Monday, 30 April 2018

Rule of thumb

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

The weather here is ever so slowly moving towards winter. The days are shorter and cool, and the nights are even colder. As we head closer to the winter solstice, the sun drops lower in the northern sky. At this time of the year my mind turns to the solar power system.

With the sun lower in the sky, the solar photovoltaic (PV) panels don't generate as much electricity as we've become accustomed to using during the heady carefree days of summer. The past few weeks have been very cloudy, and PV panels don't produce much energy at all when the skies are full of thick clouds. On one or two days we have used more electricity than we have generated, and the excess is deducted from the batteries. Fortunately, the skies eventually clear to a cobalt blue, and the sun shines again and the batteries get a solid charge. But in about four weeks time, the sun will be even lower in the sky, and we'll be singing an entirely different tune and then these days will seem very carefree.

Years and years ago (actually it was in the early 1980's) I heard a radio story about a family in the US who were hosting a celebratory dinner for extended family and friends. I always recall the admonition in that radio story for immediate family members to: 'Family hold back!' The concept is simple enough, as the host family asked immediate family members not to eat much of the food so as to maintain appearances for their guests, thus making it appear that they had more food than they could actually put on the table!

Previously we have had to 'hold back', but now we have moved to merely being mindful of electricity usage for the three weeks either side of the winter solstice (June 21st for Melbourne). However, it took about eight years of modifications and additions to the off grid solar power system in order to achieve that 'merely mindful' outcome. We now have 30 solar PV panels (5.8kW) deployed all around the farm feeding their energy into the batteries.

When we first began our off grid solar powered journey, we began with 8 PV panels. In those naive days I ran into the limitations of solar power during winter. It was an unpleasant wake up call. Upon seeing how the wind was blowing - and that we were rapidly running out of electricity during the winter months - I began the process of adding additional solar PV panels to the system. An ongoing project over the past 8 years.

At first I promised the editor that an additional four PV panels would do the trick. In fact I actually said something stupid and arrogant like: "We'll just get these extra panels and then we'll never have to think about the system again". Well, I rapidly lost any and all credibility. After a while I admitted that I had no idea where this journey would end up. The current thirty panels works for us.

You know, I reckon this renewable energy technology is good, it is just not as good or cheap as the electricity supplied from large scale generators. In fact this renewable energy stuff makes no economic sense at all to me. None.


I noticed the other day that we have used more than 10MWh of electricity generated from the sun in this house over the past nine years. That is Ten Million Watt Hours! That is a lot of electricity, but it works out over the nine years to be about 3.1kWh per day, which frankly is not very much compared to the average household which at a guess will use around about 25kWh per day.
The house has used 10.137MWh of electricity generated from the sun over the past nine years
A rule of thumb that I use with all of the systems here that rely on natural systems (like energy from the sun) is that you have to capture slightly more than you will require in order to account for the vagaries of natural systems - anything less than that and you will be stuffed. That rule of thumb relates to water, food, firewood, fruit etc.

I feel that my rule of thumb is a good one, because it works and it is conservative in the old school meaning of that misused word (conservatives these days don't appear to know how to conserve - just sayin...)

Other people feel differently than I about that rule of thumb, and Melbourne added an additional million people to the city in the past decade. During that decade the Hazelwood coal fired power station was closed. That power station could potentially produce 1,600MW of electricity of every hour of every single day - which was an impressive amount of electricity. Anyway, that power station closed in March 2017.

Now, I've noticed that the capital city (Sydney) in the state to the north of here has also added about the same amount of people to the city during the same decade. There was always a bit of friendly rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney, and so not to be outdone, they've announced that the Liddell coal fired power station is also to be shut down by 2022 in three stages, one of which has already been completed. They do things bigger up in Sydney, and the Liddell power station at its peak could produce 1,680MWh.

It is a story that makes little to no sense to me. Add more people, check, supply less electrical energy to more people, check. That is where I get stuck at that point in the story. And how are all these 'wave of future' electric vehicles meant to get charged? Of course, I have noted over the years, that failure is always a possible outcome of any plan.

The editor and I are both now feeling well after suffering from the dreaded flu for the past few weeks. We continued excavating the garden terraces up above the courtyard and sheds. We usually excavate using hand tools and an electric (solar powered) jack hammer with a clay spade. It is slow work, but the job eventually gets done and all of the excavated soil gets used to make the next higher terrace. That day we excavated about eight feet of flat land.
Several hours of excavations produced more flat land on the strawberry (but soon to be corn) terrace
We tried to break apart this massive rock, but only explosives will do the job!
This week I also finished feeding each fruit tree in the sunny orchard with a good load of mushroom compost. In the past I've fed the trees during the spring, but I have more free time this year, so I was able to feed the trees during autumn which is at the end of the growing season.

All fruit trees in the sunny orchard have now been fed individually with a load of mushroom compost
We completed an additional two concrete steps on the staircase that was begun last week. This staircase will correct an overly steep and occasionally slippery walking path.
Two additional steps were added to the new concrete staircase this week
Given it is now at the end of the growing season, we removed all of the 90m (almost 300ft) of irrigation hoses from the various garden enclosures. The hoses have to be removed so that we can weed the enclosures and feed the soil without damaging the delicate hoses. In previous years we scrunched all of the hoses into a plastic bin, which in all honesty damages the plastic. However this year we decided to hang them very neatly and without any kinks from a steel hose hanger.
90m / 300ft of irrigation hoses were neatly stored on this steel hose hanger
Once the irrigation hoses were removed we could then weed and clear the tomato enclosure. The enclosure is bigger than some peoples backyards and it took several hours to weed it. Here is what it looked like before weeding and clearing:
The tomato enclosure (with hoses still in place) prior to being weeded and cleared
After the enclosure was weeded and cleared, we then placed 1 cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) of composted woody mulch onto the surface. The mulch will suppress weeds and give the soil a feed.
The tomato enclosure after being cleared and weeded
It looks pretty good, huh? Next week hopefully we will fill the neat rows with compost which will have several months to work its soil magic before the summer vegetable seeds are directly sown in about September. The vegetable matter which was removed from the enclosure was thrown onto a new garden bed where it will break down over the next few months into top notch soil. The chickens also give that process a bit of help!
The chickens help break down the vegetation removed from the tomato enclosure
The editor also purchased some funky looking stainless steel hooks in the shape of a gecko at a recent flea market in the area. We installed those hooks today and will hang hats and bags from them.
How cool are these hooks in the shape of these two gecko's climbing up the wall?
When we cleared the tomato enclosure, there were a lot of capsicums (peppers) half of which have been roasted this afternoon:
We have been eating capsicums (peppers) for weeks, but today the plants all had to be pulled and this is what was harvested
In breaking plant news... The asparagus has begun to self seed and we now have quite a lot of new asparagus plants. Cool, self seeding volunteer plants make it look like we know what we are doing!
The asparagus plants are now self seeding and producing new plants
Despite the cooler autumn weather, there are still heaps of flowers!
A very cool looking blue salvia
Cat mint
Chrysanthemum just in time for mothers day!
Pink salvia's
Beautiful leaf change is seen in this blueberry
I like to chew it, chew it!
Ollie, get off the keyboard! OK use the keyboard, just don't chew it...

Hi everyone!

It's Ollie the Australian cattle dog (edit: cuddle dog) here! Just wanted to drop past and show you readers all the fun stuff that I've been chewing recently. Chewing is so much fun, and there are so many things to chew.

The other day I got stuck in the strawberry netting:
Ollie on the wrong side of the old strawberry enclosure
Fortunately, there was a parrot in there with me and it needed a proper biting:
A parrot stuck in the old strawberry enclosure with Ollie received an unfortunate and terminal proper biting
Then, the clothes horse that originally belonged to the editors mum needed a chewing:
The leg of this old clothes horse was chewed
Who leaves chunks of timber in the hallway. That timber needed a chewing too, and then so did the repairs:
A an old timber bracket in the hallway was chewed then repaired with wood filler
They thought they could repair the timber, but I say it needs to remain now and forever, chewed!
The repairs were even chewed
I didn't chew the hose, because I was chewing a bone. How can I chew the hose when I'm chewing a bone?
Ollie narrowly avoids accidentally chewing this 30 year lifespan hose
I didn't know it was Mr Toothy's kennel...
Mr Toothy's kennel has received a proper biting
Succulents are yummy, but a bit spikey...
This succulent has been receiving Ollie's attention
I didn't do this, it was the wallaby:
The wallaby's also like to chew things, like all of the onions...
The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 7’C (45’F). So far this year there has been 202.4mm (8.0 inches) which is higher than last week's total of 201.2mm (7.9 inches).

97 comments:

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

I view the ever present screens on walls these days with a bit of dismay. It would be nice if they were showing beautiful scenes - as I have seen to good effect - but 99 times out of 100, it is as you note, advertising and programming. You know, I never got into the habit of watching television of an evening merely because I did so many years of part time study, and that experience made sure to point out to me that life was a very precious and fleeting experience because if I wanted to do anything else other than work and study, then television got in the way. But even still, I have a hard time ignoring the screens, and it takes an inordinate amount of will power to do so. That is pretty much why I don't like them in public places.

I'm not suggesting that a person is a captive audience on the toilet, but, well, it does look that way to me. Hehe! Incidentally that is a new one to me. Far out...

Congratulations are in order too! Well done, and it is nice that a local is purchasing the property because they know the area well. What a move you're in for. Cool. You know, you may end up in a really good place, and three acres is a really good sized property to work. I reckon it is large enough to do things with, and small enough not to be too much of a hassle. I hope you remember to give both yourself and Doug some allowance for the stress of having to relocate (e.g. cut yourselves some slack)? Exactly too, don't count your cheques until they are cleared! :-)! I always arrange with the bank for special clearance whenever I receive such a large cheque - which is not often these days.

The stars do appear to be aligning if your MIL is recovering and feeling better. Down here they would say that 92 and not out, is a good innings! That is an obscure but commonly used cricket (sport) reference. The greatest batsman that we have ever produced had the unfortunate average of 99 runs (sorry for the digression into pointless sport trivia!)... The thought of housing seven people is enough to make my head spin, but you do appear to enjoy the entertaining side of things (as do I, in small and manageable doses).

A while back I used to know someone who would have described your investigation of the will - which I reckon is a good idea, because some people leave disasters in their wake, and farm succession planning often falls into that category - as getting ones ducks lined up.

That is very thoughtful with the flowers and pollinators. I'd be pretty certain that Doug has introduced some colonies of European honey bees into the surrounding neighbourhood and they would appreciate that. I sure have and plenty of times not by choice... :-)!

I enjoy the social aspects of the group, but it is also great to speak and enjoy a meal with people who are on the same wavelength. Do we ever get more time? Hehe! I really do hope you score a small acreage on the outskirts of a town in a place you know tolerably well. What an amazing outcome that would be.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam!

Hope you are feeling better, and I chucked in the photos of all the crazy Ollie chewing business in the hope that it brings a smile to your face in your hour of illness. He's alright that dog, but puppies can be a sore trial...

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Oh my goodness, what a variable season (veering toward the cooler side of that continuum) you are experiencing this year. Brr! Winter is ever so slowly creeping up here, so I’m now in my woolly jumper – which the editor tells me is never to be worn in public.

Really? Down here, nurseries supply the seed potatoes by variety with no additional notes as to whether they are early, mid, or late season - even within the same varieties. A lasting image that I have been unable to delete in my mind was back last century when we visited Peru and stayed with a local family in their house on an island in Lake Titicaca. The family put the editor and I up for the night and fed us, but in their courtyard, they were drying the seasons crop of potatoes on a massive blue tarpaulin. It was an interesting dinner because the family understood very little English and the editor and I understood very little Spanish, but all the same we managed to communicate enough through other means such as gesticulations. The couple had two children and it was not hard to see that the kids wanted to be off and about their own business and be free of these strange foreigners at their table! Oh well. What interested me was that in South America, there are apparently hundreds or even maybe thousands of varieties of potatoes and each area had their own distinct varieties. That wasn't lost on me, and so I care very little if the potatoes hybridise here and form their own distinct local flavours.

For your interest, Australia was once attached to South America, and down here there are a few local varieties of the Solanum (nightshade) family of plants, but the fruit won't kill you (although the leaves may), but to my palate they don't taste very nice. I grow plenty of them in and around the farm and maybe one day, one of them will taste good, but until then...

OK, so your early April is our early spring (September - October), interesting. Thank you for that, as I have no idea about potatoes and I feel that I have now matched your second planting date over the past summer. I'll watch and see how it goes. Sometimes it is interesting to completely stuff the whole process up with plants because then you learn a lot more about what a plant can do.

Hehe! Sometimes the baking paper gets stuck to the bread - although I use olive oil - and I'm pretty certain I've eaten a few chunks of that stuff over the years. Dunno. When I was a kid, people used to grease the paper and tins which were used for baking with lashings of butter and that always appeared to work to me. If it means anything to you, I feed the ‘beyond the pale’ baking paper (I try to get as many uses as possible from that stuff) to the worms and they inevitably consume it and I have noticed any ill effect. No doubts, someone will now come along and tell us a sad tale of the incredibly complex and toxic chemistry that goes into making baking paper...

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

I simply grease the tins when making bread, don't use any paper.

My sister suggested that I put the biscuits in the freezer; so I put one in. Now out and it hasn't helped. While eating one (plus paper) with my coffee this morning, I got really fed up and put it in a bowl of water. the biscuits are hard enough for this to be a reasonable idea. At first I thought it hadn't helped and then as I was eating it, I was suddenly able to pull the rest of the paper off. Hurrah! I'll do this with individual ones just before eating them.

@ Lew

Thanks for the doom and gloom; though I did know about this potential disaster with the Gulf stream.

Inge

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for the link to the article on the ocean currents. I'd been aware of that possibility for a while especially in relation to Greenland, and well, we mess with the planets ecosystem at our peril. The interesting thing that I find about the whole thing is that the climate shifts from one equilibrium to another equilibrium and where ever that next equilibrium will be, is a risky question. Mate, we are miles beyond our carrying capacity, as is Europe, so I dunno. I watched a show on people who lived in Greenland and believe it or not, the farmers were ecstatic about the extended growing season, but they were also having to learn to live with regular drought…

About a decade and a bit or so ago I recall the last serious drought that Melbourne experienced. It was pretty bad - almost as bad as what Cape Town in South Africa is currently experiencing Well maybe not that bad, but the dams were in the low teens percentage full. Except that my point in this week’s blog was that we've added an additional million people (possibly more) since those days. To the governments credit they constructed a huge desalination plant (despite criticisms that it was a white elephant), but the energy required to run that plant is humongous. The question that comes to my mind that nobody seems to want to ask is: who gets cut off from their electricity supply in order to run the desalination plant during the next drought? The plant does not operate in isolation. Some cities in Australia, like Perth, are now almost entirely dependent (apparently so) on desalination equipment as run off into dams has reduced significantly. They also apparently pump desalinated waste water into aquifers. That is all a bit of a bummer, but you know, I just keep adding more water tanks. I have the rainfall data from that period of time and whilst it was drier, it wasn't entirely dry, as some of that wet stuff still fell from the sky.

How good are blueberries? Yum! Do you have to net your blueberry shrubs from the birds? The shrubs here are a bit small still and need to grow a bit in order to support the bird netting. Thanks, I'd never considered that it would be a late variety, but yeah that makes sense.

It is always amusing to add a chunk of drama into the day to day life. That was one aspect of the ‘World made by hand’ series of novels that I really enjoyed, because you never quite knew how the situation was going to turn out. Yeah, I'm not so sure Mr Greer would spell magic with a 'k' unless you were setting out to deliberately annoy him, which I suspect may be more difficult than any of us imagine - not that I have any inclinations in that regard or recommend doing that. Like yourself, he seems like a good bloke. Hey, I can recommend John Crowley's book: Little, Big. It won a few major fantasy awards. But, you know, I enjoyed the imagery in the book - the author has a solid grasp of the language. The topic of the book is strangely dark, but it is written in a reasonably upbeat sort of way, and I kind of enjoy that, probably because I'm a fairly upbeat kind of guy and whilst occasionally I get annoyed by things, well, you know I move on and get on with the task at hand.

Garlic is an outstanding companion plant in an orchard and will happily grow under fruit trees. It is interesting that you say that it enjoys the company of tomatoes which I reckon were originally a forest edge plant because of their soil preferences. I can see garlic in my mind growing wild on the edges of a forest. Lots of interesting plants are found at the various edges of ecological niches. Some clever folks have managed to get garlic growing from seed again, which is an amazing achievement.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

To be honest, I haven't had a lot of success with peas, but when I did with snow peas, a mate assisted harvesting by eating most of them off the plant! He's cool, and these things happen. I keep the asparagus in two separate raised garden beds all to themselves because they are heavy feeders. Down here, they are usually grown in drained swamps, which is a bit dodgy from a whole lot of ecological perspectives, but there you go.

Good luck with the planting plan, and we change it every year too! Hehe! What else do you do? Far out. The heritage grain book is fascinating, and the next task - after excavating the new terrace - will be to see whether I can track down some landrace seed. By all accounts you have some landrace wheat seeds sold commercially in your country. I was particularly horrified by the accounts of farmers in the NE of your country having failing wheat crops due to fusarium wilt in particularly wet years. Ouch.

Double ouch! Those scams take place down here too - occasionally with real world consequences to some folks. I see dozens of them each day, and I get to the point of asking the hard question: Do I know this person, and if I don't what the heck do they want. Plus it is easy to see what the internet address of whatever rubbish they are pushing. And zip or html files are an absolute no go. You know this stuff. Incidentally it was a really nice thing to rescue the resident from the scam. I have done that act too with less obvious scams and it doesn't always end up well for me, people invariably tell me it just ain’t so, but it is.

Go the worms! How good are worms? They do the heavy lifting in a garden bed! I just fed a mouse to the worms that Scritchy caught in the kitchen. She is such a good boss dog, and she looked inordinately pleased with herself. That is one of the dogs jobs about the place - they earn their keep.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Yeah, I recall people greasing tins, and it works. If I thought about it for a while, it is probably cheaper than baking paper. I'll have to have a think about that. What do you reckon? People are weird these days about butter, but to me it tastes far better than margarine which invariably contains palm oil - which I loathe the taste of. Yuk!

What a good idea with the water and the biscuits and glad to read that worked. If you'd left me for a hundred years with that problem, I would never have tried that.

Ooops - posted to the wrong blog post. Good help is hard to find they tell me!

Hey, do you recall anything about tins used for baking or cooking getting seasoned so that the food wasn't as likely to stick to the cooking surface? I have a vague memory that that used to be a thing back in the day.

Cheers

Chris

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

It's been quite a busy week. The weather turned pleasant, close to normal highs for late April, and the major flowering tree bloom has begun. I was able to prepare and plant the bed that holds the spring lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, and bok choy. That same bed will receive seeds of cucumbers, zucchini, and butternut squash this afternoon because we have several warm days predicted. They should germinate and grow instead of rot in cold rain, as my first seeding of those crops did last spring.

My youngest brother and his 13 year old son visited us this weekend. They were in town so the soccer club my nephew plays on could play in a tournament with other clubs in the Midwest Regional League. On the face of it this does not sound unreasonable, until I tell you that my brother and nephew live in metro Cleveland, a full day's drive distant from us. If they would have driven, my nephew would have been out of school on Friday and Monday. So they flew in and back home. To me this says a lot about how too many things have become far too cheap, making it easy to waste time, money, energy, and so forth. But we did enjoy seeing each other.

This week I'll work on the last spring-planted vegetables: peas, leeks, carrots, and beets. Next week I'll plant the two beds that will contain herbs and annual flowers.

Claire

SLClaire said...

@ Inge - I grease my bread, cake, pie, and pizza tins too. The only thing I use baking paper for is when I bake fruitcake. It's otherwise too difficult to get out of the tin intact. I use vegetable shortening to grease pans (it's cheap and widely available here).

I find that early, mid, and late season potato varieties mature at different times when planted on the same date in my garden. I plant potatoes in mid April. An early season potato matures from the end of June into the first half of July. Mid season potatoes mature in the second half of July. Late season potatoes don't mature till August, sometimes as late as mid August.

Claire

SLClaire said...

@ Margaret: congratulations on the sale of your house, and may all go well with finding a place to rent for awhile and then a place to buy!

Claire

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - You're welcome! Gloom and doom. My stock and trade :-).

Speaking of which ... Chris might also like to take a look at this one. From the Guardian newspaper. Lew

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/26/were-doomed-mayer-hillman-on-the-climate-reality-no-one-else-will-dare-mention

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Probably a stretch, but solar is kind of like estimating the amount of soil to put in a big pot. Always more than you estimate you'll need. Gardeners I've mentioned my adventures in oak barrels to, just seem to take it as a given. My friend Julia said it also applied to estimating how much mulch you'll need to cover a given area.

About increases in city populations. Well, it isn't as if the cities rounded up stray citizens and just bussed them in. :-). They just show up. Of course, there's always a certain amount of civic boosterism. But that's mostly aimed at "the right sort of people". Never quit works out, that way. The well off get by, just fine. The poorer make do. Some of the States, here (at least Oregon and Washington) are experimenting (fooling around with?) "Urban Growth Boundaries." There are pluses and minuses. It's kind of an ongoing experiment.

I could tell winter was coming, to your part of the world. Chris breaks out the jumpers. I'm switching from the flannel shirts to the cotton. A blanket comes off the bed. That is some rock. Just clean it up and call it a garden bench.

Hoses. Another sign of the season changes. You're putting yours up. I just left a note for our handy-guy, Jeff. "Time to put out the hoses?"

That is quit a bumper crop of peppers. The asparagus? What's the little red berries, kicking around their feet? I had forgot about garlic and orchards. Brother Bob planted garlic in his orchard. It's where I got my giant garlic starts. Can't say I have a formal rotation plan, but planting stuff in different places, is always in the back of my mind. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Ollie's chewing would drive me to distraction. What's with that? Will he quit? Is he young enough to still be teething? Like you, I think I bounce back pretty quick from annoyances. Mostly. I might turn the air blue for a few minutes, but then you ... just get on with it.

Slug patrol was very productive, last night. Only one, but it was the little sucker who'd been going at my horseradish. I hope I didn't kill it with the ammonia spray. Sometimes the cure is worse than the problem.

Watched a good movie, last night (well, I liked it). "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool." It was about the end of the life of the actress Gloria Graham. Like so many people, I'd heard the name. But didn't know much about her. She was an well known (at one time) noir actress. Even won an Academy Award. Worked with Bogart, etc.. But, she kind of faded from the movie scene in the 1950s. Still worked pretty steady in theatre and TV. Personal life was a mess. Fourth husband was the stepson of her second husband. Etc.. Would I recommend it? Well, I think it's for anyone that's interested in the old Hollywood. It is wonderfully acted and the sets and costume really catches the feeling and look of the late 1970s. And, more revenge of analogue. I watched a bit of the DVD "extras" and the director was quit proud of the fact that he used "no green screens." Lew

PS: No, they didn't net the blueberries, here. Don't know why the birds stayed off. Of course, this year they might wipe us out. Speaking of trapped birds, a Starling got trapped in The Club, yesterday. Through a group effort, we managed to flush him down a hall and out the front door. it's a huge building with high walls to mark off the different spaces, but open to a vast ceiling with rafters. Some birds nest up there. Mostly, sparrows. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I grease tins with butter and agree about margarine, yuck. I used to season a new frying pan after which one never washed it, only wiped it out after use. Now we have non-stick doing goodness knows what to us.

@ Claire

Thanks for the potato info. There probably isn't sufficient difference to bother except perhaps for some early ones.
I have a tin with a removable base that I use for fruit cakes. This means that I can get by with just greasing. Once I have gone around the side with a knife, I can tip the cake out with the base still attached and then use a knife to remove it.

Inge

Jo said...

Hey all, let me add to the greasing tins discussion - I too use butter - I keep the butter papers in the fridge and use the left over butter residue on them to grease the baking tray. This is what I do for biscuits/cookies.For cake tins I also sprinkle a little flour into the pan which sticks to the butter - several sharp taps of the baking tin and the flour is evenly distributed around the tin, and the cake will come away easily. I learnt this from my grandmother. For bread I oil the pan with olive oil then sprinkle cornmeal or semolina over and tap again to distribute evenly. It is all part of my campaign to get away from using baking paper. Claire - my grandmother only used paper on her fruitcakes too - she used thin brown paper cut from a small grocery bag, like one you might get from the bakery, and brushed with melted butter..

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Claire,

Nice to read that you are enjoying some warmer spring weather in your part of the world. Thanks for the book recommendation for corn. Yes, I was aware of the problems with inbreeding with corn and then the subsequent crash a few years down the track. I have it from a reliable source that kernels from at least 50 cobs from different plants are required, and I reckon I can do that in the space available. I plan to bring in new open pollinated genetic stocks in spring. I try to be very loose with selecting seeds for the following season, and that builds in a bit of buffer of genetic diversity into the plants. Some people tend to only select the very best specimens which can whittle down the gene pool a bit over time. Corn for some reason is particularly prone to failures in future years, so as usual until I have about a decades experience with the plants, I can’t actually say that I know what I’m doing with them.

Incidentally, I’m reading about restoring heritage grains (in particular wheat) at the moment and that is a fascinating look into humans relationships with nature and plants. It is not a good look, but we can also rectify the problem if given enough time.

It is always surprising how quickly the fruit trees (and flowering trees) bloom, and then get on about their growing business. Down here that process is done in less than about three weeks, but it may be longer in your part of the world? Dunno.

I'm finding the variable weather is challenging here too for the seedlings - but am saving most of the seeds from the plants grown here. We have begun consuming the jalapenos which aren't really that hot and are probably best described as mildly hot and zingy – in all honesty it is probably not warm enough here to really get the heat out of those fruits. Oh yeah, I mentioned those plants because we began saving seed from them and will plant them out again next season. You know I reckon the more people save their seeds, the better adapted the plants will be to the vagaries of the local climate. I have a sneaking suspicion that our plants are much hardier to climate shocks than us humans!

Oh my! That is two states away. Ouch. Look, that is hard and I get that and have flown all about the place when I was younger so you’ll never see me criticizing others for something that I’m guilty of, but now I don't tend to stray too far from home - but you know, that comes with social consequences. A mate moved to Perth in Western Australia (now that is a huge distance from here about 4,000km / 2,500 miles) and he's having a momentous birthday next month and has an expectation that folks from here will fly to there - and I reckon plenty will do just that.

I'll be very interested to read about your butternut squashes and will try them here next season - out of curiosity, do they have long trailing vines? The climate is shifting and this year I managed to grow two types of melons - which was a previous impossibility in this mountain range according to reliable sources, and I know of a group that grew six types of melons in a nearby area with a similar climate...

Best of luck with the spring plantings from the naughty rabbits, and I look forward to reading about your soil amendments.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for the link to the article. The guy is no fool and he is pretty much on the money, although he may be overstating the die off and I was uncomfortable with his claim that ‘everything has been said before’. You know, people are pretty adaptable from what I've observed, and whilst they live in energy fuelled comfort today, well they can adapt to all manner of deprivations and still go about enjoying themselves. I reckon it is the simple things in life that are the most enjoyable anyway, and the editor is forever reminding me of that. I've read stories from the days of the Khmer Rogue in Cambodia and they were a pretty nasty bunch of folks who indulged in all manner of unpleasantness with the outcomes of which I have seen with my own eyes. And, even during those days, people still went about their business (albeit mostly starving and dropping dead) in their new rural abodes. That lot cleared the cities of the populations and frogmarched them into rural areas, which clearly could not support the new intakes from a previously urban existence. To stand in Tuol Sleng and see the blood spattered on the walls is to truly understand the depths that our fellow humans can stoop too. Cambodia would be a difficult place to visit now, but last century it was very quiet - I expect that a lot of tourist places are suffering from population pressures. I listened to a news show on the radio a few days ago about just how hard it is to rent a house in the capital city of the island state of Tasmania which is a tourist mecca as it now has the ignominy of having the lowest vacancy rates in the country.

Exactly, solar is exactly like that in that you have to put away far more than you believe you will ever require because nature does not provide consistently sunny days during the coldest and darkest days of winter around the solstice. The sun is just way too low in the sky. I've had quite a number of people tell me over the years that I should get a tracker (a device to ensure that solar panels face the sun as it moves across the sky during the day), like they are really simple bits of technology. You know, every single household that has had a tracker that I have ever seen, has a broken tracker. That tells me that the technology is really good, and it works because people have invested time and energy into it, they just don't stay the distance because every single one of them that I have seen are in a broken state. It is like trying to get a computer to control a massive wind sail and do that job on the cheap every day of every year and it is just not possible.

Your friend Julia is spot on about the concept relating to the mulch that you'll need to cover a minimum area. With general organic matter, always go harder than you'll think you need. With specific mineral additions, well, I reckon that too much of any one mineral in any direction is a really bad idea and they should only be ever added slowly.

In the early stages of the Great Depression, people headed from the rural areas to the cities. I mention that every time that people suggest that any crash will see bands of people roaming the countryside. It just won't happen that way as people head to what they are familiar with. Eventually, they throw in the towel in the city and then they head outwards - but by that stage they realise they need assistance in getting established and are very much weakened.

There are urban growth boundaries here already with substantial green corridors: Melbourne Green Wedges. They're under threat, but so far are holding. The Sunbury green wedge is between me and the city edges.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

The rock is huge and we only found out just how huge recently and I appreciate the suggestion. Yes, woollen jumpers are good, as are flannel shirts! :-)! The opposite is occurring here and I am adding blankets to the bed.

Good thinking with the hoses, you'll need them before too long. I may still need the hoses too, as burn off restrictions were eased I believe at midnight yesterday. The hills are alive with the smell of smoke... It is still a bit dry for the restrictions to have been eased, but I am but one small voice.

The little red berries at the base of the asparagus are asparagus seeds. If you only purchase asparagus crowns then chances are that you have only one sex of the plant. I purchased crowns and seedlings - and they now self-seed!

Brother Bob would have been a good person to know and you were very lucky to have had the opportunity to speak with him. Hey, I don't have a formal crop rotation plan because at the moment, I don't need one. However, that circumstance is not likely to continue forever and I am growing all sorts of cover crops elsewhere, but until then slackness and ease can prevail...

Ollie is a puppy and that is what puppies do, I’d forgotten that side of the equation although the editor had not. I prefer the company of older dogs, but he was all that was available at the time. I get on with things too, but sometimes I get a bit stressed out about some things, but that means I have to take the time to absorb the new information into my worldview, and then move on. If you know of an easy way to avoid that process, I'm all ears? :-)!

You have now become the Sluginator! Ammonia is all around us, and if I don't keep on top of the cleanliness in the chicken enclosure it is possible to detect the chemical with your nose. That is bad too, because it means that I'm losing minerals from the chickens deep litter, but adding it to the atmosphere is not a good idea. A commercial intense chicken barn would be an awful place.

I read a review about that film and glad to hear that you enjoyed it. Ouch, that is a complex personal life, but you know, people are complex from what I've seen over the years and it hasn’t changed that much with time. I note that the Avengers has set box office opening day records. The editor and I went to see another film that opening night, and I couldn't believe the crowds - and neither could the manager of the cinema who we happened to talk to, by sheer chance. They never used green screens back in the day, so I don't see why they have to now. The original Star Wars looked pretty good, but then so too did the much older 2001 A space odyssey.

Starlings are amazingly fast birds and you lot did really well to get it out of the building. My mates have starlings living in their huge shed and the birds provide a fair bit of free manure...

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks for raising this matter - and I will put some brain cells towards understanding what exactly is this baking paper stuff, because in all honesty I do not know. We are in absolute agreement about margarine versus butter. I used to enjoy margarine, but like all good bait and switch games, I no longer believe that the stuff is the exact same product as what I enjoyed when I was a kid.

Yes, and I'm also sad to say that I have no idea what Teflon is. I recall cast iron pans from way back in the day and when they were seasoned properly, no food ever stuck to the surface.

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

@Claire

Well the sale isn't quite official. We went to sign the contract and there are a couple details to iron out though the realtor believes all will work out. Just to add to the fun as the sale is not official yet we have a showing today and I thought I was done with all the extra cleaning and could move on to phase two of packing.

Our weather has improved as well thought it's quite dry. Yesterday and today are red flag fire days as the winds are high and the humidity low. We're expected almost 2 inches of rain from Wednesday night through Thursday.

Margaret

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

As you will see from my comment to Claire the sale is not quite official yet but it's close.

I wouldn't say my MIL is recovering as her lung condition is terminal but she is feeling somewhat better and is up in her chair for about half the day now. She is expecting a lot of company this week as today is her birthday. This means we are expecting a lot of overnight guests from Thursday through Sunday.

I feel your pain about all the chewing as Salve damaged quite a bit. Even now we can't trust her when we're our so she still is crated. I put an old piece of rug in there for her which she usually nibbles at. Eventually it has to be replaced. Now that the weather is better she and Leo can go out in one of the pig pens with a shed when we are out which they enjoy.

When I bake I grease the pan with butter and then shake a bit of flour on top which has worked very well.

I can across this article about Melbourne's water situation https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2018/05/melbournes-water-supply-on-verge-of-disaster-as-population-balloons/

My mother did not have the right kind of trust for my brothers when she died which has caused continual problems. She was a very organized person but wouldn't let us look at her paperwork before she died. Actually things were quite organized overall but some of the ways she had stuff set up financially weren't quite ideal.

Well as I mentioned to Claire we have a showing today - actually in a few hours so it' back to putting things in order and leaving with the dogs (sigh). We are hoping to have the contract finalized today but you never know.

Margaret

orchidwallis said...

@ Jo and Chris

Thanks Jo for mentioning the flour. I misled you Chris because I forgot to say that I flour the bread pans after greasing them and knock it around exactly as Jo said. Strange how I do certain things automatically but don't necessarily verbalise them exactly.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, nothing like Cambodia, but when I was living (camping out) in the back of the store; when I moved to the boonies and had all the water problems. Well, I just got on with it. And, there was a frequent sense of accomplishment when I could be a bit inventive and overcome the small problems and ups and downs. I'm sure some people would find living here at The Home, quit a step down. To me, it's quit luxurious.

The asparagus crowns I got are all one sex. But I was going through seed, last night, and ran across an old pack of seed. Probably not viable, but I think I'll throw it in the trench when I plant the crowns. Was going to do that this morning, but it's raining and quit cold. But it might be nice by early evening, and the next few days are supposed to be nice.

I have some seed for cover crops, but after reading about how on small plots, they're more trouble than they're worth, I've held off. Next fall I think I'll sow a few patches, and see how it goes. I've got white clover and winter rye.

Only got one slug last night, but he was a big fellow. The ammonia didn't seem to hurt the horseradish. On reflection, I think that starling might have been quit smart. He kept flying up to the counter where we all gather and would perch. He did that a few times, and then headed down the long hall to the front door. Of course, maybe he was just flying toward the natural light. Or, maybe he'd manipulated us to help him out :-).

If thing go to plan, I ought to see my vet friend, Amanda, at the Club, this afternoon. I'll ask her about puppies and chewing. She might have a tip or two.

When I was reading a couple of books about parakeets, all mentioned not to use non stick teflon pans as the gas they give off might kill your bird. Gives one pause ... I use paper "baking cups" when I make muffins. Heck, I can get 50 for $.99. Sure saves on the clean up. When I bake cornbread, I just use olive oil to wipe down the pan. Reading what everyone had to say jogged my memory on several other methods. My cast iron frying pan needs a clean up, rarely. I put a few inches of water in it and bring it to a boil. Scrap with plastic spatula. Wash in hot water, only, and wipe immediately with a paper towel. Season with a bit of olive oil and a dash of salt. Good to go.

I am so chuffed. It is finally here! I turned the page on the calendar and see the big flea market at the fair grounds is weekend after next! Treasures .... Lew

cheriola said...

This is all still answers to comments from last week. I will read this blog entry later.

Yeah, I was expecting that I get much worse winter temperatures than you get in Australia, but I got the impression that a few other commenters here live in the U.S., which does have parts that have winters worse than here. One other person in my street already keeps chickens (and ducks, judging by the noise), so I could ask them about the frost-hardiness of the beasties, when and if I ever get to it. There's a large window leading from the garage into the aviary, so I was thinking of building a sort of glorified shelf behind that window (with thin walls towards the interior of the garage and exchanging the glass window for wooden doors) for the chickens to roost in. So it wouldn't be so exposed to the elements like these little mobile chicken houses I see suburban people use sometimes – but still, -5°C in deep winter. I mean, my grandparents' chicken shed wasn't heated or attached to the main house either, so it can't have been very warm in there in the winter. But it was the size of a normal room, and size makes a difference with these things.

I've read that the little garden greenhouses that you can buy as a prefabricated set – like, 6 square meters or so – are really completely pointless for anything but growing cucumbers and maybe raising plants from seed in March and April. (Last possible night frost is in mid-May over here, but April is normally mostly frost-free, so veggies that have long growing periods like tomatoes and peppers really have to germinate in March and then get moved around between outdoors and indoors for 2 months.) Apparently the problem with those small greenhouses is not the material they're made from (there are various glass or plastic options, including versions with an insulating layer of air), but the fact that the entire volume of air inside is too small to hold the heat when the temperatures outside drop below freezing for more than one night. For example, last winter was weird and we had barely any frost at all until February, so the min/max thermometer deep in the garage stayed above 0°C. But then within one week of steady frost, the soil in the large plant pots I had put inside there froze solid for the first 2 m behind the door. Further in, the soil in pots stayed unfrozen, because the air volume of that room is fairly big. There's a similar effect with the wintergarden. It's not being heated anymore for financial reasons (it was built as a basic veggie greenhouse, but at some point my father put in double-glazing, a better insulated but sadly non-transparent roof, and central heating to use it as a room to live in, so now it's a wintergarden), but even though the iron pillars and doors conduct the stored heat and freeze over with condensation from the inside, the volume of air inside is still big enough that we'll only get a little bit of frost inside – the insulation isn't great because of the iron structure, but heat loss takes time, and the deep frost usually doesn't last more than a week at a time here. So if the reservoir of stored heat is big enough (I assume the concrete floors and north/east stone walls and the bathtub-sized cold-water fish tank help as well, even if it the latter does freeze over at the surface), then the periods of rapid heat loss due to temperature differentials of 15°C or more don't last long enough to empty the heat reservoir in a large greenhouse, but the temperature in a small greenhouse will equalize with the outside in just a day or two no matter what you use for insulation.

cheriola said...

[cont.]

So, even though the wintergarden isn't frost-free, we can still use it to over-winter most plants with at least some frost-hardiness in pots, which they wouldn't survive outside at below -10°C for days at a time. (For the people living in tropical countries: It's not so much the cold that kills the plants, but rather the fact that the soil in the pot freezes solid so that the plant can't access the water anymore. So it's always a question of how big the pot is and how long the frost periods last – small pots freeze through faster. Supposedly frost-hardy shrubs also tend to die outside if they're planted in places where there's a lot of sunshine or wind in winter. Because those above-surface conditions will make the plant transpire, and then it can't replace the water from the frozen first few centimeters of topsoil. Only plants with deep roots or that let their above-surface parts die off for the winter and sprout anew from the root each spring will reliably survive cold winters.) While the wintergarden unfortunately can't be used to over-winter exotic plants or even just citrus trees (and the house is too warm / dark for that), it at least serves well to extend our local frost-hardiness zone to maybe that of Britain without any extra energy input. (Though even larger wintergarden-type buildings with much less window surface actually were used as "orangeries" locally, by wealthy nobles back in the 17th/18th century, even before the Victorian conservatories. Our local palace has one such building. That's one of the origins of greenhouse use in Europe. However, perhaps those citrus tree storehouses were heated with braziers or something, to keep them above +10°C through the winter.) And I have somewhere not-too-warm to put all my veggie seedlings when late night frosts are predicted, like tonight. (Apparently, France even got some snow yesterday. While we had like the warmest April ever, amazingly sunny weather and often more than 25°C, which is the kind of weather we'd normally expect towards the end of May. I even got a case of heat exhaustion during my bicycle trip to the grocery shop two weeks ago, because all the concrete in town kept it still near 30°C even after the sun set and I had dressed in a jeans jacket, expecting rapid cooling on my way home, because, you know, it was technically only 2 weeks into the spring. WTF…)


Oh, sorry, I didn't say: I live in Eastern Germany. We're right on the edge between maritime and continental climate zones, so if the gulf stream is strong in a particular year, we get warm air from the Atlantic blown in, but if it's week, we get Russian winters.

cheriola said...

[cont.]

The old family farm is in a tiny little village south of Berlin – been around since at least the 16th century, but never had more than about a 100 inhabitants on a dozen farms; never even had its own church. You're Australian, so you've probably heard about that 19th century German guy who got lost in the outback bush? Ludwig Leichardt? My family lived a few villages over from his and I've been told I'm distantly related to his mother – though, honestly, that far in the sticks, practically everyone was related. I've been told the farmhouse was originally built by an 18th century Prussian navy captain who wanted to settle down. But, given that my family name is old-timey-sounding but not the traditional profession-as-name (it's "holy field" in old German dialect; compare that to my mother's maiden name which is the common-as-dirt German version of "fisher"), and that it's so rare that it's only found in that little area of Germany plus some people in America (going back to some brother of my great-great-grandfather or some such, who emigrated there), despite the fact that that side of the family breeds like bunnies (seriously, I have a dozen paternal first-degree cousins , all of which have at least 2, more often 4 kids, the oldest of which are my age and therefore probably have offspring of their own by now…), I am much more inclined to assume that whoever bought/founded that farm was some scoundrel who had reason to assume a made-up name.

And I call it "farm", because that's what it was originally built as. But due to Socialist collectivism, the actual farmland and woodland was taken from my grandfather. He was too old to go through the process of getting it back from the State after the German Reunification, and his sons all had learned non-farming professions during Socialist times, so weren't interested in taking on a farm at 50+ years of age. (The State-controlled farming collectives were a bad idea for a number of reasons, but at least the socialist State enabled my father to study medicine without any support from his parents. Working class / farmer- born students back then even got a stipend. I mean, he wasn't well off during that time – he got tuberculosis bad enough to be sent to a sanatorium for several months, which is a disease mostly just people with malnutrition have such problems fighting off. But still, better than decades of student debt, no? His oldest brother studied veterinary medicine, though that was with the agreement of his parents. And most of my older cousins, who still studied under the socialist system, are engineers or teachers, even if their parents still learnt rural professions like sawmill operator. ) So, by the time I came to visit, it was really just a property about 4 or 5 times the size of a suburban plot. Just the core of the farm: The old farm house with an out-of-service water-powered grain mill, the yard and (empty except for the chickens) animal sheds and hayloft, the walled kitchen garden and a small walled orchard with a little brook going through (which was used to raise trout in a box hanging in the stream), an adjoining unused sheep-grazing meadow with a large artificial pond (used for raising fish for sale and constructed to be emptied into a nearby lake when the fish were big enough – though I think originally the pond may also have been necessary to store up enough water pressure for the grain mill), and a very small grain field that one of my uncles still maintained to grow feed for the chickens and pheasants. Said uncle built himself another house on part of the farm yard (where the farming machinery was stored originally), and last I heard, one of his sons built another house in the meadow and turned the mill into a small run-of-the-river water power plant to produce electricity for his own use. (No, sadly I don't know any specifics about how successfully that turned out.)

cheriola said...

[cont.]

I haven't any real contact to that branch of the family since my father and most of his brothers died, but I highly doubt anyone is using the farmstead to grow food for sale. It's just not enough land for that, and at this point, I don't think we could still get our property back. Perhaps my cousin and his wife are still using the orchard and kitchen garden (they both had full-time jobs with long commutes but should be reaching retirement age by now), but I would be surprised if any of their kids stayed out in that tiny village far away from higher education or any entertainment. Even just grocery shopping necessitates a trip of a couple of miles to the next bigger village. (Granted, that's not much longer than I have to cycle to the supermarkets in the next town, since my suburb with some 3000 inhabitants isn't big enough to support shops under the capitalist system. Back under socialism there were several local grocery shops, as need was considered more important than profitability. And most people back then didn't own cars, of course.)

- Antje

cheriola said...

Pam, are your blueberry blossoms very fragile as well? I just started growing a couple of American blueberry bushes last year (Bluecrop and Berkeley), and I'm baffled that the blossoms (and later the berries, too) break off so very easily – even just from brushing past the plant. Is this normal? (European blueberries taste better, but they are quite different plants and there's no real point trying to grow them in the garden, as they don't grow into big bushes and the pine forests surrounding my town are carpeted with them anyway. So I've got no growing experience with this plant family at all.) So far, the birds didn't find the potted bushes last year, but they're always ransacking the blue grapes and jostaberries (a German hybrid of gooseberries and black currants that's thornless, immune against American gooseberry mildew, and tastes like black currants), so I'm worried that sooner or later I'll have to put netting on the blueberry bushes, and that the weight will break off the fruit.


Lew, regarding fertilizing blueberries. The online advice websites and plant shops always want to sell me special blueberry fertilizer. Am I right in assuming basic Rhododendron / acid-loving plant fertilizer will do the trick as well? Or does that not contain enough potassium? (The Rhododendron fertilizer I put on the blueberries this year had 10% nitrogen, 6% phosphate, 9% potassium and 1% iron. And I thought the point of American blueberries as low-maintenance edible gardening plants was that, unlike other berry fruit, they don't have to be pruned? (Aside from removing dead bits, I mean.)

- Antje

cheriola said...

Chris, the plant nursery where I just bought a fruit tree said that one shouldn't fertilize fruit trees in general (unless they have to live in pots). Because they only bring lots of fruit in years when they weren't driven to grow lots of new foliage. So, they claim, both lots of nitrogen and annual pruning (of adult trees) as landscaping professionals are wont to do are counter-productive. But I'm not sure I really believe that. We had a large old apple tree in our garden (more than 20 years old – planted by the previous owner of this plot), and that never really carried much fruit (or at least fruit big and healthy enough to eat) in my years of active memory. Probably because it was too high for us to prune. The only useable harvest I can ever remember was when my mother threw blue-corn on the root-zone one year when I was in college (that's the worst, artificial all-purpose NPK fertilizer sold here, primarily for lawns), which resulted in so many apples she actually had to start canning them. And I certainly have to fertilize my small nectarine trees (peach with a mutation to lose the fuzz) to get a decent amount of fruit. Though those trees also have a serious bubble leaf infection that I can't get rid of, so they have to re-grow much of their leaves while forming the fruit, and my mother often cuts off branches as well. (Even though I keep telling her that the fungal disease doesn't go into the wood… Though I think peaches/nectarines mainly form fruit on the 1-year-old branches, so they do need to be pruned anyway to form new ones.) In any case, compost probably can't ever "overfeed" the trees, so I maybe the plant nursery guys were just referring to avoiding artificial fertilizer.

The only fruit tree we have that really gives occasional bumper harvests without any fertilizing whatsoever (and which only started blooming again several years after it had branches removed at the wrong time by our neighbors, and really didn't take well to our attempts of alleviating the problem through pruning all the water-shoots from the lower branches) is a sort of small-fruited, semi-wild prune that my father once liberated from a line of rural alley trees that were scheduled to be cut down. So that variety presumably was bred to bring fruit without anyone taking care of them. When that tree finally bloomed again two years ago, we got 105 pounds of prunes (there was a lot more on the tree – that was simply all we could use or preserve in the couple of weeks until they fell and rotted), and the main branch of the tree broke off due to the weight. Last year, there was no harvest to speak off – just a few fruit far too high to reach – but that's perfectly normal for stone fruit after a big harvest year. We'll see how it does this year. It did bloom, but due to the heat, the blooms didn't stay on the tree for more than a few days, so there might be a pollination problem. More than just the general lack of bees, I mean. (*sigh* At least my government finally outlawed a few necotinoid pesticides this year. But not the entire pesticide class, so that won't help much. And it's not a law on the EU level, just for Germany. Meanwhile, some 75% of flying insects (aggregate mass, not species) have disappeared over the last few decades – and those measurements were taken in nature reservations...)

cheriola said...

[cont.]

The one more "high-bred" and naturally much smaller prune tree my father planted (a Reneclode, I believe) also produces good harvests of chicken-egg-sized fruit every 2 years or so without any extra inputs. Though the reason might be that I tried to build a raised bed right besides its root zone some 6 or 7 years ago and put down a small mound of compost for that purpose – but then I never used it, because it turned out to be too hard to keep moist in that spot and because my half-brother possibly poisoned the soil with heavy metals. (He rebuilt a wall in the garden with non-food-safe mortar, which can contain traces of cadmium, and sloshed water from cleaning the mortar mixing container over that mound of soil. When the fish tank in the wintergarden was first built with similar non-special mortar, it killed the first round of fish we put in the water. So I'm not taking the risk of growing any veggies in that soil. But I figure, even if the plums are contaminated through trickle-down in the tree's root area, we don't eat so much of them that it matters.)

Uh… but these prune trees are adult - well over 15 years old by now. Obviously still-growing tree teenagers need feeding, if you were talking about a newly planted orchard.

Sadly, all the old fruit trees in the garden are dying off these last few years, due to persistent fungal diseases or just old age. And those few that are still bearing fruit have really bad maggot infestations, because people who still have a few fruit trees in their garden just don't collect the fallen fruit anymore like they used to when eating the fruit was necessary. (By which I mean just 30 years ago, here in East Germany. The economic situation right before the Wall came down wasn't so dire that anyone starved – not like in Cuba - but the State agricultural plan concentrated the scarce fertilizer and oil imports on growing long-storing staples like potatoes, cabbage, carrots, onions and apples. Which makes sense, but if you wanted fresh produce or anything fancy, it meant you had to grow it yourself. I remember my father at one point bartering cucumbers for black market building supplies, and so on.) I tried hanging up pheromone-scented glue traps one year, and even though they were full of male moths, the fruit were as badly infested as ever. So there are just too many moths around to catch them all, and even just a few female moths with fertilized eggs can ruin the entire harvest. In recent years, even the currants are getting maggoty and I couldn't even find out what the problem was until I researched it in English and found out that it's a Canadian fruit fly species, that supposedly doesn't exist in Europe, which is why none of the German advice websites and books ever mention it.

cheriola said...

[cont.]

I'm slowly trying to grow new fruit trees, but I have only very little money to buy plants and I'm severely limited in what I can plant. (No pears because of lots of juniper in the surrounding area; not much space to plant apple trees because they can't be planted where apples have stood before in the last decade and because we have a large old walnut tree that I don't want to fell, even if the squirrels rarely leave us any nuts; our one surviving cherry has a bad case of monilia and would infect any new plantings – besides, I don't have the space to plant two varieties as needed for pollination; and moreover, our subsoil is basically pure yellow sand – the area is naturally what you'd call a "pine barrens", which means it's far too dry and nutrient-poor for most fruit tree varieties to grow well; etc.) So for now, I'm mostly sticking to very small trees in very large pots, and berry bushes. Though I've raised a nectarine tree from seed (Because the old one suddenly lost the main trunk a few years ago, and I can't be sure which variety would survive our winters. So I'm trying to propagate the old variety we have and which does survive, at least right besides a south-facing wall. And luckily, it seems nectarines breed true, unlike for example apples. At least, the first few fruit the new tree had last year were perfectly edible, not any weird throw-back or a mix with anything ornamental the neighbors might be growing.) and I just bought a supposedly -20°C frost-hardy dwarf apricot tree, which I both want to plant out in a the sunniest and warmest corner I have.


I also bought a couple of, well, they're calling them "melon-pears" over here, but they're really a kind of perennial (though not frost-hardy) night-shade bush. The fruit are supposedly almost fist-sized and yellow with violet stripes, kind of like one of the stranger types of tomato, but much sweeter. Never had this before, not even seen the fruit sold a shop. They're a newfangled thing that's only being sold by plant shops for a couple of years. Apparently they need a long time to fruit – only in October or November do they get ripe, so it's got the same problem as peppers. Still, would be nice to get some fresh fruit that late in the year, and they don't seem to be as choosy about their winter quarters as citrus trees are. Anyone here know what plant I'm talking about and got experience growing them in a temperate climate?

- Antje

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Jo,

Thanks for sharing your experience with the greasing with butter of the baking tins. Interesting, and the distributing the flour around the butter in the tin is a very useful tip which I never would have considered. I believe semolina is what was used with bread back in the day, but again I have no experience with that grain.

Incidentally, I applaud your huge score with the free apples.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

Fingers crossed! Speaking of lung conditions - I have a head and chest cold this week. I'm absolutely filthy grumpy about it, but what do you do? I work with so many people in so many different businesses who go into work when they are sick. I took today off.

Sorry, and yes you are correct, it was a poor choice of words and please accept my apologies. How is your MIL coping with the finality of the situation? It is nice to read that your MIL is feeling somewhat better and I assume she can communicate with her visitors? Happy birthday to her too!

Naughty Salve, but yeah I hear you and there is a distinct lack of trust based on experience! I chuck Ollie into the dog enclosure (which is quite nice really and protected from the weather) with his mate Mr Toothy to the same effect. Mr Toothy was a chewer when he was a puppy, but he stopped that after about a year with us. I'm hoping Ollie is the same, but no doubts he will be like Salve.

Thanks for the butter and flour in baking tins info, and I may have to give up on baking paper. I plan to look into that mysterious product this evening.

Oh yeah, we survived the last drought in Melbourne - just. Add another million people, with plans for more. What could possibly go wrong? The desalination plant was constructed after that last drought but has not been used since - probably because it is hideously expensive to operate and by all accounts the water tastes flat. We are so far beyond overshoot now down here that it is not funny. I read the best estimate of the size population on the continent that we could feed during a severe drought was somewhere around 30 million people. At the rate we are going, we'll get there and then there will be tears. This is an old, infertile, and worn out continent and we muck around with the load on the ecosystem at our peril. I have a sneaking suspicion that we won’t reach 30 million people because of the looming oil problems here - our strategic supplies are apparently 47 days, which is not good and about the lowest of anywhere.

Well, you know, I see that in my paid line of work and some people can't take advice - even when they're paying for it. There is a disconnect in people between how the legal system operates - and how they want it to operate. Always best to work within the system as it has clout.

Oooo! Exciting! Good luck!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

No worries at all, and did you know that I don't recall flour (or semolina) being added to the butter on baking tins when I was a wee young thing? I remember the paper being used to rub the butter onto the steel - but I thought that was all there was to it.

We have fun here trying to explain to each other how complex tasks are going to get undertaken about the farm - especially when we are new to those tasks. Sometimes either the editor or I will say: "I can't explain how to do this thing. Can I show you instead?" Sometimes the English language fails in that regard, although I have been told that the English language is well set up to handle technical matters relative to other languages. Who do you reckon is shaping whom: We are shaping the language; or is the language shaping us?

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Well we have a signed contract now and the attorneys have five business days to approve. Once that's done I think we're really home free. There will be the home/well/septic inspection though and hopefully nothing major turns up there that we have to fix.

It's been over 80 (F) the last few days - what a change. I have a few things planted in the garden that might produce before we leave. The asparagus is rapidly growing and we should have some to eat later this week.

You are not having good luck so far with illness. I suppose you are exposed to a lot but I imagine that should build up some immunity over time. That was the case when I was teaching. I had kids coughing all over me and maybe got one cold a year. Most teachers when they begin get sick all the time for the first couple of years but after that they rarely do.

No worries about my MIL. I imagine it's hard to keep everyone straight here. She has pulmonary fibrosis and has for some years. It's a progressive lung disease that progresses at different rates for different people. It causes scarring of the lungs. The last 2 1/2 years she's been pretty stable but in the last six months it's progressing much faster and she's in the end stages now. At the moment she's pretty good and is able to sit in her chair a couple hours at a time twice a day. She has said she's ready to go and is quite matter of fact about it. In fact yesterday when Doug and I were visiting Doug was telling a story about a farmer he worked with many years ago who said something to the effect that most people die in bed so it's best to get up and moving. Her response was, "Well I better get back in bed." She's also been working on her obituary with Doug. This may sound depressing but it's really not. As her health has deteriorated quite a bit she's been getting quite a few visitors which she's enjoying but she has no qualms about kicking them out when she gets tired.

Doug and I went to see the movie, "A Quiet Place" last week. It was very good if you don't mind a movie that makes you jump quite a bit.

Margaret

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

What do they call that 'just getting on with things' attitude? Is it gumption or stoicism? Dunno, but I know folks who are slightly younger than the editor and I, and I feel that they have never experienced a day of economic hardship in their lives, and whilst they are very upbeat about future prospects, I sort of tell them what it was like back in the day, but I do wonder whether they reckon it was just my bad luck at the time. I can see that they'd take comfort in that thought, but the cold winds of change can blow where they will without any consideration as to who gets knocked off their feet.

Exactly too, there really is a great sense of accomplishment to be felt when one overcomes an adversity. Those sorts of thoughts about you taking a 'step down' is a relative concept I reckon and it connects into expectations. What do you reckon about that? I've seen a few people around these parts (Hillbilly Heights!) giving voice to expectations that are basically unrealistic.

Far out, yesterday afternoon I began feeling like I had bad hayfever, but I crashed out early and woke up this morning with a head and chest cold. I'm really grumpy about that, but what do you do? Anyway, it is only a cold (as distinct from the flu) and I'm already feeling much better this evening. Ooo! The National Museum has a really fascinating and brief article on the Spanish Flu in Australia 1918-1919: 1919: Influenza pandemic reaches Australia. The response by authorities was quite impressive and the death toll was relatively low - although 40% of the population eventually became infected.

Viability with seed is a complex subject. Hang on, I'll check out what the seed savers handbook has to say about viability for asparagus seeds. Well, there you go. The book suggests that 3 to 5 years viability is to be expected, so yeah chuck them in. A good idea!

The keyboard I use has packed it in and now no longer performs the full stop (I have to use the numeric keypad), and the y key produces about three yyy's. I've pulled the keyboard apart too, cleaned it with compressed air and replaced the switches. What a pest. They don’t make ‘em like they used too.

I can see that with cover crops, and I don't have to use them at the moment here either. On the other hand, I have a huge collection of them growing in the orchard and if push comes to shove I can relocate the plants into garden beds. I grow quite a few varieties of them.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Big slugs equals a big appetite! :-)! Hey, it is possible with birds - you never know. A young magpie was terrorizing the chickens this evening, and the chickens did their very best to ignore the young nuisance. Did your friend provide any advice about puppies and chewing? He gets bones every few days - but basically I reckon he is experiencing the world via his mouth. I can't imagine the wood filler tasted nice?

It is funny that you mention that about off gassing, but when the editor had the flu, for some reason which I now forget, she visited a cheapish department store, and had to immediately walk out of it because the off gassing from all of the cheap items sent her into a coughing fit. That store needs a bio-hazard sign, and it can't be good for the people who work there?

I used to use cast iron too for pans. You know I'm going to have to think long and hard about why I changed to lighter steels with teflon coatings. I note that the lighter steels eventually show signs of burning and that is not good.

Woo Hoo! Go the big flea market! I hope you score some serious loot! :-)!

Had today off working today so that I could recover faster - and I have no sick leave benefits to speak of – no work = no pay. I get really annoyed with people who go to work when they are sick, and I see far too much of that, especially with people who have benefits. We have failed to recall the lessons of the quarantine...

Having tomorrow off any work too. Tomorrow afternoon and well into the night, it is meant to rain here and I'm looking forward to that. I've stored about three week’s worth of coffee grounds which I'll have to spread around the orchard before the rains turns up. The cafe wants to do a social media thing about where their coffee grounds are ending up and I'll give them some photos to choose from and write a bit of text. Hopefully nobody comes up with the bright idea of hijacking the coffee grounds...

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Antje,

Congratulations - you have scored the Fernglade Farm award for the largest wall of text that I have yet received in a comment. It is an impressive achievement and also considerably longer than the blog. I'm impressed with your enthusiasm. :-)!

I'm feeling a bit sick today as I have a cold, and I promise to reply to you in part form for each night of the week going forward!

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Margaret:

Wonderful news about your house! And the choices that you may having for living quarters after you move out sound very nice, too. I couldn't even contemplate guests at the same time that I would be getting ready to move. You are the brave one!

Thank you for the get well wishes. We are just about all better.

Pam

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I am sorry to hear that you are ill again. Get well soon.

Do we shape the language or does it shape us you query. I assume that there is interplay in both directions. I find the words that cannot be translated into another language, the most interesting. As I am sure that I have mentioned before, I was bi-lingual until I was 4 years old. Then when my children were small I seemingly invented words for them. It was my mother who realised that these were German words, I had simply anglicized the pronunciation. An example was putzig; I had turned this into puttsie, the u pronounced as in shut. the family still uses this as there is no English equivalent.

@ Lew

I have always understood that one should only use male asparagus plants, the females are much less good. Hence not a good idea to mix the seeds.

@ Antje

Phew! Fascinating to read.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Gumption. Keep cool and carry on? I like the quaint old "rising to the occasion." Grace under fire? Making do? The conversation I had with the Warden and the Padre, came to mind. About retirement and money. How "happiness" boiled down to wants, needs and expectations.

Argh! A cold? I'd guess the flue weakened your immune system and then, bang, cold on top of it. Rotten luck. And, yes, people who wander around clearly sick in public or at work really irritates, me to. If I were an absolute cad, I might mention a certain young lady waltzing around down market department stores. But I will be discreet. :-). That was a fascinating article on the 1918 flu. That half the ships coming in had the infection on board. And, that even though Australia knew it was coming, and did a lot to mitigate the impact, someone always breaks quarantine. I'm beginning to think it's one of those "laws of the universe." Cont.



LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Yup. I talked to my vet friend about Ollie. To really be effective, she'd need a good long sit down with you to maybe get to the root of the problem. And, the more you know about Ollie's life before Fern Glade Farm, would help. But, she had a few observations and tips. It might be a puppy thing he'll grow out of, or, it might be separation anxiety and abandonment issues. Which given his weeing on the car seat, might indicate. But I take it he hasn't done that since, so, maybe he gets it that an outing doesn't equal being dumped. Maybe.

She also said to remember that dogs only have a memory of about two minutes. So discipline "after the fact" is useless (and, confusing to the dog). "Caught in the act" is far more effective. She also said that dog owners make the mistake of making a big deal of coming home, or leaving. Basically, you've kind of got to have an attitude of "everything is normal, ho-hum" a half hour before leaving, and the same, coming home. And, of course, The Editor and You will have to present a united front. I seem to remember a couple of pages in the book "Dogsense" that had a kind of routine for breaking dogs of barking or destroying stuff while you're gone. As I remember, just lots of low key coming and going. And, that's about it for advice. Second hand and long distance :-).

I went on a flower kick, yesterday. Planted Bachelor Buttons (corn flower), Forget Me Nots, and Love in the Mist seed. Got some Vinca plants and got them in. Dug a trench so the soil got well turned, chucked in a lot of the coffee grounds I've been collecting, transplanted some worms, covered it over a bit with soil and then the seed and a bit more soil. You may notice that all four of these flowers are blue :-). Nailed 5 slugs on Slug Patrol, last night.

The Daily Impact has a new post or two. Kunstler's Monday post was pretty interesting, as were the first couple of dozen comments. I found some of the posts on hobbies, over at Ecosophia, interesting. In light of what I've been noticing at auctions, the last few months. Every month there's been at least two work shops being sold off. Some are pretty grungy and not well organized. The two this month were where everything was clean and well organized. And where there's no household goods, you can kind of figure that the old wood working dude has passed away, and the widow is cleaning out the man cave. Another thing to consider is that no one in the family was interested enough to inherit the tools. Most of the stuff goes pretty cheap. For a young person, right now, careful purchase could outfit a shop, quit economically. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Anije - I got out the flyers they gave us at the blueberry seminar. Yup, you prune off any dead wood. But also, take out one, of any major branches that cross. The idea is to provide good air circulation and let the sunshine in. To avoid diseases.

The Master Gardener didn't say anything about fragile berries and branches, but I'm guessing, maybe it's a pH or fertilizer problem. As far as pH, goes, blueberries like a more acid soil. Around 4.5-5 pH. That's fairly easy to do if you mulch with wood chips or sawdust. Here, given the type of trees we have, we use a lot of cedar. But I think any kind of wood, would work.

The Master Gardener made a point that Rhododendron fertilizer is just fine. Doesn't have to be expensive. Any fertilizer that has 18-4-7 on the bag or box will work just fine. Should be fertilized twice in the spring, usually 1 1/2 - 2 months apart. 4oz per application.

Blueberries also need a bit of Ammonium Sulfate, (21-0-0) each year. Just 4 oz, per year. Of course, all this applies to our particular soil and climate. I'm in western Washington State, about 50 miles from the Pacific Coast. Our winters are fairly mild, but long, dark and wet. I hope this helps. Chris might have more to add. Lew

Elbows Tucked said...

Hi Chris,
Sorry to hear that you are sick again. Your country recently hosted the Commonwealth games. I would hazzard a guess that the many foreign visitors from all corners of the world have diversified your regional germ pool. It may take a couple of seasons to build up a resistence.
Take Care and stay strong.

cheriola said...

Gah, sorry, I had a brain freeze. By "prune trees", I meant plum trees.

Also, sorry about the wall of text. Unfortunately I've never been able to stick to the rule "brevity is the soul of wit", and in any case, I thought that what I had to tell might be interesting to explain in detail - especially to people who lived all their lives in a very different economic/cultural system and thus don't have the same context I do (both in terms of socialism vs. capitalism, and in terms of "old world" Europe that has farming traditions going back far longer than in Australia/America). Besides, I'm currently insomniac again, but as I said, the night was freezing (and we've already shut off the central heating), so I couldn't get myself to do anything more useful than roll up in a blanket and work on the laptop. And I don't get much opportunity to practice my active writing skills in English.

Uh… I actually had quite a bit more (about potato growing, Germany's recycling system and how it handles plastics, etc.), but I didn't want to completely overwhelm your comment system.


By the way, the butter + flour method of making baking tins non-sticky is traditional here, too. But unless I empty out a butter paper during the baking anyway, I generally use a baking brush and paint the tin in vegetable oil (rapeseed), and then use wheat semolina or white bread crumbs (which is sold by the pound here for making schnitzel or ground meat patties). It's just less messy that way, and I usually have the semolina / bread crumbs out anyway if I make the kind of fruit cake that goes into a round spring-release baking tin. (The semolina or other starchy material goes into the fruit filling to soak up the juice and so keep it from making the dough soggy.)
Though for baking cookies or bread rolls on a sheet, I will usually use baking paper (re-using it several times and then using it to light the fireplace), and also for bread or dry cake that gets baked in a narrow, rectangular tin. With just fat, those liquid doughs are very hard to get out of the thin folds in my old steel plate tins. And these tins have no spring mechanism that makes the tin bigger, so it's much easier to get the baked goods out by lifting them with the paper, than by turning the tin over and hoping they will fall out.

cheriola said...

In your "renewable energy makes no economic sense" calculations, have you considered the costs of externalities that you pay for through other ways than your electricity bill? Like the damage to cultural heritage buildings and the forestry sector from acid rain (now thankfully not such a big problem anymore, but the damage from decades ago persists) and the healthcare costs and missed labor days from asthma etc., both caused by coal power plants? Or what runaway wildfires, even worse hurricanes, sea-level rise and dead coral reefs (tourism; fishery collapse) will cost society in the long run? Not to mention the enormous decommissioning costs of old nuclear power plants and the safekeeping of the radioactive waste ad infinitum, even if the things don't explode and turn entire areas of land into uninhabitable sacrifice zones…

And by the way, for what on Earth do your fellow Australians need 25 kWh per day?! Are they usually heating with electrical heaters, or is air-conditioning really that much of a power drain? My household of 3 people uses about 11 kWh per day, and that means we're worse than average for my country. (Too big house which means a few separate pumps involved in the heating system; ancient computers and TV that still need 300 W or more each and often run all day; 800 W water pump for our own well instead of using municipal pressured water; paranoid elderly family member who insists on leaving on several lights all night to scare off burglars; etc.) I can easily imagine your cities closing a power plant or two while increasing population, if you have that much space to still improve average household energy efficiency.


Wood mulch on tomato beds? *raises an eyebrow* You do know that wood-digesting micro-organisms need lots of extra nitrogen, which they'll get out of the soil underneath, yeah? Or is it already fully composted? (Even then, I'd put in extra slow-releasing nitrogen, because the compost will be far too low in that nutrient for fast growing plants - for example chipped cow horns.) The only year I had flower-end-rot on my tomatoes was the year when I didn't have enough kitchen waste compost for filling the pots and bought in a few bags of cheap, pre-fertilized flower potting soil, which turned out to be mainly half-composted woodchips. Never again. In my opinion composted woody material is good for woody perennials, not for nutrient-hungry annual vegetables. And I'm curious what's the reason behind putting the tomato plants in a special enclosure. Is there some wildlife in Australia that steals tomatoes from the vine but can't climb that fence? Or are you afraid one of your dogs will chew the poisonous tomato leaves?

cheriola said...

When we had a dog, we had an old shaggy fur (goat, I believe) that he liked to savage. And he loved to bite into an old hand broom and then be swung around in circles… So maybe it would help if you gave Ollie something sacrificial that he's allowed to gnaw on? I believe it was the leather smell that attracted our dog to the fur (much like when dogs eat leather shoes), but I think there are special doggie chew toys for sale. Perhaps it could also be similar to teething in human infants, i.e. he has an instinct to chew things because that will strengthen his developing teeth and jaw muscles? Though I was too young to remember when our dog was actually a puppy, so I don't know if he ever gnawed on furniture.

Perhaps it's also dependent on the breed. Ours was a mix between a dachshund – i.e. a type bred for going alone into fox or badger holes - and a type of terrier originally bred to hunt huge, aggressive boars in packs, which made for a pint-sized, but fast and irrationally fearless and reflexively biting dog. (As in: he would chase cars and love to run in front of my dad's car at 30 km/h (on a forest road), and always was so impatient that "going walkies" consisted of him dragging me along on a bicycle for a couple of miles. And he sometimes would attack much larger dogs by hanging onto their throats, or just happily jump up and down besides visitors and then suddenly hook his teeth into their trousers on the way down – without even being angry or threatening. Unfortunately, he was also a real break-out artist, which resulted in our garden being fenced in with non-rusting steel wire 2 m high and going at least a foot below the ground as well. He even managed to climb ladders, if they had broad rungs and a bit more incline than usual.)


Re: Teflon pans: We've had a few of those non-stick Teflon-coated pans over the years, but have found that the coating never lasts more than a couple of years before it's all scratched up. And then not only aren't they non-stick anymore, but the aluminum beneath can touch and react with the food, which my mother the trained pharmacist tells me is not healthy for you. (Just like aluminum-salt deodorants aren't.) I want a proper traditional iron pan, for a number of reasons (much more bend-proof standing surface than with modern pans, for example), but those are quite expensive. Recently, I've found a few affordable pans that are at least steel-plated, not just aluminum, and the cooking surface is coated in a layer of ceramics. Those work amazingly well! Nothing sticks at all, and I barely need any oil to fry eggs or potatoes or the like.

(I mean, not that the "no fat" craze from the last few decades made much sense. You need some fat, not just in terms of energy but to properly absorb several vitamins, which is the point of salad oil dressings; vegetable oils rich in unsaturated fatty acids are good for you; and fat makes you not-hungry for longer than the same caloric amount of starch, and it's better in terms of not developing diabetes. And butter is much better for you than margarine – that old anti-butter propaganda was fabricated by the margarine industry. In reality, science recently found out that it's the artificially hydrated trans-fats in margarine that are really the most unhealthy fat you can put into your body.)

Can't tell yet how durable the glass-like ceramic coating is and how long it will withstand scratching with steel cutlery, but I'm willing to bet that it's less likely to affect my body in any way than the plastic-like Teflon coating was.

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

Ha ha! "the heady carefree days of summer".

It is clear to see that a sufficient array of solar panels - and all their kit and maintenance - are not for the faint-hearted or lazy. Here is something that I just cannot figure out. A car dealership here is installing 480 solar panels to produce 214,00 kilowatts each year. I assume that goes into the grid; it doesn't say. I mean, mains electricity is cheap here. And sometimes we have so little sun, especially in winter and sometimes a lot of snow.

http://www.nbc29.com/story/38086076/auto-dealership-building-albemarle-countys-first-solar-superstructure

Where have those millions of people that have moved to Melbourne and Sydney come from?

Isn't it fun to have to build flat land? What a boulder that is! We have come across nothing like that on our property. You get an elephant stamp for that because it's elephant-sized. I think I see another one between the strawberry enclosure and the wood pile? How do you weed the enclosures? The tomato enclosure looks great.

That is such a handsome flock of chickens. And the gecko hooks are such a find. Self-seeded asparagus is hard for me to imagine, but then mine is in a sub fluffy optimal spot.

The blue salvia is lovely. Thanks to Lew I always seem to be on the alert for blue flowers now.

The season is so late here that I wonder if our roses will bloom in time for Mother's Day. It's been really hot, though, and that should get them moving.

Ollie! I am practically speechless at how busy you have been, but I will say: Beware the Curse of Toothy . . . P.S. I have a strong suspicion that Ollie may never grow up.

Please get rid of the cold pronto. Hopefully, it couldn't be a flu relapse?

I always grease my tins with butter or canola (it's cheap) oil.

Pam

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

Well done you! Congratulations are in order (almost)! :-)! I do hope the inspection goes well, and as an owner builder I sweat those inspections. Once the inspector found nothing to fault, and then I had to add some document to the sale contract that said there was nothing to fault in the building - which sort of looked odd... I should have left something for them to focus their attention on and then everyone feels a sense of relief...

Not saying it is good sale weather, but it sure sounds like that. And yes, don't let those asparagus spears go to waste. It is finally raining here. People are beginning to ask me about the ongoing dry weather.

Yeah, it is really unfair!!! Oh well, sometimes this happens. Unfortunately I encounter so many different people. It probably is all good for the immune system and I'd imagine doctors and nurses would go through that experience too.

Thanks for understanding - my brain can only retain so much and that was an awkward slip up on my part. I applaud your MIL's no nonsense, and I'm unsure whether pragmatic is the right word, but something along those lines sort of an attitude. No, I don't feel that is depressing at all, in some respects it is like a legacy. The editor’s uncle did the exact same thing and it comes across well, although upsetting, to hear their voice after they have passed on.

Emily Blunt is a great actor and the film sounds like it would give me nightmares! Hehe! I heard a review on the radio recently about some film shot on an iphone – I’d feel motion sickness watching that.

Are you putting any thoughts towards your next house move, or are you waiting upon the five days? It is all very exciting!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks for the kind thoughts and I'm feeling much better today. I do wish people wouldn't go to work when they are unwell, and being self-employed I have no sick leave benefits. I once made an observation that we appear to have failed to have retained the lessons learned from 'germ theory' as quarantine is always a good – if forgotten - option. Mustn’t grumble...

Your answer has given me pause for thought. Interesting. That is a cute story which I enjoyed. But yeah, other languages have concepts that are foreign to the English language. I sometimes sneak in some French words which convey concepts not covered in the English language. And I often wonder whether that lack means that those concepts are foreign to our culture? Dunno. Trying to explain myself here, do you feel that the concepts are in the culture, but perhaps one possible explanation is that nobody dares speaks of them?

Yay! It is raining here and the air smells cool and fresh as the storm has come up from the south (Antarctica and roaring forties) - rather than dusty and dry like it has been recently.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Oooo! I like those. Didn't the English use the slogan 'Keep clam and carry on' during WWII? I've noticed that some cheeky wag has been printing those posters recently and I'm not sure whether the posters are nostalgic - or are referring to the present conditions? Dunno, but you see them around. There was some sort of legal dust up about those posters too, and you may have mentioned that to me a while back? Like my lost youth, the memories also fade!

OK, I'm frankly curious (the keyboard tries to take over and it produced frankly as franklyyy - I'm a bit grumpy about how rubbish some things are these days, as it is not an el-cheapo keyboard - there is a story there) about how your relationship is going with the Padre? Has he managed to sell his beliefs to you? The larger point that you make is true, and in the most recent book that I read from the author Gene Logsdon, he did make the point that it is an unreasonable expectation to expect that the income from a farm would be sufficient to send a family to Florida every single year. I see a lot of those expectations playing out, and I reckon if you are in debt of any form, then it is a bad idea. Mind you, my views are unfashionable - and perhaps old fashioned. I read the story about Australia's quarantine efforts during 1918-19 and I was trying to imagine how that would play out these days in the age of air travel. One day it will not end well, and I have already read about measles infected folks on aircraft - imagine sitting next to that person...

I reckon you are spot on, and my immune response is down due to the flu. Once I'm better, I'm getting the flu shot. It is bad luck isn't it? Well, there is always: Mary Mallon. Ouch. Yeah, it was an interesting article and did you note how quickly the government established a serum laboratory and produced vaccines? Over on the other side of the mountain range, that lot has an area that keeps quite a lot of horses - as I believe horses are used to produced snake bite anti-venom. And yeah, some always breaks out - and that provides a lot of good meat for zombie films, because deep down you know - like the kid that goes and pokes a huge dinosaur that is otherwise asleep - that someone is going to do it.

Incidentally, I wonder whether that memory of the Spanish flu fed into the end scene of War of the Worlds? Dunno. I didn't realise that it was second only to the Black Death...

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Thanks for sharing the advice from your vet friend and that all sounds quite common sense. He is getting better and routines and consistency seem to be helping with that. That could work with some people too (Chris, don't say that out loud in public)! Plus I reckon the other dogs are teaching him how to behave. They've become rough with him when he steps out of line, but I try not to get involved in that business - and to be honest I'm not defending him because the other dogs are right to do so. They've even learned how to approach him in that way as a pack and that is good because he is larger than them.

Yes, we do maintain a united front against the wiles of the young puppy. It is interesting that you say that about coming and going, but I have a routine in place that he knows and that seems to calm him down - which is the primary objective of the routine. Some people love to rev dogs up, because you can, but I reckon that is a bad idea. It is much better if dogs keep calm heads because they make better decisions.

Those are all great plants - and 'love in the mist' is the closest plant to an alien life form that I have ever grown, although I quite like them and they self seed reliably. Do you reckon that is a fair call? Good work with the blue :-)!, although I note that we now seem to have a red / pink corn flower which show up in all sorts of strange places. They must originally be a meadow plant to travel so far and wide?

I did see your note on the Daily Impact and I was very impressed with your prescience and clear thought. I rather enjoy Mr Kunstler's writing and to be honest, I don't get the whole electric car thing either. Apparently the Tesla model 3 factory is not so crash hot? Dunno. I enjoy both Ecosophia forums a lot too. We are inundated with quality writing which is a good thing!

Exactly! How often do people pass up opportunities? Far out and now is the time, no doubts about it. Some of the second stuff is of amazing quality. How else do you reckon I can do this stuff on the cheap? The neighbour across the road gave up the opportunity to purchase an awesome 40 tonne log splitter of the highest quality for next to nothing when they purchased the house. Mate, I keep my eyes and ears well open.

I forgot to mention the keyboard. A long while back I purchased a high quality keyboard because I was doing so much typing and the cheapie was starting to get sticky. And it has now broken...

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam, Elbows, and Antje,

Thanks for the lovely comments and I promise to reply tomorrow evening!

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Antje:

What a wonderful story. Thanks!

I have not noticed that our blueberry blossoms are fragile. Then again, I am very careful not to brush across them!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Antje:

So far the birds have not noticeably bothered the ripe blueberries. I think if we have to net them we shall set up 4 poles around each bush (we only have 5 bushes) and hang the netting over that. Darned if I want to try and pick a shrubby plant like blueberries through a net. I'd rather have something that I can get under. My son has plans to plant 25 more bushes. He loves blueberries.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

I planted Bachelor Buttons yesterday, too!

Pam

cheriola said...

Get well, Chris, and take your time!

I think the Spanish Lady actually was worse than the Black Death, at least in worldwide terms. (Though the "award" for most people killed in a short time probably goes to the smallpox epidemics that wiped out 95% of the American and Australian indigenous population and made those countries look "empty" when the main waves of European settlers arrived.) I've read that it infected a third of the world population (only 1 billion at the time) and killed 50 to 100 million people. It was different than the usual annual flu epidemic, which kills about 100,000 people each year, but mainly those with really compromised immune systems. Whereas the Spanish Lady mainly killed young, healthy people – partly by being spread in the WWI trenches, but primarily because it killed by pushing the immune response into overdrive ("cytokine storm"), so it was the high fever that killed you, not the direct cell damage from the virus.

I really, really hope that they manage to find a vaccine for that particular strain before climate change thaws out the still-intact 1918 victims out of the permafrost. Because thanks to flying and a much higher population density, it would be so much worse today if that flu strain came back. (They were working on piecing together the gene sequence of the virus from variously degraded frozen corpse samples some 10-15 years ago, and I think I read that they've got the whole thing now. So they might be working on a vaccine.)

One of my favorite TV series ever, a decade-old, extremely well-researched Canadian science-drama titled "ReGenesis" (science drama is like medical drama but with life scientists instead of hospital staff), used a Spanish flu reemergence for a scarily realistic story spanning the first season.

What fascinates me, though, is that until about the 1990s, even the scientific community basically just forgot this massive pandemic ever happened. And mainstream society didn't know about it at all anymore. The explanation commonly given is that people in the early 20th century kind of conflated the dead from the flu with the large death toll of the world war that ended right about the same time. That's partly why the estimates of the death toll from the flu have such a wide range.

- Antje

cheriola said...

@Lew: Thanks for the information. The ammonium sulfate is probably to lower the pH. I just planted the bushes last year, in pots with old store-bought rhododendron soil and some pine-needle-and-chestnut-leaf-compost (oak and chestnut are high in tannins, i.e. leather-tanning acids, which are supposed to make the soil somewhat acidic while they're rotting), and our water is very soft, so I should still be good in that regard. (Though I could get out the indicator paper and test…) We're usually putting some iron sulfate in the water for the rhododendrons later in the year, and the blueberries will get a bit of that as well. ...Actually, I think I already dosed the bushes in early April, before I got around to buying new rhododendron fertilizer.


Hmm… Your recommended rhododendron fertilizer has twice as much nitrogen compared to P/K than the one I used. But I also poured some coffee grounds in the pots, so that should give me some extra nitrogen (and mild acid). Anyway, adding pure nitrogen is easy. I mainly just was concerned about the P/K ratio, because the only simple way I have to add those (wood ash) also contains like 50% lime. I really should buy a new bag of just phosphate and potash, but the only close-by shop that has that sells it only in 40 pound sacks that I can't easily move on a bicycle. (Because of their size, not their weight. I always transport some 7 to 9 grocery bags in one go on the bicycle. It's all just a matter of balance and intelligent packing. But for something bigger than a normal grocery bag, I'd have to take the bicycle trailer, and that makes it hard to steer. Besides, the cheap-ish one I have broke two crucial screws the third time I used it, and I haven't yet found replacements that are long enough.)

- Antje

cheriola said...

@Inge:
I think the various potato varieties have a different natural growing time / life span. Like you know, at some point, the green parts of the plant goes yellow and dies off on its own, and then the potatoes are "ripe", i.e. they will store well. I think the time it takes the plant to reach that stage is genetically determined. But so far I haven't bothered with these distinctions either. I just plant whatever is on sale in the shop in early spring (almost certainly that's late or main crop varieties harvested in the autumn before), and then I harvest them when the vines die either naturally, or because of blight, whatever comes earlier. Though even within just a dozen plants of one potato variety, I usually will find 4 to 6 weeks difference in die-off time. Which does make a big difference for yield. The early quitters usually bring at most 800g for me, the ones that stay green into October give me 1000 to 1400g. Which makes sense – more sunshine hours mean more starch to put in the potatoes. So maybe using a variety that is supposed to be harvested as late as possible is best for high yields? As far as I know, the "early" variants are mainly meant to be harvested as small, "unripe" early potatoes when the plant is still green, for people who really can't wait until normal potato harvest time, or who think the unripe ones taste better, even if they don't store well.


Also, I'm curious, what were you using the word "putzig" for? I only know it as a kind of old-fashioned term for "cute", only used in the context of small animals and the like. But there may well be regional differences in the meaning. (Due to the history of being split in many little kingdoms until just 150 years ago, Germany has a lot of local dialects that can be so different as to be mutually incomprehensible – I would have difficulty in conversation with a Bavarian who doesn't bother to speak Standard German, for example. And then there's Austrian and Swiss German, the latter of which is practically a different language, even if most of it is written the same.) Our traditional meaning of the adjective always seemed a bit weird to me, given that the word root mostly only refers to things relating to cleanliness. (i.e. "Putz" the noun = a commonly used structured whitewash for the outside of houses; "putzen" the verb = to clean non-textile things with water and soap; "Putzfrau" = cleaning lady; "verputzen" the verb = to attach the whitewash to a wall; or colloquially: to eat your food to the last crumb)

Modern German uses so many English terms that people who don't like that refer to it as "denglish" (German = "deutsch"). Mostly its technical terms, like for things relating to the internet, or scientific stuff, like DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid; the proper German term is DNS = Desoxyribonukleinsaeure, but nobody but stubborn elderly professors uses that anymore). Though the younger generation is so used to English-language entertainment (and of course 6 years of English classes are the mandatory minimum for everyone, 8 to 9 years for people who want to go to college), so that even plenty of words that do have a German equivalent slip in, just because it "sounds cooler". Like "movie" or "song". And weirdly, sometimes we use English-sounding terms that don't even have the same meaning in any English language. The famous example here is "Handy", which in Germany is the standard term for "mobile phone" / "cell phone".

[cont...]

cheriola said...

[...cont.]

@Inge: (Still commenting on something from last week.)

That sounds awful with the mice eating all the seedlings! So much extra work / expense (if your son has to buy in new plants now to be able to plant in time). At least the tomatoes were left alone (probably the little beasts knew the greens are poisonous), as it's far too late now to re-seed those. Or at least it would be where I live. (I'm currently forced to intensely babysit my tomatoes – outside, nights are too cold, very sunny days give them sunburn so they need a covering, and the windy days this last week could easily snap them off, even though I've already bound the spindly things to sticks of growing size twice; but the wintergarden is too dark, due to the non-transparent ceiling. One year, I actually managed to kill them by being too generous with fertilizer. Only compost for the babies since then.)

This year, I've had mice for the first time in the wintergarden. Or at least, I assume it's mice, based on finding a heap of sunflower seed hulls and the fact that they didn't move or topple even the lightest plastic pots, which the resident martens and raccoon would have. They actually ate some of my leftover salad plants that I'd stored there over the winter. I mean, with the arugula, okay, that makes sense, it kind of tastes like peanuts; but they also completely razed down two small chicory plants in one night! Those must have been some seriously hungry mice… (In case it's not eaten in your country: chicory is similar to dandelions and famously bitter. The root used to be grown as a poor man's coffee substitute, but today it's really only grown to get a new, bleached-white sprout from last year's root in some dark cellar in the winter, which is considerably less bitter than the naturally growing plant and eaten either as a frying vegetable, or, in my family, raw as a bitter counterpoint in a sweet fruit salad. I didn't get around to planting them out last year, so they were too small to bother with forcing them in the dark, and they still had green and very bitter leaves on them. Until one week of hard frost in mid-March, when outside the soil was frozen and apparently the mice couldn't find anything else to eat anymore.) But the perennial herbs (celery, sage, lavender, etc.) and the overwintering bi-annual herbaceous flowers were left completely alone. Go figure. I can only hope the mice will leave alone the various veggie seedlings I have to put inside there during cold nights. Damn, I didn't remember that when I ran out to cover or put everything inside last night (the weather forecast predicted ground frost); maybe I should've put everything in the car instead… *sigh* At least the fruit trees are mostly done flowering for this year, so the frosty night can't harm them anymore.

The only beasties that have eaten freshly sown seeds for me were birds, and only with the big legume, squash or sunflower seeds. Ever since this happened, I sow sunflowers and squash in the house (the squash needs room temperatures anyway), and I pre-germinate the legumes in wet toilet paper for two days, until they just start sprouting. That seems to help for some reason. Haven't had a problem with birds digging up the seed since then. Maybe the germinated seed smells wrong – would make sense if the seedling itself signaled "I'm toxic, don't eat me!"

cheriola said...

@Pam: Canola / rapeseed oil may be the cheapest option (here as well, since it's grown a lot locally for biodiesel), but that doesn't mean it's bad. I mean, it tastes neutrally (Ever made pancakes with olive oil? Ew... And I even have a couple of semi-traditional cake dough recipes that require veggie oil, not butter.); it can be heated to almost as high temperatures as lard without starting to smoke; and it's actually better than most long-storing vegetable oils in terms of the ratio of saturated / unsaturated fatty acids, only the latter of which the human body can't make by itself. Or so my mother told me when I offered to pay a bit more and buy sunflower oil instead.

- Antje

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Keep clam? Keyboard malfunction? I had a vision of keeping up spirits during the Blitz by ladling out huge quantaties of clam chowder :-). There's huge amounts of "Keep calm.." tat available on the BBC site and catalogues. Coffee mugs, etc..

The Padre and I don't run across each other, very often. When we do, we usually don't talk of much of "social and political import..." (Janis Joplin). Or, religion. I think I've been written off :-). Whew!

It crossed my mind when talking about quarantine, yesterday, that with modern air travel, we really don't have much of a chance against pandemic. Anything that is asymptomatic for a long period of time, but still viral, would do. I'm surprised it hasn't already happened. Certainly provides enough fodder for novels and movies. I had heard of Typhoid Mary, but had forgotten her real name. Saw a film about her, years ago.

"Don't say that out loud in public." My uncle Larry (who passed away on this date) as he got older ... well, going out with him in public was always an adventure. I never knew what would pop out of his mouth. I was just having a conversation, yesterday, that some of The Ladies are intentionally mean. Others, it's just age that breaks down the filters. The difference is do they fell bad afterwards? Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Yeah, I don't understand people that rev up dogs, and then get distressed when they misbehave. It's kind of thoughtless. I stopped by Kaija's (one of our local nursery / feed stores) to pick up a few things and take a look at their kittens. They're very much into animal rescue, and often have some nice kittens that are already "fixed" and have all their shots. They had not a one. I figure it's the universe sending me a message. :-). They did have some nice parakeets.

Way back when, I couldn't find any bachelors buttons that weren't mixed. White, pink, and blue. At the bud stage, you can tell the colors. So, I just pinched off the pink ones. Saved the seed. The next year all I had was white and blue. This year I had to resort to seed and found an all blue pack. I wouldn't mind a bit of white.

I think the Daily Impact guy needs a bit of encouragement. So, I leave comments from time to time.

Nailed two slugs on Slug Patrol, last night. Whoo! Whoo! Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Well, that was a blast from the past. Before my time, there was a little sister who only lived about nine months. Now, my Dad is German (via a 100 year family hiatus in Russia). Her nickname was "Puttsie." I hadn't heard or thought of that in many decades. Lew

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

3.1 kWh per day is not a lot. Have you noticed that your consumption has increased much since you've stopped using the wood stove for baking? For us, a significant part of our consumption (we're about 4.6 kWh/day) goes to cooking, and hotwater for tea/coffee.

We've just built a new wicking bed (about 3 square meters) and have planted out garlic and onion in it. A new bed always holds such promise, doesn't it :-)

Had good rain yesterday -- 17mm. First good rain for the year. We'd been hobbling along on the 8mm we got about 3 weeks ago, but we now have plenty of water. Had a long hot shower today :-)

I think we can definitely get away with the phased closure of every coal plant in the country, without impacting electricity reliability. Coal is actually the least reliable generation that we have (the plants have tripped over many many times this year). If we do close them and greatly scale up renewable generation, we will probably need some extra gas peaking plants or diesel generators and/or big batteries -- something that can be ramped up and down cheaply. I think this is a moral, economic and strategic imperative. Of course, we also need to greatly reduce our domestic consumption -- I reckon that can be reduced by 75% just by trimming wastage.

ps. I just read the Quarterly Essay "Without America" -- definitely worth a read. I borrowed it from the library, tho not sure if there's one in your neck of the woods?

Cheers, Angus

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Ah, the heady carefree days of summer are done, well maybe not quite. Every day for the next week appears to be around 68'F. Over an inch of rain fell last night which was good though. Where ever has winter gone?

How are you and your loved ones feeling? Spare a thought for the editor who now has the cold. I am in the dog house for bringing such friends back home...

Off grid is different to grid tied in quite a few respects. In grid tied, every watt generated disappears into the grid - as long as supply does not ever exceed demand because that is a way bad situation, and things go pop! OK. So, 480 panels x let's assume they're 0.2kW each. That is about 96kW of potential (480 x 0.2). Let's assume generously (and I'm probably over stating the reality by a considerable margin) that over the entire year you can average about 3 hours of peak sunlight per day. The system will at a guess generate about 96kW x 3 hours per day x 365 days = 105.12MWh in a year (or 105,120kWh in a year). Very few people can afford to install trackers with so many panels so the panels are in a fixed angle to the sun - and you may have noticed that the sun moves across the sky every day of the year and so it only faces the panels directly for a while each day. The power generated over the course of the day looks a lot like an inverted bell shaped curve, with the maximum power being generated sometime around the middle of the day, but at other times, yeah, not so much. People oversell this stuff, and just because the sun is in the sky, doesn't mean that your panels are going to produce heaps of power - the panel has to face the sun dead on, and the sun moves around in the sky an awful lot from what I've observed.

Far out, you name it. We sell a lot of iron ore, some other minerals, we seem to have a lot of natural gas for export, there is even some agricultural stuff which we appear to have a good reputation for, but yeah, other than that there is education and ... space to live. The water, well, not so much.

Sometimes I dream of owning an excavator and then I wake up and get to work digging! ;-)! There are a few of those boulders located around the place. One of them I wanted to get blown up, and had a person on hand who offered to do that job. Fortunately cooler heads prevailed, and I now have a giant boulder in the courtyard. I reckon it looks good, but how much fun would it have been to blow up? :-)! Maybe, it’s a guy thing? Hehe!

We used mattocks to weed the enclosures and took off all of the weeds just below ground level. Except for a small outbreak of mint, which I dug up as completely as I could. Have you ever used a hoe? I'm thinking of getting one as it might be useful for such jobs.

The geckos were a chance find, the chickens are happy chooks, and the asparagus was a surprise find for us, so you never know. Try seedlings instead of just crowns, and I reckon they don't like any wind as it topples them over and breaks the root systems. We tie them up during the summer so they can’t fall over.

Yes, Lew is a good influence! :-)!

Fingers crossed for your rose blooms - ours are usually summer into autumn.

Oh my! Ollie is currently deep into a Scritchy - Ollie, bum - mind meld, and he may yet grow out of his bad habits... Maybe...

No, this one is a cold, fortunately. As I said before, I am not popular for bringing these fun things home. Oh well.

Yeah, I'm starting to feel that I should be worried about what exactly is in baking paper. Do you have any ideas about that stuff? 'Tes not natural!

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

I had visions of a giant man-eating clam . . .

My bachelor buttons are blue. I think.

Somehow I missed this: How do you catch your slugs? I have them, too.

Pam

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Elbows,

Thanks for the kind thoughts and I'm on the mend, but the editor is not well! I'd never thought about that before, but yeah, there was a lot of travel going on from around the Commonwealth during the event. An interesting observation.

I tell ya, it is making it hard to get stuff done around here this week... Oh well.

Best wishes to you for your continuing good health!

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Antje:

Yes, I find canola oil useful for so many things because of the neutral taste and use over high heat that you mentioned. My son now oils his concrete forms for building raised beds with the cheapest version of it as it is benign in the garden where the bar chain oil that he was using previously is not.

Chickory grows wild here. Last fall my husband brought home some seeds from some chickory growing along the road. I planted it in the fall and we have chickory growing in the garden now (in fact, it was green all winter).

I have had mice in the house eat all of my tomato seedlings that I had started inside, so beware! Deer will also eat tomato plants if they are really hungry.

I have sunflower plants in the garden that a mouse "planted".

Pam

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Mate you are definitely teasing me with the clam chowder references, and I tell ya, I love that soup, but it is not easily found in this corner of the planet. The editor is not feeling well tonight due to the cold, so I made her a big bowl of noodle soup for dinner, with corn, broccoli, snow peas, jalapenos, normal peppers (we have a lot of those to get through), and a couple of eggs with Asian sauces. It was very good, but no clam chowder. Yum, I am genuinely salivating at the merest thought. They have good seafood restaurants down along the old Georgian era docks in Hobart in Tasmania, but not so much here.

I'd imagine getting out in a boat during the early days of WWII was a bit of a risk due to the U-boats? The Japanese even got one into Sydney harbour just to rattle us I guess. I wonder how they went with fishing during those days, it would have been touch and go. Long supply lines are a bit of a drama when things go wrong. I learned the other day that down here we have strategic oil supplies of only 47 days - far out, what could possibly go wrong there? I worry when the basics don't appear to make sense.

Janis would possibly be surprised at how the flow of easy money has meant that the used car market down here has hit the poo, and such cars may not be that far from her reach - had she lived. I do recall the days when people paid cash for their cars and the scene looked way different to me. I often wonder whether people maintain the new vehicles they happily purchase on credit these days? Dunno, but I did note a story from long ago about the difference between how people treat agricultural land they own, versus agricultural land they lease - and the long term outcomes are different.

Good to see the Padre isn't breaking you to convert. I'm hoping your discussions are cordial?

Elbows (a commenter above), raised an interesting point about the fact that we just had the Commonwealth Games up in Brisbane, and a whole bunch of people from around the Commonwealth turned up for a visit. I'm mulling that one over, but it is a really good observation. Oh yeah, we appear to be regularly getting measles cases on international aircraft now. I have a suspicion that if push came to shove, our responses back in 1918 would be more robust than the sort of mealy mouthed platitudes that would take their place nowadays. It is probably not good that situation. Oh yeah, Mary appears to have been something of a recidivist as evidenced by her behaviour, mind you, could a gall bladder be removed safely in those days?

That can be a bit of a hazard with some folks, and it might sound a bit strange, but I keep all of my friends and contacts separate, so that sort of risk of them mouthing off something inappropriate is reduced. Now, you may wonder about why I take that policy, but it was because I lost so many friends that I had in a single large group to the addiction of online games and they simply disappeared from my life one day, never to reappear. It was a bit zombie-like really, Chris, come join us! No thanks... I've heard some disturbing accounts recently of online game addiction, and some of the games sound an awful lot like unregulated gambling marketed to young kids. It is an ugly business, and I'm curious as to whether any such folks have ever contacted AA? They're a really lost bunch.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

You know, I reckon a kitten would make a better pet than a parakeet, but I do know people who have a pet parakeet and it seems really nice. It is just that I look at the chickens and I can see in their eyes, that if ever I was to fall unconscious in the chicken enclosure they'd first go for the eyes and then lips apparently! Cats are complex personalities, huh? But at least I've never felt that a cat looked at me like a fast food outlet. Still, the Universe may be trying to tell you something. How is your neighbours dog, was it called Princess the miniature Pomeranian?

What a great idea with the bachelor buttons (cornflowers). I like your preference for blue flowers and nature really dishes them up. The white variety looks good too, and you may have to purchase some seed? Do you keep much in the way of a stock of seeds?

Tom's a good guy, and thanks to you and Inge, I got onto his writing which is really good. Just the right amount of 'taking the piss' as they say! I thought that your comment was very apt and also very nice.

Go the slug patrol! Has it warmed up yet in your corner of the planet? We got over an inch of rain last night (1.2 to be precise!) It is nice to see the wet stuff falling from the sky and have the dust settled for a bit. The rain has been so weird here this year as we're smack on average (up here but not elsewhere), but it doesn't rain for a while and then there is a heavy dump, and then it goes back to not raining for a while. There has a been a bit of a discussion down here among the weather professionals, that perhaps this is technically a cold monsoon? Intellectual corners have been staked and the fight is now on. Definitions are being thrown around, and the rain just does what it wants to.

Cheers

Chris

cheriola said...

@Lew
"It crossed my mind when talking about quarantine, yesterday, that with modern air travel, we really don't have much of a chance against pandemic. Anything that is asymptomatic for a long period of time, but still viral, would do. I'm surprised it hasn't already happened."


Oh, but it has. How do you think HIV/AIDS made it out of Africa in the 1960s? The main "Typhoid Mary" in this case was a Canadian flight attendant who managed to infect at least 40 people before he got sick months or even years after his own infection, though a few European sailors apparently got the virus even earlier. The resulting worldwide pandemic might fly under the radar of most older folks because it didn't affect many people until about a generation ago, but it has killed some 30 to 40 million people already, with about another million added each year, and it will kill many more, not least the roughly 40 million currently infected, of which only about half are receiving treatment.

(And it's going to get apocalyptic if industrial civilization breaks down and mass production of cheap latex condoms isn't an option anymore. Though by that point, we also wouldn't have the antibiotics to fight syphilis anymore, which was the biggest killer of adults in the late 19th / early 20th century, until the first antibiotics were developed. And of course, no vaccines anymore for the half dozen deadly viral diseases that kept infant mortality rates at about 50% before the industrial revolution.)

Also, we've had plenty of recent near-misses that required quarantine efforts: There were a few strains of deadlier-than-average flu that spread out of East Asia over the last decade or two ("bird flu", "swine flu", etc.), but those were mostly stopped from spreading in the West by quarantining patients. And the Ebola epidemic a couple years ago was only barely kept in check (sick people flying out of Africa were quarantined; thankfully Ebola has an extremely short asymptomatic period). And I think I remember that a Canadian city was actually put under quarantine (no flights out) due to a SARS outbreak in the early 2000s.

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Angus,

Thanks - and that average is over the lifespan of the system so far which is over about nine years. Oh yeah, absolutely, something had to give when the old wood oven was destroyed due to foolishness on our part. Those things may be made from steel, but they are delicate chunks of technology. If you check out the posts from about last June, you'll notice we upgraded the system to include 5 additional 200W panels. We now use electricity instead of wood to bake. Since then the average is now about 7kWh/day so your household and family is doing pretty well. Of course, you may be using natural gas for the oven and to heat with? We've been mucking around with the thermostat settings on the wood heater as it has a 10kW - 15kW (with peak 20kW) wet back for hot water and the hydronic radiators located around the house. I amazed at how the large wet back removes heat away from the immediate fire box area.

Mind you, heating has been minimal this year so far, as it has been crazy warm. Last year and a few days ago we experienced a 3 degree maximum temperature, but not this year.

Top work with the wicking bed and they work really well in these dry conditions.

That rain is a real relief isn't it? 30mm here last night and between you and I the tanks got down to about 45% full which is not good as you can't use all of your reserve. Enjoy your well deserved hot shower! :-)!

We've spoken about that before, and whilst I would be happy to see such an outcome, my personal views on that possibility are somewhat darker than yours. We should make some sort of gentleman's bet on the outcome! I have a question for you: How does one use diffuse renewable energy to manufacture new renewable energy machines and equipment? That is done nowadays with concentrated energy and I always get stuck in my head on that part of the story. If that aspect can’t be done, then any system is running on limited time – I mean, I can’t replace any of this stuff here using the energy supplied by the system itself. Dunno.

There is a library but the opening hours are a pain. Thanks for the recommendation.

Cheers

Chris

cheriola said...

@Chris:
Here in Germany, baking paper consists of brown cellulose paper covered in a thin layer of silicone. A 2014 study by the governmental institute for customer protection and food safety had the result that all 36 brands of baking paper available here pose no risk to human health.

But I found a site that lists alternatives, because silicone is hard to recycle (people shouldn't throw baking paper in with the recycling paper). Other than the traditional fat-and-flour method, they suggested using simple old sandwich paper / grease-proof paper, which is the same sturdy brown stuff but without the silicone (which is why it has to be coated in butter for the non-stick effect – basically the only advantage is that the baking pans will not be so hard to clean as when you butter them directly); also apparently there are re-usable "baking paper" mats made not of paper but silicone or fiberglass covered in Teflon; they also suggested using glass baking trays (less micro-porous than the standard metal ones, so there's less roughness for the dough to stick to) or ceramic pizza "stones" (which can't be washed though, because they aren't glazed).

- Antje

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Antje,

Thanks for the great stories and I appreciate your written voice. You did mention the word 'brevity' in relation to your reply, and that word can mean two different things depending upon the context.

From my perspective, brevity in terms of your comments means that: You tell an engaging tale and sometimes there is no short form way around a story. And there are many things that I wish to speak to you about in relation to the stories that you have told.

However, the word brevity can also be applied to the shortness of my own life!

You've presented me with a problem known as a conundrum, and I hold several competing views on how to respond to this. The basic gist of the problem is that I am unable to reply to you in the manner with which I reply to other commenters here. The problem arises not because of the quality of your writing, but rather that I lack the physical time to reply to such lengthy comments as yours, and there is no way around that problem for me.

I meditated upon your writing earlier this week. You are welcome here, but you and I must come to an accommodation. Rather than me implementing my views without first discussing the matter with you, instead, I will ask you the question: Can you suggest how best to proceed given the conundrum?

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Well the inspection was yesterday. I think all went well as the buyer sent an email to our broker stating that there were a few things found but nothing that would be a deal breaker. I wonder if they will be the same things I'm thinking of. Much to my dismay I found out that we were not to be present at the inspection which took 3 hours. So last minute we had to figure out what to do with ourselves and the dogs. Doug ran into the buyer and inspector on their way out and they said they found a leak in the crawl space. Well I had been down in the crawl space not an hour before they came and no leak. However, when I went down again there it was. Luckily it turned out to be from a kitchen faucet that Doug was able to tighten up and so far so good but worse case we would have to replace the faucet.

Sorry to hear that the editor has a cold now too. Your soup sounds quite yummy.

Every smaller house is being snapped up right away. We have tentative plans to rent a farm house of a neighbor who is selling his acreage and house and is looking for a tenant to rent month to month which would work out perfectly. Our broker is also listing a property that looks good but we'll see. Once we sell we can make a cash offer with no contingencies which would give us a leg up on other buyers.

I have to say I'm having difficulty keeping up with all the comments here. I did want to chime in about dog behavior. Lew mentioned that a vet he knew said dogs only have a 2 minute memory so disciplining after the fact is a waste of time. I'm not sure that's true as we can point to something Salve chewed well after the fact and she slinks away. Perhaps it's a tone of voice or body language but I think their memory is longer. You said Ollie is exploring with his mouth and that is quite likely. It's like babies and young toddlers that put everything in their mouth. Here's kind of a gross story about my oldest daughter when she was about 1 year old. I used to have caged birds and hunks of droppings often fell out on the floor. Even though I tried to keep them picked up on one occasion to my horror I saw my daughter stuffing a hunk of droppings in her mouth!! Fortunately there were no ill effects.

I do believe some dogs suffer from separation anxiety. Salve when she first arrived chewed even when we were home though it was much worse when we went out. Even now three years later she chews her rug in her crate and would chew other stuff if she wasn't crated but only sporadically. We are quite sure she was abused and being dumped for who knows how long in the dead of winter has to have really messed with her head.

Well it's going to be a busy few days with company. We will be glad when the weekend is over and we can get on with packing and sorting.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - Slug Patrol :-). I use a spray bottle of ammonia with a little dish soap in it. And a small flashlight. I have a regular route (takes me 10 -15 minutes) and head out about two hours after sunset. After a good water or rain, they usually come out.

Since I'm neurotic as heck, I usually record number of kills on the calendar. Out at my old place, the first year, I nailed around 2,500 of the little suckers. The next season, the count was a lot lower. You can give them a good knock back. I try and remember to keep the spray bottle handy, when working during the day. Sometimes, I run across a stray.

I use ammonia, because it doesn't seem to hurt the plants or soil. But I'd keep it off the plants, as much as possible. Ammonia breaks down fairly quickly into nitrogen, which is good for the soil, anyway. Slugs are cannibalistic. So, sometimes, the next night I'd find two or three chowing down on their recently deceased mate. Snails seem to be pretty rare, here, so I leave them alone. If in the garden, I just relocate them. Let's face it. They're a lot cutter than slugs. Good hunting! Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Chowders can be wonderful. I think I mentioned the salmon chowder I had years ago, which still sticks in memory. Back when I was still eating tinned soups, there were a few (expensive) brands that were pretty tasty. Of course, I jazzed them up a bit. Garlic ... peas. Here, we have New England clam chowder (butter and cream based) and Manhattan clam chowder (tomato based.) I prefer the New England. There is also corn chowders. Something you may want to file away when you get your first bumper crop, next year.

I think I see the first Jerusalem artichoke, poking out of the ground. Or, maybe, it's a weed. The peas still haven't made an appearance.

We also have a strategic oil supply, but I think it's mostly reserved for military. But, a time or two when gas prices got really high, or supply was disrupted to regional areas, it's been tapped. And then, topped up again. The whole idea of just in time inventory and fragile supply lines makes me pretty nervous. I just started reading "Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century" (Bruder, 2017). Which also makes me nervous. It's about mostly older people who have slipped off the social ladder and now travel the roads in search of seasonal work. Amazon warehouses, sugar beet harvests, camp ground "hosts", etc.. I did not sleep well, last night.

Yeah, the whole used car thing is another bubble that will blow up, any day now. Renting vs owning. A whole can of worms. Sweeping Generalization Alert! People, generally take better care of things they own, then things they rent. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Gall bladder operations used to be a big deal. A week or two in hospital. When my Dad had his out, about 10 years ago, he was in at 9am and out at 5pm. Medicine has made some strides forward. Not that one can afford it, at least here. Also, with the infections floating around hospitals, these days, the less time you spend there, the better.

AA and gamers. Well, most seem to show up with a laundry list of addictions. Addictive behavior seems to move around. It's all about the brain. Intermittent rewards ... reward systems ... complex biochemical stuff going on. I guess you try and put out the most personally disruptive behavior and then run around putting out other flare-ups. The Club hosts a couple of GA (Gambler's Anonymous) meetings, each week. I'd guess most gamers would end up there. But I've read that gaming has become a problem. There are treatment centers, in some parts of the world. There are stories of gamers dying at their computers of starvation of dehydration. As Julia Child said, "Everything in moderation." :-)

Pets. Animals in general. You look into it and it gets complicated. You can have one parakeet, and all is good. If you play with it for at least an hour a day. Can I commit? Get two, and they're likely to bond with each other. But not with you. See? Complicated.

Your Chris's Wonder Soup and Sovereign Cure sounds, well, wonderful. Strained out and administered by IV, and it would probably cure all kinds of things. :-). Lew

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

Hehe! Well at least it wasn't a hole in the roof! Hehe! Honestly, it may have been something of a blessing to not have been present at the inspection - although admittedly, I left the editor to charm the inspector on the last one of those that we endured. The editor being a female has more charm than my gruff self, and despite knowing as much as I about the house, well the inspectors expectations were lower of her than what I would have had to endure. No deal breakers is a good result and excellent news!

You know, they're probably not the same things that you are thinking of, if only because you are simply too close to the heart of the matter. It is funny that you raise that concern, because there are some things that stress me out, and the editor is not even remotely bothered by, whilst other things stress her out and I just sort of go, yeah, don't worry about it. The trick is working out who to put in front of the situation during such occasions! Hehe! It all sounds pretty good to me, but I don't have to sweat it out either like you do, so I get where you are at.

I assume the crawl space, is the area below the lowest floor level in the house? Just for your interest, most new houses here are constructed on concrete slabs so there is no crawl space. Interestingly in some areas with highly reactive clay soils, some of those concrete slabs have cracked and that is not good because they support the external walls of the house. The house here is very old school, and so I constructed the house on about 115 individual concrete stumps that go down about 6 to 8 foot and even then, the concrete stumps sit on concrete pads. That was a tough job to do, and I can see why people use concrete slabs, but I have my own reasons for not using that construction method - and I rarely mention those reasons because people down here get really touchy about justifying their own choices.

The soup was really nice, and the jalapenos that we grew are not so hot. They'll leave your mouth zingy and clear the sinuses beautifully, but they don't make you regret your decision to consume them in the first place! Hehe! You lot made me really quite concerned after reading all of the warnings! I can hear the editor coughing and spluttering right now, but I did take her out for lunch today where she enjoyed a nice Ruben toasted sandwich and a half a cake, so she is doing OK, whilst still being sick.

Exactly, too, cash is king in an uncertain time. Back in the recession in the early 90's I bought a house and had to include the clause in the contract that the sale was subject to finance. Far out, that was a drama and a half, for both them and me. The bank treated us like pond scum, despite having a proper 20% deposit and the ability to re-pay the loan.

Hehe! No worries at all, what a great story. You know, from what I've seen, kids grow and at that age they know when they need certain minerals. It is uncanny, but a mate brought his toddlers up here - and you know what they ate? They ate the soil here, and were happily piling it back into their mouths. With no ill effects either. It happens. I'm mostly keeping up with the replies, but I did have to draw the line this week, and sometimes pointing out boundaries is a very healthy thing to do. In the long distant past I have failed miserably when I attempted accommodate beyond what I could reasonably do. It was a life lesson that needed to be learned, and none of us knows in advance what experiences we are ill prepared to face.

Exactly, Salve, like Ollie has suffered some sort of trauma in the past. I reckon he was beaten and yelled at a lot, and also confined in a very small dog run. But you never really know and can only deduce the scenario. Anyway, he is of a similar bent to Salve, but he'll get better as he goes, and then disappoint, but then get better. I'll work with him as he is, and there are more positives than negatives, so he's cool.

Good luck with the packing and company!

Cheers

Chris

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

We don't have gas, but you do a lot more preserving/dehydrating than we do! We're getting insulation blown into the brick wall cavity in a week or two -- I'm hoping we'll never heat again after that.

Regarding whether we can make panels with PV power, that's not quite what I was meaning. Currently, the panels are made with coal power (mostly). It is technically and economically feasible for us to make the whole Aussie grid "renewable" right now. (For examples, there is a British/Indian (I'm not sure which) looking to make the Whyalla steel-works solar PV powered. It's _technically_ possible (just like you can run a welder from your PV system).

However, current PV panels aren't truely renewable, because they're made with coal power. Is it possible to make them with PV power only? And do it sustainably? And economically? I wouldn't say more than "maybe" to that question!

Cheers, Angus

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Yay! The new keyboard turned up in the mail this morning and I can finally type properly again. This new keyboard for some reason glows red, and it looks like the pits of Hades are just underneath my fingers (hopefully the keyboard doesn't go all Amityville horror on me and open up a doorway?) Does anyone want that glowing experience, well someone must have demanded it, because here it is and the thing glows red, but feels quite nice and clickey like an old school electric typewriter. It never occurred to me that keyboards would glow red. Maybe, I'm simply too old to appreciate the aesthetic touch?

Now, you are really teasing me, full on style! Hehe! Salmon chowder... I prefer the New England style of chowder and haven't come across the Manhattan chowder. Mind you, I'd have to suggest that butter and cream are far superior to tomatoes - and I like tomatoes. Lewis, I haven't had dinner yet, and it is probably not going to be as good as New England style chowder! Hehe! Corn chowder is pretty tasty too, and hopefully next year we have enough corn to enjoy corn chowder. The local gardening club sells the Golden Bantam open pollinated variety of corn seeds, so I may try those next spring plus the ones we saved. The Golden Bantam variety is still almost five foot tall, so they're hardly a bantam, but I guess some varieties of corn will be huge relative to that.

My money is on weed. The Jerusalem artichokes were so late here this season. This was the first year that they didn't get a chance to produce flowers. No doubts the corms are still in the ground and have multiplied and will do better next year. It may be a bit early for the peas given the cooler and damper year you have had so far. Dunno. They like a bit of heat those plants but they grow really fast.

The green and red mustards are beginning to grow now and it is nice to be able to consume larger leafed greens. The lemonade is producing its first bumper crop too and I'm going to try some of those fruits as the weeks go on. They're still green, but for all I know, they're meant to be picked green. Dunno. Citrus is nice for folks with colds - worse luck. I may write about that this week, but a bit of gallows humour is in order I feel.

Yeah, apparently we maintain our membership of the IEA by having agreements with other countries to make up the additional supply required. Very occasionally I have seen agreements ripped up under exceptional circumstances.

Whoa! Thanks for the review of the book. Well, the internet is a rabbit hole and I started poking around to see what other people had said about the book, and oh my. Yeah, I wouldn't sleep too well either after reading such a dark subject. Mate, people ask me about retirement and I simply say that I don't expect to be able to retire. Incidentally the retirement age for folks my age was quietly lifted to the age of 70 a while back and nobody uttered a word of complaint and the people who made that decision exempted themselves and their generation. The thing is, when people comment here that the editor and I work hard, well I'm sort of not joking around when I reply that I don't reckon we work nearly hard enough. I'm sorry mate, I have no idea what to say. The book tells a dark tale and leaves the future unspoken - I worry about that too. The author of the book apparently sustained injuries during her firsthand experiences. Ouch.

Yeah, cars were really expensive when I was a kid, and everyone looked after them - or tried to offload them onto unsuspecting dupes, and that was not so easily done because people were onto that business. Nowadays the situation looks like a giant Ponzi credit bubble scheme to me.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

The renting versus owning situation for land - especially agricultural land means that anyone who leases agricultural land is looking for a return and so how can they possibly invest into long term production when they may not benefit from that investment? It reminds me of a weird situation which I may have mentioned about the house that we rented whilst building this house. The garden soil in that house was mostly dead and there were patches of clay exposed to the sun. As a fun side project because it seemed like the right thing to do, I restored the soil life in those patches of clay and added in the dog manure and cut grass over the patches. Well, the clay began producing plants and after a year of that the grass was a solid coverage and there were no bare patches of clay. Then in a really strange and weird turn of events the landowner sent me a notice to cut the grass short or be fined. The grass was barely two inches and it was so much more pleasant to look at than the clay... I dunno that was a truly weird experience and there are no homeowners covenants or corporations like your part of the world. No, I don't feel that your observation was a sweeping generalisation at all, I mean look at the disasters that commune living produced. What does that say?

They do tend to get people in and out again reasonably quickly these days. I often wonder how our hospitals are coping with the demands from a million additional people in the city over the past decade? Dunno. Out of curiosity, why does one get their gall bladder removed?

Treatment centres for gaming addiction? Wow, I wonder what such places could offer, although I guess approaches to learning to live with addictions would vary with the individual. Thanks for sharing your experiences too. Oh my, there are dozens of news articles on the internet of people dying due to games. The situations appear to try to top the previous story off for the next truly bizarre story angle. Well, there you go. I'm gobsmacked.

Well, committing to that relationship is difficult, I get that. Honestly, there is no easy path in that matter and of course you made the assumption that parakeets have similar personalities which I don't believe they will. They may even be able to sing different tunes and they may be able to sing only briefly? Dunno.

Fettuccine with vegetables tonight! Yum! Ate a really tasty BLT today and I'd completely forgotten that the nearby town had 'Spudfest' going - we almost turned around after seeing the crowds.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

My loved ones and I are all fine now; hope you and the editor are the same. Just the same: Thought spared for the editor. Poor editor.

I have read about trackers. I would suspect the motors need a fair amount of maintenance. This story I read back when it came out in 2005; don't know how the experiment fared.

https://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/02/nyregion/ink-here-comes-the-sun-redirected.html

This one is a bit newer.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-24747720

Your estimate of 105,120 kWh per year sounds WAY more reasonable the the "more than 214,000 kilowatt hours per year" that the car dealership has estimated for their solar power output. It is suppose to be cloudy for the next 5 days; that happens a lot in the summer here. And our grey winters can sometimes be 5 months long - with a lot of snow. Silly people.

Shoot - I forgot about my mattock. I know where it is, too. I have my great grandmother's hoe and I use it occasionally, but that has been iffy with all the inter-planting I do. That may now be a thing of the past since my son has decreed the use of brown paper. Every raised bed but my herb and flower beds and a few feral spots now have brown paper over them. I find it hard to plant through, but if it really keeps the Japanese stiltgrass, et al at bay, it will be worth it.

Scritchy Spock.

I don't use baking paper because at first I couldn't afford it, then I decided to see what I was missing and I am not sure it is good, but maybe it's ok. I read not to use the bleached kind (dioxin), and some kinds use silicone. I'm not sure about that stuff either.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

Ammonia, dish soap, 2 hours after sunset - got you. 2,500!

I hope none of the inmates glance out the window towards the garden whilst watching a horror movie . . . Oh, well - they may already have white hair.

Pam

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Angus and Pam,

Thanks for the lovely comments. I wrote Monday nights blog tonight so am unable to reply this evening.

I promise to reply tomorrow.

All, I'm going to say about next weeks blog is that at one point in the story we veer off into some serious music weirdness from the 1980's, and it is so bad that it is funny. It is just so wrong, whatever were they thinking? Oh well, you lot have to wait and see - the internet is a true rabbit hole!

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Keyboard from hell? I can hear it now. "Our customers demanded it. We did focus groups." Well, I suppose a lit keyboard comes in handy when your doing nefarious hacker things in the dark. I suppose the color choice keeps the trolls keyed up? I've heard you can get keyboards with the old clickety-clack sound. And, even the little bell that rings at the end of a line. The noise factor might not be so hot in an apartment building.

"The corn is as high as an elephant's eye..." Today's ear worm. From a (sorry) musical :-). "Oklahoma." The first pea popped up! About time. Lazy peas. More developments on the garden front. I was wondering what to do about pumpkins (space issues) and now it looks like I can grow them in a third plot. To be shared with the Garden Goddess. I asked after unloading a bunch of bags of soil for her and hauling them about. It's all in the timing :-). But, she'll be growing squash, there, so I guess I can forget about saving pumpkin seed, as they cross. She's also putting in a bit of corn, so, saving any of my Johnny Red corn may also be a problem. They will be fairly separated, but the wind do blow!

Yeah, they bumped up the retirement age, here, too. Without too much grumbling. I read an article, recently, that posited that the younger crowd either think that 1.) the basics will be socialized, by the time they retire or 2.) It's all going to fall apart, anyway. Another thing at play here is that "retirement age" has always been a bit flexible. As far as social security / government retirement. There's a minimum retirement age, but the longer you wait, the more you get.

Ran across some interesting quotes in "Nomadland." "Cast out of the middle class..." "And in a culture where economic misfortune was blamed largely on its victims..." "At one time there was a social contract that if you played by the rules (went to school, got a job, and worked hard) everything would be fine. ... That's no longer true, today. You can do everything right, just the way society wants you to do it, and still end up broke, alone, and homeless." Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. I really don't know much about gall bladder, and why you would need one to be taken out. I know my Dad had a lot of problems with digestion. Lots of burping. Acid reflux. I wonder if a change of diet might have avoided surgery. Easier said than done.

Fettuccini sounds very nice. I've been having a craving, lately, for fettuccini or alfredo. Maybe because I've cut most of the dairy out of my diet in the last week. I've fallen under the influence (spell?) of Rip Esselstyn's books "The Engine 2 Diet" and "My Beef with Meat." He's rather a clever marketeer. Nowhere does he use the word "vegetarian." It's always "Plant Strong!" Always with the exclamation point. :-). Both books have some interesting recipes. We'll see how it goes.

I know what you mean about the Spudfest. Occasionally, I lose the plot and drive into the middle of some Spasm of Civic Who-Who. Irritating and just throws off whatever the plan was. I try to stay on top of those things. So much easier to just lay low at home and adjust the schedule to work around the disruption. The county fair (completely clogs up the main north /south roads between our two towns) the Christmas parade (forget going downtown in the morning) the Seattle to Portland bicycle weekend. (More clogged roads, due to 3,000 or so bicycle riders passing through). But there always seems to be something I miss. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I had been wondering what you would do, a conundrum indeed. I find Antje a superb read and would hate her to stop. How about just not commenting which is where you were heading anyway; or only commenting when something really strikes you.

Language: I understand from a Dutch friend that there is no word for bungalow in Dutch (of course we got it from the Indian Raj). Now that is fine when referring to an object as one can simply describe it. It is the words that have an emotive quality that pose the problem. Schadenfreud is a good example; used all the time now by the English but I think that it is being used too viciously. I always understood it to be more of a frisson and here we have a French word that can't really be translated.

Oh boy do I love chowder! If one wants it here one has to cook it oneself. I first encountered it during an Irish holiday. I consider that it has to be a fish one with cream.

I also have always kept my friends separate but then I am not particularly gregarious.

@ Lew

Thank goodness we never use puttsie to describe one of the infants or I would be feeling a shiver of haunt.

@ Antje

I know that putzig is translated as cute but it means something more than that. It carries a strong, loving, emotional quality as well, hence no English word that is equivalent.

I really have found that all the potato labelling seems to mean very little. I dig them up when the leaves finally go down and I have found that all the varieties seem to keep well.

Inge

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

You know, I don't really understand why hackers want to hack things in the first place. I mentioned the Alt-Right as a minor issue over at Ecosophia and I have no beef with that lot, but you know, do they email me for a conversation which may be to their benefit - no. At the merest mention of their name, they begin trying to hack their way into this blog. There is nothing to see in there and I back the thing up regularly, so trashing it won't have a great impact on anything at all. And the entirety of the blog is public and there are no hidden pages. As far as I can understand IT nowadays, not many people do much in the way of coding, whilst a whole lot of other people manage applications. When I was a kid, my wealthy grandfather unexpectedly purchased me a Commodore 64 computer and that machine was an awesome bit of kit. And whilst you could use the basic programming language, if you wanted to really get anything happening, you had to hit the machine level instructions. Interestingly too, back in those days a bit of pride was taken over the neatness and just sheer tiny size of truly effective code. Nowadays computer software looks a lot to me like a bloated gas bubble hungry for ever more resources. It is possible that the software may be a victim of its own success as unintended consequences pile up behind each layer of software.

You know, I don't really get many trolls at all probably because they know they'll be shown the door. I just don't feel that they should be fed, but that is my take on the world. I once had a troll get stuck into my paid business and that was not good because a client discovered that chunk of silliness. The ultimate response was to remove listings for the business from the various websites that had taken the listings up. I also tracked the person down in the real world, only because some people are stupid. I don't get work from the internet so the listings were of no interest to me. Most new work turns up through word of mouth. I don't know how I feel about internet advertising and the accompanying reviews, but I have heard stories from several businesses (a cafe was a notable example) which sounded like extortion to my ears.

Hehe! This new keyboard does make a very old school clickey-clackey sound and I quite like that, although to be honest it is very quiet here. I do recall the bell at the end of the line with the big arm you used to have to clop with your right hand, and have used my share of manual typewriters back in the day. The action of the arms and the scrolling of the inked ribbon were really elegant technology. The first electronic one that I used stored a line of text which was shown in an LCD screen and the mechanism got to work once the number of allowable characters was filled up. You are probably already aware of all this though! Plagiarism occurred back in the day, but with word processors used by students and the internet nowadays, I've heard anecdotal accounts that it is rife and assignments are put through software to check for that. Mind you, I also see small discrete posters attached to lamp posts in the city offering help with assignments. If I had less ethics, I'd probably have more money. :-)!

My ears, or was it my eyes (?) began glazing over at the merest mention of the word 'musical', but then I thought, better take a look as Lewis has street cred. Well, the disturbed farm hand Jud Fry came to an unpleasant ending didn't he? I was fascinated that both Shirley Temple and Groucho Marx acted in the original Broadway play under pseudonyms. What a feast the audience would have received.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Glad to read that you have somehow managed through sheer force of personality to score access to a third plot for your pumpkins. The Empire of Lewis will rise in that garden! Honestly, I still have no idea as to what is the difference between a squash and a pumpkin because they look much the same to me. You may be lucky with the corn seed saving in that the plants may set pollen at different times? Dunno. I'd still save some as you may be onto a new and possibly reinvigorated variety? But I don't really know and the plants do sound finicky.

Interesting. Again, I don't know very much about that system, but I don't believe that the same case occurs here with higher payments for people who delay accessing the system. From anecdotal accounts, contacting the welfare system is a difficult and time consuming process and one that I'm glad that I'm not involved with at present.

Ouch. Those are all truisms. Double ouch. Yup, that is a core message of the blog, you can play by the rules and do what you're told, but then it don't always work - and I see a bit of that going on. I try hard not to over commit whilst maintaining a buffer. What else do you do? Mr Logsdon suggested quite rightly that annual distant holidays are perhaps not possible, and I reckon he's right.

A change of diet can perhaps address all manner of health issues. I see a lot of strange diets in play these days and I just nod sagely and listen to my own guts to see what it has to say about a particular foodstuff. That seems to work.

Fettuccini is nice and it is quite easy to make too. A few years back we picked up a second hand stainless steel pasta (spaghetti and fettuccini) machine for something crazy like $10. And it had never been used before. You still have to make the pasta but it is good. I reckon it was a wedding gift or something like that. I really like the sound of 'My Beef with Meat'! Very clever stuff. I'm pretty sure our species used to hang around trees eating fruits, nuts, and whatever else was living up in the canopy (I note that insects are edible items in many countries). The Awakening Land trilogy by Conrad Richter clearly shows the change in diet as the folks ate their way through the landscape - well at least that is one aspect of the books that stood out to me.

Hey, the editor discovered the biggest and oldest living tree that we have yet stumbled across. It is big, and I'll put some photos in tomorrow night. I may publish early tomorrow as I wrote most of the blog last night.

Mate, you are in excellent company because I too lost the plot and drove into the middle of some Spasm of Civic Who-Who. Far out, the poor folks at the bakery were getting smashed, but you know what? They delivered the goods, and for that I was amazed, although the crowds irritated me. I missed this one too, so I hear ya, and we even corresponded about it last week. What’s going on?

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks for considering the matter because it was a conundrum and I had no clear path forward. Thank you to for the suggestions, and I agree with you Antje is a superb read. I'd be curious as to your thoughts on the matter, but something tells me that Antje has not been spoken to before in the manner to which I tried to hash out the matter with her whilst also ensuring 'buy in' on her part. Maybe I expect too much? People are complicated and so I always reckon baby steps are the way to go in such a situation. We'll wait and see how the story plays out.

I wasn't aware of the Bengali derivation of the word: bungalow. Interesting. For your interest, the only time that word gets used here from my experience relates to the style of housing known as a Californian bungalow. The Wikipedia page for the style of housing known as bungalow, displayed an atypical Australian form of the house - because it was just too large. Most Californian bungalow's were constructed down here during the 1930's, and from what I'm aware, those were not rich times.

You know, I feel that people use the word Schadenfreud in an English spoken or written manner in a literal manner - and so yeah, it does come across as quite a mean emotion of joy. But then language evolves and that usage may also be a reflection of our own culture?

I'm with you. Chowder equals cream based soups! Yummo! I'm salivating thinking about chowder! :-)!

Fair enough, and I enjoy the company of others, but I also enjoy my quiet time too. I get that. Some of my friends are annoyed with me that I do not introduce everyone, but that didn't work so well in the past to my even greater annoyance and loss, and repeating mistakes is not a good thing to do. I’m pretty certain though that there will be lots of new and interesting mistakes to enjoy!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Ah, the system almost failed and I nearly missed replying to your lovely comment. Oops!

Glad to read that you are all fine now. Good stuff. The editor is still coughing, but we're getting there. I'm writing about that story tomorrow.

Yeah, thanks for the links to the trackers story. You know, they work well on big installations, but the system uses a lot of energy simply to follow the sun. It is worth it, but you know, they usually fall over due to stresses from the wind and also dirt in the mechanism. From what people tell me it is usually the actuators that fail. An actuator is the part of the machine that pushes or pulls the solar panels in a certain direction - and that has to be in three dimensions to follow the sun properly. You may not realise it, but the panels also have to alter their tilt over the year.

5 month grey winter. Ouch. Well, I guess we'll wait and see how it all turns out, although they may keep quiet about the result.

Mattocks are good tools and one of my favourites for digging, but the hoe will feel better on my back as I get older. Not sure really, as I'm not there yet. Ere he says he's not dead yet!

Your Japanese stiltgrass sounds horrendous and yeah the paper is worth it. How does water get to the soil underneath the brown paper?

Hehe! Yeah, me neither and I haven't had time to think about baking paper yet. Dioxins are pretty unpleasant, but they are used in paper bleaching - I believe?

Bought a thornless loganberry today!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Angus,

Thanks for understanding. The kitchen consumes an inordinate amount of the daily electrical energy usage. That is pretty much where most of it goes. The microwave but mostly the electric oven use the lions share. Everything else - including the fridge, pumps etc. well not so much.

Go the insulation! Yeah, most brick veneer or timber houses from back in the day never had insulation in the timber stud walls... These things happen. I've seen a bit of that in my time.

I can't answer any of those questions as they are frankly outside of my experience, but based on what I see here with energy from the sun and relying on it 100% all year around. Mate, dunno, but all I can say is that my gut feeling on that is not good.

To be honest I have no idea how long all of this stuff will last here. All of it breaks down, and even the big generators - gas, coal, hydro, big batteries etc. Mate, they all break down too and have finite lifespans. The increasing maintenance costs of Liddel and Hazelwood are apparently one of the main reasons cited for walking away from them.

Cheers

Chris

Elbows Tucked said...

@ Antje

Thanks for the introduction to the melon-pear. My local plant guru recommends planting them so that they tumble over a low wall. (In a mild african climate, full sun, plenty of compost, water twice a week in summer and prune into shape at the end of winter.) I am going to track down a cutting or some seeds and try growing them.

Nomzwelibalele (Elbows for short)

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Computer problems. Once more into the breach ...

Re: Hackers. Too much time on their hands? To impress their peers? Makes the powerless feel powerful? Because it's there?

I don't know much about coding. Is HTML coding? Did a bit of that when I sold on E-Bay. But, as with a foreign language, use it or loose it. But, there are plenty of cheat sheets floating around. I read a couple of articles on coding "boot camps" last year. Kids move to metro areas and live 10 to an apartment (a closet is a bedroom), go to class and code 24/7. The promise of being rich and famous. Fertile ground for student loan scams.

Speaking of scams, the Club has one screen. Usually, enough people at the counter vote to shut the thing off. But, once in awhile. There's a Golden Age of TV Westerns channel. The other day it was on and I noticed all the ads seemed to be aimed at parting senior citizens from their money.

There was something very satisfying about slamming the typewriter carriage back and the end of each line. And it sounded sooo productive! :-). I've used quit a few electric typewriters in my day, but never ran across one with an LED screen. As part of the typewriter. Remember the one with the rotating type ball? Now, that was an interesting piece of engineering.

I must admit, I've written a paper or two for other people. Way back when. Even took a class (that I had already taken) for a mate. It was one of those huge intro classes. Basically, all I had to do was pick up the class outline, take the midquarter test and final and write a paper. Walk in the park. In high school, I wrote a paper for my English teacher (who was going for her Master's Degree). It was for an economics class. I can still remember the title. The Samurai Warrior and His Economic Transition from the Tokugawa to the Meji Periods." Got an A. From a very prestigious university. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Pumpkins are orange and you carve jack o lanterns out of them. Check Google images for pumpkins. Orange as far as the eye can see. :-).

I was also introduced to the Secret Garden Room. And where the key is. It's the Master Gardeners room (who knew?) It's facing the north side and has an outside entrance. Unheated. We can dip into all the "stuff" in there. It will also make a good place to store the Mason bees and pumpkins. Counting my pumpkins before they sprout. Lew