Monday, 9 February 2015

One wombat to rule them all

It’s like having a feral piggie running around the orchard at night. Plus, that little piggie has friends, quite a few of them in fact. What on Earth am I talking about? Fatso, who is King of the wombats here at the farm, that’s what I’m talking about.

He’s a big wombat and usually camera shy, so it was very exciting the other night when I managed to capture a photo or two of Fatso, King of the wombats here, who just happened to be enjoying himself munching on some choice herbage.

Fatso, King of the wombats here, ambling into view
Close up photo of Fatso, King of the wombats here
I occasionally take the camera with me on walks at night so as to take photographs of the wildlife. You never quite know what you may see. Unfortunately that night, I also had one of my dogs with me and Fatso was a bit nervous about all of the attention. He soon quietly went off about his wombat business elsewhere – not too quickly though, for he displays a general air of disregard for humans and their foolish activities – but he did leave quickly enough that he was soon lost to sight in the surrounding forest. He’s cool and he knows it.

Today the trailer received the final coat of bright – in your face – yellow paint. I reckon that the trailer is looking good and hopefully it lasts for another decade or more. The trailer can’t be used for a week or two whilst the paint cures in the heat of the summer sun. The longer I leave the paint to cure without damaging it through use, the harder the paint surface will end up being.

The trailer has now received the final coat of bright yellow paint this morning
The new set of steel stairs is nearing completion this week and I’m hoping to be able to install them this afternoon. You may remember from last week’s blog that the four treads (or steps) had been constructed. This week I cut the heavy duty sides of the stairs (known as “Stringers” for the more technically inclined) from the 5mm (0.2 inch) sheet of steel plate which was purchased for this purpose last year. That sheet of steel plate was so heavy I could barely move it. I’m grateful for the assistance of the editor who drew up the design for the sides which gave me all of the angles and measurements. It is nice to be merely the grunt labour on this particular project as the sheet of thick steel plate had to be cut correctly the first time around (leaving no room for mistakes).

Cutting the thick steel plate in order to make the sides of the new steel stair case
I didn’t weld the four steps onto the sides, but instead chose to construct the stairs using hi-tensile bolts and nuts. Hi-tensile bolts are really just a fancy name for very strong bolts that hopefully won’t break any time soon! It did mean that I had to drill many holes through that thick steel on the sides of the steps so as to fit the hi-tensile bolts through. The drilling was a very hard job.

Attaching the steps to the side of the new staircase with hi-tensile bolts
For those that are technically inclined the photo below shows the underside of the new steel staircase and how it is all held together through a combination of bolts, welds and steel folding:

Underside of the new steel staircase
The past week has been quite hot here at the farm and even the nights have been quite warm too. Two days during the past week were over 35’C (95’F) and there are another four of those days over the next week. It’s hot here. Still the garden is growing strongly and I have managed my water resources well this year and still have 80% of the total 100,000 litres (26,417 gallons) storage capacity available for use.

The cottage garden is producing an amazing quantity of flowers which all of the insects and birds are really enjoying. There is so much activity in there you can hear the birds bouncing through the foliage and the many insects buzzing around the flowers from quite a distance away:

The cottage garden is in full flower today, despite the recent heat
The zucchini (courgette) plants are producing a huge quantity of fruit too and some of them are true monsters! Last year, they kept fresh for over 6 months and I was enjoying them well into late winter:

Zucchini plants are starting to produce some serious monsters
With the heat, a lot of plants are starting to produce seedlings and I find all sorts of seedlings about the place. Self-seeded mustards are very common now (both red and green) as well as early lettuce plants. However, today I spotted a new self-seeded plant that I’ve never noticed before and I’m not 100% certain, but I believe it to be a self-seeded rhubarb plant. I’ve only ever divided out a rhubarb crown before to get new plants so this should be interesting. It is unfortunately a bit too hot to transplant this seedling yet, so I’ll just keep an eye on it and see what develops.

Possible self-seeded rhubarb plant
Onions grow really well here with virtually no care or attention whatsoever. The Egyptian tree onions (or walking onions) have formed a huge number of bulbils and I’m considering planting out all of those bulbils. They are very hardy onions and each single bulb will produce another entire plant. There are hundreds of new onion plants. Someone once told me that the old timers used to pickle them for later consumption as cocktail onions. Last year I planted many of the bulbils into the cottage garden and they are doing really well in there too.

Egyptian tree – or walking onions just waiting to be planted out
Over the summer I leave various sources of water around the farm for the animals, birds and insects to all enjoy. In a climate with hot and dry summers it is a good way to get to know the wildlife. Every now and then, I’m completely surprised and spot entirely new wildlife enjoying the farm and this morning revealed a new frog. The frog was swimming in a large bowl of water which is generally only enjoyed by the wallabies, wombats and kangaroos. I have no idea what variety of frog it is, but suspect that it may be either a very unusual variant of the Southern Brown Tree Frog or a Verreaux's Tree Frog. Who knows? It is unusual though:

Unknown tree frog found swimming in a water bowl here
If anyone can positively identify the frog I’d be interested to hear from you. For those that are concerned about froggie welfare, there is now a stick in the water bowl that the frog used to climb out.

How did I get here?

After seeing a bit of the world, getting a bit of education, working some pretty full on jobs at the top end of town, building and rebuilding houses, I honestly felt like I needed to do something different with my life.

This crazy idea dawned on me one day: I’ve got this cheap block of land up the bush. The law allows me to build a house on it. I’ve got the skills to build the house. I’m looking to do something different with my life. What the heck, how about selling up the house in the city and building a small and cheap off the grid house, living up in the bush, growing some vegetables and fruit, raising some chickens and generally having a bit of an adventure with our lives?

Now at this point in time, most partners in a relationship would generally go: You have officially now lost the plot. And there the crazy idea would end.

To my eternal gratitude and thanks, the editor of this blog simply said: Oh yeah, we can do that.

So we did that.

Things are never quite as easy as they should be. The mind bogglingly complex process of seeking the local council’s approval to build a small and cheap house became even more mind bogglingly complex because the Black Saturday bush fires happened midway through the approval process in February 2009.

The bushfire was about as bad as it gets: 173 people dead, 2,000 houses destroyed and 450,000ha (1,125,000 acres) burnt. Needless to say, the authorities had a major freak out and quickly introduced a whole new set of laws relating to building a house outside of an urban area.

As part of the official freak out, the Country Fire Authority of whom both my lady and I were volunteer members of the local fire brigade officially denied permission for us to build a small and cheap off grid house on this particular block of land. In Victoria, if a statutory authority (generally water or fire authorities) decides against your proposal to build a house, there is no right of appeal on that particular decision. Yes, here you can actually buy a block of land which the zoning and council says that you can build a house upon and during the permit process you may actually be denied permission.

So, we then had a major freak out.

To be continued…

The temperature outside here at about 5.30pm is 27.4 degrees Celsius (81.3’F). So far this year there has been 74.4mm (2.9 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 72.6mm (2.9 inches).


rabidlittlehippy said...

I can't help you to identify your frog but this site helped me to identify the frogs we have around our place in Ballan based on their appearance and croak. If your lovely diamond backed frog sang for you then the sound clips on the site are most helpful. :)
Love your Mr Fatso (takes me back to my childhood and A Country Practice) and love the 'tude he brings. You've got to love a mild summer as far as the gardens and water tanks go. Hope the bushfires leave us alone this year.

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

As always, I love the wombat.

Re: your flowers. Do you have wild flowers or are they all garden flowers. If you have wild ones, are they natives?

I only have wild flowers apart from nasturtiums which I plant for their edibility. The daffodils were planted by a previous owner and I have one rose bush planted by a tenant.

A pig will be slaughtered on Wednesday. We have only one accredited slaughterer and he is very old so if he stops we will have a problem. The abattoir only takes commercial weights. This pig is a huge old sow. Tough meat but gorgeous sausages.

Still very cold here but the birds have been singing for a few days now. They must be responding to longer light.


LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; King of the Wombats, indeed. He looks a bit like a hairy piglet. I'm sure (another) lost Tolkien manuscript will surface, with Wombats heavily featured.

My, that trailer sure is ... yellow. No chance of not being seen and getting hit on your back country roads. Your stairway is really something. Did you have Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" blasting out of the boom-box? :-).

Zucchini is kind of a running joke, over here. It's so prolific. Folklore about wild methods of disposal. Baskets of the stuff left in the deadof night on neighbors porches. You can't leave your car unlocked because you will come back to find the front seat full of zucchini, etc.. It's mythical status is right up there with badly made Christmas fruitcakes. :-) .

That is really a pretty frog. Which reminds me, an odd seasonal thing I forgot to mention, I heard many frogs singing at night, a couple of weeks ago. Months early. According to the weather blog, we're about 1 1/2 months ahead of the usual weather. I'm going to put my hummingbird feeders out, earlier.

"...officially now lost the plot." Oh, too funny. That's one I'm going to have to remember.

Still raining, chooks laying more eggs, water out again. Ups and downs here at Wuthering Heights. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

That's a good idea going to the Master Gardeners class with a friend. You'll get a whole lot more out of it to be sure.

hehe! As only the best recipes can be known! Hey, you know I always learn a lot more when I completely stuff the recipe up - usually because of a forgetful slip of an ingredient. That is sort of when you learn what each ingredient does. Bread minus a bit of salt is pretty bland for example.

You're not far from maple syrup country either. Do they actually use maple syrup or is it the maple flavoured syrup? Down Under we use Golden Syrup which is a sugar cane product instead. I've actually got a few sugar maple trees but they're about 5 years from being able to tap the sugars. I met an interesting bloke who runs the local blueberry farm and he had a row of 15 year old sugar maple trees and I have to confess that I was eyeing those trees off for sugar potential. I mentioned it to the guy, but he said he had too much on his plate to think about it.

I didn't know that about pastry chefs versus bakers, but it figures. I bet the pastry chefs believe they are the superior species? Have you made anything based on the DVD's yet?

Yeah, it's funny but there just isn't a deep fried food culture here. My mum used to sometimes deep fry chips in a frier that collected the lard from roasts - honestly it was an unappealing block of white solid goo when at room temperature. But wow did it make some nice tasting chips. They had to be really well drained though and that requires a bit of patience.

Yeah, you know what. I'd be at that road side stall at least once per week. It's really funny you mention roadside stalls but I pick up honey from a house out in the middle of nowhere in the forest not far from here and they have the best honey. They're both smokers though and the house is far from clean and would probably scare most people I know, but wow, do they know bees and they're really lovely people. Real gentle spirits. The honey from that place varies with the season and time of year too. It is good stuff.

Excellent advice! I can't abide friends being rude to waiting staff - it is just not on. And if I had any doubts about them, I wouldn't take them to my regular haunts. There is just no excuse for that sort of thing.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Stacey,

I'm just waiting to see whether the guys at the local sand and soil place try to razz me up about the trailer. In such situations I've found that it is best to just own it and go: "Man, that trailer is really cool. I love it". Too easy.

You are too good. Of course, I keep the metal scrap heap out of the photos. It is mostly neat but is a project waiting until the wood shed is built - more on that storage later. Very perceptive. The trip back up the hill here means that like you, I am always careful about whether a material has a possible future at the farm here. If it doesn't I take it back down to the metal recycling station which is about 20km away. It is very sensible to have a store of scrap on hand for project use.

I'm enjoying the comments too. Yes, the weather is really weird here too - it will be 36'C here tomorrow... Great to hear that you are getting some decent rainfall - if it gets stored in the ground then it is always available for later use.

That is really weird because I planted some comfrey roots here last winter and they are only just now putting on new leaves.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi rabidlittlehippy,

I get a bit rabid every now and then too, so I hear you! :-) It's a sign of the times I guess.

Many thanks for the excellent link. You know I couldn't find that frog in the Victoria section so I've signed up to their forum and we'll see whether anyone can identify the species. Apparently tropical frogs are often transported south and they then die off during the winter. Who'd have thought of that?

Ballan is a lovely part of the world too. Good soils and reliable rainfall too, plus you've got the train line from Ballarat (I love the Bendigo line fast trains to get into Melbourne).

Oh yeah, the mild summer is really appreciated here too! It is nice to see that the place here is still green around these parts at this time of year. Yes, I hope the same thing too as it was very close thing last summer.

Fatso the wombat sends greetings too!



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Fatso the wombat sends greetings to the good people of the UK too! He'd enjoy the climate of the UK too as long as his burrow stayed dry.

As to the flowers, it is a mix of native and introduced flowers here. I don't really have a dog in the whole fight of native versus introduced plants which really annoys some of the local people that I know. Some of the plants that I do grow are considered to be a bit weedy - whatever that means. I appreciate those plants - in fact all of them really - for their general hardiness, feed and beauty.

Nasturtiums are one of the staple salad green crops here. The old timers used to grow them as a substitute for capers. Not quite indestructible, but not far off it! I enjoy the taste of them too as every bit of the plant - which originated in South America I believe - is edible and a little bit peppery.

Home grown pork is seriously to kill for. A mate of mine grows and butchers his own pork and then does a big barbeque and it is the best. Interestingly, down here you can slaughter and butcher your own meat as long as it is not for resale. Is that the case up your way?

Yeah, the light is getting shorter here and it is not far off dark by 8.40pm now. Nice to hear the birds are out and about at your place. It is quite enjoyable watching the seasons as they change and getting a solid feel for nature. It is a real shame that so many people miss out on that experience. I've found that it is quite humbling.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Glad you enjoyed my little joke. Seriously though - if those pre-Raphaelites had been a bit more influential maybe wombats would have featured in Lord of the Rings. Who knows? I spotted a reference to that group a few weeks back and lost it before I could share it with you... The memory doesn't get better as you age, that's to be sure.

Ahhh, please don't put the kiss of death on the trailer after so much hardwork! hehe! Don't laugh but I was thinking about using the stairway to heaven for the stair project. It may have to wait until the potato and strawberry beds and tap are all in place. Only a few months now...

Yeah zucchini is full on. The beast can grow from nothing to a full on monster in only a few days.

Nice to hear that they've formed part of the local folklore! Too funny.

Yeah, you can only watch and observe the weather and hope for the best. I hope the hummingbirds get a good feed. Some of the trees here are displaying autumn colours so who knows what is going on?

Yes, the results are in on the sanity and they're not good! hehe! Glad you liked it. It is a common saying down under.

Well, I don't exactly know, but when I hear Wuthering Heights references I tend to think of Kate Bush rather than the literary classic. A cheeky wag down under did a rip off of that particular song.



LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Not much in the wild plant department about the yard. A gardener lived here, before, and there are still surprises to be found. Mostly herbs and shrubs. Daffodils, hyacinth, etc.. No iris, odd that.

But I have two areas in a very shaded L of the house (on the north side, no less) and I plan to put in two woodland beds. Mostly collected from the woods around the place. Last year I saw some Oregon Iris up the road. A small, purple. I marked where they were and at the end of the season, transplanted some root and collected some seed. After checking to make sure they were not endangered.

I picked up a copy of "Propagation of Pacific Northwest Native Plants." Was surprised to find that we have 4 varieties of native rose. I think I have spotted two, up the road. I plan to transplant some of those, too.

I've got the seed for some nasturtium in my seed drawer. I'm going to plant them around the apple trees, as they are supposed to be a good symbiotic match.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Well, a recipe just isn't fun if you don't mess with it a bit. When I came here, I was the assistant manager at the bookstore for awhile. The young man who was the manager was a bit mental. Rages and such. He was about half my age. Anyway, his bread was crumbly. Mine wasn't. I asked him if he put an egg in it. No. "Well, when I was 23, I didn't know to put an egg in the dough until someone told me. Now you know."

I got the DVDs from the library but that's not enough time to do much more than watch them. So, I ordered them from the company. Got them not long ago. Has helped refine my braising technique. Convinced me of the wisdom of blanching vegetables (fiddly. Involves plunging them in strainers into boiling water for not very long) instead of just microwaving or boiling. Flavor is ever so much better.) And, why my beef stock didn't have much "body." I didn't leave enough meat on the bones. But, it can be saved by adding a bit more meat and reducing it.

Lard has been a dietary no-no for a long time. But i've noticed a few new cookbooks out that are resurrecting lard.

If you want to get the boys talking at the lumber yard, trim the trailer in day glow orange or purple. Actually, on reflection, if you really want to wow them, paint flames coming out of the wheel wells.

"...tropical frogs are often transported south." I've spent too long with "Fatal Shore." Did they steal a loaf of bread or a yard of cloth? Do they arrive in little fleets? :-).

I used to keep a running list in my head of authors that I thought their brains must be in vats somewhere, hooked up to computers. So many manuscripts cranked out long after death. :-).

Maple syrup is mainly an industry from the other side of the country. New England and up into Canada. You have to collect a vast amount of the sap to get a gallon of syrup. I've read other trees can also be tapped. Birch? I've never had the nerve to check out the ingredients on the commercial donuts. Don't have a box kicking around since I resisted the siren call. I'm sure it's not "real" maple syrup but probably "natural flavors" that come out of a test tube.

Oh, my hummingbirds are quit well fed. I have three feeders, one out front in the apple trees and two on the back deck outside the kitchen window. I have to refill them about every week and a half. The one in the apple tree was up about 9 feet and Nell, my cat, still nailed one! So, now I have to drag out the ladder every time I refill it. She never goes out back (shy of the dog) so those aren't hard to fill.

They are such interesting and curious little birds. They'll fly right up to the kitchen window and watch me washing dishes, or whatever. Once, the feeders were getting a little low. I was on the front porch. One flew right up in my face, scolding me and giving me "what for." I got right on filling those feeders! :-). Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

We are not allowed to do our own slaughtering but my son can do the butchering. He is not allowed to sell the meat or even to give it away. Mind you he is perfectly capable of slaughtering and has been shown what to look for when checking the carcase for any disease.

There are many people in rural areas here who are perfectly capable of living without civilization. It is the rules and regulations that make it difficult. I can see that with an ever increasing population regulations become more necessary but they do restrict endeavour. More seriously, it is the old who are competent. I am appalled at the ineptitude of many of the young.

If anyone has some time on their hands, they might find my elder daughter's website interesting

Both my daughters live in Australia and are now Australian citizens.


Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

It might pay to leave yourself a way to access the underside of the stairs to allow periodic inspection. I've gone through a set of stairs (they were temporary, on a building site), and it's not fun. You can bet you'd be carrying something heavy at the time too, like a lead acid battery ;-)

Your garden is looking great. Ours is looking tired ;-) Have had a fair few zucchini, but our pumpkins might be dying in the heat. Had a few tomatoes cook on the vine (despite best efforts to shade). Still getting plenty out of the garden, but it's not looking as happy as it was at the end of (cool) January!

Cheers, Angus

Cathy McGuire said...

Hi Chris -
Sorry I didn't get a chance to comment on your blog first thing, but power was out all day yesterday here. A big wind/rainstorm blew through and took down a dozen power poles in a row locally. About 18,000 out of power. I wasn't worried because I have a gas generator in case the outtage goes long, but I thought about solar panels and what a huge windstorm might do to them... especially since my entire back fence (6 ft cedar boards) blew down! Luckily the chooks were securely housed during the storm, but I was shocked (to say the least) when I went out today and saw a much different view in my back yard!! I rigged a temp fence today, but I'll have to hire someone to re-mount the wood fence - most of the boards are okay, but the posts rotted and/or came out of the wet ground.

@Lewis: I've been hearing tons of frogs recently too! And worry about them being caught if we get one of our usual cold snaps. I have seen violas, camelias, bella-something daisies and the currants are leafing out - a little bit too much spring-like activity for my comfort. I just hope the fruit trees don't get any ideas... we have our last average frost in June, supposedly!

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah recipes shouldn't be followed dogmatically otherwise it takes the fun out of them. I read an article once about the UK chef Gordon Ramsay who had to make club sandwiches every day for 3 years when first he apprenticed.

Having a boss flying into rages would see me flying out the door. There is something to be said about a minimum level of civility. I once had a boss that was a door slammer and he eventually had a melt down. Not good to be around so I left.

I don't add eggs or milk to my bread mix, but I do use a pasta dura flour which holds together very well. Haven't noticed the crumbliness that you describe, but I'm also using bakers yeast too. Who knows? Eggs are definitely added to biscuit recipes as the binding agent.

Yeah, blanching is a good way to keep the crispness of vegetables isn't it? I also steam them and eat them raw as other alternatives. When I was young they used to boil the daylights out of vegetables - honestly the water was like a green vegetable stock...

Haha! Everything in moderation. ;-)!

It'll be pretty funny to see their reaction, I'm just going to try and out cool them! My lady was talking about painting something on the trailer, so who knows flames may be the next big thing!

Well the frogs got 20 to life plus transport for stealing and eating an arachnid. It was a tough sentence, but we felt that it was important to send a message of strength and fear. Yeah, don't mess with us! hehe!

They're pretty funny and clever creatures as I spotted one last night facing a garden light and eating the luckless creatures that just happened to be drawn to the lights.

Yuk! I've heard that about birch too. Possibly silver birch which happily grow here. The local eucalyptus tree - manna gum - which are the favourite food of the koalas also drops a sugary sap which is edible, although I haven't tried it. It was very commonly eaten in the early days of settlement.

Naughty Nell. I don't have a cat here for that reason either - so much birdlife would be eaten. Aren't the birds clever realising that you are the source of the feed. You know, they've probably been watching you?

The parrots here are onto every chunk of fruit so I have to watch their activities to ensure that I get my fair share.

Did I tell you that the fox cub here has been systematically killing off the rat population. One of my dogs brought me a rat tail today. I was going, what have you got? I picked it up and then realisation dawned on me. Off to the worm farm with that one thanks very much.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Yeah, they get a bit funny about that here too. I can't sell much produce from here because of all of the stupid laws in place. Sure, the laws are there to protect people but there has to be some sort of middle ground. At the moment I generally only give away produce to avoid the whole messy problem. It is always appreciated - otherwise they don't get seconds! ;-)!

Yeah, I feel for the young. Over here they are increasingly burdened with student debt, under employment, being sold education where there are more people in courses than there are in jobs in the entire country (journalism is one such, I believe the same thing applies to nursing too). Then they face excessive housing costs - how can they learn the skills that I learned with houses if they can't even afford to buy a dump in the first place? Even rural areas are really expensive - it is crazy.

I often felt that what the whole Occupy movement was about was a whole lot of young people complaining that they just want a normal middle class existence - which their parents and grand parents had the opportunity to have.

Still, at the same time, not one single young person locally has been even remotely curious about learning stuff here. It is a terrible bind for everyone - and everyone loses. Still, time will sort it all out. I have a plan B, C and D which I can pull out of my sleeve if needed.

Oh sorry, I'm ranting... Apologies... It was a good rant though, wasn't it? hehe!

Your daughter is an outstanding artist and I enjoyed looking at the web pages. She lives in a beautiful part of the world too. The Australian ties to the UK are still quite strong, did you know that in the referendum the Queen got to keep her job as head of the Australian political system? Her Govenor General sacked the government back in 1975 too... I'd suggest that people were unhappy about that, but not too unhappy about it.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

Many thanks for the sound bit of advice. I hope that you were OK?

Yeah, you are doing it tougher up your way than here. Man, it was hot today. I plant the tomatoes and everything else much closer together so that the plants provide shading to their neighbouring plants. Seems to work well, although it slows the ripening process down a lot. Tomatoes will still be a few weeks away yet.

They don't like the heat do they? Still it will be autumn again soon.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy,

Wow, that's a big storm. Glad to hear that you are doing OK though. I'm always very careful of downed powerlines as you never quite know whether they are alive or not. They can pack a serious punch.

As long as the solar panels are anchored properly they don't move at all - even in very stormy / windy conditions. It is the hail that tends to take them out as it breaks the glass and then the electrical connections between individual cells breaks.

Sorry to hear about your fence. Wood can rot very quickly when it is in the ground and even here it doesn't last that long. You'll note that I always prefer galvanised steel and / or concrete for that very reason.

At least it should be an easy fix for your contractor. I'd offer to help - but it's a long way...

Glad to hear that your chickens were safe too. Mine have some big trees close to their enclosure and I'm always expecting one to lose the top of the tree or just completely fall over...



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy,

Not to stress. Some fruit trees here set blossoms in the middle of winter last year during a warm spell - a sign of the weird times, I guess - and even some actual fruit on the mulberries. That fruit and blossoms simply fell off the tree and then the tree went on to do its normal thing in spring. No one really knows what capacity our fruit tree stock has to absorb climate shocks - but it is probably better than we imagine. Seriously it was just less than 100'F here today and some of the trees are showing signs of an early autumn...



orchidwallis said...


I don't put an egg in bread, only in biscuits and cakes. You don't mention yeast, are you making soda bread? That would need milk, buttermilk or Guinness. Don't know why the bread is crumbly, perhaps your dough is too dry. Not having a hot water system, I have to remember to heat some water beforehand otherwise I have sticky dough all over my hands and have to try and clean them up with very cold water.

I don't care one way or the other about maple syrup. It is maple butter that I long for. Can't get it here so rely on family bringing it when they visit from the US.

Have only recently discovered info. about symbiotic plants, fascinating and antagonisms explained my first ever disaster with runner beans. I had leeks in with them.

Sorry to hear about your storm. The fence on one of my boundaries is down because the posts have rotted in the ground. This fence is the neighbours responsibility and they have their property on the market. Fortunately the boundary is clearly defined but who knows, we may end up having to deal with it


LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Well, I'll just kick this off with a book recommendation :-). Joel Salatin - "Everything I want to Do is Illegal." He's an interesting guy. Small family farm for 3 generations. Organic / permaculture. He popularized the "chicken tractor." He's written several books. The one I mentioned is about how hemmed in by laws the small operator is, as far as veg, eggs, raw milk, meat, etc. is in the US. He seems to think it's all laws formulated by Big Ag and Big Food to put the small time operator out of business. The book is, rather, a rant.

Oh, yes. I use yeast in a lot of things. I was telling Chris how I have a bit of a sensitivity to baking powder and soda. So, I try to substitute yeast, anywhere I can. I even developed a good corn bread recipe where I use yeast, instead of powder or soda to get a rise. Works like a charm.

@ Cathy - That was some windstorm you had! Up here, we just had 30 mph gusts. Ah, cedar fences. I was quit proud of myself, one time. I had a little house with a vacant lot next door that was a bit upslope from me. Narrow and deep lot. 185 foot boundary that had grown up like a hedgerow. Some of the volunteers were 5 inches thick. And, interwoven through it all was old barbed wire and chicken wire. Someone started to build a house on the lot and I wanted a good solid fence between me and them. Never know what you'll get next door.

So, I cleared the boundary line. That was quit a job. Then I measured, measured and measured again. Found an old guy with a little saw mill. He cut everything to size and salvaged the wood (cedar) out of an old logging bridge. LOL. When he showed up, I helped him unload. All the wood was frozen together, and I could not keep up with the old bird! Then I asked the guys that were building the house next door if they took "side" jobs. They did. So, in one weekend, I had my 185' fence (7 feet tall) and the whole thing cost me around $500. That was in the 1980s. I was pretty proud of myself that when all was said and done, there was just a very small pile of scrap left over.

I think the frogs will be ok if we get a cold snap. They just roll back into hibernation again for the duration. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Well, that particular Boss, I kind of had him in a corner. I came here because I wanted to live in a small place. He was crazy to get out of here and manage one of our stores further north in a metro area. The District Manager told him he could have the next available northern store, IF he had a promotable assistant manager.

So, I came in as the assistant. One night, after he had gone home, I discovered he'd totally trashed the back room in a rage. So, I cleaned it up, thought about it for awhile and after work swung by his place. I calmly told him that if he pulled a stunt like that again, I'd quit and tell the district manager exactly why I quit and that he'd never get out of what he perceived to be "a hole." Never had a problem with him, again.

A year later, he transferred to our new Olympia store. I moved up. Later, he ended up managing a store in the downtown Seattle business district. Nirvana, to him. And, a little later he was fired for coming unglued at an employee, in front of several customers who blew the whistle on him. I occasionally wonder what ever became of him.

The Frogs. Better to be transported than to be hung at the Old Bailey :-).

You may have heard that you're old Alma Mater, Radio Shake is going through bankruptcy / re-structuring, over here. They are going to close most of their stores. I suppose they will close the little store here. About the only place left to buy electronics other than Walmart, in this area. Where I refuse to set foot. Lew

Cathy McGuire said...

I forgot to mention - the wombat is cute, the trailer is awesome and the veggies are making me envious! :-) It seems to me you must never take a vacation! But that might be a industrial world concept that will soon be going out the window.

Despite the fence fiasco, I still managed to write a bunch more pages on my novel, so I'm keeping ahead of you all ( ) and also, in case anyone wants to read about my lawsuit, I wrote an article on Daily Kos to help US citizens wake up to the fact that the legal system is not there for them!
Using personal experience to help push for reforms...

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

I am glad that you looked at my daughter's site. I thought that the re-vegetation was in keeping with your blog and was amazed at the increase in bird species that it had produced.

It is the silver birch from which one can get sap and then make wine from it. I have never tried it.

When zucchini are referred to, are they marrows or courgettes? I ask because your photos looked like courgettes which do get very large very rapidly if one doesn't watch out. My marrows will keep easily for 6 months, but the courgettes don't keep. Hence my question.

Have just been buzzed by a mosquito. What on earth is it doing here in winter!

Referring to the young these days: I wouldn't consider going to university if it meant debt; debt is anathema to me and I regard a mortgage as debt. The powers that be are trying to treat credit and debt as different things. Okay, they are; but what a thin line divides the two!

The cost of buying a house is disgraceful here and rents are sky high. I am so glad that we were able to buy our initial ruin with savings. Mind you, we never had an income sufficient to gain us a mortgage if we had wanted one.

I loath academia by the way, but admit that I am grossly prejudiced.


Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Never heard of maple butter before. You often find lemon butter here instead which is quite nice on toast.

Jackie French has a book on companion planting. Plants are pretty hardy.

Hi Lewis,

I second your opinion of Joel Salatin. I met him a few years back at an open farm day near here (they brought him out from the US), and you'd have to go a long way before meeting someone as passionate about farming as him.

You may be interested to know that during a cold snap here, the frogs and toads can retreat underground. I've accidentally dug up a few over the years. They look pretty annoyed.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Good for you, the guy sounds like a nightmare. I have a low tolerance for that sort of thing. I've often noted that those sorts of people "groom" the people around them by starting small until they escalate into whacko territory. They're a nightmare, but their secret is that they rely on society being civil and polite - those individuals are actually quite cowardly. I usually call them on their rubbish and they then treat me like a live snake. It was a hard lesson to learn many long years ago as a kid. It is often easier to go through the pain upfront and deal with them than let it build up to an explosion.

hehe! Too funny. Them frogs, they n'er do well 'em, ya hear. Very amusing.

Sorry to hear that. Yeah, electronics can be hard to come by these days. There's a chain of shops here called Jaycar which sell all manner of techo stuff and I often pick up stuff there. That's where the sign fell onto my head, all those weeks back... Wow, that hurt... Sometimes the difficult to get electronic stuff is only to be found direct from the manufacturer online. What do you do?

When I used to work at the shop in the mid 80's as a kid, I used to drool over their discontinued items as everything was dirt cheap. Possibly I used to annoy my boss by buying said cheap discontinued items for their marked down price before he could make better margins with the normal customers.

Did I ever mention that they were the only employer ever to sack me? Well done them, no hard feelings on my part though. I had a dispute with my boss about a day off to visit my grandmother just before Christmas when the store was crazy busy. He originally said yes and then no, so being me, I went anyway. I was just a bit broke after that time and had to go back to morning newspaper deliveries. Seriously the 5am starts were just not me, but there was no other cash forthcoming as my mum was broke...



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy,

Thanks for the lovely comments. No stress, I understand getting to the other side of a big storm and having to repair the damage. It is always a big shock to the system. The farm copped a direct hit from a tornado once on Christmas day a few years back, so I hear you.

Incidentally last year, I went out of my way to meet people who garden and had survived the Black Saturday bushfires in Feb 09. The thing that I took away from those encounters was that: disasters are quite traumatic experiences; people are very resilient; and the people who abandoned ship to come back later to survey the damage were far less emotionally scarred than those who hung around to witness nature in her full might.

Thanks for the link, I'll check it out.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Your daughter has a good eye for art too!

It is funny you say that about the birds, but at the local garden club the other day, people were saying that they were having problems with this bug and that bug and then unfortunately they asked me how I was going.

I told them that I'd increased the amount of shrubs which has in turn attracted small wrens and robins to take up residence here and they're eating all of the bugs. Then they told me that we can't all live in a clearing in the forest (is churlish the correct word?). I had a lot of trouble convincing them that it wasn't the forest, it was the shrubs which provided housing and protection for the small birds, but... Round and round we went and I eventually gave up.

Many thanks for the info. If you ever spot some for consumption, you'll have to road test it for us all.

Courgettes. Yeah, don't turn your back on them. The real monster fruits keep for 6 months here too, but I keep them inside where they stay warm and dry. People were telling me that if you want to save seeds from them, you have to let the fruit almost rot outside before collecting the seeds. I believe you can ferment the seeds inside the house too and may try that this year.

Do you get mosquitos? They're a nuisance here, but not having a stagnant body of water around makes a big difference. The March flies do the same thing here too, but they rip chunks of skin off you and you end up with an itchy bite.

Yup, debt is a killer of enterprise for sure. Are they actually different things, it is just my opinion that credit is the same thing as debt just with a different name. Years ago, I used to get confused by all of the financial jargon, but it dawned on me one day that the jargon is there to deliberately confuse you. That is the purpose - to seed confusion. Most financial instruments are simply variations on a theme of debt. There's a capital amount invested which you may or may not receive back again in the future. That capital amount may be worth more or less at some stage in the future and there is a return on that capital which you may or may not receive. They really are all that simple, the industry is built around packaging it up to make it look complex so that you trust them. Generally if people say, "this is a trust thing", then you know you are possibly about to get ripped off. Just sayin...

Just out of interest how do you perceive that credit is different to debt? I'm not sure I understand.

Did you know that rent is included in the consumption component of the measure of GDP? So when rents go up, people can cheer on economic growth. I tend to believe rents going up is a sign that we're all poorer, we just don't admit it yet...

The other thing that really confuses me is that people say that we're entering a deflationary period and yet house prices and rents still keep going up and up here. I suspect that the weighting of that cost increase in the inflation numbers is deliberately reducing the impact on that statistic, because in the real world people pay a substantial amount of their incomes just on keeping the rain and sun off their heads at night! How is that even possible anyway as the two situations: rising house prices and deflation seem to be mutually exclusive from a common sense perspective? I dunno, the whole thing confuses me, but it doesn't look or smell good.

Well, it is a business after all and like any business they manufacture perceived demand for their product. I reckon there is a place for higher education, I just don't believe the current models are sustainable. I've read that the universities here without further funding increases are only a few years away from financial disaster. There has been much discussion about that over here and the powers that be are pushing for deregulation of fees which will explode the now very large student debt. All for a few bucks more.

How did you end up with your prejudice? There is a story there for sure.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis and Inge,

Just scored some good photos of one of the blue wrens bouncing through the going to seed carrot bed. I collect the carrot seeds and distribute them about the place. The carrots are in their third or fourth generation here and I find I just don't eat that many carrots... Oh well. It's ADR time anyway!

Cheers. Chris

orchidwallis said...

@ Lewis

I like book recommendations! Re: illegality; there is a lovely American saying:- You can't boast about the things you do that are really neat, that's why they are really neat. Too true and means that one can't always give advice that one might like to give.


LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Dogs, cats, chooks or frogs there are times when you do something, and they look at you, and you just know they are thinking "Moron." :-).

I've been fired, maybe once or twice (pretty amazing considering the number the jobs I've had), but I have walked off a number of jobs. And, given proper notice on a lot of other one's when I moved onto something else. Several times I had no clear job to move onto. I always muddled through and I think that's because I was so willing to take on just about anything to keep a paycheck coming in.

Oh, yeah. I was a newspaper delivery guy for a couple of years when I was 12 or 13. Portland, Oregon, so it was a big metro daily. It was pretty ok when we had two newspapers, an afternoon and a morning. Then they consolidated and became just a morning paper. Yes, those 4:30 and 5:00am start times were brutal. I was such a little capitalist that when a route opened up next to mine, I picked it up. And, hustling subscriptions. That was the year of the Seattle World's Fair. I won three trips. Went twice, myself and took my brother along once. And, promptly lost him! :-).

Don't know why but when you mentioned the psychological impact of disasters on people, it reminded me that it's not very advisable to go to auctions and see your own stuff auctioned off. Trauma and drama!

Don't get me started on economic indicators like GDPs, etc. My two retirements go up a little, each year. They call it a "cost of living" raise. These people are not living in the real world. This year, my Social Security increase was 1.7%. I'll try not to spend the $14 all in one place :-).

I've heard news that means I'd better get my hummingbird feeders up NOW. Hummingbirds are showing up in great numbers, down in town. Which is a lower elevation than me, but they will work their way up here, pretty soon. They are about a month and a half, early. it will be nice to see them, but I find the early arrival rather disquieting.

Haven't seen any mosquitos yet, like Inge. But, bees and wasps. Maybe there will be a silver lining. Maybe it will be a good year for the Cinnabar Moth. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

I can learn, I got the good eye for art; very clever. Once I would not have cottoned on.

Too much to reply to at present and I need to think about some of it and not be sloppy. Thank you for making me think, it is something that I lack in this rural fastness.

Meanwhile, is lemon butter what I call lemon curd? I am not very keen on it. Maple butter is quite stiff, more so than peanut butter.


Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Oh yeah, that lot can be the harshest of critics. And most of the time they're generally annoyed with my actions: Ahh, you humans are sooo stoopid, but of course I want more beef jerky, why would you think I do not? And so it goes...

A big storm rolled in this afternoon and early evening, so I sat on the veranda in the heat enjoying a coffee and Anzac biscuit (homemade) and simply watched the lightening from afar. When it got closer the thunder just kept crashing in the sky, and the evening drew in around me. So I thought, what the heck, I cracked out a mead and sat back under cover and just enjoyed the great show put on by nature. We've had about half an inch of rain so far and it still hasn't stopped raining - with more predicted for overnight.

With the birds singing and the frogs calling out, they are all making quite the racket. Poor Sritchy though, as she hates thunder storms so is sticking like glue to me. She woke me up this morning even before the alarm went off (a very unwise move) just to tell me that there is a storm approaching. I'm not quite sure I require 12 hours advanced notice, but I do appreciate her efforts.

It is funny how the animals that we surround ourselves with are just so much better tuned into nature than we are.

Well, being fired is a badge of honour in my books. Well done. hehe! Oh, you're in good company because I walked off one job too - without pay. They lied to me about their cash position in the interview. After a couple of days, I said to them that they don't have many more months trading ahead of them. They said that they'd trade out of their present difficulties by expanding their business, so I said after a week of thorough investigation: see ya later. Unfortunately I didn't get paid at all, even though they went belly up a month or two later... It was in the papers too.

Wow, that is so weird, because the same thing happened here. I used to do two morning runs and an afternoon run, but one of the morning papers took over the afternoon paper so I was out of an afternoon job. Fortunately, I took over a chemist round delivering prescriptions so all was well with the cash flow.

The early winter mornings here were brutal - especially when it rained, but up your way would have been the whole next level. Mate, that is cold. Respect. I hated the rain as I had to get off the bike and drop the papers on the front door - which was usually under cover. The paper boys used to fight over the run that included the elderly citizens home as they were exceptionally good tippers at Christmas time. However, they often used to gift doilies and tea cosies. It was thoughtful I guess, but as a mercenary young teen, cash would have been preferable! hehe. I wonder what they thought that I was going to do with them… The pinball and space invader machines were not cheap you know...

Thanks for your memories. It was all good fun though.

I'd never thought of it that way, but seeing the auction of a house that you spent blood sweat and tears on is hard, so yeah it isn't good to see your stuff auctioned and see what people will pay for it.


Cherokee Organics said...

I recently sold some fire rated roller shutters which I paid well over $2,500 for brand new and only got $170 for. I'm kind of philosophical about that sort of thing as they are only worth what someone will pay for them, but it still grates.

I hear you, I haven't had a pay rise in over 6 years now - a sign of the times. There was a satirical play by David Williamson called: The Club which recounts the fortunes of a local football club over a year near the beginning of the big money side of sports. Hang in there as this is actually relevant to your increase, because at one point in the play / film, a player remarks that with their pension upon retirement from the game they'll be able to buy themselves and their mate a pizza. A bit of Aussie trivia for you that one. But for some reason, that line struck a chord with me.

They're mucking around with retirement ages (70 for me) as well as the self-funded retirement scheme here (you and your employer put money into an investment vehicle called superannuation - and hope for the best - it is sort of like a bank account) that there'll hardly be anything by the time I retire - at least that is what my gut feeling tells me. I used to think it was a good system and it actually was when it was setup, but successive governments have used it like a political football - thus the football reference...

Wow, that is odd. Tell you what, the exotic trees here are displaying their autumn colours early this year. It is just weird.

I hope so too!



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Well, I meant it literally as well. I do try and get people to think - as much as I can achieve that anyway - and perhaps look at their world differently.

I'm unsure whether you spotted the little phone joke I commented on over at the ADR this week. I played it on a guy that I've known for a few years and whilst it was fun, it also has a level of seriousness.

You know, I had a very silly article published recently about bubble baths - but in all of the silliness, I slipped in a whole lot of information. I lady that I know in the local gardening group spotted the article and thought that it was a bit cheeky.

Yeah, it can be easy to drift off to sleep in a rural fastness, but it is also incredibly challenging and interesting place to live. You're immersed in nature up to your eyeballs and that is always a nice place to be as she rewards us with sometimes awesome storms, whilst at other times the birds and animals around us perform funny antics for their own amusement. The birds here in particular are always mucking around...

Yes, lemon butter is lemon curd which can vary quite markedly depending on who makes it and whether they use margarine or mixed butter or real butter. I'll keep an eye out for the maple butter.



orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Oh yes, we have mosquitos but they don't carry disease. I am one of the 10% of the population that they love. I believe that it is only partly known why all people are not affected. Sitting out in NSW with younger daughter, on her deck after dark I said that I had to go in as I was being bitten. I had 15 bites, daughter had none.

We also have midges, miniscule things which fly in great clouds; I have not seen these in Australia. They seem to be a thing of the north ie. Canada, Scandinavia, Scotland etc. They get in ones eyes, ears, nose, hair and they bite. I gather that they can suffocate caribou.

I was walking in Kielder forest in Northumberland when they attacked me. A hunk of the forest was due to be flooded to create a dam. I was so misguided as to say 'the sooner the better'. Shortly afterwards I fell and I am not accident prone. To this day I think that the forest was getting back at me. I usually fall well and rolled a long way down. Lay there checking on myself and all seemed well so I stood up. Then I saw my thumb; it didn't hurt at all but wood was forced all the way down under the whole of my thumb nail. It took me 1 hour to walk out of the forest and sensation/ agony returned to that thumb. They tried to do something in the campsite where I was staying but I started to faint whenever they tried. Ho! ho! it wasn't one piece of wood just packed in little pieces. They found a doctor for me to be driven to on a Sunday in the middle of nowhere. Anyhow my apologies to the forest for my ill advised remark.

I hadn't intended to get on to that story.

We also have horse flies which are the same as your march flies; they give a nasty bite.

Credit/debt: I use a credit card, useful for booking hotels, flights etc. I pay it off every month and would only use it if I have the money to clear it i.e. credit. Now if I couldn't clear it and just paid the minimum asked for that would be debt. This is where I see that slim, slim line. So a mortgage is debt as people usually would be unable to clear it if suddenly asked to. Ditto with student fees etc.

I wasn't suggesting that my life here doesn't make me think, I meant that people here don't challenge things that I say.

Academia: I probably should have shut up as I can't tell the many stories. I spent a hunk of my life amongst international famed academics. I was appalled at the self aggrandisement, career before everything and worst of all the false and faked research. I was very naïve and realise that this happens everywhere. Trouble was that I cared where research was concerned. Caring and naivety tend to go together. I also saw what happened to a whistle blower. I am certainly not targeting all the people that I met; many were totally honest thank goodness.

Back to the soil: still haven't got to whether you are distinguishing between marrows and courgettes. Why do your courgettes keep when mine don't? I have no trouble with the seeds of either, again I just turf them out between 2 sheets of kitchen paper and they are fine.

I did read about you dropping the phone on ADR, very good.


orchidwallis said...


Wow! $14 you are in the money. My pension goes up £3 per wk. 5th April which is the start of our financial year. When does the financial year start in the US/

The annual letter telling one what ones pension was going to be used to refer to 'pension' this has now been changed to 'benefit'. So all us oldies are now on benefits even though we paid into it. We have become part of the maligned benefit culture as well as a drain on the health service. We certainly aren't meant to feel good.


LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Looking forward to the pictures of the blue wrens. I like blue anything :-). We have blue jays, here. Very skittish and naughty birds. They steal the dog's food. If I go anywhere near the kitchen window, they are gone. As opposed to the hummingbirds that will come right up and take a look. I think the hummingbirds are smarter. They seem to "get it" that there's glass between them and me. We also have a bluebird that disappeared ... but is now making a comeback. I think I've seen one, twice. You can build a nesting box to encourage them, but it has to have VERY specific dimensions.

I envy you your lightening storms (other than the fire starting potential). I saw some photos from around Perth, recently. Quit spectacular. When I was a kid, we used to go east, occasionally. Nebraska has spectacular lightening. Here, because of the constant cloud cover, we don't get much fork lightening. There's just a lot of flashy glow. Ho-hum. :-).

Too funny about Stritchy being an occasional early riser. Nell, the cat, was very restless this morning and woke me up several times. Nothing real overt, but just scratching at things and moving about. It's like, "Get up Dad! I'm bored! Entertain me!"

Yeah, the weather could be something, when I was a paper boy. When I still had the evening route, we had the Columbus Day Storm which hit when I was out. We've talked about that. The thing I remember most clearly about the morning route. Was ... well, we would show up at the "paper shack" where we would "insert the inserts" (the advertising) and roll up the papers. Pick up any notices of changes in our route.

One morning, there in three inch type was "Marilyn Monroe Dead!" So, there I was, in the dead of night, with the city sleeping all around. It's hard to describe. Most of those people didn't know, but we did. A feeling of power? But also wonder. And a sense of mission.

Yeah, selling stuff can be a real bummer when you can't get near what you paid for it. Auctions can be pretty traumatic. When I take stuff to the auction, I just keep repeating a mantra in my head "It's worth what it goes for, it's worth what it goes for." If I take a lot of stuff, some things are disappointing, or even tragic, but other things are a pleasant surprise. It all kind of evens out. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

The mosquitoes here don't carry disease either. Several hundred kilometers north they carry Ross River Fever and there are occasionally outbreaks up there. Your younger daughter - if she is in northern coastal NSW - may have a very minor chance of exposure. It is quite tropical up that way.

15 bites is a very itchy experience. Anti-histamines work well in such cases.

A midge swarm sounds like a very unpleasant experience. Not good.

The large ants here bite and spray the skin and inject formic acid (I'm not 100% sure), but you end up with swelling, joint aches, irritated skin and often chemical burns. I do everything I can to make the place less pleasant for them so they go elsewhere. It has certainly reduced their numbers. They dislike humic acid which is a component of top soil. Ants are sort of like the worms of the drylands, so where there is no top soil, there are ants to be found. And they're very aggressive.

The spirit of the forest can certainly make it an unpredictable place to be. And one to have respect for. The trees drop limbs, large branches and their heads here and you sometimes only have a few moments warning. That is certainly an interesting forest too. All of the photos show trees of the same or similar age, so I assume that it is regularly logged? It looked very green and lush. It was interesting that there was more of the forest south of the border than north of the border or that may be a quirk of google maps?

They're probably the same thing. You don't notice them until they take a big chunk of flesh. Little rotters...

I see, that makes sense. Yeah, I use a credit card too, but never pay interest on it as the balance always gets settled. If I can't afford it, I don't buy it.

Ahh, that is an interesting cultural aspect. The same thing goes on here, but people simply dismiss opinions outright. A good example was last year when the farm copped three days in excess of 40'C (104'F) with the final day of 45'C (114'F) in the shade. Now a local guy that helps me with the bees dismissed my observation that all three colonies departed during that time to cooler parts of the forest, by stating that they left because there was not enough food (nectar and pollen) here at the farm for them to forage - despite the fact that the wax inside the hives melted. Dunno, I used to get upset about such conflicts, but I've found that getting on with your life is a simpler way to go as it saves energy and unnecessary aggravation. Dunno, really, but that is a big part of the culture here as people dismiss observed reality in favour of their preferred narrative. A mate of mine that has a PhD once almost killed both myself and my lady by driving at a 6 foot Kangaroo at speed along a highway here - and he refused to slow down because apparently: "he was an expert on kangaroos". It is worthwhile mentioning that his PhD had nothing at all to do with Kangaroos either. I wondered just how many times he'd pulled out that particular card.

Wow, what an experience that you had. It is true too what you say about whistle blowing as no one supports them as they get crushed by the very system they think that they are protecting. Always best to walk away. There have been a few high profile cases here recently in the financial planning industry and no one has come to their rescue and it appears that very little cultural change has occurred.

I don't know why the courgettes keep, they just do. It is drier here though and the flesh of those fruits are perhaps drier? However, it is very humid here today 75% inside and about 60% outside as there was 1.2 inches of rain last night which was well received. It just feels like the tropics outside...

Many thanks.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Not saying that that sounds a bit 1984-ish, but it certainly sounds a bit Orwellian to me. Language is a powerful tool.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Cool. They're the permanent clean-up crew here and will spend all day long eating spiders, aphids, moths, other bugs - you name it.

Wow, the blue jay is one attractive bird and the beak looks as though it has great purpose. Good on them for being smart enough to get into the dog food. An excellent protein hit for the birds.

Many of the birds here will scratch up and eat the dog doo doo, so it all disappears and returns as guano which is a good fertiliser for the plants. Nature doesn't like waste at all.

That is too funny about the windows. Over the years I've had one or two that have flown into the windows - it usually isn't good for their health. The magpies like looking at themselves in the mirrors of the cars: I'm sure they're thinking - that's a good looking bird there...

If I leave the garden lights on for too long, the marsupial bats will start swooping on all of the insects which are attracted to the lights. You can actually here, the high pitched tick, tick, tick sound as they're flying around.

Yeah, Perth has had a hard summer this year and one big electrical storm. It is the intersection of hot and cold fronts which also provides all of the crazy variability in weather here too: Melbourne electrical storm. Last night, the thunder just kept going on and on. It was pretty spectacular. Oh yeah, tomorrow is meant to get to 36'C (98'F) but with high humidity... Yuk.

Naughty Nell. Cats and dogs do that whole cat nap thing so make up for the early mornings. An afternoon nap would be ideal for an early morning rise. Perhaps Nell is smarter than all of us?

Hey, they never added advertising inserts to the newspapers and the routes never seemed to change from time out of memory. The houses did though, after a couple of weeks I'd remember the whole run start to finish. You know, they wrap the newspapers up in plastic and throw them out the window of moving cars nowadays here. Terrible.

Hey, did you ever have the delivery truck get delayed and you'd end up hanging around the newsagent for hours? I used to go through all of their magazines and catch up on the reading. Still I would have rather been in bed.

Yeah, that is true. I remember delivering the papers the day the first Space Shuttle blew up. It was an eerie feeling wasn't it getting the news ahead of everyone else? I'll bet the old telegraph operators had the same feeling too - especially when they used to run the huge undersea cables between continents. That was the purpose of Alice Springs in the centre of the continent as it was a repeater station for the old telegraph network which went north of Australia and into Indonesia. A truly massive undertaking.

I still remember telegraphs when I was a wee lad.

I can never tell what is going to have value for other people either and isn't it always a surprise just what does? Sometimes timing can be a big factor too. Two years ago I picked up a massive water tank for only $400 because the photo on the ad was so bad and the auction finished over Easter. I haven't one that cheap again.

That water tank was so big that getting it back here was a real drama and I avoided every main road as I could go faster than about 40mph as the tank was like a giant sail on the trailer.

Book recommendation alert! Waa Waa Waa - that is the sound of a klaxon alarm. Given you worked in a kitchen, have you ever read Anthony Bourdain's book Kitchen Confidential?

Making some muesli and a banana cake right now. The trick with banana cakes is to wait until the bananas have gone beyond mushy into moosh territory (that is the next level).



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Inge; Our financial year starts in January. But since they pay a month "back" I don't see the increase until February.

Chris is right about language. They changed our's to "Entitlement" and made it sound like a bad thing, in the MSM. Being the cranky old guy that I am, I seized on the word and made it my own. I paid in, all those years. I'm entitled to it. When someone got argumentative and said I'd pull out more than I put in, I responded that the Government got to use all my money, all those years and that any extra was interest. :-). Language is a funny thing. Right now, over here, "Activist" is often said with a sneer in the MSM.

Mosquitos are funny beasts. When we were kids, they would eat my brother alive, and leave me alone. Ditto, ringworm. We used to visit an uncle that had a cat. I quit made over it. I think my brother touched it once. Later, the cat got ringworm. Didn't touch me but my brother? Came right down with it. I always attributed it to his being of a more blond complexion. I notice I'm losing some of my resistance as I grow older.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Somehow, I find Jays rather unloveable. Don't know why. Maybe it's because their vocalizations are so ... grating.

I don't remember our trucks every being late. My route did change, quit a bit, when we had a major event. The coming of the I-5. Drove about a 4 block wide swath through the north end of Portland. I can still remember the vast wasteland this created for a year or two, once the houses were gone. Just streets and "stairways to nowhere."

Oh, yes. I really enjoy Bourdain. Last night I watched (from the library, of course) National Geographic's "Eat: The Story of Food." Anytime a talking head came up with "author" in their tag line, I jotted down the name. I now have quit a list of food writers I want to follow up on. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

That change of language thing is just weird. I'm not a big fan of the word "activist" as I'm generally unsure what it actually means nowadays. I know what it used to mean though.

I sometimes get hassled by collectors looking for money for a particular cause and I hope they don’t actually consider themselves to be activists? Who knows?

Mosquitos are funny creatures as they'll go for my lady rather than me, but the march flies will go for me instead. There simply is no upside to the constant barrage of insects here, all the talk of the outdoors Aussie lifestyle is complete rubbish. I was outside working today and I feel knocked out now by the heat, but it was a real relief this afternoon when the march flies also got hot and stopped trying to take chunks off my skin.

Yeah, ring worm used to be a real drama here too when I was young, but you don't hear about it these days. I grow a lot of different wormwood's and I understand that the Europeans used to add the leaves of that shrub to herbal concoctions in early spring to flush the parasites from their bodies. The leaves certainly don't taste very nice! I grow the Absinthe variety here too.

Not good, especially if your secret superpower against the mosquitoes is now letting you down. As the climate warms, I've often wondered whether some of the more tropical mosquito borne diseases will head south to here (north for you).

That is unfortunate. The blue wrens here make a constant chatter of cheep, cheep, cheep which is quite pleasant. I'm actually hoping more of them move in. Some birds just don't sing a pleasant song. The wattle birds here can sound a bit rough.

However, last night a Powerful Owl was stalking around and they are as big as it gets at night. As top order predators, they require a big area so they turn up for a bit, clean the area out and then disappear. I'm still planning to purchase a proper rat trap next weekend at the Seymour Alternative Farming Expo.

You were lucky, as the delivery trucks were late about once a fortnight, but the route itself was fixed. I occasionally had to fill in for paperboys that were sick.

Wow, did the powers that be, demolish houses for the I-5? Compulsory acquisition has been mooted here from time to time, but it rarely amounts to anything because there is just so much hue and cry from the population. That would have been eerie, travelling through those areas.

Yeah, Bourdain is a bit of a rough nut and I've often wondered whether his stories were tall stories, but then they sounded all too true. I quite enjoy Gordon Ramsay as he has a similar approach to problem solving – especially in relation to people - as I've employed in the past. If you spot any very interesting food writers, please drop a recommendation - yes, I did say that and you can remind me in due course! hehe!



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; I've got a crocus blooming. Daffodils are all budded out and ought to make a showing, any time now. I keep meaning to bring in some forsythia to force and get a little color in the house.

Our local 2 year college sent out a catalog. There's some interesting classes. Short one's that they call "continuing education." Not really part of the regular curriculum. No credits, but useful stuff. "Unique planting and gardening techniques." Mentions hugelkulture and Fukuoka's seed balls. "Intro to Permaculture." I don't THINK I'll take either of these, as it all might be covered in the Master Gardener's course. On the other hand, the guy teaching it is in my neck of the woods and it might be nice to get to know some of the "neighbors." "Beginning Beekeeping." 2 knitting classes, beginners and advanced. Stained glass. Mosaics. etc. etc.. A social media class, if you can imagine. :-).

Electronics. Hmmm. Well, I don't need much. I guess I try to get it locally, from local owned stores. I got my chicken light timer from a kind of locally owned department store. My new canner came direct from the manufacturer. Ditto the water filter. Not really electronic.

Yeah, at least twice a year I get a bird (usually, a starling) crash into a window. Which usually leaves a big smear of bird poop. Sigh. I've never found a body, though, so I guess they're no worse for wear.

Not on the list from the DVD I bought, but Alton Brown is a good food writer. Think I'm going to have to add some of his books to my collection. He's very down to earth and can be very funny. He also goes into the science end of cooking in a very clear and entertaining way. His first book was "I'm Just Here for the Food." I'm making my way through another of his, "Gear for Your Kitchen." If you Google "Alton Brown, 40 recipes" you get an idea of the kinds of food he does. It's on the website. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris (again :-) ). I wanted to do a post on a dvd I watched last night. Michael Pollan's "Botany of Desire." Of course, I read the book years ago, but it was interesting to see it on film.

Well, his basic question is, do we control plants or do plants control us. How much of a symbiotic relationship is it? Do we control them, or have they been using us, shaping us to their own purposes. A nice turn of phrase: "The Dance of Domestication."

So, he takes a look at four plants. Apples (sweetness), tulips (beauty), intoxication (cannabis) and Potatoes (control - of the food supply.)

In the apple section, I discovered something very useful. Not so much to me, more's the pity. :-). Me being a non-drinker, and all. It's an old pioneer trick. You have hard cider, with it's rather mile alcohol content. You want to boost it. Instead of turning the cantina into a science lab, you just freeze it. The alcohol doesn't freeze but the water content does. Lift out the water and you have a higher octane liquid, left. Do it again, and the alcohol content is even higher.

I may not drink it myself, but I think I'll eventually put up a few bottles for antiseptic, if nothing else. If everything unravels, there is also trade.

Tulips were pretty interesting. I didn't realize that, like apples, tulip seed does not "breed true" to the parent plant. Only clones (the bulbs) will replicate the parent. He told an interesting story (in the dvd extras) about that. The first old guy to bring tulips to Holland (before tulip mania) was very tight fisted and wouldn't let people even LOOK at his tulips. So, one night, some people broke in, stole the tulip flowers and scattered the seed all over Holland.

The cannabis (aka Mara-Hoochie :-) ) section was interesting. But as it is such a loaded topic in some quarters, I won't comment.

Potatoes was interesting. 5,000 varieties in Peru. And, about one variety that is grown commercially, here. The Russet Burbank. All our potatoes in one basket, so to speak. There was an interesting little story (again, in the extras) about the French king. He wanted potatoes in wider distribution, to even out the food supply. The people weren't buying it, as they looked so much like nightshade. So, the King planted several acres on Royal Land outside of Paris, and set guards around. Who he sent home from midnight to dawn. People being people, many were stolen. :-). Wise king.

Potatoes is also the section where he covers genetic engineering.

We have something here called "deer flies." They've driven me out of the woods a time or two. As far as mosquito diseases are concerned, we've already had a couple of cases of West Nile Virus in Washington and Idaho. I can see mosquito netting in my future.

Here we have a thing called "Eminent Domain". Government can seize (or buy) property "for the common good." With just compensation. Of course, one man's just compensation is another's government cash cow.

We have a case in this county, now, where the State government wants to take a chunk of some old guys land for flood control. He doesn't think they're paying him, enough. Back in New Jersey there was a case where a city seized a home to build a casino. The rational for that was that a casino would bring in more revenue for the "public good."

A phrase thrown around a lot back in the late 1950s, early 60's was "Urban Renewal." When the highway system was being built. Lots of beautiful old neighborhoods bit the dust or were cut in half.
Enough. Gorgeous day. Need to get out and clear or plant something. Lew

Phil Harris said...

I have just picked up your comment and alert on ADR.

Queensland getting a Category 5 cyclone!!! My goodness the climate makes us puny.

My thoughts are with those people up there just now. Life sure looks stark when storm comes.


Purple Flowers said...

G'day! Just wondered if by any chance you'd be willing to part with some of your walking onions? I'm looking for some to buy for my veggie patch this season Let me know if you are! Thanks, and happy gardening. Kath