Monday, 7 March 2016

Endless Summer



Friday was feral hot. In Melbourne the maximum temperature reached 33’C (91.4’F) in the shade. I woke up to the smell of dust in the air. Indeed, the entire house smelled of dust. That dust was the top soils blowing away with the wind from some unknown source far from here. And in some cosmic joke the maximum temperature here on the same day – in these supposedly cool mountains - reached 36’C (96.8’F) by late afternoon before rapidly cooling down again for the evening.

There was talk that day of plans to continue filling the firewood shed with cut and split timber. Nature has done a great job of drying the firewood this year, so it does seem a bit of waste not to store it away for the winter! The realities of the weather intervened and those plans were shelved, and so the editor and I headed off the mountain range to undertake a whole series of errands that are required to be completed in order to keep the smooth sailing ship that is Fernglade Farm afloat! At this point I do feel it necessary to disclose that one of those errands did involve ice coffees which are an important part of adaption to hot weather.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t all fun though as one of the errands involved picking up replacement glass – which had been on order - for the glass window in the wood fire box. The bloke in the local glass shop made the laconic observation to me that: “it was a strange day to be repairing a wood heater”. No doubt that he is correct in that observation.

To get an idea about just how strange the autumn weather has been I ripped a few statistics off my favourite Internet local weather site: Weatherzone Melbourne

March Minimum Temperature
Lowest This Month 16.5°C (61.7’F) 4th
Lowest On Record 2.8°C (37.0’F) 17th 1884
Average This Month 17.9°C (64.2’F) which is +4.7°C over average (+8.5’F)
Long-term Average 13.2°C (55.7’F)  

March Maximum Temperature
Highest This Month 34.7°C (94.5’F) 2nd
Highest On Record 41.7°C (107.0’F) 11th 1940
Average This Month 28.0°C (82.4’F) which is +4.1°C over average (+7.4’F)
Long-term Average 23.9°C (75.0’F)

And it is worth noting for those that are numerically inclined, that for the next week not one single day is predicted to be below the long term average temperature.

Later that day it was a wise option to work in the shade that day and so I did. Long term readers will recall that about a year ago I undertook repairs to the wood heater. Most of the repairs have worked well, however some new items of maintenance were required before the wood heater could be used this winter. I mean, it may actually cool down here? Maybe?
The combustion chamber of the wood heater received a bit of maintenance this week
Observant readers will note that in the photo above there has been an application of some black goo which is a very high temperature putty. That putty was used to replace the high temperature cement that I used last year which had since collapsed in some sections. I’m trialling the putty to see which material has the longest life in such a harsh environment. You can also see that the fire bricks on the left hand side are only a year old and looking quite good, whilst the more crumbly fire bricks on the right hand side are about six years old now and will probably have to be replaced next year along with the steel that holds them in place which is also showing quite a bit of damage.

The glass in the door to the fire box had also cracked and a small section was in danger of falling out. In addition to that damage the fibreglass rope which seals the door and stops exhaust gases from escaping into the living room had broken and was in need of repair. Stopping exhaust gases from a firebox from leaking into a living room is probably a good thing!
The door to the combustion chamber of the fire box was showing considerable damage to the glass and fibreglass door seals
Despite the hot day – and only a single large ice coffee to fuel me – I commenced repairs to the door to the firebox. All of the fibreglass ropes were replaced. At this point I should confess that the damage to the fibreglass ropes was my fault because on my previous repair, I had not realised that a very high temperature glue was required to hold the fibreglass ropes into place in the steel channels. Many things are obvious from hindsight!
The author undertaking repairs to the door of the wood heater - having only had a single ice coffee!
The steel that holds the glass against the door had shown considerable damage in just one year and that was part of the reason why the glass actually cracked. Some people may believe that glass is a very cheap product, but this high temperature glass is very expensive at almost $1,000 per square metre (10.7 sq ft)! You can tell that you are being supplied with the correct glass because if you look down any side of that glass it will show a pink hue rather than a green hue.

Regular readers will know by now that I’m as tight as when it comes to unwanted and unnecessary expenditure and I was really annoyed by how quickly the glass broke (one year). A little bit of Internet research then took place into steel. And who would have thought it but apparently not all steels are the same.

So, I replaced the chunks of steel holding the glass against the door with what is technically known as 316 Stainless Steel flats. Apparently that stuff is very resistant to high temperatures and the steel seriously distinguished itself in my presence by destroying umpteen number of drill bits (even cobalt bits). Whatever, it impressed me as being a very hardy material and I shall check back in another year and see how it has progressed in the harsh world of the fire chamber! Hopefully the weather cools enough one day in the far future (maybe in a galaxy far, far, away) so that the wood heater can actually be used and the repairs get tested?
The repairs to the wood heater were now complete and the unit is now waiting for cooler weather
The six months of endless summer conditions haven’t been all bad news. I’m having the best tomato season this year that I have ever known! It is hard to explain, but every couple of days, I’m harvesting this many tomatoes:
Every couple of days, I’m harvesting this many tomatoes
Observant readers will also spot the feral zucchini which had to be harvested or else it may have mutated into a human eating Triffid…

Long time readers will recall that the tomatoes were planted into the berry bed because, well, the tomato bed – despite best intentions – hadn’t yet been constructed. This is a good thing because the berry bed is such a great location for growing tomatoes that the berries have been given the boot to the soon to be constructed spot that the tomatoes would have been grown in! It was a sheer accident that has yielded a significant increase in the number of tomatoes harvested and we believe that the difference is due to an additional few hours of strong sunlight per day compared to where they were planted in previous years. Plus a much better watering regime as well (five to ten minutes per day of overhead watering across the entire enclosure).
Tomato Cam™ - The tomato enclosure today during a brief late afternoon fog this afternoon
A close up of a representative patch of that tomato enclosure shows you just how much fruit is still yet to be picked over the next few weeks:
Tomato Cam™ - A close up photo shows just how much fruit is still yet to be picked
We can’t possibly eat that many tomatoes, so each weekend the dehydrator has been running hard with at least six trays of ripe tomatoes which are then stored in olive oil for use later in the year. The olive oil doesn’t go to waste either as it will be used in cooking once the tomatoes are consumed.
Trays of tomatoes are being dehydrated every week and then stored in olive oil
As the tomatoes are harvested, some of the seed is processed and saved for raising as seedlings when August (February for northern hemisphere folk) rolls around later this year. Processing tomato seed is very simple. I scoop the seeds into a glass jar with water where they sit for one to three days. In those days the natural yeasts tend to kill off any nasties that may spoil the seed and it also breaks down the furry outer coating of the seeds. Once some bubbles appear at the top of the water, it is drained and the seeds are left to dry on paper or a paper towel. Once the seeds are dry, they can be stored in an envelope. The tomatoes here are in their fifth season and they rock!
Red cherry and black Russian tomato seeds ferment in a glass jar for one to three days
The improved (and more efficient) watering system of a dripper hose for about ten minutes per day in the raised garden beds has yielded incredible results over these past few months.
The dripper hose providing 10 minutes per day to the raised garden beds has yielded outstanding results this year
From right to left the raised beds include: Asparagus; Scritchy; Nasturtium; Perennial Spinach; Perennial Rocket; Tomatoes; and herbs.

Despite the heat, we have continued to fill the original firewood shed with seasoned, cut, split, and dried firewood. It is really hard and hot work when the sun is beating down on your head, but it has to be done too. I have a suspicious feeling that autumn will be non-existent this year and we will progress from summer to winter with no in-between season.
The original firewood shed continues to be filled up this week with seasoned, cut, split, and dried firewood
Now, I must say that I appreciate the many comments I have received over the years supporting the fact that I am tight with money and hate waste. I appreciate all of your encouragement as I really do hate waste – it annoys me! And so in recent months my rage against the machine has been focused on smoke alarms.

Smoke alarms are wonderful devices and they have probably saved countless lives blah, blah, blah. However, like the good fictional people at the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation  who are described as: “a bunch of mindless jerks who'll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes” so too are the good people who designed smoke alarms. You see my beef with smoke alarms is that I’m required to have two of them installed in my house. Fair enough too, the devices save lives – I mean who can argue with that? Except the little rotters require replacement 9V batteries which only last about half a year. So every year, I have to replace four batteries for the life of the smoke alarm and that seems an extraordinary amount of waste to me. The smoke alarm devices in most new houses are connected up to the mains electricity grid so an in built electronic circuit for a rechargeable battery seems like a no brainer to me. But do any smoke alarms actually perform that function? No.

Anyway, I thought to myself, I can outsmart this waste and a few months back I purchased a rechargeable battery only to find that it was 7.2V (not 9V) and the smoke alarm device kept beeping at me just to let me know that the battery was apparently flat because the voltage was low. However, with a bit of hunting around and assistance, I came across a company that produces rechargeable batteries that are long lasting and rated to 9.6V. Once installed into that pesky and stupidly designed device, all is now quiet!
A true 9.6V NiMh rechargeable battery and charger was purchased for the two smoke alarms in the house
The temperature outside now at about 8.00pm is 17.1'C degrees Celsius (62.8'F). So far this year there has been 61.8mm (2.4 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total 57.8mm (2.3 inches).

87 comments:

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Yeah, that is more or less the situation here too, despite what the zoning system says. I had no dwelling on this property and had to fight tooth and nail to get a permit, but not everyone is up for that fight - and the zoning said I could build a house here. It would have been awkward if they had knocked me back, so I sort of treated it like a job and did not let up pressure on anyone involved in the process.

Oh yeah, that has happened here too. A property up in the Kinglake area had two houses on the one title and they'd been there for decades. When the fires came through and burnt out both houses, the council said they'd only allow the owners to rebuild one. Oh my! Was that a fight or what, and the state government eventually intervened and over rode the council - which is only common sense (a thing lacking in such circumstances). ;-)!

Yes, does one problem drive the other in relation to the shortage? One wonders.

Your son is absolutely correct. I do hope the pipes are big? Most people unfortunately under-size the pipes in order to try and save some money, or they put bends in the channels which eventually fill up with silt...

Yeah, that sounds about right to me. It all depends on what sort of clay the footings are embedded into. Some forms are sturdier than others and it also depends on how good the drainage is on the upper slope of the footings. Weren't we just discussing drainage? If they're deep enough, and there is enough of them it does work. But maybe landslips can be a serious concern for the future?

Ha! Your son is an astute observer of people and the woods. Most people fail to see any of the details - it is hard if they're trained to observe an urban environment.

Best of luck with the bank branch closure and I do hope that something works out in the interim!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Yes, common sense and local ordinances / governance seems to be a common problem! :-)! Down here the garbage truck has two areas - one for recycling waste and the other for other waste. On the other hand - I don't utilise the "pay for" local garbage service as I generate very little waste - but the neighbours do and the truck roars down the road in the wee hours of a Thursday morning. The truck is a turbo diesel too and the turbo whine sounds like a jet aircraft roaring down the road... The wildlife doesn't stand a chance, fortunately sensible wombats are in bed at that time of the morning.

e-waste is an interesting waste as most of it with a bit of care and attention is very recyclable - albeit under very unpleasant conditions. Yup, waste is a real problem.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

I don't doubt that he does those things with the bees. They are really difficult creatures to maintain and my success rate is not good - which is why I'm exploring other methods of bee keeping which show great promise.

The black wrap is probably a great idea to help insulate the hives over winter so that they can maintain their internal temperature and not use too much food. The bees also don't move terribly far during that time in order to reduce the food intake.

Thanks for the advice about the cinnamon and I'll try that again in spring - it is probably too late in the season to split the existing hive.

Ants are a problem down here because they perform the function of the earthworm where there is little top soil (which they don't like).

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks for that, I've now got a mental image of a mowsie running past you with a chunk of cheese - which it invariably stole from a mouse trap! That's funny. I'm kind of glad that Toothy doesn't eat the mice because the dogs obviously have better choices in their viands and mice probably don't taste very nice. :-)!

The rotten dogs brought back the carcass of a dead baby kangaroo this afternoon - which I had to pick up and dispose of in the worm-farm. Lets put it this way, the carcass was far from fresh... YUK!

Yeah, it has been crazy hot here and tomorrow it will be 35'C (96'F) which is just crazy. Imagine if you had a six month winter? Anyway, that comment of yours inspired the story behind this weeks blog!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, I forget sometimes how much more fertile and damp your part of the world is and yeah the rodents would breed like crazy as there is so much to eat. As a funny side note, at the Green Wizard meetup they were asking me about food forests and if they're any good as a concept or not. And I had to reply honestly and say that if I maintained one here, then it would be full of rodents so I have to keep the orchard more or less clear around the trunks of the fruit trees. I mean rats can climb trees easily.

Those "drifter" cats are providing a free service. Hey do they ever get really huge and someone reports seeing a massive puma in the surrounding forest - when it is usually a very large and very well fed moggy that has gone rogue?

That is a real credit to the Lewis and Clark expedition that everyone (and the dog) made it there and back alive. They must have had some serious wilderness skills and discipline to have survived that journey (plus have been well armed). Honestly how did they manage to get the time on such a journey to have written 10 volumes? I mean, I would have been more or less busy the whole way and without any leisurely stop offs to write a letter or twenty?

I love the old Victorian homes - they built them with such simplicity and solidity (the ones that survive today anyway). Plus they are well suited to the environment and don't require a huge amount of heating or cooling - I've never owned an air conditioner. It does take a lot of careful craftsmanship to repair them too as nothing is square or straight or vertical and often the current building materials appear flimsy compared to the 1890's products.

Ha! It is my guilty secret, I really enjoy that series and have read all the books. The books are even more entertaining - if that is the appropriate word - than the TV show. It is good but the interesting thing is that you notice fairly early on that the character: a) believes he is smarter than everyone else; and b) has only one toolkit in the mental box which is eliminating the problem. It is effective no doubts about it, but it is not always effective and thus he comes unstuck in the books from time to time.

That is very astute not to ask her about the origin of the name. Did the interview go well? Ah! Well, your tired old quips would be fresh to Dexter Rose wouldn't they? Wouldn't it be great if it did end up in a scholarly press or book? I'd be very happy to read it when you are presented with the findings or the final words - in whatever format? Sometimes the authors forget to notify the people that assisted with the research. Was it for a doctoral thesis?

Yes, he does deserve a break - and I do hope that no one is stupid enough to email him and complain of that, but you never know what craziness he would have to deal with!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Yahoo2,

Thank you! Elephant stamp for you as I am in error about the assertion regarding rhubarb containing pectin - in fact as you say it is quite low in pectin. And yes, citrus peel is very high in pectin so it would make an excellent edition to jam.

You also explained to me why one batch of blackberry (which is high in pectin) jam failed to set last year and is a bit runny, it was because the fruit was over ripe when converted into jam. You'll be interested to know that this year all of the jam has set solid as the fruit was picked and frozen on the same day and only defrosted once we'd completed picking. Thanks for the excellent observations!

The link to the audio of the interview can be found here: Peak Prosperity Podcast Charles Eisenstein: What Is Wealth?

Please, I mean no disrespect to either people as they are both fantastic authors and thinkers. It is just that they get to the point in the conversation where they discuss money printing activities and then they just can't seem to go a little bit further and ask: what does it mean in relation to what is happening in the world around us? It is a tough question and as I wrote before the answer is right there in front of us and it is - unthinkable. What I believe is going on actually deviates from the past instances of this activity as a relief valve of sorts is in place - it is just very difficult to believe that that would be the case, but that is what it looks like - but it is unthinkable. Anyway let's not ruin JMG's future post on this topic but that should give you something to think about til then!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

They're great aren't they? Those houses are open to the public too via the National Trust - mind you the houses were donated into their care with a trust fund to ensure that it happened. The Windsor Hotel is beautiful and it is like stepping back in time - I've stayed there a few times and the rooms have an old world feel to them - they even had a pillow menu! As I have an interest in old homes, I've visited a lot of those places - they're just lovely, although the maintenance bills would scare me a bit...

Did they show the before and after shots of how the CGI was used to disguise the skyline?

There still is a Chinatown and they have great restaurants and it is always packed with people. Yum!

That is getting quite warm now for your place (Those temps would be a normal to warm winter day for me). Nice to read that everything is blooming! Your chickens are the best layers. Are you thinking of getting some more soon? Hey, how did your order for the news turn out?

It's going to be 96'F down here tomorrow - we've done something bad indeed...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Fay,

It has been a good season for elderberries. Unfortunately I have no idea what to do with them. We had a discussion about them here a few weeks back and we didn't really seem to get to the bottom of that berry.

However, you may note that there has been an update to Tales from Fox Wood (in the blog list on the right hand side) and I believe Jason there may know what to do with elderberries - as I recall having a discussion with him about them a long time ago. If you ask nicely then, who knows?

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Do your dogs go crazy when the smoke alarms start beeping? You might recall that we added on significantly to our house when my brothers were going to move in with us after our mother died. Ordinances required smoke alarms everywhere in the house. I would have to count but we have at least 12. They are connected to the electricity but also have batteries in case the power is out. It's often difficult to figure out which one is beeping too. The dogs will wake us up whining when one goes off. So much fun to get up in the middle of the night to change a battery haha. We could change all batteries every six months but they really last longer than that and we too try not to waste. On the occasion a smoke alarm does go off usually due to a cooking mishap they all go off and the sound is deafening!!

Margaret

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Some years there are tons of ants and others not so many. Never have researched why. When digging in the garden I often hit a nest and the darn things are crawling up my arm biting. Still they do have a purpose.

Margaret

margfh said...

Hi Fay,

Have you tried elderberry syrup? I'm going to make it this year if I can get to the elderberries before the birds do.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - You're tomatoes are really banging along. Seems like a short while ago, they were just little sprigs, lost in all the brown. Mighty oaks from little acorns grow ... or, some such. I noticed nasturtiums on your list of plants. I picked up some seed, the other day. I'm going to plant them around the apple trees, when the weather gets warmer. See if they can survive the rabbits and deer. There's supposed to be some beneficial symbiosis between the apple and the nasturtium. Got me. They're pretty, anyway, and can add a bit of zest to a salad.

Zoning, has gotten completely out of hand. My neighbor was telling me that, in this part of the world, what sometimes happens is that, say, someone buys a piece of land with a trailer, on it. And, they want something more substantial. First, they replace the back wall. Wait awhile. Then, the sides. Front and roof come later. It's just silly.

I think the Lewis and Clark explorers were a pretty rough and ready lot. And, along the way they picked up a French Canadian fur trapper and his Native American wife, Sacagawea (aka - Bird Woman). In one of those accidents of history, that are hard to believe ... Lewis and Clark are going merrily along, when suddenly they are surrounded by a huge band of Indians, bent of death and destruction. The war chief steps forward and it is discovered that he is Sacagawea's, long lost brother. She had been kidnapped from her tribe, at a very early age and used as a slave in another tribe ... until she was bought by her husband. Rejoicing, all around. And, a free pass through the Indian's very extensive territory ... and good will amongst the other tribes, all the way to the Pacific.

Well, here, whole industries have been built around the renovation and restoration of old houses. There's even a long running magazine called "The Old House Journal." The go to source for ... sourcing those hard to find authentic bits, either original, or in reproduction. I bought a wizard heat gun from them. To refinish furniture. No more slopping around caustic chemicals. You had to have a light hand. And no using it in inclosed cupboards or around glass doors. And, you had to be careful where you pointed the thing. It could cause steel wool to burst into flame. But it would peel up 3 coats of enamel paint, in a jiffy. And, you'd just sweep it up. A good mask was advised, as you never knew when you were going to run across lead based paints.

I may be wrong, but I think our retired Arch Druid takes a bit of delight in dealing with craziness. :-).

Yes, in the extras, they show a scene that they were filming in modern Melbourne, and then show how they slipped in the vintage CGI sky line. Movie magic! :-).

Spotted the first slug I have seen in months. It met it demise in a spray of bleach. Some odd little mushrooms have sprouted in the chicken run. They look to be of the "magic" kind. And, the hens have been at them. But, no one seems to be staggering around, clucking, "the colors ... the colors" :-). Still, I don't think I'll be sprinkling any on my salad. Lew

Chris said...

I love elderberries cooked down with a little sugar on pancakes. I'd imagine they make great jam as well

orchidwallis said...

hello Chris

I know that the grass is always greener on the other side but your title 'Endless summer' made me long for it. We are still soaking wet and the mud has got so bad that it tries to pull my boots off.

I consider that drainage pipes only work here if they are large enough to crawl through but incomers would never believe it.

The hedges on both sides of our dirt road (further up) have been flailed right down. We have no idea why or who has done it. Flailing always leaves a ghastly sight and tends to create an entry for disease. The blackthorn has been devastated so I will not be able to make sloe gin this year. At least I have my own blackberries.

Dog Mercury is flowering a month earlier than last year. This is in small patches where the leaves never died down. So when the main areas leaf up there will be a whole new repeat of flowers.

@Fay I completely agree with only boil hard once the sugar is added. I found that it was easier and quicker if I made jam in small quantities as that meant that I could have enough free saucepan space to boil really hard. I reckon that any tendency to candy suggests that there was too much sugar.

Inge

Damo said...

Good luck with the rechargeable batteries. Are they enloops? Unfortunately, as you know, NiMH batteries have a finite life as well. Hopefully they last long enough to justify the additional cost. AFAIK, NiCADs can last longer, but battery chemistry is all a bit beyond me at this point.

Our tomatoes are also going well, although I have no past experience to judge their relative performance. I pick a medium bowl of cherry tomatoes every two days from a plot with 6-7 plants. We have also had some rain in the past few weeks, it was so exciting I wrote about it here. I also talk about treating scaly mites on chooks, if anyone has an opinion on the veracity and safety of various options I would love to hear them. In this case we used pestene, which is a combination of sulphur and rotenone powder.

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

The tomatoes are beautiful!

For comparison, here is the weather data for the month of September for St. Louis (which corresponds to your March):

Record high: 104F, 2011 (1st)
Record low: 32F, 1942 (28th)
Average high: 80.2F
Average low: 60.6F
Mean: 70.4F

So overall our September is somewhat warmer than your March, but the record low here is colder than your record low.

We haven't been able to buy a battery-powered smoke detector that doesn't go off seemingly randomly when it is placed where it's supposed to be placed. So I finally gave up and put the thing on a bookcase in the back bedroom. At least there it doesn't go off when there is no reason for it to (no cooking going on, furnace isn't on, no fire anywhere). I wonder if they haven't been made over-sensitive? We're "supposed" to have one for code, but no one would know unless we had the house up for sale. In that case we could move it up to its hanger on the wall. I haven't looked into the ones that run off the electric wiring, because they leave you unprotected if the electricity shuts off. Not that rare an occurrence here. The battery in the one we have is some sort of lithium battery that has a 10 year life and cannot be replaced. We'll see if it lasts that long.

Coco said...

We loved the Miss Fisher Mysteries. Season 3 was disappointngly short, but they were really fun.

Note to self - install smoke alarms. Completely forgot and we have 2 woodburning stoves.

If the weather improves as they say it will, the priority now is to get the garden fenced. B has been visiting the neighbors.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

No the dogs seem to ignore the smoke alarms, but the downside is that the alarms have little green LED’s shining into the dark night and those things attract any insect or spider for miles around. The insects cause the alarm to go off – usually in the middle of the night! I blacked mine out with a texta and that seems to have worked magic on the device. They really are poorly designed.

Mind you, if there was a serious bushfire and I was in the house – I would possibly have to smash the devices as they would be a real nuisance.

12 of the things is way out of control. The rules here specify at least 2 and yes the middle of the night seems to be the general rule.

Did you know that the campaign to change your batteries with daylight savings was actually the advertising genius of a battery manufacturer. If you are interested further there is a very credible article from a marketing person discussing that…

Ouch! I feel for you and your ant bites. They love the dry conditions – and a lack of humus which they can’t stand! Did you notice that the weather was dry when the ants were reigning supreme?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...


Hi Lewis,

Thank you for saying that! I’m very pleased with the tomatoes this year. Man, it is so hot here tonight. Today it maxed out at 38’C (100.4’F) and it is still warm at about 8pm so I’m running the bushfire sprinklers to cool the surrounds of the house down. Still, it is cooler here than in Melbourne which won’t get much cooler than 26’C (78.8’F) tonight which is very warm.

Yes, the nasturtiums are very tasty and ultra hardy to heat and drought (although they do like a drink). In your area they’ll die off over the winter only to reappear the following spring. The old timers used them as a summer green staple down here so they’re tough as. Oh, the seeds are particularly tasty and very peppery. I hadn’t heard about the symbiosis but plenty of plants enjoy an orchard.

cont... (had to put the chickens to bed)

Cherokee Organics said...

That is a very clever strategy and of course, dysfunctional rules make for dysfunctional behaviour! The whole mobile building thing is big down here too. Hey, you know what is really interesting about that? The local picnic ground has had more and more people (it has flush porcelain toilets, you see which is a draw card) camping down there in recent times. I really do hope that no one there is stupid enough to light a camp fire at this time of the year, but you never know. It isn't the camp fire that is the problem, but they rarely think to put the thing out properly and a wind can pick up on a hot day... There were quite a lot of people camping down there tonight...

Wow! Thanks for that bit of history. How lucky were they to have survived that encounter? It seems improbable, but then I guess that is what history is made of. I assume that would have been a rough year or two full of those sorts of encounters, they were very lucky to have had the blessings of the locals along their route.

It is nice that people are respectful of the old buildings. They really do deserve respect too and I have given a few of them lots of care and attention over the years. It is surprising how resilient those buildings are given the years that they have witnessed. And the simplicity of the design and construction is beautiful to behold. Yeah, the heat guns are very handy bits of kit and they work surprisingly well. Sometimes the paint on things has so many layers that it is quite an achievement and removing the paint makes the door (or furniture) considerably smaller! Yes, the door jambs may have to be reduced in size. I really do try hard to utilise natural materials and hardy materials - but so many things these days have such a short lifespan that I find it to be personally troubling.

Yes, when I was young lead was added to all sorts of things - that may explain a thing or two! :-)!

Just had to interrupt the reply to turn off the sprinklers as they have pumped a huge amount of water about the place - today is one crazy weather day down here...

Really, well that is interesting to learn indeed! I guess that is what the whole dissensus thing is about? Apparently someone didn't want to turn up to the recent Green Wizards meetup in case someone mentioned the word Druid or something like that. That seemed like a very strange thing to say given what they themselves were reading - not that anyone spoke about such matters... I may have to email Mr Greer with some particularly choice bit of craziness?

Melbourne is a funny place because many of those old buildings exist side by side with sky scrapers and whilst people may desire the new and shiny, I can tell you that the older buildings are beautifully crafted and they present an appealing prospect to the street. There are a lot of them. I reckon the oldest is the Mitre Tavern which looks - and feels too because of the low ceilings - like something out of the Lord of the Rings! It is tucked away in a quiet side street. Over the past few days, I also walked past an old Irish pub which was crammed full of people cheering and jeering. Honestly, I thought that there was a punch up going on so I gingerly peered around the corner to see what was going on and a crowd of people spilled out of the old pub and they were watching a boxing match. It was nice to see so much life and energy in one small spot in the city.

Take that slug! Ha! That is funny. The wallabies and wombats eat the blue meanie magic mushrooms here. A good friend once consumed a magic mushroom and then we sat down and had a chat and he did tell me about the magic colours. Unfortunately he also belched and I have never forgotten that horrific smell!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Chris,

Thanks very much for that info and that sounds like an excellent way to enjoy the berries! I'll keep that filed away for next season and provide an update.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Maybe there is a little bit of middle ground between the endless summer and endless damp that you are experiencing. Seriously, I really don't know how people can enjoy these sorts of temperatures? I'm a bit whingey today because I worked in a factory that had no air conditioning and it was hot. By 4pm, I'm not sure I was making a lot of sense, but as long as no one asked me any unexpected questions I could keep on working quite well.

That is very wet! Oh my, the boots probably stuck into the mud... I've had that happen or you end up getting taller with each step as an inch of mud collects on the bottom of each boot!

Exactly, enough crawl space sounds about right to me too. There is a concrete culvert near me that silts up every single heavy rainfall and I often wonder to myself when they will repair it if they ever do. It is entertaining to watch though.

Flailing a hedge sounds like a rough way to treat a very complex living fence and shelter. I hope it grows back quickly as many predator insect and bird species would have been living in there. I feel for that hedge. A bit of pruning is OK, but it is a delicate and sensitive job... Ouch! Yes, if the conditions remain very damp then that will certainly encourage disease in the hedge, sorry to say.

Mercurialis perennis is a pretty plant. It looks a lot like balm of Gilead to me which has the most beautiful menthol smell, but clearly is a different plant. It is interesting to read that it has not shed its leaves during the winter. Does it normally go deciduous? It sounds like a very toxic plant.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

I use Eneloops for AA and AAA batteries, but these 9.6V batteries are from Powerex which is a very reputable brand. Mind you, you speak the truth in that there is no easy answer with those devices and hopefully the materials involved are less problematic over time than for the non rechargeable units. It is a predicament rather than a problem and there are no easy options. It is certainly not cost effective.

I recall reading somewhere that Toyota uses NiMh batteries in its Prius cars, but then those are deep cycle batteries so you would expect them to last longer. When they finally die I'll let you know.

That is great to hear about the rain. You have been doing it very tough down there this summer. And the system here pops up a notice to let me know that you have a new blog - which I'll enjoy reading over the next day or so. Hopefully a bit of rain falls here this week?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Thanks for the weather statistics, they are fascinating and help me to get an understanding of the conditions that you face. Of course, it has not rained here in any great quantity for many weeks now so things are dry. The soil is starting to look like a black sand which is slightly surreal.

Oh yeah, I hear you. They are the worst designed devices ever. The insects and arachnids can set off the devices due to the little LED lights they use which is a total nuisance! Many houses down here have them disconnected due to all of the day to day problems with the devices and it seems particularly odd to me that no one seems to have noticed that they are often not in use...

I spotted the lithium batteries and wondered about those. The off grid people down here love the huge lithium batteries but they are very complicated - from my perspective - to live with. On the other hand they provide much more energy and can be discharged to quite low %'s.

Thanks for your outstanding blog post too and they are some excellent insights. I read it yesterday but have run out of time to respond and will do so over the next day or so.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Coco,

Melbourne has some lovely Victorian era architecture as it was a real boom time because of the decades long gold rush and many parts of the city are like stepping back in time!

Yes and no. Those devices have benefits but they come with costs too and the wood burning stove can sometimes set one of the alarms here to trigger...

I wish you the best of luck with the weather. It couldn't be worse than here. It is 26'C (78.8'F) here right now at 9.20pm... Hope the fence negotiations go smoothly!

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

I run into ants whether it's dry or wet but thinking back they are probably worse when it's dry.

Regarding zoning - I have some pretty nightmarish stories to tell about our experiences when adding (well really rebuilding) our house. It's my day to visit detainees at the immigration jail so I'll have to post them tomorrow.

Btw the weather has turned quite warm here - 50's and 60'sF when it should be low to mid 40's.

Margaret

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

I didn't get to read this week's post yet as our landline and, thus, our internet was our for a day and a half. You and Inge both recently had an internet outage; now us. Our local news says that a major fiber optic cable was cut while road work was being done. What they list as being affected is probably just the tip of the iceberg. Most of the schools, some fire stations, the library (virtually nothing was getting done there, including the checking in of thousands of books and income tax filings that a lot of people do there), and, of course, stores and doctors offices. Their suggestion during the trouble was to check for updates on the internet! Kind of scary, eh?

P.S. Our modem had to be reset once the phone connection came back.

Pam

orchidwallis said...

hello again

Ice on any outside water this morning.

The Dog mercury usually dies away completely in the Winter along with most plants except for Ivy; so this is most unusual.

An old neighbour is planning to go self sufficient. I listened politely to his lecture on the subject. He is a man who has no interest whatsoever in anything uttered by a female. I know that his attempt will be a disaster. Son says 'three clicks with a mouse and people are experts!' He says that his 30 years in the building trade count for nothing when a client has been on the internet.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, that's all rather silly about someone not wanting to attend the meeting, because "Druid", might be mentioned. You'd think they'd probably also object to the word "wizard", in Green Wizards. I'd rather like to think (and I do think) that the Green Wizards are a bit more tolerant and flexible (sweeping generalization, I know), than the general run of the population. In general, ignore the bits you don't like and go for all the good stuff. Might be an easy excuse to not drag one's nether regions, off the couch and DO something.

I also noticed that there was a lot of brick used, in building "old" Melbourne. Same as here. Must be some good clay beds, about. Or, it came in as ballast in ships. Seems like any town, of any size, here in the PNW had it's local kilns and brick yards. They even used it as street pavers. Here, in Centralia, there are still side streets that are brick. And, when the asphalt wears through on the main streets, the old brick shows.

Our old train station, in Centralia, is an extravaganza of brick. Including all the pavements, around, and the platform. Really quit a nice old building, and a renovation was done about 10 years ago. They ripped out all the nasty drop ceilings, with those ridiculous looking "egg carton" lights. They luckily found the old light fixtures, tucked up safely in the attic.

Just looked around for some pictures, but the URL is impossibly long ... 4 lines! Just Google "Centralia, Washington train station" and click on images. I noticed there's a street scene, fourth row down. The building I had my antique store in (later book store) is in that row of shops. The tallest building ... right behind the left hand green light.

Chehalis also has a gem of a brick train station. It's no longer in use as a train station, and is now the Lewis County Historic Museum. A nice repurposing of a building. A lot of the brick buildings are nearing the end of their lives ... unless some rather expensive maintenance is done. I had to go up on the roof of my building, to replace some flashing and unplug a couple of down spouts (half a walnut shell can plug a down spout. Who knew?!). I had to climb up on my neighbors roof, from the back, and shimmy over a brick parapet to get to the lower section of my roof. I reached for a brick to haul myself over, and it just lifted away, in my hand! I carefully replaced it.

Well, we had a little break in the weather, yesterday. So, I loaded up more apple wood to take to the tip, this morning. The end is in sight. :-). Broody Hen actually came out with the other hens this morning. Maybe she's getting over her ennui? Lew


Damo said...

All this talk of smoke alarms makes me wonder why so many are a useless design? I mean, it is pretty annoying getting woken up by an alarm with a low battery. How many houses have no smoke alarms because they always went off in the kitchen, or simply went flat when no one was around to hear its chirps for help? As I understand it, firefighters recommend 240V systems for this reason, the battery units simply might not be working when you need it.

So why are there so few units that run from 240V *and* trickle charge a NiMH/NiCAD backup battery? Such a unit will last as long as the backup battery has enough juice to cover intermittent power losses. If it is constantly kept charged up, a good quality battery will last a decade at least. I have 10 year old NiMHs which can still put out 100-200 milliamp hours no problems - and they were definitely not looked after. Eventually you will need to replace the battery, but only the battery, not the entire alarm like those sealed 10 year lithium units.

I suspect it is a combination of legal requirements, (ie people just get the $10 battery unit to meet legal requirements) and planned obsolescence. A quick google search did show this unit from amazon: Du-Pont self charging smoke alarm
Seems interesting, you just screw it into a light fitting. Whenever you turn the light on, the unit is charging. A good idea, but it seems they use a shitty battery (or some sort of capacitor arrangement) as it only works for 30 days without a charge.

Good luck with your rain, we got a massive thunderstorm here last night. Very unusual, I can go nearly a year without hearing thunder and even then, it might only be the odd rumble. Last night though, it felt like a summer afternoon storm in Brisbane. Strange weather! (now I sound like a local, just need to live here another 15-20 years and I might be one..)

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

The ants are definitely worse here when it is hot and dry and I'd hate to think of the insect battles going on under the soil. The ants are really clever too because they raise protective mounds around the entrances to their nests when it is likely to rain. I hope they're busy building right now as I can hear thunder off in the distance!

I'd be very interested to read of your zoning experiences as I was somehow under the impression that building regulations were easier going in the US, but that isn't based on any real world knowledge.

That is quite warm for early spring!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

That would be funny, if it wasn't a serious suggestion... By the way, those excavators are handy bits of equipment! The electrician here put his excavator through the water collection pipes during construction and there was a race to stop water going everywhere. Getting someone to own up to the cable damage will be no easy task - and the costs and fines would be huge! I once took out the local electricity grid and that was expensive and I reckon they felt sorry for me too...

Hope that it is repaired expediently! Things could be worse. The very large island of Tasmania relies mostly on hydro dams for its electricity. Just before Christmas the cable linking the mainland and the island through an incredibly rough stretch of shallow water broke - somewhere - and because of the drought - the dams are rapidly running out of water.

It just started raining here! Yay!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

It is finally raining here (a little bit at least). Seriously, I'd happily swap some of your ice for the heat down here. Last night was a record breaker for March evening temperatures: A steamy night across VIC. For the record 30'C is 86'F. That is way too hot for comfortable sleep. More on this with the next blog.

Oh my! That is unusual. I'm noticing that the plants adapt in strange ways to the changing / warming climate and that is certainly one way. I have a horse chestnut tree which has partially gone deciduous to protect itself from the heat. Lewis’s comment below has a reference to a Russian bird that has travelled to Australia…

Haha! Yes, I've met a few of them too. The editor calls them: "Can't be told blokes" which adequately sums the situation up. Plus the lectures are often very dull and they miss social cues too... I have a local problem with one of that lot and he exercises what is commonly known as "white male privilege" which again adequately sums the situation up succinctly! ;-)!

Attempting the impossible is a difficult task indeed! Out of curiosity, did he happen to mention in the diatribe what he actually meant by that phrase? It seems a rather ambitious goal.

I do feel for your son, he's probably heard it all. I sat through a similar lecture the other day from a well-meaning and quite lovely person, except that they were unfortunately telling me that the design for my house went against all their strongly held principles. So yeah, I feel for him. Not enough people get their hands dirty these days, but my can they hold an opinion or what?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, it is weird isn't it? I mean it makes you really wonder if they even read the title of the blog which includes the word: "Archdruid"? Hmmm, mostly the people I have met are actually tolerant and flexible in their thinking, but some people add to the phrase "tolerant and flexible" so that it has the added meaning "as long as it agrees with me". They're out there for sure.

Haha! The couch comment was very funny and it reminded me of a song from a local band "Regurgitator" yes that name is correct, from the song "Bong in my eye" yes, you read that correctly too. The lyrics at one point say something along the lines of "How can I #$%^ the system when I can't get off the couch". A very fair observation. It then went on to say "I'm not a threat and not a danger when I'm stuck inside my house". It reminds me a whole lot of the Occupy movement really. Oops that wasn’t politically correct at all!

Yeah, there was a huge amount of brick used. There were brick making kilns all over the city as there were plenty of clay deposits. The kilns and factories are now being converted into apartments. Your story of the loose brick sounds about spot on. It is a bit of a shame that the mortar wasn't quite up to the strength of the bricks and it is a bit like an architectural dig as you can see the remains of sea shells and all sorts of other things in the really old bricks and mortar. People have this belief that bricks are much stronger than all other forms of building and I don't know about that at all.

I've checked out images on the web and it looks lovely. They used granite "blue stones" as paving as there were a lot of local ex-volcanoes to quarry - it is very nice, but rather bumpy and the old laneways (for the night soil carts) are full of them.

The Centralia railway station is nice architecture and it looks in quite good condition. It is funny but to my eye it looks as though it has a touch of the Edwardian architecture - but the second storey is definitely a whole different look. They were very lucky to have retained the original fixtures. Here's an image of the local station here: Steam loco at Gisborne railway station. Some steam enthusiasts based at Castlemaine further up the line are clearly keeping up their hours on the real world tracks!

Oh my! What a story – I am glad to hear that you survived. Those top bricks really lose their mortar and become brittle out in the weather. You were very lucky. I once had a parapet come loose and so because it was kind of important to the buildings integrity, I installed a custom made steel flashing over the top of it to hold it in place. Glad it didn't fall on anyone...

More apple prunings! How did the trees look after the pruners came in and did their thing to the trees? Did you learn anything new in the process? Pruning is a bit of a mystery to me. Naughty broody hen, but at least she is now joining the land of the living. Still spring is a dangerous time for chickens that want to raise their chicks in the summer time.

Ennui is a great word! Thank you. Yes, that is exactly it. It sort of reminds me as a child never to mention that one was bored as the remedy was swift and unforgiving and usually involved work.

Hey, I spotted this fascinating article which has set the twitcher world on fire (not literally you understand!): Rare WA sightings have birdwatchers twitching. It is interesting that they reckon the bird has extended its range due to the recent large scale peat fires in Indonesia (which were massive beyond understanding).

Just picked up 1/50th of an inch of rain, which is good because none was meant to fall at all.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Yeah, it is always in the middle of the night too. Go figure that one out. There has been a recent senate enquiry about the smoke alarms too: Smoke alarm inquiry: Keith Golinski, who lost granddaughters and daughter-in-law in house fire, calls for mandatory photoelectric alarms - so they're not even all the same devices.

It is good to hear that the NiMh batteries still put out a good charge after such a long time. They're only rated at about 230mAh anyway when new so that is a great result.

My understanding is that the smoke alarm devices rarely last longer than 10 years anyway and who knew that?

Yeah, a lot of it is legal requriements. The building inspectors always check for them when they inspect a house construction.

That one is interesting because it works with the light off which means that it must discharge from a capacitor or battery or some such device... It seems very cheap to contain so much techno gadgetry. Just sayin...

It was thundering here this evening out in the orchard, and there has been a little bit of rain 0.5mm so far which is nice, no doubts about it. The main forecast is for rain tomorrow. Nice to read that you got some solid rain too. Ha! More like 3 generations and they'll still be newcomers. :-)!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

It poured with rain all night and the water is lying in pools on top of the ground. I am told that the farmers here are desperate.

Neighbour doesn't know that he has an impossible task oh no no. That is my take on it. I remember that he tried about 25 years ago. He has a wife who wouldn't dream of dealing with anything that isn't perfectly shaped, she already muttered about scabby potatoes while I was there. On the previous attempt he had a lorry load of muck delivered and then had to pay for it to be removed as his wife didn't like the smell. Mind you I don't blame the wife, he is utterly impossible. They did keep chickens successfully and I forgot to ask whether they were going to do that again.

@Pam I laughed aloud at the instruction to get updates on the internet. Absolutely typical!

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

I wrote a long comment last night and then sent off to, apparently, Pluto. I am going back to short ones. I'm trying not to worry so much about this year's unusual weather and extremes, but we haven' had it too badly here; in fact, it's been pretty nice. But it seems easier to just keep putting more wood on the fire (thank you, wood cutters!) than to work out in the excessive heat and worry about keeping everything watered like you've had to do. On the other hand, most fruit and veg loves heat and when we have mild and rainy summers they don't do as well. I think that the El Nino/La Nina phenomenon is a big part of it:

"While El Nino is characterized by rising sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, La Nina represents periods of below-average temperatures, which produces an opposite weather impact. So while El Nino saw record heat in Australia and warm climate in North America during December, La Nina is expected to bring rains Down Under and intensified chills in North America during the same period.

"Our analysis above suggests an 89 percent likelihood of a La Nina event occurring an average of twelve months after the end of an El Nino, but may also develop as soon as three months afterwards," Societe Generale (SocGen) said in a recent note.

The latter scenario occurred back in 1997-1998 following a record El Nino, the bank added."
CNBC Jan. 14, 2016

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:
I think that we have used that black goo somewhere around our wood heater. That would have been with the experiment of moving it up into the living room fireplace winter before this one. It didn't make any difference in heating the room, so it's back in the basement. We don't have any firebricks in it. The first time that I used our wood heater - 24 years ago - I broke the glass in it. Ooh, was I in trouble! The new glass WAS very expensive and we had to order it and wait quite a while. A couple of years ago we priced the same wood heater, just in case (we still have this original one) and they cost twice as much. Not surprising.You have made the drill bit manufacturers very happy!

Your tomatoes look like round jelly beans - eye candy! Beautiful zucchini, too. Do you intend to rotate them with any other veg in that same patch? I have always heard that tomatoes can be grown in the same spot for quite a few years; I guess it depends on whether or not diseases pop up.

Is that Scritchius Asparaganus or Scritchius Nastisturtium? It's a little hard to tell.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Very good, finding a 9-volt rechargeable. I am at war with the smoke alarms and just do not replace the batteries . . . in fact, I don't think that they have any batteries . . . We have 3, one on each floor. Poor Margaret - our dogs used to do the same thing and you have so many smoke alarms to deal with!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

Boy, you tell that Sacagawea story better than the history teachers! We have a statue of her downtown.

@ Inge:

We have drainage pipes all under our private neighborhood dirt road. They are not quite big enough for a person to crawl through (skunks in there sometimes, too) but the dogs loved to go through them. Yes - one of the dogs met a skunk 4 times. You'd think he would have learned . . . My husband keeps the uphill side of them cleaned out as gravel, leaves, and dirt often clog it after a big rain. So far, we haven't figured out how to avoid the clogging. Is flailing cutting the hedge back? One of our neighbors, when they moved in, cut back the century-old boxwoods and planted something else. I was so shocked.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

It was 80*F (26.7*C) here yesterday. Heavenly!

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Band names can be a hoot, and, a couple came to mind. But this being a family friendly blog ... :-).

We always seem to loose a few brick buildings (aka unreinforced masonry) every time we have an earthquake.

That granite rock looking building, on the left of the street scene, on the corner, is actually Tenino Sandstone. Tenino is a little town about 15 minutes NE of Centralia. They had sandstone quarries, there. It's interesting driving around the town as most of their commercial buildings and some houses are made of the stuff. Also, statues and such. That look, can also be molded concrete block. We see a lot of that, around. Frank Lloyd Wright had a period, in LA, where he did about 5 concrete block houses. They look like Mayan temples. See Hollyhock House.

We have a steam train line, here. I've never gone, but it's always interesting to see, and hear the whistle. I notice that your platform is in a "cut." Most of the stations I've been in, the platform is at ground level. The poor conductor has to hussle out a set of little steps to get on and off the train.

Congratulations on the damp. Here, that would be a heavy mist :-). Broody Hen also came out for afternoon treats! A trend, or is she just messing with my head? Off for my regularly scheduled trip to the Little Smoke. Pruners still haven't shown up, this year. Lew

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Here's the zoning/inspection stories while building onto our house in anticipation of my three brothers moving in.

1. We had to almost double the size of our septic field as it's based on bedrooms which increased from three to six. The original field had only been half used. The family before us had six members which is what ours ended up after everyone moved in to our new home.

2. We thought we'd put a drain and faucet in our new garage to wash muddy dog feet. When we submitted our plans to the county this was approved but when the inspector came he said the project would be halted until the drain was removed which we were forced to do at additional cost.

3. We had to move the stairs to the basement and when the inspector came he said that the stairs were not wide enough by 1/4 inch so they had to be torn out, reconfigured and remade.

4. We had to pretend that we had only five bedrooms to keep the required septic field from being even larger. The builder roughed in the closet in the sixth bedroom until after the inspection and then the doors and clothing rods were installed. Of course it was obvious what we were doing but at worked.

5. Dealing with the septic field caused a delay of six months and we had to remove trees and part of my garden for the additional field.

Our county is notorious for being difficult. If we had been building in the town it would have been much simpler.

Margaret

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I have recently baked a parkin. I like it as it is tough and sticky and I dislike soft food. Son has described it as an 'organic building block' but it didn't stop him eating a hunk of it and then moaning. I shall adjust the recipe slightly next time.

@ Pam

Flailing is when they use a machine which simply rips at the hedges. The result looks ghastly, branch ends will be torn and ragged.

@Margh

I would love to relate our building works but dare not i.e. you can't boast about the things you have done that are really neat, that's why they are really neat.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Yeah, too much rain is as bad - if not worse - than too little rain (as long as you have available supplies). That is the secret of California - as long as they can get the water, they can grow things. Yes, your farmers would be at a total loss as to what to do at about this stage. We lack the ability to be able to adapt to either conditions with large scale farming.

When a La Nina event hit here a few years back, there were many paddocks that the local farmers couldn't get into as they were sodden and running cattle in them would have been a disaster for the soil. I reckon people over stock horses in paddocks based on what I can see around these parts.

Ha! That's funny. Didn't like the smell! I was laughing seriously hard at that bit. Oh my what a fine joke. The editor and I love bringing loads of manure into this place and of course it smells - for a day or two. It is funny how some women can throw their lot into these sorts of tasks and situations and others somehow believe that they can have a suburban exsitence in a place like this. I see a lot of that around these parts. The thing that troubles me is how much beauty in the place that they just don't or can't see because they don't want to get involved. It is a lot of hard work, but then working for the man is no joke either. That one made my day! Thanks.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Did you check behind the couch? The comment may have fallen there? ;-)! Yeah, blogger gets hungry sometimes - watchout for your fingers!!!

It is a very pleasant thing to have excess supplies of energy when the winds are blowing cold and the rain is driving hard! You were very lucky to score the load of firewood from the wood cutters.

Sometimes the watering is a waste of time - it is just that hot and the sun burns your head. The other day (104'F) I ran the pumps for about an hour and the next day even the citrus fruit trees were looking dry and they are the most drought hardy things around. I couldn't see any sign of the watering that had taken place the previous day. About half an inch of rain has fallen today so I'm breathing a bit of a sigh of relief!

Well, brace yourself for a possible La Nina as they reckon about 1/3rd of the weather models are predicting that for the coming year. Cold years are usually dry years too.

The summer of 2008/09 was quickly followed by a La Nina here 2009/10 and the rainfall was record breaking - almost as much as Lewis's part of the world. I've never seen so much rainfall before - ever. Over 5 days in the summer, almost 10 inches of rain fell on the farm - it was feral, so I feel for Inge who's part of the world is seriously wet.

Ah, I reckon - but am not really sure - that the firebricks act as a sacrificial layer so that the wood heater doesn't break down quite so quickly - but of course you have cast iron (from memory?) so that metal may act differently. The black goo is good for filling up holes and holding things together in the wood heater. I'm seriously unimpressed with my wood heater - like it does the job, but like a lot of things these days: it is in for a good time, and not a long time! ;-)!

The drill bits really surprised me as I've never seen a steel that just destroyed them - even the bits that had cobalt and were designed for cutting and drilling in steel... It was a bit scary and made me wonder whether I should eventually buy some plate in that stuff to fix the lining of the fire box? Dunno.

Of course, I forget. I can grow things outside all year because of the relatively mild winter, so I'll run mustard greens in the tomato beds over winter. The root systems of those plants are a natural fungicide, so they can be a good companion plant to the tomatoes or as a following crop.

Hehe! She loves it too! It is definitely: Scritchius Nastisturtium :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thank you for your restraint, but oh yeah I hear you! :-)! Hehe! It does make you wonder what they were thinking in the first place doesn't it? A mate once told me that his parents used to own a company called: Bang chemicals - he thought that it was funny too, but for some reason the parents didn't quite get the joke as it was lost in translation...

Oh my! I'd completely forgotten about the earthquake factor. Brick buildings that are not adequately reinforced are a disaster waiting to happen. What a nightmare. We tie the brick walls to a timber frame down here, so in newer housing the bricks are often only for show as a cladding. It is a bit of a waste really, but the ties allow for some flexibility and movement in the brickwork and the timber frame takes the load - well if they haven't undersized it of course. There have been some recent moves to increase the space between timber verticals in the timber frames from 1.5 foot to 2.0 foot, whilst decreasing the strength of the timber verticals by shaving a bit less than half an inch off some of them (90mmx45mm to 90mmx35mm)...

Frank Lloyd Wright designed some interesting buildings and I do appreciate the name of his own home, it is very clever. He had a bit of an influence down here too:
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Influence on Australian Architecture.

It is nice when the local materials are used in the construction of the notable buildings in an area. We were blessed with a whole lot of granite so the buildings have weathered the years quite nicely. Sandstone which you mentioned is a bit unfortunate in that it does weather over the years, but then after a century or so, the buildings are not meant to be looking pristine are they? What do you reckon? Dunno, really.

Oh ground level is a nightmare for trains and the conductors! No, all of the platforms are elevated so that you step onto the train. By the way, that steam train was on the actual day to day working line, so it would have been a big thing for the train spotters to witness. The steam train connects into a side line firther north (maybe one day it may do the country to city run?).

Maybe that is why the conductors are always so grumpy? :-)!

Actually they've got some old diesel - electric locos which they also use to keep their hours up for the drivers and they take small loads of goods into the city too to cover some of the the costs of the fuel. People line up at the crossing to take photos! I remember when those locos were actually in use...

Thanks very much. Half an inch now which is really nice and the water is just soaking into the ground it is so dry. The citrus trees yesterday had their leaves curled up to protect them against the sun and some of the fruit got sun burned... Of course it would be heavy mist in your part of the world!!!! Hehe! Very funny, but no doubt that you are correct.

Who knows what goes on in the mind of a broody hen? Nothing good - but wow do they know how to peck at fingers or what? It is not very friendly.

Well, they may turn up soon and it sounds as though you've done the pruning job yourself?

Enjoy your trip into the little smoke.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Thanks for the stories. You know the leach field here had to be doubled on the day of the inspection because the health inspector said so. Everyone was pretty annoyed about it, but I had to pay for it. They inspector took a very combative approach to the situation too, it certainly wasn't an endearing strategy...

Oh my, did you have to cut the concrete slab to remove the drain? Ouch! I would have been livid about that. I tended to keep everything very simple so they had very little to complain about. The building inspectors were fine to deal with although the people handling the actual paperwork were very slack and in order to get the paperwork - so that I could get household insurance - I had to threaten them with legal action as they sat on the certificates - depite having been paid the fee - for two months.

Yeah, they can be a bit funny about stairs here too, but I had the rise and run put into the plans and had to ensure that the fall from the veranda floor was less than 3 foot.

I can see that a delay would have been caused in your situation - I just had to pay and the company took the money and did the work on the day. I forgot to mention that the install failed - despite the health inspection - due to the contractor being a bit sloppy and the company had to later come back and rework the job. Some good has come out of that though!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Ah yes, the smoke alarms - what a nuisance they can be. Ours down here don't work unless they have a battery in them, despite being connected to the mains power. They are singularly one of the worst designed bits of rubbish - that actually should otherwise be a good thing - that I know of in the house. A bit of a shame really.

Oh yeah, imagine what would happen in a bushfire with those smoke alarms...

Wow! That is quite warm for spring. I hope your place is blooming and in good health!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thnaks for the lovely comment, I've run out of time to reply and promise to reply tomorrow evening!

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Yes we had to cut the concrete slab. We made many mistakes when designing this house but it really was a family crisis getting my brother situated and selling my mother's property etc so decisions were often made very quickly.

On another note, what material is your wall in back of your wood burner? We had to install a faux fireproof brick wall in back of ours and set it on a cement slab.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Margaret - Well, when the tumbirals start to roll, building inspectors may find them selves on the platform, right along with the investment bankers. Madam Defarge, knits. :-).

Yo, Chris - Well, to paraphrase a well known Australian historian, philosopher (gardner and orchardist) the weather yesterday was feral. Wind and rain, all day long, without let up. And, it looks like at least the next five days are going to be more of the same. There were a few patches of blue, this morning, but they are long gone. I think I read somewhere, that our Native Americans had some astronomical number of names for "stuff that falls out of the sky". I just call it sloppy.

There is jubilation in California. The reservoirs are filling and the snow pack is good. But the aquifers? Those take a long time to recharge. Some areas of central California have sunk a meter, or more, as the water is pumped out.

That was an interesting article about Wright. He did have influence. But, a pretty quirky, man. Toward the end, his architectural school got a bit cultish. Greene and Greene, though not Wright disciples, did a lot of very organic, natural material, Japanese looking houses around California, in the teens and 20s. The town of Carmel, California is quit interesting. Close to Big Sur. It was an artists colony, way back, and the many houses made with beach stone are quit fanciful. I drove through there, once. It's now quit tony and pricey. I couldn't even afford the parking. One way to keep the riff raff, out :-). Clint Eastwood was the mayor, a time or two.

The sandstone in Tenino seems to be holding up, pretty well. Run down commercial buildings and houses have been restored. It's a particular kind of sandstone that is easy to work with, but toughens up on exposure to air.

Well, you ought to be thinking about now as to your winter reading list :-). My guess would be that the second hand book stores you visit are probably awash in Miss Fisher Mystery, books. And, I'd guess, not too expensive. By the Australian author, Greenwood. The first book in the series (there are 20, so far) is "Cocaine Blues." For a lark, you might try one or two. The Editor might like them.

Broody Hen came out with the other hens, this morning. A trend? Too early to tell :-). Lew

Yahoo2 said...

Hi Fay,
I cant diagnose your problem but may be ably to shed some light on why it happens. as has been said when the sugar content gets above 70% crystals are very likely.
However there is something else, when the acid level is right (between 2.8 and 3.2pH, we aim for 3.0 pH) and the jam is hard boiled a process called inversion happens, this converts some of the sucrose (sugar) to glucose and fructose which just happen to be non crystallizing, this will prevent sucrose crystals forming. If you look at the label on some commercial jams gloucose-fructose syrup is sometimes listed as an additive for the same reason, I imagine it is hard to boil a large batch and not have some caramel flavour and colour problems. A consistency of honey and crystallization feels to me like the acid levels are low.

I have trouble hitting the magic numbers of 3.0 pH, 68% sugar and the right level of good pectin by feel and eye, so I cheat and use a refractometer rather than a 104 degC boilpoint on a candy thermometer , my pH test kit and the metho (rubbing alcohol) pectin test. Deceased ancestors are probably rolling in their graves!
The again, a friend tells me that she puts candied jars in the dishwasher to dissolve the sugar and reset the jam.

Thanks for the link Chris, I found a transcript to read and it seems they might be heading down that road but got distracted by, Who needs 11 televisions! As an aside to debt and its non-forgiveness, have you every pondered the true nature of gifts? It wasn't until I decided that the correct minimum of anything I produce should be three times what I needed for myself that it started to make some sense.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Ooooo! I'd never heard of a Parkin before. Wow, they look very yummy: Parkin image.

You may find this funny, but I actually thought that a Parkin was some of exotic UK table bird which you'd roasted! :-)! Your son has well deserved - and self inflicted - moans. You know it is always the sign of approval from your audience when they consume your cooking with gusto (or is that gutso? Hehe).

PS: They make gingerbread cakes down here, but you rarely see them anymore. When I was a child, they used to bake them in a sort of round baking tin so the gingerbread cake would be like a huge cylindrical cake which they used to refer to as a loaf (for some reason which escapes me).

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

I thought that may have been the case. Ouch, concrete slabs rarely bounce back well after being cut - as the steel reinforcing rods or mesh also have to be cut in the process. Well, most houses are a comprimise and mistakes get made. Don't you reckon that it is a hard process to go from a design to construction to the actuality of having to live with the result? Architects can help, but they're usually selling a dream to their clients than in the business of providing "reality chats" and I'm not sure that that is a good thing to avoid. Dunno.

There are things that I would do here differently if I get a second chance at rebuilding this place, and I reckon we're all a bit like that. Unless a person had the chance of living with the results of their consequences with the construction process it's all a bit like an act of faith.

The wall behind the wood heater is standard plaster, but there is a minimum clearance between the wall and the heater. There is also a steel radiant heat shield on the back of the wood heater too. The wood heater sits on a ceramic tiled base (which sits on top of fibro-cement sheet) and all of that lot sits on top of tongue and groove solid Sydney Blue Gum hardwood flooring (19mm thick 0.75 inch solid timber).

A lot of houses use a thin timber veneer which is glued to plywood sheets. It is cheap and already sanded and finished, but I often wonder how hardy that stuff is to scratches. I'm very old school with the construction here and followed more or less what the old timers did - as well as the instructions from the structural engineer. The editor is convinced that it was mildly over-engineered and I am a bit guilty of doing just that. Not that anyone notices all of that effort.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thank you and right back atcha! :-)!!! Ah, we do descend into philosophy from time to time and I often wonder what well that springs from? ;-)!

By the way, your previous comment reminded me of: "a bunch of mindless jerks that..." Hehe! One of my favourite bands - now unfortunately disbanded due to advancing years - were cheeky enough to accept an award for their musical achievements by quoting that in Hungarian of all languages (I believe the saying originated with a Hungarian philosopher - and who are we to argue with that?). I'll try and track it down... ... Here goes: TISM ARIA Awards acceptance speech. Skip to 4:10 minutes into the clip - unless you are up for a lot of music strangeness... Subtitles are provided.

I'm assuming that weather records have not just been broken in your part of the world, instead they've been smashed? Five days of rain. Cabin fever may set in... Sloppy is an excellent descriptive. Out of curiosity, how is the ground holding together with all of that wet stuff falling from the sky? 15mm here (0.6 inches) which was awesome!!!! I went off the mountain to pick up a load of manure in the trailer.

cont...


Cherokee Organics said...

Forgot to add the word "today" into the previous sentence (after the word mountain, of course)... It makes more sense now with that inclusion.

Interestingly too, it is damp looking up here in the mountain range, but has since dried off in the elevated plains below. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next few weeks (as in the traditional Chinese curse use of that word).

Of course, El Nino here, means rain and snow packs in California. Good for them and I mean that in a positive sense of the use of those particular words. The thing is, I'm thinking and acting down here well beyond the next rainfall and/or dry year. What other choice do I have if this place is going to be a long term proposition. And for that matter, what choice do they have there either? I honestly wouldn't want to have to rely on an aquifer because people pump them dry and then the trees can't get a drink and the whole place dries out, and then the rains go elsewhere. It is a circular problem.

Plus, you need an awful lot of energy to lift water up and out of the depths - it is no small problem. My mates that have the water bore (water well) - which supplies great tasting water - have huge electricity bills too, primarily I believe because of that bore pump.

The problem with such matters is that we humans have such short memories. The previous La Nina here was in 2010 and 2011 and it delivered a huge amount of rainfall, but until a few days ago, the water table had dropped below the point at which some of the younger fruit trees could access it. Aquifers take decades to centuries and well beyond to fill.

Oh, really? Wow, that's interesting. You know I've read the same criticisms levelled at the Earthship people too. They're the ones that build houses from car tyres and I once was on the receiving end of a drive by trolling comment originating from Geoff Lawton of Permaculture fame who levelled those cult criticisms at them too. It was interesting to me because all I see are people doing different things. I try to avoid the politics in such matters. Rationing by price is certainly a way to keep the riff raff such as us out of those places. Most suburbs operate in such a manner.

Ah, that is also interesting about the sandstone toughening up when it is in contact with the air. The opposite occurs down here and I believe the rain and pollution is also particularly hard on that stone.

Oh! You snuck in a book recommendation. Nice work. I'll mention that to the editor. What are you reading at the moment? I finished the Dexter book in about three days as it was a very easy read (big print, few pages too for that matter) and it is a shame, but it looks as though our anti-hero has finally bit the dust in a most unpleasant way. I can see a possible escape, but then again maybe not too. You'll laugh at this. I needed something a bit fluffy to read and so settled on Jason Sheehan's Cooking Dirty! It is a great read and he tells a lovely tale. I'm very much enjoying the grittier end of the kitchen story, but then I enjoy the grittier end of the accounting profession too. It is where one can perform the most magic!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Yahoo2,

Part of the reason I began the blog and engage in such an extensive dialogue is that it school's me as much, if not more than, entertains me. It is certainly fun though.

Thank you for your comment. It is interesting that you aim for a 68% sugar content in your jams. I'm not disputing you as you take a very exact approach and I salute that effort (and yes, I have a refractometer here too). For years, I've aimed for 50%, or an equal weight of sugar to fruit. But then, it may be worth adding that I only produce jam from sun ripened fruit that has a strong taste and as such I've perhaps believed it to be higher in sugars. I don’t really know though and have failed to test for that.

As an interesting side note, I often give away a lot of the surplus produce from here for reasons more or less relating to the over regulation of our food industry, but mostly because people love receiving the stuff. ;-)! Oh, acidity that's what we were talking about. I often warn people not to consume too much of the produce in any one sitting - despite the taste - because I've noticed that a lot of the fruit and vegetables that are sold now are much lower in acidity than would otherwise be the case if they were farmed in a more traditional manner. And very often, I supply say greens with tomatoes as they balance the food digestion process a wee bit more effectively for most people these days. Dunno though.

Glad that you clearly listened to the podcast (and/or read the transcript). Yes, the 11 televisions threw me for a six too. I couldn't decide whether that was a true story or not, but they both seemed like such genuinely concerned folk, and who am I to doubt them? It did seem like a rather far fetched claim to me. Having said that, down here, with the notable exception of one household, everyone else that I know and visit has a television on in the background. It is very distracting to me too and comes across as a social faux pas, but it is not for me to correct them.

Well, in the podcast they visited the topic of debt twice, but yes you are correct. The finite nature of resources and energy on this planet is currently being expressed in the social and economic spheres and I see things debt is expressing itself as stress in both of those spheres. And if a person was to ask the hard question: why haven't we seen hyperinflation given that is what historically happens when money printing has been utilised as a core economic policy? And then they can possibly steel themselves to ask the next question that arises: what does this mean? It is not as easy a task as some would like to believe.

Exactly, we do not live in isolation. Countless animals, birds, insects, microbes etc. etc. live here on the farm and enjoy the benefits of the productivity. I don't believe that other species view their existence as being somehow separate from all others, as that is a human affectation. As you correctly point out, productivity has to take all of them into account too otherwise we will be very disappointed, thus I too worry about surplus!

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - With all the rain, the ground here is quit saturated ... and, muddy. No large landslides have made the news. I squish, squish, squish my way, down to the chicken pen, and back. Speaking of which, Broody Hen did not come out with the rest of the hens, this morning. So, the usual drill. Out the door, and not under her own power. She's rather an odd bird. I can always tell which one is her, as she makes a trilling sound, like none of the other birds. It always gives her away. Probably translates as, "Oh, no, here he comes, again." :-). She never pecks. So, I pry her out of the nest box ... moving her around is like dealing with a small sack of potatoes. Limp spaghetti, comes to mind. Then I have to turn her around, so I can get a good grip on her, and not do damage. Then she takes a short flight, out the door. Sometimes, the other hens have a bit of a go, at her. Sometimes, they ignore her. I usually stand around in the door, for awhile, as given the chance, she nips right back in, again.

What books do I have on the go, right now? Well, I'm looking at three gardening books, specific to this area. The most useful will be purchased. "Semper Fidelis" (Downie), the 5th in a series of Roman mysteries involving an doctor in Roman Britain (circa 100 CE) and his native wife. "Fenton Art Glass, 1907-2007". "Scottish Baking" by Lawrence. "Bon Appetempt: A Coming of Age Story (with recipes!)" by Amelia Morris (awful family background ... she and her husband started a blog where she takes one of the glossy pictures from the food porn mags, makes the dish, and shows what it REALLY looks like). Stephen King's new collection of short stories "Bazaar of Bad Dreams." "In the Path of Destruction: Eyewitness Chronicles of Mount St. Helens." by Waitt. Some of them I just look at the pictures, others get a skim or two. Some I read in depth. What I do with my evenings, if I'm not watching some DVD, from the library. Usually, it's a mix of both.

I think I mentioned that back when I was in the book biz, people would often special order, books. We'd get the occasional "If I special order this book, am I obligated to buy it?" I was always tempted to say "Well, no, but I'll beat you about the head and shoulders, with it." :-). There was hardly any profit in special orders, anyway. And, if we had to return it to the publisher. the costs quickly slid to the negative side of the register. Sometimes, I'd get "Well, if I don't want it, I'm sure someone else will." Yeah, sure. I'd usually suggest (insist) that if they weren't sure about how badly they wanted the book, that they check our wonderful local library system, check out the books, and see if it was what they REALLY wanted. You always got the feeling that it was just way to much EFFORT. And, they probably hadn't darkened the door of a library, since they were a toddler. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Thanks for the parkin images. They have reassured me as to my effort. Mine was the kind with the white bits which are caused by medium oatmeal. I had more of this than of flour. The change that I will make next time is to have more flour than oatmeal.

A glorious sunny day today and I went for a long walk.

Inge

Damo said...

@Lewis

Thanks for the book suggestion - A murder mystery set in Roman-occupied Britannia sounds great. I have added the first book to my ever growing 'to-read' list :-)

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I don't know - you might have fallen off the mountain; it happens. My son is power washing the exterior logs and "chinking" with caulk before he does each section. This is now done before each section is washed as he was washing first and water was actually coming in through a few small cracks between the logs and also around some windows. I really had to scurry to be sure nothing valuable (books!) got wet. We should be much more weather tight next winter (and this summer). He bought a really nice 32 ft. (9.75 meters) ladder. There is one part that he cannot do yet as one small bat is living under the eaves. He comes out each evening and eats bugs and then goes back to sleep in the same spot all day. Actually, I hope it's a "her" and new little bats will soon come along.

We have a big old tree stump in the middle of the garden. The circumference is about 8 ft. (2.4 meters) around and it is 3 ft. (.91 meters) tall. It is finally beginning to rot and I have planted strawberries in it. I want to try some in wicking pots, but I think I may try potatoes that way first. All of my seedling veg have been living on the front porch lately as it has been 80*F (26.7*C) for 4 days. Nights are perfect.

My husband was stung by 2 bees yesterday while walking near the neighbor's house who has several hives. It is about 1/4 mile (.4 km) away. Is that too far for them to make it over to our garden to feed?

We have big, skinny toads all over. They should be very eager to eat a lot of bugs!

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

You've painted a delightful image and I can almost hear the squish, squish, squish of your boots in the mud! Glad to read that no large landslides have occurred. Have you noticed that the sun is a little bit higher in the sky now and it feels warmer than during your winter?

I reckon you are going to have a great summer as so much water would have collected in your soils, plus you've had the increased snow pack too so the rivers will run better. What do you reckon? I'm interested to hear how your apples respond to the pruning too. Are they starting to show any leaves?

Broody hen is very naughty. Yeah, they have an unfortunate knack for quickly returning to their broody condition and it doesn't help when the other chickens tell broody hen off either. I've more or less given up on broody chickens and just let them do their thing. They still peck when I snatch the eggs out from under them though. You are quite lucky that she is a bird with a gentle disposition.

The book about the Doctor and his native wife back in 100CE would be fascinating. Thanks for the reference. Out of curiosity, do they devote any text to the lives of the individuals - and the medical procedures too, or do they gloss over that stuff to focus on telling a story? I checked out a review too for Scottish Baking which said: "But beware, don’t read if you are hungry!". I've often wondered about the Scottish cuisine because it does seem as though they attempt to utilise every scrap of an animal - like take haggis for example. But then there are the nettle soups etc. It would be a tough environment to grow things in! Amelia is definitely a pragmatist at heart - I've read that some very strange things go on in the world of food photography and my understanding is that the marketing people are the worst of the worst.

Are you enjoying Stephen King's latest collection of short stories. I reckon he does his best work with the short story format. Out of interest, just how close were those eyewitnesses to the Mt St Helens eruption? I guess some people got lucky whilst others didn't?

Cooking Dirty is very good although the editor tells me that the final chapter was a bit of a letdown.

The special orders sound like a total nightmare. I'm surprised that they weren't obligated to pay in full up front for the book. I still recall the difficulty with special orders from way back in the late 80's when you had to go to a particular store just to get the latest David Eddings release (for the Maloreon fantasy series) and then it was a long wait. Patience is a lost art these days!

It has been almost 99% humidity here today and I started doing some landscaping for a new rainforest garden. It is a way to get more water into the ground from a drain I only discovered a few weeks ago. I'll tell ya what, anyone who says landscaping isn't hard work is kidding themselves! More rocks were rolled up hill again. I should start planting it up on Monday which should be more fun.

Is it still raining there?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Yeah! The cake looks very appealing and given it has ginger in it probably tastes really nice. It is a shame that it is just a bit too cold for ginger to grow here...

Out of interest: What is oatmeal? I purchase huge 44 pound sacks of rolled oats just because I use so much of them in cooking, but I'm not sure I've ever used oatmeal and when I looked it up there was a couple of different varieties of oats (in terms of the way they are processed).

Swapping oats and flour will definitely give the cake a different consistency.

Lovely to see that you are finally getting some sun and using that sun for a walk. I'm in complete fog right now as the humidity levels have gone through the roof since the recent rain.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Falling off the mountain would not be a pleasant experience! Actually some people do climb some of the sheer cliffs (the Camels Hump - so called because it is the remains of a volcanic plug sticking up above the main ridge) that are near the top of the main ridge.

Ah, you mentioned the power washing of the logs and I have to admit that I hadn't considered that aspect of it! I'm assuming the caulking is some form of silicone sealant?

That ladder is huge, still it is probably safer than scaffolding which can sometimes have a bit of sway in the movement. It sure makes me feel uncomfortable when I'm up there.

Yeah, bats work hard eating all the little insects that fly around in the evenings. Do you have the biting sort of bats? The ones down here are little marsupial bats and they're tiny things and you can hear them flying around at night by a sort of zip, zip, zip sound which moves about the place. I hope that you get some baby bats too!

You are lucky that your tree stumps break down quickly - they don't here and they are a huge amount of work to remove (really massive), and nothing grows or lives on them.

Yeah, the strawberries would probably enjoy the decomposing tree stump. They're forest plants and so they eat forests (i.e. high carbon soils)! I'll be very interested to hear how they grow.

Wicking beds are pretty good and Angus from Adelaide did a good blog post on his homemade ones. He's getting more rain over the next few days too, but it is missing here as the storm is keeping to the north... Oh well, they've done it very tough up there this summer.

Sorry to hear that. I hope he is doing OK now? As a suggestion, mead is a anti-inflammatory and it did make a noticeable reduction in the swelling from a bee sting. Just sayin. Bees can travel for up to 5km (3.1 miles) in search of food, but obviously they'll collect the easier feed first, so your garden is on the menu. It is very strange that the bees stung him, but you never know what your neighbour was up to with the hives. My thinking on the matter of bees runs along the lines of don't poke sleeping dogs! ;-)! It does make you wonder though. I have had one aggressive hive in the past and they were a nuisance.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Another gorgeous sunny day. I can see some buds on trees so assume that the trees will be starting to drink all that water.

I went to Wikipedia to see whether it would be better on the subject of different oats than I could be. It was. I had only ever used rolled oats until this parkin, but liked the oatmeal so much that I am wondering what else I can do with it. Perhaps I'll try adding it when bread making.

Inge

margfh said...

Hi Lew,

Broody hens sure can be a pain but I'm in agreement with Chris - if you can't break them of it just leave them be to work it out. However if you have someplace you can remove them to for awhile that works pretty well. I've almost always had a rooster so if the hen will cooperate and stay on the same clutch of eggs there will be a successful hatch though when she gets off to eat others get right in and lay their eggs with hers. One year I had two broody hens in the same nest box. When the first eggs hatched I removed the chicks and one of the hens (both were Barred Hollands and they looked very similar). I put a few more eggs in with the 2nd hen and she went on to hatch a second batch of chicks.

Enjoying your bookstore stories. My in-laws had an independent book store for awhile but when a chain came into town they couldn't compete so went out of business. This was before I was married but in the same town where I lived so I remember it. They both worked at the time so not sure how they managed. I'll have to ask her today when we have our weekly visit.

Margaret

margfh said...

The weather has been warm for this time of year so I planted a small bed of greens. I have a couple of small plastic tunnels so put one over the bed. All three cats joined me as usual laying out in the sun. Thankfully they didn't try to get in under the tunnel which is their usual game. I often use floating row covers to protect my transplants mostly from wind. It's a great game for the cats to get under those as well before I can get the covers secured to the ground. The sandhill cranes were migrating in great numbers as I worked outside. They've been returning slowly for the last week or so but yesterday they were back in force. If you're not familiar with them they often fly so high it's very difficult to see them but they have a unique call that you can't miss.

Margaret

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

I'm feeling kind of sorry for Broody Hen (though glad she's not mine!); she just doesn't fit in. I imagine that she feels quite misunderstood. I frequently order books through a local book store since I do not directly order through the internet (though my son does so for me occasionally). I have never refused to buy a book that I have ordered through the store. I always research (internet now; used to be through other resources) the book beforehand to see if it is what I want. I rarely get a stinker.

@ Inge:

The parkin sounds something like the gingerbread that I make. It looks so delicious! Thanks for the images, Chris.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Try doing all of your special orders through the mail with a check. That takes patience!

The caulk is a silicone sealant, log-colored. We have to stain the logs when the power washing is done. Is your house painted or stained?

The ladder has two arms at the top to stabilize it. My son likes it better than scaffolding and one person can move it around.

No, our bats don't bite unless, I guess, one offends them.

You haven't mentioned any dog adventures lately. Have they been behaving? Ha ha!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Margaret:

You have had such a nightmare with your house construction/renovation. That's just terrible.The only thing that I remember having trouble with when we were building the house (besides the plumber digging through some underground electric lines) was when a lady inspector from the county seemed to think that our fireplace mantel, which is a massive wooden beam, might catch on fire someday. It rarely even gets warm when we have around-the-clock- fires going. Maybe she was new. Anyway,she passed it. Oh, and another inspector made us strip all the paper covering off of the insulated batting in the basement walls. Go figure.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Damo - Hope you like the series. It's very well researched, and very readable. There's also two other Roman Britain mystery series. One's about a mosaic setter (he puzzles things out) and another is about a woman who runs a "mansio" (official imperial inn, that not only serves the traveling officials, but anyone else they have room for, and a tap room for the locals. An interesting side light is that she and her family were refugees from Pompeii, and ended up in Britain. Can't remember the names of the series, off the top of my head, but, if you're interested, I'll track them down.

An one off, oldie, but goodie is Norah Lofts, "Wayside Tavern." It's really a history of Britain, told through the family that runs an inn/tavern. It's all interesting, but the earliest bit, is, to me, the most interesting. A Roman soldier is wounded, and left behind as the troops withdraw from Britain. He's left at an abandoned Roman Villa. Found by a slave girl, nursed back to health ... they decide to throw in their lot together and fall into inn keeping at the villa. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Oh, yes, the sun is getting higher. Sometimes, when it breaks through the clouds, and I'm washing dishes at the sink, it blinds me. I need to put a bit of carpet down, in the kitchen. From here on out, the sun bounces off the kitchen floor, and blinds me when I come in the front door. High winds, last night. Fingers crossed and knock on wood, the power was still on, this morning.

The apple trees are still just buds. No leaf showing, yet.

Oh, yes, the Medicus series goes into medical treatments, of the time. And, besides tending to the soldiers, some of his postings allowed local people, from the inevitable village that grew up around the forts, to attend local clinics. Or, he does informal clinics in the towns. His native wife is a midwife ... and, in this volume (#5), she's beginning to think that, perhaps, she'd like to be a medicus, too. So, it's a good cross section of the (imagined) population of Roman Britain. Not too many toffs, cluttering up the landscape :-). All though, the Emperor Hadrian, does make an appearance in this one.

I sat down and took a good look at the Scottish Baking book, last night. Looks pretty good. I liked that the author puts asterisk next to recipes that are not strictly traditional. And, her little stories that go along with the recipes are informative, or funny. She does a cheese and herb scone, that a friend of her's keeps insisting is "just wrong." :-). Sounds pretty good to me!

The Mt. St. Helen's book is pretty dramatic. 57 people died in the eruption. The area was closed, but the closed area was not quit big enough. And, laced with logging roads. So, a lot of people snuck in. Some loggers were logging. A lateral blast was not expected. Sometimes, if you lived or died depended on which side of a ridge you were on. Some survived, but were badly burned. People fleeing the pyroclastic flow, at 90 mph, down the Spirit Lake Highway. A huge surge of water, mud, boulders and logs ran down the Toutle River, all the way to the Columbia. There's one story of a couple who got caught in that, and managed to survive.

Yeah, special orders were a pain. Sometimes, I could fob them off by suggesting they check the other chain store at the other end of the mall. Sometimes, a publisher wouldn't fill a special order for us, but I could provide an address and phone number.

My friend in Idaho is the original instant gratification girl. Sometimes :-). Her birthday is Monday, and I sent her a bit of tat. She'll be chomping at the bit to open it up, before "the day." I told her she could ... if, she was cracking the sads ...but, only if it was a "break glass in case of fire," case of the blues. :-). You can imagine what Christmas, is like :-). Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

PS: I watched "San Andreas" (again), last night. Much to my surprise, the young constable from the Miss Fisher Mysteries (side kick to the police inspector, suitor to Miss Fisher's ladies maid), plays a major role. Hugo Johnstone-Burt. One to watch. A young Australian actor, on the rise. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

That sounds really nice and glad to hear that you are finally getting some sunshine. You'd assume so about the trees drinking the excess water, although I read recently that when the trees first blossom they are consuming last years stored energy reserves. I don't really know all that much about tree biology and how they work in detail.

I was wondering that too about adding the oatmeal to bread (and other cakes). We are conditioned to use flour derived from wheat, but then other climates grow other grains. Don't the Germans use rye flour a lot and make very dense breads?

PS: I'm starting to notice hot cross buns for sale and may have to consider reverse engineering them as I tried a very good one today at the local general store and a very ordinary one too much later on.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Yes, you know it is warm when the cats happily cook their heads in the sunshine! Scritchy does that too, and on very hot days I have to be firm, and bring her back in at lunchtime, otherwise she gets a bit woozy.

I'm assuming by greens you are referring to lettuce and mustard salad greens? The plastic starter tunnel is a good idea. Do you find that you have much trouble with hardening the seedlings off afterwards or do they quickly adapt once the tunnel is removed? Yes, the cats would certainly enjoy that game. :-)!

Oh my, that is an unmistakable call. They look a bit like a Heron but with a stronger neck. And when they're on the ground they sort of look a bit like the flightless Emu as they have quite thick feathers. Do any of them stop for the summer in your part of the world (I'm assuming they may given you used the word: return)?

I've noticed today that the bees and the honey-eaters have started attacking the geranium flowers and it never would have occurred to me that they have nectar in them.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

That is very true about the mail order and cheque days and yeah patience was very much part of that. The funny thing is online payment facilities like PayPal are very expensive in terms of fees and the loss of social "bricks and mortar" capital, but they do facilitate online ordering. I always wondered why the banks never got into that market.

I often use online stores to obtain things that are just not found anywhere near here - and that is quite a lot of different things too. Other than that I tend to shop in the local area or head into the big smoke. The funny thing is that the local shops tend to get to know you and your orders. Some of the store holders when the sales came too easily used to be smart alecks about it but after a while they get over that.

Of course, that makes sense. It is good stuff that material. The outside of the house is covered in three coats of the best quality external paint that I could afford - which is apparently guaranteed for as long as I live in the house. Apparently anyway - it sounds like a big call. The extreme UV and high temperatures are very hard on every surface here.

Good for him, I reckon much the same as the ladder can be much more stable.

Noted. Don't annoy Pam's bats - they bite!!!! Hehe! That sounds like excellent advice. The ones here just fly around and eat insects - I've never heard of anyone being bitten by a bat (down here in this corner of the continent at least). They have bigger populations up north and there is always the Hendra virus which is quite deadly.

On no! You've put the kiss of death on them! :-)! Well, they have been good but I did yell at Scritchy this afternoon because I caught her just about to eat a wallaby poo (they must be vegetarian samosas for the dogs, but there is no accounting for tastes).

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Oh yeah, the sun glare from surfaces can be a killer. I have to be careful of not using reflective surfaces on the exterior of the building because - this is serious too - people in the valley below (or many miles away) start complaining to the local council and there is no end to the whingeing. You've just reminded me, and I realise you don't drive much at night, but have you noticed that people are installing really bright white headlights into their cars nowadays? I've got pretty reasonable night vision but sometimes those things startle and dazzle my eyes so much I can't see anything else other than them. I mean what happened to all of the yellow based lights that people used to use?

What sort of floor do you have in the kitchen that is reflective? I don't know about carpet in a kitchen as it can get a bit messy even with the most careful of cooks. And I'm a bit messy (but always clean up after myself) when cooking. It is hard not to be messy.

It won't be long before the leaves and then the blossoms appear on those apple trees. I read recently that the apples and pear trees produce leaves then blossoms whilst most other stone fruit trees are the other way around. Lots of diversity can be found in an orchard, which is good because they're going to need that diversity in order to adapt to a changing climate.

Ah, I hadn't considered that the locals may not have been allowed to utilise the clinic. Interesting. Does the story cover any of the possible medical practices of the locals? It is also interesting that the native wife is considering entering the trade. It makes you wonder what barriers to entry the medicus profession would throw up? Down here the rotters apparently set quotas and crazy entry scores which from some perspectives can be seen as a method of maintaining salaries... Did the medicus have status in that world?

The author nicely ducked a hot button topic. I mean what is traditional anyway? I wonder that because so much of our food stuffs that we eat everyday with such little thought comes from - elsewhere! I mean I love tomatoes which originated in South America and wouldn't be quite so excited if I could only enjoy the local Solanum variety - which is edible and I have a few growing here for the birds - Kangaroo apple. Dunno. Still great to hear that it is a good book. That scone does sound very nice! What sort of herbs did the author use?

Hey, do you have hot cross buns there? I've been conducting serious research to discover who is baking the best one locally. It is an important question you know! ;-)! Plus I'm now coming to the conclusion that perhaps reverse engineering the best hot cross bun recipe seems like the way to go. The dogs enjoyed a failed experiment for dinner this evening and they look a bit sluggish now. :-)!

What? I had no idea that many people died in the eruption - although I do recall discussing that before. I get the people sneaking in for a closer look at what promised to be a big eruption, but what were the loggers possibly doing logging at that time - they were pretty aware that an eruption was imminent? Bad burned is not good and not something that you'd want to experience. I once heard Dr Fiona Wood, who developed and holds the patent for spray on skin for burns victims, speak about treatments for people with third degree burns. It was no small matter at all and a bit close to home because of the bushfire risk down here.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Fobbing the special order customers off onto the other stores is a stroke of genius! Nice one. I reckon special orders are worthwhile when the customer is a regular, but other than that, it may be a one off order that you lose money on and the customer gets grumpy because they have to wait. There doesn't sounds like a whole lot of upside with that process to me. Bookstores are thin on the ground here now that the big Borders chain destroyed the competition and died from wounds accumulated in that battle - which they were probably never going to win anyway. I used to enjoy cruising through the book shops just to see what new book would catch my eye. Hey, I was thinking of re-reading the Annie Hawes series of books next. That should be interesting as I may pick up on a lot more of the goings on than I previously would have. They always had ways to sort out difficult problems.

Oh my! Christmas would have been scary in that household! Hehe! I'll bet she was the sort of child that ransacked the entire house looking for the Christmas presents well in advance of the actual day! Hehe! ;-)! Let's hope that there is no sad cracking going on.

Thanks for the tip. That film was a massive disaster overload! Did they have any plucky band of survivors? It did seem like a whole lot of destruction...

PS: How's broody hen going today?

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Pam,

I love log homes but have heard that they require a lot of maintenance. However we have to re stain ours every seven years or so. One of our building mistakes (suggested by the architect) was the high ceilings for the first floor of the new portion of the house. That makes it too high for us to do our own work so we have to hire someone with a lift to do part of the house and it's not cheap.

Our adventures with the inspectors is only part of the story. We lived here all during the building along with one of my brothers (we had to split them up between me and two other sisters during the building) and our youngest daughter who was 16 and not at all happy about the situation. At one point we had no oven for about a month while the two sides of the house were connected. Also there was a big rainstorm one night when the new part had no roof. The builder, knowing the forecast, put up tarps but after 4 inches of rain the ceiling caved in on the old part of the house where we were living dropping plenty of wet insulation all along the north side of the house. Luckily I could see what was going to happen as the ceiling was bulging from all the water and was able to move everything out of the way for the most part.

On the positive side we had great local builders who did very high quality work and ended up being friends.

Margaret

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Yes that's what I was referring to when I said greens. I've never had a problem hardening the plants once I take the tunnel off. It's really pretty small so it's easy to take on and off depending on the weather and whether or not the cats want to get involved.

The sandhill cranes weren't always very common here but some do stay now and nest here. They are quite a bit taller than herons. Everyone's been commenting on the huge numbers of them the last two days.

The forecast this week calls for rain almost everyday and snow at the end of the week. March weather is so up and down.

Margaret

margfh said...

I did ask my mother-in-law about there bookstore. It was only open two years 1974-76. I was mistaken it wasn't a chain that put them out of business but an employee who went and opened one herself. She was very well off and was able to open a much larger one. My MIL said she wanted to buy them out but they refused and managed to sell everything themselves so there was no financial loss. As far as special orders she said they required payment up front before they would order anything.

Margaret

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I believe that you are correct about the trees initial stirring, I was just waxing ever hopeful.

Have just removed a loaf of bread from the oven which has nearly a third of the medium oatmeal in it. It looks okay but I won't be eating it until breakfast tomorrow, am very curious as to how it has worked.

Yes rye bread is common in Germany. As far as I know that means sour dough and I have never tried using that. Rye bread is only just sneaking into shops here; I wonder whether there was a fear of ergot poisoning?

Son had 12 piglets arrive yesterday afternoon. He says that this is the first time that he has ever had a pig giving birth during the day. This was an unintended pregnancy, the boar got to the sow when he shouldn't have.

Another lovely sunny day.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I don't know what's with the car lights, these days. When I do drive at night (rarely) I keep my brights on, and drop them if I come across another car ... which (hopefully) reminds them to do the same. I slow down, and concentrate on the road, not the oncoming lights. So far, so good. The flooring in the kitchen is some kind of really tough laminate, that looks like light wood. I figure I'd just go with some smaller, cheap (but handsome) throw carpets.

I can't remember any local / traditional medicines coming from the Native side. But the Medicus' wife seems aware of the properties of some medicines, like mandrake. Training seems to be by apprenticeship. Russo, the Medicus always seems to have hospital staff trailing around behind him, where ever he goes. He has a doctor friend who's more a "society" doctor. He has two live in apprentices. Russo's status is kind of interesting. He's an officer, but rather low in the pecking order. Those above him are usually toffs who come out from Rome, do their two years, hopefully make a name for themselves and then go back to Rome and try and get in the Senate. They push Russo, around, a lot.

Ah, I miss-remembered. The cheese scones don't have any herbs in them. Just a good, aged sharp cheddar. I probably thought to myself when I was reading the recipe, "I bet these would be good if I threw in a bit of basil." I'm sure we have hot cross buns here, I've heard of them, but never paid much attention. I'll take a look next time I'm near the bakery.

Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Well, I'm a land baron. :-). All 6 feet by 6 feet by three feet of it. I didn't loose the plot, I found the plot. Took the cemetery tour, yesterday. Sounds like a rock band. The 2016 Cemetery Tour. Didn't get the t-shirt :-). I got directions to check out one cemetery, and then met Melanie, at the second. Loved the first one. Exactly what I had in mind. Secluded, trees on three sides. Old markers, but nothing too over the top.

I suppose Melanie is used to dealing with pretty gloomy people. Well, our afternoon didn't go like that, at all. I told her I liked the Salkum cemetery, as it's pretty close to the Salkum branch library, and I could always wander over and check out a book, or two. :-). I didn't like the second, because it was close to the highway, and I thought the noise would keep me awake. :-). We looked at a few other cemeteries, but they did not impress.

Went back to Salkum. There were two small deer, cavorting among the head stones. I'll be toward the back, on the ring road, close to the tree line. Easy in and out. :-). I can hear a stream, down the wooded hill side. There's some kind of ground cover that's blooming, right across the road. Small blue flowers. We talked vaults, markers, funeral directors, etc.. Now it's onto wills, medical directives and mortuaries. I don't know why, but I felt quit happy, for the rest of the day. maybe it's just getting the whole process started. Getting my ducks in a row.

My computer acted up, this morning. So, if I go dark, not to worry. The fan started running (something I never hear) and it smelled. Something was overheating. Think I'd better start looking into a Apple laptop. This old beast is, probably, over 7 years old.

Broody Hen is back to being her broody old self, again. Sigh. But, when she does go out, the other hens seem a bit more tolerant of her. Lew

Damo said...

@Lewis

Unsolicited computer advice follows, getting a used PC is a very viable option in this day and age. $200-$300 could get you something fast and with still a reasonable chance of another 5+ years. YMMV of course. Don't be afraid to open up your current one and blow the dust out (compressed air is best, a brush not so good unless you avoid touching the chips and circuit boards). Of course the Apples are shiny and I sometimes covet them, they have the advantage of often (but not always) being quite well built too. Still, the transition between windows and mac is painful if you are anything more than a point and click user. So many things just a little bit different.

Craig Curtin said...

In terms of your batteries for the smoke allarms - look up Boost/Buck units on ebay - they are a couple of dollars and cab eb set to output a certain voltage until the donor unit is used up - so you could use dirt 18650 LI-ON batteries (3.7v) and boost it up to the 9V required.

As they have about 4 times the capacity of a 9V battery they should last a good while

Craig