Monday, 2 November 2015

Shedding the past


Hard times mould and shape the world. You can go to bed one night blissfully unaware of changes in the wind, only to then wake up the next morning and be confronted by an uncaring force moulding and shaping of your personal world. And I use that word “uncaring” in the most literal sense because change can be an impersonal force which sweeps you away from your comfort zone and into a world that looks like a very different world than the day before. I fear that uncaring ghost.

I was reminded this week of the sudden turns that life can take because several people asked me why both the editor and I live where we do. It is a good question which I’ve covered before in the blog. But then one of the farm projects that I was working on this week also provided answers to that question so I thought perhaps this was a topic that was worthwhile exploring again.

The poet of Generation X was Kurt Cobain of the famous rock band "Nirvana". Kurt was like many other troubled poets as he took his own life in 1994. But before his death Kurt wrote the song “Breed” in 1991. The introductory lines from the dark song were:

“I don't care [x5]
Care if I'm old
I don't mind [x5]
Mind, don't have a mind
Get away [x4]
Away, away from your home
I'm afraid [x5]
Afraid, afraid of a ghost”

I really liked that song, and I must confess that a curious circumstance assisted my enjoyment of that song. The circumstance was that a friend of mine really hated that song. My mate, you see, was very well financed having wealthy parents so he didn’t have to work or study or even try hard. If anything went wrong in his life, no worries, they’d pick up the tab no matter how large. He didn’t have to care, but he could pretend that he did care.

I lived in an entirely different world from my friend, where I had to care, but I didn’t actually want to have to care. And the song lyrics spoke directly to my heart.

Then in that same year of 1991, in my first job as an adult (I’d worked in all sorts of jobs from about the age of 12), Australia went through the recession that “we had to have” – which is what the government of the time described it as. I came face to face with my ghost because as unemployment reached 10% of the working population, I found myself unemployed. Moving back home was not an option and in between rent, student debt, bills and food I had no savings to speak of. I had scramble to put food on the table and keep a roof over my head, so with no other employment option presenting itself, I took a job in the unusual world of debt collection. I did this for the next four years.

Over the course of a few short weeks, I’d awoken from my previous blissful experience to find that the world was a very different place than I thought that it was. The experience was an initiation of sorts and I used that formative experience to motivate me to ensure that I’m not in that circumstance again. Like the song says: I’m afraid of a ghost, well, I was and still am afraid of a ghost, but despite it all, I do actually care.

The weather last week has been hovering around 25’C+ (77’F+) most days and the sun has shone strongly. By mid-afternoon the intensity of the sun is such that it feels as if it is biting your skin and serious sunburn is a constant risk. For those that aren’t aware, the October weather easily smashed most heat records across most the continent: Record breaking October Heat. The average temperature for the month of October here was 5’C greater than the long term average!
Clear blue skies reigned supreme earlier this week over the farm
And if the extreme heat wasn’t unusual enough, this coming Thursday a tropical storm is forecast to dump a significant amount of rain on the farm. The storm stretches all the way down from the tropical north of the continent. It’s big and it has been raining here today (Monday) for most of the afternoon.
Forecast rainfall for the continent this coming Thursday
The farm has no fences so the wildlife come and go as they please. It is hard to ignore some of the animals though like the ginormous wombat that the editor and I startled last evening. This wombat was so big, she didn’t run from us, but instead turned rapidly to face us, grunted an unmistakeable warning noise which roughly translated to: go somewhere else. At the same time the wombat stomped her large fury paws on the ground too. We wisely went somewhere else because she meant business!

Sometimes though it is the smallest wildlife here that is the most endearing, as the editor spotted this little fella the other night sheltering on the trunk of a grey wormwood shrub.
Southern brown tree frog sheltering on the trunk of a grey wormwood shrub
Speaking of shedding the past, I started dismantling the old chicken run this week. The shed won’t be demolished, but instead it will be modified and converted into a second fire wood shed over the next few weeks. Repurposing that chicken shed into a firewood shed, rather than demolishing it or even letting it fall into ruin, got me thinking about how people approach problems and challenges, and it seemed like a good metaphor for why we live here on this farm.

However, before the shed conversion can be performed, there was the very big job of removing the welded mesh that covered the entire roof of the chicken run. I hadn’t realised just how many nails and steel ties I’d originally used until every single one of them had to be removed. There were hundreds of them! Eventually though the roofing mesh was completed and the welded mesh was neatly rolled up and stored for future use.
The welded mesh has now been removed from the roof of the old chicken run
Observant readers will note just how well the wheat is growing in the old chicken run!

The new berry enclosure, which is also being used as temporary tomato beds, took a few more steps towards completion this week. We started constructing the concrete stairs from the entrance and down into the less steep part of that berry enclosure. Also the previously clay pathways between the plant beds were covered in composted woody mulch (about 3 cubic metres worth or 3.3 cubic yards) to stop the ground from drying out over summer. You can even see in the photo below the many tomato seedlings adapting to their new home.
The new berry enclosure is moving closer towards completion this week
In breaking news, the editor is sad to hear this, and I’m ashamed to admit it, but I have a new love in my life! Yes, I feel a great fondness towards the new electric brush cutter as it has completely revolutionised cutting the herbage and grass in the orchard. That was not a job that I looked forward to. Fortunately because of all of the wildlife, that job is only ever required to be done once per year. But it is a very difficult job because pushing the mower up hill and in and around the various fruit trees is a nightmare of unrelenting hard work. The electric brush cutter on the other hand is like having a half horsepower electric scythe and not only is the machine lightweight, but it chops and drops fast. Plus it is powered by the sun, unlike the push mower. I’m in love with my new brush cutter…
The new electric brush cutter made short work of the long herbage in the orchard
Now, if it just stops raining for a little bit I’ll be able to continue that job!

The extreme heat during October has had all sorts of weird impacts on the plants here and I noticed today that the Gooseberries are at least one month in advance of where I’d normally expect them to be.
The Gooseberries are almost a full month earlier than last year
And the plant growth has gone completely feral. In the photo below, the path has turned into an impasse!
The extreme October heat has caused the plant growth to go feral
It is hard to imagine, but there are even more flowers on the farm this week!
There are even more flowers on the farm this week
To combat the extreme heat and dry conditions, that I’m confronted with on the farm, I have planted a serious diversity of plants. That diversity of plants is also planted so close together that the soil is rarely exposed to the harsh sunlight. In the close up photo below I can spot dozens of different plants and there is no soil exposed to the sunlight. I have not watered those plants at all during October either.
Close up of a small portion of the garden bed in the photo above
Despite the record breaking hot weather conditions of October on this continent, the garden continues to grow and thrive.
The garden is continuing to grow and thrive despite no watering and the record breaking October heat
Having lived through tough times, I know that we can adapt to them and thrive. However, having lived through tough times, I no longer believe people when they say there is no ghost to fear, because I have seen that ghost and I accept my fear of it.

The temperature outside here at about 8.15pm is 7.4’C degrees Celsius (45.3’F). So far this year there has been 632.6mm (24.9 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total 623.0mm (24.5 inches).

55 comments:

Damo said...

The Garden is looking amazing!

I am young enough to have just missed the '91 recession, not needing to get a job till a few years later. I was old enough to pay attention though, and a few years later our economics class would talk about it, especially the credit Howard and Costello got by virtue of being elected just as the economy rebounded.

Anyway, most people these days have forgotten what a recession is like (or have spent their entire working life in boom times). I feel many will be in for a rude shock over the next few years.

Cheers, damo

Ps I have trouble imagining an aggressive wombat. I must only see the nice ones!

meigancam01 said...

Hi,
Very nice and thoughtful article.
And your garden looks really amazing.
Thanks for sharing...

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - My initial response to people asking why you live where you live, was, "If you have to ask the question, you don't "get" it." :-). On reflection, I must say I often ask people who are new to the country, "What brought you here?" And, usually get vague, unsatisfying answers. I think a great many people just kind of drift along, pushed here and there by circumstances and the wind. Those were some great opening paragraphs, by the way.

Our lives are kind of parallel, as far as job histories go. Worked from a very early age and pretty much took care of myself. Never unemployed for very long because I took some pretty bizarre jobs, along the way. Making and repairing wooden shoes, while slinging hash in a small bar, at night? But, looking back, it was all to just make the bucks to keep it all spinning. Which I had come to this more resilient and self subsistence thing, earlier. Oh, well. Water under the bridge. There were many times when I skated pretty close to the edge and was really "on my uppers." I think that turn of phrase refers to the soles of your shoes being worn out, and there's nothing left but the tops. :-).

The rhodies next to the chicken house are quit nice. And, when I saw the picture, I thought to myself, "Oh, look at all that herbage growing in the pen! Must be some rich dirt, er, soil, there!" :-)

Will be interesting to see how the climate, goes. Berries a month early. Just one of those little things that make you feel a bit .. uncomfortable. Must say I'm looking forward to being able to grow olives and lemons. I quit envy yours :-).

My 10 chooks hit a new low last week, with less than 2 dozen eggs. But, kicked off the week with 6 eggs, yesterday. Something I haven't seen in awhile. I think the molt is ending. Even old Mrs. Barnvelder is looking more like a chicken, again. We had a real atmospheric river, over the weekend. Straight in from Hawaii. But, it helped fill up the tubs in the yard ... the water I use for the animals and to flush the bog. They worked on the new well, over the weekend. And, I hear quit a bit of banging from that direction, this morning. But, for the duration, I'll be going to Chef John's on tuesday and friday for a good wash and to haul water. I'll have to stay alert. Don't want my leg ripped off by a rabid river otter :-). Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

The fog horns would be a pleasant sound. When it is foggy here the wind is often very still and sounds are deadened. Do you get a lot of ferry traffic? Sometimes here late at night I can hear the freight trains and certainly the horns are very loud. I can see the trains running across the landscape too. I've nicknamed them light worms because they crawl across the land with their lights blazing.

Exactly, nothing is fair at all and often our advantages comes at someone else's disadvantage. We're culturally programmed to believe in fairness - I'm really not sure why though (as you also point out).

Sun Tzu ignores the concept of fairness altogether.

Aspect makes a huge difference to trees because they get more sunlight - or like down here where being on a south facing slope is an advantage because you get less sunlight. Depressions in the ground around the trees also help them because they naturally collect water and organic matter.

No worries, I knew what you meant. Apologies about posting the duplication too.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

My front loader washing machine does that too. When I used to have the top loader, you could open the thing as it was in operation. But then the top loader used to become unbalanced far more than the front loader. The older top loaders used to have two tubs: One for washing and another for the spin cycle and you had to take the wet clothes from one tub and place them into the other tub which was right next to the washing tub. But then, I've seen the old manually wound washing mangle too...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Oh my! Are you being serious because I get why you would want to live in your part of the world, but Alaska is like something else? The midnight sun would do my head in, let alone the long cold dark days of winter.

I reckon the recycling of organic matter (i.e. plants) into soil would be very rapid with all of that rain and humidity up your way. It would make agriculture difficult, but when conditions are good it would be awesome. Down here the extreme UV over January and February slows or stops plant growth depending on the cloud cover, so the growing season isn't quite as long as it first seems. Exactly, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

That is an entirely new concept to me about the turkeys. The peacock would have been a pet - fortunately reality and other peoples experiences of the birds (which exactly mirror yours) kicked in.

Oh yeah, and Linus's security blanket! Very funny stuff.

How did the otter fiasco end up? What a total disaster. The birds take peoples koi around here if the ponds aren't deep enough.

What? Did developers seriously construct houses on a marsh? I'll bet the houses have great gardens, but you'd sort of think that sooner or later those areas will flood again? It is only a matter of time.

Just out of interest, would a woodpecker do much damage to a timber house? I know the cockatoos down here have a bit of a reputation for damaging timber windows and railings and pretty much anything than can sharpen their beaks on. One of them ate through a solar power cable a long time ago - I'll bet the bird got a big surprise!

Ha! At least you got your lost hour back...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

No worries, that is one long work day too. Drop us a line when the non fiction is ready to go and as long as it doesn't contravene the minimum standards of this blog I can chuck a link up to it here.

Oh yeah, the Dying Earth series was excellent. Lyonesse is epic and the characters and story were a lot of fun. Shimrod the magician was a great character and I still have a mental image of his forest cottage. Planet of Adventure was a good series too. I'm starting to sound like a bit of a tragic fan, but whatever, I even enjoyed the Cadwal Chronicles series, but I didn't like it so much on my first read years and years ago.

As a suggestion, I'd go the Spotted Quoll over the trout just because a spotted quoll is more likely to eat the trout than the other way around. It is like a rock, paper, scissors sort of logic, but there you go! I'd love to have a family or twenty of spotted quolls here but they died out after the Ash Wednesday bushfires of 1983.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thank you. The hot weather combined with the high UV is seriously producing some strong plant growth. I store as much water in the ground as I can manage, so there is plenty of groundwater for the plants here to drink, but off the mountain it is quite dry.

Haha! Well, this might surprise you, but Jackie French has written that her wombats bite her ankles. They have very strong jaws and I'm not sure whether she is kidding or not. The wombat was certainly not kidding around.

Thanks for understanding as I was in a bit of a quandry about writing that one. You know, it is not even on peoples radar down here, because after 23 or 24 years of continued economic growth... I worry about the emotional and spiritual fall out from that possibility as people are not even remotely prepared for the possibility. Thanks for saying that too, because it certainly hasn't done me any harm - at least I don't think so... :-)!

I wonder at what point the diminishing returns from that increasing complexity will start to be much harder for many different things to be glossed over? It does make you wonder though? What do you think about that?

Thanks for the description of your beautiful forest. I reckon that the wind is like natures method of pruning, but I could be wrong.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

It was pretty bad back then. I recall at one point I was so broke that I could not afford to buy a couple of pairs of socks to replace my socks that had holes in them. It sounds stupid, but I actually had to scrimp and save up for a couple of weeks just to get the money to buy them. They had debit cards back then, but credit cards were as rare as hens teeth and would hardly have been given to me by the bank.

But then on the other hand everyone was doing it tough, so we just sort of made do and I recall heading out to a local winery to buy port in flagons (a 4 litre bottle) and we'd mix that up with coca cola before heading out on a Friday night because we couldn't afford the drinks at the clubs. It was horrible that stuff too, but that's what you did you just made do.

Yeah, I worry about that shock too and especially the major debt hangover that will ensue - many people are in way over their heads on that front, but then I hate debt with a passion.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi meigancam01,

Thank you for that, I wasn't exactly sure whether I should share that story, so I appreciate the feedback and it's lovely to see you back here too.

The garden is real a pleasure and sometimes I just find myself wandering around it and checking out all of the things going on. Everyday it is a little bit different in the garden at this time of year too.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Thanks for spotting my last comment which went to the wrong week. I went there to check whether I should reply to anything and then forgot to move back.

Further comment has to wait as I woke very, very late this morning and have to catch up on things.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, it is a tough question to answer, and I certainly wouldn't want to get into a long and involved discussion with someone about the sort of things I was writing about this week. It would be awkward, because essentially you are challenging their narratives that they hold onto. Tough questions, but people, like you say are curious.

You know I never ask anyone about their personal finances, but down here, people probe and hedge around and ask all sorts of questions. Because I see that sort of thing for a job, those sorts of questions just no longer interest me. But other people seem fascinated by it...

Would that be nappa leather uppers by any chance. This is more parallel than you even realise. I used to work as an accountant one of the few remaining shoe manufacturing businesses down here. It pained me when they shut that place down as I felt that it was the end of an era.

Hehe, yeah the rhodies and the wheat (plus assorted seedling fruit trees which I really should move) are enjoying the rich chicken manure. Do you get to use the chicken manure from your run? It was very hard for me remove the manure from that old run and so that is some deep soil there. The massive eucalyptus trees next to it are enjoying the free feed too.

I'm a little bit more worried than usual which seems about the correct amount of worry. ;-)! It certainly isn't good. I reckon you might be able to get away with olives now - as long as the soil is very well drained (lots of woody mulch should do the trick). I've got a few of them in raised garden beds and they're doing really well. Thanks, but wait a little bit and citrus and olives will be yours! That's my take on things.

Sorry, I'll respond tomorrow, bed is calling me and I've run out of time.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - There was a movie (and sequal) called "30 Days of Night." About a small Alaskan town that doesn't see the sun for 30 days, in the winter. Then a pack of vampires moves in ... :-).

Well, I guess there are still some surviving fish in the koi pool. Don't know if the otter is about, or, if it has moved on. Time will tell. I saw another snaky path in the mud in the chicken run, this morning. Another possum, about. Time to set the live trap and see if I can round up a gun to dispatch it.

Oh, everything rots into the ground, here, eventually. Even the cedar goes, sooner or later. I think the hard frosts, help things along. Oh, yes. Chicken manure, the wood chips, the straw, all go into the compost bin. Sometimes I get a good "heat" going, sometimes not. But, it all breaks down, eventually. And, no smell of ammonia. There's a lot of maple leaves, down, so I'm going to add them to the mix.

The woodpeckers don't seem to do any damage to the house. They seem to prefer the trees.

Here, in the States, credit cards are given out like .... candy at Halloween. Even back in the early 70s. Besides the banks, stores have also pushed cards, for a long time. Offers for cards come in the mail, almost daily. Card companies set up tables at freshman orientation at colleges. Then there's Pay Day loan places. You get an advance on your incoming pay check. There's outfits that will loan you money on your vehicle. Like you, I have a horror of credit. I have one card and I'm careful to pay it off, every month.

Well, the marsh / flood situation goes back to pioneer times. Everyone wanted to settle in that rich bottom land. And, development followed. But, the climate was different, and there was a lot more marsh around to soak it all up. 100 year floods, really only happened, once every 100 years.

We have a lot of development along Interstate 5, which runs right through the middle of the county, and next to Centralia and Chehalis. The big box stores are the worst. There's always some discussion on the possible flood impact ... that seems to go nowhere. And, the permits are granted anyway. The increased business and guarantees of more jobs, trumps any flood arguments. Lots of minimum wage jobs with no benefits. We do have almost the highest unemployment of any county in Washington State.

The Big Box Stores and strip malls are built up on fill (ought to be great in a large earthquake) and have acres of paved parking ... so, the rain doesn't sink into the ground. Just goes right into the river. Some of the businesses have installed flood doors.

There's a lot of hoop-la, right now, over the release of the flood maps, later this month. It's been a long battle with The Powers That Be, trying to get them suppressed. It will impact home and business insurance. There is also Federal Flood Insurance program ... but the Fed has been backing off of insuring some areas, or, charging rates that are very high. Howls over that one. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

My phone line will go off tomorrow which means the computer also. Neighbour is doing something to the cables. His wife is coming round to keep me company. Are they worried that this old lady might have a fall while she is without her phone line!

Another neighbour rang yesterday, to ask whether I was thinking of selling. Has this happened to you yet? I really do not have sufficient isolation.

Those twin tub washing machines were superb. One could remove one lot of washing and put the next lot into the same water. Dumps would produce replacement parts as well. Back to the simplicity versus complexity question. Complexity vastly increases the potential for mistakes as can be seen in bureaucracy using computers.

I don't find the ferries particularly noticeable. The major impact is from the cruise liners leaving and entering Southampton. They get larger and larger and the channel has to be dredged deeper and deeper. Their horns are incredibly loud.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Oh man... Yesterday was Melbourne cup public holiday, so I spent the day: constructing two concrete steps; having a burn off of forest debris; and I chopped and dropped at least half of the entire farm's herbage in preparation for the rain which has just started and by the time that I got to the final paragraph of your comment last night, I wasn't quite snoring, but certainly there was not a whole lot of sense to be gotten out of me. Yesterday meant walking for hours on end pushing the mower – backwards and forwards in the hot sun...

Anyway, the rain has just started here and it has already dumped 1/5th of an inch in a short period of time - but it is early days still. Incidentally, the herbage is looking like a smooth green billiard table and I took a great photo yesterday of both a kangaroo and wallaby looking back at me in the uncut area and saying: What do you want? With this hopefully heavy rain, the herbage will regrow and stay very green for many weeks to come. I'm sort of learning about how this stuff all grows on the fly, so to speak and every year is so different from the previous...

A regular commenter here (Angus from South Australia) may have seen some interesting weather events today because: SA storms: Power outages, flooding as severe weather hits South Australia. My favourite quote was: Residents are urged not to underestimate the storms... A classic in understatement!

Anyway, let's get back to the normal programming.

That is about expected for egg production and incidentally, I've been wondering for a few years now about the realities of thermal inertia. The coldest months for you may actually be: January and February. You can't really fool a chicken because they regrow their feathers in time for that coldest period of the year. But egg production increases once the moult has completed and the new feathers have regrown, so it should slowly increase (hopefully after New Year’s). It will be interesting to read your observations of that as the season progresses.

30 days of Night sounds very unpleasant. They can certainly keep their vampires to themselves too (nasty creatures). Incidentally, you'd think that vampires under such fragile ecological conditions would quickly do themselves out of a food source? Did they address how the vampires coped with the extreme cold, but then they’re dead aren’t they?

Chef John created one happy Otter - no doubts about it! ! The Otter clearly enjoyed a free lunch. Hehe! Not more possums. It is a never ending tale you know. I found a rat hole near the super dooper chicken enclosure the other day and I reckon they haven't worked their way into the free feed, but they are testing the edges though.

A nose is the best tool for testing compost by far. Clostridium botulinum is pretty hard to ignore.

You are very lucky with those woodpeckers that they have other timber to entertain themselves with.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Oh my, your stories of credit cards gave me shivers up my spine. Seriously at orientation week for freshmen? Mate, one day the youth will wake up and they will be very angry indeed. I don't even know what to say about the rest of it.

Respect. You are on the money with your strategy.

Oh yeah, when did a one in a hundred year weather event become something that you see every couple of years or so. Language is a funny beast and I reckon it is twisted and distorted there.

The highest unemployment in the state may also mean the best adapted people in the state. I mean, don't you wonder what they're all doing...

Built on fill is a total recipe for disaster. I used fill here to create a flat spot for constructing the house, but I had to dig down at least 2m (about 7 foot) until I found the solid natural clay of the area. I'll tell ya what, it is no easy thing to dig a hole that deep.

Sometimes down here, they create floating concrete structures which sit on fill, but from what I've seen they always tend to crack and break. Fill eventually settles, but it takes years. There is a bit of a problem in the building industry about that very issue and the insurance companies are having a bit of a field day about it. The house here has not moved at all because I took the time to do it properly with concrete stumps, but that is a dying art in the building trade as everyone else seems to want to build things quickly. An engineer once told me: Good, fast, cheap - pick any two!

I'm amazed that you even have flood insurance! The government forced the insurance companies to offer flood insurance down here after the Brisbane floods (40,000 houses impacted) of a year or two ago and they offer it but it can cost upwards of $35,000 per year - the go away price... It is little wonder that the maps are so hotly debated. My gut feel is that insurance will eventually go the way of the dinosaurs.

The weather radar and satellite images down here look to me like a mini cyclone! Hopefully everything is OK tomorrow...

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I am sure that I have mentioned RT television before. For those interested in economics/finance I suggest watching Max Keiser; he is on 3 times a week. At the moment you get a wonderful view of Tower Bridge and the Tower of London in the background. He can go over the top but in the main he is worth watching. For those who can't get RT, there is 'The Keiser Report' on the internet. I think that yesterday's episode was no.831.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I must say that your neighbour is quite adventurous with your infrastructure, but also at the same time respectful in that whilst they are impacting you, they are also being very considerate. You may be onto a good thing with them? Pah! You're not old. Hopefully they weren't boring or anything like that and the phone cables were quickly repaired?

Being stuck with boring people for hours on end - with no possibility of escape - would be my nightmare. Hehe! :-)!

What? No, tell me that's not true? Oh my, I wouldn't know how to respond to such affront. I'm genuinely shocked that anyone would ask that question. You know, I wouldn't know how to replace the years of plant growth and soil development here as it would be such a big task.

Speaking of economics, for that is surely what the intent of those questions are all about, if I'd stayed in Melbourne I probably would be a whole lot more financial, but it is impossible to put a price on all of the things that I've learned up here during those previous years. I’ll bet you’ve learned a thing or two about your place?

Exactly, less complex systems are far less prone to system shocks. Complex systems are in turn far less resilient. I hear you. However, people have this strange phantom of "efficiency" that they are chasing and I always ask them when I hear it: What do you mean by efficiency? - and most often it boils down to cheap.

Wow, that is a big job dredging the channel. They did the same thing here to Port Phillip Bay just so the Super Container ships can make it into the port. Fighting nature is a task that people inevitably lose.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Phone back on and the visit was most enjoyable.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

Your photos are my vision of Paradise: vegetables, fruits, and flowers, all in their tidy beds,with a view across the hills. Funny what other things lurk in Paradise . . .

It's kind of sad to see the old chook shed go. I have enjoyed watching its development. On with the better, however! I would have said "progress", but it seems a bit of a dirty word these days.

I was sitting on the edge of my chair with anticipation of seeing your new brush cutter?!

Woodpeckers occasionally peck on our log house. They don't find much there as the yellow pine has gotten really hard over the years. But it is SO loud, the log walls serving as both exterior and interior walls. We have the world's second largest woodpecker here - the pileated woodpecker (I think that they can be found all over the eastern half of the U.S.).There is always a nesting pair on our property. When they have a go at the house, watch out!

@ Lewis:

I've wondered if keeping a large metal fish net might be a good thing to have around for something like otters? They are very expensive, though. We keep a small nylon net for scooping up mice, bats, chipmunks, etc, that get in the house. It was always quite a circus to get to the little critters before the cats or dogs did.

@ Inge:

You're right, Max Keiser can certainly be over the top sometimes, but I have learned quite a few things from him and Stacy. Hope you aren't without phone/internet for long. Not sure I have too much confidence in your neighbor to get you back online quickly.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - First frost! Light, and the sun is chasing it away. Still, it happened. Hope Angus is ok. I'm sure he'll have some interesting stories ... but, let's hope, not too interesting. Yes, January and February our our coldest months. I hear there's snow in some of the ski areas ... where there was none, last year.

Well, sounds like you had a productive day. Some days, I can say "that was a productive day." Other days, not so much :-). But it it nice to glance out the window and see where the lawn, looks like a billiard table. :-). Not really. I mean it's flat, but I don't worry about weeds, de-mossing, or any of the other useless stuff. Just a quick tidy up.

Well, every once in awhile you read about "personal finance" being taught in high schools. Including the traps of credit. But, I don't know how widespread it is ... or if it is required or an elective.

Well, if you read the police blotter in the local newspaper, you know what some of those unemployed are doing. Being on the main highway between Seattle and Portland ... and, the main road coming in near here from Eastern Washington, the drug trade is pretty lively. But, for those who want to stay on the straight and narrow, it's a rural county, so, there's lots of gray economy. Barter ... working off the books and being paid under the table. Watched "Harry Brown", last night. Michael Caine. About a pensioner vigilante, who cleans up his Estate. Blow those bad guys away! :-)

Well, as far as the Australian insurance companies and floods, I'd say they're taking notice of what's going on in the rest of the world. From what I've read, insurance companies are some of the few "true believers" in climate change. Also, the US military. They got on the band wagon, years ago.

If I may add a bit to efficiency = cheap, I'd also add "easy."

Portland is an inland port, so they're always dredging the Columbia river to keep the ship channel open. When Mt. St. Helen's erupted, the Tottle River dumped massive amounts of ash into the river. Ocean going vessels were trapped. In not much time, they got the channel back open, again. There are still huge mounds of ash, here and there, along the river.

Possum in the trap, this morning. Had a good wash at Chef John's, yesterday. And, drug 14 gallons of water, home. No rabid otters in evidence. :-). Heading for the Little Smoke. Might buy my thanksgiving turkey. Broody hen finally got her act, together. Even though she's still the biggest hen in the yard (but, lowest on the totem pole) she's doing her job, so, she's off the menu. A reprieve from the Governor :-). Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Thank you so very much for the botulism comment. I was eating breakfast at the time. Nausea ensued.

Pam

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

How did the Green Wizards meet-up go? I've been toying with the idea of getting one going here in the Chicago area. Quite a few trains go into Chicago (including the one from my town) so Chicago could be a good central location.

Re: credit cards. I got my first one when I was in college in the early 70's from a big Chicago department store. They had no business giving me one. My youngest daughter has gotten in over her head a few times. We do not use debit cards. At least with a credit card you aren't liable for charges you didn't make though I think that may be changing. I've been moving more and more to cash.

Beautiful weather here - near 70 for the last 4 days though of course this is not usual.

We are surrounded by corn and soybean fields with a few hay and wheat fields. Someone I met recently called it "Monsanto Hell". Farmers are really taking advantage of the weather and are harvesting through the night.

Margaret

Pam in Virginia said...

Hey, Chris:

I think that it is a very good thing that you had such a hard time or you wouldn't be who you are.

Is there much "dumpster diving" done in the big or little smokes? There is a great deal of it going on around here and , I suspect, in most towns and cities. It's relatively hard to find stuff in the back of stores now as they lock up their trash now (liability issues), but we have a large university here and at the end of every semester (especially spring) the students leaving put virtually everything they own in the trash or on the curb. Furniture, TV's, cellphones, designer clothes, bicycles, kitchen appliances; it's absolutely amazing. These are, for the most part, kids from very privileged homes and apparently they can just buy all new when they want to. There is a huge contingent of Chinese students there (very nice and polite, the ones I've met, and SO hardworking) and there is no way that they are going to ship home all that stuff to China. The odd thing is that neither the American students or the Asians seem to think to donate it all. Someone's loss is our gain, though. Was thinking of finding you some socks.

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

You are triply (is that a word?) lucky to have neighbours that are communicative, willing to resolve problems that they themselves have created and - most importantly! - they're good company and concerned for your well being.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thank you, it's a great time of year here and the plants are almost jumping out of the ground. Well, the weather is quite extreme - there have been reports of a tornado in Melbourne today (I'll rustle up a news report link below) and the thunder is rolling across the sky right now... Don't forget the deadly snakes and spiders either.

Ah, of course, the old chook shed will be slightly modified over the next week or two into a wood shed, but from the outside it will more or less look the same. More on this to come over the next week or so (the weather really has gone crazy here so much depends on that). Just for your interest, the oldest chickens here are now about 5 years old and they enjoy a pleasant retirement. They're still very valuable because they produce manure and teach the younger chickens the: way of the chicken - and this is no small thing. I prefer a pleasant chicken social order and a lot of that gets lost when the turnover is too high.

Yeah it is good: Stihl FSE 52. It's not a bad bit of kit except I was a bit troubled by the spool head which was designed to be replaced as a single unit. That was a bit wasteful for me, so I've hacked it and refilled the replaceable head many times over. I really do hate waste.

That pileated woodpecker is all beak! Seriously, I'd be very nervous about timber structures... Thanks for sharing the story and your log house sounds delightful.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Mate! What's going on? I'd decided to head into the big smoke today by train as I sometimes do, honestly it is all about coffee and dinner, but I'd argue strongly that my nourishment is certainly a good cause. Hehe! Oh yeah, sorry, the trains had been cancelled which is the first time that I can recall in years of travel on them. I guess it was for a good reason: Melbourne weather: Tornado hits Melbourne's north. The weather is feral here today - and after such a hot October too. At least the farm has had a most excellent drink of water today. ;-)! The green of the forest was so vivid today that I thought I was looking at images of your part of the world. We'll see whether Angus turns up to tell his tale as it was pretty full on up his part of the continent too.

Oh no! Winter is really starting to make an appearance. Did you leave the tea camellia inside the kitchen? How did Beau manage the light frost? Nice to hear that there is some early snow in areas where there was none last year. That is encouraging news.

Thank you - and as you are aware yourself: some days are more productive than other days. Fair enough, I did forget to explain why I mowed it flat. It is not my preference or some sort of cultural thing, it is just that I have to get the herbage flat in case some moron arsonist decides to take out the farm. If I could guarantee that it wouldn't burn all summer, I'd have a patchwork of long herbage, garden beds and mown herbage right across the farm. There is a massive variety of plants in the herbage and everything that is cut is dropped onto the surface to feed the soil life, so the use of the word lawn is a misnomer. By the way, what is demossing and why would anyone do that? I've never heard of that one. There are plenty of mosses in the herbage here.

By the way it is raining again and this time the sun is shining too. There may be a rainbow out there - hang on a second. Nope, just a light shower this time. The dogs are sitting in the sun watching the rain - it's a good life being them.

I reckon that one is a bigger problem than merely education. Culturally we used to avoid credit and it wasn't that long ago. Was that the same from your experience?

That sounds about right and thanks for that description - it is pretty much what I expected. I wonder about the future though as there are some strange things going on down under as the very wealthy pursue a flawed strategy of increasing wealth inequality. It may work for them in the short term, but it seems rather pointless if it can't be sustained.

Those two groups are rather different partners. Insurance and the whole under writing industry is going to be an interesting turning point for a culture. Insurance is quite expensive here - which I think we've discussed before. I reckon challenging and fragile environments tend to breed more mobile human populations over the long term. Dunno.

Cheap, can be good, but it is mostly a costly exercise. I despair of some of the waste that goes on because stuff is cheap.

I didn't know that about Portland being inland in that river. For some reason I assumed that it would be a deep water harbour. Do you reckon that ash in small quantities would make good fertiliser?

Nice to read that you have access to some water. Your wildlife is a constant surprise. Oh, of course, 26th November - Thanksgiving day. Have you ever wondered why the word "Thanksgiving" is written as a single word rather than two separate words? All hail the Governor - he's a benevolent chap. Unfortunately, now that you've written that my mind is saying: "Sir, we do have a Brian, sir". ;-)! Size isn't everything in the animal world, most of the time it is killer attitude (eg. Fluffy the long dead Pomeranian - she ruled the canine world with a fluffy iron paw).

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Sorry, but it would be even worse had your breakfast tasted of that one! :-)! It has an unforgettable aroma. Unfortunately the times that I've had bad food poisoning, I have been unable to detect anything wrong with the food. The very worst was at a hippy cafe far to the south east of here and I've travelled to some pretty rough parts of the world.

Thank you very much, that is lovely to read! It has been a hard road though.

No, there is little in the way of dumpster diving going on down here for the very reason that you mention - the stores lock up their bins which is just weird. Personally I'd love to compost the stuff in huge quantities. Wouldn't that be good. The funny thing about cheap stuff is that people don't tend to respect it and I've been wondering about that issue. Dunno.

I was actually serious about the socks too - that time was really tough and my cosy world was completely swept out from under me with zero warning: heck, I probably voted for the government which did that neat trick. The other thing that annoyed me about the situation was that part of my social life disappeared with that job too as there were long leisurely Friday lunches which extended well into the evening - those days are so gone now.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Thanks for the reminder. The meetup was good fun. Four people attended, which I was pleased about given that it is very early days for the group. The food was excellent and very well priced. It went for about 2 to 3 hours and people said they wanted to meetup again. It was enjoyable and time well spent - I recommend it.

I reckon sticking to a central location is a good idea if you want to catch as many interested people as possible and then you can go less central down the track a bit? Dunno. The trains are good - if they are actually running (see above). It is chaos here today due to the weather. It is amazing how small a storm can take out so much infrastructure down here. Mind you, looking out the window it is raining heavily again here and the thunder is booming - but it is warm. It is like being in the Amazon rainforest.

Thanks for your story regarding credit. Wow. Slack lending criteria often leads to dramas for the people holding the card. Cash is very handy, but it is a complex problem as well. They provide VISA debit cards down here to people with savings accounts. Me, I refuse to pay any interest to banks on principle. Mind you, they take enough in fees.

Nice weather! :-)! Has your area gone deciduous yet?

That happens here too. You have to harvest prior to rainfall otherwise the harvest starts to ferment - and that maybe a good thing? Sorry to hear about all the GM produce - you do what you can. Your place would be like a refuge and when the time is ripe, the insects and soil life will sneak out from it. To grow a garden in your area whether it is large or small is a very important thing for the future. All things change and what can't be sustained - won't be sustained and I put that lot in that category.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Forgot to mention - this one takes the cake. My telco company sent me a letter today explaining that my normal paper bill fee is increasing from $2/month to $3.20/month - that is a hefty increase...

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

The neighbours have put in their planning application to re-build their property. It was returned to them because they had not done a flood risk assessment. Like me, they are at least 70 feet above sea level.

The woodpeckers here, leave my wooden home alone. Noise is caused by magpies banging on the roof with their beaks, presumably finding food up there.

Dumpster diving not possible here (on the whole) health and safety is the excuse for locking things up.

I have only been food poisoned twice in my life. One of these was after eating out in Australia. It was caused by rice. People tend not to realise how iffy rice can be if kept after cooking and presumably re-heated.

I also have to pay for requesting that my telecom bill is a paper one.

Bank fees: I don't pay any; are they unavoidable in Australia or is it just that one has to keep a certain amount in ones account. Having said that I know people who think that they are unavoidable here. I have given up arguing about it.

Inge

Coco said...

Your garden is stunning. I´m green with envy. Forlornly looking at plant catalogs for perennials that I can´t find places for since we´re still planning construction.

The electrical companies here are the worst for standard access charges. Gone up 300% in the last 5 years or something. And now they´re taxing solar set-ups to cover the network. Sheesh.

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - We have pileated woodpeckers, here. Besides the small ones that work over my apple tree and house. They are pretty shy and stick to the deeper forest. I was lucky enough to spot one, working a tree stump, across the pasture, right on the edge of the woods. My, they are large! Haven't had much of a problem with animals in the house ... insects are another matter :-). There is a tennis racket, hanging in the stair well to the upstairs. Came with the house. I've been told it's wizard for knocking down bats. Have only had a bat, once, in the laundry room. I left it alone and it disappeared. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - That was some tornado. Looked like pictures from our midwest.

The tea plant is safely in the kitchen, and still throwing out many blossoms. Wasn't quit cold enough to bring in Beau. I put a new layer of hay down, in his dog house, last week. He spent a few days redecorating ... arranging it all to his satisfaction. I had to shut him in on the deck, while doing the hay. He wanted to "help." :-).

Well, given our climate, there is moss, everywhere. In many varieties. I quit like the mosses, and find them pretty and interesting. Also, lots of different kinds of ferns, about. It's just the folks that make a fetish of their lawns that do all that demossing nonsense. Didn't think you were mowing your lawn to flash the neighbors :-).

Well, through the 1950s, there was a general resistance to credit. The memories of the Great Depression were still fresh. Also, the wartime shortages. My parents were married in 1946, and, early on, got into a bind over some "buy on time" furniture. Dad lost his job ... mom told tales of collecting pop bottles to put food on the table. After that, they were VERY conservative. Payed cash for every home and vehicle they ever bought and never had a credit card between them.

Oh, yes. Paying extra to get paper statements. I know the Archdruid isn't much a believer in conspiracy theories. I think he's more of a "lots of people doing dumb things at the same time." :-). But, I've often thought that it's all a plot to stampede as many people as possible, onto the net. And, since the technology is so poor, outside the cities, that's a plot to stampede as many people as possible, into the cities. "Paranoia, isn't paranoia, if it's real" and, "yes, "they" really are out to get you." :-).

No, I've never wondered why Thanksgiving is one word. Now, I suppose, it will keep me awake at night :-). Probably some hold over from Ye Olde English. Ever notice that the word conspiracy is mostly made up of the word "piracy?" :-). Now that is something to wonder on.

Oh, I suppose ash is a pretty good fertilizer ... though, the Mt. St. Helen's ash had a high quantity of silica ... little microscopic shards of sharp glass. Some of it was even used in artisanal glass blowing.

The possum waits on death row. I'm probably more nervous than the possum.Talked to my neighbor, yesterday, and he's coming down this morning. Though, it's a bit unclear as to if he, or I, is going to pop the possum. It occurred to me last night that I don't have a steady stream of water to clean out the trap. Hope a couple of buckets of water (which is in short supply), do the job. The last time we went through this routine, is was hot and all the odd bits got sticky, pretty fast. I don't want to be prying odd bits of possum, out of the wire mesh, with my fingers. Where are my rubber gloves? Otherwise, it's a hand wash, 5 or 6 times (using more precious water) and then a bit of steel wool and sandpaper :-). Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

The Stihl bush cutter is very nice. I could handle that. However, I am not allowed to use the chainsaw.Clever of you to figure out how to refill the replaceable head. rather subversive . . . . Hope your weather hasn't been TOO interesting. We had a small earthquake in a nearby county. Nothing like the big one of 2011, though.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Our "lawn" is 80% moss. I put it there 23 years ago. The rest is "weeds". It is so beautiful and so soft and cool to walk barefoot on.

@ Lewis: I love that! "Piracy" of conspiracy! And you are giving us quite a lesson in water conservation: Be sure not to scatter one's possum unnecessarily.

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I prepared the planning permit here and the paperwork takes up 2 x A4 folders. It was complex beyond and honestly, I don't believe the council read and understood it fully - but importantly they signed it. After a while there is only so much complexity that a council employee in that position can deal with so I reckon they check boxes. i would have thought that in a flood prone area, a flood plan would be a mandatory part of the planning application? Lists are generally provided on the requirements for the application - do they provide that up your way?

Fair enough. Do the magpies swoop people in your part of the world? They do here, but I'm on friendly terms with the magpies and many people aren't.

Same here, the whole lot is locked away and stored in loading docks out of reach.

Sorry to hear that and yes, rice can be very dodgy if kept for too long - even in a refrigerator. I hope that someone looked after you? It is an unpleasant experience.

How wrong is that? It really annoys me because if they don't print it on paper, I have to. The tax office fails to even send out bills for the goods and services tax now and just expects that businesses will log onto their system and tell them how much they owe.

They're pretty much unavoidable. Generally people pay a monthly fee for having an account. A small minority of accounts are fee free, but if you use bank services you have to pay and to stay fee free you have to transfer a few thousand dollars a month into it (you can transfer it out again though). You have to play the system to get out of bank fees - but sooner or later you will pay them.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Coco,

Thank you. Perennials are great some of the regular ones that I eat all year are: Rhubarb; Perennial rocket; Perennial spinach; Perennial leeks. There's probably more too. Most herbs die back during winter only to reappear during the spring so technically they're not perennials but every year they are there. Some plants like carrots are just prolific self seeders so you don't have to think about them. With fruit the citrus produce pretty much all year around (and some are especially prolific over winter) so they're good too.

Call me cynical, but both of those charges sound like a scam. Grid tied solar actually reduces the strain on the grid during peak times... I read down here an exec from an electricity company saying people living off grid are selfish (which was a disturbing thing to hear).

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

It was pretty bad wasn't it? It was heading towards the city too and that band of storm had moved straight through the area here (there was a map with a line drawn on it). The storm didn't produce a tornado until it was much further south of here though. Yeah, there are a lot of parallels between here and the tornado belt in the US. They are very destructive and I saw one here about five years ago now on Christmas day. It dumped 4 inches of rain in under an hour + add in high winds. It was some clean up job after that.

Great to hear that your tea camellia is doing well and I envy you your blossoms. It is still a bit cold down here for the plant to do very well - yet...

Dogs can be dogs and Beau sounds as if he is enjoying his redecorating. Sometimes on warm days the dogs will take their wool blankets from their kennel to sit in the sun and enjoy themselves. Now taking them back into their kennel is a step too far for them - and sometimes it rains (at least it is wool). Was Beau covered from head to tail in straw?

No worries, I just felt that I hadn't explained my actions at all and they could have an incorrect interpretation. It would be good to see all of those mosses and ferns. There are a whole lot of them down here too. The moss is particularly soft and spongy and it really enjoys the shade of the fruit trees.

Thanks for your story and that pretty much matches what I witnessed as a child - except that people had mortgages, but credit was as rare as hens teeth. I recall the first credit cards which were often sent by the banks unsolicited and people treated them as if a marauding gang of heavy metal music fans had lobbed up on the doorstep uninvited looking vaguely threatening! ;-)! The thing is though, I can't recall the point at which acceptance of the situation was reached in the community. Marketing is a funny thing and I've read an awful lot about it. Do you remember the tipping point where acceptance was reached?

Perhaps. Forcing people onto the net will eventually create "non persons", although I reckon there may be quite a few of them around now. I'm unsure when acceptance of that situation will become OK within the community. Certainly down here we seem to be throwing the youth under the bus just to maintain business as usual and no one seems to notice. Incidentally, I'm not into conspiracy theories, but the bureacracy makes it harder to live outside of an urban area here - and that is no joke.

Sleep well, I'm sure there is a good reason for it! As I was typing the thought, it occurred to me that your master word smith Bill Bryson would probably know the answer.

I hadn't notice that - is that some sort of word game payback? Hehe! Too funny, but I'm going to think about that issue that you raised as their probably is something in it.

Cool. Do they advertise the artisan glass as such and does it have an interesting colour or texture? I've noticed that my very old preserving glass bottles are all slightly different shades, with the newer ones being more green - but there are all sorts of shades. I'd hate to know what rubbish they put in it (like Fly Ash?).

Yuk. I'm hands on with that sort of thing with a sharp knife as it is cleaner and less traumatic in the long run - but then I've never trapped anything that bites and I would suggest that your possums can also scratch as well? How did it all end up?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Apologies, I've run out of time to reply tonight and promise to reply tomorrow.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

What is perennial spinach?

I had no idea that you ever had tornadoes in your region. What with the fires and all I may have to revise my vision of Paradise just a bit. Sydney had an interesting weather event:
https://www.rt.com/news/321015-australia-sydney-cloud-tsunami/
Worthy of a Godzilla movie.

As a credit card tipping point, I suspect that it was portrayed often enough on television and in the movies to the point where people just got used to it as being a part of "normal" life. That, and hooking naive young people. Start 'em young.

Pam

orchidwallis said...

Hello again.

Plenty of moss here and I love it. People will do anything to keep it off their pristine lawns!

The magpies are terrified of people. Gamekeepers used to shoot them and the fear seems to be in their DNA now. I only have to make a tiny movement indoors and they will spot it through a closed window and fly off.

Had lunch out today and asked friend whether she paid bank charges. She doesn't even though she goes overdrawn sometimes.

We are definitely not in an area that could flood here. I am ignorant about our planning laws as I have never ever, ever applied for planning.

@Lew et al

Oh yes, we should all be corralled in cities.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - No bank fees, here. I belong to a credit union :-). But, they would have charged me a monthly fee, if I hadn't dropped the paper statements. I don't know when credit became more acceptable. I think first it was department store cards and gas cards. Student loans, in the early 70s, were a pretty good deal. I had one for a short period of time. Very low interest rates ... government insured. If something terrible happened, you could declare them in a bankruptcy. None of the above applies, now.

Beau has an old wool blanket that I refer to as his "girlfriend." Not much in evidence, these days. He's either drug her by her hair, under the deck, or into his dog house. Enough said on that topic. For some reason, Beau has a coat that just doesn't pick up straw. Even though he's rolling in the stuff, I never see any on his coat.

Well, you know it's time to duck and cover, when the sky turns that erie green color. I've read several books on the tornados in the midwest. They seem to be getting worse and worse. I don't know why more of those people, back there, don't live underground.

Computer non-persons. Here, it's called "the digital divide." Just to make it all sound cozy. :-). As I'm considering becoming one of "those people", it's something I've given a lot of thought, too. I mean, what exactly is it I DO on this thing? That's really necessary. I have a Safeway card ... that saves me quit a bit, every week. I get on line and am offered discounts on things I regularly buy. But does it really offset the amount of money I'm paying for a connection?

For really necessary things, I can always use the computers at the library. Maybe, once a week. Interesting about the libraries, though. Since the financial crash of 2008, library use, nation wide, has shot up. But, library income has gone down. I think I mentioned a children's librarian I know took an early retirement ... and her major reason was she was dealing way too much with internet matters, and not so much with books. Towards the end of my clerical library career, if I was working in a large branch, clerics weren't allowed to deal with patron / internet problems. Fine by us. We'd just fob it off on the librarians. In the smaller branches, however, I spent a great deal of time teaching people how to use the computers ... and riding herd on printer problems. And it seemed like some major problem always developed ... 15 minutes before closing. :-)

Well, I didn't realize my landlord was here, until he doddered out of his van and popped the possum. With the cooler, wet weather, cleanup wasn't so bad. The canning jars here are mostly greenish or bluish. Some "sun turned" to a lavender color. Quite pretty, I think. Some people collect them (don't we collect everything?). Some of the older one's can bring a bit of money. I don't know about glass, but fly ash is used for cement, here.

Well, I'm off to Chef John's for a good wash, haul some water, do a load of laundry. My day is laid out :-). Have to remember to take dog biscuits to bribe his hounds. Lew



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

For sure, the editor has been zipping around the orchard with that beast. It weighs about 2.2kg (which is about 4 pounds) and so is much lighter than one with an engine strapped to the top of it. It is also a lot quieter and solar powered. I told the guy at the store who I purchased it from that I'd hacked the spool arrangement so as to get multiple winds out of it. He just laughed (I've been going to that store for absolute years now) as he'd expected nothing less. :-)!

Chainsaws are a tool to be treated with great respect. I'd been using one for years before I went on a two day course out in the forest with this crusty old forestry dude (who was clearly a very serious alpha male) and after that course I realised that I should not have been let near one of machines. And that is no exaggeration either. He taught me how to use the chainsaw without straining my back, how to strip the tool down, sharpen the chain, all of the different cross cuts possible and then just to drive the message home, he drilled me for hours on end. Generally, I'm no fan of short courses - but that one was invaluable.

What exactly does a small earthquake mean to you? Out of interest, do you construct houses with earthquakes in mind?

Yes, too interesting is sort of, well, too exciting for my tastes. It was very damp here and still is tonight (I'm in the orchard supervising the chickens).

Moss is really lovely, that is why I was so surprised to hear that people remove it. That is unheard of down here.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Perpetual Spinach Beet Beta vulgaris is actually a perennial type of silver beet. It is very good and self seeds prolifically.

Tornadoes are actually quite common down here, but the mostly occur in very remote locations and so no one really notices - but in Melbourne, they're a bit harder to ignore! Australians are quite urban and there is a whole lot of land with very few people in it. The state here has the same land mass as the entire UK for example but about 1/12th the number of people.

Thanks for the link. The weather has been very crazy down here of late (even more extreme than usual). Oh my!

It is amazing how easily manipulated we are by the advertising industry.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Moss is really beautiful and soft that it is completely beyond me that anyone would want to remove it from their lawn. Honestly, I have no reason to doubt you all, but it is just such a strange concept which I'd never heard of before.

Again, that is a very different story because the magpies here have a beautiful song and they're not frightened of either myself, the editor or the dogs. In fact, the magpies work hard to keep other birds off the fruit trees - they're very territorial. They will even attack the wedge tail eagles and it is an amazing sight to see such a small bird taking on a behemoth! The magpies seem to have some sort of alliance going on with the Kookaburra's which again is strange because they consume the same diet. I'm still trying to work out who's who in the zoo down here.

Just out of interest, was there any particular reason that the magpies were shot? Down here they eat bugs and grubs and are largely carnivores.

Hope you had a lovely lunch. Your friend as well as yourself have a very good arrangement with the bank. Anyone overdrawn down here is cannon fodder for bank fees plus interest.

Fair enough, every corner and fold of land on the planet has its own unique issues to live with. The planning process here is a nightmare, but I treated it as a process and just worked through that process word by word. Doing that task is not for everyone or the impatient though. Sometimes the council asked me for information that I'd already given them and I just gave them the same information again. It was dealing with some of the consultants that I had to employ at huge expense that really irritated me (especially when they were really slow too). Does that mirror your understanding of the process in the UK?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Nice to hear about the lack of fees, but still it is a bit cheeky to force people onto electronic statements don't you reckon? Thanks to for your experience and story about credit as I have been wondering when that cultural change occurred. Yes the bankruptcy issue is not good surrounding student loans. I've often wondered whether the cultural change occurred around the same time of the peaking of US oil production in about 1974 (from memory). The peak here was a bit later, but debt seems to be used to cover the shortfall in real world resources. Dunno really, just sort of guessing.

Beau is displaying some very ungentlemanly behaviour there! Toothy was a nightmare here with his bedding when he was much younger dog and it was as if he had no thought for tomorrow and the cold weather to come. He's wised up these days. Good to hear about Beau's coat as that would save a lot of hassle. Sometimes the dogs here pick up all sorts of plant material in their coats and walk around with it attached to them...

I didn't know that about the tornadoes worsening over in the US. By the way, do you get storm chasers over in the US? Were the books interesting and did they indicate that the frequency and severity of the storms was increasing? I hear you about that colour in the sky as the one that headed towards Melbourne last week was a very low to the ground and thick dark grey - green cloud. I saw it from a fair way away as I was heading out of Melbourne at the time towards home but had no idea what it was - that was interesting looking cloud! It rained pretty heavily that day. Incidentally is the range that the tornadoes are impacting increasing in area?

Nice about the Safeway card too because a dollar saved is a dollar earned (or if it’s free, it’s for me and I’ll have three)! Well, I'd certainly miss our regular chats for sure. And you'd never find out until many days later that I had a brand new bird visitor today - not just any old parrot, but a King Parrot! Fortunately the camera was to hand (or really the bird hung around for a bit going: look at me, look at me!). Or you'd never know until again many days later that one of the Silky chickens had a fight with one of the Wyandottes and the Silky is now limping - and yet, they're all sleeping huddled up together on the feed bin. Go figure that one out. Or that a new bee colony was brought onto the farm today. So much interesting stuff you'd simply miss out on! ;-)!

Out of interest, down here libraries are funded by the local council. How are your libraries funded? If income for them is declining, that is indicative of wider problems...

Nice to hear that your landlord is well enough to even pop a possum. You have to admit that it is not a bad feat given the severity of the recent medical situation?

That is interesting about the canning jars as some of them here are even slightly brownish in colour. The glass on the fire box wood heater is actually slightly pink in colour so there is a whole lot of diversity in glass.

Remember to take the bribes for the dog food game! Mate, your water situation... How is the well coming along? Nice to read that your are organised too, I respect that! :-)!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again
I reckon that our whole planning farrago is similar to yours.

Our magpies are omnivorous (very territorial). They eat eggs and nestlings which is why the gamekeepers had to kill them. Wouldn't be good if the landowner arrived with his guests for a shoot and there were no game birds. Gamekeepers used to hang their varied kill from a fence so that the owner could see what had been done, when he went past.

Inge

margfh said...

One of my favorites in the garden is beet leaf spinach. I purchase it from Fedco Seeds and it's called Gator Perpetual Spinach. I plant it pretty early in the spring and it just keeps on growing. It can with stand temps down in the 20's F as well. It does not bolt or become bitter. The young leaves can be added to salad and larger sauted or added to soup/stews. This year I tried fermenting the stems and they turned out pretty good. Any leaves that get huge or pass their prime or given to the animals and they are all appreciative of that treat. I plant way more than I need to I can supplement the chickens, turkeys and pigs.

Tornadoes are pretty common here. Trips to the basement are not unusual. A few years ago we had one hit on our road in January (very unusual). There were some houses damaged but as it was in the rural area damage was minimal. I was teaching at the time and we had to herd all the kids who were still in the building after school into the locker room - not a very pleasant experience.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Best answer for why "Thanksgiving" is one word...it's a noun, not a verb. I liked the second best answer ... "Because the Government says so." :-)

Mmmm. Tornado frequency is a little hard to track (pun intended.) Some years, there's not much action. Other years, there's horrendous outbreaks. But, it seems there's a trend toward more tornados, over a wider area, that stay on the ground longer. And, there seems to be more F-5s, than in the past. Death tolls and property damage just seem to be climbing. Oh, yes. Plenty of storm chasers. Reality shows ... people wanting to be a Net star for 15 minutes. There's even a whole tourist industry to chase storms, during the season, in Tornado Alley.

Library funding comes from all over the place. Not much Federal money. Mostly State and Local. For a long time, State timber revenues went to education and libraries. Then, the timber industry collapsed and the library hit a very rough patch. The counties and cities kick a bit in, mostly as part of the sales tax. There were some cities ... small towns, that didn't kick into the library budget. So, we had a situation, where as a library worker ... well, say someone applied for a library card and they had a Napavine mailing address. I'd have to haul out a map and determine if they lived inside, or outside the city limits. If inside, they'd have to pay for a library card ($78 a year at one point .... good for the whole family) ... which I'd have the delicate time of explaining to them. And, urge them to go to their city council meetings and raise hell :-).

Well, the possum is dispatched. I didn't even realize that Don was here, until I heard the shot. He tottered out of the van and popped the possum. I did the clean up. He told me that he had seen a cardiologist and there wasn't as much damage done as he had thought, when he left the hospital. Which he will take as license to carry on as before. Sigh.

I've always found glass pretty fascinating. The color pretty much depends on what minerals are in the glass ... and, they can be manipulated. There's a type of fancy glass called "Amberina." Gold is added to molten glass and it comes out an all over amber to sunshine yellow, color. Reheat one end of it, and it turns a fiery red. So, the glass shades from the red to the yellow.

After two days of inactivity on the well, I can hear the guys banging about, this morning. I guess they are working two jobs at once. My landlord tells me that when our well is on line, we'll use that as a backup. When we can get water from the RV park, we will. It's treated, and, generally better water. Doesn't turn the laundry funny colors :-). When the RV park is down, there will be an easily accessible valve to switch over. Still think I'll put in a rain holding tank, in the spring.

I need to get a string trimmer, and your Sthl has got me thinking. I was going to go for a battery pack. But, Stihl is such a good company. But, do I want to drag a cord over my acre?

Warmer here and the barometer is going down. Wonder if we're going to get another atmospheric river? Need to check the weather. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...



Hi Margaret,

They sound exactly the same as the perpetual spinach here. The same plant lasts for years too and even if it dies off over winter, it will happily bounce back at the start of spring - exactly like a herb does. What a great idea about fermenting the stalks - I would never have thought of doing that. Nice idea and good to read that it turned out well too. I've started cutting the seed heads back during summer so that the plant produces more leaves, but I struggle a bit for heat hardy greens during high summer.

January is a very unexpected time for a tornado - they're usually a late spring / summer thing here. They do bring with them a lot of welcome heavy rain, but at the same time they cause so much damage. Thanks for your story too, that would have been quite traumatic and I'm glad that the building wasn't flattened.

No one has basements down here, although they probably are a good idea. The engineer and building surveyor required me to tie the house together for very extreme wind loads (for no apparent reason that was ever explained to me) and when the tornado hit here, I was grateful for that. Lots of houses here get flattened by them and/or lose their roofs.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

A nice choice of words! That was my understanding from watching Grand Designs UK - the process is exceptionally convoluted and people tend to end up doing what they wanted to anyway. Mind you, I do sort of enjoy the ones where people declare: "We have no budget" and are ever so slowly brought down to Earth. It is a cautionary tale.

That makes sense and I hadn't considered that aspect of the birds and their interactions with humans. The magpies here might be a slightly different bird as they seem to be strict carnivores, but I'll take closer note. There are people down here that earn their living by trapping animals on farms, but I doubt there is enough wealth to employ someone like that on farms that I'm aware of. You often see dead foxes strung up on farmers fences, but perhaps that is more of an awareness raising issue here. The foxes are not good for the local wildlife. Absentee landowners are a bit of a problem because I don't believe that enough profit is derived from land here to justify earning an income from it. Dunno though.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

That is too funny! Because the government said so, is my favourite explanation too. Thanks for conducting the serious scientific investigation into the matter. ;-)!

You're on fire tonight with the gags. Like it.

Wow, I had no idea at all about the Fujita scale. Oh my, we get little ones down here and the one that hit here was an F0 - still impressive and does a whole lot of damage, but F5's are of the run for the hills sort of tornadoes. I've read of F2 damage down here, but F3 to F5 is just way out there in terms of damage. I had no idea at all how extensive and damaging they can be and hope never to see one.

Just out of interest, has a tornado tourist ever been caught by one - it seems like an awful lot of risk to expose yourself to?

Libraries are doing it tough, no doubt about it. The timber industry collapsed down here because most of the high value timber had been taken - seriously. Wombat state forest to the west of here had been harvested since the gold era of the 1850's and even today, it is quite amazingly uniform in appearance and the soils are often not good at all.

That is a tough situation to put a library worker into - you have my sympathies. Incidentally, did you enjoy the mention of libraries in the Retrotopia story and what did you think about the Atlantic Republic's version of a library?

Yikes, carrying on as before and expecting a different outcome is not good. The hospital run would scare me silly. Sometimes relocating wildlife is much crueler than simply bopping it on the head.

The Amberina glass is very cool indeed. I'll bet those ones are very collectable? Have you noticed that newer glasses (for drinking out of, as distinct from looking out of) are made of much thinner glass these days? If I come across older and much more sturdy drinking glasses I tend to pick them up. Newer glasses just aren't the same these days.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

I'd forgotten about that part of the well. The water will pickup whatever minerals are in the aquifers rocks and yeah, iron and sulphur are what you find in them down here. I don't mind either and the sulphur gives the mineral water a fizzy buzz, although you wouldn't necessarily want it in too high a concentration. Plus, as you correctly point out, you wouldn't want to wash clothes in the stuff. There are quite a few mineral springs to the west of here (but not too far). Incidentally, in India, they have concentrations of arsenic in the bedrock in some parts of the country so that comes up with the well water - so much for the green revolution.

Stihl is the biz down here for such things. Some people swear by Husqvarna, but I don't know and don't get involved in such discussions. I didn't know they had battery packs for line trimmers? The unit draws 0.5kW so I'm not sure how long a battery pack would last with such an electric motor? Over summer electricity for me is virtually free (excluding wear and tear on the DC to AC inverter) so it is a no brainer and I just string lots of extension cords about the place (I can get about 65m / 215ft away from the power point). There is a little bit of voltage drop over such a distance of cable, but I tend to use heavier duty extension cables which have thicker copper in them. Incidentally we run a higher voltage (240V) down here than you so the current is much lower and the losses will be slightly less. Dunno though. I reckon a scythe would be only slightly slower than my electric line trimmer. I have a scythe blade but haven't fitted the handle yet.

Oh yeah, warmer weather + a dropping barometer is always a sign that a storm is impending! Do you have a digital barometer or an old school needle guage type?

It was a warm and still day here today so I put the new bee colony in their new home and added another box to the older hive (which really needed it). It will be really interesting to see how the new style of hive works. I hope it is not a waste of time, because the bees consume an enormous amount of resources and haven't produced any honey at all - but I'm learning as I go, I guess.

The King Parrot popped in today for a special guest appearance too: It's good to be the King! Hehe!

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Yeah, the F-5 tornadoes are really something. They can be a mile wide, at the base. So strong they suck a furrow out of the earth. I've seen aerial photos where there's this enormous gouge in the ground, that runs on for miles. With devastation all around. I haven't heard of any tornado tourists getting killed, but I think it was last year a chaser and his son were killed.

Oh, I thought the library in Retrotopia was quit nice. Sign me up! I've heard some libraries in the big cities actually have a social worker, on staff, to help the homeless. Our five largest libraries in the Timberland system added security, a couple of years ago. Usually, off duty or retired policemen. They keep a lid on dust-ups ... usually over internet access. And, then there are the complaints about people viewing porno on the Net ... which usually turns out to be some teenage kid oggling the on-line Sports Illustrated Swim Suit issue, or, the Victoria's Secret catalog. Tempest in a tea pot.

Glass is funny stuff. All depends on the mix. Some very thin stuff has great tensile strength ... others are very brittle and shatter easily. Yes, amberina is very pretty. But you have to be careful. Sometimes, the effect is just painted on. So, the first time you go to give it a good wash, it all starts flaking off :-).

Well, I've been looking at the battery tools from D R Power. My landlord tells me they're a company that's been around for awhile, and has a good reputation. Still, there's Stihl. :-). Being logging country, there's a local dealer. Very nice bunch of guys and if I needed service, it would be local.

The barometer I have is ... hmmm, how to describe it? It's German, probably made between 1880 and 1900. It's in the Aesthetic / Art Nouveau style. Carved wood with apples, leaves, trunk ... some blossoms at the bottom. With a built in thermometer and barometer. About 21" tall. I don't think it's very accurate, but the needle goes up and the needle goes down. :-). When it gets into the "Sturm" area, I know we're in for a blow. :-). Picked it up, somewhere along the way. Can't remember where.

Oh, I don't think your bees are "a waste of time." You're always learning something.

Chef John had me over, yesterday. He's going through shirts in his closet ... which is the size of my office. :-). Mostly only worn, once. LOL. He sometimes just doesn't "get" me. I don't just drag home stuff I'm not going to wear. I only wear blue, grey or black ... and they have to be long sleeved. Neurotic, I know :-). I have a 5 foot long pole, in the closet. If it doesn't fit, something has to go. The entry way closet holds the coats. Even smaller.

So, I came home with 10 or 15 shirts and a couple of coats. Now I have, probably, enough clothes to see me out of this life :-)
On reflection, though, not much winter wear. Fine for summer. Some of it is designer, stuff. I'll be the best dressed rural, semi-recluse in this part of the county! :-)

I noticed one of the fields at the abandoned farm, was mowed. I guess my landlord has leased a field to a fellow who's going to put mules on it. Gosh knows what the story is, there. I told him I wanted the guys number, so that when they get out on the road, and people come banging on my door, I can give him a call :-).

Well, my 10 hens only produced 2 dozen eggs, last week. Last Sunday, they laid 6. I thought we were maybe on a roll. No such luck. I think they're messing me about. It's like they're saying "See, this is what we CAN do, but, for our own mysterious reasons, won't." Evil chooks. Probably demon possessed. New well house is framed in and has a bit of roof on it. Landlord and Evil Step-Son thought they'd got us water from the abandoned farm, yesterday. No dice. Lew