Monday, 7 September 2015

Give bees a chance

All we are saying is: give bees a chance.

I dabble with bees on the farm and have done so for a few years now. Australia is fortunately blessed with native bees and plenty of other insect pollinators. The thing is though, in the first year that I introduced European honey bees to the farm, the fruit set on the fruit trees doubled over that of the previous year. Fruit set, is the fancy name for whether the flowers on a plant or tree produce fruit or not after pollination – and it is the pollinating insects that do the hard work in that process and as far as European honey bees are concerned, they're heavyweights in the pollinating insect world.

European honey bees are quite prolific gatherers of plant pollen, plant nectar and water which they use to turn into the very desirable product: honey. The native bees aren’t even close to producing the sort of superabundance of honey that the European bee species can produce. In fact, this far south in a cool climate, the native bees will not produce any excess honey at all. 

I like eating honey, using it to cook with and also for making mead (which is an alcoholic honey and water based drink). Honey contains at least 80% sugar so it is an almost perfect source of sugar for cool climates such as the farm here. It would take an awful lot of global warming before I could easily grow sugar cane here (which is the plant source for sugar). The old timers used to grow sugar beets, which will happily grow here, but they’re only 20% sugar, whilst most other fruits have much lower sugar content again. Nothing at all beats honey for supplying sugar in cool to cold climates.

However, the bees want to eat their honey, which is why they store it in the first place. It is their winter food store and they require that stored honey just to get the colony through the brutal winters that they evolved in. Winters in many parts of the world are far harsher than here and the European honey bees keep their hives warm by eating the stored honey.

It has been the coldest winter here in 26 years however, if the daytime temperature goes above about 10’C (50’F) at any time of the year, the European honey bees will be out and about enjoying the warmth and collecting pollen and nectar.

I grow flowers just for the bees (and the editor too!) and there are flowers of many different types all year around here so that even on the coldest days some brave plants are sporting flowers and the bees know all about them because when that sun shines, they will be busily going about their bee business and enjoying those flowers.

Over the past few years, I have had at least five different European bee colonies here at the farm. Four of them have died. Three of them collapsed over a period of three days two years ago. During those three days the temperature exceeded 40’C (104’F) in the shade - every day - and the wax in the frames simply melted. The bees as a colony did not die, they abandoned their hives in haste and moved to cooler conditions in the shade of the forest. In effect, I have populated the surrounding forest with European honey bees – and just to tease me they visit the farm regularly to let me know just how well they are doing out in the forest somewhere. The other colony died because it was attacked by ants very early in the season when the colony had not recovered from the winter.

As a disclaimer, I have not harvested any honey at all from any bee hive at the farm since I commenced the (expensive) hobby of bee keeping three years ago.

And I’m not the only one who is having troubles with European honey bees. Last summer alone, I believe that about 40% of the colonies on this continent died over the summer due to the extreme weather conditions. It is worth noting that because of Australia’s relative isolation, many bee problems have never even arrived here (such as the Varroa mite which is devastating colonies on every other continent).

European honey bees are fair dinkum hard little workers and all I reckon is that they deserve a chance!

As a general rule I avoid bee community groups because even despite the massive quantity of bee colony die offs all over the planet, they are some of the most dogmatic people I have ever encountered. And that is saying something. As a general observation, it is a most impressive achievement to maintain dogmatic beliefs in the face of absolute disaster! I say instead: Give bees a chance!

I appreciated failures at the farm (although not too frequently I hope - edit) because that is generally the time that I have to stand up and admit what went wrong and then learn from those errors. Most of the time I have to then repair the mistake and correct the underlying errors!

So this week I began constructing a slightly different type of bee hive, which as far as I know is a completely original design. If anyone wishes to duplicate this design, feel free as long as you acknowledge me as the source of the design.
The author commences production of an entirely new type of bee hive this week
The first thing that you’ll notice is that the bee hive is constructed from heavy duty hardwood. The reason for this is that I have observed that bees in the forest live in logs and tree hollows. The thicker timber in those natural bee habitats provides a greater level of insulation from the external temperatures during the winter and summer. My thinking behind using thicker hardwood is that honey is the bees natural winter food storage and if they are subjected to cold temperatures, they will consume far more stored honey as an energy source just to keep the colony warm. The standard commercial available frames here use very thin pine and it is just not up to the job of providing any insulation between the colony and the external environment. The thin pine is cheap though.

I also added in an observation port which is constructed of double glazed 8mm (0.31 inch) perspex. It will eventually have a hinged plywood flap covering that perspex so that the bees can enjoy their darker conditions – which they prefer (the insides of a log are usually dark).

The new hive also takes the standard commercially available wax frames. The old timers have a saying: “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater”. That saying is relevant here because, whilst I acknowledge that there are issues relating to cell size in commercially produced wax sheets (and possible contamination too), it is better to start the colony with a bit of assistance in the early days.

The design also allows for a fewer number of frames than the standard eight or ten frames. In the photo above you can see a single frame hanging in the hive box. When bees are purchased down under you are normally supplied with a package of bees in five frames (the fancy name for this is a nuc box). You may receive that package in early spring which is a cold time of year and the bees have very few stores to get properly established. The standard commercial boxes include space for eight frames (whereas the nuc is five frames) but all of that extra space in the standard box means that the bees have to heat an even larger area just to stay warm. In my design there will be movable sheets of plywood at either end of the frames so that new frames can be added and the bees can fill whatever space they require. And with the observation port I can quickly see how the colony is going without having to open the box and losing whatever precious heat that they have stored in that hive.
Construction of the detachable roof for the new bee hive was commenced
The roof to the new hive is designed to shed rainfall off and away from the holes that the bees use to enter and leave the colony. That seems common sense to me, but the standard hives have flat roofs and rain can simply fall onto the bees landing strip and run into the hive. And if the hive is not totally level rainfall will run downhill of the opening and into the hive itself. Honestly, how hard is it having a roof that sheds rainfall? Flat roofs do make for cheaper hive boxes though.

Observant readers will note that there is a layer of flat plywood which sits just underneath the triangle roof supports. The purpose of this plywood is ensure that condensation does not drip down onto the bee hive frames. Many people down under use cloth mats and other such items to perform this function, however, those mats sit on top of the frames which can potentially hold moisture against the frames.

Readers with a good memory will recall that I like making mead which is an alcoholic drink which only has three items: Honey; Water; and Yeast. It really is that simple to make! Yeasts are literally all over the planet so whilst you can never be sure what sort of yeasts you’ll find in your area, if you throw a party for yeasts, some of them are guaranteed to turn up! The bees provide the honey. And whilst the bees enjoy access to fresh water to create their honey, too much water in a hive will definitely ferment the honey and produce mead – which whilst I’m quite happy with – the bees can’t actually consume without detrimental health problems.
The plywood roof and ridge capping was then installed onto the new bee hive
It looks like a dog kennel rather than a bee hive doesn’t it? And perhaps that is where the inspiration came from for the design. The roof plywood was rescued from an old door that had been removed from the old chicken run and had been out in the rain during this past month or two, so I’m leaving the hive construction for a week or so to dry off before it receives a good lick of quality paint.

There is still a bit more work to do on the bee hive, but it is getting closer to completion and I’ll include photos over the next few months to show how it performs in the real world.

It wasn’t all about bees this week though as I was collecting, cutting and burning rotten timber in the surrounding forest. This forest has been actively logged since the 1860’s so there is all manner of fallen and discarded timber lying around down below the farm and it is a serious fire hazard.
Burn off of rotten timber way down below on the edge of the farm
As I was working the forest, with the magpie bird clearly enjoying that work, I noticed just beyond the area of the fire two very large fallen trees lying on the ground. Clearly they’d been there for decades and when they fell over and they had even lifted the clay out of the ground leaving behind a pit. I thought that I’d take a closer look.
Close up of the pit left behind when the very large tree fell over
What I found was that there were two very large and well maintained wombat holes under the closest tree. This perhaps is the abode of Fatso the very large and well fed wombat that cruises the orchard most nights (when it is not raining of course as no sensible wombat would ever venture forth for an adventure if it was raining).

I’ve completely run out of time yet again this week to talk about house construction, so I promise we’ll get back to it again next week!

The temperature outside here at about 9.15pm is 4.2’C degrees Celsius (39.6’F). So far this year there has been 569.4mm (22.4 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 544.0mm (21.4 inches). Oh yeah, this past week was very wet!

41 comments:

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - "Give bees a chance?" LOL. I hope you sent a couple of bucks to John Lennon's, estate :-).

I don't think it's a bad thing, at all, that you've managed to colonize a bit of the surrounding forest with European bees. As far as pollination goes, it's all good. Even if you yourself didn't get to avail yourself to the honey. There didn't seem to be as many bees around my place, this summer. Plenty of wasps to take up the slack. Bumblebees seemed, ok. I hope the bees bounce back, next year.

Well, your new style bee box seems very well thought out. Does this stuff come to you in dreams? :-) . It will be really interesting to see how it all works out. Good luck with the bees.

Today is my last day of dog sitting. It will be good to get back to sleeping in my own bed, and back to my own routine. There will be lot of food preservation, this week. I think it will also be good to get away from the tv. I can feel the brain rot, settling in. :-). Did manage to see the first two episodes of "Fear the Walking Dead", the spin off from "Walking Dead." Am looking forward to getting the whole first season, from the library. Probably about this time, next year. :-).

Maybe there was snow on the tops of the water tanks, but not on the ground, because they are at a higher elevation? :-). Probably not. More likely some arcane reason wrapped up in the thermal dynamics of umpity million gallons of water. Lew

Morgenfrue said...

Well done you with the beehive. I really hope it works - it seems that you've put a lot of thought into it.
Here we are moving into autumn and it's getting nippy unless you are standing in full sun. I've been getting out the wool clothes for my children (Danes believe that children should wear wool in all the months with an R in them - it's the same in English but only works in the northern hemisphere I'm afraid). We were at our school garden today and pulled the last of the plants so they can put out horse manure. Now I've been watchin the refugees on the news, they've reached Denmark and they've closed one of the major highways as some of the refugees are walking to Sweden. It's very surreal. I will have to find some of my daughters' outgrown woollens to send to the asylum centers...
Good luck with your bees!

Jo said...

I LOVE seeing bees in my garden, and plant lots of bee flowers to make sure they stay and pollinate my fruit trees. I have a rosemary hedge which is covered in gorgeous blue flowers for most of the warm months of the year, starting now. It is absolutely covered in flowers and bees right now, and I love their beautiful calm buzzing. There are many wonderful rituals in European folklore concerning keeping the bees happy - they are so important, it is good you are looking after their health. Your beehive looks marvellous - a little bee-house. I am looking forward to seeing how it goes. There is some wonderful descriptive writing about Australian backyard bee-keeping in David Foster's Slow Food book.

But it's fascinating how panicky people get around bees. I once had a big, strong handyman doing some work for me, mending a fence behind my lemon hedge - he refused to go near the fence because the lemon trees were humming with bees. Once I stepped in and calmly held the lemon tree branch back for him, he could hardly refuse to step in and do his manly thing with the cordless drill, but he clearly wasn't happy!!

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

It is all we can really do as we have zero hope of altering the outcome. I do try and modify the environment around here so that the weather risk is reduced though - that seems like common sense to me and it is paying dividends on other fronts, but who knows really.

Whatever was eating the beet leaves is a discerning animal as they are quite tasty and edible. Glad to read that you got into the gleaning early though. That is a good picking of grapes. Are they sweet given the warm and dry conditions? Yeah, chestnuts are a no brainer for processing, just remember to take riggers leather gloves along with you as the spikes are wicked. They'll split open of their own accord though if you give them a week or two of inside conditions ripening. They are ripe to eat once they fall from the branches - and they will. John has an excellent garden from the descriptions of it.

Basil ripens at the same time as tomatoes here so the two always go hand in hand from my point of view. Fresh homemade bread, garden sun ripened tomatoes, fresh picked basil and a touch of salt is a true late summer delight! Yum.

Fogs are quite common here and sometimes over summer that is how the trees get a drink. The mountain range can be covered in a thick blanket of fog and yet all around the night sky is clear. The fog then burns off with the sun. My understanding is of the west coast that the fogs roll in from the sea. Do they reach all the way in to your part of the world?

Snoring dogs are unfortunately a common occurrence. But teeth grinding is perhaps indicative of some sort of stress or anxiety in the dog’s personality. Is that dog a stressed out dog or very calm and controlled? A lot of people grind their teeth without even realising it and you can tell because they have completely flat top and bottom teeth and you know they are trying to suppress some sort of deep anxiety. Oh, aren't we getting serious here? ;-)! About a decade ago I began suddenly clenching my teeth at night and after a couple of weeks of that I went to a very nice dentist who explained to me in very unflattering terms that the clenching was caused by stress. I took that observation on board and changed my life to reduce stress and the clenching went away. Tucker the dog may have a few problems with that solution though...

Thanks for the info on the Norway sea cliff collapse. Ouch. You don't think of such events occurring in temperate areas of the planet.

Bad milk is possibly good for Nell and Beau and the chickens? I recall reading something about another culture - perhaps Asian - that described cheese as off milk?

Exactly, why borrow trouble pretending to be something that you are not. I'll bet they were hard on that lesson in a commercial kitchen? When I ran the graduate program years ago, I said to them as a group: I've never shot anyone or made a fool of them for making a mistake, but I've shot people for lying to me. It sort of gets the message across in a brutal and uncompromising way. It is a hard lesson to learn as it grates against the ingrained lessons of our upbringing, don't you think?

Pumpkin beer sounds very dodgy to me. As you say, no great loss. Incidentally and this may sound a bit weird, but the medlar country wine is turning into an almost mega superb vintage bit of tasty stuff. Sorry, but take it from me, the stuff is good and has an outstanding complex taste.

Enjoy your garden raid and play!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Gee, I hope that neither his ghost nor his lawyers come running! Either way it's not good...

Yeah, it wasn't a bad thing was it? Sometimes taking the big picture perspective is soothing for the soul. Incidentally, some summers the trees flower here and the entire mountain smells of honey, it is amazing to witness but doesn't happen every year for some reason. The next time the flowering happens I'll take note of what the weather conditions are like. It may mean that there is a strong possibility of a fire or some other occurrence?

Don't laugh, but sometimes I do have dreams showing me different ways of doing things here. I reckon that is part of the brains process of ruminating on problems. Anyway, it is as much of a surprise to me that other people don't see all of the various links and pathways that unfurl from an individual issue/problem. Thanks, they really do need all of the help that they can get, getting past that dogma though is a real nightmare.

One's own bed is a delightful place to retire too after short or long travels on this planet! Haha! Very amusing - routine is a fluid thing here...

Watch out for the insidious brain rot monster. Enjoy responsibly in small doses! Hehe! ;-)!

Was the series the "Walking Dead" enjoyable? I've heard people recommend "The Wire" too, but have never seen it. Have you watched that one? Ah, the benefits of waiting in queue for the library versions. Your library system never fails to amaze me. Hopefully Nell won't be too aloof on your return, cats can be a bit too cool for school in such matters.

I have no idea, it was just very cold scooping decaying organic matter out of the water tank filters in heavy rain at near freezing temperatures. It is funny what you notice when you should be otherwise concentrating on the job at hand!

Cheers

Chris



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Morgenfrue,

Many thanks! Yeah, it will be really good if it does work too as the bees really need the help. If it does work, I'll probably replicate the hive design and shift the existing hive into a new hive box. We'll see and I'll definitely keep you updated with photos.

I contacted the bee supplier today and he advised me that the new colony will turn up around mid October-ish so it will be a very interesting experiment.

That is very sound advice about the wool. Natural fabrics are very good insulators against the cold. It is really weird when friends visit here and they complain about the cold - seriously, they'd struggle in your winters - and they're wearing all synthetic materials for clothes...

Horse manure is an excellent addition for vegetable gardens as it has a bit of everything in it.

Walking to Sweden prior to the onset of winter is a surreal image. There has been quite a lot of discussion in the media down here at this far flung corner of the world about the issue too.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Jo,

Yeah, how good is rosemary for the bees and the blue flowers. Did you know that the old timers reckoned that rosemary was a herbal remedy for fading memory? I may have forgotten to tell you that though! ;-)!

Absolutely, the bees are far calmer than people. The only time that I've been stung was when I attempted to swat one away from my face - that was an error of judgement! It takes a whole lot of practice to zen out around them and I respect your calmness. They aren't aggressive by nature - unless you've somehow annoyed them?

Thanks for the tip off about the European folklore rituals. I'll look into that.

Oh yeah, the bees love the citrus flowers. Haha! Too funny, do you realise that you out alpha'd him? Well done you, and I hope that you took notes on how to use the cordless drill. A country or urban lass should know which end of a cordless drill does what and how to use it to good effect! They're very handy tools and you'll always see my little 18V bright green cordless drill kicking about in the background of photos.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Your bee hive looks good and it will be interesting to see what the bees think of it.

We are on our 3rd day of glorious September weather. I picked sloes for sloe gin this afternoon. There has been a superb sloe harvest.

Since the oak tree was cut down I have had no way into the woods from my home. The vast amount of wood has been stacked up in all clear spaces. Yesterday my son cleared a new track for me so I went through the woods. The overhead canopy is virtually total and there were only spots of sun on the ground. So easy to get lost as the area changes all the time. It only matters if one is foolish enough to go too far into stuff that is almost impenetrable. I have once in my life got so hooked up that I had to take off entangled garments. I finally spotted an oak tree which was pollarded over a century ago. I know that it abuts the only path. Walked down to the beach and around to Kings Quay. It is supposed to be named after King John who is thought to have gone there after signing Magna Carta. I don't believe it! The beauty there was almost overwhelming, it is easily my favourite spot. The tide was too high to walk a round trip along the beach so had to approx. retrace my steps. Found a very large shaggy inkcap and fried it in butter with bread when I got back. One has to cook them immediately.

Inge

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

Enjoyed reading about and seeing the construction of your beehive! And I will be very interested in learning how the bees respond to it.

While I do not think I have the right personality for beekeeping, I have been mulling over the possibility of renting out space for a beekeeper to keep hives on our land once the pollinator improvement project bears fruit, so to speak. As rent, I'd take a share of the honey. But I don't want to do that until I meet the right kind of beekeeper. What little I know of the art suggests the same dogmatism you mentioned.

In the meantime, I see honeybees and other bees on the 'Autumn Joy' sedum that is in full bloom. I don't know if the honeybees come from a managed hive or a wild one, but I appreciate them equally, and their friends the wild bees as well.

Mike has made mead in the past and he will make it again should we luck into enough honey at the right price. It's delicious!

Morgenfrue said...

I was thinking if it would work to actually insulate the beehive instead of "just" massive construction? It would help both against cold and heat. As long as the hive can breathe... Maybe you can try on a future hive if the design works, and see if it makes a difference. soon you would have the most spoiled bees on the continent and they would come running!

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Yeah, the beets were pretty sad. John said it's voles that got them ... and that they would find the carrots, soon. He needs a cat. Nell drags in far more voles and shrews than mice. The dogs might be a problem. He's like chickens, but, tried it once before and the dogs got them all. Though he admits he didn't really think out keeping the dogs and chickens separate and might give them another whirl. But, a garden cat? Hmm. It's well fenced. Build Moogie a little guard tower? :-)

Tucker the teeth grinder is "low man on the totem pole" from what I observe. That might be some of the stress. But, he gets on well with the other dogs. Maybe it was just that "Dad" had disappeared for a few days. Change in routine. Tucker seemed to need a lot more petting, than the other dogs. More reassurance. But overall, he's a pretty mellow dog. They all are. I was sleeping in the spare room, and, even though I had the door open, the dogs preferred their usual spots. Mac snoring in the kitchen didn't bother me. :-)

The grapes are pretty sweet (some green, seedless variety) with a slight tang. I'll remind John about the chestnuts ... they haven't started to come down, yet. Even though we had about an hour of wild weather, on Saturday. A deluge. Even knocked out the Satellite tv, for awhile. We're too far from the coast to get ocean fogs. Our fogs are all home grown :-).

I always used to tell the "kids" working for me in bookstores that we could fix just about any screw-up ... except loosing money through stupidity. As in, walking away from a till and leaving it open. I only had one clerk that just didn't get it. One day I came to work and she was helping a customer in the back of the store. And, the till was hanging open. I just popped the cash drawer, and sat on a bench out front with it in my lap ... and watched the fun. Well, that's the last time that happened.

Yup. The mind just perks away when we're asleep. It works on problems. Sometimes, when I mislay something, the first thing that pops into my mind when I wake up is where the lost item is. Doesn't work all the time. But, frequently enough to notice. Sometimes, as soon as my eyes pop open, my first thought is something I forgot to do, the day before. "Sleep on it" is good advise.

The leaves are really beginning to turn, here. At first, I wasn't sure if it was just the drought, or if the season was turning. It's turning. Fall is coming on. Well, three category 4 hurricanes in the central and eastern pacific. Hasn't happened before, at least in recorded weather records. There was a bit of hand wringing over the northern most one. Would it develop into another Columbus Day Storm? But it seems to be blowing itself out, far up the coast. Lew

Ozymandius said...

Hi there Chris

Tried hugelkulture as a way of getting the carbon from those old tree branches back into the ground?

cheers


Ozy

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge, Claire, Morgenfrue, Lewis and Ozy,

Thanks for the lovely comments and I will reply to them tomorrow night. This evening found me in the city late after some work so I grabbed some most excellent Chinese chilli dumplings and enjoyed a walk around in the warm (ish) spring air.

Cheers

Chris

Phil Harris said...

Good luck with the bees Chris and best hopes for a cooler hive.

My bro'inlaw in UK is trying top-bar hives and not feeding sugar.
But I found these people interesting
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handcar
Efficiency does seem to be at the expense of resilience.

I remember many years ago seeing a feral bee colony in a hollow tree in an ancient wood in Wales, UK.
The colony must have been quite old; the tree oozed honey.
When the sunny day got too hot the bees took to 'fanning' and made the tree sound like an organ pipe.

It occurs to me that a hollow-section tree trunk erected with the bottom end deep enough in the ground could provide a 'cool cellar' that bees could draw air from when they were fanning in the upper level. (I think I read that termite mounds draw on cooler air; in their case passively from below ground.)Some houses use buried large diameter pipes to moderate air temp entering the house - but your ground does not look too convenient, unless you put the pipe behind one of your soil-retaining contour walls before back filling. The bees as well as your house, or chook house might tap off the 'coolth' supply! ;-) Could be a survival tactic for peak heat?

How you fit a tree hollow sction so that bees hang combs in the right place and one that you can access, would need some thought, but I guess ingenious sliding inserts might be possible.

An afterthought: indeed beware dogmatic bee keepers. The blighters in UK spread varroa and other problems by always looking for 'best queens' and swapping them internationally.

best
Phil

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks and as you say, it will be very interesting to see what the bees make of it. I try to look at these things from the point of view of where do they live in the wild and under what sort of circumstances and then adapt the systems that we have in place to get closer to a more low stress set up. Sometimes, the easy way in the short term is often the harder way in the long term and I suspect that is what is going on with the commercial bee setups - but I could well be wrong too.

Wow! I've never heard about sloe fruit before - what a fascinating plant and history. Mmm, the gin sounds very nice indeed too. Are they part of your hedgerow plant collection?

Yes, it is amazing just how much timber is produced from a single mature tree. I leave the very large trees alone and untouched - unless they are a hazard or fall of their own accord - as they are just so hard to handle once they are on the ground.

Thank you very much for the beautiful description of your forest and surrounding country and you described it so well that I could imagine it from here. A great chance find with the mushroom too! Yum! Yeah, some mushrooms can get a bit slimy if left too long between picking and eating.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Thank you and yes, it will be very interesting to see what the bees make of it when they turn up here next month. I sort of try and produce a system here that replicates nature whilst allowing for some sort of a return. From what I've witnessed, I've noticed that efficient is not necessarily the same thing as resilient!

Yes, beware the dogmatic types as they can be a little bit of a downer on your day. If you are enjoying pollinators in your garden then perhaps you already have a good arrangement in place? The wildlife here perform a great deal of cropping and pruning duties and I have absolutely no involvement in their activities and perhaps that is already going on in your delightful garden?

Sedum is quite a delightful plant - and very hardy too. Mike is clearly a smart man to have dabbled with mead. As a point of interest, quality honey is about $8 per kilogram down here - so mead has become less economically viable in recent times. Country wines derived from sugar cane products (which are about $2 per kilogram) and the farms fruit produce are much more economical than mead so I have ramp'd the production of mead down.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Morgenfrue,

Absolutely, insulation works better in this particular environment than any other building concept - as evidenced by the house construction. If the thicker walls with heavy hardwood don't work then what you suggest is the next and final idea for bees here.

An outstanding suggestion!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Oh my, I'd never heard of voles before and they are the stuff of nightmares. On the other hand the owl population would be very pleased by the presence of voles - but wow can they do some serious eating!

The chicken and dog problem requires far more training than I can provide to the dogs. It isn't easy at all and Scritchy is of a breed that can differentiate between kept animals and anything else - so she is a total write off. Medium to larger dogs are perhaps easier to train? Dunno though. If he cracks the secret to chickens and dogs, please let me know as they'd be very useful?

The Moggy in the guard tower would be something to see! Unfortunately the moggy would also eat every small bird and reptile here... Don't laugh, but I saw a place not too far from here that constructed a mud brick watch tower and they had raised walls about the entire place. Mind you, someone very close to here constructed what looks to be a full on castle with crenullations in a raised tower for the archers. I don't know but there may have been a maid in distress too! ;-)!

Poor Tucker he is clearly an anxious canine. Dogs are very much creatures of habit as they like knowing where their next feed and pat is coming from. They're also fascinatingly complex personalities too - as are our feline friends.

Ahh, your fogs are from transpiration overnight - sort of like the ones here (that haven't rolled in from off shore). Nice to hear about the grapes and please do give the roasted chestnuts a spin and I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts on the matter?

Oh yeah, the cash drawer is one to watch. An outstandingly good idea too - sometimes people can't be told, they need to go through the hard yards. Respect. I was at the market today and someone was loitering around my two tiered trolley and I reckon they were trying to work out whether they could thief off with stuff in my trolley and I was watching them covertly out of the corner of my eye and they knew it too. Needless to say they moved off to easier targets and I came home with all of the interesting stuff I bought there. I've started enjoying French lentils would you believe? There are so many interesting food stuffs down at the market.

Yeah, it is good advice and it does seem to work too. Sometimes you have to walk away from a problem in order to get closer to the answer. Let's not get too serious here! I spotted a number plate today "Boogaz" and I was transported back to the 1980's film Revenge of the Nerds and recalled that one of the characters was named Booger. As the story developed it became apparent that he had a mentor called Snotty. And thus we neatly avoid the overly serious tone! Hehe! :-)!

Ouch, that is a lot of hurricanes. And yes, weather records are breaking down here too. It is becoming so common place that I fail to mention it nowadays. Check this one out: What a difference a WA day makes. WA is a reference to the state of Western Australia. And that followed on from: Record breaking early spring heat in WA.

Dunno, but Western Australia is one hot place.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Ozy,

Hey mate, welcome to the discussion!

Oh yeah, it is a great idea and a couple of years back I tried this experiment: Fernglade Farm Adventure in Hugelkultur Permaculture Organic - that's a video too. It was a rubbish system because once October hit, the rain simply stopped for five months and the heat went through the ceiling and the wallabies and wombats ate the plants in the beds.

I'm trying something a little bit different now and showed it a few weeks back: Living with consequences.

If you have any ideas for this stuff, please don't hesitate adding them to the comments because there is stuff I just don't see or think of!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Phil,

Thank you and so do I, although I place the hives (as well as the chicken enclosure) in the full shade nowadays.

Oh yeah, the top bar hive people are onto something and you may notice that I've ripped off a lot of their ideas and incorporated them into the hive design (the fancy name for it is a fusion! ;-)!). Unfortunately, that lot come across as true believers too which is unfortunate as they have a lot of interesting things to say. Well, sugar may be necessary in some very cold climates if anything climate related goes wrong with the flowers, but it is worth noting that sugar is neither pollen nor is it nectar and people also tend to forget that. Your bro' in law is onto something and he may well build up a very resilient colony.

Thanks for the memory of the wild bee colony. When the tall trees produce flowers here the entire mountain range smells of honey - it is amazing to smell, but doesn't happen very often (probably once in every five years or so). Unfortunately the old timers never worked out how to extract honey from those colonies without destroying them but because historically they were in abundance, so that wasn't a problem.

Yeah, those pipes are a great idea and some people channel air through them to get an ultra cheap cooling system down under. Mind you, some towns are actually underground and I've stayed in an under ground motel in White Cliffs in New South Wales as well as an under ground house in Coober Peddy in South Australia. Good fun and the houses were very temperate given where they were.

Well they also are very dogmatic and it isn't a very good look!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I forgot to mention this but I spotted this potential Christmas gift for a foodie mate in the local cafe today. It was a book called the Thug kitchen. I thought you might appreciate the silliness (and seriousness) of the book given that you worked in a kitchen and are perhaps no stranger to naughty words (as a disclaimer - this link contains some naughty words - so if you click on it naughty words will be coming at you): Thug Kitchen Cookbook Trailer

Enjoy!

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Re: insulation on the bee hives: maybe knit a giant cozy? :-) .

Dogmatic, true believer ... messianic? When the "bike people" showed up over at Greer's ADR, last week, I stopped reading the comments. And, judging from a comment he made, this week, he was just as irritated as I was. :-). Well, we all have hobby horses to ride, to a greater or lesser extent. Myself, included.

I've been thinking a bit about all that, this week. Probably because I just read Morris Berman's "Twilight of American Culture" (2000). Colliding with manic beekeepers and bike people. He really has a lot of themes that are very similar to the Archdruid. But one part that clicked was that if you're not interested in some people's manias, they see it as a critique on their values. Even if you have no judgement involved ... but, just aren't interested. Chef John seems quit puzzled that I'm not chomping at the bit to give his new hot tub a whirl. Or that I'm not particularly impressed with some of his new toys. :-).

The ad for the "Thug Cookbook" was really funny. Language didn't bother me, But, oddly enough, it does in public spaces. Most recently, two 13 year old boys in a thrift store. I sometimes feel the urge to say "Do you eat with that mouth?" Or, "Do you kiss your Mama with that mouth?". But I usually overcome the urge. Having had a 3 day foray into TV Land, it reminded me of all the ads I saw for this pill or that. Half the ad being taken up by horrifying lists of possible side effects.

It also reminded me of a cookbook that came out several years ago ... "White Trash Cooking", which can be a culturally loaded term. There was also a part two. Never really picked them up to take a look, but I might have to. Another cookbook that had a section talking about cookbooks, said that a basis of "White Trash Cooking" was a philosophy of "Give it a whirl and see how it goes." I may stitch that into a sampler and hang it on my kitchen wall. :-). It occurred to me that the lower classes and upper classes can be pretty adventuresome when it comes to cooking. Experimental. It's the middle classes that are a bit stodgy and unadventuresome when it comes to food. I think the thing that bothers me about "White Trash Cooking" is that a lot of it is combinations of processed food. Deep fried Twinkies, anyone? But, I've come to the conclusion, that overall, I'm a White Trash cook. :-). Well, that was quit a string of profundities to dump all at once :-).

There are several modern castles, some quit elaborate, scattered around the US. Some of them are quit elaborate. Delusions of King Arthur? I've always wanted to live in a stone tower. Maybe in my next life. :-).

Those high overnight temperatures are really contributing to the overall global heat records. You may remember our two or three weeks of overnight lows and daytime highs being about identical. It was so odd. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - As long as we're throwing around silly videos ...

http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2015/09/10/climate_change_video_on_what_deniers_sound_like_to_normal_people.html

No bad language in this one ... that I can remember :-). Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Yes, the sloes come from the blackthorns in the hedges.

Shaggy inkcaps don't have time to become slimy, they turn into ink. I believe that the ink can be used as such.

Forgot that we also have field maples in the canopy.

Yesterday I had lunch with a long time friend who was here on a walking tour. She displayed her muscular arms to me. The result of rising every day at 6.am to hand milk the cows belonging to the old established community where she has lived for circa 40 years. Not bad for an 80 year old!

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Very amusing! You know it would probably work too as long as the wool could be kept dry... What about a giant doily? I seem to recall that as a young newspaper delivery boy the lovely people at the elderly citizens centre used to give me both of those things as presents at Christmas time. I often wondered what I was expected to do with them and back then I was actually a little bit mercenary and just wanted a couple of extra bucks. Some mornings were very cold, wet and dark but I always enjoyed the independence those jobs gave me - just not the doilies and tea cozies...

True, everyone has their pet hobby horse which they take out for a spin around the block. Tell you what though, for all of the talk about pushbikes last week I would have been far more impressed if they'd committed to building one from scrap metal, but the plans generally involved other people doing the tedious work. I haven't read JMG's response which should be quite amusing and I'll check it out later tonight. The one that got me was someone claiming that we could somehow grow and harvest a hectare (2.5 acres) of Russian dandelions as if that would be as easy as clicking your fingers... I dunno, those sorts of streams of thought bore me silly. I always consider that Cuba's special period where people lost on average 9kg (about 19 pounds) as quite instructive and they have a very tropical climate too which would make it easier for multiple crops over a season.

That is a fascinating perspective, thanks and I will ponder the meaning of that as it is an entirely new perspective on the issue. Fortunately, the manic beekeeper sort don't read this blog so they're kept at arms length. I've seen them over at the Permaculture news websites and they just go on and on and on - and then I go off and do something else - as you clearly did with the bike people. ;-)!

Toys are toys. Nuff said really. Has anyone ever cornered you and proselytized at you about their latest smart phone gadget?

Fair enough, it was very silly and would make a good present for a foodie - particularly one that exhibits strong tendancies towards meat. Although he did get me onto French lentils and for that I'm eternally grateful.

That is a fair concern as the public persona can be a whole different matter. Well the editor has me under strict instructions not to swear at children despite the circumstances and it seems like fair advice. On the other hand that is a two way street and they have to also be polite - which they usually are. I'm quite taken aback when they're not and quickly send them scurrying on their way. Some children are quite precocious and they exhibit a level of self confidence that is not good to see and I always delight in pleasantly offering them a reality check on their actual social status.

A very honest self assessment there! :-)! Too funny, you know that moniker has virtually no meaning over here - possibly because the culture commenced as a very serious penal colony. I've heard about those deep fried twinkies and all I wanted to know was did they taste OK?

A stone tower would be very cool indeed. I tried to track down some online photos of the nearby castles but couldn't find any.

Yes, I do recall your weather blob which we would probably call a stationary high pressure system but that does seem overly pedantic? Hehe! I do hope that such things are random and not part of the new regime of weather experience?

Thanks for the videos as they were quite funny. Satire is a great way to get a serious message across.

Mate, I've been working out in the forest today collecting some additional pickets for the berry enclosure and I don't know much, but I'll tell ya what when the sun started shining strongly at lunchtime I was certainly feeling it! The solar hot water was producing some very good heat today.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

What a great resource those hedgerows are. I've always been fascinated by them after seeing them in a very early Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall video from his early days. I liked his old stuff better than his new stuff. Did you know the Aboriginals used to plant lane ways and produce hedges to keep the animals off certain crops too?

Thanks for the correction. Yes, the ink would be rather unpleasant, wouldn't it? The Japanese cook squid with the black squid ink and serve it cold in a sort of seafood broth. I would be lying if I said that I enjoyed it as a meal, but it was interesting and not unpleasant it is just that my expectations of a seafood broth is that it would be warm - like a seafood chowder.

What lovely native trees those field maples are. It is great that your forest exhibits such diversity of plant life as that is a good indicator of its hardiness and resiliency to environmental shocks. I'm trying very hard to increase the diversity of plants in the forest here and it is working but such projects take decades.

Respect! What a lovely story. Thanks.

I do hope your warmer weather continues?

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Don't you know those doilies and tea cozies bring thousands on the collectible market, these days? :-). Now that I've pulled one leg, I'll pull the other one. :-). Having been a paperboy, myself, I probably wouldn't have been any more appreciative. From an adult perspective? Sweet old things.... :-).

Castles in the air. But, no one wants to get right down to it and muck out the moat. Yup, those grapes I spent two hours processing, yesterday, danced themselves right into the freezer! That was labor intensive. Took me awhile to find a good position at the sink to not do in my back. Looks like I have about a gallon and a half to go in bags. And, 2/3ds to go!

Had to laugh at myself, though. I'm asking myself what I'm going to DO with the grapes. Green seedless. Well, with plane yogurt for a quick snack. Mmmm. A small meringue, whipped cream and grapes? Something nagging at the back of my mind sent me to my cookbooks. The Amish have several recipes for grape pie. At first glance, doesn't sound very appealing. But, if it's Amish, it's probably worth a spin.

No, I've never been seriously proselytized by a smart phone user. Usually they're too deep in their screens to bother.

Well, given that humans are set up to crave fat, sugars and salt, deep fired Twinkies are probably pretty tasty. Which brings me to "fair food." Our county fairs are notorious of weird goods that will block an artery at 20 paces or send you into a sugar coma. Or, both. There was even an article about it, after our recent county fair. A quick Google search of "weird county fair food" brings up some truly horrendous sounding stuff. I must admit I have a fondness for corn dogs. A wiener on a stick, dipped in a corn batter and deep fried. Slathered in mustard. Yum!

Poor Cuba. Leaving aside the repressive government, now that they're rejoining the world, I wonder if it will be "ruined." They've done such amazing things with their agriculture, health care and alt-technology.

Hot yesterday and hot today. But, a bit of a morning fog and condensation dripping, everywhere. Even that little bit of water is welcome. The maples are beginning to turn colors. Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

Loved reading about your bee project. Last weekend my husband and I were discussing whether or not beekeeping would be a good idea for us, while watching bees amongst our flowers (I think quite a few of them come from a neighbor's hives). He says that we cannot afford any more pets. I think he is probably right.

Apparently Colorado has healthy and vigorous bees:

http://www.dailycamera.com/news/boulder/ci_28716811/busy-bee-work-begins-removing-hive-from-boulder-church

70,000 bees?!

Perhaps if you add a steeple to your hive, you may insure the same?

Pam

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I didn't even know that aboriginals planted crops. Tell me more. Was this general or just in certain parts of Australia? I do know that there are deserts!

I have eaten squid cooked in its own ink, absolutely delicious but it was a hot dish; cold sounds a bit grim. I think that this must have been in Spain but so long ago that I have forgotten what it was served with.

I have just about given up on ADR comments. Am never convinced that commenting, on someone's ongoing fiction writing, is a good idea. Having said that, I did spot that bee hive advice for you. Easily the most interesting comment.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Hey mate, I've got these tea cosies and doilies and heard you might interested. They're rare collectable items from the 70's and early 80's. As a favour I'll sell them to you for $100 each - and that's a bargain too and look, I'll cover the postage too. Think of the profit that you'll make, financial independence will be yours for the taking. hehe! Your idea was too funny. ;-)! Honestly I can't even recall what became of them. I have a hazy memory that they went from my mother to my grandmother. Yes, they were being very sweet, and whilst I was gracious in accepting the gifts, I was left feeling mildly confused too. Presents in those days were strange: Handkerchiefs seemed to be all the rage and I often wondered whether they were trying to subtly tell me something... hehe!

Never considered mucking out a moat before. Knowing those days it may have included the slops - which would have been an adequate deterrent...

It will be very interesting to hear how the frozen grapes go as the year progresses. They sell grape juice down under so maybe that is an option too? We also sun dry them and sell them as sultana grapes - but I'm not sure whether that is a specific type of grape which is also seedless. Dunno, but I've seen the vines for sale. Hopefully, I'd like to get some vines in over the next year or so. They seem like hard work though as people are always fussing over them. Do you have any idea what John's experience is on vines?

Oh yeah, they start the process and then get side tracked in some sort of weird rabbit hole. The funny thing is that I've noted that often they start off looking for something and can't seem to find it on the Internet and I wonder whether that is a built in feature to tantalise users and push them onto the next model - but I am a cynic in such matters.

Haha! Nooo - I've never seen or eaten a Twinkie, but only remember references to them in the films Ghostbusters and who can forget the classic Zombieland - that film rocked even given that it had neither a beginning nor an end and appeared to be full of product placements. Good fun. That food is definitely a cultural thing which is unseen here - although to be honest some of the food at fairs and shows is of pretty dodgy quality. Some of it is pretty good though. Often you'll get Bratwursts, onions and sauerkraut in a hot dog roll which you can add mustard too. Really very yummy.

They've done very well for themselves, but are now in an oligarchy phase so that as power is shared across more people, it simply costs more to support them and nice things like mission statements and core goals can get brushed aside as inconveniences. Too many chiefs is a bad thing as they cost an awful lot to maintain! ;-)!

Nice to hear that there is a bit more moisture in your part of the world. It rained this morning here and the sun shone this afternoon and it is starting to become warmer. The bees were happily out and about this afternoon doing their thing and enjoying the sunshine. I had to work inside though. Mustn't grumble!

I'm starting to set up the berry enclosure tomorrow and because I've run out of time, I may just plant the tomatoes in there too. Who knows?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Well, your neighbours are thoughtfully providing insect pollination services for your plants so you are miles ahead. Bees are an expensive hobby and when a colony dies after months of care and effort, it just makes you ask the hard question: What is the point? The bees here have absorbed a fair bit of time and resources and I have yet to extract any honey, but the pollination services are second to none, so if you're getting that for free, I wouldn't worry about getting involved in keeping them.

Thanks for the link. That is a massive colony and oh yeah, colonies measure in the tens of thousands of bees. Those guys did a good job removing the hive, although I'll bet the bees weren't happy about the situation at all! If you put your ear to the vent holes on a hive, the sound of the bees buzzing (keeping the hive warm or cool depending on the time of year) is so loud it almost tickles your ear drum.

An excellent suggestion! Maybe we'll wait for the mark 2 model though... Hehe! Nice one!

The hive box should be painted and finished on Monday, hopefully.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi INge,

Oh yeah, they were amazing gardeners and literally had their hands across the entire landscape. As we constructed cities, the plants were their structures and they built upon the entire landscape. It is a big subject and I'll try and track down a book reference for you if you are interested. Us people of European descent had no idea what we were even looking at when they turned up here - and changed the environment completely. The historic accounts of the explorers and early settlers are quite interesting as they describe an environment that is very different from what I see today.

Nice to hear and I actually enjoy squid, but cold with squid ink was just not nice...

Toomas was delightful in that comment and it is great to hear from someone who had seen and heard different perspectives on the subject. It would have been very interesting indeed to hear from his father, who unfortunately has now passed on, and it is in such stories you get a glimpse of just how much we have lost.

I expect that bee keepers are so dogmatic because it is an expensive hobby for very little return - unless you pursue methodologies that bring harm to the bees and that is perhaps why they double down so much on their view points. A bit sad really.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I looked at the hugelkultur video, just for fun (it was fun!), that you had mentioned to Ozy. I remember your new project and will be interested to hear later how it goes. I have barely started mine. I don't know if I'll be ready to plant a fall crop in it right now as fall is almost upon us. Will have a report on it someday, I hope.

Your mycelium comments remind me that I have mushroom spawn in the refrigerator that needs to be "plugged". Unfortunately, I accidentally (duh, don't look at the Latin names) ordered a kind more suitable for Lewis' climate, so it may not work here.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Squid ink. All in the prep, judging from Inge's experience. I've had snails, twice in my life. The first time was ghastly ... the second not so bad. Different prep. But as with so many other things (sushi), I can eat it ... but there are so many other things I would rather eat and get more enjoyment out of. I did have smoked squid out of little cans, a few times. You open the tin and there's row after row of little purple suckers, confronting you. But the easily pealed off sucker leaves a delicate little fillet of white meat. Great on a cracker. :-).

Judging from the estates I've seen, back in the "old days" there was a lot of gifting of handicrafts, back and forth among ladies of a certain class. Embroidered napkin sets and lots of hankies. Little bits of hand painted china. I think some were gifted on the smallest special occasions and they were also prizes at bridge parties, and such. When I cleaned out Uncle Larry's estate, there were trunks of the stuff. I think they were valued, as, a lot of time and effort went into them. Something personally made.

Well, deep in Chef John's grape patch I found the remains of an old grape arbor. Rather cave like, at this point. He's strung some wire out posts in different directions and the grapes are running out those. Uncle Larry had a grape arbor. I remember he had it hacked back, every couple of years. It created quit a nice space for a hot tub :-). Which later became a lilly pool with goldfish. My grandfather had a three sided half slat shed with a roof that was a grape arbor. It had a "glider" in it. Which was a piece of outdoor furniture. A mettle frame, chains that held a legless backed bench that you could rock in. I can remember my grandmother on it, sitting in the shade and shelling peas. Seems like the grape varieties we have here, once established, are pretty hardy.

Just a quick look at a couple of my gardening books have sections on training and pruning grapes. Doesn't seem all that complicated. I think the process is just as fussy as you want to make it :-).

Continuing the First Annual Chehalis International Australian Film Festival, last night I watched "Look Both Ways." Described as a "contemporary Rom-Com." In other words, there was a lot of death, disaster and cancer. I really liked it. The lighter moments appealed to my slightly bent sense of humor. Have also been reading Stephen King's newest, "Finder's Keepers." I've been reading a few chapters a night. Not one of his "spook shows." More a crime novel. As it has to do with reclusive author's lost manuscripts and dodgy book sellers, I'm finding it pretty interesting. There was one bit ... just an aside that kind of caught my attention ... something I hadn't thought about, before. Because of the polar vortex hitting the midwest a few years back, it just blew people's budgeted energy costs all to heck. The daughter can't afford to go to a better private school. The son's college plans are in jeopardy. It was really a financial blow to a family living on the edge. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Yes I would be very interested in a book reference. I knew a bit about the aboriginals of the Murray River area and about the trading that went over the country. So I knew that it wasn't just hunter gathering, but I had not heard about the gardening and plant lanes; fascinating.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thank you - that is very sweet! Well the new hugelkultur experiment will be covered with a good supply of mushroom compost (which is composted horse manure and stable straw). It is in a natural fern gully so I'll plant it up with even more ferns and wait and watch over the next few years. There are quite a few types of ferns down here that will really enjoy that particular environment and it should end up looking quite nice.

The humidity at your place would be a real advantage for hugelkultur experiments. I hear you, everything takes time, so things should be done when we are ready to do them. It will be interesting to hear how the experiments go. My gut feeling is that hugelkultur experiments are better for tree crops and long lived perennial plants than annuals.

You never know and your land may benefit from those spores, and seriously not to stress, Latin is like a whole 'nother language to me! Hehe! ;-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Ahh yes, it is all in the preparation. I've had snails too - which incidentally are the variety which naturally occur down here I believe - and they were quite nice. Mind you, lots of garlic and oil helps too with those critters. Don't you reckon that it is more of the yuk factor than the reality with snails? When I was in Laos and Cambodia, seriously unidentifiable meat products were all the rage. You'd see on a menu: Rice with chicken; Rice with Pork; and then there was the Rice with Meat... Laos was a beautiful country, but mate I was very ill at one point in my journeys there.

Fair enough and oh yeah, they would be excellent on a cracker. Sushi is quite commonly available here and overall I'd have to suggest that it is usually very good as it has to be fresh. The sad thing with sushi here is that the bright green wasabi sauce (which is explosive) is actually dyed horse radish. One of the local gardening clubs has started offering the real deal wasabi plants for sale to members - unfortunately, I'd have have to grow it in the sewage trenches here for it to survive the summer and I'm a bit uncomfortable about that.

That is very interesting. You know, as a youth I always heard references to bridge games and the game itself was clearly treated with a level of seriousness that is often now only found in chess players. Have you ever played that game?

Things that are made by hand with a history that you are aware of have a level of respect that belies the actual goods. A year or two back a delightful neighbour gifted me an old school arc welder and I treat that tool with a great level of respect and care.

Is it just me or do you also get an Indiana Jones sort of vision when you think about that old grape arbor which is now rather cave like? It does sound quite mysterious really! The interesting question that is raised by that observation is which does John consider the better outcome: the hot tub or the old grape arbor? Hehe!

Nice to hear that there were gliders in your part of the world even back then. Cool.

I thought that you might like this reference to the old town of Chiltern. There is a grapevine which was planted in 1867 and is now the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. I've seen this vine and it is an impressive specimen! I think JMG would like the town too given the working printing press dating from the 1870's to the 1920's. I seem to recall the bakery was quite good too, but I'm a sucker for a good country bakery.

That sounds like everything else doesn't it?

Nice to hear, although I'm unsure how a rom com can work in death, disaster and cancer? Speaking of which from your part of the world I saw a very good film once - which was a comedy - about cancer, but it was essentially a buddy film: 50/50 film 2011.

Pah! I hear Stephen King! This winter has been so cold - the coldest in 26 years mind you - that I actually ran out of dry firewood. There is plenty of seasoned firewood, but not much that is actually totally dry anymore. It is a nuisance, but I ran out of time to fill the firewood shed which was only just completed before the winter rains kicked in. You wouldn't know it today though because the sun was shining strongly and the winds blew in from the north (remember we're upside down) and I even ended up with a little bit of sun burn - which I'm not happy about at all.

Anyway, I have to worry about staying warm and not destroying the fire box with damp firewood and they're worrying about what school to go to. Not saying it's a first world problem, but it sure sounds that way. Maybe Stephen King is setting out to introduce some timely and much needed narratives with that story? What do you reckon?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Yeah, they had a fascinating culture and established a truly amazing environment. I didn't even mention the grain crops which they stored or the fish traps or permanent settlements to the south west of here. We lost so much knowledge that it was a bit scary. The unfortunate thing was that disease wiped out 90% of the population and the civilisation didn't look like what Europeans expected so they dismissed it out of hand.

As a starting point I'd suggest: The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia.

The author is an historian and he draws a picture of the country as it was at the time of European settlement (before too many changes had occurred) based on the historical accounts of settlers and explorers. Plants grow quickly here and were harvested just as quickly so change would have been very rapid after settlement. Many of the explorers - with the exception of a few - were quite learned people - and they describe the land as they found it at that time. Obviously bias can creep into such accounts so the author attempted to remove that bias by extracting a very wide variety of accounts from a huge number of people.

The discussion also covers many aspects of Aboriginal culture which was intimately connected to the land. It is an excellent read and I recommend the book highly. It certainly made me look at the country here very differently and see great potential.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Never played bridge. Was a bit of a chess wiz when younger, but haven't touched a board in years. In my dotage, I'm just not much of a "games" guy. Bored, more interesting things to do, lack of competitive spirit ... poor looser :-).

Oh, I think any kind of old ruin catches the imagination. Be it grape arbors or ruined towers.

Oh, we have quit a few historic towns with reenactors. Virginia City, Tombstone, Sturbridge Village, Williamsburg, Plymouth Plantation, etc. etc.. Keeps some of the old crafts, alive. I suppose maybe one out of a thousand tourists catches fire and takes up and old craft as a hobby. I thought it was a bit of a hoot that you could either take the whole tour for $4, or "$2 to view the grapevine separately."

Who knows in what direction Stephen King will shot off? He's pretty good at portraying characters living on the edge. I meant to say that the only monsters in his new book are of the human kind.

I had 50/50 on my hold list, at the library. But, the number of holds was long and you can only put 25 titles on hold at a time. I jettisoned it, somewhere along the way. I should look it up again, and see if it's more available. Lew

I Janas said...

Hi Chris,
regarding bees: maybe these guys are interesting for you: http://freethebees.ch/en/ I heard a lecture from them and they said the biggest Problem is actually hunger: there are too many month in Europe where - thanks to agricultural changes - nothing is in bloom (June, late autumn) to feed the bees.

This year I became a member of a Club that first of all wants to Keep bees as pollinators (and are a fan of Chelifer cancroides who apparently eats Varoa) and one of the members likes to build widely different hives. He said that one design came from medieaval France. And except from the "window" it looks a bit like your hive. Hopefully that does not disappoint you.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi I Janas,

I don't normally respond to old posts, but have left you a comment on the latest blog. Thanks very much for your thoughtful comment. I wish you and your friends - and the bees too - the best.

Cheers

Chris