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The door to the outside world slid open and a gush of cold and damp air blew into the warm house. It was Saturday night during late winter and the rain was again running along the valley far below the farm. Wet winters are a nice time to be perched high up on the side of a mountain, because up here in hillbilly country, the soil is damp, but well drained. The valley at the base of the mountain range is a whole different story though, because many parts of that valley are beginning to resemble a swamp. Anyway, as the door to the outside world slid open, the editor poked her head inside and said: “You’re not going to believe this, and make sure you bring the camera!”
I have to admit that the outside weather conditions that night were very sub fluffy optimal and I was reluctant to head outdoors to see what possible antics the wombats were now up to in the orchard. On a not unrelated side story, a fierce wombat had been the feature of a news story only a few days ago because a lady in Canberra was mauled by a particularly ferocious wombat: 'I really thought I was going to lay there and die': Wombat mauls woman walking dogs in Canberra. Hmmm, those two rather large dogs in the photo in the article could probably benefit with a bit of Fernglade Farm fluffy canine / marsupial interaction training. And the first rule of fluffy when it comes to wombats is: Don’t annoy the wombats (edit – or do so from a respectable distance).
That night though, I was however completely unprepared for what I saw outside hovering over the valley in the darkness. And no, it wasn’t the mothership which was about to disgorge its payload of rampaging aliens who would obliterate all before them. And no, it also wasn’t one of the local marsupial creatures performing a particularly dexterous martial arts move – worthy of Bruce Lee himself – on one of the fruit trees in the orchard. No, it was none of those things, although they would make for a good story wouldn't they? Although the story would possibly be a bit truncated if it were indeed the marauding aliens.
It was a moonbow!
|A moonbow hung over the Barringo valley on Saturday night|
This is serious! It really was a very rare sighting of a moonbow hanging over the Barringo valley. For those that aren’t technically inclined in all things weather related, a moonbow is simply a lunar rainbow, or a night time rainbow. A rainbow occurs when the sunlight during the day refracts light upon the droplets in rainfall. A moonbow on the other hand occurs when sun light reflected off the surface of the moon at night refracts light upon the droplets in rainfall. I never even believed such a thing existed, but apparently moonbows have been mentioned at least since Aristotle's Meteorology (circa 350 BC), so they are rare events, but at the same time, they’re old hat, but also way cool!
A closer photo shows the arc of the moonbow rising up out of the Barringo valley.
|A closer photo shows the arc of the moonbow rising up out of the Barringo valley|
Who knows why, but for some strange reason this week, my mind has drifted into the distant past and I have been contemplating the old 1970’s television show Kung Fu. That show had some great quotes and the Internet is quite useful in this regard as it provides a list of many of those quotes. In one episode Master Kan advised the much younger Caine (played by the now deceased actor David Carradine) that: "To suppress a truth is to give it force beyond endurance." That is sage advice!
If I was to slip into the mindset of that particular 1970’s television show for just a short moment, I’d say something obscure such as: “The way of the fluffy is a temple, whilst the dark forces of product crapification are arrayed against one, but be like the sun, grasshopper, and what is within you will warm the earth.” I have to confess to you the reader, that the dark forces of product crapification are pretty strong as I have discovered to my detriment this week.
Product crapification refers to the increasingly shoddy products that we are sold. Every now and then I get stung by this dark and unrelenting force. Long term readers will recall that I have a nose for a bargain and am happy to follow my nose to where it may lead. And a few years ago I purchased a well priced leather couch. I like the leather couch, the editor likes the leather couch and the dogs like the leather couch. Its comfy. The problem is that, over the past year or so, that leather couch has started to crack, and chunks of leather have begun falling off the seats.
|The leather couch has started to crack and chunks of leather are falling off it|
I had never owned any leather furniture previously and was totally unaware that this cracking of the leather was even a remote possibility. I initially started to wonder whether I had actually purchased a vinyl (i.e. plastic) couch, but after some enquiries with re-upholsterers I discovered the awful truth. The leather coating on the couch is actually a manufactured leather made up from scraps of leather off-cuts which are glued to a synthetic backing and then cleverly joined so as to appear as if it were a single animal hide. Who knew that this manufacturing technique was even possible? Talk about product crapification, and you don’t need to be Einstein to know that the entire leather couch covering will eventually crack and fail. And I am now forced to consider the ethics of having this couch re-upholstered versus the economic realities of replacing it with another couch which is made from a proper leather hide.
To add insult to injury, I recently had a very good idea which was subject to product crapification. Long term readers will recall that the editor and I brew all of our own alcoholic beverages. We brew enough home brew to provide an equivalent of one glass each for four nights of every week. The interesting thing that we have learned from this home brew experience is that in order to age all of that home brew for a minimum of one year, we have to brew and store a phenomenal quantity of home brew. There really is a lot of home brew product either fermenting or ageing around the house.
The problem is that when visitors turn up at the house, they do not appreciate the sheer quantity of home brew that has to be fermented and stored to achieve that level of supply. And because people are people, their minds leap instantly to the wrong impression which they are only too happy to share with us. So recently I came up with the genius idea of storing all of the fermenting home brew product in a cupboard out of sight of the general populace. The problem simply disappears!
To that end, I managed to scrounge a very nice looking second hand solid timber cupboard which can be left open to let the heat in so as to speed along the fermentation process, but also closed when visitors arrive. It was a totally genius idea, except that once we began sanding the solid timber cupboard we discovered that product crapification had struck again and the side panels for some strange reason in that otherwise solid timber cupboard were made from a timber veneer. A timber veneer is a very thin layer of high quality timber glued to a more substantial inner layer of totally rubbish el-cheapo timber. The timber veneer had been carefully matched to all of the other solid timber components too, so that ruse was very hard to spot. I never would have thought to check for that in only the side panels and nothing else. At least if there are problems with sanding the sides of the unit, I will be able to replace the two sides with solid hardwood.
|We have now begun sanding a second hand cupboard which will house the many demijohns of fermenting home brew out of the sight of visitors|
It is very hard to tell what products are subject to product crapification and what aren’t. The majority of the electrical components that control the off grid solar power system are locally made. I recently acquired a new spare battery charge controller because one of the existing battery charge controllers was having a few very minor issues but which could be repaired. Upon connecting up the new spare battery charge controller, I discovered to my absolute and total horror that it was even more faulty than my existing battery charge controller. I couldn’t believe it! However, the manufacturer of the battery charge controller is located in Melbourne, so I contacted them and dropped the spare controller off for repairs at their business. After two days and some minor repairs, they returned the spare controller to me and it now works as good as new (which it was meant to be anyway)!
|The new spare battery charge controller (in the silver box with the digital readout and the code PL60) was installed after recent repairs into the off grid power system|
In other solar power news, a lovely guest on Sunday undertook the work of re-wiring the second and much smaller shed solar powered off grid system which provides power for several garden lights and water pumps. The smaller off grid solar power system had been getting more complex over the years and rewiring was an act of anti-product crapification which may help to balance out the many unjust blows that I have been dealt with over the past week. The way of the fluffy is still strong!
|A guest on Sunday rewired the much smaller solar power off grid system used for garden lights and water pumps|
In between the many extended bouts of rain the editor and I have continued excavating the new terrace which will provide a place for the soon to be constructed and planted blackberry and strawberry enclosures.
|Excavations continued this week on the new terrace which will provide a place for the soon to be constructed blackberry and strawberry enclosures|
We have also continued taking out many of the very old tree stumps which are dotted all about the farm.
|We have also continued taking out many of the very old tree stumps which are dotted all about the farm|
The orchard has yet to bloom but the fruit trees are growing and it won’t be long until the orchard is a riot of leaves, colours and flowers:
|The orchard has yet to bloom but the fruit trees are growing and it won’t be long until the orchard is a riot of colours and flowers|
The daffodil flowers have continued to bloom this week and I have observed that the older the bulbs are, the earlier they will bloom.
|The daffodil flowers have continued to bloom this week|
But the daffodil flowers are not a moonbow are they?