This is the CBF, how may we help you today?
- I’d like to invest some trees in the Cherokee Bank of Firewood, I replied.
Thanks for your enquiry Sir. I can recommend the government guaranteed at call deposit account which earns, let me see here, a rate of return on your deposited trees of 1.5%. Remember that this account is an at-call account and you can retrieve it at any time from one of two firewood branches which are located near you, for your convenience, and it is government guaranteed.
|CBF Branch Eastside Cherokee "The Peacock Branch"|
|CBF Branch Westside Cherokee "The Weather Vane Branch"|
- Oh, I was hoping to get a better return for my tree investment?
I’m sorry Sir, I’m not authorised to speak with you about those more sophisticated investment options. Would you like to speak with one of our specialist tree wealth planners?
I’ll just put you through now Sir.
Hey, this is Carl, I’m a specialist tree wealth planner, how are you going today?
- I’m good. I’m looking to invest some trees with the CBF but I was after a better return than the standard at-call account.
Sure, I should be able to help you with that. Before we get started, just how many trees are we talking about here?
- About 10,000 trees.
That sure is a lot of trees.
- Yeah, it is a lot of trees. I’ve been collecting them for a while, but the growth hasn’t been as good as it could be.
Yeah, I’ve heard that story. With so many trees, you are clearly a Sophisticated Investor and I could get you into one of our Green Leaves Managed Investment Trusts. It is an exclusive investment opportunity available only for Sophisticated Investors with plenty of trees, and the returns are good. It is a revolutionary product!
- That sounds great as I love circles. So, I’m interested. Just how good are these returns?
Oh, the returns are really good. Here is a testimonial from one of our sophisticated investors enjoying what is known as the returns from the: CBF Green Leaves Derivative Managed Investment Trusts Number 7.
|A satisfied customer of the CBF enjoying the returns from the derivative managed investment trusts number 7|
- I’m starting to get excited at the thought of all of those derivative returns.
Yeah, we’re excited too! The really smart money nowadays is into leveraging. And you want to be smart because interest rates are so low nowadays and tree growth is also low so you’re competing against other investors searching for yield. I know that the best way to score those higher yields is to borrow against your initial tree investment and then use those borrowed funds to grow your tree investments. If you earn more trees than you borrow, then you are miles ahead.
- This sounds great. Where can I sign up?
Well, as a Sophisticated Investor with a large tree portfolio to invest, you can have exclusive access to our CBF private wealth specialists who will assist you personally and help you to make the smartest investment decisions!
Apologies for the silly banking digression, but this week I began withdrawing a few loads of dry firewood from one of the two branches of the Cherokee Bank of Firewood (CBF) – err, sorry, I meant firewood sheds. Access to dry, seasoned, cut, and split firewood supplies is better than money in the bank.
|The author has begun removing a few wheelbarrow loads of dry firewood from one of the two sheds|
Managing the firewood resources here has been a very long learning process for me that has taken six years of accumulated experience. And it is only this year that I believe that I have stored enough firewood for the entire years supply.
Firewood is a useful energy source as it provides heating for: the house; the hot water system; and an oven and stove top for cooking. However, managing firewood that is harvested form the local trees requires a person to consider their energy needs not just for today, but for many years into the future. The local trees, Eucalyptus Obliqua (Messmate) will not burn when they are green (which is a fancy way of saying: Alive). They require two years of seasoning (which is another fancy way of saying: Dead) before they lose the sap and moisture that prevents them from burning when green. And even if those trees have received the seasoning, if they are at all damp from the very humid winters here, they won’t burn and it is almost impossible for them to dry out during this humid and cold time of year.
As you can see, it is a complex problem learning how to manage a local resource. One mental tool that has served me well with answering those management questions is the concept that: If I’m not considering how to manage a resource or system, then it is probably working and requires no further thought. Firewood has been on my mind in previous years, but not so this year.
Winter is fast approaching and many of the deciduous trees have been putting on a great show of colour. The Japanese maple trees are some of my favourites as they are not only heat and drought tolerant, but they provide beautiful colour in the garden:
|A Japanese maple puts on a great show of late autumn colour|
Last year was a very cloudy winter and so I made the recent decision to add two extra solar photo-voltaic panels to the power system. Regular readers will recall that the steel free standing frame was manufactured out of scrap steel and then installed over the past few weeks. This week that free standing frame for the new solar panels received a final coat of quality metal paint.
|The new free standing solar panel mount received a final coat of quality metal paint|
This part of the mountain range has long been associated with agriculture, although you wouldn’t know that nowadays as the forest is very dense. The train line from the goldfields in Bendigo to Melbourne passes this side of the mountain range and historically timber, berries, and potatoes were all harvested from here and transported into Melbourne by steam train.
Long time readers will recall that strawberries and potatoes grow like feral triffids here. However, the local wildlife loves berries and last year was the final straw for me as I was able to harvest less than one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of strawberries because the entire crop was eaten - plants and all - by pretty much any animal that could eat them, including my own dogs!
A few months ago, the editor and I abandoned the existing berry growing systems and had a complete rethink and brainstorming session on how to grow these high value crops without feeding all the wildlife (and dogs!) in the process. We then hatched a cunning plan and over the next few months we will commence constructing a series of different enclosures for those crops in an unused location on the farm. However, before that commences, we have to complete the excavations and new garden beds behind the machinery and firewood sheds that were constructed last year.
Those excavations are a big job and they also include the construction of a set of concrete stairs providing access to that new plant growing area.
This is what the area looked like prior to excavations this week:
|The area behind the machinery shed prior to excavations this week|
The new berry and potato beds will be planted on a terrace above these two sheds. You will notice that the current garden bed is way too steep and so very few plants have ever grown there. The excavations over the next few weeks will correct that problem.The excavations have to be completed so that the new terrace is sited correctly.
After half a day’s excavations and soil removal, the cutting behind the machinery shed now looks like this:
|The cutting behind the machinery shed now looks less steep|
During those excavations a lot of clay fell behind the firewood shed ('the peacock branch of the CBF'). This was a problem because access behind that firewood shed had also not been previously completed. Further excavations had to then be undertaken behind that firewood shed simply to obtain wheelbarrow access to the clay that had fallen there. You will also notice that the slope of that cutting is still far too steep and future excavations will have to be completed to make the cutting less steep before that area can be planted out.
|The cutting behind the adjacent firewood shed was also excavated this week so as to obtain wheelbarrow access|
Observant readers will be able to spot Toothy the overseer in the photo above enjoying a quiet kip in the sun whilst the editor and I continued the earthworks.
Once the excavations commenced we were able to continue constructing more concrete stairs leading up to the new berry and potato growing area. This time, Poopy the Pomeranian (who is actually a Swedish Lapphund) supervised the concrete stair construction works.
|Poopy the Pomeranian supervises the concrete stair construction works|
And another concrete stair was added this morning – this time with no canine supervision!
|Another concrete stair was added this morning|
On Sunday, the editor and I woke up before the sun had even risen over the farm. Only a very serious task would prompt such a horrid course of events. Seriously, it was a very strange and disturbing sight to see the sun rise from the east and behind the mountain range as we drove our way into the big smoke of Melbourne on an errand. That morning, two coffees were a necessity!
The reason that we were driving into the big smoke of Melbourne with the bright yellow trailer was that the editor had been looking for a very large and high quality second hand hardwood table on auction websites for a number of months. And during the past week, we finally scored! We won the auction on a second hand locally made tasmanian oak (a local hardwood species) timber table for $100. That was worth travelling into the big smoke to pick up on a Sunday morning because other than us, nobody was interested in that table!
The table itself was over 17 years old and in the past someone had stained the timber a very unfortunate walnut colour and perhaps that was why nobody else was interested in it. However the table top was quality old growth hardwood that was dead flat and because of that I could discern that the table was lovingly made. The top was also 30mm (1.2 inches) thick timber! It was worth waking up before the sun had peered above the horizon, although I do freely admit that the coffee assisted with those problems.
We brought the table back, but along the way we made the decision to stop in at the local bakery and pick up a pie and lamington each, which were very good. As we were on the road anyway, we thought that it would be a nice idea to stop off at a picnic stop high up in the mountain range and enjoy our pies and lamingtons whilst surrounded by the beauty of the forest up in that part of the mountain range.
It was at about that time that I recalled that winter was closing in and I picked up a little hitchhiker from the picnic spot that was very hard to remove from my leg! Yes, a leech had latched onto my leg.
|This naughty leech that had decided that my leg was tasty morsel|
The leech enjoyed a lovely feed until we arrived home, where a small amount of salt onto the little parasite ruined its life! Once the leech had detached itself from my leg, the feeling of it rapidly crawling away across my skin was very creepy.
I wasn’t easily deterred by a parasite though and we soon started the task of sanding the new (to us) hardwood table.
|The new hardwood table had begun to be sanded and the beautiful grain started to show|
It may be hard for people to believe this, but that particular task with the hardwood table commenced over 20 years ago!
Way back then, we purchased a bright blue table with a vinyl linoleum surface for about $70. Which at the time was a total bargain.
|The bright blue table with vinyl linoleum surface was purchased over 20 years ago now for about $70|
That was a very good price back then too. Nowadays as a population we are much more sophisticated because we appear to place no value at all on well-constructed and quality second hand items! Obviously, the bright blue paint and the linoleum on that table 20 years ago were forgiveable fashion sins, because underneath it all, it was still a quality antique hardwood table. So way back in the day we stripped that table back to its bare bones. And this week that same table received a structural upgrade as it was re-purposed.
|The once bright blue table received a structural upgrade this week|
Unfortunately, I have completely run out of time and words and will have to continue this story of the tables next week!
The temperature outside now at about 7.30pm is 7.6’C (45.7’F). So far this year there has been 282.0mm (11.1 inches) which is up from last week’s total of 262.2mm (10.3 inches).