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Sometimes rock bands are so good that they can produce a feeling and an emotion in the listener. The listener is then able to grasp, feel and then hold onto that feeling, before the emotion once again disappears to wherever it came from. The highly acclaimed Australian rock band, Tame Impala, produces dreamy vocals and melodies. In their highly awarded 2012 “Lonerism” album, the band included a song which describes the feelings of only going backwards. The song was on my mind this morning as I made my morning coffee.
I freely admit that I am a coffee snob but can appreciate that not everybody shares my views in this matter. At home I have a proper Italian espresso machine and more importantly I know how to use that machine to produce a quality coffee. When I am away from home, coffee must be made on an espresso machine or I will refuse to consume it. To my mind, instant coffee is a wasted food opportunity and I can vividly recall both of the situations where I have consumed – with absolute horror – instant coffee. Yes twice! Life is too short for such food outrages and there is no place in my life for such things.
The problem is that coffee when consumed in the form of a latte requires milk. Long term readers will recall that I celebrate my tightness with money, however where a product represents true quality over the standard offerings I will support both that product and the producers with my hard earned cash. Milk is one such product and I will happily pay almost $4 per litre (that is almost $15 per gallon) for quality certified organic milk. It is good stuff. Now, I do appreciate that many other people will happily pay $1 per litre (that is slightly less than $4 per gallon) for milk.
Out of curiosity I tasted that $1 per litre milk product and have noted that when the product is heated in an espresso machine it appears to me to consistently have a very sour and acidic taste which I personally do not appreciate in my coffee. And I also wonder what this $1 per litre milk is doing to the dairy farming business because I have read many reports that the dairy farmers are now being forced, because of many different local and global issues, to sell their milk for less than the cost of production: Dairy farmers facing a tough year with new milk prices below cost of production
Then I stumbled across the very worst agricultural news that I have read for quite a long while. The varroa mite which has devastated European honey bee colonies in all other inhabited continents other than Australia has only a few days ago been discovered in the north eastern part of this continent: Varroa mite discovery in Townsville could put the bite on northern queen bee breeders
I believe that the guy in Melbourne that supplies me with bee colonies, sources his bee colonies and/or bee Queens from that corner of the continent and so the discovery of the very destructive varroa mites may change my future plans in relation to the European honey bee hives here.
The possible loss of the European honey bees here will be a disaster for future honey production. On the other hand, there are many species of native bees and other insects present on this farm which can pollinate crops. However, none of those species at this location can produce a surplus supply of honey for their winter stores which humans can harvest. The European honey bees are unique in that regard and their loss will be felt; although I also feel that some of the claims made in the media in that regard have been exaggerated.
And so this morning, I consumed my coffee, looked out of the window into the paddock below and wondered about the future of the dairy and apiary industry. It really felt to me that, we as a society are going backwards, and I wondered what it all meant. And the song looped over and over again in my head as I contemplated the decline of those two industries in Australia.
When products are in decline I often choose to become more self sufficient in relation to those products. For example I do have bees. However it is fortunate that I don’t have a few Jersey cows (for milking purposes) free roaming around the lower parts of the orchard and paddock because last night a huge branch fell off a very old tree. There have been very heavy wind gusts which have followed on from the recent very heavy rainfall. The main branch of that fallen limb now on the ground is well over 1m (about 4 feet) across and it would certainly have squashed a cow or three. In the photo below observant readers will note the huge scar left on the old tree that the branch fell from.
|Very heavy wind gusts ripped this huge chunk of a very old tree overnight|
As sometimes happens in very heavy wind gusts, a branch from one tree can also fall high up into an adjacent tree and there it hangs. The unfortunate thing about this situation is that you never quite know exactly when that branch will fall to the ground. You can be certain that the branch will inevitably fall though.
|A very large branch has become detached and lodged high up in an adjacent tree due to heavy wind gusts|
With the weather today and yesterday it feels to me as if the Spring has arrived early. The skies are blue and the air is warm. But only a few days ago, it snowed more heavily than I have previously experienced at this location. The outside air was very cold that Wednesday morning at -0.6’C (30.9’F), whilst inside the house it felt toasty warm at only 13.3’C (55.9’F).
|The weather station here shows cold temperatures on a very snowy Wednesday morning|
A solid dusting of snow covered everything that morning! It was a real pleasure to experience as it is such a novelty. All of the colours of that morning were completely washed out except for the warm and inviting yellow light coming from inside the house (and the bright yellow trailer):
|A solid dusting of snow covered everything that morning and washed out all of the colours|
Even the nearby mountains (Mount Bullengarook to the left and closest and Mount Blackwood to the right and further away) which are slightly lower in elevation than the farm were covered in snow and I felt as if I were living in some sort of alpine area!
|The nearby mountains of Bullengarook and Blackwood where also covered in snow that morning giving the Central Highlands an alpine feel|
All of the plants in the many raised garden beds were covered in snow that morning too:
|All of the plants in the raised garden beds were covered in snow that morning|
None of those plants have shown any signs of being damaged by the snow in the days since. The courtyard behind the house was also covered in snow and it just looked nice.
|The courtyard behind the house was also covered in snow and it looked nice|
The ferns from which this place gets its name also put on a good show in the snow and it is possible to see how the ferns collect rainwater and nutrients in their core trunk through the shape of their leaves.
|A tree fern puts on a good show in the recent snow|
None of the fruit trees showed any damage from the snow fall and even this avocado tree has survived unscathed.
|An avocado tree has not shown any damage since the recent snow fall|
The most showy of the fruit trees were the citrus as they displayed their snow catch along with their showy winter fruits.
|The citrus trees put on the best display with their snow and showy brightly coloured fruit|
The chickens however were not quite so keen on the snow and despite having an all-weather run, they hid in their attached chicken house.
|The chickens were unimpressed with the recent snowfall|
Regular readers will be happy to note that Poopy the Pomeranian (who is actually a Swedish Lapphund) reached far back into his genetic heritage and revelled in the cold and snowy conditions.
|Poopy the Pomeranian enjoys the recent heavy snowfall|
Poopy took time away from enjoying the snow to munch on a bone that had been recovered by Sir Scruffy, but discarded due to the unfavourable (for him) weather conditions.
|Poopy enjoys munching on a bone in the snow|
Poopy who is an intelligent canine was also quick to point out to me that solar photovoltaic panels were very unlikely to produce any energy at all if they were covered in snow!
|The solar photovoltaic panels were covered in snow on Wednesday and produced very little energy that morning|
I was aware of the impending predicted heavy snowfall for that day. With that prediction in mind, on the previous day I ran the petrol generator for a few hours for the first time in three years and put about 4.4kWh of charge into the house batteries. That decision was made because the charge in the batteries had become low enough due to the very heavy winter cloud that had hung over the farm for many weeks and I had become concerned about damaging the batteries and/or shortening their lifespan.
Fortunately the snow melted by mid-morning and the solar photovoltaic panels once began to produce some energy as the sun peered through the heavy clouds.After the snow eventually melted, the editor and I could get back to work on farm activities. All of the screenings were repaired around the recently installed new steel round raised garden beds. Screenings is just a fancy name for small white rocks and these come from a local quarry and those rocks have a high quantity of lime which means that with a little bit of rain and some sun they will set hard like rock and provide an all-weather surface.
|Rock screenings which contain good quantities of lime were placed around the new steel round raised garden beds this week|
The editor and I also constructed another concrete step on the new stairway up to the future strawberry and blackberry beds.
|Another concrete step was added to the new stairway leading up to the future blackberry and strawberry beds|
Observant readers will also notice that the screenings leading up to the new concrete stairs were also repaired this week.
I mentioned before that despite the snow fall, the sun and warmer air of the past few days makes me feel as if Spring has arrived early. And that feeling is also shared by some of the plants here:
|An asparagus bravely pokes its head out of the soil during the middle of winter|
|The first of the many jonquils planted in the orchards put on a flower show this week|
|An almond tree began to produce its first blossoms this week in the middle of winter|
Maybe despite the snow, we are actually going forwards into an early Spring?
The temperature outside now at about 8.30pm is 10.1’C (50.1’F). So far this year there has been 570.4mm (22.4 inches) which is up from last week’s total of 557.4mm (21.9 inches).
Solar PV Statistics (from 4.6kW of installed PV panels)
Tuesday – 12th July Batteries started at 37% full and 2.9kW was generated that day (and 4.4kW from the petrol generator)
Wednesday – 13th July Batteries started at 44% full and 7.6kW was generated that day
Thursday – 14th July Batteries started at 50% full and 5.1kW was generated that day
Friday – 15th July Batteries started at 57% full and 5.2kW was generated that day
Saturday – 16th July Batteries started at 67% full and 7.3kW was generated that day
Sunday – 17th July Batteries started at 69% full and 8.5kW was generated that dayMonday- 18th July Batteries started at 73% full and 6.2kW was generated that day