Monday, 5 October 2015

All day I dream about chickens


Unintended consequences are always a reality. They can’t be ignored or dismissed out of mind. For example: some readers may believe that this week’s blog title is a secret nod to the very dark 90's band KoЯn. Other people may believe that the blog title is some sort of homage to athletic footwear of a variety that is wholly inappropriate outside of an urban area – just saying that nothing beats quality leather boots when the going gets tough and rural.

But no, the blog title is actually a nod to Toothy the long haired dachshund who spends his days battling the local wildlife which seem to ignore his authority. Toothy may lack height, but he makes up for it in speed and woe betide the lazy marsupial that ignores his early warning bark!

Anyway, I’m sad to confess that Toothy the long haired dachshund has a bit of a problem. He is obsessive about the chickens and that is why he is the real story behind this week’s blog title.

The recently completed chicken enclosure is working really well. The chickens are healthier and happier in the drier all weather conditions of the new “Chooktopia” chicken shed and run. The chickens spend all day long scratching around in their deep litter mulch and can even enjoy a dust bath in the depths of winter because their new enclosure has been fully covered over with a proper steel roof. In their old enclosure, the chickens used to huddle in their shed on cold wet days (and also for much of the winter) because their enclosure was open to the rain and wind. As a bonus, 
the new chicken enclosure even seems to have excluded (for now anyway) the pesky rodents that used to eat at least one third of the chicken feed every single day. Take that you rodents!

However, I discovered an unintended feature of the new chicken enclosure which was the perforated steel mesh screen security door installed onto the front of the building. I picked up the security door at the tip shop for $25 and was very excited about that particular find because they are well over $500 when new. It is a very strong security door, with very thick perforated sheet steel. The unintended feature with the door though is that the chickens can look out from their enclosure, whilst the Toothy the long haired dachshund can also look in. And that was Toothy’s undoing, because now all day he really does dream about the chickens. The funny thing that the innocent Toothy doesn’t realise is that the chickens in their turn dream all day about eating Toothy – if only he knew the dark truth of the matter!
Toothy the long haired dachshund dreams about chickens
The simple answer to the whole chicken / Toothy problem is to construct a vestibule on the front of the new chicken enclosure. I have been putting that particular project off for quite a while now because just in front of the chicken enclosure was a very large and very old tree stump which had a diameter of over 1 metre (a bit over 3 feet).

Removing stumps is no easy job without a stump grinder, but on Friday, I manned up and started the long slow process of cutting up and axing out the large old tree stump by hand. It is worthwhile noting that over the weekend a historically unprecedented heat wave descended over the farm – as it also did over the whole eastern half of the continent: Southeastern Australia's heat even unusual for summer.

Eventually, after many hours and a few naughy words, the old tree stump was removed and I was then able to landscape the entire upper slope of the chicken enclosure. Later on I vaguely recall enjoying a cool soaking bath with the doors flung open so that cool evening air blew over me, some good food and then an early night where I enjoyed the long deep sleep of the truly exhausted.
A white silky chicken stands exactly where a very large tree stump was removed
The next afternoon found me digging holes for the steel posts for the vestibule and it is worthwhile mentioning that it was still hot! Eventually the steel posts were cemented into the ground (and you can see them in the first photo with Toothy above).
Digging holes by hand for the steel posts for the new chicken vestibule
Did I mention that it was still hot that day? The heat was a bit of a bonus because it meant that the cement was setting very quickly. To take advantage of that heat, the same afternoon I also began constructing an additional few steps to the existing staircase under the cantina shed. And then that job was completed the following day:
Additional concrete steps were added below the cantina shed
The reason for the new steps was pretty simple. The landing for the bottom step was still too steep and I’d even slipped over on one or two occasions! Soil geek alert (skip this next bit if you find soil geek stuff disturbing!) – If you look carefully at the above photo you’ll notice just how much moisture is retained in the excavated soil and that is despite the current heat wave. Also the excavated soil which I’d casually thrown around the new concrete stairs has a rich dark brown chocolate texture which indicates the presence of much organic matter which is exactly what you’d expect to find in a loam. That loam is the result of many years of additions of composted woody mulches and manures to that area. It is good stuff. (We now resume regular programming!)

Speaking of soil, on a farm in the valley below there is a paddock (which I mentioned a few weeks ago) which had been burnt off last summer. A few weeks back, that paddock was looking really lush and dark green. The owners of that farm have now ploughed all of that rich organic matter back into the soil. To me, it looks as though it may possibly be one giant double dug garden bed! Observant readers will also note in the photo below that the soil in the paddock is drying out in this heat wave from the edges of the paddocks.
The paddock in the valley below that was burnt off last summer has now been ploughed
The combination of heat and good soil moisture is causing the plants here to grow like Triffids on steroids! Most of the fruit trees broke their dormancy this week and produced blossoms, fruit and/or leaves all over a few days.
Most of the fruit trees broke their dormancy this week in the heat wave
The tomato seedlings have also grown massively this week and I made this comparative photo below:
The growth of the tomato seedlings over one week
Very few plants have grown as fast as the asparagus though and they truly are Triffids (don't turn your back on them or you'll become plant food):
The growth of the asparagus over only a few days
The air has become drier this week with the heat, and the entire farm smells of a vast array of unique floral scents. I even spotted a few tulips that have somehow managed the unbelievable feat of not being eaten!
The last remaining tulip bulbs bravely show their stunning faces to the hot sun
The huge quantity of flowers are also being enjoyed by the many and varied insects. The European honey bees are enjoying themselves in the warmth, but their native compatriots are also out in force and I caught a photo of this little lady enjoying a borage flower (Anchusa Sempervirens):
Native bee about to enjoy a borage flower
The plants really are shooting towards the sky and I spotted this fig fruit and emerging leaves where last week there was only this sad looking stick thing huddled up for warmth and not showing any signs of life.
The fig trees have been enjoying the unseasonable warmth
The additional plant growth has been a real boon for the native animals too and it has been hard to keep them away from the farm even during the daylight hours – that’s despite having Toothy and his friends to call upon too!
A baby wombat with a very glossy looking coat happily wanders around the farm and enjoys the compost fed herbage
A small mob of kangaroos have also been regular visitors to the farm over the past couple of weeks. Kangaroos are great to have in the orchard because they leave the trees alone and crop the herbage instead. They’re sort of like having an unpaid mowing service on call, but instead of using fuel, they turn the herbage into manure. Observant readers will note that the kangaroo in the centre of the photo has a very low hanging pouch which means that she has a very large joey (baby kangaroo) in her pouch. Female kangaroos are amazing creatures because not only can they survive on a diet on 85% bracken fern (which is toxic to western grazing animals), but they can also shut down their reproductive systems at will if they consider that the coming summer will be too harsh to raise a joey. With the heat wave over the continent at the moment, I can only hope that she knows what she is doing.
A small mob of kangaroos have been regular visitors over the past few weeks
How did the house get here?
By very early December 2011, the house had been completed. The final inspection took place and I received the occupancy certificate. I believe that I took a few days off any and all work to celebrate that milestone.
By December 2011 the house was completed and signed off by the building surveyor
Even today, I believe that this house is one of only a very small handful of houses on the entire continent that have been constructed to the highest standards as set out in the bushfire building standard (AS3959-2009).

Well, after a few days of well-deserved rest (but not too many!), I commenced demolishing the shed that had been constructed next to the house. Believe it or not, the council had ordered the demolition of that shed because it was slightly too large and also too close to the new house.
Demolition of the existing shed commenced because the council had ordered its demolition upon completion of the house
I saved every single scrap of building materials from that shed, even including the very small stuff like the nails and screws.
The shed was actually quite a sturdy design and incorporated fibro cement sheets over structural grade plywood
Every day, there was less and less of that shed, and I must say that it is much easier and quicker to demolish a building than it is to construct it in the first place!
The old shed is nearing the end of the road
Oh yeah, summer is the time that you can spot Echidna’s and I took a photo of this little Echidna happily walking around here and enjoying itself. Echidnas are very special animals because they lay eggs and then suckle live young in a pouch. Their only living relative is the platypus which lives in rivers and streams.
An echidna was spotted that month
The temperature outside here at about 9.30pm is 23.9’C degrees Celsius (75.0’F). So far this year there has been 600.4mm (23.6 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 600.2mm (23.6 inches).

Oops, this is not good...

55 comments:

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I thought maybe this weeks post would be titled "A Roo 4 U" , or, some such :-). The dog's fixation on the chickens is truly funny, if you can keep them apart. Is it curiosity, or more nefarious instincts? You don't really know til tears are shed. Chef John would like a flock of chickens, but his last batch came to grief, due to his three hounds. He's trying to work out in his mind how to set it up for more success. Nell seems to have a great curiosity about the chooks, but it seems mutual. When I work in the pen, she often keeps me company and she and the hens seem to have no problems with each other. Don't think I'd trust her around chicks.

Ah, Triffids. It must almost be time for another re-make. Movie or tv serial.

I am envious of your asparagus. After two failures, I think next year I'll try the trench, again .... and, a batch in a container. I really think some mole, vole or shrew has been noshing on the roots. Whatever rodent is living in Chef John's garden has moved on from the beets to the squash and pumpkin. He was apoplectic. As his enormous garden is well fenced, I keep suggesting a small guard tower ... for a guard cat.

There's quit a few tulips about my place, and they do fairly well. I think at the time they bloom, here, there's enough other stuff around that it keeps the varmits, off of them. I see you have quit a few daffodils. As do I. I don't think anything much likes to eat the daffodils.

The wombats remind me of small, furry tanks. The Echidna are interesting. Are those spines similar to a porkupine's? Interesting about Roos shutting down their reproduction, in hard times. One thing I remember from reading "Watership Down", many years ago, is that rabbits, if faced with hard times, can reabsorb, any litter that's "on the boil." Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

I tell you what - the doggies may be your undoing! My, gosh! (pardon my language) - a vestibule! A chook shrine! We only had three dogs when we first got chickens and when they sort of showed interest in bothering those birds, I tossed chickens at them to get the dogs to think that chickens were dangerous, scary things. Just a light launch (very gently) into the air - at that point in time the chooks had not started laying and were young and could fly some, anyway. I truly don't think they minded playing a trick on the dogs. Also, one of the dogs was smaller than these Rhode Island Reds. So - never once after that did our dogs bother chickens.

Do you prune your fig? Ours had an extremely slow come-back this past summer after an especially cold winter. I cut it way back to see if it was dead, which it practically was, almost to the base. Looked quite nice by mid summer, but no fruit.

What an amazing creature the Echidna is! Thanks for his photo, and also Fatso's nephew, and the gang of roos, too. You live a Wild Life!

Ah, so I have something like a Hi-Lux, not a Kluger. I have enough trouble just trying to follow the game without understanding the adverts. My husband's team appears to be Port Adelaide. I don't think they did all that well.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

It rained for 10 days in a row. Beautiful today, though. Garden seems o.k. too, for this late in the season, anyway.

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I'm freaking out today (well not so much really) because the weather today has been insane, it is almost as if it is mid-February with the heat combined with the wind. Records have been thoroughly smashed. What is of slight concern (but the prevailing winds will blow away from the mountain range) is the bushfire that is now burning out of control over on the other (northern and thus sunnier) side of the range. Did I mention that it looked drier over there? Anyway: About 190 properties under threat as bushfire burns near Lancefield in central Victoria. Not good...

Nice to hear that your truck is in good shape. Vehicles over the past decade or so are remarkably hardy. My first car was from the late 70's and it was a whole different thing in terms of reliability. Still, I was able to work on it and I did hot the motor up quite a bit with all sorts of good stuff like a new free flowing cylinder head, extractors, oversized carburettor. Funds were limited though and it is worth noting that fuel was much cheaper way back then. The tarp is an excellent idea and I also keep one handy for that sort of stuff - but it is more to protect the stuff I'm carrying from the yellow trailer and not the other way around!

It is amazing how many of those towns were flooded here too. They were probably on good and fertile river flats too.

cont...


Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Minor interruption there because the cool change just breezed through the farm. That is not a good thing for the fire fighters...

Yes, the Asian's really know a thing or two about good chicken dishes. I'm quite partial to the Indian chicken butter curry too. It is very rich, but very tasty and to be enjoyed in small quantities. The funny thing about travelling in India is that all I wanted to eat was nice well prepared lentils (dahl) or some such basic peasant food - which is the sort of stuff I cook at home. However, the Indians had other plans in store for me, so after a while I had to accept reality and stick to basic rice dishes. Way too much rich food.

Of course, it would be a glamour wouldn't it? Of course Starbucks never made much of a dent in the market down here - you'd be surprised what a lot of coffee snobs we all are down here. The Italian migration in the 1950's (Salvatore included) did real wonders for the food culture down here.

I greatly enjoy all our conversations here because you are exactly spot on. We see ourselves sometimes in others stories. I'd never have thought of it that way. Thanks. We're not greatly unique are we (present company excluded of course! Hehe!)? I never understood that viewpoint before, but that drive to uniqueness propels a lot of strange thoughts in the human population - take the apocalypse meme for example. It only works because people think that they are somehow special and apart from others. I reckon we are all a part of the whole of nature and it would be difficult to separate us from that. Also there is the unspoken need for acceptance of our foibles - do you reckon that perhaps the reaching for perfection is perhaps a failure? I long ago had to accept that sometimes things are just good enough and there the process has to end.

Hehe. Yeah you hear that phrase down here too. I begrudge paying for the fuel, so there is much incentive to reduce the trips to the bare minimum.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

The interruption wasn't quite so drastic this time - merely the electric oven dinged and the dog biscuits had to be placed on the cooling tray. Mind you, I was typing the reply underneath a very large tree that was making some alarming creaking noises in the wind... It was most distracting.

Salvatore was on the money when he was quoted as saying that land is there to save you money, not make money - although Annie Hawes may have achieved that goal through writing about the land? I was under the impression that Brother Bob the Batchelor Farmer was growing plenty of his own produce for consumption? I've been considering these matters because I've been approached to perform a local lecture/discussion. I do enjoy public speaking and am very entertaining, but alas the day is booked in advance - I may see whether they have a need for future days?

I totally get the Corvette and oh yeah I understand the insurance issue too. As a confession, when I worked at the big end of town, I used to drive around in an old 1974 Porsche 911. It was such a beautifully engineered machine which actually looked beautiful (for a machine anyway) and whilst looking ultra fast with a big fat whale tale, it was actually quite a slow machine - every man and their dog tried to drag me off at the lights and I just went: Yeah, whatever and tried to out cool them. However, the repair bills killed me and one day the insurance company even rang me up to say that they were discontinuing the insurance policy because they thought that the car was parked on the street at night. It had to go and I eventually sold it after about 6 months of dealing with the multitudes of tyre kickers for about $17k which was enough to buy the small Suzuki. I'm done with cars because that thing ate money. Yes, your Ranger would most definitely have soul and I respect that.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks, I've written that one down for later use and I hope that you can provide some sort of consent to that arrangement? ;-)!

Exactly, neither the twain shall meet in this existence!

Did you ever see the BBC television series Day of the Triffids - it gave me nightmares about fireworks for years afterwards.

Perhaps, you might want to consider raised mounds with those asparagus plants? Up your way, their feet may get too wet which would not be good for the plants. Mind you, some of the most successful areas down here for growing asparagus are drained swamps... Dunno.

Yeah, nothing eats daffodils or Jonquils down here either - they must be way toxic. But you are very lucky to enjoy the tulips as they are rare down here.

Well, wombats are small furry tanks - they have a hard plate in their back and live in tunnels. If a fox was ever stupid enough to venture into a wombat tunnel, the wombat could easily crush the fox against the roof of the tunnel. Don't be deceived by their easy going looks!

Watership down just made me sad and you knew that bright eyes was going to cop it in the end. Just sayin... Rabbits are a pest down here anyway.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

They most certainly are! The cool change has arrived here and it is now dark and Scritchy is running around outside and trying to exert her authority in a world that does not care (she is certainly making a lot of noise!). Thanks for the timely reminder as I dragged her back inside before she got into too much trouble with the local wildlife. She was actually a bit afraid last night of a possible thunderstorm and I could not extract her from under the bed. Most of the dogs that I've had don't seem to notice the changes in weather, but every now and then one dog will be super sensitive to approaching storms - they're very reliable barometers. Have you ever noticed that?

Thanks for the story and ideas, but Toothy is the whole next level when it comes to obsessive behaviour with the chickens...

No, I've never pruned the fig tree and was wondering if you knew what caused the die back in your own fig tree? They seem reasonably hardy, but I do have to give them a drink before a heat wave hits otherwise they drop their leaves - but later recover. Maybe your fig tree will produce fruit next year?

It is feral here. There is just so much wildlife that lives on or around the farm. I've been wondering for a while now whether the diversity accelerates the fertility of the land? I mean every animal, no matter how large or microscopic converts the organic matter into soil, so the more, the merrier? Dunno, what do you reckon about that?

No stress, Port Adelaide is a fair enough team to follow. It is a complex game. One of the semi regular commenters here is from the fair city of Adelaide - Angus.

Enjoy your rain and beautiful garden. Out of interest, do you have any rain to spare. I mentioned the large out of control bushfire going on over on the northern side of the mountain range. It is just so early, that it is a bit scary. Here is an update: Victoria bushfires 2015: Lancefield area under threat as 100 fires burn across the state

Cheers

Chris

Coco said...

Ooh, post-hole digging and stump removal! We have to put in a couple of gates to keep the locals from wandering in. Best technique and tools? Chestnut, oak or cement posts? Also planning to close the area with a fence, which will require a bunch of posts too. Preparations for chickens and dogs. I´m following your home-cooked dog food recommendations closely.

And we have stumps - from biggish to sapling size. I cut a bunch of wild plums and they´re all growing back. Some permie will lecture me that I should be using them for root stock or something, but I´d really just like them gone. Do I have to dig them out entirely? Cut off below ground level? Any ideas for getting rid of thickets of bay laurel would be gratefully received, too.

Thanks for stopping by the blog!

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris!

I was reading the news before I came to your site this morning and my heart just leapt into my mouth when I read about the bushfires. Looks way too close for comfort. Thank you for keeping us updated and prayers have gone out for them never to reach you and the editor and all with you.

BOY, did we have trouble with dogs in thunderstorms! Our oldest dog was terrified of them and every time we adopted one (eventually 5), no matter how calm the new one started out, she taught them that they were going to die any minute and that every one of them had to stick to me like glue to survive (made for difficult maneuvering). Bob the Tailless (half Australian Shepherd) was especially sensitive. He did indeed warn us ahead of time. He also warned us before the Big Quake of 2011. I myself can often tell when the weather is changing as my sinuses start to hurt, I guess from the change in air pressure; sinuses are air cavities. The funny thing is that storms never bothered the cats at all. I always thought they were brave, but maybe they just had less air in their heads than dogs.

Pam

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

I am consumed with envy as you recount everything that is growing. Oh, that I were approaching summer here and not winter!

You asked once whether I used the nuts here or left them for the wildlife. I leave them for the wildlife; chiefly the squirrels and the dormice. If necessity arose that would be a different matter.

Pouring with rain here, so while out collecting my post, I picked sage, parsley and French sorrel for tonight's potato salad.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

This in: "Artificial Leaf Could Revolutionize Energy Industry - Aussie Scientists"

https://www.rt.com/news/312676-australia-artificial-leaf-energy/

I don't believe it, but I'll try to be open-minded, here in my Tier 3 part of the county.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I think Pam's right. Looks like a small, temple. I can see the archaeologists report from 500 years in the future. "This year's digging season revealed a rural temple, adjacent to a country villa, apparently (based on fragments of a multi-colored sheet metal cockerel that decorated the temple pediment) dedicated to the now extinct chook. We hope next season's dig will reveal a shrine effigy, in the inner sanctum." Reminds me of "Motel of the Mysteries", an illustrated book that is a hoot. :-)

Got my bi-monthly issue of "Country Side and Small Stock Journal", yesterday. Gosh. It's always so timely. Had two articles that were about things touched on in this blog. "Protect Your Poultry with Livestock Guardian Dogs" (LDGs). LOL. No chicken pitching (or tossing), but, whatever works. Also "Nature's Pesticides; A visit to an organic farm in Norfolk, England." A bit of a quote from the article ... "...organic arming methods result in an average increase in biodiversity of 34 percent, and significantly higher species-richness than non-organic. Plant species increased by 70 percent, pollinators are helped, while birds, anthropods and microbes flourished." Haven't read either, in depth, just a quick skim before bed.

Well, the ADR and the Archdruid really does get one thinking. Early on, I had to really examine my love of all things apocalyptic. I believe the Archdruid advised me to examine what was crawling around in the sub-basement of my mind :-). And, I must admit I had a touch of "well, if there's a major collapse, I'll survive and all those "bad" people I don't like will be punished. Naaaw. I'll just freeze to death or starve, along with everyone else :-).

Well, looking at the Abandoned Farm, after the fact, there was a lot of stuff put up, a long time ago. A whole exterior pantry of it. Lots of canned goods (mostly past expiration dates). No truck garden. A small strawberry patch and orchard. None of the animals were "used." Except for the chicken eggs. (Later - I take that back ... there was the 50 or so head of cattle that Bob ran, every year, and then sold off for meat.) And, Bob didn't even get his small flock of chickens, until after I got mine. I don't know. I used to gift him eggs until his started laying. Maybe it woke something up in him. Or, he didn't like the obligation.

I know from what my landlord has told me, that this land used to be highly productive. In a lot of different ways. At one point, it was a huge strawberry operation. Egg production, at one point. Rabbits. I don't know the exact sequence. I don't know. Maybe they got old and tired. And, there's a certain kind of mindset among country people (at least these days) that if you can buy 50 lbs of potatoes, for less than $5, why go to all the trouble of planting your own? It's seen as a kind of thrift. But, as we know, it's rather fragile and not very resilient.

Re: acceptance of our foibles ... "Perfection is the enemy of good enough." Well, that's one translation. Voltaire.

Oh, yeah. Feel free to use whatever I natter on about. The only danger there, I see, is separating stuff I come up with on my own, and stuff I lift from other people. Sometimes, I don't know the difference, myself :-).

Yup. Saw the BBC series. Got the t-shirt. :-). Your fire situation is worrying. I know just how you feel. I was on edge for most of the summer. We truly are reversed. Our county wide burn ban, just was called off. Still a lot of dry stuff, around. Think I'll put off lighting any fires, for awhile. Lew



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Coco,

I'm a bit confused, are you referring to the local people or animals or both? I get people just wandering in from time to time, but I do my utmost to make them feel uncomfortable about their act - as they should.

Hand auger or mattock is the way to go to dig holes in clay. Steel posts down here are the longest lasting, but then steel is probably relatively cheap here. For timber, cypress pine is a local timber that is widely used for various reasons.

Some people fence around here, whilst others don't. I leave the place open to the wildlife, mind you a wombat can easily destroy a fence either by going under it or through it, whilst the kangaroos and wallabies can jump over them.

Thanks. I'd be interested to hear your feedback about the dog biscuits and muesli. They really do love it. I've got more eggs now than I can eat, so I mix raw egg into their muesli in the mornings!

Plants can always end up in the wrong spot for all sorts of reasons so no stress. No, they just need to be cut a couple of centimetres below the soil level. If you want to speed up the rotting process, a bit of manure over the stump wouldn't hurt either as it will feed the fungi. I use a chainsaw and axe to dig out stumps - but they're really hard timber...

I grow bay laurel here and oh yeah it produces new shoots along the root system. It seems down here to grow multiple trunks around an aged tree, rather than producing a thicket so cutting them down at ground level is probably the way to go in a thicket, but I'm merely guessing. They'd make amazing firewood with which to smoke foods...

Cheers

Chris

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thank you for your kind thoughts. The fire is becoming something of a monster. I updated the blog so you can see a map with just how far the thing has spread (it is right at the bottom of the post). Cherokee is the town at the bottom and sort of middle of the image. Not good.

The cats probably see the dogs playing up and think to themselves: We're too cool to get involved in that silliness. You make an excellent point though about dogs, good habits are very hard to ingrain, but bad habits are learned in a second. Normally as Scritchy gets older I'd get her an apprentice, but I'm thinking of just starting over from scratch with the next boss dog.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Honestly, I feel the same when I read about all of the stuff growing in your more temperate and fertile parts of the world during the depths of winter here too! Still, the wheel of the seasons turn in a big cycle and soon you'll be back in spring before you know it.

Very nice to hear that you have considered that. Honestly, I respect the fact that you eat rhubarb (as I do here every week of the year) as it is a real giver of a plant - for some reason they have a poor reputation which is undeserved.

Enjoy your rain (and please send some here if you get the chance!) and also impressive to hear of your herb choice. French Sorrel is a real summer survivor here and it is so tough - I actually enjoy the sharp taste with summer salads. Sage is excellent too, but I'm afraid people are very afraid of such tastes nowadays - I reckon they're missing out.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

I hear things like that all of the time. Nature just doesn't provide a huge surplus and I seriously doubt that they could produce more energy than the photovoltaic solar panels over the depths of winter.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Oh yeah, it does look like a small temple! I hadn't realised that and yeah, that will really confuse the archaeologists in the far distant future. A site of ancient worship (of the funky chicken God variety). ;-)! Oh, I hope they don't get upset about that humour? Speaking of which, that book sounds like one funny romp: porcelain sarcophagus - clearly a bath. I wonder if some of the people in Pompeii had those sorts of thoughts in their final moments?

The dogs are a good idea and they use Maremma's for them down here - they're very good for that purpose and they look very low stress from the ones I've seen - but you do have to get them to bond with the live stock and probably it isn't a bad idea to keep them away from learning Beau's bad habits!

Yeah, I had someone telling me today that organic agriculture and produce was a scam. I'm what do you say to that? Of course the article is correct, but no one seems to mention that it takes quite a few years to transition to ecologically diverse agricultural systems and in the mean time, the yields will be much lower than for industrial agriculture, but in the long term the diverse yields will be higher and over a longer period of time. It is nice that such journals are putting the idea out there for people to consider - we're not separate from nature, but a lot of people don't see the world that way. Am I ranting?

That sounds like acceptance to me. By the way, that is good advice too (I'm not special either, so you're in good company :-)!). If it is not too personal a question (and there is no need to answer if you don't want to), did you ever hit some sort of situation (or combination of situations) where you decided to move on from the drink? I was just sort of thinking that that would have been an emotionally difficult place of letting go of the old ways. Dunno, just trying to imagine what it would be like.

Wow, that is a fascinating account and I see that here too. One of my mates has parents of Italian origin who emigrated over to Australia in the 60's and they always say: Don't worry about that stuff, it's much cheaper to go to the shop and buy it. I've always been a little bit worried about that response because everything is very hard to learn. Incidentally 50 pounds of potatoes for $5 is amazing value. It is sometimes quite shocking for me to be reminded of the difference in the fertility of your soils. Not far from here has some of the richest and newest soils on the continent and they sell potatoes there for about 20 pounds for $10 and I reckon that is cheap! Wow. It is so fragile and not very resilient at all.

Voltaire was certainly on the money. I'd heard: Don't let the perfect become the enemy of the serviceable.

Hehe! No worries, we've been gas bagging for so long now, here, Of the Hands and over at the ADR, that I can't tell where your thoughts stop and mine starts and does it even matter. I was wondering the other day about exactly who owns ideas and is it even realistic to own an idea? I don't know because ideas seem to be built on the back of other ideas and what point does tinkering become genuine inspiration? Dunno really - such thoughts are probably way over my head! Hehe!

I'm sort of relaxed about it so far, but at the same time I'm a bit on Tenterhooks as they say. I updated the blog to include a map right at the bottom of the blog so you can see the size and extent of the fire. It just isn't that far away. It is best to read the conditions before lighting a fire - sometimes people get a "gotta go do it vibe" and common sense goes out the window...

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Thanks for the map; I hadn't been able to find one that good. It makes me very nervous, the fires seem awfully close to you all. I see that there are also lots of fires along the southern half of the east coast, and Taz, too.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Cedar, is the preferred fence post wood, around here. Great longevity. And, it smells nice! :-).

Oh, I don't think you're ranting. I am gob smacked oblivion around all sorts of topics. Organic. My little epiphany came the first time I bit into an organic banana and was transported back to my grannies banana cream pies. :-). No sense of adventure when it comes to herbs and spices. Muggles, indeed. I've thumped on about my new theory that food experimentation, or openness, comes from the ends of the economic spectrum(mostly, or, enough to be noticeable), with not much in the middle. I also get a magazine called "Taste of Home." It's actually the tail end of something my landlord's mother subscribed to. It has a few, pretty good recipes. The one's I skip are the one's that start out "take a package of...".

I miss Joel's postings at "Of the Hands." I check, every once in awhile, just to see if he's up and running, again. Usually after he posts something to the ADR. Tripp still posts, occasionally, at "Small Batch Garden." He walks the walk. "County Side and Small Stock Journal" is kind of like what "Mother Earth News" used to be like, before it got all yupped out.

Oh, gee. My drunk-a, drug-a-logue? :-). Let's see. Early in the 80s, I knew I had a problem, but viewed myself as a "functional alcoholic." Oh, sure. Pull the other one :-). Looking back, you can see all kinds of things, that you can't see while caught up in addiction. To quote an old saw "Denial ain't just a river in Egypt." The tremors in my hands were an inoperable brain tumor (I thought ... rationalized), not the massive amounts of alcohol I was putting away. So. Through the 80s, I was in and out of meetings and even went to a rehab center for a month. But, to quote another old saw "I was sick and tired of being sick and tired." By 1989 I had some control over my drinking (but not much...we call it "white knuckling it") but, was still a pretty miserable human being.

Then, on March 27, 1989 (we celebrate those birthdays, by the way), I walked into a meeting and heard something. I'm sure I had heard it and read it before but on that particular day, it really clicked. It's hard for me, being kind of a semi-hermit ... and probably having a touch of Social Anxiety Disorder, to join, anything. I may not have the quote quit right, but it goes something like "The thing that keeps mankind in ignorance is contempt prior to investigation." I realized that that, was me. It was like the ceiling fell in.

There seems to be two roads to recovery. Some of us have a religious experience (ie: The Burning Bush). :-). The other road, mine, is what we call a "moment of clarity." What's interesting is that the two founders of AA, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, well, Bill W. had the Burning Bush. Dr. Bob had a moment of clarity. Dr. Bob was more of an explorer into philosophies and religious traditions. He often said he never had a flash of stunning insight, but did have moments of absolute clarity and peace.

So. I followed some suggestions ... 90 meetings in 90 days, get a sponsor, get involved in service work. That's what worked, for me. I have recently came to the realization (all that reading :-). That there are many roads to Recovery..AA isn't the only one. And, even within AA, there's different ways of approach to get the same outcome. Longterm recovery. That's a rather loaded topic, right now. But, change is sweeping through the recovery community. I recently read that there are 22 million people in America caught up in one kind of addiction, or, another. And, there are 22 million people in long term recovery. All the emphasis has been on the ins and outs of active addiction. People get into recovery and disappear into anonymity.

Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont.

One of the Traditions of AA is that we are anonymous at the "level of press, radio and films." And, I suppose, blogs :-). You may have to field a few irate posts that I have "broken my anonymity." Well, the AA Central Committee has stated that as long as I'm not putting myself up as some representative of AA (and, I'm not) it's ok to tell my particular story. I protect the anonymity of others, but as far as my own? Phew!!

Anyway. I've gassed long enough and need to get into the Little Smoke. Hope I answered your question. Yeah, there were things that happened, turning points along the road ... but, it wasn't much of a horror show. No jail time, no car wrecks. Almost lost a job, once. But didn't. Finances were a mess. Came unglued at a store clerk who wouldn't sell me booze after hours. Felt deep shame and had to apologize the next day. Pretty pedestrian stuff. But, that's why I still go to meetings, now and then. I tend to forget the gruesome little details, as time goes on. Need a reminder. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I do hope that the fire is keeping its distance.

I wonder why plants, such as sorrel, have a much more bitter taste than stuff that has been bred for the table. Think how insipid lettuce is. The stuff that I pick as I walk in the woods or along the shoreline, all seems to have quite a strong taste. I eat dandelion leaves in the spring. Bet that rhubarb has a bad name because people made the mistake of eating the leaves. Scary nowadays that people don't know that one shouldn't.

@Lew
I loved the discovery of the temple.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

My mother in Ft. Collins, Colorado has been commenting all summer about how much the smoke from the Washington wildfires (Lewis?) has been burning her eyes. Are you getting any such fallout from your fires?

Someone, somewhere recently mentioned chicory as a coffee substitute. Has anyone ever tried New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus) as a tea camellia substitute? I have always wanted to try some since reading about how people here in the Revolutionary War used it. By golly, it has come up in the garden by itself, but I was afraid to pick more than 2 leaves to try; didn't have much taste (not surprising). I managed to save a couple of "berries" off of it before the birds got them. We shall see.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lewis:

Thanks so very much for your personal story concerning alcoholism.There has been quite a lot of it in my family, victoriously overcome by most of those who had succumbed to it. But at the moment there is someone very dear to me who is fighting it and I feel so encouraged reading what you wrote. Good for you! I know it must have been extra hard for you, as you sound like one of us shy ones, a non-joiner, who had to make an extra effort.

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks for that, the government website for such things is excellent and well maintained. It is very alarming and thanks for your thoughts. I've decided today to write about the whole matter on the next blog and took quite a few photos this morning.

Yup, the heatwave was unprecedented and very extreme. The whole place here is smoky today and you can smell the burning eucalyptus - it is not an unpleasant smell and that sort of makes it worse.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Your grannies banana pie desser sounds lovely. Yum! Of course, the blander food has become, the more that people expect that that is what is normal - someone once nicely phrased that as: the new normal. From what I can see is that it has happened by stealth over the past few decades and it has been certainly interesting to watch. Doesn't it sometimes make you think of soylent green (I mean I know we've discussed that before, but still), when I was a kid and I watched that film, I remember the poignant scene where the main character enjoyed proper strawberry jam and was astounded by it. It left quite the impression on me.

Haha! Yes, take a package of liquid smoke and add it to... Hold on a second what the heck is liquid smoke? If only it wasn't true.

Yeah, I miss Joel's musings on all things in the world from his perspective. He lived an interesting life and certainly forged links in the community - which I've struggled with because of the politics in those groups - which is a shame really, and no one my age seems to have the time for them. It is like the volunteer firefighters, they're an older bunch and it is physically very demanding work and long - the shifts are often 12 hours in length. I didn't know about Tripp's writing (or have forgotten about it), if you ever see an update, can you please let me know?

Hmm, yes, I write for Earthgarden magazine (sort of like the Down Under version of Mother Earth News) less and less as time goes on for all sorts of reasons... And it is worthwhile noting their prices have gone up presumably as circulation goes down, whilst the number of staff it employs appears to reduce. You know, I almost made their front cover a few editions back, but I understand that the editor and owner remarked that blokes don't sell magazines and he has this continual fixation on young attractive earth mother types which is a bit odd because it isn't the demographic that actually purchase the magazine. I suspect that there is a market for the original product though - but just like back in the day it won't pay well.

Thank you for your story and honesty. It gave an excellent insight into a world I know little about, but I hear you as your words were crisp and clear. No stress about the trolling, I wouldn't publish them - regardless of circumstances and I agree with your conclusion on that subject. It was very polite of you to go back and apologise, we all err from time to time and that was a very civil and courteous act.

Enjoy your trip into the little smoke. Speaking of which it is the serious smoke here today as the smoke from the fires is drifting down from north of the range. The air is tinged with grey and the breeze is slight. At least it is much cooler today, although the sun still has some serious bite. I've decided to write about the fire next week and it should be interesting. I was going to call the essay: Black is the new green - but the editor thinks that is a very inappropriate title, so I defer to her opinion.

Cheers

Chris





Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thank you for your thoughts and I hope the same thing too. I've been wondering about the benefits of living under ground - given the conditions - plus I saw Angelo's cave house on the latest Grand Designs. Good stuff.

Exactly lettuce is insipid, but French Sorrel has some serious bite to its taste. I eat all manner of herbs here and it has taught me what is what and when to pick it. I even eat the flowers too. All of those wild greens account for your good health! I wonder about that issue too. Sometimes when people bring their children up here - they think every plant is edible and don't hesitate to start sampling them, so i have to set strict conditions on the kids.

Exactly, it surprises me that people don't know such basics nowadays either and commercial food is so insipid or just tastes odd because it is full of preservatives as it was made in a factory somewhere overseas 6 months ago... But then people start getting used to that and thinking that it is the stuff grown here that is weird tasting. I reckon it takes about 3 weeks to change a persons palate!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Sorry to hear that and thank you for asking. My sinuses get occasionally overwhelmed by the smoke, but I drink lots of water and that seems to ease the inflammation and irritation - mind you drinking lots of water presents other problems! :-)!

Thanks for the heads up on that plant and I'll look into it, although it may not be available down here due to nobody thinking of ever bringing it over and quarantine restrictions which are pretty severe. Chicory is very easy to grow and it self seeds here - I use the leaves as a summer survivor green. They're quite good.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

C'mon, Chris - the young attractive earth mother types are exactly what the demographic that buys the magazine want to see . . . One of my favorite magazines is Permaculture UK, but I just can't afford it any more. And, of course, it's a "foreign" publication which ups the price.

I became infatuated with the pictures I saw of cave houses in France and Spain, and decided that it would be great to build a tiny one-room one into the side of the "bluff" (it's almost a bluff) on our property. No one else is interested, though, and they have to do the heavy work. Too much else to do. It could always be used as a root cellar. If you weren't already fire-proofed I would suggest a "burrow" to you as a bunker. Does anyone around you have such a thing?

I know you must have mentioned it, but what is the square feet/meters of your house? We have a 2-story log house of 1900 sq/ft (176.5 sq/meters) with also a full walk-out basement (unfinished, but with electrical outlets) of 1000 sq/ft (93 sq/meters). One of my sons calls it "the mansion", the peasants who dwell in it notwithstanding.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Rhubarb is just so ... tart. I'd make the same face if I bit into a lemon :-). I mean, you really have to sugar it, or, mix in a really sweet fruit (strawberry rhubarb pie!). Hats off to our ancestors who figured out what to do with the stuff. I mean, it really does have a distinctive taste and is, probably, very healthy.

@ Pam - Air quality is pretty good here, now. We've had quit a bit of rain and it's really damped down the fires. Only had a day or two where I could really "taste it in the throat."

I'll look into the Ceanthos Americanus. I did a little research, not long ago, and ran across a plant called Yumpa. It's supposed to be the only plant native to North America that has caffeine in it. I looked around on the Net, a bit, to see if I could sample some. But, it was unclear if I'd be getting straight Yumpa, or something cut with other things. I want to see what the straight stuff tastes like! I'm not wild about mixed flavors. I have to be so careful when buying tea. Someone gave me some Earl Grey packets. So, I had to box to check the contents on. But, I swear it was cut with a bit of cinnamon. Oh, argh. :-). Any-who. Next spring I'm going to order a few Yumpa plants and see what they're like.

Yo, Chris - Well, the whole trip to the Little Smoke got, kind of, re-arranged. Unexpected propane delivery. My winter fuel. I've got a 500 gallon tank. They only fill it to 80% to allow for expansion. Due to the warm winter and some weatherizing I did, I still had 25% left in the tank. Last year, propane was $1.70 something. This year, $1.49. But, when you add on the taxes and fees, it's actually $1.68. Like phones, they neglect to tell you about the taxes and fees.

So, I got to town later than expected. It rained hard, all day. So, I put off the stop at the feed store. May have to make another trip in on a day when the weather cooperates.

Well, I suppose Earthgarden's lack of staff is due to what JMG was banging on about over at the ADR, this week. Computerization. I guess you can put out a fairly respectable magazine, these days, with one person and a computer. Same goes for books. I'm an above average typist, and made my living at it, several times when I was younger. Wouldn't be as easy, today.

Yeah, I've heard the term new normal, and it sticks in my craw. Sometimes I write that off to age and general crankiness, but I think it''s more than that. I know it's more than that.

We don't have a good website for fires, here. There is one, but, apparently it only gives updates on enormous fires. After lots of looking around, I did cobble together a fairly accurate, timely picture of what was going on.

Going to go to Chef John's, when he gets home from work to harvest the last of the basil and some more carrots.Going to have to hussle. Sunset is at 6:30 pm, these days.

Pumpkin famine. Saw an article on the internet that canned pumpkin may be in short supply, this holiday season. The crops were washed out, several times. Most of our canned pumpkin comes from Illinois. Glad I got a couple from John. Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lewis:

I have never even heard of yumpa. I will look it up. I have read that there is a variety of holly that has caffeine, but I don't think it is native to N. America.

I'm with you; I like my tea unmixed with anything else.

I already had canned pumpkin on my shopping list; will hop to it getting some. Supposedly most canned pumpkin is not actually pumpkin, but butternut squash or some relative. We had a pretty good butternut squash harvest this year, so we're probably fine in any case.

Pam

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

Still loving your post. How hot has it been? We've had to water -- everything was wilted and the soil was bone try.

Your chook house looks amazing. I still need to set something better up for our chooks -- we still put them away in a secure house each evening, then let them out again in the morning. It's fine when we're home, but we're away on holidays at the mo and I worry about them when the neighbours are doing it ;-)

Did I tell you I've got the second wicking bed done? It's 2m x 4m -- as long as it doesn't leak, we should be able to grow a lot of food in it. It's looking like a dry hot spring in Adelaide!

Cheers, Angus

orchidwallis said...

@Lew

Cook rhubarb with block dates and dark brown sugar, then all will be well.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Really? Honestly, I remain unconvinced, a bit of diversity from time to time wouldn't hurt. But then I suspect you may be taking the piss too - which is a colloquialism which means not being very serious in your assertions! Anyway, you can make up your own mind as here are some of the covers: earthgarden magazine cover image. Incidentally the very hirsute guy in the very first photo is actually an anomaly because he is Costa of ABC gardening fame - he's an enthusiastic bloke and great presenter, full of passion.

Well, that does sound like a lot of hard work and if you are interested: Grand Designs UK S16E04, will show you just how hard an ask that cave house is! It is good fun and very quirky and I do hope that you enjoy it.

Yes, they do have underground bunkers (and houses here too) and the architect who designed this place lives in Pastoria East (which is in the path of the fire - certainly there are evacuation orders in place) and who also runs a wildlife shelter has an underground bunker on his property. The main problem with underground houses is establishing a proper moisture barrier against the water table and that is no easy thing.

Hehe! Very amusing - we're all peasants aren't we? The house here is a single story house with a floor space of 175 square metres (1,883 square feet). That does not take into account the verandas or utility sheds. If the house does burn down, I have ideas to rebuild it very differently. Hopefully, they remain just ideas!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Fuel should always take priority in such circumstances. Just thinking from a survival perspective, I reckon this is the order of such things: Water, Food, Shelter, and then Fuel. You seem to be doing OK on the first three, so the fourth is definitely the next most important! Oh my, the delivery dudes for LPG (which is more or less like propane) charge me about the equivalent of $9 per gallon for LPG delivered here. You are getting a total bargain - I look at the stuff and go: You are there for emergency use only and I'm constantly thinking about ways to not use the stuff - plus it is only for cooking and/or water heating use. And the cheeky sods charge me for rental of the two 45kg gas cylinder too whether I use the stuff or not. How I wish I installed an electric water heater. Most of the year the solar produces toasty hot water and at the other times of the year the wood heater produces very toasty hot water - but every now and then the sun doesn't shine, but it is too hot to run the wood fire... Seriously, the taxes and fees sound an awful lot like the rental of the gas cylinders - inflation by stealth.

Out of interest, how is your cell phone going? Are you getting OK reception now?

Autumn weather strikes hard with lots of rain up in your part of the world. Has the green returned to the fields and meadows now that a bit of rain is falling? It was a hard summer up your way. Hope your chickens aren't going hungry - they may turn on Nell you know? ;-)!

Yeah, I hadn't thought of that side of things and JMG is totally 100% correct about such matters. One of the problems that I had with the publication was that they put their cover price up, sacked staff and then announced that they were on a sustainable path - and yet there were lots of photos of their immediate family constantly trekking in the Nepal Himalaya where they set up a charitable not for profit foundation. I'm not suggesting that the two issues are linked - it is just that it is not a good look and I'm personally uncomfortable with that.

Well, you are in excellent company, because I too was trained as a touch typist in a typing pool as part of this weird government initiative in the late 1980's which involved multi-skilling people and I was chosen because I didn't put up a fuss about the situation. Honestly, I enjoyed the work and learned an awful lot about such matters and enjoyed the world from the belly side up - which a lot of people miss out on these days - a shame really. Yeah, it is totally impossible these days.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Hardly, I get cranky about that too, so it is all good! I'm just guessing, but I reckon it means accepting a lower quality result than previous. What do you reckon?

Fair enough, the trick here is that there is a paid urban brigade and a volunteer rural fire service that covers the whole state. Plus the state emergency service also updates that web service (they cover fallen trees, missing people, emergency cat rescues etc). After Black Saturday, they were all forced to talk to one another and that is no bad thing. You could get away with a radio scanner which tuned into their frequencies, but then you'd have to know something about their comms, unfortunately down here they switched to digital communications, so my radio scanner and UHF CB is sort of useless now...

Enjoy your basil and fresh carrots (both totally yum)! Hopefully you didn't get too wet that afternoon? I sat on the veranda this evening and watched the sunset whilst a mini monsoon rolled across the mountain range and the lightening lit up the sky and thunder shook the hills. It was good fun, plus we had a coffee and Anzac biscuit too. Today, I'm suffering from serious hayfever because of all the smoke - I've just felt off all day long, yesterday the air was grey and the smoke was thick.

It never would have occurred to me that pumpkin was even canned as I can purchase them all year around fresh - and they keep for months (like zucchini). Wow, I hadn't heard about that wash out, but of course it makes sense because Claire is in Illinois and she has most certainly had a long wet summer - which doesn't do any plants any good. Not good. Do you know we were exporting oranges to California this season? Crazy times. I decided to call the next blog Global weirding as I have a truly strange tale to tell about the weather here.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

I'm with you and Lewis, I once tasted a tea with caramel and it was just not good...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

Oh yeah, it has been crazy hot down here too and I can't recall having to water any plants at this time of year before. I'm monitoring the water tank levels closely from here on end. How are you doing on that front?

Thank you, the chickens love it too. That is tough and I feel for you. I can leave the chickens for a day or so and they'll be fine, but unhappy (there is truth in the term Angry Birds). Hope you are enjoying your holiday and you are getting some good weather for it! You should be worried hehe!, a long time ago, a neighbour lost one of my dogs when she was feeding it whilst we were on holidays (what a drama!), still it all ended up well in the end ;-)!

Well done with the wicking beds and I look forward to reading your updates about them - especially once we pass New Years Eve and the really hot weather kicks in... They should work very well and use very little water, but I'd really appreciate your honest feedback about them.

Cheers.

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Excellent advice. Yum!

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

The smoke is a bad thing, though not as bad as having the fire itself right in your lap. I need not go to any horror shows this Halloween; I just have to think about poor you and yours having the hot foot. I found this site for mapped updates:

http://www.osom.vic.gov.au/#map

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Re: Earthgarden Magazine Covers - Bingo! I think you may have made my point. Myself, I liked the hirsute fellow, and the chook.

Watched a bit of the Grand Design show; looks like it's going to be great. Thanks!

Pam

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I watched the cave do up in Grand designs and didn't really care for it, far too elaborate. However my son liked it and pointed out that it is called GRAND designs. Neither of us liked the white lines on the outside paving. I only watched because it was a cave and the previous one because it was near me. I shall now return to not watching.

The island is 1 1/2 miles from the mainland at its nearest point and 4 1/2 miles where I am, which is where I swam across in 1959.

The sun is shining and this morning steam was rising from the wet ground. The steam was right against the window on the sunny side and it looked as if the shack was on a stove!

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - I always thought if I lived on my own place, further out, I'd have a root cellar / fire shelter. Just in case I couldn't evacuate and got caught. In old Japan, because fire was always a problem, some people had less flammable, partly sunken "store houses" out back in their gardens. To stash family treasures and a bit of food back up. There are recipes for sweet potato pie that is a more than adequate pumpkin pie back up. Yes, the Yupa is some kind of a holly, but rather thornless. Don't let the latin name throw you. Vomitus, something or other. It was due to an early classification mix-up, with another plant :-).

Yo, Chris - Well, the cell phone is ... kind of ok. Have had no problem making calls. Sometimes, when someone calls me, my phone doesn't ring, and it goes straight to voice mail. Which I'm usually made aware of in a few minutes. But, once the voice mail didn't come through for 3 days! I think it's more a problem with some carriers programs don't play nice with my carriers program ... rather than reception.

Yes, things are greening up, here. But, still a lot of brown, around. The leaf trees are really beginning to put on a spectacular color show. The trees here are really a mix ... the evergreen mixed in with the leaf trees. There have been disquieting little weirdnesses. I mentioned that their was very little tansy ragwort around, this year. Well, in the last two weeks, I've pulled three small clumps out, when out for my morning walk. Blooming totally out of season. And, I realized, yesterday, that I haven't seen any of the wooly bear caterpillars. Usually, this time of year, they are everywhere.

Well, my handwriting was so poor (probably a muscular / coordination thing) that when I was 10 or so, my folks got me an old typewriter. I got a book from the library, taught myself all the "reaches". When I was in high school, I took an actual typing class ... which really brought my speed up. Last time I was tested, I think I was banging out 92 words per minute. It's interesting. When I was in the antique biz, at least once a week I'd get a call from someone who had one of the following ... usually with an inflated idea of value. Manual typewriters, treadle sewing machines, luggage or old cash registers. They were gob smacked when I didn't have the slightest interest in their "treasure" .. at any price. I was in an antique mall, last month, and I overheard a fellow ask for a typewriter. The mall people's attitude was what mine was. I now have a treadle sewing machine, and have been thinking about a manual typewriter.

My friends in Idaho, and I, often complain about "people not just doing their jobs." Of course, we also understand that that is pretty much corporate policy, these days. An effective employee would probably loose their job.

Well, we cleaned out the carrots at Chef John's. A wheel barrow full. I brought home two bags to blanch and freeze. Didn't make it to the basil. I picked up some more chestnuts, and they are rather disappointing. The kernels inside are about the size of garlic cloves, and seem to not have much inside the shells. I don't know if it's the variety (French), or, the drought. I'll have to do a bit of research, on line.

About a year ago, I read a book on the history of the pumpkin. How it went from cattle feed / famine food to national icon. Libby company pretty much has the market cornered on canned pumpkin. The pumpkin they can IS a pumpkin ... but it's not the bright orange globe we think of when we think "pumpkin." Of course, because the squash and pumpkin interbreed so easily, the line can get a bit hazy between the two. I wouldn't use any seed saved from Chef John's place. He grows his squash and pumpkin all together. I tweeked him about that, a bit :-). I'm pretty well set. I have 2 or 3 cans in the pantry from last year, and two nice pumpkins from John's place. And, can get more if I want them. Lew


Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lewis: I think I had some Ilex Vomitoria a long time ago and the deer ate it. I've only seen 1 or 2 wooly bears. We sometimes have legions of them by now. Am not hearing any of the Canada geese that are usually passing through here and stopping on the pond behind us, either.

@ Inge: Egads, Inge - how did you dare swim such a distance?! Are there currents?

I kind of liked the cave house best in the first few minutes, before it got all done up. He said that they "sealed the services into the floor with limecrete". If there's a problem, how does one get to it to fix it? The white lines are unfortunate, but it looks like it would be easy to change them. Moisture looks like it would be a constant bedevilment.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris;

Thanks for the Conan quotes over at ADR. Gives me chills. If you meet with Marcu, I demand to hear all about it!

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam, Inge and Lewis,

Thanks for the lovely comments. Another monsoon hit tonight here! Really strange weather... I'm heading out tonight and won't be able to respond, but I do promise to respond tomorrow night.

Pam, I was wondering that question too, but we may have to wait until tomorrow night to find out the answer unless Inge chooses to enlighten us? It is no small feat.

Lewis, it may be the drought as most fruit and nuts end up smaller when there is a drought, but I don't really know.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam, et all - We've had the Canadian geese going over. Last week a bunch flew over in their well organized "V". Five minutes later, they headed back in great disarray. Eagle get one? Maybe.

Another unseasonal thing. Frogs. I always hear a great many frogs in the spring. Now there have been frogs sounding off the last couple of weeks. Not very many, but very vocal. Sounds like a rusty hinge. One right outside my window that wakes me up from my nap! Bad frog!

I travel so infrequently. But, today, Chef John and I are going to go junking. Road Trip!!! Hitting the little towns, south of here, along the Columbia Rive. Kalama, Kelso, Rainier, St. Helens. Just a punter. Or, the dreaded day tripper? :-). Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris and Pam

I believe that I have referred to this swim before, so apologies in advance if I repeat myself. Yes there are currents and timing departure with the tide in mind, was important. The man who organised an accompanying boat for me had had 2 attempts at a there and back swim. It can't be done due to the currents. Uffa Fox (erstwhile friend of Prince Philip) claimed to have done it but he swam the 1 1/2 mile stretch each way.

What made my swim a feat was the fact that I had nearly died 2 years before and was still in terrible physical and mental health. The mind/body question absolutely fascinates me. I had not been in the water at all for the 2 years and yet I knew that I could do the swim. It took 3 hours and 50 minute of excruciating physical pain and was definitely a mental feat. I still believe that ones mind is incredibly powerful

It was rough mid channel and I became seasick, that surprised me, seasick when swimming wow! Fortunately the waves calmed own.

Hope that I haven't bored you.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

It really is a bit of a nightmare, because I can replace the house and sheds, but it is really almost impossible to regain lost time on the trees in the orchard. Somethings are just not replaceable. Thanks for the website link. That map feeds from the primary website:

http://www.emergency.vic.gov.au/map#now
Vic Emergency.

The fire is about 90% contained, but it could burn for weeks and could flare up at a moments notice and you just never know. If a fire is hot enough it can get into the root systems of large trees and exactly like a peat fire it can smoulder for weeks until the conditions are just right for it to spark up again.

Haha! We are on the same page! He has some very impressive hair doesn't he and such great enthusiasm as a presenter too - and he totally gets the whole edible garden thing. That was a good looking chicken too. It is a real shame the rest of the covers are a bit same, same and it is very sad that the guy that owns it thinks that attractive young females is what sells a magazine to the particular demographic that buys it. Plus, I am a bit annoyed that I didn’t get on the cover as the photo that was published was very amusing.

Incidentally, the editor (here not at that magazine) was involved in another wildlife rescue yesterday because a visitor to the farm happened to come across a wallaby mum that had been recently run over and found a little joey in her pouch. The visitor brought the joey up to the farm (along with many raspberries - nice work) and thought that we'd know exactly what to do. Anyway, we got back directly in touch with the wildlife rescue people and the editor delivered the joey into their care and they reckon the joey is a little fighter and hopefully he can come back here and live a sedate life of munching on compost fruit trees (but most likely he won’t). He has a bit of a nasty head scrape but other than that he seems to be doing OK: Macedon Ranges Wildlife Rescue Facebook.

It is a good show and the cave turned out very nicely. However, you are totally 100% correct - what happens when things go wrong seems to be a bit of an over sight. I've noticed that a lot of the houses in the UK have poured concrete (or limecrete in this case) floors and I reckon they work well when you have energy to spare to heat the floor, but even here over winter, I reckon the last thing you want to be in contact with is the ground - it is just too cold... Most floors in old houses here were set above the ground on timber so that they provided a layer of insulation from the cold Earth.

The quotes gave me chills too – despite the heat wave! And of course, I will tell all, if and when the first Green Wizards meeting is ever held Down Under - we'll skip the boring bits though. I'm considering opening the garden to ADR and blog readers over the next month or two.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Fair enough, but your son is correct - it is Grand Designs after all! You have to admit the guy had some vision to even undertake the job? And I don't know whether you noticed the early historical footage of a single mum (most probably a war widow) living in a cave with her three children - a tough school on multiple fronts.

Haha! Too funny. You know what, I didn't even notice the white lines on the paving. What I thought when I saw the shelf that the guy built out of rubble and used timber to retain, both I and the editor were saying, hmmm, that looks as though it will settle over time and what happens when the timber retaining wall rots out in that cold wet climate?

What? Wow! That sure is some swim and being in a channel, I was wondering whether there was much of a strong current? Also I was wondering when did you begin to learn to swim? You'd be amazed just how many people don't know how to swim – even down here. It took me ages to learn to keep my head lower in the water so that my body floated more easily with less effort - it certainly doesn't come naturally.

Thanks for the image and it is nice to read that you are getting some useful sunshine. It is lovely when the steam rises from the ground and the shafts of sunlight highlight it. The sunlight does the same thing here in the late afternoon with the insects and it looks as though the air itself is moving.

No, I can't recall reading of such a feat from you before as the furthest I have ever swum was 1 kilometre - which isn't even a mile and totally knocked me out – so your feat would have left quite the impression...

Wow, thank you very much for your story. The mind / body connection is fascinating and mostly unknown territory. The mind is a very powerful thing. I can't begin to even imagine the pain that you must have gone through to achieve such a feat? I'm a little bit in awe. Did you find that achieving that massive swim assisted you with facing up to the recovery from your illness?

Do you normally get seasick in choppy conditions? I've never known what it feels like to be seasick, but do recall once a very choppy and perhaps also rather unwise crossing of the waters between Kangaroo Island and the mainland of South Australia (perhaps your daughter has been on that ferry?) on a tiny car ferry. Most of the passengers passed out, it was amazing to see and the waves were so big and the waters could only be described as teeming with sharks. The ferry between the north and south islands of New Zealand was no joy ride either and it is not as if they haven’t lost a ferry on that trip before – hardly inspiring of confidence.

Do they have sharks in the channel that you swum across?

No, I'm only bored when people are banging on about indefensible and usually ideological positions. You are perhaps upbraiding me for using that phrase, but I'm seriously trying to jolt them out of their deep awake-sleep state. I feel for them, life can be quite harsh when you are confronted with say serious physical trauma such as a life threatening accident or illness such as what you may have suffered, and sometimes I feel as if they take life for granted.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Fair enough, your cell phone coverage in the US is a complex beast with all the different carriers not sharing network equipment - which is way beyond my understanding. In rural areas there is only one carrier here and they charge what they charge, but the technical side of it is awesome. Still, I'm glad that you have better coverage than with the dodgy old landline which you used to rely on and would have driven me bananas! One of my neighbours uses another cheaper carrier and the network here will send me his text messages always in the middle of the night! It is a bit of nuisance because I get this alert text message in the middle of the night and wonder who's died or what is the emergency?

Your woods would look awesome with the mix of evergreen and deciduous trees. How good are all the colours too: ranging from yellows, to oranges to bright reds. Good stuff. Do people tourist up into your part of the world to see the leaf turn? They do here and sometimes there are just so many people everywhere on weekends - a good reason to stay home if ever there was one! ;-)! Well, the weirdness in your ecosystem is part of the larger problem of treating the atmosphere like giant aerial sewerage system isn't it? I get the same things going on here, but a little bit more with each passing year. The plants and animals adapt, but still it is a bit of a shock. Caterpillars are one to watch because they are a food for many other birds and animals (and other insects) - it is always the bottom of the food chain where the stress is seen first. Like plankton in the oceans. Sorry to hear that such changes are in your part of the world.

A very nice result too - and way beyond what I ever achieved with the typewriter. The manual typewriters (not the later electric ones) were elegant bits of machine. They really worked well - unless you tried to push down on two keys at once! The really advanced ones even had a roll of white out tape which used to type white out over the preceding character as long as you selected the same character and pressed the white out roll button key - very advanced. Don't you reckon that having one chance to get the letter correct, forced a person to think about what they wanted to type well in advance of typing it? I mean the whole structure had to be laid out before you began and there was none of this stream of unconnected consciousness sort of writing that can be seen nowadays? Dunno, certainly it was a different way of thinking.

Too funny! I read somewhere that the Chinese are manufacturing old school typewriters so you never know. And, yes, I'll tell you a funny story about the old time Singer sewing machines (foot pedal operated). When I was last down in hipster Ville in the inner city I happened to notice that a vintage shop was selling an old treadle sewing machine that some crafty person had added an electric motor too for about $160. The editor told me that she disposed of her mother’s old Singer sewing machine for about $7 because they had upgraded to a whizz bang modern electric unit way back in the very early 80's (which is still going strong and I recently serviced). Oh, how I think she regrets that disposal!

That is interesting about the corporate policy. I sometimes had difficulty getting work in big corporates - I think I scared them with my gung ho small business can do attitude and I found that their policies, inflexibility and rigid systems used to grate on my very being. Your friends in Idaho are onto something!

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Yum, a wheelbarrow full of carrots is a true wonder to behold. Glad to hear that you are preserving them. Down Under before refrigeration, the old timers used to simply bury them during the winter and pick them as they needed them. They grow everywhere around here because I let some go to seed for a few years. Have you ever noticed that they don't transplant from seedling well, but look great if grown direct from seed without the transplant process?

Haha! Too funny. Yeah, pumpkins do the exact same thing down here too and I've heard the local seed saving folks go on and on about it as well as with the brassica species... I'm with Chef John on that one as I'm a bit slack on that front (what is the emoticon for a bit embarrassed?). Hey, he might strike it rich with the crossover pumpkin / squash hybrid - he could call it the Retirement Pumpkin! :-)! You never know?

The eagles here would definitely consume other birds, so you never know. Fortunately the local magpie family hound them and it is amazing to see that as it is like a small WWII fighter plane taking on a B17 bomber...

It is a good sign that you have frogs outside your window. However, it is a naughty frog to not consider your quiet repose! The pobble bonk frogs have been out in force here too because of the hot and wet conditions of the past few days and they hide in the forest at night making their pobble bonk noise. I should take the laptop out one night and record the sounds, it might be interesting?

Enjoy your road trip and I hope that you have excellent weather for it.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

You are never boring; I love your anecdotes. I think that the mind is more powerful than we can ever imagine. I used to follow my brother into all sorts of scrapes. Even at age 20 I still hadn't learned better and, once, when we were in Colorado, he suggested we climb a rather high, vertical cliff (just to see what was up-top) and I said "Why not?" and up we went. The beginning was easy. After awhile it got really hard, but by that point there was no way BUT up. So my mind, indeed, took over and after a couple of hours, to the top we got.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Pobble bonk! That will keep me laughing all day!

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - We don't seem to get leaf peepers, here, as a tourist thing. Not that I'm aware of. On my trip, yesterday, there were a few "Oh, wow ... look at that!" on sighting a particularly nice variety of maple. The colors, man, the colors :-).

Oh, yes. Old typewriters were rather elegant machines. The first one I learned on was an old, part cast iron job that weighed a ton! Lots of fancy gold and red painted scroll work. A Remington or Underwood, I think. I don't think I ever had the luxury of a ribbon with built in correction. Mostly, it was bottles of some nasty white stuff that smelled to high heaven. Probably killed a few brain cells with that stuff. Yes, a lot more care was taken. Usually, bang out a draft (double spaced) and then go back and edit. And, check any spelling that looked dodgy with a handy dictionary. And, even though I drilled, drilled, drilled as a kid and got good marks in spelling, I still have problems. If you knew how many times I have to stop in these missives to check the spelling of a word ... :-). Making the final "fine" copy was always slow, methodical and thoughtful.

Oh, yeah. Carrots are just one of those veg that doesn't transplant, well. Luckily, they produce thousands of seeds. If it's roses, pumpkins or apples, there's always a chance of getting something wonderful from a sport. But then, there's always a chance of getting hit by lightening :-).

The trip was ok, but the rain was feral, in spots. One problem here is that the fall rain and leaves coming off the trees happen about the same time. Result ... lots of plugged drains and street flooding. Visited a couple of friends of John's that run a "real" antique shop. Not decor, not shabby chic, but "real" antiques. Why is it the stuff I really like is over $100? Or, over $200? Still, I found a bit of cheaper tat that will cheer up my day. Had lunch at a Mexican place. Was really good and enough left over to provide my last nights dinner. Onto another shop that was a trailer in the woods. Was reminiscent of every bad B horror movie you've ever seen. But, I found a nice bit of American Art pottery for very little.

Then it was onto St. Helens, Oregon. Oh, gosh. They've decided their bit of civic who-who will be Halloween town. There were thousands of people in the streets, which just freaked me out. Couldn't even get into the downtown. So, I parked on the hill and hold up in my truck while Chef John waded in. Had a book, took a nap. It was fine.

Think I may have figured out why my hens are "off the lay." Down another half dozen, from last week. I noticed a snakey trail in the mud, down in the run. Like a dragging trail. So, I'm setting the live trap, tonight, and may be inviting my landlord down for a possum shot, tomorrow. Lew