Monday, 22 January 2018

Lied about being the outdoors type

This blog is now available as an mp3 podcast through the link: www.ferngladefarm.com.au

Hi everyone! I'm Ollie the six month old Australian cattle dog. My boss, Chris, who usually writes the blog, asked me to write this week instead.

Less discerning people may call my distinguished lineage by the common name of: Red Heeler. Of course the use of common names, also indicates that the users may themselves be common.

What were we talking about? Oh that's right: distinguished lineage. Yes, I am bred from a long line of tough cattle dogs. There is even a bit of dingo (coyote) in my DNA and it shows in my upright ears and alert face. I am a working farm dog.

As an alert puppy I do enjoy a bit of mischief. Anyway, I have it on good authority that we all get up to a bit of mischief every now and then.


The thing is though, I'm not really interested in this whole work thing. My previous owners who bred me, used to become really angry with me because I wouldn't do what they wanted. They used to yell at me and beat me. Then they got rid of me. Just like that. Nasty people. I didn't get fired from my job, I was just told: "Don't you come back here!"

Who cares, I'm glad to be rid of them, those rotten people. Enough about them because it's not about them, it's about me. As a breed with a distinguished lineage, I knew I'd find another job pretty quick smart. And so I did. There was a position at some farm called: "Fernglade Farm"; and I thought to myself, "Well, I don't really like working, but a dog has to have a job, and well, you know, I better apply for this job". So, I applied for the job, and here I am.

As a working dog with opinions, I feel that I should choose when and where I have to work. In the meantime, all that thinking about work makes me tired and there is always time for a quick nap:
Ollie the Australian cattle dog enjoying a well earned break from thinking about work
I have it on good authority (Sir Scruffy) that some dog called Sir Poopy, used to be constantly hard at work underfoot in the kitchen performing the important function of trip hazard. I like food and if my hard work in the kitchen pays off with the occasional dropped chunk, then I'm onto that job. Yeah, let's do this mother! Am I getting excited by work? Maybe?
Ollie, hard at work at the important function of kitchen trip hazard
As a cattle dog, I am blessed with naturally high intelligence and I'd much rather spend time on the Internet than being outside. Humans are stupid, because I did a bit of redecorating of my night time dog run in order to give those humans a good reason to leave me inside the house, where important work needs doing.
Ollie killed the dogs bean bag
It never occurred to me that the humans would not appreciate my redecorating skills, but there are other dog beds. Sir Scruffy has a nice dog bed, and because I'm of noble lineage, I can kick him out of his bedding. Take that Sir Scruffy!
Ollie kicks Sir Scruffy out of his dog bed
Kicking Sir Scruffy out of his dog bed was a bad idea, because my boss Chris said something to me about Sun Tzu and expecting the unexpected. I don't like being told off - and I blame the previous boss who used to beat me and yell at me, because I get scared and wet myself. OK, Sir Scruffy's bedding is off limits. I'm a fast learner.

Being a fast learner, I am starting to get the hang of what is required of me around the farm. I may even enjoy working here. The kitchen is great, but the chickens are awesome. I love chickens and I so want to eat one them, but every time I get close enough to do so, I get pulled away at the last second. Pah!
Ollie on chicken and fox patrol - but mostly chicken patrol
What is with all of the boundary patrol walks? I can't possibly imagine that there is anything out there in the forest to fear. Anyway, whatever is out there is certainly not as smart as I am, and they do not have a noble lineage!

On the second day at the farm, I decided that I don't enjoy the lead and so I showed my boss how clever I was and unlatched myself. Those clasps are not that difficult. For some reason, I can't go on chicken patrol without the lead. What's with that? Being able to freely roam around the farm is sort of nice, and Mr Toothy has promised to teach me the ropes. Fortunately, I am a fast learner!
Mr Toothy shows Ollie the Australian cattle dog the ropes around the farm
Don't tell anyone, but I'm sort of enjoying this whole farm work thing!

My boss and the editor work very hard in all weather conditions, and they provide me with food for thought about my own attitude to work. I enjoy being outside with them whilst they work. Even when it was really hot like this week.
45'C / 113'F outside in the shade and 30'C / 86'F inside the house
For some strange reason, those two, who have been very nice to me, are mucking around with firewood. As a six month old puppy, I know that it is always warm to hot, so why all this work with firewood? Beats me...
The boss shows off his new toy. An electric chainsaw
The boss was wielding around some electric chainsaw cutting thing which he'd recently brought back to the farm. I don't see what all the fuss is about, but he kept saying something or other about a new and interesting use for electricity, whatever that is. Is electricity food, I don't think so... Electricity sounds boring. You know what is not boring, brisket bones. They're not boring and I have been enjoying them and my teeth are way bright and sharp!
The first firewood shed is almost full after three weeks of work
I still don't understand what all the firewood is for. My thin coat is very suitable for all this hot weather. All I can say is that humans are strange.

The boss has also been outside in the hot sun, mucking around with water pumps. Chris said something or other about using the faulty high volume 12 Volt water pump as a transfer pump and he spent hours outside in the hot sun (when I was happily inside, in the kitchen hoping for something to fall off the bench) mucking around with pipes and cables. After those hours all he could achieve was pumping 26L / 6.8 gallons per minute from some hose. I just don't understand why he doesn't use water bowls like any other sophisticated farm dog. Surely he must have tickets on himself?
Chris sorts out a high volume and 12 volt water pump
Who understands these humans? The boss also spent a while in the hot sun connecting up a permanent water tap (spigot) and large diameter 3/4 inch (18mm) hose for the reserve water tank. I do not for one second believe that these humans are all that bright because he then began pumping water up from the very large reserve 33,500L / 8,800 gallon water tank. You don't see me running around working in the hot sun, therefore I must be smarter than them. Although they do control the food, so I have to give them some credit where credit is due.
A permanent large diameter tap (spigot) arrangement was installed this week for the very large reserve water tank
The boss said something nice the other day. He looked at me and said, "Mate. You're alright, we just have to learn to live and work together". He's alright that human. For some strange reason though he mentioned the word, "Abomination" and then quickly followed that up with, "broken from the factory". I don't quite know what those words mean, but they sure sound harsh. Fortunately, they were not intended for me. I later discovered that he was talking about a leather couch. Couches are nice to sleep on, if you're allowed, and generally I'm not allowed. Not fair!
A leather couch which my boss, Chris, had spent thousands of somethings on. Apparently it is an abomination!
As I said before, those humans are pretty darn stupid. Chris sat me down in front of the couch and he explained that the leather was actually defined as leather but turned out to be 'leather' - constructed of small pieces of leather which had been joined somehow and stuck on a synthetic backing. By that time, my head was spinning and all I could think about was when is dinner? Can I eat leather? Can I eat 'leather'?

Then the editor and the boss disappeared for a few hours, only to return with another couch. Surely, he said couches are broken from the factory? Not so this one which he said was constructed from much higher quality materials. I would sleep on the couch, if I was allowed... Not fair!
A replacement and much higher quality couch which was locally manufactured
As a six month old dog I am fully cognisant of the way of the world. It is always hot as it has always been hot. I rest my case! On my frequent boundary patrol checks I happened to notice that the bees were also feeling the heat. As an intelligent dog, I know not to annoy the bees because of a gut feeling about them. The bees and I have no troubles, because we likewise ignore each other.
The bees sure did look hot
The local parrots on the other hand, well, I'd like to eat one of them. But they're fast and sneaky and look very tasty. Of course I am also fast and intelligent and so one day we shall meet, them and I and I shall prevail in that contest, despite their sharp wicked looking beaks! They have been annoying me this week as they are all over the many elderberries.
Crimson Rosella's enjoy the thousands of elderberries planted as decoy fruit
Speaking of plants. I noticed that some of the very tasty plums ripened this week. Now, if only I could get past the wire cages I could give you a better report as to their taste. The boss says that they're very tasty, but who is he? Humans have an unrefined palate as they refuse a good wombat poo, so what do they know about good taste?
Many tasty plums ripened this week
The boss refused to let me into the tomato enclosure. Whatever! I can see what is going on through the sapling picket fence.
Inside the tomato enclosure
The sugary sweet yellow corn look like they are growing well, but can I get to them through the pesky sapling picket fence?
Heritage open pollinated yellow corn is growing very well
I tell you what I could eat: Melons! Yum! Every sensible dog knows that melons are tasty, and the boss tells me that they're growing strongly in the heat.
Melons are growing strongly in the heat
Can you eat flowers? I don't think so! Maybe? What do you mean I have to show the flowers or face a rebuke? I am of a distinguished lineage which you are not! OK, I'll show the flowers...
Eggplants have flowered or are now producing fruit
Capsicum (peppers) and chillies are flowering in the ongoing heat
Some herbs, like this soap-wort, are relishing the heat
Salvia's are also no stranger to hot and dry conditions
Some geraniums have become withered in the extreme temperatures, but others are producing plenty of flowers
The mint family of plants are very hardy, like this oregano plant, which the bees love
Nothing can keep down the hundreds of agapanthus flowers which are enormously hardy
More agapanthus flowers with the dry looking shady orchard in the background
The temperature outside now at about 9.15pm is 16’C (61’F). So far this year there has been 22.2mm (0.9 inches) which is up from last week's total of 21.8mm (0.9 inches).

62 comments:

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

That is very true, and for the record, I have always avoided 'all you can eat' restaurants as there is just something about the raison d'être of those establishments that makes me feel sort of queasy!

No stress, I appreciated the further instruction. You live in a beautiful part of the world and if I lived on your island, I likewise would want to live in the part that you inhabit. There is something about wild spaces... The town is encroaching upon your woodland, and that is also a problem here. If you are interested to see a similar thing from here, Google: Cherokee, Victoria, Australia and switch to the maps and then click on the satellite view icon in the bottom left hand corner. I'm not hard to find, although the quality of the images are not quite as good as your drone flight.

To be honest, I have wondered whether the cheap flights on offer may be the cause of the decline in tourism? Yes, where does the income come from? Cheap flights are on the way out from what I am seeing.

The same comments apply to here as well. I for one wonder why people seek the land only to live as if they were in an urban area and dependent on all the services that come with that. Then if they live in the nearby town, why live so far from the city only to live in a built up area that looks every bit like an outer urban area? I really just do not understand peoples relationship to land as it makes little to no sense to me.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Beautifully spoken! A symphony - of course, so obvious and how could it be otherwise? Very few, if any, life forms exist in isolation. I may pinch your delightfully appropriate description for later use if that is OK with you? Are the scientists using reductive methodologies? Some tools are good for some uses, but an arc welder is no good for carpentry...

Sea monkeys remind me of my ill spent youth amusing myself reading the Mad magazines at the local newsagency. Because I worked there delivering newspapers early in the morning, I also had a free hand at reading whatever was in the well stocked shelves. It was amazing back in those days just how many periodicals were published on all sorts of niche interests. The internet has killed a thing or two in its time and has the unfortunate fate of "do unto others" to look forward (or backwards in this particular case) too. Oh yeah, the back page of every Mad magazine had advertisements for sea monkeys and I had an interest in fish and kept an aquarium. You may laugh, but I believed that I was missing out not being able to purchase the cheeky monkeys. A good early lesson in marketing!

South Park was very wrong, but oh so right! I remember one memorable day when I was working at the top end of town when I and the IT manager who reported to me, sat down and watched the South Park episode: Make Love, Not Warcraft. I am no fan of such multi-player games so I appreciated the excellent send up. I can add nothing other than: "Mom, Poop!" Nuff said. ;-)!

Well no wonder I have no idea what is what in the world of squashes versus pumpkins. They formed a minor sub plot with the excellent film: "Doc Hollywood" from way back in the day, and I for one thoroughly enjoyed it. The film covered the intricacies of life in a small town, as viewed by an out of towner from the big smoke.

A lot of vegetables and other plants are like that. Did you know that at one time there were apparently 7,000 varieties of apples in cultivation? It is nice to know that the plants if given the chance can regain their lost genetic heritage. Out of curiosity, the native Americans in your area must have kept a tight lid on their population too? Any garden of Eden can be overrun with enough time.

Now I'm really scared, as I don't want anything to do with that lot. Bad as. Hey, I meant to say that Peruvian food is distinctive and excellent and is subtly better than other South American cuisines! Do you reckon that will mollify them? Perhaps not. At least there is a big ocean between me and them... Maybe I’ve annoyed other cultures. Far out this is complex!

Peanuts have travelled a long way haven't they? And they have the advantage of fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil too. I read once long ago, that originally lightning performed that function as it takes nitrogen out of the atmosphere and buries it in the soil.

Thanks for the story and paint can hide a multitude of repair sins! A nice solution, and it is interesting, but you rarely see the paint distressing work anymore. Mostly it is seen in furniture which has south east Asian origins, but even then they favour oils. Oak is a beautiful timber and I find it interesting as it is more malleable when green, but then hardens and becomes very dense as it dries.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Well there were times that school felt that way to me too, thus it was hard to ignore the similarities. My upbringing was quite unusual, but it sure beat the heck out of an institutional existence.

Oh yeah, the exploding butter and microwave thing happens to me too. You'll laugh at this: I've been cooking Anzac biscuits for so long that I know that I can microwave the butter to soften it up for 42 seconds (no more!). Any longer and the stuff makes an awful mess, and I hate messes as they are untidy! Did the explosion of butter take long to clean up? It makes an impressive pop sound, you have to admit! Hehe!

Carrot cake muffins sound pretty tasty to me. And I cannot begin to imagine the ladies complaining about them. It is just not right somehow. :-)!

Blocked bathroom sinks are treated with caustic soda. That stuff eats organic matter and don't get it on your skin - unless it is in the form of properly cured soap! Well done with the finds. Nice score. What did you think of the red couch? It is amazing quality materials. I just don't get peoples sense of waste.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

I didn't do very well trying to follow your instructions. Not that that matters as I see all your glorious photos of your place plus the views that you have.

Your dog blog this week enhances my view that you could write children's books. A dog one for the young would work well if you could find an illustrator.

The problem here is that one can buy a property that is isolated and then slowly the world encroaches. I am lucky as I own the woodland and no-one can build near enough to overlook me.

I don't think that we have an all you can eat restaurant here. I have only sampled one in the US. I rather liked the fact that one could eat as much as one wanted of the things that one liked and wasn't obligated to have anything else. I don't think that I ate more than usual, just rather a lot of shellfish.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Finishing off last weeks comments ... Pinch away. We can only elevate what passes in the world as good discourse, by spreading the better stuff around. Kind of like compost :-).

Niche magazines are alive and well. But, as Dorothy said in "The Wizard of Oz" (1939), "People come and go so quickly, here." Most of our large grocery stores have extensive magazine sections (Safeway). Lots of "lifestyle" titles and obscure hobbies. The book "Revenge of Analog" made the observation that several magazines that started out on-line, have added analog versions. More bang for the buck as far as advertising goes. Instead of just clicking away, print ads hang around for quit awhile.

"South Park" is so bad, it's good. Subversive. Right up there with Mad magazine and "The Simpsons."

Population control didn't seem to be an issue, among Native Americans. Tribal boundries were strictly enforced. There was lots of inter-tribal warfare. Bad years there was starvation. Even before the white guys showed up, there were occasional plagues. So, populations seem to be fairly balanced. When things got bad (particularly in the SW) people migrated.

Yeah, you don't see too much paint distressing work (ie: antiquing) anymore. It will come back. I remember "distressing". People used to beat furniture with chains. :-). About the same time, there was a rage for French Provinchalizing furniture. Painted off white finish with rubbed ochre or gold-ish tones. The youngsters are doing a lot of furniture painting, these days. Mostly primary colors with wild patterns. It too will have it's time, and pass.

The microwave clean up was a mess. Lots of white vinegar slopped around and lots of paper towels, used. Frequent cursing to move things along.

Jeff is working on the sink as we speak (write.) No diagnosis, yet. The new red couch is quit stately. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. To todays post. Another family member with literary aspirations. Regular pack of Brontes, there. :-).

Hmmm. Maybe one of the other dogs killed the bean bag chair? Just to make the new guy look bad? Always a possibility. Remember the Siamese cats from "Lady and the Tramp?"

Seems like your life is revolving around firewood and water, right now. Along with everything else. Your firewood shed is looking really impressive.

Your tomatoes look really impressive. And, the corn. Do you have problems with corn borers, down there? There's something fairly benign you can do with mineral oil to keep them off. I forget the details. But more benign than the usual chemical warfare.

Bathroom sink is free flowing again. A blockage fairly far down. Recommends pouring a quart of boiling vinegar down the drain once a month. I knew that. Should have been doing that all along. Jeff is hopping, today. Seems to be a round of plumbing problems, in The Home, this last week. Well, the building IS 30 years old.

I watched "Victoria & Abdul", last night. Judi Dench (2017). Quit good. Wonderful sets and costumes. A few nights ago I watched "Hacksaw Ridge." Another really good "true" story. But I hesitate to freely recommend it, as the battle scenes are some of the most graphic I have seen on screen. Last week I watched "Manchester by the Sea." It was an ok movie, but left me a little ... underwhelmed. There was so much hoop-la when it came out. 6 Academy Award nominations, blah, blah, blah.

National Weather Service says snow in our forecast (maybe), Thursday night into Friday morning. Pretty iffy at this point. A lot of rain and wind, lately. More our normal winter weather. Temperatures not too bad. Mostly high 30sF to low 40sF. When the wind blows, the wind chill factor makes it feel arctic. Lew

thecrowandsheep said...

Hi Chris,

I am not sure one sees any conflict. Scientists want to improve their models and understanding of the climate, and that they see as their role in all this. Is this some form of Faustian-type bargain arrangement? Climate change is great for enhancing understanding of the climate -- a natural experiment! How scientists (and activists for that matter) think that should change things on the frontline amounts to 'politicians: do something'. What to do?

Good luck with handling the heat. Can I offer you some gray, a bit of mist, sporadic drizzle and temperatures slightly over freezing?

Originally the boss of the bakery recognized me and I would complement him on his bread but not anymore. I think nowadays the bakery has so much business he has that 1000 yard boss stare.

How does Ollie enjoy your biscuits?

Cheers

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

No problems at all and I'm glad that you are enjoying the photos. It is a pleasure to share the place with you.

Thanks and kids books would be a lucrative feed trough and the kids would most likely enjoy the stories. Being a published author isn't just about the stories though, the entire publishing circus would leave me feeling flat, and I'm not sure I want to feel that way. I had the beginnings of an idea to continue the Magic Toilet story and was thinking about introducing a Merlin type character in the form of the trickster and sage. Dunno yet. What do you reckon about that?

We share an enviable situation you and I, because I likewise own the surrounding forest. You know, I'm unsure I would want to live in an urban area now after having so much space and quiet around me. It is not impossible, but it would be a stretch. This coming weekend looks hazardous to my thinking and so my brain is ticking away on such matters.

They're rare here too. A very, very, long time ago, the American Sizzler chain established a few restaurants down under, and I had heard stories that matched yours exactly about the shellfish there too. Almost word for word. It is uncanny.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Well, I reckon excellent and polite discourse is a thing to be celebrated and enjoyed! If I was being cheeky, I might suggest taking a small sample of soil from the most productive garden in the area and adding it to your own raised garden beds. The first rule of Garden Club is don’t talk about garden club. The second rule is don’t get caught! Hopefully not too much soil in case it is a chemical uncertainty, because nobody wants one of those...

What an interesting comparison. Down here the grocery chains generally sell only the gossip magazines, and you can usually spot them near the cash registers. Do you even have newsagency businesses in your part of the world? I reckon the step between digital online content and physical content is a complex jump to negotiate. The stupid thing is that people have become accustomed to free content and I understand that that is the world we live in. My gut feeling always tells me that this interweb thing is a giant bait and switch routine as it has gutted local advertising revenue streams. All bait and switch routines eventually revert to the norm. Mind you, there are a few local newspapers still which are funded by the real estate sections.

Oh yeah! They're all pretty funny and subversive. I never really got into the Simpsons though, but it would be hard not to know about the characters and their stories. Doh! :-)! I enjoy parody because the court jester could get away with saying things that other people dare not say. Mind you, I reckon the musicians can do the same trick too. ”Brave Sir Robin ran away, bravely ran away, away. When danger shows its ugly head, he bravely turns his tail and fled. Brave, brave, Sir Robin!”

Fair enough, to be immersed in nature is a tough business. In a strange turn of events, I take the same approach with the parrots in the orchard. They do get a lot of the fruit, but the parrot population is ultimately limited in numbers by the lack of available feed during the winter months, and so there is a hard upper limit to the amount of fruit that they can consume. On a very serious note, I have been wracking my brain for years to work out how the old timers used to produce fruit without the readily available nylon fruit nets. A bloke I know up north individually wraps hessian bags around the fruit he wants to harvest, and that is also a possibility. The real problem I have is that historical accounts are thin on the ground, and most people dismiss what was done in the past out of hand, when they even bothered to record the processes. Oh well.

Exactly about the newer trends with paint and restoring furniture. That is how it goes. I was never much of a fan of the French Regency look which employed a lot of gold paint and it seemed overly fussy to me, almost as if they had too much wealth and had no idea what to do with it other than produce these complex and intricate designs. I much prefer the sturdy farm house and pragmatic look with solid frames and beautiful finishes. But that is a taste thing I guess. Did you actually enjoy the look of the seasoned oak furniture?

Vinegar is a good call. I never thought about that. Instead I have used warm soapy water and that eventually removed most of the butter explosion. It is a tough lesson to learn!

Thanks. We looked for about a year before settling on that red couch. Most people have no eye for quality foundations and so there were no other bidders for the couch, which made it ridiculously cheap. I almost feel like the local manufacturers may have been insulted that the previous owners could dispose of the quality furniture for so little, but then like Ollie the wrong headed cattle dog, it has come to a good home. You can't argue with such logic? ;-)!

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Speaking of Ollie, he and I visited the local cafe this morning and he was on his very best behaviour and did not make a peep and sat there patiently waiting for the odd chunk of fruit toast. I cannot say the same for other humans... We endure. Of course, Ollie and the other fluffies have literary pretensions and who am I to deny their creative outlet? He tells a delightful tail (sic), that dog!

Yeah, I don't think so. Ollie is guilty as for killing the bean bag. There is no doubt in the jury's mind and the sentencing and punishment took place immediately and without undue duress or consideration of the niceties.

Thank you. We love those steel framed sheds as they were made entirely from scrap and downgraded materials, but are so far beyond the standard shed that they are a joy to use. Speaking of water, today I pumped water all over the place and replenished all of the active water tanks, which are now full up to their eyeballs. We're down now to about 70% water reserves and this weekend which is the Australia day long weekend, will be an absolute shocker with two days in a row around 104'F. The minimum temperatures are around 79'F so the nights will be hot too. It has been a record for power consumption too today 559Ah (amp hours) which is the equivalent of 20.1kWh for the day. Never done that before but the day was cool and a lot of cooking needed to be done before the heat arrives.

The funny thing about this house is that it requires the cool night air. It works by capturing that cool air and then just holding off the outside extreme temperatures. Mostly it works, but in recent years the night time temperatures have been increasing. Years ago, it would have been unusual to have night time temperatures higher than 72'F, but that is global weirding for you!

I have no idea about pest problems with corn because every year for the past four years, the wallabies have been consuming the stalks for their moisture content and sugars. The farm is very isolated and there are an enormous amount of predator insects so I rarely see any pest problems. One memorable year a much feared locust plague arrived and they were everywhere. The birds who live at the farm ate every single one of them.

I didn't know that about the vinegar and drain trick and it is good idea to keep in mind. I'm still (no pun intended) unsure what white vinegar actually is. We make an apple cider vinegar which is quite good.

double not so secret cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Yeah, I've lived in buildings that were a hundred years old and they survived through their sheer simplicity! To be honest, I have wondered why some drains these days are of a smaller diameter than they should be. Bathroom hand basin drains are like that given the amount of hair that gets washed down them. My 'broken from the factory' concept may apply here? Dunno.

I saw a preview for the Judi Dench film and she is a very good actor. Thanks for the warning too about the battle scenes as that would upset my generally placid state of mind! There was a recent film about the Dunkirk event during WWII and the scenes in that were apparently very realistic. Think Saving Private Ryan… I'm not sure my brain could handle such visuals... Manchester by the Sea sounds like a complex premise, and perhaps people should ask before undertaking such burdens. A mate once tried that trick on me and I suggested that there may be sales as camel jockeys in the United Arab Emirates, and that put an end to that burden. It was a huge imposition that came with absolutely nothing and so I just went with my gut feeling which wasn't good.

Good luck with the snow, and please feel free to send some of it down here, once you have had your fill! ;-)!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi crowandsheep,

Now, I have long been curious about this important matter. Which do you prefer, the crow, or the sheep? And do you play favourites between the two? Beware that the Combined Goat and Jersey Cow Union are interested in the outcome of this question! You were warned! Hehe! They pack a mean moo!

The Faustian bargain is a hard nut to crack. Just to be sure, I looked up the definition and it stated: From the medieval legend of Faust, who made a contract with the devil, exchanging his soul for worldly gains. And. An agreement in which a person abandons his or her spiritual values or moral principles in order to obtain wealth or other benefits.

Well that sounds like an unpleasant business that. Mind you, people have been making calls for moral abstinence for a long time and they fall on deaf ears. Possibly because people may be deaf to calls for moral abstinence? Anyway, my brain is now thoroughly confused. :-)! Faust sounds like a dull dinner companion as he is a disagreeable and greedy bore, but I can't really vouch for the bloke. Anyway I reckon the Devil got a bad deal, because that dude now has to deal with a disagreeable and greedy bore for all eternity and that seems way too long a time for me.

Yes, thank you for the kind offer. When you are done with the weather, please send some down here as it would be much appreciated!

Ouch. Well time may cure that problem as these things may become a fad which people soon tire of. I always reckon you want the customers that arrive at all times of the year even when the ground is frozen, or the heat is surprisingly unpleasant, and/or the rain and mist are driving cold.

Ollie enjoys the biscuits but he eats like a horse. I had to purchase dog food with much higher protein and fat levels than the other dogs eat, and that will have to suffice for the next six to nine months. He also gets bones, milk, eggs, the usual vegetable muck the other dogs eat etc., so he is doing fine.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Ollie!

I would say that you have noticeably grown since last week.

Rotten people, indeed, your last bosses. You'll love this new job. I use the term job lightly as I suspect that you may already be doing a "job" on them . . . didn't I see you sleeping on the job . . . ? And I would say that food-related work should always be a first choice.

Perhaps no comment is needed about the dogs bean bag other than I am sure that a dog of your character had his reasons. And you didn't fit in that ol' Sir Scruffy's bed anyway. I hear that there is a room with a really BIG cushy bed, just your size. Don't you let them tell you that it is not for dogs. Phooey!

Aren't chickens fun? They make such interesting noises. They were obviously placed on this planet (have the boss explain "planet" to you) to have fun with.

That firewood is a mystery yet to be revealed. I think you will enjoy it.

Poor Chris. How can he be so silly as to spend his valuable time on immaterial things like water pumps, time that could be spent making even more dog biscuits? At least he occasionally gets his priorities right, like sharing fruit toast with you.

That is a beautiful new couch. That shade of red would set of your own red hair to advantage. You mean they won't share it!? Hopefully, someday they will become enlightened, maybe when the Magical Christmas Unicorns come out (ah - there is something else to look forward to and it is related to firewood, too). If they never do, you can always eat it.

I am thinking that perhaps you may take credit for the flowers. After all, they are undoubtedly blooming more profusely than ever before since you have arrived. You have a certain aura about you. No - I think that was the wombat poo . . .

I like your freckles.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Besides the gossip mags, clustered around the cash registers, they usually chuck in a few other things. Food mags and even, occasionally, things like s "serious" news mag or even National Geographic (which used to be "by subscription only). But back in the mag section, it's about 1/4 of a supermarket aisle and 6 feet high. Hmm. News agents. When I lived in the big cities, there was always one or two "magazine" stores, in the downtown area. But mostly, it was in bookstores. The two big chains I worked for had an extensive selection of magazines. Powell's in Portland has a good selection. Ah! Libraries, here, have a good selection. Magazine distribution is quirky and labor intensive. Both in bookstores and libraries.

Well, in the old days, you'd run 3 or 4 of your 12 children out to the orchard from "can see" to "can't see" and have them bang tin plates, together. Awful racket, but kept the birds off.

From the photo, I'd describe your sofa as "substantial, with good clean lines." I'd say I generally like unfussy furniture. Arts and Crafts and Mission style. (I have one rocking chair). That's mostly oak. And, the deco I favor, of late. Which also has pretty clean lines. But more exotic woods. Some Asian furniture is nice. Spare. I have a wardrobe that is nice English oak with "linen fold panels." Just because I always wanted a piece of furniture with those carved panels. :-). My Empire style dresser.

Sometimes I see a piece of furniture that appeals to me, all on it's own. But I know (don't ask me how) that it won't "work" with what I have. Duncan Phyfe furniture appeals, and is pretty spare. But I "feel" that it just won't play nice with what I have. Cont.

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Ollie and Salve would have some tales to share for sure. It does seem like he's starting to fit in though and is a good story teller to boot. Leo could give him some tips about relaxing as he's the king of comfort around here. As he's still a growing boy I'll bet he eats a lot.

I am very jealous of your colorful birds. We have a few but most are primarily black, white and grey mixed. Right now I have a flock of blue jays (the bullies of the bird feeder). The cardinals (bright red) tend to stay away when they're around. Yesterday we had quite a bit of rain followed by a couple of inches of heavy wet snow last night. It's one of those snows that are exceptionally beautiful as every branch is covered. There was male cardinal in one of the trees and the contrast of the bright red against the snow covered branches was a beautiful sight. The heavy snow isn't so great for the branches though as many break under the weight. Thursday it's supposed to warm up again through Saturday so the snow will be gone most likely.

All you can eat fish frys on Friday are very common around here and especially in Wisconsin. Other common places for all-you-can-eat meals are casinos. People build up points and often the all-you-can-eat buffets are free. Some Sunday brunches are also all-you-can-eat.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. I have never experienced, or seen a locust plague. Other than in the movies. Can't imagine. Rather biblical. :-). The Mormons have a story about how when they first moved to Salt Lake, a grasshopper (locust?) plague descended and all looked lost. But, miraculously, flocks of sea gulls showed up and gobbled down all the bugs. Then there was that wonderful, black and white sci-fi movie in the 50s. Nuked grasshoppers grow to enormous size and eat Chicago. Or some such. :-).

I looked up the process of making white vinegar, one time. Well, you start with wine or apple cider vinegar and through a highly industrial and chemical process, end up with white vinegar. Didn't sound like anything you could try at home. The white vinegar I buy in the stores is used for cleaning and pickling. Some other cooking bits. That's 5% acidity. There's a higher octane version, but it's hard to find and a bit regulated. Due to it's ability to acid burn. The low octane stuff will knock back weeds, out of a spray bottle.

I never watched "Saving Private Ryan." Just didn't "grab" me. Coincidentally, "Dunkirk" should be waiting for me at the library, tomorrow. It's in transit from ... somewhere. About two years ago there was another "Dunkirk" from the Brits. A mini-series.

Last night I watched "Rebel in the Rye" a bio-pic about the author, J. D. Salinger. As an author, he's never been quit my cup of tea. His "Catcher in the Rye" was pretty much a standard text in high schools and colleges. But, somehow, I managed to avoid it. I think I tried to read it a time or two and got nowhere. But I was curious about his life. He wrote a lot of short stories for the New Yorker magazine, a novel or two and then quit writing. At least for publication. Moved to the boonies of New Hampshire and became a recluse / hermit. Worth a look if you stumble across it. As far as learning a bit about an author, the training and process of writing. At least for him.

Snow is off the forecast menu. We'll see. Could be back on again, by tonight. Lew

Damo said...

Hi Chris,

Excellent song reference for this blog. That was a favourite of mine in my 2nd last year of high school! I believe it did well in the Hottest 100 as well!

RE: Dunkirk movie. It has a lot of tension, but there is zero gore, which I quite appreciated. I saw a few clips from Hacksaw Ridge and decided against watching it - I am a fan of gore in some movies (such as Alien, or the 'fun' horror movies), but find it hard to take in the realistic war movies.

Gotta run, staying in Dunedin this week for work. It used to be one of the richest cities in New Zealand but is a bit run down these days. The hotel we are staying at (Law Courts Hotel) has a big claim to fame. In the 1960s it hosted the King and Queen. There are pictures everywhere of adoring crowds looking up to the balcony with said monarchs looking dutifully down. Needless to say, it is not fit for royalty now, but has its own charm :-)

Damo

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I really don't know about the Merlin character, I would need much more info. I went back to re-read 'The magic toilet' so far. It comes over as very laboured, yet your blog doesn't. I thought about this and decided that you are talking to us with the blog and that makes it flow. So the account of Ollie reads easily as a potential story for children. When you set out to write a short story on the other hand, I can only assume that you try too hard.

In days of yore, children would have to spend the day keeping birds off the harvest etc.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I got carried away talking to young Ollie and didn't have time to comment to you. The wood in the firewood shed will soon be over your head, which is good news (unless some should crash onto your head) even though it has been hundreds of degrees F at your house. I think that you and the editor are managing incredibly well in the heat. Are the chickens doing ok? Maybe they would like to play in a kiddie wading pool? They could share it with Ollie. Our dogs used to love that when it was hot. When we had a sprinkler on the lawn they used to run through it, too.

I take it that the new pump is giving you some trouble? I don't think that we get anything near 6.8 gallons per minute and now I am going to have to test and find out. Did you not have a spigot for the reserve water tank?

My, the room that your lovely new couch is in looks so cool and inviting. Is that just an illusion?

The bees look like they are feeling the heat a bit. Is there anything that one does around the hives to keep them cooler or is it up to the bees to take care of it?

Those are a lot of nice, bushy tomato plants. It sure does seem like the corn has grown fast and, so far, it looks very successful. I see flowers on the melon vines, you have such hardy flowers in general.

Pam

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam, Margaret, Lewis, Inge, Damo, and Pam :-)!

Thanks for the lovely comments, but I will be unable to reply tonight and promise to reply tomorrow.

Lewis - We are coming into a heatwave over the next few days and so I'm busy outside dumping some water around the farm. Fortunately all the easily usable water tanks are full from yesterdays activities. The reserve water tanks are now not quite empty, but close too. I stopped off again for Mexican food tonight too. This time fish taco's! Yum! I blame all your talk about shrimp nacho's from last week.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Seems like when the weather is in extremes, there's always more to do.

I watched "Lucky Them" (2013). Good cast. Toni Collette, Thomas Haden Church and a tiny cameo by Johnny Depp. About a music critic who is hot on the case of trying to determine if a rock god really committed suicide, or, is he still alive? Oh, and by the way, he used to be her main squeeze. Almost, but not quit, a rom-com. Filmed in Seattle. Great shots of the Pioneer Square area, near where I used to work. Prior to it getting all yupped out. :-). Lew

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam (from Ollie the Australian cattle dog)!

Why thank you for noticing how much I have grown over the past week. I have exercised my fluffy mind powers on the puny humans and I now regularly enjoy fresh boneses from the local butcher. Of course, everything in life is a compromise and I have had to promise not to chew bean bags, people, dog kennels, dog blankets. Not fair at all, but bonses are so good! Oh it is such a compromise that I have to make. At least my teeth are getting a good cleaning and sharpening. Big wolfy grin (I don't do emoticons)!

Sleep. Hmm, that was just a nap. Dare I call it a cat nap? Food related work is always the first job to do. If ever the bonses stop rolling in, I get to display my nice bright sharp teeth. So good for chewing on things and stuff.

Yeah, maybe I did have a reason for chewing up the bean bag. I'd never thought about it that way before. I like how you think. And that is a most excellent suggestion because it looks very comfy and I did promise not to shed hair, snore, fart, or chew bits of my leg. So many rules… The boss seems very unconvinced with me being on that bigger comfy bedding. No fun at all those humans.

Planet sounds way too big for my brain. Is it over the horizon? On the other hand, chickens are such fun. I used to enjoy crashing against the aviary mesh, which is way too strong and stops me from interacting properly with the chickens. The crashing made a good sound. For some reason the boss laughed at me from the other side of the mesh when he chucked a bucket of water over me. At least it was a hot day, and chicken water smells so good, but getting wet is icky and not for a sophisticated inside dog of noble lineage.

Fruit toast is a new experience. It is very good, and I was on my best behaviour. Other dogs made pathetic whiny noises, but not I. I sat there all serious because there was serious fruit toast business going on. And I promised to be on my best behaviour again in the future, unless there is no fruit toast and then there shall be much sads cracking. Yes, sads cracking and maybe a proper toothing of something? That red couch looks like it could use a proper toothing. What do you recommend in this instance? What a decision I have to make here!

You clearly have discerning tastes to understand the importance of wombat poo. It's good as a perfume and also a tasty snack. So many uses.

Yours sincerely,

Ollie, bean bag bane.

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, I reckon what you call magazine stores is what we call newsagents. Except that the newsagents also sell the daily and weekly newspapers. There is generally a newsagent in larger towns, and they are common in Melbourne, although they are perhaps less common than they used to be. They also sell cards and stationery but I wonder if the market for cards has also reduced in current times. Cards used to be a high margin product as far as I can understand them. I still send Christmas cards, but that is a dying art from what I can see. The other thing is that the newsagents also are an outlet for public transport travel smart cards and tickets for the lotto. Now that I dwell upon the subject, you could say that the shops are like a bitsa dog (bit of this and a bit of that).

As far as bookshops go, I actually used to enjoy whiling away a few hours in the Borders bookshop in town. I rarely ventured in to the shop empty handed and then without exiting with a book. They kind of killed some of the smaller competition and then sort of died a horrid death themselves having left us with far fewer bookshops in their wake. It really is a good metaphor for the decline of Industrial society.

Yeah that sort of racket with the tin plates in an orchard would be an unpleasant experience and perhaps also nerve wracking. I have seen commercial orchards that use some sort of acoustic device which may be a sonic cannon as it shoots off hugely loud thundering blast regularly. Living next to such a device would be a pain. As an interesting side note, there is an urban myth about an eccentric English rock band, The KLF, who made a huge quantity of mad cash and one of them had apparently been shooting his neighbours cows with a homemade sonic cannon, as you do when you are mildly eccentric with cash to splash. Other accounts describe the sonic cannons as high end sub woofers from serious disco equipment. The truth may lay in between!

On a serious note, I am experimenting with trying to out-produce the wildlife, but fruit trees take such a long time to grow. I spoke with an orchardist north of here and they lost 300 mature trees recently to a fire apparently started by an angle grinder near to long grass. Those tools throw out enormous quantities of sparks. Ouch. The trees can be replaced, but not the time taken to grow them (or their lost income)!

"substantial, with good clean lines" sounds to me as if you have been in the trade? You're good. I for one would struggle coming up with new and inventive ways to describe the same things over and over again. I don't know how real estate agents do it. In the end I'd put up a board which says: It is a white house with three bedrooms, and it's good" I can see that I'll have to put a bit of work into that skill...

Some inlay work on furniture is pretty nice too, especially if they go with contrasting timbers. You see a bit of light and dark timbers used that way to good effect. We did that trick with the floorboards here and tried to produce a good contrast in the Red Gum (the timber species is technically a Sydney blue gum).

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

It is a strange day weather-wise here as it has been very hot, but storm clouds are brewing over the central highlands. It looks pretty nice actually and we may even get a little bit of rain, which would be appreciated. We got up early this morning (at day break - do people often wake up at such times?) and began again cutting logs into firewood lengths. The firewood shed may be full tomorrow! Yay! But there is still the other smaller firewood shed to fill and the bays... I've clearly done something bad in a past life.

Duncan Phyfe sure did stand tall. It is fascinating to read of historical characters who jumped the shark, but stuck to their guns. That is a recurring theme in history, don't you reckon?

The locust plague that I saw was a total non event and the local birds destroyed them and became quite rotund looking in a short period of time. There were a lot of locusts, but the fact is where they are in such huge numbers, it is also a sign that there are not enough birds to eat them, and I always felt that it is an indicator that that environment is seriously unbalanced. It is the same problem as the yoghurt and the soil microbes.
Why would overly huge grasshoppers want to eat Chicago? Have they no sense of personal style? Why not take on the cheese in the moon? That was a storyline from a Goodies show. And it had Big Bunny which was a rip off of George Orwell's Big Brother. Fun stuff and very silly.

It is funny you write that but I see some trees growing around the place. They're known as "Tree of Heaven" or some such similar name. Anyway, to cut a long story short, one of those trees survived ground zero at Hiroshima, or was it Nagasaki? Oh. There is a Wikipedia page on the subject. Even a Eucalyptus Melliodora survived. Hardly surprising given that wildfires here can produce unbelievable amounts of energy similar to an atomic blast. Here is the page, the list of trees is extensive and the sheer diversity is quite humbling at the tenacity of nature and the sorts of conditions that the plants had to adapt to in the far distant past in order to survive. Hibakujumoku. I know of a rhododendron in a remote spot in this mountain range which has survived numerous major wildfires - and it just regrew from the fertile ash bed...

cont, but escaping the dreaded 4,096 character limit (glad that we are not twits)!

Fernglade Farm said...

Hmm, a lot of white vinegar is used in pickling, so there must be a simpler way. Vinegar mothers are often involved, and those things were handed down as heirloom items. I have accidentally grown one or two in my time. I have absolutely no time for such mysteries (at the moment)... So much infrastructure to build out, so little time.

Nah, the film did not grab me either. Some folks enjoy a good war film, alas I am not one of those. I will be interested to read your review of the recent "Dunkirk" film. Mind you, when I was a kid I watched the compelling documentary series The World at War and it was nothing short of the best documentary series that I have ever watched. It was enthralling which is a strange thing to say about such a dark topic as WWII. However, I recommend it highly and I am not mucking around. The Maginot Line is a great example that walls rarely hold, although they hold great emotional appeal.

Yeah, the Catcher in the Rye was a standard angsty High School text and it bored the daylights out of me. No loss. The dreary introspection of Holden Caulfield did absolutely nothing for me, and I was forced to read it to completion and just wanted to take him by the scruff of his neck and shake him until he saw sense, or stopped breathing and thus troubling people. That is a bit naughty of me saying that, but I loathed the book and the wasted minutes of my life reading that book. So many people loved the book too that I often wondered at my own reactions to it. Well it is nice that we are of one mind on this most important of subjects! The author would have been an absolutely fascinating bloke to know, but the life of a recluse is a, well, life of a recluse and that means that they are preternaturally difficult folks. It's built in. I am curious on your thoughts on this matter, but I suspect that nature pops such people into existence so as to ensure a healthy and diverse gene pool? There was a news article recently about a wallaby which had wandered onto Sydney Harbour Bridge! A kindred spirit that one!

On the radar the storm looks like it petered out. Oh well. Did you get any snow?

Toni Collette is a great character actor and I always enjoy her works. Dunno, but I had a thought once long ago about rock stars dropping back into obscurity (and much better mental health) by faking their own deaths? Enforced by a more permanent solution (are we discussing WWII again?) for those who recant. It would make for a ripping yarn!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

Ollie has just attempted to take control of the computer by jumping up onto my lap and putting his huge toothy head on the keyboard. He absolutely wants to speak with Salve, but cooler heads shall prevail in this instance. Anyway, I'm just going with my gut feeling here and it tells me that Salve may educate Ollie and teach him some new fluffy tricks! He already has plenty of tricks! Today for instance, Ollie stepped outside the front door, and I could see the mental gears whirring around in his head. He was thinking to himself: "My Gosh, it is hot out here". And before I could smack him he went number ones on the veranda just outside the front door. He had a look on his face which said, "You know that I'm technically correct here!"

I'd much prefer that Leo speak with Ollie, as Ollie needs to chill out. You can tell that it has been a very long time since I have experienced the joys of a puppy.

Actually, I have been purchasing brisket bones from the local butcher and Ollie loves them. He loves chewing and I often think of your two dogs when I see that he has chewed on the thick plywood kennel...

Bird life here is amazing and thank you for saying that. I chucked in an audio track of their calls a while back because it is rarely quiet here, even at night time when the owls and frogs rule the roost.

Your blue jays and cardinals are very attractive birds too! Oops! Scritchy has just gone savage feral on the much bigger Ollie. Scritchy can pull a face that would curdle milk and for one would not want to be on the receiving end of that. Mind you, Scritchy may not be the brightest spark because she was attempting to steal a bone from Ollie today and her canine teeth became stuck in some very strong steel fencing. I rushed to extract her, but fortunately for everyone, she extracted herself.

Snow is beautiful and thank-you for sharing your lovely description. Where do the birds hole up during such snow? In bad weather, the birds here hole up in tree hollows and under thick tree canopies.

Nope. There are no all you can eat deals around here, and food is generally ordered à la carte. That is an interesting comparison. I wonder what it means?

Far out, the past few weeks have been quite hot and dry here. That is par for course for summer though. It does make a person slightly nervous though.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Damo,

Elephant stamp for getting this week’s little joke! It is a good song isn't it? The funny thing was that I was going to chuck in the lyrics and thought to myself that I'd done a few too many songs recently and well Ollie is only six months old and he would never have heard of the Lemonheads. Now interestingly enough, that song came in at number 65 in the 1997 countdown. Yes, we are all getting older! Hehe!

Hey, you may be interested to know that on Sunday, Double J will be replaying the Hot 100 from 1997 - it is 20 years after all. On Saturday, Triple J will be playing the Hot 100 and then Sunday, the Hot 200. Mind you it will be 39'C here on Sunday so it literally will be the Hot!

As a side note, I have been listening to these countdowns since 1992 and back in those days I recorded them from the radio onto Hi-Fi VHS tape which was amazingly good audio quality. By about 1995, mp3 compressed digital audio format became available and that was pretty handy. Back in those days the poor computer had to process overnight to produce about 10 mp3 songs. Things have sped up a bit since then.

Thanks for the review because gore ain't my thing! A film with tension is a good film though. Oh yeah, some gore is just silly. Have you ever seen Brain Dead? Far out... I recently went to the cinemas to see Three Billboards, which I really enjoyed as it was a dark and funny (in a very gallows humour style) film.

I enjoyed Dunedin and a mate grew up there. It has a very steep street from memory? The editor and I travelled around NZ in a camper van which really pissed off the locals because it didn't go very fast. Anyway we missed out on the delightful attributes of the hotel. To be honest I would have enjoyed such a place.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks for the critique and I appreciate your thoughts. You are spot on too because fiction is not my forte and that may be why it appeared to be a laboured effort. With the blog it is a different experience as I imagine a story, add a title, and then refine the story (as a background mental task) over a few days. Sometimes, the story just pops into my head.

Sometimes to me it reminds me of the days when I used to run. I enjoyed the 10km (6 miles) distance and trained for that. Then I competed at that same distance. Any shorter distances I used to blitz, but longer distances I was completely unprepared for. Writing is a bit like that and my preferred distance is about 2,000 to 2,500 words. :-)!

Have you ever watched that WWII documentary I recommended to Lewis? Incidentally, I am totally and 100% enjoying Cold Comfort Farm. The enjoyment of the prose is such that it feels a bit like dirty secret! Hehe!

Hmm. I am going to dwell long and hard upon the subject of the birds and fruit. A bit of discursive meditation is in order on that subject too. I reckon there is another path to travel because I see fruit trees by the sides of the roads that are laden with fruit and yet they receive no attention at all. There must be something to be gleaned from that lesson?

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam (Chris here this time),

Ollie, step away from that keyboard! Pam, I tell ya, these Fluffies are a handful, and Ollie is no exception to the rule. :-)! Bad habits are learned in seconds, whilst good habits take a lifetime for a Fluffy.

I hope the firewood doesn't crash onto my head - you have not had a premonition I hope? The shed itself is very solid and has a proper steel frame with internal and external linings, but you never know. I hope to have that shed full tomorrow, but we'll see. I'm trying to work out whether to let the chickens out into the orchard tonight as there is rain heading this way on the radar. What to do? The chickens don't mind the rain, but I sure do. The clouds have built up all afternoon like a monsoon, which is a weird thing this far south. But more common as the years go on.

The chicken enclosure is in the permanent shade. That puts the chickens at risk from a falling tree, but they would not survive the hot summer sun if they were in the full sun. They would die in a chicken tractor without shade. I lost a few bee colonies that way as the bees wax in the frames became so hot after three days over 104’F that they melted and the bees absconded into the forest. It was an expensive lesson to learn, and most bee books begin by saying to put the bees in the full sun. This clearly is bad advice in a hot climate.

Nope. I don't yet have the new water pump in yet. It is on order and waiting for a February special price. It is a long story... I may one day add a page about all the rubbish I've learned about watering systems. I learned new information recently too about the soaker hoses. They too are a bad idea here.

The massive reserve water tank did not have a spigot. It had an agricultural pipe connector which I could install another less flexible pipe onto. The spigot means that I can now attach a flexible 3/4 inch water hose and that flexible hose is rated to a 30 year life span. Hoses, are not hoses as I have discovered! I told you that water story is bigger than Ben Hur! The water pump at the reserve tank can pump (on contour) 26 gallons per minute! That is a lot of water at 6,000L per hour. The actual flow is less than that because the water has to be lifted up hill about 30ft in elevation and that takes a lot of energy. It uses about 1kW per hour of electricity.

It is usually cool in that room so long as the stainless steel mesh fire shutters are up over the double glazed windows. But the other day, even that was not enough and it got to 86'F inside, and that felt cool coming in from the outside craziness.

Ah, what I have learned about bees. Not much really. But they must be kept in the shade in a hot climate. Who'd have thunk it? :-)!

Thank you and the vegetables are doing very well. Hopefully next summer, the growing spaces have expanded again. I'm wondering what should be placed on each of the new terraces. Have you planted anything new for the first time last summer?

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi everyone,

Wow! Rain. Him big. A super cell just hit. Lots of thunder and lightning and the house is reverberating with the noise. I had to go outside in that storm and keep the various drains and water tank filters clean. One pit and drain is now blocked with and I will have to dig it up over the next day and try and remove the gunk that is in there. Lots of things to learn from every storm. Still it gets easier with time and the orchard no longer needs a water.

The firewood we cut this morning now needs to dry for a couple of days before we can store it in the shed.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I am glad that you are enjoying 'Cold Comfort Farm', she didn't write anything else that equalled it.

I never watch anything about WW2 it is enough that I lived it. From both sides actually as my mother's parents were in Hamburg throughout the war. The Red Cross posted her father's letters to her. I am constantly asked whether I watch these programmes, but always by younger people, not by my age group.

I think that you are drawing too strict a line between fiction and non fiction writing, they overlap most of the time; hence my feeling that your dog tales would make good children's books.

I was just getting into bed last night when I thought 'what on earth is that on my floor?'. It was a newt, goodness knows how it got there. I cursed as I had to put on clothes, boots and get a torch plus means of catching it. Anyhow I put it out and hoped that nothing would demolish it. They are very sweet creatures.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Ollie bean bag bane:

From my experience the legs of couches are the best part. However, I suggest that you save that for a time when there may not be boneses. Boneses, after all, are the best!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

No premonitions from me, but you must have had one about your monsoon. Too much rain all at once is not good, especially if you have to get out in it. So, the soaker hoses didn't perform as they should at your place? Hoses are not hoses - indeed! You could call me Hose Bane - but please don't!

Tomatillos were new for us last summer and they turned out to be easy as. We started them inside, the way we have always started tomatoes (new plans for tomato-starting this year). We planted some new varieties of peppers, a new zucchini, and the perpetual spinach chard for the first time. All did well. We also potted a hundred strawberry plants from runners off of our small bed and have planted a lot of them into a really long bed. Some are still in pots. So, we are expecting lots of strawberries. Which brings me to Arnie the Ground Hog, who will soon be emerging from his winter hibernation (Not with children, I hope. He may be "Annie"). Ground Hog Day is only about a week away . . . and we have so much left to do to finish fortifying the garden perimeter against him . . . them . . .

I am starting some seeds in a new way for us: In plastic milk jugs and orange juice bottles outside, right now even while we are having below-freezing nights. I have planted onions, perpetual spinach chard, and broccoli seeds, and some herb and flower seeds. I think I will try tomato seeds once it's a bit warmer, but well before our last frost date of April 21. All take note - this is just an experiment! But I got the method from a fellow who has thus far had very useful ideas (especially his recipes, yum):

http://www.agardenforthehouse.com/2012/11/winter-sowing-101-6/

When we had snow last week there were animal tracks all over the place. I chose an interesting one and followed it all through the garden and into the woods. It turned out to be a domestic cat! Either our neighbors' or possibly a feral one my son had seen a while back. There were also possum, raccoon, squirrels, mice, maybe rabbit, and all kinds of birds. I also went to the back of the property where the ancient fox den is and sure enough, there were fox tracks going out and in. I wasn't sure that we still had foxes with the coyotes around. I did not see any coyote tracks. I think the Big Dog tracks I saw belong to the Big Dog down the road.

The deer around here are called White-Tailed Deer. The underside of their tails is snow white, the upperside is black. They wave their tails around as warning signal because the white shows up so well. But yesterday I saw a yearling that has an all-white tail, something I've never seen before. We seem to get unusual color variations here. There used to be a deer here who was really dark, almost black, instead of the usual grey, not to mention the albinos.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Inlay work: when labor was cheap and craftsmanship was high. I remember seeing a Louis XVI grand piano, once. With matching display cabinet. Every square inch was done in tiny, geometric designs and it has a big splashy inlaid basket of flowers and fruit. Like Dutch still life. Tiny insects, and all.

Well, actually I think it's a good thing, sometimes, when someone holds onto a old skill that has jumped the shark. How else to pass the useful stuff down?

Another fun thing to do, to see endless repetition until it gets funny, is auction listings. Describtive words, beaten to death. I think my favorite is "important". An important piece or painting. Important to who? Why? :-).

Getting up at daybreak. Don't know. I'm retired. Doesn't happen very often :-).

Is the Tree of Heaven the stinky one? Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

"Dunkirk" was pretty good, but long. And, I think, the DVD extras were longer than the movie. Nolan, the director, didn't use any, or little CGI. The revenge of analog? He really used some old time Hollywood techniques to do that. He commented that there's still a few old Hollywood duffers around that know how to pull it off. Of the 900+ little boats that pulled soldiers off the beach, just over 100 are still afloat. And, of course, there's an Association. Any that could still make the channel crossing were used in the movie. The movie had a low gore content. Unlike "Hackwsaw Ridge."

Maybe you could rent a few small children to bang pots in your orchard? You'd have to do an ROI, but I bet the overhead and maintenance would be quit a bit lower. I hit a couple of opportunity stores, yesterday, that I don't get to, too often. No joy. Oh, well. Money still in my pocket for this weeks groceries. My friend Scott said this about your term "opportunity stores."

"Love the new Australian reference to buying on the cheap. Yes, I listen. "Opportunity" sounds so much more egalitarian than "thrift". Thrift is something poor folks and misers do, right? But "opportunity" sounds so very democratic and friendly. A rousing round of Kumbaya, anyone?

Bingo, tonight at The Home. I better win big. I'm $1.35 in the hole! Lew

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

If you may indulge me for but a moment. I burst out laughing earlier today at this short (and very naughty) passage which I shall repeat here: "'Nonsense!' said Flora. 'Nature is all very well in her place, but she must not be allowed to make things untidy. Now remember, Meriam - no more sukebind and summer evenings without some preparations beforehand.". A concise summary of the situation. The author has such a delightful way with words and the story is a true pleasure to read. Some authors struggle with peaking too early in their careers. I see that in the music industry too, and sometimes genius songs are not backed up by sheer momentum and the artists flail around trying to match their earlier works, which they end up hating. The English band Radiohead wrote a sad, but delightful song called “Creep” early on and they apparently ended up hating it. One must enjoy their creations. Other artists flail around because they never peaked in the first place. Here at Fernglade Farm, we take mediocrity as a firm and unswerving policy, and are thus never disappointed! ;-)!

Sorry to bring up the subject of WWII and I can empathise with your feelings. Please accept my apologies. If it means anything to you, my grandfather was a bomber pilot for the RAAF and he flew bombing runs over Dresden during that episode... He never spoke about that matter either. He gave me his flying jacket before he died and I care for it to this day.

Of course, it is not lost on me that the distinction between fiction and non-fiction is not as clear cut as most people would consider. Ah, of course, I understand. Well, I have an unfortunate super power in that I am a magnet for dogs (with one notable exception who has merely sniffed me three times and then turned her nose up - proving that one cannot please everyone), but I am also a magnet for children. Except that they bore me and I am uncomfortable and awkward in their presence, but I have the common sense not to talk down to them as most adults seem to do.

Newts are lovely little creatures. If I may be so bold to suggest, they are very much like the skinks here. The skinks are spread right through the gardens and they enjoy nothing more than basking upon a rock on a hot sunny day. I wish your newt well in its journey in the big wide world of outside!

It rained again here tonight and another half inch of rain fell on the orchard. Monday night looks like an epic volume of rain is promised... I'm starting to get a little bit nervous.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Ollie, the Australian cattle dog here. Thank you for the excellent suggestion and I shall keep your suggestion in mind. Humans can be very stingy when it comes to boneses. Today for instance Chris gave me a brisket bone and I sat outside in the hot sun gnawing away on a truly awesome bone. Then, I heard an interesting noise and decided to investigate. When I came back to re-engage with my boneses, Scritchy had it. She is very mean to me and has bitten me on several occasions. I dare not bite her back as she can pull a very unpleasant face bearing all of her sharp teeth. Woe is me, I lost my boneses.

Scritchy however, has made accommodations with me and she now allows me to lounge around with her on her green couch. Could I be winning her over with my unique gangle chunk charm? Possibly not, but at least Scritchy is not biting me!

Yours sincerely,

Ollie bean bag bane

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

It is monsoon central here! Far out. Today I was working away on something inside that I had been putting off for a while. I looked outside late afternoon and thought to myself that it was a bit dark. I checked the weather radar and said to myself: Hmm, that is not good as a big blob of rain was tracking this way again.

We'd cut a lot firewood yesterday and it became quite damp in the heavy rain (one inch in about half an hour). The hot sun dried it off today, but with the rainfall radar this afternoon, I said to the editor that we had probably best stack that firewood in the shed before it gets wet again. So we raced outside and stacked and split a days harvesting of firewood in about an hour and then packed up just as the rain hit. Another half inch, and this was not as severe as yesterdays. The first firewood shed is now full. The sunset right now is stunning and I took a photo!

Nope, the soaker hoses are rubbish due to the low quality materials that they are manufactured from. If I never see another one again... Anyway, we have a plan B and will implement that system over the next few months. You should be impressed with it. I probably won't write about the water systems until I am comfortable that they are 95% good enough. Until then...

On a serious note, there are some very good quality hoses available. I recommend that in order to lift your curse, check out the guarantee period on the packaging and go for 25 to 30 year lifespan. They could probably make hoses to last longer, but I haven't seen any for sale.

Good to read that you too are having doubts about the wisdom of starting tomatoes inside the house. The transplant shock seems like a big hurdle to me - unless a person is happy to spend time taking the plants in and out of the house again? Dunno. Lewis mentioned Tomatillos and they sound like very interesting plants. Did you enjoy the taste of the fruits? I'm experimenting with peppers for the second year so have no idea how they'll go. Oh! I'll be interested to hear how your strawberry runners go over the summer - I have been too soft with those plants to my detriment!

Ground hog day! Just sayin... Hehe! Good luck with that critter, I am negotiating with the critters here, although they may disregard my thoughts on the matter. It is complex. May your ground hog listen to you and take you seriously.

No worries at all. We all have to experiment with this stuff otherwise how does one know why they follow a certain pattern and what will work given long experience? Thank you for the link and I will check it out later tonight.

If foxes are like wombats, they'll use a den for many years and refurbish it as required. I reckon foxes are a sign of a healthy ecosystem because there has to be a lot for them to eat so as to be able to set up home at your place. It is like the metaphor of the double edged sword really.

Some domestic cats can grow huge in the wilds! There was an article in the newspapers about the infrequent sightings of big cats in the Australian bush, and the journalist interviewed people just north of here. The largest domestic cat that I have heard of weighed over 44 pounds. A meaty beast that one, and I would not want to encounter it on a dark night.

Yeah, nature can be very surprising with adaptions to the local environment. It never ceases to amaze me and it can sometimes be a combination of soil fertility, rainfall, and excess minerals in the soil and plant life. The deer down here have white tails too, but I never stopped to check out what specific variety they are. At this time of year, they certainly hang around the farm dams and water courses.

Hey, I was a bit stressed out this week as the local creek at the bottom of the property stopped flowing... It will be interesting to see whether the recent rain was enough to get the creek flowing again...

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Oh yeah, the Louis XVI grand piano is a good looking bit of kit. I'm not sure I'm much of a fan of the fussy carved timber legs on the piano. I prefer simpler turned wooden legs but I have lived with a lot of Victorian era architecture and down here they were big on turned veranda posts and furniture, so that is what my eye sees as being “right”. Do you reckon that a person’s upbringing affects the sort of designs that they see as being “right”?

I reckon holding onto old skills and relearning old skills is a great use of ones time. That is part and parcel of my Modus Operandi! It just takes an awful lot of time, effort, and patience. The yoghurt has been getting thicker with each weeks back slopping and addition of further bacteria.

Another monsoon turned up here late this afternoon. It was a stonking hot day, the clouds gathered, and it became very dark outside. I thought that it might not be a bad idea to check the rain radar and I had a double take when I saw the big blob of rain heading straight at the mountain range… I hadn't yet brought inside all of the firewood from yesterdays work, and so we decided to do just that before the rain hit. It was unbelievable timing as we finished bringing in, stacking and splitting the last of the firewood as the wind picked up and the first drops of rain fell. The job was made even better by the ominous and continuous threatening sound of thunder pealing. We were working near to a very large tree so I am quite glad that lightning was a bit further away during that time. That first firewood shed is now full! Yay for a full firewood shed. Now I’ll have to fill the other shed and the firewood bays…

Auction listings! Absolutely, mate, you must have heard it all before. It reminds me that in the inner city suburb of Collingwood, there is a street named Easey street (sic). Far out, if every single auction board and listing didn't make reference to that street name. Speaking of which there was a bizarre murder there back in the early 70’s which has never been solved. A reward was put out for it recently: Easey Street murders. It was a bit eerie walking past that house given what had gone on in there. Have you ever lived in a haunted house?

Day break doesn't happen much for me either. I, for one, am uncomfortable with even the thought of such times of the morning. It is just very uncivilised, you know! ;-)!

I've heard the stinky references to Tree of Heaven, but am yet to encounter the epic stench! I personally feel that Photinia Robusta, which is a plant that a lot of people have great regard for, stinks to high heaven! I feel much better having now shared that.

cont... (but only a single continue as I am tired this evening)

Fernglade Farm said...

Damo is of a likewise opinion about the Dunkirk film. Did I just hear a clap of thunder? I suspect I did! You know, I reckon there is great art in producing illusions without mucking around with all that CGI business. To quote Cold Comfort Farm (which I am thoroughly enjoying): "'Tes wickedness! 'Tes flying in the face of Nature!". Fun stuff. The old Star Wars films were like that and the most recent ones have being trying to get back to those days. If I recall correctly, Simon Pegg played a dodgy merchant in one of the recent films, and he was stuffed into a suit on a very hot location.

Good to see people are pulling together to maintain those historic boats. They were lucky that the U boats did not have a field day that particular evening.

Most people make their own from what I can tell of that subject! :-)! Nope, I am going to persist with my vision until I can no longer ignore the truth of the matter. In the meantime, today I harvested some King Billy Plums and a plum called a Damson. For some reason the name brings to mind "damsels in distress!" Not sure why really.

Nice! It is a very positive spin on the name of Opportunity Shop. Down here, they have always been known by that moniker. Nowadays it is very organised business and maybe there is a bit of stigma still, but that may be an age related thing and I'm not really sure about it. Dunno.

What! Ahoy me lads! Take no prisoners at bingo! :-)!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I really must read 'Cold Comfort Farm' again, it will be in a box in a shed. The word 'sukebind' always struck me as hilarious.

Indeed, never talk down to children. I like their company but preferably without their parents presence. Young children often make highly original comments which give one pause for thought.

Your suggestion to Lew about having the taste in décor that one grew up with, is very interesting. I grew up surrounded by the carpets and furniture of my father's first wife. Stunning antiques, an Aubusson carpet etc. Now my mother married him when she was 16, she came from a far less elevated background. Much later on when soft furnishings deteriorated she imposed her own taste. Ye gods! it was ghastly, my sister and I were appalled. So there you have it, ones taste appears to be acquired before the age of 16.

A difficult neighbour has just smashed up his car on the lane. A long queue of vehicles from the holiday site is backed up. A chap with a van has just dragged the wreckage out of the way. Son says that the car must have been going at a hell of a lick in this 20mph area as there are bits of it lying way back. I wonder whether he had a jammed accelerator?. He is 83 and has dementia, not a scratch on him. Not his first accident, goodness knows how he keeps a driving licence.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

That was a massive amount of work, getting the soon-to-be-wet-again firewood all split and put away in such a short time. Thank you, I appreciate the hose suggestions. I think that you have had some of the same curse, though our soaker hoses have held up fairly well. They don't get your extra-intense UV rays, though.

That is exactly what we have always done with our indoor-grown tomato seedlings: Haul them in and out of the house, sometimes for several weeks as we harden them off. Out in the day, back in at night. It is exhausting as there are a couple of hundred of them in little pots. There has got to be an easier way! And as they have quite reliably started themselves out in the garden as volunteers - with enough time to grow to maturity - the last couple of years, I think it may be safe to count on being about to start them that way. I will be unable to resist starting some inside, though - just in case.

I just love the tomatillos. I take off the husks (they come off easily with water) and add garlic and onions and our bottled jalapeno peppers (the fresh ones are too hot for me) and cilantro and salt and run it all through a blender or food processor and eat it as a sauce with tortilla chips (tostados/corn chips) or put it one other stuff. What a unique, tangy flavor they have. I can't wait! It will also be interesting to see if any tomatillo volunteers come up this year.

Blimey - I wouldn't want to meet a 44 lb. cat! I always had enough trouble with our normal-sized ones. One that size could beat me up.

I didn't remember that there was a creek at the bottom of your property. It is a bit unnerving to watch one dry up. I have watched the pond behind us get lower and lower in a drought and also a stream on our neighbors' property become much reduced, but they have never dried up. They are spring fed.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Name that Tune!!! Or, the group. "Thunder and lightening, very very frightening! Mama Mia..." Todays ear worm. Today's ear worm. Sing at the top of your lungs. Frighten the hounds. :-).

Does upbringing affect what designs (decor?) are seen as "right?" I think more often I hear of people rebelling against whatever they were raised with. I certainly don't care for what came out of the 1950s. Except a few isolated things. Might have to do with what you attach happy, or unhappy, memories to?

Congrats on getting the firewood shed full. Break out the champagne! Or, that last bottle of Magic Unicorn Wiz. :-).

I have lived in one very haunted house, one haunted theatre and slept in a haunted bed. I've had a few haunted items through the tat business. That about covers it.

I checked out the pictures. Yup. Tree of Heaven is the stinky one. Just rub a leaf between your fingers. No, don't! You'll be washing your hands for days. Yup. They're very stately and grow very fast. But here, there're kind of a nuisance tree. Usually, urban. East and west. Once established, almost impossible to kill. I had one too close to the house, at my last place. Every spring, I hacked it down to the ground. Always came back.

I only won one game of bingo, last night. I am now $3.35 in the whole. If it hits $10, I'm walking away ... Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - Tomatillos were also new to me, last year. My! Two little plants became a tomatillo jungle! Only going to plant one, this year. My friend Julia just keeps a couple in her vegetable crisper, quarters them, throws them in the ground and viola! Well, they did do one good thing. I don't think I'm much of a gardener, but The Ladies here at The Home were impressed. Now, they think I know what I'm doing.

Have you found any interesting recipes? So far, it seems to be just green salsa and slice them fresh in salads. I'm about to launch a search through SW and Mexican cookbooks to see if I can find anything a bit more ... interesting. Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I finally measured our water output. My - does it vary. This is with absolutely no other water being used at the time, other than the faucet/tap I was testing.

Kitchen faucet: 1.4 gallons per minute

Downstairs bathtub: 2.8 gpm

Outside faucet, the one furthest from the pump: 20 gpm
That freaked me out; the water really gushes there. I tend to use the faucet nearest the garden mostly and hadn't used any outside water this winter anyway, since the other taps are shut off. This tap is of a different design than all the others. The rest all go through the house first. This one doesn't and is made to not freeze.

My maths are always suspect, though I tried really hard . . .

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

P.S. My son says the pressure in the tank can vary some so that those readings may not always be the same. But I'll bet they stay pretty close? Unless the clothes washer is going and the garden is being watered and someone is washing the car, while I am washing dishes and someone is taking a shower . . .

Pam

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Reading is time well spent! Well, at least that is what I reckon. Stella has such a lovely way with words and that particular word was a total laugh for me too! It is a beautiful book and the words are a delight to read.

A fair observation, but I can't really speak with any experience on that subject. I can add that the freedoms I enjoyed as a kid meant that I learned to think my own thoughts. Seems to work for me, but on the other hand it was probably a more risky experience than most parent/s would allow their kids to experience. Young kids have not had social filters dropped over their worldviews - I reckon our societies instance that abstractions are reality is not a good thing.

Next week will be the first lower forecast rating for UV. We're dropping from Extreme to only Very High! A dubious honour to be sure, but it should begin to feel cooler here. The monsoon has brought a lot of rain - one and a half inches over the past few days, with more to arrive on Sunday night to Tuesday morning... At this stage of the summer, it is a real gift.

Haha! Thanks for the great story. I really enjoyed that. Yes, there were some mid century furnishing disasters. For some reason I have a vivid memory as a kid of anodised aluminium cups in bright primary colours. They just felt wrong to me as if they were somehow drier than they should be. Maybe it was a tactile thing. Dunno. Incidentally mid century stuff was having a resurgence recently. I assume that there was no shag pile carpet in your mothers redecorating disaster? That stuff was impossible to vacuum.

Ouch. Yes, we get a few of those sorts of accidents down here too. Glad to read that nobody was hurt. When I was in the inner city, I recall a driver in their 80's who drove into the front plate glass of the local independent supermarket. I couldn't work out how they did it as the run up was very short. It certainly provided us with a mystery! And it left behind a heck of a mess... Sometimes people have to get out from behind the wheel. If it means anything to you, I wonder at how we'll adapt to this place as we age. Dunno. I joked to a friend once that perhaps someone would take me down the back paddock... It may have been a vision of the future, but I'm unsure. I am really working hard to ensure that the infrastructure is simple and resilient. It would be best to go like Sir Poopy as he was well and robust up until about two weeks before he died. I recall the days when people used to drop dead without warning. Peoples expectations these days are a bit strange in that regard. Oh well.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks! The work was sort of exhilarating with the electric feel of the air and the sound of thunder claps closing in ever closer over the farm. We only just made it, and the rain was quite pleasant over the summer parched orchard. And it is nice to see that the first firewood shed is now full. Tomorrow will be about 104'F in the shade, so it is strange working on firewood, but you have to store it sun dried here because of the very wet and humid winters.

Hey, we picked the first cucumber today! And there are plans to pickle them. Have you pickled cucumbers before and do you have any recipes to recommend?

It is interesting that you mention the soaker hoses but I had a strange thought after reading your comment. Maybe the water pressure is too much for the soaker hoses and they break at the weakest link? Dunno. The pump is a variable pressure pump and can adapt to the required pressure, but who knows? The plastic is not up for the UV regardless of what it says on the box and the locally made stuff is better than the imported stuff in that regard. Anyway, I have plans to ditch that system and the replacement will be very reliable. I ripped the idea from a market garden that I visited recently. It was one of those - this is so obvious moments! We all get them from time to time, don't we? Hey the UV is dropping to only Very High next week. Yay! No doubt it will bounce back to Extreme before too long...

Yeah, looking for an easier way is my thinking too with the tomato seedlings. We maintain a few insurance plants and there is a place in Melbourne that grow their own excellent seedlings and I keep them as the plan C. Everyone needs a plan C when dealing with nature!

I'll be interested too to hear if your tomatillo volunteers show up in time for the summer. Hey, I get a volunteer plant from that family, but it is sweet(er) than savoury and is of the same nightshade family. It is a Cape Gooseberry and I quite enjoy the taste of the berries. Have you ever seen those plants?

Some domestic cats are feral big and there is a bit of competition for the title: Watch out Omar! World's largest cat to defend title.

In some ways we're lucky that there are deep gorges with creeks on two sides of the property. They are lined covered in thousands upon thousands of ferns - thus the name of the farm. You are very lucky to have active springs. I am working hard at getting more water into the ground water table every single year. Not that anyone would wonder at that. Do your springs always occur at the same spots?

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

I was a big fan of Queen back in the day. The editor was an even bigger fan and saw them when they toured Melbourne back in about 1986 (maybe slightly earlier). As an interesting and only slightly relevant side story, Queen played at the nearby Sunbury festival back in about 1972. Needless to say that their genius and the show was completely misunderstood by the locals! The funny thing about that festival was that it was held on some blokes farm just south of here along a creek. Back then, it would have been in the boonies! Imagine such a thing happening nowadays - the occupational health and safety folks would have had a field day at the merest thought of such a thing happening. The township of Sunbury has a mural celebrating the event - not that anyone would notice it. Have you ever been to a music festival? I’m not much of a fan of the crowds, and the queues to the toilets are a hassle in my limited experience. There is a curious thing about them nowadays in that a humungous quantity of rubbish (and good stuff) gets left behind them nowadays. It is all very strange to me and I know it says something, but I'm not sure what it actually means. Now where was an article about the matter... ... ... Here goes: Are these the cleanest festival goers ever?. Perhaps I've become an old fart, but the hedonism shocks me.

I'm totally with you as mid-century furniture leaves me feeling cold. I mean the stuff was manufactured to be cheap and for the masses. It was never intended to be a collectable item. I have sat at a dining table and chair set made from carbon fibre and it was very comfortable and extremely light weight. That is a collectable, mid-century stuff, not so much.

The Magical Christmas Unicorn was enjoyed once this season as it left me with a massive headache after only a pint. Yes, I may be a light weight in these matters, but another explanation was that something had possibly gone very wrong with the brew. It didn't taste the same as the previous years standout. I sort of felt sorry for the brewers.

A shed full of firewood, is like money in the bank, but better. ;-)!

OK. The first two hauntings I could cope with, but the third - a haunted bed! Far out, I smell a story there? I hope the haunting was not an angry experience? Plenty of cultures believe that the spirits of the recently deceased can inhabit objects, so who am I to argue with them? I've always suspected that there is much hidden truth to the manna in tribal fetishes. Have you ever come across a fetish (in the physical object meaning of that word) in your tat trading? Something that had an electric aura?

Strangely enough, I've seen those stinky trees predominantly along railway lines. I wonder if the seeds are transported along with the trains? Dunno. They look like very robust trees, and someone once suggested that it would be a very bad idea to deliberately plant one of those species. The competition is very fierce here among the plant world. Even Jerusalem artichokes don't have a free hand in the garden beds and they have a baneful reputation.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

A man has to know his limits and I approve of your strategies.

They had the Hot 100 songs on the radio today and I thoroughly indulged my music geekiness! Almost 400,000 people voted which is a huge chunk of the country. It only just finished too. Good stuff and last year was a very good year for music and most songs were well above average but with few stand out songs. Perhaps that means that the average was very high? I'd like to think so. Dunno.

Scritchy appears to have acknowledged Ollie’s presence and has allowed him onto her green couch. This is a momentous occasion for Ollie, who has potential, but not as a cattle dog. I can understand why his breeders would have unceremoniously dumped him after much poor behaviour on their part. He’s alright though and in time he’ll learn the fluffy ways and become useful about the place, proving that there is indeed a lid for every pot (as the old timers used to remark, although what it means is beyond me!)

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Thank you for undertaking a scientific appraisal of your properties water systems. You're not wrong, that output does vary quite a lot. To be honest, I get a bit panicky if the volume of water is less than 20L/minute (5.2 gallons) and this may explain why I use a lot of water, relatively speaking! I find here that the higher the pump has to lift the water, the less pressure is delivered as it takes more energy to do that trick. Thus, hydro generators have to have a huge amount of drop in height in order to generate useful electricity as the reverse is also true. Sometimes folks have suggested to me to set up a high level water tank and then a low level water tank and run a hydro generator between them. The idea makes absolutely no financial sense at all as it is prohibitively expensive for very little electricity!

Incidentally 20gpm is a massive quantity of water! It freaks me out too!

I would never dare upbraid you on the subject of mathematics as it is not my strong suit either. :-)!

I have noted that your well systems often have pressure gauges next to the pressure switch. I only noticed this fact because I had to learn about water pumps in depth many months ago. They do not make for pleasant dinner party chit chat, but there you go. They are important though, and I reckon the ability to make it rain, when it isn't raining is one of the big advances in agriculture - the rest, well not so much.

It is fascinating watching the other dogs teach Ollie the ropes. And he appears to be learning too, although he went to the toilet twice inside the house yesterday. The editor sprays the area and his nose too with perfume which is an effective teaching tool.

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Chris et al,

We had quite a bit of rain the earlier in the week and as the ground is frozen it mostly pooled up. Right after the rain the temperature dropped quickly and it ended with a couple of inches of heavy wet snow with ice in spots underneath. The very wet snow provided the beautiful views that I described earlier. Doug reported that many of the roads were sheer ice on the way into work. On the way home some were one lane only as the wind caused quite a bit of blowing snow. Speaking of accidents there were over 200 accidents on the expressways south of Chicago due to unexpected freezing rain with three fatalities. There's always people driving too fast for the weather conditions. This particular snow was perfect for snowmen but I didn't see even one in my travels.

Think I'll try to direct seed some tomatoes too as I run into the same situation as Chris and Pam - hauling them in and out of the house and in and out of the wind.

Margaret

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Ollie does appear to be a bit of a handful but I imagine, like Salve, he'll do well. Not sure if you want Leo to talk to him either as he'd pass on how he just ignores us whenever he decides what we want isn't a good idea. Salve on the other hand has developed into a very good listener. Leo is also a master of knocking down wood piles trying to get at mice or chipmunks in the piles (which he never catches).

The bird also find holes etc when the weather is bad and I've read that they will huddle together. We always find a few dead ones around. I imagine the population decreased significantly over the winter. We have a row of large pine trees that many birds use as shelter too.

Went out to dinner with our friends who used to own the retirement home the other night. They just left on a six week road trip - something they have never been able to do while running the retirement home. Luckily they are well enough now to go as they've been plagued with many of the various viruses going around this year.

Off to the city today to celebrate my aunt's 74th birthday. The weather is cooperating as it'll be in the mid 40's and sunny. Yes it's been warm the last few days so the snow is almost gone. The weather has been up and down all winter.

Impressed that you got all that wood under roof - what a job!!

Margaret

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Big storm, tracking our way. Forecast to pass well north of us, but Cliff Mass said that's pretty iffy. I haven't checked him, this morning. I heard there was snow in our outlying areas. Not much and didn't last long.

I've never been to a huge outdoor rock concert. A few indoor concerts, when I was a wee lad. Went to see the Beach Boys, on one of their many "farewell" tours, in the 60's. My Dad was appalled I paid $3 or $4 for tickets. :-). When I first moved to Seattle in 1968, they had just had the Sky River rock festival. Which was very rainy. For a week after, I'd see people on University Avenue (the Ave) still coated in mud. Badge of honor, or something. Like you, crowds have never been my cup of tea. LOL. I did go to a Ravi Shankar concert in the 60's. Just 'cause he was best buds with the Beatles. What a snooze! Three hours of droning sitar music. :-). Oh, well. I'm probably a better person, for it. Right?

There was some well made furniture in the 50s. Haywood-Wakefield was a good company. Much to my surprise, I acquired a Mission rocker from my last digs, and it still has the label from that company. I didn't know they went that far back. Swedish Modern was also hot, and well made. I'm also quit fond of the old Formica, "cracked ice" dinette sets. Almost went on the hunt for one, for this place, but a cooler head prevailed. It just wouldn't have "fit" with what I have going. I wouldn't have been able to sleep, at night. :-). Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. The haunted bed. When we moved to Vancouver, Washington, there was a very nice Victorian bed and dresser that came with the place. Walnut with some burl veneer. Marble top on the dresser. The burl was a bit rippled on the footboard. Well, the old guy that had the place lived to 103 and died in that bed. The ripple was from a bit of water damage. They threw damp towels over the foot board when they gave him bed baths. Barbarians!

The old guy died in October (spooky, no?). The first October I slept in that bed, one night, I heard breathing. Just a slow in and out. I got up to check on my brother, We kept our door open and he was across a very small hall. Nope. Not him. So, I went back to bed and realized the sound was coming from the headboard. Being well read in all things ghostly, at that time, I wasn't much disturbed. I just matched my breathing with ... whatever, and soon drifted off. It would usually last for about a week, every October. When the bed was moved out of the house, and traveled with me, for quit a few years, it stopped.

Items, or fetishes (I guess). A nastily haunted netsuke of a fox and a Native American kachina doll. Just bad vibes. I put them in my antique mall space and priced them for quick sale.

The Tree of Heaven's seeds are very light and air born. They can travel great distances. They seem to favor urban "waste" land. Like, as you observed, along rail lines. Places where they'll be neglected and undisturbed. Until they get a good grip.

I headed to the Safeway, early yesterday morning. All was well when I left The Home, but the Safeway, when I got there, was in semi darkness. Power outage. Their generators power some things, but not everything. Two check stands were up and running, so, I stumbled around in the dark, got what I needed and headed home. Everyone in the dark, here. Luckily, no one in the elevator when it went out. Power was out in the whole of Chehalis, for about 3 hours. Tree down, somewhere out in the boonies. Lew

thecrowandsheep said...

Hi Chris,

thecrowandsheep is a sleepy pub amongst greener pastures where patrons enjoy rich stouts and fine conversation. Archenemies include theslugandlettuce, theduckandrice and theelephantandcastle.

Have you ever had dinner with a Faustian character -- a highly clever someone who simply knows it all and has it all worked out? Dinner with the devil? I have just the dessert: Rote Grütze

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

You know, I have never seen heavy rain turn into ice during winter. It never even occurred to me that that may be a problem. Stay safe and be careful (which I'm sure you both are doing).

On the other end of the climate spectrum, it is very hot here tonight. At least it is much cooler up here in the mountains than down in Melbourne which looks like it is sweltering: Victoria hot weather: 'No chance to recover' as Melbourne sweats through heat, humidity. The 27'C minimum temperature is 81'F!

Yeah, I found that the tomato seeds knew exactly what day to germinate outside, and they did fine without any transplant shock. Of course, hedging your bets is a sound strategy too. I picked the first ripe tomato today and enjoyed them with freshly baked bread and pesto (with basil from the garden). 100% yum!

If Salve has done well, then so shall Ollie. He has made peace with Scritchy and that is a good thing as they are on the same side. Thanks for the warning too, and Ollie shall not speak with the excellent, but independently minded Leo! :-)!

The local parrot population takes a hit during winter here too. It is nice that your local birds enjoy some shelter from the extreme winter weather that you have recently experienced. I would struggle with your winters because, winters here are considered cold, but they are relatively mild compared to yours. Brr!

Glad to read that your friends health improved and that they were able to begin enjoying some travel. The change in their circumstances would have been very stressful to negotiate, and now they have the travel to also negotiate. Are they heading north or south?

Your weather has been as variable as what I experience here. Far out, how much can a Koala Bear, I ask you? Hehe! Hope the day was pleasant.

Yes, we only just made it before the heavens opened. We both worked on accounting work today, because when it is so hot and the UV is so extreme, what else can you do? Monday evening and Tuesday morning promise another heavy monsoon.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Far out! I just looked at the Cliff mass blog entry and read (much to my alarm) 5 to 10 inches of rain along the Vancouver Island coast. That is a huge amount of rain in anyone’s language! The most I have seen is 10 inches of rain, but spread over a period of 5 days, and the floods in the valley below were epic - and beyond anything I had experienced before. It was a long drive out of the mountain range and unfortunately, at one point during the flood I was on the wrong side of the hugely expanded river. I couldn't even tell where the road was, so how people drive through such a mess is beyond me. Mind you, I did see a station wagon deep in the water and I was wondering how they were planning to get out of it. I reckon that car was a write off after that little jaunt! Instead we acknowledged reality and drove the entire way around the mountain range and made it back unharmed. There was absolutely nothing I could do for the car which was stuck in the water.

Hehe! Yes, I have seen artists promoting "farewell tours" only to reappear performing at a later date. It is a bit cheeky. Were the Beach Boys any good live? For some reason I always felt that their music was somehow cheery and yet it had dark undertones and I've never been able to shake that feeling. Some of the notes used by the band were a little bit off the usual scales and that didn't assist matters. Dunno. Of course I may have an overly active imagination in that regard?

Do you reckon the irony of the Sky River Rock festival being a very wet occasion was lost on the punters?

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but I somehow doubt that you are a better person for having sat through three hours of live sitar music! Hehe! Bad Chris! I'm feeling quite cheeky tonight and perhaps it may be the heat affecting my brain? You know, when I was in India for a few weeks late last century, I started developing an appreciation for the Hindi music which was blaring out of every shop in the country. India was a very noisy and busy place and it was an assault on my senses, although I am glad to have experienced the country as it has great charm and beauty as well. The poor editor was harassed at every step along the way - if I was not in attendance. My presence was like some sort of magical force field around her and I had to act like a rooster.

I went to one of the big music festivals back in about 1997. It was the Big Day Out and it was quite good, although I found the sun to be unrelenting, and the queues for the toilets were too long for my tastes. My mates decided to enjoy the music through chemistry (which I wanted no part of) and so I guess they thought that I was boring, but I enjoyed the music and System of a Down (their massive hit was Chop Suey – awesome!) was a real highlight for me. It never inspired me to attend another festival though. I never really understood what people get out of the festivals and I felt that it was a joke that was lost on me.

Yeah, I agree, not all of that mid century furniture was rubbish, and some of it was quite good. I'm unsure whether I feel the same way about formica, but you know, tastes vary and that is part of life. Some of that Swedish mid century furniture is being manufactured and sold still. It was always intended, I believe, to be furniture for the people. When I was a kid, everyone had old furniture and if it lost a leg, well, you chucked a brick under it to prop it up. Maybe that may have been the social circles I hung in too?

Yes, sleeping soundly at night is a top notch goal for a person. Mind you, I don't hear a lot of reports that that is working out too well for most people. I need eight to nine hours per night and have absolutely no idea why as other people seem to cope with much less.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Oh that is not good about the bath towels on the floor. Mind you, I looked at buying a small old Victorian terrace house a long time ago. It was clear that the previous elderly occupant had fallen asleep on a reclining chair, whilst smoking a cigarette. The room had a certain unsettling aura about it as there was a major burn patch on the floor and a smaller burn mark on the ceiling. Let's put it this way, things did not end well for the previous occupant.

Bed baths for the elderly sounds like a dodgy activity for all sorts of reasons and none of them are good.

You've brought back all sorts of unpleasant memories. There was another house I looked at fixing up that had been used as a hydroponic grow house by the previous owners (or tenants). The moisture damage was beyond belief and every surface in the house had been damaged. Apparently they get caught because of data mining between high electricity and water usage. You couldn't run such an operation off grid (just sayin)!

You are a braver soul than I to quickly come to terms with the presence of the haunted bed. Being well read in all things ghostly, I have to ask the important question: Do the spirits of the deceased ever cause mischief for the living? Or have they been given a bad rap by the fearful living?

Very clever to price the items with bad vibes for a quick sale. I have read stories about people trying to offload cursed items that way onto unsuspecting victims. Did the items sell quickly? I only ask because I wonder whether some folks are attracted to such items, whereas you described them as having bad vibes and would have been repelled?

Oh yeah, those Tree of Heaven are very firmly established along the railway lines. I was surprised to see them in that nobody seems to have noticed their presence. I guess most people see an abstract concept of "tree" and go that is a good thing. I tend to look at the individual tree and see what story it has to tell. Those particular trees look very hardy indeed and seem to shrug off the worst of all conditions. Mind you, nature has to have pioneering trees in order to reinvigorate ecosystems. Another word for those plants is "weeds", but they are usually performing a useful function and won't last for ever.

Lucky that no one was in the lift at that time of the power outage! The power grid down here has struggled with the hot conditions and a few thousand houses in Melbourne are without power. I wonder at the refrigerators and freezers for those establishments as it is not a good idea to thaw out food and then refreeze it.

It looks like another monsoon is due to arrive tomorrow afternoon. Far out.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi crowandsheep,

Every village has a need for a good country pub that serves quality stouts and hopefully would have a mobile phone signal blocker... OK, that last bit was sheer mischief on my part. I rarely see people on their phones in the pub as they are usually there for conversation and stout always makes for good conversation, don't you reckon? ;-)!

Actually the local pub here has a beer board which celebrates the diversity of locally produced beers, ciders, and stouts/porters. Good stuff, and it changes with every week. It is like a tour de force of beer! ;-)!

Once I was served a pint of Canadian maple stout which was 12% and the after effects of that strong brew were not lost on me! Hehe! It was very strong but very tasty too as the brewer had added proper maple syrup. I just had to remember to stick to a glass after that debacle.

Faustian characters can be fun, but know it all's can make for tiring company...

Rote Grütze is superb looking! I have never seen such a dish and stick to the more tradition sticky date pudding, which I hope that you have sampled in your lifetime?

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - The storm passed well north of us. In fact, last night was quit calm. I see Seattle got wind gusts of 40mph.

Were the Beach Boys good live? The Beach Boys are good in any form, live, recorded, or singing in the shower :-). Yeah, there was always an "undertone" to some of their stuff. Minor notes and that yearning, teenage angst. Their father was their manager and quit abusive. Hit Brian Wilson, once, so hard, that he had life time ear problems. Throw in Brian Wilson's mental problems. Well, at least he seems to be finishing up his life in a happier place. "Love of a good woman," and all that. And, the right mix of medications.

I have no idea what the participants in the Sky River Rock Festival thought. If anything. They still appeared to be coming down from whatever massive amounts of chemicals they'd ingested. :-). I'm sure there's some people who think they're "not any fun, anymore." As they are pretty heavily permited and regulated, these days.

Oh, I don't think you're circles had much to do with making due. Your generation just caught the end of a more make do and repair culture. It was a prevailing ethos, in mine. There's an old saying. I'm going to get it wrong, but then I've heard different versions of it. "Use up, make do or do without."

Oh, I need my eight hours a day, too. It's just that usually it's in two blocks of time. Late night rattling around and long afternoon naps. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

When I was a kid I would go down to the main library in downtown Portland. All the paranormal and occult books were behind glass. You could check them out, but the librarians kept them under more control as it was one of those subject areas that regularly disappeared. Hans Holzer wrote a lot of books on ghosts. He had a couple on Borley Rectory, "the most haunted house in England." One thing that he said that stuck in my mind was that, as far as he knew, no one had ever been physically injured by a ghost. But, that a lot of people had injured themselves, through fright. Never mind what you saw in the movies.

Some people are clueless to "vibes", good or bad. Or, if you get a good deal, you're more likely to ignore any feelings of disquiet. Some things don't "work" on you til they've been around for awhile.

Actually, I think the "Tree of Heaven" is quit pretty ... in the right spot. :-). And if it's personal hygiene were a bit better.

I see there's a new documentary that's just out here, called "Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story." Supposed to be released in Australia, March 15th. Beware, though. I guess the kangaroo "harvesting" scenes are quit brutal. Throw another kangaroo steak on the barbie. :-).

I saw two interesting articles on food, over on the NPR web site. One was about American food in England. Seems like a lot of grocery stores have an American food section. Mostly junk food and cereals. And, one store that is all American stuff. Part for the novelty, part for homesick Americans. The other was about Japanese food stores and restaurants in parts of our South. It's the Toyota plants. They not only cater to Japanese that have come here, but, also Americans, trained in Japan who discovered the food.

There are pansy volunteers coming up in my veg patch. And, flowering. Cheerful little things. I leave them be, if possible.

Sounds like Ollie is shaping up to be a good dog, and that the doggie politics are sorting themselves out. Enjoy his puppy-hood. Believe it or not, you'll miss some of his antics. Given a bit of time :-).

I made 4 bean salad for this afternoons potluck, here at The Home. Looks pretty. Don't know how it will taste, or how popular it will be. I'll just tell The Ladies, that it's good for them! Keeps the trains running, on time! Can't let a good poop reference, slide by. :-). Lew