Monday, 3 July 2017

The system only dreams at night

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

On Saturday, the sun finally shone all day long for the first time in about two weeks of otherwise cloudy winter weather. The skies were clear and blue and the sun sent lukewarm promises of future growing seasons. The native birds that call this farm home were flitting backwards and forwards enjoying the warm sunlight in the bare orchard, whilst on the ground the canine fluffy collective were enacting dark stratagems against their companions in the ongoing Bone Wars.
The winter sun shone beautifully all day long over the farm on Saturday
All the while the winter sun benignly shone down on the farm and the off grid solar power system recorded its best ever output of 9.8kWh for a day this close to the winter solstice. The editor and I cheered at that result. To put the result into some context, there are 30 solar panels connected up to the off grid solar power system which equates to about 5.7kW of potential output. Of course such an outcome does not happen without a huge amount of development, trial and error, and sheer hard work. And such was the case this week because we had added another four solar panels to the system.

“Maybe I listen more than you think
I can tell that somebody sold you
We said we've never let anyone in
We said we'd only die of lonely secrets”

I purchased those four panels over the past few weeks, and I must add that I always enjoy visiting the shop where this solar stuff is sold. The folks in the shop look like the real deal to me as if they’d enjoyed a massive night, and now in the cold light of day, they were coming down like a dirty mongrel. Or perhaps instead I rather fancy that they’d only just left their remote forest blockade encampment where they’d been protesting against the logging of old growth rainforest. Whatever the case may be, and acknowledging that the truth is possibly far less exciting than my flights of imagination, I always feel in that shop as if I am partaking of some very cool, and very subversive act. Yes, Fight Club - the Solar Years!

Anyway, purchasing solar panels is only a minor part of this upgrade story. A long time ago I used to have a mate who owned a Harley Davidson motorbike. My mate was forever sending his motorbike off to have some modification made to the standard components. Of course, my mate was constantly complaining that if he changed one aspect of the standard design, then other parts needed modifications. For example, he modified the motor so that the motorbike went faster, but of course, then the brakes and suspension had to be upgraded because there seemed little point going faster and not being able to stop in time, or go around corners at speed.

Upgrading solar power systems is a lot like that, in that if you add more panels in the system, then something else has to give. And adding four extra panels was beyond the capabilities of the previous set of battery charge controllers (otherwise known as regulators).

Regulators are important in an off grid solar power system in that they make the decision when and how much electrical energy to send to the batteries. They do this trick by monitoring the voltage and temperature of the batteries. They are in effect the brains of the off grid solar power system!

As a comparison, in a solar power system that is connected to the mains electricity grid, regulators are not necessary, because the mains electricity grid is so huge and so wastefully inefficient that it can take any and all electricity generated by solar panels. Off grid solar is very different because batteries are very particular about how much electricity they can take in and also just how fast they can store it. The regulators seamlessly manage this process. On a practical level this can mean that the solar panels may be generating electricity, but if the regulators decide that the batteries don’t need it, and you can’t use that electricity yourself, then it simply disappears.

This week I had to upgrade one of the regulators so that the system could accommodate the four new solar panels. This is what the systems brains looked like before I replaced one of the existing regulators.
The brains of the off grid solar power system prior to replacing one of the existing regulators
Although the past two weeks have been uncomfortably cloudy, the solar panels have still produced some electricity from the weak and cloud obscured winter sun. This meant that I was unable to make any changes to the brains of the system during the day because any electricity generated by the solar panels had to be either stored in the batteries or used. So during the evenings this week I have been tooling around with the brains of the solar power system. Brain surgery!

“The system only dreams in total darkness
Why are you hiding from me?
We're in a different kind of thing now”

After a lot of hard work and late hours, the wiring job was eventually finished. The replacement regulator was installed, the wiring done, and then all I had to do was get the four new solar panels up on the roof.
The surgically altered brains of the off grid solar power system after replacing one of the existing regulators
The rats nest of wires in the above photo may look like a total mess, but none of the wires are touching any other wire, everything is correctly fused in case there is a problem and I see a sort of beauty and simplicity to the entire brains of the system. Of course a person has to be careful with the brains of a solar power system as the solar panels can produce the sort of zap for hours on end that is only produced by high end commercial electric welding machines and even those can only supply an equivalent zap for a very short period of time.

After another days work, the solar panels were physically installed onto the roof of the shed. Towards the end of that day whilst I was perched high up on the steep roof of that shed, it rained. What else can a person expect over winter! The next morning after another couple of hours of work the four new solar panels were wired up.
The four new solar panels were placed on the steep roof of a shed
Observant readers will note that in the above photo there is space for one further solar panel on that racking on the roof. We noticed that space too, but the solar power system has consumed so much of my time, energy, resources and thoughts over the past few weeks that I cannot face any further unnecessary work on the solar power system this year.

“I thought that this would all work out after a while
Now you're saying that I'm asking for too much attention
Loss of no other faith is light enough for this place
We said we'd only die of lonely secrets”

We really enjoy the challenge of living with solar power, and it really is an amazing technology. However, the ugly truth about solar power is that the sun only provides energy intermittently. If the weather conditions are cloudy, rainy, or snowing then solar power is not going to produce much electricity at all. And at night the solar panels produce nothing. So despite having years of practical real world experience with this technology, I can only ever take guesses as to how much electricity will be available for our use for about a month either side of the winter solstice when the sun is very low in the sky. The only thing that I can deduce from that experience is that anybody attempting to sell the idea of an industrial civilisation powered using electricity sourced from solar panels - as the technology currently stands - either does not live with solar power as their only source of electricity, or they are taking the piss.

“I cannot explain it
Any other, any other way
I cannot explain it
Any other, any other way”

You know when it is 1'C / 34'F outside that it is going to be a cold winters night!
Clear blue winter skies are great for generating solar power, but by nighttime the air temperature on those days starts to get quite cold (well at least it is cold for this part of the world!) At least the insides of the house were toasty warm at 20'C / 68'F. Neither the editor or I enjoy sleeping in an overly warm house, so we usually fill the wood fire up before going to bed and then simply let it burn down without dampening the fire down (i.e. throttling the oxygen supply to the combustion chamber).

The wood fire burns down quite quickly, and by the morning the temperature inside the house was 15'C / 59'F. However, outside the air temperature was a very frosty -1'C / 30'F. That air temperature is about as cold as I have seen it here (whilst also acknowledging that things could always get worse!).
-1'C / 30'F is very cold for here and the ground in the shady orchard has been frozen for a few days now
The ground in the shady orchard has been frozen for about four days now (the fancy name that I just created is tempafrost)! I have never seen a frost extend beyond two consecutive days before. At least the sunny orchard which has been bathed in winter sunlight, has thawed by lunchtime. It will be interesting to observe what effects this extended frost has on the plant life here. On a brighter note, Poopy the Pomeranian (who all correct thinking folks know by now is actually a Swedish Lapphund) has been enjoying this cold weather as it must be recalling his cultural memories of romping around the snow in Northern Europe herding reindeer! Swap frost for snow and wallabies for reindeer and you too can vicariously enjoy Poopy's Australian winter experience.
Toothy gingerly experiences the ongoing frost in the shady orchard
Toothy is not so much of a fan of the frost. This can be explained by his short legs - he is a long haired Dachshund after all - which places his nether regions uncomfortably close to the frozen ground.

The raised vegetable beds were struck quite hard by the frost and I will observe how those plants cope with the freezing and thawing process over the next few weeks. The raised bed in the next photo has seedlings for greens which I was planning to begin harvesting in about 12 weeks:
It will be interesting to observe how the greens cope with the recent continual days of frosts
The other day I was at the plant nursery purchasing a deep red flowering camellia for the editor, and I noticed that they were selling asparagus crowns. Back here at the farm I noticed that one of the asparagus plants had become somehow confused and was sending out new shoots. I have no idea whether these shoots will survive the continual frosts.
A lone asparagus plant protests the winter air temperatures and finds them wanting
Anyway, I must not complain, because for two glorious winter days this week, the sun shone brightly (albeit with little winter warmth) and it was a real pleasure to see that sun being converted into electricity by both the new and the old solar panels!

It was a real pleasure to see two days of strong winter sun touching both the new and old solar panels
Just in case anyone was concerned that after two days of sunshine the winter here had become a little bit soft... today winter rushed back in with a vengeance and 14mm (a bit over half an inch) of rain fell (and the day is not yet done!) The winds howled and all those 5.7kW of solar panels produced only 1.5kWh for the entire day.


“I cannot explain it
Any other, any other way
I cannot explain it
Any other, any other way”

With absolute respect for the awesome band: The National; for their outstanding song: The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness which provided the lyrics for this weeks blog. I strongly urge you to check out their video clip. This week was a really tough call on what lyrics to use for the story line as whilst rewiring the battery room on the radio I also heard the song by: Eves The Behavior with her song: Electrical. It was a really tough choice to pick between these two most excellent songs. 

We cannot finish the blog without a hugely confused winter plant with flower:
A bush rose produced this beautiful series of flowers earlier in the week
The temperature outside now at about 9.00pm is 6’C (43’F). So far this year there has been 401.6mm (15.8 inches) which is more than last week’s total of 400.2mm (15.8 inches).

68 comments:

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Not to worry! Extra free time is a very precious commodity. I hope the weather is nice for your visitors as it has been very cold down here of late - far more so than is usual. The old timers used to quip that dry years are cold years. Dry years are not good as I still have ten years of projects ahead of me.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

My thoughts exactly! Isn't that akin to protesting something or other on social media? It makes them feel good, but, well, there is another very unflattering and un-family friendly word for that action. If wood is not sustainable as a heating source then I don't know what is? Canberra may be a little like DC in that it may have a bubble mentality. Mate, the city really is a long way from anywhere... Heating with locally sourced firewood is no joke and it is a good way to get up close and personal with firewood. People are very strange about that particular energy source. I thank the forest for every single tree that I harvest and it is surprisingly very few every year. Certainly I plant far more trees than I harvest. The recent tree transplants into the fern gully have had to have some serious seasol (which is like a seaweed derived worm tea) and a jolly good and stern talking too. The wallabies got one of them too, but not fatally and I suspect the tree will recover in time.

Who would enforce that particular ban on a cold winters night. I read once that the fines cost more to enforce than the revenue that they brought in in the US.

Yeah, I consider items from that of a form and function perspective (as well as the occasional sentimental item). Some people favour form over function, whilst others look at them differently, and other people still don't even consider either choice. At the moment, I feel that time is short, so I am focusing on form, but I could well be wrong about time being short. Dunno.

Oh! I love demographics articles and I spotted this one today on the governments ABC website: Australians are working longer so they can pay off their mortgage debt. I recall some cheeky wag the other day writing something about using a home as an ATM. Very amusing.

Cool about the eclipse. I hope that people recall not to look at the full eclipse directly. Imagine at the cleverness of an ancient working out the motions of the moon, earth and sun and calculating the eclipse. Nice work and it would earn some credibility with the local population.

You may view the fireworks at your current location for the last time, so why not enjoy them there? Hope you have a nice holiday too.

Victorian slum house sounds like the team that produce the Survivor series got in the ears of the production team over serious quantities of beers one dark and stormy evening? The conversation may have gone like this: How can we make this Victorian slum era interesting? I know, I know!!! How about we introduce eliminations for those folks that can't hack the slums? Mate, that's capital thinking. And so it probably went. I've lived in a 1890'd Victorian era house and it was quite pleasant and very temperate during extremes of weather (winter and summer). The current average housing stock doesn't perform nearly as well as that house did.

Cheers

Chris




LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Sounds and looks like you had a solar week. All solar, all the time. Hmmm. I don't think I've seen those sheds before, that support the solar panels. So, tell me, Where they purpose built, just to support the solar panels? :-). Maybe too soon to be cheeky about your solar long haul. Sometimes, humor is best served a bit coldish.

Poppy and I share "cultural memories of romping around the snow in Northern Europe herding reindeer." We're probably distantly related. :-). Third cousins, once removed, or something.

Demographics, polls, surveys. It's all interesting. And, sometimes, easy to manipulate. Or some obscure situation hasn't been taken into account. Or, is ignored. But they're fun.

Nell is always highly skeptical of the first frost or first snowfall. Doesn't quit know how she feels about the changed sound of her foot fall. Can't sneak up on things, quit as easily.

Wonder if the Victorian Slum House will have Little Nell dying of TB in the back room? Can Homeless Camp Home be far behind? It was always fun to see who was going to bail out in the house series. Or who was going to become unraveled at some (usually) small detail. The mother who just couldn't ... go ... on ... because there was no shampoo, as we know it, in 1927. Or, the small child who turned his nose up at all Victorian foods, except cheese and bread. Fine. Starve. Speaking of the Victorians, I watched a pretty good film the other night. "To Walk Invisible: The Bronte Sisters." Mostly covers the three year period when they were first getting published.

Packed up another five boxes, last night. Yesterday, I pretty much just worked down at the new place. My assignment for today, should I choose to accept it is to move said boxes, get them unpacked. Finish moving the kitchen and move down the book case shelves. Those I can manage, myself. Oh, and my garden plot needs a good weed. So it goes. Lew

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

Yes, you're correct, we had an enclosed veranda (screened-in back porch) added on last year. I could have put the seedlings there, but instead they are on the screened-in front porch because that porch faces sunward. The back porch is much larger and faces poleward so it is the porch to sit on during summer. We have basically lived on it since May because it is shaded and protected from mosquitos. And because it works so well as living space, we have yet to turn on the air conditioner. When I mention that to people, they find it very hard to believe. I wonder what folks will do when they can no longer afford electricity, or when it becomes unreliable. Few people seem to be able to deal with even slight discomfort anymore. It's quite worrying.

I think I need some of your fairy wrens to eat the harlequin bugs here. I have two species of wrens in the yard during summer but neither of them, nor any other bird, seems to find harlequin bugs to be a satisfactory meal.

I'm glad to learn that your work on the solar system was fruitful! Thanks for including some of the data on how much electricity you generate on sunny versus cloudy days. Activities like using our sun oven or hanging clothes to dry or gardening are similarly weather-dependent. It takes awhile to learn how to work with that reality. I wish more people were doing even a little toward that end. One more thing to feel concern about.

Our voles seem to be fussy eaters. They'll eat potatoes and sweet potatoes, but beets, carrots, turnips, and radishes don't get eaten. I have no idea why that is.

The peach and apple trees are 13 or 14 years old. The books claim that's elderly for peaches but apples are just getting into their prime at that age. The apples here do seem to put on more fruit each year. The peach put out more fruit this year than it often does, but some of the competing shrubs were removed when the back porch was built last summer, which may have allowed the peach to put more energy into fruiting.

Eclipse mania is big here since the path of the eclipse goes across Missouri from the St. Louis metro area to the Kansas City metro area. The Missouri state capital, Jefferson City, is almost in the middle of the path (I can feel a joke coming on), as is Columbia, the home of the University of Missouri's main campus. A few weeks back Mike and I went to a Solar Eclipse Expo at one of the county parks. We discovered that just about every town, park (local and state both), college campus, and so on in the path of the eclipse is marketing itself as the place from which to view the eclipse and take part in special events earlier that day. It seems that a marketing organization is working with all these entities to help them earn a buck off the event. That's what makes America great ;). Practically every one of the 70+ booths was selling safe eclipse viewing glasses, and folks like us who signed up in advance to attend each got a free pair of viewing glasses. Mike had already bought a couple of pairs so we now have four pairs between the two of us. We'd gone to the event in part to get an idea from where we'd view the eclipse (we live about 30 miles north of the totality path). Turns out that friends of ours who live near Augusta (about an hour's drive from us) and will experience about 2 minutes of totality at their house invited us and our viewing glasses to watch the event with them. I am looking forward to it! I've seen partial eclipses and once an annular eclipse, but never a total eclipse.

You and others might enjoy a couple of websites concerning the eclipse:
http://stlouiseclipse2017.org/ (This is the St. Louis Task Force link)
https://www.greatamericaneclipse.com/ (viewing glasses for sale!)

Claire

TalkingTrees said...

Hello Chris

We have friends who are now off grid. This is their first winter. They have always used less electricity than us but i do wonder how they will go. Our solar panels feed back into the grid for the princely sum of 6 cents over kilowatt. I am arithmetically challenged so have no idea what the numbers mean when we receive our bill. Suffice it to say our electricity bill stays the same even though we use less and less. Rising prices?

The snake in our pump had been killed by the pump. We are fairly vigilant when we uncover things but timing is obviously important for more than comedy routines.

Marathon bush walks are definitely endurance events. I enjoy walking but have never been tempted to do a very long walk which entails camping again. Tents, torrential rain, being snowed in (in February in Tasmania for my husband on one occasion) are not favourite things for me. We did meet some interesting people on the track. One family were local trackers keeping their skills honed for rescue work. The dad and one or two of his adult children did the whole circuit at least annually.

Life is hectic again this month. We leave for Melbourne again on Wednesday returning on Sunday, then later in the month we are off to Newcastle to babysit our grandson there. He actually has a good family network there but his other grandparents are going on holiday so we have a turn. BeeGee is off at the kennels. She loves the ladies there but luckily still wants to come home.

Still very little rain here but at least it means wood getting is possible and the wood is reasonably dry. The veggie garden needs regular watering, we really do seem to have lost our winter rains.

Warm Regards, Helen

Hazel Marchant said...

Hi Chris

Just thought I'd chime in on wood fired heating in Canberra. It's not illegal, and they don't fine you if you use it. They try to persuade people to use other forms of heating because Canberra is prone to inversions in winter, and the air quality can become pretty dodgy for people with asthma, etc. The ACT Government paid people to get rid of wood fires a couple of years ago, but I don't know if they still do that. I have a wood stove, but I only use it on very cold nights, and then with the flue wide open to make the wood burn as cleanly as possible.

Love this week's blog, but then I always love it!

Keep warm,

Hazel

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, to be honest I'm a little bit all solar'd out. Unfortunately, this week I have to attend to the small 12V system which is also receiving a similar make over. Oh well, resilience does not come without its challenges. Speaking of solar, I spotted an article in the newspaper about some apparently cheapie solar hot water panels popping in the recent heavy for us (but probably light for you) frost a few days ago. The system here sends the occasional splat of hot water into the panels if the temperature drops below a about 2'C / 36'F. I went old school with my choices for this stuff and it is not a decision I regret. Nup, not too soon to be cheeky. It is a long haul. Tonight I had to stop by the big box hardware store in the town to the south of here and pick up aluminium and stainless steel nuts and bolts for the 12V upgrade. The funny thing is that I am in awe of being able to simply drop into a shop and pick up these amazing materials. The local hardware store shut down as of 30th June I believe... The Klingons would approve of your humour. :-)! Hehe! Too funny.

Construction of the metal sheds were covered in the blog, but the white cantina shed is much older. I love those sheds as they are constructed entirely out of scrap and downgraded materials (usually for cosmetic reasons) and they sit well in their location and look like they’ve always been there. Pus they are enormously strong. Hey, roof space is a precious commodity here and I use all of for multiple functions. Nothing goes to waste here.

No doubts we all share a few genes with Mr Poopy! But we had better be quiet about it lest he get an even more over inflated ego. He really does have a high opinion of himself that dog. It is not warranted I can assure you, despite his rodent destroying ways, because to be honest he could do better. I tell him: You could be the favourite dog if only you worked a little bit harder at it. That rebuke was earned too as he went to the toilet in the house this evening (a protest vote, no doubt). Dogs express their displeasure through their excrement from time to time. An unsavoury business that.

Stats are fun, but nowadays they are used as vindicators and so have lost their credibility in the minds of the general public. Even so, there are interesting chunks of information lying just under the surface if you poke it hard enough.

Nell is a very clever lady to be so uncertain of the first snowfall. It gets cold out there!

That happened for sure. You know up this way in a very remote part of the mountain range there was once a TB sanatorium for sufferers of that disease? They would have been very cold over winter as the elevation was almost on one of the higher ridges, but the Victorians seemed to have this belief about fresh air being good for the health. Kids used to sleep on verandas back in the day, I'll bet they were cold too. On the other hand the kids were probably not sedentary and so they were possibly less cold to begin with. I always feel internally much hotter after a days physical work than when I've been sitting at a desk.

Mate, shampoo is the least of those problems. People didn't wash as much in those days. Did they really bail for that reason or are you exaggerating? What was your favourite series, I'd be interested in tracking it down and seeing what it is all about. I have seen the hardback books for sale in second hand bookshops (I assume the author oversaw the series - at least a little bit? Maybe?)

I have broken the spirits of a few dogs over the years who were apparently fussy eaters. Alas, the claim was proven to be not true and they ate with the rest of the dogs and smelled better to boot. Some commercial dog foods makes dogs smell bad and their hair greasy - I have no idea why.

Do you have many more boxes to go? I hope you are enjoying the move. Oh happy fourth of July to you. :-)! Have you cooked in your new digs yet?

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

Two weeks is a lot of gloom. I am solar powered, too, and that sort of thing really gets to me. What you have built is a solar power plant? Those solar shop dudes sound pretty cool; no wonder you like to visit there. Those batteries never cease to fascinate. I think your brains are about full. "Too much attention", indeed! Those are neat doors on the shed.

30F IS cold, but inside your house sounds so nice. I didn't think you ever got tempafrost!

Hi, Toothy - be tall! The baby greens look fine to me in the photo, but I don't know about the asparagus - it does like pretty cool weather. There is a neat sculpture in the 2 shed-12 panel photo.

9.8kWh to 1.5kWh - what a difference.

That makes me think of a Christmas rose - on rare occasions we've had one.

That was a good song choice. Who could say it any better:

“I cannot explain it
Any other, any other way
I cannot explain it
Any other, any other way”

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Well done you for adapting to the local climate. The editor and I also choose to sit in the shade on a hot summers afternoon and enjoy a coffee and Anzac biscuit. Your enclosed veranda sounds perfect for such an enjoyable repose. Mosquitoes are a real pain - literally. Wet summers breed mosquitoes don't they and you have a lot more water in your part of the world? We get march flies (or horse flies) and they actually rip a little chunk out of your flesh which leaves a sore similar to mosquito bites. Those flies look horrific under a microscope.

That is also so true about electricity as it is a really good energy source, but we can overdo our reliance upon it. Down here electricity prices have been lifted up to 20% in some states as of 1st July. That has to be hurting people and businesses.

The fairy wrens enjoy the help of very active small reptiles which are like gecko's and also the frogs. Everything eats everything else in the garden - it is quite rough in there. Unfortunately the dogs enjoy chasing and killing the reptiles too and I have tried to train them out of that bad habit, but they are resistant. Still, there are a lot of small reptiles floating around here.

The output can vary wildly and from day to day. That is one of my main points I try to get across so I really appreciate that you get that. And an outstanding observation too that the amount of solar electricity is also relative to the growth in plants in the garden. Elephant stamp for you for deducing that!

I wonder why the voles would be so fussy?

Really? Oh, I didn't know that about peach trees having such a short lifespan. I wonder if that is for commercial quantities of fruit? Sometimes the advice we read about fruit trees is not necessarily appropriate for the home gardener. I have it on good authority that asparagus crowns can last for up to eighty years, but people swear that they are only good for twenty. I have two seven year old chickens that seem to be doing just fine. Dunno. Apple trees are really massively long lived. Citrus trees are even longer lived. I've noticed that the growth in the fruit trees accelerates as the top soil increases in depth and stability.

Enjoy your eclipse! Fun stuff.

I’m going to go and bury my nose in a book and read up about peaches and nectarines. If they are that short lived then a progression of the trees has to be planted. Thanks for the tip.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Helen,

Oh my goodness, I believe you are in a part of the world that has the electricity prices going up as of 1st July. Ouch. Still, the best way around that problem is to not use much - which you probably do anyway. Welcome to the arithmetically challenged club. I could have tried harder at mathematics, but alas...

I genuinely wish your off grid friends the best of luck and I hope they keep a regular eye on the system so as to learn how it works in the real world. I've been tracking the daily data for about 6 years now and it is the only way I know how to discern any changes or trends. Every year is different with solar, just like it is out in the garden. You know, I've long since suspected that the climate is slowly shifting from the north. This June just past was weird.

The snake would have been an unpleasant surprise. I found a black snake asleep under a log once and I wondered how it got under there as it was a very heavy log.

Camping is for the young and I've done my fair share of that and have no great desire to do more of it. I assume you are speaking about the overland track - and that is tough for snow at any time of the year and conditions can change severely in only an hour. Glad to read that he escaped being snowed in as it is hard to know where you actually are in those conditions. Lucky them for living in such a beautiful part of the world and honing their local skills which get called upon - unfortunately.

Ouch. Thursday and Friday should be reasonably pleasant weather down this way, although I won't mention that last week was superb for winter. 19mm has fallen here over the past two days but it looks to be clearing tomorrow. I hope your travels are nice and enjoyable. I prefer winter travel to summer travel when it is so hot. Good to hear that the ladies don't set too high an expectation in Bee Gee. That can be a tough act to follow!

I haven't watered for months and it is troubling and surprising to read that you have to water still. A mate of mine moved to Perth and he tells me that it is very dry with sandy soil over there. At least the drainage would be good. Yes, normal winter conditions are missing in action. I would have expected four inches of rain last month.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Hazel and Pam,

Thanks for the lovely comments. Today seems a bit warmer here and Toothy tries to stand tall in spirit if not physically! Of course he is spending quality time in front of the wood heater right now so he is very happy.

I promise to reply to you tomorrow as it is sleepy bedtime for me. Yawn!

Cheers

Chris

Steve Carrow said...

Big props on the rewiring job. I am not there yet. I've done some simple house circuitry, but regulators, controllers, other devices are something I've not tackled. Master electrician coming tomorrow to wire, program the inverter, and tie our new array in to the grid. (It's required to use him in getting the grant, but I don't know enough anyway) Maybe I'll learn enough in the next couple years to wire my own when ( if) we go of grid.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Yup. I think each "House" program had a book to go along with it. I think my favorites were "Edwardian House" and "1940s House". That last covered the Blitz. The "House" series should not be confused with Ruth Goodman's series. Which were more "farm" oriented. I liked all of those, and they're mostly on YouTube. I don't think the "House" series, is. But I haven't looked, lately. Why Victorian children all had rickets? They'd only eat cheese and bread :-). The mother didn't bail over the lack of modern shampoo, but had a good nervous breakdown over it. :-).

Something you said to Claire about solar that jogged out a thought or two. I think one needs to be flexible and adaptable. It's just a mentally healthier way to live. I had expected to move four pieces of furniture, this last weekend, but that fell through. It will happen tomorrow (maybe). I was mildly irritated, but just reshuffled the priorities and got on with other things.

Well, I see where Mr. Poopy got his name from. :-). As long as it's not a consistent thing ... When I first took care of my friends dogs (five yippy little dogs) when they were going back and forth to Idaho, well ... I didn't realize how un-housebroken they were. Oh, yes, they confine them selves to the laundry room ... on paper .... mostly. But it was a, sometimes, twice a day chore to clean up after them. And they spent frequent time outside. When my friends got back, I told her, but only once ... "I wouldn't have dogs that weren't housebroken."

TB Sanatoriums were pretty much a going concern until antibiotics came along. The White Plague. A few months ago I read (I think the title is:) "Searching for Betty McDonald." She wrote "The Egg and I". She also wrote "The Plague and I", which was about her stay in a TB Sanatorium in the 1930s. The bio talked about that, for a couple of chapters. PBS also did a documentary, a couple of years ago, called "The White Plague." Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Well, I suppose the dogs smell because they eat meat. The Japanese and the Vulcans were always complaining about the way Barbarians smelled because of their high meat consumption. :-).

Well, moving yesterday morphed into a few more than five boxes. Took them down, unpacked them. Weeded my garden plot. I really don't have a "box count to go". I just keep rotating boxes. Empty them out, take them home. Also, the wrapping paper. I came home, took a nap and when I got up, thought, "Oh, heck, why not." So, I packed up the three coolers with frozen stuff and hauled down another load. Most of the kitchen, book shelves and another couple of coolers, today. I've cooked a bit at the new place. Not much. Mostly oatmeal. But after today, it's either cook at the new place or starve :-).

When I went out the other day, Nell had left a small lizard at the bottom of the steps. Something I hadn't seen, before. Looked like a small alligator. Most of the lizards I see have soft undersides. This one had scales .... plates. And was a bit larger. He was missing his tail. I don't know if Nell ate it, or, as if in some species, it came off when she grabbed him?

Speaking of camping, there's a scrawny old fellow (about my age) who hangs out at The Club. He's been living rough, for quit awhile. No one seems to know much about him, as he pretty much keeps himself, to himself. But, he's always pleasant when spoken too and pitches in with some of the chores around the place. Doesn't seem to have an addiction problem ... never goes to meetings. When not helping out, he just sticks to an out of the way corner and works on his laptop. He can get out of the weather, have a cuppa and there's free wi-fi.

Of course, the speculation is, is he living rough by choice, or by circumstance? I talked to him a bit about The Home. He seemed interested. He's getting to an age ... And, perhaps, the two homeless who died last winter may be on his mind. As he's a fairly mellow fellow, the next time I saw him, I teased him a bit and asked if he was sure he was ready to "come out of the woods." And, I explained to him that The Home did have a few rules, but they weren't particularly onerous. And they'd leave you alone, if you wanted to be left alone. We'll see if anything comes of it. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Hazel,

Good point and I'd completely forgotten that Canberra is surrounded to the south, east and west by mountains, so yeah, smog would be caught in that bowl. Hey, how good is the botanical gardens there? You know years and years ago I seem to recall that the state government down here used to encourage people to remove water tanks from their properties when they were in urban areas. Go figure that one out.

Exactly too. I had not appreciated the complexities in dampening down the oxygen throttle on a wood heater and the resulting problems from uncombusted exhaust gases. Sometimes learning by failure is a good approach! Hehe! Oh well.

Many thanks and it is cold here. I hope you are staying warm too.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Yeah, the constant cloud cover does affect a persons outlook, but I'm used to that and don't worry about it too much and just head out to the local cafe and grab a coffee and fruit toast. Such things can improve an outlook and clearly the lack of that combination in peoples lives is cause for much of the worlds ills! Well, at least I reckon so. Opinions may vary in that regard... :-)!

Oh we've descended into the land of silly again. It is a nice place after all.

Those guys are cool, and I get this sort of unearned respect just by casually mentioning that I'm off grid and will install the panels myself. You have to be casual though when you drop the O-G bomb and this is not always easy to achieve. It helps if there are other customers in the shop.

Good for you for having some solar panels. A worthwhile investment in the environment. Batteries are complex beasts and they do what they want and they force a huge number of compromises on me.

The doors are good aren't they? They were a gift from a neighbour and I added the steel sheets to the back of them so as to provide a little bit more fire resistance.

No tempafrost inside, that's for sure. But four days of frost is a little bit too much fun for my liking. I haven't noticed any problems yet with the plants, but it is early days yet.

Toothy sends his regards and he reckons that he is as tall as he needs to be. :-)! The asparagus is toast for sure, but I hope the frost doesn't kill the crown? Dunno.

6.0kWh today. Yay for extra power. The solar output is really all over the place and differs from day to day. I'm unsure how people will deal with that inconsistency of supply? Aplomb? Foot stomping? Acceptance? Who knows?

I sort of feel sorry for the rose. The plants get more confused with the seasons with each year. On the positive side of things, at least they are adaptable.

It is a great song isn't it? Such a dark and pensive sound. And that stanza says so much.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Steve,

Well done with getting the solar installed. The only way to learn about this stuff is just record what the output for the day is and then watch it change over the year. You really get to see the motion of the sun across the sky in a visceral sense.

With off grid, the easiest way to approach learning about it is to setup a tiny little system and then monitor it. The wiring is quite easy. Just like Ghostbusters, you can't cross the streams. Just sayin: Red is the positive wire and Black is the negative wire and get a multimeter and you'll never go wrong. And maybe a fuse or two wouldn't be a bad idea for when you do go wrong! :-)! Been there and done that.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Of course, I believe that I accidentally confused the Ruth Goodman books with the series. Oh my goodness, Rickets sounds awful and all from a deficiency of Vitamin D. There's a reason not to sit in front of computer screens all day long if I've ever heard of one. I spent a huge amount of time outside as a kid and no doubts the skin damage from the sun from that time will get me in the end... Clearly there is some sort of middle ground there. Of course, I do appreciate your dry sense of humour too. :-)!

The mother may not have used old school soaps which are pretty good really. We make our own olive oil soap and it is good stuff. Of course if you lacked oil it may be a bit of a problem. I can't imagine cod liver oil soap would be nice? Maybe? I'm sure someone has tried it. I believe I'll stick to olive oil, it is just a gut feeling thing. I can do dry humour too! Hehe! Oh, I was thinking about getting some cod liver oil for Sir Scruffy who is of advanced years.

Flexible and adaptable means that you can bend with the winds. Sometimes the winds blow strongly indeed. I try hard to achieve that, but don't always succeed. The variability of output from solar sources is a real problem that few people have put many brain cells towards. My gut feeling is that this technology is very good, but I wonder about its scalability.

Oh my! Mr Poopy would never poop in the house. Such things would just not happen. It's just not cricket you know. No he is basically an idiot in the mornings as he fails to manage his urine over the sheer excitement of breakfast. We are adapting to this bit of canine strangeness. I thought for a while that he had a medical issue, but this one is Mr Poopy mental health issues all the way...

The research interview today was good and we had a nice chat and I filled out lots of surveys. Of course such people enjoy quantification of things and who am I to argue with such techniques? What interested me the most about the research was that they had moved away from concerns about perceptions of risk and got down to the nitty gritty realities about what are you doing about that risk? We spoke about upcoming projects here and I hadn't quite realised how involved in the background of things the researcher was. An enjoyable hour or so of discussions.

I'd never heared TB described by that phrase. It will make a comeback too given the problems with herd immunity. Old friends become new friends I guess.

Yes, I have read books describing the difficulties that the Japanese had with the early explorers and diplomats. The descriptions were rather unflattering, but the comparison would have been hard to ignore. The food eaten on those old sailing ships only goes to prove just how tough a creature the human is! I recall the nose inserts on T'Pol. There are always dramas in the canine collective here when Bone Wars strikes back.

Fair enough and I respect your re-use of boxes in the moving process as it is very thoughtful. Sometimes it is the little things that make the greatest difference in environmental matters. Be careful not to starve as I reckon that would be a particularly painful and drawn out way to go. I hope the cooking facilities in the new digs are up to scratch? You can do very good work in a small kitchen, but it does take a bit of practice and I reckon discipline, oh, oh, and what about organisation? Or maybe I'm talking rubbish?

Did you manage to identify the unusual reptile? I once spotted a rather large reptile running into the Echium bushes here and it was quite a startling sight. I once visited a beautiful garden which had a huge monitor lizard hanging up one of the trees. The bites from those creatures can lead to serious problems because of the high bacterial count and sheer diversity.

I hope so. Living rough is pretty hard on a soul. It was a very thoughtful thing to do to suggest that option. Sometimes it is hard to know who to help and who not to help.

Cheers

Chris

Jo said...

Chris, we might have known you would give brain surgery a go, given half a chance!

Well done on the solar front! I am still procrastinating, but must make enquiries about solar. I have a tricky roof, all gables etc, but I may be able to squeeze a few panels on.

Hazel Marchant said...

Hey, Chris

Yes, the botanic gardens are pretty amazing. They've done a fair bit of remodelling over the last couple of years, and there are some great events, like Opera in the Park. At the moment, they have an exhibition of dinosaurs scattered through the gardens, so you can see what they looked like in their native habitat!

We have around 3.5 KW of solar panels on the roof here, which face almost due north. On a sunny day near the winter solstice, we generate about 7 or 8 KWh, and in summer, 18 to 20KWh. The system is grid-tied, but we got in while the ACT government were really trying to encourage people to buy solar, so we get 45 cents per KWh generated, which is pretty amazing. We've had the system for 5 years, and we've already recouped most of that cost. Of course, Canberra is pretty sunny usually in winter, which makes a huge difference to generation.

This has been one of the coldest winters I can recall, with frost almost every night, and maximums around 10 to 13C. But often sunny and still, so it could be worse!

May all your wood burn cleanly,

Hazel

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Oops - something got lost in the translation; we don't have any solar panels. We shall see.

I don't see any way that the frost would kill your asparagus crowns, though they do like lots of water (heard that here). Our asparagus is about 10 years old and we have gotten down to below 0F (-17C) in winter.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

That was so very thoughtful of you to offer help to that "rough" fellow.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Oh - I've got it. I reread my comment and the "solar powered" is me myself, who very much needs to be out in the good old rays of the sun; it literally gives me more energy. I always feel better when I've had even a bit of sun exposure, which makes winters kind of hard. That reminds me - one sunflower came up in the garden, where a bird or chipmunk left a seed from when we fed them last winter. I must go water it!

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - 20 minutes a day of sun is about right for a daily dose of vitamin D. Varies a bit from person to person. Even in cloudy weather, you get a bit.

Beau gets an aspirin a day, mostly for his joints. I buy a low dose / baby aspirin, 81mg. It has a coating, so I have to crush it between two spoons. I buy a cheap pack of wieners ($1.50 for 8) and cut of 1/3 of a link. Split it open and hide the aspirin, inside. So, that's enough wieners for 24 days. Beau likes his wiener bit! :-).

You mentioned to Pam about an inconsistent supply of solar. Kind of like the water situation, here. Not a problem, recently, as I think the water table is high. But any day ... Any-who. It's mostly resignation :-). You figure out the drill. Get creative with water sources. It takes about 1 1/2 gallons to get the hot water going in the kitchen sink. I still stick a bucket under that and use the water to flush the bog. Don't want to run out of water, now. I've been doing a lot of clothes washing and even have run a few loads through the dish washer ... which usually sits neglected.

Ah, so Mr. Poopy just gets so excited by the idea of breakfast that he pees himself. :-). Must be some good tucker :-). I think there's a few foodies who do the same thing ...

I'm glad you had a good visit with the researcher. You'll become part of those demographics. Just grist for the mill :-). Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Pretty much all the kitchen stuff got moved and put away, yesterday. I keep reminding myself that just because I put something in a place now, doesn't mean it has to stay there if something else would be more efficient. My friends are coming from Idaho on Sunday or Monday. I'll have her look over my kitchen. She's a good organizer. I picked up a copy of the Itty Bitty Kitchen book. Less than $5. I think it will be worth it. But really won't dive into it deeply until I get entirely moved. It's also got a pretty good maintenance schedule. I was quit pleased that all my frozen stuff got moved, and there's even a bit of room to spare. A good thing. Blueberries will start coming in this month. And, I'm down to my last half pack. I don't think I'll have to pick blackberries, this year. Still 6 gallons in the freezer.

Besides emptying and reusing boxes, I'm also reusing packing material. Mostly good heavy paper. I bought some rolls of "ends" from the local newspaper and haven't touched them, yet. Oh, well. Forearmed, and all that. If I don't use them, I'll donate them to the club. I'm sure they'll find a use.

I haven't tried to identify the reptile. No time. There are rare things, out there. I see a lot of slugs, but over the years, very few snails. They're around. Just not in great numbers. A kitty has been in my garden plot, again. I was about to get some stuff to put in to discourage them (always wondering about using it around food plants) when I saw something on The Home bullitin board. Insert plastic forks into the ground (tines up) to discourage them. Worth a try. I thought I might scatter a few broken egg shells around. And, as the weather has been nice, maybe some newspaper with rolled bits of tape.

The four pieces of furniture I want to move, today, are cleaned up and "staged." I did a bit of measuring, and I think we can make it in one load. Went to the mens meeting, last night. Only 12 fellows showed up, as opposed to the usual 25 or so. Mostly oldsters. Old farts with nothing much else to do on a holiday :-). There must have been a couple of hundred years of sobriety, around that table. :-).

The fireworks were nice. I could see them in five different places on the southern horizon. I had to laugh at myself. Driving home, I freaked out a bit at a couple of odd smells. Thought it was the truck. No, I was just driving through a bit of drift from fireworks.That odd smell was gun powder. :-). Lew

Morgenfrue said...

Hi Chris
Just wanted to chime in on the rat issues very belatedly. Rats are generally a problem in Denmark in urban and semi urban areas, especially if you keep chickens. Everyone actually pays a small fee to the municipality for rat control and if you see a rat on public or private property you must report it, then the rat man will come by.
I desperately want some chickens now that we are in a house and have a garden, but I need to plan the enclosure first. From what I can tell here it is recommended to dig down approximately 30-50 cm and build the enclosure, placing metal aviary netting on all surfaces, including earthwards, before refilling the earth. This way you are also protected from tunneling. If you are building with wood you need to overlap the netting so the rats cannot get through by going through the woodwork.
Maybe an idea you can "write behind your ear" as we would say in Danish (keep in mind).

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Jo,

Hehe! Oh yeah, imagine being a dilettante brain surgeon! Can you imagine someone saying: Yeah, I'll give it a go, no worries mate. Very funny. I have to do a bit more solar power brain surgery over the next few days. Hopefully it is not as epic as last weeks effort? Time will tell. On the other hand last weeks effort has been worthwhile and the solar results have been very good.

Thank you. Fair enough, my gut feeling tells me that grid tied systems work best when you are at home during the day so as to be able to utilise the electricity being generated by the solar panels. This is not to say that they are not a good option for the environment though and that is a good reason to install them. On the other hand you do live in a part of the country that is truly blessed with water and you do have plenty of hydro power. And to be honest if Bass link breaks again during a drought, well, having the grid tied solar panels will make room for others, but if the hydro generators stop spinning then it just doesn't matter how many grid tied solar panels are on your roof generating electricity as they won't supply your house without a battery and another inverter.

Something to contemplate and I'm sort of trying to politely say that your funds may possibly be best be used elsewhere. Somewhere to store dried and split firewood is not a bad option instead. And maybe a small water tank.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Hazel,

I totally agree with you that the Canberra botanical gardens are pretty awesome. The editor and I spent a couple of hours wandering around them many long years ago. It was a hot day and I fondly recall the Tasmanian rainforest gully which was at least 10'C degrees cooler than the surrounding gardens and I've walked in those places and they really have the feel of that particular forest type. I hadn't heard about the dinosaurs but they are a really cool and fun addition to the gardens: dinosaurs in Canberra botanic gardens images.

Yeah, your outputs are about right for this time of year and it is a reasonable expectation to anticipate two peak sun hours per day when conditions are perfect. Did you know that very high and thin clouds may actually increase that output? Us solar geeks call that: the cloud edge effect, as light bounces off the clouds in all sorts of strange and unpredictable ways. Alas for us all as we cannot have perfect conditions every day over winter. You have done very well with that tariff and I do understand that nowadays some folks down this way get only $0.07 per kWh. It is really weird how there are so many different arrangements in place for that.

It has been very cold this winter hasn't it? The old timers used to say that cold winters were dry winters and to be honest I can't argue with their logic. :-)! Having said that though it is meant to rain later tonight and fingers crossed, tomorrow during the day it will be dry as I have to climb up on a shed roof and upgrade the small off grid solar power system (not the house system).

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Oops. Who knows what I was thinking, I certainly don't! :-)! Moving on...

Thanks for the information about asparagus and the cold conditions in your corner of the planet. Firstly, I do have to say that there would be a little bit of grumbling if winter temperatures became that cold (well, maybe a little bit more than just a bit of grumbling). Secondly, that makes sense about the water as they grow them in drained swamps in this part of the world. I always believed that that was the case because of the high levels of organic matter from the drained swamps, but I can see that those areas would also contain a lot of summer soil moisture. Just for your info, my asparagus get by with only 10 minutes of watering per day over summer - and that is from a leaky hose arrangement which extends about 60ft across all of the vegetable beds.

Well that makes sense, and of course taking a big picture perspective the sun powers everything on the planet. Still, it is good not to be deficient in Vitamin D.

Sunflowers are lovely plants and the seeds are so useful. Well done with your volunteer sunflower plant. I struggle with those plants because everything here wants to eat them... At the moment I actually purchase a small quantity of sunflower kernels which I chuck into the dog biscuits and my own toasted muesli. They're very tasty.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Many thanks for the explanation about Vitamin D deficiencies. I was genuinely surprised about the claims about people down here being deficient, but I am no expert. I rather fancied that there was a bit of over subscribing of pathology tests going on, but again that is just an opinion as I am no expert. The cloudy weather observation applies to solar power too. Normal thick cloud reduces output to about 20% of the best case scenario.

You inspired me to go and look for baby aspirin the other day and I couldn't find any at the local shops, so I'll try again elsewhere. They had baby paracetamol, but I'm not sure that is the same stuff as aspirin? Dunno.

We do the same trick with dog medications except that I use beef jerky. It is a bit different as I wet two chunks of beef jerky, crush up the medication, spread it on one of the wet beef jerky strips, and then sandwich the other layer of beef jerky on top of that. Works a treat and the dogs eat all of it. Oh yeah dogs will eat sausage no dramas at all. Go Beau!

Part of the reason I believe people are really happy to live in cities and urban areas is that the supply of stuff is very constant. That is part of the trade-off for people living in urban areas even if it is unacknowledged. If you are relying on nature and local resources for a supply of stuff, then you do have to brace yourself for the peaks and troughs as the seas can be rather choppy and rough! But the thing is you do adapt reasonably quickly, although the learning process can take many long years. But a few years is really quite quick in the terms of the history of our species.

Hey, the plumbers did a similar thing here originally, many long years ago. I just looked at what they'd done and asked them to re-do it. Which of course I had to pay for. The hot water circuit for the kitchen sink was not the first stop on that long train of hot water circuit and that made no sense whatsoever to me. Mind you, it still takes half a gallon of water to exit the pipes before the hot water arrives. I do save that water in a container and use it for all sorts of purposes as do you which is very wise.

Exactly, circumstances change and you adapt. That adaption process must really promote fear in a lot of people, but what was the old saying about: Necessity is the mother of invention. Necessity is also the mother of adaption. Of course others again may find that necessity leaves them falling by the wayside... But why hang on that tight? That's what I don't understand.

Ha! I'll bet they do too. Mate his breakfast contains: A small quantity of commercial biscuits + basmati rice + sunflower kernels + peanuts + pepitas + olive oil + organic rolled oats + carrots + apples + sweet potato + zucchini + buttermilk. The fruit and vegetables are blitzed and are generally seasonal. He seems pretty happy but if I walk him first he does his business outside. He's like Gollum: Breakfast my preciousess!!!

It was my good deed for that day. Hey speaking of good deeds, the wood heater we removed a week or so back was purchased by a well known artist. Far out. The bloke that picked it up today (not the artist) was a really nice bloke and we helped him load the heater. Then his car broke down further down the road and we travelled there and got him going again. Another good deed done. I hope something is taking score somewhere? Hehe! Probably not...

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Oh my, that really sounds like you are not just moving, but conducting a kitchen review. Yes, sometimes one must cast a cold and steely eye across ones belongings and decide whether they are in the right place, and maybe the right place for that item is elsewhere (and perhaps in somebody else's kitchen). I hope your friends from Idaho enjoy their stay (and that they're not called back at the last minute in some sort of fire emergency). A maintenance schedule is not a bad idea and interestingly the researcher was asking searching questions about our maintenance schedule. I keep one because my mind just fails to recall all of the details - and sometimes I'm just wrong about them. A written list fails to dissemble and can recall the details correctly. Of course, I may well have written rubbish too.

6 gallons of blackberries sounds like music to my ears. Yum!

The ends of the local newspaper may make excellent fire starters? I tend to use the local newspapers for that purpose. Well done with the re-use too! Hey, speaking of packing materials one of the new solar panels came wrapped in the biggest sheet of bubble wrap that I'd ever seen. It was huge. I folded the wrap up and stored it for future use.

Oh yeah, I reckon there are large numbers of life forms which we can't put a name too but that does not mean that they don't exist. I have toads which live here in small numbers and I have been unable to discover their species name. The museum website has a good list of the local amphibians but the toads are not listed there. Of course this does imply that they clearly do not exist! Hehe!

Are you having a cat use your garden plot as a giant kitty litter tray? Now that is resourceful of that particular feline. Cats are very neat and clean creatures. You may make friends with the kitty?

I'm impressed that that many turned out on a public holiday too. On the other hand, you lot may have had a better time of it than others who may set their sights on a perfect holiday (whatever that means)! I would have enjoyed the meeting, old farts or no. :-)! I must be an old fella anyway because someone once said that on the interweb and of course it must be true. Hehe! Oh every time I hear of people clamouring for a "dream" something or other, I start to feel a little bit uncomfortable...

Yup, old school gun powder is them fireworks. They really do set off a drift of smoke don't they? Fireworks here over summer is a very bad idea because of the fire risk which may spread from a still smouldering firework when it hits the summer dry vegetation.

I took the day off today and just mucked around. We visited a shop that looked very dodgy from the outside, but had been recommended by a foodie mate. I looked through the window of the shop before entering just to make sure my friend wasn't playing jokes on us, and inside the shop was very charming in an old school way. I rather suspect that the outside of the shop was deliberately downbeat as they catered to the locals rather than any tourists. They did an excellent toasted ham and cheese Turkish bread and the editor ordered a toasted Mediterranean style Turkish bread which tasted like a very tasty pizza. Yum! Will definitely go back there to ensure of consistency of greatness.

More solar business tomorrow and this time it will be an upgrade of the smaller off grid system. I hope the weather holds as the weather station is predicting rain overnight. We'll see.

Oh, the replacement water pump turned up in the mail yesterday and I really liked the packaging as it claimed: "Wishing to exceed your expectations". Well I must say that it wouldn't be hard to do so because my expectations are rather low in that regard.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Morgenfrue,

I hope you are having an enjoyable summer. Now as an interesting side note, I looked at a map of Denmark and could not but fail to notice the epic: Great Belt Fixed Link. That is huge and then some.

Rats are a problem aren't they and I'm not really sure that people understand just how widely spread and adaptable those rodents are. Well, that makes sense about rats being attracted to chickens as the rodents consume the uneaten grains that the chickens scratch around. You may be interested to know that even the native birds that live here consume any uneaten grains that leave the chicken enclosure when I remove used bedding straw.

You are very lucky that people treat rats seriously in your part of the world. I can't imagine the response I'd get from the local council here if I rang them up to report a rat sighting! Rats attract snakes so it is in my interests to keep the rodent population down here.

Yup, bury the steel deep and use proper aviary welded steel mesh. Cement wouldn’t hurt either. And recall that rats can climb surfaces (although they don't seem to be able to climb steel sheet) such as timber. You may want to check out what I did as it has slowed the mice to an occasional and minor nuisance whilst eliminating the rat problem: Choking on Chooktopia. At the very least you can see me continuing to construct the chicken enclosure in the falling snow...

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Just quickly. Children are getting rickets here too. All that slathering on of sun protection cream which is quite ridiculous in this climate. Of course one should watch that one doesn't burn. Fish oil is necessary in the Winter here as the sun is not able to produce vit D in ones skin; too low in the sky or somesuch thing.

I believe that aspirin is an anti-inflammatory, paracetamol is not.

@ Lew

While I have enjoyed all of Betty MacDonald's books, I think that the best was 'Anybody can do anything'.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Hello and thanks for taking the time to comment. Hope the guests are (or will be) behaving themselves?

Exactly. What is appropriate for here may not necessarily be appropriate for your part of the planet. You know, the UV here during January and February is rated as "Extreme" and your skin will burn far quicker than you could possibly believe with very unpleasant consequences. Sunscreen is an effective response to those conditions.

I recall seeing someplace or other in the UK that was hosting an outdoor summer festival where there were warnings that the UV had reached "Moderate" and that seemed very odd from my perspective. Of course I cannot opine on your local conditions, but still Moderate UV is a very long way away from Extreme UV. The summer sun here is fierce and it bites the unwary.

Thanks for the fish oil information. Am I correct in believing that it has beneficial properties for skeletal joints? A lack of Vitamin D can inhibit your bodies abilities to take up certain minerals (I believe calcium is one of those). Not good.

I didn't know that about the difference between aspirin and paracetamol. Thanks!

It is raining outside tonight which is a shame as we were going to go for a walk.

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Once again I'm in awe of your electrical skills. Maybe you've said before but what are the sheds used for - storage?

Like Pam, I don't think you should worry too much about the frost. The asparagus spears may be mushy but that's about it. I had moved my garden a a bit some years ago and the asparagus bed as well. I still get spears from the old bed which was planted 28 years ago. I find greens tolerate frost and even freezing temperatures well. Kale and beet leaf spinach tolerate temps down in the 20's F.

We had a nice 4th at my sister's annual 4th of July party. The weather was quite nice as well and there was an over abundance of food.

I've received a contract from the buyer of the ag property that our family trust owns adjacent to our property which I'll have our attorney review. He stopped by for awhile and took a look at the house as well and seemed to like it (fingers crossed). One thing at a time though.

The Japanese beetles are out in force and the traps have to be emptied every other day. I do collect some in some water and dump them on the ground for the chickens who love them. The water keeps them alive but wet enough that they can't fly away.

Regarding vitamin D, I'll go out in the sun for maybe 30 minutes or so and them use sunscreen. I have very fair skin and have had some pretty bad burns when I was young. In fact I'm amazed I haven't had skin cancer. My granddaughter with the auto-immune disease (which has been in remission for quite some time) has to wear sunscreen all the time as exposure to the sun can cause a flare up and possibly necessitate the entire round of treatment again.

We usually use butter for medications for our dogs. Salve has two medications daily and we usually just mix it in her food. Sometimes for some strange reason she decides she's not going to eat - even with an egg mixed in. She's quite good about having a tablet pushed down her throat when necessary.

Margaret

margfh said...

@Lew

I am jealous of your staged move. Every move I've done was in one day.

There seems to be more and more homeless people. There are churches in the county that welcome people at night one day a week so they have to move from church to church. The problem is that the churches are not necessarily close to each other and there is very limited public transportation here. This is only available during the cold months and there is only one small facility for housing the rest of the year. That's usually reserved for families so the rest of the people camp out - usually on private property. The facility welcomes them once a week for a hearty lunch that's provided by various churches and civic groups. There's generally extra food and sundry items such as sunscreen and insect repellent for them to take with them. What a difficult life but they are all so pleasant and appreciative.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - LOL. Our fellow that's living rough, is anything but rough :-). Oh, he wears the standard Lewis County issue of jeans, plaid shirt and baseball camp. Skinny fellow with a well trimmed beard. Always neat and tidy. Don't know how he does it. You could not pick him out of a crowd as "homeless." Lew

@ Inge - "Anybody Can Do Anything" is one of the MacDonald books, I missed. When things settle down. Sounds interesting. Jumping from job to job during the Depression. I quit liked all the spin off movies with the "Ma and Pa Kettle" characters. Marjorie Main (Ma Kettle) is one of my favorite actresses. According to the bio, the family that those characters were based on, sued for, I think, "defamation of character" (similar to libel), once MacDonald had begun raking in a bit of cash. The suit was tossed out of court after it was discovered that they had been making a bit of money of their own, capitalizing on (maybe) being characters in the book. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Sometimes the aspirin is just labeled "low dose aspirin." Often advised as a one a day for adults. I take a full dose, once a day. Bothers some people, but I usually use it with a meal and have never had stomach problems.

Every time the larger packets of unsalted sunflower seeds go on sale, I stock up. I toss them in a lot of things. I figure they're good for me and I like the crunch :-).

Or, Poopy is like the plant, Audrey, in "Little Shop of Horrors." "Feed me, Seymour!!!" :-). Nell gets like that.

I packed up three boxes of fragile tat, last night, using bubble wrap that I've kept over time. With the tat I get in the mail, my supply is pretty good. Won't have much space at the new place. But, I'll still keep a small supply. I picked up a packet of plastic forks yesterday, to see if I can deter the kitty using my garden space, without resorting to chemical warfare :-). Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Well, (one) of my worst nightmares came true, yesterday. Heading into town, I hit a deer :-(. Glancing blow, right front. Broke the headlight, buckled the hood and broke a bit of the grill. Sigh. Had the fellow who runs an independent auto repair service, right next to the 12 Step Club. He can repair it, using a mix of used and new parts for far less than the dealer. 1/3 to 1/2 less.

The deer? Well, I gave her a solid smack in her hind quarters, but don't know if I killed her, or not. When Scott and I went to retrieve my book cases, et all, there were no bodies in the ditch. Or worse, a live animal flopping about. The irony is, in about three weeks, I won't be driving that stretch of road, again.

Well, we got the furniture moved with no mishaps (to the furniture.) I'll spend most of today sorting stuff out. The fun stuff. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret and Lewis,

Thanks for the lovely comments however I am unable to reply this evening and promise to reply tomorrow night. Sigh...

Lewis - The sigh above was because we constructed a custom made aluminium rack for the three 12V solar panels today. It was all looking good on the ground and then we installed the custom racking and lifted the three solar panels onto the wood shed roof only to find that... The solar panels were over shadowing each other in the late afternoon sun and so the whole arrangement has to be IKEA hacked tomorrow and set to rights. Of course, if we knew way back then what we know now then the whole job would have been quicker and slightly cheaper... Alas for 20/20 hindsight, I knew him well! Oh well.

At least we worked out a way to hack the custom racking so that the panels don't have to be removed from the roof. That is one minor relief.

Sometimes some things just don't work out.

Sorry to read about the deer. I drive like a grandmother because of the wildlife, but of course I only learned to do that after clipping a kangaroo many many years ago. In my case the kangaroo bounced off into a paddock and away into the distance and the car didn't show any signs of damage. All I can say is that these things happen.

Your plant reference is quite apt!

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

That is one of my worst nightmares, too - hitting a deer. I see them almost every time I go into town, even in the daytime. I am so sorry that you had that experience.

Hmm, forks in the garden. I may be able to use that in some way. The neighbors' kitties seldom bother anything, but about 5 days ago a small groundhog (woodchuck) discovered the garden and he is wreaking complete havoc. We are pooping in and out at all hours of the day and night to see when he might be coming in, but no sighting yet. I think he hides in the woods and watches. I have one decent apple tree, which I have espaliered and he has eaten all the low-hanging fruit, just as in the old saying. Also, most of the cantaloupe vines; this is the first year we've had any decent looking melons. My son is replacing all of the chicken wire that had originally been run 18" outward from the fence. He had removed it a couple of months ago since we'd never had a problem, to use in another project. Blah.

I love Marjorie Main, too. What a character!

@ Margaret:

We have a zillion Japanese beetles, too; we had hardly seen any for years. There are three of us attacking them, so we've been able to hand pick so far.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris;

Your "Fernglade Farm in winter" photo is rather Middle-earth.

Pam

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Guests out on a country walk, no doubt hot sun doesn't bother them as Australia is so much hotter in Summer than here. I have sat down for a while.

Yes I believe that one needs vit D in order to absorb calcium, don't know about other minerals.

The problem with sun screen (apart from the vit D question) is that people feel safe and spend far far longer in the sun than they would otherwise do. One is not protected against all the different rays so get an excess of some. I reckon that we are still very ignorant on the subject.

@Margaret

Yes, getting burnt was not good but skin cancer seems to have a genetic component as well, you may be lucky in your genes.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Margaret - Services for the homeless seems to be in dibs and dabs, here. Kind of bubble gummed together. Jerry rigged? I don't take the local newspaper, so I just hear random things from time to time.

I mentioned the guy to The Warden, at The Home. She said that they had once taken in a homeless guy (which I thought was an odd twist of phrase) and that it worked out well. But that every once in awhile, he's spend a night out in the park, in the woods, up behind The Home. Call of the woods? Call of the wild? Just keeping his skills up to snuff?

Since we're a low income facility, there's a "food closet." Actually, a room with quit a bit of canned goods and dry stuff. Some of the residents get a monthly delivery of a "commodity" box. Cheese and such. I probably won't avail myself to much of that. a.) I'm pretty particular about what I eat and b.) as long as I can afford to buy my own food, I'd rather, so no one else gets "shorted."

Yeah, I'm pretty lucky with the move. To be able to really sort through everything and think about it. The last move went pretty well, until the last couple of days when I was stumbling around with a flash light, trying to pack boxes. Long story. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Yeah, I'm always hesitant to launch myself into the mechanics of an unknown project. And then wonder why I was so apprehensive when everything goes ok. Maybe slow, but ok. The second time around, it always goes a lot faster.

I've always been so vigilant, driving that stretch of road. I was behind a motor home, and a jeep that were dragging along the road. Speeding up and slowing down. I was concentrating on the jeep, in front of me, so I wouldn't rear end him. So, I wasn't watching the sides with my usual vigilance.

The pace of things will pick up a bit, now. I rented a storage unit, yesterday. Everything that's going to the auction will go in there, and be out of the way. It's not far from the auction house, and when the time comes, they'll just clean it out and auction it off. Two months storage, plus a really good lock was around $100 for two months. Not bad. And, the lock is mine when all is said and done. I'll probably throw it in the auction :-). Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Thanks and I've been at the 12 Volt wiring today which meant that I was hanging off a ladder all day long. It is a long story... Fortunately, it was raining in the valley, but the farm seems to be in a rain avoidance area.

Sheds. Well, one can never have too many sheds. 2 x wood sheds + 1 x cantina shed + 1 x machinery shed + 1 x chicken shed. In the next 12 months or so I'll construct a new gardening shed. Being on the side of a mountain has meant that I really don't have room for one big shed, but also more pragmatically, the smaller sheds fly under the size restrictions whereby I don't have to get a planning permit to construct them. There seems little point in filling the local councils coffers with unnecessary fees.

Thanks for sharing your experience with your asparagus. I hope my lot are also going strong in 28 years too! I have it on good authority that asparagus crowns will last for up to 80 years if well fed. I hope you don’t miss your asparagus plants in the future?

Glad you had a good time on the 4th celebrations!

Yes, fingers crossed indeed. I do hope it all works out for you. Selling rural property is always a complex and fraught business. Such a process would probably take me up to a year from what I've seen of other properties down here. And being off grid is a negative thing here believe it or not. Fortunately, I'm hopefully not going anywhere soon.

What a good idea with collecting the beetles and feeding them to the chickens who would very much enjoy the treats. I do a similar thing with the wood grubs I collect when I'm splitting firewood. The chickens destroy those grubs.

Again fingers crossed, and yeah, nobody had heard of sunscreen when I was a kid. And yes, I too likewise got occasionally very burned. I once applied sunscreen everywhere other than my feet. My feet then got burned and they swelled up like balloons (well that is a mild exaggeration, but I certainly wasn't able to wear shoes for about a week). Skin damage is cumulative from what I understand of that matter.

I hope your granddaughter takes the sun seriously in that case?

Salve is a paragon of good behaviour and gentlemanliness. The fluffy collective would all bite me should I be silly enough to stick my fingers down their throats to deliver medicine. It is not worth the hassle with my lot. I've also had them hock the medicine up after such a treatment. I may give the butter a try in future, although none of them are on medication at the moment. Thanks for the suggestion. They love buttermilk fat.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I was contemplating your clubs homeless dude who keeps his beard neat and trim. When I read the Ruth Park book about life during the depression in New Zealand (A fence around the cuckoo), she mentioned that her mother used to allow men "on the road" (we called them swag men in those days as a swag is a canvas sleeping bag) a quiet place for them to conduct their toiletries on the mums property. Yes, a little bit of generosity goes a long way in hard times. My mind has been swirling that concept around a bit of late which is why I began the "The Magic Toilet" story. The solar power upgrades have not given me much at all in the way of free time. Oh well.

Aspirin is fine with food. People get weird about the stuff because it makes their stomachs acidic when they take aspirin without food. I genuinely feel that people struggle following basic instructions these days and that may be possibly due to the sheer complexity of life. Mr Kunstler often writes: "Anything goes and nothing matters" which sums that philosophy up pretty well. Interestingly too, Mr Kunstler was a minor party to one of the interwebs most listened too podcasts. The podcast has a name that I cannot mention due to me breaching my own blog rules. Anyway let's call the podcast: "Poop town". The editor listened to the podcast and for some strange reason it put my mind on an old mate who I haven't seen for a very long time who had the strange belief that he was smarter than everyone else – but never had to concern himself with that belief as he never challenged himself. Did not the ancient Greeks describe that habit as hubris? Fortunately, I have met plenty of people who were smarter than I and that is a comforting thing for me because I realise that smarts alone are not enough.

Well, who doesn't enjoy the crunch of a good sunflower seed? They add something to the toasted muesli too. Yum!

Exactly, Seymour the voracious plant in that musical is like Poopy (and Nell) and the plant would have enjoyed nothing more than a hearty breakfast. Unfortunately, Mr Poopy's excitement and desire for breakfast over rules his common sense about going to the toilet beforehand. A sad state of affairs, that.

Your tat is a hobby and I for one see no reason why your hobby shouldn't continue in your new digs. Of course, that may also mean that you have to take a very hard look at your collection given the limited space. You may have to call yourself the tat razor gang when you put that hat on?

Sorry, I only had 5 minutes to reply yesterday and I completely forgot to ask whether you were OK from the altercation with the deer? It can be a very rattling experience.

Caution is a handy tool when approaching a new project. Now of course, if a person is such that they intend to finish the projects that they start, then caution is warranted as a common sense tool. Other people are of the sort to start projects and then, well, they may not be able to complete them. Still others are able to run projects without having the ability to start them or finish them. And there is a whole world of responses in between. Mostly people are watching television though and that seems to eat a whole lot of their lives, although for the life of me, I have no idea why they would do that? It makes little to no sense to me.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

And yeah, I always joke around saying that I'll know what is involved in the job and how long it will take when it is completed, but until then... Speaking of which today, I had to completely redo most of what I did the day before. Now some people may find that frustrating and I have to admit, the editor was offering to assist this morning and after several helpful suggestions whilst I was perched on the upper end of a ladder doing something very complex and difficult, I sent her off on her way. And the editor instead put the cantina shed together and organised our huge quantities of preserved goodies into a meaningful system. Some of what we have been learning over the past few years is how to organise ourselves with the produce, and that is no small matter. It would have been nice to have learned from someone who knows these things but I suspect that they are now mostly absent without leave.

Ouch, sorry for the deer, yourself, and the ranger. Ouch. You may laugh, but I cannot drive through the forest at night at a speed higher than 25 miles per hour because the chance of hitting something is almost 100% at speeds greater than that. Other people around these parts drive as if they are on the world rally championship and that is their gear I guess. And I totally understand how the lack of visibility would have made it hard to see the deer. I get that. Years ago after walking away from a head on car crash which may possibly have been my fault, I had to learn how to slow down and so replaced the crashed car with a Suzuki Sierra 1 litre / 61 cubic inch motor and four speed gearbox. Nothing says slow down like an under powered vehicle, and on country roads I just pulled over to the side and let everyone go past me. Mind you, that philosophy extends into my life now as it simply works. Where are all these people going and what are they doing? Such questions.

That is a pretty good rate for self storage. I hope you eventually do well in the auctions. I've been flogging off a few unused things lately and it is amazing how much cash the stuff brings in, and to be honest it is not as if I was using the stuff.

I think I'll write tonight.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

It is an eerie photo isn't it? The fog that morning was swirling in the valley below the farm.

Now as a fun fact, Middle Earth or at least Hobbiton, which can apparently be found in the north island of New Zealand is only a three hour flight from here, so you are correct. Hehe!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I believe a lack of Vitamin D also inhibits the uptake of phosphorus in the body. Not good.

Hope you and your visitors are having a lovely time, and I'll tell you a little secret: They've just recently been in an Australian winter, so they are probably enjoying the summer sun in your part of the world! It has been a rather cold winter down here this winter, but I may be getting soft now the wood heater is working so well and the house is toasty warm? Dunno, but I have been wondering about that matter.

Sunscreen here blocks UV A and UV B rays and I usually purchase SPF 50 product, but honestly there seems to be no escaping that mysterious looking dude wearing a hoodie and holding a scythe. We are very ignorant of the long term skin damage, but being sunburned down here is no fun at all and whilst I cover up, I get slowly burned even through cotton t-shirts and my heavy cotton overalls. It is a compromise situation and I acknowledge that. Probably nobody gets skin cancer in your part of the world?

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

@Lew

Interesting about the homeless man at the Home. I imagine there could be somethings appealing about living out in the woods, at least when the weather's good, for a few days.

The women who organize the weekly lunch provide a great (and free) service to the growing homeless community.

So sorry about the encounter with the deer though sounds like it could have been much worse. It's always something I watch for especially during the rut in fall.

We've been going through stuff here (well mostly me) preparing to sell the house and downsize. It's a daunting task. We just heard about a guy we know who bought a couple storage lockers full of stuff and is having quite the garage sale this weekend. He bought them for $800 and after what he's sold online and the sale he expects to clear several thousand dollars. Doug went to check out the fishing gear and said he was selling stuff at really low prices too.

Margaret

margfh said...

@Pam,

The Japanese beetles are really bad here too. I do use two traps downwind from the fruit trees. I know some think it attracts them but I believe they help keep the numbers down. However, this year the beetles are on just about all the garden plants not just the usual suspects - even on some of my native wildflowers. Last year we had to spray Sevin on our Honeycrisp apple tree as they almost killed it. Found out that they are particularly attracted to that particular tree with other varieties right next to it having only a few beetles.

Margaret

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Well duh - the wood sheds. Always a good idea to avoid extra fees. Here if a building is just for ag purposes you don't need a building permit but you better not have a bike or lawn mower in it - and sometimes they do check.

I am pleasantly surprised at how well the purchase of the land is going so far though you can never be sure until the money is in hand.

Been up since 1 AM when I got a call from Michael's place that he was being transported by ambulance to the hospital. It didn't sound like anything too serious but my first reaction was to go right away. Doug insisted that I wait as I can't see well at night at all and it's about 1/2 hour away. Anyway all is OK and he was released. I'm hoping this isn't going to be a regular occurance as he gets some troubling symptoms from time to time - chest pain and shortness of breath. He's been checked out already and the consensus is the chest pain is heartburn and shortness of breath mostly due to being overweight and out of shape but people don't want to take a chance. One of the advantages of having him at the retirement home owned by our friends was that they were aware of these symptoms and we could talk about it before making the decision to get an ambulance.

Margaret

Damo said...

RE: Vitamin D

Mrs Damo, whose opinions must be taken seriously in all things medically related (well, to be honest, in all things really) insisted that I take vitamin D supplements daily when I worked underground in Tasmania. Apparently, in a Tasmanian winter, the average human needs several hours of sunshine with no t-shirt to obtain minimum levels of vitamin D. Rickets is the obvious end case for not enough vitamin D, but many other problems such as depression show themselves before things get that bad. Considering I basically got no direct sun for months on end, I just took the tablets! :-)

RE: decline and weekends
I feel a little bit like Gulliver coming back and seeing things with a fresh eye. I realise it has been over a decade since I was last in 'serious' employment (Tasmania doesn't count for some reason) but so many people seem happy to just go along with it. Did things change that much while I was away?

To be sure, many of them are here on various types of visas and are less keen to make a fuss about sub-standard conditions, but I can't believe some of the conditions that people agree to. You know, looking back in history it was not unusual for peasants to have more rights than the average Australian worker. I think a post-plague peasant in Europe got over 150 days of public holidays a year. Of course, they could die from a tooth infection, so swings and round-abouts and all that, but geesh, what do people think they are working for?

Last week, my company car was fitted with a GPS computer tracker. It monitors the position, speed and G-Forces among other things. Of course, it *doesn't* helpfully warn me if I am driving dangerously, just silently records everything to be used later on if circumstances warrant (read: blame the employee for anything that happens). A better man might make a stand on such an outrage, I might just accidentally slice a wire or two...

I partially stood up for myself and informed management I would only work a maximum of 1 Saturday a month (on top of the standard 50 hour Mon-Fri week). The response was a muted "we will do our best, but if that isn't enough we know why you might leave". Shrug, I will plod along until things become an issue (so far, no Saturdays have been required). To be honest, the rental prices here are scary and there is a small, but real chance we don't even move in somewhere. Earning 80-90K sounds great until the $500 a week rental bill comes along - who am I working for again? Many of the houses are worse than what I lived in as a poor uni student. How do I go from the bottom 15% income to top 15% yet my house conditions deteriorate? Something something decline I guess....

In happier news, my grandfather showed me how to shuck oysters today. Somehow, I have made it this far in life without ever doing that before. I guess some other relative was always around to do it for me :p Anyway, it was quite fun and I shucked a few dozen and grilled half of them kilpatrick style for my great auntys birthday. There was some bemused glances and comments at my slightly complicated recipe, but no one complained when the final product was presented :p

Damo

Damo said...

@Marg

Sorry to hear about Michaels health issues. Late night calls are never good and for what it is worth I agree with Doug. One person in hospital is enough!

Damo said...

@Chris

Did you catch the 90s special on Double J a few weeks back? The digital only sister station of triple j was playing various 90s music for a few weeks, and I think the weekends were 90s only. I caught some of it and it was great as you might expect. I believe there is a compilation CD out now...

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris and Margaret:

If the pups ever get wise to the pill hidden in the butter, try wrapping a bit of cheese all around the pill. You know how cheese is pliable, and you can completely disguise the pill (and its scent) that way.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Margaret -
It's interesting going through stuff and getting rid of it. A Victorian creamer and sugar whose color don't quit match. An aesthetic style plate that's been hanging on the wall ... that when I lived with it for awhile, I've never quit cared for. So, it's getting rid of stuff I've been vaguely dissatisfied with. Somehow or another, I've picked up two table looms, along the way. At this late date, I'm probably never going to get around to using them. So, to the auction they go! Ditto, the rock tumbler.

I'm beyond "fair." I actually have (had) brown hair and eyes, but inherited Vitalago (sp?) from my grandfather. Since age 12, I've been slowly loseing my pigment. None at all, left on my hands. Chris mentioned missing his feet. Once, on a beach in California, I missed the back of my knees. Ouch! Blisters the size of quarters! If I live to be 200, I'll probably be an albino :-).

I'm glad Michael's episode turned out to be not too serious. Probably a bit of acid reflux going on there. Sleep apnia (sp?). Lew



LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - My fork garden looks quit odd. Puts me in mind of a cemetery, for some reason. I also had a sack of egg shells, that were going into the worm box. I get a bowl of them and then nuke them for a minute and a half. I crunched the up a bit and scattered them around the forks. That might also help a bit. We're having mostly clear nights and a full-ish moon. So, kitty will be able to see that "something is up." Since the weather is dry, I could also try sheets of newspaper with rolls of sticky painter's tape. That broke Nell of jumping on top the china cupboard and sideboard :-).

Even though the suggestion was on The Home bulletin board, I'm the only one giving it a whirl. The Ladies are quit intrigued. Some of them have chicken wired the tops of their garden plots. Fingers crossed. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I think there's an old saying that's something like "Book wise and ______? foolish." But I may be confusing that with "Pound wise and penny foolish." I've had friends who have envied my "book learning" and I've pointed out that they know a lot more useful skills, that I don't, that I think are a lot more valuable. They never quit look convinced ...

I was surprised at how quickly I recovered my balance after hitting the deer. It was like, "Well, the worst has happened, and it wasn't so bad." I'm fine (the ol' ticker must be in good shape :-) The truck still runs, it's going to get fixed and I have money in savings to cover the repair. Having so much other stuff going on, probably also helps. I was more concerned at that point, that we get the furniture moved.

It's going to be a full day. Friends arriving tomorrow. Cooking and unpacking stuff. So it goes. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Just back from a fabulous lunch out with the family. This was a birthday lunch for 2 of them. So I am sitting feeling semi-comatose.

This lot live near Coffs Harbour so I assume that their winters are warmer than yours. They all have great tans. We do get skin cancer here but it seems to have surged since people went on Mediterranean holidays. They went there chalk white and lay in the sun till they boiled and blistered.

Have just been given a wheelbarrowfull of beetroots, courgettes and lettuces from the neighbours mentioned last year who are still trying to grow their own food. I have pretty much given up trying to give them advice. Son's pigs will enjoy some of this. Amazingly there were a few red tomatoes; mine are still totally green.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

No worries, sometimes I keep my motives to myself, but on that occasion with the sheds, well, who can argue with that logic! In the old days sheds could be 50 square metres, then the laws were changed to 20 square metres, and finally we have arrived at 10 square metres. I simply adapt where necessary. Yes, strange things like the checking can happen from time to time.

Fingers crossed for the sale.

Sorry to read about Michael's unfortunate medical experience. Maybe they just need the time to learn who Michael is and how he responds to situations. At least they erred on the side of caution.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

It is a wise man who knows to take Mrs Damo seriously! You may be interested to know that I take the editor seriously too. It was her idea to upgrade the solar power system in the way that we have done over the past few weeks, but far out it has been a lot of work. I dug another trench today and laid more cables and finally connected up the smaller off grid systems solar panels... Phew me tired. On the other hand, the editor and I have a general understanding that there will be no interactions whilst I am perched high up on a ladder, so in such situations I blithely ignore the editor, but only for those occasions. This general rule came about after I fell off a ladder due to being distracted...

Mate, things have changed even since the early 90's. Things work related were different back then and people do actually work much harder nowadays for less money - and household income may be up, but I tell you that that involves more two income families now than was the case back then. Money isn't worth what it used to be.

Post plague peasants would have been in demand from a suddenly un-populated Europe. The lesson to take away from that is that labour is not immune from the economic concept of demand and supply. And increasing labour through either immigration or an increased birth rate has the effect of reducing wages. It really is that simple.

Don't forget the employer supplied smart phones which may be loaded with hidden apps. I have heard that people are using those things for stalking purposes... Not nice.

Yeah, I would shrug too. I mean what are you meant to say to that? Far out. Well as to the property market (and the wider investment products) well that is where the ever expanding money supply is settling. Imagine if that inflation was channeled into food and groceries? That is what has historically happened. The thing is, whatever can't be sustained, won't be sustained. And our allies can't keep printing money forever as the economic policy has diminishing returns.

Well done with the shucking of the oysters! Yum! I'm salivating at the thought of that sea food.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Good advice. Thanks. I will keep that in mind.

I found out today that mozarella cheese (used on pizzas) is not considered vegetarian because of the rennet. Who would have thought that! I guess I'm reasonably flexible about such matters. Anyway, beware the purist!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Oh! I have never heard of that old saying about book wise. I was reading a book (an ironic concept given the nature of the discussion) a month or two ago about the Aboriginals in central Australia and they tend to have that understanding about white fellas education. I see a bit of that about the place and have been confronted by arm chair theorists so many times - particularly about solar power for some strange reason. What do you reckon, I may have to give a Green Wizards talk about solar power soon? I might chuck the idea out there - it certainly should annoy everybody! Hehe! Oh well.

Mate, I spent today digging another trench and laying cables for the small off grid solar power system. The editor came up with the idea how to upgrade all of this stuff and the project has just been epic. Fortunately, the job is now mostly done and the whole lot seems to be working well. Had the best day of solar power generation for July today: 11.4kWh. Best eva! Yay! Was it all worth it? Yeah. You know the thing is with this stuff, once you commit to using it, you have to make it work because using a petrol powered generator produces the most expensive electricity on the planet (well maybe that is an exaggeration). None of this stuff makes any economic sense, you have to do it for the environment otherwise you end up talking about "could haves" and "tariffs" and that sort of talk embarrasses me.

Glad to read that you recovered from the altercation. You know I once had a visitor who had hit a kangaroo on their way up to the farm. In the boot of their car was a joey (a baby kangaroo) and they just sort of left the problem with me. They must have thought that I would know what to do with the joey (which of course I did) but still, it was a very strange thing, but I guess they were a townie and not used to the wildlife. Dunno, it was weird.

Enjoy your friends and cooking!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Enjoy your post lunch slump! Hehe! It sounds lovely. I was digging trenches today and running cables in them and up walls and all sorts of solar electrical business.

Oh yeah, Coffs Harbour is a lot warmer than here and it is positively sub tropical. They would feel as if I lived in Antarctica given the cold winters here! You'll have to ask them if they've ever travelled down this way.

No doubts you are correct. I have a very healthy respect for the sun, but if you are used to a cooler summer - it can be quite the shock. Even with sunscreen and clothes covering me, I still colour over summer.

Yeah, good advice can be wasted on some people. It is hard to know when to proffer advice isn't it? I struggle with that and people are wary of help in case they end up obligated to you. I rather suspect many people run from real community.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - "Post plague peasants." Say it really fast, about 5 time :-). Besides the rising labor costs (Go Peasants!), some people moved up the old inheritance ladder. Often unexpected and surprising. Somewhere I read an antidote about a title changing hands three or four times in a year. Some estates grew quit large ... but then had the manpower problem.

I'm reading an interesting book right now. I'm guessing at the title. It's down at the new place. "Nature's Alchemist: John Parkinson, herbalist to King Charles I." By a Parkinson. :-). Interesting and ingrosing. (sp?). I got the first season of "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" from the library. When I got back to the old place, last night, I watched the first two episodes. Hmmm. Well, I've never been much of a Douglas Adams fan. If the pace doesn't pick up a bit and it doesn't keep being so ... enigmatic, I'm libel to toss it back.

I'd rather have the grim truth instead of a lot of sugar coating. Then I know what I have to deal with. LOL, I came home a bit late, last night, and when I switched to high beams, due to the deer, the headlights blew out. BUT, the emergency flashers still worked. So, I'm crawling home through the dark by the light of my emergency flashers. When I got home, the "fog" lights still work and the turn signals. But, no after dark driving until that's fixed. One copes. :-).

I'll see your digging trenches and laying cable and raise you unpacking 17 boxes and making two salads and a meat loaf :-). Think I'm going to lose this hand. But boy, am I sore, last night and this morning. :-). I'm not particularly stressed. My friends are pretty mellow people.

Well, baby animals and all that. This time of the year there's always warnings to leave the fawns alone. What appears to be an abandoned fawn, probably isn't. And if you touch them, they will be. I won't say people can be really stupid about animals, but can get quit sentimental about them. Never happens to me :-). Yeah, sure.

Well, I'm off. After yesterday, today will be very relaxed. Oh! Someone mentioned the visiting priest sells eggs. Interesting. Which reminds me, I watched "The Young Pope" in snatches, here and there. Lew

Jo said...

Chris, I'm hearing you on the solar advice. My plan is a)solar hot water b)grid tied panels but with option to retrofit battery c)water tanks d) definitely a woodshed. Electricity is just going up and up in price, and I would like the option to keep the lights on into the future.. but there is no way I could heat the house with solar electricity. So the wood heater is staying..