Monday, 25 April 2016

Three little birds



The Australian accent and language (which is apparently sometimes described as either broad or a drawl) is a useful tool for communicating complex ideas and sentences in as few words as possible. Often you can string various words together in a spoken sentence so that the meaning becomes far greater and deeper than the sum of the words themselves. I experienced the advantages of this communication method the other day.

On the northern end of Melbourne there is a retail shop which specialises in selling solar photovoltaic electrical gear. The guys that work in that shop look as though they’ve only just that morning taken a break from their forest encampment where they have been protesting against the harvesting of old growth forests for the past six months. They’re cool, and what is worse, they know they’re cool. And the shop is full of solar panels in various states of undress (i.e. being removed from their cardboard boxes!) all casually stacked against the walls. Shelves line the walls and are full of all sorts of casually stacked and inexplicable boxes of electronics gear. Did I mention that the green paint job on outside of the the brick shop looks very dodgy? And the large front window and security bars are covered by permanently closed aluminium venetian blinds dating from the 1960’s and are now so old and battered that they’ve achieved true vintage status. Yeah, they’re cool.

And then I walk into the shop. I’m not cool, but I’ve been dealing with these guys for years and so knew exactly what to expect. After the brief discussion with the two guys at the counter detailing my exact requirements, I shared a brief moment of acknowledgement and respect with one of the guys when he said the word: “Nice”. That is actually code word for a much larger idea which can actually be translated into proper English to mean: “Thank you for taking the time to understand and state your exact requirements and I respect your level of organisation.”

The rest of the conversation then followed the same path so it is worth recounting here with proper translations, of course:

Me: “How’s it goin’, mate” – English translation: “I’m concerned for your well-being as you appear to look rather unwell, my friend”.

Reply: “Mate, had a mates going away party last night” – English translation: “Thank you for your concern and I appreciate that. We have now bonded over this matter and I now consider you marginally better than an acquaintance. Last evening a friend of mine was leaving to pursue an adventure elsewhere and to that end our group of friends decided to have a party to celebrate the imminent departure. This party unfortunately continued into the early hours of the morning and so now I feel rather tired. To add to my personal distress, I imbibed rather more alcohol than my normal consumption patterns merely because that seemed to be appropriate given the circumstances. I am however a stoic individual, because this morning I am at work, although feeling rather unwell and so please forgive any and all mistakes”.

Me: “Cool (pause). Respect” – English translation: “I accept your explanation and totally respect and acknowledge your display of heroic stoicism. Further to that, I will endeavour to cross check your work to ensure that any embarrassing errors are corrected without the need to escalate the matter any further”.

It was fortunate for me that I was closely checking the order because he had forgotten to provide one of the components. And true to my word, I quietly let the guy know of the omission and everything was soon corrected and I was on my way home again.

So how did I come to be in the solar shop?

It all began a couple of days earlier when I had an epiphany. An epiphany is a moment of sudden and great revelation or realization. That epiphany gave me an insight into the world of solar photovoltaic power systems. That insight was that these solar power systems are so horrendously complex and are comprised of so many different components that no one actually knows how these things perform in the real world.

This week, for no real reason, I started feeling a bit anxious about the solar power system. It may be due to the fact that winter is just around the corner. I told you that I wasn’t cool!

After a deep breath (well, maybe a few deep breaths, and then some more deep breaths) and a bit of quiet reflection on the matter I applied my tried and tested approach of 'more is better' when dealing with natural systems. My approach can be summed up as: If you want to eat home grown apples, don’t just plant one apple tree, plant twenty apple trees.

Every year, I learn more about solar power systems. The frightening thing that I have learned recently is that every year single year that they are in operation, they degrade slightly. That means that every year the photovoltaic panels produce a little less power than the year before. Likewise the batteries store a little less electrical energy. Not to mention that some components corrode, whilst others fail. Even minor failures can be a nuisance, especially during the dark days either side of the winter solstice. So over the next few weeks I’ve decided to undertake a refurbishment of the solar power system using everything that I have learned over the past few years (and haven't had a chance to implement).

This week, I began construction of a steel pole mount for two additional freestanding solar panels. The construction work involved drilling and painting a scrap steel post. Over the next week or so depending on the weather it will be cemented into the paddock below the house.
A steel post was painted and drilled so that it can be utilised as a mount for two additional solar photovoltaic panels
I also realised that I had somehow completely forgotten to paint one of the existing steel freestanding solar panel mounts installed two years ago! This week, the steel, which was showing some signs of rust, received two coats of quality metal paint.
A steel mount for two solar panels installed two years ago was painted this week
This week up in the mountain range, it was feral with tourists! I’ve never before seen so many people in the mountain range. It was mildly surreal. The tourists had driven up to see the autumn leaf colour change in the exotic deciduous trees. There were traffic jams on the main road and honestly, I’d never been so grateful to live on a scary dirt road before where tourists dare not come! It was also lovely to see the many couples enjoying the mountain and having their wedding photos in red or white dresses on the cold, but sunny autumn day underneath the falling foliage. The weather was almost perfect for them.
Traffic on the main road over the mountain range
Observant readers will note that there don’t seem to be many vehicles parked on the road. That is because most of the vehicles were parked on side roads for hundreds of metres (feet). In the above photo both sides of the road are marked “no standing” zones and they don't need to be enforced. The reason that the parking zones don't need to be enforced is because many of the vehicles in the photo are parked on angles which are far less than horizontal. This is because on each side of the road, there are hugely deep “car swallowing” drains. Within only a few minutes I’d seen a Toyota Prius and a Jeep Cherokee both resting on their side doors at unfeasible angles after having slipped off the road. I was thinking to myself that recovery of those (and all of the other unlucky people) would be expensive for the drivers, but a lucrative business for the recovery trucks! Anyway, I left the area in case I was dragged into assisting with the recovery of some of those vehicles.

A few weeks back I mentioned that there was a mystery fruit which had grown here. Over the weekend the mystery fruit was harvested and cut in half. I can now report that the mystery fruit was a watermelon (although with yellow flesh). It was very tasty and the editor harvested seeds from the fruit for planting next year in more favourable conditions. Hopefully the melons will grow to an even larger size next summer.
The mystery fruit was revealed to be a tasty water melon
Speaking of feral, the spontaneous pumpkin which originated in the orchard from a pumpkin seed deposited by the actions of one of the dogs has now grown quite a bit. Once that pumpkin is ripe, we will harvest seeds from it and use the flesh to produce roasted dog biscuits. The wheel turns full circle! Hopefully next year that fruit will be even bigger too.
The feral pumpkin in the orchard has grown in size over the past few weeks
Tomato cam™ tells no lies and this week we have begun the process of converting the huge harvest of tomatoes which are still ripening on the vine into tomato chutney. This process of producing chutney will continue over the next month or so.
Tomato chutney has begun to be made this week
A local farm with a shop specialises in growing and selling bulb plants, and unfortunately the editor and I went feral there and purchased probably far more bulb plants than we actually want to plant. All of the bulbs were planted over the past few days in the orchard and they will hopefully put on a good show of flowers from about August onwards.
Bulbs were purchased from the nearby farm and shop that specialises in selling bulb plants
We also went feral this week with manure. That sounds a bit odd, doesn’t it? What I actually mean by that statement is that the editor and I applied another cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) of mushroom compost to a steep area of the garden that really needed it. Once the compost was applied to the steep hill side, I then climbed up the slope on a ladder and planted the entire area out with cuttings of ultra hardy flowering plants. Hopefully in about another year, it will look really good.
A steep garden bed was manured and planted out this week with flowering plants
Despite the autumn conditions, there are still plenty of flowers around and I spotted this bush rose the other day which not only looks good, but has a lovely "old world" rose scent too.
A bush rose produces a good show of flowers and strong rose scent
Good rain fell earlier this week. With that rain, the mushrooms have arrived and it is hard to walk around in the orchard without tripping over some new and unidentified mushroom. No one knows whether any of the mushrooms here are edible and more than likely, they are probably very toxic.
Mushrooms have turned up everywhere after the recent good dump of rain earlier in the week
If anyone has ever wondered what the rural sport of choice was down here, it surely must be the burning off of organic matter! Forget football, because in the early evenings on weekends, I can look out into the valley below and it appears as if there is some sort of serious volcanic activity going off (all feral-like with the occassional tourist sacrifice!) and the small volcanic flumes are venting their underground pressures into the atmosphere.
Burn offs are our national rural sport down here
I owe the title of this week’s blog to Bob Marley who sung the lyrics:

Rise up this mornin',
Smiled with the risin' sun,
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin' sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Saying', ("This is my message to you")

Singing' "Don't worry 'bout a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be alright."

As I was worrying about the future of the solar power system earlier in the week, the above lyrics popped into my head, and I knew then that it was time to again be thankful for the solar shop and its delightful staff!

The temperature outside now at about 8.45pm is 13.1’C (55.6’F). So far this year there has been 156.8mm (6.2 inches) which is up from last week’s total of 136.8mm (5.4 inches).

Monday, 18 April 2016

Allergic

Winters were always the hardest. The air was cold, the sky was still dark and the rain fell. And I got wet. Some mornings breaking news held up the deliveries. A much younger me was there quietly waiting at the newsagent for the delivery when the news came through that the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up and I received that news before most other people had even woken for that day. Other mornings, I suspect that the printing presses simply broke down. Either way, any delay meant that I was sitting around the local newsagent – reading the latest video game magazines – waiting for the inevitable newspaper supplies so that I could get out on my pushbike and cycle around the suburb delivering the daily newspapers.  

As a child it never even concerned me that other children got to sleep in whilst I was traversing the suburb in the early morning delivering newspapers. And back in those days, there used to be an afternoon edition of the newspaper too which had to also be delivered.

Don’t forget the chemist rounds either, where I used to deliver prescription medicines to elderly customers. And on Saturday mornings the chemist staff used to instruct me to burn off all of the cardboard and plastic packaging that they’d accumulated during the week in the incinerator at the back of the shop. Imagine that happening nowadays…

As an interesting side story, one day on the chemist round whilst riding my push bike for a delivery, I hit a particularly nasty hole in the road and one of the prescription medications bounced out of the basket and landed on the road and smashed. Back in those days, chemists used a lot of glass packaging and so the glass bottle smashed all over the road along with an unusual pink coloured liquid spilled which everywhere. Being an idiot, I thought to myself that there is no way I’m putting all that sticky rubbish back into the basket of my pushbike, so I simply (again being a complete idiot) kicked the contents down the nearest drain and that was about where I thought that the matter would end. Au contraire! Upon arrival back at the chemist I naively explained what had happened and then the chemists (note the use of the plural) started grilling me about what had happened, where it happened and was I lying about it. After about a quarter of an hour of that intense grilling, I broke down and burst into tears, and those tears achieved what no amount of truth telling or snivelling could ever have done – they believed my story, which was merely the truth anyway. It never even occurred to me – as a child – that the medications that I was blithely push biking around the suburb had a street value! Who would have thought that? What was even better was that I didn’t lose my job. This was a good thing because Space Invaders was an expensive game to play and without the job, the pinball parlour would be a distant memory, not to mention the fish and chip shop, because with all of that bike riding, I really needed to keep my energy levels up!

Working as a child at that time was not unusual or even noteworthy. Some of my friends did the daily milk deliveries to people’s front doors. Other mates were employed with pamphlet drops, or they worked in the local milk bar. I eventually ended up getting a sweet job working for Tandy Electronics (the now defunct Radio Shack in the US) Friday nights and Saturday mornings and that job was a total blast. One evening the boss made the mistake of allowing me to lock up the shop. That was his mistake, because I invited all of my friends over and we raced the many remote controlled cars up and down the street. Fun times! I didn’t even get sacked for that!

I’ve been thinking about such matters recently because I have noticed that most (but not all) of the visitors to the farm at some point during their visit put on a very serious face and pronounce to me in a doleful tone: “It’s a lot of work”. The actual meaning of that pronouncement is that they themselves could not ever consider undertaking so much physical labour because they clearly don't need to. And that is fair enough because I understand that physical labour is an unpleasant prospect for people who are unused to such things. I also understand that many people in our society consider that those who undertake – even menial – physical labour are low in social status. I disagree with such a perspective, because whilst I would not dispute the fact that as a child I did some idiot like things, as an adult the converse situation now applies and I hold both an under graduate and a post graduate degree and in one compulsory subject at University I actually achieved the top mark and scored a prize. The editor has even more papers and titles than I. Its also a fair thing to say that we're not allergic to hard work.

So, I will tell you a little story about dog food. Long term readers will recall that I bake and cook most of the dog food from scratch. Producing dog food from scratch takes a bit of effort every week of the year, but I cannot understate just how much cheaper it is to make your own dog food. Once I worked out that I was working one month of every year in order to pay for purchased dog food, I thought to myself that I must have regressed back to my childhood status of an idiot.

However, I still purchase the occasional box / bag of dog food for times when I’ve been too busy to attend to the task of cooking / baking the dog food. So this week I noticed that the dog food biscuits which used to be $5.30 for 1kg (that is AU$0.53 per 100g or 3.5oz) now have had the box size reduced to 800g costing $5.00 (that is AU$0.625 per 100g or 3.5oz). Maths is not my strong suit, but an 18% increase doesn’t look very good to me. This means that the home made dog food, despite being what some may consider hard work, has become much more valuable by stealth.

Earlier this week the final two fruit trees were planted. Both of the fruit trees were of a type of citrus trees which produce an excellent quantity of fruit through the winter and are also very heat and drought tolerant. 
The final two citrus fruit trees were planted this week
The Australian round limes here are almost ready to eat fresh from the tree, and over the next few months there will also be lemons, grapefruit and mandarins. Apart from rhubarb, no other type of plant produces sweet tasting goodies for our breakfasts during the depths of winter.

Autumn is a great time to start cuttings as the soil is still warm, it occasionally rains and the sun still shines. This week a large number of cuttings were started in the various garden beds. I have a large number of plants to choose from and many of the cuttings are selected from my favourite plants that I know will take easily.
Many geranium / pelargonium cuttings were started in the various garden beds
Hard work I can deal with, but peak rocks has always left me feeling a bit unsettled. Peak rocks, is the dreaded time in which all of the easy to obtain rocks have been used around the farm. Rocks are really useful things and they get utilised in garden beds and many other constructions. You name it, I’ve got a use for rocks. Unfortunately, peak rocks is here and it is a reality that I have to deal with.
The author using his electric solar powered jack hammer to break large rocks into smaller rocks
Recently I have been breaking larger rocks into smaller and more easily moved rocks, however after about an hour on the jack hammer trying to break this larger rock into smaller rocks, I admitted defeat. Then in a fit of pique, I rolled the unbroken rock down the hill (and also out of sight).

The editor however, came up with a genius idea to obtain more rocks. The idea was to drive the little Suzuki four wheel drive (in low range gearing) down the hill along with the bright yellow trailer and then bring moveable rocks back up the hill. Thus began an epic task.
The little Suzuki four wheel drive with the bright yellow trailer was used to bring rocks back up the hill
The rocks which weighed far more than I do, were loaded onto the trailer using a very strong orange trolley (which you can see in the photo above). From the trailer the rocks were rolled off the back of the yellow trailer and into the trusty old wheelbarrow and then moved into their final destination which was unfortunately uphill.
The large rocks were rolled off the back of the trailer and into the trusty blue wheelbarrow
Observant readers will note that the trusty blue wheelbarrow is a full sized builders wheelbarrow. Before too long, and a few bright yellow trailer loads, the many rocks were placed roughly near their final position.
Before too long, the many rocks were placed roughly near their final position
The rocks were then embedded into their final place (no small matter given how much they weighed) and a cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) of mushroom compost was then deposited onto the new garden beds.
The rocks were embedded into place and mushroom compost was dumped onto the new garden beds
One of the benefits of having a flexible work schedule, is that if conditions are optimal the editor and I can head off to far distant places at a moment’s notice. And this week the autumn sun was shining strongly and even more importantly school holidays were over, so we headed off to the beach. We love the beach in winter. There are no crowds at the fish and chip shop, or on the beach and the weather can be warm one day and positively Antarctic the next! Which is what happened as we stayed overnight at a small town along the Great Ocean Road to the South West of the farm.
The beach was stunning in all its winter glory
Along the way to that small town on the Great Ocean Road we passed through the town of Wye River which had suffered from the Christmas day bushfire. My understanding is that the bushfire destroyed 118 houses (or about one third of the town), many of which may never be rebuilt.
The scorched hills to the south of Wye River
Observant readers will notice in the above photo that the bushfire reached all of the way down to the water’s edge (that is the Ocean). It is also interesting to note the many signs of regrowth in the area. Where the vegetation was particularly dense and thus the fire was very hot, the trees did not survive. However, if you look at the centre of the next photo below you will note that a tree fern has already sprouted new bright green fronds. Many plants respond to the incredible release of minerals following a bushfire and some of them have evolved ways of adapting to such an incredible circumstance.
The tree fern in the very centre of this photo has produced new bright green fronds whilst the blackened tree to the right looks dead to me
The carpet of bracken ferns in the above photo are particularly adept at harvesting phosphate, which is lacking in the soil naturally but becomes readily available to plants in the ash.

Where the fire was less intense for all sorts of reasons, the Eucalyptus trees produce epicormic new growth from their trunks and the different Eucalyptus species can be spotted because of the different colours of the juvenile leaf growth.
The Eucalyptus trees in this gulley are producing epicormic growth following the recent bushfire, in form of juvenile leaves sprouting from their burnt trunks
From personal observations over the years, I can observe that forests with a greater diversity of species and a lower number of Eucalyptus (and also Pinus) species per acre results in a cooler burn if and when a bushfire does occur. I’m constantly burning off forest fuels here during the winter and whilst it is hard work, I’m not allergic to that.
A burn off of collected forest fuels this week at the farm
The temperature outside now at about 8.30pm is 14.0’C (57.2’F). So far this year there has been 136.8mm (5.4 inches) which is up from last week’s total of 128.2mm (5.0 inches).

Monday, 11 April 2016

Magic couch ride


Like an old friend, that green couch and I go way back, and how it came into my life is an interesting story. The title of this week’s blog sounds a bit pervy, doesn’t it? However it is worth mentioning that the green couch in question is a very respectable couch you know!

The idea for purchasing the green couch arose way back in the mid 1990’s. And the idea for the purchase was at the repeated insistence of the local real estate agent. I was trying to sell a house in the middle of a recession and back in those days few people were actually buying houses. The real estate agent simply wanted his commission from the sale of the house and quite politely told me that the existing couch looked as if it had been only recently been removed from a landfill and should be replaced.

The agent was making a reasonable observation because the existing couch was propped up on bricks and additionally had to be covered over with a sheet so as to hide both those bricks and the many holes in the fabric coverings. House mates can be brutal on furniture and that existing couch had witnessed many house mates. Actually, if the couch could have talked, it may possibly have told many entertaining stories. Fortunately, the couch could not tell its story! That old couch was not new when I inherited it as it had lived with many different families over its life and was possibly between three and four decades old. Anyway, it would be a fair thing to say that the existing couch’s best days were behind it and it was probably beyond repair.

The real estate agent was very insistent that the old couch had to go because it did not look good and would discourage potential buyers from considering purchasing the house (the technical description for the old couch was: Eyesore).

So, one dark Friday evening, the editor and I drove my little 1 Litre (all 61 cubic inches) 4 speed Suzuki car the two suburbs over to Brooklyn (that is a suburb of Melbourne). Back then Brooklyn was very gritty as it contained a lot of heavy industries. Mind you, there were refineries and other such inexplicably large industries in the suburb that we were living in at the time, so I didn’t really notice any of that stuff.

One advantage of a suburb with heavy industry, is that there are usually a lot of very large sheds. And Brooklyn contained Sidney’s lounge discounters in one of those very large sheds. These days furniture stores look very flashy to me. However, back then it would be a massive stretch of the imagination to say that Sidney’s was a flashy furniture store. I mean the shop was in an industrial estate, in an over sized shed, in an out of the way suburb and that night we were the only people, other than the sales guy, in the shop. It was quiet, like a scene out of Alfred Hitchcock's film: Psycho.

Sidney’s did have a serious strategic advantage over other furniture shops though, and that was because they kept their costs down, they were cheap. And way back then, most of the furniture for sale was locally manufactured. Furniture was not cheap back then and that is why we had a couch that was propped up on bricks, covered over with a sheet and full of holes in the first place.

The sales guy at the shop eventually talked the editor and I into purchasing a locally manufactured green plaid two seater couch. And it cost us almost a month’s wages, which we could ill afford. But that real estate agent was very insistent…

And two decades later this is what the green plaid couch looks like:
The green plaid couch two decades on, looking almost as good as new
I keep an eye on the zeitgeist and I've noticed very recently that in some of the high end designer stores, plaid coverings seem to be making a return to favour. I cannot imagine that the sort of rubbish being sold as furniture today will look as good in two decades time as that locally manufactured green couch. 

What I’ve also failed to mention is just how much abuse that green couch has had to suffer in the intervening years. Check this out:
The green plaid and locally manufactured couch cushions are used on the raw dirt during the construction of the house here back in 2009
Observant readers will note that on the very right hand side of the photo is a small grey vacuum cleaner that I was using at the time to suck dirt out of the holes. That vacuum cleaner was a hand me down from the editor’s mother and it is still in use today and I even use that vacuum cleaner to suck leaves out of the guttering which collects the rain water!

And I won’t even mention the cat which used to share the house (and green plaid couch). That cat had suffered from cat flu as a kitten and he used to blow snot bubbles which hardened into an almost epoxy resin like substance on any surface of the house and the fabric of that green couch was no exception. Or the dog that used to enjoy sleeping on the couch, but at one stage had some weird skin allergy which smelled like last weeks un-refrigrated casserole. In hindsight, I wish that I had purchased more of those green couches and I often wonder whether the demise of local manufacturing and the shoddy goods supplied to us these days has been a good thing. From my perspective, that doesn't seem to be the case.

Speaking of which, I have recently been searching for a supplier for skivvies (which are a long sleeved t-shirt with a turtle neck). It is very hard to maintain my winter style without skivvies! I used to work as an accountant in both the clothing and footwear manufacturing industries and all that I can observe is that recently the fit and finish of the clothing being supplied to us now is total rubbish. And because a few generations have passed since sewing was considered to be a necessary part of a family’s existence, no one seems to even notice the low quality!

This week, the editor and I finally decided to address the complete lack of storage and preparation space in the kitchen. The recent glut of zucchinis discussed in last week’s blog was the final straw (that broke the proverbial camel’s back). To that end the old stainless steel island bench was replaced with four flat pack cupboards which would make a new island bench.
Four cupboards replaced the existing stainless steel island bench in the kitchen
The funny thing was though, the cupboards just didn’t look right. There is a rule of thumb relating to aesthetics which says that in order for rectangular buildings to look correct to the untrained eye, the proportions must adhere to a one third / two thirds basis. Those four island bench cupboards proved that rule of thumb to be true because they just looked so very wrong!
Two further cupboards were added to the existing island bench in the kitchen
Two further cupboards were added to the island bench in the kitchen and then all was good, aesthetically speaking of course. It was fortunate that the two cupboards had to be added, because I’d completely stuffed up the location of the feet and in order to correct that problem the entire unit had to be disassembled anyway. Before too long (well, actually after many hours), the doors were added and a few scraps of plywood were included as a temporary benchtop. I use the word temporary because the suppliers of the flat pack cupboards no longer supply benchtops. This was an unexpected occurrence and the editor and I spent a few hours on Friday afternoon meeting benchtop suppliers in strange industrial like suburbs (everything old is new again! Sidney's benchtop discounters anyone!).
The new island bench cupboards began to be filled with farm produce today
The old stainless steel bench was not scrapped. That bench has been relocated outside undercover where it will become the outdoor summer kitchen. I may want to consume freshly baked bread on a 40’C+ (104’F+) degree day, but I seriously don’t want to be using an electric (solar powered) oven inside on such a day. Imagine dehydrating tomatoes on such a hot day too, in the house for 10 hours… And that is where an outdoor kitchen comes into play.
The stainless steel bench has now been repurposed into an under-cover outdoor kitchen
Speaking of bright ideas. Lewis, who is a regular commenter here, has spoken in the past about utilising a light in his chicken house. What a good idea. As the days are getting shorter here and winter is looming, I’ve noticed that at around dusk there is enough light from the setting sun to see the chickens heading off to bed. However, once inside the chicken house it is very dark, so I’ve added a magnetic LED battery light to the wall of the steel chicken house. That way the chickens can see what they are doing when they head off to bed. Before that LED light was used, there used to be quite a lot of fighting between the chickens, because in the dark, the late to bed chickens used to jump on top of other already settled-in-for-the-night chickens, who really didn’t seem to appreciate the inconvenience.
A magnetic battery operated LED provides light to the chickens in their hen house when they go to bed at night
It rained this week and it was nice to see that forgotten wet stuff falling from the sky. The rain has meant that I’ve been able to stop watering all of the recently installed plants – like the fern gully.
Poopy inspects the newly planted rainforest gully after a recent rainfall
The wildlife here is enjoying the moister and greener conditions and a few nights ago, this kangaroo bull decided to enjoy the herbage not 10m (33 feet) from where I was sitting. The chickens didn’t seem to care about the kangaroo.
A bull kangaroo enjoys the green pick in the orchard whilst the chickens look on
And speaking of marsupials, I noticed today that Scritchy the boss dog ventured into the old strawberry bed to investigate the damage that the wallabies have caused. The funny thing was that she became stuck in the netting and had to be extracted. Poopy clearly thought that the situation was very amusing!
Dude, what are you doing? Poopy looks on whilst Scritchy the boss dog became entangled in the netting in the now destroyed strawberry bed
The cooler conditions and recent rainfall has meant that the raised garden beds have rapidly filled with the many greens that we eat. There are all sorts of plants growing: various lettuces; mustards; rocket; celery; parsley; and onions. Those greens will continue to grow all winter.
The recent cooler temperatures and rainfall has meant that the greens have grown in the raised garden beds
Many of the citrus fruit trees will provide fruit over winter too and home grown mandarins are far superior tasting to the store purchased fruit. This poor fruit tree has recovered from a wallaby attack and is now producing a lot of fruit.
A mandarin fruit tree which is recovering from a wallaby attack is now producing a lot of fruit which should be ripe in a month or two
I used to feed the dogs toasted muesli which had pumpkin seeds in it. After being baked in the oven and then passing through a dog gut, one very hardy pumpkin seed established itself in the orchard and today it looks like this (and I have not watered the vine once this entire growing season). Given the market for civet coffee, the editor and I are rather excited about the potential new market for civet (poopy?) pumpkins:
A pumpkin plant has taken hold in the orchard after having the seed consumed by a dog as toasted muesli and then being excreted in the orchard. Civet pumpkins anyone?
As autumn continues and the daylight hours get shorter, the many deciduous trees are putting on a good display. In the orchard, this nashi (Asian) pear has turned a beautiful yellow colour.
Autumn continues and the daylight hours slowly reduce. A nashi pear begins to turn colour to a beautiful yellow
The temperature outside now at about 8.15pm is 11.0'C degrees Celsius (51.8'F). So far this year there has been 128.2mm (5.0 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 115.4mm (4.5 inches).