Monday, 19 February 2018

Edge of Town

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

It is a nice thing living on the edge of town. I can use the amenities of the nearby townships. And the big smoke of Melbourne is only ever an hour away. But the forest and the quiet living up here always calls me back. It wasn't always that way, as I did grow up in the big smoke and previously lived an urban experience with a multitude of cafes on various street corners. One cannot argue against the logic of a quality coffee!

Working hard has never bothered me either, because I've always worked hard. In Melbourne I'd previously repaired, restored, and sometimes even rebuilt century old houses, all the while working full time jobs and studying part time. In addition, I have always kept up relationships with friends and (of course) the editor! Hard work is a way of life for both of us.

As an interesting side story, the other day I happened to travel past a house that the editor and I had largely restored from a brick shell. On the front steel Victorian era replica fence that we had laboriously welded from raw materials to original specifications, there was a board proclaiming that a builder was in the process of undertaking works within the house. I was rather upset and alarmed at the thought that a builder was tearing down all of the work that we had so carefully done. Around the back of the house I ventured into the old cobblestone alley way (for the old horse drawn night soil carts). I peered through a gap in the rear gate and to my relief the works being done seemed quite minor. Interestingly to me, I noticed that in the many years since our departure the new owners appear not to have performed much basic maintenance.

Maintenance is just one aspect of land. And you know, a person can live in a rural area without doing all of the hard work that the editor and I put into this farm. Plenty of people do exactly that every single day. Maintaining or extending infrastructure has a cost which can be either physical and/or economic. And the question that pops into my mind is: maintenance can be ignored for a while, but for how long? Often overdue maintenance seems to be a reason that people move on.

The author John Steinbeck wrote the fictional book: "Of Mice And Men", in the dark days of the Great Depression. One the characters, who to put it mildly - 'was a bit thick' - was always banging on about living off the fat of the land. Fat land is a fictional concept, because unlike hard work, it doesn't exist. And if it does exist, then I'm guessing that most people can't afford it.

Hard work is a good tool as it provides the opportunity to live comfortably on leaner (low-fat, fat-free but not low-carb) land. However, if you want to achieve a small surplus from land, then a person has to physically wrest that surplus from the land. Keep in mind that the activity may make absolutely no economic sense relative to what can be earned with your time from other sources. 

So when people ask me for my opinion about living in a rural area, all I have to offer them is that it is a beautiful and special experience, but it is also a lot of hard work and can be expensive.

I feel that the lyrics of the beautiful song "Edge of Town" written and performed by local band "Middle Kids" would be soothing to people fearful of all this talk about hard work!

"I cannot remember
Anything you say
When the streets are talking
Yeah, they call my name
And I walk a little further
I could go all day
And the trees are reaching
Pointing out the way"

Speaking of hard work, early Sunday morning we took the small white dirt rat Suzuki and the bright yellow trailer down into the bottom paddock in order to retrieve the final few loads of firewood.
The dirt rat Suzuki and bright yellow trailer head down the hill in order to retrieve the final few loads of firewood
Firewood collection has now been completed for the season! Yay! We have never before completed this task so early in the year nor have we ever put away so much firewood. This week we filled the firewood bay next to the house. That firewood bay is the sub-sub-agency branch of the CBF(TM) (Cherokee Bank of Firewood).
The author enjoys a quiet moment having completed the firewood activities for this year
Some people have all sorts of strange opinions about firewood and I always tend to ask those people: How is that brown coal used in electricity generators working for them? And I would never dare mention coal seam gas (the Australian version of fracking) in polite company as gentle folk may take serious offence.  I guess being able to manage and harvest our own energy resource can sound a bit too much like hard work for folks used to flicking a switch to warm their houses.

This time of year is all about the harvest. Firewood is just one form of harvest. The tomatoes have also begun ripening in quantity this week. We use a six tray (Fowlers Vacola) food dehydrator to dry the tomatoes and then store them in olive oil. Some of the tomatoes are eaten fresh though!
A collection of freshly picked heritage tomatoes for lunch
Before tomatoes are dehydrated, they are washed and dried the night before, and then cut into thirds in the morning and placed on the dehydrator trays. The process of dehydrating can take up to 14 hours, so we like to utilise the electricity generated by the solar panels.
A tray of freshly picked tomatoes which were in the process of being cut into thirds prior to dehydrating
About one and a third trays (in the photo above) of tomatoes once dehydrated almost fills up a large glass jar. We consume the tomatoes throughout the year, and the olive oil is used in cooking. Nothing goes to waste and the glass jars and lids are cleaned and used again the following year.
Six trays of dehydrated tomatoes almost fills up a large glass bottle
Observant readers will note the twelve bottles of blackberry jam that were also produced this week (blackberries are another harvest). And in the photo above on the right hand side is our very fancy yoghurt cooker which is happily keeping its contents warm at a steady 43'C / 109'F for twelve hours.

Speaking of fermenting and blackberries - The editor who is the brew-mistress here at Fernglade farm, produced three demijohns of blackberry wine to add to other flavours of wine and vinegars already fermenting. The dozen demijohns looked really cool bubbling away in the hot afternoon summer sun.
The dozen demijohns look really cool as they bubble away in the hot afternoon summer sun
The editor who is a general whizz in the kitchen, has also been pickling our huge supply of cucumbers (yet another harvest) in a mixture of white vinegar and home made apple cider vinegar (apples are also being harvested right now and one of the demijohns in the photo above is making apple cider vinegar). Dill seeds are used as flavouring (yet another harvest) for the pickles and they are very tasty!
Cucumbers and onions happily pickle away in white vinegar!
Far out, even I'm starting to feel that harvest time is full of hard work. I reckon we should take a quick intermission and check back in on the Middle Kids song:

"I got all muddled up and journeyed to the edge of town
And then the road cracked open
Sucked me in, then I went down
Now standing face to face
With the king of the underground
Some things just don’t add up
I’m upside down
I’m inside out"

Weren't those lyrics soothing? Long readers will recall that the new puppy - Ollie, who may or may not be a cattle dog, although it seems rather unlikely based in his behaviour - chomped through the spray hose for the dozen or so raised vegetable beds. The beds were unable to be watered and of course that coincided with a few dry and hot weeks. Last week I installed a new and very fancy, but ultimately repairable in the event of a chomp situation, watering system for the raised garden beds. It is an awesome system! But my favourite salad herb (Vietnamese mint) at the very end of the line was no longer being watered. This week I extended the watering system so that my fave plant can now receive daily watering.

If anyone is concerned that the plants here are overly watered, then it is worth remembering that this house has only tank water and those vegetable beds receive only ten minutes of water per day regardless of the insane summer temperatures. And that is it. Neither orchard is irrigated.
The Vietnamese mint now receives daily watering as the sprinkler system was extended
The garden tap system also received a major overhaul this week. The 12 Volt pump that was being used to provide pressure in that system is very good, but it has only a twenty minute duty cycle. A duty cycle is the fancy name to describe how long the device should be used. After twenty minutes, the pressure drops away because the pump heats up. This week I replaced that water pump with a much better 12 Volt water pump. And I also added a huge accumulator pressure tank. The pressure tank is 24 Litres / 6.3 gallons and it stores water at pressure and when a tap (spigot) is turned on water flows from the pressure tank and this saves the pump from having to switch on - that is until the pressure tank completely empties.

The author dismantles the existing garden water pump system
The new water pump and huge accumulator pressure tank is added to the garden water pump system
The author runs out of time and installs a dodgy quick fix to protect the pressure tank and pump from rain and sun
Oh yeah, we also harvested some of the almonds as they had begun splitting open on the tree. Fresh almonds are beyond good and they are one tasty nut. As an interesting side note, we're considering purchasing a three legged ladder which are usually used in commercial orchards so that we can pick the higher fruit.
Almonds were harvested this week
It is not all hard work here, although a lot of that gear does go on. For those who fear hard work, well...

"I came a little closer
To the truth that day
I heard it’s call
In the alleyway
And the one resounding answer
That I could take
Is that I don’t know nothing
And I got no way"

Scritchy the boss dog doesn't fear hard work and she appears to be winning over the new Fluffy Collective recruit:
Scritchy appears to be winning over the newest member of the Fluffy Collective - Ollie, via a Vulcan mind-bum meld
In other breaking animal (I mean insect) news, we managed to get a photo of the elusive blue banded bees who are hard at work harvesting nectar and pollen:
A blue banded bee harvests pollen and nectar from this lemon balm
And onto the flowers... They rarely grow without lashings of hard work!
Geraniums have bounced back over the past week or so as UV levels have decreased to merely VERY HIGH
Stunning lilies. I just can't ever remember planting this variety
Californian poppies make quite the splash
A silver banksia enjoys the sun and warmth
Agapanthus are ever reliable
Penstemon are likewise reliable
The temperature outside now at about 9.00pm is 15’C (59’F). So far this year there has been 106.6mm (4.2 inches) which is up from last week's total of 104.6mm (4.1 inches).

95 comments:

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Exactly, mineral deficiencies were rife back in the day, but alas few now recall them. To be frankly honest, I do actually wonder about salt. Along the shoreline of Port Phillip Bay I have seen the old Cheetham salt works. They are still there, and it is basically a series of tidal ponds which dry in the hot summer sun and leave behind the salt. It is unfortunately 60Km south of here... Inland, I have no idea what they used to do. Are you aware of any sources? I guess trade is the answer as it must always have been?

I wish you a good growing season. The past few weeks have turned hot and dry here, but there is plenty of ground water, so it is not a problem - so far...

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

I really enjoyed the irreverence of that show too, although I can barely recall it nowadays. It is interesting that you mention that, because I have had an ear worm which must be exorcised on next week’s blog. No seriously, exorcism is the only way. And that ear worm is John Mellancamp's song: "Rain on the scarecrow"... Sorry to inflict that ear worm on you, but as they say, a problem shared is a problem halved! :-)!

Yeah, chores and systems do get easier with time. I genuinely wonder how folks can believe that they can pick any of this gear up easily? My experience tells me that it takes at least ten year’s of experience before a meaningful conversation can even be commenced.

Interesting is the word! I have absolutely no idea what that means with your rain as it is outside my experience. Certainly the water may run, but beyond that... How has it turned out so far? Good luck!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Two inches of snow sounds delightful to me. Were you snowed in? It may surprise you, but down here it snows in those sorts of temperatures too, so snow is an adaptable beast. Tough old bird indeed! Very funny and also very naughty! ;-)! I must advise you to be careful, as the editor may also take offence and she knows how to wield a chainsaw. It is not just the cold winters that breed 'tough old birds', as the intense summer sun down here can produce that effect too.

What? No way. Surely the Romans could have come up with workable boots? Weren't they in the back blocks of Germany and France too? Those places get equally cold during winter as both the French and the Germans should well know with their failed winter campaigns (Napoleon and also the Nazi’s who pushed further north and east). Far out! Or did the Roman’s pronounce sandals as the 'norm' and look at all other styles of footwear and claim: "Tes not natural, but ay, it might be worth a try!"

Ah, I believe we call green onions "Chives" and they produce massive quantities of onion tasting green shoots. They grow well down here and we have a patch that is quite old. They never form bulbs, but we have a similar plant that also grows green shoots, but produces bulbs. I'll have to think about what it is called... ... Nothing inspiring - Bunching onions, was what someone once called them.

Leeks are less tasty to my palate than onions, so although we grow them and they reliably self-seed, we just don't eat them. Potato and leek soup is quite tasty though.

Yes, onions can be a fickle lot and sometimes, the less care that I have given them, the better they do. I plant a lot of onion bulbs randomly about the farm and they do well.

Thanks for the book review. It is on the list! I really enjoy Kim Stanley Robinson's writing style and stories. I came across the Mars trilogy many years ago at the Melbourne Agricultural show by sheer chance.

You probably are not aware of this, but up in the north west of this continent (where the hot weather for here originates) they have had two cyclones in two months and the annual rainfall record for the year has almost been broken (in only two months): Cyclone threat downgraded for northern WA but record rain swamps Broome. WA refers to the state of Western Australia. Anyway, my favourite quote was the bloke from the Bureau of Meteorology who is quoted as having said: "We're not quite to the wettest year, but there's only about 100mm to go, so one would think we could get that in the next 10 months anyway." 100mm is four inches...

Yeah, you're correct as he wouldn't have been able to stop himself from tinkering and 'improving' the workings of the printing press. It would be an absolute shame to stop him too! :-)!

Oh yeah, everyone has someone to blame, until they don't, but Empire is an expensive business as the British may have discovered to their horror. Some wars just don't yield a profit and what happens then? The colonials were like the little girl with the little curl and they were very naughty indeed and have been ever since.

Sunflower kernels and pepitas are really tasty, but I usually oven roast them. How did you soften them up? Yummo for the bean salad!

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

You did frighten me, but I am soothed! Those Middle Kids write lovely poetry.

My heart swells with joy at the sight of all that firewood. Joy for you and the editor and your clan being warm all winter.

What a gorgeous plate of fresh tomatoes. We still have dried ones, and passata and tomato soup that we put up, but the fresh ones are but a dream. The demijohns are the colors of jewels - with the treasure inside.

Thanks for explaining pressure tanks so clearly. Your pump seems to have more components than the one in our basement.

What a beautiful and unusual bee.

Ollie: I hope the Vulcan mind-bum meld works. It is a good thing that you have been paying attention to Mr. Spock. He is a wise one. I love your red collar.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

I am not laughing about your weather; it sounds quite nasty.

Did they really wear tunics on Hadrian's Wall? That makes me think of kilts.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Margaret:

I think I hope it is just your water heater. It seemed to be pretty straightforward. Or one can just replace the whole thing. I will be interested to hear.

Rain on top of frozen ground is not a good thing.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I must say, I've moved on from a rental or two, due to overdue maintenance. :-). Which is satisfying in a general interior kind of a way, but probably doesn't give the landlord a second thought. There's always someone on tap to "pay the price" and occupy. Mostly. And, if vacant, can probably be written off the income taxes. Which might even offset the property taxes. In general, I don't go back and have a look at places from which I've moved on. Mostly.

So, the firewood bay is kind of a kiosk in a mall of the CBF (TM)? An ATM? :-). That does represent a lot of hard work. You've put paid to that yearly task and can now get onto other things. Nice how it works out that at your harvest time, you've pretty much got solar power to burn, so to speak. I've had dehydrators on the brain, recently. I was checking out some solar jobs on Amazon, just the other day. I've had electric ones in the past. But the cost of electricity is a concern. But, I think I should have one as a backup, given our changeable weather. There's usually reasonable electric ones to be found in our local opportunity stores.

The demijohns also represent a heck of a lot of work. But you may be missing a bet. Set them up in a posh art gallery. Call it an "instillation." Title it "Farm Life #1", or some such. As a ridiculous amount of money. Something that would appeal to the "more money than sense" crowd. How does the apple cider vinegar / white vinegar mix work out? Is it a half and half ration? Flavor? Using the apple cider vinegar, which you make yourself, must cut the cost of pickling? Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. The Vulcan-bum mind meld is a hoot! :-). I'm working on a theory that a fertile mind must be well fed with compost. :-). Speaking of which, I saw a trailer for a movie, yesterday. "Dundee: Son of a Legend Comes Home." Coming soon to a theatre, near you. Might turn out to be just silly. Or, silly and fun. Probably, offensive to some. The overly sensitive who just look to be offended.

Well, it snowed on and off, yesterday and was all gone by early evening. I feel cheated. It only got down to 30F (-1.11C) last night. They're promising 20F tonight. Promises, promises! That's what they said about last night. Your Bureau of Meteorology must be like our National Weather Service. Worth a look if you're curious. Scroll down a bit until you can see the very colorful map of the US. Click on the upper NW part of the map. That gives you this region. Another colorful map! Centralia shows on it. Click just a hair south, and that's us. 3 day records are another click away, upper right hand corner. This record and that record are constantly being broken, but it doesn't have anything to do with climate change? Sigh.

Oh, the Romans had boots. Caligula means "little boots." Might have been more of an upper class thing? And, who knows? There might have been a lot of macho posturing going on. "Look at Marcus! What a whimp. Wearing those socks his mommy sent him!" Of course, trousers were "barbarian" and not done. I have seen sculptures of soldiers in what looks like, dare I say, leg warmers. Held on and up by an intricate bit of lacing.

Chives, here, are mild, small and grass like. I do hear "bunching onions". But not much. And, I do think that applies to what we call "green onions." Minor geographic linguistic quirk. :-).

I keep expecting to start skimming along in "New York 2140", but keep reading in depth. It's got a pretty large cast of characters, but Robinson has a knack for keeping everyone sorted. Clear personalities and stories.

I took about half a cup of mixed sunflower and pumpkin seeds, splash a tablespoon or so of water on, cover and nuke for 2 minutes. Seems to do the trick. The potluck went well, but a few of the regulars were missing. The squabbling around here wears on me. I just try and keep my head down, don't declare for one side or the other (neutral, like Switzerland :-). Smooth things over, where I can. The bean salad went over pretty well, but there was some to take home. So, I had a thought. I made up a pan of cornbread, heated a bit of the bean salad and slopped it on top of a couple of pieces. Quit tasty.

I'm glad that the temperature didn't get as low as forecast. Our two Visiting Nurses opportunity stores are having a 50% off everything sale, today. They do that, every once in awhile. Clears out old stock. I saw a copper, Deco wall thermometer. About 5" tall and shaped like a sailing ship. Not willing to pay the $10 they're asking. But $5? Sure. Who knows what else I'll find? They've had a really nice art deco table, for quit awhile. But, sigh, 1.) I have no space for it and 2.) it's covered in black paint and I have nowhere to work on it. Oh, well. Road not taken ... Lew

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

Some folks like hard work, some don't. I tend to it, at least in spurts, though I do my best to carve out some relaxation time each day. Mike does not like hard work, never has, but he's willing to do what he enjoys doing. Fortunately that includes cooking, brewing, wine-making, cutting firewood, and working with the wood stove, all useful forms of work on an urban homestead. He also enjoys fixing broken equipment if it's within his capabilities, fiddling around with wood, and a bit of hunting and fishing. I raise food and do the yard work, do the baking, keep the house clean (sort of, anyway), manage the money and do our taxes, and hire the people who can do the work we cannot. It works pretty well.

Agreed on the need for maintenance, something we take seriously too. Since I'm the one of us with organizational skill, I keep an eye out for maintenance tasks and assign them to us or others as appropriate.

I mentioned that we drove to Florida and back to visit my mom earlier this month. We had an enjoyable visit with her, far better than last year's visit as she is doing very well now.

The two most notable things about the drive were the contrasts between drought and excessive rain and the continuing slow deterioration in the deep south. Regarding drought, you can look at the US Drought Monitor (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/) to see what the conditions were during our travel. We drove from St. Louis south through Missouri's Bootheel; into far eastern Arkansas; crossed the Mississippi River into the southwestern corner of Tennessee (Memphis) and then into Mississippi; southeasterly across Mississippi and Alabama into far south Georgia; and then down the Florida penninsula to my mom's. Almost the same trip home except we drove west across the panhandle of Florida into southeastern Alabama and then picked up the same route back.

On the Feb. 15 Drought Monitor you can see that St. Louis is in severe drought (orange), with extreme drought (red) just south of it. Driving over the Meramec River bridge from St. Louis to Jefferson counties on both the drives out and back, we were astounded by how low the river was. It was almost below the water intake for the water plant located near the bridge. That area of red that I mentioned includes the Meramec's drainage area; the river's level reflects the severity of the drought.

As we dropped into the lowlands of the Bootheel and the part of Arkansas we drove through, we saw that while St. Louis is in drought, this area isn't. The cotton and rice fields we drove through showed standing water in the low areas between rows. It's winter so nothing is growing that could take advantage of the moisture, however.

As we drove into Alabama, we began to see evidence of how the recent heavy rains there are reducing drought in that area. The January 30 map (you can see it from Map Archives) shows severe drought in most of the area we drove through until we got to Florida. It was still shown as severe a week later as we drove down, but we saw greening grass, full streams, and standing water due to heavy rain a few days prior to our drive. In far south Alabama and Georgia, the magnolia trees bloomed and frogs chorused from ditches and streams: spring has sprung there.

More to come ...

Claire

Steve Carrow said...

What an awesome lineup of fermentable libations. We've been doing cider ( called hard cider in the U.S.), but I definitely need to try other juices. I see airlocks on all the bottles, does vinegar fermentation really need airlock? so far, we've just put cloth over the top to allow some air exchange.

SLClaire said...

Continuing ...

During the time we spent in Florida (my mom lives about 2 hours south of Tampa on the west coast), we experienced dryness and near record heat for February, though this area does not yet register as being dry on the Drought Monitor. Up in the Panhandle of Florida and southern Alabama, however, it rained heavily most of the time. If you look at the Map Archive for the drought maps of Feb. 6 and then Feb. 13, you can see how the severity of drought was reduced due to the rain. On the ground, as we drove home on the 11th through heavy rain in the Panhandle and far southeast Alabama, we saw flooded streams and lots of standing water, with evidence that water had gone over the road in a few places before we drove through. On the 12th, driving back through Alabama and Mississippi, flooding streams and plenty of standing water in Alabama, then no standing water and full but not flooding streams in Mississippi, then low streams as we drove out of the Missouri Bootheel and through the Ozarks back home on the 13th. I am pleased to say it is raining heavily and beneficially here as I type, and it's supposed to continue raining most of this week. Our soil has thawed so it will soak in just as it needs to.

Re poverty: since we drive on a US highway rather than an interstate highway from Montgomery south in Alabama and in northern Florida down to Ocala, we see some of the rural South and have seen it change over the past two decades, since we chose this route. Every year it seems to look a little more run-down, with a few more failed businesses. A few new businesses have opened, true enough, but they do not make up for the ones that have failed. Because gas stations and eateries feature prominently in the failed business list, we have to plan our rest stops in this area more carefully than we used to. No economic recovery here, just continual slow deterioration. Except for the horse farms near Ocala, that is, which are as aristocratic looking as always. The horsey set still has plenty of money and doesn't hesitate to show it off.

Claire

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

I don't think that rural living has to be expensive. I found urban living much more so as there is just too much temptation. I usually only go into town about every 3 weeks and that certainly cuts down expenditure.

The need for salt seems to have created great salt caravan routes; they may still exist in Africa. Interesting that human beings are aware of needing salt but aren't so clever about other necessary vitamins and minerals.

Yes chives are skimpy things, next up come spring onions which don't make bulbs.

@ Lew

You may babble but you are a mine of fascinating information. I can see why Chris started his blog in order to converse with you.

Inge

akl said...

Hi Chris, I assume you grow Vietnamese mint as an annual. Does it produce pretty well for you grown as such? Cheers!

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Ah yes, a little bit of quality poetry goes a long way towards soothing ones nerves! I know I said before that I'd no longer link to music, but well, as I have remarked often before I occasionally disappoint myself... There was a great cover of that song done last year by the artist Paul Dempsey of the band Something for Kate. It is very moving and not at all downbeat: Paul Dempsey covers Middle Kids 'Edge of Town'. Good stuff!

Mr Ollie destroyed his bedding yesterday and so he too will be enjoying the firewood as well over the winter, and he may have to sleep inside over the winter. Is this an act of foreknowledge or good planning on his part? Maybe?

The tomatoes are particularly tasty this year, and I often gift them to people that I know. Glad to hear that you are enjoying preserved tomatoes and that is a great idea. Did it take many years before you understood how much produce you had to preserve before you settled on a particular quantity? Or do you consume more as you preserve more? I'm finding that to be the case, but there must be an upper limit? Dunno.

Good as! Those demijohns put on a good bubbling show and they make good use of the summer sun.

My pleasure. The accumulator pressure tanks work towards extending the life of the pump, but then they too eventually rust, or the internal bladder breaks. All of the same gear might be in your pump system, but it will look differently. There are two pump systems in that setup in the photos.

That bee is the one here that pollinates the tomatoes. The European honey bees are a bit too precious for that important task.

Hi Pam (Gangle chunks here!): Love the red collar myself, and it is a real hit with the ladies! I put on my biggest grin for the feed store lady and she melted at my roguish good looks. Hey, I trashed my bedding yesterday. It was so much fun. Chris isn't allowing me to jump up on him anymore and he is using some sort of martial arts knee block to stop me. Not fair at all! Scritchy is mean as, but she is so much fun when she pulls a face. I stir her up and she tries to bite me, but I am way too fast for her. Sir Scruffy is to be respected as he can bite with proper force, so I treat the old fella gently. Bones are good.

Cheers

Chris (and Ollie)

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

You're probably correct and it is not a good idea to re-visit places that you have known intimately in the past. Personally I try to let go and move on, but sometimes sheer chance puts me in the vicinity of old haunts. That was the case here, and it was quite shocking. Nomadic behaviour is quite common and I learned that maintenance lesson the hard way when I visited a house which had been put up for sale, but which I had restored about two decades ago and the new owners had trashed the place. It was not good for my happiness but that must be borne, and some of their improvements led to moisture entering the brick work because they'd raised the soil level past the damp proof course... Oh well, best not go back. Mate, try school reunions for such craziness. I wouldn't go to one, but they still send me the photos!

Down here the building owners are responsible for the maintenance and I'm not sure from your description whether that is the case up in your part of the world? Don't laugh but some of the repairs are not deductible and it is a well-argued chunk of law. Those repairs get put into capital costs... People are always surprised by that outcome but as I said, it has been argued long and hard. I heard a radio program saying that landlords are apparently not returning the rental bonds in their entirety these days, but it is very difficult to deduct claims for damage from bonds and it takes a lot of legal effort. But then people are encouraged not to kick up a fuss as they want to move on and so due process apparently goes out the window. There is not much money in rentals anyway as the property prices look insane to me.

Not to shock you, but at a guess I reckon I've lived in about 15 different houses in my life, but having a single mum can have that effect. Oh well. It does make one somewhat adaptable to change. I’m a bit over moving on, but life can be uncertain.

The editor and I are giggling about the ATM comment. Awesome! Yeah, the sun grows the harvest and what we are storing is actually summer sunlight for use over winter and spring. What people are generally used to using is that same sunlight but it was harvested so very long ago. Back when electrons and photons, were real electrons and photons!

The electric dehydrator doesn't use that much electricity. I can get you an exact figure next weekend when we run another batch if you’d like? It is the hours that the thing runs which adds up. Not much for 14 hours works out to be more than a little bit after those hours. Years ago, I used to run the machine overnight, but there is no point at all using the house batteries. Air conditioning has the same problem, but I don't run that machine as it is non existant, so no dramas.

What a top idea for an art installation. Do you reckon that is post modern or retro? I'm unsure, but it smells of the future to me. Incidentally, once that stuff has completed bubbling away, we store it in bottles (seven to a demijohn) for up to twelve months. The aging process really smooths things out. When people go to the local bottle shop, they don't realise how much infrastructure sits behind that. It is huge.

The mix for the pickling is: four cups of white vinegar; one cup apple cider vinegar; and one cup of sugar. The apple cider vinegar is not acidic enough to preserve pickles. Yup, cost cutting is spot on. I reckon a still is needed to produce more acidic vinegar.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Plenty of poo here! Hehe! Glad you enjoyed my little joke! The dogs are mostly fun. Ollie did destroy his bedding though yesterday... Yeah, the whole Mick Dundee thing was meant to be a contrast between smooth urbanity and rough as guts bushies. The actor Paul Hogan used to have his own show on television and it was very politically incorrect. He began work as a painter on the Sydney Harbour bridge. Sensibilities change over time and what was accepted in the past can be no longer accepted. It certainly isn't a fixed position. I can vividly recall some very dodgy television shows: On the Buses and down here we had an equivalent show: Kingswood Country. But you know what annoyed me the most: Some mothers do 'ave 'em. Just couldn't watch it without getting angry.
How did the snow go? Didn't you once mention to me that weather is a local phenomenon (what you get) and climate is what you expect for the area? People are in denial about climate change. Denial is a beautiful place full of unicorn farts! It all comes back to fart jokes in the end...

Ooo! Do you reckon the Scottish kilts were the population aping the Roman's or what? It sounds a bit close to my mind. Macho posturing probably has a long history. Mate, I'm very practical and would go for the trousers and boots option, despite what the locals would say. Imagine trying to fight during late autumn before the winter set in, in socks and sandals? I assume they wouldn't have been challenged during the winter? Mate, Hadrian's wall during winter, I'd be wearing leg socks too! :-)!

Yeah, perhaps it is a minor geographic quirk. Chives look about the same here, but they grow a bit longer than small, but not as long as a leek. Bunching onions can produce hundreds of bulbils depending on the season. Have you considered walking onions? They're almost indestructible here.

Your review of the Kim Stanley Robinson book is strong and you have intrigued me. It is definitely on the list and should arrive sooner or later - it is a long way from anywhere down here at the bottom of the world.

Squabbling is part and parcel of the human existence and is present in every community. One must recall that we are not here to fix things, but merely to enjoy the journey and try and not get dragged into the morass. Much easier to say than to do. The idea for cooking the sunflower kernels and pumpkin seeds first is not one that I would have considered. I'm reading about sweet sorghum at the moment and that may be a potential source of sugar syrup that I had not considered. 1 acre by all accounts can apparently produce 400 gallons... That is quite a bit. Plus the leaves are good animal feed.

The opportunity shops down here do that clearance thing too regularly. $5 sounds like a bargain and chemical thermometers are such a simple device. I have one here which proudly proclaims that it was made in Australia. I'm guessing that it is quite an old unit.

Well, one must set hard limits on their possessions. No point being possessed by an art deco table. There is no way of knowing what that table may do with your body once it takes possession... An unpleasant experience to be sure.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Claire,

Hard work is a complex issue isn't it? And for the record, we tend to also work hard in fits and spurts (as they used to say), so there is a bit of hard work, and then some relaxation, and then some more different work, etc. It is not consistent at all, but I find all of the different activities tends to be more sustainable for us than performing the same tasks at the same time, every single day of the week. Alas, I am not built for such things. We do a lot of the same things as you two and having two people makes tasks easier as people can specialise. To be honest, the editor has skills that I don't have and can do tasks that I cannot do, but of course it is nice too to be a jack of all trades and know a thing or two about this and that. That is how things used to be done too, I reckon.

Maintenance is critical and probably far more critical than most people realise. Respect for taking charge in that area. The editor is likewise the boss of that job here too. We even keep a maintenance list which is sorted by month and the tasks get ticked off as we go. It is too complex to do otherwise, although if you were born to the situation, you'd probably just know and things would be second nature.

Thanks for the description of your travels through the south. Wow. I'll check out the link after replying here tonight. Interestingly, at the back of my mind, I kept thinking to myself that your descriptions matched the sort of weather patterns seen here in past times. You know, winter rains have changed markedly here, and last winter I felt that when the rains arrived, they were quite heavy and tropical like, despite the cold air, and in between those rain storms there were extended dry periods of time. The gentle misting rain of yesteryear where it rains a lot but you don't get much rain have receded mainly to memory. I feel that we may be experiencing the future that may arrive in your part of the world.

I am particularly concerned with the number of tropical storms that bring sudden deluges here, and your descriptions mirrored that experience. Over the next few months, we are planning some pretty heavy duty changes to the drainage of hard surfaces here. Bigger pipes at better locations would be one way to describe it. Some of the drainage systems are hard pressed just keeping up with the deluges...

Way, way, back in the day, flooding was one method of moving fertility and water into low lying areas around major rivers and creeks. One can be too successful as a society in limiting the amount of flooding from these sources of water and catchments.

I'm genuinely pleased to read of the changes to your landscape and glad that you are enjoying some decent rainfall - and that it will also infiltrate your parched soil.

Small business does it tough. As a generalisation I see flat incomes and increasing costs, and that is not a recipe for long term success or sustainability. I mean my own house insurance has increased year in and year out between 13% and 18%. Such increases tend to eventually drop people off the side of the Titanic. Most of my other costs are increasing between 2% and 3%, but again, if incomes are flat...

Cheers

Chris

Damo said...

Hi Chris,

Your summer preserving efforts put my meagre portions to shame! Currently I have about 30 bottles of pale ale, 30 bottles of ginger beer, a dozen jars of pickles and a demijohn worth of plum wine secured away in the storage cellar (also known as the laundry room downstairs). If my cabbages survive the various grubs trying to eat them, I have plans of trying a small sauerkraut batch. Frankly, I am amazed at how much you and others get done. After work, I don't have a huge amount of time, but the cooking and gardening is fun, even if the overall production is relatively minimal.

Your flower photos are very nice, some good bokeh! Did you end up getting a prime lens for that camera or are you still on the stock one?

For the plum wine, I followed closely the advice of a certain 'Peggy' who looks very stern on the back cover of a 50 year old book Mrs Damo found at an op shop. I say to myself, she knows what she is about, so I did not modify the recipe in any way. I can reveal the plum wine contains such oddities as rice, oats and toast! In a couple of months when the wine is racked, a special additive called 'Peggys Magic' will be added and the result is promised to be sparkly and clear. I will keep you posted. Peggy suggests drinking this one at 6 months.

Cheers,
Damo

Damo said...

@Pam

I know what you mean about Shaman. Mrs Damo and I read it to each other over the course of a couple of months and for a while there it seemed liked nothing was happening :-p However it has really stuck in my mind, especially the last act. Certain actions by a character were insinuated but not spelt out and I think, awful as it was, it was probably justified. Maybe.

Damo

Damo said...

@Lew

Wellington is quite nice - although the narrow twisting roads makes for near constant traffic and parking issues. Walking and cycling is an option, but the steep hills...well, they are steep :-p

Price wise, it is cheaper than Auckland despite being the capital. Christchurch is cheaper than both, but not really what I would call affordable.

Damo

Damo said...

Hello all,

/rant mode/
On a somewhat related note to this weeks topic - I have been closely thinking about the cost of living and land in rural areas the past few weeks. Unfortunately, I recently arrived at the conclusion I may never be able to buy the sort of property I want, or indeed any property at all. At 37 years old, this has been a little depressing, but in the spirit of stoicism and trying not focus on things you cannot change, I sort of accept it now.

In my twenties, a somewhat carefree and nomadic lifestyle was not compatible with a high saving rate, although thankfully I rarely carried any debt. In the past few years I have been very lucky with a well paying salary position, but the world has moved on and what might have been possible 15 years ago now requires a mountain of debt to achieve. The dream of building my own simple house on a modest parcel of rural land with cash does not seem in reach this side of 50 years old. On the other hand, a bank would give me a mortgage tomorrow to buy land near an urban centre and pay someone else to build a house for me. Such are the strange times we live in!

Some might cry that owning a house and land free and clear at 50 is no small thing, and normally I would agree. But I would still need an income, and job prospects in those 'affordable' areas are slim. As the basis for future prosperity it is a big gamble. So we rent, do a little bit of gardening and think about ways the economy and house prices might crash, but I keep my job so we can buy somewhere :-)
/rant mode off/

Homeless and somewhat carefree,
Damo

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Steve,

Many thanks and total respect for your hard cider, which cannot be anything else but a tasty beverage - especially with your own fruit press. There are surprisingly few items like those fruit presses these days kicking around rural areas.

Ah, of course. OK. Sugar gets eaten by yeast and they excrete alcohol. Then if too much oxygen gets into the alcohol, Acetobacterium eats the alcohol and excretes vinegar. So yeah, a wide open container is good for vinegar, but first one needs the alcohol, and so apple cider it is! Hope that makes sense. Incidentally, yeast and Acetobacteria are all over the shop.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Yeah, that is true about living in rural areas being comparatively cheap compared to urban areas. The question really becomes – what cost at what standard of living? What are your thoughts on that question? Infrastructure is quite costly from our time and resources, but we try to do as much work ourselves as humanely possible, whilst using any resources we have to hand. I intend to do some rock harvesting over the next few days. I feel that people have become accustomed to an unsustainable mode of living where extraordinary things are treated as if they are ordinary activities. Plus we outsource a lot of our costs of living, and the unfolding recycling disaster is one situation where the chickens will come home to roost, rather sooner than we imagine.

I totally agree about the vitamins. People are very strange about diet, and so I generally avoid that topic. I take a very flexible approach to food and have no great opinions on other peoples choices, despite generally eating a vegetarian diet here - which is a subject I wrote about a long time back. I feel that it may have been called: Mostly Vegetarian!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi akl,

Nope. The plant is a perennial here. The Vietnamese mint dies back a little bit during the winter, but all year around it provides fresh leaves for consumption in salads. I really enjoy the taste of it. The best seasons for the plant are either spring or autumn. In high summer, the plant also gets knocked back a little bit as it enjoys a drink of water. The extension to the watering system should sort that problem out. Maybe? It has survived multiple light frosts and snowfalls too. It is very easy to start in other sheltered spots in the garden too as most of the chunks that get accidentally pulled out of the ground from time to time have root systems attached to them. It is not as 'weedy' as some of the other mints here. It does grow well when mixed deeply into other plants such as geraniums and wormwoods.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Damo,

Thank you. One thing that we have mastered is the gentle art of brewing. We've even tried millet beers and all sorts of other brews such as mead and sake. The editor has a degree in Biology majoring in industrial food microbiology, so what else can one do with such an expensive education than become the brew-mistress! Wise women from the days of yore always took charge of the brewing. Dare I suggest that it is a natural advantage? Hehe! I reckon you are doing pretty well with 60 bottles. That is better than most and I trust that you enjoy the natural variability of the product - and it even changes in taste as it matures.

You may want to move the demijohn into a warmer and sunnier spot. If the airlock is good, we've chucked them out in the fierce summer sun just to stir up a bit of activity, so they're pretty hard to over do that aspect. But it can be under done. Dunno. I hope you can see bubbles forming and rising to the surface in the liquid? A torch can help to spot them in a dark corner of the room. When they stop forming, the demijohn is ready to be emptied into bottles (the fancy name for racking out). You can always add a bit more sugar to get the yeast going again – even in the bottles (just don’t screw them on too tightly if you do).

Nice work with the cabbage. Brassica's are an impossibility here over summer due to the copious quantities of cabbage moths and their larvae. There is a parasitic wasp that eats some of them ‘Alien’ style (it is pretty gross), but you are clearly in a better spot for such plants.

Fair enough, you do what you can do and that is life. I have to work too to earn a living as there is no real escape from the monetisation of our lives. And the bills are increasing...

Nope, the lens I use the most is a 18 to 55 which is a good all rounder. I also have a big 100 to 300, but there is some sort of fungal growth on the inside of the lens. How the heck did that get there? Do you know if the lenses are repairable, as I reckon it would have to be dismantled in order to clean it? That is beyond me, unless there is some sort of Sigma lens repair YouTube clip? I used to have a macro lens, but you know, it doesn't work that much better than the standard all rounder. Dunno, what do you reckon?

Yeah, don't mess with Peggy's recipe! Hehe! I agree with Peggy about the six months because plum wine is fine aged, but a bit rough on the palate when fresh. Incidentally, adding rice, oats, and toast will interestingly add a mild 'beer' flavour to your intriguing brew. Now, having said that and noting the additional ingredients, I suspect that Peggy may have had a chequered and colourful past. Just sayin...

Yes, I too wonder about the issues that you raised. You must understand that I took a single minded approach to resolving that issue after getting thoroughly done over during the recession in the early 90's. I was very young. Working four years in debt collection has that impact on a person and it focused my mind wonderfully. The editor had a similar experience. Hmm. I was going to write about this subject next week, although I haven't got the story fixed in my head yet. The issues you raised are complex. And you would be unlikely to get finance for an owner builder project in a remote location.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

You are correct to ask about standard of living. I think that the standard that most people in the Western world regard as essential has become insanely high. Many are aghast at the shack in which I live 'what no hot water supply!?' yet I am very happy and comfortable. 'No bathroom either!'. I do have a flush toilet but have lived with a chemical closet in the past. I have lived at many different standards and it really doesn't make much difference so long as one is fed, warm and safe from the elements, plus no debts of course. I am musing on Damo's comments about his future hopes.

I see that Tripp has replied to you on JMG. I am surprised that he didn't come straight here as he commends your blog and would fit in I think.

Inge

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

A correction: I should have said 'developed world, not Western world'.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Thank you for the music that goes with the poetry; I enjoyed it. I almost always "skip" an ad when it comes on, but the one before the song caught my eye. It was for the new movie "Gringo" and looks really funny.

It seems that every year we make adjustments on how much produce to preserve. With four of us there are often changes in tastes that occur, usually because someone wants more of something, or because some new variations are thought of. And even when we are not all living here, all participate in produce consumption.

Ah - two pump systems.

The spring peepers - the first amphibians to get on the ball in the early spring - are singing away down at the pond. For such a very tiny frog, they sure do make a racket. And eat a lot of insects when they eventually make their way up to our house.

I forgot to answer you last week about carrots. We plant ours in rows as it is easier to keep the weeds at bay. We always have a lot of weeds.

Mr. Ollie - Mister! If I was a devil, I would give you a gold star. And I got the secret password: "Bones are good."

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Damo:

That's not me who was reading Shaman.

Pam

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

I think we've only had an inch so far. Areas south have received much more and many roads are dangerously flooded. It's also exceptionally foggy so people don't often see the water on the road until it's too late to stop. Our front yard has two lakes in it now. Just to add to the fun it's supposed to end as freezing rain. Much of the snow has also melted adding to the flood waters. On a positive note we left both vehicles outside to get a good cleaning which they have.

There is no doubt that you and the editor are hard workers!! I have to ask however do you ever think you'll get to the point where you are just maintaining and not expanding any further? I'm glad to hear you take time out to relax because from your descriptions if often doesn't seem like it.

I have driven by old homes of ours and some of relatives. It can be a shock to see some of the changes. When you are selling your house common advice from realtors is to remove all your personal stuff - especially photos as a potential buyer wants to picture it as their home. We did take down some but not all. When I was a child up through college my great aunt and uncle owned a fairly large home in Chicago. They owned a business but had no children of their own but my great grandfather lived there as well as their divorced brother who was an alcoholic and another brother who never married. My parents when they were first married brought me and my brother, Marty their daily when they went to work and my grandmother watched us and took care of her father as well. They were truly an example of the support of an extended family. My aunts who were quite a bit younger than my mother came there after school and everyone stayed for dinner. I remember the huge screened in porch were you could just sit for hours watching what was going on in the neighborhood and the very cool attic filled with interesting items. My aunt drove by there recently and said the house was unrecognizable. It was actually referred to as "The House" in our family.

Doug takes care of most maintenance here and he's religious about it. He is able to fix most things but doesn't hesitate when he doesn't feel comfortable with something - mostly electric stuff. I take care of all the finances, taxes, garden and most cleaning.

I sent Doug the picture of all your wines and vinegars. I've told him about it but a picture says so much more. Have you ever fermented cucumbers in a crock?

That is a very interesting bee. This weekend I'm going to a seminar on natural landscaping that's held every spring at the community college. One of the sessions is on native bees and how to attract them. I've got a pretty good selection of plants but one can always learn more.

Ollie must be communicating with Salve as she's a pro at demolishing beds.

Margaret

margfh said...

@Pam

You will laugh but the vibration was caused by an outside faucet that was running slowly. Now the mystery is how did it end up on? It started late afternoon and went on through the next morning until Doug inadvertently discovered it. I walk by at least once a day. It's rare that a water problem ends up to be so simple.

Margaret

margfh said...

@Damo

We were about your age when we moved out here almost two hours northwest of Chicago. Our small house on six acres cost us $500 more than we sold our small home in an affluent suburb of Chicago where we had both grown up. Our house there was on the poor side of town. Most of our friends didn't understand why we did it as we lived in an excellent school district and were moving to one that was just average and (they thought) we would be living in the middle of no where. Our new house was pretty ugly with cheap reddish siding, avocado appliances and bright orange curtains and counter tops. Luckily we were able to look past that as we had enough land to raise animals. We never regretted the decision. Even though we left an excellent school district we felt our kids were better off here as the kids at the old school were very entitled. Our oldest daughter thought we were poor but when we moved here to a much more economically diverse community she said with surprise "We aren't poor at all!!"

Unfortunately the nice average school district has gotten much worse, property taxes are high here so it' not easy to sell our, now big, house. I've wondered if one solution would be to have a younger couple live here to help with the physical work which is getting harder for a very reasonable rent that would help us cover expenses. So if you and Mrs. Damo would like to move to the midwest area of the U.S. ....

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - Before the Scots, there were the Picts. And, before the Picts there was ... someone. Some tribes. And then we're back to Roman times in Britain. But, yes, generally, the people living way up north borrowed the kilt from the Romans. Or, developed it on their own. Pretty simple piece of kit. Probably better than smearing blue woad on and fighting ... er, bare.

But the northern people DID get the bagpipe from the Romans. Roman name, Utricularis (or, sometimes, Tibia Urtricularis.) Julius Caesar (maybe) used massed bagpipers to spook Celtic horsemen. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Re: Chris starting his blog. It's not my fault! :-). Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Yup. Weather is local and climate is global. I ripped that off, from somewhere. It got down to 28F (-2.22C) last night. All the snow disappeared by afternoon. But, this morning, it's coming down, again. Better not mess with my fish and chips expedition, tomorrow! Oh, well. Life on life's terms. Weather on weather's terms.

I'm not sure of the ins and outs of rental taxes, here. But I do know that rental bonds are called rental deposits, here. Sometimes, there is a non-refundable cleaning deposit.

The first 5 months I lived in southern California, I lived in 5 places. During the 5 years I lived in Seattle, I lived in 6 places. As I got older, I lived for longer periods of time. With age comes wisdom? :-).

I'd say, call it Post Modern. Generally get a better price for that than Retro. Not a family friendly film but "Art School Confidential" has several send-ups of the airy expounding on "Art." I fall back on the good ol' "I know what I like."

Trip to the Op Shop was good. The Deco table is GONE. So, now I can dismiss it from nagging away at my mind. Got the Deco copper thermometer. Also picked up a small porcelain egg with blue roses painted on it. Matches my tattoo. Made over by Yakima. 35 cents. Stopped by the other Op Shop in Chehalis, and found a book on drying food, and a zucchini cookbook. I might have both, but if duplicates, can always donate them to The Home's, library. Less than $1 for both.

I've been working my way through the libraries books on Art Deco. Hmmm. Most of the stuff they show was pretty lux when it was made. Still is. Things that go for thousands of dollars. Not in my budget, any time soon. I don't think I've spent more than $100 for any one piece. And, mostly, considerably more. Maybe I should write a book. "Deco on the Cheap." Lew

Damo said...

@Pam

Apologies, the dangers of distracted blog commenting are real :-)

Damo

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks. And yeah, what is considered to be normal now, is just so very exceptional from an historical context. I always like to equate the long term average of population working in agriculture or some sort of land services which I believe was in the 90% range, to the 2% or so nowadays. Clearly the current circumstance has a finite end point. Then I reckon it is probably not a bad idea to get in early and relearn our relationship with the land, but perhaps that is simply my perspective on the situation.

Respect to you too for your choices, which I feel I should add are still exceptional historically - as are mine. Exactly too. I am musing on Damo's comments too. I’ve lived for a time in a century old house that had flooring in only one room. That gave incentive to get a wriggle on with the repairs.

Yes, I spotted Tripp's comments on Tuesday morning but have been overwhelmed firstly with replying and then sorting out actual problems here. Need I mention the long term interweb modem troubles? I only just then purchased a replacement modem... I plan to reply to Tripp on the next Ecosophia post.

A wise correction too!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Glad you enjoyed the music. It is a lovely song and the cover was really quite something else. Thanks for the word on the amusing film. I'll check out the trailer after replying here. I only just picked up a new interweb modem. The troubles I've been having with that technology make for dull reading...

Good to read that you are able to adjust what you produce and preserve, and that those not physically present also get to enjoy the goodies. Food ain't what it used to be, so you are doing them a serious favour. I also gift away a lot of food stuffs, but I'm starting to forget who likes what, but then that leads to random acts of kindness! Yeah, recipes do change over time and you refine things and discover that some things just aren't worth the effort compared to other activities.

I'm hoping I now have that pump system sorted. Then I'll move on to getting the water lines set up properly. Foolishly, I buried some of the pipes and at one point in the year when the ground became quite wet, the swollen clay caused some of those buried pipes to leak at the fittings.

Go the frogs! Don't you just love the sound of frogs calling away to each other on a warm summers evening? I'm discovering more and more tree frogs here every year. I'm quite fond of them, but I wonder how they enjoy a drink of water during dry spells. I have a suspicion that the tree frogs are dry adapted, but I don't really know enough about them or their life cycles.

Of course, weeds can be a problem with carrots so the rows are a great idea. Frankly I'm wondering how to tell the difference between seedling grain species and grasses... I may try oats and sorghum over the next few years - first more flat land to excavate...

Stop it! Hehe! Ollie needs no encouragement. I'm seriously working hard on his jumping up on people activities, and he gives me a wary look in his eye before doing it now. He seems to be impervious to vocal instructions and can ignore smacks. Mind you, I know he's smart because he will sit patiently like the good dog that he is, as he accepts his breakfast. I chucked him outside with some bones today so he is doing OK.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

An inch of rain never goes astray! And lakes in the front yard too. Cool, I guess the water will replenish the ground water in the soil, as long as the soil is not still frozen? People fail to drive for the conditions down here too, and it is always a traffic disaster when it rains or there is thick fog. I have a suspicion that many peoples eyesight is not as good as they may claim, but I don't believe any statistics are taken of that matter. I've never been inspired to read e-books for example as I wonder about the impact of those devices on eyesight? Dunno.

Oh my goodness. Your now clean cars have lost their mojo! I had to explain to someone today that if I were to clean the dirt mouse car, then other drivers wouldn't take it seriously and larger vehicles become a problem. Now a very dirty looking dirt mouse Suzuki is a whole 'nother matter - people avoid it like the plague. That's mojo! :-)!

Thank you. I'm planning to take it easy over the next few days, so not to stress. Well, the thing is we get better at knowing what to do and when, and also we constantly refine the systems here to make it easier as well. I guess we'll be dead one day - did that answer your question?

The thing is even if all we were doing was maintaining the systems here, the story would still be interesting and the focus would then be on refining, rather than expanding. But that is a long way from today. I also have to begin some sort of crop rotation in future years, but for now it is not a problem at all. To be honest, I could have begun the blog twenty years ago and it would have had the same pace, but probably have been a bit more full on back long ago.

It is a shock and thanks for sharing your story of 'The House'. You were lucky to have known your Great Aunt and Uncle and that they took a more traditional approach to such matters. Incidentally I see the stamp of that experience in your own actions and life, and that is a commendable thing.

Doug clearly has a good grasp on that most important of matters and it is enormously important. It is also good that you have specialities in the household economy. I was reading Mr Logsdon earlier today who was lamenting the general lack of interest in such domestic matters in his cheeky writing style. His comment wasn't exactly a criticism of current culture, but it definitely wasn't a mark of approval either! A very diplomatic gentleman.

No, down here crocks are rarely used. I assume they are the ceramic mason jars? Although I'm not really sure. We store cucumbers in a vinegar solution which pickles them. It is quite nice really. I have also heard of salt being used, but I don’t enjoy the taste.

It is very naughty of both Ollie and Salve to pick up such bad habits. Toothy used to do that trick, but now he is getting to watch Ollie destroy his bedding. Alas for youth.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

It was an excellent observation about weather and climate and one that would not have occurred to me. Cloudy and 86'F here today which is very pleasant and it feels like it might rain although I am a bit doubtful about that. I have become accustomed to summer weather and I feel the winter coming up may be a bit of a shock. Alas, I am now summer soft... I hope the snow does not mess with your fish and chips expedition. One of the interesting things about fish and chips is how the species of fish have changed over the years. When I was a kid, the fish part of the fish and chips, used to refer to 'flake'. Now flake was shark, and I can assure you it was a very tasty fish. Then at some point, sharks must have been fished out, or the catch became quite poor because they switched over to whiting. What it is nowadays, I can't honestly say because it has been a long while since I ate fish. Have you seen that in your part of the world? Hey, batter is a big deal with fish and chips - or did you get your fish grilled? That is a good option too. And the chips, were they thick style chips, or fries? Please leave out no details. I'm salivating thinking about fish and chips. Alas for the life of a mostly vegetarian.

I wasn't sure you weren't kidding around with me! Whatever, it is pretty funny anyway. When exactly did a ‘non-refundable deposit’ become a deposit? That makes no sense at all and it is a spurious claim to say the least, and it made me burst out laughing when I read that. No doubts people around here will look at me and ask themselves: what is that loon over there laughing about?

As you may have guessed I picked up a new modem this afternoon and sent the old modem away for testing and replacement. I doubt very much whether they repair these things. And I had no choice but to purchase a replacement as the nice telco did not supply me with a loan modem. I guess the new one will eventually become a spare. Anyway, spare parts and components is a way of life for one living in a remote spot. What are you meant to do? Is your cell phone service better in your new digs than your old? Hey, I haven't asked you for a while and was wondering how the jaw was going and healing? Hopefully you are OK? Perhaps fish and chips will soothe that matter? After all, it would make me feel better. Oh! All this talk of fish and chips... Hmm... I'm starting to formulate plans... You are a bad influence, but good too. It is all very complex!

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Post Modern or Modern certainly sounds as if it will attract the big bucks for the forthcoming exhibition installation of coloured demijohns! The stupid thing is that few people even know what those things are these days. A bit of a shame that. As an interesting side note, most people get concerned about poisoning whenever anyone learns of our efforts at home brew. The next thing that bounces into their minds is that we drink an awful lot. I feel that the situation is a bit like the apparently family friendly Barnaby Joyce (the politician in the poo down here) in that he was so outspoken on the matter, that he had to have a second family as one was not enough! Alas, that joke was not mine, but it is good isn't it?

It is nice to read that someone else has become possessed by the Art Deco table and that temptation is now no longer a problem for you to deal with. :-)! Regrets, well I've had a few too. That is life. I'm trying to avoid one such regret over the next few days, but more on that later. Good that you scored the thermometer. Cool. Is it accurate and can it be calibrated? The one here is a red alcohol in a glass tube style of thermometer. It looks like it will have a half life of about a million years give or take a few decades! The porcelain egg and the cook books sound like pretty good scores too. OK, the zucchini cookbook is intriguing. Was it written with the Pacific Northwest in mind? I add zucchini as fill for the dogs biscuits and breakfast feed. They love the stuff.

I'm with you about keeping purchasing costs low. In a similar vein, occasionally I've splashed out on an enormously expensive and exotic fruit tree and then immediately regretted it because the tree needed so much more care than all of the others combined. And sometimes those finicky and expensive trees turn toes up and that makes me all cross and stuff, and so I go back to planting cheaper and more hardy fruit trees. it's complex. Have you ever had an expensive antique purchase turn toes up or become worse for wear under your care?

Cheers

Chris

Coco said...

What lovely demijohns! Well done!

I picked up some leaves yesterday that a neighbor had scraped out of the gutter that runs along the lane. I keep up with the section in front of our house, but no one else does from there up to the road and with the amount of rainfall and accumulating leaves, the water was going everywhere except where it should. One older neighbor has cancer and is rarely seen any more, another left the country to find work, and then there´s a plot where someone grows corn, but doesn´t maintain hedges, walls or anything else.

People here are now beginning to catch on that the public pension scheme is in trouble as the math doesn´t work when 50% of people under 30 are either unemployed or making less than 1000€ a month. Mostly, there seem to be demands that people have more children, like that would help.

Having firewood stored is better than money in the bank! Especially these days.

Cheers

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I think that in dry times the tree frogs just eat things that have water in them.

As a general rule grains are grasses, so you are so right - how to tell them apart? I have pulled up seedling corn or sorghum thinking it was grass. I guess one just waits until everything is big enough to be sure? I grew a test patch of wheat and oats and millet and amaranth and teff years ago, and they did ok, but I realized that our little garden patch just doesn't have the room to make it worthwhile to grow grains. We don't even have enough space to grow the chickpeas and pinto beans that we need.

I had a riding teacher many years ago who said that if a horse has the energy to cause trouble, then it has the energy to do what you ask of it. Simple, eh? But I found that the general concept works with dogs and people: If I notice that they can perform some behavior once, I know that they have the capability to perform that behavior again. "You have the ability to focus on video games for hours? Then you have the ability to do your homework."

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

Darned if I know why everybody at all times hasn't worn trousers. I have sewn quite a few of both skirts and trousers and trousers are more difficult, but not that much more, if you are already using some sort of needle and thread. Though, I'll grant you that minus the needle and thread, it is easier to just wrap a length of skin or cloth around you and tie a rope around your waist. Still, it's hard to find whole pieces of skin big enough. "Needles" and "thread" must have been developed pretty early (except in hot climes . . .)

That is interesting bagpipe information. They would have spooked me, for sure!

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Got down to 19F (-7.22C) last night. Lightly snowed, most of yesterday, but really didn't stick much, to pavement. There was enough moisture in the air that by evening, pavement was pretty slick. Suns out now, so, I hope it warms up. Fish and chips expedition in three hours. So, full report, tomorrow. Looking at their menu, it's a choice between Cod or Halibut.

You could always reply to Tripp on his blog. Reminds me, I haven't checked it out, in awhile.

"Non-refundable deposit" doesn't sound odd to me, at all. Probably because we hear it so much, here. Really just a weasel word for "you don't get your money back."

Oh, the phone works much better, here in town. Not that I get or make many calls. We're on (free) wi-fi, here at The Home. Compared to the boonies, my computer works wonderfully well. At least as far as speed is concerned. Lately, there's been some complaints about speed or getting kicked off. I haven't gotten kicked off, but, a couple of times I could tell the system was ... overloaded. Pages just kind of hung and didn't want to open. But, I just gave it a rest and tried later. No problems. Every apartment is wired for direct cable. But, you can't beat "free." I don't stream movies. Get enough distraction from the library. :-). Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Oh, and there is a big cable tv in the library room. I haven't bothered, and it doesn't seem to get much use. There's also a computer set up, in there. Not much use on that, either. Most who are computer literate, have their own. And, I wonder how secure it is. I offhanded asked The Warden how often they changed the sign on password. They never have!

Teeth are fine and when I had that last round of work (an extraction) they did x-rays and told me the bone had grown back. That was a relief. Maybe too much information, but now I have, in my lowers, a missing tooth on each side. Molar, missing tooth, the rest of the kit in front. Hasn't really effected how I eat. But if either of those molars go (and, they will, sooner or later) it will be pablum and applesauce :-). Or, I could get an implant which runs $4,000-$5,000. I'd rather buy tat, thanks :-). LOL. My priorities are in order. Someone, somewhere once said, "Sell the coat and buy books."

Well, the zucchini cookbook was published by a small, Pacific Northwest publisher. Over 150 recipes, divided into the different classification of knosh. A chapter on how to grow it. Which I thought was 1.) allow space 2.) plant 3.) stand well back. :-).

Haven't checked the thermometer to see if it works, yet. How does one do that? I suppose I can set it out for a few minutes and see if it matches the thermometer they have in the entrance to The Home. The bulb and "stick" are held on with little staples, so, I suppose I could adjust, a bit.

Hmm. An antique gone bad. I rarely break anything. Probably because I'm not "frightened" of the stuff. Doesn't make me nervous. Have misplaced a few things.

Another idle book title I thought of was "Art Deco for the Rest of Us." :-). I think I need to be aware of the lux, stuff. Never know when a piece might escape the lux world and end up down here with us groundlings. :-). Turn up on a shelf in the Op Shop. Be overlooked in an auction. The deco "look" has gotten popular enough that there are fakes and reproductions floating around. I have a bit of a sense of when something isn't quit "right" and go with my gut feeling.

In the home stretch of "New York 2140". There's a bit of a mystery. A disaster. To say more would be spoilers. :-). Lew

orchidwallis said...

@ Damo

I am probably about to state the boringly obvious, but here goes. Wasted time during your twenties was interesting as my son has lamented the same thing. In my time that potential didn't exist. I reckon save, save, save and never have any debts. Also don't make any enemies, remain friendly with absolutely everyone in an area where you hope to live.

Laws are no doubt different where you are from those in the UK. Can one buy land with the potential to put a caravan on it. If so, is it permissible to live in that van all the year round? That is a great start if one can do it. If building is permitted, it is great if it can be a primitive construction.

I have lived by jumping through the gaps and gaps always exist, it just requires friendship and lateral thinking.

Good luck

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

My husband just sent this to me and, I'll tell you what, they are right to be so cautious about these "stink bugs". Since the Asian variety (the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug) arrived here, it has been devastating. They not only eat most every kind of fruit and vegetable, they carry diseases with them as they do so. And I'll tell you what else: They can fly - so it is probably already too late.

http://money.cnn.com/2018/02/20/news/companies/new-zealand-stink-bug-car-imports-japan/index.html

Pam

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Coco,

Many thanks and we shall be enjoying the output from those demijohns in about twelve months time. It is a bit like firewood in that you have to plan a long way into the future. Black currant and gooseberry is my absolute favourite wine too.

Drainage is a serious problem in rural areas and so I can well understand how the leaves built up in the first place, but then they are really good organic matter for the gardens so we don't really want other folks to cotton on to what a good thing that we are onto with the leaves! But yeah, systems fail for lack of maintenance and also inadequacy to adapt to changing circumstances. One corner of this continent just received its annual rainfall and the second month has not yet finished...

Yup, and your Euro central banks apparent support of any and all bonds appears to me to be creating an environment that has forgotten what risk is all about. You may not be aware, but from an historical perspective, as the financial system eventually rolls back, the employment situation I reckon will recover.

Firewood is a physical asset, but then so are plants and the skills with which to grow them.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks for the explanation about tree frogs. Many years ago I left a watering bag around a young fruit tree during a very hot and dry summer. The plastic bag slowly dripped water for the fruit tree. But before a few days had gone by, a couple of tree frogs had moved into the water in the bag. And then they'd killed a huntsman spider which had possibly come into the bag for a drink and were consuming it. They're very elusive creatures the tree frogs. I can hear them croaking now because it is very gently drizzling and that rain is the very tail end of the cyclone that did so much damage up in the north west of the continent. Nobody really wants to experience more than the historic maximum annual rainfall in under two months. Such weather has been a summer boon for here though and it sure beats a hot and dry summer.

Exactly, I do the same thing and until I can identify the plant for sure, I tend not to pull it out of the ground. Oh yeah, I hear you about the lack of room. Mr Logsdon writes in his delightful grain book about growing a patch of 60ft x 60ft of some grain, and alas for us folks living on steep land with lots of marauding critters. This does not mean that the attempt should not be made, it just may be a bit more difficult than it appears at first glance. Incidentally he speaks quite highly of dried beans as a form of grain... Out of curiosity, if you had to pick one of those plants, which one would you choose?

It is a good concept. Very astute and you are spot on about the focus (and shifting it). Ollie and I sat in the orchard tonight as the sun descended whilst we both supervised the chickens and I reckon he'll get there with time. Although where "there" actually is maybe a bit beyond my understanding. I have never worked with horses, but no doubt they are every bit as shifty and sneaky and come in all manner of personalities as any other animal.

Ouch! The stink bugs are no good at all. The problem with living in a fairly rich environment like New Zealand and also the US is that pests can cause major havoc until something in the local environment adapts to consuming the pests. I mean, the exploding pest popuation are a huge source of food to anything that can stomach them. I have Portuguese millipedes here and back in the 1950's when they arrived on the continent, they were apparently a nightmare. Eventually a local nematode adapted to being able to consume the toxic little moppets and so whilst the millipedes are still about and they are a nuisance, nowadays they are kept in check and consume the cellulose of the local eucalyptus species which is an impressive effort to say the least. Their manure feeds the other soil life, so it is not all bad news. Now that does not mean that there will not be a lot of pain in between those years... My melons are forever under threat from those millipedes and within a day or so of them ripening, the millipedes attempt a reverse jail break attempt at the meat of the melons… The melons are too good for the likes of them…

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Your overnight temperatures sound as if they ended up being worse than what was first predicted. Mate, you have me thinking about those temperatures and looking at the firewood stash with some sort of feelings of comfort. :-)! I look forward to reading your report on the fish and chip expedition. Even now thinking about fish and chips is making me salivate. Yum! I thought the Pacific cod fisheries were about fished out? Or was that the Atlantic?

Mate, I am exhausted tonight. I reckon I've worked too hard this week and I did some sterling work today, but I'm intending to have a slow couple of days for the next few days. One has to recharge their batteries every now and then. I came up with a silly blog story idea today about folks who work in IT talking about their jobs. Far out, IT is only so interesting, and I do not believe that I ever talk about my paid job to them, even when it is occasionally amusing - as it can be. Seriously! But then I have to work with real people, in between working on computers. Computers are not our friends. Incidentally I read a strange story a few months back about folks setting up 'chat bots' so that they can talk to them. Personally I'd prefer to be surprised by actual human beings, but that is perhaps a bit quirky and not keeping up with the times man?

Thanks for the excellent suggestion about Tripp. I shall do just that. And add his blog to the blog roll too. He's OK by me.

I'd never heard of such weasel words before (Non-refundable deposit), but then sooner or later such rubbish will appear here. It is an outrageous claim which does not survive even the lightest of intellectual pokings.

Mate, I hear you about the wifi and patience is a virtue. Unfortunately here a chez Fernglade, I wear the IT hat (loosely by the way) and the editor enjoys video over the internet far more than I. Video and sound use up a lot of bandwidth - not that many realise that - and so I get called upon to assist with interweb troubles. Personally, I'd be more than happy with only text containing actual dialogue, but everyone is different and I must not grumble. I really should do the IT blog story.

I noticed recently that a hotel offered free wifi (you have had me looking at such things). Anyway, the logins were unique and the traffic was monitored. Just saying that such an outcome are a response to previous trouble. I often rather suspect that strange technologies like the interweb stuff often is in advance of social restrictions. Down here there is a bar that does lots of live band gigs and they have now put in place a ban of people filming gigs on their mobile devices. Apparently, more than a few people were viewing the gig, whilst at the gig, through their mobile device. That seems a bit abstract to me, but phones were also being held up in front of other peoples views of the stage. The funniest story I heard was that a young lady was in a mosh pit with her iStupid recording the gig and complaining to other people in the mosh pit about being jostled. Mate, back in the late 80's I recall slam dancing a few times with full on punks. What did she expect in a mosh pit of all places...

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Good to read that the bone has grown back in your jaw. Ouch. One cannot survive long on invalid stout - not an option for yourself, but that was one choice back in the old days. I recall the stuff being sold in the 70's to old gaffers. I enjoyed your gallows humour about the 'tat' but you know what, you are in the drivers seat on that one, so respect. Implants are ridiculously expensive. I have read of folks travelling to India to get such procedures done. From what I understand a bit of medical tourism goes on. I enjoyed the quote. Mate, everyday we make decisions and yours sound conscious to my ears. Not everyone achieves that.

I have multiple thermometers about the place. Is this normal behaviour? At least I can calibrate them to find out which average temperature is approximately correct. :-)!

Fair enough. Yeah, I've broken systems here and, well, a person just learns to live with the mistakes. Nothing is perfect and anyone who tells you so, is liar. Very occasionally I lose things, and that annoys me, because I have a poor memory in the first place, but I make up for that poor memory with lots of systems. One system I approve of is: A place for everything and everything in its place. Some may view that as a control mechanism, but that system works to free up my mind to dwell upon other more important matters. Have you got mental and physical systems like that? Fortunately the editor and I both agree upon these adaptions.

How cool would be scoring a big ticket win like that? Have you ever come close to scoring a big tat win? The editor reads a blog by a guy in Canada who makes a living by rummaging through rubbish and selling off the found stuff. A lot of the stuff has historical significance and many unusual items are constantly uncovered. The bloke does OK too in that trade. Sometimes the wealthiest folks appear to have the biggest dramas with their rubbish being rummaged through, and they occasionally bring in the law to back that up. All of that story is an interesting insight into an entirely different world.

Stop teasing me about the book! No spoilers please. Hehe!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

All good advice, and also advice that I have lived by. Yes, there are always gaps with which to crawl through whilst others fall over. It never ceases to surprise me that people fail to see those gaps.

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Well the ground is still quite frozen but much of the water has now drained downhill. When I drove up to see Michael yesterday there were several areas with pretty high water and ice on them so that the road was down to one lane. It had improved much from the day before.

Not to worry about the clean car as salt has once again splashed over it.

I think when you grow up watching your family support each other you tend to do the same thing. Doug's mother and I have discussed this quite a bit as her family and my FIL's was not at all like that. She seemed surprised that Doug and I would invite them to live with us. She, however, didn't have a great relationship with her mother or sister while overall my family gets along well overall. My MIL is very appreciative of our help even though she's in a care center now. We are only ten minutes away and visit several times a week and take her for outings as well. My grandmother was rather resentful that she ended up doing most of the care in the family. I know that feeling as most of the responsibilities fall on me (maybe because I'm the oldest) and on Doug for his parents - he's the oldest too. I've noticed more parents moving to a different part of the country to be near their adult children so they don't have to travel to take care of their elderly parents. There are many places Doug and I could move to that would make sense financially but then we'd put the burden on our own kids when/if we needed help.

Margaret

Yes crocks are ceramic jugs. I used a large one once for sauerkraut but it was really too much so I use quart jars with airlocks now.

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Which of those grain plants would I grow? Teff - it is tasty and very nutritious and grew pretty well in my experiment. It is expensive to buy, so would be a good choice for that reason. And it has no hull (or an insignificant one, it is so small) so that it can just be ground into grain without processing. I can still use it in my gluten free diet, too, but I am not even considering that (I rely on millet and corn and rice flours for bread now, with additions of specialty flours - like teff).

Horses are sneaky and shifty, with big heavy feet. Ouch! I expect Margaret knows about that!

There were dozens of toads on our dirt road last night. I decided to go into the woods and see if they were there, too, and they were - herds (?) of them. They were all heading downhill towards the pond behind us. They made the eeriest noise hopping through the leaves; such a soft and quiet noise, slow but steady. I am not surprised that they came out of hibernation as we just had two days of 80F (26.7C). The bats are out, too.

My son decided to see if he could burn out with our flame thrower a stump with that is in the way of a new garden bed. He spent about 45 minutes at it. The stump is not even dented, just blackened. He reckons that he'll put an old chainsaw blade on the chainsaw and have a go at it with that. Using an old blade sounds like a bad idea (except for the budget) to me.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - The Romans were "funny" about various things. To our eye. ONLY barbarians wore trousers, so, it just wasn't "done." And, for some reason, exposing a woman's, Mmm, chest just wasn't done. You see wall paintings of people doing the most outrageous things with each other, in the all together, but the women have this covering band across their chests. What was that all about? But only the mortals. The gods and goddesses could get away with anything :-).

They just discovered a well preserved pair of boxing gloves, up on Hadrian's Wall. Known from sculpture and painting, but this is the first pair, "from the period" that have surfaced. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - A steady 32F (-0-C) all night long. We got 2" of snow, overnight. Our maintenance guy Jeff, just came in from Winlock, a little town about 25 minutes south of here. They have 8-10". Now, the sun is out and there's plenty of blue sky, around. According to Cliff Mass (and, the National Weather Service) we may have another round of snow Friday night, and, maybe, again on Sunday. Cabin fever is already setting in among The Inmates, here at The Home.

(As an aside, Winlock has a very interesting history. It was founded by African-Americans in the 1870s. A real anomaly for this part of the US. Of course, Centralia was founded by an African-American man. Ditto, Tumwater, which was a little town just south of our State Capitol.)

The fish and chips expedition was a success. We just hit a sweet spot, weather wise. Must live right, or something :-). When I left to meet Scott, at noon, there was still snow around, but all the pavements were dry. Just as we got back to town, at 3, the snow began to come down. The cafe was in a little town, Napavine, just a few freeway exits south of Chehalis.

I don't know where the cod came from. I think I heard that the Atlantic stocks are coming back, a bit. Heavily regulated. The fish was very nice. Had a great crispy coating on it. The chips, what we call french fries, were tasty, but a bit limp. Home made. A bit of skin, still on. Oh, well, throw enough catsup, tartar sauce or malt vinegar on them, and they're great. The wait staff was very friendly, but then, we were the only people in the place. The snow, you know. Not much of a pie selection, for desert, but that was just the luck of the draw. I'd guess, mid week, stocks are a bit depleted. So, we settled on cheese cake. Commercial, but very good. Overall, another dinning possibility, in future.

The "all singing, all dancing" ads also eat up a lot of internet bandwidth. The term "graphics rich" makes me shudder. Sometimes, I'll be reading a text at a magazine site, and it bounces around as different sized ads, come and go. Maddening. Saw a short interview with one of the early developers of the internet (back when it was an academic thing) and he's just gob smacked at what it's become. The commercialization. That allowing anonymity became a problem. He pretty much admitted that they just hadn't taken human nature into account ...(Cont.)

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. As to the costs of medical stuff, one of our inmates needs a shot in his eye, once a month, to keep from going blind. It's cost? $2,000+. I don't know how much his medical insurance covers, but it still costs. I had a conversation a couple of weeks ago with The Warden and our padre, and we were talking about retirement. That your happiness kind of depends on expectations. I have a very small income, but my needs are met (which, I think, are modest) and I even get "wants" from time to time. :-). Some of The Inmates, who seem a bit strapped from time to time, also "help out" their kids or grandkids. Something I don't have to worry about.

Auto pilot. Routines that ensure stuff gets done that doesn't need much thought. Of course, if the "flow" is interrupted, all kinds of chaos can happen :-). There are places I usually place my tea mug. Sometimes, it goes missing. So, it's hunt the tea mug. Strategically placed pens. They tend to wander. One thing I like about living alone is that I don't have to explain my odd little routines and quirks that keep everything running. I hate having to explain, myself. :-). "Why do you?" "Just 'cause."

Hmmm. Big tat scores. Nothing life changing. $10 dollar items that I maybe got $100. My $100 dresser that, at one point (not now) was worth $850-$1200. I get excited when I buy a Fenton covered candy dish for $3 and it's (actually) sold on E-Bay for $40. Ditto the Westmoreland blue milk glass "kittens" plate that I got for $7, and it sold on E-Bay for $40. The porcelain egg I got for 35 cents that sells for $10+. E-Bay isn't hard and fast, but it's a good "rule of thumb" source. Could I get those prices? Given where I am, and the outlets I have, generally, no. But, I like what I buy and it's more with the idea of leaving some kind of an "estate." The "big score" may still be out there for me. You never know what you'll find, where. Lew

Damo said...

Hi Margaret,

I think your decision was the right one - 6 acres sounds much more appealing to me than in the city! Thoughts similar to your suggestion have occurred to me in the past, sharing space to diffuse the costs. A variation on this idea is basically my leading contender at the moment, but it carries a lot of compromise (which is OK) and a lot of risk (which is concerning, and must be carefully considered).

Even combining with a move to a cheaper country has been seriously considered (have you seen how cheap land in France is!?). However, familial and cultural ties are strong, so I am very cautious on such ideas. Even here in NZ, which is often considered Australia in all but name, I wonder at the minor differences for a long term stay.

Cheers,
Damo


Damo said...

Hi Inge,

Often the obvious needs to be stated! Although, to be clear I do not lament my twenties. The decision was a conscious one, and even today I cannot regret it. By the time I was getting ready to 'settle down' house prices in Australia were already un-affordable, and a sensible recession seemed just around the corner. Now, 10 years later that recession still has not arrived (at least on paper) and I have to face the reality that 'the powers that be' may never allow asset prices to return to long term averages. Do I reorganize my life to financially position myself for something that may never come? Life goes on, and there are pro's and con's to any decision.

Placing caravans, or 'tiny houses' on land permanently is frowned upon, but generally permissible by most councils in Australia. You can also build 'sheds' upto a certain size with minimal or no planning permission. However, the biggest problem is the cost of land. I feel I could setup a modest, but quite nice home and shed combination for under $100k, a figure which is quite attainable. But that doesn't help me much if the land underneath is $200,000+ (and this would be 'cheap' land in an area with minimal employment prospects). I was seriously considering your idea in Zeehan - where I lived for nearly two years. Land is *very* cheap there, almost free in places. But, there is only a single employer - a mine with questionable long term viability, and a mountainous 2 hour drive to the nearest urban centre. Swings and roundabouts...

Cheers,
Damo

Damo said...

Hi Chris,

You are of course correct to note that keeping the wine warm for the primary ferment is necessary. For the sake of brevity I didn't mention the barrel was upstairs :-p I am intrigued by your tactic of placing in the warm sun to help 'speed it up' though. I did something similar for my dark stout brews (placing the barrel next to the hot water heater), but comments on various brew forums hinted darkly at mysterious yeast by-products forming if you allowed things to go too quickly. Stout is one thing, they would say, but the lighter ales and wines should not be treated so roughly. What does the editor say to such ramblings? I would trust her opinion and experience more than a random scribbling on the internet :-)

Speaking of wines, I just came back from helping a very large winemaker in the Blenheim region. The place was enormous, more like a petrochemical plant than anything and has little resemblance to what I imagine the average urban wine drinker thinks it would be like. Amusingly, staff are still referred to as cellar-hands.

Our cabbages get eaten by the same moth here - Mrs Damo and I go on a grub murdering spree every couple of days, but it is still touch and go. I have asked the local bird life why they are not interested in such fat, juicy and obviously delicious grubs themselves but the only reply is a cock of the head and an inquisitive tweet.

Those all rounder lenses can be pretty good, a shame to hear about your 300mm - that would be useful for bird shots. My understanding is that fungal growth is pretty hard to remove but I have not investigated the matter in depth.

Your comment on Peggy the winemakers colourful past is close to the mark I reckon, at least based on her mug shot on the back of the book :-)

/cont

Damo said...

/cont

To be honest I was hesitant to publish my earlier 'rant'. Such things can invite comments on lifestyles and spending habits which bear little resemblance to the insane reality of the situation. To give one example, I estimate I have spent maybe $10k on travel in the past 6 years. A large amount for sure, and in some eyes proof positive I am a freewheeling hedonist who just wants a waterfront mansion for free! Yet, it is less than many people waste on a car in a year let alone what Sydney house prices were rising by in a *week* not so long ago! What can one do in the face of such madness?

Join into the debt party? Live like a pauper for 10 years and hope the world becomes rational again? In truth this is one of those 'predicament vs problem' things. There is no solution, only a decreasing pool of options and 'gaps' to pick from - none of them offering anything like security of tenure or the reasonable prospect of an income stream.

So, I remind myself the world owes me nothing and try to consider all angles of alternative paths without getting too depressed :-) Realistically, I am actually very, *very* lucky and have a lot of options to continue a good life - it is just some previously attainable options are no longer on the table.

Cheers,
Damo

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

Oh no! I have under an hour to reply this evening... Blame the pub!

Thanks for that, as I was wondering whether the rainfall would soak into the frozen ground or run off. Interesting. I have not had to work with frozen ground before and have no experience with it. It is amazing how much we all learn here by discussing situations. The tail end of the cyclone (Kelvin) looks set to hit here tonight that caused so much rainfall damage up in the far north west of the continent, although it has virtually no energy left in it. Still, one must not talk too soon. One notable location in the far south east of Western Australia received one third of their annual rainfall in a day - I recall that place being like a total desert with an annual rainfall of something like 10 inches.

Ouch, well at least the car now has some mojo + salt.

Exactly, you learn that that is how things are done in a family. I'm frankly in awe of that circumstance when I see it. It can be very warm and welcoming. And it is really nice when people receive help and are grateful for that help. Surprisingly, that is not always the case with people, and I find that to be rather strange.

It is interesting that you mention the parents dilemma in relation to property as we were discussing that very issue today. There are a lot of baby boomers that appear to be buying up real estate in nearby townships, and I personally wonder how the local infrastructure will cope as they age and the kids can't move nearby due to inflated property prices. It is a real problem.

Thanks for the explanation about crocks. I picked up more of the heavy duty glass jars this week - as a comparison, they're half gallon.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Well, there you go. Thanks and I have never heard of Teff before. Interesting and a grass that originated in Ethiopia. What a huge variety of conditions it can grow in. Rye has similar properties, but Teff seems to thrive on a much lower annual rainfall. If those were my annual rainfall figures I'd be very nervous. No hull is a serious advantage though. Do the birds attack the seeds? Interestingly, I read over a BLT lunch (very tasty) that Mr Logsdon also used to grind a flour from dried beans and he added a mix of that into bread mix (50/50 with wheat). I assume you raise a sort of flat bread, or do some of those flour mixes rise? Millet was extensively grown, stored and milled for flour down here before European settlement.

Ouch. I hear you. I had a 160kg / 350 pound sow step on my foot (stupidly I was in sandals as you do when you don't expect to say hello to a couple of sows). She produced a very tasty roast.

Go the toads. And I bet they enjoyed your recent rainfall. Toads live in the ground here and I have occasionally accidentally disturbed one. I hope they produced a lovely nighttime chorus? We have marsupial bats here too so they are different to yours but basically look the same, and they clean up nighttime insects. They make an audible zip-zip-zip sound.

That is quite warm for so late in the winter. Spring was early here too last year.

Two words: Good luck! I tried burning a tree stump out and it took six fires and an inordinate amount of firewood. It was worth the experiment though just to fail. Eventually I got the stump grinder onto it. The trick with the chainsaw is to keep the chain sharp (not so easy when there is dirt in the stump) and the bar will have to be dressed in the shop after the attempt. I used to cut a hash pattern into the stump and then axe the pieces. A stump grinder is easier as it has carbonised teeth and to be honest probably cheaper when you consider the replacement of the chainsaw bar and chain. They sell a chain which has carbonised teeth which would do the job, but it is very difficult to resharpen the chain without the right angle grinding equipment - so it becomes uneconomical. The tree stumps here last decades and the loggers left me an awful lot of them. Not much if anything lives in or on them.

Another alternative is to dig the stump out and axe away the tap root. A lot of work.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for the Roman history. Yes, that is odd. Perhaps the Gods were tantalising and outrageous all at once?

Ah. Our rather hypocritical deputy Prime Minister fell on his sword today Barnaby Joyce resigns as Deputy Prime Minister. It is interesting because not many cared much for his morals down here and he had tried hard to argue that line, what concerned folks was that he was saying one thing whilst doing another. That doesn't look good. Well, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard would be enjoying the moment after the Pistol and Boo incident!

Watch out for the cabin fever among the inmates. Intrigues may reach a nadir? Watch your back. Hey, I don't recall you ever suffering from cabin fever. I hope you have some good books and DVD's? Did you get more snow?

It is 86'F here which is quite nice, but the tail end of cyclone Kelvin looks set to make a special guest appearance later tonight - or early tomorrow morning. There is not much sting left in that tail, so maybe only a quarter of an inch of rain will fall. Dunno.

We went out for lunch to a nearby town and enjoyed a very gourmet BLT (bacon lettuce tomato) toasted sandwich and it was awesome. They bake their own sour dough bread and have an old 19th century brick Scotch oven. An awesome feed. And we finished on a peanut and white chocolate cake which was very tasty. I may have to do further investigations on that menu. Told you I was taking it easy the next few days.

Good to hear of the history and I too would get as far from slavery as I could. Frontiers often present opportunity. I read that the author Alexander Mcall Smith likes visiting Australia because it is quite upbeat relative to the more dour Scottish culture where he resides.

Yum! Cod! Nice to read that the fisheries are recovering. The way humans regulate fisheries is that we assume that the best case scenario is always in play and that nothing will go wrong. Skin on chips (or fries in this instance) is always tasty. I like that and have no idea why people peel potatoes for chips. Don't get it at all. Yum for cheesecake.

Oh yeah graphics rich produces a sensation of horror in me too. Thanks for the techo term too. Hey, have you noticed the websites that allow you to begin reading an article and then a huge pop up explodes in front of the article either demanding a subscription or for you to login? Very naughty, and I block pop ups using software, but some websites... No doubts the creators of the internet had a utopian vision? Every time I read of utopian visions, my heart sinks.

What? No way? Ouch. Our government bulk purchases pharmaceuticals and the pharmacies have to purchase off the government. That seems to have sorted that sort of problem out. But going blind is no joke and having money but going blind is a moral question which I for one am glad not to face. Everything else gets monetised, so no doubts healthcare is ripe for the taking. Me neither, but then leaving a working organic farm which the local wildlife also gets to enjoy suits me just fine. I'm reading about crop rotations and seriously I can avoid that for now, but if I could not longer bring in the manure, well, crop rotations it will have to be.

Auto pilot is interesting. In my early adult years, I once discovered that my body had been driving on auto pilot for quite a while. Not asleep, but awake, but with the sub conscious in charge. I decided I needed to get more sleep.

Gotta run, will speak tomorrow!

Cheers

Chris




Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Damo,

Gotta bounce, will talk tomorrow!

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Doug wanted to know the size of your demijohns please.

One year was so cold that the underground water pipe to my mother's barn froze for quite some time. There was a lot of water hauling that year as she had about 30 horses there. When building your underground pipes should be deeper than the typical frost line for your area. We've never had that happen with our barn water luckily. The frost line here is 40 inches. About two hours southeast of us they received 5 inches of rain and many are experiencing severe flooding now.

That seems rather selfish, or maybe just short sighted, in my mind to buy property farther away from your children. Baby boomers too - that's our age and we're quite cognisant of the fact that our physical abilities are declining. Now sometimes people retiring end up moving to a different state as it's more affordable to live on a fixed income which is a different story.

Doug and I went to the historical museum of the county just west of us, then to a nice local diner (with no TV's) and after that to see the movie, "The Post" which we enjoyed. We were two of six people in a very comfortable theater. All in all a nice day.

Good luck with the rain.

Margaret

margfh said...

Hi Pam,

I have indeed been stepped on by a horse on more than one occasion. They don't even realize it. We were always taught to be very careful walking behind a horse - letting them know we were there as a kick was quite dangerous. We had several dogs who learned that chasing horses wasn't a good idea the hard way.

We're still some time from hearing the spring peepers unless we get an unusually warm spell.

Margaret

margfh said...

Hi Damo,

Yes, sharing living space is risky as we've learned having family live with us. Even with a big house there were issues. It's funny that we had less issues with my three brothers than we did our in-laws. Compromise is key and I think people are less inclined to do so now than in past generations as I described to Chris about my family's living arrangements.

I didn't know about property in France - interesting. I mentioned that we could move to another state where our dollar would go further. Tennessee is a state that a lot of retirees are moving too. However, my family is all around this area and sometimes you just need some support and I know I could count on at least some of members of my family and both of my daughters to be there if needed.

Margaret

orchidwallis said...

@ Damo

Google Scottish islands seeking residents.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Teff is one of the tastier grains, worth throwing a bit into most any kind of bread. I cook with chickpea flour sometimes; it does have a unique taste, though, and is only suited for certain things. That's a great idea from Mr. Logsdon that you mentioned, grinding up beans to add to bread - sounds rather medieval. Yes, most of my breads are flat breads, though not all are supposed to be flat breads . . . it is really hard to get a rise out of non-gluten flours without at least using egg (I don't) or various gums (I am suspicious of them, and also of adding more cost to the whole endeavor). I do almost always use my sourdough starter in gluten-free bread recipes, though; that helps some. I still make a wheat/rye bread for thems that eat gluten here.

Oops. Ms. Sow was probably wishing that she had been more careful of Mr. Chris' toes . . .

Wow, thanks for the stump removal suggestions. I have passed it all on to my son. Glad it's not me fooling with it.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

We are finally practicing crop rotations. I read this:

Beans, roots, greens, fruits

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

Boxing gloves - how wonderful! Do you think they boxed in their skirts? Maybe just in the summer, in the buff . . .

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Margaret:

I am worried about my parents, who live in Colorado, so far from me. My Mom is 80 and my Dad is 79 and they have a few health issues, but are pretty adamant about staying where they are - until. It is going to be so much harder to move them out here - and there is no other choice as there is no other family to care for them - when they become less mobile. My Mom gave up her driver's license last year, so there is only my Dad to drive. I can see why they want to stay, though, where everything is familiar.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Damo - You might want to try sprinkling a bit of Bt (Bacillius thuringiensis) on your cabbage. It's organic! :-). It does need to be re-applied, after a rain. But, I know how satisfying it is to go one-on-one with the pests. Slugs, for instance.

I sympathize with your land problems. Same here. Now imagine having to take into account health care costs in every move you make? Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Chris - It got down to 19F, last night. We got an inch or two of snow, but the pavements dried off pretty fast. I nipped down to the Safeway, last night, and the streets were fine, but I had to watch out for the occasional icy patch. Today it's supposed to be snow/rain. Ditto on Sunday. Forecast has some scattered snow events, next week.

Cabin fever doesn't seem to effect me, too much. But, I'm a creature of habit, so I get more ... irritated when my plans are thwarted. In The Program, someone is always banging on about "Life on life's terms." I get that. It's the "weather on weather's terms" that get me. :-).

The BLT sounds very nice, especially with a good bread made on-site. The Taste of Alaska cafe has a pretty standard menu of cafe things. BLTs, patty melts, tuna melts, etc. etc.. All fine fare. But, I go out so seldom, if we ever make it back again, I'll probably just gravitate right back to the fish and chips.

Part of our Medicare (government medical programs for the elderly) has a part D which covers (in theory) drug costs. Some things are covered, some aren't. Bulk purchase is kicked around, every once in awhile, but, dismissed as a possible commie/socialist plot. Slippery slope, and all that. And, Big Pharma doesn't like it. They say it isn't necessary, as they provide deep discounts to some people. But finding out about the discounts and wading through the paperwork ...

Only 7 turned out for Bingo for Blood, last night. So the pots were small. I won one and a half. So, I lost a bit more ground. Overall, $3.95 in the hole. Lew

Damo said...

@Lew

Thank you for the Bt suggestion - starving the little devils to death is a gruesome way to go, but no less than what they deserve!!

Yes, I hear you on that count. Land might be a relative bargain compared to Australia, but I would be kept up at night by the thought of bankruptcy from a broken arm or other such minor ailment. Mind you, people have told me in person they fear death by spider, snake, shark or drop-bear with a straight face. No doubt horror stories have being exaggerated in both directions...

Damo

Damo said...

@Margaret

Yep, house sharing is tricky. I found it difficult with friends and family alike - although there were big variations. Ultimately, some people are just not easy to live with, or at least not compatible with myself. Which reminds me of a not so family-blog friendly story:

If you meet an a**hole in the morning, that guy was an a**hole! You meet another a**hole at lunchtime, that makes two a**hole's today, what rotten luck! But, if you meet another a**hole in the afternoon, well sorry, turns out you were the a**hole all along!

Sobering words :-)

Being close to family and friends is important. Although, I swing between extremes and miss them when I am away for years, but then eagerly look forward to running away again whenever I am back for more than a week or so. There is probably some sensible middle ground to take, perhaps a 1-2 hour drive away? You want at least a modest barrier to random visits :-p

Damo

Damo said...

Inge

Well, my family is of Scottish origin. No doubt this would allow me to be tolerated as some sort of acceptable visitor after 20-30 years :-p

Damo

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Far out! Took the train today into, and then out again of the big smoke for the Green Wizards of Melbourne meeting. Good fun and one of the members provided a lively talk on living on: French Island (Victoria). It is an interesting island with no local government and pretty much no infrastructure (does this story sound familiar?) At one stage a nuclear power plant was even considered, but instead the state government constructed the brown coal fired power plant (Hazelwood) that was shut down last year. I'd probably love living there, but the crazy property market seems to be a problem there too. At least they don’t appear to have the leaf change tourists. The Chinese appear to have purchased a large tract of land at a former low security prison farm. It appears a bit close to HMAS Cerberus (a military base), but that is merely my take on geopolitics and few people listen to me.

One of the members mentioned something about recovering lead from spent batteries for re-use and I may have to ask a few more probing questions about that topic in future meetings.

The $100 dresser was clearly trending, until it no longer trended? Antiques are like that aren't they, and they come in and out of fashion. Did you notice the recent purchase here of the second hand locally manufactured red couch? Well, just prior to that purchase we'd been reading that 'red furniture' is now out. I'm just saying that I find that that is a poor reason to sell, but there you go. Now we own a high quality but sadly red couch. Those are some solid wins for you and I like the idea of leaving an estate. Certainly it will confuse the stuffing out of whomever gets to rifle through it.

Far out 19'F is so cold. Honestly, I have experienced such cold weather but it is so far from my normal experience that it just leaves me feeling very cold just reading about it. Glad to hear that you avoided the icy patches on the roads. As a young man I recall a lady rushing across an open square in the city during a solid rainstorm during a cold winters day. At the last moment she slipped and fell right in front of me and I caught her before she went splat on the very wet pavement. Honestly it was like a scene out of a movie. The perils of high heels, I guess. I reckon driving on icy roads would be a bit like that, except that there is nobody there to catch you.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

'Life on life's terms' is a lovely way of looking at the world and I sort of take the weather as it comes. Of course, I have access to fairly reliable weather forecasts and plan my activities around those. Nature rarely irritates me, but occasionally it can be of concern. For example, this February has been reasonably dry, and I keep remarking to people that this is the sort of weather that one would expect in March. What does it all mean? Stuffed if I know, but then it may not be a bad idea to keep the main house water tanks full. ;-)!

One of the Green Wizards remarked to the bloke living on French Island to keep a spare water pump and other assorted parts for his water bore (well). Sound advice that, which may have disappeared into the ether. I quite enjoy the witty observations from the gathered folks and there is always the tiramisu for dessert...

Fair enough about the food, and you know, I too often stick to an establishments specialties. On any given menu, some items are just no good - or average. Those are best avoided. At this stage I feel that I need to horrify you about dark ales. Apologies in advance for this! Well, apparently word on the street is that the Christmas Unicorn dark ale was a fizzer (blame the brewer I reckon), but they are set to make good with a chocolate dessert Easter stout. Yes, yes, I understand that it is an abomination, but one must first sample the wares just to be sure! :-)!

Bulk purchasing seems to be an effective tool to beat big pharma over the head with. Plus they are not allowed to advertise here, although there are reports that attempts are made and junkets offered, but I know nothing about such things. The thing I have to ask you is this: Who are these 'some people benefitting'? That is the real question.

Oh my goodness, I'm glad you are enjoying the 'bingo for blood', but at the same time I worry that your $10 limit is fast approaching. What to do in such a circumstance? As a sneaky suggestion, you could analyse the data with a proper computer algorithm thingee and then establish whether the fun times enjoyed in the process of losing your hard earned funds to a pack of 'bingo fluffy sharks' was worth the loss of said funds? I dunno, but that is the sort of questions I'd be asking myself. Although I have heard of such dodgy logic being applied to the pokie machines down here. What a state of confusion I am finding myself in...

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Damo,

We have never noticed any difference with the outcome of the speeded up demijohns. Putting them out in the sun on a hot day only accelerates the process. Obviously we can't speak for dark ales (which is a grain - fungi - sugar - yeast - alcohol - fermentation process). The only time that speeding up a brew has made any difference to the outcome is with the sake which is a grain (rice) to alcohol concoction (i.e. like your dark ales). Can you speed that process up without acetobacteria taking over and converting the alcohol into acetic acid - nope. That process takes the time it takes which means it has to be done at cooler temperatures. Wines with high sugar content are a different beast and they are less fussy about such things. A little bit of extra heat won’t hurt the situation. Grains have less sugar and therein lies the problem. You could add sugar to your dark ales and produce a lethal batch quickly? I have experienced dark ales in the 13% realm and they are a heady brew and not for softies.

I've been considering upland rice seed varieties today - just in a strange coincidence.

Yes, it is worth remembering that wines and beers have been made for many millennia without all that gear. People rarely recall that.

To be honest, I've accidentally consumed a few of those green cabbage moths over the years. They are a bit of a nuisance really, and I check for them closely when I take greens to other people as a gift. From what I understand most insects are edible and I bet you saw some interesting sights on that front whilst in Laos? Chickens will destroy the green grubs, but they'll also enjoy the greens, so that is a complex problem.

Thanks for your thoughts about the 300 lens and I may have to take it to a camera repair shop in Melbourne. Oh no! I am genuinely ashamed to see how cheap they are second hand... Well that answers that matter.

Mate, I'm just saying that Peggy used an interesting technique to obtain the yeast and that was a dead giveaway to me. I tell ya, if I had had half a brain (which I didn’t) I would have begun wine making many years ago - and avoided many an early morning newspaper round...

No, absolutely no way. The whole smashed avocado thing is a meme which was apparently invented by a very wealthy person. Fear not, and speak freely because I too share your concerns. They are not unreasonable concerns.

You are also very correct to mention that the world indeed owes you nothing, if only because it is true. I have to put some brain cells onto this story...

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

Down here demijohns come in all sizes, but I stick to the 5 Litre / 1.3 gallon glass demijohns. I find them easier to handle and not too heavy to move. One of my mates used to use 50 Litre / 13.1 gallon demijohns. But imagine if Ollie the cuddle-dog who masquerades as a cattle-dog bumped into one and broke it? What a mess.

OK, thanks for the explanation. That is about 1 metre / 40 inches deep, so that is a not unreasonable depth for buried water pipes. Although digging a trench that deep can be a bit of a nuisance. Ouch. Five inches of rain will do that. I hope some of that early spring rain gets into the sub soil.

Honestly, I can't actually say what the motivations of the people are. It is certainly driving up house prices in country towns, and I know of one town in a tourist hot spot along the coast that is having trouble fielding a netball (a form of women’s basketball which is very popular down under) and football team, let alone manning the local volunteer fire brigade. Workers have to be ferried in from quite a distance as they cannot afford to live in the area they work. I have no idea where all this will end. The fixed income for retirees is a real problem too, whilst costs keep going up.

That sounds like a delightful day! You have left me with a vivid and enjoyable mental image of the diner too. I hadn't heard of that film either and appreciate your review.

The rain was a total non event and appears to have moved to the east of the state. At least the air temperatures cooled.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks for mentioning the Teff, and I will look into it and see whether I can obtain some. Not having a hull appears to be an advantage. I was also considering upland rice today after reading about that. I believe Master Fukoka's garden included the upland rice and citrus trees (I'm spotting some similarities...)

Yes, the book has opened my eyes to the possibilities inherent in grains although I do wonder about hulling them which appears to be a bit of a problem. Although given the age of the plants as a domesticated species, you'd think less mechanistic methods were available? Dunno. And upland rice may be very interesting indeed!

Ms Sow didn't really give a fig to the condition of my crushed foot! Pigs have such lovely sucker faces too and they snuffle everything and my leg was likewise covered in pig snout goo - whatever that is. Still, I took it all in my stride for such is life on a farm.

Thanks for sharing your crop rotation and that has given me much to think about.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

"Sir Galahad and the High Heels". I was going to add Red Couch to it somewhere, but it didn't sound seemly . . .

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Damo - Remember, you're ancestors probably left Scotland for a reason :-). Your assignment for this evening? Watch all three seasons of "Shetland." As far as acceptance goes, best marry into an "old" family. Of course, there's always Mrs. Damo to consider. Well, she can do the same :-).

62% of the personal bankruptcies in the States are due to medical bills. And a large percentage of those people had some form of medical insurance. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - It was 34F (1.11C) last night and began to snow about 5pm. Around midnight, the temperature bumped up to 36F and it then began to rain. This morning? Dry pavements and white lawns. What gets me are the steady overnight temperatures we've been getting. That's my "what does it mean?" weather concern.

Catching a sliding, collapsing lady is all rather meet-cute. No wonder you like rom-coms :-). Wasn't The Editor, by any chance?

I'm happy your Green Wizards group is still banging along. Looks like a large part of French Island is National Park. There's always sea level rise to consider. I didn't see any average elevations, but "Mount" Wellington is the highest point. 96 meters. That's hardly a pimple on the land, here. I don't think we'd even bother to name it :-).

I thought your red couch was quit handsome. Whatever happened to the idea of "classics?" In clothing or decor? I put a lot of small tags on most of my tat. Company. Approximate year. Pattern name. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Re: Easter stout. They must have some kind of a marketing department. Sounds like they're deep in "it seemed like a good idea at the time / what could go wrong?" territory. Perhaps a whiff of desperation?

The Big Pharma families / owners are known. If you know where to look. Mostly in the left wing press. Huge money contributors to the right wing politicos. And then, there's the stockholders.

Yes, I suppose there's always the "fun factor" to consider, when it comes to bingo. This Home has a sister facility over in Centralia. The Warden was commenting, the other day, that that lot don't do anything together. Due to all the squabbling. Princesses' owner came tapping on my door the other day. Couldn't get the top off a medicine bottle. Some new "child proof" horror. When I went to the Safeway, the other night, I picked up bananas for Miss Liz. We do small things for each other.

My seed arrived yesterday! My garlic seems to be riding out the cold weather, quit nicely. The miniature Dutch iris has a bit of frost bite, just at the tips. Nothing too major. I spotted miniature daffodils blooming next to feral kitties house, on the south side of the building. the vinca (ground cover with blue blossoms) is blooming around the library. No frogs, yet. Lew

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

You are making me blush! Hehe! I was nothing less than chivalrous, well that day anyway.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Tonight seems to be the night that I've chosen to write about debt. It is a boring topic after all, but I really do wonder why people want to sell a claim on the future. Perhaps it is my inherent conservatism, but the future is very uncertain and perhaps it is not such a good idea to sell it off. Sadly, few take such warnings on board, and well of course as the marketing folk say: 'they deserve it'. It is worth noting that that saying could be interpreted in more ways than one. You know, I recall when the first credit card turned up in the household from the bank un-requested. It was as if the devil had stepped through the front door and was trying to convert the people living within. The rationale for keeping the devil in the backyard was that he might handy for an emergency. But then, sooner or later an emergency occurred and the devil transitioned inside to enjoy a nice comfy fireside place. Well, one does have to warm oneself by the fireside on a cold winters night, and the darkness dude would be no different. Anyway, I won't tell that tale but I recall the impact it had when it first occurred.

The temperatures are a bit weird, but I interpret the strangeness of the weather in that there are more extremes, but on average, the temperatures are warmer. Perhaps that explains your overnight temperatures? Certainly this year, the nighttime temperatures have been as warm as I can recall. The warmest overnight low was 27'C /81'F and that was a revolting overnight low. Today here is quite cold, but very gusty. Over on the north of the range, the wind was feral and tree branches were strewn around.

I travelled north this morning to attend the budding grafting course which we had previously spoken about and the commenters here decided by unanimous vote that I should go. And I really enjoyed the course and learned a heap and will try my own fruit trees from now on. I mean, I have a lot of known varieties and seedling fruit trees pop up all of the time here. I once suggested to a young friend to attend that course to save them money on purchasing fruit trees, but alas, such tasks are left for the very busy like myself. Three generations have run orchards on that farm in that part of the world (two on the same site) and it was a real pleasure being able to speak with them and learn practical orchard skills. Yes, yes, you were right! :-)!

No it wasn't the editor, and because I was young and dumb I never thought to see if the chance relationship had any future. One never knows whether such incidents are accidental, contrived, or fate? But, I couldn't let the lady fall onto the ground, as that would be most ungentlemanly.

We did poke hard about the sea level rise. I had to laugh when the bloke mentioned that because of the access and lack of infrastructure on the island they get 6,000 tourists annually and that is viewed with some concern. Now, earlier that day I noticed a claret ash tree turning red and the bloke giving the talk probably doesn't realise that during leaf turn, the hordes probably deliver 6,000 people per day up here just to see the changing colours in the vegetation. It is too many people for my comfort levels and I for one am glad not to be in the more unfashionable end of the mountain range. How the tourism debacle came to be, has a lot to do with government policies...

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Yes, the red couch is a classic design. Many things are like that, and we all have to work out what is worth our while and what will also last the test of time. Not much will though, but one must try their best.

Maybe, about the Easter egg stout. That is a second hand story and one that I can't confirm, but will give it a go when it does show its face. To be honest, I'm a little bit dodgy about it because the brewer appeared to be very heavy handed with the preservatives and it left both me and the editor with a headache after a single pint. Such pain cannot easily be forgotten and forgiven, but then everyone makes mistakes... Dunno. Further investigation is required.

Ouch! Such things will work until they don't.

There is something to be said about the 'fun factor'. It is nice that you were able to render assistance with the lid. Some of those child proof locks defeat my poor brain... Exactly too, social capital is a real thing. Sorry to read that the sister facility is suffering from problems, but then it is also nice when you consider that you are not part of that gear and are able to step in when needed at your place when it counts (and even when it doesn't).

People down here are very reluctant to incur social debts, and they go very far out of their way to achieve that aim. I do what I can, and mostly just accept the cost that that means, and hope that a better example provides an alternative narrative for others, but really it is a moment in time thing.

Are you considering starting the seeds indoors? I might do that if I were in your climate over the next few weeks. Garlic is tough as old boots! How are the feral cats going? And it is nice that they have a house to over winter in. A bit early for frogs as they don't much appreciate being frozen!

After the course today I decided I need to make my own three legged orchard ladder!

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Damo,

You have a point about having some distance between family which we do for the most part. My daughters and granddaughters are all about 2 hours away. I see many grandparents that seem to always be babysitting for their grandchildren because they live close by. However, they kind of let that situation happen. I do think there's something about our culture though that keeps people from having these living arrangements.

Margaret

margfh said...

Hi Pam,

I would be worried too. We were/are lucky that our parents were pretty close by but then we also made the choice to stay in this area as well and there's lots of downsides to Illinois.

Margaret

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Here's a link describing the movie, "The Post" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Post_(film)
(some day I'll figure out how to do hyper links) From what I understand there was some embellishment of some of the facts for dramatic effect but for the most part it's historically correct. It was of particular interest as even though I was pretty young I do vaguely remember some of the events surrounding the publication of the Pentagon Papers.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - LOL. Are you living up to (or down to?) the stereotype of the thrifty Scotsman? :-). I have a little semi-collectible figure of a Scotsman (kilt and all) called "Savin' Sandy." I think he was a bank giveaway. He's got a hand to chin and looks VERY skeptical. I keep him around to remind me to be thrifty. Sometimes, it works!

Our overnight low was 39F (3.88C), last night. Most of the snow in the neighborhood appears to be gone. We may have a flurry, tonight, and that might be it for this year. Maybe.

I'm glad you were able to take the grafting course. I'm sure it will come in handy. Couldn't lay my hands on it, but I've got a DVD called, I think, "Organic Orcharding." I think there's a book, too. Covers orchard management around the year. If you built your own ladder, you'll have to find yourself a ladder tuner. Unless you can carry a tune, yourself :-). I grabbed my copy of "Build It Better Yourself" (Rodale, 1977. 900+ pages) thinking they might have a plan for an orchard ladder, in there. No. Something called a truss ladder that was clearly being used in an orchard. Wide at one end, narrow at the other. Looked like an orchard ladder, missing a leg. Said to use hardwood for the rungs, and hard or softwood for the rails. There are plenty of that book kicking around, here, cheap.

I'm very careful about incurring social debt. Just the way I roll. :-).

We only have one feral kitty, about. Several of The Inmates have cats, but they have to be kept in. So, I don't see them about. Feral kitty may have been part of a program where feral cats were trapped, fixed, and returned to the wild. She's pretty skittish, but will stop if I call her. Won't come any closer than about 10'. I respect her "space."

I'm going to ask the Master Gardener Guy what he thinks is a good date to start indoor seed. See what he feels for this year. There are some things I think I'm just going to grow inside, as they can be invasive. Mint and lemon balm.

I made the banana muffins, last night. Same old, same old. I'll have to put more effort into it, next week. Lew