Monday, 12 March 2018

Mottainai!

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

Mottainai is a Japanese term conveying a sense of regret concerning waste. The expression "Mottainai!" can be uttered alone as an exclamation when something useful, such as food or time, is wasted. Long term readers will know by now that if there is one thing that I hate, it is waste. Very few things are wasted here, and that my dear readers, is a lifestyle choice. Rarely will you hear me utter "
Mottainai!"


Away from this farm, our society conducts itself very differently. Recently a visitor attempted to leave a heavy duty plastic bag here. It was a very nice plastic bag after all, but neither the editor or I wanted it, so we firmly asked the visitor to take it back with them. The visitor looked confused and perplexed by the request, but they did take the plastic bag with them.


Waste has been on my mind of late, because one of Australia's major trading partners - China - no longer accepts our recycling waste. We used to send huge volumes of waste (600,000 tonnes every year) to China to be apparently recycled. That act made us all feel really good and it was cheap. However, now that the recycling waste is no longer accepted there, we appear to be at a complete loss as to what to do about it. Some states of Australia have come up with what appear to be ingenious strategies to dump waste interstate, which could have been treated locally. I read about one such scheme the other day: Duped at the dump: Recycling rort as the truth is buried. This is probably not a good use of technology. I hope the people involved are exclaiming "Mottainai!" as they pull that trick? Perhaps not...

The story gets more exciting, because I happen to live in one of two shires that has had their recycling collections suspended: Waste collection suspended in two Victorian shires as recycling crisis deepens. How exciting is that! To be honest, because I do not use those services I haven't really noticed any difference, but I do feel that it is only a matter of time before people in the surrounding townships decide to dump their rubbish up here in the forest. That is not a good thing, and I doubt very much whether those cheeky scamps will be uttering "Mottainai!" as an apology to the forest as they dump their rubbish from a moving vehicle in the dark of the night.

As it stands, the recycling system as we knew it is now over. As the band Crowded House sang in a break up song: "Don't dream, it's over". Brutal words, but so true. I tend to feel that a more appropriate song may be: Alex Lahey's genius song, 'I haven't been taking care of myself'. The word in the newspapers is that the local council rates will have to be substantially increased in order to cover the additional costs for doing something (although I have no idea what that is) with all of this recycling waste material. At the moment, I believe they are storing the stuff and just hoping for the best. Such strategies are sure to work! Maybe.

In all of the newspaper reports about this subject there was only the vaguest reference as to why the Chinese have stopped accepting our 600,000 tonnes of recycling waste materials every year. I'd have to suggest that they probably don't want all that rubbish in their backyards, but the one minor mention in the newspaper reports was that our waste streams are not particularly pure. In less technical terms that means that we mix up rubbish types together in our recycling streams, so that it becomes very difficult to make any practical use of the waste materials. And so now we are going to pay a lot of mad cash just to feel good about recycling.

Everyone needs an ancient and long dead military genius to focus their minds on strategy. I happen to be a fan of Sun Tzu who wrote the treatise 'The Art of War'. It is a good book, and I thoroughly recommend it. Sun Tzu was tough as nails, sharp as a tack, and utterly ruthless. With the recycling debacle, I can't help but hear his words whispering in my mind from down the millennia. And those words implore the reader to:

"If the enemy be at rest in comfortable quarters, harass him; if he be living in plenty, cut of his supplies; if sitting composedly awaiting attack, cause him to move."

From my perspective, it looks as if we are soon to be paying for the full costs (and then some) for handling our waste materials. Of course, I'd be more hopeful about the situation if I heard anyone at all suggesting that we have to change our ways utterly so that we do not produce, or do not accept this waste in the first place. That won't happen, but it sounds good doesn't it?

When I was a kid, I remember clearly that milk was delivered in glass bottles. Those glass bottles were returned, cleaned, refilled with milk, and then delivered again. My mind is telling me that the only way to move forward with this waste situation is to look backwards and see what worked in the past. Until then, I only hope that locals from nearby townships don't dump too much rubbish up here in the forest. At least they may proclaim "Mottainai!" as they do so. Maybe...

The past six weeks here have been sunny and dry. Despite the lack of rain, we still have plenty of water stored (60% full) and the vegetables still get their daily ten minutes of watering. Those sorts of weather conditions are perfect for tomatoes and we are now almost finished dehydrating a years supply of tomatoes in olive oil. Yum!
We are almost finished dehydrating the years supply of tomatoes which we store in olive oil
The tomato harvest has been epic as we process about 100kg / 220 pounds of fruit. Some of the tomatoes are dehydrated, whilst others get bottled as a passata (tomato pasta sauce) and yet others are turned into tomato wine for cooking. Over the years we have learned how much to process, based on how much we can eat of the stuff during a year.

We began excavating out a site to place yet another rock gabion. The rock gabions are used to retain the soil on the terrace used to grow potatoes in steel round raised garden beds. You can see a steel rock gabion cage in the next photo (behind Mr Toothy).
Before the excavations. That tree is huge compared to Mr Toothy!
Half a day of excavations by hand using the solar powered electric jack hammer, moved about half of the area for a new rock gabion.
About half of the space required for a new rock gabion cage was excavated
The soil is being used to create a flat spot next to the existing water tank. We plan to install another water tank of the same size (4,000L / 1,050 gallons) on that flat spot.

We also used some of the soil to correct the slope on the path in front of the wood shed. As we were loading firewood into the wood shed it became obvious that the slope was too severe and it would have to be corrected.
The path in front of the wood shed was corrected with soil relocated from the rock gabion excavation site
All of those huge rocks in the above photo were moved and placed by hand. Some of them weighed more than I do!

Speaking of correcting things, we added an additional concrete step to one of the existing staircases in the garden. This staircase finished next to the 'Poopy-quat' fruit tree. Long term readers will know what I mean by that!
An additional concrete step was added to the staircase which finishes next to the Poopy-quat
Other produce is also bottled (canned) and we have a good supply of pickles and onions in white vinegar. We have grown so many cucumbers that the chickens have been enjoying two every day for the past few weeks. Chickens love cucumber!
The last of the cucumbers.
The bright yellow trailer is being used to bring up mushroom compost (horse manure and stable straw) which is used to refill the many raised vegetable beds.
The bright yellow trailer brings up a cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) of mushroom compost
The cucumber bed was cleared this week, and it now sports broccoli seedlings.
The cucumber bed was cleared this week, and it now sports broccoli seedlings
Mottainai! No, seriously. Long term readers will recall that I replaced the very dodgy 'leather' (that was not quite leather as you know it) couch with a bright red serviceable and locally made couch which we picked up on eBay because someone else no longer wanted it. Well, the original leather couch was a manufacturing abomination. It might even be possible to suggest that the thing was broken from the factory because the 'leather' cracked and then continued to crack further, and then to add insult to injury, underneath the leather was not leather, but a synthetic backing. The leather in this instance was made from scraps of leather which are somehow joined and attached to a synthetic backing.

The reason I exclaimed: Mottainai! is because you cannot give these things away once the cracking has begun in earnest. We sought quotes to reupholster the couch, but that process costs more than a new replacement couch. What to do with the couch? Well, we have been dismantling it and reusing parts of it. It looks a bit worse for wear:
The manufacturing abomination is now being dismantled
The foam has been very useful for Ollie the cattle dog who seems to want to destroy his bedding. We insert the foam into hessian sacks which are a waste product from a business that I know. When combined, they make great dog beds, and I can get enough hessian sacks for free, that surely Ollie cannot destroy all of them? Maybe?
Ollie's new recycled bedding
I discovered the other day that it is a very unwise decision to have an afternoon nap, after a hot mornings work, on the floor in the living room. As I was asleep, the editor sneakily took these photos of the dogs activity:
Three fluffies!
Mr Toothy the interceptor adds yet another Fluffy!
Scritchy the boss dog checks out what all the fuss is about!
The continuing dry weather is bringing a huge diversity of wildlife onto the farm for a feed and a drink of water. The other day I spotted this young kangaroo:
A young kangaroo drops by for a feed and a drink of water
It is getting late! Onto the flowers:
Caryopteris 'Worcester Gold' - I had to look that one up!
A Gaillardia I planted a week or two ago (despite the heat and dry weather)
Gaillardia 'Burgundy'
Salvia + Lavender + Geranium - all flowering without water
This cactus was attacked by a wallaby a long time ago, but the cactus is fighting on
Check out the honey eater in this silver banksia
The temperature outside now at about 10.00pm is 12’C (54’F). So far this year there has been 109.8mm (4.3 inches) which is the same as last week's total of 109.8mm (4.3 inches).

67 comments:

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

The same thing is assumed here with poverty. I actually wonder why a lot of people live up here and make absolutely no use of their land. And as they get older, their systems that support them living in this remote spot wear out. I am a stickler for maintenance and keeping things simple, but even then it becomes complex. Generally, I reckon there may be an exodus from here at some point in the future. From what I’ve read of historical accounts, people who can’t make a go of living off the land tend to exit rural areas and head back into the cities. I noted that exactly that was happening with the drought in Cape Town in South Africa and that was exacerbating the problems with the water shortages in that city.

It is a very good idea to move the water inlet if that makes the job easier and I assume that new appliances will be reinstalled? I have that similar problem with the hot water tank in the ceiling cavity. Eventually that tank may be replaced and that will be an epic job. It all seemed like a good idea at the time…

Computers provide random numbers by taking a snap shot of the internal timer reading, which is quite a fine measurement, and then return that number. Larger random numbers are simply multiplied by whatever number is returned. As you say, it is not really that random, but it is random enough to be workable.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

Exactly. That is one of the reasons that we don’t breed chickens. Keeping up the genetic diversity is a really expensive problem because of the feed requirements for all of the roosters. I’m planning to construct a new terrace over the next few months purely for growing corn which should assist that problem, but still chickens eat a lot.

Interesting. Yeah, I’m putting some brain cells towards the spacing problem as I reckon I got it wrong and the rear row had a poorer kernel set on the cobs than the cobs on the front row. I’ll get there.

It is funny that you mention recycling, but I’m going to write about that very topic tonight. I’m really impressed with the setup that you run for those recycling drive days.

Respect for giving it a go with the selling of the excess produce. My gut feeling tells me that the same story operates here too, although I haven’t run the numbers. It is just the volume that I’d have to sell would be so great and the return so little, especially because like the chicken breeding, I can take short cuts and bring in bulk quantities of manures, but they’re not free. I reckon the best strategy is to keep feeding the soil, because all of that organic matter hangs around. But if you sell produce… Hey, I am also careful with whom I gift produce too, because if they don’t appear to appreciate it, then it is a waste of time.

We’re having a cooler week with temperatures hovering around 70’F. Sunday coming up looks to be a bit of a worry with temperatures just shy of 100’F, but the wind…

Better get writing!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

No worries at all, and I can usually catch up with my internet reading on Saturday or Sunday evenings too, although on some Sundays I tend to write. I was a bit tired yesterday and left writing until this evening, so that could also be described as running late!

Thanks for reading the rules and regulations. My friends mentioned something about that chicken auction system, but I haven’t yet seen it in action so I have no idea how it will work. Apparently the bids are written down on paper attached to the pen, which sort of sounds a bit bonkers, but they’ve also been conducting the auctions for a many years, so they must know what they are doing?

The book was Simple French Food by Richard Olney. I picked up the hardback edition. My foodie mates have a huge library of cook books – no doubts you’d love trolling through their library. They actually read them though and are very hands on with cooking from the garden. It is always a pleasure to eat there because you never know what you will be served and it is usually very good.

Miss Lulu is an interesting character, and sometimes people are fulcrums around which other folks orbit.

You dodged a bullet not being subjected to that Catcher in the Rye book. Woe is me, because I had to tell the teachers what they wanted to hear about that book, and not actually what I felt about it. Such are the dismal standards that our education system has descended into. Is it one of Dante’s layers of Hell I ask you?

Hmm, yes on the other hand I dodged the Dickens bullet, so perhaps the tales of woe have all evened out? At this time I feel that it is necessary to raise you a Jane Austin? I had to laugh because I was visiting a bakery the other week and I spotted an amusing book on the shelves next to many loaves of tasty looking bread: Enid Blyton – Five go gluten free. Surely the author never wrote that particular text? Hehe! I feel for people who have actual life threatening allergic reactions to gluten because they get dumped in with folks who have made a lifestyle choice.

Interesting indeed. I assume that the additional heat east of the ranges allows the blueberries to grow better and faster than east of the ranges? You have mentioned that apple orchards are predominantly grown east of the ranges? I am beginning to wonder if hotter and drier conditions are easier for annual and edible plants to grow in than in more humid and damper conditions.

Speaking of which. Far out! Up north in this country they have been getting some epic rainfall. There are reports that the banana crops have been wiped out again. Banana prices expected to rise following north Queensland floods. One metre of rain is about 3.3 feet. The tropics are pushing further south. Down here there has not been more than a drop of rain for about six weeks now. I again began refilling some of the water tanks from the reserve water tank today.

Exactly about the ripening times of plants. We grow mostly heritage varieties and that spreads the ripening times to something that is manageable. Otherwise, chaos would ensue if everything ripened all at once. My head spins to think about that problem, but fortunately it is not a problem that I have to worry myself about.

Hehe! Oh my. Paella is grand and I recommend that it is worth your time hunting out a traditionally cooked version. Yum!

Gotta write!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

I do wish that the media would stop blaming one for the plastic that one has to get rid of. Stop manufacturing the stuff. I don't want it, but it arrives around everything. Rubbish is regularly dumped along our road.

I loved the photos of you at rest, such a change from the usual dominant stance.

Thanks for the random number explanation. Can you explain further about the internal timer reading as that meant nothing to me.

Paella is absolutely my favourite food. Spanish rice tends to be simpler. The problem with paella is the number of ingredients which renders it difficult to make for one person.

Not yet sure as to what is happening about replacement washing equipment.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Waste, waste streams, etc.. I can see rejecting the plastic bag. I'm very careful about what I let in the apartment. And, stuff that need to be gone, gets gone :-). Mostly. LOL. Well, you've got a whole, empty, very cold continent, just south of you. I'm sure someone, somewhere has toyed with the idea. Luckily, cooler heads prevail. Our landfill, solid waste site, the dump? has opportunities to recycle and reuse. About three years ago, they added a "mixed garbage" classification. That you could dispose of "for free." I'd often wondered who picked through all that stuff. And, didn't envy them. I wonder if it was that stuff that was shipped to China? No wonder they were miffed. I have seen anything in the local media about recycling problems in this county.

The dried tomatoes? Do you put all of them in olive oil, and if so, why? Or do you have some tomato "chips" for other uses? Inquiring minds want to know.

I was going to ask about those stones to the left of the path to the woodshed. And, then you mentioned them. They are monumental. Your very own mini-Stonhenge :-). There's something about stone that is very nice. We have a half scale Stonehenge, way up the Columbia River, over on the Dry Side. Some rich dude built it as a memorial to WWI casualties from Klikatat (sp?) County.

I will also be swinging around mushroom compost, today. But, not having a handy mushroom farm nearby, it will be in 50 pound bags. I think I've figured out how to work the soil. Mushroom compost, leaves on top. Then dig holes for the coffee grounds, through those two layers, throw worms on top, and Bob's your uncle. :-). I think that will give the soil a pretty good churn.

Well, you may have heard the old saying, "Lay down with dogs, get up with fleas." Which I think refers to the company you keep. But, given your fine company, I don't think fleas will be a problem.

The flowers, per usual, are lovely and striking. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. "Simple French Cooking" is a good choice. His first book (French Menu Cookbook?) was a bit ... complicated and haute. I have "Simple French Cooking." Have never had the desire to pick up the first.

Yes, there seems to be 1.) people who have an actual allergy to gluten 2.) people who may have a gluten sensitivity and 3.) lifestyle choice / hypocondriacs (sp?). I didn't used to "believe" in the second classification, but have changed my mind. And, I think it comes about due to the types of grain we grow now, and the way it is milled. And baked / cooked.

I think, perhaps, more blueberries are grown over on the Dry Side, for a number of reasons. Land prices and availability. Over here on the Wet Side, we have a fairly large population. And, agriculture is more heavily regulated. Blueberries really like full sun, which we don't get here. And, being fairly wet here, disease and fungus is more of a problem. But on the Dry Side, water can be a problem. A few years ago, a shooting war almost broke out. Water rights. Those with the oldest rights, maintained their water. Those with newer rights were cut off.

The Master Gardener Dude said blueberries should be fertilized three times, in the spring. To make it easy to remember, he said when we go off Daylight Savings Time, Mother's Day, and Father's Day. Pretty much the same fertilizer that's used for rhodies. But far less expensive if you just go with Ammonium Sulfate (21-0-0). But as you are always amending and working your soil, you probably, maybe, don't need to bother. Lew

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

I read the article you linked last week and noticed that there used to be facilities to process recycled materials in Australia, but they closed when China was willing to accept recycling at a much lower cost to your haulers than the processing facilities needed to charge. Of course the full cost was being externalized, and one of the forms of externalization was the closure of your processing facilities. Now that China has changed its mind and rejected your recycling, the externalization comes home to roost.

I agree about the need to reduce what we send to recyclers, and that one way to do that is to re-use glass containers. I too remember milk being delivered in glass bottles that were returned for cleaning and re-use. We re-use glass bottles for many food and drink purposes, as you do. Glass can also be melted and re-cast at higher cost, but it needs to be separated by color for the best results. I haven't looked into how single-stream recycling such as is now provided to us affects the recycling of glass.

As for metal cans, because they are equivalent to high-grade ore, even now there is sufficient financial incentive to pick them out of the recycling waste stream and send them on for smelting in the US. I have heard that something like 70% of the metal in aluminum cans in the US comes from recycled rather than virgin aluminum. Mike thinks that eventually it will be worthwhile to mine old landfills for the metal in them, and it makes sense to me as the percent of metal in them is higher than that in available ores.

Paper can be recycled a finite number of times for re-use, and Mike and I make a point of buying paper goods and writing paper with high recycled content to encourage this. Even if it isn't recycled, however, it can be shredded and used as the high-carbon source for composting. I use some of our paper stream this way in the worm bin and can use more of it for the compost pile now that we have an electric shredder. Shredded paper can replace the autumn leaves when that source runs out in summer and before it is renewed. Cardboard makes a good liner underneath mulch to smother lawn grass and weeds.

Plastics are, however, a big problem to recycle. Unless ways are developed to re-use them as is, they have a limited recycling potential because the complex nature of each kind of plastic makes it difficult to re-melt them for a high level use. And since plastics are made of oil, there are plenty of good reasons to reduce and eventually eliminate their uses. Plastics have been around for less than 100 years; it's not like we have to use them for anything.

We got enough rain to drop us from severe drought to abnormally dry. I notice that the levels of ponds haven't fully recovered but the soil is moist at least. Yesterday we received a half inch or so (10-20mm) of wet snow, but despite that spring is definitely on the way, as the first of my daffodils are blooming. It should be warmer by the weekend and I will look forward to that.

Claire

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Well, you've touched upon an interesting subject. I doubt very much whether people would be into the story that says something like: OK, so you don't want to take our rubbish, then please stop sending us your rubbish. Maybe it is just me, but folks tend to want to settle on one side of that story, and they simply ignore the other side. I take on as little rubbish as I can feasibly manage, but that plastic stuff is a tough gig and despite my best efforts we are still left with a small bag of the stuff every week. I'm not a fan.

Hehe! Yes, well, I rest as much as I need too. I fell asleep in the bath this afternoon after another day of excavations and shifting huge rocks. I could feel my eyes closing and the water was warm (solar heated) and the warm wind was blowing gently on my face, and before I knew it, time had disappeared. I mentioned your dominant comment to the editor and she laughed and said something about beta something or other, although I don't know what that all means! Hehe! Thank you, and it is a real pleasure to enjoy quality rest after a period of hard work. I usually sleep very well.

Well, from my memories of my misspent youth when I taught myself machine language: All computers have an internal timer which like a conductor in an orchestra is used to set the cadence of the inner workings. Some instructions take one beat of that timer to operate, whilst others can take four beats. Nowadays it may be more beats per individual instruction, but essentially computers haven't changed that much in all of those years. Because a program can stop and start at reasonably random times, and the individual instructions all take different lengths of time to function, well, a computer can return a seemingly random number by taking a reading of the internal clock which measures the individual beats whenever it is requested to do so. The reading of the internal clock may return a number between zero and one to a huge number of decimal places. To extrapolate that to an integer between one and a hundred, for example, the computer multiplies the returned number by one hundred (or whatever).

Hope that makes sense? Computers have really not changed all that much over the years. They may be faster and have larger memory and storage, but essentially... Heresy! Hehe!

Paella is a superb meal and a good choice for a favourite. Yum!

The flip side of crisis is opportunity - or so they tell me. Maybe the washing machine and dryer can be relocated?

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Your prescience is nothing short of amazing. Should we be concerned about a challenge to Australia’s territorial claim in Antarctica?

I'm not sure that I'd want to attempt to farm down in Antarctica as it would be challenging at best. Possibly easier than Mars though. ;-)! I read that farmers in Greenland are enjoying a longer growing season, but they are now being faced with droughts. Go figure that one out? Such extremes are beyond my understanding. Strangely enough, we control and have laid claim to a lot of that continent.

It is nice to read that unpleasant plastic visitors are rudely ejected from your apartment. I do no less. Strangely enough the folks at the Queen Victoria Market are totally cool with the fabric bags that we use, but the supermarket folks never know what to make of them because the large fabric bags do not fit their plastic bag holder thingees. We always offer to fill the bags ourselves and the moment of tension quickly passes.

Yeah, well, I tell ya, I was absolutely miffed with the local waste transfer station because they no longer allowed local residents to pick through the steel and other metals recyclables as they were selling them off. They claimed that it was an insurance problem. Who knows? One of the blokes there has a hair trigger anger response and I avoid him and that place. I had a hunch that he was relocated to that spot, and long ago I'd read about such things happening. Of course it is all pure speculation.

Interesting that your media is not discussing the recycling problem. I wonder why? The volumes being received from the US are phenomenal.

Absolutely. All of the dehydrated tomatoes are added to glass jars of olive oil. We have a years supply now, and that job finished today (thankfully). The local olive oil is very high quality and it tastes good as the tomato flavour infuses the oil. We cook with the olive oil too as well as a small amount of butter (usually used for desserts), and that same dehydrating process also provides us with the years supply of olive oil which now tastes even better. I usually add a small splash of tomato infused olive oil onto the top of the bread that I bake. The bread is always a winner with visitors. It is like talking about the Colonel's secret spices... :-)!

Far out, those stones are huge and they weigh more than I do. I moved a few more of them today, and one of them was so huge that the editor was suggesting that we just leave it where it was. It must be a guy thing because I thought to myself that: I got the rock there, I must be able to move it to a slightly different location. Honestly, it took a little while and the editor walked away for a few minutes muttering something about foolish men. I had to get a feel for the rock with the house wrecking bar. I moved it by sliding the rock across the ground a little bit at a time using the wrecking bar on alternate sides.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Mate, I have total respect for any culture that can produce something as astonishing and long lasting as Stonehenge. It must have been a monumental task, and I recall reading that the stones had been relocated from a distant and earlier site. Talk about performing an upgrade! Yes, I have heard of those replica Stonehenge constructions. Fascinating, and I wonder if the builders angled the stones in correct positions relative to the sun? I've never been to the UK and most likely never will. Strangely enough, we have an enormous cross positioned at the very western (and more fashionable) end of the highest part of the plateau here in this mountain range and it was built for much the same reasons. At one point lightning caused some serious damage, and then the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires also damaged the cross. I can see the thing from here. A wealthy developer family chipped in and rebuilt it, and here it stands to this day. Let's see if I can find a photo. Oh, someone has made a drone flight recording: Hanging Rock and Memorial Cross Mt Macedon(hd). At 2.01 minutes the drone flight looks back across the memorial cross towards where I live. It was very thoughtful of them to do produce that short film.

You are off to a pretty good start, and your vegetables will appreciate the feed. In a bizarre coincidence, we too cleared out the cucumber and zucchini beds today and refilled them with mushroom compost. Have you decided what you are intending to plant in the beds? And are you thinking of starting from seeds or seedlings? I have an Uncle Bob! Hehe!

The canines here may consume copious quantities of kangaroo, wallaby, and wombat poo, but they've never had fleas and I've never treated them either. Dunno why that would be. The first house we bought was infested with fleas, and that was a memorable and somewhat itchy experience. We eventually bug bombed the place as the fleas were unrelenting.

Thank you! I enjoy the flowers too, and despite the hot and dry conditions, I plant more and more each year.

Yeah, that is what I thought too. I'm not really into pretentious cook books with recipes that take 91 steps. I sort of get bored and then go and do something else. Incidentally the reason I mention 91 steps is because some cooking show which is enormously successful down here had a dessert that won some competition and it had 91 steps. Far out, I did not know that such things were even possible.

Exactly too. People who have serious allergies to gluten suffer pretty badly. Yup, the grains we eat nowadays are not the grains of our youth. Incidentally, I picked up a small bag of wheat at the Queen Victoria Market and when I get a free few moments, I'll blitz it in the food processor and see how the bread turns out. First things first though, is the corn terrace.

double secret cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Lots of synchronicity here tonight! Yes, I too was thinking about land prices and food production. Something whispers to me that it is all a bit strange. I read an article about a lovely lady who produced 350kg of edible produce in her inner city garden. That claim baffled me and I was wondering how the heck they replaced the lost soil fertility. Back in the day, with horse transport, well at least there would have been plenty of poo littering the streets. Anyway, that question aside, the median house price for that suburb is something over the million dollar mark and to me it looks as if that story makes little economic sense at all and new housing developments do not even have that much garden space. I believe the entire urban experiment will end badly.

Ouch. The water rights issue is a problem down here too. I may have mentioned some of my neighbours have a preference for bore water which is really thefting off everyone and the forest and all of the wildlife. I stick to water tanks and get as much water into the soil as I can. But on a larger scale, water rights here look a lot like fishing quotas - and they work really well too.

Interesting and thanks for the specific soil additive as I didn't know that. I tend to add composted woody mulch to the blueberries and they love that gear as I suspect that it is very acidic.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Claire,

A few years back for some strange reason I opened an old Uni macroeconomics textbook. The page that opened provided me with a summary of basic macroeconomic objectives. The number one objective was to avoid inflation. The main problem I have is that when I was a kid, all of this stuff did get recycled locally - and there wasn't that much waste to begin with. My mates and I used to scrounge any aluminium cans that we could find and then take them in to the depot to process because they paid us good cash to do so.

Exactly too, cheap is rarely resilient - unfortunately. I see a lot of this sort of gear going on with not replacing infrastructure as it nears the end of its life. To my mind a lot of decisions are being made these days because it is cheaper than constructing a more resilient alternative.

Good to hear that you also recall the days of the recycled milk bottle. In my travels in South East Asia, I noted that most soft drink bottles were also reused. I'm not sure whether they still do that there now. Not all glass is the same and I have read that the materials used to produce plate glass, drinking glasses, and bottles are all different. Dunno, I'm no expert on that subject of glass. For the food preserving glass bottles we use consistent sizes and went for the strongest glass that we could find. There is not much waste because everything stays on site and gets reused. Some of the preserving bottles are well over fifty years old and the colours of the glass vary quite a lot depending on when they were manufactured.

The metals are a fascinating subject because those are still being accepted by China. You may be surprised to know that the single largest user of electricity in this state is the aluminium smelter. That stuff must use a lot of electricity. Anyway, I read recently that their power got cut for something like an unprecedented six hours and the ores set in the pots... Not good. I've suspected for a while that the state government would like to shut that place down, but that is only a gut feeling.

Mike is onto something with that and no doubts I too reckon it will happen in the distant future.

People are very strange about paper down here. I once used my clout in a business to force them to purchase 100% recycled paper. They used to purchase pallets of the stuff. Anyway, the whingeing eventually wore me out and I caved in and went back to purchasing brand new paper. That was a dark moment of realisation for me. I could not tell the difference between new paper and 100% recycled. I may write about that story one day, but I suspect that I upset a whole lot of people by doing that and it wasn't about the paper at all. Those are some good uses for paper. I burn the stuff and spread the ashes around the orchard. You may be interested to know that cardboard contains good quantities of boron - which plants need.

Plastics are a drama.

Good to read that you received some rain and that has reduced some of the risk in your part of the world. How nice are daffodils? I hope you have some jonquils and snowdrops too? I hope you are looking forward to your spring planting? Have you got all of your seeds and seedlings ready to go?

It has been really dry here too for the past six or seven weeks. This morning 2mm (1/10th of an inch) of rain fell and I'd forgotten what the wet stuff looked like all over the place. For the past couple of days I've been pumping water around the place so that the main water tanks are full. I don't know how long the dry weather will continue. March is usually a dry month here, but not so February. Oh well.

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

The pics of you and the dogs remind me of Leo lying on the couch curled up next to Doug and both of them asleep. Maybe you've said but how do you get those large rocks in place? That is quite a creative way to use the old couch. I hope Ollie appreciates the efforts.

Some years ago we were required to sort our recycling - even the glass into separate colors. I guess that was just to inconvenient for some people so to get people to actually recycle they allowed mixed recyclables adding to the cost of course.

The committee that sets up the recycling drives continues to improve the process. Huge cardboard containers on pallets are labeled for the different electronics. White styrofoam is sorted from colored and any too dirty is pulled out. There's a lot of other packing materials that look like styrofoam but aren't and they need to be separated too. Bubble wrap and packing peanuts are also separated into their own bags. We also take clothes, florescent bulbs, batteries, DVDs, VHS tapes and CD's. There is a charge by pound for batteries, TVs and monitors and by tube for the bulbs. There was a period of time that there was no place for styrofoam so we didn't take it for awhile. It's a big endeavor but mostly people are patient about the lines and are appreciative that they have somewhere to take this stuff. However it would be nice to see people use less particularly styrofoam. We'll get bags from people who look like they eat out every day. Doug and I saved a couple of heavy plastic take out containers and bring them with if we eat out. Portions here are usually very large.

Looks like we're going to be cooler than normal for the rest of the month.

Margaret

margfh said...

@Inge

I'm glad your son is nearby to help you out. That's not the case for so many. There's a couple I know in their early 80's. The husband now has Alzheimer's and his wife needs to take him everywhere with her. Physically he's in great shape while she's very small and kind of frail. In fact recently I saw them at the library where she volunteers and her face was all bruised. Apparently she was ill and fell and cracked a few ribs as well. Their three children are all on the east coast so aren't really of any help. I can see what a strain it is on the wife. There are places Doug and I could move that would be better for us financially but we'd lose all family support that way.

Margaret

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

Of course China wants the metal - beats the low-grade ores they (and everyone else) has. It takes a lot of energy to process recycled metal, but much less than to process low-grade ore to metal, which is all the ore that is left. Nations with any sense will keep their metals to themselves.

Yes, it takes a huge amount of electricity to smelt aluminum. That's why aluminum did not become common until about 100 years or so ago. Producing steel or copper is much less demanding in that regard.

I have heard that the US ships out plenty of material for recycling (mostly used electronics, I think) but as you noted, little is said about that. More often the supposedly recycled paper, glass, and plastics are quietly sent to the landfill. The metal will be recycled because it will be paid for by dealers who specialize in accepting metal to return to the smelters. They will pay individuals for their cans and assorted metal items too. Mike got some money for us by taking the scrap metal from his mom's house to a dealer.

I am very much looking forward to spring planting but it will be April before that begins, except maybe for peas toward the end of March if it's warm enough. I have flats of seedlings in process out on the front porch aka giant cold frame. Besides the daffodils, some crocuses are blooming, and they will soon be joined by a few other spring bulbs (no snowdrops though, I'll have to get a few sometime). Toward the end of the month the flowering trees will join in.

Claire

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Sometimes I play at being obtuse ... just to get people to better explain themselves. :-). I figure some folks need a bit of an intellectual workout.

See? Australia has a good big chunk of that empty continent to dump it's garbage in! I'm surprised no one has thought of it, before :-). Maybe Mr. Musk could shoot it into outer space? Our local "solid waste facility" (aka, the dump) still has great bins for glass. The customer sorts them by color, clear, brown or green. But, I suppose now, a lot of glass ends up in the mixed garbage stream. Clair's comment joggled my memory of something I was going to say yesterday, and promptly forgot. I think it was in Kunstler's first "World Made By Hand" novel that the bad guys had taken over the old town dump, and had a strangle hold on mining it for useful objects?

That's probably true about insurance and the dump. In so many areas, insurance companies, lawyers and risk assessment managers have made the world, well, so much less fun. I spent a year guarding a lake, behind a dam, that used to be open for fishing and swimming. Insurance / risk closed it down. The coal fired steam plant that owned that bit, did have their annual family picnic, up there. But that was it. People were always trying to get around me, to access the Lake. Didn't happen on my watch :-). Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Our Safeway, here, encourages the use of cloth bags. But, I go for the plastic, as I have so many other uses for them. So. You just hip check the bag boy (person?). Another vanishing occupation. :-).

Become on with the rock, Grasshopper! I keep expecting to find a note from the Editor. "Blog suspended for a couple of weeks as Chris is in hospital for a hernia repair."

They're doing quit a bit of excavation at Stonehenge. I watched a DVD a couple of week ago about all the recent discoveries (and, speculations). Apparently, there was a whole different henge (representing this world / life?) and village quit a ways, away. Ceremonial walk down to the River Avon, down the river to another ceremonial way and up to Stonehenge (representing the other world / death?). Have you heard of another henge, built entirely of Cadillac cars with their noses buried in the ground? In Texas, I think.

The drone footage was interesting. I'm assuming (always a dangerous thing to do) that the Hanging Rock is the same as in "Picnic at..." ? I didn't realize it was so close to you. Step carefully. It's probably an alien landing site.

Some of the recipes in "Simple French Food" aren't so simple. But the text that goes along with it is pretty interesting. Fresh, local, seasonal. Things we pretty much take for granted (some of us) now. But, back in the 50s, it was all a pretty new concept. There's a lot of French in the book. I found it best just to slide over it and not worry too much. Either you can figure out what he's on about, in context, or it doesn't matter all that much, anyway. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. It was 73F (22.77C) yesterday. Perfect weather. Today, it's raining and only supposed to get up to 54F (12.22C). I spread 4 bags of mushroom compost and racked it out. That new space is 5'x13.5'. Looks a little thin. Much to my pleasant surprise, there were some worms in the mushroom compost. Then I spread 4 bags of leaves over that. Being fluffy (but not in a doggy way), it covered pretty well. But I think I'm going to get four or five more bags of mushroom compost and spread over the leaves. I dug in some kitchen scraps and coffee grounds in a couple of places, topping that off with some soil and worms from my old bed.

Plan? What plan? You need a plan? :-). I'll be doing both seed and seedlings. More direct sewing of seed, than anything else. I pretty much just went through the seed catalogs and ordered what interested me. In the next couple of days, I'll lay out the seed packs and work up a plan. On paper. Subject to change. Right now, it's tall stuff in back (north) short stuff up front (south).

I heard a frog, last night. But, the Ladies tell me they've been hearing them, for a couple of weeks. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Thanks for the random number explanation, I can just begin to understand but only just.

Hehe, your ability to spell beta gives the game away. Someone who didn't know what it meant, would never guess the spelling correctly.

We only considered re-locating the washing machine for about 5 seconds, it just is not possible.

Freezing cold weather is supposed to arrive again at the week end.

Inge

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret, Claire, Lewis, and Inge,

Thanks for the lovely comments. As is my occasional Modus Operandi (no hernia here of course, Lewis!!!) I intend to sweep the editor off her feet and at least go out to dinner - or some such activity. Not sure yet really. I promise to reply tomorrow.

Lewis - I particularly enjoyed the hernia reference - and have so far dodged one of those. It all sounds very unpleasant to have ones guts poking through their gut muscles... The guy that used to deliver LPG cylinders here, and had been doing so for years, had one of those, and he used to regale me with horrific details. Some people enjoy a good medical scare story. I had to switch over to the larger big corporate gas supplier who took over the run, and fortunately I only see them once or twice a year because those people know how to charge properly. It is a bit like getting bitten properly by your dog (which fortunately they never do as they are of noble lineage or some such rubbish). Anyway thoughts of switching to all electric and wood are on my mind.

Anyway, we put down a metre (1.3 cub yards) of crushed rock and limestone onto the recently excavated areas today. It looks very good. If I had more time I would go and order the new water tank for that spot, but alas time has gotten away from me.

More work again tomorrow. I have done something really bad in a past life to have to work so hard here, but secretly - I love it. Hey, I began reading the Trees by Conrad Richter which you recommended and am thoroughly enjoying the story. The descriptions are as rich as the dialogue. Great stuff! The author sounded as if he were an interesting bloke.

Better bounce!

Chris

Coco said...

Hi Chris,

Saw a comic the other day of guys moving the Stonehenge stones around for daylight savings. I laughed.

Blowing a gale today. We are asking around for dry firewood. We got 2 more m2 in February, but it´s not as dry as we´d like, and our supplier told is it was the last of what they had from last year. Predicting another cold wave for next week.

I feel badly about the amount of plastic we throw out. Bones and chicken carcasses for Breo all come on those styrofoam trays, and while I reuse them as dog dishes and defrosting trays, we still throw out a lot. I´d rather just have butcher paper, but they put that in plastic bags too. We do reuse the 2 litre plastic drink bottles for ¨winter sowing¨. You cut them in half, sow the seeds in potting medium in the lower half after adding some holes for drainage, tape the two halves together without the cap and they have their own greenhouse. It would be better with 2 gallon milk jugs, but they don´t have them here.

Cheers

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

The two articles that you linked were so interesting - and shocking. The one about the rort (had to look that term up) is especially appalling. China has us over a barrel. Perhaps Sun Tzu would have something to say about that? This is what we have happening here, nothing like the scale of your debacle, but who knows what secrets might not come out?

http://www.nbc29.com/story/37605872/company-closes-zion-crossings-recycling-facility

Hi, Toothy!That is a lot of water behind you, and more to come! Surfboards at the ready! Those rocks along the path are massive. Have you hit peak boulders yet? Do you get your mushroom compost from those farms down below whose paddocks we sometimes see? The livestock auction where we get our composted manure is up for sale for $2 million. It has become prime commercial real estate. Oh joy, another bank, restaurant, and payday lending establishment. They are nice country folks there; we trade them vegetables and bottled jalapenos for a cut-rate price on the manure. We will miss them as much as the compost.

Hee hee! You have acquired a true hillbilly look with your outdoor couch!

A man can't even take a nap without the whole world looking in . . . It looks like Toothy is telling Scritchy off.

I think that is my cactus that you have there. It looks just like it, even the pot. Mine wants so much to go back outside to live. Soon, I tell it - soon!

I used to kind of wonder if there really was such a problem with gluten as some people said. Then last September I became very ill with an intestinal problem (hernia related, I think) and could only eat a bit of potato soup for a week, nothing else. I realized after that week that the volcanic problems that I had had with my digestion for the three years before that were completely gone. I have not touched gluten again and I have had no more digestive problems. So, I am thinking that there must be something to this whole thing.

I see that Stephen Hawking has died today. He will be well remembered for his phenomenal observations, and sense of humor.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - The occasional sweeping off feet is a good thing. When blokes complain about their wives, for this and that, I sometimes ask when't the last time they left a rose on the pillow? (or, some such) No special occasion, just 'because.'

The Master Gardener Dude's blueberry handout says that blueberries like a ph of 4.5-5.

Duck! Geomagnetic storm coming in from the sun on the 28th. Scare headlines. We've had two this year, so far, and the world didn't end. But, you might see the Southern Lights. But, probably best to keep an eye on those things. Sooner or later, we'll have another Carrington Event.

The weather was filthy, yesterday, so I canceled the mushroom compost run. Much nicer, today. So, off I go... Lew

orchidwallis said...

@ Margaret

I realise how lucky I am to have my son close by. particularly as both daughters are in Australia. I know of many elderly people who are in dire straits. Now I shall demonstrate ingratitude for some help that a friend has given me today. She has done a load of my washing for me while I am without a machine. Oh dear, the reek of scent; it is horrible. Never mind, I really am most grateful.

Inge

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

Hehe! Glad you enjoyed the photos and we do rest from time to time, although this week has been an exceptional work week and it will continue into tomorrow. We roll the rocks, use the wheelbarrow, and also mostly use the mattock as well as the six foot wrecking bar as a lever. Some rocks we have to walk away from, and isn't that a sad day? ;-)! Ollie is in full on puppy bedding destroyer mode and he is driving me bonkers. He'll grow out of it once he feels the full weight of winter.

Yeah, the separation of recycling waste is apparently how many other countries perform that task from what I've heard, but down here they chuck all of it into one bin and someone, somewhere else sorts it out. I reckon the system would work better if we used only a few types of products, unfortunately we do otherwise. I used to separate out all of the waste streams, but now the only one that is recycled is metal. Plastic is a nuisance.

Thanks for sharing the story, and total respect for your work. I rarely see Styrofoam here but I know of the containers that you wrote about.

Ouch! A cooler early spring really slows the plant starts, but you know, September here is usually pretty cold too, and not much happens until October. A local open garden festival takes place at that time of year and it is always a cold and wet time of year. The open gardens are miserable. Last year it rained and rained. Oh well. It looks as if the next weekend (not this one coming up) may bring some rain here. Fingers crossed.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Claire,

They're pretty clever to continue to take the high value recycling materials such as metal - and yeah, I hear you about the low grade of ores. One of our biggest exports is high grade iron ore, and the only place the grade is better is a politically volatile area in Africa. The one that worries me is zinc as that stuff is running low and no major deposits have been found to replace the recently shut down mine. But the rare Earth metals are not looking good either as they are mined in only a few spots on the planet. We don't seem to have much sense down here as we are busy selling off whatever we can get a price for, and it is all to maintain property, equity and bond prices - which is a form of unearned wealth. The economics of the situation don't look good to me and we are reaching push back points for the population - although I suspect that to do otherwise will result in a drastic downturn in the standard of living. I feel the conversation with the population would be worthy of having, but that is an unpopular point of view.

Thanks for the explanation. I don't really know enough about the origins of metals, although I can work with them and construct things.

That is the situation here too. Way back in the recession in the early 90's the editor and I were broke and we had to sell some copper that we had in order to pay for groceries. It was a tough time and we were working for peanuts. The copper got a very good price.

Spring is such a nice time of year. All that promise from the plants. I hope to read about your continuing gardening adventures as the weather warms! I'm planning to bring in all of the corn tomorrow afternoon. Yum! We are now almost finished with the years preserving. Yay! It is an epic job.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Obtuse is such a nice word, and yeah, sometimes there is no point in saving people intellectual work because you don't end up doing them any favours. Working out when to do so and when not to do so is a difficult task though.

Hey, we went to the cinema last night and saw the film "Lady Bird". It is a coming of age story film and I really enjoyed it. The protagonist (the daughter) and her mother had a really difficult relationship. I had the deep suspicion that that reaction can often arise when parents feel that their children (even as adults) are judging the choices that their parents made. Also there is the element where children reject the options presented to them by their parents. Sometimes it is easier to argue and fight than for parents to admit to having stuffed up and giving away - and I'm not sure what the right word to use is but I've settled on a concept used by some cultures - 'face'. There is a lot of that going on. Our federal government opposition party raised a sensible suggestion recently where many in the investor class are getting the benefits of free income and also cash refunds (it is a simple situation where unintended circumstances are being taken advantage of) and oh boy, were they shouted down or what. I wouldn't allow the situation to occur as have long thought that it is inequitable policy.

Haha! Too funny. There was one remote corner of the country that was proposing to accept radioactive waste as an industry, but the transport of the stuff is a real nightmare. What a legacy to leave to our descendants. On a serious note, some nefarious folks have been renting warehouses and stocking them with low level radioactive wastes such as old x-ray machines etc. They're handy machines those things but their use also brings risk for others. It is a complex problem.

You'd be speaking of Mr Wayne Karp from that series of books. Controlling the local waste recycling business was a smart move. Taking a dump on the local population who feeds him and his crew was not a smart move, and he was a good example of escalation in action. Some people can’t help themselves. One thing I never quite understood about that aspect of the story was how did he and his crew get their food, as barter hadn't quite developed yet in the story. I really enjoyed the World Made by Hand series of novels and they were very hard to put down.

There would have been some pleasant aspects to the job at the lake? Insurance is a strange industry and is due to face some serious problems. My home insurance premiums go up every year in the double digits and such growth cannot be sustained as people will fall off the radar. I wonder if those who have mortgages are under a legal obligation to maintain insurance - I'd bet they would be. But yeah, it is a vicious cycle that one.

Fair enough, plastic bags are useful items, and therein lies the problem. Mate, staff at supermarkets who packed your bags disappeared down here around the same time that petrol service station attendants disappeared. Nowadays the checkout person will pack the stuff into plastic bags as part of their scanning process, but attempts to introduce your own cloth bags lead to confusion which we have learned to navigate. Pah! The whole thing looks to the cynic in me like a bait and switch operation! People got used to shopping in those places rather than the traditional haunts, but I suspect that one day they may work out how rubbish the experience actually is and go back to what they used to do. Until then...

We'll deal with 'blog suspended until further notice due to injury' when it happens, until then let's keep the good times rolling! Fingers crossed too.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

I had not realised that excavations at Stonehenge would even be allowed. Wow. Certainly I have read that tourists are kept back a discreet distance from the site now. It would be like leaf change tourism on steroids. Have they ever discovered the purpose of the structure and guessed at the workings of the site? No, I had not heard of the Cadillac cars used as a Stonehenge, but there is something darkly ironic in that construction.
Hanging Rock is the same place, and the remainder of that volcanic cone is so small that I have always wondered how the heck did the girls become lost in the first place? Interestingly the plug at the top of the plateau on this mountain range is comprised of the same material and there is also a third plug of the same material called the Monument not too far from there. In fact if you were to look at the three sites from the air, they would form a rough isosceles triangle. Hey, when I was a kid, I couldn't get enough of those stories of the Bermuda triangle. Not a good place to be involved in though. Do they still have disappearances there?

Some European languages are a lot like that when written and you can sort of figure out the word via the context and spelling. Spoken language is a whole different matter and some cultures are fast talkers and I can't follow them, but language may be slower thing down here in hillbilly country! :-)!

Some numpty just called me up to discuss the prices I'm paying for electricity. Far out, sales calls annoy me, but I don't want to go onto the 'do not call' register as there are exceptions and some of those are political candidates. I read complaints recently in the newspaper about 'chatbots' used by companies and I have had to speak to one of those recently. All I can say is that the chatbot appeared to have had more than a single pint of dark ale at the local pub as it kept going around and around in circles.

Oh yeah, 73'F is perfect weather. 68'F here today (the weather moons have aligned!) The worms in the mushroom compost are an excellent indicator. Fluffy sounds good too as the soil life needs to breathe in order to prosper. That is a good sized garden bed too. Be thankful for the absence of large fluffy's as they can bury half chewed bones in raised garden beds... Your processes for the soil sound pretty good to me.

No! Plans are complex beasts and they often sound good on paper, but rarely survive contact with the enemy or something like that. I'm not entirely convinced that the human species is that good at planning (or budgeting for that matter, as it is a form of planning). What do you reckon about that?

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

No worries, the random number generators are only ever sort of random. Computers do not have the capacity to make up a truly random number as they lack intelligence, but then I'm not sure people do either as there is always a bit of bias in the result. It is perhaps best described as 'random enough' for most purposes! :-)!

Hehe! Well, I do aim to both amuse and entertain here.

That is a bit of a shame about not being able to relocate the two machines. But I approve that you two at least considered the option. That sort of decision making process is our natural intellectual turf. The editor is better at looking at systems than I. The hot water system here is problem. Eventually, I may have to cut an access door in through one of the gable ends in order to remove the hot water tank should it become faulty (which eventually it will).

Good luck with the freezing weather. I read in Jason Happanstall's blog that the UK almost ran out of natural gas recently during the recent big freeze. I assume that your politicians know what they are doing with your external supplier of natural gas or are such things all for show?

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Coco,

What an awesome idea! Very funny!

Ouch! Sorry to read about the firewood - that is my nightmare. The local supplier ran out down here too last winter and they said they couldn't source anymore at that time (I have my own source on site). Moist firewood tends to damage steel in fireplaces and fireboxes due to the acidic smoke. I burnt the previous wood box completely out and it was totally my fault. You can leave the next round of firewood in front of the firebox to dry out by radiant heat a bit before it is used though. Watch out for spiders living on the firewood...

Yup, we face the same problem here too with plastic, although we really limit what comes onto the property in the first place. With milk, rather than buying plastic containers, we purchase the one litre cardboard containers (it is fresh organic milk, not ultra heat treated long life stuff). We can burn off the cardboard and spread the ashes around the garden. It is not a good solution as there will be some plastic on the cardboard, but it is better than the stuff ending up in the ocean... You do what you can whilst accepting that there is no perfect solution.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Yeah, things have hit the toilet so to speak down here in relation to recycling. It is not good, but then we did allow ourselves to get to this point. What do they say about 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions'? Well, I rather feel that the Chinese may know more about Sun Tzu than we do. Hey, he may advise to do the unexpected - like get self reliant and stop taking the rubbish in the first place - but that is unlikely to happen anytime soon. ;-)!

Ah yes, thank you for the article. Did you notice that the situation was described differently in your country as "falling commodity prices". Thanks for the comparison as that story also tells a story.

Hey, I have to bounce to the pub for a pint and a feed, and I promise to continue our discussion tomorrow!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

It is supposed to freeze again shortly. I believe that our gas comes from Russia. That should be interesting considering the iffy situation that we have with them at the moment.

Years ago I remember that we were supposed to place glass bottles in different containers depending on the colour of the glass. I saw the lorry come to pick them up. The whole lot were dumped together. We were being treated like toddlers putting different shapes through different holes into one container.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - The filthy rich are always with us? :-). Re: the Opposition Party and the investor class. We 'may' be building to a point where that lot might be reigned in, a bit. But, they do wield enormous political power. Sometimes, some of them have the good sense to 'tone it down' a bit, when times are toughest. No ostentatious displays of wealth. At least, where people can see them.

Here, if you borrow on a car or property, insurance is required for the course of the loan. In the case of cars, even if you own it free and clear (at least in this State) you are required by law to carry insurance. At least the liability end of things. Property owned free and clear is a bit different. Choice of the owner. Liability is probably a good idea, given how sue happy some people are. Trying to affix blame for their own misadventures. And, plenty of lawyers around to help them along that path. Not carrying insurance is sometimes poor planning ... often, a case of being priced out of the market.

The security job I had at our local coal fired steam plant. I worked the plant gate three days a week and guarded the dam two evenings and nights a week. Both had their charms. It was nice being up in the woods on my own. And, I discovered if I drove from one end of the dam top to the other, just about sunset, well, it was spectacular. Insects would rise and thousands of swallows would swoop in huge clouds. So, I'd be driving (slowly) through a cloud of swallows and the light was just indescribable. It was one of those stop-gap jobs between doing what I really wanted to do. Pleasant enough that I stayed on a year. Probably best I moved on. It was before 9/11, when security, in general, got crazy. And, there were no labor problems while I was there. And the company I worked for later became Blackhawk ...

Our Safeway still has bag boys and girls, at least during the busy parts of the day. They bag, help patrons out to their cars with their purchases and periodically round up the shopping trollies that have strayed. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. As far as the Cadillac Stonehenge goes, never mind. :-). I was going to provide a link, but it's not near so interesting, or like Stonehenge, as I remembered. It's actually called Cadillac Ranch.

Haven't heard much about the Burmuda Triangle, of late, other than an occasional mention in a historic sense. I suppose with GPS and tracking beacons, now near as many things go missing. Tech takes the magic out of the world? Of course, I live on the edge of the Napavine Triangle (according to Cliff Mass, the weather guy) but it has more to do with weather anomalies than with missing people or vehicles. He was banging on, yesterday, about how we've set all kinds of warm weather records.

I've gone on several well worn rants, lately, about some people's inability to plan beyond two minutes. Or, less. One fringe benefit to moving into The Home is that I'm playing to a whole new audience! :-).

Another thought on the investor class. I watched a film last night, "The Man Who Invented Christmas." Pretty light and frothy, built around a few nuggets of fact. Dickens had had three failures, was suffering from writer's block ... and then came up with his Christmas tale. But there's one scene where he confronts a rather rich couple, whinging on about the poor. How he's a "self made man" and "pulled himself up by his bootstraps" when Dickens inquires about the source of his wealth. And then the wife pipes up about the "very small cotton mill that Daddy gave them for their wedding." :-).

I also started reading "Why You Eat What You East: The Science Behind Our Relationship With Food." (Herz, 2018.) Looks like it's going to be interesting.

Well, the weather is nice and I'm off to sling about some mushroom poo. :-). Might get my peas in. Depending on the phase of the moon. :-). Don't know if I believe quit all of that (as with, companion planting) but as it doesn't take much to put those things in play, and MAY provide an edge, why not? Lew

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Mr Toothy is rather enjoying his reliable supplies of water. He says to me that with harvesting natural resources and energy, you have to harvest and store more than you require for the worst conditions that nature throws at you, and not the best, as humans sometimes like to do - although to be honest, I have no idea what he is talking about. Hehe! I put in an order for the additional water tank today. There are going to be a few more terraces up above those sheds and the plants will require more water than they currently have access too. You know, I'm not much good at budgeting and instead I try to work out a middle ground where I have enough and can stop thinking about the system and start thinking about other systems. It is complex and involves a bit of trial and error – mostly usually a whole lot of error. I began saving corn seed too for next summer.

Oh yeah, peak boulders was a long time in the past. There are boulders around but the distance has become insurmountable. We're hoping that in the next lot of excavations we unearth some interesting and moveable boulders. Maybe... I don't know where the sand and soil business obtains their supplies of mushroom compost. Horses do a lot of poo and I read the other day that one horse requires three acres of paddock and the horse must be moved every ten days. I don't see that happening anywhere and horses are overstocked and under-worked and I get the mushroom compost. I suggested to the trespassing trial rider folks that they pay for access with horse poo, but they are too lazy for such an arrangement and so they enjoy a hillbilly Chris response - which nobody really wants to experience and I save up for people who really annoy me.

Sorry to hear about the loss of such a special arrangement. Ouch. I would enjoy their practical rural manners too.

Hehe! The couch is good looking in its semi-deconstructed state don't you reckon? We may have hit upon a new form of Art? I'd imagine the townies would be enjoying laughing at us hill folk, whilst we'd enjoy taking their money for the exhibition. That is what I'd call a win-win!

Exactly, Mr Toothy had muscled out Ollie the interloper and suddenly Scritchy who is not a lap dog by her very nature wanted in on the action, if only to upset the other canines.

May your cactus enjoy warm summer days basking in the sun. :-)! A wallaby pulled a chunk of that cactus off and we planted it in a garden bed and it is doing very well and is now about two foot tall. Was it a good idea to plant it in a garden bed? Maybe?

The varieties of wheat that we consume these days are not the varieties of wheat that were grown all that long ago. I'd suggest attempting to grow some grains of your own which you already have experience with. Have you ever attempted rye? Given it grows in Scotland, I feel that it would do well even in your shady spot? Dunno. I'm yet to begin grains and corn is my first option for next summer. I'm realising that there are a number of grain varieties to attempt.

Vale, Mr Hawking. A smart bloke, that one.

Cheers

Chris

Damo said...

What a useful word, Mottainai! A couple of weeks back Mrs Damo and I could have used that word combing the nearby harbour for rubbish. A local volunteer group asked for volunteers to spend a couple of hours wandering the local waterfront areas (mostly muddy foreshore, but a few sandy and rocky beaches) for rubbish. It was a good turnout, with maybe 30-40 people and we had a choice of gluten free, vegan or standard beef sausages at the end!

To be honest, there was not a huge amount of rubbish, but I did move several car tyres and picked up a full bucket of broken beer bottle glass, some of them quite fresh and sharp. Do not walk in bare feet kids! What was really interesting was the occasional piece of ancient glass that was smooth as a river stone. There was also the odd piece of old crockery. My head got full of tales of old steamers or sail cargo ships losing cargo in a bad storm, but it was probably just left over from a picnic or something!

Last week Mrs Damo and I got to travel the south and west coast for work. The highlight was a two hour hike to view Rob Roy Glacier. Very awe inspiring and beautiful. Some pics are on my blog for anyone interested. Hopefully they don't melt away, although last week it was reported that mountain glaciers were their smallest since annual observations began. No surprises there I guess, an unseasonably (?! what does that mean anymore) hot summer would not have helped matters.

Cheers,
Damo

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Exactly, people require maintenance every bit as much as - and perhaps more than - mechanical systems. The editor always tells me that it is the small things in life that make a big difference, and who can doubt such wisdom? Anyway, I regularly take the editor out to dinner and to see the occasional movie and the editor in turn is up to her eyeballs in this place. And everyone is happy. My only regret is that I wished that I'd begun this journey earlier as time gets away from everyone... Still, it is the job that is not started as takes the longest to finish (a Tolkien quote).

My mum used to say that you caught more flies with honey than vinegar, although she failed to follow that advice herself.

Hey, I purchased a new keyboard for this computer today and it is very nice and very mechanical. The old keyboard had begun to become too sticky from too much typing and some of the keys required a little bit more than an easy press. It had become like an old school typewriter where you'd drive the arms (via the keys) onto the paper.

Ollie and I just got inside from monitoring the chickens as they free roamed around the orchard. He is getting into the task but still wants to eat the chickens.

Yah, the blueberries are forest plants and enjoy a good dose of dead tree in their diet. Down here a lot of the forests have acid soils.

I guess so with the Carrington event. Unfortunately people who talk about such things generally also have problems going to work on a Monday morning, but they still go there anyway.

Thanks for the heads up on the Cliff Mass blog and I'll check it out after replying here. I'm having a quieter night tonight which is nice.

Haha! I enjoyed you turning that phrase about the poor upon its head. Very amusing. The power they wield is enormous, but I still reckon, eventually less fearful politicians can mount an argument that it makes little sense to pay benefits out of debt. That story makes little sense to me, especially when support for things such as the car industry was withdrawn on the basis of such arguments. Anyway, things will keep trundling along until they cannot. Displays of wealth make folks a target once inequalities rise beyond a certain point, and at that point the wealth has to be quietly enjoyed rather than flashed around. That is a lesson for others though.

I reckon there is an element of being priced out of the market with insurance. It is one of those expenses that produces no social displays, but to forgo it brings risk. I recall that during the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009 where 173 people died only half of all properties were insured. The floods in the city of Brisbane the following year produced another such example, but perhaps worse. I'd better not speak too soon or loudly as tomorrow is a bad weather day for bushfires. It is meant to rain Sunday morning.

It is nice to have been able to experience a landscape that people were locked out of. Moving on is part of life really, and it is hard to know where to settle down as there are no solid answers on such matters. Everything carries risk and adventure.

Really? Wow! Bag boys and girls that help customers with their groceries disappeared a long time ago here. A long time. I still recall them though. One of the reasons that I mentioned the milk in glass bottles is that a mate of mine used to work of a morning before school on those milk rounds. It was a lot of running as the kids chased the truck around the suburb, whilst delivering milk to peoples front doors, and picking up the empties from the day before.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Oh my! The Cadillac Ranch is something else, and I'm amazed that the creators found a wealthy patron who would bring their crazy idea to life. The angle apparently is purportedly corresponding to that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. Although it would be a stretch of the imagination to suggest that the two sites are of equal significance?

Hey, speaking of cars, I actually blew out a near new tyre this morning. We hit a pothole and the crash punctured the sidewall of the tyre. I couldn't believe it. It is not possible to repair such damage and the tyre was only a few weeks old. Such is life. Anyway, the metal used in the tyre lever was so soft that it rounded before I could loosen off the fourth and final nut holding the wheel onto the car. Yup, I had to call up the roadside assistance for help of which I have been a long time member, and then sourced a new tyre and replacement tyre lever. I couldn't believe that the metal used in the tyre lever was of such poor quality and that a pothole could rupture the side wall. I'd never had a flat in that vehicle before. It is not a good sign for quality.

That is a shame about the Bermuda triangle. As a kid I always thought that the losses were due to dodgy maintenance and really extreme weather, but then there was always the slightest chance that alien abduction was involved. Although, I could never quite understand the motivation of aliens to travel between one star system and another only to abduct some hapless humans. 'Tes not natural!

Haha! Enjoy your rants. I love a good rant too, and whilst it may not do much good, it sure does make me feel better! Hehe!

I've met a few people in my time who have begun their journey through life with some seriously helpful resources. I'm not sure what good it does them, and in fact I have noticed that they tend to display a lack of empathy and there is also the same lack of regard for that which they were given. I'm honestly not sure what to make of it other than such motivations and characteristics are also to be seen in the larger population. I’d have to suggest that for many, winning the lotto is of no help

OK. That is an interesting book. I do hope that the author avoids simplification and sensationalism. I'm quite horrified by the diet consumed by the characters in the book "The Trees" and I also note that they appear to be consuming all of the game in the surrounding forest. There is so little game up here in this mountain range that a few families would consume it all within a few weeks.

The biodynamic system works, however I for one struggle with the mystification of certain aspects of that system as I want to know the 'why' of things. No doubt Rudolf Steiner would attempt to clop me around the head and make the hard statement: 'I'll give you what for'. Of course such antics would not answer my questions would they? In agriculture, there is a vast unknown and one has to live with uncertainty.

Today I sat a while under the oldest Japanese maple that I have yet encountered The trunk of the tree was wider than me and it was a real pleasure to behold and enjoy.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Yah! That was exactly my point about the natural gas supplies. A good quantity of fertiliser is sourced from natural gas too and people may have forgotten about that. Of course, cooler heads will prevail in time. Diplomacy is a grubby business and boundaries are constantly being pushed. This is one such time.

Exactly too. Glass products are not all recyclable and that is a situation that few people have any appreciation of. To be honest, I now keep an eye out for older glassware as it is much better manufactured and is just more sturdy. Some glasses that people use to drink out of look nowadays to me to be paper thin and they break so easily that it is a bit shameful. When I was a kid, vegemite (a marmite equivalent product) used to be sold in glass jars that could then be used for drinking out of, and it was very common to see them in use. Did they used to do that with marmite - and did you enjoy that product? I love vegemite with butter on warm toast, but haven't eaten it for many years.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Damo,

Mottainai! :-)! What an excellent way to meet the locals too. Good stuff. More importantly, how were the sausages? So many questions left unanswered!

Hey, lot's of stuff gets dumped up here in the forest. It is an idiotic practice. I like imagining that the stuff has an exotic story too, because the alternative is a much darker story. There was a very dead and dried Christmas tree dumped near to the local picnic ground recently. For some reason, people have been moving the Christmas tree around the place and it is popping up in all sorts of unusual places near to the picnic ground. It is almost as if the tree has a life of its own, or the little people are moving it around to play tricks on us all.

The local creek next to the picnic ground that runs at the bottom of my property has dried up as it has been about seven weeks with no rain now.

Cool! A mate of mine grew up in Dunedin and he talks fondly of Invercargill. Yes, the climate is getting more extreme on average with each year. Not good.

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Doug has been splitting and stacking wood for next year. He figures that the more we do to prepare to be here the greater the chance the house will sell. Anyway there was a large pile of split wood waiting to be stacked and he watched while Leo and Salve worked as a team to find mice in it. Leo, who is mostly pit bull has a large strong jaw would systematically remove a logs and Salve would dive in to find a mouse. Typical of Leo he never realized that the mouse was found and Salve would trot off the consume the prize. Doug also stacked a large pile of wood planning to put a fence around it as the dogs regularly dismantle his stacks. Well too late they've already made great headway dismantling the new stack.

We still have baggers here at the grocery stores. In fact Patrick was one for many years. I think you mentioned that stores you frequent don't promote the use of bags people bring in themselves. There are more and more stores that actually give you a small discount for each bag you bring in and many of the larger chains sell reusable bags as well. Some towns are banning plastic bags or requiring that stores charge for them.

I have come to truly hate styrofoam after working at these recycling drives. Some people get wine shipped to them and it's packaged in sizable formed pieces of styrofoam. Then there's meat from Omaha Steaks sent in heavy styrofoam coolers.

Still fairly cold here but the birds are singing so spring is on it's way.

Margaret

margfh said...

@Inge

I hear you about scents!! When I have to shop at Walmart the scents in the isle of cleaning supplies is just overpowering.

I'm glad both of our daughters are pretty close by. They both pitch in when there's a family crisis.

Margaret

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

I had never heard of the Carrington Event. Wow! Thanks.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Damo - "Sea Glass." Some people here, collect it. I've seen books about identifying the kinds of glass bottles they came from. There's even a book or two on making jewelry with it. The dark, cobalt blue was my favorite. Mostly from old Noxima skin care products jars. The old green 7-up bottles had a very distinctive green color. Red is the rarest, as it takes a bit of gold to make red glass. With the advent of plastic bottles, sea glass quantities are in decline.

Another beach combing item that's pretty much disappeared is glass Japanese (and, a few Russian) fishing net floats. The Japanese current comes to our shores. Hardly any now, as they switched to plastic floats. The larger ones bring quit a bit at auction. I have a small, dark blue one that I've had for years. It still has a bit of the complexly knotted net attached to it. Almost like crochet. Ah, the Japanese. Value added beauty to everyday things.

In case you missed it ... "Dirk Gentley's Holistic Detective Agency" (Douglas Adams). The tv series. There's a British version, and, an American version. Unlike usual, I quit like the American series, better. Maybe because Elija Wood is in it? It's quit mad. And season two is even madder than season one! Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Back when there were milk men, the delivery was a bit different, here. No opportunity for kid employment, at all. Just one guy in a very smart white suit who did all the running. One of my uncles whole job carrier was doing that. There's a slightly naughty comment that was pretty common back in the old days. If you had a lot of kids in the family, and one was markedly different, there was often speculation that it "was the milkman." The postman was also another odds on favorite. :-).

Tire lever. Here, we call it a "tire iron." Often seen in murder mysteries as the weapon. Somewhere along the way, I also had a tire iron that the socket just split in two on first use. I remember that I was quit miffed that I had to go out and buy a quality replacement of what should have been standard equipment. After market. Boo.

I'm glad you're enjoying "The Trees". Now, onto "The Fields" and "The Town." :-). Well, I suppose you needed to utilize everything in the environment to avoid starvation. There was a Native American saying (probably, apocraphal (sp?) ... but, probably true) that the white man could starve surrounded by food. But, there were plenty of tales of Native Americans starving during famine times. Even before the White Man showed up to screw up the environment. One of the names of one of the winter moons was "The Hunger Moon."

One of the fringe benefits I thought of (for me) as far as planting by the moon is that it keeps me on some kind of schedule. Stuff is more likely to get into the ground in a timely manner. I'm lucky to remember to water my three house plants. I spent quit a few hours, yesterday, flinging about and raking mushroom compost. Generally puttering around my garden spots.

Here's Cliff Mass' post on the Napavine Triangle from about 5 years ago.

http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2012/01/bermuda-triangle-of-northwest-weather.html

Got down to 36F (2.22 C) last night. Felt colder. Showers and clearing periods for the next week. Daytime temps in the low to mid 50s. Lew

Damo said...

Hi Lew,

Yes, some of the old glass was very pretty. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) there were no japanese fishing nets!

By pure coincidence Mrs Damo and I have been watching the US version of Dirk Gently the past week (season 1). Or, to stay in the spirit of the show, I guess it can't be a coincidence :-) I can't remember if I mentioned it already, but a new series called 'The Tick' is a quite funny take on the muddled superhero / comic genre. Worth a watch if you can get hold of it. Apparently it was funded by Amazon and can be watched on their streaming service, but surely DVDs will be out soon. Apparently there was also a series back in 2003 and a cartoon series in the late 90's. Everything old is new again and things keep rhyming.

And for lovers of thoughtful, yet still occasionally scarey sci-fi, the just released movie Annihilation with Natalie Portman is very good. Mrs Damo and I both liked it. In a similar tone to last years 'Arrival' - also great if you haven't seen it.

This weekend I have decided to not do much of anything. A relaxation attempt. A new book (Alastor) by Jack Vance beckons me....as does a disturbingly large pile of courgettes and pumpkins. The pumpkins will last a while yet, but I think more pickle making is in my weekend somewhere!

Damo

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

Hey, don't laugh, but Doug is working on firewood at the perfect time of year. I tell ya, cutting and splitting firewood is a tough job under a hot summer sun... On the other hand we use the summer sun to dry the stuff out before stacking it away. We're going to try that this spring but I sort of worry about poisonous snakes setting up house under the firewood piles that are drying. I'd take house inspections by strangers any day over an encounter with one of those creatures. I assume Doug is a bit superstitious about getting ready? If so, I get that! Naughty Salve and Leo to dismantle a firewood stack. On the other hand, I sort of approve of them catching mice, so I'm in two minds about their actions! Hehe! Sir Poopy used to be able to do that trick too with the firewood, and whilst I miss him, I'm glad that he is unable to train the very impressionable Ollie puppy who would take to that trick like a duck to water. :-)! It has been a journey trying to get it into Ollie’s head that jumping up on humans is a bad idea as is testing out their various limbs with his teeth. I reckon I’m winning that battle of wills but I’ll spare the details as people can get a bit weird about dog training techniques.

Oh yeah, I recall that you mentioned that Patrick used to work as a bagger. I'll bet he would have loved that job? How is Michael's health going and is he still having to do lots of doctor visits?

Actually the stores down here don't mind that people bring in their own bags. They just don't seem to be able to know how to deal with that situation as it is quite rare here. One of the state capital cities here put a ban on plastic bags, but somehow, and I can't understand how it happened, but stores were supplying thicker grade plastic bags and charging the customers for them. At the moment most plastic bags are just handed over, but nothing is ever free, don't you reckon? I once encountered the local transition town folk campaigning to make one of the local towns plastic bag free. It is a good idea after all! I mentioned to the campaigning folk that there were some pretty big fish that needed frying and that plastic bags were the tip of the iceberg. They looked as confused as the poor chuggers (charity muggers) that occasionally accost me. I don't know, I like the idea of activism but how it works out in reality looks a bit strange to me. I do like how you do things like with your recycling drive because instead of talking about it and trying to drum up support, you are getting on with the job at hand.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

That is interesting about the Styrofoam and the wine. I don't purchase wine, because we make all of our own, but way back in the day I used to get mail order mixed dozen bottles as part of being a shareholder for a wine company. It all seemed like a good thing because I don't really know the first thing about commercial wines and their selection was usually pretty good. Anyway, they usually supply bottles by the dozen and they are sent in cardboard boxes with internal cardboard dividers. I'd never heard of Styrofoam being used for such things. You mentioned peanut packaging, and I was curious about what that was?

Nice to hear that the birds are singing, and yes, the birds know when spring has sprung! Far out, it is hot here tonight. Today was a very risky bushfire day as the temperature reached about 86'F and the wind has been gusty after so many weeks of dry weather. I note that since the arsonist in the town to the south of here was caught in the act on several occasions and locked up, it has been thankfully very quiet on that front. He was a serious nuisance and it is too risky to have him living anywhere around these parts. He is a repeat offender too. One state in this country, rounds up convicted arsonists on high risk days and locks them up, which is a wise move.

It looks like a minor storm may bring some rain here tonight, which would be nice. With that in mind I jumped up (well climbed actually) onto the roof today and took up the crusty 30 year old indestructible vacuum cleaner and sucked all of the dry gunk out of the guttering. I didn't get to that job last year and there was an awful lot of organic matter in the guttering which is used to catch our drinking water. Oh well, it is all good!

We were almost in real time last night, because I spotted your comment just as I was about to switch the computer off and go to bed! Today was a long work day...

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Haha! The editor discovered a new boulder today! The best thing about the boulder is that it is in land above the repaired rock wall and we can roll it down hill. Talk about rock and roll! :-)! Woe is peak rocks...

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Yes, of course I too have heard those historical stories of the postman and the milkman - and I blush at the thought of such activities! Hehe! Mate, all I can say is that those guys had some serious stamina! On a serious note, the editors, cousin's, mother used to work as the mailman, err, mail person, during WWII and that was surely a job for a sensitive soul as some of the news being delivered was not good from the brief stories that I heard. The interesting thing too is that before and after the mail run, that individual used to also run the family's dairy farm. I would have enjoyed meeting and knowing such a person, but never had the opportunity.

A few weeks back I had a delightful discussion with a personable young lady who was considering moving to a rural area. I mentioned that either the editor or I could give her a quick lesson on the electric chainsaw, and there was a little bit of evasion displayed at that point. Anyway, I don't worry about such things as they will all sort themselves out in time when they are meant to be sorted out.

I for one and the editor are not afraid of hard work but other folks feel that such is a low status thing. Today we constructed another rock gabion cage and put it into place as the other day we had excavated out the site for the cage. I love those rock gabions as they are beyond strong and can retain huge soil pressures when nothing else will work. And we have so many small rocks which we did not previously know what to do with. It is an elegant solution.

Tire irons have a hefty weight and can possibly be handy in an unpredictable incident. I used to be mates with a guy who used to drive around with a baseball bat on the back floor of his car. One day I asked him about why the heck did he have a baseball bat in his car. It all seemed like a fair question to me, and then it came out that he was a bit of a 'Lothario' and when I was mates with him he'd only just gotten divorced from his wife who he'd had four kids too. Anyway, he dropped off my radar because his new lady who was 44 years old became pregnant and I just thought to myself that, mate, you've got 99 problems... I'm not one for lots of drama and everyone goes through tough times, but some people enjoy them as a lifestyle choice! It wasn’t a moral judgement, I just didn’t want the drama.

Hey, I got the tyre replaced this morning, and using the new tyre iron, I attached it to the car. Yay! I'll never quite feel the same way about potholes in the road again... I couldn't believe how rubbish the old tyre iron was. Absolutely shameful. Yes, I hear you about the aftermarket purchase being better too. A long time back I knew an automotive engineer who mentioned that she had been instructed from above to lighten the brake components in a future car by 1kg / 2.2 pounds. Anyway, she left employment with that manufacturer... I guess it is only the brakes after all...

It is funny you mention that concept, but the other week I spotted a bloke in a horse drawn carriage in a nearby town. The carriage was pulled by two huge Clydesdale horses which are unmistakable horses as they are absolutely huge. Anyway, the bloke is retracing the tracks of the ill fated, but incredibly well provisioned explorers: Burke and Wills expedition. Yeah, they starved in a land of plenty and even worse, they apparently refused assistance from the local Aboriginals. The lone survivor, John King who was originally an Irish soldier, accepted the help but was later to die at an early age from Pulmonary Tuberculosis.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Mate, I suggest to people to learn preserving skills and techniques to avoid such things as the 'Hunger Moon', but do they listen? Nope. The other thing I try to do is to grow as wide a variety of edible plants as I can manage - and it gets easier with time. I have no idea how things would go in an area colder than here over the winter and particularly the spring which would be really tough when supplies are running low. I'd like to try dry land rice, which is the variety of the plant that is grown in mountainous areas in Asia with less water than paddy irrigation. I found a seed company selling the stuff down under and may get onto that sooner or later. So many things to do!

I feel the winter weather approaching and so I climbed up on the roof today to clean out the guttering. I use a dodgy old, but totally indestructible vacuum cleaner to suck the gunk out. There was a lot of gunk too, and I took a photo! Good additives to the top soil that stuff. Hehe! I didn't get to that job last year...

Yeah, that is what I always understood the benefit of biodynamics to be. It is a really good idea and works as a reminder and prodder. I'm unfortunately cursed with a mind that likes poking under the hood just to see how it all works, and so biodynamics just doesn't gel for me - that does not mean that it is not a good system though.

Watering is only an issue here for about six months of the year, and I remember to do that task by incorporating it into my regular daily farm routines. Then it gets done and I don't have to worry about the plants. Mostly the plants look after themselves really - it is everything else that requires huge amounts of work. :-)!

Hey, was the mushroom compost dry or gluggy when you spread it around? When it eventually dries over the summer it produces a fine black sandy loam here which the plants love!

Napavine triangle (beware setting foot in that part of the world!), Bigfoot sightings, and houses drowned in sand. Awesome!

Low 50's is pretty cool still, but it is also on the way to spring warmth! Today was very risky bushfire weather here because of the recent prolonged dry period (Feb and Mar), but it was the strong gusty winds with the change to cooler south westerlies tomorrow. I'm glad to still be here unharmed! Fire risks as Victorians warned of severe weather conditions. In Melbourne at 9.35pm the official temperature is 85'F, but up here in the mountains the thermometer is displaying a cooler 73'F. Elevation is a wonderful thing sometimes!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Damo,

Stop teasing me! Hehe! Which Alastor story are you reading?

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Winter is back, dear oh dear. In addition I am still being dogged by disasters, most of them small. Yesterday though, the steps up to my shack collapsed under Son. There hadn't been the slightest indication that anything was wrong. At least he wasn't hurt and I have another route out. Thank goodness it wasn't a visitor who fell. So many things have gone wrong that it has simply become funny.

I forget who mentioned it, possibly Lew, but we also pick up pieces of glass on the beach that have been worn smooth. They get put into a jar of water and look pretty on a windowsill. I don't think that I have ever seen a red piece.

Inge

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Yeah, Jason of 22 Billion Energy Slaves blog mentioned that winter is set to make a comeback in your part of the world over the weekend. Hope you are keeping warm? I have the door open here as it is quite warm tonight at 72'F, which is very unseasonable for March. Hopefully we get a bit of rain tomorrow morning. I finished topping up the water tanks from the reserve water tank earlier today and have ended up using an epic amount of electricity at almost 18kWh for the day. The solar only generated 12.4kWh so I have been flogging the poor batteries...

Oh my, I hope your son was OK after the steps collapsed and that he showed no later injuries? That is not good at all. I use steel for all of the external steps, but who knows how that would go in your maritime climate with the salt air. Have you considered using cement and rock to construct a staircase? We do that in the garden and they are very simple and sturdy. I assume the staircase that collapsed was timber?

I hear you about the ongoing disasters, as yesterday morning one of the tyres on the dirt mouse Suzuki rapidly went flat after hitting a pothole in the road. I didn’t even know that was possible. The tyre was near new too and the damage was to the side wall and so it couldn't be repaired. Anyway, I went to change the tyre at the time and the tyre lever (which had not been previously used) itself became damaged because it was constructed of rubbish metal and I couldn't loosen the final nut holding the tyre onto the car. I had to call the road side assistance folks who I've long been a member of (it is a subscription service) and rarely use, and they told me that I got lucky because I had to park the car in a driveway of a lady who is reportedly quite the character and would have made an awful scene if she knew that I was there. Maybe, the disaster was not so great after all and it could have been worse, what do you reckon about that?

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

A new boulder - most excellent! And probably a gift from St. Paddy, that it is uphill, not down. I believe that he was not too fond of snakes either.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Damo - Everything is connected :-). (Seven degrees of Kevin Bacon?). I'm glad Mrs. Damo and you are enjoying "Dirk Gently." Season one is pretty much the set up. Season two is over the top madness. In a good way :-).

I'll look into "The Tick." Sounds interesting. I've noticed that some of the cable companies are really dragging their feet on getting their series onto DVDs. "Man in the High Castle" come to mind. Still no DVD version in sight, and it's been a couple of years. I suppose they're trying to build pressure on us hold-outs who haven't signed onto their services. Well, they can just wait. Plenty of other things to watch on DVD, in the meantime :-).

Pumpkins are really good keepers, under not too stringent conditions. A bit cool and dry does the trick. Even in my apartment, the pumpkins lasted a good four months. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I never had to deal with a chainsaw, but moving to a rural area ... well, you learn to do all kinds of things you never thought you'd be doing. And, gain confidence as you go along.

I avoid drama like the plague. Had enough of it growing up. Even watching a film, if things get to intense between people, I'm likely to fast forward through those parts. The yelling and screaming. A very apt term, borrowed from the Gay community and now seeing a bit of wide circulation is "Drama Queen." Can be applied to both men and women.

Burke and Wills. Seems like so many of those Victorian expeditions (and, even today) to far flung places were embarked upon with a certain amount of arrogance and poor planing. And then things go horribly wrong...

I think our library just got a book on winter foraging. I'll have to give it a closer look.

The mushroom compost I got was kind of interesting. The first batch was from one company, the second, from another. I suppose "gluggy" is a highly technical and scientific term? :-). I had to laugh. The second companies name is "Filthy Rich Mushroom Compost." Mmmm. More on the glubby side, I think. But no problems spreading it around. Mush to my pleasant surprise, both batches had a few live worms in them. Go, worms! The second batch had some moss mixed in. No harm, I suppose. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. I've been thinking about what kind of a mix to use for seed starting, indoors. I think I'll use a bit of seed starter mix, some mushroom compost a bit of soil from my garden and maybe a bit of Perlite, must to lighten things up, a bit. What do you think?

I just got a new Great Courses lecture series (and book), yesterday. I hadn't ordered anything from them, in awhile, and they offered a mad discount and free shipping (which they usually use to really stick it to you). "The Science of Gardening," presented by Prof. Linda Chalker-Scott, Washington State University. Given her background, I figured it would be more Pacific Northwest slanted.

I watched the first lecture, last night. She's a good presenter, which is a relief. :-). Very much into "busting garden myths." Peer reviewed studies, etc.. More interested in permanent landscapes - trees, shrubs and woody perennials, than in food gardening. But, she frequently strays there. But, I think if will be of value, to me, as it looks like she'll have a lot to say about soil and plant chemistry, pests, diseases, etc..

One of the Ladies, here, is going to give me her enormous Master Gardener binder that's full of good information. That ought to be informative and useful.

Signing off, I'll say, Happy St. Patrick's Day! May the road rise to meet you and you not drown in green beer :-). Lew

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

It was a good find and just the thing for St Pat's Day! If you were going to have a patron saint he seems like a good sort.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Chainsaws are handy tools, but a good (and sharp) cross cut saw with two operators can keep a pretty good pace going relative to the chainsaw. I guess you're right and people learn quickly, if they have the aptitude to learn and also the desire to do so. Not everyone has those qualities. Sometimes I feel that it is the stories that people tell themselves about themselves that makes such situations that much harder. Dunno, but that is a complex matter.

Yeah, 'Drama Queen' has most definitely entered the common vernacular, and you do hear it used to describe people of both sexes. I tend to run from such people, as I prefer to avoid all forms of drama. Fortunately, such folks tend are indulged in the city, and they don't really get the 'air time' in rural areas.

I may have mentioned before the Australasian Antarctic Expedition back in 1912. One of the three adventurers fell into a crevasse on a glacier and took with them most of the provisions, tent, and the six best dogs. The two survivors returned to base immediately and ate the remaining dogs along the trek back. Dog liver is incredibly rich in Vitamin A and they were slowly poisoned by the meat. One more so than the other. The survivor: Douglas Mawson eventually made it back to base camp where the ship Aurora had left only a few hours before. How is that for timing? Fortunately a few well provisioned people remained to search for them and then they all had to over winter in Antarctica. An unpleasant prospect to be sure, but certainly easier than Mars! Why ever was all food and tent provisions on one sled seems a bit weird to me, but hindsight can be a wonderful thing. The lesson to be learned here: Don’t eat dog liver.

Yeah, I'll be really interested to hear about winter foraging. Certainly we have an easier time of it down here. Unfortunately that comes with downsides as in the south west of the state there were some bushfires today - I did say that it was a bad day - Bushfires near Warrnambool intensify, houses lost in Victoria's west. I am quietly grateful that the wind has now dropped. There was a little bit of rain here this morning, but nothing greater than a minor drizzle.

I was thinking about the quirks of the local weather, but this mountain range is in a small and narrow band running east-west which catches cooler and moister weather. I'm at the eastern end of that band, and it extends about 40km (25 miles) to the west, and that is it. The local topography has an unusual effect on the weather here.

Glad you enjoyed the 'gluggy' technical term. Hehe! Out of curiosity, did both batches of mushroom compost have the same consistency and feel? Having live worms in both batches is a really good sign too, and they'll appreciate your food scraps.

Interesting, and I've never used Perlite. Oh, they use that in seed raising mixtures down here, so I reckon you are onto something. I'll be curious to hear how it goes. Soil from your existing garden is also a top idea as it will have all sorts of unidentified, and special guest critters in it. I reckon maybe there will be less transplant shock too when you eventually plant the seedlings out just because the plants have already adapted to exchanges with some of the local soil flora and fauna, but I'm only really guessing about that and don't really know. Later this year I'll plant all of the seeds outdoors and hopefully we get the soil started much earlier over winter, but we'll have to see how the time goes.

cont....

Fernglade Farm said...

The recent bout of dry weather has left me feeling a bit edgy and yesterday I emptied a fair chunk of the reserve water tank and topped up all of the rest of the house and garden tanks. I still have massive quantities of water to use but I am uncertain about the weather and so will go easy on the consumption.

Mad discounts and free shipping are an excellent excuse in anyone’s language. I hope you learn interesting bits of information from the lectures, and feel free to pass on any juicy chunks of information! Years ago I watched an old forestry researcher give a lecture on forest ecology and the bloke absolutely smashed the lecture and provided a lot of interesting insights into forests. Alas, I can no longer find that lecture... Anyway, it all comes back to the soil. I reckon some folks get hung up on annuals versus perennials in much the same way that people get all out of sorts about indigenous versus exotic plants. I don't really worry about such things as nobody eats a diet solely based on any of those extremes, so until they do...

An excellent score! Hey, have you just been promoted to Master Gardener? Congratulations are in order!

Ah yes, to be sure, to be sure! Happy St Pat's day to you too! I have fond memories of a St Pat's day at an Irish pub in the city that cordoned off the park adjacent to it and put on a U2 cover band. A fun night, but I'm not really a fan of green beer, fortunately one cannot perform such antics on dark ale - speaking of which, I was thinking about writing about politics and beer tonight. Everyone seems to have an opinion, so I guess I should too, but then I do enjoy a bout or three of apathy on such matters! Hehe!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

In answer to your query, I suppose that any disaster could be worse than it was.

Son is fine and the steps were timber. I believe that I am not allowed to use cement, concrete etc on this land. It has the highest protection from interference that we have. I can only live here because the property was here from 1934 before the current land laws came in force.

Woke to a white world, even more snow this time. Son and neighbour are supposed to be bringing me a washing machine today. I hope that they put this off, though Son snapped at me yesterday when I suggested that they might not be able to collect it.
The temperature indoors will suffer as they struggle to bring it in and due to the lack of space I'll have to remove the radiators where they pass through as I don't want them knocked. This means that they have to be cooled down ahead.

Inge

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

You can keep your snakes and we'll keep our raccoons. Mice, chipmunks and sometimes a weasel are the inhabitants of our wood pile. I would say we're both a bit superstitious. Doug's even getting pigs and we'll raise some meat chickens as well. I've got some seedlings started too. If we act as if we're not moving someone will come along for sure. A house in our area that is similar in size to ours suddenly sold after being on the market for 3 1/2 years. I sure hope it's not that long for us. Leo always misses mice and chipmunks after doing much of the grunt work. Salve on the other hand is very skilled at rodent catching. So Ollie's still hasn't learned not to jump?

Patrick mostly enjoyed his job but he didn't care for collecting carts outside in the winter. He did like to socialize with the customers. Albertson's, the grocery chain he worked for, hires quite a few people with disabilities. Michael also worked for the same company as a bagger for awhile but he never got past needing a job coach as his medications can make him pretty spacey sometimes. Eventually they had to let him go which was quite upsetting to him. His health has been stable for awhile now so not too many appointments. He did recently have another check up and blood work the results of which were surprisingly good. However, a couple days later his doctor's office called recommending a statin which I didn't understand as I had looked at the results and all on the lipid panel were in the normal range. I double checked and then emailed his doctor who admitted he had made a mistake. The last thing I want to do is add any unnecessary medications to his already extensive cocktail.

When the push to bring your own bags first started it was similar to what you describe. Now it's much more common that people bring their own bags and the stores have adjusted. However one has to keep an eye on the bagger as they'll automatically put an item such as greeting cards or a bar of soap in a plastic bag and then put that in your bag.

Cardboard can be used in place of Styrofoam in many cases. More take out containers are doing that thankfully. Packing peanuts are foam pieces that are about the size of a peanut. They are made out of several types of material though so we separate them all out. Most people bring them in a separate bag but sometimes you run into peanuts mixed with styrofoam and it's a bear to get them sorted especially as we're outside and any breeze will send them flying. Our organization has a list of people who do a lot of shipping of items (maybe Ebay) so they'll come to the office and pick up a supply.

That is pretty scary about your arsonists. Did you get any rain?

Margaret

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Geez, what a tough story was that Douglas Mawson one; poor Mr. Mertz. I will be sure not to eat too much dog liver.

A herd of 30 deer just ran through, followed by a smooth-coated Portuguese Podengo. It made me think of Ollie . . .

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Don't let that boulder get away from you! Might end up at the bottom of the orchard. And, who knows what it might take out, along the way. :-). You always wanted a boundary marker, down there, anyway, didn't you?

The Antarctic Expedition reminded me of Lewis and Clark. After spending a year and change slogging their way out here, they were supposed to be picked up by a ship for a sea voyage home. They waited awhile, past the agreed on date, and then headed back across the continent. Just a few days later, the ship showed up. How many movies have we seen where the hero says something like, "If I'm not back in 15 minutes, leave me behind!" Usually, the girlfriend holds out for another 3 seconds as the hero staggers out of the mine cave in / space ship breaking up, etc..

Could not find the book on winter foraging. Was it a DVD? Lecture? Figment of my imagination? Sigh.

The mushroom composts looked identical, except for the bits of green moss in the one batch. Same color, too. Dark brown, almost black.

Naaaw. No Master Gardener, here. You have to jump through all kinds of hoops. Take little tests. Perform little tasks. Pay a bit of cash to cover materials. Get a citificate to hang on your wall. I think I'll pass.

Politics and beer. Something else might come to mind. Whatever will be informative, with a side of entertaining. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Packing peanuts. And, some are made of extruded cornstarch. Those, are biodegradable. Don't see many of those. Probably, more expensive. I do have a funny (in hindsight) story about packing peanuts. I got a fairly good sized box, when I got the Fenton Nativity set. After fishing out all the pieces, I was faced with half a large box of packing peanuts.

Everything had a good static charge. Any attempts I made to get the peanuts in a plastic sack so I could break down the box were thwarted. I tried pouring them in, and they literally leapt out of the bag. I'd grab handfuls, plunge my hand into the bag, but they'd stick to the backs of my hands and come right back out. I thought of pouring them a bit at a time on newspaper, and then rolling it up and tossing them. No dice. They'd fly off and attach to any nearby piece of furniture. Strips of tape were tried. Would have worked, but would have taken me all night to empty the box. And, tape is expensive. I finally just sealed up the box and threw it whole, into the dumpster. Which, we're not supposed to do, but I didn't hear about it. Later, someone told me I could have done something with dryer sheets to take the static out. Not that I have dryer sheets about the place.

Silly things seen around the Net. Orthorexia. "An obsession with only foods that one considers healthy." There's probably a pill for that. With pages of hair raising possible side effects. I could do with a bit of hair raising, as long is it was atop my head. :-). I keep looking for things that would do that. No luck yet...

An article: "Most Americans Still Don't Fear Big Tech's Power." Only 5% were concerned about Big Tech and things like white collar crime, corruption, racism, sexual harassment and nepotism. All things that aren't very nice and should be ended. But, I think they asked the wrong questions. I'm sure a fear of Big Tech would have shot into the 80 percent range if they'd asked about crapified programs, replaced by more expensive programs that work even worse or have bells and whistles you don't need and didn't ask for. Or, how about personal data breaches? Selling your personal data to third parties? The list goes on.

And, finally. An ad popped up for something called the Rotimatic. "The world's first fully automatic flat bread maker." I KNEW there was something missing from my life. How can I go on, without one? Will I be shamed and looked down upon if I don't get one?

Made hamburger Stroganoff for the potluck, today. To go over rice. Wonder how that will go over. I cut up a couple of stalks of celery, to go into it. Mother used to do that. But then, mother also used the box of Stroganoff Hamburger Helper. All those spices, sour cream and cream of chicken soup in one little powder packet! And, never any mushrooms. They were held in high suspicion, in our household. Lew

Elbows Tucked said...

Hi Chris,

You are always busy and productive. What is your best recommended antidote for laziness?

Thanks Elbows.