Monday, 19 October 2015

Scrapping


Toothy the long haired dachshund is a feisty little character. He has a quick temper and loves a bit of scrapping. Scrapping is the act of fighting, normally hand to hand – but in the case of a dog – claw to teeth fighting. Despite his diminutive stature (dachshunds are a little bit height challenged) he’ll happily chase birds all day long. And despite years of attempts and his lightning speed and quick reflexes, Toothy hasn’t caught a single bird! The birds here know his traits well and mercilessly tease him by always staying just out of reach of those teeth.

Being close to the ground gives Toothy some serious strategic advantages in the rough and tumble world of being a dog here.

Remember that Toothy is an expert in scrapping. If Toothy decides to steal some of Poopy the Pomeranian’s breakfast (Poopy is actually a Swedish Lapphund), then that thought is quickly followed up by a bit of Toothy growling to announce his intentions. That Toothy growling then escalates to some close range threatening teeth action. Poopy starts looking quite nervous about the possibility of losing his breakfast.

In the days of myths and legends of the far past, Dragons were said to have a weak spot on their underbellies and the knights of yore who were stupid enough to even consider battling a dragon always attempted to attack that weak spot. Poopy the Pomeranian is sort of like a dragon as normally he would have no reason to fear the much smaller Toothy, but Poopy is unfortunately long of leg and even longer of tail and his underbelly bits are seriously exposed. Toothy knows that every dragon has a weak spot on their underbelly and he deals with Poopy on that basis. And Poopy lives in fear of losing his breakfast (and other bits) and has learned to eat very quickly indeed.

And that is how Toothy earned his name.

Dragons look like very large birds to me. Toothy the dachshund has an unhealthy obsession with all things bird, so he’d probably even try a bit of scrapping with a dragon – who knows? Fortunately, for all of us here at the farm, dragons seem to be a very unlikely problem! However, I do actually keep birds here (chickens) and Toothy would love nothing better than to take on the chickens with a bit of scrapping action and I wrote about his obsession in the previous blog entry: All day I dream about chickens.

Anyway, my tolerance for the obsessive Toothy has come to an end because I felt that sooner or later one of the chickens would accidentally be let out of the chicken enclosure whilst the dogs were roaming around and then we’d all find out who was tougher: Toothy, or the unfortunate chicken. I say unfortunate chicken, because I reckon Toothy would win that particular scrap.
Construction on the new chicken vestibule commenced this week
This week, both Toothy and Sir Scruffy assisted me with the construction of a steel lined vestibule entrance to the chicken enclosure. In the above photo the obsession that Toothy displays for the chickens is almost palpable. Sir Scruffy is the other scrappy looking dog in the photo and he is a sophisticated older gentleman and as such is above those obsessions – you can see the look of disdain on his face in the photo above.

The idea behind the vestibule is if one of the chickens accidentally sneaks out of the open door to their enclosure, they are safely trapped within the steel lined vestibule and I can quickly herd that naughty chicken back into their enclosure without very real possibility of Toothy trying to eat them.
The vestibule for the chicken enclosure is almost complete
A brief and very heavy rain storm interrupted (it was a very welcome interruption!) construction on the vestibule. It is worthwhile mentioning that like a lot of projects here, the vestibule was constructed entirely of scrap materials that I had ready to hand. This may be another useful definition of the word scrapping?
The vestibule for the chicken enclosure is now complete and more importantly Toothy proof
With a little bit of extra work once the rain had ceased, the vestibule to the chicken enclosure was soon complete and I could breathe a big sigh of relief as there had been some very close encounters of the Toothy kind between the chickens and the dogs and this new vestibule will put an end to that.

Longer term I’m intending to construct a purpose built enclosure for the tomato plants (with mustard plants being grown in the off / winter season). The tomato plants are an important crop here because they are very prolific producers of fruit from about February until early June. I’ve been selecting the seeds from cherry tomato plants for the past four years now and with each passing year, the plants are producing fruit slightly earlier in the year and they seem much hardier to both the soil and climactic conditions. Anyway, such desires for a new tomato enclosure are good in theory, but difficult to achieve in practice because I have completely run out of time to construct the purpose built enclosure this year.

However, the new berry enclosure has only just been fenced off and partially planted out a week or two back, so I thought to myself, why not? I’ll simply plant the many cherry tomato seedlings into that berry enclosure.

Nothing is ever simple though. That newly constructed berry enclosure is too steep to be useful for tomatoes and I’d always intended to reduce the steepness by removing some of the soil at the higher end of that enclosure. So, I began digging and moving soil early in the cool of the morning.
Digging soil to reduce the steepness of the new berry enclosure
As the day wore on the sun rose higher and higher in the sky and despite the cool mountain air, that sun burned with the fierceness of a dragon’s breath. And I got hotter and hotter as the day wore on and by late afternoon, well early evening really, I was wishing that the digging would just be over. The excess soil was used to fill up a hole which had been left over when long ago a very large tree had fallen over taking its roots and all. It was a big hole and is now a reasonably flat surface.

Eventually the digging was complete and I’d dropped the soil level by about 0.5m (about a foot and a half) across the entire enclosure.
The berry bed had now been excavated and was looking good
The next day, I moved placed a couple of cubic metres (cubic yards) of mushroom compost into the berry beds.
A couple of cubic metres of mushroom compost was brought into the new berry enclosure
Hopefully, tomorrow evening – weather permitting, I’ll plant the many tomato seedlings which are growing strongly, into that berry enclosure. It is predicted to be too hot to plant them during that day.

The plants are thoroughly enjoying the recent warm to hot conditions and the strong UV (which is now rated as Very High) from the sun is simply making them grow faster. Many of the plants are producing flowers in abundance and you can smell the many different floral scents in the air when you move from one point on the farm to another.
The strong sunlight and warm conditions are producing massive plant growth here
Some of the many flowering plants here at the farm
Observant readers will note that in the very centre of the above photo is a dark blob which is a happy wallaby enjoying the lush plant growth of this time of the year.

Some of the showiest flowers here are the Rhododendrons. Many long years ago during an intense drought a local plant nursery had to sell off a huge variety of Rhododendron plants and out of respect for the poor and also very sunburnt plants, I took the trailer and bought all of them – every single one of those plants. The nursery owner was certainly happy to find a buyer for them during such a difficult year. I brought all of the Rhododendrons back to the farm here, planted them in cooling mulches and healthy composts, watered them and they have thrived. One of my favourites is this one:

An almost iridescent red Rhododendron is flowering this week with more buds to come
Other flowers are enjoying the sunlight too and this member of the borage family produces flowers for almost the entire year. There are tens of dozens of this borage family plant here and the chickens love the leaves, whilst the bees love the flowers:
Anchusa Semperivens producing a reliable flower display which the bees adore
Speaking of dragon’s, the local parrots (Crimson Rosella’s) have been hanging around recently because they can smell that the strawberry plants are producing some early (as yet unripe) berries. Everything here eats strawberries – even the dogs - and I have never seen a plant that suffers from so much predation as a strawberry plant. Next winter I’ll be constructing a purpose built anti-everything strawberry enclosure, but until then the parrots dream of strawberries.
A local parrot – Crimson Rosella – is dreaming of consuming luscious and fresh strawberry fruit
I’d like to see Toothy try a bit of scrapping action with one of the local wedge tail eagles. They are massive and the smart money in that fight would be on the wedge tail eagle (an adults wing span can be around 3 metres (10 feet) across). They are always soaring above the forest, but recently with the warmer to hot conditions they have been enjoying themselves soaring around on the thermals and unlike Toothy, they really are the King of the Forest.
A wedge tail eagle confidently soars overhead in the strong thermal currents brought about by the warm to hot conditions over the farm
The temperature outside here at about 8.30m is 16.7’C degrees Celsius (62.0’F). So far this year there has been 614.6mm (24.2 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 611.0mm (24.0 inches).

55 comments:

Vicki Ochocki said...

Chris I am a faithful reader but have not posted before. I live in Pennsylvania, US. Would LOVE to see a diagram/floorplan of the Chooktopia as I am toying with the idea of getting chickens myself and want to do it up right! ~Vicki O.~

Steve Carrow said...

We are at the other end of the seasonal cycle here in the north, and had our first killing frost this past week. Only some brassicas still hanging in there in the garden.

Strawberries- yes, we had bad luck with them, this year, as EVERYONE likes them. We had some old plastic deer fence ( think of a sturdy screen with ~12mm openings) that we laid over some hoops when the berries were getting close, but we were naive to think that we had it tight enough. Any spot where we had not secured it down tightly along the perimeter was quickly found by rabbits and birds, and more than once I would come up on the enclosure and see birds underneath the netting, quickly heading for the exits when they saw me.

Our share of the berries was only enough for a couple shortcakes, and were not able to preserve any. Next year ( it's always next year, innit?) we'll batten down better, and hope for a better split with the critters.

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

Just as with all of our seasons being 2 weeks early, starting with last spring, the temp reached 32'F (0'C) last night - 2 weeks early. We had spent the whole weekend harvesting everything that can't stand a bit of freeze.

I had always wondered why Toothy was "Toothy". Now I get Toothy's obsession with the Chook Palace - he's actually a frustrated Labrador Retriever. My, he never lets up, even while you are building a fortress to further keep out marauders (him). As though rats and such weren't enough. So, you poured concrete all around the newest construction?

Sir Scruffy is looking anything but scruffy; he looks very handsome.

You're having to terrace, like we do on our mountain.

The farm looks so beautiful! I think I'll print out some of your photos, since the calendar isn't available yet. I can hardly imagine a place so glorious as to have parrots, even if they do eat strawberries.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I thought this week would be all about the open house. You never cease to surprise :-).

Around here, all the snapping is among the cats. Establishing and defending territory. Horrible yowling mix-ups that send me running outside. So far, no blood has been shed. Someone told me, as long as every one is screeching it out, not much damage is done. It's when all goes quiet. Sounds like what I've heard about kids! :-)

Oh, the chicken temple looks quit nice. Now it has what an archaeologist would call it's "sacred outer enclosure." :-). We've had two days of rain and parts of my chicken fort is a thick gumbo. Time to haul some more rock.

Wow. Your place brought to mind the phrase "It's a jungle, out there." Everything here is dying back and the "bones" of the place are beginning to show.

A few years back, I picked up a dvd from the library on dragons. It was an interesting thought experiment. There was the history of dragons, and then a rather scientific romp into how flying dragons, an even breathing fire, are a biological possibility. Something along the lines of all the methane that a cow produces out of it's nether regions.

More likely, our stories of dragons go way back as natural history museums (including huge fossils) were not unknown among the Greeks, Romans and Chinese. The Roman emperors Augustus and Tiberius had quit large museums of curiosities out on the island of Capri. Lew

PS: Your rhododendrons are quit beautiful. There were quit a few over at the Abandoned Farm, but I don't know if they made it through the drought. They're looking pretty withered and sad, about now. Spring will tell the tale as to what made it, and what didn't. I fear for the lilacs, too.

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

So how did the Open afternoon go? I was expecting to hear!

Once upon a time here, a house designed by the designer of the Crystal Palace, had glorious rhododendrons. Different colours were grown together so that they looked like one huge shrub with blooms of assorted colours. I regret to say that it is currently being developed as a site of holiday lodges. The house has long gone.

Apart from some holm oaks right on the sea front (evergreens, soon to be taken by the sea) every tree in my woods is a native tree since time immemorial. No doubt in part the reason why it is SSSI (site of special scientific interest). This is also true of the shrubs and flowers. The only infiltrators are the dandelions. So there is still no explanation for the sequential leaf fall.

Inge

Coco said...

Hope the open house was a success!

I understand that chickens and dogs are a problem in many places. Separation and vigilance seem to be the only methods to avert disaster. Looks like you have that covered.

Full marks on the berry enclosure! Nails or screws on the uprights?

Rhodies do really well here. Unfortunately, they´re poisonous to sheep and goats which I´d like to have someday so I´m not planting any, even if they´re gorgeous like yours.

Cheers

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Nice to read about the local papers up your way. Three days per week is better than none. I often wonder about the advertising in them - it is reasonably affordable here, but there are four local papers... It does seem a bit much and they all refuse to deliver up here.

I read your comment over at the ADR and mate, I'm feeling for you. If it means anything to you, I don't expect to ever be able to retire here and certainly affordable health care will go the way of the dinosaurs eventually - it hasn't yet, but I'm sure they're working on it. Your neighbours health problems have touched you and everything that you wrote was eminently sensible (I would do no differently).

That is a really interesting and different approach. Foreclosures here are listed as mortgagee auctions and you do see them from time to time, but they are lumped in with the rest of the advertisements. Now, if there happened to be an awful lot of them, it may be a very different situation. I've never used craigslist or even looked at it for that matter - I tend to keep to only a small number of websites.

Fair enough, the same thing is true of the music industry too. It is a tough gig to earn a living and not many bands make it big. Incidentally some of them are seriously castigated for pointing that fact out. It is so much easier to sell a dream than the reality - I get faced with that problem on a professional level most days.

Well, they were 100% serious about the robots taking their jobs - it was all I could do to keep a straight face and not burst out loud laughing at that comment. On the other hand would you seriously want an underpaid and overworked nurse dishing pharmaceuticals up to you? I'm uncomfortable with that notion - plus I remember Fight Club too well, Sir, stay away from the soup today! ;-)! Sometimes nurses - despite their looks - can be a bit too no nonsense: Stop whining, it is but a flesh wound!

Nice to hear that Chef John left you notes as to the gizmos. Look, seriously, I'm in total awe of your library service. It's good!

That's about what I heard too. The stunt guy with the guitar was interviewed on the radio here and he sounded as though he was doing it tough. Have you ever seen the original Mad Max film? I saw the actual car involved in that film many decades ago when I was a bit of a motor head.

Haha! Too funny. Exactly, they look very attractive, but down here in this fire prone land, I substituted steel, tiles and fibro-cement for the externals - not that most people would ever notice.

The wide verandas earn their keep when the heat from the sun burns your skin like the fires of Smaug.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Vicki,

Welcome to the discussion!

Thanks for the comment and I may just have a treat for you on the next blog entry! i.e. a floor plan of the chicken enclosure with all of the various reasons behind the structure. I can't recall explaining before why it was constructed the way it is, but rest assured I made plenty of mistakes in the previous chicken house and enclosure and incorporated all of the lessons learned from that.

All the best with your adventures into the world of chickens and may your autumn and winter be gentle.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Steve,

When winter strikes, it strikes hard. Incidentally, I'm enjoying your blog: Virid Views and like keeping up to date with everything going on at your place.

The Brassicas are going strong here and sometimes there are just too many mustard plants and I put too many into my lunch and oh, wow, do you feel it in your sinuses...

That is so true about the strawberries and over the next year I'll construct a steel enclosure for them. Did you know that one day that was hot the wallaby jumped on the plastic hoops (which were a bit soft from the heat) over the strawberry beds and ate the strawberries through the bird mesh. It was outrageous!

Haha! No worries, because every single year you'll learn more about your place.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

I don't need to ask how you are doing - freezing! Brrr, that is cold. Well done harvesting everything whilst you have the chance to do so before the frost burns it. I read somewhere once that it is not the freezing that is the problem with some plants, it is the defrosting that kills them.

Thank you for understanding, because he is like totally obsessed. You'd think that he would let up at some time, but no. Incidentally, he is also the little terror that coerces any new dog onto the farm to head off on an adventure off into the forest for hours at end. Honestly, the last time that happened, when Poopy the Pomeranian came back alone without Toothy there was a little bit of me that breathed a sigh of relief. But I was actually relieved when he turned up again at about 1.30am...

Yeah, Sir Scruffy is the dog that can be trusted with anyone. Children can pull his ears or tail roughly and he'll look at them and go: Love! He has a very pleasant nature and brings up the overall behaviour of the canine pack. Basically he puts the other ratbags to shame. Every team has a Sir Scruffy and I'll bet yours did/does (human or canine!) ;-)!

Terracing is practiced right around the world on mountainsides. You can see it all over Asia, but it is also practiced in Europe too. I dream of flat land....

Thank you and yes we must rectify that calendar problem! It is a great time of year here.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Well you know work comes first here.

I'm a bit bummed out about the Open Garden - although it was fun - because the realisation dawned on me that people are struggling with their children. The kids love it up here, but the parents look stressed out. The spell that has been laid on society that parents must monitor their children 24/7 or suffer the serious and public approbation of society should anything at all go wrong is quite horrifying to witness firsthand. I just don't connect with the parents trance like state.

And the other thing that really worries me is that in a couple of decades time, I'm unsure whether I could actually dig all day long and be OK the following day, but those older people who I do get along with very well and are interested are in that situation. I dunno at all.

I do hope that Nell is OK in all of the feline wars. She sounds as if she is a sensible cat, but you never know what she may get up to in the shadows? I'm sure she'll be fine as most animals don't want a fight and most of it is posturing.

Hey, how good is gumbo soup? Gumbo chicken muck is not so good though. ;-)! You put in a fair bit of rock last year, but then places like these can eat materials. By the way, I was specifically thinking of Vomitorium?

The bones of a place can be very interesting too. Winter is the time for putting in serious infrastructure, so for me summer is an enjoyable time (if I could somehow ignore the fires) of finishing working at lunchtime. On a serious note, changing our expectations of work with the seasons is quite a challenging task - it is not easy at all to roll with the seasons as the changes can be abrupt.

Makes you wonder if anyones home made methane digester has ever gone pop? The wikipedia article on dragons suggested that the Romans had encountered them - or gave rollicking good tales of encountering them?

Interesting about the Island of Capri - wasn't one of the Emperor's exiled there at one stage? How good would they have been to have a wander through?

Rhododendron's are as tough as old boots, so I wouldn't worry about them in the slightest. A very old specimen on the remains of a remote government plant nursery in an obscure part of the forest survived the Ash Wednesday bushfires in 1983 and you wouldn't be able to tell. I don't know about Lilac's though.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks for your thoughts, but as I replied to Lewis, I was a bit bummed about it so let the whole thing go as a topic on the blog. I was hoping to make some contacts with interested and enthusiastic people but so many people are seriously distracted and overwhelmed these days... The dominant narrative is just so strong and I'm rarely confronted by it. Incidentally, I haven't given up, I'm just trying to get a feel for what to do.

Sorry to hear about the loss of the Crystal palace and rhododendron garden. Makes you wonder whether the holiday makers would even understand the loss. It is strange the things that people value - it is a source of wry amusement to me.

Wow, you are very lucky indeed to live in such a special place. So many of the plants down here are interlopers. It is funny to me because the Silver Wattles which produce an awesome perfume are interlopers too, yet no one seems to notice. Holm Oaks are quite nice trees. Incidentally, speaking of oaks, there are a couple of excellent specimens of cork oaks down here and they have the most amazing bark.

It is raining here now and will continue to do so tomorrow and I just managed to get the tomato seedlings in the ground before the rain picked up. The whole house is still open wide though as it is quite warm and even the bees were all over their hive trying to keep cool this evening.

Cheers.

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Coco,

Thanks for the thoughts. Incidentally, speaking of houses, your place looks beautiful too and I love all of the rock walls and produce: My Galician Garden.

Excellent question - Galvanised screws were used. The smaller diameter pickets had normal Phillips head screws, but the much thicker diameter pickets used Hex head screws.

Yes, they are one plant that the wallabies, wombats and kangaroos also do not touch. Sheep are pretty clever in their own way, so whilst they may sample a rhododendron, most likely they won't eat the entire shrub and then they'll learn.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - As to medical care, and all, I think what really chuffs me is that so much of our government (the parts that all us little people use most) are being privatized, and no one seems to notice. What I've stumbled across, so far ... any online postal services, the on line filing of taxes, and now, medical appeals. I'm sure these bit of lopping off of the Fed are accomplished through tacking them onto obscure bills that nobody notices. In the meantime, your medical bill is winding it's way toward collections. If you pay the thing, it's like pulling teeth to get your money back. Maybe with endless letters and phone tree hell. The thing about these private companies, and appeals is, that just like health insurance companies, I really think it's a policy to reject any appeal out of hand ... just to see if your tenacious enough to try and get blood out of a turnip. :-). Enough grumbling.

Oh, it's not just my neighbor. Ever since the Plague struck in the early 80s (AIDS) and I did a bit of hospice work, I've been pretty pragmatic about end of life stuff. Now that I've got a bit of jingle, from my Dad's estate ... and, time has marched on, I can get all my ducks in a row.

Well, one thing about the nurses here ... generally they know more than the doctors :-). They being "in the trenches". If you phrase your questions carefully, and they don't think you're going to go running off to the doctor with whatever they tell you, they're a font of information.

Ah, yes. Dreams and delusions. There's a constant attempt here to end the estate taxes ... which have such a high threshold that 98% of the population will never have to deal with them. Either the mob doesn't know this fact, or, they have some vague notion that some day they will be that rich and have to deal with estate taxes. One of the personal finance people I read, occasionally is Dave Ramsey. He has some good ideas, and he's amusing. One of the things he said was "Playing the lottery is not a retirement plan." :-)

Yes, I saw the first two Mad Max films. A long time ago. Not anything I have a burning desire to revisit. I much prefer "The Postman", as far as post apocalyptic films, go. Less nihilistic and a more hopeful ending.

Sooo. Sounds like your Open House was more punters and day trippers? Anything free to amuse the kids on a slow sunday afternoon? Perhaps if you put in a petting zoo and charged admission? :-) I'm sorry it didn't yield any exchange of information conversations. Perhaps the ADR group forming up in Melbourne will provide more fertile ground.

I don't remember any emperor being exiled to Capri. Tiberius did a bit of a self exile. While his wife and a military leader were busy back in Rome creating all kinds of mischief and planning a coup. So, he had to wade back in and loop off quit a few heads. Pantera Island was the island of exile, for members of the Imperial family. Augustus sent his daughter there, when she became a political embarrassment.

Tackled my first spaghetti squash, yesterday. I'm not a big fan of squash, but it's something I should work into my diet. Full of good things and easy to grow. Well. The skin is tough as an old boot. I should have taken the cleaver to it, instead of a knife. Baked it up and scrapped it out with a fork as directed. Glad I didn't slather butter or olive oil on it (as suggested by Martha) as it was messy enough without the added oil. Can't say it was all that spaghetti, like. But, with a bit of butter, salt and pepper, it was quit nice. I threw some of the goat stew on top of it. A nice change from my usual brown rice. And, I have 5 packets in the freezer for future meals. Don't think I'll save the seed. Chef John mixes up his squash, pumpkins and zucchini. So, who knows what horrors would manifest? :-). Think I'll get some seed, next year. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I did wonder whether the fact that there was no exuberant telling of the Sunday event, meant that all had not gone as hoped. The rearing of children has become very strange.

As you have both bees and rhododendrons perhaps you would be well advised to research 'grayanotoxins'.

Have just watched another episode of the grand tours of Scottish Islands. One of the islands was Eriskay on which the book and subsequent film of 'Whiskey Galore' was based. I was appalled at the fact that the powers that be finally blew up the hull of the ship regardless of the whiskey still aboard. Anything rather than let the islanders have it all!

Ability to keep working at hard jobs with increasing age: As an 80 year old who gets a lot done, here is how I do it. I work and rest in small segments throughout the day. Do a physical job then sit down and read a chapter of a book or e-mail or comment to you or have a mug of coffee, do another job and so on. What I can't do is keep on physically working for a long stretch at a time.
I think that males like big jobs; women who have been housewives and reared children, are used to endless interruptions and chopping all jobs up, intermingling them with other jobs. So easy for me, I am used to it. The male has a harder time adapting to this way of life, but it works well as one ages.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

No worries, the plan was very sensible. The push to privatisation can exclude some people from government services. Sometimes I wonder about the push to get access to government services online - what happens to people who don't have, can't afford or are otherwise unable to access the Internet. How do they communicate with the government when they have to? I also noticed that some services (parking meters for example) are being redirected to specific smart phone applications so the council doesn't have to bother collecting the coins in a machine. What happens when you are like myself and don't own a smart phone? Dunno but I do know that the government is in the business of providing services to the population and they may have forgotten that.

Respect for doing the hospice work. That experience would certainly bring your own life into clear focus.

Well, you may be biased there. Hehe! However, being at the coalface does give you a level of empathy that the doctors have had bred out of them. I've often wondered whether the brutal intern process for doctors was established to emotionally alter the interns so that they can achieve a form of compartmentalisation -not all of them survive that process. It is sort of like early military training as there appears a lot of parallels between the two processes.

That quote is very amusing and also very true. My understanding is that most wealthy people get around the estate taxes by establishing charitable foundations and then employing their children in them? Dunno, but I've read that explanation here and there over the years.

Thanks for the film reference and I'll see whether I can track it down here. Sounds interesting - I thought you might have mentioned: The Road which is bleak indeed. Hey. we're the good guys! only they're not really...

Perhaps. I tend to use those sorts of events to take a sample of the mood of the population and my gut feel says that it is not good which was why I was a little bit bummed out about it. Time sorts all problems out.

Make sure you're not in the way when it comes time for the lopping of heads... I didn't know that about Augustus's daughter - you have an excellent grasp of Roman history. Have you ever been to Europe to check out some of the ruins? I've never been to Europe, but have seen some remarkable ruins in Asia.

Excellent work. I'm not quite sure what you are referring to when you write about squashes as they are a small yellow vegetable down here which is quite bitter to the taste? I reckon we call your squashes - the catch all description of pumpkins.

Nice to read that the goat stew is still going strong!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Squash = marrow. I am not particularly fond of spaghetti marrows but Son grows them and likes them. They bear little resemblance to spaghetti.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

You are an astute reader. A lot of people down here are in serious debt, very distracted and many of them also appear to me to be overwhelmed with the attempt to achieve societies expectations of them. To me it is sort of like watching people trying to fit into a single narrative and that effort is building a whole lot of stress in the population. I'm not often exposed to that narrative and so it can be a bit of a shock when I'm confronted by it. And yes, parenting is very strange these days. The attempt by parents to monitor and interact with their children 24/7, 365 days per year is sending the parents loopy - the parents are very difficult company, no doubt about it. However, the additional problem with being distracted is that the parents are unable to think clearly and see that there is more than one narrative possible and that the nice people in the advertisements are not operating with your best interests in mind.

I dunno, the whole mess is way too big for me, we just sort of live our lives and follow our own story, but the stress in the population who are trying to maintain that single narrative is almost as palpable to me as Toothy's obsession with all things bird.

I hope that you don't consider those previous concepts to be too full on for you. I sort of worry about it from time to time because it is like watching a car accident in slow motion and there is little that you can do about it. I'd appreciate yours (or Lewis's) thoughts on the matter?

Thanks for the heads up on grayanotoxins, I had no idea. Not good. Rhododendrons are hardy plants as anything that can thrive under the drip line of a eucalyptus tree (which is allopathic) is a pretty nasty customer. Mind you, I've never seen any bees on the rhododendron flowers at all - nor any other pollinating insect and believe me I've watched those flowers because I was hoping to produce some viable seed. They all do tend to avoid the plants (as does every other animal) - even the wallaby won't touch them.

As a suggestion, it may be that bees are consuming the nectar of those flowers because there may possibly be a dearth of other food for the bees. I mean if rhododendrons take over an entire hill side, then that does tend to indicate a lack of other plants with which those plants are competing. Dunno.

That sounds very exciting and also a bit expected. When ships went down here along the coast it was a bit of a free for all from what I've read. Thanks for the reference and I must check that out.

You have an outstanding process with which to pace your activities and you are correct in that guys have a difficulty with that. I'm not sure I mentioned this before, but I used to run mini-marathons for many years - I was actually the Captain of the running team in the more English than the English school (they even had cadets. Mind you I quite enjoyed running around the forest and roughing it!) that I went to after being rudely evicted from the new age hippy school I went to previously (it was a very dislocating experience!). Oh yeah, running, which I gave up after the first signs of knee troubles (I knew too many older runners with dodgy knees to be told a second time ;-)!) What were we saying, oh that's right, all that running taught me to pace myself over the long distance, so exactly like you wrote, I take breaks, do work, take breaks etc... Guys believe that they are infallible and forget to pace themselves and take breaks and that is when they do serious damage. I find it strange that the retirement age for my generation has been lifted to the age of 70 as I often try and imagine how hard to would be for a late 60's person having to work alongside a much younger brick layer and being forced to lay the same amount of bricks every day. Dunno.

As usual both yourself and Lewis are raising some serious questions.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Ah! Thanks for that, we don't have marrows for sale down here either but they're probably called something else?

Hehe! Too funny, I make my own pasta here and certainly it doesn't seem very plant like as it is just flour and egg. Homemade pasta is so much tastier than the purchased stuff - the taste and texture is not even close.

PS: This is almost real time chat! ;-)!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I have tended to avoid debt, child upbringing et al because you don't want politics and it would be difficult not to veer there, especially when looking at the push towards debt.

I think that you include marrows under the term 'courgette'. The distinction (I think) is that marrows keep and courgettes don't.

Spaghetti marrows are called that because they are stringy inside.

Our retirement age is also being slowly raised to 70 for both sexes. I think that it is shocking that someone who sits at a desk can adjudicate on the age at which a manual worker retires.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, just like technology, the question of access is getting pretty complex. And, it's getting harder and harder to "opt out." "The Digital Divide." Between those who have total access to all the whiz-bang and those who have none. And, points in between :-). My contract on my computer is up in 15 months and I'm really considering doing away with home access. There's always the library if I absolutely, have to do something on the computer.

The whole smart phone thing is beyond me. The apps, etc. I can barely navigate my little $20 flip phone :-). And, I don't text. Among the technorati, e-mail seems to be coming extinct, to be replaced by texting. Probably over the next ten years, dvds will become extinct. Even my most excellent library has more and more on offer electronically. Even best sellers ... well, the last Stephen King book ... they only had nine copies on order. There was a book I wanted to read, and they only had the electronic version. So, I interlibrary loaned it, and then they ordered a couple of hard copies.

I think it all relates to what you were talking about. Not following the narrative pressure. "To march to the beat of a different drummer." (Thoreau?). It's a tough row to hoe. And, can be lonely. You've got to be a tough cookie :-).

Oh, the rich can always figure out a way around the taxes. Besides foundations, there's also the Trusts. In fact, we have a term here "Trustafarians." Or, "Trust fund babies." You find a lot of them in the ecological movement ... the sustainable communities movement ... pick a movement and they are there. :-)

The film "The Postman" is from a novel by Brin. It's pretty old, and I bet there are paperback copies kicking around the used bookstores you go to.

Augusts' daughter Julia was his only natural child. She was pretty much used as a pawn in the marriage game and came unglued as she grew older. Augustus was all for "family values." She tore around Rome at night with a pretty fast crowd, took numerous lovers, and finally became such an embarrassment, that she had to be "put away." A lot of her supposed lovers either went to the block or were exiled (Ovid.)

I think marrow = zucchini. It's interesting to look at the images on Google for marrow, squash, gourds, etc. Then there's cucumbers. :-). Just about any of those viney things that freely cross pollinate. I remember in the pumpkin book that there was quit a discussion as to if what the colonials thought of as a pumpkin, was really like what we think of as a pumpkin, today. Or was it more squash like? Drives the taxonomists, wild :-).

Off to the Little Smoke. Lew

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Enjoying your blog and your contributions to ADR.

I have been fortunate that my dogs don't bother my poultry and I let the chickens free range quite a bit. Our two most recent dogs were interested in chasing and catching but after a few lessons they learned that was not approved behavior and just ignore them now.

Lewis - if you have a microwave nuke your spaghetti squash for a minute or two before cutting. I'm not a huge fan of microwaves but have found this very useful.

Margaret

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

That's a tough question because the conversation veers far and wide here. I'm interested in all of those subjects, however it depends how they're discussed, for example: If someone here was talking about politics and economics and discussing the comment by the recent ex-treasurer Joe Hockey (I have a mental image of him as a British Bulldog perpetually scowling) and he commented that he was trying to roll back some of the tax free treatment of peoples retirement funds here but was blocked from doing so, I'd probably react unfavourably because we would be discussing a "gunna do this or that situation". However, instead if we were discussing things as they are and you were to say: Gee, there are some very unfair tax breaks for retirement funds down there - then that would be a different situation. I'm more interested in how things are as they are, rather than people projecting their fantasies over the top of reality. What do you reckon?

Courgette = zucchini down here and my lot from last summer lasted well into late winter in the kitchen, so I'm still confused.

Stringy marrows sounds a bit unpleasant, apologies to everyone who enjoys them!

There are so many frankly arbitrary goal posts in ours society that sometimes it shocks me and that is just another. People are starting to getting a bit angry about that one down here - it is a slow smouldering anger because it is in the future - but it is there.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Fair enough, I hear you. Every technology has costs as well as benefits and it is when the costs clearly exceed the benefits that people start reconsidering their engagement with it. Honestly, I reckon the whole iPhone thing is subject to diminishing returns whether people acknowledge that or not - after a while it will be hard to keep pimping new models. I'd miss our daily back and forth chat though!

I can't even begin to imagine how electronic books are not stolen and copied - it is not like it would be hard. The whole concept is unappealing to me because books are always enjoyed better in the physical sphere. :-)!

True and of course, I get that you understand. It is a tough row to hoe though as you say, most of the time I'm oblivious to it, but sometimes it visits here and the discordant note is hard to ignore - my fault really.

Haha! Too funny, the trustifarians have to watch out that their parents aren't printing their little digital bank instructions into total oblivion - at this point, that's what I see happening - all to extend the party a little bit longer. They may just be surprised when it happens too and then I wonder what skills they'll be able to offer the world?

Yes, the Roman world, religion and culture is dominated by a benevolent partiarch - it is a dull story really and what happens when that narrative doesn't work - they really don't know! I feel for her, although she is now long dead.

It is doing my head in too! I have no idea what either yourself or Inge is actually talking about as it is not a word that we use down here.

Hey, by the way, you inspired me to try my hand at a different type of preserving and I picked up a locally made second hand food dehydrator to try and use some of that electricity over high summer. Dried cherries = total yummo!

Hope the trip into the little smoke was good. I went into the big smoke today to visit the Vic Market and came back to a solid wall of cloud and drizzle!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Thank you and welcome to the discussion!

You are very lucky indeed and an assertive canine trainer. Out of interest, what sort of breed are the dogs? I've found that the smaller dogs are harder to train when they are in a pack (like here) - when they're on their own they're awesome, but that is hard socially on the dogs too. Mind you, you're now probably going to tell me that they are miniature fox terriers or a chihuahua... Ooops! ;-)! Hehe!

Microwaves can be handy, but they use soooo much electricity (defrosting is an expensive use for them) - more than the arc welder for example! It is weird.

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Leo, who we got from a shelter two years ago, is mostly pit bull. Salve was abandoned on our road in very bad shape last winter. We're not sure what she is but may have some pit bull as well. Someone badly cropped her ears to make her look like a pit bull but she weighs about 65 lbs. Interesting about small dogs. Ours have all been fairly large. Just a couple months ago a neighbors very elderly beagle made fast work of four of our meat chickens while my neighbor and I were visiting just out of sight.

Agree about the microwave but after years of having dependent (mentally handicapped brothers and elderly mother in law) family members living with us we found it was the safest way for them to reheat meals we prepared for them if we weren't home. Like heating our house to 70 degrees F it was just one of the concessions we had to make.

Btw as an introduction I live in Northern Illinois about 75 miles west of Chicago and the last stop on the train line. It's considered an exurb of Chicago but we live out in the country and raise chickens, turkeys, pigs, vegetables and fruit and my spousal unit is a bee keeper.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Margaret - Thanks for the tip on the spaghetti squash! It's either that, or the chopping block :-).

Yo, Chris - Somewhere along the course of my life, I dried some cherries. Can't remember the circumstances, but I remember they were quit tart. Gave a nice zing to granola. Really labor intensive. You can get a little hand held cheap wire gizmo to pit them ... or, there's a fancy hand run machine, similar to an apple peeler / corer. I have used neither, so I don't know how good they are.

On microwaves. When I moved in here, a fancy whiz-bang microwave / convection oven / grill, came with the place. And, the instruction book was still in a kitchen drawer! But, I never use it for defrosting. I looked at the instructions, and they were so byzantine, that I never attempted it. I pretty much just use it for tea, oatmeal and rice. Heating up canned chili.

Which brings up a topic, which I think we've maybe discussed before. The inability of people to plan more than 30 seconds in the future. Which probably relates to all the distractions and goals, already discussed. Me, if I want to defrost something, it's on the counter for awhile, then in the fridge to complete the process. I most notice this out in public. Standing in lines ... the grocery store or the bank. I'm amazed by the amount of personal disorganization in the world.

Well, the trip to the Little Smoke was fine, except I darn near got nailed in traffic. One of those stand on the brakes and everything on the seat goes flying into the dash board, moments. At least I know my ticker is in good shape :-). My first thought was, "I'm going home and never going out again!" :-). Glad I have good brakes, good tires and no one was following me to close behind. Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

I loved your comment about how to manage encroaching old age and entirely subscribe to it; in fact, there is no other way to get anything done around this place without using that method, so many interruptions, as you mentioned. We mothers were well trained. And the little, frequent breaks certainly help preserve and build back up one's energy levels.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I don't have a smart phone either. In the same vein of having to do government business online, I am very wary of using toll roads - in fact, I don't. I have heard a lot of horror stories about people getting in trouble for not having the correct "pass" card or a debit card (I don't use one) to get through and being issued a very large fine. I always use cash and it can actually be so much faster than people fumbling with their cards. And occasionally the internet connection to a store's computers will go down and they can only take cash, so I am prepared!

My father worked at a demanding (though deskjob) until he was 75. He was loathe to retire before that as the income was much needed for the future (his side of the family generally lives well into their 90's). He was also afraid to lose his employer-provided health insurance. Luckily, he was very experienced and they were glad to keep him on. My father-in-law, at age 83, still does consulting work from home (he ran the family construction company his entire life).

In my area, a lot of parents put their house in a trust for their children. I haven't checked into it yet. Perhaps it makes the inheritance process smoother and avoids some taxes, now and in the future?

I had no idea that microwaves used that much electricity. At least they are not usually in use for very long at a time. I will have to try our kilowatts measuring device on it.

Pam

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

Lots going on here, thinking as well as action. Some things will be changing over the new few weeks and months. Not big changes, but I think I need to rethink some of the ways I'm spending my time and effort to better match what seems likely for the same time period. I'll be discussing it further on my blog as I have time and learn more.

Love the flower pix! We had a light frost last Sunday morning, only where there is lots of open sky for heat to radiate to. Of course that's where my vegetable garden is. However, the loss was minimal, just sweet potato foliage, and it was about done anyway. I've got most of the bed harvested. It's about time to put most of the garden to bed for the winter and tabulate results to report on my blog. Glad to see what you are doing as always!

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Leo and Salve sound like they are doggie paradise! It was a nice act to rescue Salve. That particular breed of canine can be very loyal to their owners, but in general you are confirming my gut feeling that larger dogs have more restraint than the smaller breeds. Beagles are very intelligent dogs though - long ago I used to work at the airport down here and it was amazing to watch the customs people training their beagles. Just out of interest, and no need to reply if it was a bit of an issue, did the neighbours replace your birds?

Oh yeah, that is a good idea and in that instance using a microwave is the lesser of many other evils in the kitchen. They can be extraordinarily dangerous places (as I'm sure Lewis will agree from his commercial kitchen days?). Most of the slips that I have had with knives have occurred in the kitchen here and cutting lots of lemons up is a sure way to have an accident...

That is an excellent collection of potential produce. What sort of pigs do you raise? And do you breed the turkeys?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for the tip. I'd completely forgotten about removing the pips... I did that a long time ago for an old school preservation technique (might have mentioned it before) cherries in a brandy croc. I had to chuck the whole lot out into the wormfarm because it was so sweet it was giving my headaches (what a waste). Maybe, I might try larger stone fruit and who knows what else? It is in the mail slowly working its way down here.

PS: I'm using a smaller laptop keyboard tonight so if there is any weird text or spelling, that's what is going on...

Those machines sound like a lot of hard work - but it is almost cherry season down here, so you never know? I'm always in two minds about netting the cherry trees - or any of the trees as it causes a lot of hassles for the birds. It was the rats climbing the fruit trees that were the most systematic of all - and little bit more daring each day...

That all sounds fair enough, it is just that I recall when they were first introduced and I was very young that people used to defrost frozen legs of lamb and other such things and it took forever. And sometimes the outside used to cook, whilst the inside was still frozen and the smell of that is not good...

Speaking of cooking rice, have you ever used a rice cooker? Those things are awesome. They have a spring loaded switch in them and can somehow get the rice perfect every time. It is weird just how good they are.

Yeah, that is so true and I wonder about that too. It is like pre cooking meals so that if you know you're going to be busy, you've got something to go. Or lists at the market - I don't impulse buy because I've got a list and just tick things off as I go. Incidentally, you must have read my mind, because I'm considering writing about that topic on the next blog... The moons have aligned! Do you keep lists for when you head into the little smoke? It is hard to get a lot of things done if you are disorganised! ;-)!

Oh my, how are you now? Hope the Ranger is OK too? You never really know when your lucky numbers come up. Was the other vehicle (or animal) in front of you or to the side? Good to read that your reaction time is up to scratch too.

I rode a motorcycle for about a decade and eventually gave up that because of one too many heart stoppers like that. Life is a bit too short to throw in that risk too.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

They're all valid options aren't they. That is interesting about the toll roads and yeah they fine down here too for that sort of use. Incidentally, you may be interested to know that down here, the toll road operators issue an electronic tag for your vehicle which beeps when you go under a toll point on the toll road. But where it catches people out is like the problem with our public transport system in that you need a smart card (called a MYKI) to use it but I wouldn't know where to buy one now and the railway station is no longer manned. There are conductors on the train but they check to see whether you have beeped on at the platform using the smart card. And all of those systems you have to keep your account in credit (so they always have your money up front). Beats me what tourists and infrequent users do though? And the toll roads have number plate readers so they know you used it...

A top effort for both of them. I've read that a few times about health insurance over in the US as employers don't normally provide that down here and have wondered what that means. There is private health insurance here, but there is also the community wide system which everyone pays a portion of their income into. Still, I have zero expectations of retirement and my gut feeling says that the funds for that will be "disappeared" long before I get to that age.

I can't really comment about that issue because down here putting a house into a trust is a bad thing for all sorts of reasons. Plus there is no inheritance / estate tax. Such taxes get gamed around from what I've read, so I'm unsure how effective they are. Mind you, people are way interested in inheritances (I have zero chance of such a windfall).

Please do and I'll be very interested to read what the outcome was.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

I noticed that you had a new blog entry up and I've added you to the blog roll list on the right hand side of this blog. Your blog is always an enjoyable read and you display a clear vision of your place as it stands as well as expressing where you want to go.

Excellent and I look forward to reading about what you've learned and what you are going to do with what you've learned. The yields from your garden are very good.

Thank you - there are even more of them now as the Bearded Irises have decided to start putting on a show now.

Well, frost is an inevitability and you can look forward to some well earned rest. You can enjoy the spring and summer weather down here vicariously as your fall and winter sets in. I hope that it is a gentle winter up your way?

Cheers.

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Our neighbors were so upset about the chickens and offered to pay for them. We said they can just do a favor sometime. I had really good luck with this batch of Cornish Cross (aka Frankenbirds) and didn't lose any to health or weather issues. While these particular neighbors wouldn't be our best friends they are good neighbors and we do help each other out quite a bit. I raise my meat birds in a chicken tractor that I haul around the yard twice a day. They have a door so they can go out and roam during the day. This year I put their feeders outside the enclosure so they had to actually move to get their food and I think that contributed to their health. I hate this breed but the spousal unit likes their size and they are cheaper to raise.

As far as pigs we usually raise Berkshire but always a Heritage breed. We don't breed any of our animals except I've done some breeding of Buckeye chickens - an American heritage dual purpose breed. As we're both in our mid-60's now we are cutting back a bit on some of our projects - at least the ones that entail a lot of physical work.

We tell Salve (spanish for "save") how lucky she is that Leo found her as she has had some challenges; chewing furniture, dog beds, having a leaky bladder necessitating daily medication for the rest of her life. She had a delightful, loving personality so she can get away with a lot and she is quite the hunter - keeping the chipmunk population down and even catching a weasel and mink. We've had two experience with those predators and they can get into anything and have wiped out half of our meat chicken flock on two occasions.

Margaret

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

As you say, the conversation here does indeed roam far and wide. I love it, but it can also become overwhelming. So easy to forget what one wants to pick up on.

Politics/economics are now totally entangled, no doubt the more so because of globalisation. I tend to be wary of putting my ever (perhaps transient) thoughts out on the internet.

Parents and children: I would guess that most people throughout history have tried to fit into society in what they are told is the correct way. I am sure that this has been very difficult for many. I bet that it was easier if one was within a church and had total conviction. There is probably less of this now in many societies and hence the struggle to conform. It is hard for me to understand as my background was never conventional and I felt no need to conform.

Zucchini is the Italian word for vegetable. Sorry to return to this subject. All the squash family seem to interbreed which confuses things. Marrows have very hard skins and what I regard as the traditional one and my favourite, is green with a few longitudinal white stripes. It will keep right through to the next spring.

Trusts: Sorry, without going back to look, I forget who mentioned them in the US. I wouldn't dream of touching them in the UK. People run into all sorts of potential trouble, compounded by the fact that the law can change. I am driven crazy trying to decide what to do myself. For example: I could give my son my home, if I moved out and received no further benefit from it. He doesn't want it. He lives in another property which I own but I can't give that one to him without having to pay a tax. This is a bit inadequately explained as there is a limit to how much I want to write.

The green movement: At the moment, roads here are clogged up with tractors pulling huge trucks full of forage. This is all being taken to a place where they are making biofuel. The farmers get subsidies for doing this. I regard the green movement as the source of a large number of scams. People are welcome to scream at me.

Now I have to consider what I am going to do about the fact that my dryer has just packed up and I have soaking linen hanging out in the mist. Why did it have to do this at the start of winter!

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Lemon juice in a cut. Ouch! I suppose it's antiseptic. :-). I hear peaches in brandy our quit nice. Don't know from personal experience :-).

I did stay somewhere once, with a rice cooker. And, it turned out perfect rice every time. Me, I just have rice in the microwave down to a science. I usually have long grain brown rice in the fridge, to throw into things, or throw things on top of. 1 1/2 cups of rice in a bowl ... drizzle a little olive oil on top, so it doesn't boil over. A scant (a little less than) 3 cups of water. Cover, zap for 15 minutes ... I usually let it sit in the microwave to absorb all the liquid. Oatmeal takes 12 minutes. Microwaves seem to vary in power, from model to model. So, when I've stayed other places, I've had to experiment a bit to adjust the time.

Oh, yes. I keep a list to go to town. The library has these hold slips ... I always have to remind the ladies to leave mine in, cause I use them for notes, lists and book marks. I keep a slip and a pen next to my wallet. All through the week I add things to it that I'm running low on. The major store on the front, the veg store on the back. Sometimes reminders of infrequent stops "Gas!" "Post Office!" There's also a regular snowstorm flurry of these slips around my computer. I make notes on things I see on the net that I want to explore in greater depth. Books, websites. When responding to your posts, I jot down little notes to remind me of things I want to comment on.

My almost wreck. Keep in mind that we drive on the "wrong side of the road." :-). I was on a major street in Centralia. Two lanes of traffic in either direction. A car shot out of a parking lot to my right, across a lane of traffic and across my lane, to make a left turn into traffic on my left. Since I had traffic on my right, I didn't really see him coming until he was right in front of me. Some one who was just impatient and entitled? A junkie late for his appointment with his dealer? Who knows. There was a lot of slamming of brakes, all around.

It felt pretty cold, this morning and the temp on the thermometer was 32F (O C). No frost in evidence. Any day, now. Maybe. Consulting last year's calendar, our first frost was the 11th of november.

And, the last thing on my list of "things to mention to Chris" (just quick one and two word notes to jog my memory) is that Patricia, the strongest hurricane every recorded in the western hemisphere will strike the west coast of Mexico, today. Sustained winds of 200 mph. Poor Mexico! I'm going to stop reading any articles about this years El Nino. And, there's a lot of them. . I've got the it. Bad things are going to happen in a lot of places. Maybe some good things. The price of tea and chocolate are going to go up, because drought is already affecting those growing areas. Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Tree-climbing rats sound like a Halloween horror movie. I don't believe they do that here.

Are you going to the Big Smoke Green Wizards meeting? What an interesting date for it!

Rice cookers are wonderful. They cook great brown rice, too.

@ Margaret: I grew up with lots of beagles. They are so naughty! Chickens, rabbits, cats - anything that moved was considered worth chasing. Really sweet doggies, though. My sister has adopted several pitbull mixes; they were all lovely, sweet dogs, also.

@ Claire: Here in Virginia we just got all of our sweet potatoes harvested before the first frost. My first thought was: Hot dog! No-one will go hungry here this winter! But we are eating them at an alarming rate, I suppose because it'd been so long since we had fresh ones.. I guess we'll get tired of them and slow down soon. Do you cure yours right after harvesting? We have always kept them at 80'F for five days to kind of toughen their skin before storing. I look forward to seeing the adjustments that you come up with.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Wow, Chris! I have been so busy concentrating on what you have to say, and comments, that I haven't paid attention to all the neat blogs that you have lined up on the right side. Wonderful!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I just plugged my 1200 watt microwave into our kilowatt measuring device (obviously it actually has a name, but I forgot to look before I put it back down in the basement). Just sitting at the ready, not being used, it uses 1.3 watts (no sweat), but I nuked 2 French fries for 30 seconds on "high" (top power level) and it used 1220 watts. I am shocked! Yes , I know, it's a 1200 watt appliance, still . .. The only plus is that I rarely use it for more than a couple of minutes at a time.

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

I'm a fan of contrition - it is a wise policy and we all make mistakes sometimes and other times things just go way wrong... It is even wiser to be on good terms with your neighbours. It is funny, but I rely on them from time to time and they rely on me and everyone ends up with a deeper appreciation of our strengths and weaknesses.

Frankenbirds is a somewhat unflattering name for the birds - hopefully they're not offended? Fair enough about the breed qualities, you know it's always a compromise and I've found some breeds are good layers and would possibly be excellent meat birds, but then they have a problem with scaly leg mite and you have to cut the feathers from their backsides as it gets clagged up from time to time. The chicken tractor is a great idea and is it on wheels so that it is easier to move? I have to keep the chickens here in the full shade as the sun would kill them over high summer (it's hot) and they free range in the evenings. But a chicken tractor would be very good!

Berkshire have an excellent reputation. I'll bet they make fun pets too (if you allowed that) as they have such inquisitive and intelligent natures. Fair enough, everything at its own pace is a good motto! I've never bred chickens but have some friends that do for the table and their collective is ever growing.

Well Salve is "lucky" to have that name! Salve and Toothy have much in common although he has come to terms with the fact that winters can be cold with shredded bedding woolen blankets (don't ask about the doona he once destroyed). Oh my! Yes, the dogs have to work for their dinners here too and they do make life easier from a predation point of view.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thank you, I enjoy the conversation too and you never really know where we'll end up from one day to the next!

Well, it is perhaps a wise strategy to have transient opinions in such matters. Still, some things stay the same too. Did I just write both: yes and no? ;-)!

That definitely makes you a fellow contrarion (I made that word up!). It is hard to know, but I reckon if the dominant narrative is driving a person loopy then if other options are able to be grasped and followed that make more sense then they're probably a good idea. Well, I believe that control and the message comes through the media so if you disconnect yourself a bit then you start to look around and come to the point of view that: what's going on seems a bit weird to me.

Oh no! I won't tell you that the green hard skin zucchini's had yellow stripes through them... Hehe! I'm serious too, they really did! The local seed savers group are forever going on about the complexities of the strains of cucurbits and perhaps I really didn't listen hard enough!

Yeah, fair enough and no need to explain your personal circumstances and I have no understanding of your laws but yeah, I understand that it is a complex topic. There are no inheritance taxes down here so arranging for such matters is something I have no experience with. My understanding is that inheritance taxes are usually established to combat wealth inequality, but unfortunately it appears to me that the wealthy end of town tends to have expensive work arounds for such things and the burden usually then falls on the middle to lower classes. What is your take on that?

No! No screaming here. Oh my. I get fodder for feed as the animals convert that feed into manure which hopefully works its way back into the soil. But biofuels means that soils are being converted into fuels which are burnt. It takes a lot of effort to build healthy soils and I tell you this - the difference between plants in healthy soils and poor soils with all other things being equal - is massive. Oh my, things are worse than I thought.

Clothes horses are good?

Cheers

Chris





Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

It is certainly an excellent way to find out that you have a cut on your hand. Actually, after about the 50th lemon, my hands were getting very slippery and I keep the knives ultra sharp - it was all a matter of time really... Have you ever had an accident in a commercial kitchen - because I often wonder about the speed that things are done at?

Yeah, the peaches in brandy is the same thing - it is a really old school preserving technique and I'm sure it is nice in small quantities, but maybe I added too much sugar because the stuff gave me some sort of weird headache (and it wasn't a hangover thanks very much). Dunno, but I'm not rushing back. Down here the old timers used to use rum too as there seemed to be a reasonable supply.

Fair enough, that really is about the same time for the rice cooker. Years ago I just used to put the rice in a pot and boil it for a bit and let it cool whilst still in the water - but it was a bit hit or miss. But then perhaps there was also a bit of slackness on my part in that mix and sometimes I over boiled it and the starches went everywhere and that was a nightmare to clean. Legumes do the same thing if over boiled. Your recipe sounds pretty yum!

The funny thing about oatmeal is that the people that sell me the large 40 pound sacks of oats finally got the courage up to ask me what I'm using all of the oats for... That was on about the fourth sack! They seemed a bit surprised and intrigued by the inclusion of the oats in the dog food...

Ah well, that all sounds very organised and I do the same thing here and things travel along smoothly. I am mildly baffled that people can achieve much at all without doing that, plus seriously I just don't want to have to remember all of this stuff when it can be written down and forgotten about. That is too funny about the blog notes as right in front of me is a note written for the ADR blog which has (1. Story is a mirror; and 2 Saw mention of consumer economy which sounds like a joke to me). Too funny! :-)! The blog here is a bit different because I use the photos in the camera to provide a structure for the story that I try and hash out every week - there is always a story in there somewhere (although some weeks are better than others).

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Yeah, I can't believe that anyone would want to drive on the wrong side of the road! Hehe! Nice one. Oh my, that is serious and you were very lucky indeed to have come out of that one unscathed. Who knows why people do what they do? - sometimes it just happens - people make mistakes. When I was very young I had a head on accident in a car that was my fault and I walked away from it and forever gave up my loutish behaviour in a vehicle and purchased the slowest, smallest car I could find which was a 1 litre 4 speed Suzuki Sierra four wheel drive. I loved that car because I could fix it and it was simple. If other cars wanted to go past, I just pulled over and let them go - it was not going anywhere fast! I reckon from hindsight it saved my life as before that I was an idiot. Ahh, youth!

Things are early here too. I went to a fire brigade and friends bonfire night this evening and spoke to some locals that I know (there were about 400 people, bands, food - it gets bigger every year). I'll see whether I can track down a photo... Here goes this is the hall Kerrie Hall. It is up the road a bit but really it is the middle of nowhere but very bucolic... Anyway, what were we saying, that's right talking to the locals down here they were saying that off the mountain range things are very dry here...

Patricia has been reported on down here too. Oh my, I do hope the Mexican's survive the onslaught. Well, with the shenningans in the foreign exchange markets and the drop in value of export commodity prices, the aussie dollar has dropped almost 30% over 12 months relative to other currencies such as the US dollar and many imported things are way more expensive than they used to be (coffee is one that I have noticed recently). Apparently we don't have much inflation though... Although, I'll tell you a weird thing - people down here have begun drinking these newfangled pod coffee things which at face value appear to me to be a repackaging of instant coffee which tastes nothing like espresso coffee to me and has so much plastic wastage.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

You are very lucky indeed and they are a horror movie because I reckon they are a bit smarter than me as they were always one step ahead. On a serious note, some of the rats lived underground whilst others lived in a hollow in a very large eucalyptus tree next to the chicken enclosure - they were amazing to watch climbing up and down this very large tree. The owls would sometimes wait for them to pick them off, but oh yeah they could climb trees.

Actually, a guy I've been conversing with for many years now who lives at the northern end of the state to the north of me has to put hessian bags over his fruit to stop the birds, fruit flies and rats from getting to it first... When in doubt, know that things can always get worse, because the little blighters started to learn how to rip holes in the hessian bags.

The rats here were systematic and climbed a bit higher every night.

Yes, and I'll let you know how it goes. If not many people turn up it'll still be fun. A few months back someone said that I could get a job as a rent a crowd, so at the very least I'll have fun! ;-)! Out of interest, why is the date interesting? I'm starting to feel a bit nervous now... ;-)!

Yeah, rice cookers are good. I'm not really big into lots of kitchen gadgets, but that one really earns its keep every time the output is perfect and it uses so little energy.

Thanks for the tip about curing the skin on sweet potatoes, I didn't know that. I'm assuming that these are the tubers with a sort of orangey flesh? Speaking of orangey flesh, the editor just showed me a internet thing on people turning red velvet cakes into "brain cakes" - they looked gruesome!

No worries and my pleasure - they're all good links and the blogger thingee updates them too. I only worked out how to do that a couple of days ago...

Strangely enough 1.22kW is not too bad for a microwave. My old 700W microwave uses over 2.2kW of electricity on the high setting. unfortunately I have to watch what everything uses here as the battery inverter will only supply a sustained continuous supply of 3kW. It'll provide a peak of 9kW but only for a few minutes. I think it is 5kW for half an hour. I've only overloaded it once when I think there was a whole lot of devices on all at once and it simply shut down. It was then that I relised that an electric fire rated roller shutter over the door (which was closed at the time) to the battery room was a really dumb idea...

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I agree about control from the media. I would add schools and (far worse) academia.

Inheritance tax used to just be for the wealthy, but the incredible rise in property prices has dragged in people who would never have been considered to be wealthy. But if I tried to give my son his residence now, I would be totally slammed by capital gains tax. Do you have that one?

I do have more than one clothes horse but the very high humidity makes it unwise to use them too much. I have always used them for things that would be spoiled by the dryer.

Oh, I also make lists, particularly when going shopping.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I think the Green Wizards meeting is October 31? Isn't that Samhain? I'm not a Druid, so I don't know for sure.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - No major accidents in kitchens I have worked in. A couple of collisions ... the odd nick, here and there. Burns small enough not even to create a memory. No missing digits. :-). I've heard that the gonzo, commercial chefs wear their burns, proudly. Status, or something.

Somewhere along the way, I picked up the trick of putting a bit of olive oil in the oatmeal to keep it from boiling over. I generally nuke it in a bowl (pyrex of course) with a plate on the top. What's odd is, that the one grocery store where I usually get my rice (out of the bulk bins) was out, so, I got a five pound bag of long grain rice that was on sale at another store. Must have been a slightly different variety ... it boiled over, every time. Was I glad to see that bag, gone! I discovered I could pull it off if I nuked in short bursts. Still, I'd rather just set it and walk away to do other things, in the meantime.

Wrecks. Once in my early 20s, when I was living in Seattle, I nailed a huge Seattle City Light truck, right between the wheels. I saw him at the last minute and kind of slid into him. My poor, almost new little bug, was repairable. It was his fault, as he had run a stop sign. Since then, I have been VERY careful at intersections, even when I have the right of way. 25 years ago, I was rear ended by a bus in Olympia. Not much damage. Pretty much an open and shut case, when you're rear ended. But ... three years later, one of the passengers on the bus sued for whip lash, or something. A nuisance suit. But, I was pulled into a deposition ... and, the bus driver had changed his tune. Said I had darted in front of him and slammed on my breaks (at a light).

My insurance company provided a very sharp young lawyer. The fist thing he did was walk me through the accident at the scene. To refresh my memory. At the deposition, the opposing lawyer drew an "X" on a legal pad and asked me to describe the accident. I flipped it over and drew a detailed sketch with cross walks, lights, lanes ... I wish you could have seen the expression on his face! I also had a passenger as witness ... but didn't have to call him in. It's why I don't begrudge my bi-yearly insurance payment. Though, the way the world is going, I doubt I'd get such support, today.

I have a horror of hitting a deer, out here in the boonies. It's why I so very seldom drive at night.

Kerrie Hall looks like our old Grange Halls. They used to be a strong, widespread, US organization in rural areas. There are several scattered about this county ... two within 5 miles of my place. But, both are defunct. Victims of the general "Bowling Alone" (a book) phenomenon.

Chef John has one of those coffee pod machines. He's quit proud of it. I don't drink much coffee, anymore. Bad for the bones. So, it's mostly tea, for me. But, I had a few cups (well, many ... the old addiction kicks in) and they are quit good. Of course, he buys the really high end ones. And, yes, the plastic waste is shocking.

LOL. I was a bit shocked at the venue for the Melbourne meet up. Pretty upscale for Green Wizards :-). I expected a privately owned neighborhood cafe ... not a flashy international chain. :-). Ought to be interesting, who turns up. Lew

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

We don't turn any animal we plan to eat into pets or name them but they are so intelligent and friendly it's a bit sad when they go off to the processor. By that time though they have done quite a job excavating in their pen it makes it easier to see them go. The dogs and pigs become great friends and spend hours chasing each other on either side of the fence. Sometimes we let the dogs in with the pigs before they get too big and it's not too muddy.

The chicken tractor has two wheels on the back. There's a lever that lifts it off the ground and pulling it isn't very difficult as you only pull it one length each time. At night the back goes down to keep our predators. It's quite sturdy, 8 x 10 and I, at age 63, 5 ft and 115 lbs do the most of the pulling. It looks much more difficult than it is.

Are you familiar with Cornish Cross meat chickens? They are the same breed used in the big commercial operations and in fact most chicken found in stores or restaurants are this cross. Ours grow to 5 lbs or more dressed in 8 to 9 weeks. They have terrible leg problems and don't like to move other than to get to the feed and are very susceptible to weather extremes. That's why I started moving their feeders outside the tractor so they had to move and I had virtually no leg problems with this batch. Their also issue is a metabolic syndrome called ascites. Their organs often don't grow fast enough to keep up with their bodies and I'll find their combs turning purple and they are gasping for breath. This doesn't happen until they're five weeks old or so so you end up feeding birds that you just have to put down. I limited their feed quite a bit this year as well and did not have a single case of ascites. They are, however, great converters of feed to meat which is why they are the chicken of choice for many people. Their some other breeds now that act like chickens, don't have the health issues and grow to a reasonable size. I'd like to move to them exclusively when I can convince the spousal unit :).

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Oh yeah, and schools have unfortunately forgotten to teach students how to think clearly as they concentrate on rote learning.

Yes, we do have capital gains tax down here. You're spot on about the rise in house prices being a windfall for the government. Land tax down here is based on property prices as is council rates (which is another form of land tax really) as is stamp duty on sale of houses. You may be lucky if there is a sudden sharp down trending in property prices? Also conservation covenants on the property title can also reduce some of those tax burdens.

Fair enough, I forget about your high humidity. Can you sometimes smell the salt in the air at your place?

Excellent to hear - it is hard to go wrong with a proper list!

I put more tomato seedlings into the ground today. Yum!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Nice one. I thought you were originally referring to Halloween or some such which isn't really celebrated down here. ;-)!

Samhuinn is on the 1st November which is the beginning of the traditional Celtic year (it means Summers end). However, remember that everything is upside down here so that day is actually Belteinne celebrating the triumph of spring and the renewal of the Earth.

I struggle recalling the Celtic names for things because it basically has no frame of reference for my experience - instead I recall the start of spring as being the day that the Blackwood Acacia trees show their flowers. Dunno.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Glad to read that there are no missing digits! Don't you reckon that it is a dubious badge of honour? I mean, I make mistakes and occasionally they lead to injury, but I'm not particularly proud of those. The quest for status leads people into strange territory.

Haha! Too funny, I say nuke too. :-)! Cooking is one of those things were the fiddly and complex procedures can be ditched for the serviceable. The lentils sometimes boil over too and it is a heck of a mess to clean up. Walking away from the wood oven is one of the hardest things because it is a very hard to heat to exercise any control over. Often during winter I respond to comments whilst using that oven, but the ten minute intervals to check the food come around very quickly. Wood ovens require a very delicate hand, but they can cook on low heat for a very long while which is great for bread with an ultra crusty crust! Yum.

What a legal nightmare that was handled well. Legal demolition jobs really get up my nose and after three years, that was clearly where they were heading. Down here we have compulsory accident insurance for personal injury which is paid as part of your annual registration costs and the state government has a department (the TAC which stands for Transport Accident Commission) that handles all of that stuff so it is kept out of the courts. It pretty much covers anyone injured in an accident involving a vehicle. Now to enter the land of silliness, a very strange rock band down here - which I have to confess a personal fondness for - performed a very popular song down here (the album went platinum) which made fun (as they did of everyone and everything - oh they were bad) about the TAC called: This Is Serious Mum - TISM - Greg! The Stop Sign. (Warning - Well, lets be honest, TISM lampooned everyone and yeah, they were all cheap shots).

How did we get to TISM? Anyway, lets move on from that silliness...

Thanks for the book reference, there have been numerous references to the Grange over the years and I recall that Joel Carris joined the local Grange, but no one ever explained what they were about? Part of the reason I went to the fire and friends thing last night was because it is worthwhile supporting local community events and it is nice catching up with what's going on in the area.

The editor once fed me an instant coffee and I remain unconvinced about the whole pod phenomena. But it has had quite the impact here and the waste and cost per cup...

Well, it will be interesting to see just who turns up. If there are more than a few I may take some photos for the blog, but otherwise this is all Marcu's project. I will report the outcome. Actually, I'm really looking forward to it as it is great to meet new people and who knows what might come of it all? The place was actually a really good choice because it has good quality Italian food at reasonable prices, but the dirt will be shared - expect no less!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

That is a wise strategy. I've heard of people giving the animals names that set expectations as to their eventual demise - but I'm not there yet...

Yes, dogs and pigs can become great friends - although I reckon the pigs are smarter than the dogs. From what I've seen of pigs they really do love digging so I hear you about the pens. A farm down this way (Taranaki Farm) uses that digging habit of the pigs to cultivate new ground and they move the pigs around in moveable electric fence arrangements - much like a chicken tractor. The pigs looked very happy with the arrangement.

The chicken tractor sounds like a very good design. Out of interest, how long do you leave the tractor in one place?

Unfortunately, you rarely see that breed down here. I have a flock of Araucarna's, Silkies, Isa Browns, Wyandottes, Australorp, and Plymouth Rock and they're all good birds for different reasons. That makes sense about the leg problems and the fast growth - that is life. The meat birds here would be either the Australorp or Wyandotte breeds as they are quite plump but both still produce lots of eggs.

On another note, the new chicken enclosure has seriously assisted with all manner of chicken ailments. The big difference has been the absolute lack of scaly leg mites and I've been wondering whether that has something to do with the chickens being in an all weather enclosure and having the ability to dust bathe every day? Dunno - but the difference is marked.

Well, I mean every advantage comes at some sort of a disadvantage and perhaps the real issue might be whether it is possible to get 90% of the outcomes with that bird species without the associated difficulties? Again, dunno as I stick to heritage breeds with the exception of the Isa Browns which are surprisingly plucky birds and always up to mischief (I may get some more of these variety in February). As a suggestion have you considered the Wyandottes (I have the Blue Laced variety) as they produce both eggs and meat - and they are a very big bird with a pleasant nature that haven't really shown any signs of the sort of genetic problems that you mentioned? It comes down to personal preference really. Out of interest, I pick up my chickens at the local agricultural shows, how do you purchase chickens?

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

I often start with some given to me by a neighbor who is a board member of The Livestock Conservancy http://www.livestockconservancy.org/, an organization that works to conserve livestock breeds that are endangered, threatened etc. He gave me my Buckeye chicks last year and I raised some of my own this year for meat and replacement hens. My first heritage breed was Black Java which a living history farm not too far from me has been trying to preserve. Besides hatching their own they also supply the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Some I've gotten from mail order hatcheries. A friend gave me some Barred Hollands, a very rare breed here in the states, in exchange for brooding all of those she had ordered. They do escape their enclosure with regularity but are very self sufficient and I haven't lost any to predators. They are too small for meat but lay good size white eggs and are still quite productive in their 3rd year. They are broody as well which I kind of like when raising some replacements and good mothers. In fact this year I thought I had finally lost one and all of a sudden she showed up with ten chicks.

So I guess my answer is I get them from different sources.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Anthony Bourdain talked quit a bit about the gonzo culture of the kitchen in his book "Kitchen Confidential." A lot of it seems to be (in some kitchens) drug and booze fueled. Well, I guess machismo is where you find it. :-)

Sigh. Your auto insurance system seems so much more .. civilized, than here. As with medicine. Of course, here, insurance is a very lucrative private business. Lawyers tend to specialize in one aspect of the law, or another. Estates, divorces ... liability claims. We have a 3 year statute of limitations on traffic liability. I was served with the papers, two weeks shy of 3 years. Apparently, a personal liability lawyer had gotten ahold of one of the passengers and convinced him he had a case, that would yield big bucks. Those lawyers advertise, all the time. Generally, their ads run something like ... "Are you aggrieved? Come in for a free consultation." The whole case stunk to high heaven. I was stopped at a light when I was plowed into. All the passengers on the bus, piled off. No one fell to their knees and no ambulances were called. I remember one part of the deposition where the passenger said that since the accident, his quality of life was impacted as he could no longer go bowling. :-). After I was cleared of wrong doing, I think the final upshot was that the bus company paid off the passenger in the amount of $5,000 ... to just go away. Of course, the lawyer got most of that :-).

Well, I was curious about Granges, too. I guess they were a fraternal organization. The same kind that the Arch Druid always mentions. A quick look at Wikipedia states that they are a "agricultural advocacy group" and a "center for rural life for many farming communities." One of the defunct Granges near here was recently sold. There's one down on the highway that still seems to have a bit of life in it. Well, they have bingo night, every thursday :-).

There's also 4-H, which is an agricultural youth organization run, in this country, by the Federal Department of Agriculture. It's still quit active in this county. When I went to a rural high school, there was an active FFA (Future Farmers of America) and FHA (Future Homemakers of America.)

No Halloween, Down Under! How do you keep the ghoulies and ghosties, at bay? :-). I got most of my Halloween tat, up. Still need to hang the kitchen witches in the arch to the kitchen. I fly them in formation :-).

Speaking of chooks ... poor old venerable Mrs. Barnvelder is going into molt. And, I wonder if she'll make it through. I'm pretty sure she's the boss chicken. Yes, Wyondottes are a good dual purpose hen. But, they lay such enormous eggs that I'm beginning to suspect that they "burn out" early. 3-4 years. Of course, I keep light on my birds, all winter. They don't get the rest some people recommend. On the other hand, they get yogurt and other goodies, every other day. And, of course, oyster shell on demand. Broody Hen, finally stopped being broody. All 10 hens come out of the coop, every morning. She's disappeared into the mob, and I'm not sure any more, which one is her. I think she got the clue when I started calling her "Thanksgiving." :-). Lew