Monday, 16 April 2018

A sad little lonely box

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

What is this thing? I mean, I know what the thing is, but what is the thing doing here all by its lonesome self? To me it looked like a sad lonely little box which was sitting on an asphalt footpath in an inner northern suburb of Melbourne. I took a really good look around the area and I could see that the box had no friends at all. None.

The box was a really well constructed raised garden bed measuring about 1 foot by 3 foot. In the raised garden bed I noted the following plants growing: Nasturtium; Eau de Cologne Mint; Lemon Thyme; Alpine Strawberries; Lavender; and Flat Leafed Parsley. As a stark contrast, all of the small gardens in the surrounding houses were full of ornamental plants. There was not an edible in sight in those front yards - unless of course you'd enjoy a nice rose hip tea?

I like raised garden beds and have over a dozen of them here in constant use and they are great for growing annual vegetables. Did I mention that yields from raised garden beds are exceptionally good? No, I did not. Well they are. In fact, I have plans to obtain more raised garden beds over the next year or so.

So what the heck was this raised garden bed doing stuck out on the footpath, growing a collection of plants that whilst technically edible, are so low maintenance that they probably could have been planted in the drain next to the curb? No doubt they will go to seed and end up there anyway. It just makes no sense whatsoever. In fact I actually made the very witty observation to the editor: "What the (a very family unfriendly word that begins with F, and sounds a lot like the word 'chuck') is this?"
The author stands behind the lonely raised garden bed looking bemused
The funny thing from my perspective was that any one of those plants  has the capacity to take over the entire three square foot of garden space. And I can identify each of those plants and know how they can be consumed or used. However, given the lack of edible gardens in that area, my gut feeling told me that not many people around there would have had the same knowledge. It was even stranger to me that there was no signage telling the locals what these plants actually were. I reckon the only real reason I can see for the existence of that sad lonely little box was that it was used as a display of social values for the residents. The box sort of says to me: "We're so green, we grow edible plants in raised garden beds on the footpath. Oh my goodness and dearie me, I didn't say the front yard, I said on the footpath!"

Back in the days when I lived not too far from that street, I actually did dig up the lawn in my front yard and attempt to grow vegetables there. Of course, being naive, I didn't understand that green leafy vegetables are almost impossible to grow in composted woody mulch. And what do you mean that I have to water them during summer? They're plants, surely they'd just grow by themselves? Apparently not so. Fortunately, I have learned a thing or two since those heady days. Plants sure are complex.

It doesn't take too long to notice displays of social value, mostly because being mainly for display purposes, they're easily seen. Good marketing, I reckon! I've encountered a few people recently who have extolled the virtues of electric vehicles. Now, I reckon electric bikes are a great idea, and they make sense to me. Electric cars on the other hand are so expensive and have such limited range that they make little to no economic sense to me.

But electric cars are such a great display of social values. They scream: "We're so green, we could drive this vehicle and emit no pollution. Oh my goodness and dearie me, of course we charge the vehicle from the mains electricity!" Down here the majority of the communities mains electricity is derived from burning fossil fuels. If you've ever taken a look at a brown coal fired power plant, and I have, well, let's just say that it's not a pretty sight.

In this instance, people are confusing the potential with the reality. Sure, you could potentially install a solar power system on your roof and use it to charge your electric vehicle - but the system won't produce enough power to do anything else at all in the household. And that is assuming that the solar power system is big enough in the first place, because most solar power systems that I have seen installed are simply too small to charge an electric vehicle. It is also worth noting that roof designs for houses I see constructed are simply not well thought out enough, or even large enough to support a really huge array of solar panels (my own included). The panels for huge solar power systems, simply won't fit on most houses with their available roof space.

Fossil fuels are just so good, quick and reliable that we tend to think that all other energy sources are good, quick and reliable too. Unfortunately, they're not. I know that for sure as solar PV panels won't produce any power when it is snowing:
The author with solar PV panels in snow from back in August 2017
Five years ago I thought that I'd get around those problems with snow, clouds, dark and stuff that bedevil solar PV panels. I installed a wind turbine. That was when I found that you can have snow, clouds, dark and stuff, and it can also be not windy enough. I spent several months of my life trying to get the best out of that wind turbine. I wasted that time, but learned a great deal about wind.
A dark day for renewable energy. Cloudy and still!
Fortunately, I'm not one for displays of social value. If I was into that business, I would have kept the wind turbine, and whenever people visited the farm I could have pointed at the wind turbine lazily (and I really mean lazily) spinning in the breeze and make some profound observation like: "Cool!" And that would be about as useful as a sad lonely little raised planter box on an asphalt lined footpath on the hard streets of Melbourne.

This week has been such a strange week of weather for mid Autumn. Earlier in the week, the daytime temperature reached 36'C (97'F) and that was crazy hot for this time of year. But by 11pm that evening the air temperature had cooled down to only 24'C (75'F) and that would have been a hot night for summer, let alone mid Autumn! Note that Autumn in Australia runs 1 March to 31 May, which I believe is different from the spring in Northern Hemisphere countries. How unique are we!
11pm mid Autumn 24'C / 75'F is simply crazy hot weather
The long term and short term weather cycle here runs like this: Cold; Cool; Warm; Hot; Really Hot; Wet; and then back to Cold. That sure was the case this week because whilst most of the week has been really hot, on Saturday lunchtime the heavens opened and over an inch of rain fell. Then just as suddenly, the air temperature cooled and we had to begin running the wood heater.
Over an inch of rain fell over the mountain range beginning Saturday lunchtime
I've still not been feeling well this week due to the lingering effects of the flu, and even worse, the editor succumbed to the dreaded flu virus. I have been ensuring that I get plenty of rest:
The author and the fluffies crash out one quiet afternoon due to the lingering effects of the flu
Ollie took advantage of my illness because he knows that he should not have been on the couch, but when you are sound asleep...

Last weekend my friends with the epic shed gave me three point of lay chickens. How nice is that? They breed chickens and supplied us with three very good looking birds. Left to right in the next photo: Light Sussex; Indian Game; and a bird with some Faverolles in its parentage.
The three new chickens were confronted at the door of the hen house by the toughs
The oldest chicken in the chicken collective is about eight years old now (the brown Araucana chicken standing on the edge of the concrete in the photo above) and she took a firm line with the newcomers and gave them all 'what for'. Chickens are brutal, and they adhere to the old adage of 'go early, and go hard'.
The brown Araucana chicken gives the newcomers 'what for?'
The egg production should pick up once we are past the winter solstice. Until then, all up the sixteen chickens currently produce one to two eggs per day.

Surprisingly enough, despite both being ill, we actually managed to do some work about the farm. We were keen to complete the corrections to one of the concrete staircases that were begun last week. The concrete stairs constructed last week, had all cured during the week. All that remained to be done was to pour in a couple of wheelbarrow loads of crushed rock and lime into the cavity that will form a flat landing between the two sets of concrete staircases.

I carried about nine crate loads (three wheelbarrows worth) of crushed rock and lime down the stairs and dump it into the cavity which will form a landing. Each crate contains eight full shovel loads of crushed rock and lime.
The author dumps a crate load of crushed rock and lime onto a cavity that will soon form a landing
The crushed rock was soon smoothed out and formed a nice flat landing between the two sets of concrete stairs.
The crushed rock was smoothed out and it forms a landing between the two sets of concrete stairs
We then spread the remainder of the load of local crushed rock and lime around the water tank which was installed last week. The crushed rock makes a great all weather surface which you can comfortably walk on even in the wettest weather.
Local crushed rock with lime was placed around the water tank that was installed last week

We had a huge boulder to hand near the new water tank, and so we set that into the upper edge of the garden bed and extended the path a bit further down the hill.
A large boulder was set into the edge of the garden bed and the path was extended down hill a bit further
With rain expected on Saturday, I moved several hundred strawberry plants into the new strawberry terrace which was constructed only late last year. The lavender that was planted on the edge of the strawberry terrace has grown prolifically this summer despite the hot and dry conditions and the lack of regular watering. Those plants are tough as.
Several hundred strawberry plants were planted on the strawberry terrace. How good do the lavender look?
When I went to harvest the single large pumpkin a few days ago, I discovered a little tree frog sheltering on the pumpkin:
A tree frog shelters from the sun on this huge pumpkin
I left the tree frog alone, and went back a day later to harvest the pumpkin plus all of the watermelons. The watermelons taste good too.
Pumpkin, watermelons, eggplant, and capsicum (peppers)
Today, I harvested our first ever quince. The mandarins have also become much larger this season as the trees are getting bigger.
Our first ever quince, and the mandarins are getting bigger this year
I dug up a few horseradish roots today because I'm gifting them to a friend who expressed an interest in them. Of course I had to try them out first and they are hot as! And they are guaranteed to clear any blocked sinus!
I dug up a few horseradish roots
The birds have been enjoying the prolific olives. We have decided not to harvest the fruit this year because our previous experiments with preserving olives have left them tasting overly salty. Clearly further investigative work needs to take place with this fruit. Can anyone suggest any good recipes that they have tried themselves? Or has anyone produced their own olive oil?
Olives are prolific
In the past I have killed at least four tea camellia's that I can recall. No doubt the body count is much higher than that (edit: 8 dead, 1 incoming). However, I am determined to get one of these plants growing here. This week I planted another tea camellia, and lets hope that things go better for this plant. My track record is not good.
A tea camellia sits between a blueberry and a Chilean guava
The Poopy-quat (the resting place of Sir Poopy) is doing very well and has even produced tiny little kumquats!
The Poopy-quat is doing very well
And onto the flowers!
With winter fast approaching the many citrus trees are producing fragrant flowers
This geranium is a stunner of a colour
Geraniums produce a huge diversity of flower colours here
I've begun to grow nasturtium through the existing garden beds and it is tough as (edit: tough as what?)
Looking at this garden bed you wouldn't know that we went almost ten weeks with hot days and little rain
The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 12’C (54’F). So far this year there has been 190.2mm (7.5 inches) which is higher than last week's total of 158.8mm (6.3 inches).

80 comments:

Damo said...

Hi Chris,

It is very beautiful here, although I feel the environment is somewhat empty? Hard to explain, there are a lot less critters and birds on average around NZ I find. But so much of it is intensively farmed on a very different scale to most of Australia. No doubt this has an impact. At any rate, minimal chance of leaving NZ soon, although I am on the fence as to what might happen in the medium term. Current plan, wait and see! The initial meeting with our new GM happened a few hours ago. It must be a difficult speech to prepare. Not sure how I feel yet, again lets wait and see :-p

The dumping of sewerage into the oceans is one of my major concerns, more from the point of view of incredible wastage it signifies. We are mining nutrients, dispersing them across land in the form of fertilisers at great expense, then just washing it all into the ocean or landfill. The externalities are enormous and I believe agricultural scientists reckon we have about 50 harvests left before topsoil and nutrient depletion stop the whole sorry business.

Here it is: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/only-60-years-of-farming-left-if-soil-degradation-continues/

Oh well, if I buy a Prius and free range eggs that should fix it :-p

Damo

Damo said...

@Pam

We were doing the caterpillar squish thing every day as well, but eventually lost interest and just left them alone to see what we end up with. The first large one I harvested didn't have any yucky stuff inside it, with luck we will have a few more waiting for us in a few weeks when we get back from a trip, I would like to try a small batch of sauerkraut!

Damo

Damo said...

@Chris

Tell us what you really think of that planter box :-p Am I seeing that photo correctly, is it actually some sort of council funded planter box?

Speaking of keeping your own house in order, it reminds me of a stand-up sketch by (now disgraced) Louis CK. Playing the court jester to society, he points out a minor reduction in consumption can *literally* save other people lives, yet almost no one does it. Cue uncomfortable laughter from the audience:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lC4FnfNKwUo

How much should we place our own comfort and life enjoyment above others, especially strangers? Deep philosophical questions for sure! I know what Cugel the Clever would say, but perhaps his is not the best philosophy to emulate :-p

Damo

Jo said...

All looking spick and span and ship shape at the farm, despite lack of green street cred because no wind turbine! Did you water your flower beds at all during the 10 week drought? They are looking amazing. No doubt all that woody mulch helps. I am going to convert one of my garden beds to 'no watering'. Am tweaking the plantings as of now to make that work, and plan to add a lot of woody mulch to the native/Mediterranean planting scheme.

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

That sounds about right in terms of temperature, although we do wash clothes in cold water, but we also add vinegar and soap nuts. Strangely enough, if I send more heat energy from the wood heater up to the hot water heat exchange tank, we can get it pretty toasty - which is nice over winter. Nothing is worse than cool hot warm water over winter.

I'm in zone 9b, I reckon? But who really knows, there are micro-climates even on this small plot of land so it can vary wildly within an area. That aspect of this property was pure luck and nothing else, I make no claim to prescience in that decision. :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

Glad to hear that the bees are doing OK, because that doesn't sound like bee fluffy optimal weather! I tell ya, almost the same thing happened to me one year with the bees (minus the snow) and fortunately they survived, but the colony was knocked back for a few months whilst it got back on its feet. The cold is particularly hard on the cells with growing worker bees, but you know, they're tough and they must have made it through the last Ice Age. Did you end up getting the snow.

Hehe! Yeah, I feel really bad about the poor leaf change showing, but at the same time I sort of feel really good about it too. It is complex… The rain on Saturday and then the wintery conditions on Sunday put a solid dent in leaf change tourism. Mind you, I travelled past the pub on Sunday just to have a look and see how things were going up there in the more fashionable end of the mountain range, and the pub had a 'booked out' sign at the front. I miss the pub as I have had to abstain whilst ill, and now the editor is ill, well that all adds up to a lot of abstinence. No fun.

That is great news about the house showing and the interest. You may well be moving out before you know it! Good luck, and I hope that it works out well for both of you.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Olive oil is such a great cooking oil and I use it in most foods. Of course, nothing beats butter in desserts, biscuits, muffins, cakes etc. Jason Sheehan the chef and author of the book "Cooking Dirty" wrote a delightful story about how he deliberately shocked some society ladies by adding 'lashings' (an outstanding word, don't you reckon?) of butter to a recipe during a cooking school demonstration. That would have been fun and he had a great sense of humour. Pressing the olives is a real pain, because I reckon it is going to be one of those tasks that I'm going to have to fork out a lot of cash to get something to do the job. Nobody around these parts presses their oil, and it is a case of just not having enough community infrastructure floating around. I can do most jobs, but that one is a real pain as you can't do it on the cheap - and I really tried to look into that. The stones in olives are very hard, and they get milled too as they contain oils. Oh well, nobody said this stuff was easy. :-)!

Out of curiosity, have you read the book on tapping maple trees for their sugar syrup, and would you recommend the book? Someone mentioned that the Nearings had written an extensive book on the subject, but their setup sounded big - and already there on site when they turned up. It is interesting that you mention the biscuits, because I add a similar product to the mix: Golden syrup - which is derived from sugar cane.

It is funny you mentioned the "Little House" series of books, but the editor suggested jokingly that I write a blog using the Enid Blyton style of writing (the word lashings used above brought that memory to the front of my mind). I spotted a spoof a month or so back at a bakery titled: "Five go gluten free". Oh the irony... Yes, Five go to Fernglade!

The little people are working hard for you, and yeah they probably do enjoy a night out with the ladies - the cheeky scamps (don't let them hear me saying that, as they may put a curse on me)!

Oh, that is a close brush, and also very creepy. Years ago I had a chilling conversation with someone who remarked about a group of people that worked for him that: "they don't lead real lives, like you and I". I nodded sagely, and thereafter avoided any and all contact. Such people don't worry about being snubbed, because they have difficulty empathising with others, so as long as you don't poke them and bring yourself to their attention, they probably don't notice you. Did you ever speak to the guy? I have read that sometimes such people can be superficially charming, and I've met a few people like that in my time. Charming is a hard act to fake over a long period of time, fortunately Sir Scruffy makes up for my considerable lack of charm! ;-)!

Everyone has dark corners of their mind, and there doesn't seem to be much any of us can do about that. I hear a bit about that objectifying and you know I reckon there is an element of bait and switch going on with that in an attempt to place blame elsewhere. I mean you have to sort of put yourself in other peoples situation and say would you do differently given the same circumstances and opportunities. Now of course, plenty of times, you (the nebulous you) probably would do differently, but sometimes not. With the recent talk on money and property, I tried really hard to stick to the narrative which said this is how it is rolling, rather than bouncing off the deep end and saying this group of people are to blame. I suspect that sooner or later, someone is going to capture the public imagination by doing just that, but things aren't tough enough yet economically for that story to take hold. Of course, I’m reasonably cognizant that nothing really halts decline.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Buildings can be a mixed bag when it comes to temperature, and well insulated can also mean lower thermal mass, so in hot weather, the building can cool rapidly at night if the airflow is managed well. I reckon buildings are a compromise arrangement and they have to navigate the many seasons they encounter. Of course, mate, I tell ya, the standard project house which we lived in when building this place was not good. If we got burned out, I'd simply build a small shelter up here to live in as it would be easier than living in one of those houses again. Not good.

The wikipedia page sort of suggested that about Salkum too. Still, it has a library and a tavern and all the village of Cherokee offers is a fire station and a community hall. It is good that you went with your gut feeling there, as emotions are usually high at a funeral and you wouldn't want people taking umbrage with you at your actions. There is something comforting about being interred by people who are known to you. Isn't Saint Christopher the patron saint of travellers? Clearly you are in good hands and it sounds like an auspicious name to me, but then I am slightly biased in this regard! Hehe! Ah, you have to love gallows humour. :-)!

Self pick up of holds sounds to me like the sort of system that begins with the premise: "Now kids, let's assume nothing goes wrong". Far out, what could possibly go wrong? It also has an underlying assumption of honesty that will probably work out most of the time, but then when it goes wrong...

Yeah, two or three times is about what has gone on here too. The nearby wombat state forest is a sad parody of what once would have been there. Even now, I find the remains of huge old butts and stumps, so the trees around here must have been truly epic at one point in time. There are quite a few large trees still in existence down here and they are remarkable to behold.

If the weather doesn't get wetter here during the next six months, I reckon we are in for a bad summer too. It all depends down here on the cyclones which develop over the Indian Ocean seem to be getting bigger and bringing more summer rainfall. Dunno. Best of luck for the SW and your friends daughter.

Hope you didn't mind my raised garden bed story? I like raised garden beds, and I looked up all of the hoops that the homeowner had to jump through to get the bed installed. I felt a bit bad after reading that, but then reality kicked in and I reverted to my previous thoughts on the subject. It is complex…

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Damo,

My understanding is that - and I'd appreciate your views on the matter - the south island was part of Antarctica at one stage, and no mammals (or marsupials) were on the island at the time the Maori nation turned up. There were only the birds, and apparently there were an awful lot of them too. Early explorers often remarked about the sheer quantity and the racket the birds made. Possums get a free reign over there, although you'd hope there were a few owls that ate them? Possums are rightly nervous here as the owls clean them up - they rarely last more than a few days in the orchard. It is brutal. I read that the North Island is a fairly recent land mass.

The soils are better there too than here, although parts of the east coast look really dry to me given it is in a monster rain shadow. Tasmania is a bit like that too, and some spots on the east coast are dry as, whilst others aren't.

Yeah, my NZ friends here often tell me that they consider moving back home, and I always tell them that perhaps it isn't a bad idea if they kept those thoughts to themselves, if only because people may not put effort into relationships with them if they go around saying that too often. That is not to distract from them as they are great people and friends.

Yup, that reason alone is the primary reason I see no good coming from industrial agricultural practices. The cycle of minerals is just so hopelessly flawed and most people don't give it a second thought. Plenty of civilisations have strip mined their soils, and there is nothing new to see there. A bit sad really. I reckon 60 years is a serious over estimation because new land will be uneconomic to bring online for agriculture. I see that story playing out here. Sure it can be done, but it makes no economic sense.

Well done, and you are very observant to have noticed that. What interests me is that the sign depicts: potatoes; turnips; and carrots. Also the homeowner jumped through an enormous amount of effort to get the box put there. It is all very strange when they could have dug up their front yard...

Thanks for the link and hopefully I'll get some time to check it out tonight, but if not then tomorrow night (I sound like a computer program if... not... then...)!

Far out, those are deep philosophical waters to wade in. Some bloke once said something or other about 'do unto others' and I reckon that bloke had a pretty good grasp on magic to have understood the backlash effect. ;-)!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Jo,

Hehe! Glad you enjoyed my humour. The wind turbine made about as much energy as a particularly loud mouse fart. That isn't a rat either, who would sound much louder than a mouse for obvious reasons. I replaced the wind turbine with two additional solar panels, and they generated more electricity in their first morning than the wind turbine had in several months. Who would have thought that it is not windy here... Not I, although I was told exactly that by people in the renewable energy community, and I went back to them with the results of my wind experiment and a sincere Mea culpa.

Absolutely. The garden beds all receive about 10 minutes every day of watering - regardless of the weather. We're on tank water so water is a limited resource. That was heaps of water though. I installed a very fancy new set of sprinklers for the raised beds and I should include some photos of those as they are the bees knees. Even the tomato enclosure only gets 10 minutes per day. Deep soils are the trick as they hold lots of water.

I'll be interested to read how your experiment turns out. Incidentally, it is not an impossible aim, but it may take a few years and also you may have to select for drought hardy varieties. It always surprises people to learn that I do not water the orchard or garden beds here. Only occasionally do I put a small bit of water into the orchard, and even then being on tank water, well there is not much to chuck around. And even if you have plenty of water, how do you know if you are able to use it? I've never had a good answer to that question other than keep installing new water tanks.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

The tale of the Golden Spruce is both awful and also a powerful reminder not to mess with other forces that are active in the world. Wow.

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris:

I saw your solar-panels-in-the-snow photo before I saw the caption and I though: Geez, it's already snowing there?! The other day it was just about 100F!

I don't know, Chris - I think I would have seen the lonely little box (of course, I am not seeing its surroundings much in the photo) and thought: At least somebody is trying, making a bit of a foray into edible gardening. In the suburb where we lived before we built this house we would have not been allowed to dig up the front yard, except for tasteful ornamental plantings. Perhaps they had that issue, too? And our backyard was densely shaded. I did make an arrangement there with a neighbor who had a sunny back yard to grow a few vegetables on their property.

What a wonderful rainbow! Aaaah! Who's got the whole couch - the leather couch! - whilst the "master" reclines on the floor?!

What gorgeous chickens your new ones are, though no more gorgeous than your original ones. Do some of your chickens lay two eggs a day? Ours never did.

The stairs and landing look great, as does the crushed rock around the tank. That's a lot of crushed rock!

I would call that a strawberry fortress. I am in awe. And the lavender does look great. That is a funny pumpkin/squash. And those are a lot of watermelons!

I absolutely cannot believe that the Poop-quat is already fruiting! What a tribute to Sir Poopy's regenerative powers!

I can't remember - do you grow limes? I love limes. My geraniums are embarrassed. They are so mundane, though they are very happy to be outside now, yet they may have to come back in . . .

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Margaret:

Wow! Best of luck to you!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

I checked the clothes washer temp when I washed yesterday and it was 76F (24.4C).

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Ah! Damo also spotted the little blue and white card, opposite of where you're standing. So you didn't quit tell us the whole story ... It might be a memory box. Little reminders of something, a place, from someone's past. Or, given the varieties, maybe it was just cheap, low maintenance plants.

Energy stuff. I have an energy story, but I'll save it for later. Don't want to loose the plot of this weeks post.

Well, you just have more of everything, don't you :-). Six seasons! It's often said about here that we have two ... drought and deluge.

The new chickens are quit handsome. I miss my chickens! Every time i want to irritate The Warden, I off hand comment that a couple of chickens wandering around would be nice. Julia's chickens are laying, again, so I get fresh eggs!

Your paths and lime gravel reminded me that I want to toss around a bit of bone meal and lime on my plots. I did due diligence and a bit of bone meal and lime won't hurt the compost worms.

"Lashings of butter." I wonder if that's one of those collective nouns? Like murder of crows, etc.. Those are fun. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Not a pumpkin. A squash. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I may have lost my horseradish. Don't know how I managed that. I planted it in a corner of my garden, and so far, no joy. I keep checking to see if I've got anything poking through. So far, not.

The maple syrup book I have is "Maple Sugar" (Herd). Couldn't lay my hands on it, but from memory, lots of color pictures and, maybe, a bit "gifty." Now I haven't seen it, but there is also "Backyard Sugarin'" by Man & Farrell. That is into it's 4th edition, which is usually a good sign of value.

I don't know if I ever actually met the serial killer. He had one of those forgetable faces. I worked in a bar and right over the patio wall was the swimming school that was owned by his uncle and aunt. He taught there. So, did he stop in for a brew from time to time? Possible. The picture did look a bit familiar. But, it had been years and as I said, he had one of those faces.

Re: The Golden Spruce. Yup. Fitting end. It's like when the bad guy dies in a tv series and I cheer. Check this out ...

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/189432728052575664/

People and post offices in old growth stumps. And, one more time ... Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. My energy story. I was reading that book about the Blitz and ran across about a half chapter on the oil field in Sherwood Forest! Who knew? Churchill called it Britain's best kept WWII secret. Before the war started, some government official realized that fuel could be a problem. So, he had a survey done of England. Oil was discovered under Sherwood Forest. And, it was high grade stuff that didn't need much processing to turn it into airplane fuel.

Production was a bit slow, due to the state of the British oil industry, at that time. So. America wasn't quit in the war yet, but the government privately contracted with an American company and about 50 Oklahoma oil roughnecks headed for Britain. Some of the fellows really didn't even know where they were going, but the money was good. They were on a year contract. So, this bunch of Americans, in their cowboy boots, colorful shirts and cowboy hats, descended on Sherwood Forest. Just to make things really interesting, they were housed in a nearby monastery.

At that time, American oil derricks were lighter, and easier to move. They had slightly better tech, to enhance production. And, the Americans had more of a tendency to solve problems on the spot, rather than defer to a higher authority. They worked in teams of four, with one Brit assigned to each team. So, by the end of the year, the Brits were able to pick up the plot and keep it all rolling forward. Some of the wells were still producing, well into the 1960s. What a story. Soon to be a major motion picture? Lew

sparkler markle said...

Hi Chris,
I am a long time lurker on your site and just love it! While I live in the Big Smoke, I originally come from country Victoria and yearn for the time when I can return on a more regular basis.
My wife and I own a small patch of dirt in a place called Costerfield which is a bit further south east from your area. It is part of a larger farm that her family has owned for 4 generations.
Initially a sheep farm, the progression of age, subdivision and inability/unwillingness of anyone else to take it on has meant that a lot of the land has reverted to young growth forest.
There are, however, about 400 olive trees that were planted around 10-12 years ago in an effort to diversify. Unfortunately the time was (and is) unable to be put into the trees to keep them at their productive best but we do manage to harvest enough fruit annually to press for oil. Last year we pressed a touch over 500kg and our yield was 76 litres which was a bit down from previous years. As with everything , the taste of home grown oil is very different (I.e. better) to store bought. Ours is very grassy and Italian friends tell us it is like the oil they pressed in Sicily before emigrating to Australia.
We also pickled some and when they are mature I can tell you if our recipe is a good one or not!
We have our fruit processed at Barfold Olives who are just east of Kyneton, not too far from you. The cost isn't too bad but you really need about 400-500 kilograms of fruit to make it financially viable given the time commitment and effort in picking (even with the electric powered picker we bought last year). This equated to about 35-40 of our trees.
More than happy to answer any questions you might have.
Cheerio,
Mark

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Hehe! Yeah, the weather down here is crazy, but not quite that crazy, although there have apparently been snow flurries in parts of the state that are above 1500m / 5000ft (not that much of the state is at higher altitudes than that) when the cold front hit here. August is snow month here. Believe it or not I wore a wool jacket today because it was quite cold, and I have the wood fire going right now.

Very true and the homeowner is to be commended for jumping through the hoops to get the raised garden bed installed, but I have no idea why, and was hoping you could help me with this question: Why didn't they plant edibles in their front yard? There are no rules on this matter down here, and I have seen some very inappropriate plants in tiny front yards - like huge eucalytpus trees. Chunks of that particular tree kept falling on the house which had that monster tree out front! Anyway, the gardens on that street have a good aspect to the sun. It is a mystery and I'd like to be wrong. Too much sun can be a problem down here so a bit of summer shading is a good thing which probably sounds quite strange to you?

Your arrangement with your neighbour at that time does you credit. It is a really good idea, I assume you supplied them with some produce in return for the land? The folks who supply me with coffee grounds and roasting husks want some photos and a little bit of text as a positive story for their business!

Ollie was very naughty to have been on the couch, and as you can see standards slip when one or both of us are ill... He is a clever dog that one, and is sound asleep behind me on the green couch right now. It is a dogs life. How good did the storm look? You get a birds eye view up here of the cold storms that approach from the south. The warm storms from the north appear suddenly out of nowhere as the mountain ridge rises up towards that direction.

I picked some of the jalapenos chilli's and fed them to my friends of the big shed. By all accounts the chilli's were very toasty! Hehe! I must keep some of the seed to plant out next year.

The chickens are very attractive aren't they? Very funny. That sentence was really hard to write and the first time the editor reviewed that particular sentence, it read as if we were getting between 16 and 32 eggs per day. Not so, just poor English on my part. Nope, only 1 to 2 eggs per day at the moment and that is it!

The local crushed rock is good isn't it? And I cover every walking surface with it basically because I'm not a fan of mud. Over the years I reckon we've put down a fair chunk of that stuff. Interestingly too, for your info, it also serves a secondary purpose of fire barrier around the buildings and infrastructure. As far as I am aware, rocks don't burn at the sort of temperatures I'm likely to experience in a bushfire, so having non flammable paths and surfaces around infrastructure adds a small element of additional safety in that it reduces the energy reaching those bits of buildings, water tanks etc.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

The strawberry terrace and enclosure is going to be converted into a corn fortress and we'll soon cut a new strawberry terrace into the side of the hill. The wallabies are feral for corn as I suspect the stalks contain sugars. Before this year, the wallabies ate the corn to the ground level, so it was nice to actually grow some cobs this year. I'm very impressed with the taste of home grown corn.

The lavender received no additional watering either. No doubt someone spliced triffid genes into that batch of lavender! You know, I'm just going with my gut feeling and not engaging in the whole great pumpkin / squash debate of 2018. But, of course they're pumpkins, everyone knows that!!! Hehe! ;-)!

The watermelon is excellent and the plant was a chance purchase. The skins are harder and thicker than the cantaloupe so it suffers less from insects.

Vale Sir Poopy, I miss my little mate. Sir Poopy would have enjoyed Ollie's company and they sure would have romped around the property.

I grow the Australian Round Lime, which is a cold hardy lime. True limes are a tough ask here as the winter makes them a marginal prospect. I have planted a few, but I reckon like the oranges, it is just on the borderline of being too cold here. Of course that may change. Geraniums put up with a bit of snow and frost, but the winters that you enjoy are probably too much for them. In some of the garden beds, the many geraniums varieties form the backbone of the plant community. A lot of them smell nice too and I have some mint, lemon, and also a striking lemon sorbet smelling variety. Your geranium is in a good paddock, it simply needs some winter woollies! :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

You're probably right about me missing that part of the story. It is a local council initiative to get people growing edibles and/or herbs. It is a good idea, but the hoops that the homeowners had to jump through just to get the raised garden bed on the footpath seemed a bit extraordinary to me. Mind, you the footpath is a commonly managed chunk of land, so I can sort of understand how the complexity arose. The thing is I was wondering why the homeowners didn't simply rip up the ornamental plants in their front gardens and plant out edibles there? That story makes no sense to me. It is not as if there are any rules in place that I'm aware of that restrict home owners from doing just that. As I remarked to Pam, I'd like to be wrong, but I can't see any other story that even remotely makes sense in that context. Of course, I could be turning into a cynical old windbag! Hehe! Wouldn't that be a drama for everyone around me? :-)!

The list of available plants for the raised garden beds was quite extensive and clearly someone had put a lot of time, energy, and thought into the council program. My gut feeling tells me that it is too little, and the homeowners in those suburbs have expanded their houses so much that originally back in the Victorian era, the area supported small workers cottages with backyard vegetable patches, but the house extensions since then have by and large have eaten the vegetable patches. It is a good metaphor don’t you reckon?

I had a chance today to have a good listen to the latest podcast from Mr Kunstler. I always enjoy those, and mate he asks some hard questions despite it being a friendly chat. The bloke in the current podcast was discussing renewable energy, and you know he's a serious tech-head about such things and as such is not easily dismissed. I just don't know though, because like edible gardening, that sort of renewable technology gets spoken about much more than it ever gets put into solid action. And that is about the time where I get a bit uncomfortable because I never know whether I'm hearing people expressing their fondest wishes or they're actually discussing serious possibilities that could be put into action.

Renewable energy stuff is really good, but originally I tried hard to do this stuff on the cheap, and found that that is a really rubbish way to go if I want it to work everyday of the year Cheap ain't an option if the system is resilient. And everyone keeps mouthing platitudes about how cheap this stuff is getting, and whilst some components are, others aren't. I sure don't see copper cable or DC rated circuit breakers going down in price. And the lithium batteries are good, but they have a far lower margin for error than the stuff I use which is reasonably robust and would have been well understood in the 1970's. It is a trade off, and nobody talks about that.

I'm ranting... It is a good rant too! Hehe! I really should write that story about how I tried to do the whole thing on the cheap - and then just had to suck it up.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Hehe! Not that we are competitive down here, but there really can be four seasons in one day... I reckon the six season business of about two months each fits nicely with what I observe. Incidentally I picked up the idea about those six seasons from the Aboriginals, as I read about the concept many years ago, and it just fits with the lived experience. Drought and deluge is a tough set of extremes to bounce between.

You are very cheeky, but no doubt the Warden must learn to not take their position too seriously. A couple of chickens bouncing around the raised garden beds would be pretty cool. Someone would have to train the cat not to eat the chickens. I saw a cat asleep in a plant nursery a few weeks back whilst chickens were rambling through the store. However they trained that cat is beyond me.

I'd miss the chickens too, if I no longer had access to them. Have you had any reports on the chickens? Hopefully they are being well behaved? Fresh eggs are eggcellent! :-)!

Bone meal is about the best additive for vegetable gardens from what I've read. You know, I've never used it, although I know the smell of the stuff. What do you reckon about using it as an additive for the soil? Have you added it in previous years?

we now break with the regular schedule for a coffee and muffin...

Fernglade Farm said...

We must simply agree to disagree and henceforth we shall call this pumpkin / squash mutant hybrid by its true names: Zomsh or Zomkin.

Nah, probably not, horseradish is one hard plant to remove from a garden once it has established root systems. I tucked into a chunk a few minutes ago and it was some intense brain pain I can tell you! I have had hotter horseradish though. The leaves die back during the winter, and will probably re-appear when it warms up a bit for you. The leaves are very summer heat and drought hardy here and I feed them to the chickens during high summer. The patch of that plant has grown somewhat over the summer... Something eats the leaves (other than the chickens) and I’ve never caught the insect in action, so I have no idea what insect it is.

Thanks for the tip about the book, it sounds exactly like the sort of text that I may get a few ideas from. The word 'backyard' in that context is very appealing to me. I never look to commercial scale anything here, as it makes no sense economically. Small scale is generally more understandable for me too.

I have heard that the best spies have forgettable faces too. It is a bit eerie to think about such a close brush with a monster.

The photos of the tree stumps were something else. Wow. My feelings in the matter is that the forests will recover and such tall trees will once again grace the surface of this planet. We may not have the tools to cut them down. ;-)! Interestingly too, the large trees are usually not very good for either milling or firewood, mostly because they are beyond what people can handle - even large oxen teams would struggle with some of those trees in the photos. I have a sneaking feeling that the trees were cut down just because. I’ve spoken to a few foresters over the years and I had that little insight from speaking with them that sometimes it can be about the challenge. Of course as they age, their desire to pit themselves against such trees also diminishes and then it eventually turns to respect.

Thanks very much for the story of Oil in Sherwood forest during WWII. What a story: Roughnecks of Sherwood Forest. Wow, who'd have thought that was possible? And sometimes I am amazed that such a lot of work was undertaken in such a short period of time during those days. The contrast to things today is not lost on me.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

If the homeowner had no rules against planting edibles in his front yard, then I am flummoxed; it makes no sense at all. The whole thing is a mystery.

"Too much sun" does not fit my site, but I can see where some gardeners around here, who get a full day of sun, might be able to use some shade for their plants for part of the day.

Ok - got you about the eggs. Ha ha - 32 eggs per day!

I had never thought of the crushed rock as a fire barrier. That's a smart idea.

It's a squash . . .

My geraniums do indeed need woollies - they are back inside again. I forgot to bring my cactus back in, but it looks ok. I wonder which of the 6 seasons this is? I am going to have to ponder this 6 seasons thing.

I trained our cats not to eat chickens by tossing chickens at them. This worked because we had chickens who would have been quite happy to eat cats if they could have figured out how. A large chicken is pretty scary to start with. And these were lazy cats.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

Thanks so much for the oil in Sherwood Forest story; fascinating. What ever would Mr. Flynn think?

Pam

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Mark,

Welcome to the discussion.

Well I note that Costerfield is not too far from the Tooborac pub, that not only brews good beer, but also makes excellent gourmet pies. A must stop for whenever we are in the area!

I can see sheep up in that part of the country, and yeah you'd be getting the box iron-bark forests returning. Mate, it is hard to make a living on the land because produce prices are low, so I understand that difficulty.

Olives are a good call for diversification and those trees are hardy as to heat and drought (and I have seen trees in an orchard north of here recover from the 2009 Black Saturday fires which went through or near to Redesdale). Thanks for the real world numbers with the oil production, and that is a pretty good return. The electric powered pickers are pretty cool machines and we were looking at them in a business in Preston on Bell St (Costante Imports) a few weeks ago. I assume the harvesting was heaps quicker with the electric harvester and that you spread the olive nets out on the ground first?

Far out it is a small world. A year or two back I went to an open day at Kyneton olives which is across the road from Barfolds - who frankly have some of the best tasting olive oil around. That part of the world produces good olive oil.

Out of curiosity, do you get any water to your trees during the summer, or do you feed the soil much around them (with compost, sheep poo, NPK or whatever)? February and March was pretty brutal here, but there was plenty of water in the ground due to the January rains so I didn't water the trees.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - "Penny wise and pound foolish." Probably Benjamin Franklin. I wonder if Franklin drove his friends crazy with all his little aphorisms and parables? :-). People that come up with those "truisms" are irritating ... because they're true.

Nell never had a problem with the chickens. I don't think I'd trust her with a chick, but when I'd go down to feed the flock, she'd tag along and wade right in amongst them. They seemed as curious about her, as she did about them.

I didn't use any bone meal at my old place, but tossed a bit on my small plot, last year. I don't know if it had any impact, or not. The soil was so poor last year, and I was in the process of working on it. I did due diligence (research), because I was a bit worried about the compost worms. They quit like bone meal, and will even Hoover up a bit of it. A light dressing of lime won't hurt them. Whew!

I'll be surprised if I've managed to kill the horseradish. When I transplanted it into a pot, for the move, it was quit healthy and looking good, I transplanted it into a corner of my small space ... it did a fairly standard die back when winter rolled around. But, nothing, yet. I make sure to throw a bit of compost in that corner, anytime I have compost to pitch about. Mushroom, steer. Speaking of odd chicken behavior, the horseradish was growing in the chicken run. One year, they left it alone. The next, ate it to the ground. The year after, didn't touch it. I'd say "odd ducks", but they're chickens.

"Forest will recover and such trees will recover and once again grace the surface of this planet." Well, yeah. When we're all gone or greatly reduced in number. Gives one pause.

Well, loggers are a bit gun shy, given the drubbing they've been given by the eco/enviro crowd. They generally don't say too much until they figure out which way the wind is blowing from whoever they're talking too.

Just made my monthly run to the Grocery Outlet. It's a kind of warehouse store that mostly carries discontinued and close to expired dates. And, the prices are cheap. But, you never know what you might find. I usually go for gallons of white vinegar and pumpkin seeds (the cheapest in town.) But I wanted to see if they had any blueberries, as my stash is nearly exhausted. They had some big bags, from Chile. No. Not going there. Smaller bags from Oregon was the way I went. About $5 a bag, 2 lbs. I also scored pumpkin ice cream (name brand, $5 for a gallon), pumpkin Cherrios, a big box for $.99 and some pumpkin oatmeal, also $.99. Hard to stay away from they're cheeses and processed food. Going to hit about 5 Op Shops, this afternoon. A friend is looking for books on greenhouse gardening. Lew

sparkler markle said...

G'day Chris,
I've spent many an hour in Costante shopping for all things tomato, passata, prosciutto, wood oven and olives related. The aforementioned Italian friends are convinced I was Italian in a previous life but with my pale English skin inherited from my paternal grandmother, I am far from that now!
I was sounded out by my father-in-law a few years ago about taking over the farm but to be honest I'm not a huge fan of sheep as most of my (limited) experience has been with dairy and beef cattle. The cost of refitting the farm to manage one livestock to another is cost prohibitive, let alone the realism of farming being a 24/7/365 industry. As a side note, one of my nephews is carving out a rather nice little beef cattle business in Gippsland with Charolais, a French breed that is currently in high demand but he, too, has his carpentry business on the side to make ends meet.
Last years oil yield was a little lower than previous years as we had a shorter and milder summer. The land around Costerfield is very good for olives (and grapes) as it's not the most productive for livestock and other cropping so it replicates Mediterranean conditions quite well.
We ended up buying our electric picker directly from China. It was quite a bit cheaper. It made a huge difference in picking times. In 2016 10 family members picked a total of 250kg in a full day using traditional rakes with more the following day. In 2017 using the picker, my wife daughter and I picked about 400kg on our own in about 6 hours. We looked at buying the nets but after getting some advice form old Italian gents we just went with large tarpaulins that don't get twigs and grass caught in them. Again, just as easy and cheaper (and usable around the campsite too!).
The trees were irrigated when they were young but don't get any irrigation anymore except when it rains and the only fertiliser is when we put the sheep in a couple of weeks before harvest to get the grass down a bit.
We are heading up to see what the harvest will be like in a week or so, so I'll update you on what our plans are this year!
Cheerio,
Mark

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

It is a mystery to me too. Mind you, very few people dig up their front lawn and plant edibles in it, but we've done that. Across the road from the house when we were in the inner city was quite a well known sculptor - and I had no idea at the time who he was until he let me use his awesome workshop to fabricate steel projects (like the front Victorian era fence). Anyway, he once said to me how much he liked that the editor and I used to dry our washing on clothes horses out in the front yard on warm sunny afternoons! Up until that point in time, it never even occurred to me that there was anything remotely odd about that practice with the clothes drying! Hehe! Oh well... The area was a funny area, because when we first moved in there was an ever so slight Bohemian flavour to it. We used to see old guys at the local cafes wearing clothes that would have fit in well during the grunge music era of the early 90's, and yet there they were invariably reading the Financial Review. Then slowly, slowly, the area gentrified and we didn't much like the changes, but they happened all the same nothwithstanding our preferences. These things happen and change is constant.

In the digression, I've lost track of what we were discussing! Hehe! Oh, that's right, mysteries. Well, I reckon people there don't have the slightest clue in the world about edible plants. Mind you, we could not afford to move back there now given the crazy house price spirals here - which looks a lot like a ponzi scheme to my eyes. That makes no sense either. I was quite amused by my comment to Lewis about the houses there originally having small productive gardens way back in the day, but the houses have now eaten the vegetable patches!

Fair enough, from everything that you have said about your property, shade is a serious problem. Shade does affect growth here too, and the trees in the shady orchard grow far slower than the trees in the sunny orchard, but mind you, in hot dry years, the trees in the shady orchard are far less stressed.

Imagine the poor chicken who could lay 2 eggs per day. Ouch! I've had double yolks from time to time and they were huge eggs.

Yeah, fire spreads by running along the ground as well as radiant heat and embers. A break in the fuel load is not a bad idea and rocks used in paths can provide that.

I hear you. You say tomata, and I say tomato! Hehe! Some town names down here have disputed pronunciations too. I reckon the English language is flexible enough to accommodate us both, although I do reckon it is a pumpkin! Hehe!

Cacti get a bit scorched by frost here too. And also Ollie has taken to chewing the tops off one of the succulents. The editor is most displeased with Ollie... How he avoids the spikes is a mystery as well. We had our first frost of the year this morning.

What a great idea and training exercise with the cats and the chickens. Nice one.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

An aphorism I like is: "watch the cents and the dollars will follow". That one works too. When I was a kid people used to say: "more dollars than sense", which was quite a clever play on words. My grandmother used to always say that we were: "carrying on like a two bob watch". Two bob being twenty cents, which would indicate a very dodgy and poorly made watch! There is also the possibility that we were genuinely carrying on, which is to be expected of children. Because my mum was a single mum, both of my grandmothers had to step in to assist during school holidays when we were really young. After a few years, the grandmothers got too old (or died) and we were probably a handful, and we became what was delightfully known back then as latch key kids. You never hear that phrase much these days, and I'm not sure society looks fondly upon those particular social situations. It was one of those things that you never really understand at the time how unusual the circumstances are until you have a bit more experience under your belt and you make comparisons with other families. But really, to me it has always been just a thing that life throws at you, and you have to play the hand that you are dealt. Plenty of people had it far worse from what I can see of life. At least I didn't have to march to war at the age of eighteen and that is a story that is not lost on me.

Truisms do tend to have some truth in them! Hehe! Yeah, you know sometimes I'm put in a situation where by my profession I have to give advice, and my advice is always conservative (in the old school meaning of that word) and remarkably unsexy. It may sound like a sweeping generalisation, but that story doesn't fit well with some people and they go looking for the big wins - and they inevitably get taken. I hear that story of the big win getting referred to in other peoples stories and it stands out to me, but rarely do I intervene. A good lesson from Star Trek that one - you don't have to take on everyone's or even every fight. Sometimes you can just walk away. I'm reading Robert E Howards - 'Collected tales of Sailor Steve Costigan'. Mate, the protagonist is up for every fight thrown in his direction - still practice makes perfect in that particular instance. I read a really funny line in the book earlier today as I was sitting in a cafe over a coffee. Hopefully the staff didn't think to themselves that I'd lost the plot as I was chuckling to myself. It is just silly, but a ripping good yarn. Howard was clearly interested in the rough and tumble of the culture that he had found himself in as a boy.

All these stories of cats integrating with chickens amazes me. I'd like a cat or two to help out with the ongoing mouse and rat situation, but the cats may eat the smaller birds that work so hard in the gardens eating every insect under the sun. And that is no good. The dogs are fast, but they're not fast enough to catch the birds (except for very rarely).

Thanks for the explanation about the bone meal and yeah, the soil last season from memory of your descriptions sounded as if it had a ways to go. How is it looking this year? Are you finding lots of worms? Are you discovering other critters since you added the leaf mulch?

That's what I thought about the horseradish too. It is hard to kill - like Bruce Willis in a Die Hard film - just when you think he's a goner, he comes back with a vengeance. Out of curiosity, do you blitz your horseradish or do you chop it into fine chunks? It is pretty intense with the brain pain. I recall you saying that about the horseradish in the chicken run and I have no experience with plants growing in chicken runs and enclosures. Chickens have preferences for food, and that can be a bit strange from time to time, but I guess even the dogs get bored with their food. I made them a vegetable pasta dish for their breakfast this week and they have been feral for it. Next week, they'll want something else.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

It does give one pause doesn't it? But you know I watch the trees getting bigger here every year, and I'm getting older. The sort of harvesting that went on in those days came on the back of hundreds of years of continual learning as to how to tackle that particular job as a team of people and animals. Nowadays how many people would know how to do that? I met a champion axeman once and employed him to do a particularly unpleasant and very scary job - and he did it without fuss. But he was a rare person and his like are not to be found easily. I had to meet dozens of people before I found someone to do that particular job and most people balked at it despite their claims.

People are frankly strange about trees. I like trees, but most houses are constructed with products from trees and people wipe their bottoms on tree products (we use toilet paper manufactured from 100% recycled office paper. It is not soft, thanks for asking!) and yet when I suggest to people that the forests could be managed better so as to reduce the risk of serious wildfires, they look at me like I'm the worst person on the planet. And then I tell them, that if the forests aren't managed, then the whole lot will die in a wildfire as will every living thing in there and the area won't support birds and animals for another probably 5 to 10 years (it is a quiet forest that) - and even the oldest and tallest trees may die - and then they don't believe me. So I don't talk about it. For the enviro crowd, trees are their big win which they can point to and feel good about, but few think about the quality of the win, and even fewer want to pay for the maintenance of the forests. Rant, rant, rant! :-)! It is a good rant!

Yeah, I'd stick to the more expensive local variety too. We've had a few outbreaks of Hep A from contaminated frozen berries sourced from China. Humanure is good fertiliser, but it is probably not a bad idea to compost the stuff first before using it.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

G'day Mark!

Costante is good, and it is hard to leave there without having purchased something. Yes indeed, one never knows what their past lives held in store for them, but for you I'm thinking that you had access to an Italian peasant orto up in the hills, complete with terraces for olives and maybe chuck in a goat or some chickens or something like that. Me, I was clearly bad, as in this life I have to work hard to make up for that badness! Them's the breaks. :-)!

Sorry mate, but I don't frankly know enough about cattle raising or dairy to be able to put your comment into perspective. My mates raise cattle and milk their own cows and make cheese etc. but it seems like a lot of hard work which the land here is probably not well suited too. The grasses get converted to manure via way of the kangaroos, wallabies and wombats, so they perform that function. We tend to specialise in plants whether they be: herbs; berries; vegetables; fruit; and nuts. I assume that you have plenty of water available if you even began considering dairy as an option? I'm not sure that I have enough stored water for cattle and the soil doesn't hold water in dams very well here which is a problem - although it is not much of a problem for the trees which can access the water in the soil.

Agriculture is a complex beast.

Wow, that is a huge gain in using the electric picker. Wow, I can see the value in that, and thanks for the suggestion about the tarp as distinct from the nets as that makes sense. From what I've read, back in the day, they used to pin the nets to the ground, but I'd never considered that the nets would snag and become a problem or get twigs and leaves mixed in with the olives. Interesting.

Good luck and I look forward to reading about your harvest. February and March were crazy hot and dry this year, especially compared to the cooler summer of last year. We have a wide variety of fruit and nut trees and they perform differently every year because of the variable climate. It is a bit like hedging your bets as you never know how things will turn out.

Cheers

Chris

Damo said...

Hi Chris,

For some reason I had it in my head that NZ had uplifted itself due to Tectonic activity and was thus reasonably isolated. However, it turns out it had disconnected from Antarctica and Australia some 110 million years ago. This predates mammals and explains why NZ has no native ones. Possums fur is often mixed with sheep wool I am told. It is apparently pretty nice. Personally, I am not a fan of possums. Nowhere near cute enough to make up for the noise and carry-on they get up to.

Moving around is a tough decision with real implications. I personally would prefer to settle, but the economic and personal costs of settling (at least in Australia) I consider too high. It is always a trade-off. Financially, the West Coast of Tasmania was the best place for me to be, a very high wage and incredibly low rent. However, a 4 hour round trip for groceries and fresh vege is just one drawback to consider!

I do find the 'effort into relationships' comment strange though. People are either worth hanging out with or not. Their eventual move to another location should not really impact that. At least this is my experience. Mrs Damo and I have a network of friends around the world, some we only knew for 6-12 months before moving on, others are from childhood etc etc. This could be a generational thing though. Most people born after 1980 are conditioned to expect frequent moves either around a city (rent becomes too expensive, landlord selling or whatever) or even around the country and world (modern, dynamic, flexible economy and all that nonsense).

Damo

Damo said...

In other news, the new GM seems to be going well. He has a survey background like myself and I think we can work well together. At any rate, I am optimistic. When I am back in a few weeks hopefully the place is still there :-p

@Lew, thanks for that tree story. Fascinating!

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

I am snowed under by the problems of various people at present (not Son I am happy to say) so hopelessly short of time to read and comment.

@ Pam

That is a very cool washing temperature. How did you measure it?

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I laughed heartily at your comment when I first read it, and it's still funny: " about the houses there originally having small productive gardens way back in the day, but the houses have now eaten the vegetable patches!"

Ollie!

I yield to - pumpkin!

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Ran across an interesting real estate / finance article, yesterday. That the 2008 real estate melt down wasn't just the fault of subprime lending. House flippers played a part, too.

https://www.npr.org/2018/04/17/601925433/a-decade-after-the-bubble-burst-house-flipping-is-on-the-rise

There was also an article on the same site (NPR) "Super Hot Pepper That Sent a Man to the ER." Those peppers were the Carolina Reaper. Appropriate name :-).

"Truisms do tend to have some truth in them!" That's why they're so irritating. :-). And, often, they're about what you should be doing, and not what you want to do.

Well, Nell did catch her share of birds. Probably more than I knew about. But it didn't seem to put much of a dent in the local bird population. She caught far more mice, voles, moles, and once, a rabbit.

I blitz the horseradish. Ran into the master gardener, yesterday, and he said it's early for horseradish to make an appearance. Well, I've added enough "stuff" now that the planting boxes are quit topped up. And I'm not done, yet. Hmmm. Other critters in the soil. Not a critter exactly (the jury is still out) but I did get quit a few mushrooms in my old bed. And, that was before I added the mushroom compost. I took that as a healthy sign.

We used to have a joke that toilet paper was so cheap that it still had the wood chips in it. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Well, I hit 7 Op Shops, yesterday. Scouting for all manner of things. At the first one I stopped at, they have a corner where they keep their older books. Well, there was a dealer I recognized (not a book dealer ... collectibles) and he was scooping books into a cart. No joy there, I thought. After he had moved on I spotted a little black book. "The Dunwich Horror and Others." Lovecraft, Arkham Publishing, 1963. Not a first edition and it has some "problems" (no dust jacket, a bit of staining on the cover) but, as near as I can tell from research, a $3 investment should yield $20-$25.

"Well", I thought, "With such a good start, I'll probably find all kinds of treasures, today!" Ah, hope springs eternal. The next 6 stops were zip, nada and zilch. I did finally find a food dryer, but the poor thing was very abused and so worn that I couldn't even find a manufacturers name on it. So I passed.

I've noticed lately that the inventory in the op shops seems a bit ... stale. Oh, well. Luck of the draw and all that.

Off to The Club to gas with my mate Scott and then will probably take a run out to Salkum as there's (one hopes) things waiting for me on the hold shelves. This whole situation with the local library branch being closed and the holds has been such a train wreck. Lew

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

The weather still is not cooperating. We had 3 inches of snow/ice on Sunday, hasn't gotten out of the 30's and now another 1-3 inches of snow today. However, things improve starting tomorrow

No offers yet but another showing last night and the tree farm guy comes on Saturday. At least I'm not cleaning for naught.

Ollie is in Leo's familiar position on the couch.

There's a very large wind farm proposed about 20 minutes south of us on what is now farmland. We have long winters here so I don't really see the sense of it and it takes farmland out of production as well. It's so windy here and we have open fields around us that we thought about a wind turbine in the past. Wind farm proposals crop up around here in a regular basis. Of course one never hears about cutting energy usage.

I've never had any trouble with cats and chickens - even chicks. There were times that our cats could have gotten into the brooding chick area and they did look with interest but never got any. They also rarely catch the bird pests of the barn - English sparrows and starlings but catch birds they shouldn't outside. I have a couple of theories - the first being that there are already birds in the barn and as the chicks are in the barn the cats think they belong there. Cats like their prey to move and the chicks when they're brooding are in a fairly small area so aren't moving around too much. By the time they are moving and flying a bit they are quite a bit bigger - maybe too big for the cats. The cats would always wander into the adult chicken coop and drink from the chicken waterer. One of the cats would even hang out in one of the nesting boxes. The chickens paid them no mind.

Doug's mother is having more issues as well so as you can imagine we're pretty busy.

Margaret

Damo said...

@Lew

The Lovecraft book is a good find - I would have bought that for myself :-p Mrs Damo has far more patience and ability with Op Shop finds. I find it difficult to scan for opportunities, tending to be looking for a particular item. This means I often come up empty whilst Mrs Damo has an armful of finds.

Damo

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Damo,

Yeah, my understanding is that you are correct with the tectonic activity, but that applies for the North Island which I believe is a much newer chunk of land and of very different origins to the South Island. The South Island was a chunk of Gondwanaland, but I could be wrong in that belief?

Possum fur is very soft. I didn't know that the fur was mixed in with wool, but that makes sense as there are a lot of possums in NZ - and not much is eating them. At night possum fights sound blood curdling, so yeah I hear you. Possums, both ring tails and brushy tails here put in what I call a special guest appearance (like the ensign that turns up for one Star Trek episode before being despatched - usually rather unpleasantly)!

Fair enough too, it probably is a strange comment and reflects my personal biases. Please accept my apologies. If it means anything to you, I moved around a lot as a kid and also an adult, and maybe I've just gotten tired of it. I've lived here about as long as anywhere before now. As a contrast when I was a kid people used to talk about 'jobs for life' and I know people who worked for the same organisation for all of their adult working lives but by and large they are usually older and retired. That is a sense of security on an employment front that I've never really known, and nowadays, I'm pretty much a gun for hire because I see a lot of different businesses, and plenty of those I've known for about a decade, it is just that everyday usually finds me elsewhere. Maybe I'm conditioned to frequent change too? Dunno. I sort of like the change as it keeps my mind sharp. It is a really deep question you have touched upon because we can only do what we do now because of the easy availability of fossil fuels. I suspect the future will look more like the 'World made by hand' series of novels, but I don't really have any inkling as to how things will play out on that front.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Thank you for the courteous comment. I have to admit that I was beginning to wonder whether your phone service had been accidentally dug up by a well meaning neighbour. Or the other option I was throwing around in my head was that it failed due to excessive precipitation! ;-)!

Good luck with dealing with the OPP (Other Peoples Problems) situation. And I am glad to hear that your Son is doing well. I hope he managed to obtain a replacement gander?

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Glad to entertain you, and the houses in that area really have swelled in size over the past decade or so, on little tiny narrow blocks of land. :-)! To be honest, I'd never even considered the problem from that perspective before, but last week we were discussing the demolition of buildings in Detroit and how some of that reclaimed land was slowly returning to very small scale agriculture. And I flipped that idea into the context of down here and asked myself how would that look in the big smoke? I hope that someone is taking the time to study Detroit as it would be unpleasant and a bit scary but also fascinating all at the same time?

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam (cont),

Oops, I pressed the Publish button too quickly. I'm tired as I went to a comedy show in the comedy festival last night and got home past midnight...

I could suggest that it is a squash, just to be a contrary thinker? But let's not do that because such folks would be really annoying people to be around! Hehe!

Yeah, how naughty is Ollie? We had the first light frost the other night and I let him sleep inside in front of the wood heater. Clearly with fluffies, once is a pattern...

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for the interesting article on flipping. Flipping a house down here (which means disposing of it within 12 months of purchase)from what I understand of the matter puts a person firmly in the ‘conducting a business’ territory for tax purposes. It is interesting to me that the flippers in the US are now having to add value to the home such as undertaking repairs. You know after the GFC, real estate spruikers were pushing real estate in places like Phoenix but selling to punters down here. Of course I read articles that us locals were over paying for those properties too. Mate, I don't know what to say other than people are looking for unearned income. I've repaired houses in my time, but they were massive undertakings, not a basic freshen up which can be done in a month or two. The thing that most ponzi schemes require in order to function, are new suckers. Incidentally, how the heck do they get green lawns in a place with a climate like Phoenix? That story makes no sense to me.

Interestingly the story mentions that there are television shows promoting such activity, and I am always on the alert when I hear that story. Marketing can be so pervasive, that sometimes we don't even understand that we are being marketed too. I have had a few friends suggest that they were considering moving to a certain area - and I asked them the hard question: where the heck did they separately get that idea from? I'm not much of a believer in coincidence - although it does happen.

Oh my. No way and far freakin out! I am not going anywhere near one of those Carolina Reaper peppers. Shocking, and that thunderclap headache sounds like an atrocious experience. When we tested the jalapenos chilli, we consumed a little bit at a time and then waited to see what the effect would be - same with the horseradish. The chilli's get hotter the closer you get to the stem.

I saw in the news that someone in the US was almost sucked out of an aircraft at altitude, due to an exploding engine, and they unfortunately appear to have died in the incident. I'm not much of a fan of aircraft.

Oh no, you slipped in the 'should' word. I really try hard to avoid using that word as it gets peoples backs up and they start getting really grumpy and stubborn. Best left alone that one, but a snappy well timed truism, well that can slide under the radar. Maybe? :-)! And you should not use the should word either!!! Hehe!!! OK, did I get away with that bit of cheekiness? Hehe!

We went to the comedy show last night at the comedy festival. I really enjoyed the show and like I mentioned to you, how often do you get the opportunity to hear that particular story? Strangely enough, there were very few guys in the audience. The show finished past 11pm and then we got home past midnight and I am feeling a bit tired today I can tell ya.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Your soils are more fertile, so you may have more bird life than here? Dunno really. The bird species here attack each other with gusto so maybe a cat wouldn't make too much of a difference to the bird population. But then the dogs would hoover up the cat scats, and that would be unpleasant for me to experience second hand via their breath. Yuk! Maybe that is my real reason...

Oh yeah, mushrooms in the raised beds are a good sign. Out of curiosity, what materials are the raised garden beds constructed from? I assume you can see the fine white strands of mycelium hyphae now in the soil? The strange thing about raised garden beds is that they always require topping up with compost, soil etc. The soil level sinks as the soil critters consume the organic matter, and also the plants convert the soil into, err, plants. Every year I top the raised garden beds up and it never ceases to amaze me how much they drop in level.

I really enjoyed the toilet paper joke. The recycled stuff is not soft, but moral standards must be maintained and that seems like a good place to start. :-)!

You clearly have a nose for deals. The inventory matter can be due to cycles of rubbish. Hey speaking of which, things are heating up here big time on that front: Recycling will be dumped by councils nationwide as costs blow out, government association says. There are even articles suggesting the end is nigh for the plastic bag. Are you hearing anything about this issue where you are?

Did you end up collecting your holds at Salkum?

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

Thanks for your comment. However, I've run out of time to reply to you lovely comment this evening and promise to reply tomorrow night.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I am having a few moments with a coffee and cake. Have just got back from taking some bits and pieces to a fine art dealer who comes to the Island every 6 months. Son accompanied me (he has to drive me there anyhow). As he is huge and bearded and keeps silent, it always looks as if I have a fierce bodyguard with me. I came away with £50 and a lot of info. which is always interesting.

It was my birthday this week so as well as people's problems, I received hours of phone calls and ended up exhausted. I mustn't be ungrateful but in essence I am a natural solitary.

Son has not bothered with another gander as he has now lost a goose as well.

At the moment I am reading 'Natural causes: life, death and the illusion of control' by Barbara Ehrenreich. So far I would recommend it.

Second consecutive day of glorious sunshine.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

I let the washer fill up with water, then I put the thermometer that I use for measuring air temps into it.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I forgot to comment on axmen. A lot of the old "bulls of the woods" have been dying off, but there's still plenty of folks around that "work in the woods." "No Cork Boots in the Store." :-). Quit a few years ago, I had a birch that was making me a bit nervous. That thing was tall! So, I asked around and found Dave who topped it for me. No fuss, no bother, took him about half an hour. There's a small town up in the eastern part of our county that has a yearly Morton Logger's Festival. I've never been, but it's been featured on quit a few travel shows.

From what I've heard, we have a few "home" channels, over here, that have programs on flipping, buying, decorating, etc. etc.. My friends in Idaho are quit devoted to them. I found them rather boring. :-). Hmmm. The outfit in Phoenix probably rounds up a large crew of guys with questionable immigration status and crank out the houses at a pretty good clip. I think my Idaho things are more like The Editor and you. Not as many, a slower pace. More attention to detail.

They paint asphalt green in Phoenix and call it lawn :-). Quit a few people in Phoenix splash a lot of water about to grow grass. But, there are several (as I understand it) low water grasses that have been developed. But also, home desert landscaping (appropriate for the area) is also very popular.

Often, I ask people "What brought you to Lewis County?" While thinking, "What possessed you to move HERE?" Most times, I get a rather blank look. As if the contemplation of why they moved here has never crossed their minds. Which I am sure is true in some cases. Of course, in the Recovery Community, I run across a lot of people that move here for a fresh start or, to get away from bad influences. There are also people that move here for better schools, to take care of aged parents, cheaper real estate, etc. etc.. I moved here for a promotion and got stuck :-). There's also a certain amount of romanticism, at play. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. The raised beds are mostly made of cedar, I think. Some are post and plank. Other's are cedar 8x8", piled up. I think raised beds are sometimes really educational. Some of the ladies marvel at how the beds sink, and have clearly never seen, or understood the process.

Well, I do think junk runs in cycles. Depends on what estates hit the market and how they enter it. Op Shop, auction, estate or garage sale. Downsizing efforts. General clean out. That was an interesting article on "The Recycling Crisis." Sooner or later the tv news will have special reports with ominous music and threatening graphics. :-). I chuckled over that one line about people "loosing faith in recycling." A Crisis of Faith! Will there be scizims? (sp?) Crusades? Ah, but there's hope on the horizon. There's been several articles this last week on scientists accidentally finding a new plastic eating enzyme. Hmmm. Hope that doesn't get out of hand. What could possible go wrong? Over the years, I've read a couple of SF novels that had to do with plastic eating bacteria getting out of hand. Also one on nano bytes that devour petrolium products. Things do unravel.

Ah, yes. The burning question of the day. "Paper or plastic?" (bags). A case can be made for either. Many cities (or, even counties) here have banned plastic bags. Or, some stores charge for them, to encourage people bringing their own bags. Plastic seems mostly on offer. I get at least two uses out of every plastic bag. Garbage can liners, to cover food in the fridge, etc.. I often see small businesses using recycled bags. Not unusual.

The trip to Salkum was ok. My two holds were waiting on the shelf. I ran into one of the curriers that I knew from the old days. And, yes, boxes of stuff are piling up in Chehalis. I'm sure it will take them days to dig out. So, as I suspected, most of my stuff in transit is sitting in boxes. I watched the new "Justice League", movie, last night. It was a zinger. The only thing that bothered me is that the actor that plays The Flash, is not nearly as good as the fellow who plays him on TV. Why they didn't use the same actor, I'll never know. Lew

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

I had to cut comments short last evening because there was a train to catch from here into the big smoke. The editor was already in the city that day and she went with a friend to see a comedy show at the comedy festival. Two nights in a row is too much for me, but not the editor. Anyway, I caught the train in to the big smoke so that I could drive her home again after the show and dinner. The editor is still not 100% from the effects of the flu and so it was probably better that I drove her home again given how late the night finished. We ended up getting back home about 11.30pm. You probably would have enjoyed the show yourself as the show was from a young lady who keeps bees, chickens, and has an edible garden in her share house in the inner north of Melbourne: Alanta Colley - Days of our Hives. The editor really enjoyed the show, and Alanta was a realist as she quipped that if the apocalypse ever occurred, she would have at least a day and half's food from the garden (especially if she consumed her house mates portions!). Very funny! The land size for that house would be very small, but originally the houses were workers cottages with backyard vegetable patches.

One joke that she made was that if ever she meets someone who is her age and owns a house, she quips: “I’m so sorry for your loss”. Ouch.

Has the weather improved yet? You've had such a long winter this year and spring is fast disappearing - although I understand your spring begins on the equinox, whereas ours is the first of that month (just to be complicated, I guess). This week has been warm and sunny with most days hovering around the 70'F mark and the UV is now moderate so no sunscreen required (maybe). All up it is pretty nice here at the moment - all things are subject to change at short notice though. Some parts of the continent are receiving a lot of rain, but not here.

So much cleaning. Best of luck with the showings.

Yah, Ollie and Leo are cut from the same cloth. I fed them all bones this morning and nothing else for the day. They put in a half hearted request for biscuits for dinner, but I just ignored them - and now they are all sound asleep - digesting... I've begun getting the bones once a week from the local butcher as it is a waste product for them - and the dogs teeth get a great cleaning.

Wind farms bring out all sorts of heavy emotions in rural areas. Some people get affected by an audible noise from the turbines, but my hearing range doesn't seem to pick up on that. There are winners and losers in that arrangement too as the landowner that leases the land enjoys a nice flow of awesome income, but the adjacent land - not so much. Then there is the overshadowing problem from 300ft towers in adjacent properties, then there is the loss of visual amenity etc. etc. And down here the heavy hitters put a legislative ban on the things in the local council area. Maybe we could add that weddings, funerals, and wind turbines bring out the best and worst in people! I reckon they are pretty industrial installations in an otherwise rural area, so I can see why people get upset, but as you say, they're upset and also connected to the grid. Going off grid is not a cheap option.

I received the book 'Gene Everlasting' in the mail today and look forward to reading his thoughts. Thanks for the referral.

I'm really amazed at the chicken and cat interaction stories and it is not at all what I would have expected from our feline friends. Honestly, the fluffies here would prefer to eat the chickens if they were ever given even half the chance. A blackbird has moved in here and it is annoying the editor by constantly digging up seedlings in the raised garden beds. Hmmm.

Sorry to hear about Doug's mother and I understand. You have a lot going on so remember to take it easy from time to time.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Good for you, but curious minds want to know what sort of cake? I'm feeling that it was an apple and cinnamon tea cake at a guess? I had to work today, but took some time out to visit a local bakery for lunch where we enjoyed a BLT (bacon, lettuce, and tomato toasted sandwich) and a good coffee and lemon and coconut sour cake. It was very good.

Sometimes you need a fierce bodyguard and you probably get street cred with one at a fine art dealer! Hehe! Glad to hear that you enjoyed the visit, and sometimes you never know where you will learn things. I find that it can be at very unlikely and unexpected times. The editor and I visited a lovely lady who sells the best honey that I have ever purchased anywhere and she is located not too far from the bakery but in a really remote spot up in the forest. Now we have been purchasing honey from her for, well, many years, but today she finally asked the editor (it is probably not socially appropriate for me to converse with her being a guy) about our story. It was kind of nice, because the sub-text is that the lady is saying that after all these years, we are finally considered OK. That is how it rolls in rural areas, which I quite like and understand, although I probably never really understood it all initially as most people don’t.

Happy birthday to you! An auspicious week for you. Me too, I like people and can be very social (it is hard to shut me up sometimes!), but after that I like to recharge the batteries and that requires a bit of solitude.

The naughty fox. Do you reckon your long winter has meant that the foxes have been bolder than usual?

Barbara Ehrenreich also wrote 'Bright-sided' so thank you for the second recommendation of her work. Barbara clearly has a sharp mind and clear intellect. The awareness that the skinny guy wearing the fashionable going out hoodie, whilst also holding the scythe and forever lurking in the shadows is not lost on me. His message to us all, is to tell us to live. Like hard work, it is not an appealing message. Dunno.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for the comparison, but not so here. Of course there are a few people around, but the forests are locked up tight down here - probably a bit too tightly from my point of view. Loggers tend to be at the same social circumstances as garbage collectors due to peoples belief systems. The funny thing though is that both jobs are necessary jobs, because garbage still seems to accumulate, and people want timber. We have such a weird perspective on forestry work down here and people have such abstract notions of what a forest is. They look at a tree and utter something stupid like: "Ug, tree"; and there they stop. I look at a tree and ask what sort of tree is this, how is it contributing to the forest? What does its growth say about the health of the soils and forest? How likely is the tree to survive until maturity? What is living on the tree? How does the tree fit into the context of the forest? Those are really complex questions, but most people can't get past the abstract concept of 'tree' - unless of course they need some toilet paper... It makes me really grumpy that cartoonish notion of forests that a lot of people hold, and I can see why emotions get heightened about this topic. Still, I exist within the environment that I find myself in and just deal with the situation as best as I can.

Hey, I have seen wood chop competitions at agricultural shows, and what always surprises me is that you get blokes that look like me in that they are stringy and lean. They compete against heavy built blokes that generally run out of puff during the wood chop competition, and I can tell that cardiovascular endurance plays a big part in those competitions. Repeatedly swinging an axe is hard work.

Ouch! The recent local poultry auction had cameras from the national show 'Gardening Australia' and that only serves to get the punters in to visit what is already a busy experience. We once went to a heritage apple festival at an old orchard inside the city boundaries at (Petty's Orchard). Housing has taken over much of that land which was once very productive orchards. Anyway, the first year we visited the festival it was all very normal and we ate some good food and purchased a couple of heritage apple trees from specialist suppliers who we were able to speak with. Somehow the festival ended up on television, and the next year there was crowd of thousands of people and we saw them and turned around never to return. Of course, given we had the contacts for the plant nurseries, we could then visit the specialist apple tree nurseries directly to obtain trees.

I reckon those shows are boring too, not that I have watched them, but I fail to see how repairing a house can be a competition. Well, I reckon you nailed that because the couple were skiting about flipping, what was it, 27 a year... That entails completing one every two weeks. Mate, we bought houses that were barely more than a shell, and then slowly repaired the house and also all of the problems that caused it to become a shell in the first place. Such work takes years and it ain't a flip job at all. As far as I understand things, a quick repair job in a house is rarely a long term fix because there are always underlying problems as to why the house needed repairs in the first place. I often hear people telling me that they want a new house so as to avoid maintenance, but new houses require maintenance despite peoples beliefs. As I like to say, things are only ever new once. Did I just slip a truism in? Hehe!

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Ouch. Your Lake Mead is a bit of a problem - Western drought watchers eye Lake Mead water level Not good, and a large chunk of water is harvested from aquifers for Phoenix. Double ouch. I'm not a fan of using aquifers for day to day water requirements.

People can be nosy, can't they? Mate, I have no good reason for ending up here of all places. It was cheap is about the best answer that I can give, but a good one would be 'here is where I find myself!' Although that sounds all a bit new age-y, and I'm uncomfortable with that. I hear you about wanting a fresh start somewhere, or just getting a job in a location and then sticking around. Life can be random.

Yeah, the process of the soil sinking in raised beds is quite astounding and very hard to ignore, and so I can well understand how the ladies marvel at that process. Just to share a little secret, I get a little thrill whenever I bring another 1.3 cubic yards of compost up the hill and back to the farm - it is really one of the most amazing things that we can do with fossil fuels. That and being able to supply water when the stuff is not falling from the sky, are really the two biggest opportunities in agriculture now. The rest is playing around at the edges and has a definite end game. Like consider hybrid varieties of annual plants and ask yourself how long will they endure once the breeding that went into them becomes commercially nonsensical. Not long, I'd guess. Incidentally, cedar is a good timber for the beds as the cedar down here has a lot of natural oils contained in the timber.

I see those cycles too. Interestingly, the local animal shelter that I picked up Ollie from has had some troubles: Pets Haven stripped of charity status. That is serious trouble. Anyway, after we picked up Ollie, the very respectable RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) offered an adopt a pet for something crazy like $29. They had a lot of animals post Christmas I guess and we got ripped off, although Ollie is lovely.

Yeah, I liked the loosing faith in recycling bit too, because the process which had been obscure, cheap, and at arms-length from the very beginning has become anything but. Wow! What a thought about the plastic eating enzymes! Yeah, where would it stop? Imagine your computer keyboard being slowly consumed by plastic eating enzymes that were out of control. Mate, if they were yeasts (fungi), I doubt that much would stop them as they would be everywhere. It is an odd thought isn't it? But I guess eventually something evolves to consume all sorts of energy opportunities, err, I mean nasties.

Your description of the recycling with plastic bags is definitely not the norm down here, although used cardboard boxes are often available for use as packaging in stores that do not supply plastic bags. One or two large chains do not supply plastic bags and that has not affected their popularity in any way shape or form that I can see.

The answer is in a box in Chehalis? Hehe! That sounds like the plot of a mystery film don’t ya reckon? I hadn't heard of the new Justice League film. By all accounts it was one of the most expensive films ever made (sorry that is the profession in me talking. Bad Chris!) I like the use of Steppenwolf particularly. As an interesting side note, I have long since wondered why the recent Star Trek films can't simply tell a story, rather than having some massive threat to planet Earth from some known or unknown alien suffering from abandonment issues. Truly, it is a mystery to me. What do you reckon about that?

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

Happy birthday!

Pam

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

The cakes were rock cakes. I bake these when I have no cake left, feel tired and have sultanas in the cupboard.

It was the previous mild Winter which resulted in far too many foxes plus the destruction of neighbouring woodland which resulted in migration to here.

Son brought me the local paper and had the dog Ren with him, now one year old. I commented on the fact that he had become extremely handsome; he sure looked rough before. Son said yes but one wouldn't play poker with him or buy a second hand car from him. Unlike Flynn who adores the human race, Ren won't come within touching distance.

Thanks for birthday greetings.

@ Pam

Also thanks for birthday greetings.

Inge

margfh said...

@Inge

I have read about that book and very much would like to read it. I've enjoyed her other books as well. My mother-in-law, who will be 92 in two weeks and had pulmonary fibrosis has decided to "hasten things along". She's directed that there be no more tests or hospitalizations and for the most part will not be getting out of bed though her physical condition has been deteriorating significantly of late.

Glad your weather is improving and ours is finally too.

Margaret

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

So glad the editor is doing better. The show sounds entertaining. I'm having some computer issues so this will be short plus there's a lot going on as I said. We've had many cats over the years and never have had an issue with them and chickens. As far as dogs there were a couple, Leo and Salve being two, that needed to learn to leave the chickens alone but they did. The three cats we have now were all dumped on our road too, like Salve. All three were kittens, two from the same litter. They appeared to have been house kittens as they were and are super friendly almost to the point of annoyance. They often "help" me in the garden by rubbing against me on a 90 degree day or rolling on newly transplanted plants. One will often follow me on my morning walk which is usually at least 2 miles. He's pretty annoying as he meows loudly and tries to get my attention by walk right in front of me. Who needs TV when you have animals for entertainment.

Well as we have out of town company I probably won't be back online until next week. The weather has turned too so it's time for the outside work to start in earnest.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - I'm not one, much, for birthdays, either. It takes a lot of work to keep them low key. Bits and pieces of tat? Tell all. If you are so inclined. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I ran across an article you might find, of interest. It's got wheat! It's got Australia! It's got Romans! :-)

https://phys.org/news/2018-04-modern-science-roman-wheat-farming.html

I also ran across a trailer, yesterday. They're re-making "Picnic at Hanging Rock." Maybe it won't be quit as opaque and mysterious as the original? I wouldn't mind if someone had a run at "The Last Wave." To refer to a later comment you made about Sci-Fi movies, all the stories have been told. There used to be an old term I haven't seen in awhile. "Space Operas." :-). Which has nothing to do with music. Just the overblown aspects. I checked around on the internet, and I wasn't the only one upset by their not using the TV Flash, in the film. Geekdom was in an uproar. DC Comics just blew them off by saying, "Oh, it's an alternative universe." That's wearing a bit thin. Someone commented that some one "bought the role" for the young man in the film.

Need toilet paper in the woods? Go for the moss, not the tree bark. :-). Loggers here wander about with most of the lower part of their pants legs ripped off. There are three stories. 1.) They play chicken with chain saws. Kind of a rite of passage. 2.) There's no toilet paper in the woods. 3.) The more prosaic, to move through brush, easier. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Loggers do burn up the calories. At small independent cafes in this part of the country, you still see "Logger's Breakfast" on the menu. Truly massive amounts of food, on the cheap. The cafe I worked in, here, had the occasional logger wander in for breakfast. The amounts of food they put away were truly epic.

Sooner or later, Phoenix, Las Vegas .. maybe even LA will end up with greatly reduced populations due to water issues. How many post apocalyptic films have I seen set in the ruins of those cities? Many. But like the rising seas along the coasts, people just don't want to think about it. Tomorrow will be like yesterday ... until it isn't.

Always a lot of animals after Christmas. A puppy sounds like SUCH a perfect gift. Until it pees on the carpet. One of The Ladies screeched at a young man, yesterday, who was yanking a German Shepherd pup along by a chain. Probably best he was out of ear shot. Well, the article on Pet's Haven really didn't tell us much, did it? "Abusing it's position." What the heck does that mean? Someone caught with their hand in the cookie jar? There Byzantine (I tried for excrutiating or rediculous, but could spell neither.) adoption song and dance? But I forget your libel laws are a bit more stringent, down there. You'd think the reasons would be a matter of public record. Or, maybe, it's just poor reporting? Lew



Damo said...

@lew

Re: justice league. Mrs Damo was perplexed at that casting decision as well. Apparently there are numerous, and no doubt complex, licensing arrangements between tv and movie land in the extended dc universe. It all gets a bit complex in the end I think. The new marvel movie next week is combing characters and plot lines from like 18 different movies. The runtime will need to be 3 hours just for everyone to get a speaking line :-)

Damo

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge, Margaret, and Lewis,

Thanks for the lovely comments, however I am unable to reply this evening, and promise to reply tomorrow.

Lewis - I began disassembling the garden water pumps set-up earlier today so as to add in a bigger accumulator pressure tank on one of the pumps. The job was a case of one thing leads to another, and before I knew it most of the parts in that system had to be relocated. No wonder I'd been putting the job off, and I now have to finish it tomorrow... No rest for the wicked in a past life!

Still, as Tolkien quipped: "it's the job that's not started as takes the longest to finish".

Fortunately the sun is still shining here, although clouds have built up this afternoon. Did you manage to get into the garden today?

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

@ Margaret

I have now finished the book. It is well worth reading except for the last chapter which didn't resonate with me at all. I thought that it was self indulgent extrapolation from her own feelings. I had never heard of her before so haven't read any of her other books.

Am in complete agreement with your mother-in-law's decision.

Inge

orchidwallis said...

@ Lew

It was a number of odds and ends; a trial run really as they come to the Island every 6 months. In the main he wanted gold. He took silver cutlery and some other silver bits, plus a fountain pen and a silver vesta case. Goodness, I am already forgetting. He suggested that some bits that he didn't want, would sell on e-bay but I am not interested in that. He was not interested in any plated silver unless it is Sheffield plate, but no doubt you know that. Oh, a very pretty tiny mirror with a silver picture on the back. He said that it was Danish which surprised me as I thought that most of the stuff was German.

Anyhow what he didn't want goes to charity or the dump, depending.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

Your son is so funny. And isn't it interesting that father and son dogs have such completely different personalities? Did your son also raise Flynn from a puppy?

I don't believe my teeth are up to rock cakes.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Oh, it's one of THOSE kinds of jobs. :-). Doesn't feel like I got much done in the garden, yesterday. Spent a couple of hours and did ... what?

Since you're our resident financial guru, I thought you'd be interested in this ...

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2018/04/20/604169277/a-debt-crisis-seems-to-have-come-out-of-nowhere

Does not make for a good night's sleep. Kunstler has been forecasting worldwide financial meltdown for quit a few years. Not if, just when?

I read a little daily meditation book (Touchstones), every day. For years. Poor thing is falling apart. But yesterday it touched on Norman Rockwell. "A father's recollections of a Norman Rockwell painting romanticizes a piece of reality by omitting the drudgery and confusion of life. Myths are meant as inspiration, not as a measurement of our lives." True I think. Not bad, as long as you keep in mind what's going on. That one famous picture of his of the groaning Thanksgiving table. Well, we have an idea of the work that went into getting all that food cooked and on the table. And, the family gathered around? Who knows what dark dramas play out "off camera."

I'm off to the toy show and sale. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Damo - Re: Casting and "Justice League." Well, yeah. But it still burns my grits. :-). Oh, well. I've got season two of The Flash, winging it's way to my local library. That ought to take the bad taste out of my mouth. It's just the cavalier attitude of the DC "powers that be" that rankles. Lew

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Rock cakes sound like biscuits to me. I haven't heard of those for many decades. Thanks for the reminder and I may try making them. The apple tea cake guess was miles off course, although they're pretty tasty cakes.

Ouch, yeah habitat destruction is not good and for the poor displaced animals it becomes a bit of a Lord of the Flies situation. Out of curiosity, has the land been cleared for paddocks, or are they doing anything at all with the land? I'm often curious about that, because I don't see that many people using the land that they have available to them up here - although they are happy to fence out the animals.

Hehe! Who wouldn't enjoy the company of a dog with the qualities of Ren? :-)! Has your son expressed any opinions as to whether Ren will adapt to people as he gets older? The previous boss dog 'Old Fluffy' used to love people like Flynn but she hated every other dog that she ever met. She barely tolerated Toothy and Sir Poopy who used to look up to her. Toothy was devastated when she died.

It is still warm and sunny here – which is really odd for this time of year. By Anzac day, the weather is usually massively cold, but apparently not this year. 82’F tomorrow…

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

Thanks for the well wishes, and the editor is doing much better. This flu is no joke. Yeah, the show was good, and we went with friends to another comedy show last night too. Fortunately, the comedy festival winds up this week. Good luck with the computer problems - they're good when they work, and when they don't you just want to kick them. I'm finding they don't last as long as they used to. Top one with training Leo and Salve with the chickens. When things settle down for you, I'd appreciate hearing how you managed that training?

Hehe! Your cats sound like a lot of fun, and yeah, the animals are entertaining aren't they? Ollie is a poor leader too, because like your cats, he will attempt to lead and then stop right in front of me awaiting instructions. Some dogs are natural leaders and alas he is not one of them!

Hope the visitors stay long enough so that they are enjoyable, but not long enough that they over stay their welcome! :-)! Hope the warmer weather continues and you get out into the garden. Hope the bees are OK too.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for the article on wheat. Yeah, you know, such flood conditions affects all sorts of plants. Wasabi enjoys growing in waterlogged soil – as does rice, but not much else. There are some benefits with living on the side of a hill, and excellent drainage is one of those benefits. Although it is not lost on me that a few times in the past springs have popped up in various locations about the property, but I reckon they are temporary only as excess rainfall moves into the water table pretty quickly. The Romans would have had wheat growing down to a fine art form. Did I mention that the grain book that you recommended turned up the other day? I had a brief look through it, and will read it next up, but some of the illustrations (16th century paintings) show wheat growing at enormous heights of about 5 foot.

Hey, how cool is this? The pair of King Parrots who turned up here last year, are now a group of five birds. As Ash in the Evil Dead remarked: "It's good to be the King"! Believe it or not, they eat the geraniums. Not much else does. They barely make a dent and the plants grow back faster than the birds can eat them. Those plants enjoy a solid pruning too as do most herbs – they grow to be eaten.

Speaking of remakes, I see that someone has gone to the effort of remaking: 'Lost in Space'. I have had people telling me about the show for a few weeks now. I'm not sure why, but I really disliked the original show way back in the day, and the robot used to give me nightmares. Honestly, I have no idea why people are so excited about robots. The Terminator, 2001, and Robocop taught me everything I need to know about robots - and they're bad news. The original Picnic at Hanging Rock was very arty, but was very pleasant to look at. How they got lost there is a bit of a joke because it is quite small. It is all a bit Darwinian if you ask me. :-)!

Space Operas are really cool - sweeping, pulpy, and epic! What more can one ask for from a pulp fiction sci-fi? Jack Vance wrote a few of those, and in fact he cheekily used that as a title for one of his books.

I haven't really kept up to date with the films from the DC Comics Universe of stories, so I didn't really understand the nub of the problem. Do you reckon people pay their way into films? Really?

Oh yeah, tree bark has splinters - and that is not a good possibility. Moss is present here, but in drier forests, a person may have to reach for lichen. Ouch, that would be a bit scratchy. Logging is hard work because it is very physical but most of the movements are repetitive so as long as a person keeps their back reasonably straight, there isn't much chance of spinal or muscle damage. On the other hand, most of the tools require considerable experience to use, and I've seen a lot of people using chainsaws with their back bent over and they inevitably whinge about how hard those tools are on their backs. They're not hard on your back unless you use them incorrectly. Spider and ant bites are the biggest problem for me when working in the forest... And Set is always lurking around...

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

I like that about tomorrow being like yesterday, until it isn't. Nice. I reckon water is the limiting factor for human populations. I remember the last drought when dam levels were down into the low teens. The water is basically undrinkable without heavy treatment below about 12%. And since those days we've added a million people to the city. What could possibly go wrong? You may note that whenever I get the chance, I add more water tanks.

Puppies as gifts reminds me of giving someone a smart phone as a gift. Here, take this phone and you'll have to pay the ongoing monthly charge. Yeah, it's all fun and games until the bills start showing up. I've been reading articles in the newspapers about people feeling cost of living pressures, and like all good stories there is a grain of truth to them, but the articles are suggesting that people need to cut back on their spending. The banks are being grilled by a Royal Commission down here, and it does not make for a nice tale. In fact it is a very ugly business.

Actually, I have no idea what happened to the charity, but interestingly one of the friends I went to the comedy show with works for a business that donates to that charity, and I mentioned that they'd apparently lost their charitable status. And they took note of that - they also knew someone who volunteered at the charity. It is a small world.

Your couple of hours in the garden sound enjoyable, if not productive! One must enjoy their creations too. :-)!

I read that article on the debt crisis. Yeah, well that is the sort of thing that you get with expansionist monetary policy. And we're guilty of that to, we just don't know it yet. I don't know when either, but it will happen sometime because all economic policies are subject to diminishing returns and none of the fundamentals were ever corrected since the GFC in 2008. The interesting thing about debt forgiveness in this case is that it is not sovereign nations being asked to take a hit. It is pension funds, hedge funds, etc. Of course, a basic investment rule is that: if it has a high return, then high risk is attached. What could possibly go wrong with African bonds?

Oh, I like that: "Myths are meant as inspiration, not as a measurement of our lives". A very profound and astute observation. Nice.

What did you score at the toy show and sale? I finished the water pump business today. It was an epic job.

Better get to doing some writing for tomorrow night!

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

My son wears a back support belt to prevent injury when chainsawing.

Pam

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

The cleared land is for houses and for holiday chalets. This area will slowly ruin, though probably not in my life time. There are various planning applications on the go.

Son has not commented on Ren's possible future behaviour.

A few glorious days of sun which just started, yet again, to dry the ground. Then yesterday evening we had one heck of a storm; none stop lightening and ferocious rain; so back to swampland. The lightening took out a house on the Island.

@ Pam

No, Son did not raise Flynn who arrived here as an adult. Son reckons that he had been treated badly as he used to cringe. Fortunately he no longer does that.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Sounds like an interesting lot. Silver was up for quit awhile, and, I haven't checked recently, but now it's down. When sterling items hit the auction block, they usually give an estimate of the weight. When I worked in an antique mall in the 1990s, there was a silver boom. The Hunt brothers were trying to corner the market. People used to run around the mall with small scales sizing up every piece of silver they could find. I'm sure most of it hit the melting pot.

But, it sounds like an interesting lot of bibs and bobs. About the mirror. I think there was a fairly lively trade between Denmark and Germany at various times. Maybe something someone brought back from a business trip?

I bought a pre-war, Chinese sewing basket, yesterday. Woven bamboo with the Peking glass beads and rings. My sixth. It's a sickness ... Also a miniature salt and pepper. German. A house Frau holding a bowl and her chef husband strangling a chicken. An English print of a bird and fruit. It will play well with my Currier and Ives print of a pile of fruit. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I half expected the article to be something along the lines of "Romans Grew Wheat in Australia." Those Romans did get around. :-). And the old wheat varieties had root systems to match their height. Short wheat is a hybrid that appeared in the last 100 years. I'll look up King Parrots.

"Lost in Space." The tv show, and, a movie about 15 years ago? So, they're doing it again. Why? I worked the longest in a building whose building head was pretty awful. Our workroom overlooked the parking lot. Anytime anyone noticed her rolling in, we'd get on the building intercom and announce "Danger, Will Robinson!" :-)

That the banks were grilled, here. I see Wells Fargo just got hit with another billion dollar fine for ... something nefarious.

I watched "Greatest Showman", last night. Yes, I know. You don't like musicals. Most of the music was rather forgettable. Their might be an anthem or two with a bit of staying power. Well, it did have an interesting story and a lot of spectacle. Also touched on issues of class, race and what we used to quaintly call, "lookism". Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Well, the toy show. Mostly lots of miniature farm vehicles. Tractors and such. Some newish (mint in box!) but some vintage. Didn't find any of the non-military lead figures I was looking for, but there you go. Made by Minoil, Barclay and Britains in the 1920s and 1930s. Plenty on E-Bay.

I had the feeling that a lot of the stuff was fakes, reproductions, replicas, copies, duplicates and fantasy items. There are shades of definition. The difference between intending to defraud and not intending to defraud. Certain areas of collecting are rife with such stuff. Toys are notorious. But, most of the guys (and, it's mostly guys) know what they're about and stay on top of that. A fantasy item is something that looks like it should have been made by a company, but wasn't. Coca-Cola collectibles are often seen. They look vintage (may even be) but were not made by the company. It's like art forgers. You don't make an exact duplicate of a painting. You use themes and "passages" from the artists work and create something new. But that looks like it could have come from the artists hand.

On my way out, I told the nice lady behind the counter that the only thing missing from the farm museum was a farm kitchen. She said it's on the drawing board. Along with a blacksmith shop.

My friend from The Home had an upset tummy, so, unencumbered, I hit three of the antique malls on North Tower that I don't get to, too often. See my note to Inge, above. Besides finding a couple of "treasures", I was able to play Lord Bountiful and dispense a bit of wisdom, along the way. A mall owner was a bit miffed that his partner had picked up a couple of large religious prints from the 1800s. A hard sell. But one of the frames was tramp art (a folk art) which can be quit pricey and collectible. So I tipped him off that it might be worth looking into.

At another mall, I ran into a dealer I know, "working his space." He had a zinger of a cobalt glass classical column, about three feet tall. I told him that a.) he had it upside down and b.) it's from the Pilgrim Glass Company. I only know that as we had a Pilgrim Glass outlet store here, maybe 20 years ago. And, I've been flogging myself ever since that I didn't buy one. Of course, I'd have to find another for a pair. And, they came in clear, green and red. Collect the whole set! :-). I also tipped him off that an unmarked vase he had was probably from the Roseville Pottery Company.

Anyway. Temps may hit 80F, this week. Nights are still cold. Another Anzac day? How time flies. Seems like we were just celebrating that. Lew

cheriola said...

Why do you assume cats would eat chicken? Chicken are pretty big (unlike wild songbirds, which do get attacked by cats) and can peck pretty hard - especially the cockerel guarding the flock. On my grandparent's traditional family farm, the handfull of half-wild cats never bothered the chicken, and I'm pretty sure that, given that my grandparents were in their 80s to 90s when I was old enough to consciously remember visits, nobody specially trained the cats. And no, the chicken weren't specially fenced in either, they just scratched around the main yard and fruit orchard, and layed their eggs in a shed adjoining the yard. The vegetable garden was walled in to keep out the farm animals, though. And the uncle who lived right beside the original farm raised pheasants in a large completely enclosed fence-wire aviary, as did my father when he briefly kept doves on our suburban property. However, I suspect this had more to do with protecting the birds from martens and foxes than with the surrounding house cats.

I'm considering using our aviary for a few chicken, but I would have a hard time building a shed for them to roost that's big enough to not get frosty in the winter. Even the unheated garage and the double-glazed wintergarden drop to -5°C when it's -15°C to -20°C outside for more than a single night. (Unfortunately my father could only switch out the glass and roof, not the entire original load-bearing structure, which is largely made of solid, uninsulated iron. Which means it serves 'beautifully' as a heat bridge in the winter. You can actually see frost covering the metal frames and pillars on the inside, long before the temperatures outside drop enough to form ice flowers on the glass. Let that be a lesson to anyone who's considering a 'romantic' looking traditional Victorian greenhouse.)

cheriola said...

Also, because someone was mentioning scifi shows and how there are no new stories in the genre:

I'd like to recommend the Canadian / Netflix show "Travelers", which has a novel take on the time travel genre. Also, while the details on the dystopian future the protagonists are trying to prevent are kept frustratingly vague, it does involve complete environmental destruction, so the time travelers have a lovely appreciation for intact nature and occasionally get to do stuff like murder an oil company CEO or bomb a big agribusiness as part of their mission. I also really like that, unlike the usual near-sociopathic "survival of the strongest" types you get in American dystopian scifi, the show assumes that severe resource scarcity and population stress would drive humans to develop social structures that function more like hunter-gatherer tribes do - i.e. the characters were raised to be very ethical, disciplined, altruistic and kind. And their loyalty to their collective goal almost comes across like they're in a cult - except that the seemingly dictatorial "god-like" leader is really a truly, inhumanly just and ethical construct that they created themselves, knowing full well that human leaders have personal desires and are prone to greed. Kind of a logical extension from human societies creating codes of laws to govern themselves so they wouldn't be ruled by the autocratic fiat of a monarch or entrenched elite. It's never outright stated, but it actually sounds like communism in action. I know that Star Trek has a similar culture, but that's set in a post-scarcity world, where nobody on Earth has to struggle to survive. I don't think I've ever seen a positive prediction for what humans will do under harsh conditions - not in mainstream scifi anyway.


In contrast, there was the very short-lived recent Canadian show "Incorporated" - which probably was cancelled because either the advertisers didn't like the scathingly anti-capitalist message (it's set in a capitalist dystopia that's almost as far along as in "Brazil"), or because not enough viewers wanted to watch a show that showed in pretty realistic ways what exactly is going to happen to the U.S. in terms of climate change and resultant internal population displacement by the time today's millenial generation reaches pension age, if business continues as usual. Far less scary to watch shows where the dystopia was caused by safely unlikely disasters like alien invasions, asteroid hits, supervolcano eruptions or completely unnaturally lethal virus epidemics, I suppose. Still, considering that there's still barely any mainstream scifi show that even just mentions climate change as part of its prediction for the future, "Incorporated" was a brave project.

("The Expanse" gets an honorable mention, because the show at least acknowledges climate change in the intro sequence and features rampant overpopulation on Earth as a low-key background factor in some characters' lives. But the main plot is about class issues and brutal exploitation of the inhabitants of the resource-producing colonies in the asteroid belt.)