes going off doesn't seem to be a problem. Might be the variety I'm using. Russets. Speaking of food, I just bought a copy of "A History of English Food" by Clarissa Dickson Wright (the surviving half of "The Two Fat Ladies." It's quit the doorstop. Pushing 500 pages. So far, I'm finding it very "readable."

Yo, Chris - Well, my truck is a pretty basic model and older. 2004. So, no GPS. I probably wouldn't use it, if it were on board. If I have to navigate, somewhere, I dig into my collection of maps ... or, get a good map off the internet. But, speaking of technology, I just hate all the **** ads on the internet. Sometimes, the ads (especially the "all singing, all dancing" ones) create problems with whatever I'm trying to do. Like, get to my e-mail. There's a thing called "Ad Choices" that I decided to investigate, yesterday. An opt out, it sounded like ... but, not so simple. The instructions I found online were Byzantine in their complexity.

Johnson was a "principal scientist on the monitoring team". He worked for the U.S. Geological Survey. Well, they expected more warning ... and a lateral blast wasn't even on the board. He was caught in the blast and pyroclastic flow. Judging from the victims found at Herculaneum, death is almost instant. Pyroclastic flows can move at 700KM.h (450 mph). And, his camp was just 6 miles from the blow out.

Mud slides, around here, usually follow water courses. I don't live near any water courses ... but I cross quit a few on my way to and from town.

Well, my friend was on his way to S. Dakota to attend his 50th high school reunion. He was on the road for almost a month. He seemed to think that most places were still doing pretty well, economically. Fracking didn't come up, but I'll ask next time I see him.

Inflation. Both of my retirement payments may have yearly increases tied to "the cost of living" which is an index of costs. Which supposedly reflect any inflation. They always say that inflation is very low. But that's not what I see in the stores or when I pay my utility bills. Of course, vehicle gas is very low, right now. But for how long?

One of my girls passed away, yesterday morning. Found her on the floor in a corner of the hen house. I think (hope) it was age. I think she was a Wyondotte from the abandoned farm ... so, she was 4 or 5 years old. From what I read on the Net, that's within the range for a Wyondotte to, possibly, die from old age. She was also the hen that layed the absolutely enormous eggs. That must have been hard on her. I'm keeping a sharp eye on the rest of my hens, but they seem fine. Even Broody Hen (aka Thanksgiving) took a walk about when I let them all out, this morning. A pity and a waste, loosing that hen. When I picked her up, I didn't realize how much she weighed. She was quit a handful. Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

I think Poopy sent you a psychic message to give him a haircut because he KNEW that the weather would turn, and that he would get to move inside. I used to knit dog sweaters . . . . .

Like Lewis, I had no idea that there were different rosemarys. And some hanging, not bush!

When do the eucalyptus trees leaf out? The forest behind the magnificent picketed berry bed looks so dark, and already so leafy.

You completely fooled me with the Rubus Scritchii - for a few seconds! - until I remembered you-know-who and looked more closely at the photo. Shame on you!

I feel right at home when I look at a lot of the photos of your property. That would be the living-on-the-side-of-a-mountain aspect; flat places here are few and far between.Parachute at the ready?!

I suspect that your dogs, as ours did, and being country dogs, catch some supplemental items to their diet (besides wombat poop).

I just got a new eyeglass prescription (it's been YEARS) and have my new glasses and it's so great! My vision wasn't that bad before, but what a difference.

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Jo, Inge, Dennis D, Lewis and Pam.

Thanks for all of the lovely comments. I'm truly exhausted tonight as there was this stump in front of the chicken enclosure that was near 3 foot in diameter and today was the day that it had to be removed. Then just before lunch, I helped a neighbour with an alarming tree problem. Oh yeah, and it has been hot today. It ended up being a very late lunch and an even longer day... Yawn!!!

I promise to respond to your lovely comments tomorrow evening. Til then!

Welcome to the discussion Dennis!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi everyone,

Forgot to provide an update: Record October heat sweeping across southern Australia. Today was like December...

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris, et al:

I may have mentioned this, but we used to make acorn flour and add it to recipes using wheat flour as an extra source of protein and fat (boy, do we have a lot of oak trees, all sorts). At first we simmered the hulled (?) nuts in water, changing out the water frequently, but then I decided that it was a waste of electricity, so from then on just soaked the hulled nuts in cold water, changing the water out every few hours for a couple of days, till the water was clear. That effectively clears out a lot of the bitter tannins. Then dried them in the dehydrator and later finely ground them. Was using a mortar and pestle at the time; so glad to have a nut grinder now! Haven't processed any lately. I think I remember white oak as being the tastiest.

The cost of plants has been way up here, too. End-of-season clearances (right now in our part of the world) can be a good time to get bargains on perennials and shrubs/trees.

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Jo,

Oh my! The rainfall here is more or less normal - whatever that means - this year. Surprisingly, at this point in time the climate here is only slightly drier than last year. Elsewhere in Victoria, it is much drier and north of the range I noticed today that the grass has dried off which is really, really early. Honestly, if the rainfall was down 200mm on the long term average here, I would be freaking out right now and taking drastic action - especially with the hot spell going on this week.

No doubt about it though, it is a serious worry.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Haha! Fair enough - did you know that it is the same story down here? It is always the same sad tale and I've heard it often enough to know that it is true. Maybe you can tell me why you and I enjoy living in wild and remote places, whilst other people don't? I have wondered about that question though for quite a while now.

For your interest, the editor enjoys living here too with all of the wildness and challenges of it all. For what it is worth, I've noted that many of the females living up here rise to the challenges of living in a remote location but many more seem to act as if they were still living in an urban environment. I'm constantly surprised that kitchen gardens and livestock don't receive the attention they deserve or aren't even on the radar in some households. It seems confused to me. Dunno, but I'd seriously appreciate your thoughts on the matter.

Oh no! Mud in water pipelines is hard on pumps as it is abrasive on the impellers. Nice to hear that you have town water though. The same is true of here - if one had access to a water main. There are water mains way down below in the valley but the cost of moving the water up the hill is uneconomical - they do however collect the run off from properties up here which is in something of a water shed.

Thank you for understanding that. I suspect that humans, rats and cockroaches are merely very adaptable to circumstances. In one of the Conan tales, Conan was stuck in a swamp for a few days so he adapted by consuming raw musk rats...

Yes, fenugreek can have some potent after effects. I grow it here, but haven't been inclined to consume much of it.

Oh yeah. That is so true, in the city I used to wear runners because I walked everywhere. In a rural location runners are absolutely hopeless because they get wet, so I swapped over to serviceable leather boots and have never looked back. One pair of locally made leather boots usually last about 3 years before the soles are done for. Incidentally, I used to work in the footwear manufacturing industry and it was very sad to see the end of those days - the quality of the product was amazing. I'm very careful about what shoes I purchase nowadays.

Fair enough, I consume rosemary as I'm walking around the garden - but I graze on many other plants too. Have you ever tried rosemary with roast lamb?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Dennis D,

That is an excellent idea and the solar powered fan would seriously help reduce the moisture content of the stored honey too - just like a dehydrator. Thanks for that info.

Hang in there as I have a local and very low tech option for the bees and it should appear over the next few weeks!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

What, did one of the Two Fat ladies die? That is not good as they had such a lust for life.

Respect. Well, you are in good company as my little white Suzuki is a 2004 model and still going strong too. Incidentally, being 11 years old now puts it in the elderly category when compared to the average age of the motor vehicle fleet. How does that compare with the US? Incidentally have you noticed the awful revelations in relation to VW and its recent apparent software dodge in relation to its diesel engine vehicles? There is so much more to that story than meets the eye such as the application of the law of diminishing returns and the pareto principle.

Have you ever tried the software ghostery - that blocks most if not all of the ads and you can fine tune it for every website. Still, I seem to recall at some long distant past message that you use an old apple computer...

No disrespect to the principal scientist, but I've heard people down here say they expected more warning too about bush fires... For obvious reasons, I have to take a hard line on such claims. Sorry. 6 miles is so close to the event. Anyway, it is nice that the guy is remembered.

Well, the mud slides following water courses makes a whole lot of sense, because you'd need the volume of above or below ground water to push the soil downhill. Sometimes those massive one off rain events can cause a huge amount of damage. I once saw 10 inches of rainfall here over 5 days and there was just so much water everywhere that any wind would knock over massive trees, bridges were taken out and it was just so wet that it defied my imagination.

Yeah, I'd appreciate that, but no point in upsetting the hive so to speak.

It is weird isn't it? My understanding of such vehicle gas matters down here is that the two main operators (one from Switzerland and the other from Singapore) pay very little - if any - in taxes and please correct me if I'm wrong, I've often wondered if such arrangements are tolerated because they keep retail prices low - although fuel is quite expensive here relative to your part of the world...

Sorry to hear about the loss of your Wyandotte chicken. They do lay very large eggs and are also a very meaty bird. It is rare that a bird can do both. Have you considered replacing her?

Wow, I'll tell you what it has been very warm down here the past couple of days. Still the unseasonable warmth has been speeding all of the plants along too. I spent the afternoon digging holes and doing various concreting projects. It is a tough job.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Haha! Poopy requires no psychic messages because, would you believe it or not, he is a very demanding creature? He usually receives about 3 haircuts per year because otherwise the summers are very brutal for him. What that breed is even doing down under is a true wonder! Scritchy would certainly appreciate one of those knitted dog sweaters for the winter, but then being boss dog she has the advantage of sleeping inside at night - they've been trained to alert me when something is going on outside that I need to take notice of and that has been very useful from time to time.

Exactly, there are quite a few different varieties of rosemary. I don't have the hanging variety but they do look very cool draped over a rock wall.

The eucalyptus trees grow all year around so they are ever green trees. They drop some leaves over summer as a response to water stress, but if there is plenty of water in the ground, they provide a canopy - although it is not complete shade by a long shot, more of a dappled shade. However, the sheer size of the trees means that they cast a huge shadow and it is actually as you say dark. There is a stretch of forest at the base of the mountain range that is called "The black forest" because back in the day it was actually 100% canopy shade day and night. Nowadays, not so much, but it is still a dense forest. I took an interesting photo today which shows just how big the trees are relative to the fruit trees in the orchard and hopefully I remember to put it on Monday nights blog. Very well done noting that fact.

Haha! You know, you were the only person that has mentioned that little joke so far. The elephant stamp for you! Hehe! I was giggling to myself as I was typing that one in, so absolute respect for noticing it. My Latin is very poor and those old Roman scholars would be turning in their graves over that joke. ;-)!

Yeah, exactly, keep the parachute on hand for any and all emergencies. It takes a massive amount of effort to make flat and fertile land on the side of a hill doesn't it, but at the same time it is an old story that has been going on for long centuries.

Would that be deer poop? As well as frogs, reptiles, oh they really enjoy the edible large and prolific Bogong moths over summer too. For humans, the moths are better roasted before consuming.

Nice to hear that you have some new glasses. They would make a huge difference and bring the world into focus. The world is a beautiful place.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Many thanks for the real world experience with the acorn flour. Your experience exactly matches what I have read about removing the bitter tannins from the acorns and oaks are so prolific down here that I'm seriously considering trying that next autumn. I have quite a few small oak trees growing here, but they really are slow compared to everything else.

You're making me seriously consider the dehydrator too as I have so much electricity going to waste over summer. Even now, the batteries are normally full by lunchtime.

Interesting about the rise in cost of plants (and chickens) and it has been disturbing for me to watch over the past few years here too - but of course, inflation is low (yeah, right).

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I drive a 1994 Toyota pick-up truck (I think it's the U.S. version of the Kluger that we see advertised on the Footy games) and my husband drives a 1987 Nissan pick-up truck. His was bought new. Mine we got second-hand many years ago. It helps immensely that one of our sons is very handy with car/truck motors.

I love living out in the hinterlands (would like to be a lot further out). As I've mentioned, I only go into town once a week. If I went to church or joined, say, a knitting group, things would change some (used to do such things). A lot of my neighbors (without the excuse of children of non-driving age; BOY, did I drive in those days) drive back and forth all day. That's eight miles just to the edge of the city. Can't figure out why they live out here for the peace and quiet and privacy if they rarely stay home. They don't have gardens, either.

Pam

I Janas said...

Hi Chris,
thanks for the welcome.
Re. the bees/pseudo scorpion: there is a guy in Germany who has written a PHD about the pseudo scorpion (funny that it is te same name in English) and the bees. As far as I know the results are: these two are more or less symbiotic. The only problem is that varoa and the pseudo scorpion are both affected by the current (may I say dogmatic?) methods, even the "green" ones and the person who has written the thesis is afraid that the pseudo scorpions may get extinct before we (or the beekeepers) can learn to do things more according to "nature´s way".
Also I think that the pseudo scorpion is more resilient, beekeepers in Germany (Europe) might be using outdated methods that put european honeybees at risk. So, yeah, I´m probably going to have fun with it.

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I don't know why you like to live as you do; but I think, that in my case, it is due to a love of the natural world that probably borders on the mystical. I have felt like this since childhood. Regardless of this, I have loved living in London. I do like extremes, be it cities or country. It is suburbia that is anathema to me.

I have never had rosemary with roast lamb, shall have to try it one day.

Am fascinated by all the info. on acorns. I'll remember it if I am ever starving. I do know someone who made coffee from dandelion roots and liked it very much. After WW2 they drank something called ersatz coffee in Germany, I don't know what that was made of. My husband liked chicory coffee, I didn't.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - A heat wave this early in the year is not good. El Nino? Hope it's a one off.

Acorns - Tisdale said that after all the boiling and grinding, the stuff ended up "...a chewy and terrible paste." But, you have to cut her a bit of slack, as she was only 9 when she tried the experiment :-). Points for having the curiosity to tackle a culinary experiment. She thought the whole thing was a failure, due to not being part of the whole Native American culture and community. I think she might have been from near Pam's part of the world. She doesn't name the town, but says it's nestled in a bowl of hills near Mt. Shasta.

Chef John made the comment (almost a rather shameful confession) that he really didn't like quinoa. All the rage here, right now, as a flour substitute. Tisdale's tale of acorn flour. All the talk over on the ADR this week about chicory coffee. Does anybody really desire and crave carob over real chocolate? :-). I think some people get all virtuous about some foodstuffs that are certainly edible ... but fall in the classification of famine food. :-). It's kind of like my experiments with sushi. Fine for the devotees, but there's so many things I'd rather eat. This time of the year, I like to sample pumpkin ... anything. :-). The pumpkin Oreos had kind of a nasty, oily aftertaste. So, I won't be trying them, again. Now the Hersey pumpkin kisses? That stuff is like crack and should be banned :-). Pumpkin ice cream should be in next week!

Wile and remote places. Hmmm. See a lot of that here ... one part of a couple just loves it and the other languishes because there isn't a Starbucks on every corner. And I've never quit "got" the part in prison dramas where every inmate is in horror of solitary confinement and goes crackers in a couple of days. For me, that wouldn't be much of a punishment.

When I braised my goat stew, I put down a layer of browned onions and garlic, threw some sprigs of rosemary on top, the meat on that ...then a weak beef stock, puree of tomatoes. The veg went in towards the end. I may bypass that, next time. Rosemary may be fine for lamb, but I find goat to taste a bit ... wild. Not as mellow as beef, pork or chicken. Time will tell. The second day, it tasted a lot better. 5 packets in the freezer finished off the pot.

Jennifer Paterson died in 1999 at the age of 71. Lung cancer. Clarissa is still going strong. I read her autobiography, last year. Besides leading a fascinating life, she is, like me, also a person "in recovery." So I found it pretty damned interesting.

Well, I guess my truck is getting to the "classic" stage. A couple of times when I go somewhere, some motor head will wander over to coo over my truck. Yes, the whole VW debacle is ... a debacle. I had two VW bugs, when I was younger, and just loved them.

All my chickens are still perking along, so, I guess the chook died of old age. She was also the bird that lay the enormous eggs. That must have been hard on her. The other Wyondotte lay pretty good sized eggs, but nothing like her's. A friend of mine referred to them as "Dolly Parton eggs." :-). He's very naughty. Oh, I'll replace her sooner or later.

I've read a few articles about the current low gas prices. Good for the consumer, bad for the over all economy. All I know is it's nice for now, but will spike up, eventually. Here in Washington State, we pay the highest gas taxes in the nation. For the roads and the ferry system. Of course, everyone out here in the hinterlands complains about the taxes, as it just goes to support infrastructure in the wicked big cities. :-). Lew



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Those are both venerable vehicles! I believe both vehicles pre-date the whole engine management computer thing, which means that they are both highly resilient and can be worked on and problems can also be diagnosed without the aid of another diagnostic computer.

Well, I trust that you watched the footy yesterday? Hawthorn has dominated the game for many years, but I do recall that your husband follows another team - and the memory escapes me as to which one?

The Toyota pickup trucks down here are called "Hi-Lux" (the Kluger is a seven seater SUV) and they are consistently among the top 10 selling vehicles for many decades - they have a long and respectable history down here. Although, sometimes I do wonder about the new models as they are so high off the ground and the sides of the trays are so tall, that I wonder about how useful the new models would actually be if you had to load or unload into them. I often wonder about scratching the paint on the tray of those new models if you had to say pick up a load of rock screenings? The older models are awesome and also very useful and practical.

Thanks for that and I wonder the same thing too. If you have land and it is reasonably fertile, why wouldn't you grow edibles in it - just to save money at the very least? As to coming and going all day long, sadly I see that too, but I hear you about the children trips. I try to undertake any and all activities in a single trip.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi I Janas,

Thanks for that, and oh yeah, you can say dogmatic methods! Ouch, that is not good to hear, but it is indicative of the state of things. Great to hear that you are having fun with the pseudo scorpion and I seriously wish you the best of luck.

You may be happy to know that with the unprecedented heat wave down here, the native bees were out in force today. If the sun is shining strongly again tomorrow - and there is no reason to think that it won't - I'll try and catch a photo of those fast moving little native bees for the next blog. They have no honey potential, but they perform useful pollination services.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Clarissa of 'the two fat ladies' has also died RIP.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

A very thoughtful reply. Yes, right in or right out is the way to go for me too, because the bits in the middle are lacking in both space, wildness and amenities. You have drawn a very wise conclusion and I share that thought.

Of course, the wild places are mystical and it is very hard to live in such a place and not be changed by it. That has been a surprise to me over the past five years and I didn't intentionally seek it out - it was a happy side effect. Like you I have always loved wild places though, I just didn't expect that those places could change my inner workings.

Whilst I'm typing this, just outside the fly screen, I can hear a Boo-book owl calling to other owls - more or less telling them to go away, whilst down in the now dark orchard there was a small mob of kangaroos, two of whom had joeys in their pouches. My understanding is that female kangaroos wont reproduce (they have that option built in) if the future summer conditions are not conducive to rearing joeys, so I'm sort of taking that as a good sign - despite the heat wave. Still, they could be wrong too. It would be very hard to live in an urban area for me now.

I look forward to your review of the rosemary and roast lamb - you may just like it?

I've heard that about the dandelion roots too. The entire plant is edible and one hot summer drought a few years back I used to collect the leaves as a salad green. They were very tasty. Thanks for the info on chicory coffee. Hopefully, I can enjoy supplies of the real deal coffee for many years to come!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Many thanks for your concern. Weather extremes are no public relations exercise to be sure and I've lost count of the many extremes that I've experienced over the past few years - to put it bluntly, it is feral! On the other hand, I spotted two female kangaroos that produced joeys down in the orchard this evening, and female kangaroos can shut down their reproductive systems at will depending on their take on the forthcoming summer, so hopefully, those kangaroos know what they're doing? Of course, they may be wrong too... )-: (that is meant to be an unhappy face emoticon)!

Wow, Tisdale was precocious and honestly when I was 9 years of age, I was oblivious to such things. That experiment may be on the agenda come autumn and the production of huge quantities of acorns. I'm growing a few oak trees here, but they are sooooo slow growing it is not funny.

Haha! Quinoa has been sold as a miracle grain almost every year since I was a wee young lad. I don't know about it as a flour substitute though as it is a bit grainy and not at all like flour. Spelt flour was big down here for a few years. Did you know that we let most of our heritage variety and very drought resistant wheat varieties in the world disappear over the last century or so. Apparently the loss came about because we were chasing yield over resilience. I don't reckon that there is much money to be made in agriculture, but I can't quite shake my head off the images of food haves and food have nots in the film Soylent Green...

Seriously, nasty oily after tastes really is not much of a recommendation. Hehe! I must confess that I'm quite partial to fresh sushi and raw fish. Even the algae / seaweed they use to roll the sushi up in tastes nice to me. I'll bet you like Terriyaki chicken though?

Very funny! You know, I now have this mental image of you indulging upon the Hersey pumpkin kisses. Still, such treats are probably tastier than chicory coffee - there is always this hesitation with me about trying such a beverage. There is a large island to the south of here called French Island and I'd probably enjoy living there as there are no council property rates or pretty much any infrastructure to speak of. Historically, the islands main produce was chicory and I reckon there are the remains of some chicory kilns dotted about the island. Oh, incidentally, I took a different road back from buying my huge box of seconds apples the other day and spotted this: Historic Bluestone windmill Kyneton Victoria. Bluestone is a form of volcanic granite that is dark grey in colour. Very cool - it was even located on, get this - windmill creek! It makes me think that back in the day a whole lot more wheat was grown in this area.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Yeah, I never got that solitary confinement thing either. Big whoopee do, I get to spend a couple of days alone. Nice to read that we're in good company! Of course, the silly thing is if a part of a couple misses Starbucks on every corner, why wouldn't they simply buy a proper espresso machine and invite the neighbours around from time to time? How hard is that?

The second day for most stews - or even legumes and pulses too - I find is always much nicer than the first day. Stews are like a good tea, they need to steep a bit and the flavours need to spread through the whole? Goat can be a bit goatie tasting, but it all depends really.

Such a loss! I didn't know about the recovery bit, did reading that account provide any useful insights for yourself?

Nice to read that the truck is still going, and respect for owning the two VW's in your younger years. Alright, it is serious confession time: Way back in the day I had a hankering - and still do, if I was being honest - to build a kit vehicle based on the VW type 3 beetle. The fibre-glass body kit used to be made over the other side of town and I reckon it looked cool and it would be so light weight that the thing would literally fly despite the VW beetle internals: Purvis Eureka. It is a tragic and alas unfulfilled love affair... :-)!

We now step back into the realms of the far less silly and onto more serious business such as Dolly Parton eggs. Very amusing. Well, chickens die and it is really hard to know why sometimes, as they can go from being very healthy to very unhealthy, very quickly.

Well, those people would be far happier in a Tier 2 system wouldn't they? I hear their complaints, but fuel here is about 50% more again in price and who knows what it would cost if the multi-nationals that seem to own such things were forced to pay taxes... I wonder about that whether it has now become some sort of apparent government policy not to pursue them as it would be bad for the consumer and economy. It is a dangerous game to play.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Sorry to hear that. They were very full of life those two.

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Ah, sad news. She will be missed.

Yo, Chris - My truck bed is in pretty good shape. Always commented on by the motor heads. I just keep an old blue tarp handy, that I throw down if I have to haul anything gritty or scratchy.

Read an article that there are a couple of Universities, in the US, that are preserving the old wheat strains. You can buy a bit from them, from time to time. I guess, here in Lewis County, they used to grow a fair bit of wheat. The newspaper has one of those "remember when" columns. A few years ago, one had a mention from 1910 or so, that the "Big Bottom" was producing a bumper wheat crop. What was then the Big Bottom is now the bottom of a lake, behind a hydro dam. A couple of little towns had to be relocated. I guess, when the water is low, you can see roads, a bridge or two and foundations.

I like just about anything the Chinese do with chicken :-).

Oh, I don't think "that crowd" would be happy with an expresso machine and invite the neighbors in. I think the appeal is the hustle and bustle of the city ... the unexpected encounters. The glamour of Starbucks. Using the old meaning of "glamour". Enchantment. To cast a spell, over.

Let's see. Insights while reading Clarissa's autobiography? It's more a feeling of ... well, if I'm reading a book like that, or sitting in a meeting, people tell there stories. And, I always find bits of my story, in their stories. LOL. When you're on your own, private little descent into hell and back, you think of yourself as so "special." So unique. Which is not a good thing. "Terminal uniqueness" is a phrase you hear, tossed around the tables, a lot. Part of recovery is rejoining the human race. Such as it is. Warts and all. I've also heard our merry little band described as being like survivors of a ship wreck. It's a bond.

Yeah, I try and hold it down to one trip to town, a week. I'm lucky in that our two little cities are constructed around one gigantic, one way loop road. Just about all the stops I need to make are along that route. I've had as many as 10 stops to make on one trip to town. My friends who moved to Idaho lived as far out as I do, in the other direction. It seems like they were always "running to town." Which is an actual phrase you hear a lot in the country.

I know I shouldn't be a critic, but I never understood why they needed 4 or 5 vehicles, either. Or, why, when I went to dinner at Brother Bob the Bachelor Farmer's, with his 100 year old mum, that everything on the table (and there was a lot) was all from town. I didn't see anything that came off the place. I'm always trying to figure out what I can get out of my place to 1.) save money and 2.) not have to get from town.

My tragic and unfulfilled auto love affair? I've always wanted a classic Corvette. Just for a year to get it out of my system. Oh, and with the insurance paid, please. :-). I'm also enamored with classic trucks from the late 40s and 50s. The ones where you open the hood and there isn't much there. You can see the ground! Just an engine block, battery, radiator, and not much else. So clean, simple and understandable. The truck I have now is very dependable, and all that. But, rather without soul. It's the first vehicle I've had that I haven't named. No personality :-(. Lew