Monday, 14 December 2015

Learning to fly



It is a tough first day at school, when your parents decide to kick you out of the nest and out into the big bad world. That first day is even harder when the midday sun burns intensely, the insects roar, the grass crunches beneath your feet and the day just feels overly hot and long. That is one tough first day at school for anyone.

The Kookaburra’s had been constantly calling to one another as they flitted in and out of the shade of the tall trees on that hot summers day. It is always wise to listen to the unmistakable call of the Kookaburra’s as they warn each other of predators and other unpleasant events that may otherwise go unnoticed by myself at Fernglade Farm.

However, on that particular day I reckon the calls were warning each other that my canine friends and I were working hard in the hot mid-afternoon summer sun in the orchard.

Initially, I believed that the Kookaburra’s were calling to each other to let them know that a snake was weaving its way through the grass. With that warning in mind and given the real risk of snake bite, I decided to stop work in the orchard and take a good look around.

And this is what I found:
A young Kookaburra on its first day of independence from the parents nest
My canine friends were quickly relocated into the confines of the house for the rest of the day, which allowed for a slightly safer examination of the very young Kookaburra on its first day at school here. I was mildly concerned for that young bird’s safety, especially given that two really small and very cute fox cubs freely roam the farm here at night. My first interaction with the young Kookaburra was to ensure that it knew how to fly. And I’m pleased to report that the young bird knew how to fly – for short distances anyway – on its first day at school.
The author getting a closer look at the very young Kookaburra which calls this farm home
As the afternoon progressed, the parents of the young Kookaburra swooped down and joined the young bird only to fly off again. They were clearly demonstrating to the young rapscallion how to go about conducting oneself as a mobile member of their species. As the hot summer afternoon wore on, the young Kookaburra steeled itself to ever greater efforts at flight until eventually it disappeared with its parents into the surrounding forest. May that young Kookaburra enjoy many tasty grubs, insects, and snakes at the farm here for many decades to come.

As this summer becomes ever hotter, more birds, animals and insects call this farm home as they turn up for the reliable feed and access to fresh drinking and bathing water. I am constantly amazed by the ever expanding variety of different species here and this week was no exception. A breeding pair of Long Billed Corella’s have been basking each day high up in the very tallest of the trees here taking in the first few rays of the early morning sun.
Long billed Corella’s have moved onto the farm and bask in the first rays of the sun each day in the very highest of tree
The long-billed Corella (Cacatua tenuirostris) is a very interesting bird species because up until very recently, they were very rare. As a fun fact, many Australian birds are exceptionally good at replicating human voices but the Long billed Corella is apparently the best of the best at that particular trait. That species of bird are now being bred, kept as pets, and occasionally released. And they live for as long as a long lived human too! From a purely practical perspective, what this means for me, is that I’ll have to be reasonably careful in the future with the sort of impressive oaths that occasionally may be heard issuing from my mouth as those birds may replicate those impressive oaths many decades into the future!

The animal action this week wasn’t all about the birds, because this week the dreaded BONE WARS took place.

Sometimes, nice actions on my part can rapidly turn into total disasters and such was the case this week with BONE WARS.

The whole sorry saga began a few nights ago at the local grocery store which was selling giant beef bones for the purposes of making beef stock. I spotted the giant beef bones and thought that my canine friends here would enjoy sharing one of those giant beef bones.

Sharing is clearly not in the canine vocabulary. Scritchy the boss dog kicked every other dog off the giant beef bone and spent several delightful hours in the sun gnawing away at the choicest bits. Scritchy was having a good day! And then the bone was passed downwards along the pecking order with each dog having a turn at the giant beef bone. Oh happy day for the fluffy collective of canines!

And so the day progressed. It was in the dark hours of the night when the forces of darkness wax and civility is not to be found. At about 3am, I awoke to the sounds of two dogs fighting over the now much diminished, but still precious beef bone. The beef bone was extracted and removed completely from the whirling dervish of teeth that was Poopy and Toothy. They are now both injured from their tussle, but slowly recovering.

Fortunately the following day, the genteel Sir Scruffy – who would never be involved in such base behaviour – and who is most definitely aligned to the forces of the light-side, solved the entire dilemma for the two ragamuffins by burying the massive beef bone (possibly for later consumption) in one of the garden beds.
Sir Scruffy buries the now much gnawed beef bone in one of the garden beds
Oh yeah, it has been quite hot here this past week. As part of preparations for dealing with the realities of the hot summer, I have been busily removing any and all plant competition from around the base of each of the 300 fruit trees. Once that removal of plant competition has taken place for each fruit tree, I then feed each fruit tree individually with approximately a third of a wheelbarrow of mushroom compost. It is also a good time to inspect each fruit tree and take any further action that is required such as pruning root stock or dead branches etc.
A Chilean wine palm enjoys a solid feed during the heat of the summer
The entire orchard requires about 5 cubic metres (6.5 cubic yards) of compost and the entire job takes about 5 days and so far I have undertaken 3 of those days. Other than that task and the occasional minor watering before an extended heat wave, orchards are very low maintenance.
Over half the orchard has now been fed and inspected in preparation for a long hot summer
As I was wandering through the orchard, I noticed that a small patch of blue corn flowers had expanded its range over the past few years. They are very beautiful flowers and I take their presence on such a hot year as a good sign because according to historical accounts the grasslands here were originally reported by early settlers to be a riot of various flowers.
Blue corn flowers enjoy their spot in herbage here
The food dehydrating process last week didn’t quite finish until about 3am and the lesson to take from that whole process is that it would have been far wiser to start the dehydrating process much earlier in the morning! On the other hand, the solar power system produced a phenomenal and record amount of energy that day and produced just under 16kWh (566Ah x 28V) and the batteries were still 100% full by 4.30pm!
The solar panels produced just under 16kWh the day that the food dehydrator was used
To bring some summer cheer into the readers of this blog in the wintery Northern hemisphere of this planet, I thought it would be a good idea to show a photo of some of the many and varied fruits that have ended up in my breakfast over the past week! Enjoy!
Some of the many and varied summer fruits that ended up in my breakfast each day this week
The very first harvest of blueberries is now only days away and I can almost taste the berries (in anticipation of course):
The very first harvest of blueberries is now only days away
Unfortunately, all of that fruit is many weeks early this year due to the heat, so I’m really unsure what will be in my breakfast fruit as the season gets even hotter.

The apples however are continuing to swell and ripen and as each year progresses, the apple harvest gets a little bit bigger:
The apples are swelling and ripening as the summer season lengthens
The plums are also fruiting very well in the early heat and there are hundreds of them still ripening and swelling on the various trees:
The plums are performing well in the early heat this summer
There was quite a lot of discussion about sugar maple trees in the comments section of the blog last week, so I chucked in a photo of the tree this week (it is in the foreground of the photo). Observant readers will note the Japanese maple in the middle of the photo.
The sugar maple tree just below the cantina shed
You really know it is an early hot season when the tomato plants have produced their first flowers this early. I have also noted the blue banded and also the bumble bees lurking around the flower beds so pollination of the tomato flowers is almost guaranteed!
The tomato plants produced their first flowers this week
And Tomato Cam ™ tells no lies as the early summer heat is making the tomato plants almost bounce out of the ground!
Tomato Cam ™ tells no lies as the early summer heat is making the tomato plants almost bounce out of the ground
The temperature outside now at about 10.00pm is 11.8'C degrees Celsius (53.2’F). So far this year there has been 698.2mm (27.5 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total 694.0mm (27.3 inches).

54 comments:

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

A most endearing story of the young kookaburra.

That fruit display did not bring summer cheer. It had me drooling with envy.

I omitted to mention that the woodland floor here, is also green with moss, grass and reeds in addition to the ivy.

It remains very damp and warm, As a result I am bugged (intended) by biting insects which would have been killed off if we had some really cold weather. Being bitten at this time of year is unusual.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - The Kookaburra chick is so .... cute. In the first picture, he has a look on his face like: "What IS this?" Glad he found his gift of wings. Well, you'll just have to figure out something socially acceptable to say to the Corellas, when you see them. See if they pick it up. I had a cockatiel, several years ago, and taught him the first few notes of Tchaikovsky's "1812 Oveture." Also known as the Quaker puffed oats song :-). What was funny was that he'd repeat the tenth, note, several times and kind of fade out. He'd also skulk along the curtain rods, saying "Nevermore! Nevermore!". In homage to E. A Poe. Yes, you better be careful what you say around the Corellas. They're likely to end up with a vocabulary as salty as a pirate's parrot. :-)

Wombat Wars over at ADR ... bone wars at Fernglade Farm. Dude, you've been reading too much Sun Tzu!

I really like cornflowers. Blue, you know :-). Here, they're more often called Bachelor's Buttons. Other names for it are: bluebottle, boutonniere flower, hurtsickle or cyani flower. I see they're native to Europe, so, an introduction both here and in your neck of the woods. I could only find a mix of blue, white and pink seed, which I didn't care for. So, I sniped off the pink and white ones, before they could flower ... and, kept the seed from the blue ones. They bread true, and I have a few patches around. Sometimes I think I should have kept some of the white ones ... just to set the blue off, better. Oh, well. maybe I'll get a "throwback."

Here, we have a kind of cooking ware similar to Pyrex. Corning ware. They made dozens of shapes over many years. And, it had a stylized cornflower on the side. I think it's been finally, discontinued, so it's moved into the realm of the collectible. I picked up a few pieces from my landlord's, mother's place. My favorite, I think, is a small tea pot. Sometimes I just fill it with cornflowers, in the kitchen.

All your bounty of berries reminds me I should get some of my last years bounty, out of the freezer. Do something with it besides just oatmeal. Blackberry crumble? Blueberry pie? Or, pancakes?

The weather is clear and sunny, this morning. And, cold. First frost in a couple of weeks. I guess we have one more round of storms, before the cold, clear weather settles in. Noticed the wood pecker was back working over the apple trees, again. Hadn't seen him during all the wet.

Spent the afternoon at Chef John's. Ooohing and Aaahing over all his Christmas tat. As he said "Christmas threw up at my house." :-). Well, he's got a lot of space to fill. When I think of it, all my living space would fit into his living room ... with space to spare. My pumpkin cookies passed inspection. A more maple flavor was more noticeable on the second day. Their texture was kind of like a madeleine. He made lunch ... quinoa pasta with sausage in a red sauce. Might be the first time I had quinoa. No difference in taste and texture from regular pasta. Well, I'm off to cut holly. Tis the season :-). Lew

akl said...

An observation from a frequent lurker: you seem to notice that saplings grown in the jungle of your flower, herb and veggie beds do better than those planted out in the orchard, yet at the same time you root out the vegetation under the trees in the orchard when you add compost. Is this just an intrinsic incompatibility with grass? A testament to the availability (or not) of water? As somebody in the process of planting an orchard into a old, steep, hilly previously logged pasture I spend an inordinate amount of time with a cup of coffee wondering about these things...

In fact, I spread most of my seedlings of this year (apples grown from seed that I'll graft if they survive) randomly out over the grassy hill, but after reports from you and a dose of common sense I'm inclined to put most of the dozen or so more expensive bare root fruit and berries I have coming this spring into the garden beds I am setting up. If they get big enough that I have to move the garden eventually, I guess that isn't the worst problem to have.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

The term "sugar shack" is a total crack up! Too funny. :-)! I'm still giggling to myself about that one. What is not funny, is just how much the sap had to be boiled down to produce a syrup. Wow, that is a lot of water to dehydrate from the original mix. I wonder if the trees produce a more concentrated sap in hotter and drier locations? Dunno.

I get condensation on the insides of the windows - even though they are massively double glazed - in the depths of winter too. Is that a bad thing? The inside of the house here is usually between 50% to 70% humidity but I've never noticed a build up of molds etc. But things may be different in your part of the world. What is your experience with humidity on the inside of your house over winter? I've experienced less than 10% humidity outside on a few days over summer here and they aren't fun at all...

The power company were trimming trees today along the road where the cable runs today. I offered them a drink of water if they needed it, but apparently they have to decline every offer because in the past some past experiences went awry. They have some great machines and a travel tower on the back of their truck. I once had the local council up here complaining to me about the work that the power company did - and it was a hard concept to get across to them that they needed to speak to the power company about it - not me...

That can happen with cooking experiments where the end results just taste bland. 7 dozen is an impressive quantity, but is only really a couple of trays in the oven.

Oh yeah, I hear you about that. That happens down here too with vanilla extract. Some people buy the essence which is apparently made from some sort of wood pulp product and tastes absolutely nothing like vanilla. I used to buy vanilla extract, but teenagers worked out that it contained serious quantities of alcohol in it, so the price was lifted so as to discourage them from drinking it. Anyway, the whole sorry mess forced me to make my own with real vanilla beans - which smell beautiful - which I buy in bulk at the market from the spice guy. The funny thing is though, the whole sorry situation is exactly like your maple problems because my vanilla extract now tastes very different from the commercial vanilla extract. Grrr! But the homemade stuff has a very rich and complex flavour.

Fair enough, I reckon your bubble lights all lined up would look very cool. Yeah, who understands the whole push for mid century stuff anyway? I seriously recall having to drink from anodised aluminium large cups when I was a kid and those things were always chipped and so it does make a person wonder just how many paint chips they'd consumed over a lifetime? ;-)! It would be funny if it weren't true... It is high fashion these days - but I reckon it is a bit bland and full of manufactured materials.

That sounds like a gentle breeze. Do you have holly growing locally? It produces mountains of red berries down here and forms really dense and tall impenetrable hedges. Ouch! Watch for the spikes!

Really? Wow, I am not aware of anyone living rough up in these mountains - although from time to time I've had suscpicions - and the winters here are mild compared to what your area faces... I certainly hope that you don't drop off the ledge and become an economic non person. I also noticed last week that JMG commented aloud that he was thinking of moving on? He must have had a bad week and I hope that he is OK.

Hope that the Christmas tat looked good! Hey, how is the water going too?

Thanks for the suggestions and yes Peanuts always rates highly. I really enjoyed the exploits of the Peanuts gang! Go Snoopy and the Red Baron! But it may be my age, but I'm quite partial to the concept of Die Hard being a Christmas film! :-)! Hehehe! More laughter!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Of course, we are all genteel citizens of the world here! No probs at all!

Mate, I'm still cracking up laughing about that Die Hard quote! Too funny! And I'd never thought about it that way before.

That observation of yours was on the same level as a discussion I heard on triple j way back a long time ago about the song Closer by the band Nine Inch Nails (naughty word alert people!) being described by a listener as a love song.

Yeah, how good were the old video shops - but the release dates were always half a year to a year behind the cinemas... Oh well. I didn't mind the old VHS format and the HiFi stereo sound tracks were pretty good quality.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thank you! It is the chance encounters with the wildlife here that are the most enjoyable. With the heat, so many different species are turning up here it is amazing - I've never seen this much wildlife on the move before.

Glad to read that you enjoyed the fruit show. It was really yummy too! Your turn for summer fruit and berries will arrive soon! ;-)!

Thanks for mentioning that about the woodland floor in your part of the world - because for some reason I had a mental image of masses of decaying leaves with fungi hyphae threaded throughout and a rich earthy smell.

That would be an unusual time of year to be bitten here too. I suspect that this year will be in the top 10 warmest years on record and it is certainly my view that we have passed some sort of tipping point - the wildlife never lies.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks, it was very cute, wasn't it? And it was a complete chance encounter as the parents would have been well aware of my presence before kicking it out of the nest.

Well, that might not be so easy - and who knows that they haven't already picked up a bit of potty mouth - it is certainly not out of the question! ;-)!

That is quite the image of your cockatiel and the fade out is quite impressive. Isn't it funny just how many bird species enjoy mucking around at play?

Dodgy logic requires an occasional very solid wombat foot stomping! The editor informs me that my totem animal is not in fact a wombat, but a wallaby and I'm to make of that what I will. OK what would your totem animal be?

Don't laugh, but that Sun Tzu dude has extracted me from all manner of troubles since I originally read it. He added a few extra tools to the mental toolkit and sharpened a few others. Have you read that book? I do try not to engage weird conversations over at the ADR, but sometimes some people make the most preposterous claims and I find myself thinking: Hang on second... And then try to insert an entirely different point of view that would make them uncomfortable - that is probably my contrary side showing... (blush)...

I do hope that you get a white throwback flower - they seem to be very hardy. It is nice to have patches of wildflowers all about the place. The native grasses here produce flowers and they stay green despite the sun... We bring the flowers inside too - especially if the wallaby has given them a stomping.

Oh yeah, they had corning ware down here too and I have a few of those items - they're sort of like a dull, but glazed pottery. Good stuff, but it seems more fragile than pyrex. Dunno though?

That wet would be tough on the wildlife, in fact I reckon wet seasons are harder on them than the dry seasons. Nice to hear about the woodpecker returning. The clear winter days are the ones that freeze you to the very bone.

Hehe! That is quite the verbal image. Excellent. Yes, no doubt Chef John is correct in his observation. Sometimes, that happens with food - but it is good to hear that they received the stamp of approval.

Quinoa is OK but as you say it doesn't have a great deal of flavour. Did he make the pasta from Quinoa flour or was that part of the sauce - it could have been either?

Enjoy your holly gathering - it is that time of year!

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris:

That Kook IS cute! When I saw it next to you in the photo (new best friend?) I realized what huge birds they are. Talking birds, too! You live in a strange land, Chris.

I knew as soon as I saw BONE WARS which members of the family were involved! Go, Sir Scruffy! May level heads always prevail!

Wonderful statistic for your solar.

I AM enjoying your vicarious fruits . . . me and my raisins and dried apricots and dried cranberries and dried pears and dried pineapples and dried apples . . . I feel kind of dried up, especially as the indoor humidity is at its very lowest here in the winter due to the fireplace and when we give in and turn on the electric heaters. Haven't needed either for quite a few days as it has been really warm. Humidity outside is very high, though:
"the woodland floor in your part of the world - because for some reason I had a mental image of masses of decaying leaves with fungi hyphae threaded throughout and a rich earthy smell." That is truly a description of the forest all around us. Wherever the leaves are removed moss grows, so, instead of grassy open spaces and yards, we have mossy spaces. I love it!

That is a beautiful maple and beautiful flowers behind it. I never cease to marvel at how much effort you have put into building steps in so many places and they are as utilitarian as they are graceful. Good job!

That's a fine herd of tomato plants; they look ready to gallop across the prairie they have so much vigor! As for prairies: I was just reading about what "weeds" indicate about the condition of one's soils and I came across a mention of cornflowers. Supposedly cornflowers are "excellent indicators for a soil's pH, the flowers will be pink in an acidic soil and blue in an alkaline soil." Would love to try an experiment with that.

Get yourself one of these, Chris. Unfortunately, I guess you'll have to build yourself a lake or something to supply it with water:

https://www.rt.com/news/325778-australia-fire-fighting-robot/

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lewis:

Related to last week's comments: Look out! At least you're not a postman . . .

https://www.rt.com/usa/325748-turkeys-bully-cape-cod-mailman/

Pam

margfh said...

Hi Chris,
I envy the variety of your wildlife. Seems like there's fewer bird species around as time goes by. I'm hoping to add more variety to our plant life here so we can become a little sanctuary between the farm fields. We've been up and down about moving for the last few years as we have a very large house. We added on significantly about 18 years ago when all my disabled brothers were coming to live with us when our mother died. There were here for ten years or so (and our youngest daughter) but now all have other living arrangements (though I expect one will be back). We don't need all this room and high heating bills but homes just aren't selling well around here and I don't expect that to change. Even though we are in the middle of farm fields we do have a pretty large oak woods at the back of our property which is owned by several people. It is pretty high quality with lots of wildflowers etc. As we're both in our mid-60's starting gardens over and getting to know new neighbors just doesn't appeal to us so we've decided we'll just stay for now.

Our dogs love beef bones and have a variety of well cleaned ones strewn around the house. Even though Leo is larger and was here first Salve is definitely the top dog around here and is skilled in distracting Leo to get a bone.

We had another couple of inches of rain here on Sunday. I'm estimating with the big snow and two big rains we've had at least 5 inches in less than a month. Soil is saturated and lots of standing water in the fields. Temperature was 60 F last weekend about 30 degrees above normal. El Nino is supposed to send higher temps but normal or below normal precipitation.

@Lew

As I'm gluten free quinoa is one of my favorites.


Oh yes, Chris, forgot to answer your question from last week regarding breeding Buckeyes. The answer is sort of. I did hatch some eggs this summer but the rooster I have is probably the father of some of my hens. The chicks were two different colors though they mostly ended up brown except for two which are almost black. My neighbor who turned me on to them and gave me the original chicks and rooster thinks their genetics aren't pure. We would have to find a new rooster to be serious about breeding and there aren't any around here that I'm aware of.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - And, for todays ear worm we have ... (drum roll, please), Jimmy Gilmer and the Fire Balls singing "Sugar Shack." Less than 2 minutes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHzjfGF6MiU

Another thing about tree sap is that, apparently, you need a very cold night and then a warmish day to get a good flow. That's why most of the sap industry is in New England and Canada. Still, I'd like to give it a whirl. As an experiment.

Yeah, the condensation can really build up. But, no problems with mold. I dry it up off the windows with paper towels or cloths, dry them outside and re-use them. There's also a little gizmo you can get that has crystals in the top that attract moisture and it drips into a collection base. The crystals can be used over and over. Sometimes, if it gets too bad, I just pop open the cross draft windows a couple of inches, for an hour or two. Crack the bathroom window when I shower. It's manageable. I worry most about the books. I also make sure clothes are really dry before putting them in the closet.

I've noticed quit a bit of the stuff that I make from scratch is a bit on the bland side. I don't think it's so much bland, as the old palate has just came to expect all the additives. The quinoa that John used was just pasta out of a box.

As far as midcentury modern goes, I've read quit a bit about why people collect. Somewhere, I've got a list of the dozen or so reasons. The psychology of the whole thing. Kind of fascinating.

Holly is not native to here, but grows quit well. There's even a holly industry ... whole orchards of the stuff that's grown for the Christmas trade and florists. You see it planted as ornamentals in people's yards. Where I'll be getting my holly from is my landlord's mom's place. There's a couple of good sized trees. Then there's the "brush pickers." People who make their living off of picking different kinds of plants for the forest trade. Salal is a big one ... for fill in in floral arrangements.

Can't say I've ever thought much about a totem animal. Odd, as the totem pole is quit the thing among the Native Americans in this part of the world. But I know my totem plant is a blue rose. :-). Even have one tattooed on my shoulder. We did silly things in the 70s. :-). A blue rose by the artist Mondrian, no less.

You have a contrary side? Who knew? :-). I much prefer people that have a bit of a raspy side. A lot more interesting.

Saw the trailer for the new Star Trek movie. Something about the crew being stranded on a planet filled with other aliens. Also saw the trailer for a sequel to Independence Day. Did not look as interesting as the original. And, coming down the pike (or, in the hooper, if you prefer) we have Arthur C. Clarke's "Childhoods End." And, there's going to be a tv series of Dick's "Man in the High Castle."

There's always been people "living rough". But, there just seems to be more of them, in more places. Spotted an article, this morning that stated that half the population in the US lives below, or very close to the official poverty levels. Food banks and other non government assistance programs are hard pressed. Homeless shelters. Free breakfasts or lunches (or both) for school kids .. sometimes extended into the week-ends or even over the school breaks. I think I mentioned Chef John has a suspicion that some of his students take his classes for the food. Things are unraveling ... if you know where to look. Lew

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

You do have strange birds over there. ;-) Do be careful what you teach them!

Around here I am also seeing a wider variety of birds as the trees grow taller and the plantings become slowly more extensive and diverse. This year I saw warblers multiple times during migration season (spring and fall). Before I'd seen them at the nearby park, but not at our house. I've also seen more kinds of sparrows this year than in previous years, a small flock of titmice a week or two ago, and goldfinches yesterday morning, taking advantage of the flower and grass seedheads I leave for them in the herb and perennial gardens.

This year it isn't Where's Waldo, it's Where's Winter? Last week was ridiculously warm, topped off by a high of 72F/22C on Saturday, a new record high for the day. It remains warmer than normal this week, although not to that degree. Even though we are supposed to get some actual cold temperatures, down to normal December levels, by Thursday, they'll only last for a couple of days before going above normal again as far ahead as the local weather service office cares to forecast. And the folks who make longer-range predictions are now saying that January, at least the first half, will also be warmer than normal for the eastern and central US. I'm beginning to wonder if some of my fruit trees will get enough chill hours this winter to properly flower and fruit. Guess we'll have to see; things could change, we could get quite cold in late winter and early spring as we did last winter. Or not.

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Margaret:

Black chickens sound really neat!

How did you discover that gluten was a problem? Did you just cut it out of your diet for a certain amount of time? How long do you think is long enough to run a test?

Pam

Coco said...

Well done to the baby bird on his maiden voyage.

Have added avocados to the future fruit tree list. We have a lime and two lemons in pots which flower but don´t produce fruit. If I ever get limes, I´ll make guacamole.

I planned to make Christmas puddings with dried fruits soaked in brandy, but the recipe only made 1 pudding, and I have half the fruit left over. Any ideas?

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi akl,

Welcome to the discussion.

Exactly! What a great question.

Basically, I have to manage the trees in the orchard for bush fire risk - and the flames will reach half as high again as the highest point of vegetation. If I could guarantee that there would be no risk from fire, I'd leave the herbage as high as it would possibly grow - because in those circumstances, new long lived plants are shaded and get the best chance of surviving the summer, the ground is also shaded and evaporation is minimal. But I'm only as good here as the weakest link in the population - and the results are in and they're not good... ;-)!

On the other side of the equation, if you cut, trim or prune any plant then that plant also severs part of their root system within the soil. That now dead root system becomes available as feed for all of the life in the soil around it - and you start to slowly build up top soil. If the soil life has more stuff to eat then the fruit trees in the orchard have more food as well and thus the whole cycle builds slowly.

The compost is there to stop the herbage regrowing, shade the root systems of the fruit trees and provide the soil life with a good feed all at the same time.

The herbage is a mat of shallow rooted annual plants (with a smattering of deep rooted perennials). But being shallow rooted, they absorb any water that falls onto the surface during summer and the fruit trees get slowly starved of water. The easiest thing for me to do is simply remove the shallow rooted plants and then any water that does fall onto the surface (via watering or rainfall) is available to move deeper into the soil layers where it will be less likely to evaporate on a hot day. Eventually the fruit trees establish strong and deep roots which can tap into the ground water.

In the garden beds, the flowering plants are well established, longer lived, taller, and their root systems are deeper and cover less of the soil surface area (unlike the herbage which is almost 100% coverage) so any water which makes its way onto the surface is more likely to penetrate downwards deep into the soil.

There is a lot of observation that has gone into the systems here and as the years go on, you should see that the flowering beds extend ever further down the mountain side!

It is a pleasure to see that the readers here keep me honest and also critically observe everything that is going on with fresh eyes - I appreciate that.

Your plan sounds like a good one and I reckon it is far easier to cut back growth than to get it started in the first place.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thank you from the Kookabura! They're a member of the Kingfisher family of birds, so they have tickets on themselves: Yes, we are regal (sorry, with that should have been with a capital R)! Hehe!

There were six black cockatoos this morning high up in one of the trees and mornings are not good for me as I'm unfortunately not a morning person and enjoy my sleep and I failed to get the camera out for them... The birds here are exotic to me too, and slowly I learn their likes and dislikes. My take on the world is that the birds are here to convert my plant material back into soil, so the more birds, the merrier things will be! It is interesting, but living in a forest the soils should be acidic, but with all of the bird poo, it is becoming more neutral and so the place gets more diverse as time goes on - that was what the blue cornflowers photo was about. Sometimes, the birds are a hassle as today, I spotted that they ate a few of the apples which weren't yet ripe...

Hehe! Yes, Sir Scruffy is the only canine here with a level head and he does put the others to shame.

You may be interested to know that my gut feeling says that the best that a person can achieve at this latitude (37.5'S) is about 6 full sunlight hours per day over high summer (which is only a few days away!)

Ha! Soon you will be regaling me with stories of all of your summer fruits and I will drool with envy as well. Mind you, I just went out this evening and picked tomorrows breakfast fruit of jostaberries and gooseberries. Oh they're really good and I barely made a dent in the shrubs. Oh sorry... Hehe!!!!

Isn't that interesting? It is the exact opposite here as winters here are well over 90% humidity for months on end and the summers are the occasionally dry times - even with the wood fire going hard. Outside, winters here are just damp... Incidentally, I have had reports of the unseasonal warmth in your part of the world from a lot of different sources...

That is interesting too because the moss here weaves its web amongst the herbage and sometimes during winter and spring it is spreading, whilst during the summer and autumn it is receding.

Thank you. The concrete steps are a true joy to use, but the flowers are amazing. There is a serious heatwave about to bomb the farm starting tomorrow and so I went out in the late evening and watered the plants and the smells as they all received a drink was just beautiful - it is hard to describe, but if you've ever watered tomatoes on a hot summers evening, you'll have a taste for what I experienced this evening.

I'm a bit dodge on robots because it would be hard to know when they decide to follow their own agenda. Maybe that is a product of having grown up on the Terminator and Robocop films? Dunnno.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Your ideas about expanding the diversity of plants and thus attracting an ever greater diversity of birds is spot on the money. Well done. I leave reliable water out for the animals, birds and also the insects here over summer and feed them and water them and they will come is probably the best way I could state it.

No stress about the house. The thing I reckon too is: how many people will know your area better than you? Some of my neighbours have a similar problem with their houses. I've noted recently that they have been experimenting with zoning their houses and looking at sorting out the heating arrangements so that it uses the least fuel. Dunno, the house here is small.

Your woods sound beautiful and it would be a pleasant experience to walk through them on a hot summers day. You may be happy to note that I have sown the seeds of many oaks here as they are as hardy and shady as.

Go Salve! Isn't it amazing watching all of the games that go on in dog land. They are a constant source of entertainment here, plus they are worth their feed as they work hard here, when every other animal has its own agenda which hardly even takes into account my goals and preferences! I'll bet the same thing goes on in your part of the world? The larger dogs are not necessarily the smartest or even the leaders of the pack...

That is really good to hear. Enjoy your rain and may it slowly recharge your aquifers.

I hear you about El Nino. Saturday here is meant to top 40'C (104'F) - your description was exactly correct.

Your concerns about roosters are my concerns about them too.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I see your ear worm and raise you a Simon Pegg special: Star Trek Beyond movie trailer. That'll learn you for trying to cheekily insert an ear worm! Hehe! Hope you enjoy it and it is still a long wait for winter 2016...

Yeah, why not give it a go? You never really know with these things. Sometimes I reckon a lot of the advice given out freely is based on commercial experience and they are optimising for yields - and that isn't really what anyone working on a home scale is interested in. Maybe anyway?

The silica crystals work well, but opening the window probably works better - but then winter up your way is usually very unpleasantly cold. Brrr! A long time ago I did that one very cold winters night and wok up to find frost had settled onto the doona - mate, that was so cold (and the editor for good reason too) cracked the sads! Yeah, it was a bit cold.

The funny thing is I'm slowly acclimatising to the heat and last night it was 15'C (59'F) in the house when I woke up this morning (because I'd left all of the windows and doors open) and I was thinking to myself - it is a bit bitey this morning...

Yeah, I've been wondering about that issue too and I reckon you can train your palate to a new taste within about 3 weeks of exposure to a food item. What do you reckon about that?

It is fascinating and I wonder whether people are harking back to a simpler time with their desires for all of this mid century bling that you see about the place? Dunno, but it is interesting.

Who would have thought? The holly plant is a bit weedy down here (whatever that means) and no one at all thinks to pick it. Christmas and mid winter feasts at the height of summer are a totally weird and also very confused experience. We are an inflexible species on some fronts. The salal is an interesting plant and with edible berries to boot. Hey, speaking of which, I spotted some Oregon grapes down this way doing really well in the shade of eucalyptus trees and I reckon I may nab some cuttings or seedlings come autumn...

Well, that is one attractive rose. I've never seen one before and didn't know that they came in that particular colour. It is stunning and a worthy totem plant. My totem plant would probably be a citrus of some variety - because they grow very well here, but there are also native citrus plants (finger limes) which are quite weird because they look like some sort of caviar.

Pah, you beat me to the reference! Thanks for the tip off and I'm really looking forward to seeing it. The new Star Wars film is out tomorrow but I sort of lost it for that series because cute little Teddy Bears hardly take on the might of a Galactic Empire can they. And especially following on from the sheer genius that was the Empire Strikes Back which was a very dark tale.

Thanks for that - I'm looking here and things are accelerating. It is not good as we weren't a culture that had that sort of a history - given we started as a penal colony. I don't know what to make of it all.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Ha! Everything I could ever want to know about osage orange hedgerows - I have a lovely icky, slimy one that I found by the side of the road - is over on your sidebar under the "Ecological Gardening" site. Thank you! I am indeed preparing to try my hand at such a project.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Oh, if the condensation gets bad in the winter, I just crack the windows at opposite ends of the house and go out and work in the yard for a half an hour, or so. With the heat off. When I come in, it still feels warm.

With my pumpkin cookies, it took about 3 days to train my palate :-). Yum!

When I managed a book store in S. California, one day I came roaring into work, just blown away by the poinsettia hedge I had seen. The kids that worked for me, all native Californians, were like "Ho, hum." They were all over the place. I explained that I'd never seen one outside of a pot. But they didn't believe that there were holly trees. They'd only seen snippets at holiday time. So, I had my folks send a picture of the holly tree in their front yard, that was 35' tall. With my Mum standing next to it for scale. Now that, blew them away.

Well, as I'm sure you well know, a true, sky blue rose does not exist in nature. But there's some Japanese company that bought a subsidiary genetics company (in Australia, no less) that is working on it. The closest they've come is rather lavender.
As is Mondrian's "Blue Rose." He also did a blue Mum. They are so different from his usual stuff. Story goes, that he landed in New York and was starving to death, and did these more conventional paintings to put food on the table.

http://pietmondrian.com/art.shtml

I had a pretty good print of it. I ran it through a Xerox color reducer. A friend of mine, who was a tattoo artist, transferred it to a plastic template, which gave him the outline. Then, he worked from the print. But I had him "blue it up" a bit.

I'm a bit concerned about some of my chickens. I got the 8 Wyondotte chicks and raised them. They were a mixed bag, and it turned out that 5 were brown and black and 3 were white and black (lace wing?). Well, now all my chickens are looking very healthy and perky ... except for the white and black Wyondotte. They look like heck. Very scruffy. And, it's not that the other chickens are pecking at them. I thought they'd already molted.

Yeah, the first Star Wars movie was genius. After that, I kind of lost the plot .. and interest. I forgot to mention, Stephen King has a new book out. "Bazaar of Bad Dreams." A collection of short stories. I've got it on my library hold list, but, the list is long and I probably won't see it until early next year.

Will check out the Pegg clip, later. Have to head to the Little Smoke and I've got a lot of stops to make. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire, Coco, Pam and Lewis,

I hope that you are all well and enjoying the winter. Thanks for the lovely comments, but I will be unable to respond today - but promise to respond tomorrow. With the heat wave down here, I'm sort of trapped in the house tomorrow and Saturday...

It's been crazy hot down here and only seems to be getting hotter over the next few days: Authorities warn of extreme fire danger and heat fatigue as Victoria prepares for heatwave

Spare a thought for the people living in Kurnell on the south coast of New South Wales who copped an F2 tornado yesterday: Sydney tornado: Clean-up underway in Kurnell after 'unprecedented' storm delivers 213kph winds. 213kph = 132 miles/hour.

Hopefully, we get a bit of rain soon.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Gosh, Chris, the heat sounds just horrible and the chances for bushfires look awfully high. I am so much hoping that some rain comes.

Do your chickens have a wading pool. Our dogs used to enjoy that in the hot weather. Also, swimming in the neighbors' pond and the creek down the road.

And the Kurnell tornado was a terrible event, and they had to deal with all that hail, too. Poor people.

Pam

margfh said...

@Pam

I just eliminated it from my diet and digestive issues decreased significantly. It's been about four years so hard to remember how long it took but not much more than a couple months I think. So many substitute the same processed gluten free processed food thinking it's a more healthful diet but no so IMHO. Many theories have been put forth regarding the increase in gluten intolerance i.e. modern wheat varieties and the fact that wheat is in everything (I would go with the latter). Was very surprised to find wheat as the first ingredient in soy sauce. Since I eat very little processed food of any kind now my weight which had been a bit of an issue for a long time has stabilized for the last four years.

@Chris

Yes the woods are beautiful and I do enjoy frequent walks back there. Unfortunately the invasive garlic mustard is encroaching more each year. Another issue around here is the increase in deer ticks which are carriers of Lyme disease. You really have to take care now and be dressed appropriately and check yourself. Whenever anyone finds an attached tick the doctor puts them on antibiotic as a matter of course. If this isn't done pretty quickly it's very difficult to get rid of Lyme if at all. I have a cousin with chronic Lyme disease and it hasn't been pretty. Much of the treatment is alternative and is not covered by insurance. She was unable to work for 2 years and still from pain and fatigue.

Margaret

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Even warmer today. Daffodils and rhubarb are coming through. The birds are singing and a pheasant is claiming territory. They will get a shock when a cold snap arrives. It appears that we had an even warmer December in 1948 so I am not sure that the current temperature is telling us anything.

Inge

SLClaire said...

Hi Pam,

In response to your reply to me in last week's comments (I'm sorry I didn't see it before this): what you prune in the winter is anything that can bloom on 2 or more year old wood. If the tree or shrub you want to prune only blooms on the wood that grew last spring and summer, and if you were to prune off all that wood during this winter, the tree or shrub won't bloom this coming spring or summer. If that's what you want (it can be, if the juvenile foliage is what you grow the plant for), then you prune off that new growth in the winter. Otherwise, you prune those plants right after they bloom, usually spring or early summer, and prune the plants that bloom on 2 or more year old wood in the winter.

The best book I know of, because it not only tells you how to prune but also which plants to prune when, is The Pruning Book by Lee Reich.

Chris - I looked at both articles you cited. I'm sorry for the tornado damage and hope that there is a speedy recovery from it. As for the heat wave, the worst part of it is the very warm nights. Even 40C/104F isn't too hard to take if it drops down below 20C at night, so you can sleep well. Then you just hibernate during the hottest part of the day. Judging by your mention of your, to me, very cool June nights (it's rare for us to get lows much under 20C at night from mid June through early September, while it sounds like the usual condition for you), the 30C heat at night is shockingly hot and very dangerous. I hope folks heed the warnings and get through it OK.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Thank you. I suspect that the birds know when I'm swearing about something or other and that will be the very words that they decide to repeat to me. They're very intelligent and are always playing around and getting up to mischief. With the early heat this year, they've taken a liking to the apples and have been having a quick bite on them and then discarding them - but I don't begrudge them as they are doing it tough. It is 40.6'C (105'F)outside at 6pm here right now and along the coastal areas a cool sea breeze has arrived earlier today. There are times where being this far inland is a negative. Now if we could somehow just move the entire mountain range closer to the ocean, things would be very interesting.

You are very kind to the various birds letting them enjoy your garden and your choices of diverse garden plants is a real gift to them. Respect.

Well things do seem to be heating up. Incidentally that was the minimum temperature here last night and I woke up to find that it was 25'C (77'F) already - fortunately the house was still 22'C (71.6'F).

Your concerns about chilling hours is a fair one. Some fruit trees (fortunately not all) require up to 1,000 hours of less than 7'C (44.6'F) so you should be right - maybe. Chilling hours don't need to be consecutive. There have been areas of Australia recently where the fruit trees failed to fruit because of a lack of chilling hours even though the orchards were quite old and well established. The climate shifts as we play around with it.

Exactly, we have no idea what we are doing. However, we also have no idea how adaptable the fruit trees are either.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Coco,

The Kookaburra was a beautiful bird wasn't it and after I cleared off the parents swooped in and out for the rest of the afternoon teaching the baby bird to fly. Nice.

Oh yeah, I reckon you would be in prime avocado climate as they are reasonably frost hardy - but please do protect the tree from both hot and cold winds. They seem to shrug off the heat too. Haha! Nice one. Have you thought about planting the lime and two lemons into the ground? They don't do very well in pots down here because I reckon they have huge root systems and unless you feed them a lot... Just for your info, I've planted the best producing trees near a drain which feeds a lot of rainfall into the ground - but that area is very well drained too, so the water percolates through the ground and it is damp, but not boggy.

Sorry, I have no idea at all as this is only the first year that I've experimented with dried fruits. Maybe as a suggestion, put them into a toasted (or Swiss) muesli mix.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

That was a great blog entry - which I read on the train yesterday on the way into the big smoke. It was so hot I fell asleep for half the trip too and I do hope that I wasn't snoring or dribbling, least of all because I was on the Quiet Carriage and such things are not tolerated. Fortunately upon awaking no one was looking at me like they wanted to kill me, so I took that to be a positive sign of good behaviour.

Alright, I'm totally jealous now. ;-)! Enjoy your Osage orange fruit tree seed and potential seedling. Didn't that blog entry make you want to rush out and plant some of those fruit trees? Top stuff.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Mate... I'm not whingeing, but it has started to cool now outside as it is only 39.4'C (102.9'F), but tomorrow and Sunday look set to be about the same weather conditions here as today. Then, they reckon that Sunday afternoon a proper and very monsoon will drag moisture all the way down from the tropics to provide a little bit of relief and some good rain (probably half an inch according to the latest forecast maps).

How about a trade - your humidity for the heat here? It does sound like a good idea and I recommend that you think it over before agreeing! Hehe.

Your anti-condensation method is very good and has the benefit of actually working. It is weird how it takes a bit of time for the inside temperature in a house to either increase or decrease. That, I reckon, but am not really sure about, is thermal inertia at work. Incidentally, that happens on a large scale with cities too with the heat island effect, and they reckon Saturday night and into Sunday morning in Melbourne it will barely drop below 30'C (86'F) all night. Angus who has a blog which is listed on the side bar here is in Adelaide and it is even hotter there (so I probably should keep my whingeing to a bare minimum).

I'm salivating thinking about your yummy pumpkin cookies. YUM! Did you add sugar to the mix to give it a sweeter taste? I would. All this talk of cookies had me taking a short break from replying to grab a homemade Anzac biscuit out of the cupboard. Still, it is not a pumpkin cookie, despite the dark chocolate bits.

Haha! I've only ever seen them in pots too. As a funny, but interesting side note, the local cafe / general store / post office have poinsettia's growing in little window boxes and the red colour is amazing. Oh yeah, the holly hedges here are massive and very dense - it never even occurred to me that people would think of them as small plants until your brought up the subject.

That is a bit creepy about the genetics company - not the blue rose itself though. Your description did not trouble me at all, because I've got a blue rhododendron here which is more of a lavender colour than blue, so I understood your meaning. The search for images of blue rose on the internet turned up some very interesting images - but I wasn't sure how many were real and how many were photo-shopped? Dunno. Starving to death in the land of plenty is an unusual fate - and I'm near the very ending of the Conan Chronicles which ends with a brief biography of the author who shot himself at the age of 30 during the Great Depression. Howard did it hard.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Unfortunately, reading that biography this morning came on the back of watching the film "End of the Tour" last evening about the author David Foster Wallace. It was an excellent film and the actors absolutely nailed their performances. It is good - but complex viewing. Wallace had written the book Infinite Justice which was much acclaimed - but I could also see that he struggled with anxiety, addiction to television and depression. He was very switched on to the limitations of the present narrative, but had trouble seeing through to a different narrative and that would have presented him with some very complex contradictions and eventually they did him in. On the other hand he held a mirror up to his peers, whilst trying to retain the quiet life of an author and that would have been a challenging dynamic. JMG does a similar thing but he is wired differently and is thus protected somewhat from the repercussions (in some respects) - but would still pay a price - nothing is cost free, really.

Oh this comment is turning into a real bummer... Your tattoo sounds most excellent and I would make that flower painting a bit more blue too. :-)! Out of interest, do you get it touched up from time to time?

Sorry to hear about your Wyandotte chicken. Sometimes you can do the best care and feed your chickens the best feed and they can still get sick and die and there is little that you can do about it. My experience has been that sick chickens eventually rarely recover fully. Sorry, mate.

Yeah, oh the Empire Strikes Back was genius and very dark, but after that they were a bit fluffy. The reviews on the new film are pretty good, but I'll probably wait until the crowds die down a bit. It is pretty feral down here for those movies from what I've heard.

Hey, I reckon Stephen King's best work were his short stories! I look forward to reading your review of the latest book.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Oh thankfully it is now 27.8'C (82'F) outside now at 7.30pm...

Thank you for your thoughts. I can actually see rain running along the valley which is swept along by the cool change, but it is very unlikely that the rain will make an appearance in the mountain range. Oh well. The entire house is now open to the cooler evening air and that sort of feels nice. The weird thing is that after a while you sort of get used to it - but working outside is a no no. I read about an apprentice carpenter who was 3 days into his first job in Adelaide (Angus's territory) is now in a coma in hospital after heat exhaustion today. That is not good.

They'd love a wading pool, but I set up something for them this morning which was a wobble tee sprinkler which I'll show on a photo in next weeks blog! Unfortunately the creek here is dry, but the dogs would enjoy splashing around in it if it was full of water. Your dogs were spoilt rotten! Hehe! :-)!

Yeah, that was record breaking that tornado. Things seem to be getting more extreme with each passing season. An F2 tornado is very rare down here.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Wow! That invasive garlic mustard sounds quite invasive in woodlands and once naturalised...

Oh my the ticks are a nightmare in your area. There are ticks here, but they are usually benign and you can simply remove them. Do you have dogs? Being low to the ground the dogs would be a magnet for ticks, but most of the animals in your area would carry them and transport them about the forest. Toothy seems to be the worst affected here as he is the most adventurous, but as it dries up and also heats up the ticks simply disappear. He once brought a leech into the house and that was not good.

Lyme disease sounds like a nightmare and I'm sorry for your cousin - that is a disaster. I've only had ticks on me once when I ventured into a very damp area of this mountain range and they crawled from my boot up onto my leg and I discovered them an hour or so later feeding on me and swelling up.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Oh! I'm sorry to hear that - have you noticed that in previous seasons? I've noticed here that winter is often now announced by a marked Indian summer and it is exactly how you describe it. Some poor fruit trees - such as crab apples even put on a few sad and small looking fruits.

You are also exactly correct in that there is extreme variability in local weather patterns but still there is little doubt in my mind that things are heating up here every year.

When I took statistics at Uni, I was rather fond of the linear regression analysis which showed the overall trend over a large number of samples and I reckon the long term change in climate is a lot like that. What do you reckon about that?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Thanks for the info on pruning. The wallabies here perform a great deal of that task for me so I'm sort of left baffled by the entire subject. At least they ensure that it is completely possible to walk under the canopy of the orchard without running into any branches... ;-)!

Thank you and that was a very strong tornado for Down Under. Virtually unprecedented. The one that hit here a few years ago on Christmas day was not much more than a heavy storm, but that one on the South Coast of New South Wales packed a serious punch.

The temperature at night here rarely gets above 22'C (72'F), but that is here up in the mountains and forest. In Melbourne it can easily not fall below 30'C (86'F) and that is uncomfortable and part of the reason I left the city. I've never owned a house with air conditioning so everything relies on insulation and other tricks, but those nights are something else altogether and the houses just don't take that sort of weather into consideration as an experienced reality.

Given you have such cold winters, how do you adapt to such warm nights over high summer and do you get the extreme maximums that we seem to get down here?

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Margaret:

Thanks so much for the gluten information. I guess if digestive troubles (which are completely variable) get to me enough I'll have a go at cutting out gluten. It would be rather hard, though, as I make the bread - wheat bread and rye bread - for the family. My favorite soy sauce is gluten-free: San J Organic Tamari. It's in all of my grocery stores. They have a cheaper, non-organic version, also.

We have a massive tick problem here. The large numbers of deer are the main carriers. When we had all the dogs it was a constant battle. Haven't had as much of a problem since they passed on. Many years ago two of the dogs were diagnosed with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. As I had the same symptoms at the same time (undiagnosed), I'm pretty sure that I had it, too. Lyme disease, as you mentioned, is another serious problem.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Claire:

I am so happy to have your precise, and concise, instructions for winter pruning! Thank you! I have taken notes, in case my head doesn't remember what to do once I am standing there with my pruning shears in my hand, precise and concise though your instructions are. Also have a note about Lee Reich's book.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

1000 hours of chilling is for fruit trees is a lot! I read that apples require the most hours of chilling. We must normally get that as there are many - some of them quite large - apple orchards around here. They make up a fair chunk of the agricultural produce in the area, with value-added products like juice and hard-cider as well. Oh, happy thoughts of a Tier One county . . .

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - The weather is ghastly, here. The weather is ghastly there. Just ghastly weather all around. Rain, rain and more rain, here. I even resent the chickens a bit. But just when I'm standing in their yard and the water is dripping down the back of my neck :-). I feel for the people affected by the tornado. Being so rare, they really don't know what to do ... and there's probably not a good warning system in place. Unlike our tornado alley where there's a siren system and up to the minute reporting on all kinds of media.

The pumpkin cookies had 2 cups of packed brown sugar, in them. That was a double recipe that yielded just over 7 dozen cookies. The frosting had confectioner's (powdered) sugar in it. LOL. That was really funny. The recipe said to slowly whisk in the maple syrup ... and I ended up with a solid ball of frosting, inside the whisk. Adding a few drops of water a little at a time sorted that out. But, I had to make a second batch and just went at it with a spoon and had fewer problems.

I saw a film bio on Howard, a few years back. It was "The Whole Wide World" (1996). It was quit good.

Yeah, the whole blue rose thing is complicated. As it stands now, there is NOT a sky blue rose out there. Lavender is the best they've done, no matter what anyone tells you. A few years back, I ordered what was supposed to be a blue rose, from a rather (I know now) dodgy nursery. The picture looked sky blue ... the blossoms? Lavender. I read an English mystery, quit a few years ago. A young couple buy and old run down place and discover a naturally occurring blue rose in the overgrown garden. Something like that would be worth millions, and there's lots of evil characters trying to get their hands on it. There's just one problem. If you get pricked by the rose, you die. It's highly poisonous.

Yes, my tattoo has suffered from a bit of "drift", as they do. I think from time to time that I should really have it cleaned up, a bit. But, I really just don't have much interest or want to spend my money, that way. It was different back in the 70s when everyone and their brother didn't have a tattoo. The novelty has worn off :-).

I'm a little leary of King's new book. I found a list of the contents. There are poems. When Ray Bradbury started to wax poetic, that's when his work (in my opinion) started to run downhill.

Lost my power yesterday morning at 9am. I had already taken care of the chickens and had a hot cup of tea in me, so, no worries. Called the power company and it was back on by 11am. Wasn't windy, so, probably a tree down due to wet soil. Got an early start on putting up my Christmas tree, and a good thing that. Took me all day and into the evening to get it up, fortified against the cat and decorated. Won't take so long next year. The fluffing out took a couple of hours. I'll store it "fluffed." It seemed a bit unstable, so I used electrical tape to hold down the stand. Roped the top into a curtain rod. Piled holly around the bottom. Poor Nell was banished outside, in the laundry room or bathroom through the whole process. With occasional well supervised romps. And was she fascinated with the tree? Couldn't care less. She found an empty box that was lots more interesting!

The bubble lights are kind of a disappointment. Not near a lively as the old ones ... you have to stand pretty close to see the action. But, the tree is a wonder. I can move the branches around, a bit, and easily bend up the tips, so the decorations hang right and don't fall off. I suppose I could pat myself on the back and say how wonderful it is that the carbon from one tree is left safely in the soil. HA! I know better now, that that is nonsense. The energy involved in making the tree and shipping it up from Mexico is probably enough carbon for a whole forest of trees. Well, a small grove, perhaps. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

No doubt you are correct about the chilling hours and I wasn't really sure of the answer relating to them after reading your response, so a little bit of further research might be in order... Looking... Looking... Looking... The go to guy down here is Dr Louis Glowinski (he is a medical doctor with an interest in all things fruit) who wrote the weighty but very worthy tome: "The Complete Book of Fruit Growing in Australia". An outstanding book with the occasional amusing observation which covers a vast array of edible fruit bearing plants. It is a joy to read.

Alas, I was wrong in my previous comment, so here is a correction taken from the book:

"The apple tree is one of the hardiest of fruit trees and some can withstand up to -40'C (-40'F) when dormant. Such terrifying temperatures are rarely approached on our continent (Australia) but we do have the reverse problem. Apples need a prolonged period of winter chill for proper maturation of flowering buds, with 1,000 - 2,000 hours of temperatures below 10'C (50'F) being the usual requirement. This is easily achieved in southern Victoria and Tasmania, but in coastal New South Wales and Queensland, mild winters can be followed by poor flowering and poor cropping. As usual, the solution is to select the best varieties for each area. The very hardy high-chill apples (those needing a long cold winter) such as McIntosh do not belong on the mainland except in amateur orchards where crop failure is not a catastrophe... As a rough guide, apples are not grown commercially closer than latitude 33 degrees from the equator, unless at higher altitudes, which, of course results in a cooler climate".

He also wrote much on the history of the apple and it was all very fascinating. I'm glad that you have a number of substantial apple growing orchards in your part of the world as they are one of the only fruits that is able to store all through a northern winter and it once provided fresh fruit when no other was available.

Go the apple!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Ahh, grasshopper, you are seeing the benefits of an all weather enclosure for your chickens during the depths of winter... Sorry, your description took me back to earlier this year and honestly, wet chicken litter is seriously over rated, but when you're getting drenched as well... Our climates seem to be going from one extreme to another. Hey, I almost picked up a frizzle chicken this morning, but they wanted $50 for it and I had to take the rooster as well. Roosters are a pain.

It is a record day for December maximum temperatures down here today. Tidy work. It is just shy of 30'C (86'F) inside the house right now and I'm sitting under the ceiling fan whilst typing on the laptop thinking to myself that it feels cooler inside than outside by a considerable margin. Just checked the thermometer and it just cracked 30'C (86’F) inside and 40.3'C (104.5'F) outside in the shade.

Actually I shouldn't really complain because about 2 hours ago, I looked out the window to see a huge column of smoke from a large out of control bushfire to the south and west of here. Victorian bushfires: Fire crews battle to get blazes under control in hot, windy conditions. It has been going off like a frog in a sock today.

And to add insult to injury, Scritchy is acting weird which means that there is a thunderstorm happening somewhere - it would be more useful if she had a greater level of accuracy...

Yeah, they had no idea and I wouldn't have either. The sirens are probably a very good idea given how destructive those tornadoes can be in that part of the world. Honestly, I wouldn't give good odds on a house surviving an F5 tornado.

Haha! That whisk would certainly have looked interesting and been very hard to clean. It is funny how after you get a bit of experience with cooking a certain dish/meal that you can start getting a bit more rough with the handling of the ingredients and not worrying too much because you more or less know what the outcome will be. I'll bet you learned a thing or two in a commercial environment with that?

So those images on the internet of blue roses were photo shopped? Shocking. They did look good though. There are a lot of blue flowers in the plant world though. The English story sounds delightful and is an excellent metaphor to describe the reality of there being no such thing as a free lunch. Out of interest, how did the story end? I was briefly running all sorts of macabre scenarios in my head. I'll bet Stephen King could turn that into a good short story?

I appreciate your honesty. There are a lot of tattoos around these days. I'm not sure how I feel about them and have never been inclined to dabble in body art. There are certainly some impressive bits of canvas walking around though.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

No way! Ray Bradbury waxing lyrical? Well, it would be hard to come up with new and original stories without repeating yourself. Are you moved by poetry? Dunno, myself. It may be a dying art?

Nice to read that the power was restored, and the important tasks of your day were complete just prior to the outage! ;-)! I love the fact that you have to take Nell into account when putting up the Christmas tree! Bad Nell, naughty Nell! Hehe! Is this an old tree or a new tree? Well duct tape and electrical tape are indispensable items. Yeah, cats are very clever, so she may have been trying to lull you into a false sense of security only to destroy the tree at a later and more convenient time.

After that time, Nell would sit there all innocent like as if to say: "What, me? No way". Only to then fix a meaningful and calculating look at the possibly innocent Beau. :-)!

Sorry to hear that, as they sound like a very ingenious idea. Maybe you'll have to purchase the blue, fair dinkum, vintage bubble lights?

Really, Mexico? No way. Why wouldn't they grow pine trees locally up in your part of the world? The pines grow like weeds here and I've seen them in far damper places on this continent than around these parts. Mind you, today the relative humidity outside was about 10% which is playing havoc with my sinuses. Sorry, I'm starting to whinge again... Yeah, probably a small grove perhaps.

Actually, I don't have a Christmas tree up. I do have a Norway spruce growing to which I've attached a net of multi-coloured LED's and it looks pretty nice at night. I'm hoping to get some photos of all of the Christmas light craziness down here again over the next few days - and I was thinking about putting the photos of the lights to a story about Kangaroos giving reindeer the boot - but I'm not sure about that part yet.

Hopefully it cools down here, but they reckon that tonight is going to be the warmest December night since records began... Oh sorry, I'm whingeing again... Mustn't sulk my socks off - actually it is too hot for socks...

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Climate change: I just don't know. The only thing that seems to matter is 'are we causing it?'. I don't understand why we expect it to be static, it never has been. Aeons ago northern UK was sub tropical.

Birds that pick up our language: One can have fun here particularly with parrots. When my son was 3 years old he started to swear. Learnt from his 5 year old sister who learnt from a school friend with a teenage brother. This was rather serious swearing not the common stuff. I could explain to my daughter that this was not acceptable in public but the 3 year old was another matter. I asked my daughter to teach him a more suitable expression. Later, she came to me and said that she was trying but it wasn't working. So I told her that it required emphasis.

We were in the local chemists when my son suddenly shouted 'Figaro'. Daughter had succeeded, though where she got her choice from I don't know.

Now consider what you could do with a parrot. We have birds here that imitate the calls of other birds and I believe that some birds imitate animals.

Tattoos: My son has 2 from way back when it was rare. He probably wishes that he hadn't got them now that they are so common. The thing that I don't understand is having them where one cannot cover them up if necessary. I saw a young man at a railway station once with doubtful sentiments on his shaven head and remember thinking that one day he might be an upstanding member of society but bald.

I suppose that that leads me on to toupees. So common on television. I find myself trying to trace the line instead of listening to the words of wisdom.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I don't get bogged down in such discussions as the reality is for me that it is warming up - noticeably every single year. Tonight will be the hottest December night in recorded history you may be surprised to know that even here it is 28.5'C (83.3'F) at almost 11pm.

You are correct, we live on a dynamic planet, but perhaps it is not a wise idea to upset the general systems that support our lives by treating the atmosphere as an aerial sewer. The planet is a closed loop - so we've been here before, done that, but I don't know how well all of our infrastructure will stand up to the general heavy handed poking that we seem to be doing.

Incidentally, many parts of the UK survive on an annual rainfall that is less than a drought year here, but I'm not sure how well they'd cope if the climate became much warmer - and thus exponentially drier than today? Dunno, really. What do you believe?

Haha! Very funny. Figaro! :-)! Thank you and I will take your delightful suggestion on board.

That is pretty much my hesitation with tattoos as a person seems to pass a point of no return and they are really hard to remove. Even then there is scar tissue. Well of course you are correct too, sentiments and understandings of the world can change over time. My outlook on life is very different from when I was young and impulsive and without a care in the world - now I tread a little more carefully. Have you travelled that sort of path in your life?

Yes, hair hats are a disaster. There is no place for them. I still recall George and Mildred BBC show which was inflicted on me as a youngster!

I used to have long hair and a pony tail up until about the age of 25 when I just couldn't hang onto it anymore!

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Dr. Glowinski's book is a treasure! Thank you for the excerpt. One of my treasures is a book about Australia that was a promotion for the 1956 Summer Olympics. It is full of the most gorgeous photos and shows Australia as a veritable paradise! I get such a kick out of it!

A chicken called frizzle could only be an Australian breed . . . Roosters are indeed a real pain. My husband's family had a rooster in their flock of chickens when he was growing up and it attacked him (with spurs) every time he had to attend to the chickens. His baby sister named it after a mean, old uncle of theirs.

I'll never get used to your bush fires. It raises the hair on my neck just to hear about them. They are one of the reasons that we never moved back to the rural desert U.S.

" . . . it's too hot for socks . . ." He he!

Chris in a pony tail. I like it. I imagine that you had to join the corporate world and - poof - it had to go?

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lewis:

I will gladly help you eat the solid ball of maple syrup frosting.

What a neat blue rose mystery plot. I'm a pushover for a good mystery.
Once I read an old one about the discovery of the first black orchid. I'll bet that there really are black orchids now.

I sure am sorry to hear about all your rain. Not a happy situation. And there's Chris and his gang burning up . . . bad choice of words, maybe.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

You are killing me again (hopefully I have more than one life) with your "Figaro" story. What characters you and your family are!

We have a native catbird that is especially good at imitating cat meows. Must drive the kitties nuts.

I do that with TV and toupees, too. The game of toupee tracing is often more entertaining than the show.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - On hats, hair and otherwise :-). My friends in Idaho tell me to get a hat with a nice big brim, to keep the water out of my collar. Thinking it through, if I bought one new, I wouldn't want to wear it in the rain. So, next time I'm at the thrift stores...
I lost most of my hair on top, at a fairly early age. Sigh. Now if I could just move the thick stuff from the sides up top ... :-). But, I've never been sensitive about it. Have thought a few times about shaving it all off, but I can barely keep my beard and stash in good repair and find the thought of the maintenance involved off putting.

When I see someone with facial tattoos, I often think "Well, that narrows your employment opportunities." Last year at the big New Years Day auction, I saw a quit elderly man with extensive tribal face tattoos. They must have been done quit awhile ago, as there was a lot of drift. I thought "Well, I bet there's an interesting story, there." But I didn't have the gumption to ask him about them.

Scritchy and the thunderstorms reminds me of Beau. When he barks, I generally try and check out what he's barking at. Sometimes, it's that someone has come in the yard. Sometimes, nothing. This morning he was barking at the back pasture, but nothing seemed amiss.

Can't remember how the Blue Rose mystery, ended. I'm sure the bad were punished and the good rewarded :-). It was one of those types of mysteries. There was a whole series of "English garden" mysteries. I read a few and then lost interest. I don't generally read mysteries, but every once in awhile, I'll go on a jag and read two or three. There was a good series about a Roman woman running an inn in Roman Britain. Read all those. I think they're trying to splice in some delphinium genes into the rose.

Oh, some poetry, I like, but not all. I know it when I see it? :-). I think my favorite is Edna St. Vincent Millay. Doesn't seem to be dying. There's a lot of very bad poetry, around :-).

Being a phony tree, it was made in Mexico. Some kind of plastic, I suppose. Though it doesn't scream "plastic" at you. Oh, there's plenty of trees around here that I could have cut. But the last real tree I had, I was still finding needles months later.

Continuing the First Annual Chehalis Australian Film Festival, I watched "Partisan", last night. Exteriors filmed in Georgia (the country, not the state :-) and the interiors in Melbourne. A dark little film about a kind of cult leader, with his harem of women and all kinds of kids. He keeps the whole compound floating by sending out the kids as hit men. Hit kids? Quit engrossing.

I should bake some more cookies. I thought about making some Divinity, which I quit liked as a kid, but it calls for corn syrup. We get quit enough of that, as a matter of course. Amazing how many candy like recipes call for corn syrup. Think I'll stick with cookies. I have a couple of coffee cans full of cookies cutters. I'm sure there are some Christmas ones, in there. Lew

PS: thermal inertia (or something :-). Yeah, that's the way it is with houses. Everything inside heats up, or cools down to a mean temperature. Everything. The crockery in the cupboards, the clothes in the closet, the tub, etc.. A sunny day here, today, before the next round of rain. We got it bad, but I guess Oregon really got slammed. Rainfall records smashed, right and left.


orchidwallis said...

hello again

I am really surprised that you say that the UK sometimes has less rain than in one of your drought years. Are you sure about this? Our land area is tiny compared to yours and so it is way easier to move water to where it is needed. In my whole lifetime I have only known one drought year; not sure which but will guess 1976. On the whole we are very wet but make a big song and dance about our climate. Don't think that I'll get started on the subject of mismanagement.

'Young and carefree': No I have never been that. Well young I suppose but never carefree, I have always been very considered about everything.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

That was a big thing down here (not that I was around to see it), but they even constructed a suburb for the athletes to live in during their time here. That suburb then went on to become public housing and now the whole lot has been sold off to private owners.

Well, there aren't a whole lot of people down here - that helps!

I'm not sure about that. The frizzle is some sort of strange looking bird that has inverted feathers - so they look like a puff ball with all of these sticky outy feathers and of course the editor wants one for the chicken collective. hehe!

That is the exact same story here. I've had gentlemanly roosters over the years, but they seem to be few and far between and I'm unsure how to exert my alpha-ness with a rooster so that he gets it and stops attacking people...

Thankfully a bit of rain and a cool change has swept across the state so things are cooling down this way. But up in the north east of the state the winds are driving another fire into the mountains... I'm resigned to them, but not used to them if that makes sense?

Exactly! It was well past 104'F for a few days in a row... And the nights were the hottest I've seen here.

Way back in those days I was at the bottom of the pecking order and so I could get away with the occasional quirk like long hair and a pony tail. I used to do the goatee thing too, until all of the computer people started sporting them...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Exactly, why ruin a perfectly good hat in the rain when your hair will (eventually) dry! My fidora hat would be destroyed by a heavy down pour. By the way, how much rain did you get up in your part of the world?

Yeah, it is an all or nothing thing shaving the head. Hey, I spot dudes with shaved heads and beards these days which is a hard look to achieve. Hair is like our youth, it seems to disappear at an alarming rate. By the way, did you check behind the couch for your lost youth? I checked here for mine and it wasn't there, but still where there is life there is hope they say!

That's a tough school facial tattoos. The Maori's in New Zealand use them as a mark of status and rank within their communities. Plus there is always the film: The Hangover... Very wrong, but very entertaining to watch.

Very wise to check out what Beau is telling you - you never know. Have you seen any bears or that raccoon again in recent weeks? The problem with Scritchy is that she can be inaccurate in her predictions by several hundred kilometers and dive under the bed. I haven't been able to shut her out either because the nights here have been crazy hot. One night it didn't get lower than 26.5'C (80'F).

You are very widely read and I enjoy hearing about all of these different jonres of books that I never would have otherwise have heard about. Delphiniums = buttercup family plants. Ahh, very nice. Splicing in genes into plants has to have some sort of cost for that plant? Dunno, but plant breeding has been going on for a very long time now... Fair enough about the poetry and I am unworthy of commenting on the relative merits of that language.

Ahh, plastic. It never occurred to me that the tree was plastic. Fair enough about the needles - down here you would get the most monstrous spiders living in said tree. They certainly give you a fright and bite if you're not careful. Pines grow massive down here - I'm really, really big. There's an abandoned Pinus Radiata tree farm at the western edge of this mountain range and they're huge. But the Douglas Firs high up on the main ridge are something else again. Huge trees.

Oh, I had no idea that that film was an Australian film. I saw it advertised at the cinemas not that long ago. An interesting concept and well it is not as if there aren't child soldiers in the world. They would be quite scary to face because you'd never know their intentions or programming.

I've never seen corn syrup - seriously. Down here we use a form of molasses called Golden syrup which is sugar cane based and it is very nice. I think it forms the basis of Rum, incidentally. You know, the next time I'm in the shop, I'm going to keep an eye out for that HFCS stuff.

Yeah, even the cupboards heat up after a while. When it doesn't cool down over night, the insulation stops the house heating up to the outside temperature, but if you start off from a high temperature, it just slowly adds to that as the day goes on. I saw 30'C (86'F) inside the other day. What were the rainfall records that were smashed in your part of the world?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I'll have to wrack by brain and recall where I read that. A drought year here is about 600mm of rainfall and I read that some parts of the UK get less than that amount and are saved by having a much cooler climate than here.

Exactly, water is not easy to move around here at all because of the topography and most of the water is already committed. When the rainfall is sparse then that over commitment shows up and people at the end of the line - like Adelaide which is at the end of the Murray / Darling River system can get the short end of the stick. They are doing it tough up there this year. I do hope that your daughter is OK? One weather record after another keeps getting smashed this year and the past few days have been an absolute shocker.

I was young and carefree for a year or two. Then I became young and dumb. After a while, I was young and nervous! Hehe! The early 90's did my a great favour by showing me exactly how fragile things can be and how the world can drop out from under you with very little notice. I was asleep at the wheel before that event.

Considered took me a bit longer to come around to. I worry for people younger than I now, who have never known a day of economic hardship. I'm uncertain that that is a god thing? Dunno, what do you reckon?

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Ahhhh! "Hair is like our youth, it seems to disappear at an alarming rate. By the way, did you check behind the couch for your lost youth? I checked here for mine and it wasn't there, but still where there is life there is hope they say!" Classic Chris! Mine wasn't there, either . . .

What is your biggest spider? We have cute, furry wolf spiders that I've seen with bodies (no long legs counted) of 38mm (1.5 inches). They make gigantic funnel-shaped webs outside. Some live in the house; they don't seem to make webs (though it would probably be hard to tell with my housekeeping).

Pam

margfh said...

Hi Pam,

Yes, we have a lot of deer around here too. I believe the white field mouse is also a carrier of the deer tick as well. I never used any tick medication for my dogs until this year. We have an area of grass and other plants that they love to hunt in and almost everyday came back with ticks - though not deer ticks or at least I didn't find them. Salve is black so I don't know how we would even see them on her. The vets now do a lyme test annually along with heart worm.

Agree about roosters though I almost always have one as they are great protectors of the flock. When we have a nasty one they meet their demise pretty quickly. Roosters are not hard to find and certain breeds seem to have pretty good temperaments though that doesn't always hold true. Our best and worst roosters temperament wise were of the same breed, Black Java. The one Black Java would run across the yard unprovoked to attack the dogs and anyone else who happened to be there. He also killed his own chicks. Our Buckeye rooster is just fine and I've had good luck with Langshan and Delaware as well.

re: humidity - the house is very dry now as it's been in the teens (F) for a few days We run humidifiers in the winter it gets so bad and keep a pan of water on the wood burner. The summers seem to be getting more and more humid up in the 75 to 80% range much of the time. As the saying goes, "it's not the heat it's the humidity". We keep the house closed up during the day though often opening up at night lowers the temp but then the humidity builds up. We do have air conditioning and sometimes I'll just run it for awhile to get the humidity down to a bearable level.

Had the first of three Christmas celebrations yesterday with our daughters, son-in-law and granddaughters. Salve was thrilled as she loves kids and spent much time running around outside with the girls. As it's been been below freezing for a couple days thankfully there was no mud to deal with.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - Oh, there are Frizzles, around. My friends who moved to Idaho had a few in their flock, here. Mostly, a decorative bird, I think. Me, I want a good dual purpose bird that lays fairly good sized eggs. Yes, I must have had quit an interesting look on my face when the maple syrup gummed up the whisk :-). But, a few drops of warm water at a time, finally sorted that out. Next time, the spoon. Looking around for candy recipes, I did notice one for maple syrup candy in the "Joy of Cooking." And, that's all it had in it. Just maple syrup. I may give it a whirl.

Yo, Chris - It's really hard to get a fix on exact rain fall amounts. Amount of time, location. Reporting being what it is, these days, the article on rainfall totals being broken in Portland didn't have any reference points. Old record ... time period ... what the new record is. Sigh. I think we got between 5 and 10 inches, here. The rain water tub I have in the yard, took on about 10 inches over about a week. By the way, our power outage was from a maple tree that came down, just about 100 yards down the road. Came unmoored due to wet soil.

My little aside (?) about the film exteriors being shot in Georgia (the country, not the state) was just a reference to the kind of news reports that drive me nuts. Not being clear about the geographic location. Half the time, an article will state something about "Washington" and not a clue as to if it's our State or D.C.. Or, I'll read about some fantastic Roman archaeological discovery in Royston Vasey, and then have to scramble over to Wikipedia to figure out exactly where it is. Maddening.

I don't have a couch. I think I left my lost youth behind in one of the many moves I've had to make. I always forget to pack something :-).

Usually, when they tinker with roses, it's the odor that gets left behind. Sad that. I mean, what's the point of a rose? Or, they don't form rose hips ... or very few and very small.

On economic hardship. Oh, I don't know. I think some people rise to the occasion and learn from it. Others, not. After the bottom dropped out of the housing market, there were plenty of stories of people who went from "the big house on the hill" to standing in the food bank line. But still driving the big luxury car ... as that's where they were living out of. Back in the late 80s, I worked with a woman in one of the bookstores I worked in. She worked part time ... for fun. She had 5 kids and lived in a big house on one of the Puget Sound Islands (pricey). With no warning, her husband dumped her (and the 5 kids). The house was mortgaged to the hilt, so no money there. The next thing she knew, she was living with 5 kids in some very dodgy public housing. She had dropped out of college to help put her husband through. So, not much formal education. Well, she pulled herself together, went back to school, got a law degree and last I heard was doing quit well.

I realized something interesting, yesterday. No slugs. I haven't seen a slug in a couple of months. I think the drought did a lot of them in. Oh, when I first moved here, I went about if very methodically to get rid of them (ammonia in a spray bottle). But, last year, it was just kind of hit and miss. And, I'm sure they will be back. Just another one of those things you notice that's a bit disquieting. The lack of wooly bear caterpillars ... that very little tansy ragwort came up last year. Just odd stuff.

Spent most of yesterday cleaning and organizing the bathroom and kitchen. There were some minor (to some people) plumbing problems. The chain broke in the toilet tank ... the screen in the bath sink was plugged up. Might actually get to some cookies, by tonight. Lew