Monday, 14 November 2016

Money and Prejudice

This blog is now available as an mp3 podcast through the link: www.ferngladefarm.com.au

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a small holding in the black, must surely be growing a patch of drugs. That universal truth or question was actually posed to me a few weeks ago by my now former hairdresser – let’s call him Mr Darcy (not his real name).

I have to confess that, at first I was rather annoyed by the question posed to me by Mr Darcy. However, as time passed, I became less annoyed by the question and more curious as to why he posed that question and what it actually meant. A cheeky friend helpfully suggested that Mr Darcy was perhaps looking for a supplier, and all I can add to my friend’s witty observation is that we shall never know the truth of that particular matter! There was something about the question that intrigued me as I felt that there was a deeper truth hidden within it, but for a while I couldn’t quite come to grips with that deeper truth. Ever since the question was posed to me, I have been turning it over and over in my mind, until I came to a reasonable understanding of those deeper truths.

The day that I had my haircut was a beautiful spring day and I was in good spirits. The sun was shining and the weather was sweet. I’d only just completed my visit to the Queen Victoria Market on the outskirts of the Central Business District of Melbourne. I usually visit that market once every two months or so to purchase all of the fruit and vegetables that I can’t grow here. As an example, it is way too cold to grow peanuts here, and besides when we did try growing them, Poopy the Pomeranian (who is actually a Swedish Lapphund), dug them all up and ate them!

What were we talking about? Oh, that’s right: A beautiful spring day. It was a weekday and I arrived at the hairdresser early and they were running a little bit late. I was in no hurry at all, and so I sat in the chair by the window at the hairdresser and watched all of the people walking past on the street and wondered about their stories. I was also savouring the expectation of a coffee after the haircut and possibly after that, a quality hamburger. My gut would soon be filled with quality food and drink and all was good with the world. It was only when the question was posed to me by Mr Darcy that a small dark cloud entered into my consciousness.

In its most blunt terms, Mr Darcy’s question was highlighting to me that there is a public perception that it is not possible to make a reasonable income derived from the land on a small holding, and therefore, I must be up to some sort of illegal and also possibly very profitable business here. My conduct elicited so many fascinating questions such as: It was an expensive haircut after all; how was I enjoying it during the week; how did I pay for it; and why was I so relaxed? These were all good questions and honestly, I’d heard Mr Darcy’s trope before from other people, so I felt that I could no longer ignore the deeper truths which people were communicating to me.

Arable land in Australia is very expensive. Arable, is a fancy word which means that you can readily grow crops on that land i.e. the land is fertile. The cheapest land available, whether you are leasing or buying – like the block of land that I live on – is usually cheap because it is not arable. The climate may be perfect, the rainfall may be regular, but if the land is not arable, then you will be very unlikely to be able to readily grow crops. I understood this problem when I purchased this block of land as I knew there was no top soil at all here. This lack of fertility in land can be fixed by many different means, but it takes time and also resources such as compost and/or mulch. Some of those resources, such as, compost can be free (for example Green Manure crops) if you have the time. However, if you have either a lease or a mortgage to pay for the use of that land, then you may be under pressure to grow something to sell straight away so as to pay for your lease or mortgage. That is not a good situation.

As an insight to the readers here, I reckon over the past decade, we have distributed over 500 cubic metres (650 cubic yards) of mulch and/or compost onto this land so as to restore the soil fertility. It sounds like a lot, but in reality, it is about one cubic per week over that long period of time.

Even if you somehow managed to obtain your land cost free, you then have to consider what crops you are going to grow and who as well as how, are you going to sell all of that produce? Those questions are no small matters. For example this past winter because of the excellent rainfall, I had a huge crop of lemons. There have been hundreds of lemon fruits grown here this year. Lemons generally sell at the market for about $1 each and that equates into hundreds of dollars of income. However, that small income of only a couple of hundreds of dollars of fruit sales during winter is not going to cover any average lease or mortgage payments. And that completely ignores the initial purchase and expense of feeding and maintaining all of those fruit trees during their long and productive lives.

However, if you were to consume those lemons and/or find a productive use for the lemons, then you would not have to purchase other food stuffs from an external source which requires money (which has to be earned). I have been converting those lemons into lemon wine and also feeding them to the chickens and they have been enjoying about 5 lemons per day for the past few months.

The Mr Darcy character of the Jane Austen story, Pride and Prejudice could well afford a mansion. That character was clearly full of money. Most of the rest of us mere mortals are clearly not full of money, but many of us aspire to live in, purchase, or build a mansion. Last week, I outed myself as a fan of the long running television show: Grand Designs UK. It is a great show and has been running for 17 years now. No doubt Mr Darcy (the original one not the hairdresser one) would have wanted to have been on the show! One of the core themes expressed in that show is that people design houses that are far too big, and generally when that happens the individuals run over budget and end up in debt. In one particular stand out show, the male of the household was an accountant, and the family eventually ended up with apparently 11 different forms of debt just to pay for the construction. I am an accountant and I didn’t even know that there were 11 different forms of debt available to an individual! It was an impressive feat, but the larger question is: Was it worth it?

A smaller house is cheaper to construct, cheaper to keep warm, easier to clean, and cheaper to maintain when it inevitably requires maintenance. People tend to understand those concepts in an intuitive sense but then fail to implement them in their own lives. And there is nothing inherently wrong with those alternative choices as long as they can afford them.

As Mr Darcy (of this story - the pretender) was cutting my hair and we were chatting away, he was also clearly doing the calculations in his head. And to him those calculations lead him to ask me his rather inappropriate question. I was so floored by his question that I never really had the chance to explain to him that: We purchased a very cheap block of land that nobody else wanted; We built a small house using our sweat labour; We obtain a lot of energy and water from the resources on this block of land; and we try to consume as much produce as we can which is grown on this farm. It really is that simple.

Well, it isn’t really that simple. The weather here this spring has been so variable (massive swings between hot and cold weather) that the tomato seedlings have died after planting them out, not once, not twice, but three times! This week the editor and I held an emergency tomato summit and discussed the various options for the tomatoes this season.
Tomato cam tells no lies and this is one sad sorry tale of tomato flies and death and stuff (thanks Mariah!)
As the weather had been very changeable between hot and cold, but usually cold, the editor and I decided to place large quantities of composted woody mulch between all of the rows in the tomato enclosure. The enclosure required 2 cubic metres (2.6 cubic yards) of composted woody mulch and the purpose of this is to keep the raised tomato soil mounds warm by levellling out the surface. The composted woody mulch has enough bacterial activity that it should keep the soil warmer than it would otherwise be. The composted woody mulch should also reduce the evaporation of soil moisture on hot and sunny days.
The tomato enclosure has had a good quantity of composted woody mulch placed between the existing rows so as to keep the soil warm
Observant readers will note that a new leaky hose watering system has replaced the overhead sprinkler. The leaky hose will provide more water for the struggling tomato seedlings. The raised soil mounds were also replanted with tomato seedlings and about 100 tomato seeds were planted into those rows as well. We have decided to hedge our bets and so obtained an additional batch of tomato seeds from a quality supplier.

In the event that all of the tomato seeds and seedlings die, then I guess there is always the local native tomato equivalent (which is also in the Nightshade plant family) which is a Kangaroo Apple. Unfortunately, that plant, although it is in the same plant family as tomatoes, the edible fruit tastes like soap to me…
A large Kangaroo apple (purple flowers) is enjoying the conditions and should produce a bumper crop of soap tasting, but edible fruit
We now take a quick break from scheduled programming to report on the ongoing dog wars here at Fernglade Farm. Toothy (a long haired dachshund), the contender, managed to thief off with a container of double cream. Scritchy the boss dog (a miniature fox terrier) was having none of that Toothy business:
Toothy gets the double cream, whilst Scritchy the boss dog looks on and moves in for the kill
Scritchy however, gets what Scritchy wants…
Scritchy gets what Scritchy wants
Back to the regular programming! Speaking of Scritchy, we almost walked on a massive toad the other night. The weather had turned back to winter conditions and it was raining.
Scritchy and I spotted a huge toad here last week
The weather turned really ugly over the past few days as Sir Scruffy can attest, and who in such conditions often resembles a wet mop.
Sir Scruffy performs his best impersonation of a wet mop as the weather turned ugly
I even spotted a dragonfly sheltering under the dry veranda one night as the rain fell and the winds howled.
A dragonfly was sheltering under the dry veranda as the rain fell and the winds howled
Over the weekend, in between the rain, I began to clear up the two huge fallen chunks of trees which almost dropped into the orchard a few weeks back.
One of the two large branches which almost dropped into the orchard over the past few weeks
Fortunately, the chainsaw is a handy tool with which to turn those dropped branches into firewood. Firewood as I should remind the readers, is a mostly free energy source if you live near a forest!
The author cuts up one of the recently fallen massive tree branches into usable firewood lengths
The mowing is now mostly complete. And it has been very interesting to observe just how fast some of the companion plants around the fruit trees grow. Borage is one of the fastest growing plants and is reasonably indestructible.
This little borage plant has begun to rapidly regrow since it was chopped and dropped
The few apricots that I have growing on the many trees here are starting to swell and ripen.
The few apricots that I have growing on the many trees here are starting to swell and ripen
The almonds are growing better this season than ever before!
The almonds are growing better this season than ever before!
The rain added to the cold conditions has meant that the otherwise hardy peaches and nectarine fruit trees have succumbed to curly leaf, which is a fungal disease. As you can see in this fruit tree, the older leaves will die back, and the fruit tree should recover.
The rain added to the cold conditions has meant that the otherwise hardy peaches and nectarine fruit trees have succumbed to curly leaf
The older of the two asparagus beds has begun to regrow new spears since we cut it back hard last week. We are now harvesting those spears and will continue to do so for a few more weeks.
The older of the two asparagus beds has begun to regrow new spears since we cut it back hard last week
A white sapote fruit tree which is a sub-tropical fruit tree which lost its leaves during the winter as it is far outside its normal range has begun to regrow its leaves.
A white sapote fruit tree which lost its leaves during the winter has begun to regrow those leaves
The rhododendrons are looking superb and are putting on a good show of flowers. This one is located next to a sugar maple.
This rhododendron next to a sugar maple is putting on a good show of flowers
But the bearded irises are some of the showiest flowers around!
Bearded irises are some of the showiest flowers around!
The temperature outside now at about 8.30pm is 8.0’C (46.4’F). So far this year there has been 1,110.6mm (43.7 inches) which is up from last week’s total of 1,069.0mm (42.1 inches).

70 comments:

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

I think the other factor about money that people don't consider, is how quickly savings accumulate when spending is kept in check. People just have no idea how much money they spend...

Wasn't the rain great? I was prepared for no rain for the rest of the year, then we had 40 mm in two days. Cracker of a thunderstorm too -- my youngest was dancing naked in the rain/hail ;-)

We've got some tomatoes that are 30cm tall now, and have also distributed some of the tomato volunteers. I've put a few tiny (4cm) seedlings in with the broad beans, which we haven't cut down yet but will soon. They may not survive the hot weather later this week, we'll see..
I've wondered about trying to make cloches out of wine flagons by angle grinding the base. I wonder if you gave the seedlings some shelter whether it would help..?

Regarding leaf curl, you can spray the tree with copper something during winter. I think I'll do that next year, because we've had quite a bit of curl also.

Cheers, Angus

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Arable land here, costs about £10,000 an acre. Obviously the price is variable but I haven't seen any cheaper.

Only women go to hairdressers here, men go to barbers.

Mr Darcy would never have had anything to do with Grand Designs, he was a discrete member of the upper classes, only the arrivistes would touch such a programme.

I am failing to get to grips with your asparagus harvesting, perhaps there is a serious climate difference.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to give a big thanks to Damo for his assistance and good advice with the podcast. His advice and assistance has been invaluable.

Whilst I'm at it, I also wanted to add a big thanks to everyone for their ongoing dialogue, participation and enjoyment of the blog.

My goodness, but we are having fun aren't we?

Now onto the regular scheduled programming! :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Sun Tzu also advised us to constantly seek improvement and I feel the wisdom of his words.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Exactly! I save the seeds from the earliest, largest and tastiest fruit and vegetables too. I just erred in committing all of the saved tomato seeds to this years seedlings. And most of those have turned toes up, so to speak. What a lesson to learn. I occasionally hear preppers speaking on the radio and they seriously have no idea just how tough nature can be... However, we all learn and move on.

Well, that is an interesting story. The offer of free seedlings was much talked about, but not acted upon. Next year, I will deliver them and assist with the planting to ensure that dissensus rules. The possible loss is heart-breaking, but the show is not over yet, it is sort of in the final act...

This week's blog will show the strategies that we took. In such cases, I often believe it is best to go right back to basics and so we have done that with the tomatoes.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Interesting, in a good way, with food is where new possibilities emerge and one can show their culinary genius. ;-)! I reckon your time in a commercial kitchen has given you a good feel for what will go with what when it comes to food. Sometimes, I reckon anyway, some people just have no feel for those sorts of things. Speaking of mint, someone once served me watermelon and mint which just tasted weird to me. But a touch of mint in those patties. Yum! Plus mint is very good for you.

Thanks for the link to fry bread. What a little ripper that would be! Total 100% Yum! Mate, lucky for you that I was not there as, well, people don't always have to share well do they? Look at the photos with the nachos ingredients on the fry bread.

It is interesting, but we have a similar type of bread here called: Damper. It was the traditional bread of the swagmen, drovers, stockmen and other travellers. Pretty much anyone who was on the move and couldn't wait around to have yeast make a loaf rise. The Aboriginals apparently used to make it using ground millet which is a local grain.

What an interesting book. Did it share any insights on the cuisine of the Great Depression? The book that I am reading at the moment talks about food. It is interesting that the food improves during that time as the child moved away from the urban areas. In the urban areas, everything including the squeak was used in cooking...

Yes, I became interested in marketing because I noticed that it produced a level of discontent in people and wondered about that for a while. I didn't have to wonder too long.

Perhaps that painting had acquired a baleful reputation based on peoples experiences with it? The book that I am reading was written by an author who became Buddhist after many years of practicing Catholicism and it is interesting just how often she writes about amulets, talismans, and mantras attached to that religion. They liked their stuff for sure!

Wow. Time is a cure for most ills they say. Well done him and you. I've heard of that whole smashing letterbox thing and watched a CSI episode about it, it must have been at least a decade ago now. Some cheeky householder had filled their letterbox with concrete leading to a death by misadventure...

My thoughts go out to the readers from New Zealand and I mourn for the destruction in Christchurch which is a beautiful city with which I had the luck to visit prior. I read this today by the NZ author Ruth Park who moved to Australia as an adult in her book: "Fence around the cuckoo":

"There is nothing like an earthquake for showing you what you are - a speck of dust on the hide of an unimaginably powerful living entity that does not care whether you are there or not." She witnessed the tsunami which occurred after an earthquake destroyed the town of Napier in NZ and was attacked by a squid during the event.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - So. It's not so much that peanuts won't grow at your place, it's just that you have to figure out how to keep the dogs off. :-).

O.K. So you were deeply offended and generally (butt) hurt by Mr. D'Arcy's questioning. Aspersions were cast upon you law-bid-ness. Assumptions were made. Well .... if you were clean shaven, wearing a suit and tie with well polished shoes and manicured hands, do you think he would have asked you that question? I can imagine what your hands look like. Mine are certainly shot to ... :-). He probably thought he had Ned Kelly in his chair. There's a whole segment of the population that idolizes the Kelly's, Capone's, Bonnie & Clyde's and Dillinger's of the world.

I get a sense that your offense may come from "How dare you assume I'm so financially distressed that I have to grow dope. You think I'm POOR!" :-). And, there's the town vs rural attitude. Why would anyone want the inconvenience, solitude and, yes, privacy of the country, unless you were up to something. A lot of city people just don't "get" why someone would choose to live in the country, and what the heck we do with all our time, there. :-). Must be up to something.

And times now are tough. I think that's finally sinking in. Times are tough and getting tougher. People do all kinds of illegal things they wouldn't normally do when pushed to the wall. I'm just getting into the book on food and the depression. Rural people did a lot better as small, almost self sustaining family farms just retrenched and returned to an almost self sufficient state. What I didn't realize was that in 1930, there was a terrible drought east of the Mississippi.

There was a bit about how barter became the norm. And, how making booze of one kind or another was resorted to by many, formally law biding citizens. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Even though the tomatoes are a disaster, so far, the way everything else is coming on, I don't think you'll starve. I've only read one book on wildcrafting ... foraging the wild that was honest about taste. Yes, you can eat the stuff and it will keep you alive, but generally tastes like ca-ca. I'm sure if you applied your distilling magic to those apple like things, something good would come of it. Maybe.

"What will go with what." Well. I've got to be a bit careful. My tolerance for mixing tastes and flavors is a lot more ... adventuresome than most people I run across. I'm always a bit surprised when something like Tabouli goes over. If I'm cooking for other people I usually stick with the "tried and true." I really don't have much patience with people's food aversions, but I can generally keep my thoughts to myself. My friend in Idaho doesn't like bananas, because they upset her stomach. She doesn't like peas, on general principle. Then there's the gluten intolerance. And, the dairy intolerance. The list goes on and on. Last night I whipped together some rice, a can of tuna fish, peas, celery, parsley, tomatoes. A splash of white vinegar. Nuke the whole thing and I thought it made a fine dinner. Others would probably not think so.

Your Rhodies are really nice. We have quit a few around here. Some varieties are native to the Pacific Northwest. There are whole Rhodi jungles, out toward the coast. And I love your iris. One of my favorite flowers. Probably because they're so "Japanese." I'd always meant to plant some here, but never got around to it.

The whole mail box thing kind of startled me. I expect that kind of thing around high school graduation time. I sometimes wish I was more of a picture taker. When I went out to check the mail today, there was Nell perched on top of the huge concrete chunk in the ditch, watching the slope for any movement :-). Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

500 cubic meters does sound like an awful lot of compost/mulch. I think I'll ask for that for Christmas.

I'd forgotten where "Mr. Darcy" came from. Clever.

Those poor little tomatoes. I don't know what else could happen to them. Yes, I do - I won't say. I have a feeling that your newly planted seeds will eventually germinate and do well. It's just a matter of catching up. If you have your usual kind of summer (and continue to have enough water) I don't see why they wouldn't. Please don't eat soap fruit!

That Toothy/Scritchy dog muzzle in the container is one of the funniest dog photos ever! They are such cards! Then there was the mop on the veranda . . . what a sad sight. Perhaps Sir Scruffy was watching everyone else with their noses in the cream?

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

My mother sent me a book review of "A Square Meal; A Culinary History of the Great Depression" . It sounded very interesting. I'm glad that you reminded me. I hope my library gets it in.

Pam

Sherri Mac said...

Chris, I'll see your infertile soil and raise you my hydrophobic soil ;-) I garden in Wallum country which according to Jerry Colby-Williams is the poorest of our poor soils. Cheers!

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

Exactly, I use that exact savings strategy and adjusting spending according to income, projects and future commitments. It is not hard, but it takes years of practice. And clearly, you are also onto that path. ;-)!

Oh yeah, the rain was awesome and very well timed! I hope your water tank is full and your fruit trees are growing strongly? The day before the rain hit, I topped all of the water tanks from the main house tanks, and it was a real pleasure too see every drop of that rain captured in tanks! It is nice going into summer with full water storages isn't it?

That is great to read and I wish you a bumper crop. The broadbeans are in flower here now, but I planted them about four weeks too late, so it will be interesting to see how the beans grow as summer looms closer. Yup, later in the week it will get hot here too... What a crazy season it has been.

Nope. We have been considering starting all of our tomatoes outside from seed from next season onwards. We are chasing resiliency not yields, because we have enough space that yields are not a big issue as the space can be expanded.

Yeah, leaf curl is self correcting, but the fruit trees lose a lot of energy in that process. It is usually not that bad here (or up at your place for that matter).

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Ah, of course, we would call that affordable. A small 300 to 400 square metre residential block in a new housing estate would probably set you back $160,000 here. That is about a tenth of an acre. Rural land is more affordable, but not that much more affordable and a house with acreage under an hour and a half from Melbourne will cost around $0.5m. It is not a sustainable situation on many levels.

Yeah, the whole barber thing was how it was when I was a kid. Nowadays a barber appears to me to be an inner city, hyper-masculine, hair cutting place that hipsters go to. That doesn't really appeal to me. A good friend of mine is a male hair dresser you know! I may call him a barber the next time I see him just to stir him up! Probably not though, as he may take offence! Hehe!

Thanks for the excellent new word, and you are correct. I wanted to use the character: Wickham, but only fans would get the joke. A lot of people may have seen that story in its present telling of trilogy of films for the Bridget Jones diaries and so Mr Darcy would be a more familiar character for my story. Hope that makes sense. I didn't know that you were a Jane Austen fan? I'm not particularly a fan, a friend of the editors harrassed me (unrelenting!) into reading the book...

Possibly so with the asparagus. We are experimenting to see what happens. We failed to harvest the spears early enough and are trying to make up for lost time. I've never had an asparagus patch to pick from before so any tips would be welcome?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Oh yeah, that dog is one bad dog with a very good nose for peanuts. Honestly, he dug up the entire bed of them. They were starting to grow well too. But I do suspect that the occasional frost and snowfall may kill them all off? It is a bit of a shame really as we eat a lot of unsalted peanuts. Hey, do you reckon I could somehow train Poopy to snuffle out black truffles? Think of the rewards!

Possibly only mildly offended, but I was exceptionally curious as to the why of it all. Honestly, I have been accused of all manner of things in my time, so it is a bit like water off a ducks back. The reason for those accusations is because I follow my own narrative and we run our own race here without reference to others, and that can be confusing for many people who understand only a single story. That's life really. I do have to fight the constant attempts to normalise our story and I'm used to that now. People see difference as a threat and honestly as John Lennon once quipped: We're just trying to get some sleep! He had a point, it was a shame that someone took such a strong and irrational dislike to the guy as he had some interesting things to say.

That is a good point. I always look as normal and clean as possible so that I'm not noticed. It seems to work as I don't really want or desire the attention. I'm happy up in the bush! :-)! I see that events have progressed for Julian Assange over the past 24 hours. Interesting timing.

It is interesting too, I can see upsides nowadays to having the cars looking like total dirt rats.

Yeah, that is true too. People can't understand other people being happy with their own company. It becomes a challenge and a curiosity to them and it seems to me to be a very different experience for people who grew up in a large family and love being surrounded by people with all of the accompanying dramas. I'm not really comfortable with all that, although I do like socialising, I just also like the quiet time for reflection and enjoyment and I'll tell ya what, the forest is definitely the place for that.

Tough and getting tougher is very well put. There is a fascinating spin to put a sense of normalcy over the top of it all, but if it looks, smells and sounds like decline, it probably is decline. Self sufficiency in food takes a lot of years of practice. I reckon about 10 years of hard graft will produce a pretty handy person. I can't see how anyone could achieve it sooner, unless they start off with all of the infrastructure in place and someone to mentor them, and also the ability for them to shut their mouths and simply learn. That is a rare combination of things these days.

Yeah, exactly, we wouldn't starve here now. I'd just get a bit bored of the diet, which sounds a little bit whiny doesn't it? The potatoes have gone feral over the past week. They seem to love the rain in well drained raised beds... I'll have to top them all up over the next few days.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Ha! That's funny to read. You may be onto something with your new adventures in cooking. Everyone is a bit different on that front and some people have told me that the home grown stuff here tastes too strong for their tastes so no doubt that you are correct. That is not a good sign. Tried and true, and palatable seem like good guidelines for cooking. That is interesting about bananas as I've always believed them to have a basic pH which should assist with settling the stomach, only because they have a sort of slimy texture which many basic items have. I'm incorrect, they are mildly acidic. Well, there you go! Shame about the peas and other food items… That would make for a difficult cooking experience. Not impossible, just difficult. Your dinner sounds delightful. I had mung beans and fresh garden greens tonight for dinner.

Thanks. I grow the rhodies in random spots about the orchards. They are such prolific flowering plants and are as hardy as old boots too! They are apparently meant to be able to self seed here, but I have not seen that in action yet. I'd love to see those rhodie forests in your part of the world some day as they sound great. Yeah, how good are the bearded irises? They multiply readily too, so are now forming clumps of plants.

Go Nell, the watch cat in chief of the Pacific North West. May she in her wrath, send your letterbox destroying fiends scurrying for cover.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

I'll see what I can do about the compost, but honestly, that sleigh can only hold so much manure. Maybe we could get the reindeers to take a holiday in your part of the world and they could deliver the manure in a slower format? Hehe! On a serious note, I joke around sometimes that other people purchase status items and I purchase manure. Except, I'm not really joking around! ;-)!

Thanks for writing that. I was hoping not to offend the Jane Austen fans in the crowd here, they may be a prickly bunch and get irate and come and get me! Hehe! Mr Darcy was a stuffy character, but one would expect nothing less from a person of his station.

Oh yeah, things could always get worse is a good motto for life isn't it? I really don't know about the summer this year as the weather has been very strange. We'll keep our fingers crossed and see what happens.

Toothy sends his happiness to you and asks if you could send him another container of double cream, that would make his year! Scritchy is one tough dog. They say that it is not the size of the dog, but the size of the fight in the dog. Poor Sir Scruffy. I have to cut the hair away from his eyes regularly as I wonder how he sees anything through all of that hair! The first time I did that hair cut on him, he told me that he was losing mojo... Hehe!

I hope that autumn is treating you and your garden well and that things have cooled down a bit now?

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I loved all Jane Austen's books when I was young but am not so keen on them now.

Hmm, asparagus. If I remember correctly, once the plants were 3 years old I harvested them as they appeared, for 2 months then I stopped completely and just left them to grow until they fell over and died down. Repeat the following year. I don't have any now as my last lot were a disaster and I haven't planted any new crowns. One should only have male plants and sellers can be dishonest as to what they are selling one.

@ Lew
I laughed aloud at your foraging comment. I tend to browse on available leaves as I walk out. Am always telling my son that this and that is edible. His comments on the flavour of this stuff resembles yours.

In addition a coincidence. My meal last night was rice, peas and a can of tuna, even more basic than yours and it tasted good.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Sherri Mac,

Welcome to the discussion.

Ouch, Wallum country is a tough one. Respect. It is interesting that you have the hydrophobic soils and I am curious as to whether you believe that that may have been caused by the wax residues of the heathy plants? It sure does cover a huge area and I had no idea of those conditions.

I have the opposite problem here in that I cannot keep water above ground for very long at all, and the water table rises and falls with the amount of rainfall. This year, the water table is quite high indeed. Keeping the water in the ground here tends to slow evaporation though during the hot summers.

The monsoonal / cyclone season this year may possibly be very interesting...

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

I live in the most rural county in what is considered the Chicago metropolitan area. People always say we have some of the best farmland in the world. As far as I'm concerned it's pretty dead soil after decades of conventional farming. Farmers say they can't use cover crops as there's no time for them to grow as soybeans and corn are harvested so late in the season. Corn, feed corn that is, is still being harvested now. Of course there is some winter wheat grown here as well and that is harvested in plenty of time to plant a cover crop and I never see that done.

As I've mentioned before I have a very large house. Our original house was 1200 sq ft. but we added on extensively when my brothers moved in so everyone would have their space and it did work well but as you can imagine it's way too big for two people in their mid 60's. We made quite a few mistakes in the design but it was a stressful time.

Dogs sure can be entertaining but frustrating sometimes, can't they? Too bad about the peanuts. Would you consider fencing in a small area and trying again? We have discovered that Salve has gnawed off a couple corners of our stairs while we were out. She doesn't seem that upset when we leave but every few weeks she has a relapse of chewing. We're still trying to get rid of the last of the skunk smell.

Margaret

margfh said...

Hi Lew,

Last summer most of the mailboxes on our road were taken out in a similar matter. By law your mailbox has to be built in a manner that it will break away in case plows or mail truck hit them. Ours had to be replaced unfortunately.

Margaret

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I should have made it clear that the mentioned land price absolutely precludes building. Land on which one could potentially build a house costs a fortune and it is very difficult to find, the planning laws here are restrictive beyond belief.

I thought that rhododendrons were poisonous to insects.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Your "I always look as normal and clean as possible so that I'm not noticed. It seems to work as I don't really want or desire the attention. I'm happy up in the bush! :-)!" makes me think of how I have "work" clothes and "town" clothes. Each seems sort of like a costume (not so much - though maybe a little - as a disguise) that one wears to be acceptable wherever one might venture. Though I don't have to impress anyone where I work (at home in the country), so my town outfits do feel a bit like a costume.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - "Square Meal" is pretty good. Readable. And, has a few recipes.

@ Inge - Funny we should have just about the same meal. Since I usually only eat twice a day, I try and slip whatever I can into what I eat, so I get a good diet. And it just kills me to have stuff "go off" before I can eat it. I got a stock of celery for the dressing I took to the potluck. Now I'm slipping what I didn't use into everything, so I can use it up before it goes bad.

@ Margaret - There's a book called "Dogsense". It's about the history of dogs, dogs in the present day ... but it also has a few tips for training. I remember that theres a page or two on training a dog not to go bonkers when the owner goes out. Might be worth a look if you run across it. I don't think the break away mailbox is a law here. I see some pretty well fortified ones. Of course, I suppose the bad guys relatives could sue. Seems like every time some criminal bites the big one, through miss adventure, his relatives and friends show up in the newspaper moaning about how "He was just getting his life together." "He was so good with his child(ren). Well, maybe so, but to the rest of the world, he was a menace and a pain in the .... ear. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Peanuts don't grow here, at all. But from what I've heard, they need sandy soil. I suppose you could train your dog to hunt truffles, but a lot of very expensive truffles would probably be sacrificed in the training?

LOL. Well, it didn't sound like "water off a ducks back." And to paraphrase Lennon a bit, I did toss and turn a bit, worrying I had perhaps overstepped my bounds. Haven't seen anything about Assage in the news here. But, I haven't hit the couple of news sites I check most days.

Interesting you should mention diet boredom. They talked about that in "Square Meal." People who got an actual food package ... well, it was pretty limited as to variety. So, there were government pamphlets, women's magazines, newspapers, radio shows all discussing getting variety into a diet with limited types of food.

Rhodies are native in areas all over the world. I did a quick look about, as I wondered if they are a very ancient plant. Perhaps from the time when all the land masses were connected? Didn't see anything indicating that, but I wonder. But then, I wonder about a lot of useless things :-).

Recently, there's been a lot of play in the archaeology sites I visit as to Australia. I guess they've shoved back the peopling of Australia to around 50,000 years. Here in the America's we've only pushed back the "peopling" to about 15,000 years. Of course, they didn't really have a concept of how huge, lush and empty area they were moving into.

Water's out, this morning. I haven't had anything to note on my calendar for quit awhile. :-). Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

Maybe people were here in America earlier?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cactus_Hill

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks for the explanation about Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice was an interesting read for an insight into the sensibilities of the times, but I really struggled relating to their concerns and lack of forthrightness. Certainly the story is still applicable today, although many people would be uncomfortable with that viewpoint. The narrative just didn't float my boat. I am curious as to whether you have considered why the story appealed to you in your youth, but have since re-evaluated your opinion?

You are exactly correct with your understanding of the asparagus plants. We failed to harvest them correctly a month ago and have been advised to cut them back hard and harvest the new spears exactly as you wrote. I reckon I'm going to use Christmas day as the time to stop harvesting them, but I'll observe the plants and climate to see how it works out and adjust plans accordingly.

Yes, the planning laws are pretty much the same here as they are based on the English legal system. To me it looks like a Byzantine labyrinth of mystery! Hope you enjoyed that description? Fortunately, I was able to navigate that system as I can deal with legislation and mystery whilst parking all expectations of how the system should work to one side. I see way too many people railing against how the system should work, and not bending to how the system actually does work - and they get nowhere fast. I used to provide assistance to people with such planning matters, but they cannot help themselves. So I stopped offering assistance.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Yup, farmland and good soil sure ain't what they used to be! The problem is one of an export culture. If you were forced by the economics of the situation to sell all of your produce every single crop, then you are exporting your top soil - and it is a finite resource. That is the real appeal of industrial agriculture as the soil becomes a medium with which to hold the plants vertical and all other considerations are introduced. The problem with that is that unless the fertilisers contain a huge diversity of minerals then you never know which minerals are in short supply. Take boron for example. That's a necessary mineral for plant growth, but every year there will be less of it if it is not replaced and there are many other minerals like that. And the minerals leave the farm with the produce... Then lets not go into how some plants will grow without certain minerals, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the produce is as good for you - or even the same - as produce grown in very fertile soils.

Exactly! Cover crops are what the old timers used to do to restore soil fertility. Nowadays we have the spare energy to plough them in and quickly plant another round of cover crops. Back in the old days it used to be called "Lie fallow", or what some people unceremoniusly call: Weedy! ;-)! Incidentally, I try really hard not to dig established soil here as it is very disturbing for the soil life. You may note that instead of reducing the mounds in the tomato enclosure, we built up the mulch to meet the tops of those mounds. It was a big job, but digging the mounds would really have been the final straw for those tomatoes. The woody mulch will definitely steal nitrogen from the manure too, and that also is a risk for the plants. Sometimes there are few good and easy paths forward.

My poor brain is a bit slow today... I read 1,200sq ft and thought to myself that that was quite a small house before reading the rest of your comment. Of course, you are sheltering several adults and I would have done no differently than yourself in the same situation. The episode I was referring too had two people living in a 4,300sq ft house and they were in debt up to their eyeballs and were unable to sell their original house. That is a horror show to me! Mistakes! I can tell you about a few of them here that I too regret and will most certainly correct should the house ever burn down in a bushfire. The roof here is way too complicated - I let the architect design it without understanding what it actually meant. Once I built it, I understood my folly, but it was too late at that stage.

Ha! Salve chewing on the stairs is sort of funny, in an unfortunate way. Sorry. Dogs can be very naughty! I can perhaps suggest that he was perhaps a sulphur crested cockatoo in a past life as they enjoy sharpening their beaks on houses too. The houses come off second best in such an encounter... Fortunately the magpies clear them off if they ever turn up here.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Yeah, that is so true. Yup! Slopping around the house in work clothes is certainly the way to go! Hehe! But off the farm, appearances must be maintained, otherwise tongues will wag... Certainly what you wear and how you present yourself to the world affects your interactions with others and how they treat you. I don't reckon I impress too many people down this way either! I am quite bemused by stories of people who feel that they are more than they are. And oh, the antics of it all! To be cool, one must cultivate a certain air of detatchment, whilst not remaining aloof, and of course it is cheaper not to play such social games. You can't win them, so it is always best not to try to attempt to do so.

Cheers (and thanks for the laughs!)

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Oh yeah, peanuts would be very marginal here too just because of the occasional frost and snowfall. The soil is well drained and very loamy so they grew well – until the incident. Possibly in a glass-house in your part of the world where the soil is separate and insulated from the outside conditions, but how expensive would that be? It makes no sense. It is funny but most glass-houses I see down here are empty, and I suspect that the plants cook in them over the hot summers. That is funny about training Poopy to hunt for truffles, he'd love it too, but well, lets’ just say that he ain't worth it. Hehe! The much maligned Poopy got to sit with me at an outside table this morning at the local cafe when I went to pick up the mail, and he enjoyed a few chunks of discretely thrown raisin toast. Yes, he is feeling pretty superior to the other dogs, and has since reclined to a well-deserved rest on the bean bag. The sun is shining here and it is a lovely day, so I may kick him outside to run around a bit after I finish this reply.

Yeah, I was a bit upset at the time, but I get over things quickly! No doubts that you are correct with that astute observation! ;-)! The thing I found curious about the comment was just how often people have said that to me. It is not a good sign about the economics at the street level. Interestingly I see that four of the five states over in your part of the world have voted for recreational use laws. Interesting. I wouldn't grow that here even with a license to do so as it would be like a trouble magnet and that is contrary to my modus operandi. Not to stress at all, we all fly below the radar and this is a good thing.

Fair enough about the news sites. What I heard was that Swedish legal prosecutors were able to interview him in the Ecuadorian embassy the other day. The WikiLeaks site released some interesting revelations over the past few weeks. I don't actually follow the releases as I sort of don't expect good behaviour from our current crop of leaders. I do however expect them to consider the common good because that is what supports them. Anyway they appear unable to do that as they appear to be putting self-interest first and foremost. It is not a policy with legs.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Really? Diet boredom would be a serious problem in the world of self-sufficiency and I only considered the matter because I like food. ;-)!

Hey, there is even a native Rhodie in the north east of this country. Yes, I agree they must be ancient plants. Their massive thick leaves with dark colouring indicates a cooler planet. They seem to shrug off the cold no problems at all, but the heat and strong UV down here nocks them around a little bit. The interesting thing is that they adapt over time to those hotter and drier conditions, but it can be challenging getting them through the first few years. They are toxic as. Nothing eats them at all. Even the wallabies which have a cast iron constitutions and stomach, studiously ignore them. Most insects leave them alone too and I have never seen a European honey bee on their flowers. There is just too many better flowers to harvest pollen and nectar from. It is really buzzing outside today due to the nice sun and almost non-existent breeze!

Yes, I read about those recent discoveries. This country has been peopled for a very long time. The die off of the megafauna occurred at about that time of the first humans arriving here too. What a fascinating country it would have been as would yours too. The Aboriginals, I believe, worked hard with the country to correct the loss of the megafauna and over many millennia too. I hope that we can do the same in the future. Anyway, something will happen.

You know, if archaeologists can't agree about findings that disprove theories with evidence from only a few thousand years ago, who knows what went on hundreds of thousands of years ago? Whole civilisations could have risen and fallen - and we'd never know it.

Well done you for losing the water! How are you progressing in the queue? Nell could perhaps trip a few of the inhabitants up on your behalf? Hehe. Just kidding...

Has the rain settled down a bit yet? And is it still warm in your late autumn?

Cheers

Chris

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

I hope your remaining tomato plants recover and the new seeds grow strongly!

I promised you I'd let you know how Mike makes strawberry cordial. I don't know if you use volume or weight measures in the kitchen. In the US we generally use volume. I'll put the volume English system measurement first, followed by the approximate metric volume equivalent. If you use weight, hopefully you'll be able to figure out what that should be. No need to be precise, close is good enough.

OK, on to the recipe. You can adjust to making a larger or smaller batch as desired. You can use this recipe with any berries or fruits; for fruits other than berries, cut the fruit into pieces that will fit into the container.

Take 1 quart (1 liter) of whole strawberries. Put them into a container large enough that they have air space between them (not packed tightly) and some headspace at the top. Add 1 cup (1/4 liter) sugar. Nearly fill the container with grain alcohol, the 190 proof stuff. Put on a tight-fitting lid. Shake the container. Then set it aside in a dark place. Shake it every day you remember to do so. After several days the sugar should be dissolved. After about 2 months the cordial will be ready to drink. Drain it off the berries and enjoy! You can use the berries as topping on ice cream.

As for the beer, Mike suggested that it's best to start with the malt extracts to reduce some of the variables while you are learning how to brew beer. After you've made several batches successfully, you can learn how to brew with the malted barleys. Remind me at that point and I'll tell you what types of malted barleys he uses and their proportions. He recommends the book The New Complete Joy of Home Brewing by Charlie Papazian. It's the book he learned from, and it's both fun to read and easy to use. "Don't worry, have a homebrew" is a stock saying around our house ;).

Our first frost and first freeze both occurred last week, 7 months almost to the day since the latest spring frost for a 210 day growing season this year. I still have leeks and leafy greens in the vegetable garden. Some of the leafy greens may last well into December or even early January depending on when the truly deep cold gets here. The mustard greens are the most susceptible to cold, so I'm in the process of harvesting and freezing them. Otherwise garden work is done except for chipping wood and pruning trees. And raking leaves to set aside for future compost piles.

Claire

Steve Carrow said...

Insinuation of illicit doings: Here in the states, for actually an awfully long time, farmers have had a very hard time making a living, but especially since the late 70's. Farmers provide this absolutely critical commodity to society, but have always been given a very small piece of the food dollar in our economy. ( long rant excluded for now)

People who know a bit about farming know that to survive, you have to "get big or get out". Recent developments such as CSAs, other direct farmer to consumer models have changed this a small bit, but in general, it is just assumed that a smallholder is not really farming ( especially if you are not right next to a large market), so there must be some other means of making a living.

So, yeah, I can see the thinking involved. And as you and others have noted, it does not even enter peoples head that you might change the other side of the equation and just spend way less and make do with what you have. Our depression was not all that long ago in the big picture, but American's memories are short.

Jo said...

A great story, as always, Chris:)

Yes, we have been fed a line. My own experience tells me that mortgage/rent plus 10k per year per person is a comfortable living, and less is eminently doable, but requires more thought and creativity.

That is tens of thousands less than most of my work colleagues live on, and yet I would argue that I am as happy or happier than most of them..

And even my small garden that I have hardly got going yet is providing me with a significant portion of my weekly greens. That's a lot of dollars if you compare like to like - gourmet organic baby greens in the quantities we eat - I am probably 'saving' $15 or so a week just on those, but of course the comparison is moot, because I would never have spent $15 on baby greens, but would have had to settle for less, and not such good quality. Those of us who garden and cook really do get to live the high life. Oh, and this week I bought about $150 worth of clothes for $10 second-hand - I only buy very high-end labels at the op-shop!!

We manage a wonderful secret life filled with marvellous goodies that other people throw away, don't we??

margfh said...

Hi Lew,
Thanks for the book recommendation. I'll have to put it on the ever growing list. Right now I'm reading "Why Did the Chicken Cross the World" by Andrew Lawler or should I say I've just started. When I started doing the chicken workshops at the local community colleges I did a bit of online research regarding the history of the domesticated chicken to include in the class. This book looks to be quite interesting.

Margaret

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

We certainly are on the same page regarding farmland. It's been so discouraging to watch the continuing removal of tree lines etc. A few years ago more farmers were practicing no till but the last few years they're back to plowing up the soil right after harvest.

There are a few small farms here that are managing to make a living though usually someone in the family has to go out and get a job.

That's the situation we're in now with the house - two people living in a 4500 sq ft house. We joke that we each have our own floor. Most years someone has been living with us but not at the moment.

Well you never know about Salve's past life. She was awfully abused so her behavior is understandable and slowly improving. Funny both her and Leo like to chew wood. She was eating quite a bit last year which couldn't be good for her digestion but has slowed down considerably. They both will just lay out in the lawn and chew sticks.

Looks we have two more days of unseasonably warm weather before more winter like winter arrives.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - Archaeologists are always having battles over when people came to America. They left so few traces. But slowly they push back the arrival date in small increments. Another lively area of controversies is pre-Columbian voyages. Vikings for sure. Romans? Chinese? Phoenicians? Irish? The jury is still out. Lew

Yo, Chris - One thing the government did during the depression was circulate radio scripts. "Aunt Sammy's Radio Recipes." Apparently, Aunt Sammy was Uncle Sam's ol' lady :-). They'd get a local woman in so the dialect was right, and throwing in local references was encouraged. I see on Amazon and EBay that copies are available, quit cheap.

The water's back, this morning. So, I guess I can get a shower. I have my town pants, shoes and hat!

The post lady mentioned that the rain woke her up in the wee small hours and that the rivers were running pretty high. We didn't get any heavy rain up here, so I thought I'd go get gas (one less errand, today) and check it out. Wow. All the ditches were running full, the rivers were way up and there was water standing in the fields. Apparently, there were small, intense and very localized rain storms. Nothing in the forecast or news. I saw a kingfisher perched on a bridge railing, looking vey glumly at the wild water. I don't see those too often. I have an old pottery pitcher (1915) with a kingfisher on the side. Lots of dark blue / cobalt glaze slopped on the outside.

I did see a small article about Assage. I had forgot he was Australian, so I guess there's more interest down there. I also saw a small article that the US has agreed to take in the refugees that Australia has parked in New Guinea. Not much detail.

Well, it's back to Ballarat. Last week I picked up season two of the Dr. Blake Mysteries. Watched the first couple episodes, last night. LOL. I like the series, but the theme music drives me bats. A screechy violin in a minor key. Think blackboards and nails. :-). I fast forward through that. Every once in awhile, they have a shot of Ballarat lake and the black swans. Usually as a backdrop as they fish a body out of the water.

Well, it's off to town. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Yes I liked 'the Byzantine labyrinth of mystery'. An architect friend of a friend says that the way to deal with the planners is charm and then multiply that by 10.

Jane Austen: I was an adolescent when I first read her books and I guess that I just treated them as love stories. Later I had to analyse 'Mansfield Park' for an exam and that spoiled them for me. I don't think that they can stand up to a lot of analysis.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Thanks and it is a bit of a disaster. But then few things go smoothly in the world of plants. For your interest there are about 20 seedlings established now, but today the temperature reached 86'F (30'C) and Monday promises to reach 95'F (35'C), so at least the soil should start to warm up. It is way too early to plant out the capsicum and eggplants yet, but that is a day by day thing.

Excellent and many thanks to both of you! With cooking we use weight, but with liquids we use volume (both metric and thanks for providing those measurements). The strawberry cordial sounds superb! Yum!

Ah, a Malt is germinated cereal grains that have been dried in a process known as "malting". The grains are made to germinate by soaking in water, and are then halted from germinating further by drying with hot air. And Malt Extracts can be made from any type of malted grain. However, similar to the term "malt", the term "malt extract" unqualified refers to an extract of malted barley. I ripped both of those explanations from the Interweb as I have discovered that beer brewers speak in a strange dialect which I then need to convert into standard English. ;-)!

That process makes sense. My understanding of grains is that they are rather high in oils and perhaps those oils form part of the extract? The grains themselves are low in sugar which is perhaps why beer has such a low alcohol volume. Interesting and I'm going to experiment over the next few months especially given that the weather is warming.

I love that saying. What excellent wisdom. Thanks for the book reference too.

A 210 day growing season is quite acceptable for a whole lot of plants. Leeks and some of the leafy greens are very frost hardy, so hopefully they will continue growing (albeit more slowly) in your part of the world. I noticed one of the leeks here is about to go into flower. I should collect the seed as they are very prone to self seeding and that plant in particular turns up in the same spot every year. I often wonder whether some of these so called annual plants, just die back in winter for a short while? Dunno.

Of course locking things down for the winter is a part of the great cycle isn't it? We're in the process of getting ready for the summer so there is a lot of maintenance - thus the stories rather than the projects. ;-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Steve,

Thank you very much for understanding and it was a fine (short) rant which I appreciated reading very much! The exact same story can be seen here. When farmers get into hard times here, the government offers them concessional loans and things are already tough financially, how do they expect the farmers to repay the loans as well?

Yeah, the get big or get out model is flawed as when things go wrong, they go wrong in a big way... One bad season and how do you pay the wages when the money from the sale of produce doesn't even cover the wages...

And double exactly that! Yup small holders don't know nuffin anyway! Except that in a historical context, small holders are usually the ones that produce the most food. The system is stacked against you from start to finish, so I choose not to play and if that means spending less then, that is the best game in town. Unfortunately as you correctly point out, other people can't understand that that is a viable option and so they assume the worst. Yup, I hear you and am in total agreement.

I'm reading about the Great Depression now and I wasn't aware of it, but there was quite a number of urban riots in sleepy quiet little New Zealand as tensions over boiled and people had had enough of the disparity. Memories are short here too. It is a bit of a shame to repeat mistakes that we have already made.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Jo,

Thank you. A Big Kev two thumbs up for you for the Ruth Park book reference! I'm enjoying it and the historical perspective is excellent. Ruth writes in short stories too but links from one to the next in that book so it flows really well. What a life, well lived too.

Yeah, it takes a lot of hard won experience to live cheaply doesn't it? Exactly too, thought and creativity are at the heart of that story.

Ha! I shall tell you a little secret which relates to that very matter: I am rarely curious about how much people earn or have, as I have found that it is far more interesting for me to see how far they can make a small amount go. That definitely relates to the question of their happiness and I have seen many people that are materially well off but struggle with their insides.

That is so true too. Have you ever noticed that your home grown greens are also thicker and have more taste, plus you can eat them soon after picking and that is a rare treat.

There is some seriously good stuff to be had out there and yeah, the high end quality natural material stuff that gets discarded is a real shame, but good for people in the know. That table I picked up for $100 and sanded back to the raw finish and then recoated would have cost thousands when new. I just don't understand any of it, but am certainly happy to assist them with their cast offs! :-)! It is a good life is it not?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

It is tough isn't it? And the pricing signals for both the land and the produce from it are all wrong. Yup no till is the way to go, but it takes an investment of time and land and fallow land does not earn an income. It is a circular problem. I understand their dilemma.

Well, yeah, income comes here from off the farm too so I get that story. The place eats money, but not as much as you would think as we take that into account and work on things slowly and surely - like the tortoise in the story! We kind of live in two worlds at the same time and that is just how it has to be and there is no getting around it. Render under to Caesar and all that...

Ha! Yeah, that is a lot of house. You may be surprised but some extended families may move back into the house in the future? Just guessing really.

Dogs love chewing on sticks don't they? And it is so good for their teeth. You are a Saint for picking up a rescue dog and we do likewise. Poopy was yelled at and beaten a lot by a former owner and whilst he is occasionally rambunctious I have to be very gentle and consistent with him as he will otherwise look cowered if yelled at. They have their unexpected joys and loyalties though don't they?

Enjoy your warm weather. It may be that we are now getting your warmer weather?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

The radio scripts during the Great Depression are really interesting. In the biography I'm reading at the moment, the author earned a living by writing radio scripts for the governments Children's hour for the national radio broadcaster. Once television became the norm, she had to switch to writing fiction and non fiction books. She had a work ethic which led her to write fifteen items in the hope that one or two of them were paid for. Editors seemed like a tough and ruthless sort back in the day and it certainly didn't assist that she was of the fairer sex which in those days made things harder for her. She had a good attitude to it all and wrote once that criticism relied upon a certain acceptance. A very astute understanding of the world of human behaviour.

Weren't remains of the Viking settlements found on the north east coast? No doubt that the Vikings were not predisposed to cultural understandings with the native population (based on their other activities elsewhere) and thus would have been in constant confrontation with an enemy that knew the ground better. Not a strategy with legs.

The ancient Chinese planted strangler figs up in the north in this continent. They got out and about when the emperor could afford to do so...

Have you ever listened to a recording of one or more of FDR's fireside chats? I'm curious about those as he managed to use that medium to talk to the public directly and thus bypassing the political machinations. It would also be interesting to hear how a charismatic person orates.

Ha! I do hope that you noted the time and date for the water outage? Hehe! And also I hope that you have a nice trip into town?

What a wet year you seem to have had. Was there any flooding or landslides? There have been landslides down this way along the coast in recent months. The small and intense storms down here are often referred to as "super cells", although they look like mini tornadoes to me. You sure do get a lot of rain out of one of those storm events. Either of those storm events are rarely predicted and they are quite frequent but usually in very isolated spots (hope you're not there at the time!).

Yeah, strangely enough he grew up in Melbourne not too far from where I grew up and is about my age. I would not have had the courage to do as he has done though and the price he pays is quite high, but he pokes well funded and connected things and they never take too kindly to being poked.

Well that is an even lesser spoken about thing. My understanding is that a swap is to take place. People from Costa Rica are coming here in return for you lot taking people from our detention centres. They were very cagey about details and I don't believe that it is a one for one swap - and the implication was that it was is in your favour.

Ballarat is a lovely city too with a similar climate to where I am. The lake is very nice and I have enjoyed many a cake and coffee and walk around the lake in my time. Of course seeing bodies pulled from the lake would be very upsetting to one's sensibilities and possibly put one off their cake and coffee. Oh yeah, well, white swans look very strange to my eyes.

A screechy violin in a minor key. Think blackboards and nails. :-) That is funny. Hey, I'm getting a sort of aural Psycho shower scene screeching? Is that a good approximation?

It is a lovely day down here today: 86'F and a slight warm breeze. The air itself smells to me of the centre of the continent and drying vegetation. I hope the tomato seedlings survive the one or two warm to hot days over the next few days? Time will tell...

Cheers

Chris



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

A pleasure to be of service! Hehe! Your architect friend is on a good wicket with that strategy. I did the same too and after they signed off on my permit application I sent them a thank you letter, which they were very chuffed to have received. My mother could never quite get around to applying an oft spoken motto to her own life, but she was rather fond of saying: You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Wise words.

Thanks for the explanation about Jane Austen. As an author Jane had a very dry wit, was exceptionally observant regarding human interactions and the dialogue was first rate. I just struggled coming to grips with the concerns of the characters and so it was a difficult read. Of course having to study Mansfield Park would have been problematic and certainly taken the enjoyment out of the story. Wow, I doubt very much that that particular book could be studied without someone pushing an agenda which is unfortunate and possibly a bit wrong. Did that happen when you studied it?

Cheers

Chris

Damo said...

Hello all,

No problem with the website help Chris, although I have not really done anything!

RE: settlement of N. America/Australia
I seem to remember from a geology class that dating artifacts/bones is very difficult, borderline almost impossible, for ranges between 40,000 and 100,000 years. This is one reason the official line was 40,000 years ago for Aboriginal settlement of Australia.

Anyway, back to talking about myself.... :p This week the project I am attached to is hosting a small conference on smallholder practices for teak. Researchers from the Solomon Islands, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and of course Laos all got together to share findings and lament the practices of smallholder farmers and their respective governments.

As it turns out, small farmers across Asia don't have the same priorities as their western counterparts and in general, they pay very little attention to silviculture best practice. There are many possible reasons why, but the short of it seems to be that expending time and energy on pruning, weeding and thinning is not considered worthwhile when harvest time is not for 15+ years. Much better to tend to annual crops, or maybe even have a beerlao.

The average Laoation farmer treats his teak woodlot as a kind of bank. When some school fees are due, or grandmother dies you can go in and cut down a tree or two for quick cash. Unfortunately, because they don't actively manage the woodlot these trees tend to be much smaller than otherwise and the prices are quite low. For example, an 8m tree with 15-20cm diameter that is 15 years old might only sell for $25!

Then there is also the problem of tenure security. One farmer we spoke to has lost woodlots to development projects 3 times (the latest for a Chinese railway) and compensation is poor. It would be heartbreaking to spend so much effort on a long term project to just have it snatched by uncaring officials. I can sympathise with the approach of just throwing some seedlings on a poor piece of land out back and leaving them to it.

Anyway, the conclusion seemed to be that more research was the right approach. In a fit of poor judgement I voiced a suggestion that implementation of existing research conclusions might be more productive. That didn't go down well with the researchers :p The whole show did get me excited about one day growing my own woodlot though, there are lots of exciting intercropping and co-planting techniques to explore. And, it would be an excuse to buy a Lucas Mill :-)

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Mansfield Park: This was 65 years ago and I don't remember whether or not there was an agenda. I only remember that the book was ruined for me. I really loathe literary analysis and prefer to indulge in daydreaming immersion. Strange really as my father was Edward J. O'Brien the American short story editor, which might interest Lew.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Oh, yeah. Viking settlement, for sure, up in Nova Scotia. National Geographic covered it pretty extensively a few years back. And now, perhaps a second settlement up in New England. The jury is still out ... There are Norse sagas of Viking / Native interaction that are quit hair raising. Oh, I'm pretty sure the Chinese did a bit of exploration on the NW coast of America. But some claims that they made it to the east coast? I don't think so. They'd go through periods of expansion and exploration ... and then get very insular.

I've heard bits and pieces of some of FDR's fireside chats. He had a warm voice that kind of drew you in. Cozy. There was a recent movie ... Bill Murray? ... about the King and Queens visit to FDR, just before WWII. Parts of it are quit funny. The cultural dissidence.

There were a few flooded fields, that I could see. But not flood watches or warnings. No overflowing rivers or streams.

The Doctor Blake Mysteries theme is more ... tuneful than the Psycho theme music. Has more of a melody. Still irritating. After watching an episode last night, I was going to ask you what a "tuck shop" was. But then I looked it up. So, I think I've got it. I hear "tucker" in relationship to food. But not very often. It's pretty rare. Then there's "bib and tucker." I thought it was interesting that a family named Tuck opened some, well, fast food places in England in the early 1800s. Then, two Tuck brothers immigrated to Australia in the 1850s and opened fast food shops. Their name stuck to anything similar. I think they're kind of like our word "commissary." Places to get pre prepared food and small useful items usually attached to schools, prisons or the military?

We were talking about trucks, or pickup trucks awhile back. I ran across an article about America's love affair with the truck. A couple of the observations made in the article were that many trucks aren't used for their intended purpose. They are bought to "....communicate that we are resourceful, independent, tough and ready for action." "... tell a tale of self-sufficiency and maybe a bit of braggadocio." :-). I've often said that if I really wanted to fit in here, I'd put a gun rack in the cab and a black lab in the back.

I see your having an open house! We expect a full report. Well, as full as possible given that probably some of the people that will come may also read your blog. Always a hazard on the internet. There's someone over on the ADR that just irritates the heck out of me. But I think Mr. Greer is in his "give him enough rope to hang himself," mode. I've seen him do that before. Lew



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

You sell yourself short. To see the world through other people’s eyes is a gift. And constructive feedback is a good thing.

I'm a reasonably competent person and sometimes other people believe that that competence covers many areas, and I can assure you that it doesn't and so often I just need other people to point me in the right direction and give a few ideas, hints and tips on how to go about doing something because I had no ideas at all! That is what you provided and I appreciated that.

The funny thing is that people rarely offer me help. Sometimes I take up those offers of help and sometimes not. It all depends on the job at hand really.

Carbon dating and archaeological digs are beyond my understanding. In any case, human occupation of this continent has been continuous for a very long time. I visited the coast today and saw that the sand replacement on the ocean beaches looked very good indeed and all of the winter damage was disappeared.

Haha! That is funny! I prefer to think of it as: News from afar or Pen Pals? ;-)! Anyway, go ahead... Hehe! Ah Damo, "implementation of existing research conclusions might be more productive" is a thought that I too would have shared. It is not as if the exact same conclusion wasn't made at the end of the - very expensive - Bushfire Royal Commission. The legal people took their money for the commission, made many recommendations about forestry management. And then, not much happened.

The thing is that it is really hard for people to consider the realities of a situation and project that fifteen years into the future. I consider that time frame and longer, but I shall tell you a funny story which has been recounted to me many times over:

I've known many people who have purchased pre-built houses in Greenfield housing estates over the years. And most of them have said to me, and almost word for word too: "It was really nice when the house was surrounded with paddocks before the other houses were built around us". What does that say to you?

I simply keep my head down and just keep working towards the longer term goals, whilst accepting that there is a significant risk in the short and long term. What else can you do?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Fair enough. There was an agenda with that particular book which is unfortunate as it takes away from the story. And I am with you in that regard, I read in order to be swept away to far places and different modes of living and thought. And also to be entertained. Having to analyse the relative literary merits of the book would take away the enjoyment for me too.

Some of the best holidays that I have ever enjoyed have been when I was deeply immersed in a pulp fiction by the author Jack Vance (Sci-Fi and fantasy) who took me along on tour to many a picaresque life and adventure in far distant imaginary planets and societies.

I'd be curious as to your opinion on this matter, but I tend to read a heavy "non-fiction" book and then lighten the load a bit by reading a "fictional" book.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Apologies, I was in a rush when I replied yesterday. What I had intended to say - and only did so in a slightly clumsy way - was that it was not the author who had an agenda with that particular Austen book, but that it was that some later reviewers took umbrage to a particular scenario with one of the characters and the reviewers then used that for their own ends. Thus my reference to the agenda thing. Jane Austen would have had to work very hard as a female author in those days.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Any society or culture that had the technology to voyage to and could also make a go of it in a land as hostile as Greenland, would no doubt have known about and visited the east coast. Hair raising is an under statement! By all accounts the Vikings appeared to employ the diplomatic technique of: Bludgeon to death first, ask questions later! Of course, they also seemed rather predisposed to spreading their genetic heritage around too by all accounts. The thing is I reckon the east coast would have been at about the upper limits of their technology and thus they would have failed to establish a defensible base on the east coast - and they certainly wouldn't have made many local friends in the process. Not a recipe for success if one is over extended?

Hey, apologies to send you down an Interweb rabbit hole, but the traditional Fairy folk of New Zealand were called: Patupaiarehe. The author of the current book that I am reading mentioned that these folk were already present at the time of the arrival of the Pacific Island folks and the fairy folk had to retreat to remote fortified settlements. What is also interesting is that the author mentioned that some families of Maori folk had interbred with the fairy folk and were known for having lighter hair and features. Now of course, the author was a child at the time and could have been subject to propaganda, but then the Maori word and stories for the fairy folk apparently predated the European colonisation. Dunno.

Thanks for the film reference. Hmmm, I wonder what all of the do-gooders and busy bodies who take such delight in moral outrage over your current batch would make of all of that lot? Yes, I can see that cultural clash would have been quite an interesting situation. FDR in that story from the quotes, came across as quite the reassuring sort. That would have worked for those difficult times. I can see that.

That is a good situation that nothing too serious flooded. The fields will enjoy a good drink. I rather suspect that in the future, paddocks may have to sport the odd tree or twenty so as to keep the water table low. I saw a bit of the country here today and it has been a very wet winter and the place is looking quite green - except for the usual suspects which seemed to be drying a wheat crop.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Well, the psycho score was there more or less for effect. I can't quite imagine how that sort of sound could be turned into a melody to good effect, but you have to salute them for having a go. They actually do call them "Tuck Shops" down here but only in schools nowadays where the name continues into this day. When I was a kid, the school had a tuck shop and if you wanted to purchase something to eat, then you had to buy it at the tuck shop, otherwise you brought lunch from home. I've always been mildly curious that your schools, colleges and universities appear to have places that supply meals for everyone as that doesn't really appear down here at all. My first job had a staff cafeteria in the building, but with the recession, that got cut. Don't laugh, but whenever I see a business providing biscuits with a cream fill (usually mock cream) I tell people to watch if those biscuits disappear so as to get a good sign on the financial health of the organisation. I've seen that happen a few times now and it is the best bellwether! 100% hit rate. Not many people call food by the name "tucker" nowadays. I used to hear it a lot more when I was younger. The language homogenises.

Interesting cultural reference too (I love a good side story!): The dog on the tuckerbox

Hey, as another interesting cultural reference, since the closure of the car manufacturing industry here, there have been attempts to replace the word "utility vehicle" with "truck". A utility vehicle here means a car with an open tray at the rear. Well yeah, that is what they do down here too. Most SUV's are sold on the pretense of potential or possible freedom, whereas few of them ever see a dirt road. Most of them are so expensive that the owners are anything but free. Some cheeky wag a long time ago now quipped: "Driving down the road to debt in an over sized four wheel drive". Very cutting! Back in the day, we used to call those vehicles: "Toorak Tractors". Toorak being the most exclusive suburb in Melbourne full of the well to do and well connected.

What? Thanks for the heads up on that matter.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, I'll see your Patupaiarehe and raise you Wha-tee-tas :-)

http://www.network54.com/Forum/28799/message/1006381335/Little+people+for+Kisal+and+Shane

That's a really interesting story about the Dog on the Tucker box. So many stories (an, monuments) to dogs who wait for their missing masters.

Speaking of going down the rabbit hole ... Last nights episode of Dr. Blake Mysteries involved a missing David Davies painting. Quit a bit of it was filmed in and around the Art Gallery of Ballarat. References were also made to the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. So, I checked out David Davies. I think his paintings are rather pleasant. Mostly, Impressionistic landscapes. But, I still think I prefer McCubbin, who we talked about before. McCubbin tells more of a story, and has a lot more people in his paintings. How's that for cutting edge art critique? :-).

I think if I lived in Melbourne, I'd be living in the National Gallery. Right now, there's a big David Hockney exhibit going on. I like his earlier stuff. And next year? Well ... A Van Gogh exhibit, an exhibit of Australian paintings from the 1930s and a Hokusai (The Great Wave) exhibit. And lots of other interesting exhibits coming up.

I also checked out the Art Gallery of Ballarat. From what I gather, it's an art museum with art school attached. Portland has the same set up ... with a film school and institute thrown in. I think whoever is running the Ballarat museum is quit smart. They seem to attach a lot of events to food. A bit pricey, but as a fund raiser, genius. Look at the art and get some fine tucker thrown into the deal.

The only complaint I had about both museum websites is that they really didn't have any (apparent) links to their permanent collections.

Yeah, when I was a kid it was pretty standard to have a cafeteria attached to schools. You could either buy a set lunch for a small fee, or "brown bag it." These days, some lunch programs are free to poor kids. Sometimes there's even breakfast, provided. Even during the summer breaks. An effort to provide some nutrition to malnourished kids. It's pretty wide spread. There's also a big push in some places to get the junk food out of the schools.

The "lunch ladies" are kind of an American icon. Oh, and they did turn out some yummy stuff. Most of it is prepackaged, these days. But back in the day, they did a lot of cooking from scratch. I was looking around the net (when I was checking out Aunt Sammy's Radio Recipes) and took a detour to lunch lady cookbooks. I wondered if there were any out there. Yup. There are. By the way, when I was checking out Aunt Sammy on E-Bay, someone had a copy in braille! How cool is that? Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

PS: I noticed that He Who Shall Not Be Named's last rant disappeared from the comments. Either Mr. Greer lowered the boom, or he thought better of it and deleted it, himself. If gone, he will not be mourned. :-). He's dinged me twice over the last few months, but I just tamped down my irritation. I'm not interested in flame wars. Much. :-). I really think, overall, Mr. Greer shows remarkable restraint. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for the links of the stories. So much has been lost. I read once that the ancient fairy folk could make you dance for an eternity (or a very long time, I guess until you dropped dead from exhaustion) and the perpetual running sounded very similar to that story. Also, I have read historical accounts of balls of light moving through the forests here. It is also interesting that those stories ended with Arthur. Perhaps in earlier times the shadows were less dense than they are today? Or maybe it is just us that is more dense?

Dogs are loyal to a fault, if they have reason to do so. Some people feel that this loyalty is not earned, but I can tell you that you do have to earn it. The Loaded Dog is another dog story of an overly curious canine from down this way.

The regional art galleries do a big business. There is also the Bendigo gallery north of here and the editor sometimes goes to see exhibitions there, whilst sometimes I enjoy a quiet and enjoyable coffee and lunch. Some of those exhibitions are more modern in their works and that brings in the punters too. I went to see the McCubbin exhibition there and it was fascinating to see the guys take on this mountain range from so long ago. It was like travelling in a time machine but as viewed from the artists eyes. His house is still there up a hidden and narrow road on the other side of the mountain range and it is easily found if you know where it is. I reckon that is a pretty top notch and choice bit of art critique, if I must say so old chap! :-)! Hehe!!! We've descended once again into the world of silly. It is a fun place isn’t it? ;-)!

Calling this states gallery, the National Gallery was a coup in and of itself, don't you reckon? I once applied for a job there, but alas I was culturally no longer able by that time to work for the public service and so I scared them during the interview and they scared me! And I thoughtfully declined the second interview… As a kid I went there to see the Pompeii exhibition and also the Chinese Emperors buried servants. Both of them were great exhibitions. The Pompeii plaster casts were fascinating and I still recall that the archaeologists had broken through many of the holes before they decided to fill one with plaster just to see what was inside. It was a bit eerie really, but fascinating at the same time and had just the right amount of ghoulish factor to keep me entertained as a young kid.

That National Gallery also has a fascinating window near the entrance which oozes water in a constant stream so that a person outside is unable to see what is inside. Plus the constant movement of water across the window just makes you want to touch the glass.

David Hockney's world sure is bright and full of life and also the wonder at all that life. I can see where you are coming from. Thanks.

There is a bit of a foodie culture in Ballarat so the gallery is quite correct to tap into that market and it is total genius. They have an excellent climate in Ballarat too as it is not too hot during summer and not too cold during winter. I've enjoyed many a walk around the lake. It is about 3.73 miles around the circumference and there are no short cuts! My mate who is now in Ohio used to live there and they had a supportive bunch of local food producers.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Yeah, it is surprising to find that a lot of their permanent collections are in storage. It seems a bit of a waste really, but one must rotate their stock in order to maintain interest - as you well know having worked in retail (as have I)!

When I was a kid, most kids brown paper bagged it. The tuck shop became a source of snack food or for a hot snack on a very cold winters day. Of course being the enterprising little thing that I was, I was full of money as a kid and so the delights of a hot pie or sausage roll were not lost on me during the depths of the winters. Well, to be honest it was that or vegemite sandwiches and that can wear a bit thin day after day. I recall from my time at high school that there was little in the way of shelter during the cold winters. And as the place was more English than the English, no doubts the people in charge would have said something like: it builds character. Of course the library was open at lunchtime and that was a good place to escape to on a cold winters day. In films of US education facilities I often see giant refectory halls and there was nothing of the kind down here. It may be of interest to you but I have seen those exact same dining layouts used in prison dramas and the comparisons are very hard for me to ignore.

Oh yeah, junk food has no place in a school tuck shop. Nuff said really.

The copy of those lunch lady cookbooks in braille sounds really cool and very thoughtful. Not being able to see does not mean that a person does not get hungry! I had a girlfriend long ago who had lost an eye in an accident and had a glass replacement and yeah, I don’t take eyesight for granted.

Yeah, trolls are bad. I mean what else can a person say about that subject? Trolls bore me, and to be really honest they usually lack the cojones to say such things to my face as they know it would lead to an immediate and unpleasant reaction. Of course sometimes I am taken by surprise, as is to be expected, and then I employ the delightful wisdom of the Klingon's (of course I do realise the writers ripped this off): Vengeance is a dish best served cold! Sometimes it is nice to live up in the bush where things are handled on a slightly different basis than what one would expect in the big smoke.

Lewis, I tell you this, my friend: May your enemies quail in fear of your approach or your possible reprisals!

I've been feeling a bit out of sorts today as I have spent far too long in the car over the past few days. Vehicle travel is way over rated and does nothing for a person’s feelings of peace and tranquillity. Anyway, tomorrow is a new day... And now I have some spare time with which to enjoy this week’s ADR which has been beyond my grasp for the past few days!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I did know that the agenda was later and believe that it was to do with the heroine Fanny. I do think that Austen was amazing for her time.

I am currently skipping my way through Ken Follett's trilogies. Have finished the 20th century one where I pretty well knew the history. However I did not know that the Austria/Hungary border came down before the Berlin wall. This meant that if East Germans could swing a holiday in Hungary, they were able to escape to the West.

Am now on the second volume of the Pillars of the earth trilogy, have just reached the black death. There is nauseating violence in the books but as far as I can tell, he is historically accurate.

28F outside this morning.

Inge

margfh said...

Chris & Lew,

School lunch programs have changed quite a bit at least in our district. When I first started in the late 1980's lunches were prepared on site though only two schools had full kitchens. Lunches were transported to the schools with only rudimentary kitchens. There was very little junk food offered. By the time I left in 2011 food preparation was contracted out to a big food service company. There was very little preparation going on but rather mass produced frozen meals were prepared in the kitchens and they were not healthful by any means. Vegetables always looked very unappetizing so few took them. Little bags of baby carrots were offered but they were often slimy. Fruit was often bruised. The breakfasts that were served to low income students (of which we had many) were mostly sugary carbs. One of the best items was a breakfast pizza. From my observation a serving of protein was about once a week. Regular and sugar coated cereal was offered - guess what they choose. Regular and chocolate milk was offered and of course almost all took chocolate. Very few kids brought their lunch though at least 1/2 of the student body had free or reduced lunch/breakfast. From what I understand breakfast is now free to all students. Sometimes as a "treat" a fast food item was offered i.e. Subway sandwiches. When the food prep was contracted out all the staff that had been originally employees of the district were let go and then hired by the contractor - at lower pay of course. Ditto for the bus drivers and maintenance staff. I imagine better food options are available in some of the affluent districts but I think what we have is more the norm. School funding is the major portion of our property tax bills so cost cutting is a priority except when it comes to the latest in technology of course

One more thing, students (and staff) have only 1/2 hour for lunch and that includes passing time. Some kids (and staff) eat lunch as early as 10:30 AM.

Margaret

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

We very well may have one of my brothers moving back in with us. Everyone who's lived with us needs quite a bit of support though which can get wearing. We grew up watching my extended family on my mother's side live with each other and provide support to each other. This was not the case in Doug's family. It was more difficult having my in-laws with us than my three brothers. I wonder if our culture hasn't become a bit selfish which makes it difficult to adapt with living with others. My in-laws spent most of the day in the kitchen in their home and when they moved in expected to do the same at our house and were generally in the way. I used to do any cooking by 8 AM before they made their first appearance. I've had several family members on my side tell us not to get rid of our land/house as they may have to escape the city/suburbs. Of course most of them have little or no skills that would enable them to be somewhat self sufficient.

On another note, it's deer hunting season this weekend. We have very high winds now and Doug said they heard 3 big trees go down in the woods. The deer are all hunkered down as well. Cold weather has finally arrived. It was 70 F on Thursday and in the 30's today. Temps will be down to 20 tonight.

Margaret

margfh said...

Hi Lew,

One other note about schools. I heard recently that the Jr. High library has gotten rid of about 1/2 of their books as students will be reading on electronic readers now. (Sigh)

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

Dear Inge - Well. Edward Joseph Harrington O'Brien (1890-1941) (what a moniker!) was quit a fellow. Really not too much about him on the internet. But a few tid bits, which I'm sure you know. He's the guy that launched the yearly "Best American Short Stories." Which is still being published. And, he launched a similar series in Britain. He gave a "leg up" to many authors who later became quit well known.

I discovered that our National Archives have a hand full of his letters and an unpublished biography. How extensive it is, or who wrote it was unremarked. I also found a couple of quotations by him on a quotes site. I thought it was really interesting that he was the European story editor for MGM studios. He supervised a crew of writers who prepared plot summaries of novels to submit to MGM.

Born in Boston and attended Boston College. Was a Harvard man, briefly. He withdrew after about 6 months. I wonder if the social pressures got too much for him. No politically correct language or safe spaces, from either students or professors, back then. And, with a name like O'Brien .... Or, maybe he just was done with formal education and wanted to get on with life.

I now see where your nickname comes from. Wive(s) and children's full names were listed on a couple of sites. Your secret is safe with me :-) Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, between Seattle and Portland, over the years, I've caught some pretty interesting exhibits. There was one in Portland that covered the emperor's of China that included some of the clay warriors. LOL. What I really remember is a crown that came from an "Emperess" tomb. That's in quotes because a fellow became emperor, rather unexpectedly. His grannie, who was rather a commoner, he dug up and crowned Empress. Probably to honor the old girl, but maybe to legitimize his dynasty?

There was also a miniature of a farm house. Well, miniature. It was about 2 1/2 feet tall. In clay. The detail was amazing. Right down to the pigs in their pen and an outhouse in the courtyard. I've never been within striking distance of Pompeii exhibit. I envy you.

Speaking of ghoulish exhibits that appeal to young boys ... when we went on vacation, each year, we sometimes passed through Salt Lake City. One year we stopped at the Mormon Pioneer Museum. They had a room with about 12 glass cases. In each one was a mummy. Pioneers who had been naturally mummified by the desert soil. Hair and clothing were pretty intact. I remember one old cowboy with his leather chaps, big handlebar mustache and you could see his gold tooth. And, a young woman with blond hair in her little gingham bonnet. I don't know if they're still on display. Given our more sensitive times.

I miss the trees out back, but yesterday morning it was quit a scene. Valley after valley as far as the eye could see filled with fog. And the ridges poking through. I forgot to mention, the other night my worst nightmare almost came true. I was almost home from the meeting when a deer bolted out of the woods on my left. And, some ... dip stick was right on my tail. So, I was driving faster than I would normally. He must have seen the deer, too, as he didn't pile into my back end. I could have reached through my window and touched the deer's nose. I was so shook up that when I got home, I forgot to leave my truck in gear ... and had to chase it halfway across the yard when it started to roll. Well, all things considered, at least I know the old ticker is in good shape!

Having quit an acid tongue on me, at times, I know I could slice and dice the troll and leave him gasping. But, as with most super powers, it should only be used for good :-). And I don't think Mr. Greer would appreciate those kinds of pyrotechnics.
:-) Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I totally agree with you that Austen was an amazing author.

Oh my! Ken Follett's trilogies sound like an epic read. Are you enjoying those books? Well the editors father skipped across the border from the Czech republic into West Germany before it became more difficult to do so. He wasn't too fond of the authorities there at the time, but he is a rather difficult person.

It was a very violent time, but that also makes for a difficult read. I tend to avoid stories that are overly violent. I'm quite surprised at the level of violence shown on television and it is one of the reasons I rarely watch any television. How do you deal with those sorts of stories?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

That is a frightening story. The lowest cost service provider does not necessarily supply the highest quality produce. And cutting wages and of course hours and conditions is a recipe for disaster. I have always been mildly surprised that people consider that some services have to make a profit in the first place as sometimes they are just a service that is provided at cost. The postal service here seems to be in that sort of a transition time. The old timer accountants used to describe these as cost centres rather than the more fashionable profit centres of today...

The support arrangements with your brothers is a tough one, but what else do you do in that circumstance? Doug's family is a bit more like my lot and it took me a while to realise what obligations they were extracting themselves from - and they read the situation like a book, but of course it was a long time ago and I was quite naive. There is middle ground in there somewhere, although to be honest I have no idea where it is. Ouch! Sharing the kitchen is a complex and messy business. You may recall that many months ago here now the kitchen became too small and thus the new island bench... Yeah, but living with others also means that there is give and take and adjustments on all sides? Doesn't it? I wonder about that skill issue too. As a curious side note, in my former life in the big corporate world, I always looked for people who had initiative and enthusiasm and that seemed to sort people out on that particular skill front. You can't teach someone who doesn't want or know how to be taught. Dunno, it is a complex matter that will impact all of us sooner or later. I'm pretty certain of that.

What a drop in temperature in such a short period of time. I hope those trees didn't fall on anyone or anything? It is going to be over 100'F here tomorrow... And then thunderstorms. Scritchy is already hiding under the bed in anticipation of the storm.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

I just recalled that the editor said to me the other day that serious discussions are taking place about whether to teach children how to write by hand using cursive script. This sounded a bit over the top to me?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Mate it is hot as here today. Well over 90'F and tomorrow will be over 100'F. I've got the bushfire screens up tonight and all of the windows open to the cooler night breezes.

I'm in the process tonight of putting together a video for tomorrows blog. A few years ago I started taking photos of the growth in the orchard and it is now 1,100 days on. The poor computer is struggling with the sheer weight of this beast, so I may do this one as the last video update. Of all the videos I've done, the last update was wildly popular. You know, I have no idea what other people are going to find interesting - it is a complete mystery to me.

Did you enjoy seeing the clay warriors in the flesh (so to speak)? I found them to be quite interesting and they all had different facial features and expressions. It seemed like an inordinate expense to go to which would have beggared the kingdom, but these things happen. The Taj Mahal which is a truly amazing building had that sort of economic impact! Lesson learned, tick or check - Don't beggar the kingdom with grandiose plans!

Oh yeah, I bet you are totally spot on with that whole legitimising aspect of the crown. Such things happen. History gets re-written. That miniature farm house sounds pretty cool. It was a shame I was so young at the time as I probably would have gotten more out of the exhibits nowadays. Hey, do you know what is interesting though? I recall both of those exhibits far more vividly than other times back in those days. The Pompeii exhibit really did evoke a sort of macabre fascination as it was very hard to ignore what had happened to the people and town as you could see the shape of the bodies which were often huddled up.

That would be quite ghoulish. When I was in Peru there were often displays of mummified young girls who had been sacrificed to the mountain spirits. My understanding was that they went there willingly (or so we were told) but they were usually drugged or starving which may have brought about hallucinations. The cold arid mountain air up there mummified the bodies. I'm not entirely sure that it is a good thing for people to recover them from their long watch over the mountain spirits.

As to those desert adventurers I read that they used to get quite ill licking the crystallised remains of pack rats – which they believed were some sort of sugary substance. Yuk! No wonder they died.

Not really a good way to test your ticker! Once I'm up in the forest, I drive like I'm 4,000 years old and if someone wants to pass, I let em go by. Some of those cheeky sods flash their hazard lights at me just to let me know what they think of that. It is just not worth the risk, but yeah you feel the psychic wall of energy from people roaring up behind you at night.

Mr Greer is of a sensible sort, so he probably would not want to feed the trolls. And you know in my earlier days on the Interweb I thought that was what you do, take them to task. Until I realised that that is feeding the rotters and they have so much free time. I do not doubt that you have a sharp tongue and a dry wit! Best make sure I don't annoy you then! Hehe!

Sorry, mate, but I gotta bounce and finish this video. It has been something of a burden to me, but it brings joy to others so...

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I completely avoid watching violence on television as it leaves such horrible images in ones mind. The Ken Follett books do much the same thing unfortunately but they are a riveting read. The Pillars of the Earth trilogy teaches you more than you will ever need to know about the architecture of cathedral building and (which I am finding more interesting) the building of bridges.

@Lew

My father's mother was teased about the name Harrington as it was the name of the doctor who delivered him. A full biography has been published. It was written by Roy S. Simmonds who also wrote biogs of Steinbeck and William March. Unfortunately it was published as an insanely expensive monograph. Hemingway acknowledged my father's help in 'A Moving Feast'. The biog. does not deal with the raison d'etre of my father's existence which was that he was a mystic. Roy simply regarded this as insanity.

Inge

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Cursive is no longer being taught in many schools now. When we vote here we both sign and print our name on a form. A friend overheard an election judge telling the person in front of her in line "No you can't print your name twice." Schools are issuing students Chrome books now for much of their work. I wonder if they won't even be able to print soon.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Margaret - Well, that's the way of the world, these days. Lay them off and hire them back at a smaller wage and fewer, or no benefits. Part time or "on call." And, a cut goes to the private company. Chris is right. Quality suffers. And I really wonder how cost effective it all is, in the final analysis. Toward the end of my book selling career, the company was always pushing to hire more part time people, and less full time people. But the book business is so complicated that it was difficult for the part timers to take it all in.

My cursive has always been very bad. Might be a hand brain motor problem. My younger brother was actually diagnosed as such. By the time he was coming up through school, more attention was paid to such things. So, I taught myself to type at a very early age and usually print in big block letters, anything for public consumption. :-). Sometimes, even that wasn't good enough. I'd get this ... "What does this say?" I'd usually respond, "Try harder." :-) Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Biographers should be .... detached. At least that's the ideal. No value judgements. A pity he didn't have a better biographer. There were so many really great movies in the 1930s and 1940s that were taken from British novels. I wonder how many your father was partially responsible for?

I'm still slogging my way through "Austerity England: 1945-1951 (Kynaston, 2008). Well over 600 pages. But I'm skimming through. Skipping the political bits and sports stuff. I'm more interested in individual people's stories. I just finished the bit about the great freeze of 1947. Do you remember that? Sounds ghastly. Coal shortages and gas pressure falling to just a flicker...for months. When we have cold snaps here, they generally last for a week and a half to two and a half weeks. Life gets to be such a grind. So arduous. We haven't had those in a couple of winters. Hope we don't, this year. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Gosh, those temperatures are really high! Here, we had one pretty cool day. Ran into my landlord's wife and we both agreed that it felt, and looked like snow. But that was just a day and the warm temperatures returned. Low 50s F, overnight. Breezy with a bit of rain sloshing about.

Funny what sticks in your head. LOL. But sometimes I wonder what I remember, and what actually was ... When I was 9 some friend's parents took me along to an exhibit at the Portland Art Museum. A traveling show. Treasures of Woburn Abbey. One of England's "great" houses. it was my first trip to the art museum and the first time I had seen "real" art ... up close and personal. There was a couple of Rembrandt's. I remember how the eyes seemed to follow you around the room. Not long after that, I stated hanging out in a (very) high end antique store that was on my paper route. And the rest, as they say, is history ...

There's been new interest in the plaster casts from Pompeii. They've constructed a purpose built building in the arena at Pompeii, just for the casts. A lot of them needed to be stabilized and repaired. While they were at it, they did a bit of x-ray and bone analysis. Over the years, lot of stories were attached to what people could see. Is The African, really an African? Well, no. Some of the speculated ages and sexes were wrong. Bits of jewelry and coin that you can't see on the surface have show up. "Family" groups are being analyzed to see the relationship between the people, if any. Did the exhibit you saw have the dog? That's the one that really sticks in my mind. Poor thing was left chained up and his death throes are pretty graphic.

Well, tomorrow I'll start ramping up to Thanksgiving. I keep my fridge, pretty cold. Last year, I gave the turkey three days to thaw in the fridge. It was still a bit frosty when I started to prepare it, Thursday morning. So, I think I'll pull it out of the freezer, tomorrow. Give it 4 days, this year. I'll do the cranberries tomorrow or Tuesday. The pumpkin pie on Wednesday. At least, that's the plan :-). Lew