Monday, 9 April 2018

With a little help from my friends

This blog is now available as an mp3 podcast (which I intend to record if I can actually speak which is a bit of a problem at the moment due to the flu) through the link: http://ferngladefarm.com.au/

Hi everyone! I'm Ollie the six month old Australian cattle dog. I love living here at Fernglade Farm as there is always so much fun stuff going on. Check me out, I look all curious, intelligent, and stuff:
Ollie the Australian cattle dog looks all curious, intelligent and stuff
Of course, I am a naturally intelligent dog as my particular breed of dog can list the dingo clan in their family history. Not every dog can say that, but I can! Now of course dingoes are a very old breed of dogs and have lived in this country for a long time and are a coyote equivalent, except we are the better dog. No, I refuse to argue the point, because we are simply better.

Circumstances haven't always been so rosy for me. Being an intelligent dog with my own opinions means that I enjoy having thoughts on stuff. In the first six months of my life, people were yelling at me, beating me, and locking me in small cages (I'm a big dog, you know). Back then my owners wanted me to chase around cattle all day long. I've got thoughts about cattle you know, and I reckon cattle are stupid. There you go, I've said it. Do cattle eat bones? No, of course they don't eat bones. Cattle dogs eat cattle bones, so I rest my case, and my logic is flawless.

Unfortunately, my free thinking ways didn't impress my former owners as much as it impresses myself. They wanted a cattle dog that chased around stupid cattle all day long, and I had a secret longing for cuddles... One day early in my cattle dog career I was faced with the choice of being shot or put up for adoption at an animal shelter. My former owners were embarrassed about my not so secret desire for cuddles. Cuddles are good aren't they?

Forget about them, boring. One day I was in the animal shelter after having been through a procession of foster homes, and who walks in? I dunno, who did walk in that day? Oh, that's right it was Chris and the Editor, and they were looking to take home a new dog. I put on my nicest smile, and the rotters said something unpleasant like: "He's a bit big don't you reckon, and didn't we want a female dog?" Fortunately for me, the other dog there was even bigger, and also a male, and so I used the full force of my fluffy mind powers and it went something like this:

Ollie Wan Kenobi: [with a small wave of his tail] You don't need a smaller dog.
Stormtroopers Chris and the Editor: We don't need a smaller dog.
Ollie Wan Kenobi: I am the dog you're looking for.
Stormtroopers Chris and the Editor: You are the dog we're looking for.
Ollie Wan Kenobi: You can take me for a walk.
Stormtroopers Chris and the Editor: We can take him for a walk.
Ollie Wan Kenobi: Walkies.
Stormtroopers Chris and the Editor: Walkies... Walkies

Chris and the Editor soon fell under the spell of my fluffy mind powers, but I almost blushed on leaving that adoption centre when the nice person there said that I was very hard work and they offered an extension on the cooling off period. And rather shockingly, a phone number for dog psychiatric / behavioural assistance. An outrageous slur on my good character and distinguished breeding. Whatever!

Fortunately at Fernglade Farm I learned that I only have to occasionally chase off marsupials and deer from the orchard to the property boundary. I have to remember not to annoy Chris and the Editor. And I also kill rats and mice. Easy. And there are no stupid cattle roaming around. Have you ever spoken to cattle? I didn't think so!

Life is good here, except for thunderstorms. At least Scritchy taught me to hide under the bed whenever there is a thunderstorm. I can barely fit under the bed, but I am nothing if not determined.
Ollie the cattle dog hides under the bed during a recent thunderstorm
The first time I went in the car to visit the local cafe and watch Chris consume a coffee and fruit toast, well I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I wet myself on the passenger seat of the car. I thought he was taking me back to the animal shelter like all the other rotten humans. Not so, he was simply getting a coffee and fruit toast. I'll know better for next time.

The first time I did something really naughty here - and who doesn't love a bit of naughtiness every now and then? Well, the Editor yelled at me and Chris tapped me gently with a wooden spoon in  front of all of the other dogs. I cowered in fear and, well, I wet myself again. I thought for a moment I was back with the scary humans and their boring cattle...

Scritchy is teaching me how to be a proper fluffy. It involves lots of training and she is constantly issuing instructions. I do my best to please Scritchy.
Scritchy the boss dog teaches young Ollie how to be a proper fluffy
Scritchy is an old girl, but I love my Scritchy, and she lets me sleep on her green couch.
I love my Scritchy boss dog, says Ollie
The other members of the fluffy collective have accepted me. Sir Scruffy takes me on regular foraging romps, and he always seems to know where the best bones are. And Toothy is my constant companion as he is always up for mischief and running around the orchard and playing chase.
Sir Scruffy, Mr Toothy, and Ollie all enjoy a quiet moment after a hard days work around the farm
I heard Chris say the other day that I'm now a proper apprentice fluffy as he put a yellow council tag on my brand new leather collar.

PS: I am feeling more confident now and have not wet myself in ages.

_____________________

Hi everyone! Chris takes back the blogging duties.

I've had an unfortunate case of the flu this week, and it is not any old man flu, but the full on hard core flu. And I have not felt good at all. Despite all that suffering, time waits for no man and a water tank that we had had on order for about a month chose this week to arrive at the local irrigation shop. We picked up the water tank and brought it back here using the bright yellow trailer.
The new water tank sits outside the living room waiting to be moved to its permanent location
The 4,000L (1,050 gallon) tank fits perfectly onto that bright yellow trailer. Unfortunately, when we pushed the tank off the back of the trailer some of the welds on the rear flap (or gate) of the trailer failed. Fortunately, even in my flu addled state I can wield an arc-welder. The repairs were soon completed.
My flu addled state did not produce pretty welds, but they sure are functional!
We moved the large water tank by sliding it around the place with a tarpaulin underneath so as to not damage the surface finish of the tank. In its new location the water tank sits on a compacted bed of rock crusher dust. Rock crusher dust is a very fine form of granite. It is also worth mentioning that the dust is a very good mineral additive to your garden soil too!
The tank site is excavated so that it is more or less flat and level
The rock crusher dust is spread so that it is perfectly flat (screed with a level stick)
The new water tank is then placed onto the bed of rock crusher dust
I pumped several hundred litres of water into the new tank so that it is properly weighted down. A local earth moving bloke enjoyed recounting horror stories of empty water tanks that had blown away in the wind. He enjoyed telling the story because he is usually called upon to retrieve the runaway water tanks using his excavator and a sling. $$$$

Despite the hot and dry autumn, the plant growth has been phenomenal. If you turn your back on some of the garden paths even for a week or so, a jungle rapidly takes them over! The editor has been busy most weeks using her electric (solar powered!) hedge trimmer to hack back at the jungle. All of the cuttings get thrown into either existing or new garden beds. Some of those cuttings even take and start growing in their new locations.
The editor has been using her electric (solar powered) hedge trimmer to keep the paths open
We even added an additional fourth (and also last) concrete step to the set of stairs that we have recently begun constructing to correct a very steep path. That path was just too steep.
A fourth and final step was added to a new staircase which we had begun constructing only recently
The state government conducted more planned burns in the nearby Wombat State Forest. This is a good thing for them to do as it will improve the fertility, and reduce the likelihood of an even bigger fire running through that area. To be brutally honest, the state government does not do enough planned burns in state forest.
Planned burn in the nearby Wombat State Forest
A planned burn just north of Blue Mountain out of Trentham
Smoke from a planned burn in the forest south of Daylesford
Onto the produce! This week we harvested the melons. Unfortunately, I left the cantaloupes on the vine for about two days too long and the pesky Portuguese millipedes rapidly munched their way through the skins. The chickens were not bothered by the millipedes and the ladies enjoyed feasting upon the tasty melons which would otherwise have ended up in the kitchen. This cantaloupe was untouched and it tasted every bit as good as it smelled!
Home grown cantaloupe is far superior tasting to the store purchased melons
Water melon have been a great success here this year and I must have about ten huge cannon ball sized and shaped watermelons. They're very tasty too.
Water melon! Tasty as - and so many melons...
We've been inundated with various capsicums (peppers) and eggplants from the garden. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colours.
Capsicum (peppers) and Eggplant come in all shapes and sizes
With the exception of the citrus, and olives of course, the only other fruit on the trees now are the medlars. They make a pretty good jam / jelly. I won't speak too loudly, but one quince (the first grown here) is continuing to ripen on the tree.
Medlars are some of the last of the summer fruit
There are still tonnes of flowers growing about the place - and the insects are happy!
A little wormwood flower hides underneath a comfrey leaf
Echiums are confused by the run of hot weather as some are producing flowers
A Californian poppy puts on a nice show
These varieties of geraniums always produce the finest flowers
Another fine geranium flower
The temperature outside now at about 7.30pm is 15’C (59’F). So far this year there has been 158.8mm (6.3 inches) which is higher than last week's total of 158.6mm (6.2 inches).

89 comments:

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

That Rockwell guy was onto something. We've discussed his art before - which I quite like - and I suspect his ability to be a commercially successful artist provoked the ire of other artists everywhere! Hehe! Good on him too. He was clearly a bloke who knew something about hard work and building an audience for his work, and that is something to be celebrated. I hear you about that freedom from technology because sometimes Australia Post sends me text messages on my phone at ungodly hours of the morning to let me know that there is a package for me to pick up at the post office - and I have been unable to ascertain how to opt out of that system. I get a text message and think to myself: who the heck has died? Of course, I don't particularly care when packages turn up, and there is something to be said about the excitement of opening the post box to see what is in there. I never asked to be part of that text messaging system and I fail to see the benefit of it, so yeah, I hear you! Incidentally those four freedoms are a juggling act and are possibly interdependent.

No Cliff Mass update on the storm either. Sorry to sound disappointed, but I do love a good storm - certainly I could use one here to wash the smoke particles from the atmosphere. Those pesky particles are not helping my flu, although I now feel that I am in the recovery phase of things.

Still, such rain is useful for the soil as it is not enough that it washes away before it gets a chance to infiltrate the soil. Our night-time temperatures are pretty similar here, but this evening is strangely warm and I have the house open to the night-time air which smells fresher (as distinct from full of smoke particles from the nearby fires) to me this evening.

Did you get into the garden today? Given the lack of rain there wouldn't be too much mud!

Yeah, I was really pleased with the new chickens and best of all they were unexpected but very appropriate gift. Gifts unlooked for are some of the best gifts of all.

In breaking scrounging news, I picked up about half a dozen hessian sacks which will be turned into dog bedding - it is a challenge to convince Ollie that bedding is there for winter warmth and not a play toy. Of course he is too young to recall that winter is a time of hardship for dogs with short hair. Sir Poopy had such a thick double coat of fur that he never felt cold in his life, and he used to enjoy romping around in the occasional snowfall.

The name for the bookshop was pretty good wasn't it? And he was pretty clever to turn stuff that he was getting as a by-product, as part of the more up-market bookshop, into a quirky name building business that he put little effort into. I'm impressed, and I also noted that the up-market bookshop was only open by appointment. He's probably smarter than all of us here combined! Honesty boxes are pretty common down here at farm gates. The early season tomatoes grown in poly tunnels which I used to enjoy for many years was one such enterprise just over the other side of the range. This summer they closed up shop. These things happen.

Well the fist shaking may have made you feel better, and I do hope that nobody who knew you, saw you doing that! Hehe! I can't actually imagine you doing such a thing having worked at a library yourself? I call that customer service empathy! Hehe! Speaking of fist shaking, on Easter Saturday I encountered a push bike rider in the middle of a very narrow road. To alert him to move over I flashed my lights at him from a considerable distance away, as a courtesy so that he wasn't surprised - and he shook his fist at me. I couldn't work out whether he wanted a punch on or what? What is with that level of aggression?

Haha! Your mission should you choose to accept it is to track down a round baking cylinder and cook a Boston Brown Bread Loaf. Personally, I'm more of a fan of the Boston bun. Yummo!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Angus,

Happy Easter to you and your family too. Yeah, the past few days have been crazy hot for this time of year. And tomorrow the pattern looks set to continue. How weird is that? Incidentally, the heat has allowed me to ripen melons (watermelon and cantaloupe) to perfection. As recently as only a few years ago, a local bloke of French origins who has gardened in this area for over three decades used to laugh at my ambitions of growing melons here. And now here we are. Before that, I read that it is too difficult to grow citrus up here, and yeah that prediction didn't work out too well either. Mate, this climate change business is not good.

The water is a real issue too, and even though I have plenty of reserves, I have no idea whether I can use them or not. I mean if you told me in January that the weather would be like it is right now, and has been for the past almost ten weeks - far out!

Absolutely. All of your points are correct and we are talking from the same page. Setting up the systems and getting the experience really is a form of insurance. My grandfather had a huge vegetable patch in his backyard, and he grew up on a farm and had skills and knowledge that I'm painstakingly having to re-learn. I wish I'd paid more attention to the old guy! Oh well, these things happen...

Thanks, and I always appreciate your comments too. As an interesting side story, I completed reading the Limits to Growth book mid last week, and that was after this blog was written. That is not so interesting, what was interesting was that on almost the very last paragraph of the book, the authors implored us to reassess our values.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

I remember that you asked me a question about my greenhouse. I have 2 small greenhouses which are given over to strawberries and tomatoes. The strawberry plants Have wild orchids in their midst which have self seeded there. These orchids love being in a greenhouse and become far larger than those outside.

We had 2 glorious days and now it is raining and I am back in swampland.

Am not sure who 'Galician garden' is but read the query about the rhubarb. I tried to comment but failed. Anyhow the rhubarb is simply flowering which is perfectly normal. However, the flower should be cut out at the base of the stem as it will weaken the plant.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Ollie's story. Soon to be a children's book. It will win the yearly Caldecott award (given for best illustrated children's book since 1937. See also, Newbery Award.) Disney Studios will become interested. Stephen Spielberg will direct the movie. There will be numerous licensing agreements. McDonald's will have Happy Meals with tiny little solar panels, water tanks, various members of the kangaroo family, the Fluffy Collective and Chris and the Editor action figures. Collect the whole set.

Ollie will come to a bad end. The stardom will go right to his head. There will be one wife after another, ever younger. The drugs and alcohol. The "little people" he stepped on, on his rise to stardom will have their revenge. Alone and forgotten, he's end up in some homeless camp.

Your story got me quit misty. (Darn it! It's just something in my eye.) My story, not so much.

I'm glad you're on the mend. Hope you don't have a repeat, for many number of years. Wrestling around a water tank while under the weather doesn't sound like much fun at all.

Watermelon rind can be pickled and is quit tasty, especially if it is slightly chilled. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Geraniums must be a huge family of plants. I'm amazed by how many varieties you've pictured. They must be as promiscuous as roses. Here, the forsythia is in full bloom, along with the daffodils. Tulips are in bud. The green trees are beginning to leaf out and for three or four days, it looks as if a green mist is hanging in the branches.

I've always liked Rockwell. He sometimes has a gentle humor. Sometimes a bit of pathos. Poked fun at foibles. He is criticized for portraying an America that never existed, but if you look at him from the angle of what people should, maybe, aspire to, he goes down a lot easier. If I can find some of his WWII covers in good shape (no mailing labels), not too expensive, I pick them up. I have several books about him. He had a series during WWII about a little GI named Willie Gillis. I've managed to pick up four or five of those. It follows Willie from civilian life, into the army and back to civilian life, again.

Hessian sacks make good backing for hooked scrap rugs. Something to while away your long winter nights ... in your spare time :-).

I'm beginning to think (have thought for awhile?) that bike riders are a rather cranky group of self entitled twits. Not all, but enough to notice. I made SURE the library staff saw me shaking my fist. If I hadn't, they might have pulled my Cranky Old Guy Union Card. Standards must be maintained. They also had a nationally known author scheduled for an visit at 3 that afternoon. Wonder if they made her stand about in the rain, in the parking lot? Not a clue on the website.

Well, I saved my first tomato can for Boston Baked Bread. We'll see. Today, if I get the holes drilled in my barrel, the kitchen scraps buried and some weeds dug out, I'll be happy. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

PS: Here we go. All things Willie Gillis :-).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willie_Gillis

Lew

Jo said...

Glad to see Ollie has found his voice in the tribe :)

Coco said...

Hi Chris,

Thank you for the rhubarb flower ID. Never seen it happen before, although to be honest it´s been decades since I´ve seen a rhubarb plant.

Ollie is a good dog, as are the rest of the crew. What was your method, when you brought him home, to introduce him to the others?

Still raining here. I have flower envy.

orchidwallis said...

@ Lew

Pickled water melon rind, ye gods!

Inge

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks for the reply, and those are both good plant choices (from my perspective) for a greenhouse. I never realised that you had two greenhouses, and the description of the orchids growing among the strawberries sounds lovely. They're really beautiful plants, the orchids. For your interest, the orchids here are quite small too, but in certain places, and at certain times of the year they are prolific. Are your orchids the same as those found growing in the surrounding forest?

I am very curious about your strawberries as I have so much to learn about those plants. I have to admit to being too soft with them and this year they produced almost no fruit, but lots of leaves and runners. I read that down here best practice is to remove the plants after their third year and was wondering whether that matched your understanding? The main problem described in the book was that after the third year the plant disease 'verticillium wilt' increasingly killed off the plants. The plants here live in very deep black loamy soil and they show no signs of disease and never have.

Oh no! Swampland is no good. I hope you have your gumboots always ready to hand whenever you head outdoors? It is crazy dry here for this time of year.

Galician Garden is the lovely ‘Coco’ who occasionally comments here. Maybe because I have so many rhubarb plants (somewhere between 30 and 40), I leave the flowers on and the plant produces hundreds of seeds and eventually little volunteer rhubarbs pop up all about the place. I've never noticed any great loss of virility in the plant either - and I don't water them over summer as that would be a waste of water. Tough as those plants, but I generally plant them in very deep well established garden beds as they struggle a little bit in newer garden beds. The root systems are huge with rhubarb, I’m not saying you could cut floorboards from them, but it is not far off that.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Feeling better today, almost as if I were fit for polite company! This is not always a guaranteed thing for me, still we can only but do our best. :-)! The editor has now crashed out with the flu. This one was bad and I met the person today who I reckon I picked the bug up from. I was very gentle with them, as they appeared to be still sick themselves. Do you get the flu shots? The editor was suggesting that we do that in future years. I was wondering if there were any side effects to the flu shots?

Glad you enjoyed the story as it was a joy to write. Interestingly, the editor also felt that misting of the eye business - honestly it must be the smoke particles or dust in the air, or something like that. Hehe! I didn't actually intend to write the story that way either, it was just how it expressed itself. Ollie was and is oblivious to the close shave with the grim reaper that he narrowly dodged. Life can be a bit like that don't you reckon?

He's alright that dog. The thing that interests me was that the animal shelter people really felt that he was a handful and they really were doubtful that we'd be able to look after him properly. It was such a strange experience getting a replacement dog for the sorely missed Sir Poopy, because we encountered so many people who were happy to talk endlessly about how much they knew about dogs, and how difficult dogs are in a household, and heaven help us if there is already another dog in the household. This was a relatively new change down here in the culture of those animal shelters and it was just so weird to encounter. I mean I'd read about the change in newspaper articles, but to be confronted with the ideology in the flesh is something else altogether.

The thing is, nobody had ever taken the time to instruct Ollie on how he was meant to interact with humans and other dogs. It really was that simple and he is a smart dog so he picked up the lessons after the first or second go. Honestly, such an ability to learn rapidly makes my life easier. And he has a genuine desire to fit in, which I appreciate and respect.

Yeah, I probably could put a good kids book together, but then the kids would drive me bananas, I'd say something inappropriate to them, and then people would get all bent out of shape. Suddenly, my hideously lucrative kids book career would get flushed down the toilet. Maybe I could then go onto to write a tell-all story about who said what and when? But then my language and grammar skills would also have gone down the same toilet because I'd write something puerile like: "don't blame me, they started it first!"

No, I'm sorry but I must put my foot down and decline the stardom! Hehe! Incidentally, it sounds as if your author had a whole lot of fun on the downward slope to that homeless camp! ;-)!

Yeah, every couple of years the flu gets me. I mean what do you do?

I'll tell ya a little secret. The editor did a lot of that work this week, whilst I was around for the occasional push of the water tank, mixing up of the cement, and of course the photo opportunities. The editor has been really lovely, as I am with her now.

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Your watermelon story reminded me that years ago I visited the editors family and they served up a dish of small balls of frozen watermelon and mint. I wasn't a fan of the taste of that dish. The watermelon here though has been a real giver this year and I add it to the breakfast fruit / muesli / and yoghurt combination. Yum! Oh, that reminds me, the editor read an article suggesting that the consumption of yoghurt was good for people who suffer from eczema. Yoghurt is a difficult topic in this household because after many years the editors yoghurt batches began not setting properly. Eventually I took over that role of making the yoghurt and went down a completely different direction (we spoke about the symphony of bacteria) with new tools and cultures, and ever since I began consuming the new batches, my eczema has all but disappeared. The batches seem to be getting better every week too, but I'll only know how it all goes after a couple of years of continuous backslopping from the previous batch. We're both learning a lot about yoghurt as it is a very complex culture.

Whenever we are in the city and we spot a new variety or colour of geranium, we steal a cutting. They come in a huge variety too. Oh, I haven't seen a forsythia before, and they're a member of the Olive family too. An interesting plant. Budburst is always a nice time of year and you described it perfectly!

I like the Rockwell art too, and I can understand what you mean about the humour in his work and yeah, pathos is a good choice of word too. What is a 'WWII covers'? Thanks for the link and I'll check that out. What a fascinating story, and I really liked how Willie appeared to be the runt of the pack, and yet he survived and thrived where others did not. With the exception of the final depiction of Willie at college, he always had a bemused air about him.

There are more hessian sacks waiting too. Winter will eventually turn up down here and then Ollie will be cold and possibly having learned a good lesson about destroying woollen blankets (no synthetic materials in their blankets either).

Yes, standards must be maintained, and I for one am glad that you kept your Cranky Old Guy Union Card in good order. Of course, I was not sure whether I was up for a dust up with an angry bike rider before my first coffee. It is just not cricket, my good sir! To be honest, I was really unsure why he was so angry. It seems a very strange strategy for the guy to take given that there are genuinely people floating around society with hair trigger mood changes, lack of impulse control, and who are basically just itching for a fight. I encounter them from time to time, and I avoid them like the plague - they emit ugly emanations.

Good luck with the can for the Boston Baked Bread - you are about to enter the MacGyver phase of alterations and adjustments to the can!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Jo,

Thank you and glad that you enjoyed the story. He's alright that dog.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Coco,

No worries, and they basically flower every single year. The bees love the flowers too.

I'm a bit slack on that introduction front. I basically introduced him to the other dogs, let him know that he is special and gave him a bit of attention, and then let him know that Scritchy is the boss and what she says goes. He gets to sleep outside with Mr Toothy so he is also never alone and separated from some other part of the pack. Breo will be fine because dogs are pack animals, you just have to watch whether any new dog is not too rough with Breo because of his knees, and keep an eye on that side of things.

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Ollie and Salve are cut from the same cloth I believe. The picture of him with his cuddling up to Scritchy is so similar how Salve cuddles right up to Leo. Her personality seems quite similar as well. I don't know if I've ever mentioned that her prior owner cut her ears to make her look more like a pit bull. As our vet said, "That dog doesn't have a mean bone in her body." Even though at this stage of life I might like just one dog I do think they are better off with a companion. We've never had any issues introducing a new dog - it just takes a few days of adjustment. The addition of a younger dog keeps the older one young. Leo would just be laying around here (which he still does quite a bit) if not for Salve encouraging some play and outdoor adventures.

We are finally going to have a couple of warm days starting tomorrow though there's a possibility of snow, yet again, on the weekend. This is good timing as the bees arrive today. I'm going to at least get some greens planted in the garden. Th The Chicago Cubs' (baseball team) home opener was snowed out yesterday and I don't ever remember that happening before. Many people didn't find out until after they had arrived at the stadium - many having traveled a long distance. Needless to say they were not too pleased.

Speaking of Chicago, I spent the weekend at my aunt's place. She's only 8 years older than me so more like a sister. We were going to go on an architectural tour but it was cancelled. We ate and drank our way down Michigan Avenue (known as the Mag Mile)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnificent_Mile My aunt lives just off it. We stopped at the new Apple store as she had to return something. It was like walking into a nightmare - all these people playing on the rows of devices. My aunt is a kind and interesting person but she is one of those who believes she's done her part by eating sustainably grown food and recycling. She, like my in-laws, is lucky as she has a very large pension and also gets my late uncle's pension from their jobs in California.

Glad you are on the mend but now the editor is down - oh no. I guess it's better you both weren't down at the same time though.

Margaret

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I grow strawberries both in the greenhouses and outside. Have never had any disease in them. I believe that commercial growers replace the plants every one or two years. I have never bothered. The first year produces the most fruit and then it dies down a bit but not significantly. Commercially though it is probably enough to make a financial difference. I remove the runners as that does seem to help the fruit production. So I only take the runners if I want more plants. I'll press a runner down in soil in another pot and only cut it from the main plant when it has rooted in.

I have two types of varieties and no longer remember their names. One type only produces one set of strawberries approx. in June. These are much the sweeter tasting. The others start somewhat later but keep producing until the weather gets very cold. I guess that they would never stop if in a heated greenhouse.

The orchids are the ones growing wild here and have seeded into outside pots in the first place. They grow prolifically and really adore compost.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Waste not, want not :-).

I'm reading an interesting book, right now. "The Secret History of the Blitz" (Levine, 2015). It could have been titled, "The Blitz: Warts and All." The author tries to strike a balance between all the heroic myth, and the not so heroic bits. I think his whole point is that there are many ways of looking at history. Many different "takes" can be true, all at the same time. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - First up, a not to long article on soil restoration, here in the States. And, as you like 'all things soil...'

www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2018/04/09/597617822/a-grass-roots-movement-for-healthy-soil-spreads-among-farmers

I have never suffered any side effects from flu shots, and, I get one just about every year. I hear a lot of what I think is rubbish abut them. "The flu shot gave me the flu." "The flu shot didn't work." (Well, it's never 100% effective.) Usually, it's from people who I'd take their opinions with a pound of salt, anyway. Side effects? I'd say it's possible, but not very likely. And, some people have lively imaginations.

Dogs (well, most animals) have personalities and intelligence levels, all their own. If I was sure that I could get a dog with a personality like my neighbors dog, I might get one. Maybe. But there are no guarantees.

That's interesting that forsythia is related to the olive. Forsythia do very well here. Olive, no. Cont.



LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. WWII covers. The Saturday Evening Post was about the most popular American magazine, for decades. Usually, their weekly covers were illustrated. Not only by Rockwell, but also by other artists. I like the one's from the war years, as they portrayed (sometimes in a humorous way) things on the Home Front. Gas rationing, food rationing, Victory Gardens, etc.. And, mostly from a rural or small town point of view. They could be sentimental or outright propaganda. They were colorful and, to me, the quality of the art was quit high. Maybe I also find them appealing as this was the world my parents and grandparents inhabited, well before I was born?

Willie Gillis was kind of that good old archtype, Everyman. There was also a series of cartoons (later collected into books) by, I think Bill Malden. "Willie and Joe". That was the lives of two GI's, Willie and Joe, but more a view from the trenches.

Well, the weather was just perfect, yesterday (we're back to rain, today) and I fooled about in the garden for a few hours. Drilled the holes in the bottom of my oak half barrel. The toughest part of that was finding my drill bits :-). While drilling, I got the distinct whiff of wine. Weeded. There's quit a patch of pansies, about the size of a dinner plate that have taken up residence in the new garden bed. I can't quit bring myself to tear them out. Nor the lone grape hyacinth. Dug a hole for a bag of kitchen scraps and transferred over some worms from the old bed. The leaves I put down are alive with worms.

Scattered around some dried coffee grounds, two big coffee cans of wood ash and a bag of broken egg shells. Dumped, pitched and spread four bags of composted steer manure. Wonder if I should pitch on some lime or more bonemeal? All in all, the soil is looking pretty good. Lew

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

Salve sounds like an eminently sensible dog. Incidentally, Ollie and Scritchy were having a fight in the hallway because Ollie is basically bored because he hasn't been able to run around and play today. Their differences were quickly settled and they're now on the green couch asleep again, but perhaps some bones will cure their boredom tomorrow.

Yeah, people do strange things to dogs because that makes them a breed, so I can see how the ear thing happened to Salve. Poor dog, do you reckon it affected Salve's hearing at all? I once had a cat with no ears. She was a white cat with really pink skin who loved nothing more than lying around in the summer sun. That didn't work so well, because she developed skin cancer spots on her ears, so we just got the vet to cut the ears off. I thought she'd be more traumatised about that adjustment than she actually was, and she ended up looking like a baby harp seal. She lived to about 16 years old too, and had an exceptionally wide naughty streak.

Exactly too about the younger dog giving a new lease of life to the older dog. It was very quiet here after Sir Poopy passed on, and Ollie exploded into the house.

Did Doug get the bees in? I'm glad you two are going about your normal spring business. I'm not sure people are improved by waiting for things to happen! :-)! Look how grumpy people get whenever a train runs late! Hehe! Or a baseball game gets snowed out… Your spring weather is here, because last night at 11pm it was 75’F, which is far beyond the norm it is just not funny at all. That would be a hot night for summer, let alone now.

If a major cricket game was snowed out, it would be front page news down here. The Australian team is in South Africa and some of the players are a bit of a national disgrace because they tampered with the ball. Imagine that? It seems a bit un-sportsman-like to me. The South African's gave us a walloping too.

The church tower on the magnificent mile looks pretty awe inspiring. It is also nice to see trees at the street level. But what are all the cars doing on the wrong side of the road? Hehe!

I avoid such shops so am having troubles relating to your story! There has been a bit of a controversy down here as one of those stores somehow, well, I dunno, but the planning around it seems all a bit weird to me. Why I'm still not convinced about the new Apple 'flagship' store. I don't ever intend to shop there.

Thanks, I've felt heaps better this week, but alas for the poor editor who needed some serious TLC this evening.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

You are absolutely correct too with your observation about the commercial implications of a die back in strawberry production - as most likely it probably just doesn't matter on a home scale. The author of the book I was reading from clearly has a bent for commercial practices, but to his credit he also mentions traditional and organic practices, but he does love chucking around some NPK.

The hot and dry October knocked back a lot of the strawberry growth and flowers, so I'll have to keep experimenting over the years with the plants to see what works well here for the least amount of effort. I sure fixed the watering system after that disastrous month.

Thanks for the explanation about the two varieties of strawberries. I know I planted quite a number of varieties, but I sort of lost track over the years of who is who in the strawberry patch. There was even a white strawberry fruit in there which was quite tasty. Thanks for the information about the runners, and that makes sense. I have allowed the runners to run this year, so no doubt this has cut into my berry production.

Interestingly, a lot of biennial fruit trees are like that too in that one year they produce bumper crops and the next year they produce more wood. Apples do that for one notable example. I have had a sneaking suspicion for a while that the various species manage that differential growth pattern somehow so that a large number of the fruit trees in the area, despite when they were planted and their age, tend to operate on the same cycle. Dunno.

Nice work with the orchids, and yes, most plants love a good feed of compost.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Mmmm, soil is good! Some of the photos of the various soils in that article looked pretty impressive. I'll have a read of it after replying here tonight.

I see Mr Greer has been annoyed by the 'wannabe activists'. In some ways they are more difficult critters than the activists are themselves, because somehow they learned to whine. I heard a session of whining the other day, and the group (which I was not a part of), were really razzing themselves up into a righteous frenzy. At one point I almost stuck my head up and said, "yes that happened, but given that such an outcome is a real possibility that you may have to face, have you lot considered discussing among yourselves how to best handle a situation like that when you are confronted with it the next time around?" However, I'm still not 100% fighting fit, so I let it slide. But far out, the emotional energy in the air was almost electric. Although I could see that it was not directed into a useful outcome and that seemed a bit wasteful to me.

Good to hear about the flu shot and I appreciate hearing of your experience. There is a lot of hot air out there on such matters.

Absolutely no guarantees at all about dog personalities and intelligence levels. I'm pretty easy going about such things and as long as they fit in and are not aggressive I'm cool with that. Most especially I look for a desire to want to fit in, as that is usually a positive attribute that people can't fake for very long. Generally I've had good experiences with staff that I've had to manage, but then I always was quite open about not asking staff to not do other than what I would do myself. Other bosses try to push emotional buttons in their staff to get those people to work harder than they themselves would and I find that to be a very disreputable goal, but different strokes and all that.

I suspect your soils would be too damp for olives, and possibly the summers would not have quite enough heat. Out of curiosity has anyone grown them on the eastern side of your ranges? Olives often grow well in apple areas down here and certainly they can tolerate a fair chunk of cold weather and snow.

Yeah, I can see the appeal of the WWII covers, and thanks for the explanation. The editor always tells me that it is the simple things that are the most enjoyable. The grand gestures and vast entertainments are fun, but are they as satisfying an experience?

Oooo! What a rabbit hole that was. One mention of the word 'archetype' and off a wabbit huntin' we go! There were so many fascinating implications and theories. Merlin was both the 'trickster' and the 'sage', I guess and more than that too? It is interesting that the Ancient Greek word for 'archetype' was a very complex and nuanced word compared to the English understanding of that word.

What are you intending to achieve by drilling holes in the bottom half of the oak half barrel? I'm curious. Oh yeah, the barrels are beautifully made, but even the vintner can't remove the odour. Some brewers seek those older used barrels for the essences that the used timbers will impart into their brew? I'd leave the pansies in that part of the garden bed too. It will be interesting to observe whether your plants grow better when they are nearer to the pansies? You never know. Alive with worms is music to my ears! Go the worms.

Bone meal is good stuff indeed. Down here they call it blood and bone additive, and it is pretty good, as are the other additives that you are using. I used to work not too far from the blood and bone factory and on a hot day in summer when the wind was blowing in from that direction, well I reckon the word 'pungent' sums the situation up pretty nicely!

Off to bed. I nursed the editor tonight for a few hours as she is quite ill with the flu. This strain is a real knock out. Everyone has a plan until they're faced with this flu strain (a silly riff on a Mike Tyson quote)...

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - My mason bees are setting up housekeeping! They're rather shy little creatures. I had to stand quit still for a few moments before they would show up. Popping in and out of their holes. Coming and going. Toing and froing. Wefting and warping. (Is that more appropriate to spiders?) Who needs the Discovery Channel?

Went on a slug hunt, again, last night. Got two more of the little suckers. I'm keeping a body count on the calendar. I also nailed a cabbage moth, yesterday. The Garden Goddess was out and was horrified. :-). I suppose I'm upsetting the whole ecological balance and the whole thing will slide down the hill.

Sounds a bit like my management style. I always took a weekly turn at cleaning out the bog. "Here's the schedule. I'll take the first week" does wonders in motivating people.

Drilling holes in the barrel. Drainage. I put the barrel up on two flat concrete blocks and will cover the holes with bits of broken crockery, to keep the dirt out. From the time I bought it to when I bored the holes (about 3 weeks?) there was about 8" of water in the bottom. I left it until the day before I drilled, as I hoped it would soften up the bottom, a bit. I think it did.

I do hope the Editor is on the mend. Flu season is about over, here. I suppose what's going around down there now, will arrive here, next year. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. I ran across a bit of history that pertains to Australia in the book on the Blitz that I mentioned to Inge. At the beginning of the war, the government (and people) were all stirred up about possible spies and Nazi sympathizers, etc. It was really over the top and hundreds of them who shouldn't have been, were swept up in the net. It was decided to send them to the colonies.

A boat load on the Arandora Star was sent to Canada. And, promptly sunk north of Ireland. The survivors were put on another already full ship, the Dunera, and sent to Australia. It was a voyage from hell. The guards treated the "prisoners" very badly. Some were off-loaded in Melbourne, the rest in Sydney. The Australian medical officers who came on board were horrified by the conditions. Several of the guards and their commander were later court marshaled.

I finally ran across a bit in the book that explained the author's point of view, better than my fumbling attempt. That there is more than one truth, good and bad. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I am sorry to hear that the editor has the flu and hope that she will soon be feeling better.

Am hoping that someone can give me the answer to a query that I have. The washing machine that I have acquired, does not do a 50 degree wash which was the temperature that I mainly used. I now have to choose between 40 and 60 degrees (it can be lower of course). It suddenly occurred to me to wonder what temperature is comfortable for ones hands. After all I wash dishes by hand and for a long stretch of my life, I washed clothes by hand. I am feeling really curious about this but have no suitable thermometer. Help.

Inge

Steve Carrow said...

As usual, your industriousness is amazing, and even with the flu. By coincidence, I just upped my water storage volume this past week. A nearby farmer is calling it quits, and selling equipment before heading in to the "big smoke" as you say. So I got a practically new 500 gallon (1800 liter) poly tank for half the cost of a new one. I'll be hooking it up soon and capturing even more rain off the pole barn roof this year.

Hazel Marchant said...

Hi, Inge. Just a quick reply to your water temperature question. 30-40 C is a hand wash to somewhat warm temperature, 60C is pretty hot. I mostly use 30C, unless the load is really dirty, or needs to kill bacteria. I hope this is helpful!
Regards, Hazel

Hazel Marchant said...

Hi, Chris
So sorry that you and the editor haven't been well, but you don't seem to have decreased the workload! I hope you both feel fit soon. I loved the Ollie story - he sounds like a great dog, and his guardian angel was looking out for him when you came along! It looks as though Autumn may make a belated appearance this weekend, and some rain as well. Yay!

Best wishes, Hazel

orchidwallis said...

@ Hazel

Thanks. I have been told that 30 degrees is inadequate for bacteria before, yet there is persuasion for us to restrict ourselves to this temperature.

@ Lew

My mother's war was difficult as a German in the UK. She was horrified by the number of people who told her that they supported Hitler. That is a fact that has never to my knowledge been mentioned.

Inge

Damo said...

Hi Chris,

I whined about getting a flu-shot this year. The last one I got (a requirement for travel on the volunteer program in Laos) did make me feel a little unwell for a week. I voiced these concerns to Mrs Damo and she told me in strongly worded language I may have been acting like a little baby. The one I got last week gave no reaction at all.

Glad to hear your new dog is working out. I especially like the photo with the boss dog showing the ropes. 'This is how we patrol for those nasty wombats!'

We got our first proper cold snap this week with snow down to 300m. The mountains are covered and it is proper cold (2-3 degrees overnight). Mrs Damo and I are loving it, although my office co-workers did not share the enthusiasm for some reason. Various mumbles about a long winter or something.

Damo

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Your insect hotel that you set up near the garden was a great idea. Have any of the ladies expressed any interest in the insect hotel? I reckon my long term bet is on all the little known and unknown insects that quietly go about their pollination jobs, and us humans never give a second thought too - probably because they harvest so little honey due to their solitary or small colony ways that they’re not of commercial interest. In the garden they are of massive interest as they lift well beyond their weight. The big problem with European honey bees is that our expectations exceed their ability to deliver whilst maintaining a colony. From my perspective, the honey they store is their winter feed. If I harvest little honey from the bees here, the colony survives year after year and that includes populating the surrounding forest with new splinter colonies. And my mind at the moment is focused on the future colonies and their services.

Most of the other bee species here do a huge amount of the pollination services, and some plants the European honey bees turn their noses up at. I'm really impressed that the mason bees have scoped out their new digs, and have already set up shop and are coming and going about their insect business. Your lot are true enthusiasts!

Yeah, dunno about 'wefting' as I had to look up the definition and noted that it had something to do with textiles. Do you reckon 'wafting' is the more appropriate word? I have read that 'waftability' is a term applied to Rolls Royce vehicles, but clearly I would have no idea what that means in practical terms.

Oooo! Do you get large slugs? I imagine that the tree frogs here eat the slugs because they are around, but their population does get knocked back by something, although I've never seen anything actually eating a slug. I reckon they'd have the consistency of the 'slippery jack' mushrooms found in pine plantations which taste nice, but the texture was very hard to overcome.

Speaking of which, a company is harvesting pine saw logs out of the higher reaches of this mountain range. I've seen a few large trucks winding their ways down the steep road in the more fashionable end of the mountain range. I read a brochure which suggested that this was either the second, third, or fourth harvest of saw logs from that part of the mountain range. They've been very lucky with the weather over the past few months, but that looks set to change on Saturday. The past two and a half months have been feral hot and dry. I wanted to save some ferns from that log extraction process, but the authorities said no. Much better to trample the ferns with heavy machinery, I reckon

Some gardeners tend to feel that a scorched earth policy is an ecological system in balance, and of course there is some truth in that situation. No doubts that you are introducing changes for the better with the many practices that you are undertaking in the garden. Better now than later is what I reckon. I'll be curious to hear how your plants grow relative to the other garden plots. The diversity of the soil life I reckon will get better in future years too. It takes time, and from what I've seen that time is about three years.

Few things motivate folk better than leading by example. Most people are pretty alert to hypocrisy from what I've observed over the years. It is a management style that works, plus I have no great pretensions so I bog in too. ;-)!

Thanks for the explanation about the barrel. However I'm curious as to what use you were intending to put the barrel too? To me it sounds like a huge plant pot, but I'm not really sure?

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Thanks for your kind wishes for the editor. I dragged her off to visit to the local doctors this morning, and his basic message was that she would just have to tough it out. We weren't looking for any medications or recommendations, other than a cough suppressant, so that she could get some sleep. Interestingly too, I note that doctors no longer hand out antibiotics like they used too. Mind you, antibiotics make little sense with viral infections like colds and flu. I was always uncomfortable with how freely those medications were chucked around the place anyway - and still are in the industrial food chain. I suspect that overuse and inappropriate use has lead to the medications deteriorating in their efficacy. Have you ever read any books on that topic?

Yes, that is the dark side of aircraft travel and recently I have read a few articles in the newspaper about people being stuck on planes with other people who have the measles. Not good for anybody.

The HMT (Hired Military Transport) Dunera was even weirder than your story suggests. The ship included both Nazi sympathisers and refugees from the Nazi's. How weird could that situation get? Well the ranks were clearly a bit off, the crew appeared OK, but were as much hostage to the 'Lord of the flies' business with the military that was going on during the voyage. The ranks that were in charge were clearly out of order and they got a proper court martial. Some of the soldiers were from "Soldiers of the King's Pardon", but there were plenty of regulars too. Each day would have been a test of endurance and survival for the passengers. The Australian authorities threw the book at the senior officer and lesser ranks, and all of the passengers were transferred to a town in the middle of nowhere 700 miles west of Sydney called 'Hay' where by all accounts they were treated well and about a thousand of the folks after most of them were classified as 'friendly aliens' volunteered to join the Australian Army and were eventually offered residency. What a voyage they endured... They were almost torpedoed twice en route once only saved by a large wave.

I like that explanation too. You know sometimes even blatant falsities contain a grain of truth within. History is a tough one.

How good was Mr Greer's foray into the crazy antics of climate change activists?

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Thank you for your kind words. The combination of hot and dry weather and smoke from the nearby burnoffs is causing the editor to suffer from coughing fits. I set her up over a bowl of steamy water tonight so that she is getting some warm humid air into her throat and lungs and that seemed to help a lot.

My understanding is that human skin burns in water hotter than 45'C (113'F). Obviously the burns get worse and occur faster the hotter the water gets.

We only wash using cold water down here, generally because clothes aren't that colour fast and hot water tends to allow the colours to eventually run. Most other folks that I know wash their clothes using hot water.

Cheers

Chris

Damo said...

/cont

Work has been in flux for the past couple of months since our GM (the guy who hired me) was 'no longer required'. To be honest it was for the best, he was trying to manage the office from Melbourne flying all over the Tasman and living out of hotels half the time. After 12 months the board had enough and let him go. Next week, finally (we have essentially operated as a self-governing collective the past 3 months) the new GM starts and there is a bit of anxiousness about the workplace as some people already know him and find him a bit 'strange' if well-meaning. I admit the instability concerns me a little, I wonder at those who have mortgages and kids, it must be quite stressful. I have the luxury of just walking away if I can't work with him. Apparently there have been 9 GM's in the past 14 years. Ouch!

Damo

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Steve,

Thanks, and the work continues apace. Honestly I feel that time is short and there are only so many hours in the day. Perhaps I was born with an inbuilt need for activity? :-)!

What a score, and how good are cheap water tanks? Pre-loved water tanks used to be available down here, but people began cutting them into rings which are used for raised garden beds, so now they're really not found. For your info, the new water tank set me back $770.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Hazel,

Thanks, and well the projects keep piling up! :-)! How are you going, it has been hot and dry down here, but far out, I've read one or two articles from up your way and they didn’t sound good, so I was a bit worried about you. Up towards the SW of here, Adelaide has been doing it tough too, and I read that they'd only received 15mm of rain so far for the year. I would be at panic stations if that was the case here.

Thanks too for the kind words, we both appreciate that, and may the flu strain stay down here and not travel anywhere soon. It is pretty horrid. Ollie is lovely, and he has spent an enjoyable day out in the summer sun chewing upon some bones I picked up at the butchers.

I've got my fingers crossed for rain this Saturday too. It looks like a pretty good fall is going to arrive in your area too. Fingers crossed for you too and best of luck for the rain and may this be the turning point in the season!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

The two things I have found that will stop a cough sufficiently for one to get some sleep are 'fisherman's friend' and even better (if they still exist) 'meloids'. The latter are used by opera singers.

Inge

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Damo,

Mate everyone has different reactions to medical procedures, so who knows? You may have been feeling unwell at the time just as a coincidence too, I mean that is possible? Dunno. The chemist said to us today that she would not give either of us the flu shot whilst we were still sick. There is something in that… I recall after three shots (over a period of time) from the Hep B vaccination that I got free due to being in the local volunteer fire brigade, that I got strangely really thirsty for about a day afterwards - and I drink plenty of water, so who knows what that means? It felt similar to the sort of thirstiness I felt back in the days when I used to regularly donate blood. I eventually stopped donating blood because the process just seemed to be taking longer and longer and I felt that they'd somehow forgotten that we were there as volunteers.

All the other dogs are teaching Ollie how to be a proper dog. They can be pretty rough sometimes, but he is much bigger than them, so maybe they have to be that way. Anyway, he's learning the ropes and copying them. Glad you could see that process in action so clearly in the photo. The other dogs make my life easier. There is something to be said about easier introductions for newcomers when there is already a well ordered and well behaved pack in place.

How cool would snow down to 300m be! Woo Hoo! Awesome, I too share your enthusiasm. The other day here it was 36'C, and at 11pm that night it was still 24'C. Those are crazy temperatures for this time of year.

Hey man, I too understand that luxury of being able to walk away. I get that. I don't know how people handle those sorts of stresses either, and if you ever discover how they do it, please let me know? I'm serious too. High staff turnover is indicative of issues. The thing you have to look at is: Is the high staff turnover at your level, or is it a higher level thing? If it is a higher level thing then - just going with my gut feeling here - don't get promoted into higher levels, and don't get too chummy with them as you may bring yourself to their attention. Clearly there is something going on there, but what it is, do you really want to know?

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Of course, I haven't seen or thought about Fisherman's Friends for decades, but oh my, they were really good and the oils in them really used to work as a decongestant too. I may have a look around for those. I've never heard of meloids before, but the formula seems pretty simple. Interesting and many thanks. Have you ever grown licorice, although the root herb may like warmer weather than where you are? The local plant club sells them, but I reckon it may be too cold over the winter for the herb? Dunno.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Ollie!

You are one fine dog! Don't tell Chris I said that or he may misunderstand and think that you are becoming conceited. Facts is facts, and you can't help being the superior dog that you are. If Scritchy tells you otherwise, well, be gentlemanly and appear to believe her.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

Poor editor. Please get well soon (I can hear a "What do you think I'm doing?" from 16,093km away).

Look at the size of that tree near the water tank! I have forgotten: Do you always haul everything in yourselves, like your rock dust, etc.? I don't seem to remember you ever getting any deliveries. You know what? You don't look sickly in your photos, though your recent affliction has caused your beard to go white.

The photos of the effects of the planned burns are wonderful.

You have done so well with your melons - at last! And I am happy to hear about your new chickens.

Almost everyone in my county has forsythia shrubs. There are banks of them - and azaleas - along the streets in town. The forsythias are blooming now and the azaleas had better start, as Garden Week begins in 10 days. That is where they open up the gardens of the old estates to the public (for a fee) each April.

WE once had a cat - Old Peefuss - who, by the time we took him in, had developed such rotten teeth that the vet said that the only thing to do was to remove them all. So we did, and of course I worried, but he was one tough alley cat (a real alley cat) and felt so immensely better that he never looked back and enjoyed his mush all the rest of his very long life. I also worried that the other four cats would take advantage of him, but all Peefuss had to do was glare at them and they would cringe. He had not spent his previous career in the alleys for nothing. I don't think the other cats ever realized that he had no teeth. He was a redhead and used to get a sunburn on his ears - like your white cat - and I took to putting sunblock on his ears. He also had a hole in one ear and it took a lot of restraint on my part not to put an earring in it, like a pirate; it would have suited his personality so well.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, the Ladies Who Garden are interested in the bees. Most of the rest, once we get past the "they don't sting or produce honey", kind of loss interest. Yeah, warp and weft are textile terms. One is the vertical threads and the other the horizontal. The base and the over/under bit. I was stretching for a little joke (very little) there, and it was a stretch too far. :-)

Yeah, I worry about ecological balance. I'd thought about introducing some preying mantis or lady bugs, but think I'll hold off until I see how things shake out. I can imagine preying mantis working over my bee box, snacking on one cell of mason bees, after another. I saw a picture in National Geographic, a few years ago, of a preying mantis devouring a humming bird. The horror! There are also microbes you can add to your soil that kill boring insects, but I wonder how they might impact the worms? So much to consider.

The barrel is like a large planting box. I bought it to use for Jerusalem Artichokes. They grow quit tall. Our garden plots are sited north/south, with the narrow ends toward the north. There's quit a few tall things i want to grow, and they must be kept toward the back. Also, the Jerusalem Artichokes can be a bit invasive, so, I wanted to keep them corralled in a tub. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. I haven't seen any books on the overuse of antibiotics (I'm sure there are some out there) but I've seen several articles. I had a friend once, who insisted to his doctor on antibiotics every time he had the sniffles. If he encountered any resistance, he'd just threaten to go to another doctor. He's dead,now ...

I took a look at Greer, and couldn't find any climate change antics. Couldn't find the plot. Probably just overlooked the exchange. There are a lot of comments. In future, maybe you could mention the date and time of the post? Maybe? Just a suggestion.

My mate Scott said "Won't you be surprised if you get to heaven and discover God is a giant slug?" Gives one pause. At my old place, I used to patrol for slugs along the boundaries where the yard met the tall grass. I occasionally had the fantasy that a giant slug (King or Queen of the slugs?) would rear up from cover and do me in. We do have giant slugs, out in the woods (banana slugs), but the in town variety are smaller. Most of the ones I've been seeing are 3-4". Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - I have a couple of little packets of Fisherman's Friend drops that I keep around, just in case. Sometimes I'll take one just to squelch a late night foraging expedition into the refrigerator. Another marvelous thing about Fisherman's Friend is that people usually only borrow them once. Colman's Dry Mustard, mixed with a little mayo can clear the head. I've also discovered that a screaming child can clear my sinus.

Your mother's situation must have been pretty precarious, especially early on, in the war. Oh, we had our Nazi supporters, here too. Rather well organized, in the 1930s. I don't think my Dad's family (with a name like Hamburg) got any flack. At least, I didn't hear any stories. Then again, my grandmother was touted as "America's number one service mother" as she had so many sons in the armed services. What was that great film about Nazi support among the "upper crust". Remains of the Day? Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. Lew

Hazel Marchant said...

Hi, Chris

It has been very dry here in Canberra, but the temperatures haven't been as crazy as yours. At least it cools down at night to about 10C, so we can sleep. I'm afraid the flu bug has trekked to Canberra, and I'm stuck in bed, aching from head to foot. No cough, though (fingers crossed!) . Speaking of coughs, the best cough medicine I ever found for helping to get a good night's sleep is Benadryl Original. You have to ask for it in the chemist, because it causes drowsiness/mustn't drive etc. But I've used it since I was about 8 years old, and it really works.

Hoping you and the editor are on the mend, and the fluffy collective enjoy their bones.

Cheers

Hazel

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I have never tried to grow liquorice nor heard of anyone else growing it. I assume that it is not possible in the climate here.

Dank, grey and cold outside.

Inge

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Gangle chunks here, and I have so much to learn about being a proper dog and also a proper fluffy. Whilst Scritchy can be a mean old wind-bag, I do love her. There are just so many instructions from her. Instructions all of the time, do this, do that, come here, go there, check that out, and sometimes the wind blows and I forget what all the instructions were. At those times, with the wind blowing, I run off to chase it. I've caught the wind once or twice and it got a proper biting I can tell you! I appreciate that you understand what a superior dog that I am, because I am superior, although the other fluffies don't take me seriously, and Mr Toothy even said something mean about being 'all legs and tail and stuff' and who knows what that means, but it is probably mean.

I caught a parrot yesterday and it wasn't very tasty, but I did taste it. Unfortunately later I felt rather unwell and chucked up the parrot onto the floor next to the green couch. I felt much better then. Parrots don't taste nice. So much to learn...

Yours,

Ollie - cuddle dog.

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Thank you for your nice thoughts for the editor - who is feeling better today. We are both taking it very easy this week. Still, today we did manage to place half a cubic metre (0.65 cubic yards) of local crushed rock with lime down over the rock crusher dust used for the new tank site. It is going to rain heavily tomorrow, so the new surface had to be protected from running away down the hill. Sometimes you have no choice in such matters... Yay for rain though! I wanted to relocate some of the strawberry runners, but the big light in the sky gave out and it became all dark.

Hehe! Yeah, that tree is massive and I for one am glad that it is leaning ever so slightly down hill, but honestly you never know because under the right conditions it could take out 2 water tanks, the firewood shed, and the machinery shed. I really like the big old trees here as they cast your own life into perspective. They apparently live for 300 to 400 years and can grow up to 300ft.

The bright yellow trailer is used to bring most items up to the farm. You'll note that it is always given priority maintenance for that reason. We're going to get some huge drain pipes delivered towards the end of the month and they're too long for the trailer, so very occasionally we do need to get deliveries, but it is usually a rare occurrence.

You are exceptionally observant to have noticed that with the beard. Yup, I'm now an official old dude, which I'm totally cool with. It happens, and I'm happy to be alive and having the chance to do some good stuff here.

If I get the chance, I should get some photos of the regrowth from the out of control fire in the next mountain range to the north which happened a few years ago just to show you what the effect of a burn does to the vegetation. The plant community down here appears to benefit from that incident as long as it is not too hot because then the trees can die and the seeds in the soil can burn rather than breaking their dormancy. It is a weird environment. Our burn off restrictions cease on the 1st of May and I'll watch how the winter rains go this year as the weather has been very strange of late.

I'll chuck a photo in of the new chickens, and the watermelons are really good and tasty.

How good are open gardens? We love trolling through open gardens too and the owners really enjoy showing them off. The hot and dry weather has meant that leaf change this year has been a bit of a fizzer this year, so hopefully that discourages the tourists...

Thank you so much for sharing your story of the delightfully rascally Old Peefus. What a character and yes, the pirate earing would have looked good. To be honest, I'm getting a vibe from your story of a sort of feline version of Keith Richards! Hehe!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Do you reckon the ladies who garden are interested in the mason bees because they understand the pollination benefits that the insects are going to provide? I reckon not stinging is a benefit too! Far out, there are more things that sting and bite down here in the garden than don't sting and bite. What's with that? Have any of the ladies expressed a desire to get their own insect hotel setup?

Very funny and I am amused with your clever word play! I never asked you how the tea camellia that you grew long ago ended up? I forget whether you took it with you or it became a donation to another garden? The reason I ask is because I was at a plant nursery today (lead me not into temptation!) and I spotted that they had a new delivery of some very good looking tea camellia's. One thing lead to another, and I was soon walking out with a new tea camellia. This time I'm going to plant it inside the tomato enclosure where it will get protection from winter winds, whilst also receiving regular summer watering. Over the past three months, the blueberries have grown spectacularly in there. I'm going to have to pull out all of the tomato vines soon as the fruit no longer has any taste which is slightly weird, but this season has been very strange due to the weather.

The little dirt mouse Suzuki was fixed today and the replacement clutch is good. The cost of the repairs put a massive hole in the savings, but that is what they are there for - they're not there for looking at.

Ecological balance is no small matter, and you are wise to take things slowly one change at a time and then gauge the effect. Our societies foray into industrial agriculture keeps us all fed, so absolute credit for that, but what it does to the soil and plants is a different story. I reckon those two insects will turn up anyway, given the changes that you have instituted in your garden beds. If I could give a little bit of advice, if someone in the garden group accidentally or even intentionally sprays near to your beds, or even in your beds, well, just give the whole lot a feed of good worm juice and a solid watering and turn the other cheek. The reason I suggest that approach is because people can be very random in their behaviour and it is always good to be prepared rather than outraged. I mean you never know peoples motivations. A hefty dose of water will wash off all manner of sprays and assist with a speedy recovery, and seaweed solution (or worm teas) can reset balances after herbicides. Not suggesting it will happen, but it is always best to be prepared and take evasive manoeuvres! Sprays on the starboard bow, Captain!

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

The relative air pressure is dropping now as a storm is approaching. We're down to 1003hPa and if ever it drops below 1000hPa, well that usually means some decent rainfall. I set the air pressure on the gauge to Melbourne's reading which is at sea level, so the actual air pressure here at much higher elevations is probably lower, but I'm not too fussed by that. The long term and short term weather cycles here go: Cold; Warm; Hot; Wet; Cold; Warm... Tomorrow it looks set to transition from Hot to Wet.

Hey, I've heard that about Jerusalem Artichokes although I let them run free in the garden, but I've never seen them take over anywhere. That may have something to do with the selection of plants in those garden beds which may be outcompeting them, but then who knows? Believe it or not, the hot and dry weather of the past few months appears to have knocked the artichokes back. Things are clearly different in your part of the world with those plants.

Thanks for considering the problem, and yeah, I've only ever seen articles on the over prescription of antibiotics. Yeah, well I guess they'd kill the good bugs as well as the bad ones, and that can be a problem. Sorry to hear about your mates experience and demise. I believe that down here, they have stopped that shopping around issue too. The thing I worry about is the overuse of those medications in the industrial food system. That is not good as it gives massive advantages away on the cheap.

Wow, the wind is feral outside now! It wasn't like that half an hour ago. The link to Mr Greer's recent discussion on climate change: Why Climate Change Won't Be Stopped. It is strange but I encountered a small 1 foot by 3 foot raised garden bed in a swanky inner urban area today - I did a run into the big smoke for my six weekly visit to the Queen Vic Market. I was so gobsmacked by the sheer uselessness of the raised garden bed, although it was a great display of values. I reckon I'm going to write about that raised garden bed as it really got me all razzed up.

Oh, what an uncanny thought and, so let's be nice to the slugs. Mate, I reckon if God were a slug, the entity would look like: Jabba the Hutt. And who messes with Jabba the Hutt?

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Ollie:

Rats, yes! Parrots, no! Well, I see you found that out on your own and a lucky discovery that was, too, especially that it happened in the house by the green couch so that everyone knew how much you had suffered. I am assuming that the wind was somewhat tastier?

Mr. Toothy means well; he's just jealous, and the reasons are obvious. Miss Scritchy means well, too. She knows what's best for a young gangle chunks. Mind you listen to her.

Pam

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Hazel,

Well hopefully you get some good rainfall tomorrow? It is absolutely feral windy here tonight, so the change is predicted to come through by midday tomorrow and heavy rain is predicted. It never rains, but it pours, as the old timers used to say. The nighttime temperatures have had me particularly worried. 24'C is not normal for this time of year here and I cannot recall seeing such a temperature before.

So sorry to hear that the flu has worked its way north and that you are feeling the full effects of the dastardly disease. Get well soon and best wishes for a speedy recovery so that you can get back into the garden and get your winter vegetables in. I'm thinking about red and green mustards but also rocket. They're all winter favourites here.

The old Benadryl is pretty good stuff and I liked the taste as it evokes comforting memories. We're also trying to inhale steam from a bowl of boiled water which is what they used to do when I was a kid (as well as the Benadryl). It really helps soothe the throat and the deep breathing also moves some of the fluids (which is me being polite and avoiding the messy details) from the lungs.

Being sick is no fun.

Thanks and best wishes to you too.

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

To be honest, I've never seen it grown anywhere, but then given it is a root, the top of the plant looks a bit like alfalfa (or Lucerne) so I'd walk past it without a second thought. Hey, this is interesting, it can grow here in a cold zone down to 9a to 10. I'm in cold zone 9b (Heat zone 4), so I might try and track some down. The local gardening club has it for sale. Here is a link which shows pictures and has some information on the plant: spanish licorice.

Do you have the same cold zone, hot zone codes as used here? Or does the UK maintain its own system? I'd imagine that in your climate you would be able to grow a wider diversity of plants than other much colder areas of the UK?

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

There is a fire in the southern part of my county, on Bungletown Road (had to put in the name, as it's a good one). Yesterday 7 homes were evacuated; the inhabitants of all but one were allowed back by evening. Don't know what the status is now as there have been no updates. It was 81F 27C) yesterday with fairly high winds; same forecast for today. We are very dry here and are having to water the young vegetables twice a day.

Guess what? A chain saw mill is on its way. The winch for it is already here and I asked my son if I could use it for a ski tow, but he says not unless I am a mouse. I guess it's kind of a small one; it's still in the box.

I read your comments on wheat yields at Ecosophia. I am so glad that I am not a commercial farmer.

We are trying paper mulch this year. I don't know what else to call it. It's paper that comes in a roll and you lay it down on the bed before planting and then poke holes or cut out rows and put your seeds or plants in. One roll is actually made for this purpose, and it's kind of purplish. The other roll is drawing paper and looks like butcher paper and is cheaper. My son is working on some various apparatuses (ae? i?) that are suppose to make planting so much easier because, as he informs me, do I still want to be doing all this bending down and hands and knees stuff when I am 80? I started to ask him: You mean I am suppose to still be doing all this stuff when I am 80? But then I thought: Yes! What could be better!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Ollie:

I forgot to mention that when you head to the Storm Shelter that you should be sure that all of you is in there. I could see a wee bit of you sticking out in that last storm. Though I suppose that if Scritchy gets in there first the place might seem sort of full.

Pam

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

No, Salve's hearing is just fine. Doug did get his bees in but after two delightful days in the 60's it's now turned cold again and will remain that way through Monday and there is snow in the forecast for Sunday. I did get the greens planted in the garden and got a lot of dead plant material cleaned up a good thing too as we have another showing this afternoon. Hopefully the rain will hold off until that's over.

You can see the church tower from my aunt's condo. Michigan Ave is a huge tourist destination and very ritzy. My aunt purchased her condo there because my uncle had aplastic anemia and was being treated at Northwestern hospital which is close by. He was going to have a bone marrow transplant and the recovery time was to be long. Sadly he got an infection right before the transplant while in the hospital and died. I often walk from the train to her place which is about a 40 minute walk. However, now I'm more careful of my route as there has been an increase of muggings and older people like myself are being targeted. I can also take a bus or cab but enjoy the walk.

I had never been in an Apple store and only went in as my aunt had something to return - not something I would ever want to do again.

Hoping the editor is on the mend. Your flu bug, as Lew said, will probably show up here next winter. I don't get the flu shot but would consider it as I get older. I do know of a few people who have had adverse reactions - one quite serious and permanent. I think there is something to being exposed when younger and building up an immunity. I can't remember when I've had the flu (I am knocking on wood as I write this) and I used to have sick kids coughing all over me.

You'll have to tell Ollie that Salve vomited the other day on our carpet and it was full of small pieces of bone.

Well I better get on to preparing for the showing.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I think we have enough Mason bees. Besides my little bee hotel, there's another affixed to the side of the building that looks active. LOL. In our little gardening world, there's a lot of "Someone else is doing it, so I don't have to." :-).

During the move, I transplanted the tea plant to another pot ... and, it slowly died. Don't know why. I do have some seed from it, and may give them a whirl.

I'm glad the dirt mouse had a successful surgery and recovery.

I've decided not to introduce praying mantis. We get a few around, and, they can be quit hard on bee populations. Thanks for the info on recovering from sprays. Most of the ladies seem to use a light hand with any chemicals. They seem to be well aware of more organic methods of gardening. Not over the top, but aware. I did see one of the grounds maintenance guys (the place looks manicured) spot spraying some weeds, yesterday. But most of their work is well away from the Inmate's plots. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. The thing about antibiotics is that if a full course isn't taken (Gee, I feel better. Guess I can stop taking my antibiotics) some of the critters survive ... with a resistance to the drug. Or, just in the natural course of things, not all of the bugs are killed. They are resistant and survive and thrive. Each round like that, produces a stronger and stronger bug. There are diseases out there now, that are entirely, or almost entirely resistant to all our known antibiotics. TB, staph infections, flesh eating bacteria and some of the sexually transmitted diseases come to mind. A Google of "The End of Antibiotics" or "The Rise of Superbugs" would probably yield a lot of hits.

Of course, another part of the problem is that, to drug companies, antibiotics aren't very profitable. Given the investment.

Ah, thanks for the link to the Greer article. Yes, a lot of the comments were "Who me?" or "Not me!". I saw a couple of articles yesterday, that the North Atlantic currents are collapsing a lot faster than projected. Faster sea level rise ... more storms like Sandy. I just watched a straight-to-dvd film the other night called "Scorched Earth." The premiss was rather interesting. There's been some kind of climate apocalypse and the remaining population is rather small and lives pretty much in a style of the 1880s. old west. The "Territorial Authority" has put a bounty on "Burners". People who still use combustion engine vehicles. Who, of course, are the evily evil, bad guys. War lords. Might be worth a look, for free. Maybe. The concepts were interesting.

Do keep us old duffers in mind when you go on a rant about raised beds. :-). I just went out in the rain and wind to see exactly how raised my beds are. The small bed (4'x7 1/2') is raised 1'8'' off the ground. The large bed (13'6" x 5') is 1'4" high. Interesting, that one. Whoever constructed it allowed for the slope. I must say the raised beds are easier to manage, and allow for more intensive gardening. With higher yields. Besides the raised beds, there are many other containers of various sorts, scattered about.

I did pretty well at bingo, last night. With the buy in, I started out $7.55 in the hole. Won enough that by the end I was only $2.35 in the hole. As last time, I came within one number of winning the black out round. Which had a pot of $10. That would have been nice. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

The Island is warmer than further north. However a slope to the north which is what I have is not so good, nor is being at the coast.

I have never heard of temperature zoning so haven't the foggiest idea about it.

Inge

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

A few days ago it warmed up enough that I felt it was safe to remove the mulch from my two tea camellias. Alas, the very cold conditions over much of January froze them almost to the ground. But way down near the ground, say 6" or so up, each has a green leaf or two. So at least some of the root systems survived. Now to see if they grow on from there.

I just got this year's potato crop planted.

I'm sorry you and the editor fell victim to the flu and am glad you are recovering.

Claire

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

It is a bit naughty of me to suggest this, but I sure hope that the authorities don't bungle that fire. How cool is that name? How did the fire end up? Those conditions sound conducive to the fire spreading, and so I hope everyone is OK?

Those sure are some hot conditions for mid-spring. The last October down here (which is your April) was crazy hot and dry here too. I'm not excited about a warming climate as the risk increases with the warmth. About an inch of rain fell here today and now it feels as if winter has arrived and brought the cold winds with it too.

Go the chainsaw mill! I had a look on the internet to see how they work, and they're interesting and should produce some good and usable timber. Do you both have a project in mind for this timber?

I've never seen paper mulch used in a garden so that is another new idea, although I've seen people place newspaper down over garden beds as a weed mat. It eventually breaks down, but requires a bit of rain to do so. I likewise hope to be doing this stuff at 80. How good would that be? It is not much to ask for either. :-)! If people ask me about retirement, I tell them that I probably won’t be able to retire due to economics and that usually ends the conversation.

I relocated a huge number of strawberry plants today and I now realise just how many plants there are in the old strawberry enclosure. It happened this afternoon after a break in the rain, and the editor took a look at the relocated plants and suggested that perhaps that terrace should be used for the corn instead of the strawberries - the fencing is about 6 foot you see, so it probably isn't a bad idea. We just have to first dig the next three terraces out of the side of the hill and then move all of the strawberries again. Oh for flat land - to dream the impossible dream! You know what I mean...

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Gangle chunks here! Parrots sure do look nice, but oh boy, do they taste rotten. Sick to my guts I was, but then I looked at the pile of regurgitated dead parrot and thought, well waste not want not, and so I reached down to retrieve the ... And suddenly Chris is in my face telling me I'm disgusting and keeping me away from the parrot pile. Wasted food, that is disgusting, that is what that is. Anyway, the mess was rapidly cleaned up and I just had dwell upon the lost opportunity. That is a dogs life, that is! All hardship and stuff.

I listen to my Scritchy and I do what she says, but sometime the wind blows and then I forget what she was saying. OK, I will try to concentrate more in future.

The storm shelter sure does get busy, but when I can see brave Scritchy in there, then I feel safer. Surely you couldn't see me? I have a theory about that, and I conclude that if you cannot see my head, then you cannot see me. My logic is sound and I rest my case.

So bored today. It rained and rained and for a moment I went outside and my nose got wet, and so I turned around and went back inside. The only sensible thing to do in the conditions. I'm just so bored and where are the rats and parrots when you need a bit of light entertainment? That furniture looks like it needs a proper biting…

Ollie

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Margaret,

I've had that happen too with a new colony of bees. You bring them back in nice weather and then suddenly, bam, the weather turns cold and the bees may be left short of food (that is usually me, and not Doug who has more experience with bees). Your winter seems to be going on and on, and I hope that things turn around soon? It rained about an inch here today which is nice and I feel that the season has now finally shifted into colder weather. That is a relief.

Did the rain hold off for the showing? You may get very lucky and have a very green summer this year which may assist your selling efforts? Houses sell in green summers. Dunno.

Oh my goodness, what a rare disease for you uncle to have succumbed to. You have my condolences. I can see how the risk of infection increases with such a condition. We all walk a fine line between sickness and health.

Walks through a city are a great way to gauge the mood of a city. I assume that muggings don't take place - or aren't a risk - during daylight hours? 40 minutes is a good distance too for walking. It is usually such a nice and relaxing activity.

Yeah, I hear you about the store. The editor mentioned that the recent poultry auction she attended last weekend (and I was too sick to attend) was pretty feral because of the volume of people. I'll have a look for myself at the winter auction, but my expectations are not good as feral does not excite me. The three new chickens have settled in well and are free ranging through the orchard in the evenings.

Speaking of which, today's feral weather probably put a stomp on the massed hordes of leaf change tourists. This may be a good thing. The recent hot and dry weather has meant that the deciduous trees are changing to the colour brown anyway and are not putting on much of a show this year.

Thank you and the editor is on the mend. Ouch, I hope that you can dodge this particular strain of flu as it has been memorable - and not in a good way. Yeah, there is a middle ground in these things and sometimes some people get affected adversely and you just never know if your lucky numbers will come up in that lottery. I sort of see it like insurance in that you are simply trying to reduce risk. I'm not the sort of person who reckons that risk should be eliminated, because that is a contradiction in terms and it just isn't a possibility. I once bought an insurance policy on the very afternoon that the large insurance company collapsed – at least they were thoughtful enough to send me a certificate of currency.

Go Salve. What annoys me about dogs vomiting is that somehow they prefer to do that on carpet as distinct from the timber floorboards which are easier to clean. And I have no idea why that would be either, they just do. It is not good.

Good luck with the showing.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

Ah, thanks for the explanation - that makes sense. And it is nice that there was an insect hotel already established on the side of the building - you have acted as an insect housing developer by installing another hotel. :-)! Jokes aside, it really is a thoughtful thing for the insects to have housing - they do it pretty tough. There are parts of Melbourne I travel to and I don't see any insects in the gardens anywhere which really worries me. Do you keep a bird bath in the garden anywhere? Insects often enjoy a drink of water during hot weather and they sometimes use bird baths. At least the gardening world there seems sort of on the same page, which is really good.

I planted the tea camellia today after the rain finished. Far out, it doesn't rain but it pours, because over an inch of rain fell today. After the rain, I also moved several hundred strawberry plants onto the strawberry terrace and enclosure. I was surprised at how dry the soil was even after the inch of rain - the soil was quite black and loamy in both the new terrace and the old strawberry bed which is good, but it was so dry. Anyway, I took the editor up to check out the strawberries and she remarked that given the height of the fencing up on that strawberry terrace (6 foot) that it would make a better corn terrace. I guess I'll be moving the strawberries again... We rarely get things right the first time here, and when we do, well, lessons aren't learned. The lavender on the edge of that terrace is going feral and we spoke about taking cuttings for the next and higher terrace which has yet to be excavated. Back to camellia's, I've seen the seeds, but have never grown one of the plants from seed.

I've never seen praying mantises take on a bee, but yours may be bigger than the ones here. They're pretty full on predators though so they are good in the garden, but yeah hesitate and see how things go is always the safest path. I've seen some of the birds here try and take out a few bees, but generally everything leaves them alone - except for the ants who try to raid the colony to steal the honey. Not over the top sounds like a great way to go with sprays. They can be useful from time to time, but I reckon to rely on them in the first instance every time is a bad idea. To be honest, they're a bit like the antibiotic story in that plants and insects adapt due to overuse and sheer exposure - especially given the life-cycles of a lot of plants and insects are so much faster than ours, and thus their abilities to adapt are much better than ours.

Ouch, that was my understanding of the problem with antibiotics too. I've known of some people who have caught antibiotic resistant bugs - golden staph springs to mind and recovery was tough. I have heard of such an outcome from an accidental dog bite. What a rabbit hole that story was. We now wash all wounds with alcohol spirits. The reports down here suggest that the antibiotic resistant varieties of golden staph were first observed during the 70's, but like a good horror story, there are now reports that the bacteria is being spread outside of hospital environments. A truly epic and frightening rabbit hole. Apparently 80% of antibiotic usage in the US is in low level dosages in agriculture. Not good...

Yeah, the stories mentioned the apparent problems of huge research costs versus a tendency of doctors to hold off from prescribing newer antibiotics because they are being used as a last line of defence and those two goals are in conflict. Again, not good...

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

No problems at all! My personal favourite side step is the: yeah, I could recharge my electric car from entirely renewable sources. But do you? Well, no that would be too expensive, but I could. ;-)! I'm sure you've seen that gear before. Mate, I can't even seem to convince people that solar PV panels do not produce much energy at all when they're covered with snow... People seem to think that I'm lying about that, although why I would do so on such an easily testable proposition is perhaps another boondoggle and evasive manoeuvre.

The Old west was probably a reasonably easy technology level to maintain - and they did have batteries back then and telegraph too. I'm unsure the people using the internet today would be happy with the speed of such a system, but it does work.

We've decided to go and see a comedy show at the Comedy Festival (which is a huge event here). It is about a young lady who finishes Uni with a $90k student debt and wants to get out of it as fast as possible, so she decides to work as a stripper, as you do. It should be a fascinating story, and one that you wouldn't ordinarily get the chance to hear. The show incidentally is called: "Ho life, or no life" which is not very family friendly at all, but should be entertaining all the same. I'm trying to work out what course she took for that sort of money, and I reckon my money is on Law.

I'm planning to write the story section of the blog tonight, but I feel I haven't done much this week. Having both the editor and I out of action in one week is not good, but there you go. No worries at all. Being an old fella myself, I too appreciate raised garden beds, so no my rant is about a single raised garden bed put on the street as a display of values. The raised garden beds themselves work great and I have over a dozen of them, and will probably get more over the next year or two. Exactly too, I reckon the yields are higher, and it is a bit eerie, but you do get to see the soil disappearing from the raised garden beds as it gets converted into plant matter - and that alone is a sobering experience.

Well done you. The bingo for blood crew are way tough customers! You neglected to mention which particular fetish you took to the table. Was it the leprechaun?

Winter has hit hard here today, and we've had the wood heater running with only a few logs in it all day long. We keep the top air throttle open full (with the bottom throttle closed) now so that the combustion is fairly clean as that saves damage to the combustion chamber and flu. We're mucking around trying to work out the right balance between sending hot water around to the hydronic radiators in the house or up to the hot water tank in the ceiling which works as a heat exchanger for the hot water system. It is toasty warm inside, but not out. We also had a wind gust record - 50km/h (31 miles/h) at ground level. The wind meter has the bulk of the house behind it so the readings are usually very understated. The wind sure rocked the house!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

Ah, that makes sense and I get that about being on a north facing slope, because I'm on a south facing slope and it makes a real difference. Especially for winter sunshine here, because the early morning sun during winter is blocked by the higher ridge to the north of here when the sun is low in the sky at that time of year. Oh well, you get what you get with land, and no land is perfect.

No worries at all. To be honest I reckon the temperature zoning is only really indicative of the sort of plants that you can potentially grow in your area. If I took the time to listen to people about what I couldn't grow, well I sure wouldn't have fresh grapefruit and a huge pile of cannon balls - sorry I meant to say - watermelons in the kitchen. I harvested the pumpkin too today, but given it is a winter pumpkin I'll wait a few weeks before cooking it.

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Claire,

I'm really impressed that your tea camellia's survived the winter. Really impressed. I planted the tea camellia here today and the instructions admonished me not to mulch up to the trunk of the shrub, but clearly that may not be true given your experience. Camellia's are interesting plants and they seem quite finicky to me, and I often cut the ones here back pretty hard and they seem to recover fairly well from that experience, so here's hoping that yours quickly recover.

Nice work with the potatoes and keep a watch out for all the critters wanting to snack on them. Some animal here has dug a few of the potatoes up, took a few bites, and then just left the tubers there half buried...

And a wallaby ate my best seedling avocado leaving only one sad leaf...

Thank you for your kind thoughts and we appreciate them. May you avoid this horrendous experience!

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I know what you mean . . . "We just have to first dig the next three terraces out of the side of the hill and then move all of the strawberries again." Just. Ok.

The chainsaw mill - which arrived yesterday - is to be used for making boards, first for some cabinet projects and workbench tops, then to make wooden bases for some of my son's sculptures.

Well, you've got your winter and we've got our summer. It was 87F (30.5) here yesterday; I'm not used to working out in that. It will cool off next week, though. The fire is nearly out. No lives or homes were lost.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Chris and Lew:

I think it was you guys who may have recently mentioned trouble with cabbage moths/butterflies; it could have been everybody. We now have cabbage cages over our cabbage plants. They are 2ft tall x 4ft wide x 6ft long (.6m x 1.2m x 1.8m), constructed of wood with "mosquito netting", aka the stuff that you buy at the fabric store that they make wedding veils out of, attached with staples. I have been seeing cabbage moths for a while now and point my finger and snarl at them whenever I see one. It has not worked; maybe this will. We have never gotten a decent cabbage.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@Inge:

I tested the water while I was handwashing the dishes and it was 106F (41C). I haven't had a chance to test the clothes washer water yet.

Pam

orchidwallis said...

@ Pam
Thanks. That means that using the washing machine at 40 degrees is washing at about the same temperature at which I used to hand wash clothes. However when hand washing one does give the dirty sections a hard rubbing, while the machine won't differentiate. Interesting.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - We have at least one bird bath, maybe more. Given our population, some of the Ladies quit like the birds, so they are well taken care of. I bought a hummingbird feeder that I'm going to put up in my garden space.

Yes, the leprechauns had an evening out, as they've done pretty well. Go leprechauns! Sounds like a very bad high school footie team. :-).

Speaking of your Storm Detectives, I just read the bit about pets during the Blitz. Some dogs and cats were early warning systems as they could hear the drone of the planes, long before their owners could. Or, even before the sirens sounded.

Another use for planting boxes. Covering up a crime. About four or five months ago, they caught a serial killer in, I think, Toronto. He was a landscaper. Not only was he hiding bits of his victims in his own planter boxes, he also stashed several in planter boxes in some of his accounts. So, the police have had to go through his (long) client list and check out all the planter boxes. Judging from the few pictures I saw on the Net, his client list was pretty posh.

It has been raining for 24 hours, or so. Seems to be clearing off, a bit. The temps aren't too low, but the wind chill makes it feel even more bitter out. I have to go out to Salkum, this morning, which is out toward the east county. Pick up my holds as our local library is out of commission (roof) for awhile. Oh, well. Always fun to browse the shelves of a branch I haven't been in, in awhile. And, it's within walking distance of where I'll eventually end up. Might have a bit of a lay and check out the view.

Maybe when Ollie is snapping at the wind, he's giving what for to things coming and going in the Dreamtime? Better to live on the slope then down on the flats where it floods. I didn't know how tense that made me until I moved out of it. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Here you go. Plant zones, sometimes called "hardiness zones." England is about half way down. Of course, there's always exceptions. Local micro-climates, etc.. Lew

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardiness_zone

Damo said...

Hi Chris,

The unsettling thing is that the turnover has happened at different levels, but predominantly at the GM level. Keeping at an arms length distance is sensible advice, the new guy starts tomorrow so I will soon find out how things might be. For better or worse I go on leave for 2.5 weeks on Friday so I will have some reflection time haha!

@Pam

I was the one having the cabbage moth problems. They were real bad 4-6 weeks ago, but have died back a bit now the cold has come in. They hit the cabbages bad, but perhaps not as bad as they could be. It looks like I might end up with 80% of the cabbages, but some of them are clearly smaller then they could have been.

Damo

Damo said...

@Chris & Lew

I saw Greers post as well. It is a well-made point (and one he has made several times on the old blog to great effect) and pretty sensible advice for anyone trying to convince others. Personally I think the 'green movement' should never have focused on carbon emissions. It is a predicament rather than a problem and we were always doomed from the start to burn it all. The laws of thermodynamics and energy density make it impossible for any other outcome (the economic advantage accruing to any country that keeps burning fossil fuels is too large).

Of course, I might just be too cynical and inherently biased trying to vainly justify my own over-consumption, including international flights. But then, I don't preach to others so perhaps it doesn't matter :-p

Damo

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Pam,

Ah yes, only those that live on slopes can appreciate the beauty of flat land! I just can't afford flat land... :-)! Oh well.

Good stuff and I'll be really interested to hear how it goes with the chainsaw mill. It is a good idea.

I find that it takes a while getting used to working in such hot conditions. I'm not sure how you go about it, but I get up early, work until lunchtime and then call it quits for the afternoon. Glad to read that the fires were put out. Such dry weather as we are both having is not good from a fire risk.

I've never had a decent cabbage either as the winter sun just doesn't seem to have enough energy to ensure that the cabbage hearts properly. And the cabbage moths are feral during summer. Your mosquito netting idea is a goodie for dealing with those pesky moths and it would also help to reduce evaporation from the soil. Interesting, and I'll have to think about that for next summer.

As an interesting comparison, we wash clothes in cold water, but always add a splash of vinegar into the mix and also we use soap nuts instead of washing powder. I've never noticed any smell on the clothes from bacteria, but it is a drier and warmer environment here, so who knows? I was surprised to see so much washing in hot water because the dyes in clothes aren't usually that colour-fast and hot water increases the risk of that problem. Dunno.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

@ Lew

Thanks. Very interesting. I seem to be zone 9. But this is one rough guide. I am way colder than Son who is just a 5 min. walk away. He is sheltered from the north east wind and I am not.

Inge

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Lewis,

It is nice that the birds are in safe hands and are enjoyed by the ladies in the gardens. You had a hummingbird feeder back in your old digs too. Bird feeders are always a great idea, because the birds do it tough due to competition for limited feed and limited housing. I don't keep bird feeders, mainly because I give a fair chunk of the produce from the fruit trees to the birds. They take a lot, but I'm hoping long term that the trees out-compete the bird population, which is limited by the loss of feed over the winter and subsequent crash in their population. At the moment the birds are enjoying the plentiful olives. I just haven't worked out a tasty way to preserve the olives, so we'll leave the job of harvesting the fruit to the birds. Most of the preserved olives that we have done in the past taste too salty for my palate, and other options generally involve chemicals. Maybe I'll have to get an olive crusher / mill for olive oil. But they are expensive. Have you ever preserved olives or crushed them for oil? Or do you even consume the fruit? I guess they can be an acquired taste, although the oil is I reckon the very best vegetable oil for cooking. Yum!

Then, down the track we are going to plant a small olive grove to supplement the existing trees. So much to do, so little time. But then there is the sugar maple grove, but then I guess either tree takes a good decade to produce well. Have you ever tapped sugars from a maple tree? Or consumed real maple syrup? I'm salivating thinking about all this yummy food.

It does sound a bit dodgy doesn't it? Imagine a footy team called the Penguins? Or what about the Dodo's? Do you reckon you'll take the leprechauns to your next bingo for blood? Or will you test out another fetish? I'd go for the test of a new fetish, because you never know the potency of a new item that may have more inherent mojo than the leprechauns? Dunno.

I don't have enough experience with cats to know, but the dogs sure know the individual sound of engines approaching here. They know when the editor is arriving home, and by all accounts they can tell when I'm arriving home too. They tend to give me advance warning of other people arriving to, so their ears are far more sensitive than ours. The WWII canine alerts does not surprise me at all.

Ooo, that is a bit gruesome. I wonder why the alleged serial killer would put body parts into planter boxes as there appears to be no level of self preservation inherent in that act? I'm curious about such minds, although I would avoid such people if ever I encountered one. One of their common failings that I have read about is that they have a belief that they are smarter than everyone else, which is clearly a mistaken belief. Mate, I’ve met heaps of people smarter than me. No doubt it has something to do with viewing other people as objects, but I don't really know. Interestingly, I have encountered people from time to time, who discuss other people as if they were objects as distinct from people, and it is a bit chilling. Have you ever encountered someone who speaks that way about other people?

cont...

Fernglade Farm said...

Ha! Cliffmass had a blog post about your spring, and I had to laugh when I came across the quote: 'The next week will make ducks very, very happy'. And some areas have had below average temperatures. I hope that you are toasty warm in your new digs? It has rained here since lunchtime yesterday until about sundown this evening. I had plans... Then I went and did something else that kept me out of the rain!

Salkum reads as if it is a small community, but it is very good that they have a library. Were all of your holds there at the library? You have an amazing library system and I'm in awe of it. I reckon you live in a good paddock / part of the world. As an interesting side note, I spotted a note on the wikipedia page about your part of the world (Lewis County) that you once had one of the world's tallest Douglas fir trees ever recorded which was in the town of Mineral within Lewis County, attaining a height of 120 metres (390 ft)! That is big as. Those trees grow really well here too and often self seed, and I'm happy to have them here on the farm as they are really beautiful trees. A bit higher up in the mountain range, there are very old stands of Douglas Fir, and to walk through them on a snowy day is a true joy for the senses.

Oh yeah, I hear you about that being one of the benefits of living on a slope. The drainage here is superb, but there was that minor landslide a year or so back that has given me pause for consideration and I have taken action to ensure that doesn't happen again, but still... Back in 2010 during the wettest year in recorded history here, the local river flooded, and it sure was a long way home that day. I had never seen so much fresh water and rain before in my entire life (10 inches of rain in five days). So I understand you anxiety in relation to that matter.

I'm grateful that it rained here over the past day. In the state to the north of here, the capital city of Sydney has not fared so well, and a combination of seriously hot and dry weather there meant that a bushfire is threatening the edges of the city: Sydney bushfire: Reports of property affected as fire eases and threat downgraded.

Better get on with some writing!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Damo,

Yeah, good luck, and my advice comes from hard won experience. You'll be fine. Hey, so leave? I assume that you and Mrs Damo have plans? You live in an amazing part of the world now. I vividly recall standing on the west coast of the south island looking down the coast surrounded by sub tropical vegetation and seeing snow capped mountains in the far distance. Far out, that scene blew my mind.

Exactly too and respect for an honest self assessment of the situation. Therein lies the inherent problem with preaching to others - you have to keep your own house in order. From what I can see, few people, if any, have their house in order. Mate, I use an enormous amount of fossil fuels bringing organic matter back to the farm. It is uphill all of the way too. How bad is that?

For your interest, I rarely talk big picture in the stories that I write here. Of course, I am always talking the big picture, but I'm always saying how does this look at the ground level? There are plenty of people wanting to talk the big picture stuff, and I'm unsure how much - if any - difference that it makes.

And yeah, totally it is a predicament. How often do you hear the green movement talking about dumping our sewage in the oceans and the effect that has on the ecosphere? Exactly, fixating on carbon as the only pollution in town is an idiotic idea as it just doesn't stack up to the lived experience. :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Fernglade Farm said...

Hi Inge,

For your interest, I am apparently in zone 9b or 10, but there are so many micro-climates on this property. Those micro-climates are dictated by exposure to the prevailing winds as well as aspect, because aspect can vary the amount of sun exposure in both summer and winter. You may note that I have two orchards and I describe one as the sunny orchard, and the other as the shady orchard and they vary due to aspect.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Chris:

The 106F is what I use for washing dishes, to the detriment of my hands. I haven't measured the temperature of my clothes washing water yet. I would guess that it is about 70F (21C).

We are in Zone 6 because of our "altitude" - 750ft (228m) - since we are quite a bit higher than the valley below us, and because of our north slope. The town of Charlottesville is Zone 7.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@Damo:

Ah - that was you with the cabbage moths! We got some fairly largish heads last year, but they were riddled with caterpillars and icky stuff all through, though I squished the caterpillars and eggs twice a day for weeks. Have never found an organic spray (usually has to be homemade) that repels them. Have tried companion planting to no avail, so far. Very frustrating because I do love my coleslaw and sauerkraut, among other things.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

The 106F was for dishwashing. I haven't measured the clothes washing water yet, but I think it is about 70F.

Pam

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

The bees were OK yesterday but the weather has gotten even worse. We had very high winds, rain ending with freezing rain last night. Now it's snowing and we may have 3 - 5 inches today as well as more snow tomorrow. It doesn't look to get anywhere close to normal until Friday.

Dry conditions sure do affect the fall colors but sounds like there is at least one advantage regarding all the tourists.

It's been crazy regarding the house sale. We had a showing on Friday. Yesterday we got a call around 9:30 saying the people wanted to come back between 10:30 and 11. Well they arrived around 10:15 but said we didn't have to leave. They appear very interested but we may have to move in six weeks which would be challenging to say the least. Then yesterday afternoon I get an email from the man who owns the Christmas tree farm and had purchased our adjacent property to expand the farm. He now is very interested in buying the house as well. He has seen it and is very familiar with the property. So who knows but it certainly looks like we could be moving quicker than we thought.

Margaret

margfh said...

Chris et al,

Regarding cabbage - has anyone tried floating row covers? They will keep off the moths but let rain through. The last through quite a few seasons. As wind is often an issue here so I'll use them to protect new transplants for awhile.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I've never worked with olives. They don't grow here. But I sure use a lot of olive oil. The Romans and Greeks had it down to a science. Big pressing mills that were a combination of stone troughs, wooden beams and more stone for weight. I've never tapped a maple tree, before. I might have if I had stayed out at my old place, longer. There was a good sized maple that was getting to be the right size. I even have a book on how to do it. For commercial quantities, you need a good hard frost, at night, right when the sap begins to flow in the early spring. There are also other trees that have a high enough sugar content in the sap to boil down. It takes a gosh awful amount of sap to make syrup. And, you need a heat source. I've used it in cooking, mostly biscuits. One of the "Little House" books has a narrative of "sugaring off."

I've tried a number of lucky charms for bingo, but the leprechauns have worked best. I guess they appreciate a night on the town, twice a month.

You probably brush up against serial killers from time to time, and never know it. Years after I lived in Southern California, I read a book about a serial killer who was leaving bit of his victims in dumpsters, scattered up and down the coast, at the same time I lived there. I don't know who he was, but was in the general proximity, once removed. Turns out he worked at a business, next door to where I worked. And, belonged to a bridge club that one of my room mates used to attend.

People objectify people, all the time. Anytime anyone says "I don't like X group of people" that's objectifying. Runs from low level dislike to genocide. And then there's the whole "I don't like X group, except for that nice checker at the supermarket. She's different." Or, "My best friend is ... " It's part of our (I think) human nature (genetics?) to suspect "the other." I try to take people as they come, but in the darker corners of my mind, a bit of the attitude lingers.

My digs are toasty warm. Sometimes, too much. I made molasses cookies, last night, and had to crack open a window and turn on a fan to keep the temperature comfortable. Top floor, southern exposure, well insulated building. But that may become a problem, next summer. Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Salkum is just a "spot in the road." "Blink and you'll miss it." It was a booming logging town, back in the day. Now it's just the library, a tavern, and a scattering of old company houses. And, outside of "town" a church and the cemetery. There was a funeral going on, so I thought it might be a bit unseemly to be seen flopping about on my future home. I saw a truck parked off at a respectable distance, and thought, "I wonder if..." Sure enough it was Christopher who takes care of the cemetery. Among several. His wife sold me the plot. There one of those couples who have pieced together a living, out in our east county. She also works for one of the school districts. If I don't live long enough, Christopher will be the one planting me :-).

Then it was off to the Salkum library. The building head happened to be working, and remembered me as soon as I walked in the door. Always nice to be remembered. I hadn't worked out there, too much. Some of the small rural branches have long-time local people who were Timberland substitutes. The library catalog had been a bit glitchy for the past few days, and a good part of it was down ... particularly the internet service. Always on a weekend. I was a bit miffed. I had two items on the shelf, and one was missing. Popular new movie. Figures. So, they put it back on hold for me and shuffled me to the top of the wait list. I'll get the next available copy. Such a bother. Told them that would happen when we went to self pickup of holds.

Mineral is another spot in the road. Up on the slopes of Mt. Rainier. Kind of a retirement community, these days. Trees like that weren't that unusual, back in the day. Old growth timber. Not much of that left, unless it's protected. Most places have been logged off two or three times. Same as your part of the world.

Besides Pam's part of the world, I've heard rumblings that it's looking to be a bad fire year in our SW part of the country. My friends daughter who works for the forest service might have a busy summer. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

For your edification and amusement ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiidk%27yaas

The tale of the Golden Spruce. Lew