Monday, 19 January 2015

The go away price

For those who may be unaware, yesterday’s early blog post was an entry to a competition seeking the silliest fake press release relating to a fictional future energy source. I trust that everyone had a good laugh and enjoyed it. We now return to our regular programming:

Well, it has been a most interesting week here as the tropical monsoon slugged its way from the northern and hence very tropical part of the continent (remember everything is upside down in the southern hemisphere) to dump more than an inch of rain here over a couple of days. The rainfall was very well received, the water storage tanks are now full and the farm has received more rain this January than the long term average. Nice work! Incidentally, as the weather stands today, it is still 1’C degree hotter this January than the long term average.

The monsoonal storm clouds put on quite the show too:

Tropical monsoon storm clouds begin to roll over the farm
Outside work at the farm slowed down as the constant drizzle kept me inside. Don’t feel too bad for me as I took some time off and relaxed and undertook a most serious and important search for the best apple cakes in the area. It is a tough job, but then someone has to do it! The results are in but I must confess that a bit more research may still yet be required.

The concrete stairs gained two more steps during the week. Those new top two steps were quite long and I now think of them more as landings than steps as they extended well beyond the concrete formwork. There are maybe, three more steps and then that stair project is finished. The stairs are leading from the courtyard up a steep slope and into an area which will contain a future strawberry and potato bed. There is still quite a lot of work to go on a few different projects before either of those garden beds materialise. It always surprises me but one project has to be completed before the next can be commenced – and that really is how it goes.

The new concrete steps climb ever higher up to the future strawberry and potato beds
The photo above from today also shows just how well the forest received the recent rainfall as the Eucalyptus Obliqua (Messmate) trees are displaying a very lush canopy for this time of the year.

On a completely different note: a lot of guys have trouble asking for help. I’m not one of those guys. However, being a jack of all trades, master of some, creates problems for me every now and then. Late last year I sought out a few quotes to get a supplier to build a set of steel stairs for the house. If you live in a bushfire prone area, then steel stairs are a really good idea, because they don’t burn if a bushfire just happens to pass through the area that you live in. The entire house has non-combustible external surfaces except for one set of stairs which was made of treated pine. Those stairs were a temporary measure just to see whether they got any use. Steel stairs are needless to say – expensive and not lightly installed on a whim. The temporary stairs ended up being heavily used, so I thought to myself that they’d make a good permanent addition to the household. So, thus I sought some quotes from steel stair manufacturers.

However, when I received the quotes late last year, I was actually shocked at the quoted prices. The cheapest was $1,800 for one set of just four steel steps. Surely, the cheapest supplier must have thought – even though I’d dealt with them before – that I was a complete idiot! So I did what any jack of all trades does and purchased the checker plate steel with which to make the steps myself. The $200 of steel I ended up purchasing also provided enough left over steel to build a second and much smaller set of stairs for the cantina shed.

So this week I started building the first step for the cantina shed.

The checker plate steel had to be cut into the correct tread width (i.e. the bit where you put your foot). I used an angle grinder with a steel cutting disc to cut five separate treads – one for the cantina shed set of stairs and another four for the house set of stairs.

Using an angle grinder to cut the checker plate steel into five treads
The steel stair manufacturers have wonderful machines that can produce perfect bends and folds in the checker plate. Unfortunately, I don’t possess one of those machines so I had to fold the edge of the steel step the old school way. This involved heating up the flat steel checker plate:

Heating up the steel checker plate
Then the fold is created in the steel step by bashing the hot steel with a small hand mallet a whole bunch of times, whilst trying to keep the fold on a completely straight line. This week after cutting and folding five of those stair treads, I have developed a truly newfound respect for the blacksmiths of yore!

Folding the hot steel step tread using a mallet
I then welded - using solar electricity and a welder that is almost as old as I am – the folded step and under tread steel step supports to some very heavy duty side supports. Once that was complete I gave the new steel step a good coat of steel undercoat paint and left the paint to cure.

Steel step with undercoat curing in the cantina shed
That step was built for the cantina shed in order to replace an existing timber step (and thus highly flammable) and although the completed step looks quite high sitting in the cantina all by itself, over half of those heavy duty side supports will be embedded in concrete so that the whole step doesn’t tip over or collapse when you put your foot on it. This is an important requirement for a step if I must say so!

I was pretty chuffed with how the fold in the step turned out as I had never tried that particular technique before. As a mate of mine says: "It's as good as a bought one!"
Incidentally the photo shows a small view of the inside of the cantina shed too.

Enough of steel and other stair stuff and back to plant news! The tomatoes are growing very strongly and the difference between the tomato bed planted in mid-October and the one that was planted in early November is even more marked than ever before. The mid-October bed which is towards the front of the photograph below - just behind the asparagus bed - has plants that now reach well above my head. The November bed which I'm standing next in the photograph is a whole lot further behind and the plants barely reach my shoulder.

Both tomato beds are now full of flowers and simply waiting for the bumble bees and other pollinators to get on with their jobs.

I’m standing next to the early November tomato bed, whilst the dog is much closer to the much taller mid-October tomato bed
As this week was quite wet, I’ve been using the forced inside time to collect and dry seeds from various plants. Broad beans, red and yellow leafed lettuce, dill, Russell lupins as well as others have been collected this week. Long term readers may have already realised that I like saving a buck where I can and seed saving is an easy way to do this. Already a lot of the plants that I grow here now come from either self-seeded specimens or previously saved seed.

dill, red and yellow leaved lettuce heads collected in a bucket for drying
Saving seed is almost idiot proof – which appeals to me – and I collect the flower heads once I’ve judged that the seeds have matured (i.e. they look dry). I then store them in a dry area and then many days later use a colander (i.e. a bucket with lots of small holes in it) to shake the seeds out for collection. The seeds are then stored in a paper bag which is then kept in a cool and dark area (like a cupboard). The left over heads are thrown onto the garden where any seeds not collected usually sprout. Easy.

How did I get here?

About a decade ago, I noticed that food - particularly fresh food - started tasting bland. At first I thought that I was mistaken in this belief. Then as time went on, things didn't get better as more fresh food items tasted bland to me. It was like eating cardboard and I really do like the taste of ripe fruit. It was a complete disappointment to me.

This change, led me to commence sourcing my fruit from orchards and other growers. This solution worked for a year or two, but then that fruit started tasting bland too. Not being shy, I asked many of the growers why this situation was happening. The reasons were many and varied, but largely it boiled down to the fact that the fruit had to be picked greener (i.e. less ripe) than previously as it travelled better. Ripe fruit does not travel or store well because it is much softer than unripe fruit and apparently consumers these days want better looking fruit as distinct from better tasting fruit.

If people were happy with this situation, who am I to argue?

In my usual style, I decided then and there: how hard can growing your own fruit and vegetables be?

Well, the answer is quite hard indeed!

In the early years I made many mistakes - some of which were just laughable. I truly had no idea so began the long process of reading about growing stuff, soils, water, seasons. I looked into organic systems, bio-dynamics, industrial agriculture. This was a seriously big topic.

My lady had an intriguing book in her collection: Introduction to Permaculture. I read that too and started to get the idea that a wholistic approach to growing stuff would be not a bad idea.

And once I'd run out of space in the back yard of the terrace house, I secretly - well perhaps not so secretly - yearned for more space.

To be continued...

The temperature outside here at about 9.30pm is 17.7 degrees Celsius (63.8’F). So far this year there has been 66.8mm (2.6 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 37.2mm (1.5 inches).


orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

That steel work is very impressive; no-one in my family has tackled that sort of thing (I think).

I read ADR, but don't comment there; so I read your electricity usage comment. It appears germane to your blog here and perhaps you can answer a question that I have.

It cost me £6,600 to get electricity to the property where my son is. When I decided to move into my current abode I thought that getting electricity would be easy. I was quoted £30,000!!! When I could breathe again, it was suggested that I share my son's supply. It appears that he is at their absolute distance limit. So the electricity is split between us. What I don't understand is why this is possible. Why can it travel on from him but not come direct to me?

Potatoes: I grow a brand called Lady Balfour, they do me proud or did until the surfeit of rats. I also grew black potatoes (purple really, don't know the name). I gave up on them because their colour made them look just like the soil and some always got left behind; these come up again each year. Now the rats left them alone! Why? Is there a nasty chemical in them, perhaps causing the colour?

Books: I read 'Tracks' a long time ago and enjoyed it. Also 'The fatal shore'. Have given up on Barbara Kingsolver's 'Flight Behaviour', it bored me. Have got one chapter through her 'The Lacuna' and put it aside, I may return to it some day. Having said that, I thought that 'The Poisonwood Bible' was stunning. Haven't read her non-fiction.

@Lewis The above was for you also. The arg. old git has returned to blogging after a gap. It is aggravating when one recommends something and it promptly takes a break.

Another blog that might interest all, if it recommences, is 'The House that Arta built' She is building in the Kalahari, fascinating. Unfortunately she fell from the roof, I think in October. She has sent New Year greetings to her followers.


LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; You truly are a jack of all trades. Well, we need metal steps so we'll just bang together a set because "store bought" is too expensive. I cringe at plunging into making some minor adjustments to my toilet tank :-).

Nothing wrong with thrift. A friend referred to me as thrifty a couple of weeks ago. I don't see it. Well, maybe compared to other people, but I see my life as very lavish with plenty of room for more thrift.

Yeah, growing stuff is more an art than a science but a little bit of basic grounding goes a long ways. I've got more than two book shelves of books on gardening. I'm always dipping into them at odd moments. But my poor old brain. Seems like anytime I do some serious work with the compost, I've always got to grab the compost book to remind myself what's green and what's brown and the proper mix to get some real heat up.

I want to take a Master Gardener's Course. It's offered by a combo of University and local extension agents. It's a year long and is a mix of internet lessons, hands on experience and a certain number of volunteer community service hours. Costs $200 but probably worth it. My landlords wife wants to take the course with me, but we're putting it off as she has a trip planned to Detroit and I've got the Idaho trip planned.

Watched another episode of "Australia: The First 4 Billion Years." This was about the first plants and animals coming on land. Yea, Victoria has a road cut where you can see fossil examples of the first land plants. Some variety of club moss. Genoa River, Victoria has tracks of the first animals to haul themselves out of the sea. Next episode is The Dance of The Dinosaurs! I am so excited :-).

Well, something happened in our county that has an Australian connection. Our county has the worst unemployment rate in Washington State. Now our local newspaper is always a little ... confusing when it comes to reporting stuff. But, here goes.

Bradken, a company that specializes in steel castings "and similar products" is closing down, throwing 100 workers out of a job. They have a facility up in Tacoma (between us and Seattle) which will take up the slack. "Bradken is globally headquartered in Australia and, according to The Australian (a newspaper? not a clue) had been offered 872 million Australian dollars from private equity firms Bain Capital and Pacific Equity Partners. reported in December that Bradken's shares on the Australian Stock Exchange had been hit hard, falling 45 percent in 2014 due to low demand primarily in the mining industry." Fracking? Don't know.

Of course, the local newspaper made a big deal out of the fact that the local plant went union 2 years ago. Unions are anathema in this part of the world :-). A slight mention that the local guys went union because the Tacoma workers were getting $4 an hour more than they were.

I think a couple of things are going on here. They're closing the smaller plants to make a tidier package to sell the company. I got caught in something similar when they closed my B. Dalton bookstore here. We were profitable, but not profitable enough. Also, we were the last store that had not been computerized. Also, just a general symptom of "the decline."

But, of course, our local newspaper will hang it all on unionization. Just the same way they hung the decline of our timber industry on the Spotted Owl and "those damned environmentalists." And, librals, commies and socialists. All that thought stopping stuff JMG comments on. Sigh. Enough rant. Lew

Cathy McGuire said...

Hi, Chris -

Another amazing project! I have welded before (in an art class - sculpture)but would never do it on my own (tho the portable forge built from a tire rim and an old lawnmower on YouTube piqued my interest). But I'm definitely in the "how much do you want? Rubbish! I'll do it myself" school of thought. I just pulled apart two of my three hives (the top bar bees look like they survived! An irony, since they were the ones that "wandered in")and am analyzing my mistakes so I don't repeat them this year. One looked like it died from starvation, but one didn't - there were pounds of honey left (which I'm now processing). It could have been varoa... dunno. Anyway, this year I'll build a little lean-to to cover them; it was moisture that made both of them worse, for sure!!

I've been saving seeds for years, but still making a mess of it. Some seeds are easy, others take so long to dry that I either forget they are there(finding a paper bag of really dead seeds months later) or I can't get them to shake out (actually, I can always get some - I'm just a perfectionist and hate wasting any. ;-}) And then I forget to plant them the next year. The problem is I have too much choice - I'm sure if my eating totally depended on my planting, I'd remember all the seeds and would treat them better, too!

@Lewis: The King book on writing came today, and it's an interesting read so far (I only just got through the autobio). Thanks for the recommendation. I keep going back over the chapters of my novel, polishing language and trying to see where it sags or drags. Thanks for your feedback on the blog!

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy,

No worries. I may be doing a lot here, but your chapters are like 7,500 words long. I'll contact you by email to get the doc files.

Yeah, there is real beauty in the older houses and well, they're still around today, so they must have been well built. Incidentally, all windows in Australia are custom made to specifications. I'd never come across standard window sizes.

Oh no, more book recommendations...



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Long after computers are a distant memory, them card catalogues will still be working. Everything was on card at the library when I was a kid.

Thanks for the explanation about the potatoes in bags. That makes sense.

Yeah, they probably are. That presenter might just have met some of my relatives! ;-)! Actually the stromatolites are fascinating as they are giant colonies. Weird stuff.

Idaho, what do you mean exactly by hotter and drier summers? Colder winters than where you are sounds pretty unpleasant to me. A lot of the inland towns here get that more extreme cold / heat thing too. When I was travelling around, the Flinders Ranges at night was the coldest spot that I'd ever previously experienced on the mainland. Brrr!

Nice to hear that Pompeii received some snow.

Yeah, I'll give you LOL! hehe! I'm studiously looking away from the many book recommendations and pretending that I have not read them. Seriously, there just aren't enough hours in the day. hehe! Too funny.

You've hooked my attention back to the book recommendations with the Fight Club reference. I loved that film. How faithful was the film adaption of the book? Have you seen it? Oh yeah, raw is the word, you won't see the likes of that film being made in Hollywood again in our lifetimes.

How did you survive the storm? Wind and heavy rain is a real problem.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi thecrowandsheep,

10 out of 10 for asking that question. Nice work.

Your maxim is definitely true. However, the expedient method involves restricting your learning to the course outcomes and not to stray outside those.

When questions are asked in an assignment, parse that question apart into its various components and respond to those alone.

Do not introduce digressions - no matter how interesting they may seem to you.

If the course outcomes are the same year to year, then the past exams are a reasonable guide to the current ones.

If the subject is an open book exam, then do not try to memorise material, simply set up a good index system based around the learning outcomes so that you can readily find the information when required in the exam. Also be familiar with the sort of questions that are likely to be asked.

I topped a theory subject at University. They actually sent me a letter of congratulations and I got a prize too. Good stuff.

I always mildly disappointed with University because - before I started - I believed that somehow there would be some research going on and there would be some chance to contribute something. Alas, it was not to be and was just more of the same. I'm not saying that it was a waste of time, it was just more of a barrier to entry rather than a place of learning. And that is not good.

I once ran a graduate program for about 8 people for a big corporate and it was really enjoyable. However, when the graduates started you almost had to reprogram them. It was a bit Fight Club really.

For all the status that goes on about University, I don't personally feel that the outcomes are good.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks very much. I've never tackled folding steel before either!

Of course, that sounds appropriate. I tend to focus on the practicalities and steer clear of all the boring politics and whatnot. Plenty of other people cover that stuff better than I ever could.

Those quotes sound comparable to what you would pay here. The financial side of things is one reason I decided to go with off grid solar electrical!

Yeah, if you share the electricity supply, then the amount of energy available at that point is spread across two households.

Say for example here the mains supply is 240 Volts at a max of 60 Amps. That means the two houses combined can only ever draw a maximum of 60A.

They may have added a transformer at your connection to lower the voltage to mains household voltage (whatever that is in the UK).

Incidentally if the cables were installed under ground then they run hotter (as cables in the air lose their excess heat to the atmosphere), thus they then have to be thicker cables.

If it is above ground then poles are expensive to install. Over here, if you pay that cost, then you don't own the poles and wires either as they become the property of the electricity company.

I know someone who had to pay $60,000 for a 600m cable run to their house!

Oh, rats in the potato beds? Well that's something new to consider about their behaviour. Incidentally in late February I'm going to start trapping them and feeding them to the chickens. There should be no possibility of poisoning around here.

Down Under, we've got all sorts of potatoes, red, blue, purple sometimes its the flesh and sometimes its the inner stuff which is coloured. I'm having trouble keeping track of who eats what around here in relation to the wildlife and it is always a surprise. The local parrots ate my Jonathon apple crop a few days ago, so I'm pretty annoyed with them.

Glad to hear that you enjoyed Tracks and the Fatal Shore. Sometimes books just don't gel, or you don't like the story or the characters are just downright annoying. Nice to see that you've dropped in a book recommendation too. Truly, there is no possibility of keeping up with you lot! hehe!

Consistency in the bloggosphere is a rare thing! I find that too. I actually write in other areas too but they were unable to take the sheer volume of writing - thus the blog. There is always something going on around here!

I hope Arta is OK, there is no room for error in the Kalahari desert.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Many thanks. No worries and I'll share a little secret - I have no idea half the time if this stuff is even possible - I just give it a bash (literally this time) and see how it turns out.

I grew up in an era where you fixed stuff and it probably didn't hurt either that I used to pull stuff apart to see what was going on inside it... All good fun.

Thrift is to be celebrated as far as I'm concerned. Did I mention the very silly free song:

"If it's free, it's for me, and I'll have three".

Yeah exactly, we've all got a whole long way to fall before we're even close to facing raw survival. Thrift ties in well with reducing any impact from future bounces!

Nice to hear about your book collection and it will be very interesting to do a Master Gardeners course. I refer to my books all of the time too as there are really only so many things that a person can remember. I'm in awe of how they used to do it all in the old days. Life would have been one long apprenticeship.

Yea is a couple of hours drive from here. It is quite hilly around there, but I didn't know that the geology there was that old. Very interesting. The Genoa river is up in the Monaro high plains. It is an interesting place because it is not far from the Highest mountains on the continent and it is at a serious elevation. It is however in a rain shadow so I was surprised at how dry the place looked.

I've gotta bounce, sorry but I've completely run out of time tonight and will continue responding tomorrow.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

PS: I'll share some thoughts about the company tomorrow too. Interesting stuff. Things are never as they seem



LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Oh, I just figured the Ol' Git had just taken the holidays off. I'll get back to checking him, again. Yeah, it's always sad when a blog I like bites the dust. I still miss Joel Caris' blog "Of The Hands." But, people's needs and life situations change. It's nice to know Joel is still around and going well when he comments over at ADR and here.

LOL. I loved Kingsolver's "Flight Behavior" and devoured "Lacuna." Couldn't get into "Poisonwood Bible" at all. As my Mum used to say, it would be a terrible and boring world if we all liked the same things.

Yo, Chris; Don't get me started on card catalogues. I actually wrote a paper when I was taking some on line library classes as to how the differences between an actual card catalog and the current on line catalogues are. I won't get into all the bits and pieces of that. Our library recently got a new on-line catalog system that lacks some of the features of the old catalog that I liked. Luckily, one can still access the old catalog.

The new catalog doesn't tell you when a book you've put on hold is actually on the move, to you. They're all just "pending" status until they pop up in your branch. Also, the old system had a "browse" search function. In the new system, if you don't have a title EXACTLY right, no results come back. "Silicon Snake Oil" by Stoll has a whole chapter on the problems of computers and libraries. An older book, but still useful. And, this guy is no Luddite. He was on the ground floor of the computer "revolution" back in the 80s. Don't moan. Just throw it on the pile for next winters reading :-).

Don't know if I can really recommend Palahniuk. "Fight Club" was probably his most mainstream novel. Also, a real "guys" book. His latest? Well, I learned more about female anatomy than I ever wanted to know. Read some of the synopsis. He's pretty "out" there.

Parts of Idaho are pretty hot and dry. Let's see. Basically, the Cascade mountain range stops wet, cool ocean air from moving east. Huge parts of SE Oregon and southern Idaho are desert. They get the same effect in winter that we do here, only more so. If it's clear, it's really cold. Cloud cover holds the heat in. So, since they have less cloud cover in winter, it get's REALLY cold. My friends mentioned one night when it was -2F.

Water out here, again. I suppose the storm stirred up the river. But, no worries. I've got 100 gallons in two great tubs to flush the bog and water the animals. Plenty on hand in jugs for me. I'm set. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Chris - Well, what do you know. An article today on deciphering the scrolls from Herculaneum.

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

Just a brief note ... as always, I enjoyed your post. And like the others, I'm impressed by your willingness to take on the steel step project!

I just put up a new blog post. It took me much longer than usual to finish it. Most posts don't need a lot of editing once I get the first draft written, but this one has very little in common with the first draft. Good thing; it's much better now. Have a look if you have time.


Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Don't believe the hype. I have no knowledge of the details of the companies involved and am not suggesting that this may in fact be the case but I'll tell you a little story.

There are some companies around that have cash to invest (retirement funds looking for a quick buck etc.) so they hunt around looking for companies to make a buck. There's nothing wrong with that.

So for a hypothetical example: Investor companies buy a majority share in an operating bricks and mortar company. They then go about installing a compliant board of directors. They also ensure that the employees are on side. Generally this is quite easy to do because the investor companies appeal to self interest and just up everyone's wages (or offer employee share offers, options etc.) - some get much more than others too.

Now the investor company has effective control over the operating bricks and mortar company. This is where the fun really begins.

The bricks and mortar company's returns and profits take a nosedive because everyone involved is now earning much more than before. That operating company still has lots of assets so they begin taking on debt.

Debt is an interesting beast because with a sudden increase in debt, there is also suddenly lots of cash floating around. The banks don't lose because they control real world physical assets.

All that cash doesn't go to waste because the investor company starts telling the bricks and mortar company to pay it management and consulting fees. The board and senior employees - as well as everyone else - are all happily feeding at the big new feed trough so they don't complain and just do what they're told.

Of course costs are going up all the time in the bricks and mortar company, so operations - particularly those that are marginal or not profitable get axed.

The investor company then looks to offload their investment quickly (but not too quickly), so they seek interested parties to buy out their shares - or they often list the companies on the local share market. Listing is often the preferred method as the investor company gets a cut on the underwriting as well as making a profit on the sale of its investment.

The bricks and mortar company is often left as a wreck of its former self. Businesses saddled with large quantities of debt generally struggle with that burden. One way they can deal with that burden and still supply their customers - who are usually unaware of the stuff going on in the background - is to offshore the work to a lower cost base.

I'm not saying that this may be the case that you referred too and wouldn't be suggesting anything like that has gone on, however these things do happen.

When a civilisation is against the ropes, they often tend to self implode by consuming their own infrastructure.

It is very easy for people in such situations to blame the unions as those agreements are often very public and much discussed, however so many people in that entire food chain act in self interest these days that inevitably they destroy the whole. Bit sad, but that is how it rolls.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy,

That is excellent to hear! I salute your efforts at giving things a bash. You never quite know what previously hitherto unknown talents may float to the surface.

That is very interesting news about the top bar hives surviving. I've often wondered whether the top bar design with its peaked roof is less prone to condensation dropping onto the frames (and thence the colony)? Dunno.

My thinking on the matter is that a peaked roof will cause moisture to roll onto the side walls of the hive box rather than dropping onto the frames. Excess water causes the honey in a hive to ferment which means that it may not be palatable to the bees. They prefer drier honey over winter. Dunno really, I'm just guessing.

The bees are very happy here this year and I gave the two hives a shake yesterday evening - to test how heavy they are - and they seem to be doing OK this year. There is so much to learn with them...

Yeah, too good! Things are a bit more precarious here so I have to really concentrate on the seed saving to ensure that I don't run out of things to eat come the following summer (which is the lean period here). I'm considering an entire bed of just perennial rocket. It was pretty annoying the other day because I spotted one of my dogs eating the perennial rocket...



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, it is good to see Joel post over at the ADR every now and then. I suspect that he has an awful lot on his plate and is juggling quite a few different roles. The guy is quite inspirational as he is learning from the ground up and building the beginnings of a resilient local community.

Of course, your mum was correct - as they all often are!

Who better to discuss the old card systems with? I reckon they worked quite well. When I was a wee lad, they had those at the State Library here too. No fancy indexes in those days to be sure.

The first computerised indexes I spotted where collations of newspaper articles all computerised with their own search function. It was pretty awe inspiring, but seriously lacked the older Indiana Jones sort of touch where you had to dig through archives, references and books just to find anything at all relevant. It was actually exciting to find a book that covered the topics you were actually interested in and had relevant references. One thing they used to bang on about was correct referencing using some sort of Latin if I recall correctly. It used to drive me bonkers.

Pending is of course an acronym for: "we don't know where it is and don't ask us as the book will turn up eventually". Actually, that wasn't technically an acronym, but I believe you get the gist of it!

Yeah, it was a real guy's film too. I noticed that there weren't too many women in the film either. Still, it takes a very subversive mind to even come up with that concept. I'll check out the synopsis.

Seriously, -2'F is so cold I can't even imagine it. Sorry, but my advice is this: Don't move to Idaho, your joints will ache. There you go the important stuff is covered. Mind you, I'm seriously biased as I believe 32'F is too cold for me and in 9 years I haven't seen colder than that here.

On the other hand, you'd probably hate the heat here. It was 91.4'F here today and that is in the shade. Dunno, the whole matter leaves me feeling vaguely confused as I'm trying to imagine this place with a sub zero serious frost and I don't believe that the citrus trees would be too happy.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I wish them well. Certainly our digital media would have seriously demagnatised that far into our future.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Many thanks. Half the time I have no idea if I can do any of that sort of stuff or not but just keep the general principles about how to go about doing it in my head and then give it a bash.

The worst thing that happens is that you can stuff it all up and waste some materials, but that really isn't too much of a drama at this stage.

I grew up in a time of not much stuff so was always forced to fix things and that taught me to experiment with how to go about fixing stuff in the first place.

Many thanks for the link. I'll check it out as I always enjoy your posts. Anyway, my editor - who only edits the paid articles - leaves little room for Tomfoolery!



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; On the business post ... who thinks of this stuff? It all sounds so ... Byzantine. Hard to wrap my head around. Read it twice. I think it's the same, or similar to "a hostile take over."

Wish I had a nickel for every catalog card I ever typed :-). And then there was the very ceremonious "dropping of the cards." The drawers had a screw in rod that held the cards in place. I'd file the cards and the new ones would stick up a bit. A librarian would come along and check to see that the cards had been filed properly. Then the rod would be pulled out, the new cards tamped into place and the rod re-inserted. Thrilling!

Not only demagnitization. Stoll sites several examples (census records, space exploration, military records) that are now inaccessible because there are no machines or devices left to "read" the data.

Well, Jack Frost paid a visit last night. It's quit pretty, what with the pink sunrise. Got down to 32F in town, last night. Must be slightly colder out here. Yeah, when we have our really cold snaps, the upper teens and lower 20s that go on for a week or longer, it gets to be a slog. I just endure. Only two of those, so far, this year.

You're right. I don't do so well in heat, either. Of course, I've got the added problem of Vitiligo. That's a genetic thing where you slowly loose your pigment. My grandfather had it (he lived to be 96, so maybe ...) and out of 5 kids and 14 grandkids, I'm the only one to hit the lucky genetic combination. :-). If I live to be 200 I'll be an albino. Not so noticeable in this part of the world. No pigment left at all on my hands, so, I've got to watch it.

Well, the water is off again, but should be back today or tomorrow. BUT, they've told us we may have to boil our water ... for 3 or 4 months. I'm going to talk to my buddy, tonight, who works for the FDA. See what that all means and if there are work arounds, etc..

Funny. I'm not really all that stressed out by the situation. I guess my landlords wife is hysterical. I told him he could hide out here if things get too bad :-). Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

One of the problems, when one doesn't understand something, is that it is very difficult to explain what it is that one doesn't understand. I understand that I have half of my son's electrics. What I don't understand is why half can cover the distance, but a whole separate lot can't. The cable above ground is huge by the way and the one that went underground is positively skimpy by comparison.

Interesting that you were acquainted with electrics costing that much. It was the 5th property into which I had put electricity and I had never encountered that kind of expense before. I had a tenant here before I moved in and he had put in a bit of solar but it isn't much use here. I am surrounded by trees and on a north facing slope.

Something else that I am curious about concerning your life there. I lived off grid for 6 years but went on strike when expecting my 3rd child. I said 'electricity or I leave'. So we had electricity. To this day I regard a washing machine as a gift from the gods. I still love switching things on or turning a water tap on (I don't have a hot water system here). So my question concerns your washing of linen; clothes are not so difficult.

I am puzzled by people's problem with keeping seeds. I just put them between 2 pieces of kitchen paper and they have always been fine; perhaps I have just been lucky.

I didn't give the title, of the blog that I mentioned, accurately; it is 'the house Arta built'. It is very, very interesting; starts 21st Dec. 2012. The house is straw bales but there is much else as well. I think that she is carrying on, has just slowed down a bit.


Angus Wallace said...

Great post Chris,

I can really sympathise about the price for the work. I faced a similar thing getting my solar hot water system plumbed in. That was $2400 for a Senior plumber, (very) junior plumber and an apprentice to work for one day (including parts and labour). That's a lot of money! The work was of a very high standard though.

So I've set to work to plumb in the other tank myself, and have been brazing the copper (new for me, though I've done electronics soldering before). Haven't connected it yet, so I don't know it it leaks (!)

btw. I used a little hand welder like the one you showed and have had trouble getting enough heat out of it. I'm amazed it allowed you to bend the plate steel! I'd have thought you'd need an oxy for that for sure... It's a great job you've done there -- you can be justifiably proud, I reckon :-)

Our tomatoes are well and truly fruiting. We've harvested about 5 kg so far (very vague guesstimate), many more to go. Rhubarb, curcurbets (sp?) and beans all doing well too. We're getting our first asparagus also (been in the ground for about 18 months) -- very exciting!

Cheers, Angus

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Ms Ima Shark at OUR mercantile bank thinks up this stuff - that's who. It goes on. Sometimes a hostile takeover can really just mean that a board of directors are worrying about new owners giving them the sack.

It is my opinion - and an opinion only - that more often than not Boards of Directors worry far more about their job security and remunerations than about the performance of the company they are meant to be guiding - but perhaps I am merely cynical.

The basic gist of the previous story is that: Debt = Immediate cash = Making decisions that you otherwise might not, or decisions that you are told to = Long term failure.

There are a couple of interesting English documentaries about very long lived companies - we're talking hundreds of years here - and the single common factor is no debt.

Yes, I remember the screw in rods too. Sturdy, but problematic. Actually here is a bad joke alert: I'll bet the process was riveting!

Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

Yeah, NASA had that particular problem with the Mars Viking project. All of the tapes were kept, but there was no player to retrieve the data. Top work and well done. Digital data is very ephemeral... Here today, gone tomorrow.

32'F = nice as it is 32'C+ here today. Nice to see that Jack Frost put on a good show though at your place. Do you see less of those as time goes on? I can't tell here as I reckon there may be only one or two frosts per year here - but my memory fades. I can't imagine what an entire week of it would even feel like. The ground itself must get crunchy.

I sometimes feel like the old story of the frog in the hot water which ever so slowly gets raised in temperature to a new normal.

Well, you live in a good area considering the Vitiligo. I've seen that before on people but never understood what it was. Yeah, Idaho doesn't sound like that good of an option. You know, I use 30+ sunscreen and the lady that cuts my hair - who is really lovely - started telling me off the other week about sun damage to the back of my neck. I felt like a naughty school kid. That hole in the ozone layer down here would seriously do you in with that condition.

Oh no! What does that even mean? Boiling drinking water for 3 to 4 months - to my mind - spells contamination. Sorry, but them rainwater tanks are looking mighty fine at this stage. You could use the contaminated water for everything else. Incidentally, you are in good company as the city of Sydney which is our largest city on the continent had a problem with human wastes getting into the drinking water catchment a few years back. All sorted now as they connected the offending properties to the sewerage mains.

hehe! You're a true gentlemen with that offer to your landlord. My lady would crack it too, but it would be very weird if the rain water tanks became contaminated. As an interesting note, the city of Melbourne has always had closed catchments - which means that the forests around the water catchment areas are closed to the public. That situation arose because of the serious typhoid and cholera epidemics back in the 1890's.

PS: I chucked onto the Interweb today a video of the orchard here as it travelled through 500 days: 500 days of growth in the Food Forest

Hope you enjoy it!



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

No worries. It all depends on where the transformer is. Electricity is delivered to an area at very high voltages and thus requires a transformer to reduce the voltage to roughly what can be tolerated in an ordinary household. It all depends on where the transformer is in the system. In your case that may be the really expensive bit of the connection.

As an interesting side note, the system here has to do the exact opposite and take very low battery voltage and convert it to mains household voltage and that bit of the system is locally made and hopefully has a very long lifespan - maybe.

Your system is exactly the same but the other way around and the equipment that does the conversion is really expensive.

Well, that is a story of decline. When I was a whole lot younger there used to be this thing called universal service obligation down under and the government would subsidise your connection be it telephone or power - they wanted you on the system. As things became more privatised the real costs for this sort of thing got passed on to the homeowner. I do not have a telephone connected here as the costs were outrageous.

Electricity or leave would have been no laughing matter with 3 children. I hear you. Well - the house here operates exactly as a normal house would be expected to operate - everything however is set up so that it uses very little energy.


Cherokee Organics said...


The chickens had to be put to bed in their enclosure.

Yeah, you can get away with very little energy usage if the house is set up for that - or you have very low expectations of what you want to do with the electricity in the first place.

My main use for it is pumping water and as the years go on, I'll put a whole lot of thought into hand water pumps - just in case. Have you (or Lewis) ever used a hand water pump?

No, that is a perfect system, the paper draws away the moisture which would otherwise cause them to rot or germinate. I use paper bags here, but could leave them in the sun for a day as well. Incidentally, many things here are self seeding and I've noted that recently the geranium / pelargonium species have set seed so that I'm getting the most unusual coloured flowers. Some are quite striking.

I'm glad to hear that Arta is OK. Falling off a roof is no joke. I fell off the ladder here once many years ago, but fortunately it was all good. The house that Arta built is the link.

Strawbales are a very, very clever material for building a house in as they have so much fire and heat insulation. The photos look great too. Absolute respect to them.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

Yeah, the plumbers here did a great job and I had no choice about using them, but their bills actually frightened me. Seriously. They were singly the most expensive aspect of the house here - by a big margin.

Great to hear that you are giving the brazing a go. Well done. Yeah, it isn't really that much different from soldering is it? I'm sure that it will be OK. In the old days they used to flare the copper pipe and just fit a sleeve connecter over it. Seemed to work.

The gas was a MAPP gas cylinder and it gets the steel pretty hot. How good is oxy though? Man, you can right through a steel plate with that stuff - it's good, but I don't have an oxy set up. I'm pretty sure one of the neighbours around here would though.

Thanks too about the folding. You know I was up in Bendigo yesterday and they have an old mining poppet which you can climb as a lookout tower, and I reckon that the stairs on it were made the same way - at least that is what I'm telling myself as it was a pretty old structure.

Well done with the tomatoes - they're only just producing fruit here and it is still about 4 weeks away from ripening. 5kg is a really good harvest for this time of year. Yeah, rhubarb is a real giver once it is established. I got some cuttings of a local lady's rhubarb plant and she reckons that it was her grandfathers and it just produces all year round - they're the closest plant to a triffid here. It is early days for beans here - have you tried broad beans? Tidy work with the asparagus too - they're off limits here as they need to get better established.



orchidwallis said...

Thanks Chris

I have used a hand pump and hope never to have to do so again. It was one that one moved from side to side and it was very hard work. We finally got a small petrol engine to do the work; I don't know more about it.

You sidestepped the linen washing question! I am assuming that you don't have enough electricity to run a washing machine; perhaps I am wrong.

@Lewis I could write reams on libraries and catalogues but am not sure whether it is appropriate to this blog. Hey that is not to criticise you, I enjoy everything that you write. I need an okay from Chris to go ahead.


orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I wrote 'petrol' engine but realise now that I don't know what fuel it used. It pumped up to a water tank from our well. This well was only 5ft deep and never ran dry! We had the water quality checked and it contained e-coli due to the cattle in the surrounding fields. I boiled all drinking water for myself and the young. My husband didn't bother and drank the stuff as was. He never got ill.

Actually there is a lot more to our water story but perhaps for another time.


Cathy McGuire said...

Love the video!! That gives me a great idea of sapling growth. Your plants were about 4 times as big at the start of your photos - mine went in about a foot tall. Amazingly some are now 10 ft,some are 4 ft and some still about 1 ft... so where they are planted makes a difference! And possibly I was neglectful of some more than others... but listening to you name the months felt so backward! :-) I'd have a hard time over there, having July be winter... I guess I'd get used to it. :-)
I do have some batches of photos of my place, but have never organized them my year/season - might have to make that a winter project - thanks for the idea!

I don't know if I mentioned that I have Chapter 5 up on my blog, and also my entry into JMG's contest:

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Maybe it's because I was such a good letter writer, but at the very beginning of the computer revolution I had the distinct thought "Oh! No more little bundles of letters in the attic bound with blue ribbon."

Yeah, the grass was crunchy. The goo in the chock pen was frozen. Which was nice :-). By 10:20 am it was all gone. Even in the shady spots. I talk to my friends in Idaho, every wednesday night. The latest? Another -2F night. 8" of snow a few days ago and 3" the day before that. Dunno about the climate changing here. Last summer there were all those record breaking overnight highs. The frost came way later, this year. Hard to know if if it's just local "weather" or a long term climate trend.

You've mentioned the ozone hole a couple of times. I really thought that had been dealt with, with the banning of aerosols. It was a big deal in the news, quit a few years ago and then it just disappeared. Yeah, when I baked on the beach in S. California (young and foolish) I slathered on the sunscreen. One time I missed the back of my knees. Didn't realize I had lost patches of pigment back there. Had blisters the size of large coins.

I have never used a hand pump. Always thought if I ever had control of a well, I'd put one in for emergencies. Some people I know have hand pumps on their wells for back up.

I have been looking into Berkey water filter systems for my drinking water. Looks good. Will filter out E. Coli and other virus.

Watched the "Australia; First 4 Billion Years" episode "Dance of the Dinosaurs." That's my name for it. :-). The Mesozoic. Interesting. I guess there wasn't much fossil evidence until some big finds, recently, mostly well north of you. The opalized dinosaur bones from up around Eromanga, Queensland were quit beautiful. Not much in your neck of the woods was mentioned, except Cape Otway where they've found bones from the "polar" dinosaurs. From when there was just a rift valley between Australia and Antarctica. There was an interesting little segment on plant survivors from ancient times. The bunya, hoop and kauri pines. Ginko. And, the recently discovered wollemi pines that we've talked about, before.

I'm looking forward to taking a look at your orchard video. I'll take a look, tonight. Need to go deal with some water stuff, right now. :-) Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks about the hand pump - that sounds about right - hard work. They used to use windmills here to pump water up to a higher level tank and then gravity feed it back down again - I guess that is a likely option? They were very common on farms down under - but most that I see are in a state of sorry disrepair. Dunno.

Well, as to linen, I wash clothes in a front loading washing machine using soap nuts. Did you know that the horse chestnut tree is a member of the soap nut family (as distinct from the edible chestnut). The buckeyes are actually big soap nuts. I also grow the soap wort herb which has similar properties. So no fear of dirty clothes here! They use soap nuts to clean delicate stuff in museums - it is good stuff and I highly recommend their use.

On a serious note, I have more electrical energy than I know what to do with at this time of the year and I can't store more than the batteries can hold. They are usually 100% charged by about lunchtime at this stage of the year despite my best efforts. Certainly the 23 x solar panels currently generate more energy than I could ever possibly use. However, for 3 weeks either side of the winter solstice, I get a reliable 4kWh / day on average (and the system uses 0.5kWh of that) and that is it. There may be days when the sun is shining strongly - maybe - and I can go feral and use lots of electricity, but otherwise it is family hold back! More on this later in the year.

Mind you, I can cook on the wood stove and wood oven so I hardly notice the difference. The main usage of electrical energy at this time of year is the electric oven - which can be used to bake bread or biscuits etc. Incidentally to bake a loaf of bread (or a batch of biscuits) uses 0.8kWh of electrical energy - thus the loafometer (1 loaf = 0.8kWh). So 4kWh = -0.5kWh (for the system itself) = 4.375 loaves of bread / day on the loafometer.

Hope that all makes sense. The washing machine doesn't really use much electrical energy at all and I wash using cold water.

The microwave oven is the biggest offender - even more than the arc welder! Go figure?



Cherokee Organics said...

Hello Inge,

Diesel engines don't like being stopped and started so it may well have been petrol, but you never know. It may also have been one of the ubiquitous Lister engines which run on all sorts of stuff like vegetable oil and are still being made in India today.

Haha! Too funny, 5ft would run dry here every year. An early photo talking about water on the blog shows a very lovely and very empty farm dam constructed not too far from here. It sure looks good, but doesn't hold any water at all. As to the e-coli well that stuff is everywhere! My understanding is that you only need a small quantity of biologically active soil to filter out the really nasty stuff.

I worry about water here in the long term and may one day build a lined well. I'm not uncomfortable about not having large quantities of water sitting in farm dams because they attract snakes - I spotted the first one of the season a fair way away from here today.

The Aboriginals were great diggers of wells.

It would be interesting to hear your water story sometime as I reckon both myself and Lewis may glean useful information out of it.





Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy,

You are a prolific writer and I'm having trouble keeping up! The blog copied and pasted the text just fine.

Some of the Asian pears in the video are about 6 years old now and they produce a lot of fruit. I'm sort of waiting for them to form a solid canopy to keep the parrots out as they're quite fond of nashi pears as they are thin skinned.

Yeah, position and treatment can make a big difference to tree growth. Also, every year I feed them about half to a third of a wheelbarrow load of woody mulch and manure. Grass competition also slows their growth a bit but not as badly as people may lead you to believe.

10ft is pretty exciting! Please do post some photos.

You should try one day a Christmas day when the sun is cooking your head and people lay out a sumptuous mid winter feast to be consumed at lunchtime. The afternoons are torpid!



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, going to the post office used to be fun - although being in a remote spot, I do get a lot of parcels delivered to the post office. Generally, it is only bills though. Hand written letters strike fear into my heart because I go - "who's died"? Official letters from the local council tend to produce a surly "what now?" response - usually they want money.

Sometimes there are beautiful letters with flowing calligraphy and that usually means a wedding invitation - and incidentally as a real cynic, I'd like to point out that that is both the first and last hand written letter that I'll ever receive from them. It's a bit mean but I sometimes think to myself: "You've gotta keep it up for the long haul, matey!" hehe!

You sorted out your issues with the local mail lady didn't you - or is my memory failing me?

You may be happy to know that there is now a new mail contractor at the local post office (which is only a very small counter at the local general store). The guy that runs the general store is a really lovely bloke and I can't recommend the place highly enough, but the previous mail contractor... Grrr. I have a sneaking suspicion that he used to tear the corners of my parcels just to see what was in there. Really, the packages were quite boring. It would have saved everyone a whole lot of trouble and embarrassment if he'd just asked me.

Anyway, I think we both know that there are no such things now as blue ribbons holding bundles of letters... I reckon we are the worse for it too.

Great to hear that the chicken poop was crunchy. That is good for the girls too, for their health. Wow, those weather forecasts for Idaho, I dunno man, it just doesn't sound good to me, but it is your call. Frost and high temperatures are a lethal combination for plants and spell arid land to me.

You may be happy to know that the wind has now turned here so that it is now coming from the south and everything is much cooler (no chance of rain for a while though), but it is a relief.

No, not at all. The CFC's take decades to break down and I believe China had some sort of exemption. The UV here at this time of year is described as extreme - whatever that means. The hole has stabilised - I believe - but it will take more than a few decades to recede as the chemicals take so long to break down. For some reason it was much worse in the Southern hemisphere than the Northern hemisphere. Oh well, that's life.

Haha! I once did the same thing, but with my feet and they both blew up like balloons from the burns. I just didn't think about putting sunscreen on them. Mind you, I scored a lot of sympathy for them as I was on holiday at the time. Sympathy = free beer. It almost made me feel better about the situation - well almost. How did you blisters go?

Incidentally, and this is a cricket reference, many people from the UK travel over here during the summer and form what is known as the "Barmy Army" as they are regular supporters of the (generally losing - sorry Inge) English cricket team. As a general rule, they fail to understand just how harsh the summer is here and they tend to look like lobsters after a day or two. Honestly it must hurt.


Cherokee Organics said...

It would be interesting to know how the hand pumps go on your local wells?

Giardia is the one you have to watch out for and I believe that it is present in all of your river systems - but may be wrong in that. You know, when I was a kid and my grandfather took me camping we used to drink the water straight from the river and not think twice about it. However, globalisation and tourism is spreading that nasty pathogen here.

That is very true as there are very few fossil records here for some strange reason. Yeah, I've heard about the dinosaur finds at Cape Otway, which isn't too far from here. It is meant to be quite the find. I've seen the opals at Coober Pedy too but it is one dry rough place. I haven't heard of the place in Queensland though.

The bunya and hoop pines are quite common up on the north east coast, and you can see plenty of bunya trees down here - although I killed a few here before giving up. The kauri pines are a whole 'nother thing as they live down on the island of Tasmania. They had the unfortunate thing of being really old - like I'm talking hundreds and well over a thousand years old - as well as being great rot proof timber. Most were harvested in the ship building trade and I have seen specimens in the wild, but both you and I will be long dead before they are of much size. Many of them were dropped into dams for later retrieval as they didn't rot - and those are still being retrieved today...

Hope your water comes back on?



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; The video was great! Like Cathy, I had a bit of a time with the months, vs the seasons I could see. Real cognitive dissonance (just to throw around a few 25 cent words :-) .

Hmmm. Soap nuts and soap wort. Have added them to my list of "things to follow up on." Sounds easier than the traditional "pour the water through the ashes, etc." route. Wonder if it has the same or similar antibacterial properties as traditional soap? I'll find out.

Yeah, I got one of those wedding invitations once. I was in the antique biz, then. I suppose they thought I'd gift a nice family heirloom. The couple in question, well, I kept hearing about their fantastic dinners and parties I was never invited too. Well, I happened to run into them when I was out and about and said, with a perfectly straight face "I'm sorry I can't attend you're wedding. I have a date conflict. I've been invited to an orgy in Portland and don't want to miss it. "

Oh, yeah. The cranky mail lady and I have a good relationship. Sometimes she's quit short but I just keep smiling. Occasionally, I'll leave her some home made cookies or eggs. She'll even drive in the yard now and leave packages on the porch if I'm not home.

I've never dealt with a hand pump, before. I know you sometimes have to pour a bit of water down them (don't know why) to get them "primed". "Priming the pump" is an old saying. Somewhere, sometime, I saw a movie where some people were down to their last little bit of water and came upon an old pump. (Maybe a western.) They had to decide whether to use their last little bit of water to prime the pump, which may not have worked, or not.

In American folklore, there's a lot of stories of talking a younger child into putting their tongue on a frozen pump handle. School ground flag poles also feature in some stories. Yes, the abandoned farm with the broken down windmill is an iconic picture.

Oh, yeah. The blisters healed up nicely. Like your feet, I just forgot to get the back of my knees. And, hadn't realized I'd lost pigment there. Right now, I have no pigment on my hands or feet with stripes running to knees and elbows. Under my chin, up where my hairline used to be :-). My armpits and a few other areas we won't discuss in mixed company. And to think it all started with a little spot the size of a quarter when I was 12.

Yeah, I saw something on tv about people making a living down in the South logging out submerged timber from streams and bogs. Cypress wood, I think. Nice old growth stuff that they use in historic reconstructions and new construction. Very pricey stuff.

Well, last night I ordered up a Berky water purifier. Just pour the stuff through instead of all that boiling. Will filter out E. Coli and Giardia. Talked to my friend who works for the FDA and it sounded like there was lots of hand waving and running around with his hair on fire. That it won't work. But then, as a Public Health Official (note the caps) I think he's over the top sometimes. I told him if it doesn't work, my estate can sue the company :-).

Speaking of Giardia, here in the PNW as part of the standard curriculum, in 4th grade (about 10 years old) we studied the NW logging industry. As part of that, they'd load us on buses with a packed lunch and ship us out to the Tillamook Burn. A huge area of forest that burned in 1933. Each boy was issued a small paluski (digging tool) and each girl a canvas bag of Douglas Fir seedlings. We replanted the burn. I also remember drinking out of the wonderful, clear cold streams. Back before Giardia.

Speaking of Pompeii, here's something interesting going on over at Sydney University. Might make a nice day trip in your spare time (HA!) Lew

Cathy McGuire said...

@Lewis: I saw something on tv about people making a living down in the South logging out submerged timber from streams and bogs. Cypress wood, I think. Nice old growth stuff that they use in historic reconstructions and new construction. Very pricey stuff.
They're doing that in the Columbia near Portland, dredging logs that sank during pioneer times... and yeah, it's been very much prized!

OMG on the Pompeii model - people are just totally addicted to Legos, aren't they? :-P

@Chris: one of the rockhounds in a local club did a slide show & samples on the opals at Coober Peedy (you have some strange town names down there!) - I was drooling! I have a jar of rough Australian opal and have even cut/polished a few, but it's tricky. Jasper is more forgiving.

@both of you: I probably could beat you at any sunburn story - I've had sun poisoning so many times I lost count. Dang Irish heritage. I remember going to the river (a S. Cal tradition) between CA and AZ one summer weekend - not a bit of shade anywhere and inside a tent or car was suicidal hot, so I just fried and fried; got 2nd degree burns. Another time, in teen years, ended up sick all night because a cousin wanted to neck with her boyfriend "just a bit longer" and beaches don't have shade either. These days I wear large-brimmed hats and silk longsleeve shirts (lovely breathable fabric) rather than sunscreen, because I hate the chemicals in them.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Like it! Yeah, I get the cognitive thingee about snow at Christmas time too! ;-)! Well, things are upside down here after all and oh boy was it warm outside today.

The soap nuts are very good. If museums are using them for delicate materials they must be good. They produce a basic solution during the washing process so I think that is what kills off any bacteria etc. I reckon a lot of people think of them as a bit hippy dippy, but they actually really work.

That's very funny. I trust the couple in question were suitably upset? My lady and I got hitched during the recession so I had the general impression that you don't get married to score some serious presents - they certainly weren't forthcoming in those days.

Nowadays, people have more front and straight out ask for cash. I'm unsure as to the tastefulness of that particular request. I always scan the wedding present registries and noticed recently someone asking for a $2,000 kitchen appliance as a wedding gift. I didn't really know what to think about that one...

I reckon you've won her over. You'll always be able to gauge the relationship according to how things get delivered when weather conditions are sub optimal. It is as good a guide as any. I really enjoyed the Sue Hubbard book you recommended and she wrote that the mail often wasn't physically deliverable due to the weather conditions. As an interesting side note, my house exists in a postal delivery black spot and Australia Post refuses to deliver to this street address. Before moving here, I didn't even know such places existed. It certainly creates confusion with companies that will deliver only to a street address.

Ah well, most electric pumps these days are self priming. On the fire trucks the diesel pumps sometimes had to be manually primed and all that meant is that you got water into the chamber where the impeller is by a hand pump attached to the diesel pump. That was because the pump was higher than the water and water of course does not flow up hill. Gravity can be a bit of a bummer.

If those guys on that western film had to use the last of their water to prime the pump, mate, they were in some serious trouble. It probably didn't work...

Ouch, that would hurt and possibly bits of the tongue may well be stuck to the handle. That would be very hard to explain!

Please, there really is no need to discuss the details! hehe! Did your parents ever tell you that such an outcome was possible? I'd avoid down under if I were you. Even with sunscreen, I cop a whole lot of sun and my skin pigments are more yellow/brown than white by the end of summer. The Aboriginals used to cull albino children as it was too harsh a life.


Cherokee Organics said...

Still, a mate of mine has two kids with Ectodermal dysplasia and they have no sweat glands and have to be kept cool over summer and if it was my situation, I'd escape to the bottom of the South Island of New Zealand or the remote highlands of Tasmania as the summers here can be pretty brutal.

Yeah, the same thing goes on here - because the timber does not rot - the logs are pulled out of lakes and rivers and fetch a very high price. Pity they take 1,200 years to grow. It was a shameful event to cut them down in the first place.

Another timber here with a slightly different problem is the Mulga which is an acacia (wattle) species. As an interesting observation, I've noted that many Australia species of plants end up in Hawaii of all of the strange places on this planet and the mulga is no exception. Oh yeah, it is the density of the timber that is a problem in this case as it makes an exceptional bit of firewood and can be up to twice as dense as the local species here - which are no softwoods.

Sorry to hear about the pathogen, that is a real shame.

Sydney is a very long way from here! hehe! I'm not saying that the exhibition is genius, but wow, it ain't far from it. They even somehow incorporated Dr Who and Pink Floyd. Respect for their imagination! Oh yeah, it's good.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy,

Great to hear that you have some opals. They are very beautiful rocks and highly prized.

When I stayed there late last century, I stayed in an underground house and it was very pleasant. As an interesting side note, house holders were offered the option of either: mining rights to the excavated materials; or to pay for the excavation itself. It was always a gamble as no one knows where the opals actually are. Incidentally, they also had a fresh food Thursday when the truck brought in fresh food to the town.

I pick up my milk supplies on Wednesday and now call that fresh milk Wednesdays...

Yeah, the Irish heritage is particularly hard under a harsh sun. Ouch! Those stories hurt just reading them.

The dark hair and pale skin of Irish descendents does not survive unscathed for long here. The red hair of those of Celtic backgrounds is also very hard too. I have mousey brown hair, but was completely blond as a child because no one thought twice about sun burn in those days and everything ended up bleached by the sun...

Yeah, natural materials are the way to go and I always search out wool and/or cotton materials for my clothes. Synthetic materials here are very commonly available but they just don't breathe.



LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Cathy - Rock hounding can be a lot of fun. Around here, we have a lot of carnelian. The canyon down behind my place is supposed to be full of it and I often find chunks around the yard that came up from there. Fun stuff to pick up, but I've never done anything with it. I even have a rock tumbler I've never used. There's supposed to be a rock cutter around here, but, as with so much around here "it needs work." :-). I was interested when Chris was waxing lyrical about his chipper. Brother Bob the Bachelor Farmer had one, but it also "needed work" that he never got to (as with so much else here) before he passed. My favorite piece of carnelian (sitting next to my computer) I found years ago. It looks exactly like a dried apricot. Then you turn it over and it's all white crystals.

From over at ADR - I love watching Ruth Goodman. She has such a sense of humor and such a nasty laugh!

Yo, Chris; Did a little hunting around and soap nuts do have antimicrobial properties. Couldn't find much about soap wort. Probably couldn't grow the nuts here, but the soap wort, yes. Sometimes if I have a wash that is particularly soiled or smelly I put a splash of ammonia in the wash cycle and a splash of vinegar in the rinse cycle.

That film was an oldie from the days when films pretty much had to have happy endings. So, of course the priming of the pump with the last of their water worked and all were saved.

I don't remember being particularly warned about the sun when I was a kid. Now that I work outside so much, I don't use sunscreen but always keep a hat on and mostly wear gloves. Light long sleeved shirts. I wore a lot of shorts this last summer and didn't have any problems. But then I tend to work outside early or late in the day when the suns lower. I've noticed I've become quit a "redneck." I seem to have developed an indelible "v" where my shirt opens :-).

There's been some work done on Vitiligo. There are some medicines that can be taken but they may cause liver damage. Given the damage I did my liver in my miss-spent youth, I'm not very interested. I've never been sensitive about it, and, as I said, living in this climate, it's not very noticeable. I've always been of the opinion (based on no science at all) that you need a genetic predisposition and a chemical trigger. Mine started at 12 when I was taking some thyroid medication. My grandfather got it in his early 20s after he was in a coal mine accident and got gassed.

Oh, gosh. You mentioned Dr. Who. I am currently wallowing in the Complete Season 8. The Dr. Who reference in the legos was from one of the most popular episodes "Fires of Pompeii." The new "Who" happened to have a cameo in that. Guess I'm a Whovian. Wonder if there's a 12 Step Program for that? :-) Lew

PS: Stopped by the farm store, yesterday, and picked up some seed. And, peat pots. Got some chamomile, a nice looking lettuce and some red onions. They didn't have any walking onion seed, but said they would have some set in a few months. Now I kind of know what kind of seed to hunt up on line. They didn't have a hand augur, much to my surprise. So, onto the internet. But I think I'd better take a look through the sheds around here. There's probably one here ... somewhere.

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

The orchard video is great. I assume that you don't get lots and lots of leaf fall, unlike here where I get a thick carpet.

My further water story wouldn't help you and Lewis as it is a mains water tale.

Of course, silly me, I wasn't considering a cold water wash. I have never heard of soap nuts or that the fruit of the horse chestnut tree can be used. We call them conkers. How are they turned into soap? You are using rain water so it will be very soft. My water is hard, hard, hard; not good with soap.

Don't worry about my attitude to British sporting achievements or lack of them. I have nil interest in team games. When I was at school we were expected to watch matches against other schools. On one occasion, when I and a friend had our backs turned to all the excitement, a games mistress asked what we thought we were doing. She was very annoyed. We were doing mathematical puzzles. I have never forgotten her look of astonishment as she walked silently away.

Rhubarb: I was once given a root of something called elephant rhubarb; it came from an old countryman's garden. The stalks were the thickness of ones forearm. Unfortunately I failed to transplant any of it when I moved house. Have never heard of it since.

Rhubarb tastes superb cooked with block dates and dark brown sugar. The dates reduce the amount of sugar that one needs. I eat the result with evaporated milk.

Sunburn: I was brought up in the naturist movement, so knew enough not to get sunburnt; or so I thought. Was caught out in Australia. Staying in Perth and went to the beach. There was no sun, it was a very cloudy day. I walked along the edge of the shore paddling. My poor feet, oh did they swell up! How could I have known that you could get sunburnt through clouds?

@Lewis Didn't Michael Jackson have vitiligo? I have known 2 people with it; both got it from contact with chemicals. One was medication and the other was an aerosol anti-perspirant. I believe that the latter got a payout.

I agree with your mother, it would indeed be dreadful if we all liked the same things; just think - we would never learn anything new, no adventure.

@Chris again The first time that I got electricity (the or I leave occasion) we didn't have to pay anything. We simply had to guarantee a certain usage; as it turned out our usage was well above this guarantee. So the same thing happened here also; thanks for the explanation. Oh I believe that our voltage is 230/240.


Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis and Inge,

Thanks for the lovely comments. It is the Australia day long weekend, so I've run out of time to reply tonight and will reply with the new blog tomorrow.



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Inge; Yeah, Jackson had Vitiligo. It's very devastating to darker skinned people. I still think he was a very weird little dude, but when I heard he had Vitiligo, it gave me an insight into some of his weirdness.

The Old Git book reviewer has some interesting things to say about New Year's Resolutions and book banning and censorship. Over here, the libraries have a "banned book week" (month?). Just to highlight the problem. When I took the class on-line about Young Adult Literature, we spent quit a bit of time on that. Probably because most of that sort of thing seems concentrated on that age group. Gotta protect the tender little dears from the real world :-). Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

SWARM! Well, I am just so excited (I think.) Went to town to visit a friend and make a water run. It's quit sunny and warm here, today. When I got back, I decided to check on my chooks. They got let out a little earlier, this morning, and there were no eggs.

Bees! Hundreds of honey bees! I have a large garden shed with an open side and open eaves. The chicken houses' back wall is the exterior wall of the shed. I didn't see any hanging cluster. Judging from the sound, I think their hive is behind some shelving in the shed. Shelving with all kinds of junk piled on it and in front of it.

There are a lot in the chook house. They don't seem to have "got" the idea that they can't fly through the wall to get to their hive. Getting to the chook food (I keep it in the shed in a large covered plastic garbage can) may become problematic. So far, if I just move very slowly around them, it seems fine.

Wrong place, wrong time. I've thought about bees, but, frankly, since stepping on one as a small child, and the years of intensive psychotherapy due to that :-), I'd pretty much ruled bees out. I'm more likely to take up goats. Which I've already pretty much ruled out.

Well, I'll give it a few days to think about it. Deal with the chickens, very early or very late in the day. I'm afraid I may have to resort to spray.

Happy Australia Day! by the way. So, lots of food, booze and fireworks? First Fleet Day. I know about that, thanks to "Fatal Shore." Lew