This blog is now available as an mp3 podcast through the link: www.ferngladefarm.com.au
Poopy had quite the fright this week as he was confronted by a scary cable monster! A cable was temporarily placed across the veranda and clearly that coaxial cable was a scary monster because Poopy refused to walk or run past the cable. It was almost as if Gandalf himself from Lord of the Rings had laid the cable across the veranda and declared: “You shall not pass!” And Mr Poopy took that message seriously enough that indeed he did not pass the scary cable monster.
Strange Poopy behaviour aside, the important question remains unasked: Why was there a cable temporarily placed across the veranda? The simple answer to that question was that my internet modem abruptly died earlier this week. In a strange coincidence, the modem was supplied on a 24 month plan which had less than a few days left to run its course.
We can deal with adversity here at Fernglade Farm, so one afternoon I jumped onto the train and headed into the big smoke of Melbourne and agreed with the nice internet supplier to accept another 24 month plan. In exchange I received a brand new black, shiny internet modem. We were back on the internet again and all was good with the world. Except for Mr Poopy’s rather strange behaviour about the scary cable monster.
So back to the matter of why there was a cable temporarily placed across the veranda. Now of course the new internet modem is much faster than the old and now deceased internet modem and this is a good thing. However the signal that the new modem transmits throughout the house is much weaker than the old modem used to achieve. So to get around this problem of a weak signal inside the house, I thought to myself that I’d simply move the new modem closer to the computer. However nothing involving computer thingees is ever simple, and so that job required relocating the external internet antenna and running a brand new cable from that antenna to the new modem. Thus the temporary test run of the new cable became the scary cable monster (from Mr Poopy’s point of view). Despite Mr Poopy’s misgivings, at least I could again gain access the internet.
|On a dark and misty morn, the external internet antenna was moved earlier this week and a temporary cable run was installed|
In order to relocate the internet antenna to its new position, I had to climb onto the roof of the house and undertake some work. Whilst I was on the roof of the house the sun came out and I thought to myself: How nice does the view of the garden look from up here? So for the benefit of the readers of the blog, I climbed back down the ladder, grabbed the camera, and climbed back up again and took a photo (Manual Drone CamTM).
|About half of the garden as seen from the roof of the house|
I felt very sorry for Mr Poopy’s fears of the scary cable monster on the veranda and to that end, I installed the new cable which runs from the internet antenna, under the house and then to the new internet modem. All was then good with the internet world! In case anyone was interested, Mr Poopy elected to make the following comment for the blog about the scary cable monster situation:
|Mr Poopy displays a palpable sense of relief of having endured days of stress in the shadow of the scary cable monster, whilst Scritchy boss dog extraordinaire keeps a close lookout for new incursions|
This week has been the first quiet week for me since the beginning of the year and so I threw myself into some serious work around the farm. Hang onto your hats folks as this ride is going to get wild!
Earlier in the week, I fed all three hundred fruit trees on the farm with a goodly dose of manure. What that means in reality is that I threw a crate full of manure in the general direction of every one of the fruit trees. I used the little white Suzuki and bright yellow trailer to drive the manure down into an area more or less close to some parts of the orchard. From that point, I offloaded the manure from the back of the bright yellow trailer into crates, and then used the wheel barrow to take the crates closer to the various fruit trees.
|The little white Suzuki and bright yellow trailer is used to take manure down the hill into the orchard|
After a while the fruit trees were ever further up the hill from the little white Suzuki. The sun was deadly hot and I had started at the bottom of the orchard and was moving uphill. The effort of pushing the heavily laden wheelbarrow uphill in the hot sun was starting to put a strain on my good mood. To save me from cracking the sads, I simply drove the little white Suzuki a little bit further up the hill and parked at a higher position and recommenced unloading the manure again. Eventually all three hundred fruit trees were enjoying a feed in the hot sun.
We continued recovering rocks to use in various projects around the farm. And occasionally we are able (edit: foolhardy enough) to manually move some very large rocks. Excavators, pah, what are they good for?
|Occasionally we are able to manually move very large rocks for use in projects about the place|
You may notice in the photo above that I am smiling which means that I am not cracking the sads. The reason for my good cheer was that earlier that day, I received confirmation from the local doctor that an unusual and dark spot on my ear that was removed was not normal skin, but neither was it skin cancer. Did I mention that the sun is very intense in Australia? Observant readers will note that in the photo above my head is covered by a broad brim hat and those hats serve a useful function.
Not cracking the sads is a good thing too, as the editor will no doubt attest, but then so is an all clear from a strange and possibly fatal skin condition. To that end the editor and I headed out that evening to the local pub to celebrate:
The autumn night air was warm and there was not the slightest breath of wind. The editor and I sat outside the pub in the outdoor seating area and I enjoyed a pint of local beer ('chop shop' which is a very hop infused ale) whilst the editor had a pint of the tasty local cloudy cider. The pub was quiet - it being a school night and all – and the sky was full of stars as the cooler evening air surrounded us. Even so local people were coming and going into the pub. The outside tables are heavy timber and constructed to withstand the worst of the winter weather and of course the more usual mess left by the pub crowd. There were even a few kids running around the paddock next to the pub. Another couple had two dogs, one of which had a prosthetic foot. For some reason people always bring dogs along to that pub and they are usually well received by the patrons. And after the final rays of light disappeared from the sky, the night closed in, the stars appeared in the sky above, and a local bloke picked up a guitar and started belting out ballads. It was a really lovely and enjoyable night.
As I wrote that description, other local scenes from this week came to mind which I thought that you the readers, may enjoy sharing:
Earlier in the week Mr Poopy and I snuck off to the local general store, which incidentally operates the local post office and an excellent café. As we arrived at the general store with the ostensible purpose and outstanding cover story of checking the mail, I noticed an empty couple of tables near where several tables full of young children were wearing tiaras accompanied by their parents. I was faced with the difficult situation of throwing Mr Poopy into that volatile mix and decided that it would probably not be a relaxing experience, so I checked the mail and took Mr Poopy home again without stopping for my usual coffee and fruit toast.
The local petrol (gas) station is located on a now bypassed section of the old highway. Despite being located in the middle of nowhere with alternating paddocks and forest surrounding it, the petrol station is heavily used by the locals. The other day whilst I was filling up the little white Suzuki with petrol, I noticed a couple of trucks which had trays full of bee hives and wondered where they were taking them. I also wondered what had become of the poor bees that failed to make it back to the hive before the hive boxes were moved.
The sun has been hot this week. Now that my ear is finally beginning to heal (from the removal of the unusual skin spot) I was able to don the chainsaw helmet which has proper ear muffs and begin cutting firewood again. At one point in that early morning, I took the helmet off and sought relief from the sun in shade provided by the little white Suzuki. As I cooled off in the shade and consumed a drink of water, I looked across the paddock and saw a sea of yellow dandelion flowers dancing above the summer dried grass. But flying to and fro just above the flowers were dozens and dozens of orange butterflies all going about their business.
I almost forgot to mention it, but this week I mowed (by hand) almost two thirds of the farm.
|This week I mowed by hand almost two thirds of the farm|
Mowing involves walking behind a little red Honda push mower. Backwards and forwards you walk up hill and down dale for hours on end. I covered a bit over two and half to possibly three acres this week. Some people may feel that that is hard work, but I find mowing and walking to be a very relaxing activity. The editor and I once walked 130km (81 miles) over five days on the Great South West Walk. When we started the walk we thought that we would have great insights and profound thoughts. Instead we simply discovered that long distance walking is very much like a form of meditation which is very relaxing for the mind.
When you mow by hand you can get to observe the world around you at a slow pace. I often spot seedling fruit trees during those times. Some of those seedling fruit trees I surround with a steel cage in order to protect them from the voracious wallabies. This week I stumbled across a seedling avocado.
|This week I stumbled across a seedling avocado|
A couple of nights ago as the editor and I were walking up the road to pick some wild blackberries, by sheer chance, we met a neighbour who offered us the opportunity to pick some apples from his old apple tree. Of course we took up that offer and offered some eggs, zucchini and tomatoes in return. However, I have never before seen an apple tree so heavily laden with fruit. Initially we thought that it must have been an old apple tree but upon reflection, we reckon that the tree is perhaps more than thirty years, but less than forty years old. Anyway, we picked 4 bags of apples, and barely made a dent in the vast collection of apples on that tree.
|We picked bags of apples from a neighbours apple tree|
|Apples are blitzed in the food processor|
We eventually blitzed one third of the apples and ended up with two 20kg (44 pound) buckets of blitzed apples. The blitzed apples are then placed in the fruit press where they are squeezed mercilessly. The apple juice is then collected:
|A fruit press mercilessly squeezes any fruit so that the juices can be collected|
Apple wine has water, sugar and champagne yeast added into the mix, whilst apple cider vinegar is apple juice and yeast. This stuff is very easy to make.
|A batch of apple wine and apple cider vinegar was produced today|
Of course, nothing gets wasted here, and the two solid blitzed apple cakes were removed from the fruit press and fed to some very happy chickens:
|The now solid blitzed apple cakes were fed to some very happy chickens|
The tomatoes have begun to ripen and every couple of days we are collecting a tub full of tomatoes:
|The tomatoes have begun to ripen in quantity|
Most techniques for a small holding revolve around the concept of preserving natures bounty when it is in season. Nature, I’ve noticed, is rarely considerate about supplying bounty across all of the seasons and so we have to be clever and learn how to preserve that bounty. This applies to firewood; apples; or tomatoes:
|We have begun dehydrating tomatoes for consumption later in the year|
Cucumbers and zucchini’s (courgettes) are feral – do not ever turn your back on those plants:
|Cucumbers and zucchini’s (courgettes) are feral|
Medlars which are an old school fruit that tastes strangely like dates. They are also used here to make an excellent wine and it is exciting that the fruit are starting to swell in size.
|Medlars which are an old school fruit that tastes strangely like dates are starting to swell in size|
As is the new tradition, I’ll end the blog with some nice flower photos for the enjoyment of people living in the cold Northern hemisphere!
|Agapanthus flowers form a colourful – and bee attracting – hedge for the lower driveway|
|I’ve finally managed to get an Echinacea plant growing|
|Who doesn’t love salvia’s, geraniums, and lavender?|
|Some of the geraniums have almost iridescent flowers|
|But the roses steal the show|
The temperature outside now at about 8.30pm is 15’C (59’F). So far this year there has been 85.8mm (3.4 inches) which is the more or less the same as last week’s total of 84.6mm (3.3 inches).