Monday, 8 September 2014

When good tanks go bad

This is the disaster edition of the weekly farm blog!

Since we discuss the good, the bad, and the complete disasters here with no fear or favour, all of the discussions last week about water tank disasters inspired me to take you - the reader - on a journey into the distant past to unveil the ultimate water tank disaster here.

Firstly though, this week the weather here has been superb, with warm sunny spring days. The bees have been buzzing about the place and Cathy’s suggestion last week about leaving a couple of bee boxes out in the orchard just in case the bees returned home has been done. As an experiment, I’m thinking of placing a dish of honey in each of the boxes to lure the bees back into their original hives if only even to familiarise them with the boxes. I’d welcome suggestions and feedback in relation to this as I’m no expert.

Bee boxes in lower shady orchard
 I had to take some time out from projects this week to fill up the firewood bays. The bays hold quite a lot of timber, but realistically they are required to be refilled three times during the year so are completely inadequate. This is one of the reasons I’m in the process of excavating the site for the water tanks and firewood shed. The firewood that is in the bays now is about 4 years old and it burns really well. The photo shows just how dry this stuff is.
Firewood in bays
Speaking of the excavations, the ground around the water tanks has been excavated to further reduce it. It is now at its final level so landscaping around the area began. This involved placing a rock wall along the path behind the new water tank and existing shed. Once the rock wall was in place, a soil mix of 50/50 composted woody mulch and mushroom compost (basically horse poo and straw from stables) was pressed onto the steep cutting. The reason for the high carbon content (i.e. lots of woody material) in the soil mix is that such an environment favours fungal growths which in turn send millions of fine filaments through the soil which holds it together which is crucial on a steep slope. A sandy or loamy mix would wash away in the first big rain storm. Into that soil mix I have planted a huge number of borage plants. These plants have large root systems and are fast growing so they will hold the whole lot together reasonably quickly. The clay path and around and also between the water tanks was covered in a layer of screening material which comes from a local quarry and contains lime so it binds together well, whilst still allowing water to infiltrate.
Borage planted into the newly landscaped cutting
The fill from the excavations is being used for new garden beds and that also has had a layer of the 50/50 soil mix applied to it as well.
Mulch starting to be applied to the new garden beds
This week has seen the apricot trees come into blossom. They’re an interesting plant because I originally planted them on the shady side of the property. They happily grew but produced no flowers. Last winter I moved about 15 apricot trees from the shady side to the very sunny side of the property. Last summer they struggled as it was their first year in that location, but now they seem to have adapted well to their new location and hopefully I’ll start to get some fruit from them.
Apricot trees now in flower
The daffodils are continuing to produce more flowers too. Interestingly too, the largest flowers and stems are found growing next to a mulch pit which infiltrates rain water into the ground from one of the drains, so I’d have to suggest that these plants like wet feet.

Daffodils with borage and lemons in the background
Last week there was a bit of discussion in the comments about the possibility of the new water tank rolling down the hill. It is a fair concern as water tanks are both big and heavy and on a slope, seeing the tank roll down the hill is always at the back of my mind. Well a few years ago now, that actually happened here.

It was a dark and stormy night. Well not really, but that year had been unbelievably wet with record breaking rainfall of 1,437mm (56.6 inches) to be exact. That year, I was also in the process of building the house here. Construction sites and record breaking rains equal mud. All of the mud meant that truck deliveries were difficult.

The day came for the delivery of the water tanks and the first tank was rolled off the trucks trailer and down the driveway perfectly. Mind you, it was very heavy at about 750kg (1,653 pounds) and required six people to manoeuvre it down the slope. After the first water tank had been delivered safely, I was basically a bit frightened because this thing was huge and would kill you if it rolled on top of you.

I suggested to the delivery dude that since we had a bulldozer on site, how about we use that to help roll the tank down the driveway and save everyone the risk of getting squashed. The delivery dude saw the world differently and just wanted to deliver the tank and be out of there as fast as possible. The water tanks sit on a trailer in a cradle on its side for transport. So the delivery dude ignored me and started rocking the water tank out of its cradle and then something went horribly wrong. I could see and still can see in my memory, the water tank falling in slow motion off the side of the trucks trailer and there was not a thing anyone could do about it. The water tank hit the ground with a thud and then simply started rolling down the hill picking up speed and squashing fruit trees as it travelled. I’ve never seen people scatter out of the way of some object as quickly as that day.

Fortunately the previously mentioned bulldozer stopped the water tank dead in its long escape down the hill. Unfortunately for me the water tank also landed upside down on its roof whilst managing to smash the window of the bulldozer (which was not my machine).

Water tank meets bulldozer
Moving the water tank back up hill required the services of a 20 tonne excavator. The photo below gives you an idea about just how large the water tank is in comparison to the excavator.

20 tonne excavator used to move the water tanks about the property
Repairs were attempted on the water tank, but the damage was too extensive and the company eventually turned up – after much complaining and about 6 months – and cut up the water tank so that it could be recycled.

Attempted repairs on the water tank
 Some things are simply not repairable.

In sad farm news Frizz, the Frizzle Isa Brown chicken, died this afternoon. It was weird because she was in excellent health this morning and I found her still warm body in her enclosure in the early evening as I was writing this blog. An observation I once heard from a New Zealander is that if you have livestock, sooner or later you’ll have dead stock. Vale Frizz.

This past week has been both a sunny and warm week and temperatures most days were in the very low 20 degrees Celsius (68’F). The temperature outside here at about 7pm is 13.5 degrees Celsius (56.3’F) and so far this year there has been 561.8mm (22.1 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week’s total of 561.2mm (22.1 inches)


Cherokee Organics said...

Hi everyone,

Apologies but I won't be able to respond to comments this evening, but will respond tomorrow night.



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Poor Frizzle! Another chicken mystery. As Brother Bob the Bachelor Farmer used to say, "Animals Die." But, it still gives you a bit of a turn...

That's quit a water tank story. A saying I coined (I think) is: "An adventure is a disaster that turns out o.k." Nobody got killed or injured. Except for the water tank. Lew

Ozymandius said...

Wonderful quirky little blog. Keep up the good work

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Stacey. Thanks, spring is a lovely time of year here. Autumn is nice too with all of the colours in the leaves. People travel up into the mountain range here during that time just to check out the autumn colours. I'll take a photo next year to give you an idea. Some of the maples around here turn a brilliant red and put on quite the show. Plus there are avenues of honour for the war dead.

I'm not sure about the dormancy in your part of the world, but the fruit trees are usually dormant from the start of June to the end of August. They're starting to bud here right now.

Generally, a lot of fruit trees require about 1,000 hours below 7 degrees Celsius (44.6'F) in order to produce fruiting buds. They call this chilling hours. In some parts of southern Australia, they didn't get that last year so the fruit trees never set fruit, but I should be OK here. That is part of the reason I leave the final paragraph for a description of the weather at that point in time.

There are many low chill varieties of some of the fruit trees here which only require maybe 200 chilling hours, but I don't reckon the fruit ever tastes as sweet. I'd be happy for someone to correct me on this though?

Oh yeah, I hear you. Undoing a task is a true admission of defeat. Hope you enjoy the disaster story about the water tanks this week.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

They shipped both camels and Afghan people out here in the late 1800's to early 1900's to maintain the telegraph lines that traversed the centre of the continent. They connected into the telegraph lines in Indonesia and thence to Europe.

Back in the late 1990's I visited the remains of the old telegraph outpost in Alice Springs in the centre of the continent and oh boy, was it dry and rugged! In a strange twist of culinary delight (yeah, I do like my food), they served fresh oven cooked scones with quandong jam (a native local fruit). It sounds a bit silly, but they were really good enough to leave a strong impression on me all these years later.

I'd suspect that the Archdruid himself would support the re-introduction of camel infantry in the USA given the Stars Reach story. It is interesting to see that the animals were tried and released. I wonder why they haven't been seen for such a long time? They are certainly feral here in the central deserts here.

Mind you wild deer roam free in the mountain range here too. And you don't have to go far to find a rabbit or fox etc...

Wow, I'd never considered that. They always have stories/legends about a wild puma skulking through the forests of the eastern part of the state. Mind you, I reckon it maybe just a very large domesticated cat which has grown beyond all recognition. The largest domestic cat recorded in the Guiness book of records was not too far from here at about 22kg (48.5 pounds).

Glad to hear that you are enjoying the Dr Who's. They're quite good.

Did you ever get a chance to see the very old BBC version of the Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy? Good stuff. I always liked Marvin the paranoid android!

A gallon of blackberries, now I am truly jealous! Tidy work.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy,

Yeah. You just never know how long things are going to take until they're done! hehe.

It is very nice to get some help too. I've always enjoyed August's comments as well on the ADR.

91'F sounds really hot. Hope the garden is surviving in one piece?

PS: Many thanks for the suggestion about the bees. As you can see I've taken your advice.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis. Thanks for your comment re Frizz, it was a bit of a bummer. For such an aggressive chicken she was very popular with the other chickens. The last time she was sick, they rallied around her protectively - which is really unusual behaviour for chickens.

Brother Bob the Bachelor Farmer sounds like a smart man, I'd appreciate both his acquaintance and counsel. You are very lucky.

Yeah, all too true. You can see how big those monster tanks are. I had no idea at the time of ordering them... I'm very grateful that no one was squashed either! It was close, but as they say no cigar!

Hey, the weather was feral here today and last night (about half an inch of rainfall here overnight): Wild winds give way to flash flooding thunderstorms

What did they write: I love a sunburnt country and land of droughts and flooding rains...



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Ozymandius,

Many thanks for the comment. Cheers. Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Yup. I remember the Hitchhiker's Guide. It was mad. Lot's of fun.

Unfortunately, Brother Bob the Bachelor Farmer passed away last January. It was unexpected. In his sleep with a smile on his face and trusty dog by his side.

I learned a lot from him, but not near enough. Opportunity lost. He was a shy man and I didn't want to push him. But we had long conversations when we happened to meet up. I helped him out a couple of times with small chores. This year I'll reap some of the benefits of the small established orchard he left behind. A couple of gallons of strawberries from his rapidly overgrowing patch are in my freezer.

LOL. Trading networks. A couple of posts back I mentioned that I gift a friend of mine in town, every other week with eggs. When I visited him last time, well ... he was worried that the eggs might be getting a bit old (he's a farm boy, he should know better :-) ) and gave some to his neighbor, who I've never met. She sent me a nice jar of apricot jam! And, I can keep the jar. Which is actually a glass handled mug.

Hadn't had apricot in a long time. Made me think maybe I should plant a tree or two. Naaaw. By the time it would produce, I'd either be dead or "moved to town." That's what they say here when rural folks retire. When their places just get too much for them. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, we won't be just amazing, we'll be amazingly, amazing. I was always partial to the concept of brownian motion being found in a cup of tea. Too true, the story was total fun start to finish.

Your plastic pall who's fun to be with. Hey, you started this. hehe! I always liked the bit about the Sirius cybernetics corporation being first up against the wall come the revolution too. Very funny stuff.

Sorry to hear about Brother Bob.

Yeah, it is hard to know how much you can impose on people and where that may take you or what you may learn.

Generally, I find the people who have lived up here for a long time are quite handy, but they also like their space too. So as you're saying it is a delicate balance. I have no idea really but sort of just try to get a feel for the situation. Joel posted an excellent comment about it on the ADR a few weeks back. Still, I don't know what it is like up your way, but if your grandfather wasn't born in the area then you can still be viewed as a newbie.

Mind you, I reckon the most interesting people up here are the ones that have been here for about 30+ years. They know their stuff.

Nice to see the gift economy working. Yeah, the apricots here always get turned into jam or preserved in bottles (canning). The other preserved stone fruit turn to mush by now, but not the apricots.

A nice turn of phrase. Hey, you've got years ahead of you yet. I'm not sure what things will look like here when I have to move to town. A great turn of phrase too. Probably move to a permanent box in the ground, who knows? I wonder about succession here, but reckon something will sort itself out in its own time.

Cheers. Chris

Phil Harris said...

Hi Chris
I look in most weeks and there is always something interesting.
Thanks for putting it online.

Have you heard / seen this buzz about bees? My bro in law saw hives made this way in Kenya and is starting one now he is settled back in UK. He tells me the only place though he can get clean stock is from Italy. There must be a UK importer because they will send him the live bees in the post!


LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Not to junk up you're blog. I'm not the kind of guy that sends jokes to everyone on my mailing list. Nor, do I get such. :-)

But ... I was doing a little research on the Net as to other possible uses of hops, besides beer. Being the reformed old lush I am :-). The fine that has crawled up the old tv antenna is loaded with hops.

Well, hops. Tea. Pillows to lull you to sleep. And, as with so many other things, "may cure cancer but the studies haven't been done, yet." In the middle of all this very serious stuff?

"Hops are the main ingredient in kangaroos."

You've probably already heard it. What we Americans call "a groaner." :-).

Well, I'm off to shovel more compost and chicken poop in the asparagus pit. Fall is in the air. A sunny day but a windy one with a nice cool sharp edge to it. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

That's really bad, in a good sort of a way... hehe!

You started this: So, what do you call bears without ears? Bees! hehe!

I rarely hear the word lush anymore nowadays. A friend who imbibed way too many substances confided to me once that only those that have fallen off the cliff, know where the precipice actually is.

Thanks for the laughs, I'd actually never heard that one about the kangaroo.

How did your blackberries go? Did you get a gallon and then jam or otherwise preserve them?

Your asparagus sounds to me like they are in a good paddock. The first few asparagus shoots have popped up in the past few days. I can’t remember whether or not you can pick them in the second year?

The rain the other day was almost tropical here as so much fell in such a short period of time. The spring boundary has definitely been crossed.

Nice to hear that your area is starting to feel the early bite of cooler days. Autumn is a lovely time of year. I hope all of the trees are putting on a good show.

I spent the day digging holes again. I’m sure I’ve done something bad in a past life! Hehe!



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; The other day the United Parcel Delivery guy asked how I was doing. I said "Hunkey-Dorey!" He observed he hadn't heard that in a long time. I responded, "Well, you know, I'm old." :-)

I like language, and to play with language. I don't know where I pick up some of this stuff. I read as I breathe, always have. Watched a lot of movies in my time, including old classics. Probably picked up some of the turns of phrase from my parents and grandparents. I have problems with memory, but this stuff just pops into my head, sometimes.

Yup. Another gallon of blackberries. In the freezer. I did some canning last year, none this. Will probably do more next year, as I'm going to be very naughty and buy a gizmo. Ball canning company has come out with a canning machine. Pop in the jars, set it and go about your business. Uses a lot less water and energy from typical stove top canning.

I figure the price will go down after Christmas. Right now, the high is $300. I also wanted to wait until a few reviews have shown up, and they have. There are drawbacks. Holds a small number of jars, can't be used to can some vegetables. But, for my needs, I think it will be just fine.

No, next year will be the second year for my asparagus, and it's recommended that you take very few or no sprouts. So, maybe next year I'll get one small hand full for one meal. I got some seeds for another variety and will start a second trench next spring.

Yes, the leaves are beginning to turn color. I think I'll make a little expedition, today. Up into the woods to see if I can collect some seed and root from a couple of Oregon Iris I marked. Want to move a few plants down into the yard. I checked. They're not endangered.

I also want to check out Brother Bob the Bachelor Farmer's orchard and see what's doing there. Maybe pick another gallon of blackberries as the one's around my yard are played out for a few days. So it goes. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Phil,

Many thanks. I hope that you find the blog both interesting and entertaining! I always enjoy news from your part of the world too.

Ahh, the bees. What a problem that was here. You know, I originally read up on bees and then read some more and also followed the advice to the letter. Then things went wrong, so I sourced some local advice and studiously followed it only to find that things went even further wrong and eventually all three colonies left their hives.

It was a real bummer.

On a positive note, it was an opportunity to start fishing around for alternative perspectives on bee keeping.

PJ Chandler's book "The Barefoot Beekeeper" was one such book. He runs the biobees website and he has some interesting perspectives on the subject.

My local go to guy for bees dismissed the book outright as rubbish, but PJ Chandler examines the bee keeping process from the perspective of the life cycle of the bees themselves. Adapt to the natural systems rather than forcing them to do what you think they should is the order of the day. The Kenyan design for a hive is known as a top bar hive and it has a lot going in its favour.

Within the first chapter, the guy identified the problem here (heat) and offered a solution - put the hives in the shade. Yes it was that simple, but the original books never covered this matter and always suggested to leave the hives in the full sun. I know of people whose hives melted last summer.

Actually I felt like a bit of an idiot for mentioning it to my go to guy for bees, so I don't speak about such matters anymore with him. People get fixated on the systems that they know regardless of whether those systems are under stress or failing, but they tend to avoid those that work but may be challenging their assumptions.

I've run out of time this year to build one of the top bar hives so am just hoping to bait and collect a swarm in my existing hives which I’ve placed in the shade.

Hope you are having a lovely autumn.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, "hunkey-dorey" can be sometimes heard here, but a New Zealander would translate it to: "Sweet as, bro". Sometime I find myself saying this to people without thinking about it. Most people here simply say: “OK”. In proper Aussie it would be: "no worries, mate". You hear that a lot, but of recent times people have been putting on airs and graces - which they haven't earned! Actually, I’ve noticed that some people in the inner city are cultivating unusual accents which has something to do with the whole hipster movement.

Yeah, language is really interesting. When I visit the inner city here, there is a large population of Australian / Italian people and you sometimes here "ciao, ciao" which roughly translates to "bye". Or if it is an attractive lady then it is "ciao, ciao, bella".

A funny one that you hear a lot Down Under is: "yeah - slight pause - nah". Translates to: Yes I hear what you are saying, but I am either politely disagreeing with you or dismissing your ideas outright. True, I find myself saying this without even realising!

I'll bet there are some funny everyday sayings in your part of the world too?

Well done with the blackberries. Do they defrost OK? Blueberries freeze really well, but I've never thought of trying blackberries as they always end up in jam – although I’ve just about run out of blackberry jam now (plenty of apricot, quince and strawberry left though).

The system sounds reasonably priced, although does it come with the bottles, lids and seals or are they extra? Canning always happens here at the hottest part of the year so it is one of those tasks I don't really look forward too.

I may just leave the asparagus spears in the raised beds for another year then as some are in their second year, whilst others are in their first year. Still, it is tempting...

A lot of apples and stone fruit don't ripen here until early to mid autumn here. Is that the same up your way? Did you find anything in the orchard?



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Yeah, language is funny stuff. Funny everyday sayings? None come to mind. I'll have to think on that. I probably use some, or hear some, without thinking.

Another quirk in my makeup is that I pick up accents, every easily. Put me with someone with an accent for a day, and I pick it up. Came in handy when I did a little community theatre (back when dinosaurs ruled the earth. :-)

After I clean the blackberries, I let them drain for awhile. Then, lay them out on a couple of cookie sheets and pop them in the freezer for 4 hours or so. They're like frozen marbles. Into the bags they go. I usually use them in the bottom of oatmeal, or, I make a crisp. They are VERY seedy. If I made jam or jelly with them, I think I'd haul out my old hand cranked food mill.

No bottles or lids. But, there are all kinds of canning jars kicking around here. Boxes of them. And, I'm going to look into an outfit that has re-usable lids and rings. The reviews look pretty good. The Ball canning company has a pretty good overview of their product and even has published reviews, both good and bad. Amazon has reviews, also.

Successfully dug up my Oregon Iris. Had a time finding them as bramble had overrun the plants. Found seed pods but they might have already "sprung." Exploration and surgery are in order :-).
Dug some of the root. I have two beds on the north side of my place(the front) that get very little sun. I'd like to do them in woodland plants. Ferns, trilliums, these iris. Maybe some edible mushrooms.

Picking blackberries was an expedition. Managed to get another gallon in the freezer. The last two will come hard, I think. Blackberries on the south side of the bushes are played out. It was a beautiful day, but the wind was whipping so hard that it was like trying to hit a moving target! :-).

The trip to the orchard. There's a nice plum tree, close to the house that is at it's optimum for picking. Lushly ripe, nothing on the ground, yet. Even with the wind. Intend to freeze up some Asian plum dipping sauce this weekend.

The orchard. Mostly apples of unknown varieties. A pear, but it's very diseased. But then, I don't care for pears, anyway. I found out later that there's supposed to be some kind of Japanese pear that's round. Maybe I passed it up as an apple.

I found two small patches of elephant garlic. I'm going to dig it up and move it over here when I get the plums. I have enough apples of my own, but may keep an eye on the orchard to see if there's a variety ... how can I put this. Something that gets better with a touch of frost and usually stores whole, very nicely. I've got one such tree on my place.

It's really sad. The place is going to ruin, vey quickly. By this time next year, I don't think I'll be able to get to the orchard without a machete. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

It is sort of like the "yeah - nah" saying in that it is so common place that you don't even hear it anymore. As an interesting insight, it was actually a comedian that tipped me off about that one, otherwise I would never have realised.

Yeah, I hear you about the accents. I've travelled through some of the less travelled roads in Asia and always at the end of those travels, I find that I am speaking pigeon English with a smattering of the local language thrown in for good measure. People are exceptionally adaptable, however I suspect you and I both suffer from a bit of honesty - which is no bad thing in my books. I pick up the accents and inflections too.

A funny story: Years ago, I had a lovely Scottish lady working for me as my off sider. She hadn't gone to University, but I recognised the sheer latent talent in her, so happily promoted her. Anyway, my lady couldn't understand a single word she said when she called me at work, and the lovely Scottish lady was told by her Scottish family that they thought she sounded like she had adopted a strong Australian accent. The upshot is that we find ourselves in strange lands and simply adapt. Glad to hear that you've picked up the knack of that one.

Another Aussie saying comes to mind: People say "youse" which roughly translates to: a specific bunch of people that may or may not be in your presence. You would say to a group, "nice to me youse all".

I think I'm getting carried away here. hehe!

Ah, it is very interesting that your blackberries are very seedy, because the ones here aren't. By the way what is a crisp? A crisp here would be a thinly sliced and baked potato chip.

Glad to hear that you recovered some irises. I grow bearded irises here and they are very hardy. That also sounds like an excellent plant guild.

Yeah, of course! The sun facing blackberries would ripen first, whilst the north facing ones would be slower to ripen (obvious from hindsight!).

Plums can be very variable in taste, but they all fruit prolifically. I use them here to add into the jam mixes in early summer.

Ah, the Japanese pears (we call them nashi pears) are more prolific than the European pears at the farm here. The Japanese pears are good for fresh eating, but I reckon the European pears need to soften a bit before they are edible. Fresh off the tree I find them too firm.

Yeah, every apple seems to have a different purpose. The best fresh eating and long keeping apples here are the Pink Ladies species. The WTO ruled that we have to import apples from China via New Zealand recently. Australia is free of fire blight which affects apple orchards all over the world, so it is only a matter of time now. About an hour north of here they grow about 40% of Australia's apple crop... Oh well.

Sorry to hear about the orchard. It may be a small consolation, but many feral fruit trees around this area do very well without any attention whatsoever. Still, I sometimes think that if we were all to suddenly have no fossil fuels then the plants would have an absolute field day. Day of the Triffids for sure! hehe



Stacey Armstrong said...

Hi Chris,

It's dark here now just after eight in the evening and the flickers are eating the mountain ash berries.

Could you spend a few sentences talking about your firewood bays? I am curious how many cords of wood you use in a year? We use corrugated metal here for a lot of the roofs, including our chicken shack. Is there a reason you placed it on the bottom of the bays as well?

I stacked two cords of wood this week as part of my fall preparations. We are gradually trying to get a winter or two ahead. Our wood only needs to season for eight months to a year to be nice and dry. Many of the old-timers here have five winters worth of wood ready to go.

The reason I asked about your dormant period is because you seem to always having something blooming in your parts. I am in the Canadian Pacific Northwest and there are a number of months in which there are no blooms. I think in my mental reversal of the seasons I didn't take into account the difference in the highs and lows in temperature. I had a -10 in my greenhouse last winter that killed a Meyer Lemon. I am considering housing a few chickens in there this winter with some deep bedding to see if I can keep the temperature within lemon and chicken comfort ranges.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Youse ... heard here in Brooklyn, N.Y. slang. In the South, "Ya'All." Long A.

Another one I thought of was "All hat and no cows." Probably from Texas, but I hear it around here. It means a guy who wears a big cowboy hat and appears to be a rich rancher, when in reality, he has no cows. Used to describe people who give the appearance of affluence that has no basis in fact.

The Himalayan Blackberries are in the majority around here and VERY seedy. There is also a patch of Evergreen Blackberries. Not as seedy, larger and sweeter.

A crisp. You take an oblong baking dish and butter it. You can take just about any kind of fruit, mix in maybe a table spoon of corn starch (and I like just a touch of nutmeg) and throw it in the dish. Mix 3/4 cups packed brown sugar, 1/2 cup all purpose flower, 1/2 cup rolled oats, 3/4 Tsp of cinnamon, same of nutmeg. Mix in 1/3 cup of soft butter (and I usually throw in a cap of vanilla extract.) This makes a crumbly mixture that you strew on the top of the fruit. 375F for 30 minutes. Until the top is a nice toasty brown. Great topped with milk, cream, vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. I'm sure you probably have the same, over there. Just another name.

There are volunteer fruit trees all over the place. Mostly apples and plums. So far, any I have sampled have tasted like ... ca-ca.

I'll have to look for that Japanese pear, today. I think my eye just slid over it and said "apple." I wonder if my unidentified dwarf apple is a Pink Lady. It turns very pinky red late in the season (they are just pinking up, now.) are good keepers and taste even better after a light frost. My dwarf trees are about 40 years old.

Oh, I was a real Day of the Triffids fan. Saw the original movie in our neighborhood theatre in the 1950s. Scarred the pants off me! Also, read the book, Saw the re-make. And the BBC series.

Well, off to the abandoned orchard to dig garlic, pick plums and see if I can find the Japanese Pear. Lew

wall0159 said...

Hi Chris,

Thanks for the blog. Always an enjoyable read. I realise this post is a bit old, but I wanted to share with you a related post of mine where I try to work out if our storage is adequate (ie. will we run out of water?)

Cheers, Angus