Monday, 12 October 2015

Strange days indeed



What a strange couple of weeks it has been here at the farm.

Within the past two weeks, there were two nights where the overnight temperature was the freezing point for water. The night air was dark, crisp and clear and the stars put on a great show, and Poopy the Pomeranian especially enjoyed them because I took pity on him and allowed him to sleep inside the house snuggled up in front of the wood fire. Happy days for Poopy!

The cool nights soon gave way to an unprecedented heat wave. The winds blew in from the centre of this very hot and dry continent and with them came temperatures day after day that have not been seen before this early in recorded history (weather records go back to about 1870). It was certainly hot and sunny and during the day I opened the house and let the hot air in, whilst at night the cooler night air gently breezed through the house. The European honey bees were all over every single flower, and the unprecedented heat wave produced flowers in profusion.
An Apple Jonathon revels in the heat wave and puts on a great flower show
All of the plants here were jumping out of the ground to capture the early extreme summer temperatures and if you were to watch them closely, I’m sure you could see them growing.
The cottage garden below the house reached for the sky in the unprecedented heat wave
However, there really is no such thing as a free lunch. The farm is on the southern (and thus much cooler) side of the mountain range. Over on the northern (and much hotter) side of the mountain range it was a very different story this week.

That story commenced earlier in the prior week with a small government burn off in the Cobaw Ranges forest. Much of that mountain range is owned and controlled by the state government so it really is their responsibility to manage it. However, one thing lead to another and the very small burn off  of 80 hectares soon increased in size with the hot weather conditions to over 3,000 hectares (7,500 acres) and so far it has appeared to threaten one nearby township (Lancefield) and has actually destroyed three houses. Even today, the authorities are reporting that the fire is still burning (but mostly contained) and that fire is consuming a huge quantity of volunteer resources.
View of the recent fire from the very top of the Macedon Ranges looking towards the adjacent Cobaw Ranges
With all of these recent strange events in mind, I decided to take a week off the regular blogging and instead talk about trees. Way below this discussion about trees, I’ll continue with a regular update of the activities at the farm which you can jump too if you are so inclined!

What is a tree? That question is not as easy to answer as you’d think and the reason for that is because the word “tree” is actually an abstract concept. What am I talking about? Well, an abstract concept is a sort of dumbed down version of reality and we use such abstract concepts to allow us to communicate ideas with one another. If you asked a child (or me) to draw a tree it would probably look like this:
Drawing of a tree
Strangely enough, the drawing doesn’t look anything at all like a Eucalyptus species tree – in fact, I reckon my drawing looks more like an oak or maybe even an elm. But, what other information can we tell from the above drawing? There are no lower branches for a start. This indicates to me that herbivores such as deer may have eaten all of those lower branches and the tree was forced to grow upwards to get past that predation. Also you can see that the tree shows signs of buttressing (that is the fancy name for the bits that stick out near the ground) which means that it is an old tree and it needs that buttressing to avoid falling over in strong winds. The tree also has an expansive canopy and this indicates that it provides extensive shading to the ground below the tree.

The dominant tree species in the forests here are Eucalyptus species. They share some of the attributes of that abstract tree, but certainly not all of them. And many attributes they do have can’t even be deduced from the abstract drawing of the tree. For example, the leaves in Eucalyptus species are low in certain minerals but very high in volatile oils.

As an owner of a forested property Down Under, I would like to manage the forest that I own in a way that is in the best interests of the trees, soil and wildlife. However the laws are such that outside of a small zone of several metres around my house and I am unable to legally perform any management functions within the surrounding forest.

In contrast, the state government manages its forests by performing burn offs within its state owned land. By and large this is a good thing, however sometimes the results of those actions can be seen where the fires can occasionally escape and get much bigger than was ever was originally intended. No one seriously wants to burn huge tracts of land, but the reality is that it is an expensive, complex, difficult and arduous task. Years ago, I spoke with one of the local state politicians who reported to me that residents used to complain regularly about government burn offs and some of the more memorable complaints were: “I have my washing out on the line” or “It’s my sons 21st birthday party and can you please do the burn on another day?”.

This has lead to a situation whereby 'doing nothing' is a preferable option for the authorities. This 'doing nothing' option is also forced upon private land owners. Not managing the forests is certainly the less confrontational way to approach the issue. However, in this corner of the continent, we have suffered from wild fires on an alarmingly regular basis over our history here. A wild fire is like a bushfire on steroids and it is almost impossible to stop. It is not a good outcome for anyone or anything and those wild fires have occurred as far back as 1851, when over a quarter of the entire state burned over only a few days.

Once the Europeans settled this state in 1834 over 90% of the Aboriginal population died very rapidly due to exposure to European diseases. The further introduction of sheep and the displacement of the surviving Aboriginal population from their lands forever changed the ecology of this corner of the continent.

I know what the land looks like today because from this vantage point there is almost unbroken forest right to the horizon. And yet, I’ve noticed that the various wombats, wallabies and kangaroos all turn up here to the farm to eat at night, rather than eating in the forest. I’ve wondered about this situation for a long time and it appears to me that the forest provides plenty of sheltered and protected places to sleep, but not much in the way of food. The farm is the exact opposite situation as it provides plenty to eat, but not much in the way of shelter (plus it has Poopy and friends).

The word forest is also an abstract concept. For most people it means a place of many trees (which is an abstract concept in itself). But what does that even mean and how do we even know what a forest is meant to look like? When I was at the top of the mountain range the other day taking the photo of the adjacent range I noticed that one side of the track to the peak was more exposed to the sun and prevailing winds and as such it was a hard environment and it looked like this:
Snow gums, rushes and grasses dominate the northern and more sunny and wind exposed side of the mountain range
And yet only a few short paces away on the southern and more protected (from wind and sun) side of the mountain ridge it looked like this:
Wattles and a broad leaf understory with ferns and soft grasses dominate the southern and more protected side of the mountain range
 So given the differences between those two forests which are only several metres (feet) apart the questions have to be asked: How do we even know what is meant by the term forest and should all forests be managed in the same way?

The laws here certainly suggest that a forest is basically an unmanaged collection of trees where nothing ever happens and no management techniques outside of the sort of mass burn offs that the government undertakes can ever be tried. And yet, decade after decade we have these pesky wild fires. The last one in February of 2009 killed 173 people, mostly on a single night. It also managed to burn 450,000 hectares (1,100,000 acres) and destroyed over 3,500 structures. Few people even seem to consider the serious impact those fires have on the wildlife and soil life. And yet some how we expect those wild fires not to reoccur. It is strange.

I’d also like to suggest an unpalatable truth and please feel free to ignore me if you disagree. The environmental movement appears to me to have failed to secure significant wins since about the early 1980’s because despite a few notable exceptions, they fail to walk the talk. People are alert to hypocrisy and a good example of this is that the Greens political party down here has consistently derided planned burns of forests. The party also has a strong stand on global warming / climate change. So given that every single tree is precious how is it they can not understand that wildfires such as what happened in 2009 harm and kill huge numbers and diversity of wildlife and release as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as a major volcanic eruption – certainly you can see a big wildfire from space!

And yet, the farm this week went through a period of an unprecedented heat wave for this time of the year. Global warming has clearly already happened. 

Records actually remain which indicate what the forests and this area looked like at the time of European settlement.

Some are written accounts such as that of Major Mitchell the Surveyor General who trekked overland and surveyed much of the country down here and in 1839 wrote of this mountain range: “Southeast to Mt Macedon, crossing from granite to basalt. The forest was denser, but again north slopes were more open than south, and both were more open than now. South of the mount found both thick forest and downs of park like scenery”. On the north face of the mountain range it was said that the forest was open enough to ride a horse through. 

Looking at the photo of the northern forests above you can see that it would be very unlikely for a person on a horse to be able to ride through that dense thicket of trees which has arisen after the wild fires of January 1983.

Paintings and depictions from around that time also indicate what the forests looked like and to me they look nothing like the unbroken expanse of forest that you can see today. A painting from 1820 shows how Aborigines used fire to hunt kangaroos.
Joseph Lycett 1820 Aborigines using fire to hunt kangaroos - Taken from Bill Gammage's book The Greatest Estate on Earth
Some of the things that I immediately notice in the above painting is that the wind is blowing the fire away from the edge of the forest (where it was presumably lit) and into a grassland where it can be easily extinguished. The other thing that jumps out is that the grasslands actually border the forests and it is worth noting that the forests here will take over any grasslands if given the opportunity to do so. That fact in itself suggests that the grasslands were managed by the Aborigines over a very long period of time. It is quite awesome to contemplate. That is quite a different take on the forests than what I’m allowed to manage or what our society expects, which is some sort of wilderness that never actually existed.

The unfortunate thing is that all I know is that if we repeat our societies current management of the forests then sooner or later, the history books and my own experience show me that we will have another wildfire and I reckon the world will be a lesser place without Fatso the wombat, Stumpy the wallaby and Big daddy roo. It is a bit sad really and it would be nice to at least be able to try something different.

Back to the farm activities
Not only was there an unprecedented heat wave, but that climate weirdness was quickly followed by four days of successive monsoon storms. They were impressive to behold and brought strong winds, heavy rain and hail stones:
Heavy monsoonal rains fell onto the farm and this one was silhouetted in the red smoke affected skies

Large hail fell onto the raised garden beds with the monsoonal storms

At some points during the storms I had to grab the editors pink umbrella and head out into the deluge to clean out any organic muck that had washed into the inlet filters on the water tanks. It was a dirty and very wet job and I was grateful for the pink umbrella!
Cleaning out the water tank inlet filters during a heavy storm
I added a water tap to the treated pine post that was cemented into the new garden bed last week and the hose is also now hung up off the ground.
A garden tap was installed this week onto the recently cemented in treated pine post and the garden hose now sits off the ground
And then I was able to complete the rock wall and back fill the brand new garden beds with a few cubic metres (cubic yards) of organic material.
The rock wall has now been completed and a new garden bed is in place
Oh yeah, I found a good use for all of the excess lemons and over about half an hour I squeezed at least 100 lemons and used some of the juice to prepare another batch of lemon wine and froze the rest for later use.

The author proudly holding the juice from at least 100 lemons
The temperature outside here at about 10.15pm is 6.4’C degrees Celsius (43.5’F). So far this year there has been 611.0mm (24.0 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 600.4mm (23.6 inches).

51 comments:

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - You expect a bit of up and down, at the season's change, but the weather in your part of the world is just over the top. I suppose you may have seen articles about the flooding and rain in North and South Carolina. The weather media outlets are referring to it as a "Thousand year storm." Here, we had rounds of flooding over a ten year period that were referred to as "500 year floods" or 1,000 year floods." As if they aren't going to happen again, in the near future. Also have seen a few articles, recently, that the whole globe is heating up ... except a large patch in the North Atlantic. Which is cooler than average, and getting colder. The thermocline is impacted and the Gulf Stream is slowing down.

Soooo. If you had a free hand to manage your forest patch, what would you do? Forest management, here, is also a hot topic. No pun intended. There's always a lot of debate during fire season ... and then it tends to be put on the back burner, when the fire season is over. Another bad, unintentional pun. Like your Native People, our Native People also did a lot of land management using fire. You just read about it in odd bits and pieces, here and there.

I also wonder if the British-ization of Australia has anything to do with current attitudes toward land management? The whole idea of importing many plants and animals to make Australia look as much like Britain, as possible. Hughes touched on it, as did Bryson. And, the whole attitude of some people, even third and fourth generation Australians, that England was "home." Even into the 1950s.

Have a possum in my live trap, this morning. Not all that big, but with an enormous tail. The tail that was the give away that it was about. Haven't got ahold of my landlord yet, to dispatch the thing. So, it sits in the cage, in the shade, contemplating it's mortality. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

The subject of what one may or may not do with woodland is always enough to send me apoplectic. Clearly things are as insane where you are as they are here. The most ridiculous thing is that I am not allowed to do anything but developers, who buy up woodland around here, simply flatten the lot even if they are told that there are protection orders on the trees!

I have not previously told you that I love it when you put up photos of the wild life around you. So while I am thinking about it, thanks for them.

A fellow comes around at intervals to count squirrels. He is very pleased at the increasing numbers but fails to realise that they are there because they have had to move in from the developers massacre of their habitat.

No sharks here by the way. I believe that there are no dangerous sharks around the British Isles. Would the water be too cold for them? The only potential problem with the swim was shipping. We had to get details of their movements, far fewer of them in those days.

I learnt to swim when I was 7 or 8. There was a swimming pool where my mother worked and as we all lived in I had unlimited access. Looking back, I am appalled. I was in the pool with only my sister (2 years younger) around. I remember asking her to fetch our mother because I could swim. Even I who let my children run free, would not have had them unattended by a pool when they couldn't swim. You have strictly fenced pools in Australia, but not so here and children drown every now and then. I was once told that a child of 3 or younger, does not lift there head if they land face down in even shallow water. Don't know if that is true or not.

Sea sickness: I have always suffered from motion sickness even to the extent of not being able to go on a child's swing when young.

@Pam
Swimming is fine by me but your climb made me flinch. I don't like heights. Walked a coastal footpath when I was about 60. Did the bad stretches on my bottom. Waited for people to skip past while I pressed against the cliff (narrow path, long drop to the sea on the other side) once no-one was in sight I continued my embarrassing progress!

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks for the story. Rock climbing is something else isn't it and you do get past the point of no return!

Haha! Too funny, the frogs really do make that sound though. Do you get many frogs up in your part of the world?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

The leaf peepers are clearly missing out on the lost opportunity for visiting your part of the world. ;-)! The colours are good and you'd have so many maples up your way. Are maples the dominant tree species in your part of the world. I recall somewhere reading that dogwoods are a dominant species in one part of the US, but I forget exactly where.

That old typewriter sounds like a keeper. Do you recall what its eventual fate was? I don't actually recall what happened to the one I used down here either. As an interesting side story to the whole typewriter issue, back in those days computers were rare and printers were even more rare. My mates and I used to use that typewriter for some the nefarious purpose of producing fake birth certificates so that we could get entry into pubs when we were still under age. It is a bit shameful to admit that, but there you go! It had a very business like type font. :-)!

Yes, the old liquid paper correction fluid smelled very strongly of thinners - it was essentially a white acrylic paint - which in another surprising side story I believe was developed down here by the mother of one of the Bee Gees. The Saturday night fever soundtrack has been burned into my mind - like a disco inferno! ;-)! Oh, sorry, I apologise because once again, we've slipped into the land of silliness. Let's get back to seriousness.

Well, it may surprise you but I have a couple of very old hard back dictionaries here and they are very useful - and not just in games of Scrabble! Don't you find it slightly interesting that there was this blurred line between a dictionary and an encyclopedia? I'll bet it gave the editors and fact checkers a real nightmare. Exactly, slow and methodical was the only way to commit words to paper in those days.

Hehe! Yes, of course you are totally correct in your assertion that chance seedlings can be a bit chancy - still it is a gamble and say with the apples we used to have access to over 7,000 varieties most of which have now been lost. My gut feeling is if you take the apple seed (some of them are sprouting here) from say a Pink Lady apple that has been grown in an orchard of predominantly that variety, the outcome will be a Pink Lady seedling apple tree. Seedling apple trees have the potential to be vigorous well beyond the tolerance levels for most people - seedling apple trees can grow quite large.

The same thing happens here too and I noticed recently that some of the neighbours drains and culverts had silted up with the recent very heavy rains.

What a thoroughly enjoyable trip + a trip to the Bates motel to boot! I've long since discarded fears of that sort of place, although your story conjures up a great mental image. One of my two suppliers of honey is like that place and I reckon a decade ago, I would have run from that place as it is in a remote spot in the forest, nowadays I go yeah, whatever - it is good honey. Nice to hear that you picked up some quality tat. Good stuff.

Yummo, Mexican is excellent and I've had a long fascination with the cuisine after reading Len Deighton's excellent English spy series (it was like 9 books all up and each of them had snappy and related titles). The main character once had to visit Mexico (part of the Game, Set, Match trilogy) with his very annoying boss and there were endless descriptions of the food to be found there.

Isn't it a bit early for Halloween?

Good luck with the trap - although to be totally honest, I know the outcome!

Cheers

Chris





Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for understanding just how the climate here can swing from the depths of winter to the extremes of summer and everything in between all within the space of a few days. It does my head in sometimes! Thanks for the heads up as I hadn't seen any of those articles and will check them out. My thinking is that lightening actually does strike in the same place - because that is where lightening strikes. Blind Freddy knows that!

Well, for an unfortunate start I don't have a free hand... In responding to this, I took my inspiration from much reading about various alternative agricultural techniques, but also largely from history as it has so much to teach us about such matters. The photo of the painting from 1820 is pretty much what I'd aim to achieve with a patchwork of very dense forest (look at the tree canopy) of very diverse species and adjacent grass lands with no fencing whatsoever. It is that simple - but it offends many of our deeply held beliefs.

We were very fortunate to have many oral and pictorial accounts of the landscape down here. I'm not sure why that would be the case, but the gold discoveries so soon after settlement perhaps provided unique employment opportunities for scientists, explorers and others such as the surveyors. Dunno. The interesting thing about it was that it took me a while to notice that the early painters captured the landscape reasonably accurately. I had to fight my own internal prejudices to see that the trees were depicted as they saw them and as they appear to me now - and I've been wondering about that ever since. It was quite eye opening really.

Bryson was correct in his assertion. Incidentally, have you seen A walk in the woods yet?

Such is a possums life. They last less than a day or two up here because the owls totally destroy them. Years ago a sugar glider used to live in the chickens enclosure here and it sort of like a small flying possum, but they are herbivores down here for some strange reason so it never bothered me. On the other hand the rats... I hope the possums story wasn't too brutal.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Yes, the whole concept of forest management here is mildly insane. Developers have very deep pockets and can simply weather the fines and act with impunity. Mind you, I have noticed one very wealth land holder around here who selectively thinned the forest leaving all of the older and very healthy looking trees and simply just paid the fine. That property has gone from strength to strength and I have been watching it closely with considerable interest. I would manage the forest here very differently if I had a free hand, but the land holder is providing a useful template and experiment. There are more unknowns than knowns with that subject.

Thank you for mentioning that. There is so much wild life here because there is consistently enough for them to eat and drink the other day I spotted a very rare pair of birds here: Black Cockatoos with yellow tails.

Well, I feel for your squirrel counter guy because people really struggle thinking in terms of the whole system. It can be daunting - but I hear you as displacement can be a major factor in the environment. After the Black Saturday bushfires I had numerous new and interesting birds here that I'd never seen before - it is just all of the small species that are really hammered by those fires. The sad thing was that I would have had native marsupial cats (Spotted Quolls) here except for the 1983 wild fires and instead the foxes move into their niche and people don't seem to care about that loss.

Shipping is far worse than sharks. Oh my, I'd never even considered that problem. You live on quite the holiday island!

Yes, pool fences down here are strictly fenced, but then we are also unfortunately litagous - you may notice that I thickly add in the words "appeared to" and "believe to" etc. into some of the more controversial topics - it is no accident. I didn't know that about young children not being able to lift their heads out of the water. Not good.

Sorry to hear about your motion sickness. Have you ever tried ginger or one of those copper bands that I've seen on people who are affected by motion sickness? I'll bet long haul car travel around windy roads would not be good for you either? I once volunteered to be a navigator in a rally car through a race in the mountainous areas of this state and even I was a bit challenged between reading the road signs and the paper map - but then there weren't many opportunities to stop and have a drink of water either. After two days of that I felt as if I had a monster hangover and never volunteered again in that capacity.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi BP Merewether,

Thanks very much for the lovely comment, however I'd appreciate it if you re-posted the comment without the commercial links. I'm happy to post commercial links occasionally which may be of benefit for the regular commenters, but you have to at least post a few comments first.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

If you take the smoke out of the picture looking towards the Cobaw Ranges, the scene is so, so beautiful.

Thank you for the tree lesson - thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening. So, you are saying that a person is not allowed to manage the forest on their own, I mean as in holding a deed to the place, land? In my county you can have your property taxes lowered if you agree to manage the (wild) trees/forest on your property, within designated requirements, and if your property is at least 7 acres (ours is 5). A lot of land owners used to sign up for it and never do anything and the county was very lax about checking up, but now they need every penny and send someone out to check and the property owner has to pay back taxes if they haven't fulfilled their end of the bargain. Some of my neighbors have been caught that way with their, er, trees down.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

The pink umbrella photo is the one that should be on the cover of "Earth Garden Magazine". It would sell millions of copies!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

My parents started me with swimming lessons at age 4 or 5, and then diving lessons (off the high board yet) not too long after that. It might have partly been because my grandparents had a lakehouse where we spent a lot of time and where we ran loose (they sent us out with a dachshund who was good at pointing out poisonous snakes; lots of those in Texas). I started my oldest son with "swimming" lessons when he was 6 months old (yeah, that was probably too early, just thinking of germs here), my youngest son (I have 2) at 1 year old. They never had a chance to be afraid of the water.

I had never thought of having to watch out for boats on your swim either. Terrifying thought.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Oops, I got sidetracked. I meant to go on about forests.

I can't tell if here in my part of the state of Virginia the forests on public land are managed somewhat differently than in your area. They do the occasional controlled burn on the Federal lands up in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but not too often as maybe there are more homes than where you are built right up to the boundaries of these lands? Over on the western side of the Blue Ridge is the vast Shenandoah Valley, where the Native Americans once regularly burned off areas to keep it open for wildlife grazing and certain plant life. The wolves and mountain lions that were here are gone (I have to say "yay" having known too many people out in Colorado who have had nasty experiences with mt. lions), but elk have been re-introduced and coyotes (the epitome of a varmint) have made it here all the way from
the western U.S. and are all over the place.

My, I love your phrase: "the wilderness that never existed". True of so many "pristine" places. All one has to do is look carefully.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I like your garden tap attached to the post, with the hose all neatly hung. We have installed a tap in the middle of the garden, but it's way down low and the hose runs all over the ground, yeeks!

I forgot to mention that the monsoon rain photo is a stunner and that the hail photo is astonishing. Mother Nature seems to have a grudge against you all lately.

Digging up sweet potatoes (very good crop this year), still pickling peppers, planting daffodils on the graves of the 2 old doggies that died in the late spring. As for amphibians: we always have a lot of toads and frogs, but this year was phenomenal. We had thousands upon thousands of tiny ones hop up from our neighbor's pond last spring and there are still many about. One could not walk without stepping on them. Except for that part, it was great. When my husband mowed the tiny patch of grass in the front, I had to herd frogs out of the way ahead of him.

Native dogwoods ARE the dominant small tree where I live. They are the most gorgeous things in the spring; the woods are all white with their large blossoms. There is a wonderful domesticated pink one,too. There is another, non-native, tree that we have on our property that one doesn't see too often in my area - the paulonia (pawlonia), or princess tree. Before I knew what it was I called it the elephant ear tree, as its leaves look like you-know-what and can be used for umbrellas they are so big. It has scented, orchid-like flowers. They are grown in plantations further south for their wood.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - No, it's our evergreens that are the dominant species of tree. But, the maples are a close second. You don't notice them, so much, mixed in, until the colors change. We have dogwoods, but they seem to be an "in town" kind of tree. I can't remember ever seeing them out growing on their own, in the wild. They can get quit large. And, they put on a pretty show in the spring with their flowers, and fall with colorful leaves.

I don't know what ever happened to that old typewriter. I suppose I left it behind when I left home and it must have gotten pitched when my folks started downsizing through a couple of moves. I seem to remember trying to alter a birthdate with a bit of white out. But, I know it didn't work. I was never ever able to enter a bar before I tuned 21 ... and, not for lack of trying. :-) Probably the guilt written all over my face. I was an ID checker / bouncer in a bar for about a year. In a dodgy part of Seattle. The owner taught me something very interesting. She had me memorize the zodiac dates. People with phony ID, or borrowed ID ... they might memorize everything on the card, but wouldn't know the zodiac sign attached to the date. And, EVERYONE knows they're sign. Especially in the 1970s. :-).

A couple of our agricultural colleges have huge collections of apple varieties. There's one in upstate New York. They also make occasional expeditions to Georgia, which seems to be the epicenter of where apples developed to collect samples.

Oh, here it's kind of a running joke that the holiday tat gets put out earlier and earlier, every year. Halloween tat (and the candy!) has been on display for at least a month. I've even seen some Christmas stuff, here and there. No pumpkin ice cream, yet :-(. I wonder if there will be any, this year, due to the Great Pumpkin Famine of 2015 :-). Although, I doubt there's any pumpkin in the ice cream. I haven't screwed up my courage enough to examine the contents.

They do some "controlled burns", here, but not enough of them. There was one fire, here, this summer, that was quit large. It was in very rough terrain, and for some reason, it moved slowly and didn't "crown." So they closely monitored it, but didn't do too much fire fighting. So, they now have a huge area of forest that is ... in a state as if they had done a planned slow burn.

Haven't seen the Bryson movie, yet. I'm waiting for it to show up on the racks of my grocery store. Probably, just after the first of the year. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

You mentioned trees that are buttressed. Does that only occur in Australia? I realise that Australia is the only country in which I have seen this; the trees don't do that here.

You name it, I've tried it. I gave up on cures for motion sickness long ago and you are so right about twisting mountain roads, ugh. Forgot to reply to your query as to whether the swim helped to cure my poor state of health. Not really; it had been worked on, with the help of friends to whom I am eternally grateful, for the previous 4 months. I was about as well as I was going to get until an operation 2 years further on. The whole story is not really suitable for your family friendly blog.

By the way I enjoyed the pink umbrella, very striking.

Inge

orchidwallis said...

Hello again.

We have dogwood growing here but it doesn't make a tree. It tends to be in the hedges along with hawthorn and blackthorn.

Typewriters: I knew someone who had an ancient typewriter. It had 2 complete sets of keys i.e the capitals were separate!

As it appears that you get British television programmes, you might like something that I watched this evening 'Grand tours of the Scottish Islands'. It covered Foula, Fair Isle and Loch Lomond; there will be another episode next week. It was on BBC2. The scenery was fabulous but it was the lives of the people, past and present, that I found most interesting.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks, the photo was from the very highest point of the mountain range which is the remains of an old volcanic cone which sticks out like a sore thumb from the surrounding plateau! Incidentally it is called: The Camels Hump for that very reason and can be seen from a very long way away. The valley in between the two ranges is quite a fertile spot too so it is dotted with lots of farms and also the mysterious hanging rock (centre left of the photo) which is of the same rock type as the camels hump. The view from that high up spot is getting slowly grown out which is a bit of a shame.

Exactly, the management option here is do nothing or face penalties. It is a surreal option given the consistency that wildfires sweep through the area. The core problem is that every single patch of land is different down here and our legal system is really quite specific and has great troubles dealing with the interpretations of generalities. Plus I suspect that it is cheaper for the authorities to do nothing because it pushes the costs from the government and individuals onto the insurance companies. The whole mess is really just a moment in time.

Your system sounds fascinating and I would certainly apply for tax breaks too, but would always ensure that the work got done. Incidentally, those sorts of revenue raising opportunities are going on here too. Our local authorities are facing huge unfunded liabilities - Many of them around the country lost money in the GFC as they were holding rate payers surplus funds in the form of complex financial products which appeared to be things like bundled US housing mortgages.

Too funny but unfortunately it will never happen, I'll tell you what though, I was seriously grateful for that umbrella too. I don't worry about such things as I'm comfortable in my own skin - I reckon a lot of guys get on the defensive because they worry too much about appearances. It's like the bright yellow trailer really, I've had so much positive feedback although most guys then say that they're not sure that they could drive around with that and I just say mysteriously: "Yeah, it's cool" and nod sagely. It's all a bit sad really.

Well dachshunds are responsible creatures!

Thanks for the explanation of your part of the world and you are exactly correct. The continent here used to have about one third of its land mass covered by rainforest and it is not as if the plant species disappeared - some might of, but there are plenty around still. The forest looks as it does now because that is how we allow it to look.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Hehe! Your description of the garden hose matches the before shot - unfortunately the hose used to get lost as the grass and herbage grew around it and was in serious danger of being mowed... For the hose holder I've seen that people often use old car steel wheel rims and painted they are often perfect for that job.

Thanks for the mental image of you herding frogs along in front of the mower and great to read that you are harvesting good quantities of produce. ;-)!

Cool and it would be great to see the dogwoods in bloom - they grow them down here as ornamental trees and they look very beautiful.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for the description of your trees. Do you find it amazing that you have such a mild climate given how north your part of the world is? It is nice having the mix of ever green and deciduous trees and they really do provide a splash of colour over the winter. I've never visited an area where all the plants were deciduous - even the remote and really isolated alpine pockets in Tasmania that have a bizzare collection of ancient plants that look like nothing else you've seen and may take a century or so to grow only a couple of inches - even those areas don't go completely deciduous.

The old typewriter really does pose a bit of a mystery, but then it is impossible to hang onto everything and you never really know when something will be useful again in the future. I've spent quite a bit of time cogitating on what is actually important and useful here and it isn't as much stuff as you'd think. Too funny about the zodiac sign - that would have definitely tripped me up too - your boss was very clever. Interesting too in that the legal age here is 18. The funny thing is was that if I had half a brain - which I didn't at that age - I would have just made my own...My face was too young and innocent looking to get away with it much anyway. Probably a good thing. Did you enjoy working on the door? It would have been quite social - did you end up getting to know the regulars?

Oh yeah, that happens here too. Once New Years day is done, they start stocking the shelves with easter chocolate. How early is too early?

Be afraid, be very afraid - but then it might be full of pumpkin? I've never seen pumpkin ice cream for sale down here - but the pumpkins here have a very low sugar content and they're more of a savoury than a sweet dish. When you first mentioned pumpkin pie, I thought that was a savoury dish and it never occurred to me at all that it could also be a dessert... Have you made that yourself and did it turn out tasty?

That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it depends on circumstances: Like will heavy rains wash away the layer of ash? Ash is no good in rivers for example. How quickly does the grass spring back again after the fires as the root systems help reduce erosion. Did the trees die or will they sport epicormic growths? How did the animals and birds cope with the loss of habitat - it is hard to tell what the result will be but it will certainly be interesting to watch. My gut feeling is that come about mid autumn - as long as the rains aren't too heavy, you should start to see some very rich dark green growth in the under story.

I look forward to your review of the movie. It is on at the small run cinemas here still.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I didn't know that about the buttressing up your way and it just sort of happens down here although why I don't know - most tree species down here do that as long as they get enough age onto the trunk of the tree. Mind you if I lived in the conditions here for 300 or 400 years I'd probably require buttressing too!

Fair enough and I shall ask no more, motion sickness is a tough thing and I recall reading somewhere that it is linked to your inner ear.

Thanks, yeah it's a good umbrella and I liked that photo too. You can't take yourself too seriously! :-)! The hailstones that day were as big as I'd ever seen up here (not sure whether I mentioned that). Have you noticed how rubbish those things are these days - the slightest wind and they're a mess of cheap steel and plastic. Hey, do you get hail storms or thunderstorms where you are?

Your hedges are a really great idea and I have long been thinking about hedges. It is interesting that the dogwoods form part of that diversity rather than stand alone trees. Have you ever noticed whether some plant species take over the hedges or is it just one massive competition that someone has to occasionally prune and shape?

Wow, I've never seen one of those. Fascinating stuff and I reckon it would have had a large keyboard.

Thanks for the recommendation and I'll see whether I can watch it on YouTube. I really don't know much at all about that part of the world, but what I have seen is magnificent and it looks like a challenging place to eke out an existence.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

The various plants/shrubs in the hedges tend to exist happily together. There are young oak trees as well and they will grow into full trees if not cut.

The 2 keyboards in that old typewriter were one behind the other, the back one being at a higher level. Makes me wonder whether this was older than touch typing.

Yes, umbrellas are really poorly made, I don't even attempt to use one if it is very windy. We do get thunderstorms and hail.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I think our mile climate is due to the Japanese Current. It works the same way that the Gulf Stream / North Atlantic Drift, keeps Britain warm. A clockwise current that comes up from the warm south, runs along the Gulf of Alaska, and then heads south, down our coast.

Well, working the door at the nightclub was an interesting education for a young man. I also slung hash at the little cafe next door, on the early morning shift. Hmmm. I'm treading delicately, here, this being a family friendly blog, and all. I think I'll just take the discreet route and say there were many interesting denizens of Pioneer Square in those days, and I got to know a lot of their stories.

Well, pumpkin pies on their own are savory. But, traditionally, you pile them up with vanilla ice cream or whipping cream. Oh, the pumpkin pie filling didn't give me any problems ... it was the crust. But, I'm getting better at crusts, in general. It's really the "pumpkin pie spices" that give them their flavor. (Grabs tin of pumpkin pie spice) - Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice. That's what you throw into anything you want to be considered "Pumpkin", even if pumpkin is not part of the contents. :-).

Yeah, you just don't know what's going to happen with a bit of land that's been burned over. It bounces back, fairly quickly, given our climate. Sometimes they send in replanting crews. Sometimes they spray seed from the air for soil holding ground covers. Sometimes they do nothing. There are some trees that don't release their seed unless they are burnt.

Well. Yesterday took an ... interesting turn. Just after I finished posting here, my landlord/friends wife called. He was having chest pain and she had called 911 (our emergency services) and asked me to come up. I got there at the same time as the emergency crew. They got him stabilized and packed off to the hospital. But, we didn't know if it was going to be the local, or big hospital in Olympia.

So, I packed the wife into my little truck and we set out in hot pursuit. A stop for gas, checked the local hospital, and headed for Olympia. I do not like driving on the freeways, and haven't done much in years (other than the Idaho trip). Took a rock to the windshield. Got lost twice, trying to find the hospital (the signage is abysmal), but finally got there. My landlord was coherent and alert through the whole thing. They think it was a heart attach, and, at least one (and maybe more) of his 4 bypasses are blocked.

I got home in the early evening, lay down for a "little" nap and slept right through for 10 hours. Time will tell how this all works out. My other neighbor, the evil stepson, is now on the scene, so, my trips to Olympia are at an end, I hope. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge, Lewis and Pam,

It slipped my mind when I was writing the blog this week - but seriously, the forests here are changeable and they could look like whatever we wanted them to look like. For example, the entire mountain range could be planted out to apple, pears, cherries and citrus trees with interplantings of oaks and nitrogen fixing acacias (just for one crazy example). The animals that live here certainly wouldn't be complaining about that! The orchard here will eventually form its own mini forest (if it isn't burnt out before hand) anyway and the trees self replicate. It is only humans that tend to look at an ecosystem and think that it is some sort of fixed and unchanageable viewpoint.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

That is fascinating and I've seen the layering that goes on in a hedge and it is a real skill to interpret what it will look like in the future and make the changes to it today. I'm considering using a hedgerow as a fence of sorts but that is a project for the future.

I was thinking that too about the typewriter. Touch typing was complex using the old mechanical typewriters and certainly you'd have to subconsciously learn which keys to press and how long it took for the arm to strike the ink roll. It did make a lovely clack, clack, clack sound but I reckon fast typing is like playing a musical instrument in that the more you think about it, the harder it becomes.

Interesting. The thunderstorms always form where there is the meeting of cold and warm air currents so no wonder you see them in your part of the world. It is meant to reach 34'C (93.2'F) today and the wind is blowing not strongly, but it's definitely gusty. It is a bit early in the season!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

That is interesting because you really do have a mild climate relative to your latitude on the globe. I read somewhere that the gulf stream is slowing, is that happening to your ocean currents? Unfortunately, I have this unpleasant mental association with Dexter and the gulf stream which I haven't been able to shake... Ooooo! The latest and final instalment of the series "Dexter is Dead" was just released in July (apologies, I had to take a brief internet detour).

Well, there is much to be said about learning about the human condition from the darker corners of society - it strips away a little bit of the pretense that is in place. Thanks for keeping it family friendly whilst still sharing some of your story! ;-)! My own dysfunctional upbringing taught me that things can go wrong, so I have far less pretensions on that side of things. A lot of people are bliss-fully unaware that things can go wrong and I find that to be surprising.

Haha! Tins of pumpkin pie spice. Very amusing, but I suspect that you weren't kidding. I buy spices from the spice guy down in the city market and it's like a whole nother world and he just bags up whatever you can afford from various containers - it is very well organised. When I was in India, the spice stalls used to have massive hessian sacks of the spices displayed and the smells - wow, it was good.

The same thing happens here and I guess it depends on how hot the fire was - if it was too hot, the seed stores in the ground as well as the trees themselves die. You are always better to have a cooler fire because long term it does less damage overall to the eco-system. They dropped the seeds last time out of an aircraft which seems a bit of overkill.

Not good, and I hope that everything has gotten stabilised. Heart attacks can come without warning - as an unusual side note, I know nothing about them but have been reading up on them recently - just out of interest. The doctor in question in the book was pushing the vegan diet, but I'm unsure whether I can make such a leap due to a consideration of the cost versus benefit... Dunno.

I've always assumed that your raod systems would have awesome signage?

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I think that a vegan diet can be really healthy, but I know, since one of my sons has been vegan for a few years, that it can be very tricky to balance everything. No more dairy, no more eggs (though the doggies, etc may have them), no more honey (that may be stretching it a bit). Each of us has to do what is best for him/her self. No judgements allowed!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lewis:

It was so good of you to go through so much for your neighbor! I am so sorry about his heart trouble. Do you think that he may need some lifestyle changes? I'll bet you could give him some good tips!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Well, what do you know? They have just posted: "Fall wildfire season has begun - October 15 - November 30". Pretty short, eh? Such things are blessedly rare here. How's your fire going? From the map it looks a lot better.

Pam

BoysMom said...

I have no idea if our local semi-solution would work or be politically feasible. We're in the Western US, the dry, mountainous part.
We call our trees cedar, they are a type of juniper, and grow oh, kind of in the shape of a flame. They are also very high in volatile oils and they burn very fast.
No one likes the smoke, of course, and people are afraid of controlled burns anyway because they do get out of control sometimes. So what the Fish and Game does around town is clear cut in patches, to mimic what they think the natural fire cycle would have done. It's not as good, of course, because there are things that only grow if they've been burnt, but it seems to help. Of course, the last bad fire started on a roadside by private property and blew through towards town, instead of out where the cutting had been done (30 mph wind to help it along).

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris and all,

Too busy to comment recently, but I have been reading and enjoying your posts.

I've read quite a bit about the land here in Missouri. When Europeans came it was a mix of grasslands, called prairies here, and areas with percentages of tree cover. Very few areas were densely forested, most of those were near rivers. Otherwise the forested areas were what we call woodlands (about 25 to 90% canopy coverage) or savannas (10 to 25% canopy coverage). Early Europeans noted they could ride horses easily through most of the forest. The implication is that the indigenous people were managing considerable areas by fire. State agencies have used fire as a management tool since about the 1980s, studying its effects. The current idea is to not burn a whole tract at once but to burn only a portion so that the critters who can move have someplace to go and reservoirs of critters who can't move, such as pupating insects, can re-populate burned areas. A pretty sensible policy. Missouri has very good conservation management, the only thing we can be proud of at the state level. Folks can consult with the Dept. of Conservation to get help with land management, plus there are courses where they can learn how to, for instance, conduct a controlled burn, as well as info on making their houses fire-safe. I don't know how many people take advantage of it, but it's out there. I haven't heard of any large destructive fires here - maybe a connection?

Fall color is becoming decent and we might see the first frost in favored areas this weekend. Maybe the end for my beans and sweet potatoes.

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - Well, the whole life style change / diet ... I've pretty much given up on offering anyone advice. It's a thankless task :-). Besides the heart problems, my neighbor has diabetes. The kind he could have avoided if he'd stuck with a healthy diet. Eventually, he may loose a leg or two. His wife is a retired nurse, and she can't do anything with him, either. My friends in Idaho, another good friend who is morbidly obese ... Chef John looks like a stroke or heart attach waiting to happen. Sigh. The saying "digging his (or her) grave with their mouth," often crosses my mind, but I keep it to myself. Now, I'm no angel, when it comes to food. I should probably drop about 10-20 pounds, myself.

But, as with a lot of other behaviors, until the person comes to some sort of personal epiphany, there's not much to be done. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Your probably going to get pretty busy with prep for the open house. Wish I could come. Beam me up, Scottie!

With all the talk about newspapers over in the Lakeland Republic ... our local newspaper is surviving (just) by pretty much shifting it's focus to local events. They only have one page of international news, per issue. And, they only publish 3 days a week. Living in a conservative area, it usually raises my blood pressure over one thing or another :-). Two interesting things about the last issue. The editorial (!) was all about how we're going to go to Mars. How it's all possible within current technology. Well, yes, but who's going to pay for it? The other article was about controlled burns. Apparently, the Federal government would like to do more burns in Washington State ... but the State environmental agency is very slow to give permission. We do fewer burns than any other State in the Pacific Northwest. A lot of it is the Not In My Backyard kind of attitude, you mentioned. And, they'd rather see the thinning done, by hand, through logging or brush clearing. And, run straight into the anti-any-logging lobby. And, where is the money/manpower going to come from to do this thinning?

You mentioned over at ADR that aspiring to a Victorian farmhouse was architectural faux pas. Could you explain why?

Here, there are all kinds of exclamations to take the place of more colorful language :-). They seem to pass in and out of use and I think a lot of them are, perhaps, regional. "Holly Molly!" is one I don't hear much, anymore. But, it's always a small delight when I hear one that I haven't heard in awhile, or have never heard, before.

On hedgerows ... I once lived in a place where I needed to put in a fence, about 175' long. The run was well on it's way to becoming a hedgerow, and it was quit arduous to clean it out. Lots of plume volunteers and I don't know what else. Deep inside, I found runs of barbwire and old chicken wire. Apparently, put in a fence, birds land on it, nature takes it's course and given a bit of time ... voila! hedgerow. :-)

I recently picked up a little book called "The Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookbook" (Pedersen). Not only did it have traditional recipes, but also a section on mixing your own blends to create a: Scandinavian, Jamaican, Spicy and Mexican blend. Haven't tried any yet. Sticking with the "tried and true." :-).

Road signage here is pretty good ... but when it fails, it fails abysmally. We've had many talks about GPS. I wonder if less money will be put into signage in the future as "everyone" has GPS. For some reason, the Olympia metro area is a nightmare when it comes to getting around and navigation. There have been times in the past when I have looked at a map and thought, "Oh, I can't get there from here." :-). I didn't feel too bad, though. About 10 years ago, a friend of mine had a heart attach, and the Emergency Crew couldn't find the hospital, either! Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam, Claire, BoysMom and Lewis,

Hope you are all well. Thanks for the lovely comments - it is a real delight to receive the comment notification emails and then ponder all of the interesting topics that we cover here. However, I've run out of time tonight to reply to your comments and promise to reply tomorrow evening.

Had another short, sharp tropical downpour this afternoon and I was caught out in it this time without an umbrella scrambling to get all of the tools under cover. Toothy the dachshund's evil plans for fried chicken were finally foiled today!

Pam - no stress, there's no judgement here - I only have respect for people that can travel that hard path and it's not for everyone.

Lewis - Thanks for the head up on that saying: It's a good blog title, really. Hope your neighbour is on the mend - or at least stabilised. Did they have to give him a stent?

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Very cold here and the leaves have started to fall. I am interested in the fact that the trees lose there leaves in sequence. At the moment it is just ash leaves. I became conscious of this when I first noticed that I walk on only one type of leaf when walking out to the road. Why on earth would this be? What benefit can it confer? I'll keep you informed as to the sequence.

Electricity went off for 40 mins. the other evening. I phone to check that I am not the only one who is without. Then I can relax and let other sufferers make a fuss.

Yesterday evening was very noisy a helicopter was sweeping the channel low down for a long time. Don't know whether they were looking for something or practising.

Hmm, I agree with all about not er castigating but can't resist suggesting that we haven't really evolved for a vegan diet (er a vegetarian one either). The real problem arises when people do it on a whim and don't research their dietary requirements properly. Sufficient absorbable iron for both plus vit. B12 for vegans.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - No news on the neighbor front. Ran into the Evil Stepson. He said Don was "doing ok." No news there. I called up to Don's house, up til 8pm, last night. No answer. I wonder if his wife is staying up in Olympia. Listening to the chatter between the wife and the Emergency Crew, he's already had at least one stint ... and 3 or 4 bypasses. When they got him to Olympia, they were going to run him right into the Cath Lab. But, the doctor decided not to as "there is more going on." Cryptic.

There were two interesting articles in the newspaper, last night, about wild fires. One was about how once camp would like to do more controlled burns in Washington State. And the forces arrayed against them. There's the "only thin" camp. The tree hugging camp that wants to do absolutely nothing. There's the NIMBY bunch, who you touched on. "It will ruin my laundry on the line". "It will spoil my daughter's outdoor wedding." "It will blow smoke into town." "It will run out of control." etc.. One good thing that came out of it is to train, certify and equip volunteer firefighters BEFORE the fire season. And, improve the weather doppler radar in Central Washington. Perhaps to have better warning of the condition that killed three firefighters, this year.

The other article was about taking the firefighting money away from the U.S. Forest Service and giving it to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). I couldn't quit follow the logic of that. I guess that bill has already passed the House and will be introduced into the Senate in the next week, or two. That may impact my friends daughter and son-in-law who, I believe, get a large chunk of their employment from those funds. I may be wrong. Mentioned it to my friends and will hear back. Lew

Steve Carrow said...

Yes, the Americas were being managed by the original inhabitants for a long time, and the general ecosystem resulting here in the midwest was an oak savanna. (I'm in SW Wisconsin)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oak_savanna

As usual, Europeans messed it all up, first by eradicating all the natives, then by cutting down trees and plowing ever where they could. Some small areas retain a savanna mix, and some are trying to restore them, but that means long term vision and responsibility. It is so much quicker to tear down and ruin than it is to create and build.

Savanna biomes have high diversity of species, and high resulting resilience. Part of the permaculture steps we are taking here are to mimic a savanna arrangement. Many of the trees I'm planting will be for the next generation.


Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

I'm sitting out in the orchard supervising the chickens who are busily trying to sneak in and scratch up the compost I spread around the rhododendrons. Chickens are like mulch magnets...

I greatly respect anyone who can keep up a vegan diet beyond the fad stage. It is a real achievement and beyond my abilities (I do like my eggs and dairy) ;-)! Exactly, we're all on a continuum in relation to the issue of food - there is no right or wrong and different times of life can produce different food desires and habits. Speaking of eggs two of the blue laced Wyandottes are having a bit of fisticuffs. The chicken social order is complex.

That is quite short - which is a good thing. I'm assuming that your fall is normally low in rainfall? Thanks for your thoughts as the fire is contained, but I understand that it is still burning in some areas - it is very steep and inaccessible forest. Even still, some logs can burn for months or the fire could get under ground into a trees root system and flare up again when the conditions are just right. We get peat fires to the SW of here on the mountain range that abuts the coastline (it is very damp there).

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi BoysMum,

Thanks for the excellent advice. Oh yeah, the cedar would burn hot like the pine plantations down here. It would be nice if they had a plan to burn different small patches of forest over a rotating period of 15 years or so, but I suspect no one wants to pay for that down here. You are very lucky to have such foresight in your authorities. Incidentally there have been some accusations in the media that it appears that the public holiday on the Friday followed by the football Grand Final on Saturday appeared to mean that the fire control lines weren't adequately resourced... You'd hope that such accusations are untrue?

Yes, great tracts of forest are on private land and the legal inability to manage them is a real problem. It is not good for the wombats, wallabies and kangaroos who generally can't outrun a large scale fire and even if they did - where are they going to go?

The winds are a real problem in such circumstances - I hope there were no fatalities?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Thanks for the lovely comment and I enjoy reading your blog too.

What a great explanation of the forest ecosystem in your part of the world. The same thing is true here too of the open woodlands and early European accounts with those sorts of canopy coverage. The densest canopy coverage here is either along streams or in gullies. You are fortunate to have quite helpful authorities and their realistic attitudes would certainly make life easier. Very likely that there is a connection.

Just for your interest and comparison too, we have a lot of information on making houses fire safe, but I somehow suspect that people rely on their insurance coverage instead of actively managing the risk - certainly given the extreme measures I've gone to with the house design, my insurance is no cheaper than anyone else.

I'll keep my fingers crossed for you to remain frost free for a bit longer! ;-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

You would receive a warm welcome here should the circumstance ever arise! That Scottie would be handy, although if it was Simon Pegg, I'd probably drag him down to the local pub for a meal and few quiet ales instead of fussing about with all of that transporter technology! It does seem a bit risky doesn't - do you remember the Fly?

That's interesting to hear - the local papers here are very local and not much else. I reckon the advertising revenue from the real estate sections keep them alive, but who knows how long such things can last? There are only two morning papers, but they are state based and usually I've noticed that interstate the papers look awfully similar in content. Did you know that there are currently more people studying journalism in universities and other assorted institutions than there even are currently employed? It is quite bizarre really, and I've read that a similar situation occurs with nursing (although not to that great an extent). I smell a rat somewhere...

Sorry to hear that your news is very conservative, but then do you reckon it is a good idea to know what other people may be thinking? Pah! Mars, what a fine joke that one is - don't you have to have a manned space program first and it has been so many decades since any human has exited low earth orbit. It could be spruiking interest for the new Matt Damon film which I heard a reliable review recently say was quite a good tale? Exactly, possible but very uneconomic. I mean what would people do on Mars anyway other than die - the whole thing is very strange? Mind you, I did enjoy reading Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy - it was a good tale.

Oh my, what an unsettled mix of diverse interests about the controlled burns. The competing interests make my head spin. I tend to think that nature is very malleable rather than a fixed point and the whole ecology is based on cycles which repeat and subtly change from cycle to cycle. I've always suspected that deep down people of European descent have this fixed notion of nature, because it helps alleviate guilt that we live on conquered provinces - we live here where we do because someone else doesn't. There is no judgement in that, it is just how we move across the landscape as a population.

Ah well, the faux pas arises because apparently in architectural circles it is very poor form to reproduce aesthetics from a prior era. I don't know why, perhaps you can tell me? I just tend to look at what works and what is suitable for a certain environment - I reckon a lot of architecture has no reference to the environment that it exists in and that is a bad thing because the building rather than being functional or pleasing on the eye is lauded for being striking. Most of the infrastructure here has to be firstly functional and secondly aesthetic - bold new directions can apply for residence elsewhere. What is your take on that?

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Holly Molly is outstanding! Love it.

Thanks for the useful tip on hedgerows. Of course, the birds spread seed and fertility far and wide here too - that is their job in the environment here. Except for the family of magpies that live here, they allow the Kookaburra's to enjoy the farm, but every other bird species is toast in their minds and they'll take on massive birds like the wedge tail eagles... They have serious courage!

That is awesome - the Jamaican pumpkin pie fascinates me no end. Honestly, what was in it? There used to be a Jamaican restaurant just out of the CBD and I really enjoyed it but there was a lack of demand for such cuisine, rents are high and you know the rest of the story.

Oh my! What a nightmare - you'd think the emergency crew would know where the hospital was? Incidentally around here there is a very steep road into the area which I wouldn't normally recommend. A couple of years ago, one of the locals didn't like people testing their vehicles against nature and put a gate across the road and a No Road sign. Unfortunately so the story goes, a GPS sent an ambulance up that particular road and I've noticed that the sign and gate have since been removed... It is a long way around and turning around on that goat track would be a nightmare.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

An excellent observation and I've noted the same thing here too. Did you know that the Snow Pear is one of the last deciduous trees to lose its leaves and the first to regrow them come the early spring? I've been wondering about that issue too for many years. In fact, if I wonder about the progression of leaves - blossoms - fruit on each of the different species. The only reason I started becoming aware of that issue was because a local guy said I didn't have enough flowers for the bees. Mind you, I've been planting flowering plants ever since... I seriously look forward to hearing your thoughts and insights on the matter - because it does make you wonder.

Haha! I'm starting to understand your sense of humour and that was very amusing. When the wind blows strongly here, nature undertakes a very large pruning exercise in the local forest which is good for the forest - unfortunately it does tend to take out the power grid which is not equipped for such regular occurrences. Mind you, that is one of the reasons I'm not attached to the power grid. I've offered assistance to the neighbours in those circumstances and I suspect there is some sort of pride issue going on - but I don't really know.

Helicopters are a nuisance - one of the local wealthy gents has a helicopter and landing pad. Fortunately he has never decided to buzz the mountain range to have a look around. It may have been a rescue operation in the channel?

The whole vegan thing is a tough school no doubt about it. I'm not sufficiently versed in the intricacies of veganism to really get a good grip on the subject although to be honest, I read Veganism for dummies because I was interested to see what the movement was about. One of the previous DJ's on the national government youth radio station I listen too was a Vegan and occasional mentioned that so it stirred my curiosity. Have you ever known anyone who has pursued a Vegan diet for more than a few years?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I hope Doing OK means good news sometimes people have a tendency to understate troubles in such matters because it saves them considering the worst case scenarios? There is more going on here sounds mildly alarming to me... Not good.

As a story, I once had some shoulder trouble which is now all good and the ultrasound guy said to me: Do you mind if I keep an image of your shoulder for my personal files, it's truly fascinating? I was horrified as no one wants to be a medical anomaly... And he never explained what he meant by that comment - it was weird.

So many different opinions on the subject. Your part of the world is very damp and green and there probably is a place for all of the different opinions. I'm just not into consensus politics, whereby noisy minorities can capture the larger debate - it tends to annoy me. Has that ever happened at one of your meetings (this is a pet topic of mine after much exposure to community groups)? Seriously, I'm on very good terms with the local earth moving guy and recently he was telling me about some local individual who was giving him a hard time and I was going: Oh, yeah, I know that guy what a nuisance blah, blah, blah and so it went for about half an hour. The editor said that it reminded her of some sort of therapy session for the both of us... :-)!

Sorry to hear that. Money has a way of corrupting and there are always disputes and when real wealth is declining there is always those that consider the easy option of taking from others. We really have gotten used to expanding incomes over time...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Steve,

Your place is looking really good and I very much enjoy your blog and recommend it.

Oak savanna is a lovely environment and yes, it could be easily managed by fire. Did you know that after the Black Saturday bushfires down here in 2009 I noticed that many oak trees were very resistant to fires that killed many other tree species.

Exactly diversity = resilience and we completely messed it up because we imposed our concepts of what it should look like upon the environment.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, our newspapers real estate classifieds have shrunk to nothing ... along with the rest of the classifieds. It's all moved out on the web ... to Craigslist, Facebook, etc.. Our on-line paper is behind a pay wall. I subscribe to the paper version, as, the on-line version isn't so detailed.

Well, journalism ... I think a lot of those people go on-line. Nursing ... well, I don't know about there, but here we have a very aging population.

Well, I don't have tv, but I read widely. Part of it is "know thy enemy." :-). Then there's the newspaper, which is pretty right wing. One of the last things I said to my friends before they moved to Idaho was: "Please. Every once in awhile, just now and again, watch something besides Fox news." But, I don't think it happened. Most people tend to follow whatever media reinforces their already held beliefs. It's so much more comfortable. To quote another old AA saw, "an easier, softer, way."

I don't think I'll be watching "The Martian." Oh, I understand that it's a ripping good adventure yarn. But I prefer to have my Martian stories with lots of ruins and lost civilizations :-). Saw "Mad Max - Fury Road", by the way. OK. It kept me on the edge of my seat, I must admit. And, had cool explosions :-). It's a guy thing. But, I found the gratuitous violence and punked out aesthetic, just a bit over the top.

Didn't know that it was poor form to reproduce the aesthetics of the old. I think it's a cultural difference, but when I look at your place I think "hill or outback station." If you Google "Victorian farmhouses" and look at the images, that's what I think of as a Victorian farmhouse. Not the big McMansion farmhouses, but the smaller one's with wood carpenter trim. Here in the 1800s, you could get pattern books for farm houses.

The Jamaican spice mix is: 4 tbls cinnamon, 2 1/2 tbs. ginger, 4 tsps. allspice, 1/2 tsp. ground mace, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. thyme, 1.4 tsp pepper. I don't know how "authentic" this recipe, is. The meager text says that allspice is the spice of choice on the Islands, for baked goods and savory dishes ... often paired with thyme.

Oh, in the AA meetings, if someone rattles on for two long, if the moderator can get a word in edgewise, he reminds the speaker that perhaps, someone else would like to share. Meetings are generally held to one hour. If things get a bit out of hand, usually, someone after the meeting will quietly take the miscreant aside, and give him a good talking too. A few months back, a big dumb ox went on a homophobic tirade and he didn't shut up until he realized that every one was glaring at him. On my way out, I noticed that one of the older members was really reaming him out, back in the kitchen. He disappeared for a few weeks, and when he came back, behaved himself.

My neighbor is home and I talked to him briefly, last night. Of his four bypasses, 3 are full of clots. They managed to re-open an old artery with a stint, but he's running at about 50% of circulation. I'm taking up mail, later this morning. Will probably know more, then. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Have to admit that I have only just started to think about the succession of leaf fall and the reverse in the spring. I do know that the blackthorn blossom always precedes the hawthorn. The leaves, on my decking this morning, were all silver birch; so that has come second after the ash.

My goodness! I would certainly have wanted to know what was so fascinating if it had been my shoulder.

Yes I do know someone who was a lifetime vegan, the aforementioned boyfriend. I don't know when he became a vegan but he must have been about 32 when I met him and he lived well into his 80s. His children were vegans from whenever they stopped breast feeding. The seriously important point here, is that he was a professional dietician. I do think that people should be careful unless they are very well informed.

Inge

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I have never heard of the snow pear, do I deduce that it produces pears? It makes perfect sense for plants to blossom in succession as it would stop them having to compete for insect pollination. Leaf fall is another matter, why, why, why?

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

That is very interesting, because those brad and butter type advertising incomes are what keep the local papers still in print. The US is generally ten years ahead of us in trends, so perhaps that is the future here too? My gut feeling is that if the speculation in houses ever comes to an abrupt halt here (and I've seen prices drop 40% during the early 1990's quite rapidly) then the advertising allowance for people interested in selling their houses will probably drop significantly too. There is a lot of fat in the prices that people are getting for their houses down here - but I'm seeing signs of stress in people and it can't be good for them... How people can sleep at night with the debt levels that they endure is well beyond me. Of course, the online advertising options are cheap - at the moment.

I've wondered about the online newspapers as they seem to offer their services for next to nothing down here which is a tough and very unsustainable business model.

Yeah, I've heard that too about journalism graduates going on-line but I have serious reservations about making a living out of that. I've read that a best seller book down here has a circulation of about 20,000 units so even if the book is a unit friendly shifter, no author can make much of a living down here.

Too funny about the ageing population business and nurses. Late last year I recall speaking with two aged care nurses whom I knew tolerably well - part of the meditation group I was involved with - and they said that they feared the day when personal care robots were going to take over their jobs. And they were dead set serious, I was chuckling to myself about that notion wondering what JMG would make about that particular statement! ;-)!

I assume that if you don't have TV, you enjoy the occasional movie or series sans advertisements? That is how I do it down here and it avoids the whole messy black magic of advertising and I can just enjoy the story instead. Mind you, many stories are full of narratives too and it takes a fair bit of effort to block those out.

Well, Sun Tzu would approve of the concept of "know thy enemy", but I reckon it is also worthwhile knowing what other people are thinking and talking about. It is a fascinating subject! The AA people clearly know their business because they are talking about what is commonly known as confirmation bias - not that such techniques banish bad news elsewhere though. I sometimes wonder whether the easier, softer way is actually the harder way dresses up as the softer way? Dunno, but aren't we straying into the realms of philosophy?

Gotta go check the chickens and take some photos whilst the twilight is perfect for such things.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Nice to hear that you enjoyed Fury Road, I haven't seen it, but heard that it was a bit of a trip, although I couldn't quite work out how they worked the musicians into the film but I reckon it is best to not ask too many questions of a Mad Max film (all of them were reasonably silly)! Hehe! By the way speaking of all things Martian and the lost civilisations, I grew up on the musical version of War of the Worlds. Good fun stuff and yes, the iron clad battleships copped it in the neck from a Martian ray gun.

Well, yeah, I looked back in history to see what worked in these places before the whole glass and steel asthetic took over and then modified it for conventional materials. They used to supply the whole pattern book thing down here too - and way back then, most people built their own houses. Such an act was not considered to be unusual. Incidentally, the English also supplied many kit homes down here too.

Thanks for that, those combination of spices is a complex beast to be sure.

Those AA meetings sound very well organised in that they take into account human behaviour rather than an abstract concept of that. Yeah, I've seen the whole homophobia thing over at the ADR this week and may chuck a few words in there this evening! Why would someone even bring such an issue up at an AA meeting - it says a whole lot about why they drank in the first place. ;-)! Nice to see that the chastisement worked on the miscreant.

Best of luck with that. Oh my, that is not good news - still it is never too late for a change of diet and some exercise. I'm not saying that to be self righteous either, because I actually mean it - it would help after he has recovered.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

It is a fascinating and complex process isn't it? I watch it here with the fruit, blossoms and leaves and there is so much diversity to it. Silver birch are a beautiful tree with lovely bark, the seeds spread far and wide here up in this mountain range. The wallabies particularly enjoy eating the leaves of that tree and I really don't know why? By the way, the Ash trees here are very hardy. One of my favourites is the claret ash which puts on an amazing leaf show in autumn.

The doctors down here can sometimes be quite mysterious in their explanations and I wonder whether that is some form of professional capture? So Inever had the situation fully explained to me in clear English - but I know enough to know that it was a temporary problem. Anyway, the ultrasound guy sort of weirded me out because I suspected that he was some sort of collector of images. The whole thing was weird...

I agree with you in that it is a hard path to travel and I have total respect for anyone that can do that particular path. I'd have to argue though that most people down here nowadays tend to consume industrial produced food stuffs. That really freaks me out because most of my meals are prepared from scratch - although to be honest I mostly consume easy to make peasant style food. I enjoy that and feel no deficiency.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I haven't seen the Snow Pear for sale as it seems to be a rare offering - I tend to snap up rare fruit trees... It's a problem.

Maybe the plants are maximising the available conversion of sunlight to sugars and wood - even over autumn? Also I suspect that many of the plants that you may be growing in your area originated in different parts of the globe and they respond to different climactic conditions differently? What do you think about those possibilities?

Certainly with the exception of some of the kangaroo apples (solanum family), naive yams (big dandelions) and mountain peppers I have very little idea about what is edible in the local plants. A bit sad really.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, our newspaper is part of a small chain of newspapers, that mostly publish in small places :-). Of course, they went to three days a week and there were some staff layoffs. There still seems to be lots of display advertising.

Real estate. Well, there are huge real estate web sites, now. They don't cost anything to look at, but I don't know how much they cost to list on. The "multiple listing" services costs seem to be bourn by the real estate companies. Foreclosures and for sale by owner are solidly placed behind pay walls. Except for craigslist, which is free to look at and and free to post to. I think E-Bay has a large real estate section, but I've never checked it out.

Most writers and journalists of any kind have never made a large amount of money. You have about as much chance of "striking it rich" in the writing game, as being hit by lightening :-). Any honest author who writes about writing, points this out. But, most aspiring authors (hope springs eternal in the heart) just doesn't think that hard little fact applies to them. Artists, anyone? Musicians?

I hear the Japanese are using some robot nurses. But, given declining resources and money, I doubt they will ever become widespread. For the super rich, perhaps. More likely, more nurses with ever declining wages and benefits. I once knew a very personable and good looking private duty nurse who made a pretty good living.

Oh, yeah. Series and movies are what I do for a few hours in the evening after the days work is done. Especially in the winter. Usually, doing something else with one eye on the telly. :-). Recently watched season 4 of "American Horror Story" (Freak Show) and am wading through season 2 of "Penny Dreadful." I can suspend holds at the library. If I suspend something, it keeps moving down the hold list, but isn't "filled" until I un-suspend it. So I can have them coming in as a dribble, and not a flood. On tap, any time I want to unsuspend them are the first three Jurassic Park movies (wanted to re-watch them, before I tackle #4, which should show up on the rental shelves at my local super market, any day now). And, season 5 of "Walking Dead." Oh, yes. Quit nice not to have to put up with all the ads. When I was staying at Chef John's and had access to tv, I kept wanting to fast forward, back up, or pause. :-). Force of habit. I guess there is some new gizmo that allows you to filter out the ads ... or, fast forward through them. Record programs for future viewing. But, all that is beyond me. Took me 10 minutes to just get the broadcasts up and running ... with the help of extensive and detailed notes.

Well, without being too much of a spoiler, in the new Mad Max, they have these huge battle wagons that thunder across the Australian deserts. A small stage is built on the front of one, with a heavily amplified guitarist strapped and roped in. Can't say I really liked the movie. Something I won't watch, again. Just a bit too "barbarian hoard" and nihilistic for my taste.

What I like about some of the old Victorian farm houses is all the turned wood trim. Called "gingerbread", here. But, probably very much of a fire hazard, there. Lew