Monday, 8 February 2016

Tomato Jungle

Tomatoes are the most productive crop on the farm. Sun ripened tomatoes, bursting with flavour are a real treasure and if you love the fruit as much as I do, you’ll always be able to recall the beautiful smell of a ripe tomato fruit. This season, I reached for gold because I more than doubled the number of tomato plants that I usually grow on the farm.

However, in order to double the number of tomato plants I also needed to double the garden space set aside for those plants. There are plans afoot to construct a purpose built tomato and strawberry bed over the next few months, but way back in October 2015 when the tomato seedlings were ready to be planted out, talk of purpose built tomato beds was exactly that: only talk!

The solution to the problem of where to grow all those extra tomato plants  quickly materialised. I simply would let the tomato plants take over the newly created berry enclosure. There was plenty of room in there. Or so I thought at the time. Back in early November 2015, the tomato seedlings looked like this:
Tomato seedlings planted in the berry enclosure early November 2015
Today, the berry enclosure looks like a complete and feral tomato jungle:
The tomato plants today in early February 2016
There are hundreds of ripening cherry tomatoes now in the berry enclosure. At this point, it is worth mentioning that I’m quite excited by these cherry tomato plants as they are the product of about four years of continuous seed selection as the editor and I have selected seed every year from various plants based on taste and also early ripening. It is also worth mentioning that they are an eclectic mix of colours including: Red, Orange, Yellow, Black, and Green/Black.

There is however, one minor problem with all those tomato plants in that berry enclosure: I can no longer get in there to pick the ripening fruit because the growth is so feral!

Observant readers will note that the tomato plants have grown so big that the sprinkler had to be placed on a table, and it now fearlessly rises (peers)  out of the mass of that tomato jungle, otherwise it wouldn't work at all. It’s dangerous in there and for all I know there may even be Triffids lurking in the jungle…

The lesson that I have taken away from this experience is that tomato plants don’t necessarily require staking and support in order to grow. In the above photo you can clearly see that the tomato plants are happily climbing towards the sun and are all self-supported or climbing all over their neighbours. Tomato plants actually require containment, and so I believe that the purpose of staking those plants is containment and also to train the plant to a more easily manageable shape so that it is easier to pick from. No one seriously wants a thicket of Triffids at the bottom of the garden!
A path has now been forged deep into the tomato jungle
Today the editor and I placed some temporary fencing in the tomato jungle and we can now access most of the rapidly ripening tomatoes. On that note, the tomatoes will continue to ripen from now until early winter (June) at which point the plants rapidly die and the remaining green fruit will be either brought inside the house to slowly ripen during the winter or be converted into green tomato chutney. As an interesting side note, there doesn’t appear to be much challenge in playing the game: “Where’s Toothy?” this week because I had to pick him up during that activity earlier today, because I was trying to stop him from hunting all of the frogs and reptiles that happily live in amongst the tomato plants.

All of the lessons learned from the tomato jungle will be incorporated into the future tomato enclosure.

Had I mentioned that the weather has cooled this week? I’m seriously over summer, and whilst I realise that if you are reading this in the depths of a Northern Hemisphere winter right now, that that statement may sound a bit odd. But it has been really hot, and I’m over it! Anyway, this week the weather has started to cool as the days are becoming slightly shorter. Yay!

As another interesting side note, cooler air temperatures improve the electrical output from solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. And that is one reason why massive PV solar panel arrays are rarely sited in locations in Australia with lots of sunlight – because they are also hot due to our extreme UV / sun – and in such conditions, the output from the solar PV panels actually reduces. Anyway, one cool day this week, I noticed that the solar power system was producing as much electrical energy as it would ever be likely to:
The solar PV panels were full steam ahead this week and were producing their rated output
What does 114A actually mean? Well, it is a lot of electricity for sure, but it refers to 114 Amps (A) x 36.5 Volts (V) = 4,161 Kilowatts (kW) at that point in the day. It is certainly enough electricity to fry an egg, no doubts about it and you certainly wouldn’t want to test the wires using your tongue! Ouch! It is probably also worth mentioning that about 20% of that electrical energy is lost because batteries aren’t that efficient and can only store that 114A at about 29.4V = 3.3kW. All the same it is excellent to see such huge output from the solar PV panels.

Last week I wrote about just-in-time systems. The conclusion from that discussion was that nature simply does not operate on a just-in-time basis and any surpluses that nature provides must be stored for future use. Firewood is a great example of that sort of storage and this week I’ve continued filling the original firewood shed. I actually have no idea how much firewood I require in any one year, because every year that I have lived here, I have run out of stored dry firewood. This year, with the second new firewood shed, I’m determined to discover exactly how much firewood I use in a single year. Knowing that metric will assist with the process of managing the firewood resources here because firewood is one of those sorts of resources that you have to manage many years in advance of the actual use. I reckon that there are another two months of work cutting, splitting and hauling firewood will fill up the original firewood shed.
The original firewood shed has begun to be filled
The original firewood shed continues to be filled this week
I’m enjoying the recent cooler weather. The UV rating has been transitioning from Extreme to merely Very High over the past week and I’ve noticed that even during this short time, the herbage has slowly turned greener. The herbage over the worm-farm sewage trenches is positively verdant and a family of Kangaroos has claimed that territory for their own (they probably also appreciate the fresh water left out for them nearby too). There is even a little baby joey Kangaroo which is only a few weeks out of the pouch:
A family of Kangaroos has recently claimed the farm as part of their territory
Really observant readers will also note in the above photo a magpie and on the edge of the forest there is also a very fat looking – and fruit tree fed – wallaby.

The cooler weather has somehow induced people to commence socialising again. I’ve noticed that many people – not all though – tend to hibernate during the very hot and very cold parts of the year. They then emerge during the in-between seasons proffering invites to many social occasions. This week was totally feral for social catch ups and one of them was with some friends of New Zealand origin who were celebrating Waitangi Day with a barbeque. The editor – who is perhaps a bit more cheeky than I – decided to prepare a dessert that was of distinctly New Zealand origins. And so the Lolly Cake was made and delivered!
A New Zealand Lolly cake was prepared and delivered to Waitangi Day celebrations to much acclaim
It was delicious and the recipe for the Lolly Cake can be found here (we substituted coloured marshmallows for the fruit puffs as we weren’t actually sure what they were): NZ Lolly cake recipe

One of my favourite plants which is the Egyptian walking onion are producing bulbs this week. The plants are virtually indestructible as I have never watered or fed them and every year they produce lots of bulbs in the air and below ground level. And if you want new plants, you simply plant the bulbs and a new plant will show up next year with even more bulbs. The entire plant is edible too.
The Egyptian walking onion is one of my favourite plants
One of my favourite activities is finding quirky metalwork in small country markets. A few months ago the editor spotted an unusual piece of metalwork globe art and even though we purchased it for a "throw out" price, we love it, but had absolutely no idea what to do with it. One day I casually mentioned that we should place it on a rock above the courtyard garden and before I knew it, I was installing the metalwork onto that rock.
An unusual item of metalwork art was permanently attached to a rock this week
The metal artwork has a great view doesn’t it? The circles spin in the breeze too.

Attaching the metalwork to the rock was simplicity in itself. I first had to drill holes into the rock.
Holes were drilled into the rock in order to attach the metalwork to the rock
Dynabolts were then inserted into the holes in the rock. A dynabolt is a bolt with a metal sleeve over it which expands once the nut is tightened. By the action of the expanding sleeve, the bolt lodges itself into the rock. They are very strong and can used to attach anything to brick, cement or rock.
Three dynabolts were used to attach the metalwork to the rock
And before I knew it, the metalwork was permanently fixed into place and enjoying a spectacular view from above the house.

On an entirely different note, the page to this blog which shows the flowers that the European honey bees are enjoying has been updated today for February flowers. However, there is a plant that the bees love, but I have no idea what it is and was hoping that someone out there in Internet land could possibly identify it? I’m not sure, but it may be a salvia of some sort?
An unidentified herb that the European honey bees love
From left to right: Left Unidentified Herb; Middle Catmint; and Right Lemon Balm
The temperature outside now at about 9.00pm is 14.8'C degrees Celsius (58.6'F). So far this year there has been 49.2mm (1.9 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total 40.4mm (1.6 inches).

99 comments:

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

I was most impressed with the metal work art. Won't your tomatoes interbreed? This has happened with some of mine and then using the seeds next year, produces less good tomatoes.

I asked my son about 'the Goodies'. Yes he loved them. Says that his favourite was a safari park with a supposed David Attenborough voice over. I have failed to track that down.

Too wild to walk through the woods to see if I have any post. Gusts are coming through at over 90 miles an hour. It must have rained heavily during the night as I can see pools of water lying on the ground.

@Pam Ladybirds overwinter in my home as well; or at least they try to. I had a plague of them one year, settling everywhere indoors. I am not keen on this as they absolutely stink if one crushes one of them; also they start to fly around if the room warms up in the evening.So what are your stink bugs?

Inge

Chris said...

Man I know that plant but I can't remember it off the top of my head. It looks like it's part of the mint family based on the flowers + leaves. I'll post again if I jog my memory :)

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - That is some tomato jungle. Reminded me of when I lived in S. California, in the early 70s. I had two room mates from Ohio, and Bill was quit the gardener. He planted two or three tomato plants in the back yard, and, the next thing we knew, we had a tomato jungle! Well, being boys from northern climes, we just pigged out on fresh tomatoes. Ate so many we got sores in our mouths from all the acid. I do believe the S. California climate, is similar to yours.

Take a machete into the jungle with you. Handy to hack your way through, and stave off any roaming Triffids.

Lolly cakes sound kind of ... ghastly. I got curious and did a bit of searching around. I was curious about fruit puffs and lollies. Yup, pretty ghastly. Oh, I shouldn't throw stones. We have Peeps! I stumbled on Eskimo lollies, as a substitute. And, discovered that the Professionally Offended are out in force over those.

My first foray into walking onions, didn't go so well, last year. The drought, I think. I'm hoping they'll emerge, this year, and put on a better showing.

Your piece of found art is truly wizard! As, in Merlin. The first thing I thought of was "astrolabe", but it's nothing like it. Probably a near cousin. :-).

The mystery plant is Juvenile Triffid. Nip them in the bud!

Chef John quit liked the cake. Ate the whole half loaf, before I was out the door. We discussed possible recipe experiments. He made a smashing tray of nachos. Played "Where's Waldo" trying to spot the football player from Council, Idaho. Don't think he ever took the field. Maybe "Six degrees of Kevin Bacon" is more like it.

Chef John was quit thrilled with his new piece of tat. I told him if he really wanted to irritate his evil brother, who ran off with an identical piece from his mother's estate, that he should tell him how much he paid for it. I'm sure the brother, probably thinks it's worth hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. I mean, it is a very handsome piece of glass that's over 130 years old. But, EAPG (Early American Pattern Glass) is one of those collectible areas that languishes. Telling his brother he paid $40 for it, ought to take the wind out of his sails.

New neighbors! The 4 trail mules have been moved into the pasture, behind my place. I can watch them out the kitchen window. Majestic beasts. Very quiet. A lot more interesting than the deer. I had to give Beau a little lecture about welcoming the new neighbors.

"Burnt" popped into the library catalog, this morning. Saw it at the grocery store, so I've been watching for it. I'll get it, as soon as it winds it's way through processing. Could take awhile. Lew

rabidlittlehippy said...

Your herb looks like it might be lemonbalm? Also known as Melissa. If it is,t he leaves make a lovely tea with a little sweetener and yes, bees love the stuff. It's related to mint so it can get a bit feral but what a pretty feral it is. :)

Damo said...

Great jungle! Looks pretty similar to my garden patch, except 20x bigger! The minor benefit of my small tomato jungle though is I can pretty much reach every plant without staking. I noticed a couple of fruit touching the ground have little rot patches on them, presumably staking would reduce this sort of thing as well?

Tomatoes are great, I have already eaten a few and the difference to the store bought crap is substantial. When slicing a home grown tomato, you get a lovely dense red flesh, vibrant with colour. When I slice the Woolworths monstrosity I get a big pile of yellow, mushy seeds and juice on the chopping board as the centre falls out. As Immortan Joe* would say, Mediocre!

On an unrelated note, what theme/plugin are you using that makes your photos come up in a gallery? I briefly googled a few tricks to make it happen but it all seemed a bit tedious. Currently for my 'blog' I upload posts using Open Live Writer which is pretty nice. Apparently there should be plugins for it soon which can makes all sorts of things a lot easier.

*The villain from the best movie of 2015, Mad Max: Fury Road. For anyone who enjoys a good action movie (not that modern Transformers rubbish) I can't recommend it enough. Has some subtle civilisation rebirth stuff in there as well. 5 stars.

orchidwallis said...

hello again

I thought that the leaves on your mystery plant looked like nettle leaves; dead nettles have white flowers.

@Lew I also researched the lolly cakes and thought that they appeared to be ghastly. I courteously refrained from saying so but, now that you have led the way, I can agree.

Inge

margfh said...

Chris,

Those are some wild tomato plants. If I plant mine too close they get diseased due to the humidity. I keep planting them further and further apart.

Love the metal art - very interesting.

Margaret

margfh said...

@Pam & orchidwallis

Aren't those Asian Beetles which are part of the same family but invasive here in the states. I don't believe our native lady bugs stink or bite (though I've read it's actually a pinch). When the Asian beetles arrived here ten or so years ago there would be thousands on our screened in porch. For a few years I spent hours vacuuming them which seemed the only way to get rid of them and they get in the house through the siding and are in the house all winter. They made it quite unpleasant outside when they showed up in great volume in September - just when the weather is getting nice.
They have not been nearly as bad in recent years. Apparently they were brought to the US to combat aphids.

Margaret

SLClaire said...

On the metalwork theme, my husband Mike bought me a wind chime for my birthday. It was chiming away this morning when it was rather windy. This afternoon there is less wind, good thing as it's only about 26F with a light snow shower in progress.

Just as you notice it's cooling a little, here in the northern hemisphere I notice that we are receiving more sunlight each day. The higher and stronger sun helps to warm up the glassed-in front porch more than a day six weeks ago with the same weather. Yay spring, when it finally gets here in another month or so.

foodnstuff said...

Do the leaves have a lemony smell when crushed, Chris? That will definitely confirm rabidlittlehippy's ID.

Fay said...

One way to identify salvia plants is that they all appear to have square stems. Your plant does look like lemon balm, which grows like a weed, self-seeding in my garden. I find many uses for such plants. This week I planted out strawberries, but needed to shade them from the heat of the sun for a couple of days, plus I needed to stop my cat digging them out when toileting. I positioned old insect screens above the strawberries, then cut an over-abundance of spearmint to place on the screens. As it withered light filtered through until I removed it to the compost bin.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Oh that is a shame, slate roofs are really beautiful and very hardy - although they're probably not up for being walked on like a steel roof... The very oldest houses have them down here, but most people usually go el-cheapo and use ceramic tiles. It is merely my opinion, but ceramic tiled roofs are hopeless as the tiles can blow away in a storm (imagine being hit by one of those at speed. Ouch!) and they let so much air into the roof cavity. Slate really does require a lot more effort and timber to hold them in place, but they are more firmly anchored than ceramic tiles.

Nice to read about the corrugated steel sheets on the barn and sheds. Just out of interest, how are they standing up to the weather in your part of the world? Do they show any signs of rust?

Excellent to hear about the treatment of your log walls. Honestly, unless you are using timber that is full of natural oils, I would treat the under floor timbers too. It does seem a bit wasteful to build a house only to feed a hungry colony of termites! ;-)!

Yes, there has been a marked decrease in the numbers of fires. Maybe one of those thugees could sort him out? A notorious criminal and author who has since passed - Mark Chopper Read, once quipped: Australia is a big place and shovels are cheap! Very naughty indeed, but perhaps necessary...

Well, Merlin appears to be a very interesting character. It is hard for me to find time to read the book, and then put it down and do other things. I never realised what a rich history was to be had in Dark Ages Britain and how much has been covered over or subverted, it is a fascinating topic.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Lucky you to enjoy Ladybirds in your house during the depths of winter. I have no idea at all where they go during the winter here - and they don't bite either, I've never heard of that before, and it is not as if we are short of things that bite and sting! Dare I mention Steve Irwin?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks very much for that and the link (fun trivia seems a bit of big call!) explained all. That Hadrian's wall must have beggared the resources, I mean 80 miles is a substantial bit of kit. Surely a ready and willing fighting force would have been a cheaper response? Speaking of which, I've read articles on the wall in the south of your country and apparently it is incomplete in sections and sometimes landowners have found themselves on the wrong side of the wall? Strange days. Sometimes I feel that our leaders have somehow failed to learn from the lessons of the past...

Governors is not really that much different from the system in place here as each state has a governor as well as the main Governor General. A nice job if you can get it!

Good to hear, sometimes the print is pretty small anyway.

Wouldn't that be funny? I suspect that they had other problems. Certainly the Chinese would have visited these shores as they planted several long lived plants such as Strangler Figs up north. They didn't seem to colonise their explorations like the Europeans did for some reason, but perhaps the explorations beggared the Kingdoms or they collapsed before they could do anything about their discoveries? Dunno.

Good for them. Watching that CGI last week, I would have beat it early on too. Nature is a force to be reckoned with and I've got this inherent "run" gene! Were the archaeologists able to recover any sense of what the painters were working on?

Of course the trees in the background of the image looked like cedars to me rather than redwoods. That is also interesting as they must require a bit of heat and a long growing season which you may not get in your part of the world?

cont...

Coco said...

Oooh tomatoes - lovely! I believe I should be starting tomato seeds this month. Not much light for them should they germinate these days. And the nights are a bit cool for them to ripen in the summer. Must try though!

I´m amazed there is such a thing as an electric jack hammer. Fortunately, we have stones of all sizes. DH repaired a wall and built a bit of fence while he´s on vacation. Unfortunately, it´s raining cats and dogs, again, so it may be all he can get done outside this week.

Carnaval this week. Lots of good eating. ¨Laissez les bons temps rouler¨ and Happy Chinese New Year for those who celebrate!

Cherokee Organics said...

Ha! Those are referred to as Hawaiian here too. Are you suggesting to put the milk onto the pizza whilst it bakes in the oven or as a side drink?

Very wise. Thank you. That thought had not occurred to me. Of course, a gift for their time.

Did you utilise the toothpick to determine whether the cake was fully cooked? I use a large sewing needle for that purpose. Sorry to read about your palate, but if it has been a recent change, I'd suggest tasting some of your ingredients, as I've noticed that some ingredients seem to taste less with every passing year. With that in mind, I reckon quality ingredients taste the same. Perhaps your tongue is experiencing decline firsthand?

Wow, that is a real achievement. I hope you catch a glimpse of the player. This talk of packages sounds very mysterious indeed - you'd do well working in my local post office, they're a curious bunch too and I do my best to be mysterious over what are generally quite dull packages. :-)!

It is pretty nasty in the world of chicken. I'm down to only a few eggs per day now as the ladies recover from the summer moult.

On a sad note Rumpole the boss chicken finally died this morning, she had been not well for the past 10 months or so, but was a little fighter. Vale Rumpole the most excellent boss chicken. The world of chicken is a solid reminder that all leaders eventually pass and it is in their best interests to pass the baton when a solid contender comes along. Big Plymie fulfilled that roll and her and Fluffy Head - the new enforcer - rule the collective with a gentle but firm claw.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Everyone,

Just a sad note to mention that this morning: Rumpole the ex-boss chicken finally succumbed and has now passed on. Rumpole was an outstanding chook boss and along with her best mate (who still survives) Liz the enforcer they ran a tight no-nonsense ship. Rumpole reached the venerable age of about 5 years and 5 months. My favourite memory of Rumpole was that sh would always come up to me and greet me with a: "bok, bok, bok" greeting.

Vale Rumpole!

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Oh yeah, I certainly hope they do. I keep a huge diversity of cherry tomatoes in that enclosure and every year I also bring in new seeds. I don't really care what they look like, as long as they are hardy, early and tasty. :-)!

Thanks. How good are country markets for finding things like that on the cheap? There is also a weather vane yet to install too!

Really glad to hear that your son also enjoyed the Goodies. As a cheeky suggestion, ask him what: Beans means (exactly like that!)... Hehe! The Tim Brooke-Taylor always had baked beans dumped on his head for some reason. It was very funny.

Unfortunately, the BBC disposed of a lot of the Goodies tapes simply because they ran out of room, and much of their work is now lost.

Your son may be referring to the episode: Scatty Safari! Very funny stuff.

90 miles an hour! Stay safe in that wind. Yes, the post can wait until things settle down a bit. Very sensible. Perhaps a nice cup of tea, a biscuit and the Goodies... :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Chris,

Welcome to the discussion.

Yes, I concur with your opinion. It definitely appears to be of the mint family. I'll post a better photo this evening.

Cheers.

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Sorry, I shouldn't laugh, but that is very funny! Southern California is sort of like here, but I reckon it may be drier and hotter there, but I don't really know for sure.

I had a lot of fun flicking backwards and forwards between the two photos yesterday - it is very feral in there and I didn't mention that my first suggestion to the editor was simply chopping a path through the jungle! ;-)! For some reason she did not want to lose a lot of the tomatoes growing in there.

Gee, I dunno about getting up close and personal with a Triffid. I reckon even Conan would have struggled with one of those. From memory didn't they have some sort of venomous tongue that lashed out? It all seems very unpleasant and a bit beyond a machete! :-)! Oh, we've descended into the land of silly again.

Exactly, glass houses and all that biz. But yeah, it is horrid isn't it? The funny thing was that it didn't taste that sweet - but is should have an I kept to a very thin slice as I was trying to avoid a sugar overload headache because I don't really eat a lot of sugar. Hey, the lolly cake was very received as it was a very traditional sweet.

Oh? They seem to love dry conditions here, but they are really worth the effort as they taste good.

Great minds, what else can I say, for I thought the same thing. Who knows what it is, but someone put the time into making it and it is a very interesting object!

Bad Triffid, naughty triffid. Who knows what the mystery plant is. I'll chuck a new photo up over the next couple of hours or so.

Chef John performed an impressive achievement with the consumption of the cake! Did you enjoy the Superbowl? We heard about it down here because apparently the band Cold Play was considered to be boring. I thought that they were an unusual choice for such an event? Yes, Kevin Bacon, he's done alright for himself as an actor. That's a tough gig that one.

Family can get a bit weird when they start fighting over stuff - especially if they think it is worth something to someone else. I've never had that experience myself, for some reason I was threatened with being written out of various wills over the years and every time I said: "So?". Yes, I do hope that it takes the wind out of the brothers sails. Funerals and weddings can elicit some strange responses from family.

Well done with the mules and they're certainly in a good paddock. Beau might want to tread carefully, they're bigger and he's outnumbered four to one. The odds aren't good. It will be interesting to see whether the mules keep some of your more exotic wildlife away - such as the coyotes and bigger (and toothier)?

You have an excellent memory. It is a good film and I highly recommend it. My gut feeling was that it was somehow loosely based on Gordon Ramsay. Apparently, early on he spent a considerable time making club sandwiches. I'll bet they were good.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi rabidlittlehippy :-)!

Hope you are enjoying the cooler conditions. Unfortunately, it is not lemon or lime balm as I grow both of those, but my gut feeling says that you are in the correct plant family mints (which have the mints and salvias).

I love lemon balm too, and yeah it is a pretty plant and makes a great tea.

Just for your interest, I reckon I picked the plant up at the Blackwood Ridge nursery, which is not too far from you and well worth the visit, although to be honest, it is in the middle of nowhere, but very nicely put together.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Thanks mate! And hopefully next year it will be bigger again too!

Yeah, the access to plants is a continuing learning experience here and you sound as though you have that sorted. This year, I had some currants and gooseberries I just couldn't access and am going to try and propagate them over the next few months so that I get even more of those plants - but easier to access than present.I was talking to an old guy on the weekend who suggested aerial layering to get the cuttings to form roots.

No rot here for some reason, but any fruit falls onto woody mulch rather than soil. Dunno, why though. I'll keep an eye out and report back. Keeping them in the air is a good idea to stop rot for sure. Most of the vines are climbing all over each other, it really is a thicket so most of the fruit is in the air.

Oh yeah, there is no comparison and you are spot on. Haha! That is very funny. How good are the Mad Max films? I haven't seen the latest one yet though... Yeah, the store tomatoes are often picked green and then ripened with gas - or they're over watered which produces little flavour. The sun produces the sugars which makes the great flavour. Yum. Did you read of the salmonella problems they're having too?

Ah, I type the blog in Word and then load it onto blogger. The photos are uploaded through the blogger posting interface. Blogger then handles the details. Given the little picture icon a go and see what happens?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Not a bad call, they do look like nettle leaves. This may sound strange but I have tried to grow nettles here as they are a useful plant, but it may be a bit too dry for them over the summer. I'll post a clearer photo over the next few hours.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Of course, the difference here is that the summers are drier - so I actually have to water those tomato plants every day... Airflow would be everything in a humid summer.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

How good are wind chimes and you are very lucky to have received one as a gift. The ones down here are usually a lower note - more like the Asian style. Does yours chime or make lower bong like sounds?

Far out that is cold! Brrr! I won't tell you that it is 10pm here and the door is wide open to the cool night air. That glassed in porch sounds like a most excellent seedling raising spot. ;-)! Yay for spring and may it be a gentle and warm season!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi foodnstuff,

Thanks for the comment, but I reckon you are correct in that it is of the mint family, but I'll put a better photo up on the blog over the next few hours. I grow heaps of lemon balm here for the soothing tea it produces. Have you tried that tea? Yum!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Fay,

Welcome to the discussion.

Excellent! Yes, salvia plants are of the mint family which was my gut feeling too. Oh yeah, lemon balm is a chronic self-seeding plant here too. Very hardy and very prolific like most mints!

What a naughty feline to dig up perfectly good strawberries. Oh well. Yes, I found that this year they were burned by the very hot December sun. Last night, I woke up to discover a wallaby had broken into my strawberry enclosure and after a good feed it woke me up making a huge racket breaking its way out of the netted off area again. Strawberries are a fail here, but I'll sort them out over the next few months. There is always next season! The screening is an excellent idea and a good use of the resources that you have to hand. Well done!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

@ Margaret

We call the Asian beetles 'Harlequin ladybirds', they arrived in 2004. I did think that they were the ones invading my house and I hoovered them up in vast numbers. But when I checked them out on the internet, it wasn't at all clear what they were. A new check shows a far greater variety and I now think that the winter invasions are the Harlequin ones.

Inge

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

That's the thing about living here in the Midwest. Summers can be quite hot (thought not as extreme as yours) and very humid as well. They seem to be getting more humid going along with some of the climate change predictions. Do your weather forecasts include the heat index? Winters are very dry. I have two humidifiers running to keep the humidity at least in the range of mid-20 percent range.

Margaret

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

Does your mystery plant have a sort of pungent smell? It looks like my catnip. All you need is the right sort of kitty to test for that.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

That is a very nice sculpture. I really appreciated it once I looked at it up close. Great that it has an added benefit of spinning. It may be easy for you to fix things into rocks, but I dunno . . .

You may be the only person in the world with a sprinkler on a table. Then again, it kind of reminds me of Las Vegas, Nevada and all those glamorous fountains.

Wonderful, wonderful solar energy output! Good for you - and Mother Nature.

We tried to measure our firewood usage this winter, as we had (as in used to have) supposedly 2-3 years of firewood supply stored. Somewhere along the way we lost track and will have to try all over again next year. One measurement I do know - we burn A LOT of firewood.

That's a big herd (?) of kangaroos. It's a little scary.

The Lolly Cake is an interesting species . . .

Is an Egyptian walking onion sweet? I sure do like sweet yellow onions, though white ones are good, too.

Our steel rooves (the plural of "roof" that was used when I was growing up) have very little rust and that after being out in the elements for 23 years. I think they might be galvanized?

We have no underfloors except in the basement. Our house is 3-stories (because of the full walk-out basement). Each wood plank floor serves as the ceiling (even in the attic) of the floor below it. The basement ceiling does have plywood (exposed) as an underlayment of the wood floor above it. Probably we would notice any termites. I've noticed in the woods that the termites only eat damp, decaying wood. The interior of our house stays quite dry (all those wood fires!), so hopefully they will not invade. I think the occasional powerwashing of the exterior is a help in keeping an eye out for them, too.

Miss you, Crocodile Hunter!

I'm sorry Rumpole has passed on, but at a ripe, old (and well-lived!) age. Vale Rumpole!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I didn't mention the star of the show of your post's title: The Glorious Tomato! Good work, you and the Editor! A little too good, perhaps.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

90 miles per hour! Here, we'd call a wind like that a hurricane!

We have all kinds of stink bugs here - family: pentatomidae (5-something?). The variety that overwinters in the house is the Asian Brown Marmorated (I always want to say marmaladed) Stink Bug - Hi, Margaret! I think that's the one you are talking about. This variety is more destructive than our "native" (Ha! Ha!) varieties. They eat almost any kind of vegetable and every part of the plant. I am not happy to have them as housemates and they do not endure inside for very long once I see one. The stink comes from some chemical that they release when frightened. If they are handled gently (Love thy enemy!) they will not make a stink. Once one appeared on my sleeve when I was in a grocery store line (he probably rode in with me . . .) and I, being a little surprised, exclaimed "Oh, stinky bug!" and carried him to the door and let him out. The other people in line acted like I'd just handled a tarantula.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

Hee hee! Juvenile triffid! I love triffid jokes!

I use toothpicks to test for cake-doneness, too.

Mules would be nice neighbors. We have horses around us, and a really fat Shetland pony. They take him for a walk on a leash. There was a brouhaha recently on our private road because some of us had given permission to neighbors with horses who do not live on the private road to ride on it. And horses will poop! Apparently, that makes the road "dirty". Who'd of thought it in the country - on a road made of dirt. It is now my self-appointed job to scoop up horse poop and take it to my garden. I couldn't be happier!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Oops. I see when browsing your gorgeous flowers at the honeybee blog that you show catnip. Hmm . . . maybe your mystery plant IS a sage. It is so helpful that you have correlated the southern and northern hemisphere months. Thanks.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

No - I take it back. Our catnip has white flowers.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - A phrase that stuck in my mind, that I heard years ago, is that store bought tomatoes taste like "they were strip mined in Texas." :-). Sometimes, in winter, we get tomatoes that are green house grown, in Canada. If they're not too expensive, I've tried them a time, or two, and they're not "to" bad. But, nothing beats a tomato right out of the garden.

We have a naughty saying around here, too. "Shoot, shovel and shut up." :-)

I got the name of the Pompeii house, a bit wrong. It's "The House of the Painters at Work. Couldn't really get a sense of what they were working at ... but in another part of the house, there is a REALLY smashing painting of a rooster.

https://sites.google.com/site/ad79eruption/pompeii/regio-ix/reg-ix-ins-12/house-of-the-painters-at-work

Most of the houses in Pompeii have nick names, attached to them. I got the giggles, yesterday, considering alternative names. "House of the Really Boring Dinner Party." "House of the Dead Donkey." "House of the Miffed Matron." I'll have to play with that, for awhile.

Don't have a clue why redwoods don't grow further north. Southern Oregon seems to be the extent of their historic, northern range.

Oh, milk as a side drink. Since I can't drink beer, one makes do. :-). I quit like milk. I'm putting off finishing off the last of my Anzac biscuits and the pound cake, as I've run out of milk. Trip to the Little Smoke, tomorrow.

My tongue is in steep decline :-). Not really. It's just subtle flavors, that elude me. Sometimes, I'll just close my eyes and concentrate, when I sample something.

Ah, poor Rumpole. We knew him well. It's good there's replacements (although none will be as good as Rumpole) coming up through the ranks. Same process at work, when I think about getting a puppy, this spring. Maybe. Beau's getting pretty old.

Yes, the Triffids had a poisonous tendril that they could whip out. Paralyzed the prey, so they could dine at leisure.

Oh, sports, in general, bore me to tears. The game was very late, here, so I didn't watch much of it. But there was hours of lead up ... and all rather over the top as it was the 50th Superbowl. Didn't get to see Cold Play, perform. But, they had an interview with them, and they seemed like a good lot of fellows.

The nice weather inspired me to haul buckets of rocks, yesterday. For the chicken run. Will do the same, today. Lew



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Coco,

Yeah, it is a great idea to get the tomato seedlings started inside early in February. Have you considered growing the smaller cherry varieties as they require less heat to ripen than the larger tomatoes and they also have a much sharper taste - although they may freak you out a bit as they are slightly later in the season than the larger tomatoes.

That sort of sounds like my type of vacation! :-)! The electric jackhammer uses very little electrical energy to run too. Enjoy your rain.

I would love to attend a proper European carnival. Have fun and enjoy that food. YUM!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

That is quite interesting about your humid summers and dry winters. Do your chickens suffer from scaly leg mites with the increase in the humidity? It is upside down here and the winter can be 99% humidity for months on end.

No, I'm not sure what a heat index is? They do include a fire danger index though! Seriously.

Wow. The inside of the house is generally between 60% and 70% humidity during the winter. I find that the extreme dry troubles my sinuses more than humidity, but am not really sure why.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

It most certainly could be catnip, thanks for the suggestion. Have you checked the latest photo to compare? Nice work, I reckon you are spot on. Well done, that gets the elephant stamp and also the silly cat photo.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thank you. I like finding odd bits of ornamental metal work at local markets. Who knows what the object is actually meant to be too? It is a bit mysterious, but someone went to the trouble of making it so I can appreciate that.

The dynabolts are excellent aren't they? Stainless steel too... I learned about them when I was working on a very old 1890's double brick Victorian house and I had to attach timber to the brickwork. They're very solid.

Ha! Yeah, too funny! :-)! The table became absolutely necessary once I discovered the viscious triffids hiding in amongst the tomato jungle. No way was I going in there... ;-)!

I keep a close eye on the system because if something goes wrong, hopefully it will show up in the numbers on the screen - fortunately I know what they mean. It would be very hard for someone else to take the system over and not let their expectations get in the way of reality.

A LOT is a great metric! Well, it gets cold here too. Brrr! 2 to 3 years is a good supply - any more than that and you'll get hugelkultur.

It's a mob of Kangaroos and the buck was very large indeed. They mind their business though and mostly ignore us and the dogs. Poopy went out before to say hello and all I can say is that brave Sir Poopy ran away, bravely ran away, away! When danger rears its ugly head, he bravely turns his tail and fled! And so on (with thanks to Monty Python).

The cake was a bit scary when it was being made - it is one to have a decent amount of respect towards - but it didn't end up being as sweet as we thought. The editor reckons the malt biscuits toned it down a bit.

No, they taste sort of sharp oniony taste to me. I haven't had a sweet onion, as I normally consume the brown onions. White onions are more a salad onion and they're sort of rare down here.

Exactly, it used to be rooves down here too, but alas times change and language changes with it. Yeah, galvanised sounds about right to me for the sort of conditions you describe. They have a very long lifespan.

Inspection and keeping timber dry are the only ways to keep timber out of wood. You are very observant to have noticed that. The bull ants will try drier timber here, but they are much slower than termites.

Even the South Park guys never made fun of Steve Irwin.

Thank you for your thoughts, we'll miss Rumpole. I raised a glass yesterday with the editor to salute her life.

Haha! Yes, we love the tomatoes too! Plus they're really tasty.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Oh that is a keeper. Strip mined in Texas leaves quite the strong visual imagery. Honestly it is the same here. Late last year, I found a supplier at the market that sold small yellow cherry tomatoes and they were good, but nothing beats home grown for flavour. Oh well, except one of the local farmers has several poly tunnels and every year they have been supplying the locals at a little roadside stop with absolutely delicious tomatoes, so they're alright too. Having them grow them in a poly tunnel saves me the hassle of having a poly tunnel and they stop producing when my lot starts becoming ripe. ;-)!

That is excellent and I will definitely remember that one.

Wow, that is amazing. No, really seriously amazing. After all this time. The rooster clearly looks as if he is tucking into a pomegranate! Some of the other scenes are amazing too. It looks as though they have raised a roof over the site to protect it from the weather. I'd bet you'd love to travel over there and check it out firsthand?

Shame about the dead donkey her name wasn't Kelly by the way (sorry, that one was very naughty)? Yes, we've all been stuck in one of those really boring dinner parties - sometimes some people start talking about work. Well nuff said really, but if I was in your part of the world that would be: shoot, shovel and shut up. The quiet would be nice and hopefully not too many guests would be involved. :-)! I reckon the Matron would have been miffed that day, right and proper like! Out of interest, where there any historical accounts of people fleeing the city early on in the day? It is not like it didn't have a river port.

Maybe, they need the heat which comes from being a little bit further south? It can get quite warm in conditions where Mountain Ash trees grow. Dunno.

It was a fair question as I knew someone that roasted pork with a basting of milk - and that sort of made me question there cooking skills, but you know it may have been OK. Maybe, I didn't hang around. I knew someone else who used paste a layer of jam onto roasts too and I hated that. Yuk!

Out of curiosity, did the Anzac biscuits stay firm over the week or so since you made them? Enjoy your trip into the little smoke.

Fair enough. I knew someone that had serious heat stroke and also used to smoke and they apparently couldn't taste much at all and I hated their cooking as they used too much salt. Like way tooooo much. It was wrong.

Some of the subtler flavours are very elusive at the best of times.

That is not a bad idea as Beau can teach the pup the ropes and it will give Beau a good injection of spark into his life. Mind you puppies can be a serious pain too! The chickens teach each other and I've noticed the dogs do the same thing. I may have to get Scritchy training up another boss dog sooner or later. Thanks for the thoughts about Rumpole, I suspect I may not see her like again for a couple of boss chooks. Still, you never know.

The rotten triffids. You go into the tomato jungle first, it'll be alright! :-)! Hehe!

Oh yeah Cold Play appear to be quite pleasant people. It is just a strange choice, plus I believe they are a UK band too. Don't laugh but they got Meatloaf down here a year or two back for the performance at the football finals and that was a strange choice. I think I smell a rat, and why are we talking about this anyway? Organised sports bores me too. As I said I used to enjoy the cricket but not so anymore, life is out there... That sounds a bit Star Trek doesn't it?

May your chickens enjoy their new rocks.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

OK so this is weird. It is probably just a coincedence but, you know how you were saying that BT went off the air last week for a day. Well yesterday the Telstra network here (which is the countries largest and partly government owned) also went off the air for a day. The Telstra mob blamed it on an employee fault, which sounds like a surreal explanation. Weird huh?

I noticed Julian Assange is making noises about wanting to leave the Ecuadorian embassy...

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

After reading your blog for awhile I see that you're humidity levels are upside down from ours. Heat index refers to what the temperature feels like to the human body when relative humidity is combined with the air temperature. Frank Landis writes in his book, "Hot Earth Dreams" about black flag days, when the wet bulb temperature exceeds 35 C (95F), it is so hot and humid that sweat won't evaporate, and a human (or animal) outside will over heat and die. These types of days are increasing due to climate change. There are quite a few days when the humidity level is 80% or higher especially in the morning. When the humidity level in our house gets above 70% it gets really uncomfortable and any food items like crackers get soft. We don't use our air conditioning much as we close up the house in the morning and open at night but when the humidity is that high I'll turn it on for an hour to drop the humidity level to a bearable level. A high heat index is very dangerous for animals as you can imagine. We raise four pigs each year and one of the most important jobs is to keep their mud hole filled with water. The chickens start panting as well so we provide a fan for them and put a sprinkler outside as well as change their water several times sometimes even adding ice. This is particularly important for the fast growing meat chickens. I now start them in July as the heat doesn't bother them (in fact they can't get chilled) while they are brooding but by the time they get big enough to go into the chicken tractor the average temperature has cooled down enough so they there's much less of a chance of them dying.

You are right about low humidity and sinuses. I've read that a person is more susceptible to illness if the humidity is too low as well. I hate running these humidifiers but not sure what else to do. I've also read that having house plants can help so am planning to try that to see if it helps.

Margaret

margfh said...

I forgot to mention wind chill - what the temperature feels like when combining the wind speed and actual temperature. It's often -25 F here when it's windy.

Margaret

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I have checked with Son and it was 'Scatty Safari' that he particularly remembers. I have now watched it. I preferred 'Kitten Kong' but did like the part of the safari in Australia also the celeb. set free from captivity who then gets shot.

We have still not been given any good reason for our internet etc going down.

I believe that Julian Assange is not in very good health.

A hailstorm caught me out yesterday. The ground turned completely white and I was soaked, all in 5 minutes. It stopped almost as soon as I got home. Fortunately the hailstones were tiny.

Last year a robin tried to get nuts from my bird feeder, it really struggled. This year it is adept. Then I read in a newspaper that robins have copied the tits and mastered the bird feeders. How come this is all learned at the same time in different areas? Do they share their mind?

Ine

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - I mostly eat the red onions. Somehow, I've got it in my head that the more color in foods, the better they are for you. My lettuce of choice has a lot of red in the leaf. The red onions don't seem to be very good keepers. Seems like I'm always tossing a few out, or cutting out sections that have gone to mold.

Re: the mules. It's nice to have animals back on the land, again. Before Brother Bob the Bachelor Farmer, passed on, he had quit a menagerie. 30 or 40, mostly, black angus out my kitchen window. Burros and odd varieties of sheep and goats in the pasture across the road. One of the angus dropped a calf in the middle of a terrible storm. But, the little guy made it. There was a red and white bull that escaped being loaded up, and for about a year, I referred to him as "the ghost bull". He'd appear ... and disappear. He finally became kind of a menace, so, he had to be put down. Dressed out quit nicely.

There's another guy running cows and four horses, on another part of the place. But, I can't see them from my place. So, my landlord is renting out pasture. I guess rental pasture is hard to find, around here. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - The metal work is probably some tat out of Merlin's cave :-). It has that alchemist look, about it.

We don't seem to have much of a problem with termites, up here in the Pacific Northwest. But we do have what everyone calls "flying ants." I lived in an old rental Victorian, one time, and they had to rip off the whole back end of the house to get at the nests and replace quit a bit of timber.

They really don't have an idea of how many people died in Pompeii, and how many escaped. They figure Pompeii had a population of about 20,000 and they've only found about 2,000, so far. But who knows how many died on the road, out in the countryside? In neighboring Herculaneum, they thought most of the citizens had escaped ... until they found over 300 victims in the boat sheds, on what was then the shore. There was a wine warehouse, out in the countryside ... that was full of victims. They had abandoned the road and took shelter, there. Spotted a commemorative marble plaque, recently. It was to mark the Emperor Titus' relief efforts for the refugees from the eruption. Didn't have a translation, or, where it was found.

The BBC did a really good "dramatized documentary" titled "Pompeii: The Last Day." Probably on YouTube. We really know quit a lot about some of the victims. There was one family group ... a wealthy man, his wife, their heavily pregnant daughter (probably why they didn't choose to flee) and, a son-in-law. Also, a family group of slaves (the old family retainers). The son-in-law choose to take poison, towards the end. They were all sheltering in a inner room of their lavish home.

The Anzac biscuits are still quit crunchy. I've got them in the fridge, in a tin.

Hauled more buckets of rocks, yesterday. I'm using the big ones to line the path, and filling in with the small stuff. It's looking quit nice. One more bog, bites the dust. Interesting bits, buried in the weeds. A few piles of well rotted cedar shakes that I'll work into the soil, somewhere. And, a large, mysterious sofa cushion. That must have been made from some synthetic. It actually held together, all the way to the dumpster.

Also cleaned out the last years prunings from under the apple trees. On the truck to take ... somewhere. Saved all the really big pieces, as they make good borders for paths and plant beds. The apple tree pruners will show up, any weekend, now, and I'd be so embarrassed to have that stuff still laying around. Hope the weather holds long enough to mow under the trees. Off to the Little Smoke. Lew

margfh said...

Chris,

Forgot to answer your question about scaly leg mite. I've only had that once. I'm a bit leery of the deep litter method in the summer though I use it for the turkeys (who arrive mid-march) and the brooding meat chickens.

Margaret

margfh said...

@Inge

That's about the time they showed up here. They were horrendous the first two years. I would start vacuuming at one end of the house and by the time I got back to that spot there were almost the same amount again.

Margaret

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Margaret:

I think that your climate is somewhat like mine, but on steroids. Sheesh, at -25*F, how do the farm animals survive? Last winter we ran the humidifier the whole season for the creaky, old dogs. This year I am not (they have gone to where Rumpole the Head Chook is), but we don't have as much heat on either, so it is not quite as dry in here. Also, in the fall I bring in a whole bunch of potted geraniums and such and spread them all over the house and keep them watered really frequently, so I am pretty sure that is adding a lot of humidity indoors. I get you about the cookies, etc. in the summer. I keep everything closed up airtight or it's Stale-and-Soggyville.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I think that the Archdruid has you in mind in his post . . .

Thank you for the funny kitty photo. It looks just like Tommyrot did. I never fail to fall for a funny cat picture; I have a large one on my refrigerator.

We have carpenter ants and carpenter bees. The ants haven't caused any damage to the house that I can see (they seems to prefer the woods), but we also have carpenter bees,which are the size of bumble bees and solitary (thank goodness) and they have caused quite a bit of damage to posts and rails and window sills and barn doors. The bees don't seem to chew into the logs; I guess they are too hard.

Poor Julian. Caught in a web . . .

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

I think that the robins do share their collective mind, in a way. I think that your robins (which are very different from ours) are smarter. But it's hard to tell as ours always come in such large, noisy flocks that's it's hard to focus on individual behaviors. Do yours make up very large flocks?

I had hardly seen any Canada geese this fall and winter, but just the other day I saw a huge flock on a large pond down the road. I was a little worried as they usually come through to the small pond behind us with a raucous honking throughout the fall. It's been a funny winter.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

Wow, Brother Bob certainly earned the title of farmer! Do you miss all of that activity going on? At least, you have some new farm friends, as well as your own menagerie.

Rock work is so hard. So satisfying to have the mud at bay once it's done, though. I was going to ask you when the apple trees get pruned, but you just said - soon!

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge, Margaret, Lewis and Pam,

Thanks for all of the lovely comments but I was in the big smoke today working and have only just got back 11pm and bed is calling. I promise to respond tomorrow evening.

But Pam, I must say that you are perceptive and I may have had some small influence on some of the thinking. I should add a comment. Renewables are great, but don't expect too much from them.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

@Pam

Our robins don't flock at all, they are solitary birds. They pair in Spring and then part again; hence my puzzlement at the fact that they have acquired an ability at the same time. They are members of the thrush family and thus have longer legs than tits. This made it difficult for them to master the feeders.

Inge

margfh said...

@Pam

I was referring to -25 wind chill though there have been a few times when the actual temperature has gotten that low for a couple of days and the animals are stressed by that but do manage. That was when I had goats too. They did do surprising well though that's when the combs of chickens can get frostbit. The cats would nestle down between the goats.

I'm going to make a point of getting some houseplants to add humidity next winter. The area we spend the most time in though doesn't get a lot of light so I'll have to keep that in mind when picking them out.

Margaret




LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - Yeah, I miss watching all the interesting critters. And, I think the activity keeps the wildlife, away. My neighbor called this morning, to tell me he saw a coyote near my chicken pen. I waited until the last minute to let my chickens, out. No tracks that I could see, around the run. Before I did that, I rousted Beau out for breakfast ... then the mules showed up along the fence line, and a great ruckus was created. Hopefully, that put the coyote, off.

Yo, Chris - When the internet goes down, here, it's always a deep dark secret as to why. The companies say they don't want to reveal vulnerabilities to terrorists. More likely, they don't want us to know how lame their maintenance of the system is, and how it's all so tenuous. Last year, the whole thing collapsed from south of Portland, to north of Seattle. For about 12 hours. There was some freeway work, last year, and a cable was cut. Centralia was without internet service for quit a few days. Horrors! The McDonalds could only take cash! :-).

That was quit a post over at the ADR, this week. I think my "Ah ha!" moment came, quit a few years ago, when it sunk into my thick head that solar can't really be used for heat ... unless you had an enormous array, and probably more battery banks than I have room for, on the place. I think the best I could hope for, would be to keep the light in the chicken house going and maybe a small energy efficient freezer. Which wouldn't knock a great deal off my electric bill, but would really shore up my resilience.

We hadn't had rain, in about three days, so when I got back from town, I had a small window of opportunity to mow a bit under the apple trees. So, I drug out the brand new mower, that I only used three times, last year and ... you know what's coming ... I couldn't get it started. Naughty words were said. I'm surprised you couldn't hear me, in Australia. :-). So, I was contemplating hauling it off to the repair shop ... I am so dumb about these things. After relaying my sad tail of woe to my friends in Idaho, they called to give me a few tips on getting the thing started. Involving blowing small amounts of gas down the spark plug hole. That ought to be interesting. I'll give it a whirl.

Back to the "can't really heat with solar" ... I have seen some gizmos that are apparently solar heaters you hang in your window. They're rather pricey (to me) and the reviews are very mixed. I may buy just one, next year, and see how it goes. The stove top fans work very well. I tipped the folks off who prune my apple trees, about there, and they sprung for one ... and they just love it. I tried one, and was so happy with it, that I bought a second duel (dueling?) stove top fans. I haven't had to use the electric blower on my propane heater, at all. Which DID impact my electric bill. Lew

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris!

My wind chime is tuned to what the maker called a Nashville scale. What that means in practice is one tube is tuned to middle A with each remaining tube tuned to one of the notes in the A major scale up to the A one octave above, except for D and F sharp which are missing. The tuning is excellent so the sound is very appealing to me.

We've had a little snow this week and are supposed to get more tonight and maybe over the weekend. It'll be very cold for a couple of days (by Saturday the high will be lucky to get to 20F), then warm to early-spring levels by next Tuesday or Wednesday. While it's cold I am trying to get a lot of indoor work done. Next week I expect to be back outside pruning trees.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Absolutely, things are upside down here, no doubt about it. The humid summers would make for a much lower forest fire risk. I'll bet that southern California shares a similar hot and dry summer, but I wonder whether they get the more humid winters. A very humid winter is something to see, everything gets wet and stays wet for months, it is hard to describe, but you can see in the tomato photo the sheer humidity in the background of that photo.

It is easier working on very hot days when the humidity is lower - especially if there is a breeze. Those black bulb days sound truly awful. Your strategy for cooling the house sounds exactly what I do here too. Up north in tropical areas the old style houses here were called Queenslander Houses and they sort of operate using cross flow air. You'll notice I ripped a lot of the designs from them because they work in hot conditions using very little energy.

I don't actually have any air conditioning, just ceiling fans and honestly they work very well and often over summer I'll leave the one in the bedroom switched on overnight.

Oh my, yes of course the pigs would require a fair bit of attention as well as the chickens too. You may be interested to know that in the very hot and dry conditions, the chickens pant, but then so too do the wild birds, but mostly as long as they have access to water they're OK. Does your chicken tractor have a low roof as that may increase the temperature that the chickens are exposed to?

The house plants are a great idea and I never would have thought of that. What do they call those parlour palms, they seem very hardy indoors. Low humidity can give you sinus headaches and some of the 104'F+ days are very low in humidity (<10% on occasion). In Peru around the Nazca lines where it is very unusual if it rains at all, I ended up with a cold and that was the only time I was sick in South America.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Brrr! That works out to be -32'C which is just, well, very cold!!!! Brrr!

How do you manage to keep your chickens warm in such conditions? I'm starting to feel like my lot live in some sort of weird paradise as they've never experienced less than about -1'C (33.8'F)! :-)! They're probably a bit soft, really.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I'm with you as I reckon Kitten Kong was more enjoyable too. Plus the giant kitten on the tower is a truly memorable image! Yes, the celeb was shot at the end, which is mildly appropriate given the misdeeds of said celeb. The episode sort of reminded me about tribbles which also seem to multiply exponentially.

Yeah, they blamed the actions of an employee down here. The funny thing was that I listened to the apology speech over the radio for the local mob and I detected an under current of anger rather than contrition and that is why I was alerted to strange goings on. Anyway, tomorrow is apparently free Internet day down here, so the connection may be completely feral because every man and their dog will be trying to download huge quantities of bandwidth. The whole incident is weird.

I've read that too. As an interesting side note, he grew up at about the same time in Melbourne and had many similar formative experiences. I believe that I would enjoy a chat with him. However, he was also an idiot because he failed to understand that nothing comes for free and he fell for a simple trap that many a person over history has fallen for. And the trap has snared him. The lesson to take from that is beware who you annoy. If I had any advice for him, I would suggest reading Sun Tzu's classic, The Art of War as the answer to his predicament lies within.

Sorry to hear that you were soaked by the hailstorm. Out of curiosity, do you get larger hailstones? The reason I ask is because the hail that lands here is also very small but for some strange reason in much warmer areas at lower altitude, the hailstones can be massive and damage cars and houses and I've wondered about that for a while.

I don't actually know, but birds teach each other, as do many other animals. The wallabies are launching a full on and final assault on the soon to be dismantled strawberry enclosure. Every day, the forces of evil (only joking) seem to have damaged the moat and castle...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Well, yeah, of course it came from that cave. You know I checked the steel today and noticed some very unusual markings... Hehe! Oh yeah, it really does look like an alchemist's look about it. I'm reminded of Jack Vance's classic trilogy on Lyonesse when Shimrod the scion who is an all-round nice guy (and serious mage, but not a high order mage) and has a similar device which tracks the alignment of planets in order to determine whether the malevolent entity Joad has the possibility of destroying the islands of the far West. Have you read that story? Ok, I admit that I'm a fan - but it is very good writing. If you haven't read it, why not? :-)!

Flying ants down here are the new Queens flying around and checking out places for a new colony of wood eating ants. I've never seen an ant colony in a house, but I don't want to either. The ants are useful in that they convert plant cellulose into soil - that is what they do, and they don't feel any different about your house than they would a log of timber on the ground.

Thanks for the info on the Pompeii victims. It makes me sort of uncomfortable because down here the politicians strut into disaster zones after the fact - and honestly you don't have to wait very long for one to show up - and they announce: "We will rebuild" which I've always understood to be a comforting mantra. Maybe the commemorative marble plaque from Emperor Titus says: "We will rebuild"? Dunno, it's as good a message as any. The wine warehouse would have been a complete disappointment for the victims too. You'd hope they cracked out the best of the best that day?

I wonder how they would have known that the son-in-law would have taken poison before the end? I recall seeing the exhibit when the plaster casts travelled to the National Gallery down here and the subject has been always fascinating. I recall that the archaeologists came across the voids in the ground and filled them up with plaster to find out what they actually were. You know, time and again on really serious wild fire events down here, people shelter in their bathrooms - which usually only have one door in and out of and that is usually where they are found. It is a bit macabre but that is how people think and act.

Yum! Enjoy those Anzac biscuits - although I keep my lot in a cupboard. Unfortunately, I've completely run out of biscuits and have baked a banana cake tonight instead. Yum! The best bananas for cake are always the most horrid looking.

Nice work with the rocks, and oh yeah some of those synthetic materials can hang together long after the factories have been shut down. I once tried using a synthetic carpet to cover an area I wanted to clear and it ended up being really tough.

Excellent work with the apple pruning’s too. I'd be very interested to read about what the apple pruners do this year? They're a complete mystery to me. The wallabies took a massive branch of one of the Jonathon apple trees last night... Wallabies, they know pruning...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

That is sound practice as I also reckon that if the deep litter mulch becomes too damp, the mites can live in there. I've read that the mites live in timber and you may be interested to know that I haven't seen any scaly leg mites in the new chicken enclosure.

Do your turkeys ever suffer from leg mites?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thank you. Renewables are great, they just don't provide the sort of electrical energy that people are used to. It is really hard for me to get across the idea to people that the sun doesn't shine at night, or during fog, or heavy rain, or cloudy weather and that over winter it is very low in the sky. Andy you may also be surprised to know that Virginia (after a Google search) shows up as 37.5'N latitude and I'm 37.5'S latitude and I can only count on an average of two hours of peak solar conditions down here for three weeks either side of the winter solstice. I'm starting to sound like I'm ranting... Hehe! Well it is true.

Funny cat pictures are lovely and should be enjoyed as much as our feline friends are enjoying themselves! ;-)!

Oh that's not good at all. The sulphur crested cockatoos down here - which can live a remarkably long lifespan - perform the same function on timber windows, posts and doors. They're sharpening their beaks apparently... It is funny how everything is consumed by something else on this planet isn't it? Even the rocks break down over time.

Ha! I feel for him, but Julian is caught in a web of his own making. It sort of makes you wonder what he dreams of in the small hours of the night? There is an old proverb which states: The road to hell is paved with good intentions

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Really? Wow. I guess that is a fair thing to say, but still. My gut feeling here although it is pure speculation was that it was a cyber attack and/or perhaps some sort of extortion or perhaps even a disgruntled employee. As I mentioned above the spokesperson sounded to me far more angry than apologetic. Who knows, but a completely open Internet seems like a rubbish idea to me, but then here we all are...

I shouldn't laugh, but the story about Centralia and the unfortunate problems with the Maccas - is actually funny. It was less than a day here, but apparently across the entire continent, and people were screaming. The funny thing was though that it took out smart phones for some reason, but my dumb phone worked perfectly, so who knows what was going on.

Spot on! Elephant stamp! Hehe! Yeah, I tried that experiment here, and you know what was really totally funny about it? More warm air was generated by simply opening the windows, because I couldn't use the electric heater unless it was sunny enough, and by then it was warmer outside the house... It does sound good in theory though. The story ended happily because I donated the electric heater to the very nice people at the local tip shop and they seemed most happy about that. Cooling uses far less electrical energy than heating and those nifty super efficient thermo-electric devices are the ants pants for refrigerators. They're beyond good.

Why yes, my ears were burning and I was wondering why that was the case. Fortunately now all is explained. ;-)! Ha! Small engines are a law unto themselves. As a suggestion: Did you have the choke fully open? And secondly when the carburettor is fully and seriously flooded, turn the choke off, hold the throttle mostly or fully opened and then try and start it more than a few times. Beware the black smoke of unburnt fuel in the process when it eventually starts. Did you end up getting the mower started?

Solar hot water is the best way to heat with the energy from the sun - nothing even else comes close. Not sure what the windows gizmos are but I'm smelling snake oil... Yeah, those solar fans are I believe a thermo-electric device and they are very good indeed. I mucked around a bit with thermo-electric devices many years ago and ended up melting more than a few. Keeping one side hot whilst the other is cold is very difficult down here...

No worries! Hehe!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Ah, Nashville. Would that be a country scale? :-)! Hehe! Well made metal artwork is a real pleasure and a lifelong gift.

Enjoy your snow and I do hope that you have a decent fall. Brr, that is very cold! I won't tell you that it is now at almost 8pm, 25'C (77'F) outside and all of the doors and windows are open to the cooler evening air.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Oh forgot to mention. I did like the imagery of the dueling fans! :-)! Very amusing. I sometimes imagine sitting on the veranda here with a banjo (and the obligatory shot gun of course) playing the song dueling banjos - it is a great bit of music, despite the imagery! It should get the neighbours talking for sure.

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

We have ceiling fans in most rooms and use them a lot. If it wasn't for the high humidity we could easily do with AC. It's not something we really need but all the family members who have lived here from time to time seem to need it. Of course a house isn't considered "salable" without it.

I've been researching ways to add humidity naturally and house plants were one of the suggestions. I'm not familiar with parlor palms -something to look up.

It's really quite amazing how the animals acclimate to the cold weather. I do have a good manure pack and keep their door to the outside pen closed when the cold is really severe. I have had some frostbitten combs but they seem to repair themselves over time. As long as they are out of the wind they seem to do OK but do eat a lot more. I give them extra sunflower seed when its very cold. Our three barn cats do fine as well. They either huddle up together and often when I come out in the morning with their morning treat of wet cat food they emerge from under the pallets in place for hay and straw. When I teach classes about raising chickens I always advice against heat lamps as they really are a fire hazard. Putting up a heat lamp is usually the first inclination of novice livestock owners.

We raise the hybrid turkeys so they are only with us for about 4 months so no scaly legs mites. We did raise some Heritage turkeys one year. They were great escape artists and difficult to get in at night as they wanted to roost in high places. They also thought the best place to hang out and leave their droppings was on our front porch.

Of course I thought of you when I read the ADR this week. I've certainly learned a lot reading about your experiences. Wish you could talk to some of my friends. The only renewable we've seriously considered is wind as we live in the midst of farm fields and have many windy days.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Nope, haven't read the Lyonesse trilogy. My aversion to fantasy. Too many long names with too many consonants. :-)
I was a bit curious about the whole "Game of Thrones", thing. But when I discovered it involved "7 royal families" ... well. Seven mobs to keep track of? And, all with names with too many consonants, I'm sure. :-)

Just didling around on the Net, I discovered that that plaque came from Sorrento. It was a town that sat on a headland that stuck out into the Gulf of Naples, far enough, that it missed the heaviest ash fall. Some towns were rebuilt. But I suppose, Pompeii wasn't, as the harbor disappeared and I suppose the river was heavily silted. The son-in-law was discovered with a small glass bottle clutched in his skeletal hand, the remaining contents of which proved to be poison. Don't know what kind.

Advice in tornado alley is, if you can't get below ground, to shelter in your tub, with a mattress pulled over you. Lots of people have survived tornados, that way. I've seen pictures where a house is almost completely destroyed, except for the bog. They're often the most interior of rooms, and, I suppose, the plumbing helps hold them in place.

Well, this will be the 3d year for the apple pruners. The trees were so neglected, that they couldn't get them in shape, all at one whack. Too much damage. The last two years have been about whacking out some of the height. They were getting pretty close to the electrical wires. Ultimately, you want a not too tall tree, in a "vase" form, to let the sunlight into the interior. After this year, I may be able to stay on top of them, myself. They'll be low enough that I can reach. The lower hight also helps with the spraying. Given our water pressure, I ended up standing on top of a ladder ... and, I still couldn't reach the highest branches. The new well has better pressure, which will help.

When the internet goes down, here, it always seems to be a cut cable, due to construction.

Haven't tackled the mower, yet. It was feral, yesterday, and if I tinker with it, I want to be out of the shed, and in the open. Better light, and if I'm going to be slopping around gas ...

The stove top fans I have are not thermo electric. The blades are angled in such a way that it takes advantage of the rising hot air from the stove. As with so many other things, involving alternative energy, you have to be a bit patient. It takes about 20 minutes for the stove to heat up enough to get the blades turning. But, after the stove shuts off, they keep spinning for a good long while longer than that.

Well, just to complete the picture, of the dueling banjos on your veranda, you'll have to find a small albino child with bad teeth. Maybe you can rent one, from somewhere. :-) Lew

PS: Don't laugh. Back in the 50s, you could rent a beatnik. In the 60s, it was rent a hippy. You know. To dress up our swank dinner party! :-).

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Margaret:

We have ceiling fans in every room except the bathrooms and the dining room (why did I have to have an itty bitty chandelier . . ?). They help immensely. We are really humid here in the summer, too and eventually we turn on our one window unit air conditioner upstairs.The air flows down the stairway and cools the downstairs very well; this is usually in July and August. Log homes don't have central heating or air conditioning - no place to put ductwork.

When we had chickens, we didn't use a heat lamp for them in the winter; we brought them (8) into the basement into a makeshift pen. The cats and dogs loved that. So did the chickens. The chickens were allowed to hop up the basement stairs sometimes to visit the main living quarters.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lewis:

Yeah, Lew, I knew what was coming . . . I'm sorrier than I can say . . .

I couldn't even fit a mattress into either of our bathrooms. Maybe sofa cushions would work?

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

I hear you and the same is true here too. Despite having huge amounts of insulation in the walls, ceiling, roof and floors which means the house rarely gets too hot or too cold, people would expect an AC system if I was to sell it. Fortunately I'm not thinking of selling, but they do actually sell 24V DC air conditioning systems - I believe they are adapted from truck cargo cooling systems. Go figure.

Peoples expectations about houses are a tough nut to crack. I once failed to sell a house at auction and one neighbour said to me straight afterwards that I should just add an on-suite bathroom and surely it would sell. I'm usually very gentlemanly in my interactions but I told them to F off. The house in question was a very narrow house in a terrace - I love old houses - and that suggestion would have required demolishing half the house and then rebuilding it from scratch. The suggestion was so over the top and unrealistic and delivered in a moment of sheer distress. It was like kicking a dog. Not good. Dogs rarely deserve that.

Down here people regularly grow indoors an unfortunately named plant: The bachelor palm. I can attest that these palms are very hardy indoor plants, but ferns and other such species would be good. Me, I'd grow sprouts to eat, but that is me, because they serve multiple functions. Or Lewis's tea camellia for example.

That sounds like good practice for cold weather - to keep the wind out of the enclosure. The chickens here don't know what cold weather really is. I've read that about the combs and seen a fight damaged comb repair itself. I'm not even sure what a heat lamp is, but I hear you about fire risk. Every bit of technology has benefits as well as costs - that's life. Your barn cats sound as if they are in moggy heaven enjoying a strawbale castle! :-)!

The chickens here have sort of gone off the lay as they regrow their feathers for the winter. I'm rapidly depleting my stocks of eggs and am averaging about 2 to 3 eggs per day now, which isn't much.

Ha! Those heritage turkeys are clearly smarter than the hybrids! Hehe! They sound an awful lot like peacocks which can be fascinating along those lines too. I like peacocks, but I reckon the dogs and/or foxes would sort them out pretty quickly so it is probably a bad idea.

Wind is good and is great for pumping water. Down here they used to sell wind driven pumps that pulled water up from the depths. They are much better than wind turbines. I installed a 600W wind turbine once and it was a failure. Total failure. Electricity from wind is only viable when it physically pushes you back constantly, like the sort you feel on a coastline or mountain top. Any wind that is gusty won't generate electricity because the turbines have to keep spinning up and then slowing down and the voltage is too variable to be useful. You can hear when a wind turbine is generating power, but here collecting the methane produced by a family of rats and burning it would have generated more electricity than a wind turbine. It is not windy enough - which is a good thing.

Cheers

Chris

Fay said...

I don't need AC. My farm is situated on 32 acres on the Granite Belt of southern Queensland which has a cool mountain climate. There was snow here in July, but we usually only get severe frosts. My house is timber and well insulated. We warm it with wood burning combustion stoves in the winter and cool it with fans in the summer. It has also been designed to benefit from cool south-easterly and easterly breezes in the summer afternoons and is sheltered from the westerly winds in the winter. Due to elevation it is the only temperate climate in Queensland and we seldom experience much humidity. When I undertook the Geoff Lawton permaculture course I realized that the Granite Belt has an 'edge' climate. Tropics to the north, dry inland to the west and close enough to the coast to benefit from cool eastern breezes. This makes for an extremely variable, sometimes called vindictive, climate.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Fair enough. My mind tends to skip over those little details and they only become lodged as part of the story if they're repeated enough to show some solid characterisation. I'll have to take your word for the consonants, but I hear you! :-)! Too funny.

I've read the Game of Thrones books but not seen the show, because, well really a bit gets lost in translation and the show focuses - from what I've heard - on the more sensationalist aspects of the story. And each book is chock full of tiny print and countless pages (well that is an exaggeration, they usually hover around the 1,000 mark more or less), so something had to get cut out of the show. I wonder if anyone has dared write to George R R Martin to complain that "man, your books are too long dude". Hehe! He has this habit of killing of central characters too which I find a bit annoying because I'm left wondering how he is possibly going to tie the whole massive story together. Perhaps that haunts him in the dark of night too? And then the ecology just doesn't ring true to me as it is one massive extreme and those sorts of systems rarely breed complex diversity, well there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of middle ground anyway. Oh, I'm ranting. Tell you what though, my poor brain doesn't recall any of the details of that massive story...

On a very strange and unrelated side note, I read in the newspaper this morning that apparently some baby prams are now sold with complex electrics. It sounded like a joke to me, but no, the editor looked it up and they have dashboards, lights, and are even self collapsing too. Wow, who would have thought of that? Too weird, but the article suggested that they were the next big thing and what do I know about that sort of thing anyway?

Thanks for looking that up. It is amazing to think that the plaque had survived unscathed out in the elements for such a long period of time. It makes you wonder whether all of the family had taken a dose of the poison, but the air would have become toxic too before very long anyway. I have a sort of morbid fascination of those sorts of things because I live in an area subject to periodic natural disasters so it is sort of hard to ignore. Although having written that studies consistently show that one third of the population is oblivious to the risk, the other third are aware and the final third are prepared for the risk. Which reminds me, I should put the bushfire shutters up this afternoon - it is a risky day today here.

That sounds like sound advice. The walls in the bathroom are often braced better as they include stiffer materials to hold tiles etc. In a bushfire, that is a disaster of a room because there is only one door in and out and if you're trapped, you're trapped.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

That sounds about right. Unfortunately pruning is complex for me because I enjoy the helpful assistance of the wallabies and they are all too happy to prune whatever they think is best. Hey, if you've got 5 minutes, there is a beautiful little video from Gardening Australia on pruning. It is done by a member of the rare fruit society for South Australia and it is set on a rural property with a beautiful old stone cottage in the background. They use a lot of stone in their buildings there (because they don't have as much timber as here) and that is the part of the world that Angus lives: Fact Sheet: A Formative Prune. Of course those trees are a bit younger than yours...

Fair enough, sometimes down here one of the towers undergoes maintenance and the connection goes back to the old days speed. It's OK.

Nice use of the word feral, proper context and everything too. ;-)! Of course feral weather is very unpleasant to experience firsthand. It is hot and windy here today and I'm considering topping up the main house tanks from the reserve tank...

They're a great device and I may look into obtaining one for this winter.

Oh no! That is soooo politically incorrect. :-)! It was a great scene from that movie, wasn't the kid on the bridge? I read the book and my take on the world is not to annoy the locals as they know the area better than you ever will and don't treat them like idiots, they may be more cunning and ruthless than yourself. ;-)!

Did the rain let up? It is meant to rain here this week but looking outside you'd never know it. I have to go and rescue Scritchy as she seems to have cooked her head in the sun. She enjoys it so much, but seems a bit woozy afterwards...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Fay,

Ah, yes of course, I understand. Yeah, I read about that July snowfall and saw the pictures, it looked amazing. Isn't that interesting about the frosts, I wouldn't have considered that. Did you know that it is largely frost free here. Doesn't that sound counter intuitive, but I'm managing to grow babaco, tea camellia and coffee outside and a sheltered spot in the garden.

Exactly, the edges are where the most interesting things can take place. That means you can grow all sorts of different plants from many different climate zones. Out of interest, do you get enough chilling hours for much of the sort of fruit we grow down here?

Cheers

Chris

Fay said...

Although this is a temperate climate it is different to other temperate climates around the world. It has sandy, decomposed granite soils. It has dry winters, hence the frosts. We get more frosts here than in Victoria, which has wet winters and therefore a cloud cover. I've been reading your posts for 2 years and noting the differences.

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Rain, rain and more rain; I am sick of it. Our growing season is being shortened as we can't prepare anything. I increase the swamp if I even try to walk the short distance to a greenhouse. I take different routes through the woods in order to keep off the paths which are turning into muddy rivers.

I have never seen large hailstones but they do appear in the UK.

A daffodil is in bloom.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Fay,

Thanks for the explanation. Yes of course, the winters here are very humid and mild - even in drought years. The winds come up from the south west and originate in the Southern Ocean and dominate the winters. Thank you for reading the blog for the past two years too! :-)! It's been fun hasn't it?

The constant cloud cover during winter is one of the problems with the solar power system too. In Melbourne they maybe get a little less than 2 hours of peak sunlight on average per day, but up here in the mountains it is substantially less.

In QLD my understanding is that you have more daylight hours over winter, but shorter days than us during summer, but in Tasmania I noticed that the twilight during winter was even more pronounced than here. Frost is a real plant killer.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I'm sorry to hear that, I would take some of that rain if it eased your burden a bit? Yes, compaction is a real problem under those conditions. You squash the air out from all of the little spaces in the soil and then... the soil holds water above ground and there is a possibility that septic bacteria can begin to dominate the soils because they can exist without oxygen. That happened in my old chicken run during one long winter and you could smell that the soil just didn't smell right. It does eventually correct itself, but you are very wise to take different paths through the forest.

You are very lucky not to see those large hailstones. Someone I know had their car written off as the damage was that severe. The hailstones were like small cricket balls or large golf balls. You certainly wouldn't want to be hit by one. Interestingly, they are a sign that the climate has shifted southwards (remember we are upside down - so that translates to northwards for you), no doubts about it. I'm hoping that the altitude here provides me with a lot of buffer as the photovoltaic solar panels and solar hot water system panels have a lot of glass.

Cheers

Chris

Fay said...

Yes frosts are a hazard. This particular district has recorded frost in every month of the year, but in 23 years I have experienced an early frost on 30th March and a late frost on 18th November. Usually though we get frosts about the end of April and not after the end of September. This past spring we got a cutting frost the third week of September after a warm spell and I lost all my plums and mulberries. My farm is at the bottom of a valley and frost travels down a slope, so it is not unusual to get -5C frosts. The worst I've known was -10C. However, we have sunny blue sky days and usually a big temperature rise to 15 to 20C. So between 10.00am and 4.00pm the day can be quite pleasant, if there is no westerly wind. These blow up from the southern ocean, across the dry, cold inland before turning east over Queensland. We call them lazy winds as they won't go around you, but cut through you. In the winter the sun rises at 7.00am and sets at 5.00pm. In mid-summer we have 4 hours more of daylight with the sun rising at 5.00am and setting at 7.00pm. I have enough sunlight to use a solar pump on a dam for irrigating my garden. You grow many of the same plants as I do, but I started establishing this garden 23 years ago.
Fay

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Thank you so very much for your wind turbine anecdote. It is extremely valuable. I had sort of been pining for one as we seem to have so much more wind than we used to, but it is quite intermittent and I had serious doubts as to whether it might be feasible here. I doubt no more! It is not meant to be (I would probably have had to build it myself anyway . . .)!

We once had a red-headed cat who used to cook his head in the sun like Scritchy. I had to put sunblock on his ears.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@Inge:

I think that I am even sorrier for your too-much rain than Lew's lawnmower.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Fay - Ohhh! I like the phrase "vindictive climate." It's right up there with "feral." :-). I have a few terms I use here, for some of the weather we get. But, this being a family friendly blog ... and mixed company. I'll keep them between me and the chickens.

@ Inge - My daffodils are in bud, but not in bloom, yet. Any day now ... I know exactly what you mean about the wet paths. Why I've been hauling buckets of rocks over, from the abandoned farm. From the lawn, there's a kind of "Y". The left side goes to the shed with the feed, the right to the chicken yard gate. Inside the gate, to the chicken house, was also very boggy. The worst spots are filled in now, but I've got to watch my footing, a bit. Inside the chicken pen (between the gate and the chicken house) is a little slope. So, I put down 5 or 6 inch logs, from my apple tree. On the downslope side. Held in place with larger rocks.

On the "Y" paths, I've edged them with large rocks, and filled in the middle with the smaller stuff. It's beginning to look pretty nice, I think. I've got to shake myself, a few times. It all gets very hypnotic, moving the rocks around and arranging them. But, a nice break from the heavy lifting and hauling :-).

Yo, Chris - A computerized baby pram? Well, I could see that coming. For the past few years, it seems there's a "pram race" among parents. I referred to them as "Winnebago Prams." Some of them couldn't even get through the door of my store. On a side note, it seems as if some people are losing the ability to navigate a door that isn't automatic. Sad.

Sometimes, when buying some simple tool, like a hammer or peeler, I make the small (very small) joke with the clerk, "Is this the new improved model, with the computer chip?" Either they don't get it, or choose to ignore me. Sigh. I'm becoming one of those old guys who make dumb jokes. :-).

I found out just enough about "Deliverance" (book and movie) that I knew it wasn't my cup of tea. Right up there with the "Alien" series. I read somewhere where one of the actors from "Deliverance" had nightmares, for years afterwards. Stupidity on one side, cruelty on the other. I'm just an old softy, I guess. Sometimes, when watching a DVD, if things get really heavy ... lots of yelling and bashing people about, I've just got to fast forward, through it.

Started watching the final season of "Downton Abbey", last night. Savoring it an episode a night. I see "Boy Scouts and Zombies" is in transit. Ought to be waiting for me next Wednesday, when I go to town. Ought to plan a good junk food binge, to go along with it :-). Hawaiian pizza? :-) Lew

Fay said...

Can any of the American readers give me advice please about how to use my elderberries? Twenty years ago I planted 10 golden leafed Sambucus Canadensis as an ornamental hedge and this summer season they have produced a huge crop of fruit. I wondered about using the fruit for juice but was told that the American elderberry contained cyanide if used in the raw state. I cooked some and strained the juice to make a jelly. While the jelly is delicious I would prefer not to eat so much sugar. Google tells me that Elderberries contain vitamin C, proanthocyanadin flavonoids and antiviral proteins. Elderberry syrup, extract or glycerite is very useful for treating colds, influenza and other viral respiratory disorders. The flavonoids help to strengthen capillary integrity especially in the eyes and reduce histamine production by the sinus mast cells. This reduces allergic symptoms and sinus irritation. What I want to know is it safe to drink fresh juice?

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Fay,

Thanks for the details on your climate. Down here we tend to think of Queensland as either tropical or arid depending on which side of the Great Divide you are on, but of course there are huge differences and it is great that you can grow so many of the cool temperate plants grown down here. Honestly, I'd be lost without my apples, olives and citrus and a lot of the tropical fruits are nice, but some are quite bland tasting to me, clearly I'm used to the higher levels of fructose. I once enjoyed a trip to tropical fruit world which was a farm up near the border.

Ahh, near the summer solstice, the sun is still casting a little bit of light in the sky until it gets dark by about 10pm. Mind you the chickens usually head off to bed by a bit after 9pm at that time. The days are starting to get shorter here again, and they're now in bed by about 8.40pm.

Oooo! 23 years would show some excellent growth in your garden.

As a side note, I've had a lot of elderberries this year too - far more than usual - and have been leaving them for the blue wrens who seem to enjoy them. I've been consuming them raw too, so hopefully they're not too toxic?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

My pleasure. The wind turbine here looked like it was the biz, but the gusty conditions meant that it was a waste of time and money. I've since reused all of the steel and someone bought the turbine second hand in South Australia.

I reckon in these sorts of gusty conditions the wind could be used to pump water though. Also, I have been wondering about how a very small wind turbine would work. By small I mean 100W or 200W maximum. I just don't know, but certainly the bigger turbine was a waste.

Actually constructing your own wind turbine is not that difficult a process and is well worth the time and effort.

Aren't you nice. I had a white cat when I was a teenager and she used to like cooking her head too. Unfortunately, the ears developed skin cancer and the vet lopped them off and she ended up looking like a baby harp seal. She was a very nice cat, but knew every trick under the sun. Over winter she used to sleep on top of the hot water service, and sometimes it used to get so hot that the fur on her tummy would be slightly scorched. Did your cat attempt to remove the sun screen?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Hey, we know how to do St Valentines day celebrations down here. ;-)! The poor editor was stung by a bee yesterday on the lip in a foolhardy attempt to get a better photo for the blog. Unfortunately, the editor, like I also, had a localised reaction to the venom and parts of her face swelled up. Bee stings are funny things because they don't hurt, but the swelling takes a lot of the enjoyment out of a day. Such is life when you invite European honey bees into your life and sometimes the little blighters get a bit angry when you try and give them a helping hand. Aren't they naughty? Anyway, we put away more firewood for the winter today, so it is nice to see the winter stores filling up. I was stung on my face two years ago a few hours before an open garden and people were very polite about the fact the fact that I looked like a total puffer fish! ;-)!

Really? I've seen people struggling with prams through doorways in cafes in inner Melbourne too. It makes you wonder what they were thinking in the first place. Rethink your first purchase is my motto. And then friends tell me that there is status to be gained in the various brands and some of them have distinctive logos to display for all the world to see just how much they forked out for what is actually quite a simple tool. It is all very strange and honestly I'd ignore all of it except that occasionally it intrudes upon my quiet existence - like it did in your shop.

Are you kidding me? Very few doors are automatic down here. Maybe in shopping malls and large corporate buildings, but everywhere else is more or less manual. Do please tell, don't hold back. ;-)!

Ha! I thought that it was funny. That sort of thing depends on your understanding and perceptions of the world and the clerk may have took you seriously - or not had a sense of the absurd / humour. I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

Ok, I hear you. Scary movies are not for me either – try Wolfe Creek if you’re up for it. Honestly, the recent Big Short film scared me. The editor enjoys those things more than I because I suspect there is some sort of cultural history with those sorts of movies as a teenager. What do I know, anyway? Maybe we're more sensitive to the realities of the world? Who knows? I once began watching the acclaimed series "Breaking Bad" and the story disturbed me so much that I found that my sleep was affected and I usually sleep very well and deeply. It was a story about an industrial chemist who found that it was more lucrative to produce meth than work as a school teacher. The sheer escalation in the story overloaded my senses and every decision that the characters made was the exact opposite of what I would have done. It really stressed me out, so I stopped watching it and that was a relief. But the series is acclaimed by the critics and for why I don't know.

As to Alien, my older sisters ditched me in the cinema to sit through that horrific story as a very young child and it gave me nightmares for weeks afterward. It is interesting that you mention the film Alien because it will get a mention in the next blog...

Enjoy your Downton Abbey! I read today that the Queen herself had requested a renovation on Buckingham Palace and the quote came in at $306m. That quote may stretch even the deepest of pockets...

Oh definitely, it's pizza time!!!! And I eagerly await your review. It does sound like a rather strange premise for a zombie film...

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Just a quick comment on bee stings. I am surprised! Are you sure that these stings are from the European honey bee? I have had a few stings in my time and they were extremely painful, but little swelling. Always in the foot due to treading on one when going barefoot in the summer.

Inge

Damo said...

In completely unrelated news, I finished another Jack Vance series today, the Durdane trilogy (The Faceless Man, The Brave Free Men, The Asutra). What an amazing story teller! I mean, I know they are kinda pulpy, but they have such wit and quite a strong philosophic undertone. Any way, they are great stuff.

Another commenter mentioned their dislike of fantasy due to strange place/character names. I must admit this normally bothers me a little (although after a few chapters you figure it out sub-consciously), however in most Vance novels the new names are often a clever play on existing words, or they evoke the tone/character required. Quite a feat for a made-up word I reckon.

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Thanks for the info about wind turbines. The winds we get here are usually gusty. Pumping water would be good though as we have our own well. A few years ago we had a big storm and were without electricity for over 3 days. We did have a generator but it wasn't wired to run our well pump. Water was the biggest issue as it was in the middle of the summer and we had the pigs. We have an automatic waterer set up for them but of course that was a no go. We had to go to a neighbor who was able to pump water and haul it more for the animals than for us. We bit the bullet and got a bigger generator and had it wired so we could run the well pump, furnace, sump pump and the fridge. Also had outlets for other uses as well. Of course we have to have gas for it so we do keep the gas cans full. Of course in the event of a much longer outage the gas would become an issue.

Yesterday only got to 10 degrees F but it was sunny and very little wind. When I went out late morning to see if the chickens would go out about half of them ran out as soon as I opened the door.

Margaret

margfh said...

@Lew

I have really enjoyed Downton Abbey. Have you seen Upstairs Downstairs. I think that was back in the 70s. Same story line and I actually think it's the better of the two.

Margaret

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

No, Peefuss (shades of Poopy!) did not try to remove his sunscreen. He was eternally lazy. Also a great lover of warmth! He liked to sleep in the fireplace when the fire was (mostly) out. He lived longer than all our other cats, so there may be something to being lazy, at least if one is a cat. Your earless white cat is a scream!

Please give the Editor my condolences over her mishap with the bee. Especially unfortunate on Valentine's Day! Gosh, I'm sorry I missed Puffer Fish Chris . . .

How about all those children, perfectly able to walk on their own, riding in carts in the stores, sometimes while the parent talks on a cellphone?

We do have a lot of automatic doors. It's really funny (laughing at self) when one of those doors does not open automatically, and you are used to it doing so, and so you run smack into it! Hee hee!

Wow! I have always heard that elderberries are quite toxic!

I get scared silly just watching old Sherlock Holmes movies.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Fay:

I was going to ask YOU what to do with elderberries. Ours are quite young and haven't produced much yet. I mentioned to Chris that I have always heard never to eat them raw. I don't particularly want to make wine from them, and I'm with you on not eating all that sugary jelly. I sure do hate to waste them, though the birds do like them.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

I love your tool joke. I would have been the one in line laughing at it!

I like your rocks and logs endeavor. I don't see how it could go wrong - as long as your back is holding up!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@Inge:

My husband swells up whenever stung by bees, or wasps. I guess some people are just more sensitive to them. I go barefoot all summer and inevitably step on stinging things. If it really bothers me I tape a small slice of raw onion on it for an hour or 2, then take that off and tape crushed plantain (plantago major) leaves on it for as long as they'll stay on. Been doing it for 25 years. Works like a charm.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Fay - Now, I don't speak from experience, but I think you could dry the elderberries an use them in baked goods? Or, I think you can make a nice wine, out of them. Maybe?

Yo, Chris - Well, Valentie's Day always makes me feel a bit ... Charlie Brown-ish. Oh, not in a serious way. But, I tend to ignore the whole thing .... except for the chocolate! :-)

Oh, the poor editor! Poor you, when you were stung. I was stung by a bee when I was 5 or so. Like Inge, running about barefoot. Since then, I've been lucky. Or, careful. Knock on wood, I haven't been stung, living out here. I expect it, any time. I've been too lucky. Maybe that it's that I eat a lot of garlic ... or, that I tend to be very calm and slow moving around bees and hornets. I don't know. I don't think virtue has anything to do with it :-).

Yeah, I'd heard about "Breaking Bad." And, knew the premise of the story. But, it just didn't grab me enough to give it a whirl. Don't know why the zombie movies, with their buckets of blood and flying body parts don't bother me. Probably, because on some level, I know it's just fiction. Heated squabbling between husbands and wives or parents and children ... I'll likely to just fast forward through. Too many child hood bad memories, I guess.

Well, I've seen some pictures of the private quarters at Buckingham Palace, and it could use a bit of a spruce up :-). It all just looked so "50s dull", to me. Last night's episode of Downton Abbey had the family opening up the house to the public as a fund raiser for the local hospital. They'd never done that before. And, couldn't quit figure out why anyone would even be interested in seeing the inside of the place. The family was really quit clueless. Leading tours and wouldn't even know who some of the people in the portraits were. There's one very funny scene where a young lad wanders away from the tour and stumbles on the Lord of the Manor, who's in bed recovering from a rather dramatic ulcer rupture. The young lad wants to know why, with all their money, they don't live somewhere more "cozy." :-). The butler wants to shake out the young man's pockets, but the Lord observes that he's "more a philosopher, than a thief."

The grandest house I've ever been in was the Huntington Museum in S. California. The main house was all velvet ropes and plastic runners, to keep you on the path. I asked the tour guide if old Mr. Huntington (railroad baron) ever came down stairs in the middle of the night, and just touched things. I forget what the response was. Probably something non committal and tepid. There was a separate building for the library (with Shakespeare first folios) and another building for the art gallery. That's where Gainsbourg's "Blue Boy" and "Pinkey" live. And, his "Mrs. Siddons as the Tragic Muse." :-).

Picked up a bit of tat, the other day. A nicely framed, colored engraving of Dryburgh Abbey. Don't know why it "spoke" to me, but it did. It's up in Scotland. So, to the research. After a lot of dinking around on the internet, and luck, I discovered it's a plate out of a book called "Scotia Depicta", published in 1804. Probably worth about the $65 I paid for it. "Just cause it's old, doesn't mean it's valuable." Sir Walter Scott is buried in the Abbey, which I found out, along the way.

Still raining. Was supposed to clear off, early in the week. No such luck. Forecast changed. Rain, rain and more rain. Quit vindictive weather :-). Flood watches are up. Lew

rabidlittlehippy said...

Hi Chris, Yes, I've been to Blackwood, but not for ages. It's a lovely nursery and although it's in the middle of nowhere, it's almost perfectly half way between a friends' house and our place. :) A nice meet up for a coffee we fully intend to do one of these days.
The weather has been nearly spot on perfect this last week or two, with pleasant temperatures and even a little rain.