Monday, 28 December 2015

An inconvenient shed



Christmas is a confused time Down Under. The realities of the hot summer climate just don’t seem to match the traditional Christmas imagery. On the other hand, I do have a very soft side for the completely outrageous displays of Christmas lights. Yes I know, it’s complex!

The day before Christmas Eve, I visited a display of Christmas lights in the nearby town of Sunbury, which is to the south of here – purely for research purposes for this blog of course – and took the camera along with me. And this is what I saw:
A team of reindeer pull Santa’s sleigh

As a general observation of that traditional Christmas imagery, I would have to suggest that the reindeer would probably have dropped dead of heat stroke in the 35’C (95’F) temperatures on Christmas day this year. Certainly Santa would have been very hot in the heavy red suit. There have also been reports that one of the reindeer has a very red nose, which may suggest some sort of heat stroke!
The reindeer team are missing Santa, whilst a suitably kitted out kangaroo and emu look on
In the above photo of Christmas lights, which incidentally also incorporate city views, you can see that Santa has abandoned the sleigh – possibly due to heat exhaustion – leaving a few presents in the sleigh. Santa suffering from heat exhaustion is a very likely possibility because both October and December have produced record breaking heat waves in this corner of the planet. With Santa missing in action, the reindeer have sensibly commenced having a bit of a feed and you can see two of them cropping the grass. Not that there is much fresh green grass available for the reindeer because regular readers would know that in the past 14 weeks only 123.6mm (just under 5 inches) of rain has fallen in this area. It is instructive to see in the photo above that a kangaroo and emu – both of whom are wearing Christmas hats – are looking at the reindeer and perhaps are offering a helping hand? Or they may be conspiring to steal the presents in the sleigh? I’m not quite sure of their intentions.
Kangaroos are again chasing off reindeer
Another house continued the theme of kangaroos chasing off the reindeer – or perhaps the lights were some sort of dream sequence where the kangaroos were chasing deer off my apple trees, but yet again I’m not quite sure? Maybe, the reindeer had discovered the kangaroos nefarious intentions to steal the Christmas presents in Santa’s sleigh and decided to flee off into the night? Who knows what it all means, but wow does it look good or what?
Pay up or the penguin cops it!
The award for the most confused Christmas light display of them all goes to this poor penguin who appears to have been cable tied to a small tree and looks like a hostage. Every time I thought about that poor penguin a voice popped into my head saying – imagine a 1920’s US gangster accent – Pay up or the penguin cops it!

Christmas day this year was very hot and very windy. I enjoyed Christmas day with friends who live in a giant greenhouse which is about the size of an aircraft hangar. Without doubt, it was the most enjoyable Christmas day ever because after a heavy meal of excellent turkey and ham, they brought out masses of water balloons and pelted everyone. Within minutes everyone metamorphosed from sluggish and sleepy consumers of a heavy meal and good wines to rabid warriors seeking only to settle various scores.

Not everyone in this corner of the globe enjoyed a peaceful Christmas day as various fires escalated beyond control. There was a fire to the south of here just out of Sunbury, not far from where the outstanding Christmas lights are. But it was the Otway Ranges to the South West of here that really bore the brunt of that hot and windy day. A lightning strike had apparently started a fire in that very steep and inaccessible mountain range several days before Christmas day, but the hot and windy conditions on the day accelerated the fire out of control and into the sleepy town of Wye River which is along the Great Ocean Road in the Otway Ranges. By the end of that day, nearly one third of all houses in the town had been destroyed. Some commenters have asked what that possibly means and I came across this short video which is the best that I have ever seen of a local person describing their feelings after such a disaster: Victorian bushfires: Locals 'grateful' no lives were lost

That Otway Ranges fire is still not out and it is expected to burn for the entire summer.

In other parts of the country, Tasmania which is the massive island to the south of the continent reached a record high Christmas day: Cool change sweeps Tasmania after Hobart's Christmas Day record high temperature

But in the very north of the country they have serious and pressing concerns after a tropical low dumped more than 600mm (23.6 inches) of rainfall in some parts: Northern Territory floods: Main highway cut as crocodile warning issued for population centres

Back to this south eastern corner and as the Christmas day wore on into Boxing day, the tail of that huge tropical low reached all the way from the northern side of this continent and brought with it 35mm (1.37 inches) of rainfall. The air cooled and the water tanks refilled to about 90% full. And I could breathe a sigh of relief as the rainfall was a brief reprieve from this incredibly hot summer.

It wasn’t just me breathing a sigh of relief though, as the conditions changed from scorching hot to freezing cold and wet in only a matter of hours, and the dogs decided that the cold conditions were sub fluffy optimal and spent some hours dozing in peace.
The cool change brought sub fluffy optimal conditions and the dogs decided to spend the hours catching up on lost sleep
The cooler weather conditions are a perfect time to preserve the summer harvest. The stove top bottling (canning) hot water bath produces a huge amount of heat inside the house as it runs for hours. In the photo below I am busily cutting apricots – which I purchased as seconds from an organic orchard – and after a few hours of cutting, half a year’s supply of apricot fruit had been preserved. On cold winters mornings, six months from now I’ll hopefully be enjoying that fruit.
The author cutting half a year’s supply of apricot fruit and preserving in glass bottles
I wasn’t the only one feeling heat stressed this week. A very large tree next to the old chicken run and shed decided to drop a huge limb onto that area. The scary thing was that I was planning to work in that area on that particular day, but the heat forced me back inside the house. I’m also glad that the chickens are no longer underneath such a large tree.
A heat stressed very large tree decided to drop a massive branch onto the old chicken run
And just to show the readers how far that massive branch fell from the very top of the tree…
The massive branch fell from the very top of this very large Eucalyptus Obliqua tree
On a more positive note, it was nice of that tree to provide me with some additional firewood which I harvested!

Over the past couple of days I have started converting the old chicken shed, where that large branch fell, into a brand new fire wood shed. As part of that project, I wanted to salvage the materials in the old chicken run. That meant recovering the treated pine poles (which I have a future use for) from the structural grade cement holding them into the ground. After almost a day with the electric (solar powered) jackhammer, I was regretting using such heavy duty structural grade concrete (edit - Chris is an over-engineering enthusiast). Eventually after much labour all of the treated pine poles were recovered.
The electric jackhammer was used to break up the cement so that the treated pine poles could be recovered
The next job was to replace the old plywood door with a much stronger and more fire and weather resistant metal door. This is what the old chicken shed looked like at the start of that work:
The old chicken shed prior to being converted into a brand new fire wood shed
All of the steel cladding on that side of the old shed was removed and many of the gaps were filled . Observant readers will note that the steel corrugated cladding now extends to meet the steel roof of that shed.
The old chicken shed is now starting to look like a brand new firewood shed
In removing the old steel corrugated cladding I upset many huge huntsman spiders (edit - google images of them if you dare) who were only too happy to let me know exactly how annoyed they were with this new project. Tomorrow, I’m planning on completing the re-cladding of the outside of that shed and may even get a chance to commence the internal steel lining.

Not every night over summer is a hot, scorching and windy experience. Some nights it can be quite cool to cold and the air is so still that you can hear Boo Bok Owls calling to each other with their distinctive calls, meanwhile the bats are zipping around overhead catching huge moths which are attracted to any and all lights. It is on those nights that the editor and I will sit in the courtyard (and sometimes with visitors), talk rubbish and toast ourselves in front of the coals of the brazier. The old brazier was a dodgy construction of thin sheet metal which was clearly in for a good time but not a long time. So the other day I was picking up a supply of manure at the local sand and soil supplier and spotted these beautifully manufactured heavy duty steel fire braziers. The story was that a local company that produces tanker trucks (with rounded ends) realised that they could use their pressing machines to produce really heavy duty fire braziers and so they have started constructing and supplying them. I knew that I was looking at outstanding bit of engineering and so I did a once in a decade spontaneous purchase and the editor and I have been enjoying the new brazier ever since. It sure beats watching television!
A new heavy duty steel brazier enjoys pride of place in the courtyard
The recent heat and rainfall from the tropical low has produced very lush growth in the herb garden and the courtyard smells of stunning perfumes from the mix of all of the flowers:
The recent heat and rainfall from the tropical low have produced very lush growth in the herb garden
From the right hand side to the left hand side an observant person may spot the following flowers: Feverfew; Lemon Balm; Sage; Soap Wort; Yarrow; Geraniums; and Evening Primrose.

The heat has forced the ripening of many of the fruits on the fruit trees here and I now have the first of the apricot crop:
The apricots commenced ripening this week
I haven’t enjoyed the heat, but the insects certainly have and there is greater diversity in the number and type of insects that arrive here every single year. Today, I spotted this Blue Banded Bee (which is a native bee I believe) on a Salvia flower.
A Blue Banded Bee enjoys a Salvia flower
The temperature outside now at about 9.00pm is an enjoyable, overcast and very cool 13.6'C degrees Celsius (56.5’F). So far this year there has been 740.0mm (29.1 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total 702.8mm (27.7 inches).

74 comments:

Jo said...

I am just loving the photos of your garden, and that courtyard with the brazier - perfect. Very mediterranean:)

Here is a thought for you - do you possess a BBQ with a gas ring attached? I do, and I do most of my canning and jam making on it outdoors in my courtyard. Keeps the house cool. Or maybe you have one of those portable gas ring cookers for camping? That would do too. I go to great lengths to keep heat out of the house in summer...

Although Boxing Day would have been a perfect day to get the Fowler's outfit out. Nearly had to go and find a jumper to put on..

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Thanks for the photos of Christmas lights. I don't get to see anything like that as I am not in civilization after dark. I would hate to live opposite one of those displays though.

I see that you have had some rain. I was going to suggest that it is a pity that we can't mix our climates. Australia on fire, the UK under water. There have been dreadful floods up north. Plenty to see on the internet. It appears that the flood defences were lifted and the city of York was flooded as a result. I have heard conflicting reasons for this.

Yes, I did mean rolled oats.

@Lew You are correct about box rooms, normally at the top of a house. Occasionally some poor mite might have one as a bedroom.

@Pam My climate sounds similar to yours. 100% humidity outside and (at the moment) 80% indoors. If I go away in winter and don't leave heating on, it goes to 100% indoors and everything feels wet.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Who needs the new Star Wars movie, when you have Christmas lights to look at? :-).

Glad you got a break in the weather and were able to (almost) top up your tanks. Security, in them, there, tanks.

Well, apparently that tree limb didn't have your name on it. But, what a narrow miss!

All that activity around your place just makes me ... tired. Or, maybe I've just got a case of the post holiday blahs. Or, maybe it's just a chocolate hangover? :-). I'll be lucky if I change the tubes in a fixture in the kitchen and pay up a few bills. At least, that's what it feels like, now. Chickens need their late morning treat, and, perhaps a good bracing walk to the chicken palace will perk me up. Lew

Ozymandius said...

Yes, the blue-banded bee is a native solitary bee. We have a large number of species (1500 according to Wikipedia) of native bee in Oz. Check out the personality-plus VTOL Teddybear native bee; great to watch it performing around the lillipillies where I live. Buzzes like a blowfly so don't shoot it down if it gets inside your house (which they do around here - Hunter Valley). Maybe you have a few around your place. Excellent blog; read it regularly so thanks.

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

Al Gore on your mind?

What amazing Christmas displays! They all win first prize - even the penguin - and so do you for such a funny story - thanks!

I was telling someone about the floods in the north of your country and how the crocodiles can then make their way into the towns and he stated that a person has to be crazy to live in Australia . . . n'est-ce pas?

Thanks for reminding me about sub fluffy optimal!

I can't remember what you add to your apricots before you can them? Lemon juice? Yesterday, I ate some of our own frozen peaches. There was a nicely preserved fruit worm in them. My son says that's what you get when you grow things organically. I say, that's what you get when I do the processing. No worms next year.

I dared! That's our wolf spider, though yours has somewhat longer legs and ours don't travel in herds. I like the striped pants on that bee. Isn't it funny how many bees there are that aren't honey bees? Kind of a shame.

Boo Bok Owls!

That's a great brazier. I could certainly use it to grill steaks.

Pam

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

It looks like the three days of flooding rains here in St. Louis has about ended. During this time several records have been broken. First, on Dec. 26 the one-day rainfall record for any day in December was broken, with a total of 4.87 inches / 124 mm for the day. Yes, just one day, in winter, not normally the wetter part of the year for us.

On the 27th we had another 1.72 inches / 44 mm of rain. Today, the 28th, we had another 2.56 inches / 65 mm of rain by 4pm. We've had a record-setting 11.71 inches / 297 mm so far in December and a record-setting 61.21 inches / 1555 mm of rain so far in 2015.

Being winter, the plants are all dormant, so they won't be transpiring up any of that water. The soil is not just completely saturated; the water is lying in puddles on top of the soil because it has nowhere to go. Eventually it'll move by gravity downhill, at least if it doesn't freeze beforehand (some of it might as we will finally get some real winter weather for the rest of the week). Meanwhile, if you check the Weather Underground site, you can read an article about the suddenly very serious flooding on the Mississippi River as a result of rains over a large portion of its basin. It will crest at its second highest value ever here in St. Louis later this week. The crest will then propagate downstream. Might be interesting to watch that, in case the river finally gets its wish to move to the west through the Atchafalaya to the Gulf of Mexico in preference to its current channel, thereby stranding Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Fire and water ... both are so very destructive. My condolences to those burned out by the fires in your part of the world.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Those are great questions. The trees encourage the fire. Eucalyptus tree leaves are very low in minerals and high in volatile oils. Add in a day of low humidity, high temperatures and strong winds and the whole lot is ready to burn.

The Eucalyptus species are fairly recent dominant tree species here. We could decide to grow something else. Plenty of our rainforest tree species are very dry, poor soils and heat adapted - but they are not well adapted to fires and so the Eucalyptus species seems to have the adaptive edge.

We could just as easily replant fire prone areas with English Oaks - certainly we have the rainfall to support them here. It is just that no one wants to do other than what they currently are doing, but at the same time most people seem somewhat surprised at the outcome...

The winter here is very humid - well over 90% for months on end. The summer is the opposite, but it can vary from year to year.

You are very lucky to have pleasant siblings.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I understand you and that all sounds perfectly reasonable to me. The badgering can be a nuisance and I get that here about not wanting to have children. Sometimes people can be affronted by that decision, so I hear you!

Oh no! Poor Chef John... Not good. Well, here's wishing for a speedy recovery - hopefully nothing permanent is damaged other than his ego? I don't understand skiing either - like you it is completely beyond my understanding. I tried skiing once for a couple of days and it was an unpleasant experience. Nice to read of your enjoyment of the Christmas leftovers! Well, I sort of eat like a rabbit most of the time so I can then go out and enjoy an indulgent meal every now and then. It seems like a perfectly sensible food strategy.

Yeah, plums and pear trees are quite beautiful and also very hardy! The pears and plums here happily produce fruit with minimal care and attention. Sun ripened plums are totally delicious! Yum! Hey, I spotted my first couple of green tomato fruits ripening today - that's about a month earlier than previous...

Some people are picky! Oh well, I'm sure they were good. Hey, did Nell get any food? Beau certainly seems to have scored well. On a similar note, Bone wars are still going on here. When that bone has disappeared, I think I may get them another one they've enjoyed it that much. Poopy is on the other side of a glass door munching on the bone as we communicate, whilst Toothy looks on in envy!

That's pretty full on that white out. Do they provide orange road markers up in your part of the world?

The sides of the road here have rumble strips so if you veer off the road the tyres make a loud rumble sound. The middle of the road has cats eyes. Up here in tier 1 country, it is only dirt roads and white outs due to heavy fog can be very interesting and slow going.

That would be a good egg outcome even here for winter! Your lights work very well. Lucky chickens. I do hope that you see some solid snow. Yeah, if it works don't try and break it seems to be good advice. I'm planning on picking up a couple of more Isa Brown chickens to add to the chook collective in early February. They're very good layers.

I hope that you appreciate the link to the video on this weeks blog. Well, if the place burns down, hopefully I'll get a chance to start over again and add in everything I've learned in the last couple of years. Not that it wouldn't be a serious pain...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Jo,

Thank you for that and I enjoy your blog too. The brazier is a nice thing to huddle around on unseasonably cold summer evenings. It is very atmospheric!

That is a good idea about a small gas burning stove outside. I used to have a portable electric hot plate which uses the solar electricity, but the temperature control was rubbish. There may be better ones available though. Mind you, it was very cold outside on Boxing Day, but after the heatwave, I was actually enjoying being very cold. Looks like another one is rolling in this week...

Oh yeah, the woolen jumper got a look in that day for sure! Crazy weather.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Once the sun sets here it is pretty dark too and I enjoy spending time outside in the forest in the dark and it is interesting just how much activity your senses can pick up if you let them attune to that dark.

The whole street in that nearby township (except for one or two houses) has Christmas lights up. It is quite the tourist attraction and I couldn't imagine living on a street like that, but I do respect their efforts! :-)!

Oh my, I hadn't heard of those floods. The BBC has an article on them here: UK floods: Storm Frank threatens more misery. Record December rainfall in several parts of the country too. It looks very wet.

Actually they are having floods up in the northern part of the continent here and it can be perilous leaving your front door in those areas because you don't actually know if there are massive salt water crocodiles in the water. People and animals are disappearing up there.

The photos are quite impressive in the extent of the flooding in York. Why would flood defences be lifted unless they were not maintained? It seems a bit weird really.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

The lights are fun aren't they? Have you seen (or have plans to see) that movie? I read most of the comments over at the ADR and thought to myself that more people are interested in a fictional account of a Galaxy far, far, away than in the places that they actually live - given the humungous ticket sales for that film. ;-)!

The editor and I have decided to install another water tank this winter... It is nice having some water to freely use, I'm very careful with water - it is the key to living up here or in most rural areas on this continent. It is very serious business.

Yeah, the branch was huge and it fell from a long way up. I hope I haven't annoyed the tree somehow? ;-)! Anyway, I almost finished installing all of the steel cladding (inside and out) on the converted firewood shed today and it is looking pretty good. It was hot though, but at least the shed is in the shade.

Probably the chocolate hangover! Hehe! :-)! Enjoy your down time, there is probably enough time left for work later on when conditions are fluffy optimal! :-)! Hehehe! The funny thing is I don't retell all of the activities going on here - just the more interesting ones. There is a lot that needs doing, and with a bit of extra sleep recently and some down time from accounting work, the editor and I have thought up the solution for the strawberries and tomatoes over the past couple of days.

It is funny how you need downtime and quiet time just to reflect on things and come up with ideas. Sometimes, I reckon people are so busy, they don't get enough time to sit around and cogitate and come up with interesting ideas? I recall that Sir Issac Newton was sitting in his aunties apple orchard - or so the story goes - when he came up with the concept of gravity. Just sayin... :-)!

Snow is definitely a bracing experience. Did you end up with a solid covering of snow on the ground?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Ozymandius,

Welcome to the discussion and thanks for the kind words.

That Teddybear native bee is a huge bee: Teddybear native bee. Thanks for the tip, I'll keep a look out for them. There are a huge diversity of flying insects here but I'm not sure I've seen that one. You'll be happy to know that I've been leaving water out for the insects too over the past few months with all of the hot and subsequently dry weather. I'm not sure that Victoria has as many species of bee as you may get in a warmer location.

You are in a nice part of the world!

Cheers

Chris

Coco said...

Yikes. At least the poor people in York don´t have to worry about crocodiles! We´re having unseasonable fires across Northern Spain, too. Unusually,not here in Galicia, but across the Cantabric coast, where rainfall has been nonexistent. Many of them set. And I don´t think it´s a coincidence that they just changed a law that now allows re-zoning fire-damaged land for new use.

Spent a great few days in Madrid with the family. I was dreading it, but this year no drama, no car trouble, and pleasant weather.

Happy New Year and a healthy, happy 2016! Enjoy your bountiful fruit harvest!

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks! Maybe, he is an inspiration to all people wanting to live in large houses whilst displaying solid environmental stances. It is as confused as the Christmas lights! :-)!

How good are the lights and that penguin. Funny, funny stuff. There was also a skinny looking Santa Claus on a deck chair high up in a tree and I was trying really hard to think what that actually meant. Who knows, it was funny though. That street puts on such a great show every year. Total respect to them.

The veneer of civilisation is thin indeed here and people sort of know that the climate can go completely haywire with no prior notice. Those salt water crocodiles are huge (4.5m to 7m) and once they have you, there is no return. But then, you have Grizzly Bears and mountain lions etc...

Conditions have been fluffy optimal of recent days, but with another heatwave approaching - sub fluffy optimal will again rule! :-)!

No, the apricots have flavour already as they are sun ripened, so it is just water, sugar and apricots. The lemon will help with the fruit losing colour, but even a year later, they look pretty good. I've never tried freezing as a preserving process and it seems quite common in the US but not down here. I wonder whether that may have something to do with your electricity prices which may be cheaper than here? Dunno.

Yeah, I thought the same too. They creep me out because they are so fast and you can get a nasty inflammation from a bite. But they're really, really fast. There was a photo on the Google images of one of them on a childs face and I was trying to work out whether this was a photo shopped image or not?

That is the sound they make at night as they call to one another and they're very common here - Most nights I can usually hear maybe two or three of them calling Boo Book! Boo Book!

Haha! Too funny, I use it to get rid of fallen leaves and branches during the fire season as it is deemed a camp fire...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire and Coco,

Thanks for the lovely comments and I promise to respond to them tomorrow. I worked very long into the early evening today due to the cool weather, but tomorrow another heat wave is approaching so I'll be hiding in the house during the afternoon when it will be 34'C (93.2'F) in the shade - and that is a cool day too!

Cheers

Chris

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris (and others),

Love your dry descriptions there -- chuckles :-)

(following from last week's exchange) -- please do write about the productivity of old timers -- I would very much like to hear your thoughts on it, appearing as you do to be very productive yourself!

As far as I can tell, Adelaide's rainfall since October 1st has been 31.4 mm :-( It's been a very dry spring and early summer! We've got about 15 kL remaining in the tank, but I've been using some town water to water the fruit trees out the front (excepting the avocado). I use about 120 L per week there. (my rationale is that there's good chance of water restrictions later in summer and I don't want to lose fruit trees in the heat). I definitely want to get a composting loo built early in the new year -- I've ordered a urine diverter, so now have no excuse...

I bought a second-hand convection microwave so that it doesn't use much power and can be relocated outside on scorchers, but it has stopped working. I can't work out what is wrong, despite looking at it with the multi-meter and service manual (careful if anyone else decides to do this -- microwaves have 2000 V inside, and a capacitor that retains the voltage even when unplugged). I'm trying to decide whether to pay a professional to fix it, or pick up another second hand unit for < $100 and probably ~$50.

Hope everyone had a good Christmas, and that you have a happy and successful 2016.

Cheers, Angus

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I was surprised that you can grow English oaks, then I remembered all of the vast variety of trees that you have. They are such noble trees. What wildlife would gather and bury the acorns? The squirrels do that here and it is how most of them are propagated. I can't remember if you have squirrels? If not tree squirrels, maybe ground squirrels? Rats - yes. I have no idea how fire-proof the oaks are as wildfires here are very rare. Fairly often one gets hit by lightening, but it usually just continues going about its business, though with a huge scar.

Oh - so that was Sir Isaac's aunties apple orchard? I'd always wondered . . .

Will you be telling us your strawberries and tomatoes solutions? Everything eats our strawberries, except people.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Claire:

You have had an incredible amount of rain by any standards. It's painful to think of it all freezing. We have been watching some of it on some weather channel. I tried to find a source for our rainfall records - I should be measuring it right here - but haven't found them yet. The past few weeks it has almost constantly drizzled, but I don't think that the totals are very high.

Thanks for the heads up in last week's comments on where to find tea camellias, and which varieties. I have looked at their website.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

I think that you and I have a similar climate except for summer; the summers here in Albemarle County can be extremely hot, though it is not always so. We have friends in Kent who have visited here and say that not only the climate, but the countryside, reminds them very much of home. We haven't been there yet, so I can't judge from this end.

I, too, would like to hear more about the flood defenses.

Pam

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Re: trees burning in Australia, you were ahead of me to Pam, but I did intend to mention eucalyptus oil. I was surprised when you wrote that they are not native to Australia as I don't associate them with anywhere else. Where do they come from?

I stake all tomatoes except for the tiny ones in hanging baskets.

Still very warm and wet here.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I had a fleeting thought about Christmas lights, that I couldn't quit put my finger on. And Inge got it spot on. "...not in civilization, after dark." John Grisham wrote a very funny little book called "Skipping Christmas." One of the sub plots was about the tremendous pressure put on one family, who didn't want to do the outside lights, along a street where every house had over the top lights.

Nell got a serving of the canned stuff. Which she really likes.

Can't say we've got orange road markers ... the tumble strips at the edge, yes. The turtles are between lanes ... along with painted strips. The turtles are about 5" round, reflective, and super glued, somehow, to the pavement. Given our dark and rainy climate, just about anything that can be made reflective, is reflective.

Oh, I think I'll skip the Star Wars movie. It just doesn't grab me. I've lost the plot and just can't seem to work up the enthusiasm to find it again. Now, Star Trek, on the other hand .... :-)

Well, I went to work on the kitchen light fixture. It's a 4 tube job. Found a box of tubes in the basement ... got them all cleaned up ... and ... they were about 2 inches too long. What's with that? Oh, well. The fixture got a good cleaning, and while I was hauling around the step stool, the kitchen is now cob web free. So, I'll be off in search of the right size tubes, and, hopefully, they'll be easy to find. Not some discontinued length. Even when you find the tubes, it's always nerve wracking to get them through checkout, into the truck and home without smashing one.

Some forecasts call for another cold snap, next week. The snow we got, didn't stick. Just came down and ... disappeared. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

That is a massive amount of rain for both the month and the year. Are you find that the heavy rain is keeping the temperatures up from what you would normally expect at this time of the year?

Winter is the wettest time of the year here - usually July and August - and it can be surprising just how after a while the ground water table can't soak up the water - usually most years it can though.

It may be possible that some rot will set into the root systems of the plants. You don't really know what is going on beneath the soil surface, but if you smell a septic sort of smell coming from near the soil surface, that could be an indicator. It is easy to fix, it is just hard work as you'd maybe have to work some sort of woody into the soil which will bring more air into the soil. Dunno. Are you planning to write more about your experience - it would be informative to read?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Coco,

For sure, imagine having to worry about where the dog (or your partner or friend) was last seen. They are really deadly creatures.

Wow, that is completely off season. It isn't good. Well, money wins often in such circumstances and it can have some bizzare outcomes.

Oh yeah, I won't tell you about the ripening apricots, apples and plums. Plus blackberries and the first tomatoes are only a few weeks away! Yum! The greens are looking very sad now and tomorrow it will reach 39'C again...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

Thanks, I was aiming for gallows humour. It would be funny - and it is - if only it wasn't also so dire this summer! How is your garden going?

I will try and put that into the writing. You know I was thinking about the orchard today - in the 34'C heat - and I was thinking that the old timers would have had a very hard time getting their fruit trees established... The manure is helping here a lot.

Not good and add in the extreme record breaking heat. I haven't seen anything like it before. Fair enough too, I would. They will get established eventually. The avocado is worth the effort and it will eventually provide lots of shade.

If you are asking what I would do: Get another second hand one and also get a quote for the repair (can't hurt). Some items are worth repairing and some aren't and it is hard to know which one is which.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Oh yeah, English Oaks self seed here - I could turn the entire mountain side into an oak forest (if I had the resources to do so and all of the neighbours and council and pretty much every man and their dog didn't kill me in the process!). You would hear them whingeing about it loudly from your part of the world... I had a picnic today up near one of the biggest Elm trees that I have ever seen - I should get a photo of this tree it is massive and the trunk is wider than my outstretched arms. Huge!

Maybe the possums would eat them? Certainly the possums love Elm trees and the old inner city parks are full of possums and elms + also owls that eat the possums. Rats would eat them too. The acorns reliably produce seedling trees here and sometimes I just throw buckets full of the acorns about the place and see what happens. The wallabies certainly enjoy the leaves.

Yes, that is my understanding and please correct me if I'm wrong. You need sitting around and cogitating time. That's why guys go fishing I guess as they can stand around just simply being.

Haha! Not so fast. I've got to finish the other projects first, but it should start over the next few months (probably February or March). You should be impressed, but it is hard to describe - I'll draw a plan then.

I spotted more green tomatoes today! Wow, they are so early.

How is your winter going? Are you getting the huge rains - and hopefully no tornadoes?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Yeah, I read a fascinating book on the subject written by the CSIRO after the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires - which destroyed this area - and they reckon that after testing, it was as much the low mineral content of the leaves as the volatile oils.

No! The trees are native to Australia - they just don't figure greatly in the fossil records until very recently. They hybridise within 3 generations. One third of the continent up until recent times was rainforest. Humans upset the balance and encouraged hunting lands which increased fires - thus the eucalyptus trees spread widely. Most of our rainforest trees are very drought and heat hardy - take the Silky Oaks (which are a Grevilliea) as a good example.

Thanks for the heads up on the staking - I'm currently watching to see what happens if I don't stake them and they look very bushy to me. If I can see what goes wrong, I can learn the why of it all. I don't necessarily follow instructions.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Oh mate, they would have come under enormous pressure to conform. I would have broken and put up some desultory lights. It is hard to know which fights to pick and which to let well alone. For example: Don't pick someone else’s fight down at the local Country Women’s Association - no way!

Lucky Nell. Cats can be very fussy eaters, is Nell like that?

We call the turtles cat eyes - and oh yeah, it must be some amazing glue to hold that down onto the pavement. Speaking of which on hot days here the asphalt can get almost liquid. I once parked my motor bike on the asphalt on a hot day and the bike fell over because the stand sunk into the hot tar. It broke the fairing too on the bike. And full riding leathers on a hot day are just not fun. I reckon less than 10% of the days down here are nice enough to ride a motor bike. No more for me thanks very much!

Good to hear. If I do go and see it, I'll let you know, I was more of a fan of the Star Trek films anyway - and the trailer looked as though Simon Pegg had slipped in some very amusing gags. You can't take yourself too seriously.

Good luck with finding the tubes. I hear you. We accidentally broke one of the containers for our yoghurt maker yesterday - it is a simple thing like a thermos to keep the mixture warm. Nothing complex and wouldn't you know it - they make a slightly different shape now, so the whole thing is a write off - all of the bits and pieces... That's progress for you, so I do hope that you find your light fittings - and yeah, they are flimsy. I try and keep everything standard here. I just received a spare water pump in the mail today to replace the one that stopped working last week - but after a bit of mucking around is now working again. The pressure switch became faulty.

Oh well, hopefully next week sees a good dump of snow!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Re: the flood defences. We are told that water got into the pump house so they had to lift the defences. Make of that what you will. Sounds nonsensical to me.
I am sad that the flood got to the Viking museum in York. They managed to save the artifacts but the displays are ruined.

English oaks: They will self seed but we don't get trees. The plants grow to a tiny height and then die. They will not grow under a large oak. For new trees we are dependent on Jays burying acorns further from the mother tree. Squirrels do the same thing but I am informed that they bite off the growing end.

Warm and a gale force wind today. I have some washing hanging outside but rain looks imminent. Son is cutting one of my hedges with strict instructions to tell me of the first drop of rain.

I have never got to grips with Star wars but love Star Trek.

Have just finished reading 'The long winter' by John Cristopher (mentioned on ADR) and didn't think much of it. His book 'The death of grass' is far, far better.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Well, all right, I fess up! I had to duck into the big smoke this afternoon, so I took the editor to go and see the new Star Wars film too while we were there. Honestly, it must be your fault because I had all of these thoughts of Star Wars on my mind! Hehe! :-)!

Oh, it was good and didn't let up for a second as it was directed (and co-written) by J J Abrams - they same guy who reinvigorated the Star Trek films. Actually the film ran at about the same pace. And you wouldn't believe who I noted in a cameo role in the film at one point - none other than: Simon Pegg Contributed To Star Wars More Than We Thought.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I don't think I have ever seen an elm tree. I know that there are still some around, but Dutch Elm Disease killed off maybe 75% of them here - like the Chestnut Blight did chestnuts.

The fishing analogy is a good one. I think that some people need to look busy even if they are cogitating. Fishing would be good for that.

This winter has been mostly drizzly rain for weeks with a very occasional sunny day thrown in. Very mild temps - no freezing to speak of for quite awhile. Zero tornadoes, though one county over they had a small earthquake last week. I haven't seen any flooding either.

Tomato plants have to be staked here or the plant and the fruit rots on the ground.

Glad you have your spare water pump. I sure do like it when we have back-ups for the most crucial tools. I think that we are pretty well covered except for really big stuff, like the generator.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

I would have loved to see the Viking Museum.

We have Jays, but I have never seen one bury an acorn. Just squirrels.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

We've lived up here in our little forest hamlet for so long that I have, thankfully, forgotten what it's like to be expected to conform to those around me. The only skirmishes that we have up here are over who does what when to the "neighborhood" gravel road and how little we each want to pay towards that. Everyone pretty much keeps to themselves except for casual stuff.

You are allowed to feel self-righteous over your light fixture. You did your best, but the stars were not aligned. Here's hoping they align for your shopping quest!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Angus:

I did look at your last blog post and, boy, if it was dry 2 weeks ago, it must be really scary by now. I am glad to hear that the wicking beds have worked out so well; good job!

When you say "water restrictions" does that mean that the municipal water is restricted or that you are restricting yourself?

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, "clear and dry" is here ... and, cold. The thermometer on my porch said 18F (-7.77C), this morning, before sunrise. For at least the next 10 days, it's going to be in the low 20s at night (-6.67C) and no more than 40 (+4.44C) during the day. Give me a warm rain, anytime, as long as it isn't dripping down the back of my neck :-).

Nell's pretty good about food. But she wouldn't even touch the turkey I roasted. She's very fussy about water. Much prefers the slow drip from the kitchen tap, to the bowl of water that gets changed, frequently.

Well, I am daft. The tubes from the basement WERE the same size as the one's in the fixture. So, up on the stool I went, pulled the old tubes, put in the new ones and ... nothing. Pulled the new tubes, gave the contacts a going over with a small file, put them back up again and ... nothing. Well, they have been stored in a damp basement, for at least 20 years. So, another stop when I go to the Little Smoke, today.

I saw some internet headline, in passing, about how many famous actors are bucking for cameo rolls in Star Wars. Mostly as Storm Troopers. Pegg and Nick Frost had walk ons (lurch ons?) as zombies in one of George Romero's movies. Part of the DVD extras was getting them all kitted out in their zombie tat and being chained to a wall. :-). Pegg makes no bones about being an unrepentant fan boy ... and it has paid off in high power contacts. I'm looking forward to whatever quirky little indy film, he makes next. The one's you almost miss, but are always really interesting. I'll have to check the Internet Movie Data Base to see what he has coming up. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

PS: Lots of eucalyptus in S. California. Lew

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris and all,

I don't think the tree roots will rot out in my area. Our glacial loess soil drains well and if you didn't know we'd had all that rain recently you couldn't tell it by looking at the ground. No more puddles. But that might not be the case for folks who live in other parts of the region where the soils don't drain as fast. The temperature right now is a little above freezing and it will drop below freezing overnight, but because water gives off heat as it freezes, I don't expect the ground to freeze before the temperature moderates some next week, allowing some of the soil water to drain off. That should help reduce any potential freeze-thaw damage, which would be worse than normal on soil as wet as it is now.

If you look at area rivers you'll see how flooded they are. The Meramec River, the one that defines the southern boundary of St. Louis County, is experiencing record flooding. Have you ever heard of Times Beach, which was so contaminated by dioxin that the whole town had to be abandoned? It was on the Meramec in western St. Louis County. A record (at the time) flood in 1982 had spread the dioxin-contaminated dirt from the roads all over the town, the event which led to the town's abandonment. And why was there dioxin-contaminated dirt on the roads? Because a local waste hauler occasionally sprayed the dirt roads with dioxin-contaminated waste oil to keep down the dust.

Pam - the rainfall I reported is from the official St. Louis weather station. I think we had about the same amount at our house, but I did not put out my plastic rain gauge to check. I've had water I forgot about in past rain gauges freeze and crack the gauge.

Anyway, we are supposed to have dry weather for at least a week now. Maybe by Friday the clouds will clear away and we'll be able to see the sun again. I hope so!

Damo said...

Hello Chris and others,

RE: what technology and energy use is 'OK'
RE:RE: airplanes and cheap travel

Chris's story about the concerned environmentalist writing to the Greens from 30,000 feet rings true. You see this everywhere. People can justify all sorts of nonsense. Consider global inequality.

Most people, if pushed, acknowledge it might be slightly unfair we (anyone reading this on a computer probably counts) can live like kings whilst billions struggle with basics like clean water. Quizzed further on what the reasons might be for this lopsided distribution they quickly fall back to things like overpopulation, institutions and corruption (it is their fault they are poor!). The more thoughtful will talk about the past injustices of imperialism and gunboat diplomacy, but reflect that economic growth will soon 'catch them up' with us (that this catchup will take over a 100 years is not dwelled upon).

Ultimately very few arrive at the conclusion that a significant proportion of their poverty is directly related to our wealth (it is a finite world after all, despite what some economist might try and babble). And yet, much like climate change and peak oil, accepting this situation, what useful actions can a lucky westerner do?

Currently I sit somewhere towards the pragmatic end of the scale. I can afford to travel, thus I do. The belief that in the near future such travel will be expensive and ultimately not available at all makes me think I should enjoy it whilst I can. Not sure if it holds up as a consistent philosophy since I acknowledge the threats of climate change and peak oil.

Cheers,
Damo

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Oh. Water getting into a pump house normally means - at least from my perspective that the pump is located at an insufficient elevation from that of the river? Water pumps can be self-priming (which means they are full of water before they are started) and locating it lower means that the self-priming function is easier to work. It could also possibly mean that the building that the pump is located in failed to protect the pump from the flood water. Dunno really, it does seem weird to have inadequate flood prevention measures unless of course the authorities are looking to kick off a whole lot of building programs to stimulate employment. The problem is that the insurers get more reluctant to pay up with every passing extreme weather event.

You can get flood insurance down here because the government forced the insurers to provide it, but it is very expensive...

Sorry to hear about the museum. At least the artefacts were saved.

Did I read correctly that more storms are on the way there?

Oh. That is interesting about the English Oaks. They happily grow - albeit very slowly - in the shade of eucalyptus trees. You see the difference may be that the eucalyptus trees provide little shade to the ground beneath them because the leaves hang at a downwards angle. That adaption allows the tree to let light into the understory, but it also dries the forest fuels underneath and perhaps the English Oaks are taking advantage of that? The oaks are very fire retardant from what I have seen of them.

I do hope that your Son kept up with his side of that bargain?

Well, you are in good company then. I always enjoyed Star Trek, it could be a bit dodgy from time to time and often ended with a: "and then I woke up ending (usually an anomaly of some sort)", but it was pure escapism for me. Fun stuff and what about them tribbles? :-)!

Thanks for the review and caution. I appreciate that and will take that under advisement. The reading list is long indeed. I'm currently reading Jason Heppenstall's self-published book The Path to Odin's Lake. It is an enjoyable read, especially as I have no idea at all about the Scandinavian countries. Jason notices things and remarks on them, plus he is describing the scenery and culture quite well.

It reached 37'C here today and I'm wilting (as is the garden) and some birds thieved off with my Anzac Peaches today.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Wow, ok I get that. I hadn't really understood about the loss of the Elm trees due to the disease as we have rows of them all about the place for soldiers that died in World War 1. Dutch Elm disease never made its way here. I'll see what I can do to rustle up a photo of that impressive specimen of an Elm tree. There is no chestnut blight here either and some of the older hill stations in this mountain range have giant chestnut orchards where the chestnuts just fall to the ground and no one is able to harvest them because it is on private property…

Yeah, the fishing analogy is good isn't it? I used to live not far from the natural gas fired power station at Newport in Melbourne and it was located on the waters (Port Phillip bay) edge. The heated water from the cooling tower was dumped into the bay and because of that extra energy, a huge diversity of fish lived in that area. It was like a tropical fish tank! Anyway, a lot of the old timers used to fish in that area and they'd be there every single night with their lines and lures waiting for a bite. I often wondered what went through their minds at such times and it seems to me that it may have some parallels to meditation? Dunno.

Glad to read that you haven't had any tornadoes. These past few months have just been hot, but from all accounts it is a very wide spread heat. Some parts of Australia have been slightly cooler - like over in southern Western Australia, but the heat in the northern part of that state has ensured that they too have broken records. It is just weird.

Yeah, I was wondering about the staking of the tomato plants. It is hard to learn without making a whole lot of mistakes and that is what I'm trying to do with the tomatoes this year in not staking them and seeing what exactly happens. They may not rot here because the summer here is lower in humidity than your area, but I will let you know of the results once the season has been completed. Til then, I seriously don't know, but I will give the experiment a go and see what happens. They're looking very bushy right now. Time will tell. Solanum plants are native to this part of the world so conditions may be optimal for them? Dunno.

That is a very sound policy from my experience. You know, the main problem with generators was that people run out of fuel for them way before the generator packs it in for good - I saw that after the Black Saturday bush fires in 2009 when huge areas of the state were closed down by the authorities - for good reasons too and people were not allowed in or out.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Mate, that is just freezing. Brrr. Did the chicken’s water freeze during those temperatures? I assume that the well is now fully operational (like a warp drive?) given that you haven't mentioned it for quite a while now? Does the water in the well freeze with those sorts of temperatures? I've never experienced that sort of cold weather so have no idea at all what it feels like and how a person copes with it? How is your gas situation as I recall that you heat your home with some sort of propane?

As juxtaposition, I'm typing this outside in the orchard with the sun going down and the chicken’s chook, chooking in the orchard and I noted that the thermometer was showing 34'C (about 94'F) and today has just been way hot. The chickens don't seem to mind because I accidentally left the sprinkler going in their shed all day (I put that one down to a heat affected brain) and I dumped almost a 1,000 litres (about 300 gallons) in there before I remembered... Grrr! These things happen which is also why I keep a bit of fat up my sleeve so to speak. I'll refill the chicken’s water tank off the house tanks tomorrow morning. What a nuisance.

Alright, what does 20'F water down your back feel like? That is not good from my perspective.

Thankfully, I noticed an article in the newspaper today saying that the police have arrested a 47 year old guy on suspicion of arson for the two recent fires to the south of here just out of Sunbury. I knew those fires - especially the one on Christmas day - were not accidental. There is no space for that sort of person.

Cats like fatty meat, so perhaps the turkey was too lean for her? I like turkey, it is an awesome tasting meat. Yum! But it can also be dry, so who knows what goes on in the mind of a cat? Nell would perhaps lose her fussiness about water down here. You just reminded me that when I was filling up the native birds watering spot this morning, I disturbed a cloud of bees all enjoying the water too. They swirled and swirled around the water, but settled back in for a drink once I was finished.

I do hope that your drive into the little smoke was an uneventful experience given the cold temperatures up your way? No worries about the fluro globe as after 20 years they're probably rubbish anyway. It may be the starter too which is the little round - or sort of tube like ceramic thing - which can be unscrewed from the holder?

Thanks for the heads up about the George Romero film, I'll check that out. There doesn't seem to be much point in being a storm trooper extra because they all look alike. Dunno, just sayin. Simon Pegg played a dodgy trader early on in the film. He was very good. Yeah, I hear you, he's done some great work and not all of them have been high end films. The movie industry is in decay at the moment - I had to sit through a preview for a remake of the film Point Break. Seriously, Patrick Swayze is probably rolling in his grave. It looked pretty stupid.

I hope I get some of your rain soon? I had a weird experience with temperature yesterday when the reported temperature was much lower than the actual temperature and then I recalled that earlier this year - they moved the gauge after 107 years of records. If I have time tonight I'll leave a note about that sad tale over at the ADR.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Thanks for the excellent description of your part of the world. You'd think that the underground aquifers would be replenished by the sort of season that you are now experiencing. I assume that such huge amounts of rainfall are not representative of a normal year? Do you have forests in your part of the world? The soils would probably be conducive to forests being well drained? It sounds a bit like Damo's part of the world as he can get in excess of 3m (118 inches) of rainfall in a year on average, but the soils are very well drained.

Dioxins! Noooooo! They're like some of the most toxic chemical known to man. You know - I believe they are a by product of the paper bleaching industry (or were) - and please correct me if I'm wrong in that belief - and they used to apparently dump them into Bass Strait here...

I broke this evening as it is past 9pm now and the outside and inside air temperature is 28'C so I'm running the bush fire sprinklers to cool the area down...

Best wishes for the weather for this week!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

I hear you and suffer from the same hypocrisy. I read somewhere long ago that in small villages and very local economies that anyone gain is someone else's loss so from my perspective that is what you appear to be also saying - just in the bigger picture.

The important and unstated question is given your knowledge, what do you do with that knowledge and there is the pointy end where thoughts may or may not turn into action.

We sort of live in a strange time where one foot is in one world and another - if you let it - lives in another world altogether. You and I live in a world where you have to pay your way and there seems to be little point in resisting that as the system as it stands is well set up to exploit any weakness you should show. For example, try not paying your council rates and see what happens!

I'm not judging you (and would delete comments doing so) but I have no advice for you at all other than you have to go with your gut feelings about the future and plan for the best but expect the worst. Dunno.

Cheers

Chris

Damo said...

Yeah Chris, I am not looking for someone to say it is ok (although sometimes I wonder). It does make for an interesting discussion though.

Everyone seems to agree that PV panels will not save us, yet at an individual level they might be ok. To my mind, they are just as privileged as a cheap flights (ie the truly poor in this world could never dream of even a single 200w panel, let alone a off-grid eco-home).

In that classic book, catch-22, our protagonist does his best to avoid flying any further missions. His commanding officer, exasperated at Yossarians lack of patriotic vigour asks, 'And what if everyone thought and acted as you did? Who would fly the missions?" Yossarian replies that if that was the case, he truly would be crazy to do any different".

A cynical view perhaps, but one that has the virtue of being more or less correct. Any fuel I don't burn is not magically staying in the ground. It is pretty obvious humanity is burning the lot. Is it enough that my overall carbon usage is below average, or are flights always a bridge too far? Do I sell the car, walk everywhere and use the proceeds to save some lives in Africa? If I don't do this, am i a bad person? Is this better or worse than flying once or twice a year in an other wise modest life. Do others consider this?

I don't know. I might try and explore this with some writing, I don't know. Might stop now, have drunk a few and an probably rambling.

From hot and sticky Brisbane on Nye,
Damo

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Was 14F (-10C) this morning. Brisk. :-). The ground is frozen, hard as rock. Everything is frosted ... quit the "winter wonderland." The chickens are doing ok. This weeks egg production is 4,3,2,2,4. Broody Hen is being broody, again. Now that we're safely past the holidays. I have a chicken waterer that I put out in the morning, and freshen up. It goes in at night when the chickens go to bed. It sits close to the heat lamp, so, it doesn't freeze up. I do have a heated one, but haven't gone to the trouble of installing it.

Yeah, I heat with propane, with electric as a back up. I turn everything off when I go to bed. I don't know what kind of set up has been provided for the new well house to prevent it from freezing up. I'm sure there's something. Semi underground ... the well house was well insulated with lots of Tyvek. Might be heat tapes, involved. When I was a kid, we lived in a place that had a well. Dad put in a light on a drop cord. It was enough to keep the well from freezing up. I'm sure my landlord lets his taps drip ... as I do. Keeps the water moving through the system.

Fire Bugs (arsonists) should be punished in some medieval fashion. A long time ago, I saw an Australian movie. Can't even remember the title or much about it ... except the arsonist was caught in his own fire. Seemed an appropriate end.

Nell's a bit funny about her food. She gets mostly dry, but for some reason, doesn't like the small bits. Don't know why. I end up with a lot of small bits, left in the bottom of her bowl. And, she won't touch them, unless pressed hard. And, sometimes I press her hard. Anytime I open a can of tuna, she gets a bit. Loves that. If I reach for the can opener, she's right there. Now, my chickens .... every other chook in the world, apparently loves dandelion greens. My chickens won't touch them. Go figure.

Since I have a long cultural view (ie: picking up useless bits of information that stick in my brain) I've always thought the Star Trek Tribbles were a direct rip off from Al Capp's "Li'l Abner" cartoons. The Shmoos. In the collectible world, you can occasionally find a Shmoo clock or set of salt and pepper shakers.

Well, it will be a quit New Years, around here. Maybe I'll eat something naughty :-). Watch a movie from the library. Could go to a meeting, but the roads are pretty dicey, even in the early evening. Roads weren't bad once I got off my hill when I went to the Little Smoke. They've sanded and graveled in the worst spots.

Wishing ya'all a Happy and Prosperous New Year! Lew

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris -

Oh, the waterbodies and soil water are replenished, all right. ;-) But six months from now, if we get a dry and hot spring and summer, we could easily be in a drought situation. We'll have to see how things turn out.

St. Louis is in the transitional zone between the prairies (the US term for grasslands) and the eastern deciduous forest. Depending on slope and exposure, the local ecosystem could be a closed-canopy forest, a more open woodland, a savanna (isolated clumps of shrubs and/or trees interspersed in grassland), or a prairie. The forest would be oak-hickory. I live near the top of an east-facing slope on loess soils. As far as I can tell from my research, this would be a woodland if it hadn't been turned into suburbia, with plenty of trees but not a closed canopy. I have planted some of the oaks and hickories that would have been here as well as other trees and shrubs. Eventually I'll talk more about that in my blog.

Pam in Virginia said...

A Happy New Year to All!

Love,

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

It is an interesting discussion as it gets to the heart of the problems of our time.

Exactly, PV technology is unsustainable in the long term, therefore if panels stopped being produced tomorrow, then the last of them will be in use in about 50 years’ time – because that is about the maximum lifespan of a very lucky PV panel. The individual cells from any PV panel can be salvaged and reconfigured in all sorts of elegant ways but I’m unsure how many people have that sort of know how these days. I could do it, but most people are very ignorant of basic electronics.

Your Catch 22 metaphor was a good one. No worries too, I’m sitting in the orchard – because the cool change has finally arrived and am enjoying a tidy homemade lemon cider whilst replying to these excellent comments.

The main problem I have with the Catch 22 metaphor is that it has an underlying assumption that there are no consequences to Yossarians lack of patriotic vigour. For example if he does not fly those missions then it doesn’t matter. There is a tendency in times such as these to view the world with a film of nihilism and it can be a comforting thought. Nihilism refers to a school of thought that sort of says that nothing is real and therefore nothing much matters.

However, I tend to be of the opinion and belief that the economy is slowly tanking – if anyone cared to notice. The climate is slowly going haywire. And just to throw another problem into the mix we are slowly reaching the limits of resource extraction. The intersection of the many escalating problems is a slow process and the question I pose to you is what do you personally do about those intersections of issues?

If it means anything to you, I have no answer to these vast and impersonal questions. I’m aware that the world can drop out from under you with little warning because that happened to me way back in the early 90’s. But that is my experience and if you listen to the music of that time you will hear anger – really deep anger and dissatisfaction. It is hard to listen to Rage Against the Machine – Killing in the Name of and not feel angry. Or how about Smells like Teen Spirit from Nirvana the whole vibe of the song is off. What about the Smashing Pumpkins singing Despite all my rage I’m still just a rat in a cage?

The entire purpose of this blog is to have a chat with interesting people, but it is also to show how a life can be lived outside of the confines of the society that we currently exist in. It really is that simple and the question always is, given your understanding – and Mrs Damo’s too – what do you do about your situation?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Brisk is a classic understatement! The cool change has just arrived and I’ve become a bit soft and have gotten used to the hot weather that now I’m feeling a bit cold. But your experience is very cold indeed! Brrr! Your chickens are absolute little troopers providing that many eggs per day during such a cold spell. The chickens here have dropped to between 4 and 6 eggs per day because of the ongoing heat. That is a very strange time for a chicken to be broody. Maybe the previous warmer conditions convinced her that spring would be shortly arriving? Dunno. Chickens can be exceptionally fickle when it comes to weather conditions.

Your chicken water system is very wise given your prevailing conditions. I would have thought that otherwise the whole lot would freeze completely solid. Definitely not tea camellia conditions! ! Apparently, Sunday will provide a bit of rain so I cleaned out the gutters on the chicken enclosure so that it would be collected in the water tank. Fortunately, my error yesterday didn’t drain the tank completely and they still have some water left. The chickens are going to bed slightly earlier now at about 8.45pm.

Fair enough about switching everything off before bedtime, I would too given the propane heating could increase the CO2 and CO1 in your house without you noticing it.

Cont…

Cherokee Organics said...

Keeping water moving through a system keeps it cool too. I'm having the opposite problem right now in that the hoses have to be run for a little bit first because the water in them is scalding. And the solar hot water is amazingly hot at this time of year. Your dad's solution about the stopping the well from freezing was very ingenious. Just out of interest, can you recall what the diameter of the well was? I've never actually seen one and have often wondered about them because I have this mental image of a little wind up cable holding a bucket which can fall into the well...

I am not tolerant of their mental health issues and possible need for control and excitement, let's put it that way...

Nell is clearly a discerning conossiuer of all food bits large! Hehe! Who knows what is going on. I tend to starve out fussy animals, whilst also trying to be cognizant of their actual needs. Poopy will most certainly assist the other animals finding the motivation to consume their meals. He's good like that! Nell needs a Poopy! ;-)!

Yeah, the chickens here aren't too excited about dandelion greens either. Perhaps they have better options. They certainly display preferences for certain food types.

Thanks for the heads up on the tribbles and the Shmoos. Interesting! Isn't it funny how cultural concepts build one upon the other as time goes on?

Does naughty = more chocolate? Yum! It was a quiet New Years here too - at least there weren't unannounced visitors at midnight again this year. Anyway, I worked yesterday and also again today. Hey, the converted firewood shed is now complete and waiting to be landscaped and filled with firewood. It was a massive job and this morning it was 27'C (80.6'F) already when I woke up but at least it has cooled down now. Hopefully tomorrow I'll move about 2 cubic metres of manure about the orchard. It never stops.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

It is hard to know what the future will bring when it comes to climate. The groundwater is very slow to move away from your area, so it does provide a bit of a buffer. The large trees here plus those in the orchard are all enjoying a bit of a drink from the groundwater still. It is very hard to know what is in there though.

I look forward to reading about your experience as I'm establishing oaks here too. They are very valuable shade trees. You may or may not be aware that being in a transitional zone, you have a wider range of plants to choose from than would otherwise be the case?

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

A Happy New Year to all

Inge

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

The thing that I most remember about the tribbles was them all falling out of cupboards. That reads like a poorly constructed sentence!

It is marginally colder today. We have had the warmest December since records began and the wettest for a century.

Realise that I have never (in my whole life) conformed. The only time that this has mattered was occasionally at school. I am lucky in that I can get on with absolutely anyone. I really like people on a one to one basis. Small communities are great to live in. We are about 24 households here and know each other by first names. In fact I don't know all the surnames. There are some bitter boundary quarrels but the worst neighbour has gone. On the whole we all lead very separate lives which seems to work well.

With regard to the subject Damo has raised and your responses Chris, I find it a fascinating discussion. What would be the result Chris if every human being on this planet tried now to live as you are living?

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Damo:

I have been pondering your question since I first read your comment at ADR last week, and then here. I still don't have an answer. We can only try to do our best, while never being sure of what our "best" is. It seems that most everything that we don't do can have a detrimental effect as much as the things that we actually do. If we completely stop flying or taking trains, whatever, what happens to the jobs of the people employed in those industries? There has to be something to take the place of those jobs. I know way too many young college graduates, some with Masters Degrees, who wait tables or are clerks in shops or who work for furniture movers, none of which pays a decent wage. I have a feeling that we here all give something to charity, whether money or a helping hand. If we become as the third world, we become much less able to help others, whether or not we have inadvertently added to their problems by our behavior. I guess we go back to the Archdruid's LESS - Less Energy, Stuff, and Stimulation - a philosophy all of us here are trying to follow. Perhaps doing so a little at a time, while making observable progress, is actually safest for all of us. I have long hoped for that slow decline; you don't get that with sudden,drastic changes.

In the end, I guess I worry about setting a good example. Maybe it's just pride.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Claire:

Enjoyed your new blog posting. Also your descriptive account of the past biodiversity in your area. I'm trying here to bring back some of the diversity that our friends the deer have destroyed (they can't help it, bless them). Within the fenced garden are examples of what used to be all around.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - It's a balmy 22F (-5.55C), here, this morning. Looks like the rain is coming back on Tuesday. And, the temperatures will start going up.

Naughty = a big pile of cinnamon toast and a big glass of milk :-). Watched part of a new PBS series called "Food Forward" that I got from the library. Different aspects of food production in the US, and how things (in some places) are moving in a healthier direction. There was a section on building better soil, seed saving (oooh! I want some Glass Gem Corn!) , school lunches (the kids grow some of their own food, prepare it and eat it. Urban gardening. A section on raw milk. Even a section on meat production that wasn't anti-meat. Though, vegetarians may want to leave the room :-). That it can be done smaller, cleaner, more humanitarian and healthier. For the animal and consumer.

Broody Hen actually came out with the other hens, this morning. I fully expect to find her back on the nest when I take out the chooks their afternoon treat. It's yogurt day! I unceremoniously tossed her out into the chicken yard, yesterday, where the other hens preceded to chase her around and give her a hard time for taking up valuable real estate.

I have little CO2 detectors that plug into the wall. And, the propane stove is well vented into the chimney, which is fine for venting, but a wash out for wood heat. Sigh. Got the new tubes into the kitchen fixture and ... nothing. Sigh. Burt out ballast? Guess I'll have to have the electrician, in. But, in the meantime, there's still a smaller light over the sink that works. Plenty of oil lamps and candles, around. Or, I could just go on "Grannie Standard Time." Up with the sun and to bed with the sun. :-)

The whole ins and outs of wells are beyond me. Haven't a clue how they work, these days. I know one woman who has what passes for a standard well, but also put in a hand pump for power outages. I know when we had the power outage, the water lasted for about two hours, before the tank ran dry. Or I used up what was in the lines.

Re: Tribbles and Shmoos. Sometimes I think there's not much new, under the sun. Lew

margfh said...

Happy New Year to all.
Finally some normal winter temperatures here - mid 20's (F) and teens at night. We had one crazy storm last Monday - 4 to 5 inches of sleet/snow and high winds. It was the heaviest snow I had ever experienced. We were fortunate that there wasn't much ice accumulation on the power lines. Lights flickered quite a few times that evening but we never lost power. Now you can just walk on the top of the snow.

We have a huge flock of wild turkeys in the woods behind us 100 - 200 birds. The last few days they have ventured out of the woods in groups of 20 to 30 and are wandering around all over. Turkey tracks are everywhere. We'd like them to return to the woods as the dogs find their dropping a delicacy and also fine to roll in. At the moment it's all frozen but supposed to warm up this week.

There's a great deal of restoration around this area to a more native oak Savannah. The oak remnants are choked by invasive buckthorn and honey suckle. A group of us have successfully restored such an area just on the edge of town. Now it's a nature park with paths, bridges over the stream and interpretive signs. It's near one of the schools and some of us lead walks through the area. Most kids have not been exposed much to an area like this and they've really enjoyed the walks. We did a controlled burn this spring so it's looking quite well and more native plants are appearing. Of course it will have to be maintained on a regular basis.

Margaret

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Haha! Except that if you'd seen the tribble episode then you'd know what we are talking about. There were some funny images of tribbles on the Internet when you do a search. One image has Spock with tribbles with the caption: "Yesterday, all my tribbles seemed so far away"! :-)!

Nice to hear that it is a bit colder. And yes, I am a bit troubled that so many December weather records have been broken (plus October records down here) in so many places. Not a good sign.

School is a mildly surreal and unnatural social system - where else are people segregated by age (except maybe sports clubs, now that I think about it)? I can understand that there are protections for the younger people in such segregation, but still it doesn't really reflect the larger world’s social arrangements. It is nice not to conform - few people seem to even realise that there really is no prize for conforming. ;-)! I'm quite horrified sometimes by the cultural memes and programming presented in advertisements and avoid them like the plague.

Small communities are good when there is trouble of some sort and people can look out for one another.

It is a fascinating discussion isn't it? Damo has asked some of the big questions.

As to your question, I don't believe that there is a simple good or bad answer to that question. My gut feeling tells me that it would not be possible for everyone to live as I do because I rely on some technology that I can't manufacture here and that eventually my standard of living would have to decline so that other people’s standard of living could improve. I'm not sure, but I feel that you are getting to the core of what it means to live a conscious life.

However, it may well be possible for a large percentage of the population of the planet to live in a subset of the way that I'm living now, but you certainly wouldn't have as many humans on the planet as we currently have - not by a long shot - and we'd all have to accept a level of risk that our culture finds abhorrent today.

So what is your view of the discussion and can you offer any advice, thoughts or wisdom?

I chose for myself a very old path of setting out into the forest and seeing what nature wanted of me.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thank you for that thoughtful answer. I too am unsure what the answer is. Incidentally leading by example is an excellent suggestion in addition to the LESS philosophy.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I'm feeling cold merely reading your reply. Balmy. Nice one! :-)! Very funny. I just had this weird thought, with such cold and freezing temperatures, has you septic system ever frozen solid? That would be very weird, but I have no experience of such cold temperatures. I may be getting some rain over the next few days too - probably half an inch - from a big tropical low that is pushing south in its travels across this continent. Further east the predicted rainfall looks quite huge and some areas may get 4 inches - which they really need!

Yum! How good is cinnamon toast? I love that stuff (and usually bake the odd loaf or three around Easter time - I forget why it is usually the done thing around that time of year though?). When the toast is still hot from the oven or toaster, I smother it in butter. Do you use butter? I recall the switch from butter to margarine when I was a kid, and liked margarine better in those days, but don't like the taste of it nowadays - which may be due to the palm oil which doesn't taste at all nice to me. Butter, however, is butter, and I enjoy that nowadays instead at least it tastes the same as I remember - but apart from the weekly Anzac biscuit batch, I don't really add it to anything - not even on bread. I usually just put quince jam or blackberry jam straight onto the bread. To be honest, now that I think about it, why do we add butter or margarine to bread? I don't really know - other than it being a custom?

That sounds like an excellent series. Oh yeah, healthy and deep soils produce better food. And seed saving is going on here right now with the rocket (arugula) and mustards and also broad beans. The funny thing is the greens that I grow here have thicker leaves and a stronger taste than the equivalent purchased at a market or supermarket. There must be something in that. I'm always surprised that raw milk is such a hot button topic - it really freaks people out. I buy organic, pasteurised but unhomogenised (so it has the fatty lumps - yummy milk cream!) but it is almost $4/litre which is about $15.20/gallon! Needless to say that it is consumed with care and appreciation. They have a legally recognised raw milk cheese down here, but the whole process is owned by one gourmet dairy and I believe the legal hurdles were pretty immense.

Good to see broody hen has taken the mid-winter feast hint! :-)! Hehe! The other hens are not gentle about sparing broody hens feelings - get back in there or else! Have you ever noticed that the Boss chicken never goes broody? It must be some sort of perquisite. I always worry about the Silkies when they go broody, because they're so small and there's not much additional resources to begin with.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Those CO2 / CO1 detectors are not a bad idea, still you'd have to be very unlucky. I once saw a CSI episode where the unlucky special guest death had consumed way too much cabbage and onions the day before and I'd have to suggest that he could have used one of those detectors. It does sound like an urban legend though?

Grannie Standard time sounds OK to me? Winter is a time for sleeping in - no point getting up too early is my motto – especially when conditions are sub fluffy optimal (or feral as in your winter temperatures)! Yesterday morning was 27’C (80.6’F) when I got up in the morning – I am so over summer (sorry, that was an official whinge).

Thanks anyway. The hand pump sounds like a good idea and they use them on mineral springs down here, but those springs may be under some sort of pressure - but I don't really know. Two hours of water would have me stressed out! Your summer should be easier now that you have a well. I fixed the pump situation here a few days back - but I tell you what, we've been having a few watering time dramas since the tomato production was quadrupled this season on the back of the extreme weather - I'll write about those next Monday. Sometimes problems sneak up on you without you even being aware of them.

Hehe! Maybe... I see a lot of new stuff floating about, but I wonder about the diminishing returns of creative endeavours (and I'm talking about science as much as the arts). Dunno. The new Star Wars film managed to destroy another Death Star - except this time it was a whole planet. Same, same but bigger!!!! J J Abrams knows a thing or two about destroying planets - given what happened to the Vulcan home planet.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Oh my that is so cold mid 20'F is about -4'C. I'm starting to feel very cold reading about all these winter temperatures. Brrrr! Wow, that is a huge dump of snow and I do hope that you are enjoying it. Walking around on the snow sounds quite nice and a lot of fun really. Just out of interest, those sorts of conditions here would bring the city to a complete standstill, how is everyone coping up your way - or are they adapted to such conditions even if they are as much as you've ever seen? The funny thing about the extreme heat down here is that people seem to be surprised when it happens and because the climate is very variable anyway they never seem to adapt. I have noted that there are far less people out and about on those really hot days though.

I'm assuming the turkey sightings are related to the heavy snowfalls and the turkeys are venturing down to your place for a feed and drink? Yes, dogs can be dogs and bird manure is a delicacy to them. The blue wrens and red breasted robins here get the last laugh as they scratch around and enjoy the dog manure and so around and around the nutrients go. I do hope that it all ends up in the garden at some point? The rolling is another trick altogether and Sir Scruffy a few months back used to enjoy rolling in wombat scent and he usually smells very neutral, but back then he smelled very musky. Not good as wombat scent is quite pungent. May your dogs enjoy their small delicacies and at least it is saving you some money on dog food!

Well done. Seriously, very well done. Respect. I wasn't sure what you meant by the term: native oak Savannah and scratched up that Internet image. That is exactly how the Aboriginals used to maintain many of the forests here for the benefit of the wildlife (and obviously their source of game). Widely spaced trees with a spreading canopy. Trees of different ages and some diversity of species. Wildflowers. Oh yeah, that is good and I'm working towards that here and the wildlife loves it. And yeah, you will have to continue with the regular controlled burns - try not to give anyone a reason to take offence to them so watch for windy days and late wind changes which may cause the fire to escape. How did you go with the controlled burn anyway? Did you notice an increase in the diversity of wildflowers within 12 months of the burn.

Incidentally, the farm in the valley below here that burnt off a test paddock and then ploughed it a few months back now has green grass where there is no other green grass - it is uncanny because they don't irrigate it.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

"The thing that I most remember about the tribbles was them all falling out of cupboards. That reads like a poorly constructed sentence!" But a most charming one!

If we all lived like Chris, we would call this planet Paradise.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:


"I chose for myself a very old path of setting out into the forest and seeing what nature wanted of me." Well put.

I assume that our septic tank has never frozen (23 years) even though our temps can be well below freezing for days is because there is 24-hour activity here and some water (out of the tap normally about 55'F - 12.7'C, year round) frequently goes into it. Also quite a bit of warm and hot water.

I had forgotten about cinnamon toast - yummy! I think that we add butter to bread because humans have such a craving (very necessary) for fats and salt (and sweets). All in moderation, hopefully! Is your butter salted?

I get you with the too much cabbage and onions . . .

I was glad to hear an update on that test paddock in the valley.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

You have the most fantastic library! That PBS series sounds great - and encouraging.

We have a well, but I don't know how it works. The electric pump is in the basement. The well is on a slope just a bit above the house. I have suggested that we get a hand pump installed on it for when the power goes out. There is very little stored in the tank when such a thing happens. However, we do have quite a lot of gallon jugs of water and larger containers stored in the basement and the two 55 gallon barrels in the garden (except for when they are frozen) and my son has brought home another 55 gallon barrel.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Margaret:

You are certainly lucky that you didn't lose power! I have never heard of such a large flock of turkeys - no predators at all in your area? They don't sound like the aggressive type that we were discussing a while back. Does somebody around there feed them?

Wonderful that you all have set a nature park and path - so thoughtful!

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - 15F (-9.44C) here, this morning. Usually, about 55F (12.77C) inside, when I get up. Let's see. I go to bed around 12 and get up at 8. The chickens have to be taken care of, by 9 as that's when their light goes out. So, I loose about 10 degrees, over night. I take whatever shirt I'm going to wear to bed with me ... so it's toasty warm to put on, right away.

Take Beau out the back door and set out his breakfast and make sure he's got water that isn't frozen. The take care of the chickens. By the time I get back in the house, it's not much warmer, but it FEELS toasty. Burping up garlic from last nights veg potage ... but it hasn't set the CO2 detectors, off. Nor do my excursions into chili :-).

Haven't thought about my septic freezing up. It hasn't happened. I think it's below the frost line ... and, with all the breaking down activity, down there, it's probably pretty toasty. I think I told you it gets "fed" once a month with two scoops of ... something. I noticed that some of the condensation on the inside of the living room window was frozen, this morning.

The kitchen is a bit of a problem. Big south facing windows, which are fine, during the day. But, a heat loss at night. Plus three doors to unheated areas (outside, laundry room, attic). So, I've hung a double, big blue tarp, in the big open arch between the living room and kitchen. Looks like heck, but works to keep the heat in the main part of the house. I also pile an old blanket, around the bottoms of the unheated doors to stop up any stray drafts.

Violence in the chicken coop this morning. As I pitched broody hen out the door (soon to be an Olympic sport) one of the other hens coming off the nest was offended by all the violence, and gave me "what for." I told her to just pretend she was watching a Stephen Segal movie. Of course, once she got outside, she fell in with the rest of the mob, giving Broody Hen a hard time. Heard a funny sound and it was Beau rolling in the frozen grass. I think he likes the different texture.

Butter? Well, as you know, we're hardwired to crave fats, sugars and salt. So, cinnamon toast pushes a lot of those buttons. I put the bread under the broiler, toast one side, then the other. Have to watch it like a hawk so it doesn't burn. Smear it with butter, sprinkle on the cinnamon ... then the sugar (brown). Pop it back under the broiler until the sugar starts to caramelize (again, watching it like a hawk.) Maybe butter on bread provides a barrier so the jelly or jam doesn't soak through?

The whole carbon footprint question. Well ... I have a pretty small carbon footprint. Now. But that is pretty situational. Before I retired and got the small pension, not so much. But I always had the worm box going and recycled everything I could. I don't know. Given whatever your living situation is, I think you just do the best you can and shouldn't feel to guilty about what you can't do. A bit of planning, a bit of thought.

I'm trying not to feel too superior (because I know it will come back and bite me on the .... ear) but the Evil Stepson lost his water, yesterday. Didn't leave his taps dripping. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Oh thank you very much, that is lovely to hear. I reckon stewardship is a whole different mindset to that of the consumer.

Yeah, I was wondering about the septic systems. It would be a bit of a nuisance if it froze wouldn't it? I guess all of the bacterial activity would keep it warm too? I accidentally left the sprinkler going in the chickens deep litter mulch and poured a 1,000 litres (about 260 gallons) into the chicken run. It was a very hot day – around 100’F, so I guess the chickens enjoyed the water? Maybe, they’re hard to please... Anyway, the litter in their run now is very warm and damp which I'm guessing is all of the bacterial action converting the deep litter into soil? I hope a little bit of rain arrives soon otherwise I'll have to refill their water tank...

The weather here is very weird today because it is quite dark outside right now and the thunder is rolling around the sky, but there is no rain - it all seems to be heading north of the mountain range - and poor Scritchy hates thunderstorms and is hiding underneath my desk here - looking very sad too - poor boss dog.

It is good stuff isn't it? It is a normal bread mix with a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg and maybe some allspice mix - but I add in sultanas too - but you could add any old dried fruit really. Exactly, everything in moderation. The butter here can be purchased with or without salt, and I tend to purchase it without salt and honestly it tastes identical to what I recall it tasting like when I was a child. I’ve noticed the latest food fear fad is salt – last year’s food fear fad seemed to be sugar…

The dairy industry down here is a bit weird at the moment because it is just so lucrative to export infant formula (and other dairy) to China - they've actually set limits on the amount of products that shoppers here can buy and there have been shortages, runs and reports of tourists filling up their baggage with boxes of the formula stuff and earning enough money to pay for their trips when back home. The whole thing is very strange and mildly surreal.

Yes, I was trying to be tasteful about the cabbage and onions - but they seriously made an episode on that very topic...

No worries, the test paddock is fascinating to watch from a distance. I suspect that trick could only be used once every few years, otherwise the soil life is eventually killed off - but it is actually working...

Thanks for the info about the well. I suspect your ground water may be quite high otherwise the pump would have to be dropped in to the bottom of the well, otherwise it wouldn't get prime and be able to move water in the first place. The hand pump is a good idea - actually a really good idea and if you uncover any useful information on those, I'd really appreciate hearing about them. 55 gallons is a useful amount and if it was used just for drinking purposes it would last for days.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

55'F is quite reasonable inside a house on a cold winter’s morning. It is funny how quickly you get used to those sorts of cool temperatures. I've often suspected that people over heat their houses and are uncomfortable - and also don't sleep very well too - as a result. You sound like a night owl, and oh yeah, I hear you about that. I’m a night owl too. Early mornings - get thee to a nunnery! On cold winters mornings, I keep a wool jumper handy and sheep skin jacket and it works a treat. Incidentally your morning inside temperature was my outside temperature this morning. !

To the north of the mountain range there seems to be a monster and very slow moving rain storm, although here you wouldn't know it here and the thunder has stopped. The interesting thing was that the authorities were warning of landslides in the fire affected areas to the north of this mountain range: Severe storm warning issued for central Victoria, heavy rain could lead to flash flooding. Honestly, it is quite dark outside right now, but there is absolutely no rain at all but the birds are making all sorts of calls to each other. Oh well

What? Surely the detectors would have sounded the alarm from a solid garlic belch? :-)! Hehehe! We've descended into the land of silly again. The smoke detectors here have a little green LED light to indicate that they are functional. It is a great idea - except that the green LED attracts every single flying insect known to man at night-time and then on occasional nights the insect activity becomes too much for the sad little electronic circuits and the smoke alarm starts blaring. It is an impossibility to sleep through such a racket and I have to climb up a ladder and then reset that stupid machine...

Your idea of zoning is pure genius - because it works. The tarp and blankets are a great low tech idea that saves you a bucket of money on the fuel bills. Respect!

Oh yeah, I understand what you mean by: "what for". That's an old saying too which usually goes something like: "I'll give you what for!" (as a statement of future intent rather than a question). I'm impressed that you persist with the whole tossing the broody hen thing, but seriously, I just roll with whatever the chickens decide is OK by them and the personal stress levels in such situations is reduced significantly! ;-)!

Dogs have no sense of personal temperature... I once used to own a dog that wanted to go swimming in the bay over the depths of winter... Go figure that one out, although he did live to about the age of 16 years so he was doing OK.

No doubt that you are correct in your assertion about the butter and it is good on cinnamon toasted bread isn't it? Yum! Now that I think about it, the quince jam (which is a bit closer to a jelly than a jam) in particular does actually soak into the bread. Maybe more jam needs to be added plus a bit further research on the topic needs to be conducted?

Exactly, do what you can. My gut feeling is that we are only ever as good as the weakest link in the chain and the results are in and they're not good... Maybe that is what was meant by the bit about: whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me... Dunno. But it doesn't inspire confidence...

Oh, that is funny! :-)! Well done him. Hehe! Enjoy your win!

I do hope that I get some solid rain over the next few days? It is so hot and dry here now. The manure that I added to the orchard has started to pay some dividends and the fruit trees are slowly growing again as a result. It is touch and go, through this summer.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I seem to be reaching a point where there is so much to comment on here, that one has to let some things go.

It is pouring with rain here; the wet really is becoming a bit much.

The big question: It depends on who or what you are and where you are standing. There is no answer that deals with everything. Is ones first concern the fate of the planet? Clearly it would be fine if mankind disappeared. the poor thing does its best to shake these human fleas off (earthquakes). It tries to burn us off and wash us off, poison us off (diseases). We even help it with wars but we still keep thriving to excess.

Then at the personal human level we have IVF, organ transplantation ever increasing medical interventions to provide continuing life at all costs even though we know that we are over populated. My 2 honorary granddaughters (twins) were born weighing less than 2lbs each. They are now healthy 13 year olds. This caused me to re-think my previous brutal views.

There is anything and everything between these 2 extremes, no right, no wrong and almost certainly no answers except at a personal, puny level.

Inge

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

20's F aren't bad as long as it's not too windy. It's when the temp during the day is in the single digits or doesn't reach 0 and the nights are -15 to -25 that things get really unpleasant. During the last storm one roof at a distribution center in town caved in. Luckily no one was hurt. There were two jack-knifed semis just outside of town that stranded people in their cars for hours. We get some pretty high winds here and since there's so many open areas there's often snow blowing back on the roads. Our township is very good at keeping up the roads but sometimes it's overkill. Our road has only 4 full time inhabited houses but they are here numerous times during the day. They had already pre-treated the road with salt before the first storm. There's now some chemical in the road salt that allows it to keep the snow and ice melted at lower temps - not good for the roads, cars or plants nearby. There is so much salt applied to the roads that when it's dry it looks like you're driving in a cloud of white dust and you can even taste it.

The Land Conservancy of McHenry County and the Conservation District conducts the burns and those in charge are very skilled and knowledgeable regarding the process.

Hi Pam,

There are a lot of coyotes around and they get some turkeys but apparently not enough to keep the flock to a more reasonable level. Some people hunt them too but not as many as hunt deer. Turkeys were non existent in Illinois by 1910 due to hunting and habitat loss but the Illinois DNR. were very successful in reintroducing them to all counties in the state.

It's really heartening to see the kids enjoy the natural area. You wouldn't believe how excited they get over even acorns. Most have only been exposed to manicured parks. On our last outing with 3rd grade students one of the boys said, "I thought this was going to be boring but it was fun!" It took many volunteers over two years to get it to this state.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - 14F (-10C), here, this morning. Could be worse. My friends in Idaho reported -8F (-22.22C), overnight. But, the weather is going to change, today. Woke up to a good cloud cover. Which is good news / bad news. No sun to melt the frost, wherever it touches. But, tonights overnight lows (and for the next 10 days, at least) are going to be above freezing. We may get some "change over" snow. From the satellite picture, it looks like it's snowing already, south of us.

Went to see Chef John, yesterday, and the trip over was pretty stressful. It's only 6 miles, but there's one section I call "The Big Dip." Quite a grade and the sunlight never gets down there. The county graveled it, but the gravel was hard to find in spots. Note to self: Next time we have weather like this, no trips to John's. Getting to town, isn't bad. Once I get down the short distance to the highway. Ran John through, demonstrated, the stretching and back exercises I do every morning. Takes me 15 minutes and I haven't had a major back problem, since I started doing them, consistently.

Broody Hen was doing so well, the last couple of months. Noticed she was out with the other hens, this morning. Thought she might still be in, but it was one of the other red and blacks. Not her box of choice ... she makes a very distinctive sound and never pecks. So, when I reached into the box, I got a very hard peck and a different warning sound. Just one of the other hens looking for a little peace and quit to lay an egg :-).

Seed catalogues are flowing in. Always fun to see what's on offer.

Ah, snow just started coming down. Wonder if it will stick? Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - Yes, we have a wonderful library system. Though I've been a little disturbed by their recent trend to go to electronic movies and books. Because ... well, I just don't want to go there. So far, they've been pretty much running a tandem purchase policy. But I've noticed they're ordering fewer copies of best sellers ... so the hold lists for the books are very long. The small, interesting indy films ... I've run across a few that are only available as downloads.

I keep about 2 dozen gallons of water stashed in the laundry room. And, I've got 2 50 gallon tubs out in the yard to catch rain water. To water the animals and flush the bog. So far, it's worked out fairly well. Lew

Damo said...

Hi Chris and others,

re: is it ok to fly
re:re: carbon emissions etc etc

It has being interesting to read everyone's thoughts on this matter. It seems that mostly, everyone has reached a conclusion along the lines of, "Do what is right for you". For such a complex topic I suspect that this might as good an 'answer' as one can get.

@ Chris
RE: to answer your question as to what I plan on doing about these complex, intersecting issues (or should they be called predicaments?)

On the whole, I share the worldview of many here which can be crudely summarised into peak oil, climate change and inequality. Any one of these issues has the power to dramatically shape the next 50 years. Combined, we are surely headed for interesting times (note I don't think a fast collapse scenario is likely).

For myself, obtaining and working some land in the smallholder/organic/permaculture fashion is my goal. To do this, I need money. In Australia, I need a lot of money. As such I am saving my pennies, hoping for some combination of events where I still get to save money but property prices crash. In the meantime, between shifts, I am starting the long process of learning the basics.

As my next meal is not dependent on my skills, it is all great fun. Almost everything I own was obtained second-hand, but I still have the trappings of modern conveniences. When the chance arises I use air travel, sometimes overseas. The thought that it probably won't be possible in the next few decades acts as small justification. Ultimately though, I feel there is an un-resolvable tension between believing in an energy poor/climate disrupted future whilst working and consuming in a modern industrial economy towards your own little life boat.

There is a book by Peter Singer called, "The Life you can save" which is somewhat related. It is on my to-read list (after Meditations) and I hope it might offer some insights. In short Peter argues that there are many cost-effective charities and programs across the world (mostly, but not limited to developing countries) which allows the typical middle-class citizen to save dozens, if not hundreds, of lives by spending less and donating the difference. It is compelling stuff, but the logical conclusion is that one should donate everything except the bare minimum required to live. Any other action can be construed as morally equivalent to murder. I suspect this slippery-slope style of argument is used to argue against any action, and AFAIK it is not given much thrift by Peter in the book. But, it sounds like an interesting book anyway.

In other news, we got back from the family holiday and I found the garden had done reasonably well without me. Pictures can be found here:
http://zeehanmanse.blogspot.com.au/2016/01/benign-neglect.html
If anyone has comments on how much water I should be giving fruiting tomatoe and zuchinni's I would love to hear it (note that the soil is a bit 'clay-y').

Cheers,
Damo

Damo said...

@ Pam,

I have heard bad things about the job situation in the US. People racking up enormous debts (not the mention the cost in time) to obtain degrees only to end up working a zero-hour contract (if they get a job at all). It is starting to happen here in Australia as well, recently at a dinner we were served by a waitress who had completed a phd in nursing, and yet was unable to find any work across three states!

In the past most people would be onto their second kid and well into paying off a mortgage by 30, yet today it is common for people to still be with their parents, have a huge student loan upto $100K and have never held a proper full-time job.

It will be interesting (and yet terrible) to see how this all plays out.

Cheers,
Damo