Monday, 6 October 2014

Now you see it, now you don’t

About a decade and a half ago I knew an electrician who used to have a favourite saying: “Builders bog hides a multitude of evils” he used to say to me. Whilst that sentiment sounds a bit dodgy, he was actually talking about hiding all the rough edges, cables and pipes etc. in house construction by applying copious quantities of plaster and/or other products used by builders these days.

Every now and then I get a bit excited and tackle a major disappearing act here at the farm. This week included one of those acts. Before we go any further though, a bit of history is necessary. Many years and also many owners ago, this farm which just happens to be in the middle of a Eucalyptus obliqua forest, was logged for timber. Unfortunately for me, historically, the people logging the forests usually never considered completely removing the dead tree stumps. It is not hard to understand why that happened though. The timber is just soooo hard!

To add insult to injury, somehow or other those tree stumps were generally burnt which has the effect of killing them, otherwise they’d produce coppiced branches from that stump. As a fun fact, most Eucalyptus trees can be cut down to the ground 6 times and they will still regrow from that stump (i.e. That is what coppicing means). How hardy is that?

Here however, for some strange reason the stumps have been mostly burnt either deliberately or through a bushfire – it matters not. It actually really doesn’t make any difference because the tree stump is simply dead. The burning process on the other hand acts like a preserving agent and those tree stumps don’t rot and thus return to the soil. There are logs on the ground here which still show the impacts of the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires which tore through this farm.

So there has been this dead tree stump near the chicken enclosure which has been taunting me for years.

Burnt tree stump before demolition
Every time - for years now - that I’ve been supervising the chicken’s daily activities as they all happily scratch around in the shady orchard, this tree stump has been taunting me. The tree stump just dares me to take action.

This week and to its ultimate demise, I took serious action. After about two and a half hours of work with the chainsaw but mostly with the axe, I can honestly say that the stump has now met its final demise. That’ll teach it for taunting me! The disappearing act was completed by smoothing the ground out and back filling the area with material taken from the deep litter in the chickens enclosure. Hard work!

After the chicken litter was distributed and the ground smoothed
That wasn’t all though as the disappearing acts at the farm continued as I had to dig a few trenches to install a new tap and bushfire sprinkler for the second pump near the new water tanks.

Buried pipes and cables
That disappearing act was completed by backfilling the trenches with the original excavated material. It all looked pretty dodgy and was just waiting for the first heavy rain to turn the whole area completely to mud. Have I mentioned before that I hate mud? Anyway, I applied some of the locally quarried rock material which also happens to contain a good dose of lime and the entire area no longer looks as if it has just been an excavation site, plus all of the infrastructure is now in place. A disappearing act accomplished!

After another day of excavations
 You can see in the photo that there are now two blue bushfire sprinklers covering that area completely should the need ever arise.

Peak rocks is continuing to be avoided at the farm as I’m now moving rocks which I’d previously considered to be too hard to move. I’m sure that I’ve done something really bad in a past life because I always seem to be having to move ever larger rocks about the place here. Anyway, this week it started getting a bit silly. The rock in the photo below weighed more than I do and it is so big, it makes the wheelbarrow look like a child’s toy. It is a full size builder’s wheel barrow after all…

This rock was probably a bit big for the wheelbarrow
The photo shows just how nice and sunny the weather had been here in the past week. Bushfire threat is never far from my mind so I spent a day this week collecting all of the fallen trees and branches in one area of the farm and burnt them off. It would be nice to be able to compost all of that organic material like the Northern Europeans do, but Eucalyptus timber simply resists easily breaking down into soil.

Burn off of fallen forest fuels
 I produce very little waste here at the farm as everything that can be composted gets turned into healthy topsoil. Metal and glass however, won’t obviously compost and every now and then I have to take them to the tip for recycling. Today was very exciting as I took a trip to the local tip. Construction of the first shed should begin within the month so I thought I’d take the trailer down to the tip and see if they have any sheet metal at the tip shop.

Have I mentioned before that I love the tip shop? At the same time, I am absolutely ruthless and no material ever comes back to the farm that does not have a short term use. Truly, I would be uncomfortable living in a graveyard of failed or never started projects!

Today, I hit pay dirt at the tip shop and picked up 17 long sheets of corrugated galvanised iron sheeting which will be of immediate use on the new shed which is shortly to be constructed.

Corrugated iron sheets brought back from the tip shop
I’m sure that people can buy this corrugated galvanised iron stuff brand new nowadays, somewhere, maybe? However, the corrugated metal sheets that are normally sold now are of a completely different metal (zinc-alume alloy). The new stuff is much thinner and lighter so it possibly bends or creases if you simply look at it the wrong way! The old galvanised iron sheets on the other hand can be walked on they’re that strong and their life expectancy is well beyond all of us that may be reading this blog! So many products these days look the part, but are complete rubbish

The old corrugated iron sheets are being dumped at the tip I was told, because after the bushfires in February, insurance companies are replacing farm older sheds with replacement brand new sheds built using the newer zinc-alume alloy sheeting. As an interesting side note, I also coincidentally met several local people that I knew at the tip shop so it was a very social occasion!

Many thanks to Damo’s suggestion, I now have a video camera in the form of my digital SLR (Pentax K-r) after the untimely death of the old Sony handycam. All of the talk over at the ADR this week started me thinking about herbs, so I took the camera out for a walk around one area of the farm to check out some of the herbs growing there. Just to put the video into perspective, the area covered in the video is only about a third of the area set aside for herbs and flowers at the farm here. I hope you enjoy the journey (warning 15 minutes of me banging on! Hehe!). If you have any questions about the plants, feel free to post a comment.

This past week has really sunny and warm. Right now however, the sunny warm weather has departed and it is raining for the first time this week. The temperature outside here at about 9.00pm is 13.6 degrees Celsius (56.5’F) and so far this year there has been 622.2mm (24.5 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week’s total of 618.8mm (24.4 inches).


Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, it is pretty funny all of the stereotypes. I'd never thought about that with a drive in cinema. Too clever! Shame about the sound though. There are only two drive in cinema's left in the state now.

I think they transmit the sound for the movies now over FM radio. I'm seeing a cunning plan developing!!!!

It is amazing that the ruts are still there in the roads after all of those years. Bullock and/or horse teams were a lot of hard work during wet years... The roads are bad enough up this way as it only takes one truck to rip it up completely during the wet...

Wow, that is an eerie memory. I wonder how all of that stuff will eventually end up? Probably dead zones? Dunno. There is only a single nuclear reactor on the continent and it is a long, long way from here.

Yeah, that was my understanding too about the aquifers. I didn't know about any migration though. Is that spoken about? I wonder how many people will head North? It is a long way.

Haha! That is too funny for reasons that you may not even be aware of. There is an ongoing New Zealand joke that a lot of people over there claim kinship to someone or other who has connections to the legendary NZ band "The Herbs".

The rain just turned torrential outside. Half an inch so far this evening...



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; I took a look at the herb video, yesterday. Nice that you have a lot of elderberry. I think. With all the Ebola hoopla over at the ADR, elderberry was on the list of beneficial things yesterday, and off the list, today. Apparently, it's good for flu ... but not for Ebola. Well, that saves me a trip to the health food store and I'll save a bit of cash. Should pick up some milk thistle I suppose.

Well, I had an epiphany watching your herb film. I tend to think in terms of large monoculture patches. No more. I noticed you had a bit of pyrethrin around. Do you just let it grow here and there or do you process it somehow to spread around the benefits?

LOL. You were singing the praises of rocket. Something I was unfamiliar with. So, I did a little poking around on the net. Here, we call it arugula. Here, in some quarters (guilty as charged) it's considered a kind of yuppie, snotty, trendy thing. Rebranded purely for "added value." Seems to be a staple in stratospheric, upscale restaurants. I also notice it is a member of the good ol' Brassicaceae family. Members of which are among some of my favorite veg. I'll have to give rocket a try.

"Now you see it, now you don't." My father was one of the best painters and wall paperers in the city of Portland. Besides his life long job as plant painter at our local Nabisco baking plant, he took a lot of side jobs, week-ends and evenings. He always said "Paint hides a multitude of sins." :-). I used to help him, sometimes. I was a bit better at it than him. More patient. More attention to detail. But then, I was a novice attempting to please.

That stump ... seems like you need more woodpeckers. But, I suppose the eucalyptus is insect resistant and not very appealing to the birds. There's a stump I can see from my front porch, across a pasture, that is slowly being reduced to sawdust.

Oh, my. "Graveyard of failed or never started projects." That will stick with me. Guilty here, on occasion. I keep looking at some pumpkin and sunflower starts out on the back deck. That never made it into the ground. That are in little newspaper pots that took hours to make. I'm afraid they're bound for the compost bin.

Yes, there have been articles about outward migration from California. Here and there. Saw one the other day as to if Phoenix or Los Vegas will be the first large city to collapse due to lack of water. Didn't bother to read the article, just the headline. But, then I saw another article today that said all will be well in California if people just get rid of those lawns and farmers switch crops to more dry land varieties. I saw another article where a farmer had switched from almonds to pear cactus!

Did my first round of wet seed recovery with the tomatoes. Went swimmingly well. But I meant to ask, didn't you mention that a mate of yours had had good luck just drying the seed on paper towels? Cut them out and plant with a bit of towel attached, I suppose?

News Flash! My chicks are laying eggs! Small things but with good solid shells. Takes 4 to make a sandwich. I find them in the chicken yard, on the henhouse floor. They haven't seemed to grasp the concept of "nest" yet. :-). Oh, all in good time. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks man, really appreciate that. A few years ago a mate of mine got me onto Elderberry champagne and it was really good stuff. They also make an Elderberry cordial :-) which is also very drinkable! Then a year ago they came around here with a whole bunch of cuttings which they'd probably nicked from somewhere and they've been growing strongly ever since.

I reckon they're still a few years from producing enough flowers for a good brew. Those old hedge rows that the English used to plant would have been an amazing source of all sorts of food and herbs.

Milk thistle is considered a weed here. hehe! At least the chickens love the stuff.

Yeah, they've been falling over themselves at the ADR this week. I may just stir the pot a little bit as it is starting to get a little bit overheated. Who knows?

Sheer diversity beats a mono culture every time or was that thyme? ;-)!. There are so many plants in there which people reckon are invasive pests and over the years they've all been fighting it out for supremacy, but not one species has yet to take over.

The pyrethrin is just like the garlic - a bit here and bit there and they work their magic. I'm actually a really lazy gardener as I setup ideal conditions and then simply walk away and see what happens. If there wasn't so much infrastructure to build here, I wouldn't really know what to do! The plants don't need my help - except just before extended heat waves hit the farm.

Yeah, arugula is the fancy name. It really is good stuff and there are perennial and annual varieties. The annual varieties grow during winter and spring and the perennial varieties grow during the summer and autumn. Honestly, it is one step off what most people would consider to be a weed. It tastes like a green mustard. Very nice.

Of course, yeah, I hear you. It is a prolific self seeder and will turn up in the orchard. It is really easy to save seed from.

How good would the Nabisco factory have smelled back in the day? YUM! Parents can often be harsh in ways that they never quite manage to apply to themselves? A mate of mine has parents who are breaking his balls all the time about getting a corporate job, but never actually did that themselves...

Please send some woodpeckers as they'd be really handy! Are they known for eating the timber on houses? Termites and various ant species and the occasional fungus are the only things that can break down eucalyptus logs. You are very lucky to have such a fast recycling system for organic matter.

Cherokee Organics said...


Actually the Kookaburra's sharpen their beaks on the trees and the Cockatoos actually rip off small branches whilst screeching. But it isn't enough. I've been watching for a while now to see whether any fungus turns up here which can break down the timber faster.

Thought so, you're in good company anyway. hehe! No drama's, you do need feedstock for the compost bin anyway. I had to drop a possum in there about a week ago because it thought that somehow teasing the dogs at night would be a smart idea...

Yeah, they'll be ghost towns in the future for sure. As a small confession I've always enjoyed the original CSI which is based in Las Vegas and I'm always amazed by how much rain they get - in the middle of a desert. They're not being smart about collecting it though. Every drop of water here is considered.

Pear cactus? Is that what we call prickly pear? The fruit - if you can get past the lethal fibers - tastes like watermelon. I've read that even the paddles are edible. You see them all about the place here as they grow and fruit where nothing else will. They'll be around well after you and I are merely dust!

Nope, we did the fermentation thing for about three days and it seems to be quite successful as there are now about 30 plants (I'm hoping for about 50 to 60). I have read of people using paper towel. Yeah, too true, it makes it easy because you can cut the towel and plant it with the seed.

Well done with the eggs! Did you get the heater and light set up? They're funny creatures as they learn from the other older chickens. Having said that, I found an egg in the insulating straw on the ground this morning...



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Never been a CSI fan. Or, any of the many spinoffs. I wonder if rain is used more for "atmosphere". I did a quick check and the average annual rainfall for Las Vegas is 4.19 inches. Being the desert, a lot of that little bit comes in flash floods. Also called "gully washers." :-).

Yeah, prickly pear ... probably. We've gained a bit of a Hispanic population, over the years, and now you see it in the veg department at some grocery stores. I suppose non-Hispanic foodies also give it a whirl.

Yup. Heat and light (one in the same) are in place for the chickens. Need to do some other stuff out there, before winter. Get the heated waterer hung, etc.

Well, today it's going to be tackling apples, potatoes and fennel seed. With anything else that comes to hand along the way. Yearly propane delivery might come. Pinning those folks down to a tentative day is difficult. Almost as bad as handymen :-).

I really liked the cameo by Stumpy in your herb film. I'm sure he'll be a shoe-in for an Academy Award :-). Lew

PS: Noticed your mention of your good health over at ADR. Me too. But, a few years ago I ended up in the ER in the middle of the night. Flue. Severe dehydration. Now I get the shot, every year. The admitting nurse couldn't quit believe that the only other time I was in hospital was back in the early 80s with a broken leg. Slipped in the snow.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, no worries, it's all good. I never liked the spin offs either.

hehe! Yeah, well, that's not much rainfall. I did come across a good YouTube video on a guy that captures rainwater in that part of the world using most of the techniques I also use here.

Just having a quick check on the Interweb and... Rainwater harvesting with Brad Lancaster

You wouldn't reckon they look very edible, but they are a Mediterranean plant species. They were very much favoured by the Greek and Italian farmers as a hedge + fruit. I've never tried the paddles, I reckon you should go first? What do you reckon? I'm remaining unconvinced. The fruit are covered in these fibres which are lethally sharp. I put one in my pocket once... An old boss told me a story that when he was a young kid, his uncle fed him one of the fruits without first rubbing the fibres off. A nasty business which ended up in hospital.

Fennel is quite OK. Do you eat the bulbs or the leaves or both?

Yeah, we can't make it up today because the wind is blowing in the wrong direction and the cat is freaked out. That's always an omen that deliveries just can't happen today, sorry mate. Maybe we'll make it up next week? hehe!

I hope you get your propane delivery before the winter sets in.

hehe! Yeah, Stumpy doesn't care at all as he's big enough not to have to care. The other night I caught him in the vegetable beds again. Bad habits are easily learned and exceedingly difficult to shake off!

Great to hear and prevention is always better than a cure. Have you always gotten your hands in the soil?



Stacey Armstrong said...

Hello Chris.

I appreciate your confession of strong tasting salads. Potlucks within the community here often have a number of strong tasting salads. I remember a particular nasturtium heavy salad that made it impossible to properly taste the rest of my dinner! I have to balance things out with less strong tasting lettuces and brassicas usually. But it's lovely to round out salad with small tastes of mint, cilantro, sorrel, thyme, dandelion and other edibles. I grow three different kinds of parsley here that make an appearance almost daily in at least one of our meals. I really like rocket on pizza or mixed in with warm pasta or rice.

I have been thinking about your title from last week in terms of feral-ness. We have days like that here where it seems like the wildness/wilderness factor has been turned up. It's a funny balance of deliberately moving rocks and cultivating the wildness. I spent a few hours on my hands and knees removing buttercup this week. It's my current version of rock moving.

Are your raised beds made out of the same sheeting you acquired at the tip?


LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; I think I'll pass on the cacti. As with sushi, I could probably get it down, but there are just so many other things I'd rather eat!

I discovered too late that fennel bulbs need to be harvested and separated in the spring. So, next spring I'll give the bulbs a try. Seeds safely drying in a large ventilated paper sack.

Propane for this winter safely in the tank. $770 @ $1.899 per gallon. Taxes and fees $55. Now I need to get a furnace guy in here to tune up the heater.

Yeah, bad habits are hard to break. Both my own and the animals :-). There are two pieces of furniture I don't want the cat on. Someone suggested newspaper with rolls of masking tape. Worked like a charm ... as long as said newspaper is on the furniture. Looks like hell.

My "hands in the soil" has been pretty sporadic and non-existent ... up til moving out here. Well, the potatoes were pretty much of a wash out. Kind of. I planted in big plastic bags. Three. Two were a complete washout and I had high hopes for the one. Well, after I dug through all the dirt, I ended up with about 1/3 of a five gallon bucket with some quit nice potatoes. But not much of a return on all the blood, sweat and tears :-).

On the other hand, that amount of potatoes will probably see me through a couple of months. And, they look really nice. Although the little gardening I have done this year hasn't been all that productive, I've learned a lot for next year. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Stacey and Lewis,

Thanks both for the lovely comments. Had to bounce into the big smoke today for work, so have missed out on replying and reading the ADR. Got back to sanity here at around 10.30pm and bed is calling me! I'll reply tomorrow night. There was a rare blood moon event here last night when the Earth cut all sunlght to the moon. Spooky!



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Stacey,

Glad to hear just how many different varieties of plants that you can grow and eat. Rocket is an outstanding addition to any pizza and tastes like a proper mustard. I reckon you'll have that wood fired oven before you know it ;-)!

Nasturtium doesn't play well with others in a salad. Unfortunately, it is the one green here which flourishes well into late winter only to then die off. As it dies off the other greens then take off. Nasturtium then slowly starts to regrow. The entire plant is edible... The seeds are particularly firey.

Wow! I've never heard or seen the buttercup plant before, but, in the Google photos that plant takes over entire paddocks. Scary stuff.

Some of the plants here are invasive, but the sheer species competition forces them to play nice with all of the other plants. The forest surrounding the farm is so disturbed by people that it is a solid mono-culture.

Yes. The raised beds were actually made from much larger leaky water tanks that people disposed of at the local tip. Unfortunately, people are onto this trick nowadays so you rarely see leaky old galvanised steel water tanks anymore. Shame really.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

You know what they say around here: "no falls, no balls!". hehe! Hey, what’s your local vernacular for that?

Actually this applies to me too as I'm 100% with you on this matter. There are just so many other good things to eat, it is hard to pick and choose. A local bakery makes an award winning vanilla slice and this slice is to kill for. It really is that good. They have an annual bake off event here which is state wide and it is taken very seriously. A lot of reputation rides on those slices.

Yeah, paper bags are the way to go for storing seeds. I do the same here. Sometimes, I just let some of the plants here go to seed so they establish their own natural order. It does work. I didn't know that about separating out the bulbs. They self-seed reasonably easily here and there are millions of seeds.

Propane delivered here costs about 3 times the amount that you pay at about $1.30 / litre (3.8 litres to the gallon). I can't afford to use it for heating, so rely solely on firewood - which I have a lot of.

The idea about the newspaper is great. I try and keep the dogs off the couches here as they can't help scratching the cushions to make it a little bit more comfortable for themselves. Two of the dogs are in the dog house tonight as they disappeared off into the forest to harass some of the wildlife and came back covered in mud. They didn't enjoy the hosing down - shame it was a warm day.

Yeah, me too. I was a bit cold then hot about growing my own food until I ended up here. Potatoes can be very variable in their harvest. Every year it is different and you just never know what you are going to get. I'm trying some of the seed potatoes this year from last years crop so I may get some very strange hybrid varieties. Who knows? Thankfully, I'm not reliant on the outcome of all of these experiments.

Yeah, I always learn more every year too. By the time I can describe myself as competent I'll probably be knocking on deaths door! hehe!



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Hmmm. My fennel doesn't seem to seed much. I mean, there are a lot of seeds, but no new plans. Just the same old patch that keeps coming up year after year.

The fennel is in the chicken yard and the chickens don't bother the mature plants, at all (ditto the lemon balm). But now I wonder if they eat the seed, and maybe any sprouting tender young plants?

I don't think my potatoes will hybridize next year. The two wash out varieties never came to flower. And, were quit a distance apart. The ones that came through were Yukon Gold. But, I'll keep in mind the possibility of hybridization in the future.

Hmmm. Local vernacular. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained." "No pain, no gain."

Yeah, the newspaper thing ... I took some old rolls of painters tape (kind of like masking tape) and made big circles of them, sticky side out. Stuck those to the newspaper.

Looks like I'll be taking care of one of the neighbors hairless sheep, again. They look like goats. Just three of them. Will work out well. I've been procrastinating getting some rock path down in the chicken yard. The rock piles I can pick through for small stuff is over by the goats. If I drag back 2 5 gallon buckets each time I go over, I'll have those paths in no time. :-). Lew

Phil Harris said...

Hi Chris & all
Very quick comments this time - I usually just pass by to see how you are getting on. Not too serious though about any of the below ...
1. How about putting those branches behind your next rocks for cultivation terrace? Sounds like they would help brace the wall for many years?
2. Funny about Elder - they turn up as weeds on our ground in NE England. Turn our backs for a few years and they pretend they are serious about reforestation.
3. Longeterm (but you are young enough) Roman concrete is interesting stuff - waterproof enough - last for a thousand or so years -for making water tanks and aquaducts. You need some limestone and a few other resources, but you might have some locally? I guess the additive which I understand wasvolcanic ash is not local to you, but the substitute was powdered old earthenware roof tiles. Can you imagine local industrial resources of the old kind?

Looking at the last one, I am talking a bit wild I guess and should be headed for bed!


Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, I'm finding that too. Some herbs just keep turning up in the same spot every year. Fennel dies off here during the winter only to reappear in the exact same spot. Perennial rocket does the same trick as do heaps of other plants.

That is interesting because the chickens happily eat lemon balm here. A couple of Feverfew plants self-seeded next to the chicken enclosure and they haven't grown very much from sprouts as the girls eat every single leaf, so that is a great observation. Many seeds are edible. I eat the nasturtium seeds as they are like a pepper.

There is a local plant which is a mountain pepper and the leaves are hot, but the seeds are simply explosive and they'll make you break out in a sweat like a hot chilli!

Do you like chilli's?

Ahh, that is interesting about not flowering. Someone here was telling me that when the plants are flowering, they're putting on tubers. I haven't confirmed this, but they were quite adamant about the situation. You can always replant the potatoes anyway. They flower here during late January which would be your July - more or less.

I'll let you know how the potato experiment goes. Dunno yet.

Are the hairless sheep Dorper's? They are always flogging that species at the local agricultural shows because they don't tend to get fly blown - which is not good for the sheep. There has been a lot of outrage that sheep have to be docked Down Under to avoid getting an infestation of maggots (fly larvae) on their bottoms. One variety of chickens here (Australorp which I'd never purchase again) gets the occasional build-up of manure around their cloaca, so I hope nobody takes me to task for cleaning up their rear end feathers with sharp scissors? Yikes. Actually years ago I had a Pomeranian dog that had to be treated to the scissor treatment too for the same reason!

I'd be interested to hear how the sheep go over the colder part of the year, which you are now entering. I haven't spent much time around sheep, but they seem to have very docile and pleasant personalities.

hehe! You'll never look at rocks the same way again! hehe! That is the spirit, slowly but surely wins the race, every time.

They're assets. I read a lovely series of books by the author Annie Hawes who is an English lady that purchased a small holding in Liguria in Italy. They were always banging on about the importance of rock walls when you live on a slope. I can only now agree with her wholeheartedly!

The vernacular in your part of the world is exceptionally gentile.

I spent the morning to about 2pm (the afternoon sun is now too hot) excavating and ended up pulling out a monster rock which was below the soil surface. It is now in the ever expanding rock wall.



Cherokee Organics said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Phil,

Great to see you drop by to say hello. You may be interested to know that I’ve struck another blow to the rodent population here today! Ugg!

I'm still enjoying Kevin McLeod's Grand Designs UK, just for your interest. It is a remarkable view into your part of the word in miniature from so many different perspectives. It is very scenic and you are lucky to live in such a pleasant climate.

Ah, well, the land and soil here is exceptionally stable so your suggestion for number 1 is perhaps superfluous. Sorry, mate. There are quite a number of historic hill station gardens to the west of here in this mountain range and they have very stable slopes. The local earth moving contractor pointed that out to me, otherwise I wouldn't have noticed. Check out the photos: <a href="”> Mt Macedon</a>

However, the Otway Ranges to the South West of here where I took the video of the Californian Redwood forests are known for their landslides so it all depends on the soil and rainfall in the local area.

Yeah, number 2 happens here too. Oh yeah, turn your back for a few years and you get 90 foot Eucalyptus trees within a foot of each other here. Nature will always expand should we ever turn our backs. The elderberry is doing very well here. Actually I'm a little bit worried about just how quickly they grew in the past year. They'd make great plants in hedgerows.

Incidentally, your hedgerows are exactly what I'm trying to duplicate here. I saw a River Cottage show where they were maintaining them and it was awe inspiring to watch.

Thanks for the tip about Roman Concrete. I hadn't heard about that. Very interesting stuff. I use quite a bit of concrete about the place and will ponder your thoughts.

Bed is good!



Stacey Armstrong said...

Hey Chris,

I'm still swimming in green tomatoes over here, if you get a minute could you share your recipe for chutney.
Could you eat it with eggs? Thanks Bunches!


I am also amazed that that you and Lew are not over run by fennel. I have started feeding it to the goats. My chickens will not eat the seeds or fronds! I dug a huge root ball of fennel out of one of my raised beds this year because it was pushing the wooden sides out.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Chilis? Oh, I don't know. I don't seem to use them much. I keep a bag of dried stuff around for the odd recipe that requires them. Now I dooo like some of the hot Chinese cuisine.

I don't know the breed of the sheep. They belonged to Brother Bob the Bachelor Farmer, who passed away. His brother, my landlord, found good homes for all the other vast collection of animals that Bob had ... except for the sheep. There are three of them. He fobbed them off on another neighbor who goes over to Bob's old place and takes care of them. They've been through a couple of winters and seem to do fine. I think they were one of those "trendy" animals. They don't provide wool, don't seem to carry much meat and I hear their milk production isn't that great.

Oh, I'm sure there's some earthier sayings that apply. I'm just drawing a blank. Not that I've got such a gentile mouth (or, mind :-) ) I've got to watch myself in mixed company.

Yeah, I keep an eye on my chickens business ends. The Wyondottes have pretty fluffy bottoms, but so far, no problems. Lew

Phil Harris said...

Elder in the hedge

Depends on the purpose, but old hedges in UK were managed as stock proof. This is a nice account of old-fashiponed hedges and their management and includes a warning:
Quote: "One plant which should normally be cut out of a hedge is elder since it grows faster than all other hedgerow plants and crowds them out. It is also very brittle and useless in any hedge intended to provide a stockproof barrier."

I tried a bit of hedge-layering and it was not a straightforward skill to learn in a morning!


Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Stacey,

Yeah, that happens here too.

4lb 8oz tomatoes, finely chopped
1lb 2oz onions, finely chopped
2 cooking apples peeled and cored and finely chopped
2 tablespoons salt
3 teaspoons mustard powder
8 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1lb 2oz sugar
3 cups white vinegar (although I use apple cider vinegar)
1 tablespoon cornflour

Place tomatoes, onions, apples, garlic, salt, mustard powder, curry powder, sugar and the vinegar in a large saucepan.

Bring to the boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved and continue to boil for 1.5 hours.

Mix cornflour to a paste with extra vinegar, add to mixture and stir until thickened.

Pour into sterilised jars and seal immediately. Will store in a cool dry, and dark place for 1 year.

Will make 4ib 8oz.

Enjoy. I ripped this recipe from Sally Wise - A year in a bottle. It is an excellent book and I thoroughly recommend it.

Yeah, fennel only grows that way here along side creeks and river flats. It is good stuff.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah I don't eat many chilli's as they're too hot for me. Occassionally I'll add dried chilli flakes to a recipe - they're good in omelettes to give it a bit of a kick!

Mostly though, pepper is a saner way to cook spicy food. Isn't pepper a main spicy ingredient in Chinese Schezuan cooking. Mmmm, yum. Years ago, I used to work around the corner from an area in the city called Chinatown and it had the best food. Yum!

It is weird how some animals go through phases of being popular. Years ago, I remember people flogging Ostrich farming as the next big thing. Then it was Alpaca's. I try to steer clear of such things.

I'm interested to hear how your sheep experiences go?

Yeah, I have the occassional slip of the tongue too. Ooops! Some work places are worse than others too on that front.

Wyandottes are an excellent breed. Hey, I reckon and this is just a guess but it is the chickens here that are bred towards meat production that give me the most trouble. The longer legged birds seem to be mostly free of troubles. Dunno.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Phil,

Thanks for the link. I never understood the historical significance of the hedgerows before.

Glad to hear that you've tried out the old skills.

I think the animals here would eat their way through a hedgerow. The wombat would probably bust a hole in it - they can certainly take out most fencing options.



LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Stacey - Don't know why my fennel hasn't "gone feral", as Chris says. Might be the soil ... or the climate ... or, some other unknown factor. For control, I'd suggest a whip and a chair :-). Doesn't work for my blackberries ... :-( .

Yo, Chris; Re: Trendy animals / pets. I can remember back in the 50s the big Chinchilla craze. Everyone was going to get rich raising Chinchillas.

Some of the animal crazes are fueled by get rich schemes. Some is just one upsmanship. Trump you're brother-in-law by getting a more exotic animal than he has. Some are just "bad-ass." Certain dogs, boas or tigers. I had a neighbor once who used to come to my door with a tarantula on his shoulder. Once I stopped reacting, he stopped doing it.

Of course, here we have the ongoing llama and alpaca craze ... which seems to be dwindling, a bit. I had a friend who has some llamas. He had one that broke a leg and had to be put down. So, he ate it. When he talked about this at the local llama breeders society, they were fainting in the aisles.

Of course, where this all leads is usually abandoned pets and the creation of animal specific rescue organizations. Sad. Lew