Monday, 26 October 2015

THE EDITOR STRIKES BACK



A long time ago in a mountain range far, far away….

Well, to be totally honest it was only a few weeks back, but it does seem like a long time ago that the new chicken enclosure “Chooktopia” project was completed. The completion of the new chicken enclosure was a real setback for the Rebel Rodent Forces (Rattus rattus or otherwise known as the common black rat or RRF!). The Imperial Troops (myself, the editor and the dogs) then drove those rebels from their hidden base and pursued them across the farm and into the depths of the forest. It was a dark time for the rebel forces.

We still haven’t yet decided which of the Imperial forces here is Darth Vader and who is the Evil Emperor. For all we know, maybe Scritchy the boss dog is actually the Evil Emperor. Poopy the Pomeranian (who is actually a Swedish Lapphund) is probably just a regular Storm Trooper (or perhaps a very evil Chewbacca) as he does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to chasing unwanted wildlife off the farm. It is worth noting that in such situations, Scritchy the boss dog is usually to be found at the rear issuing instructions to the storm troopers. Therefore given Scritchy’s hands on nature (but at a respectably safe distance from the wildlife) she is probably more of a Darth Vader character. That then leaves the unanswered question: who is the Evil Emperor here?

The rebel rodent forces enlisted some unexpected assistance this week – perhaps they used the Force? The assistance attacked the very pride of the Imperial fleet which was assaulted in a daring and audacious move that the brilliant and long dead Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu would have approved of.

Friday night, the rebel forces employed their heaviest battleships (i.e. deer) and assaulted the death star (aka some eight year old fruit trees). The damage to the bark of the death star – oops, sorry, the eight year old fruit trees – was severe. Darth Vader, aka Scritchy the boss dog is less than impressed by the actions of the new augmented rebel forces (i.e. deer).
Darth Vader (aka Scritchy the boss dog) reviews the damage to the Death Star (aka the eight year old Jonathon Apple Tree) in the orchard
Bite marks on the trunk are further apparent deer damage to this Nashi Pear fruit tree

More deer damage on a Fuji apple tree
At the moment, I am in the process of urinating randomly (using my light saber?) all over the orchard to mark this as territory for the Imperial forces. Hopefully, that does the trick. However, I still have the option of putting loose fitting chicken wire around each of the fruit tree trunks and that will permanently sort out the deer / rodent rebel forces.

On a serious note, I'm interested in hearing from anyone with experience with this sort of damage as it is unsustainable and the deer could possibly destroy the established orchard within a few short weeks. I am also considering painting house paint onto the damaged trunks, and would appreciate feedback on that option.

Deer are loose in this mountain range (coincidentally there used to be a deer farm below this property), however I have never seen deer on the farm before. The reason for this is because maybe whilst rainfall in the mountain range this year has been reasonable, elsewhere it has been very dry. Nothing eats deer in the mountain range, so perhaps the deer are ranging ever higher in elevation than before to enjoy a bit of green fodder. Poopy the Pomeranian and Sir Scruffy both of whom are the Storm Troopers (nuff said really) have their work cut out for them this summer.

The smoke and particulates from the recent and very early bush fires are causing the most amazing sunsets:
Smoke and particulates from the recent and very early bush fires are causing the most amazing sunsets
Plus there is the Gigantor El Nino this year which means that the spring weather has been way beyond the average warmth. Even the European honey bees are starting to feel the heat early in the season as they exit their hive on hot days to get a bit of fresh air:
European honey bees exit their hive on hot days this week to get a bit of fresh air
Despite the hot weather, we planted even more tomato seedlings this week in the new berry enclosure. That berry enclosure, which is temporarily also being used for tomatoes this season,  received another cubic metre (cubic yard) of mushroom compost this week too.
Even more tomato seedlings were planted this week in the new berry bed
Alright, I didn’t want to say it, but the editor is the Evil Emperor (edit – totally incorrect as I have much better skin!) and thought that it might be worth writing a few paragraphs about how we co-operatively manage all of the projects here.

Firstly, most of the projects so far have been driven by pure necessity. The editor (who isn’t really an Evil Emperor and is actually quite nice) and I discuss and decide which projects have to be completed because they are necessary to easily live in this area. The very close bushfires in the summer of 2014, when we were evacuated from the area, provided us with insights as to the shortcomings of many of the systems here at the farm. And ever since then we have attempted to adapt to the serious and ongoing risk of bushfire.

Other project implementations and deadlines are driven by nature. Some food crops can only be planted at a certain time of the year, such as the tomatoes or the berries. Therefore any projects relating to the tomatoes and berries have to be completed by a certain time, regardless of opinions. The firewood shed which was only just completed before the really wet winter weather set in earlier this year was another of those projects affected by the inflexible deadlines of nature.

Sometimes, systems we’d previously implemented just go wrong unexpectedly and have to be rebuilt utilising what we have learned from those failures. The previous chicken shed and run was a good example of that problem as that earlier chicken run was simply too wet and the chickens health was seriously impacted by that.

Projects can also unfold as unexpected opportunities and new skills are learned or new ideas are explored and can possibly be implemented. Sometimes we have no idea as to how to proceed with a system or area and so we do nothing and wait until inspiration strikes. Sometimes that inspiration comes from the most unlikely of sources. I really enjoy visiting other people’s gardens as they provide many ideas as to how other people have addressed certain difficulties. Many of those ideas are the feedstock for the projects here.

Lastly, any and all ideas are captured on paper. Once an idea is written down on paper it is hard to forget that idea! The editor and I are then able at leisure to discuss the relative merits of each of the ideas and we can categorise them into wants versus needs and then provide them with a ranking of relative importance.

And that is how the Evil Emperor/Editor and I decide which project gets done, when and how it will look.

Darth Vader didn’t seem to be particularly careful with the Empires resources, I mean that Death Star would have cost a whole lot of resources which don’t materialise out of thin air you know! By way of contrast, I’m notoriously tight with money and energy and this week I had a couple of bright ideas to utilise the huge amounts of electricity that unfortunately disappears here for most of the year because the sun is shining and the house batteries are full.

It is always a challenge to come up with new and interesting ways to use electricity over the summer and this week I picked up a quality electric brush cutter and an electric food dehydrator. I have it on good authority from my off grid contacts that this local brand (Fowlers Vacola) produces excellent food dehydrators. The Evil Emperor/Editor is already dreaming of preserving tomatoes in the new-to-me second hand food dehydrator:
A quality second hand food dehydrator was purchased this week
Speaking of produce, I thought that you all may enjoy seeing some of the slowly ripening fruit as it appears to me today:
Jonathon apples are slowly ripening on the tree

Johnsons Prolific almonds are slowly ripening on the tree
King Billy plums are slowly ripening on the tree
Early Moorpark apricots are slowly ripening on the tree

And just in case anyone was concerned that the rebel forces had an impact on the flowers at the farm, they needn’t overly concern themselves as the imperial forces know a thing or two about flowers and there are now even more this week as the geraniums and bearded irises add to the riot of colour which is only going to get more feral as the season progresses!
There are even more flowers this week as the geraniums and bearded irises add to the riot of colour
Long live the Empire!

The temperature outside here at about 8.30pm is 6.6’C degrees Celsius (43.9’F). So far this year there has been 623.0mm (24.5 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total 614.6mm (24.2 inches).

And now for something completely different! The YouTube video below provides a walk through of the new chicken housing project. Enjoy and feel free to ask questions.


67 comments:

Morgenfrue said...

(Sorry if this is double, login probs.)
Deer are awful! My parents gave up on gardening because of deer. Now they just have a wooded lot where they do fire prevention. They tried lights on sensors and fencing, which did not work. The fencing apparently needs to be really high and robust. They also tried electric fencing, which did work, but which was annoying in the long run.
I've heard some having success with a wide most of strongly scented plants around the object of their desire. Otherwise maybe plant a bunch of roses somewhere else? They love to eat roses.
Will the fruit trees survive?

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - On deer. Well, some things work, some of the time, in some places. If you search "deer damage' on the web, there's all kinds of suggestions, some quit bizzare. I tried the "light saber" trick ... saving up gallons to pour around my apple trees, and id didn't seem to slow the deer up at all. Other suggestions are hanging little bags of human hair from the trees. Or, hanging bars of smelly deodorant soap. Don't know about wrapping chicken wire, around the trunks. Have never seen it here. But, a lot of people put up all kinds of deer fencing, some of it pretty elaborate.

Your berry enclosure? What's that sticking out from under the mounds of the planting beds? Newspaper? Purpose?

Your sketch of the decision making process was interesting. Flexible, but with goals, so stuff gets done. Having no feedback loop, I try and keep lists of "stuff to do". And, make notes on the calendar of deadlines that must be met.

Thanks for the video tour of the chook enclosure. I think I need to rethink some of the aspects of my chicken keeping.

A steady drizzle, all day, yesterday. Had to change my coat and hat, after each of my three trips to the chicken run, yesterday. Not a hard rain, just a steady drizzle. Lew

Skippyherron said...

Laughing at your Star Wars references! So good, so funny!
Hope those deer don't cause anymore damage. Are they protected or could they be somehow culled? Possibly eaten?

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Thanks for the link - they are an excellent and worthy organisation. By the way on the image page was highland cattle and someone around these parts has a highland cattle farm - they must get hot over summer - but the cattle look really great. The buckeye chickens are a proud looking bird - they remind me a bit of Rhode Island Reds which I had years ago. The Barred Hollands are also an interesting bird which looks a bit like a Plymouth Rock. It is interesting that many of your chicken choices have strong legs and an upright posture and look to me like dual purpose birds. Good choices.

What a nice windfall those chicks must have been!

Thanks for the answer, it is always nice to hear how other people source their chickens. People seem to have strong opinions on such matters, but I reckon whatever works. I met a couple of fellas at the local farmers market who breed chickens for sale at those markets and I may source my next batch from them.

PS: Hope you enjoyed all the chickens in the video!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Oh yeah, that book spills the dirt and leaves no stone uncovered in the quest for sensationalism. It is a great read. Who would have thought that so much goes on in those kitchens? It is a tough environment and not for the faint of heart.

Well, yes and no. Some areas are fenced off like the transport personal injury. It is a sensible move given the legal system appears to be a system that seeks to administer itself and also appears to be able to write its own cheques. On a serious note, restrictions on the legal profession from advertising seem to have been lifted here recently, because there are now crass advertisements inciting people to enter litigation. And in case it couldn't get worse, I read recently and I forget exactly where that the author was speculating that there are unrelated individuals or entities that seek to fund class actions as an investment and they take a specified share of the winnings. It is unseemly.

Thanks for the explanation about the Grange (plus the other groups) - it sounds like a useful organisation. I used to enjoy swapping plants with the local seed savers but dysfunctional leadership appears to have caused the group to implode. I'm thinking about local groups, but the people that have the time for the groups tend to be not really interested in undertaking activities other than running the market stall and I could never quite get my head around why they were building up funds for no apparent purpose. It was like they had only one story to follow and that was that. The sustainability event I ran a stall at way back in February was good and I met heaps of people, so I have been wondering about that for a while now. Long term I suspect I have to join up with another local plant group or setup a brand new group.

Nup, no halloween (well, maybe a little tiny bit) so I can't really relate to it. The natural environment here is so fragile and subject to change at short notice without warning that the ghoulies and ghosties just run amok!

She'll probably be hardier than you expect, you never really know though. No stress about the light, everything is a compromise and the chickens enjoy advantages too like you say. You put the fear into that one for sure.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Morgenfrue,

Thanks for the story of your parents experience. Oh my!

Most of the fruit trees will hopefully be OK because they currently have very heavy duty gauge chicken wire - really tough stuff - to about 6 foot because of the wallabies. The sort of damage the deer inflicted was on much taller fruit trees which are uncaged and therefore above wallaby height. Incidentally, the wallabies love roses too (I've read that Jacky French the Australian author calls her house wallaby Rosie!)

I'm watching and observing, because if it has happened once, it will happen again. Basically, I'm considering both the short term and long term responses and am not sure yet. Mind you, the deer are still very rare visitors, but what a lot of damage over such a short period of time...

I don't know about the fruit trees as they did not ring bark the tree - that was why I was asking about painting the trunk with house paint as a protective coating - I've seen orchardists do that with damaged trees.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for the feedback about your experience with the deer. Not good. I reckon the heavy gauge chicken wire tubes around the tree trunks will work if all else fails and it has the added advantage of being free as I already have the spare wire.

Long term, I think I'm going to have to grow an entire impenetrable hedgerow around the farm with one entrance in and out for all of the animals to use. Mind you the wombats would go through such a living fence. Incidentally, the kangaroos and wallabies don't tend to get along well with the deer and they may actually be a valuable ally in all of this.

Wow! You are observant. The newspaper is laid on top of the grass / herbage with the mushroom compost and it basically kills that off. Nothing is ever that simple though. Those plants that die end up as a quick feed for the soil life, which booms. If the newspaper stays moist, the earthworms quickly break it up and the booming soil life gets into the mushroom compost and the tomatoes put their root systems into the bonanza of activity. The whole thing is like a turbo charged way to convert grass / herbage into solid and productive garden beds. I've been doing it for years. The newspaper will leach toxins into the ground and plants no doubt about it, but then most of the composts / mulches I bring up here probably has who knows what in it? We live in a poisoned planet, but at least the soils here are getting deeper and stronger every year. We do what we can and I am no purist but seek to find the middle ground in such matters.

Your system is basically what we do here. Same, same but different. However, nature provides one monster feedback loop here - it can be quite scary from time to time and not just the bushfires, but also tornadoes, heat waves, wild winds and monster rainfalls. Everything gets tested whether you wish it or not down here. Most people don't listen to nature in this part of the world though - but I find it very difficult to ignore.

That is high praise, thanks! If you have any questions about why I did what I did, feel free to ask. There is no such thing as a dumb question. My biggest insight was how having the roof over their enclosure has improved the chickens health so greatly that it staggers me that before I used to have an open (but closed by steel mesh) chicken run - no wonder they sat out the winter in their cosy shed and kept out of the muck. Nowadays they spend every minute of the daylight in their run (when they're not in the orchard) and egg production is way up on last year too. Plus as their deep litter is reasonably dry, I have been regularly using it about the farm and it is turbo charged full of goodness!

It is great to hear that your area is getting a good soaking after the hot and dry summer you had to deal with. Haha! I say about those drizzle days: It rains a lot, but you don't get much rain - that is a good description of winter rain down here too. They reckon there is a monster rain storm heading this way on Sunday - I used a bit of the house tanks storage to fill up the garden tank systems, so hopefully everything gets a top up. The whole lot is mostly full now, but from what I hear around this area, other people don't seem to be being so careful with their water. One local down the hill who is on town water was telling me that over the last drought two years back they were using 600 litres (about 158 gallons) per day. How do you even use that much water?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Skippyheron,

Thanks for the lovely comments and it was so much fun to write too! All the way through the story, I was going to myself: Do I dare write this - Yeah, just write it! Lots of fun. :-)!

I'm with you, eight year old fruit trees are sort of hard to replace as it isn't the plant, it is the time that it has spent in the ground growing.

The deer aren't protected here and I suspect that long ago they were released into the forest after the deer farm down in the valley below closed its doors.

Can they be hunted? Sure. However, I tend to take a big picture point of view with that sort of thing, because culling them will only buy you a short respite from the damage that they can cause. The reason I say that is because the trees they damaged were some of the oldest and most productive on the farm. The deer population is now so well established here that if I (or the neighbours) went out and bopped a few of the deer, it would only be a splash in the ocean and would create a short term respite. Eventually, new deer would fill in the niche created.

Longer term, I think I'm going to have to grow a very exotic hedgerow full of unpleasant plants, sour fruit trees which the local birds will love as well as nitrogen fixing trees and simply surround the farm with those. I'll leave entrance point for all of the animals and the kangaroos can tough it out with the deer - which they most certainly will do. It's a big job, but not impossible and it will provide a host of other benefits for the birds and insects here.

I reckon the deer would be a bit gamey tasting as they live in the forest and will be eating all sorts of different plants. Venison and goat can be like that - Poopy the Pomeranian wouldn't complain though! ;-)!

Cheers

Chris

Steve Carrow said...

Deer are the bane of many a gardener or orchardist here in the midwest. As I mentioned in my August 18 blog entry, I use concrete reinforcing wire as a cage. It is stiff enough to be self supporting except for a couple posts or stakes to tie it down for wind, and it's very sturdy. http://www.lowes.com/pd_12142-157-05042_1z0y5px__?productId=3010018&pl=1

Since it comes in rolls, it is already curved to make a nice round enclosure, you just unroll some, flex it out to the radius you want, then cut and place around the tree.
It does make access to the tree for mulching or eventual harvest a hassle, but it gives the branches room to grow. Deer will also browse young branch tips, so they need protection as well. Last ones I put up were a good 2 meters in diameter.

May the force be with you as you struggle with your opponents.

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

I am sorry to hear that your trees are being attacked by deer. I am lucky, none here; but I believe that they destroy trees.

Am envious of your ripening fruit. That is a lovely sunset; pollution is great for sunsets if nothing else.

We don't (so far) have land taxes, probably because of the land owning aristocracy. We do have council tax. There are (I think) 7 bands dependent on the assumed value of ones property. These values are way out of date.

I don't smell the salt in the air, probably because it is a constant and I am used to it. On the beach I smell seaweed and occasionally sewage.

The woods here are turning yellow now. None of the trees have leaves that turn red.

Inge

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Just read your comment about goat and maybe deer tasting gamey. Of course yum yum. But interesting that you like the strong taste of wild green leaves but haven't extended it to meat!

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

I loved Star Wars and I could tell right away from your title that that was part of this week's theme.

Your new food dehydrator looks a lot like ours. I expect you to do great things with it. Go Editor!

Yuk, Chris. I'm kind of glad I won't be strolling randomly by your property . . .

The only thing that we have ever found to keep the large herds of deer here away from our garden was to enclose the whole thing with an 8 foot ((about 2.5 meters) woven wire field fence. Of course, our garden is miniscule compared to yours (about 40 ft. x 80 ft. (About 12 meters x 24 meters). One gate at the top (on a mountain here) and one at the bottom. It also has chicken wire buried all along the bottom that runs 12 in. high as well, which is a bit useless at the moment as the gates still have large spaces under them. Also, anything but a deer can get in by climbing up and over the posts. Except for kangaroos and wallabies, which are not that much of a problem here anyway . . .

Often, the deer stand right outside of the fence and look in at me saying "Just a bite please? Just let us in for a minute; not to worry, we'll hardly touch a thing". Or maybe they're just glad that I've beenn "captured" and put in a pen?

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

The venison around here is delicious, really lean. In fact, to grill it or make into burgers, oil has to be applied/added. No, Poopy would not complain! We have never hunted ourselves, but friends used to bring us venison and the dogs went crazy.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I use newspaper and cardboard, here and there, to tamp down the weeds. I always toss any high colored inserts or cardboard. Just use the brown, black and white stuff. Less chemicals. I may have a source of free wood chips. The City has a municipal wood chipper. But, I've hesitated, as I wonder what that stuff was possibly sprayed with, before it hit the chipper.

We have a deer and elk hunting season, here. In full swing, right now. There's also a bow hunting season. Being a rural county, there's a lot of hunting that goes on. Game, game birds, fish ... it's all highly regulated. So ... even in an area where there's a lot of hunting, the deer are always in evidence. I've noticed that there seems to be a lot of does having twins, in the spring. Deer taste like chicken :-). Seriously, if you get a deer near farmland, they don't have that gamey taste. All that corn and grain croups. Deer from more remote areas have a gamey flavor.

We do have an elk heard, or two, down in the valley. They never seem to get up in my "neighborhood." If they want to move higher, they seem to move up the valley, where it's less populated and the National Forest land, begins. The first year I moved here, I used to see the heard, on occasion. I could also hear the bulls bellowing, during mating season. The next year, four bulls were taken, just along a little short road, not far from here. I think that really knocked them back. Haven't heard a bull bellow in quit awhile. Oh, and there are some diseases effecting both deer and elk. I don't know much about it, but some of the elk have some kind of hoof rot. And, the deer some kind of wasting disease. I've seen a few of those. They look pretty sad.

Watched the first couple of episodes of a new zombie series, last night. Pretty interesting. "I, Zombie." Filmed in Seattle. An up and coming young heart surgeon becomes a zombie which totally derails her employment possibilities and love life. So, she gets a job in the Medical Examiners morgue. So that she has access to a steady supply of what she needs ... brains. None of that messy digging up of graves or slaughtering the civilians. She also has flashbacks, or visions, of whoever she has recently eaten. And also, takes on some of their characteristics, which can be problematic. So, that comes in handy to solve crimes. Allied with a police detective (who doesn't know) and the head of the morgue (who does know), she helps keep Seattle safe. It's kind of a police procedural.

There's also a very bad man, who is a zombie. He infects very rich, or, influential people, and then keeps them in brains for astronomical amounts of money, or protection. He uses zombie minions to deliver "product", like take out delivery. "Product" is harvested from homeless street kids, hobos and other transients. Or, anyone who gets in his way. Anyway, I don't know if you'll get the series, in some form, Down Under. Given your affection for all things zombie, I thought I'd give you a heads up. Lew

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Very much enjoyed the video - that is some fortress!! Our chickens and turkeys are housed now in a big metal building in one of three pens that have heavy wire up to the ceiling to keep out raccoon and possum. The cats have dug out a hole under the door to get in and out so other critters get in too sometimes. What grains do you feed?

As far as deer we have quite a few around here as we have a pretty good sized oak (mostly) forest at the back of our property and beyond. There is also a Christmas tree farm across the street and they like to hang out there as well. We don't see too much of them until fall. As they have plenty of corn and hay to feed on as well as the woods we are spared too much damage. They did a number on the branches of our new fruit trees for a few winters but now we put up some fairly high substantial fencing from fall to spring and it seems to work fairly well. The DNR (Dept of Natural Resources) keeps trying to keep the herd down by baiting the deer at night and having sharp shooters with night vision capability killing a large number due to the fear of chronic wasting disease. It's a losing battle though - maybe cuts the number for a year and then they're back up again.

Farmers decades ago planted hedges to keep livestock in and predators out but they planted a lot of multi floral rose which is now invasive all over - a very nasty plant.

Margaret

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lewis:

Pizza boxes are really nice for smothering weeds.

Chris: As Steve mentioned, deer certainly can reach way up to eat young leaves, but I saw an amazing display recently when a large buck and his lady-love were dawdling on the side of the house where we originally planted some fruit trees many years ago, befor the deer population got so bad. He stood on his hind legs and raked the branches with his antlers and it rained pears (this is a 30 ft. (9 meters) tree)! Those pears are so hard right now. She had a really hard time chewing them. I noticed that he didn't eat any and I don't think that it was from gentlemanly restraint.

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Steve,

Many thanks for the excellent advice and yes I spotted those tough cages. The young fruit trees score a similar treatment here to protect them from the wallabies, but the wallabies don't tend to chew the bark on fruit trees - they just strip branches of leaves and fruit and break them in the process - I can live with that. Deer take it to 11!

You are absolutely spot on about access to the fruit trees with the cages and it makes reducing the grass competition quite challenging. Everything is a compromise because not reducing the grass competition slows the growth of the fruit trees. And that wire sounds like it is the biz!

And may the force be with you too, my Jedi friend! :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks for your kind thoughts, those deer are interesting beasties, but I'll sort something out eventually that will please neither myself nor the deer, but then that is possibly the correct path as we can co-exist but no one will be getting the upper hand.

Sometimes I wish that I could press fast forward and speed up the growth in the fruit trees. Every year the orchards produce a little bit more fruit. Sun ripened apricots with flavour are just so hard to buy nowadays.

The bushfires are interesting in terms of the climate down here. They release a lot of particulates into the atmosphere which attract clouds - which brings rain. It is an interesting feedback loop. The year that followed Black Saturday in 2009 was the wettest in recorded history - at one point I was cut off from the outside world to the south of the mountain range because the local river had swollen so much.

That makes sense, you can't hold onto land holdings if the crown takes them from you by legislation. The exact same thing happens here too with council rates. The council sent me a letter this year to say how nice they were being because they only raised their take by 4.9% this year instead of the usual 5%. Well done them. And you know what, there were reports that during the recent bushfires apparently the councillors were on a junket in Japan. Go figure, it's a good gig if you can get it.

That would be lovely to see. Some maples turn red here, but mostly it is like your forest - it turns yellow. Interestingly enough, I've noticed that some English oaks in particular don't seem to go fully deciduous down here which is interesting in and of itself. It makes you wonder whether this is an adaptation or something that has laid dormant in the genes? They've been around a long time...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Very amusing. I don't mind the taste of gamey meat at all - I'm certainly not squeamish in such matters. In fact, I find most beef that is served up to be quite bland and I much prefer: chicken, lamb and/or goat.

I'll tell you what the green mustards that I'm enjoying at the moment are hotter than chillies - I have to be careful not to take too big a mouthful or it makes my eyes water and people have said to me: are you OK? It is as hot as hot English mustard (which I'm unsure of the recipe of).

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Many thanks and I never doubted for a moment that you would get the humour! It was sooo much fun to write. Of course, we can't have Star Wars themed posts every week or everyone would get bored. Hehe! Thanks, I really enjoy all of the backwards and forwards discussions that we all have here.

Ahh, well, the company that produces food preserving things down here and which has been in long operation is Fowlers Vacola. I was actually working near their Melbourne office today. What may interest you is that the dehydrator here was actually manufactured in the USA so it is possible that it is even closer to your dehydrator than you may expect? The unit is over 20 years old and seems to be still going strong. I may try and pick up a few new trays for it over the next few weeks. The editor is already waxing lyrical about the possibilities of semi sun dried tomatoes in olive oil... Total 100% yum!

Well I'd be as embarrassed as you would be. Fortunately there is only one other neighbour who is about half a mile away! It is quiet here.

Oh my! I'm starting to get a little bit scared of the deer which is not right at all. Thanks for your experience.

You have scored yourself the elephant stamp this evening! Well done. I have no desire whatsoever to live in a pen and will commence implementing strategies to combat the worst of the deer outrages and at the same time enlist the assistance of the 6 foot plus kangaroos, plants and dogs which live here to sort out the deer problem.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Oh yeah! The deer would taste pretty similar to Kangaroo steaks which are really quite nice too - but you can't over cook them because like you say about the deer, they are lean. Thanks for thinking about Poopy too and nice to hear that your dogs go crazy for lean deer meat. Poopy goes crazy for eggs which I feed him most days. It is like having a Gollum in the house: Eggses my precious! ;-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

That is very sensible. One of the local papers uses a lot of green ink and I've noticed that when it is used for kindling it burns with a funny colour flame and that is certainly a sign that the expected chemical load has been breached significantly! That one never makes it into the garden. You're on the money too as the old school black and white ones are probably the biz.

Oh my, you have some local resources! I'd kill for a massive wood chipper as I could thin the forest and produce the most amazing soils. The local council sells chipped up green waste for $250 for 10 cubic metres and it is good value, but it is so carbon rich that the woody mulch steals nitrogen from the surrounding soils. That does have the benefit of keeping down the grass though...

I reckon you are correct to worry about what the material has been sprayed with before it hits the chipper though. So many people think that nature is something that has to be killed with whatever comes to hand.

Haha! I once visited a crocodile farm which fed the crocodiles chicken. Honestly, crocodile burgers have the consistency of lamb with the taste of chicken! :-)! It's true too. In central Australia you can buy camel pies too. Yum! You are exactly correct in that meat (and eggs) taste like whatever you are feeding them. I'll bet beef over in the US (which consume a lot of corn products) tastes a little bit sweet?

Incidentally, spare a thought for the locals and the farm workers when the crocodile farm floods - as it does regularly...

The deer here have always looked remarkably healthy. Down under the government has released many strains of rabbit virus to help keep the rabbit population in check. It always works for a few generations and then they breed resistance to the disease - although they may have a faster breeding cycle than deer?

Whoa! What a hoot that series sounds like. I'll have a check around for it. I watch very little television these days. I don't mind a police procedural series as it occasionally provides a walk through of how these things may be undertaken - and you never know when such information is useful! Evil genius chuckle... Hehe! Just kidding. I read that CSI has now finished. Oh well, like everything it had been a fun ride whilst it lasted. The latest (and apparently final) Dexter book turned up in the mail over the past few days, but I'm still thoroughly engrossed in the Cimmerian world of Conan. That really is such a good read - but very politically incorrect. It is fascinating to get an insight into the casual prejudices of an earlier era. I can gloss over that stuff when I get to it and just focus on the story. Different times.

Well, they have a saying down here: If you like lollies (candy) work in a lolly shop. It brings to mind the apprentice mage who fixated on large sums of money for many months and eventually got a job working in a bank for a moderate wage counting other peoples cash...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Oh yeah, I hear you! I'm not sure whether you saw the blog posts that detailed the construction but I buried the steel sheeting in the ground and then back filled it with better than structural grade concrete. Those cats sound like they are a nuisance digging under the wire. The rats convinced me on the previous chicken house that such an extreme construction technique was required because they dug under the older chicken pen and - get this - they scratched away at the earlier concrete slab over a long period of time until it had burrows in it. I couldn't believe it!

I feed them a mix of grains - fortunately I have two empty bags outside (which I use under wood piles to keep the moisture off them). Here's what's in them: Maize; wheat; lupins; peas; sorghum; barley; sunflower; safflower; oats; salt; lucerne + another bag that says: Natural grains and vegetable proteins with complete supply of grit and lime. I mix the two bags together and add local shell grit.

Thanks for your experience - yes, every account here seems to also agree with you that it is a losing battle. So, I've been putting some very long term thought into this matter.

It is really interesting to hear what a difference a continent makes. There are some feral roses here (called dog roses), but honestly I don't see them here at all. The wallabies eat every single rose here and it is a tough call to even produce a few flowers and even then I have to hide the plants totally.

I'm thinking a much bigger and very diverse hedge, but it is now too late to plant new plants here due to the sharp increase in temperature from week to week. There's always next autumn.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Your story is starting to seriously worry me! Hehe! The antler thing is very ungentlemanly indeed. What a rotter to take unripe fruit from the trees.

The wallabies can perform a similar trick using their huge tales and grabby limbs to break trees and all of the lower fruit tree branches here except for the citrus (which they generally don't like) are a distinct vase shape with the limbs starting about 6 foot off the ground.

You raise an interesting issue and I use the birds here to let me know when a particular tree has ripe fruit because if the birds are eating it, I harvest the fruit bring it inside for a week or so and then it softens and is edible. My gut feeling says that after the fruit is picked a little bit of fermentation goes on to make the fruit more palatable (and also breaks down the very tough fibres) to our tastes. Dunno though.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - Yes, the pizza boxes I get from my twice yearly commercial splurge, go right into the ground ... or, on the ground. Luckily, one of my neighbors is a QVC (Home Shopping Network) junkie, so, there's usually a bit of cardboard in the dumpster.

Yo, Chris - Coleman's Dry Mustard. Mix in a little water, or mayo ... let sit a few minutes and you've got really, really hot mustard. Clear your sinuses right out!

Thinking about deer, I realized that the deer here, pretty much leave the fruit trees alone. They do stand around under the trees, waiting for the fruit to fall, but I've never noticed any damage to the trunks ... young trees or old. Subject to change at a moments notice, at the whim of the deer :-). Maybe it's because there's so much other good stuff around, to eat? Saw a woodpecker working over one of my apple trees, yesterday. Haven't seen the little fellows, in awhile. They've punched thousands of holes in the bark, but, the apple trees just seem to shrug it off.

I don't eat much commercial beef, but, I suppose most of the meat here is on the sweet side. Beef, chickens, pigs, etc.. I saw an interesting film on corn production. What I didn't know is that the corn grown for commercial cattle feed and ethanol is pretty much inedible for people. Nasty tasting, I guess.

Well, rabbits breed like ... rabbits :-). The deer have, usually, one fawn a year. Sometimes two. Rarely, three.

Well, time to let the chickens out and pull myself together for a trip to the Little Smoke. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

My oaks always lose all there leaves: quercus robur, the pedunculate oak. The other native oak is the sessile oak, quercus petraea. Are your oaks different ones?

Do your deer have the ticks which cause lyme disease?

One of the new neighbours managed to cut through my water pipe again yesterday. He has repaired it.

Inge

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

I am sorry about the damage to your fruit trees, although like other readers I enjoyed the Star Wars references. The first film in the series came out my freshman year in college. A long time ago in a place far away ...

Deer are about the only animal that doesn't get into my garden, apparently because the area I live in is just urban enough to discourage them from taking up residence. Good thing, because the rabbits, voles, squirrels, and fruit-eating birds do enough damage as it is. Your hedgerow plan sounds like the best long-term solution to the problem. I have read that a two-fence system, with the two fences five or six feet apart and both about six feet tall, presents the deer with a barrier they cannot jump. It's claimed that although they can jump over the outer fence, they do not have enough room in the middle to gain the energy to jump over the inner fence. Or maybe it's the combination of height and width that they cannot clear. I think in this case both fences can be plastic. That's more of a short-term solution, but if a person needed to keep deer out while waiting for the longer-term hedgerow to grow, or for someone who doesn't have room for a hedgerow, it might work. But it's just what I've read, nothing I know about first-hand.

Now that Mike has built the woodshed, the way may be clear to ask him to build me a chicken house like yours. Over the winter I'll study your Chooktopia posts and the video in this post. Thanks for all the info on your systems! And also, thanks for the pictures of your beautiful flowers and the fruits-to-be. These things lessen the harshness of winter.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

QVC sounds a bit frightening to me!

Oh, that mix sounds explosive. Makes you wonder whether they use the dried leaves or seeds or the mustard is obtained from something else altogether? I don't really know anything about it. The leaves here make your eyes water and it feels as if your brain is about explode if you eat too much (which is not much at all) in a single mouthfull. Ouch!

I reckon you are spot on about the deer having better fodder available to consume which is why they leave your fruit trees alone. Down here with poor soils and a wildly variable climate, fruit trees are a good option. They certainly can't consume eucalyptus leaves (not much can really) as they are so toxic and low in nutrients / minerals.

Out of interest, do the woodpeckers do what they do because they are sharpening their beaks or are they consuming part of the tree? The Kookaburra's down here tend to rap, rap, rap against old trees but they are doing it to sharpen their beaks (which are rather large) - they're like a dull coloured Kingfisher bird. They're very smart though and they call out to each other when there is something to be wary of.

Wow, I didn't know that about the corn. Very interesting and I guess it makes sense. It would have to have a high percentage of sugar to be useful for ethanol manufacture I guess? I'm honestly surprised that the manufacture of large volumes of ethanol makes much if any commercial sense. The amount of feedstock you'd have to put into the process plsu other energy you sue to distill that would be phenomenal. About the highest I can get country wines here is about 18% alcohol / volume. All distillation does is take that, add in more energy and then concentrate it. There are diminishing returns to the process and the yeast seems to do most of the heavy lifting really.

I wish your chickens an excellent run and hope that you also have a good run into the little smoke!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

No, I believe that they are English Oaks. My gut feeling is that they are slowly adapting to the additional energy available to plants down here over winter. If I remember I'll try and get a photograph of one next winter for you to have a look at - you'll see that they are mostly deciduous.

No there is no lyme disease here which is a good thing because Toothy the long haired dachshund has an unfortunate problem what with being very low to the ground and occasionally picking up ticks on his guts. The ticks are also on the wallabies, wombats and kangaroos so their health would suffer if lyme disease was present. The local cattle and horses usually have birds sitting on their backs consuming the ticks and other parasites.

Oh no! Well, at least he is quick to repair the damage (and is learning in the process). Being on tank water here - such an act would be a nightmare. The tanks here are mostly full which is a nice thing going into summer. I can't say the same for the other neighbours though who appear to be less careful with water. It is a precious thing here.

Hope you like my comment over at the ADR as I've decided to write about economics as there are some weird things going on down under.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Thank you for the lovely comment and thoughts. Well, it was a long time ago for me too! Hehe. Where did all that time go? ;-)!

Yeah, a fence is probably the way to go, but then it excludes the other animals and the whole conversion of plant matter into soil business slows down. The animals bring a great deal of joy into my life too and I share a lot of the produce here with them. The other problem with fences is that they require maintenance and ongoing work so I'm very careful to avoid taking on new bits of infrastructure that require further effort as there is only so much energy to chuck around. It is a complex matter.

The hedgerow with a single entrance for the animals is possibly the best long term solution, but that is years away.

Thank you that is lovely to read. Expect more flower, fruit and herb photos too (a soothing balm for the winter). The growth here at the moment is explosive. The biggest insight I had into the world of chicken is putting a solid roof over the deep litter mulch chicken run. I obtained the insight because chickens dust bathe to clean themselves and so that started me thinking that chickens are jungle birds, but they evolved from drier jungles (which they have up north here and in Asia) and so in colder climates they need the drier litter over winter to dust bathe in otherwise their health suffers - and egg production goes down, lifespans are shortened etc... Plus the drier mix means that the chicken manure and woody compost doesn't go anaerobic - which also has health consequences for the chickens.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I have now read your ADR comment. 'borrowing to pay dividends' ye gods! That is absolutely terrible, finance gets worse and worse.

The article provoked other thoughts in me. Did freemasonry make its way to Australia? If so, are there any Aboriginal freemasons? My stepfather was a freemason and I learned a bit about them. In the UK they were absolutely class ridden and also divided by profession.

I then went on to consider again, the need to belong. We would have been pack animals for survival purposes, but as we evolved there would have been chances for people to think for them selves. I dislike all organisations, I think without exception but note that you keep trying. For good or ill, is the individual or the organisation more successful. Assassin or army? It is possible to think of many examples of individuals moving mountains, the Kinder transport comes to mind.

Am interested in anyone's thoughts on the matter. If you don't mind it on your blog.

Inge

meigancam01 said...

Very nice article.
Thanks for sharing with us.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - The eternal burning question ... Star Trek, or, Star Wars? Much blood has been shed over that question :-). "These are the voyages of the Starship Fern Glade Farm ... it's umpity year mission to attempt to survive in a temporal anomaly." :-).

Well, I'm sure you've got Colman's mustard, in Australia. It's been made in Norwich, England, since 1814. Eye searing yellow can with red lettering. Great for making mustard pickle. Got the recipe for that out of my Time/Life "Cooking of the British Isles." Part of a series, "Foods of the World."

The woodpeckers are after bugs.

The ethanol industry was kind of a bubble. I hear there are abandoned ethanol plants, all over the Mid West. But someone is making the stuff. The amount in gasoline for vehicles, varies, state by state. I forget what percentage was listed on the pump. As an interesting sidelight, when I got my new mower, this year, I started thinking about the gas I put in it. So, I very carefully read the instruction manuals and was surprised to discover that it had a very wishy washy section on fuel. Must have been run through their legal department :-). They said you can use the ethanol laced gas in their mowers ... but ethanol free gas would be better. After talking to my friends in Idaho, I discovered that there's one station in town that carries ethanol free gas. As with so many other things that leave stuff out (unsalted this ... no fat that) it costs a bit more. But, not too much.

The thing about corn used for ethanol (and corn syrup) is that the cost of feed corn goes up ... especially if the crops are poor. So, the cost of meat goes up. And, since corn syrup is in so much commercially made food, the cost of that goes up. It's all very circular. Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I forgot to tell you how much I enjoyed your Chooktopia video. So informative and such gorgeously healthy (and happy!) chickens. Just think how super healthy their eggs much be. I reckon that's why Sir Scruffy and Scritchy the Boss Dog look so vibrantly healthy as well - Super Chook Eggs.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

You have the makings of a real television comedy series with that new neighbor of yours. Perhaps you could be a screenwriter? Did you ever get your dryer fixed? That's a rough thing to be without in your climate.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Claire:

Your double deer fence deterrent is kind of what we did with our first attempts at gardening, before we created the one large garden. I had forgotten about it. We built a small enclosure, narrow but quite long. Too narrow for a deer to safely jump into from the sides and on one end a monstrous climbing rose, on the other end a double fence, like you mentioned. We moved a baby from that rose to another spot along a fence in an effort to keep Bob the Tailless Dog from jumping over. It certainly worked on that section!

I have long wanted to start up a hedgerow, but cannot conceive of how to do it without building a fence around the nascent hedgerow to keep deer away until it outgrows them. Everyone here is mucho tired of building fences!

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

It is bad isn't it? To me it seems as if they've somehow decided to pay dividends based on future income potential - which is sort of wrong. Clearly they must have some sort of equity reserve with which to do so though. But it is a good metaphor for the usual response to larger problems that face our society. I would have thought that they would spend the money on adaption to the new circumstances that they face, but that is an unpopular view.

The fact that interest rates are so low, can only be indicative of a decline in income for the rentier class of investors and the real story of economic growth which is clearly contracting despite the best efforts of the printers. What do you reckon about that?

Yes, it did make its way into Australia, but I really don't know anything about it at all. One of the editors uncles was an active member, but he has since passed away. There is probably a great deal of value in those fraternal orders. The social networks that we have are very frayed at the edges. What do you think about that and have you ever joined one of them?

Well, the insistence on most groups that I've come into contact with on consensus politics drives me bananas. The blog moderation here is a benevolent dictatorship - it is clear and not open for discussion - but imagine if someone comes along and starts trying to hijack that moderation process for their own ends. That's what I've seen in local community groups. The other thing that they seem to miss is the important question as to: Why are the members there in the first place? The people that run the groups tend to do so for the status of that role and they defend it way beyond its use by date. Am I starting to sound a bit cynical? When I was the bossman way back in the days when I worked at the top end of town, I can tell you that I was consistent and just (which is not fair by the way) and everyone knew where they stood - I didn't let that sort of consensus politics rubbish go on.

Not at all, it is a topic that I have been dwelling on for a very long time.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi meigancam01,

Welcome to the discussion!

Thanks very much. Over the next few weeks I'll do another video for the update for 750 days in the food forest too (the last one was 500 days)! So stay tuned.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Total genius, I loved it! Hehe! Hey, speaking of temperoral anomalies they reckon about an inch of rain (or more) will get dumped here over the next few days, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. It is still very green here and there is plenty of water in the ground, but off the mountain range it is looking more like January or February - it is really, really dry. The heat record for October here has meant to have been smashed too...

Now which sci-fi team do you bat for: Star Wars or Star Trek - I can't recall getting a definitive answer on this difficult topic?

Oh yes, of course Colman's (the yellow can with the red writing) has been available for - well let's put it this way - a long time. No, what I meant was how is mustard powder derived and might it be possible to make your own?

I'm going to make you jealous now. Must, sorry! I jumped on the train yesterday afternoon to go into the big smoke and saw a foodie film! Burnt. It is a sort of a redemption film with a high end chef in London. Very good and very enjoyable - brilliant actors and a good story. My, but they have some problems and egos though. A definite must watch for you! :-)!

We don't get much in the way of insects in the trees - but a whole lot of spiders (big ones) live in the bark of the trees and as they're hunstman spiders they can run really fast and can be quite aggressive - I've never been bitten by one though (yet) and I innoculated the house with even more deadly spiders (which are harmless to humans) which hunt the huntsman spiders.

Thanks for the ethanol explanation. They can add 10% ethanol into fuel here - although I've seen 85% blends available for sale, but very few cars can actually use that particular fuel. Yes, the legal departments can water things down until they have so many disclaimers that you never read them all. The future will probably have a whole lot more common sense and a whole lot less signage and disclaimers! ;-)! Ooops forgot, the ethanol here comes from sugar cane - it seems a bit of a waste of good soils to me.

Food is on the up in terms of price down here and yeah - unpredictable and inconsistent weather leads to jumps in food prices. The cherry growers are screaming about the rain this weekend - cherries split when they get too much to drink.

I'm very excited about the green wizards catch up tomorrow - will let you know how it goes.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks very much - the chickens are very happy. I should have a new video on the growth in the orchard over 750 days over the next few weeks too. They're good fun to make too.

Well, Poopy the Pomeranian couldn't care less about the chickens, but oh my, does he love eggs or what. When I'm feeding him the eggs in his breakfast muesli, I say to him eggses my precious, eggses and he almost explodes with excitement - seriously, he'll jump up and down and perform multiple spins - he's a bit of a show pony sometimes - but he knows the word "eggses".

The eggs have strong shells too as the chickens get comfrey and borage every day too.

How is the autumn going up your way? Does you forest go deciduous or do you have a mix of tree types?

With the hedgerow, I plant the areas out in small sections and put temporary chicken wire fencing around it to protect it for the first about 3 years. Have you ever started one at your place?

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I wouldn't bet on that equity reserve! Projections of future anything are always highly dubious.

Low interest rates from banks are great for the stock market. Watch shares dive if interest rates go up. Having said that, I don't see how they can ever go up. Mortgages have been very cheap here and people have got them with no thought whatsoever for potential future rises. The result would be foreclosures and the collapse of the housing market; this would be a disaster here.

I find it hard to know whether food is getting cheaper here, as is claimed. To me it seems evenly balanced. The media prates about lower prices but some things have gone up. I reckon that over all I have spent the same amount for quite a while.

Hmm, I joined groups when young but avoid them like the plague now. Let's say that status is indeed regarded as important and remember about power corrupting.

I have been listening to a programme on radio 4 all week. 'All fair in war - A history of military deception'. There were a number of references to Sun Tzu. I do have the book.

@Pam

I am in a quandary about my dryer which is not worth fixing. It is stacked on my still functioning washer and I have little space. They are both over 20 years old. Am thinking that perhaps I should replace both. Sod's law suggests that if I don't, the washer will rapidly give up. Getting anything delivered here is a nightmare, currently made far worse by the fact that the nearby development is having nearly 200 lodges delivered by low loaders. Each comes in separate halves i.e. nearly 400. A very narrow road and almost everyone around here is going ballistic. We have been informed that they will be arriving every weekday well into February. So I carry on pondering the dryer problem. I can manage without of course but it is not ideal. At least a washer spin dries, not as in my past when everything remained dripping.

Realised that I had better tell the neighbour that my telephone goes through underground. He replied that he had discovered it.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

You and Poopy kill me! I can just see you and him and "eggses".

So good to know about comfrey and borage and strong shells. Thanks.

Perfect autumn here so far. Our forest trees are mostly deciduous - many different oaks, ash, hickory, walnut, beech, maple, poplar, sycamore, even the occasional chestnut. Lots of smaller species, also. We have a fair amount of different pines, too. From September to mid November we wait, here on our north slope, for the leaves to all come off so that the sun will shine on us again. The sun is so low in the sky that it does not much strike our property until those leaves all come off.

Ah, that is what I thought. One must protect the hedgerow as it becomes established.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - All hail the Benevolent Dictator! :-). Your blog. Works for me.

As to community groups. How many times in literature or movies have we seen the local garden club, the Women's Institute, etc., being run by some old hen with an agenda of her own ... usually social climbing? Or, at least status seeking and gathering. I'm sure there's a guy / dude equivalent, but I'm stretching for examples. Quasi military organizations, like the Boy Scouts? The eco group with the intellectual dude who is always "greener than thou?" The "Casual Vacancy" comes to town, in that the mayor seemed to run everything. But it was his wife, who very much reminded me of Lady McBeth, who REALLY pulled the strings.

Star Trek. I saw the first Star Wars movie, and quit liked it. Then I got quit lost in the quagmire of the following movies. Had I seen it? Or, not? I lost the plot. Recently took a look at the first three Jurassic Park movies, in preparation for the release of number four. Turns out I had seen one and two ... but had missed number 3. Which, much to my relief had no screaming children who wouldn't listen and follow instructions, thus putting the entire group in danger. Instead, a young man who contributed to the survival of the group. The ninny was the mother.

Well, I'll have to look into, mustard. My mission, if I choose to accept it is to explore ... mustard. :-). Oh, heck. Just use horseradish, instead :-). But, there's probably something in that yellow that contributes to overall health and well being. Seems like the brighter and more colorful the fruit or veg, the more nutrients contained to contribute to ... health and well being.

Thanks for the heads up on "Burnt." It's being released in the US, today! I suppose it will appear on the dvd shelves at the local store in about 3 months. Or, after the holidays, I may just start haunting the library catalog for it. If you search a title, it shows up when it goes on order ... long before it hits the general library catalog, when it actually is added to the collection. I check from time to time (ok, twice a day ... it's compulsive and takes 5 minutes). But, it's not a list. I have to search each title.

Saw a magnificent turkey, in the back pasture, yesterday. A cock, I think. I know there are flocks to the east, and, maybe they are expanding their range. There was a hen, hanging about, two years ago, or so. I think she blew in on a storm. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Well, that's interesting. We're under a flood watch, through the week-end. Might get anywhere from 4 to 12 inches of rain, depending on where you are. Boy, the forecast changed fast. Yesterday, at this time, it was no rain after 11am, for today. And, not a flood watch in sight! Lew

Phil Harris said...

Hi Chris
You might find some of this stuff useful for deer if you can get it. Round here they use the smaller cheap plastic tubes with a stake for starting everything. Bigger trees it gets more expensive. http://www.britishhardwood.co.uk/deer-fencing-mesh-rolls/248/

We get deer in the garden these days but our type (Roe) travel as singles or a doe with one or two young and there has not been any significant damage so far. A few years back I needed to do some emergency netting round apple trees with old chicken wire mesh when we had snow and low temperatures for weeks and the trees were about the only feed rabbits could get at.

Glad the rats have moved on - there is some nature that we need live separately from. Fascinating that you have black rats - ours are all the brown kind.

Wishing you plenty of rain

Phil

Damo said...

Another great post. I am looking forward to your economic musings, I fear that Australia is a ripe target and may shortly resemble Argentina. If you don't already, I suggest checking out the blog 'macrobusiness'. It is a terrific site and probably one of the few bright spots in Australian journalism at the moment.

Could I ask for a blog post at some point on how you manage plant/animal interactions? (e.g. pros and cons of letting chooks out/fruit and birds etc). I have been meaning to ask since I noticed in the photos that few of your garden beds seem to be protected yet you let the chooks out.

Cheers,
Damo

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Apologies, I forgot to add that those equity reserves would probably already be on the respective balance sheets - otherwise the companies in question would be unable to legally pay the dividends. Then perhaps they'd probably be able to create a legal work around for that problem too? Dunno.

I'll keep an eye for that. The banks have lifted interest rates slightly down here so it probably makes for an interesting case study? I read today that the bank shares have dropped 20% in value this year - a lot of rent seeking people rely on that number...

Oh yeah, I totally hear you. That is one of the reasons I watch Grand Designs UK out of a sense of horror and fascination. Some of the mortgages just defy my imagination. And twice I have seen accountants who are on the show declare how much money they can chuck at a project... But as it progresses (like the guy on the Isle of White) it become ever more like watching a car crash in slow motion. My advice is always conservative in the traditional meaning of that term and I give it even if my clients don't wish to hear it - but I also walk the talk on that front.

Fair enough about the food. Every year I spend less and less on food as this place gets more and more productive. It is such a slow process though. If I was to purchase the food from the store, it would be much more expensive again (and I reckon that the quality is dropping too).

Yes, status is an ephemeral beast that some people love to chase... I'm watching an email war right now over the slow demise of a local group and I believe that I'm going to pick the winner on that one. More on this Tuesday...

Oh yeah, deception is part of the whole thing and Sun Tzu makes no bones about that one. Nice to hear that you also have the book too - it is a valuable thing. Mines a little hard back edition and beautifully printed. I hope that it is still around and finding interested readers long after we're all gone. There is nothing fair about war, what was your take on that subject?

PS: I'll write about the Green Wizards catch up today in Melbourne below!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks. Poopy is a gentle spirit and he really is obsessed by Eggses (my preciouses). He puts real fear into people though because he doesn't trust anything or anybody new to the farm. He is a good watchdog really and can take his ultimate form of Cujo at a moments notice in such situations. I've never had a bad moment with him, but I'm careful to be very consistent with him.

Oh yeah, those plants mine and concentrate calcium in their leaves. By mining I mean they somehow exchange that mineral with the fungi and bacteria in the soil for sugars and then concentrate that mineral in their leaves. A lot of plants mine various minerals and it would be an interesting study.

Really great to hear that you are having a perfect autumn and thanks for the wonderful description of your forest. Did you know that the mid point of your state, is the exact same latitude as this farm? I'm at 37.5'S and the mid point of Virginia is 37.5'N and yes, the sun is very low in the sky here over winter too. At best, the solar PV system here can generate 2 peak sun hours (and I'm south west facing too) in the very depths of winter.

Yeah, the wallabies totally destroy young trees so fencing is necessary for about 3 to 4 years I reckon and then they can do their worst. The deer threw me for a six though... (oops, sorry cricket reference there ;-)!)

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thank you very much for that! Oh, imagine the chaos if minority groups could take over the activities at Fernglade Farm - Like, who would read a blog of people sitting around singing kumbaya my lord - meanwhile the infrastructure to support the singing falls down around their guitars and could be seen to be worsening with each passing week! Oh, I think I'm going straight to hell for that one! Hehe! ;-)!

Oh yeah, too true. Consensus politics and group meetings does my head in. That's an easy one because the local volunteer fire brigade was pretty blokey but had some seriously weird politics going on. The captain of that brigade, took a verbal swipe at the editor (she had the temerity as secretary to organise a social outing at a local pub for members) and oh boy did I give him a mouthful. It is interesting that you mention the quasi military organisation because he did have a background in the military, but somehow forgot that the volunteer brigade was part social club and part emergency service. It always left the question unanswered: Why are people there in the first place? The captain believed that it was so that they could get operational experience (i.e. on the back of the fire truck), whereas I always believed it was for the local social networks that you put your neck and time on the line as a volunteer.

Haha! Too true. I was a bit dubious about small furry creatures taking on the might of an interstellar empire - it does seem like a stretch of the imagination really. That's really interesting because I've never seen the Jurassic park movies. Are they good? Did the mother injure her ankle during the move or is that a bit too much cliche? Naughty children that poke dinosaurs probably get eaten by said dinosaur! Hehe. If someone seriously said to me: Hey look at that massive tyranosaurus, I wonder if we can make friends with it? In such a circumstance, I'd probably try and outrun them - it seems like a good strategy not to get too close to those teeth and jaws!

The horseradish is a good idea - most of the wasabi down here is actually bright green dyed horseradish anyway. It is good stuff, but then what is mustard? You really have me wondering about that one... The yellow colouring maybe tumeric? You can actually grow that down here and up your way (in well drained soil) as it tolerates the frost.

No shame in that! Hehe! Mate, your library system is good - the options here are limited which is why I head into the big smoke to watch the films, but then there is also the burgers with beetroot and coffee and cake too - and maybe the occasional frozen yoghurt and I'm sure there are some other things too. I hope you do enjoy the film. Bradley Cooper who plays the lead in that film is one of the best character actors in the US at present and Sienna Miller is also very good. Character actors have to absorb a role to be convincing and they both owned their roles.

What? How does a turkey blow in on a storm? Do you mean that literally or is that a figure of speech?

Ah, it looks like the bulk of the storm dumped heavy falls to the east of here - worse luck... Oh my that's a whole lot of rain up your way! Wow! Stay safe and be careful.

PS: Apologies but after reading the ADR this week, I realised that I had been very bad and have not asked you how your neighbour is travelling?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Phil,

Thanks for the link. I use very heavy gauge galvanised steel chicken wire, but these trees were so big and old that I didn't consider that they required the protection. We do what we can in these matters. Oh yeah, I hear that it is expensive too and thus I'm looking for a cheaper solution that can be done with the resources that I have to hand - thus I'm leaning towards the hedgerow as it a more or less permanent and self replicating fence - with multiple benefits for the farm.

Wow, your description of those days is one of tough times and I can well understand the response of the wildlife. The wallabies here attack the citrus at the tail end of winter / early spring when the grass and herbage is very low proteins - but days and weeks of snow I can't even begin to understand.

The rats were amazing creatures and I'm glad they've moved on as they were so systematic. I didn't know there was a difference between black and brown rats, so there is clearly some research to do. Incidentally they were brown in colour, but I'd believed that they were one and the same creature...

Thanks for the comment. How's that worm farm coming along? The one here is working magnificently and the soil there gets deeper and deeper every year - it is amazing to see over time.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Many thanks for the comment. Oh yeah, that is just too true and the parallel is very close for all sorts of reasons. I'm onto Macrobusiness and have been reading that for a few years now. Thanks for mentioning it as it is the biz!

Is your blog your story for the ADR competition? I'll check that out over the next week as I appreciated the feedback you gave me. Fiction writing is a hard business.

cont tomorrow, sorry I've totally run out of time!

Cheers

Chris

Phil Harris said...


Hi Chris

Tree guards - http://www.britishhardwood.co.uk/tubex-treeguard-mesh-tubes/257/ These seem cheap enough while you get the hedges sorted out. See British hedges for stock control http://www.hedgelayer.freeserve.co.uk/hedlan.htm (Might need parallel hedges with gap to prevent deer jumping? I think somebody already suggested that?)

We use UV resistant enviro mesh laid over to protect beds / strips of valuable lower-growing young stuff - tie it down with tent pegs - move it when the time comes. I am thinking of nursery beds for hedge seedlings etc.

Bit of research if it helps save you time - British rats!
Quote:
"There are two species of rat in Britain, Rattus Norvegicus which is commonly known as the Brown Rat or Common Rat. The Rattus Rattus, known as the Black Rat or Ship Rat is now rarely found in the UK."

I seem to remember the 'Ship Rat' was the one supposed to carry plague back in the day!

best
Phil






Phil Harris said...

PS
Snow, ice cold and tree damage, direct or from herbivores, much better than bush fires with oily trees and a hot wind!!!!
Phil

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

I'm falling off my chair! I told you that you could write a comedy series:

"Realised that I had better tell the neighbour that my telephone goes through underground. He replied that he had discovered it."

Might I suggest that when you purchase a new washer/dryer you stick with something quite basic? On the day that I last went shopping for a new washer after my very old one gave up the ghost, apparently my head just went, because I bought quite a high-tech one guaranteed to save me an endless amount of money via energy savings. It is the most horrible thing ever and will probably last forever. I promptly named it "Moriarty".

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - "minority groups taking over" kind of jogged my memory about a couple of things. For some reason, the US has a long history of Utopian communities ... and their mostly, ultimate failures. Louisa May Alcott's (Little Women, etc.) family helped found a "Utopian Transcendental Community" called "Fruitlands." She later wrote a book about it called "Transcendental Wild Oats." Haven't read it. It lasted about a year. Puget Sound seemed to be a magnet for various groups. Years ago, I read a book called "Utopias on Puget Sound." Don't remember a lot about it.

One of our first beachheads was Jamestown. Which came within a hair's breath of failing. Basically, too many gentlemen and not enough real workers.

Well, the "Jurassic Park" movies are a real romp. And, although a lot of people get eaten by dinosaurs, the gore isn't too gratuitous. No matter weather aliens or the zombie apocalypse, children and young people who can't follow instructions and jeopardize the group should, in my opinion, be fed to said aliens and zombie's, early on. :-).

"Turkey blew in". I think, both literally and figuratively. :-). The turkey hen showed up right after a very bad windstorm that came from that direction ... where the flocks are reported. I think something startled her into flight, and with a good tail wind, I think she ended up here. She was around for about two years. Heck, maybe she even enjoyed the trip! :-). Now, the cock that showed up the other day ... he seemed to appear without the weather. All on his own. Maybe with all the people mucking about in the woods due to hunting season, he just was edged in this direction. It's all speculative, but I sure enjoyed watching him strut his stuff, across the pasture.

Well, my neighbor seems to be doing ... ok. Every time his wife shows up, he's in the van, so I really haven't got an ... unbiased report. I hesitated to mention it, but our water went out, again, on wednesday afternoon. The new well was dug and capped, but just about that time, the RV park came back on line and all momentum was lost. It seems this time, the State is not happy with the pre-filtering process. Given that the season is over, we expect the same foot dragging as last year. Duration of this water outage? Unknown.

But the challenge seems to have perked my neighbor, right up. The well is going to be brought on-line. There were several vehicles and equipment over there, yesterday. I arranged with Chef John to go over to his place on tuesdays and fridays to fill up water jugs and shower, for the duration, while he's at work. I still think I'm going to put in a rain tank, in January or February.

Too borrow a phrase from an Australian friend of mine :-), the weather is feral, today. Pouring buckets. We're under a flood watch, but, the powers that be don't think the flooding will be too bad, as it's the first event of the season. A bit of wind. Hope the power holds.

A Happy Halloween to all! Oh, the local paper has started running the Peanuts "Great Pumpkin" series. I had forgotten that one needs to have a "sincere" pumpkin patch, for the Great Pumpkin to pay a visit. Maybe after the "decline" the Cult of the Great Pumpkin will gain traction, here and there? :-) Lew

Damo said...

Glad you liked the feedback on the ADR short story. To be honest I seem to recall being worried it was useless advice. I ended up being reasonably happy with my entry, although it didn't win. I found it pretty hard to write at times although the story and setting came very easily to me. In the near future I plan to do a small non-fiction project then decide if I want to keep trying at fiction.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

You are absolutely spot on about the sad and sorry state of Australian journalism. I'll bet the journo's fear for their jobs too because the education system is currently training more journalists than there are even jobs for. How that works is way beyond me.

No worries about the blog idea. I'll have to have a think about it for a bit and incorporate a story around that idea though. The animals and birds are all part of the systems here and I'm sort of learning as I go so there are four failures for every success. The deer damage was completely unexpected though - but hasn't seemed to have been repeated recently - who knows? Just for your immediate concerns though - the chickens don't have access to the vegetable beds because they are about 40m away and there are easier options for them. I tend to take the vegetables to the chickens rather than the other way around. The chickens enjoy scratching around the orchard though and also into the surrounding forest.

Incidentally, anyone who has a wombat as their totem animal is all right by me! :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Phil,

Thanks for the fencing links - the hedgerow is clearly going to be a big job. Incidentally, I just noticed that the Tree Lucerne (Tagasaste) trees are producing seed pods. Those trees grow faster here than anything else and improve the soil as they go - so there'll be a bit of seed saving as the pea like pods mature over the next few weeks and months.

That would work very well, although because the area is large and the wallabies can crush most fencing arrangements I stick with the heavy duty gauge chicken wire - it is solid stuff and stands up on its own without support. Just for your interest too, I use hardwood timber stakes to hold the wire up and they slowly convert to soil themselves over the course of about two years...

Thanks for the correction - the species here is the brown (or common rat). I didn't realise that there was a difference between the two species. Oh yeah, the plague was carried in the blood of fleas that lived on the Black Rat. Not something that you or I want to encounter. I've never heard of a case of the plague down here, but you never know. It is a real shame that we are wasting the effectiveness of our antibiotics which are really the last line of defence against bacteria on unnecessary ailments. I've noticed that there are advertising campaigns trying to alert people to this issue - but it is a hard sell.

I hear you and totally agree. If I had the time and resources, that big problem could be eliminated but alas people are stuck in their views on what the forests should look like. I'd plant the lot out to oaks, local nitrogen fixing trees and fruit trees all in a big mess. It would look awesome!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for the history of Utopian communities up in your part of the world. The same thing is true down here too. Years ago I visited a local (they call them multiple occupancy down here) community because I was interested to see what it was all about. They are in a similar forest ecosystem to here too and not too far away: Moora Moora. With respect to them, the community has been functioning since the 1970's, but it left me feeling awkward because I just didn't get it as a functioning community - no disrespect to them as I'm probably displaying my own prejudices, but most people headed off site to earn income so it felt like a big commuter village to me.

I often wonder whether books like John Steinbeck's classic Of Mice and Men where one of the protagonists "Lenny" keeps rabbiting on about "Living off the fat of the land" has somehow inserted a false meme into the population. Somewhere that meme may be true, but trying to achieve a surplus of food production is a really tough gig and down here where the soils are old and leached, and the rainfall is inconsistent, and the sun is very harsh - you know, I just don't know... It takes years to build up productive soils and systems and I'm frankly uncertain that people understand that - which is possibly why Utopian communities fall apart - there is a lot of work to do before one can live off the fat of the land. Dunno, but I'm surprised that I've never come across a study of them - it would make for very interesting reading.

Jamestown = exactly! You know I always say that the birds and animals in the forests here really can carry a passenger - because it is a tough existence. No one wants to hear that though due to the fossil fuel subsidy that we enjoy in our food systems.

Well, wouldn't that save a whole lot of problems - and perhaps the dinosaurs or zombies (or whatever) would look a whole lot more kindly on the survivors? Hehe! Ah, we've descended into the land of silly yet again! :-)! A fine place to be too.

Oh! That has rocked my world because I never understood that turkeys actually flew anywhere. I've spotted feral quail around here and thought that the turkeys were like them - ground dwelling birds... Incidentally, I almost considered getting a peacock at one stage (I'm being serious too)...

Nice to hear that your neighbour is at least out and about even if it is only in the van. Sometimes sheer force of personality can actually make a difference to a person’s recovery. He is lucky to have a nurse for a wife though because that was an awful lot of bypasses.

Both your neighbours work and your idea are both sound. The loss of deep ice packs up in your part of the world means that your summers will be increasingly more like mine and subject to the vagaries of the weather. You see the ice packs would have provided a reliable source of melt water over the summer months when it otherwise may or may not have rained. You may be interested to note that down here in the water sheds the plants and soils perform that function and release water slowly over the summer into the creeks - the alpine areas are like giant sponges. But if those plants and soils get compacted the entire hydrological cycle gets altered. Do you have plant and soil coverage over the areas where the snow packs have recently retreated from?

That sounds totally feral mate! Hehe! :-)! Good luck with the power, wind and floods.

Happy Halloween to you too! I loved the Peanuts cartoons - great stuff. Didn't Lucy always give Charlie Brown a hard time when it came to football by snatching away the ball at the last second? And Snoopy and the Red Baron... The dog kennel here is more or less modelled on Snoopy's abode! All hail the Great Pumpkin!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Fiction writing is a tough gig and I'm not very good at it and aren't prepared to put in the time to get better at it. On a more positiv note, I'll have a look at your story over the next week and let you know what I reckon. Have you got a non fiction topic in mind? Once you've written your non fiction piece, drop us a line and I'll have a look. I vaguely recall reading that you are also a fan of the author Jack Vance? I've got most of his collection here (old pulp books and all) and some of them are not so good, but others are sheer genius - the Demon Princes series and Lyonesse stand out as masterpieces of fiction.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Woke this morning to the sound of foghorns.

My copy of Sun Tzu is a Penguin paperback. Hmm, 'nothing fair about war'; the whole concept of fairness passes me by. 'It's not fair' is a constant cry in this country. Ludicrous! Nothing is fair from the moment of birth, how can one possibly expect otherwise.

The field maples are dropping their leaves now. However my theory that the different varieties of trees drop their leaves in sequence, appears to be nonsense, I take it back. There is a silver birch which is still almost completely green. So position of tree may count for a lot.

@Pam

Am curious as to what is horrible about your super duper washer?

Inge

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I should have said 'moment of conception' not 'moment of birth'.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

It cannot be "tweaked". That is, I cannot make it let me do simple extra things, like stop it halfway through a wash and switch it to a spin cycle to get the water out and then start it over. This is because it has a computer for a brain and is not merely mechanical. It will only do whatever the button you pushed tells it to do. And in a power outage it is locked fast; no power and she does not open! You can imagine the state that laundry would be in that had sat in there during one of our week-long power outages. Luckily, it is not actually a "smart" appliance; it cannot be connected to the internet. Truly evil engineering, though.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - The super duper washer probably comes with a 200 page manual (seems like everything does, these days) and looks and acts like surplus off the Starship Enterprise. :-). Fine if you have an engineering and IT department, below decks.

Yo, Chris - Oh, I think that "milk and honey" meme was around, way before Steinbeck. I've seen some of the stuff the railroads put out, back in the 19th century, about the Pacific Northwest. Throw seed on the ground and pick the harvest at your leisure. Nothing about the months of endless gray sky and endless rain :-). Alaska was peddled, the same way. Ooops! Forgot to mention the short growing season and 40 below, weather. There's no free ride. As we here, all know. :-)

Oh, yes. Turkeys fly. In fact, most nights they usually roost in trees. I've run across a few places where people keep peacocks. High maintenance, low return. Screech, too. Pretty, though.

Oh, I love some of the running "gags" in "Peanuts." Lucy in her "The Psychiatrist is In" stand ...

Well, it was really a Halloween horror show, over at Chef John's. He called me all in a tizzy, rightfully so, I think. He has a koi pond. Some of the fish were 20 years old. His dogs were raising a ruckus, and he went to check it out. There was a river otter in his pond, vacuuming up the gold fish. Bold thing, what with the dogs and him pitching rocks. I asked him why he didn't shot it. He was afraid he'd either get hit by a ricochet, or, puncture the liner of the pond. I guess it was black, over two feet long and had a mouth full of very pointy teeth. He's quit a ways from any river, but I did a bit of research and they do go overland for long distances, looking for a good feed.

Well, the land here does soak up a good bit of water. Deep mulches in fields and forest floors. But, what with the population, water usage, development ... it's not enough. The reason we didn't have bad flooding, due to yesterdays rain "event" is that it's the first of the year, and what land can, was soaking it up. It's pretty well known that the flooding along the Chehalis river is due, a lot, to the development in areas that used to be marshy sponges.That slowed the water down and released it over time.

LOL. Luckily, just minutes after my alarm rang, something started pounding away on the cedar shingles on the side of the house. I pounded back. It was the woodpecker from yesterday. Saw him back at the apple trees when I went out to take care of the chickens. Lew P.S. Damn daylight savings time.

orchidwallis said...

Hello yet again

I should have said 'from the moment of conception' not 'from the moment of birth'.

Inge

Damo said...

Hi Chris,

I do have a non-fiction topic in mind, it will take the form of weekly 'blog' posts and I am hoping it will be a useful and entertaining resource for readers of your blog (and the ADR). More info to follow in the near future once I am ready to kick it off (not that it is a huge project, but 12 hour days - work- blah blah :p).

It is nice to see another Vance reader, he was very prolific so some are a bit pulpy, but when he hits all cylinders I consider him one of the best. Dying Earth, Lyonesse and Planet of Adventure are probably my top picks!

I hope you enjoy my story!

Cheers,
Damo

PS: Wombats are indeed awesome. Although now that I live on the west coast of Tassie I might be forced to change the avatar to a spotted quoll or brown trout. Just as soon as I get a photo!

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

The growth all around you is stunning in amount and very beautiful. I was fascinated by the wombat; I wonder what it would have done if you had not retreated?

The ghost: Of course, disaster can hit anyone at anytime. I am amazed at people who think that this is not a possibility. An over protected childhood is not good; perhaps you should consider yourself lucky to have had a hard time.

I seem to have repeated myself in last weeks comments.

That washing machine illustrates our ceaseless journey towards ever increasing complexity. In part because existing arrangements are tweaked the whole time. This also applies to our laws, economics, benefits, pensions etc. The only real solution would be to scrap the lot and re-start from the beginning. Computer programmes have certainly exacerbated the problem. Oh for simplicity! Perhaps the IT programmers should speak to their mothers!

The oak trees are putting on a wonderful display as their leaves turn yellow, orange and brown. It is particularly good because there has been no wind for a while so the leaves are remaining in situ.

Inge