Monday, 15 December 2014

The eleventh hour

Patience is defined as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious. It is a useful character trait and on the off chance that I fail miserably at displaying any of those qualities, the wombats here show me just how it should be done in true style.

Now your average wombat is a sensible creature. In fact if any fictional character portrays the characteristics of a wombat it would be one of Tolkien’s fictional Hobbits. Not only do wombats live underground in extensive burrows which become expanded and enlarged with successive wombat generations, but they also dislike adventures. It is only the very poor or sickly wombat that would get caught out in the rain and end up with dirty paws. Heaven forbid!

Last week, a massive tropical low pressure system dumped just shy of 80mm (3 inches) of rainfall at the farm. Every single drop of rain was gratefully received and stored in water tanks or in the groundwater table. Much further north of here: 300mm (12 inches) of rainfall fell from the sky.

Now wombats being sensible creatures, simply wait in their cosy burrows for the rain to stop falling. Every now and then during those rainy days, I’m sure they have a bit of a sniff of the air and put their noses outside of the burrow and go, “No. It is still a bit damp for me, I think I’ll catch up on a bit of much needed rest”. Well, after the rain fell, the herbage grew and the wombats came out in force to graze. Below is a photo of Fatso the wombat enjoying the lush herbage over the worm farm trenches from only a few nights ago. It is worthwhile pointing out that Fatso has an exceptionally glossy coat.

Fatso the wombat cruising the herbage
Wombats know how to wait. They have patience in spades.

I also spotted Baby wombat a few days ago. Baby wombat has this year become Mummy wombat. Her single mini-me sized off spring was trailing along dutifully behind her. It was beautiful to see, but unfortunately, I didn’t have the camera to hand at the time.

Patience is a virtue because the few rainy days were put to productive use preparing bottled apricots for the winter. During that time, I also considered cooking up some of the summer fruits into a jam which I could eat later in the year. But then I wondered just how much jam was currently in the pantry cupboards? It was a difficult question because I honestly didn’t know the answer.

One of my maxim’s here is that if you are thinking or wondering about a system then that system probably isn’t working.

So a couple of hours later, I’d pulled every bottle of preserves from the pantry cupboards, sorted them into flavour and the date they were bottled. This sorting process produced the somewhat surprising discovery that I had almost an entire year’s supply of jams and chutneys ready to eat. There were even flavours that I’d completely forgotten I’d even made. All of the preserves were then labelled and stacked so that the stores could be assessed and known at a simple glance.

Order has been restored and the Jams and chutneys are now known
There are also some bottles of mead, lemon and ginger wines all happily fermenting in the racking too. They won’t be ready to consume for another six months at least.

The interesting thing that was also highlighted in this process was that I’d completely run out of bottles to store future jams and chutneys in. At this point, it is worthwhile mentioning that my editor happily noted that a few months ago that in my naivety I’d given away about 20 empty bottles! Not good, so I thought that it was perhaps a wise activity to rapidly investigate how to purchase more bottles and discovered to my horror that: the cost of the glass bottles used in commercial jams was a large percentage of the shelf price of the product! Yikes! That was a mistake not to be repeated in the future.

As a further related note, all of the preserve bottles used here share common lids or caps depending on their particular function (fruit, jams/chutneys and alcohol).

Now that the rain has stopped and the wombats are happily going about their business, there has been an increase in the insect activity at the farm here. The spiders are never shy in taking advantage of this sudden boom in insect activity and I took a photo of this Golden Orb spider which had happily caught a few of the bees here.

Golden orb spider happily waiting on her web
The new machinery shed is progressing too and it is literally at the eleventh hour in its construction phase before the inevitable completion. It even has low voltage LED lights installed inside and out!

New machinery shed is nearing completion
Observant readers will note the two scabs on my face which were the result of an unpleasant and painful accident with a sign at an electronics shop in Melbourne a few days ago. Whilst that must rank as one of the nerdiest accidents ever, it also gave me a certain sort of fight club look?

Back to the shed though, the doors which were a gift from a neighbour gave me some problems because being security doors they were built to have flywire covering the back of them. They came with fibreglass flywire which is great to keep insects out, but completely useless if a bushfire ever came through this area. Try the experiment at home sometime and chuck a small section of fibreglass into a fire and it will disappear in seconds. The whole problem was simply resolved by attaching a sheet of galvanised steel to the back of the doors.

The Asian nashi pears are also ripening at the farm and when they are ripe, that fruit is both sweet and juicy.

the nashi pears are ripening on the fruit trees
How did I get here?

I previously mentioned my grandfather because my father disappeared when I was so young that I don’t even remember him. As an interesting side note, I met my father as an adult through a strange set of coincidences involving a friend and I intuitively understood the disappearance situation far more clearly. It was no loss.

Single mothers do it hard and so upon completing high school it was no hardship at all for me to head off into the wide world as an independent adult.

Ambition certainly wasn’t a word that I would use to describe my outlook in those days. My first job in the work force was with a State Government authority and I enjoyed the rich social life of that organisation and have many fond memories.

It wasn’t all slackness though as I began the long process of University to achieve an undergraduate degree on a part time basis whilst working full time. Incidentally, the first year that I enrolled at University was also the first year that students were required to take government loans to pay for their course fees.

Alas, all good things come to an end though. In this case it was perhaps far sooner than I personally cared for. Australia had a recession in 1990/91 whereby unemployment reached around 11.3% of the workforce. The State Government cut costs and I was one of those people that had to look for another job.

As an independent adult, moving home was not an option. Rent was due monthly so I had to do whatever it took to put food on the table. So, I spent the next four years employed as a debt collector for a large corporate firm. Very few jobs teach you more about the depths of the human soul than that particular job.

To be continued…

The temperature outside here at about 8.30pm is 15.0 degrees Celsius (59.0’F). So far this year there has been 810.0mm (31.9 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week’s total of 805.0mm (31.7 inches).


Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Of course, stick with the smaller topics first! How did you get Lee from Lewis?

It may well be a dish of Irish origin, as plenty of Irish dispersed around the British empire during the potato blight famine. Yeah, it is much better with a cream or milk base.

I've read that about the native black bee of the UK. The stingless bees here one of the few insects here that don't sting or bite. They unfortunately only live in small colonies so don't store enough honey to harvest to get through the winter. It is the cold winters that have bred in such an ability to store honey in the introduced species that make them valuable to humans. Sorry to hear about your friend.

Nice work. I did the same with honeysuckle flowers which have a sweet nectar at their base.

Yeah, this is the first year that it has fruited, so I wait to see what the prunes taste like.

Too funny and thanks for the story. I sometimes look after friends dogs and they tell they're fussy eaters. I don't tell them that I wait for the dogs to get hungry enough to eat whatever the other dogs happily eat. When I hand them back, the dogs always a bit leaner having exercised much more, and they smell less doggy and their hair is far less greasy. Just sayin... Well done!



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Nice to hear that your girls are back on the lay. That is a good track record too for them at that time of year too.

hehe! Yeah Pineapple express sounds more fun to me too. Anyway, it hardly changes the effect to give it a more techo name?

Next time I head out of the hills at night, I'll grab a photo. The kangaroo with the santa hat is just weird, but then reindeer and heavy suits aren't really such a good idea at this time of the day. Hey, did santa only sneak around out night?

I can't believe you slipped in a book recommendation! Interesting, sounds like it is worth checking out. Yeah, do anything different and oh boy do people try and normalise you.

I've heard that about the leaching of calcium, but it may also be due to a highly acidic diet too and a lot of the foods we eat these days has to have high acidity because it is a method of preserving food. A lot of green leafy things have calcium, iron all sorts of other goodies too and they are basic in pH. How good is Earl Grey and green tea though? Good stuff, back when I worked corporate I used to ensure they always had a ready supply or I'd sook my socks off so to speak.

Thanks for the link. It looks awesome from Google earth too. I'm going to have to freak you out though. Cape Bridgewater which is a couple of hours south west of here has a similar seal colony: Cape Bridgewater seals image. Incidentally, that town is not far from ... Portland although it is in Victoria. The resemblance is uncanny.

Yeah, dads can be a bit of a pain. The long drive would have been a bit of a challenge for me, sorry to say. I once drove from here for a short holiday to Byron Bay and it took so many days, by the end of the trip it took ages to relax. Mind you, I've driven around the continent and stopped all over the place, but didn't do more than a few hours driving in a day.

Yeah, I knew about the filberts / hazelnut thing, but honestly I'm a bit hazy on the whole prune thing. It seems a bit esoteric really. What do they say, splitting hairs?

haha! You looked it up. Well done, yes it is definitely a case of the figuras! I can't sue them for a simple accident, although others would - they did look a bit nervous about that issue though. The manager was going: I must write out an incident report... Oh well, I got a hefty discount on the stuff that I bought.

It is amazing how careful you have to be. Accidents can happen so quickly. Did you eventually recover?



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy,

The first comment was waiting to be moderated, but I didn't receive an email notification which is a first. Have you annoyed someone at Google? hehe! Not to worry, as they don't disappear.

Well done on making the top bar hive. That is a serious achievement.

Yeah, I remember reading about your colony escaping. You're in good company, I lost 3 last summer. They're even more expensive here at AU$175 per colony, but they do offer a two month replacement warranty which is nice. The second colony that stung Scritchy (poor dog) was much less active than the first and it rained heavily two days after I settled them in to their new hive... Ooops.

Probably. I leave them alone for a few weeks to get settled in. The cold air rushing into the hive can really annoy them as the brood suffer due to the temperature loss.

Your definitely in good company as I have not had one drop of honey from my beekeeping efforts in two years. Still, here's hoping for next year. I reckon they need a year to get settled in, but only time will tell. Both colonies here are only a few months old.

You were really lucky getting the swarm to simply move in to the top bar hive and I'm thinking of copying your strategy next year and leaving a top bar hive out for colonisation when they do inevitably swarm.

Sorry to hear about your hip. That would slow you down. Is it good planning that it is being replaced at the cold and slow time of the year?

haha! Thanks for the kind words about the sign attack. It was like the dodgy old horror film Damien Omen, when the church spire fell off and skewered the unfortunate victim. Of course, it was a lot less fatal here and perhaps the sign didn't fall from quite the same height as in the film, but there was a whole lot of blood...

I didn't know that about tomatoes, plant breeders are clever people. There are a few local edibles from the nightshade family here (common heritage due to Gondwanaland) and they were heavily traded by the Aboriginals. When it fruits, I'll chuck up a photo on the blog.

Congrats on getting into the two anthologies. Post a link to the chapters here and over at the ADR and I'm sure you'll get a huge response. I never read Stars Reach as a blog, preferring the actual book, but it had quite the following. And, if your hip keeps you in recovery for a while there is nothing as good as writing to keep the mind sharp.



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Yeah, I need to go through all my canned stuff and see what I've got and eat out the older stuff. Your preserve store is pretty impressive.

The shed looks really nice, but it needs a little dressing up (yeah, in your spare time :-). ). Those eaves need a little dressing up. Something in carpenter Gothic, I think. Only, due to the fire issue, maybe something in rusty barbed wire. Make sure your tetanus shots are up to date.

There are three Asian Pear trees in the abandoned orchard. I don't know if I'll be able to pull off making them useful, next year. Last year, they had a bit of scab and were small due to lack of water.

Yeah, the girls are really cranking out the eggs. Last weeks count, even with the storm, was the highest this winter so far. 45 from 11 hens.

Santa is definitely a night bird. Funny, as rocky as my relationship with my father was, there were moments. Just about the time I began to doubt Santa (and, began spoiling it for my younger brother) one Christmas Eve we heard bells, out over the rooftops. Years later, we discovered Dad put little bells on the oil tank dip stick and rattled them outside or window.

Tough on you're Mom being a single mother. Tough on you, too. Back in the 50s when it was really outre, for some strange reason, my two best friends were from the only families in the neighborhood that were being raised by single mothers. In another out-of-character move, my Dad always made sure to include them in any father/son thing the local YMCA was doing.

I really like the Earl Grey with Bergamot. Unfortunately, our local supermarket was sold, the brand of tea that I like, the "flavors" were greatly reduced and the Bergamot flavored tea disappeared. Sigh. Generally, I don't care for "flavored" stuff. I think coffee "flavors" are an abomination.

Great pictures of you're Sea Lion colonies. As I remember our Sea Lion Caves, there was a hole in the ground atop the bluff ... endless wooden stairways down into the earth. And then a vast underground cavern with an opening to the sea and the water sloshing in and out. And the light pouring in. Hundreds of Sea Lions lounging about. And the stench! LOL.

Yeah, the injuries gradually healed. Lots of heat and ice. Kept pushing through my morning back exercises. Think I tore the meniscus in my knee. They don't heal, but you can develop all the other muscles around it to take up the slack. Rather than surgery. Shoulder even caused some deadening in two of my fingers, but it wore off. When I "roll" on that shoulder, it still crackles a bit :-).

Yeah, driving. When I go to Idaho this late spring, well, you can do it in a day, but I've decided to stop for the night in Pendelton, Oregon on the way over and back. Besides, there's quit a few (surprise!) used bookstores in Pendelton, and, several antique / junk shops. So it goes. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Oh dear, my apologies to Lewis. I have no idea as to why I got his name wrong. Thanks for the courteous way in which you indicated my crass mistake.

I love your description of wombats' lives. At the far end of my land (once a field) the soil is pure red sand. There is a large badger sett here. They keep trying to extend in my direction but the clay defeats them.

I haven't described my woodland at all well. It isn't flood plain. Flood plain is meant to flood in winter, hence the name. Large building firms think whoopee! clear, flat land ideal for building. Shouldn't be allowed of course.

Because my wood has deciduous trees, there is a massive leaf fall in autumn and it is these leaves which hold the water once the water table has reached the top of the clay. So you step on nice, soft leaves and the water rises. Hundreds of years of this leaf fall and the clay is still clay.

I don't plant veg. and fruit in this woodland, it is almost solid roots and anyway I don't want to disturb the wild flora (some of it rare). So everything is planted in containers; old baths, water tanks, water butts cut in half and fish boxes.

It is on the old fields that the clay is a problem. I have a fruit cage up there and loganberries seem to love it.

I believe that I read that dandelions were being grown deliberately; can't find where I saw it. I wage a constant war against them. They shouldn't be in the woodland but are trying to take over. Where people have built new homes, they bring in turfs for a lawn and have brought the dandelions with them. I might let them proliferate if I were starving, but there is plenty of edible leaf plus stuff along the shore and seaweed. Most people don't have a clue as to what is edible.

Ah, filberts, cobnuts and hazel nuts. I am usually awash with hazel nuts here. They are called cobnuts when sold in stores and these are larger. I guess that
that also applies to filberts.


thecrowandsheep said...

"One of my maxim’s here is that if you are thinking or wondering about a system then that system probably isn’t working."

Have you been able to apply that one outside the farm? Do you have any other maxims?

I have a different temperament from you. I will dismiss something as not being in need of any attention, "at least I don't have to worry about that" and ho ho ho merry christmas the gods will have a belly laugh and you know what? Precisely the next day "that" which I could've sworn I needn't worry about has exploded in my face and I am rushing around trying to put out fires.

Know thyself and a happy new year.

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

I too do indoor work when it is raining, which is why I'm looking at your blog now. What little rain was left from the pineapple express got to us early this morning. But we didn't need much anyway as we are over normal yearly rainfall and it won't be long till the soil freezes.

My husband Mike and I are embarking on our first building project: a wood shed. We got a wood stove in November and need a place to season and dry the wood for it. I don't think our shed will look as good as yours though.

Tell the wombats I said hello. ;-)


onething said...

How is it you respond on the 15th to comments made on the 16th?

You asked about gray rocks. I think they are shale.

I couldn't make out anything in your wombat picture.

heather said...

Hi Chris and all-
I mostly lurk here because I often don't get to read the posts until well after the dates they are posted. Hope you don't mind a couple of comments directed @Cathy from last week's post:
My mother had a similar problem with a replaced hip frequently slipping out of place- terribly painful and debilitating, of course. She finally found a doc who replaced the replacement with an artificial hip designed for athletes, which apparently has a better range of motion- more of a true ball-and-socket design than the restricted back and forth of a typical replacement hip. It might be worth bringing up to your doc before you go under the knife, or perhaps petitioning to see a specialist in surgery for athletes (I'm sure these people must exist, given the money in sports.)

Also, I'd love to read bits of your forthcoming book on your blog, if you are still searching for feedback.

Am enjoying the wet weather here too, grateful for every drop in drought-stricken northern California. Last week's storm was badly overhyped by the local media- some wind and rain, sure, but hardly "the storm of the decade!" It was said that this would be the biggest storm since Jan 2008, which occasion I well remember because I was 9 months pregnant with a preschooler at home and we lost power for 5 days. In fact I went into labor just a few days after the power came back- I'm sure it was all the bending over to clean out the spoiled chest freezer that did it! No such drama last week, though.

Thanks, Chris, for the photos of the swales for water catchment. Trying to figure out where they could best be placed on my very steep property for next year. Your comments about deep-rooted perennials have my wheels turning...

Night all-
Heather in CA

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks. They were a bit all over the shop, so getting them into some semblance of order and seeing what was there stopped making more of the stuff. You know there is still all of the bottled apricots and alcohol too.

I'm finding I'm having to think further ahead than is my natural inclination ;-)! I reckon it is like retraining the way you interact with the world? Dunno.

Yeah, eat the older stuff. Some of it gets better with age too.

A great idea. A steel dragon or gargoyle hanging off the roof would look pretty cool too! I spotted a dragon made out of sheet metal a few years ago but didn't buy it. Then I changed my mind and went back to pick it up and it was gone... Wouldn't even know where to get one.

Dunno about scab because it does make the fruit sweeter. Fruit only gets large I reckon because commercial orchards thin the fruit so the tree puts more energy into less fruit.

Wow. That is really impressive with the egg count. Especially at this time of year for you. Good stuff. The slikies have gone broody here and I'm a bit grumpy with them as I think it is the third time this year. No more silkies...

How funny was your dad in that story? I remember once my mum scratched reindeer footprints out the front of the house. It fooled me! hehe!

Your dad did right by those kids. Respect. Tough, maybe? Dunno, I always felt that it was more to do with poor choices. Back then all a household needed to get by was a single income so we were broke, but had food on the table and a roof over our heads.

Coffee flavoured tea? What? No, wrong, very wrong. I've seen caramel flavoured tea which to my taste buds tastes disgusting.

Yeah the bergamot is really nice. Is that a citrus? There is also a bergamot flower too.

The sea lions cave sounds impressive and something to see. Your coastline and to the north looks as if it was carved out in fjords. Lots of rain and mountains I guess.

Ouch. That hurts. Pinching nerves will do that for sure. Ouch. Glad to hear that you have adapted.

Go hard or go home they say here. I would enjoy the browse through the second hand bookshops. Always a pleasure!

The wind is blowing hard today here and I'm the process of replacing another timber door with steel, stainless steel and aluminium. I reckon it is going to be a hot summer here with lots of wind.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

No worries, that was gracefully said too.

Badgers are an interesting lot, I bet they are enjoying themselves there. As a child I used to remember the Wombles of Wimbledon Common...

We must have the same building firms here as locally they are building way down below in a swamp. It is a bit Monty Python really... The first castle sank, and then I built the second castle...

Thanks for the explanation. Interesting, because here it is warmer, in autumn the leaves are absorbed into the soil within a few weeks. Seriously, two weeks and they are as good as gone.

Wow, solid roots in the soil. I'm trying to get my head around that. I strongly suspect that the majority of your organic matter is held above ground like a rainforest. The trees roots go deep here, otherwise they would never grow so tall. Your trees are shorter so, perhaps the clay sits over a bed of limestone or granite?

Oh yeah, loganberries are forest dwellers and they would love that area. How do the blackberries and strawberries do?

What a difference half a world makes. I welcome the dandelions here because they provide summer forage for the bees, plus the entire plant is edible and resembles a smaller version of the local yam daisy which I'm currently trialling.

Just to be the devils advocate: like parsnips and carrots, the dandelion breaks up clay and increases the organic matter of the soil turning clay to loam (sorry, I thought that it would be worth mentioning the benefits).

Ecosystems here are in a constant state of flux so I have no fixed idea about what the forest should look like. Instead, I take a softly softly approach and try and see what worked in the past and what is working today.

Seriously, I am jealous of your hazelnut surplus. Nuts trees here are generally under story trees before becoming dominant so they take a whole lot of care here before they are drought hardy. I'm learning this the hard way.

It is great to swap notes on these matters.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi crowandsheep,

What a great question. The answer is yes and I apply this as often as I'm allowed. I avoid being dogmatic though with people as it is against the spirit of dissensus.

Haha! Here goes: "If it seems unusual or out of place, it is probably worth giving it more attention".

Yeah, we have such limited time on this planet that it is hard to know where to spend our energies. Perhaps your choice works and then perhaps it may not. It is a gamble which I also have to do often.

After last summer, and this year being warmer again, I'm spending time battening down the hatches so to speak...



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi onething,

Surely you aren't serious?

Many thanks for the explanation about the rocks. I've never had to deal with shale which has its own special problems?



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi heather,

A lovely name to be sure.

No worries, that is the beauty of the Internet as you can enjoy the posts as you get the chance to read them.

Sorry to hear about the drought in Northern California. Our "country" shares much in common.

Chest freezers are good, but they won't take five days without power. Maybe two days? Glad to hear that the power came back on in a nick of time for your labour. That is cutting it too close! I hope everything went smoothly.

Swales are best at the top of the orchard. They won't help the annuals, but the long lived deep root perennials will love it.

PS: Don't be afraid to plant things closely together as the shade from the canopy reduces evaporation from the soil. With the open garden here last week, local people were complimenting me on how good the herbs, vegetables and cottage garden flowers all looked packed in tightly together. I have stuff all water here so have to make every drop count.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Forgot to mention that the second hand bookshops whilst being a pleasure, are also a temptation! hehe!



LewisLucanBooks said...

@Inge - Oh, I'm not touchy about my name. But, my friends call me Lew. And, as far as I'm concerned, everyone here is a friend :-).

I also envy you're nuts. As many different types of fruit about my place, or, that I have access to, there are no nut trees. Once upon a time there was a walnut (probably planted in the 1880s) but it died, probably of old age, awhile ago. I'm 65 and a renter, so probably won't plant any trees. But, maybe ...

Here, so much is built in the flood plane. But, historically, that's just what happened. Western Washington State, by the way. First the two towns were built (Chehalis and Centralia) then, the railroad. Then the highway, Interstate 5. This is all in the Chehalis Valley, but there are other little valleys around. And water running everywhere.

So, there have been several "flood events." And, they seem to be getting more frequent. And hard to predict where it's going to flood. Depends on where a storm "stalls" or where the bulk of the rain falls. When I moved out here, about 3 years ago, I moved from the flood plane up about 600 feet. It was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ onething - I'd guess the dates have to do with the International Date Line. Which I don't even want to poke at, or try and wrap my head around. It's bad enough trying to keep the reversed seasons, Christmas in a heat wave, north being south and Chris standing around upside down :-).

Yo, Chris; Bergamot comes from the "Bergamot Orange" which is actually green. Mostly grown in .... wait for it ... Calabria! Some in S. France. There's also an herb of the mint family, Bee Balm, which is sometimes called Bergamot. A N. American plant, by the way.

I think adding Bergamot to Earl Grey tea goes way back. "My" store dropped that, but kept the regular Earl Grey. Sipping a cup as we speak. Still very nice, but I miss the Bergamot.

I currently have 16 boxes, 8 "Premium" Green and 8 Earl Grey in the pantry. 20 bags per box. Anytime it goes on sale (@ 2.50 per box ... rarely, @$2.00 per box) I stock up.

I must not have been clear. I don't think I've ever heard of coffee flavored tea. If it exists, it sounds awful. There's some decaf tea around, but why bother? :-). Lew

Cathy McGuire said...

Thanks for another great post, Cherokee! I have also had to organize my jams and pickles - and realize I have a couple years' worth, easy! So I've been giving away a bunch, as a pre-barter or community developing act; they keep a long time but I really have too much! I also stretched some duct tape across the shelves in case of earthquake - might not help in "the big one" but could help in 4-6 zone quakes... today is gloriously sunny here and up to 50F (10C?), and I've already been out to lop the blackberries (incredibly invasive; I need to keep them at bay) and even sat outside to watch the chooks (always relaxing).

On the bees - I'm doing them as much for the pollination and helping bees as for the bonus honey (good tho that was). In case anyone wants to see my hives, here's the link:
We're still having some problem with how to get down the links, so this is the direct link.

@Heather - thanks for the idea and encouragement; from what the surgeon for my 2nd hip says, they just totally botched the first job and even the "fix" and likely I'm just stuck with it. I won't willingly do another operation, could end up worse. :-} The 2nd hip is delayed by a stupid property lawsuit (there are times when one asks the Universe "what's going on??") - I had wanted to do it just after harvest, so I'd have recuperation time, but now I'm gonna hang on as long as I can; at least get the spring planting done if possible; my sister has to fly out from NJ (across the country) to stay the first week with me (that's the most helpless time) - But I'm just taking it one day at a time, and I think in a way it's practice for the decline, when random "interruptions" will become more frequent. I am learning alternate ways of doing things, and that will come in handy. :-}

Thanks for the novel encouragement, those of you with thumbs up. I will likely start it on Solstice - there's a lovely energy and symbolism of the season turning and the light growing! I will post notice when I get it online.

onething said...

Um, yeah, being serious most all the time is one of my character flaws.
I'm a happy drunk, though.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

No worries, just a minor correction in the grand scheme of things! ;-)

Wow, I didn't know that about the Bergamot Orange. Ahh, Calabria, what a history and a first hand view of a dysfunctional system.

Wasn't it interesting how land was just flogged to death because there was no ownership / stewardship or affinity with it? Plus, the stories...

Some of the citrus here is green too. Like the Australian Round limes can be eaten green, but I usually let them get a bit more yellow / orange. They're very good. I can see why Master Fukuyama had citrus as his main crop. It is a prolific bearer and the wildlife don't touch the fruit or tree unless it is a serious drought and then... Many of the citrus trees are still recovering from that disaster. Stumpy went postal in the orchard on the citrus trees. It didn't make for a pleasant few months.

Yeah, I'd miss it too because the Bergamot is very fragrant and just adds something. There's always bulk deliveries via the Internet? I use ebay for lots of stuff here especially the hard to source things.

I see that you are canny with your purchasing skills. Respect. I do the same here with the beef jerky for the dogs. Around Christmas time they must get a glut of supply as they chuck in an extra 50% product for the same price.

Why bother indeed and what a relief to find that that abomination of drinks is not a reality! hehe!

Seriously, some of the flavoured teas are just strange. Makes you wonder what they were thinking. Personally I'd make the product developers drink it first before it was released onto the market.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy,

Glad to hear that you have been busy making jams and preserves. Seriously though, if I give them away now, people don't know it, but they're getting option B bottles (jars) as I had no idea how much the storage was worth. Mark my words, civilisation will decline due to a lack of preserving systems!

What a difference are the worries in your part of the world. Earthquakes up your way, bushfires down here. They've had one that burnt 900ha (2,250ac) just north of here. Apparently it is now under control, but it is early in the season...

Many thanks for the link. I'll check it out over the next few days. I'm really impressed that you've got your top bar hives up and running.

Good luck with your hip in spring! May you eventually get some spring in your hip! Hopefully, you will get a chance to write some chapters during the recovery time. It should hopefully keep your mind off things and sharp both at the same time.

Please post a link to let us know when the first chapters are up. I assume you are going to begin at the beginning? There is no rule that says you have to.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi onething,

Thought so!

I'm only a few hours away from the international dateline which is just east of New Zealand. Depending on where you are (?), I'm in the future. Literally.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I know you were replying to Inge, but some building developers are building a housing estate around these parts that looks suspiciously like it is in a swamp. Of course I could be wrong, but swamps are best avoided.

When I rented locally whilst building this place, I lived in a house that was located in a dry creek bed. Now that wouldn't ordinarily be a problem, but it actually flooded once and that was a nuisance. 4 inches of rain in an hour was about what it took.

Crazy stuff. I hear you about getting to higher ground.



orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

I think that your clay must be different from mine. Carrots and parsnips can't cope at all.

We have blue clay underneath (gault). This is what causes the land to slide; it only surfaces on the beach. Builders pay no attention to this; only the locals know where not to buy a property.

My woodland can be classified as temperate rain forest. Lichens and ferns grow high on the oak trees.

Had a phonecall from a friend yesterday to tell me that a flock of sheep was in the woods. I rang my son who knows the owner. Only to be told that that's okay, they go in to eat the ivy. It appears that it is good for them in small doses!

My sister has just reminded me of the nursery rhyme which includes the line 'and little lambs eat ivy'. Clearly we should pay more attention to this ancient wisdom.

You ask about blackberries and strawberries. Oh yes, brambles everywhere. They tend to become inpenetrable. I pick them every other day for about 4 months, eating them every day at the time. This is just around the shack. By keeping them picked I avoid any rotting and getting flies on them.

I freeze them and make blackberry icecream. Don't make jam anymore as I rarely eat it. Used to make varied jams when raising a family.

I grow strawberries in fishboxes both outside and in a greenhouse. Wild strawberries grow around the place and I just graze on them. My mother was born and spent the first 13 years of her life in what is now Lithuania. She told me that they used to make wild strawberry jam. The concept of finding and picking that many seems inconceivable.

For Lewis: There was a lift that took one to the sea lions cave when I went there; the smell was indeed diabolical.

Had never heard of coffee leaching calcium. I drink the strongest possible coffee and tea. Can't bear earl grey.


LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chis; Forgot to say something when we were talking about accidents. Years ago, there was a humor book called "My Cat is Trying to Kill Me." That is not a recommendation. :-). It was just a bit of fluff to put somewhere near the bookstore's POS (point of sale ie: cash wrap) for an impulse buy.

I have to keep an eye on Nell. When I'm walking through the house, she has a bad habit of being on my right and then darting right across my path to my left. This morning, stumbling out of bed in the dark, she almost brought me down. Dangling fingers are also a problem. A couple of time she has leapt and nailed a fingertip with her claws. Ungrateful beast! Does't she know who puts the food in her dish and empties her damn litter box?

I had a few neurotic nervous moments over the events in Sydney. Along the lines of "which Big Smoke does Chris go to?" While eating Lindt chocolate, strangely. Looking at the nutter's rap sheet, I'm surprised he wasn't locked up long ago. But I shouldn't be. Same thing happens, here.

I eat two small squares of chocolate a day. The highest octane I can find. For health reasons :-). Anytime the 3.5oz bars go on sale, I add to the stash in the fridge. Usually, $2.50 per. Sometimes $2. There are 3 or 4 brands that are available, here. It just happened to be Lindt in the rotation.

Jars. I'm lucky here in that there's jars all over the place. In the basement, outside sheds, etc. In this part of the world, there's usually boxes of them, really cheap, at estate sales. You just have to be sure there's no nicks in the top rim. You can usually feel them, before you can see them. Just run your finger around the top.

What I worry about is the availability of lids and rings. There's an outfit over here that makes reusable rings and lids. I keep meaning to look into those. Feedback looks pretty good on the Net.

Oh, I buy a bit from Amazon and Ebay. Sometimes I loose patience with the local big box stores around here. The prices, being out of stock on items. But, it's very circular. The less you buy locally, the less they stock (variety and quantity). I used to cut a lot of slack to the small local businesses. Not so much anymore. After the bookstore. "Buy local" was a joke. Yeah, I know. Just old and bitter :-).

Chehalis, the oldest town in the area, is sometimes called Swamp Town. Legend has it that the first citizen ... well, their wagon bogged down in the swamp. So, they broke it down, built a hotel, and the rest is history! Chehalis is a Native American name that means "shifting or shinning sands." Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Yeah, it probably is different. However, when I first started here the clay was like concrete. Actually, the carrots now grow wild here as I've let successive generations go to seed.

Appranently, they have the ability to break up compacted soil - as does dandelions.

Landslides. Wow, it is quite stable here, but other parts of the state have landslides. Yeah, local knowledge is the way to go.

Wow, that would be something to see. There would be lots of life in that forest happily going about its business without our noticing.

I've never heard of sheep eating ivy. That plant gets quite weedy around these parts and it can sometimes climb quite high up into tall eucalypt trees. I hope they got their sheep back? I'm not really a fan of sheep as they eat the entire plant roots and all whereas most other animals crop the vegetation. Our management of them has caused a lot of trouble here and they're usually a sign that the land is marginal for introduced animals.

There is a lot of wisdom in those old rhymes and stories - some of the old fairy tales were great morality plays.

Do you notice any difference between the strawberries grown outside and the ones in the green house?

I'm thinking about a greenhouse here down the track a bit... Things are a trifle busy at the moment...

You'd have to pick a lot of wild strawberries to make jam. Still, I get most of my blackberries that way. The alpine strawberries which are wild here taste to me like cardboard, but I've had very tasty ones too years ago.

The animals here would have made very short work of those strawberries!!!



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah cats do that! hehe! I think I saw that book. When the dogs trip me up I say that they are doing a "death doggie" manoeuvre.

Years ago I saw a story about the difference between cats and dogs and the dog was running around saying "you guys are the best" whilst the cat was saying "Day 2,789 of my captivity. Today I tried to trip the human up whilst they were on the stairs". Funny stuff!

Exactly, you are the enemy!!!! hehe! Too funny. Nell has plans and I hope they don't involve you.

Yeah, the guy apparently was a crim and was up for - I believe - accessory to murdering his ex-wife as well as a string of sexual assaults. Not a nice guy by all accounts and he was apparently out on bail at the time. Some hard questions will be asked for sure. It is hard to get guns here so they'll be chucking everything they have into that investigation.

Of course, I never doubted it for a moment. I have a soothing glass of mead per day for similar reasons. Strange coincidence for sure about the lindt choccie. I'm quite partial to the locally made chocolate, but really the European stuff is good.

You are lucky about the jars. They're not as common here so I'm going to have to go out and - shock, horror - go to a commercial supplier for a bulk lot.

It is all about ensuring the lids are consistent for the various uses. It might sound pedantic, but I originally had a few batches that went bad years back and now am much more careful. The lids and seals are the weak points.

Yeah, I just got your comment about lids and seals and exactly!

You know the youngest item in my fruit preserving kit was made in the 1970's? The bottles are all slightly different colours too as they changed the materials used in glass manufacture. Really thick glass that stuff.

Yeah, I generally use eBay because Amazon doesn't have as big a presence here. It is usually the really obscure stuff that no stores at all stock but someone off shop on the other side of the country stocks it. Plus heaps of second hand bits and equipment. I'm starting to sound like an ad. I generally support quite a few local shops.

I've been shopping at a bakery bulk supply place for years and I always thought that they treated me a bit gruffly. Then a couple of weeks ago I saw them dealing with another customer and realised I was getting really nice treatment (although a bit gruff - I think that was them being friendly?). It puts the place into perspective.

Shifting sands... Noooo!!! What were they thinking? Probably this'll be cheap...

There's a fire to the north of me, so it has put the wind up me a bit and I spent today installing another stainless steel mesh fire door over one of the final timber doors here. Timber doors, what a stupid idea here. I actually had a fire rated roller shutter over them, but well, it's a long story...

You can check out the situation here: Vic emergency



LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - LOL. Well, I was at the Sea Lion caves back in the Dark Ages. When dinosaurs ruled the earth. When Moses was a pup. The 1950s. :-).

About you're dislike of Earl Grey ... well, as my Mum used to say, wouldn't it be a terrible world if we all liked the same things? When I decided to take tea drinking seriously, I had a terrible time settling on a good green tea. Finally settled on Stash tea companies "Premium Green. Which I really like.

I got to loot the kitchen at the abandoned farm next door. It was my landlord / friends / neighbors old place. The family had lived there since the 1880s. And the little lady who had the place, well, she made it to just over 100. Spry and sharp to the end.

I managed to get quit a collection of tea balls. This year, I want to try out lemon balm tea and ginger tea. The lemon balm grows quit freely here. And, I hope to get a crop of ginger of my own.

Ah, brambles. Here we have the dreaded Himalayan Blackberry. The place I moved into, it had been empty for about three years. The blackberries had quit taken over. I really knocked them back, the first year. With the help of two borrowed goats. Last year, I slacked off a bit and am paying for it now. :-). I try and get out an hour or two each day to hack them back. The leaves are pretty much off them, and they're easier to see. Constant vigilance! But, on the plus side, there's plenty to go in the freezer. 8 gallons, this year.

Landslides -- We had a bad one, here, less than a year ago. Killed 43 people. Didn't find all the bodies for months.

It was up north of Seattle. Logging may have been part of the problem. Our last big flood, part of the problem was a river was blocked by a landslide ... and then it let loose. Again, logging may have been part of the problem. Not that you can say so, out loud, around here. You can't say anything negative about the logging industry.

During our last big storm, there were also landslide warnings. And, the main north /south rail line was closed by a landslide, for a few days. Happens a lot. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Yeah, some of the old jars can be really ice looking. People actually collect them, here, and there are price guides. My friend the Domestic Goddess Debbie thinks some of the older ones are a bit on the brittle side. Don't know how you would determine that, other than sticking to the really thick ones.

Still, if you grow your own fruits, and don't include time, money wise, you're well ahead of the game. Given the cost of preserves. And then there's the whole additives question. A bit off the subject at hand, but I notice that store made pies here are now in the $8 to $10 range. No thanks. I'll make my own.

As far as the settling of Chehalis is concerned, they probably got the land "free." I'm going by memory here, but the way it worked was, you claimed 160 acres for each adult. You had 5 years to "prove it up." A certain amount of land clearing, crops planted and a house built. Then you headed to the State capitol with a reliable witness and firmed up the title. Not as easy as I make it sound. People died, got sick, couldn't make a go of it.

In the case of Chehalis, it was a many times widowed woman with lots of kids. Once she'd proved up her claim, she was able to plat a town and sell of bits.

Centralia was a really interesting case. George Washington (a black man) came out by wagon with his white, adoptive parents. I've often wondered if he wasn't a mixed race relative who was taken in. He couldn't own land. So, it was in his adoptive parents name. But, he could inherit... He took care of his parents, well into their old age. He pretty much ran the show. Proved up the claim and plated the town. Gave away a lot of land to churches, schools and such. Sold lots very cheaply, just so the town would grow. Interesting stuff, local history. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I had to interrupt the reply to install more memory into the computer. The machine started running like an absolute dog only a few weeks back. Technology does my head in!

Yeah, I'm with you about the liking of Earl Grey. It is a most refreshing drop and also quite fragrant.

I've been experimenting in recent years with both coffee and tea plants but the once a year frost just kills both of them off. Still a greenhouse should sort that problem easily. However, it does raise further problems like where to site it, what materials to construct it from, how to water the plants in it, which water system to connect it up to, how to get the power to the pump etc... It never really stops here, but is a system of constant refinement and experimentation.

Lemon balm tea is quite good; I hope that you enjoy it. I enjoy it as a winter drink. It has medicinal properties in the form of Vitamin C and is also a mild sedative. The trick is to let the leaves steep for a bit, but not for too long. It is a bit more art than science.

Wow, that Oso mudslide. The photos! Yikes! I've never seen anything like that here. It took the trees downhill as well. There isn't really much anyone could do to stop it.

The fire north of here is still burning and has taken out 900ha (2,250ac) so far, but at least the winds are pushing it away from here for the next week or so, and they don't seem to be very strong which is also good. On a positive note, it is creating a bit of a buffer of burnt forest.

You can't say anything about logging here either. The stupid thing is that it employs only a handful of people at best because of the use of machines and I believe much of the high value saw milling is now done offshore in Japan anyway...

Hehe! Yeah, the same thing goes on here. Unfortunately the glass bottles here are not to look at but pressed into service so they have to measure up (shape up or ship out!). The glass is really thick, so they are anything but brittle.

The funny thing is that you can see the different colour shades of the glass which indicates different manufacturing dates. There are browns and greens and clear and even some with a red/pink shade. I guess it all depended on what materials they had to hand when they made them. Some of them could be as old as a century (like your neighbour they are still spry at their age!), but no younger than 40+ years.

The additives to preserves are a problem as if things are made commercially; they have to stop the natural processes (i.e. fermenting, bacterial / fungal action) because it is unknown how long the products will sit on the shelf. The sulphur they add to commercial alcohol to stop the yeast converting sugars to alcohol just gives me hay-fever these days... Sniffle, sniffle! ;-)

I'm actually in a bit of awe about how the old time pubs actually supplied their patrons. It was a feat to be applauded. I suspect over indulgence was difficult historically? Dunno? Incidentally, I've been wondering about the Annie Hawes books whether the fear of the second coffee was more a social system used to limit people's consumption of the stuff.

Hey, you may start looking at those blackberries differently? Do you get a lot of fruit off the canes? I'm only a few weeks away from harvesting the wild berries around here for jam.

She was a smart lady to have done that. Death was a frequent visitor to communities not that long ago...

He was a smart bloke too, plus giving away the land to encourage settlement. What do they say, hardship breeds ingenuity?

There was a lot of that sort of land distribution in this part of the world for the returning soldiers from WWI. Unfortunately, the drought at about the same time as the Great Depression in the early 1930's meant that much of that land was walked away from. Rabbits were also a problem here during that time and they ate what the drought didn't kill off. Unfortunately, people could actually starve whilst eating the malnourished rabbits too.



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; I have been keeping my fingers crossed, for you, as far as the fires go. I've just ordered a cheap-o copy of a book called "Fire Monks." I read it years ago (and have it on hold from the library so I can skim it again) It's about a Zen monastery in California (Tassajara) that fought off a brush fire. My friends in Idaho ... their daughter and son-in-law work for the Forest Service in fire fighting. They're not out on the line much, anymore. They've been doing it for years and have finally worked themselves into more the administrative support end of things. But they keep up their physical stamina and go out as needed.

Yeah, technology can be a pain in the .... I am currently trying to resurrect and old cell phone I haven't used in 4 years. Got a new Sim card for it, but it still doesn't seem to want to work. Sigh.

Re: Tea and Coffee. Maybe you could construct a light frame (pvc pipe or bamboo?) that could be put around the tea or coffee plants and then throw a clear plastic tarp over it when frost threatens? Gallon jugs of water or rocks to absorb heat in the day and radiate it back at night?

There's an old steel tube frame in my backyard that could be adapted to being a greenhouse, of sorts. Throw a tarp over it ... But so far, I haven't really had a need for something like that. It's there if I need it.

Yeah, the Oso mud slide was such a crap shot. One woman, a nurse I think, had taken a day off of work. She had just bought one of the places there. So, she had the cable guy, electrician and plumber all in that day. They all perished. It also took out a bit of highway. Some cars on that road were swept away.

Being a sucker for blue, I'm always on the lookout for nice thick blue canning jars. I'm also so damned neurotic, that if I put up, say, 6 or 8 jars of apple jam, I want the jars to match. Silly.

Pubs are interesting. Being interested in archaeology, I've always thought the "pubs" or fast food places in Pompeii are fascinating. LOL. There's an old book by Norah Lofts called "Wayside Inn." It's one of those multi-generational reads. Set in England starting with the end of the Roman occupation. An old Roman soldier is wounded and left behind. He's left at an old villa beside the road. A left behind slave girl also figures into the mix. He recovers and they convert the old villa into an inn. Follows the rise and fall and rise again of the family, and inn. Up to the 60s. There's also a book called "Japanese Inn." Same premise. You are keeping a list of winter reads, aren't you? :-).

If I can get other kinds of fruit, I probably won't put up so many blackberries. They're very seedy. On the other hand, they'd make great jelly. No worries about getting enough blackberries around here. :-). Over at the abandoned farm are thickets of the stuff. Just across the road.

Yeah, I'd heard a steady diet of rabbit is something one could starve on. A human needs more fat.

Don't know about the whole Italian second cup of coffee thing. Maybe ... since shortages during WWII are so much in their living memory? I picked up a couple of oranges at the local Vegi store. We really are spoiled. I don't know if you have them over there, but there's an episode in the "Little House" books where getting an orange for Christmas was really a big deal. But, you even hear stories like that from the Great Depression in the 1930s.


LewisLucanBooks said...

I was at the grocery store last week and they had this .. little plastic container with 8 Madeleines in it. Now, believe it or not, I've never had a Madeleine. And, with Proust, and all, it's such a cultural reference. Proust and his Madeleines. Never read any Proust, either. Think I tried and gave it up as a bad job.

Any-who. They weren't all that expensive, so I thought I'd give them a whirl. They weren't too bad, but I don't know why, but I had the distinct feeling that they were missing ... "something." So, I've been comparing the ingredients listed on the container, with recipes. An interesting exercise.

Also interesting. I was looking at the "New" book list from our library and there was a book on Madeleines! But wouldn't you know, the library catalog seems to have lost it's entire "Place Hold" function. They've got a good IT crew, so I'm sure they'll sort it out.

Someone has dumped a dog out here. Or, it's a stray. Not too old. Brown with a long tail. I thought it's face looked a bit like a boxer, but my neighbor/landlord thinks maybe it's part pit bull. But, it's a problem that will have to be resolved. Sigh. The evil step-son just wants to shot it. We may have to trap it ... or, make the attempt. It's very flighty. I've been slipping it some of Beau's dog biscuits and it seems "slightly" more curios.

So it goes. Lew

Cathy McGuire said...

@Cherokee: Most of my friends know to give me the jars back - if they ever want more jam! ;-) It doesn't apply to family, because they are across the country and the mailing costs are actually more expensive than buying the jars new on sale (though the gap has been narrowing recently). I'd love to have coffee plants - but I realize with the amount I drink, I'd need a plantation! lol.

I will certainly leave a note here, and on JMG site, when I post the first chapter on Sunday (in case you want to bookmark, it's a very dead blog of mine: - I've read and re-read the first couple chapters, to see if any really stupid errors still existed... I just wrapped up Chapter 16 today, so I'll be able to be ahead of readers if I post one chapter/week. I'm nervous but excited - I haven't had a fiction critique group since I studied with Kate Wilhelm & Damon Knight back in the late 80's, early 90's... great group, but only short stories. And I'm still not that good at them. I just keep finding complicated stories. :-}

@Lewis: I went out and whacked the blackberries in the chicken yard the other day; even with gloves I've got scratches and punctures on my hands! They are wicked thorns! Stepping on one is like stepping on a sharp tack! Usually if I cut them at the root in winter I have a bit of time before they come back. But they are, as you say, really invasive - almost as bad as morning glory (bindweed) but thornier.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Hey, you slipped in another book recommendation. Tidy work. hehe! On a serious note, please let me know if there is anything useful to be learned from the book. You never know what useful tips can be picked up and California (esp. far Northern) has more than a few passing similarities to here.

Did you know that all those Eucalyptus trees down there were a present from the Australian government a long time ago? I've read that the trees have been in the area for so long now that I've read that some people consider them to be native to the area?

Pity, they forgot to donate all of the support species that go with the Eucalyptus trees - like the large and ancient daisy bushes or the acacias etc.

The volunteer firefighters to my mind here are getting older every year and community expectations get higher.

Good luck with the cell phone. I reckon mine is about 4 years old now (on its second battery too), so you never know. A new battery might do the trick. The lithium batteries they use in them don't have the longest shelf life. I know a lot of people that are using larger lithium batteries in their house off grid systems and they are very excited by them, but no one knows how long they'll last. Incidentally, when people ask about my phone I tell them it is a dumb phone! hehe!

That is a good idea. I'm probably going to do a full on green house down the track (hopefully the first blog after Christmas will show you just why but no more can be said on the matter just now). The old hill stations up this way had green houses. Everything old is new again as they say. I'm not sure of the cladding material, but was thinking of poly carbonate or maybe recycled windows? Dunno.

What sort of poly tunnels (hoop frame houses) do they use up your way?

It is nice to know that it can be refurbished and used if needed.

I've been thinking about using reinforcing mesh for the strawberry beds as a tunnel. Much stronger than the poly pipe which sags when the sun shines during summer (I do too, so no criticism there).

You never know when your time is up. The photos show that nothing would have stopped that mudslide - well, other than not clearing the forest at the flash point.

Your description of the people in the mudslide reminded me of a major construction disaster here: West Gate Bridge Collapse because the hut where many workers were having a tea break was underneath the bridge when it fell. Here are some photos: West Gate Bridge Collapse images.

I used to live just on the other side of the bridge and crossing over it on a motorcycle used to give me the creeps because - not only had it collapsed once during construction - but the cross winds 50m (150ft) up in the air were something else. If you ever were stopped in traffic, I got the sickening sensation of the bridge bouncing up and down. Unfortunately, I'm sensitive to such things. Not good. Apparently seven people have jumped from the bridge and survived the experience. I'll bet they're not in a good way.

Back from the dark side though...

Haha! Too funny, I'd call it practical rather than neurotic because it saves me the hassle of having to work out which lid goes with what bottle. Still, the blue would be very cool as it reduces the light getting into the preserve which speeds up decomposition. Is it perhaps rather a feature of your personality which aligns with the natural processes of preserving? Who can tell? It makes for a good story anyway.


Cherokee Organics said...

Pah, two book recommendations in short succession. You have no shame, although they do sound like an interesting read! hehe! Actually I read once - and honestly I have no idea where - that the Japanese farmers used to maintain rest stations for travellers along roads so that they could harvest the humanure. True story, get the manure to come to you. Very wise.

As an interesting side note, I'm currently investigating electric chippers as I now need to convert the pruning’s of plants into shredded mulch to add back into the garden beds. The plants convert the organic matter into, well plants, quicker than I can bring in more materials so I'm thinking about closing the nutrient cycle a bit.

I read somewhere else that the Romans ate out a lot because the risk of fires from kitchens was very real. Incidentally, I've lived in houses here dating back to the 1800's that had kitchens in the annex out the back - just in case.

You are spoilt rotten for fruit. Actually I'm just jealous of your mild climate. The blackberries here don't seem to be as seedy and they make an awesome jam (jelly I think you call it that?).

Yeah, I remember Little House on the Prairie. Fun stuff and insightful into those lives. I shouldn't laugh, but citrus is the winter fruit here!

I've never had a Madeleine either, but am aware of them as we have quite a few continental cake shops in Melbourne. Interesting that they are lighter than a sponge cake (yum) too. I would have thought with the almond meal (I tested one of the almonds here yesterday), citrus zest and jam and coconut (apologies I chucked in a second "and" as it felt right) that they would be pretty good. One of my favourite cafes makes an awesome lemon and coconut muffin but somehow they sneak in sour cream. Oh yeah, it's good! They act very mysterious about the recipe but it is very low in fat unlike a lot of muffins where I get an energy crash just trying to digest them.

Hmmm, pit bulls are banned here as a breed after a number of savage attacks. They're a lovely breed, but can go off tap occasionally and unpredictable is a poor breeding trait in a dog. Still, most dogs can be won over and become very loyal with reasonable and consistent treatment and clear boundaries. It isn't much to ask for. I hope the dog turns out well. I've always had the experience that the dogs that I get from the Lost Dogs Home here (whom I support with donations) are amongst the most loyal of all.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy,

I wish they were as responsible as your friends, but I reckon the bottles end up being crushed up and shipped off to China for reprocessing. In fact when I bought the insulation for the house here, there were a number of strange artefacts which looked suspiciously like recycled glass products in the stuff.

Haha! I need a plantation of coffee and tea too! But it is just slightly too cold here. It is grown about 1,500km north of here. But with a bit of global warming, you just never know. I picked a heap of different ripe berries this evening and I can't complain because as the years go on, they just get more prolific. I'm thinking about propagating the most prolific fruit bearers of the plants when autumn comes knocking as it inevitably will.

Hope your winter is mild too.

Please do leave a URL link here to let us know that the first chapter has been posted. It may be best to wait until the new blog entry goes up on my Monday (I think it may be your Sunday?).

It is always interesting to have other people look at your writing as they look at the world so differently. You never know what they might pick up?

PS: I grow the thornless blackberries here so cutting them back isn't so much of a drama. Those thornless varieties (Chester and Waldo) are as vigorous as their thorny counterparts so they may out-compete the Himalayan variety? Who knows? The council started spraying again this week though.... Grr...



orchidwallis said...

hello Chris

I hope that the fire keeps well away from you. Not something that I have to worry about here.

Strawberries: the only difference that the greenhouse makes is earlier ripening. I have long forgotten what kinds I have but not alpines. One variety gives me continuous berries until it gets very cold and does not produce runners. Not quite as sweet as those that produce only one flowering a year and hordes of runners. I do have to net them outside.

I was astounded the first time that I saw jam jars for sale. I am awash with them. Surely so many people buy jam and then get left with the jars. No doubt they all go to landfill.

Pit bulls are illegal here as well.

A pheasant was stalking around this morning. He must have learnt that he is safe here. It is the first time that I have seen one during the shooting season.

@Lewis I have had 2 goes at Proust in my life. Made it half way the second time.

If you don't know it, a really good literary blog is 'the argumentative old git'. You would have to google it. I was under the deluded impression that I was literate until I started reading this. I like it because he reads around the world and introduces me to authors I have never known. Not saying that I am reading them but oh how erudite one can sound!


LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Cathy - Looking forward to reading your book. Ah, blackberries. The bane of my life. :-). I wear cheap-o rubber boots that haven't puncture ... yet. Sometimes a stray thorn will work it's way down inside. The canvas gloves I use seldom puncture.

Yo, Chris: I'll let you know about "Fire Monks". I see it's waiting at the library for me.

Started reading "Brother Gardeners" by Wulf, last night. "...fascinating story of a small group of 18th century naturalists who made Britain a nation of gardeners and the epicenter of horticultural and botanical expertise. It's the story of a garden revolution that began in America." Also on my winter reading list is "1493". It's about the post Columbus exchange of plants between the New World and the Old. LOL. That little outburst came because you mentioned the Eucalyptus exchange.

Oh, the phone. I spent over a half an hour on my landline, last night, talking to a very nice lady who had pretty good English. Still doesn't work. I'm going to give it a try the next time I go to town, and, if it still doesn't work, will probably have to purchase a new one. Sigh.

Greenhouses - Make sure you get enough height in them. Many years back, I watered out at an organic one man operation. Two or three times a week. Now, the guy that owned it ... he was 6'4". I don't know how he did it. Killed my back.

I once went to an estate sale and there was a little greenhouse. With an odd brick l__l (seen from above) along one side. I realized it was full of horse manure and used for heat. Of course, there's also the English "Pineapple Pits."

Check out the link from that page to "The Lost Gardens of Heligan." Fascinating story. Also a book by the same name :-) that I read awhile back. A good read. Haven't a clue what kind of poly tunnels they use up this way. Haven't seen many, around.

Those were some photos of the bridge collapse. Something similar happened back in Minnesota, a few years back. Life is a crap shot. That really came home to me a couple of years ago, during the 1989 San Francisco earthquake.

Odd that. I had just left work in Olympia to drive home, in my old beater truck that didn't have a working radio. I noticed that people were kind of ... driving crazy. Rolling through stop signs, and such. When I got home, I kicked on the tv ... and stood transfixed in my coat for hours, watching the unfolding disaster.

The worst of it was a double decker overpass that had collapsed in Oakland. It was rush hour. Seconds decided who lived and who died. There's a pretty good movie called "Sliding Doors." A woman is fired from her job and heads home. She drops her earring at the station and misses the train and has to take the next one. In an alternate reality, she doesn't loose the earring, makes the train and catches her boyfriend in bed with another woman. The movie splits into two streams and follows one reality, and then, the other. Luckily, she radically changes her hair in one reality, so you know where you're at :-).


LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont: Jam and Jelly. Here, jam is pretty much made from the whole fruit. Jelly is ... pretty much everything is strained out, using a cloth bag. Then the resulting juice is canned up. With sugar and, maybe a bit of pectin so it firms up. I did a mint jelly, one time. Nice stuff.

Yeah, Pit Bulls are banned in some places, here, too. I don't know how this stray dog will all work out. This one doesn't seem aggressive at all. Quit shy, in fact. Don't know what he (or she) is eating, but it's still in pretty good shape. I've been leaving dog biscuits by the road where he runs, and he's been eating them. I'd leave him out a dish of food, but the weather is crap. Still may, though.

Saw you're comment over on ADR about college and socializing. I sometimes think about my life and how it might have gone if I'd followed my initial inclinations. Because of my social background. And the collage I could have afforded to go to. Had I followed archaeology, I'd probably be working for some contract archaeology company, making minimum wage and no benefits.

Had I followed a course in art history, I probably wouldn't have had a job at all. :-). Unless I networked and socialized my way into the powerful and well connected. JMG talked about that a few weeks back. His post on the elites.

LOL. Idle speculation. Probably wouldn't have happened, anyway. I'm too much of a maverick. And, I'm happy where life has landed me. Lew

Cathy McGuire said...

Reading these posts, I'm reminded that I have to remake more than a dozen jars of orange marmalade that had only gotten as far as "marmalsauce" - didn't gel up. The chunky stuff is tricky, and I really hate putting in as much sugar as they specify for marmalade because I like the "irish version" that is slightly tart. I just haven't gotten back to it... but I love it (of course, one of the few fruits I don't have locally!) and hate to be without a supply...

Since you-all have been chatting about the Sea Lion Caves:
Heavy rain forces closure of U.S. 101 near Sea Lion Caves
Hours of steady rain Saturday compromised a retaining wall at the site of an active slide on U.S. 101 just north of Heceta Head.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

You are very lucky not to have to worry about fires! Thanks for the well wishes. The fire seems to be contained now, but it took out about 2,250ac of forest in the process.

That makes sense about the strawberries. Thanks. I find the same thing goes on here with tomatoes too as the greenhouses start producing fruit about 2 months earlier than outside. I'll put an update of the two tomato beds on next weeks blog. The difference is quite marked.

Someone remarked that strawberries are always on the move. The same thing happens here as there is a big flush of fruit in late spring early summer and then the plants start producing runners instead and the occasional bit of fruit.

Landfill is clearly the answer. Truth is I don't like buying the jars either, but I'm running out of alternatives.

Incidentally, I mucked up the first batch of apricots this year and have had to feed 12 bottles to the worms. After a bit of soul searching, we realised that we'd cut a corner and tried to speed up the process. Anyway, I've made a further 32 bottles in the past day or so, but the loss of 12 is no small thing.

Congrats on spotting the pheasant! Wildlife can bring a lot of joy with all of their antics - as long as they aren't eating the garden of course.

How is your winter going?



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Your library service is pretty awesome! Thanks, please do let me know.

With a world of plants to choose from, why not? You know I've spotted Eucalyptus trees growing in the UK too on television. They get about, those trees! hehe!

Good luck with the phone. The call centres are off shore here too. I'm usually very polite but after one 6 hour marathon session on the phone with the phone company getting bounced backwards and forwards trying to get a billing problem fixed - I swore at them - and they hung up on me and I had to start all over again. It was like being in one of Dante's layers of Hell! Did I say, good luck with the phone? Oh yeah, good luck! The modem here blew up once because it was hit by lightning. Try explaining that one to someone who couldn't care less. I keep a second spare one here ready to go now as it took so long to fix.

Sorry, I'm ranting. Not good, but the phone company...

That is the exact problem with the strawberry enclosure - the ceiling is too low to move around in easily. I'm planning on making the curve for the tunnel out of reinforcing steel mesh. Dunno though.

That is a really clever idea. I've read about people heating their hot water using the heat generated from bacterial action in compost. The stuff really does put out a lot of heat. Over winter the piles here steam with the heat and release a pleasant earthy smelling warm grey mist.

You slipped in a book recommendation! Well done. Anyway, right back at ya: I picked up a used copy of the book Tracks by Robyn Davidson yesterday. It is a story of a young lady in the early 1970's who decided she wanted a bit of an adventure and headed off alone on a camel train from central Australia right across the desert to the west coast. Should be interesting.

You were quite lucky that day which is a good thing. Aren't they always predicting that a big one will hit sooner or later and that it is now overdue?

I've seen that film and it was quite enjoyable. Too funny about the hair!

Interesting. I've never quite understood what jelly is because here it is something quite different altogether. Jam here by way is full fruit and sugar with perhaps a bit of lemon juice (used as a preservative). The fruit to sugar ratio is usually about 50/50 and you just cook it hard and it gets thicker. It does depend on whether the fruit has enough pectin in it, so sometimes I add rhubarb as it has a whole lot of pectin in it. (Pectin is used by plants to keep the stems and branches vertical).

With dogs it all depends on how well you can read them and whether they trust you or not. Consistency isn't a bad trait either... I hope it works out alright as your winters are pretty cold.

I suspect your books have taken you to digs that were far more impressive than the real day to day work of archaeologists - which would probably be quite dull really. Art history would be difficult as a vocation, hey but at least it would make for interesting dinner table chit chat. Long winded pontificating need not apply though! hehe! ;-)

There is something to be said about drifting where the wind may blow. You just never know what adventures may lie around the corner.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy,

Marmalade when done well is awesome. Actually the taste of home grown mandarins and other citrus beat anything that you can buy. It is hard to describe just how tasty a mandarin can be. The ones in the shops and markets have very little flavour - but they don't travel well so are probably picked green.

Sometimes the zest gives it the tart flavour too. Yeah, the sugar is a tough one. I hear you.

Sorry to hear about the sea lion caves.

PS: I hope you lot get a white Christmas too?



orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Yes tomatoes as well. I grow them both in and out of the greenhouse. Inside ones fruit earlier but are prone to mould. I love the black varieties. Not really black, more like purple.

Jam making: lemon juice replaces pectin. With pippy fruit I used to sieve it Result a bit like a jelly, just not clear. Much quicker and easier than using a jelly bag.


Stacey Armstrong said...

Hiya Chris,

I think my first comment this week must have been waylaid!

I am always interested to chat about pantry management; I think it is a lost art that will be making a comeback. Our first few summers here I definitely overdid some of my preserves. This past summer I made a lot of ice tea by pouring hot green tea through blackberry jam from 2011. I have also found that introducing too many new things into our menu in an abundance causes a bit of grumbling. A chard and kale gratin did not get two thumbs up! It's a nice problem to have though. Like Cathy I give a lot of it away but also try to make a little less the following year. We tend to eat more fresh and more simply as we settle in to eating as locally as possible. There is an incremental journey in figuring out what you will actually eat and not getting too far ahead.

So any ideas on what your going to do with all the fruit you usually turn into jam this year?


Cathy McGuire said...

Ah, you remind me of when I was living in Southern CA for 8 years (college & then some) after NY/NJ Christmases - the images of Santa with a surf board just had me laughing hysterically; my Xmas card that year was Santa surfer(maybe not that funny, but So. CA was known for another tradition that made other things a lot more funny. ;-))

I really wish I could taste homegrown citrus - all the other homegrown stuff are sooo much better that I have to believe you that the citrus is a special treat!

The only chance we'll get a white Christmas here is if the cottonwood trees suddenly think it's summer again and release their floaty white seeds. :-) Or, I could drive about a half hour up into the mountains - that's one of the awesome things about the Willamette Valley - I'm an hour from snow, 1.5 from lava, and 1.5 from ocean - and mostly protected from all of them! Wonderful place!!

Native yam?? Looks like a dandelion! Could that be too much Christmas spirit(s) imbibed? ;-)

As I mentioned last post, as part of my Solstice celebration, I've started to share my post-decline novel in progress, JMG-style, one chapter a week, on my blog:

Helpful feedback and critique welcome. I'm on Chapter 17 so I'm hoping to keep ahead of readers and that this will push me to find the ending! Just to keep this from skewing the comments here, post comments about my story on my blog, please - I don't want to hijack Cherokee's fine postings! I posted it yesterday on JMG's blog and was blown away to find 66 visits just yesterday - yes, JMG is getting a decent following these days!! :-)

Cathy McGuire said...

I'm glad you ferreted out my comment and got it into the right week - sorry about the glitch!

On the yam/daisy - I've found a photo of the yam daisy that looks slightly different from yours...

It's really hard to tell the difference by the flower petals, but the yam looks like it's got fewer than a dandelion... I look forward to seeing any small yams, when you get them!

I've planted some Peruvian roots - yacon, and one that looks like clover... the roots were very tiny, since I have heavy soil, but the leaves were really interesting. It's a perennial in Peru but winters too wet/cold here. Might make an alternative to potato in some places.