Monday, 29 September 2014

It’s feral out there

Some nights it’s like a zoo out there in the orchard.

Last night was one of the first warm nights of the spring season and the wind was blowing strongly with the air that had collected over the warm deserts in the centre of the continent. A late wind change was expected which then brings cooler moist air in from the oceans to the south of the continent. The animals just know that rain was expected after the warmth.

Of all the animals here, the wombats are the most sensible. In another story they’d probably be hobbits living in their underground houses waiting until conditions were just right before poking their noses out to see what was going on around them. Certainly they’d avoid adventure! And if it was raining, well that would be just another good excuse for an extra bit of disco nap time. Still, wombats like their food too, so if rain is on the weather radar, they’ll quickly nick down to the shop for a quick bite whilst it’s still light before heading back to bed again.

Last night was one of those rare nights here, when all of the native animals popped by at the same time for a quick snack just as dusk was setting in.

Fatso the wombat and Stumpy the house wallaby
That’s a photo of Fatso, who is the boss wombat around here with his dodgy mate Stumpy the house wallaby. They’re both just on the other side of the new blackberry enclosure. From time to time a smaller wombat also visits the farm, called baby wombat – when Fatso isn’t around, of course – but that one is a bit skittish about being caught on Fatso’s turf, so he wasn’t there. Stumpy the house wallaby however, is around all of the time and he often bounces around in circles tiring out the dogs, who are all rightfully nervous about getting too close to Stumpy.

Last night however, it wasn’t just those two colourful characters. The whole gang turned up en masse. Big Daddy roo, the 6+ foot eastern grey forest kangaroo turned up with his harem (a few of whom are just outside the photo), a second smaller wallaby was on hand and you can even see one of the magpie family which live here and are undoubtedly the hardest working birds on the farm

Big daddy roo with harem, magpie, Fatso the wombat and another wallaby
I wrote that the magpies are the hardest working birds on the farm, because they simply are. The family of magpies will happily chase away the wedge tail eagles which would otherwise try and eat the chickens or even my small fox terrier dog, despite the fact that the magpies are tiny birds compared to the eagles. They also chase away the sulphur crested cockatoos which can cause so much damage to houses around here (as they’ll happily eat the timber windows etc.) as well as the fruit trees in the orchard. The local parrots are also fair game for the magpies too and this is a bit of luck as those parrots will happily eat any and all of the fruit in the orchard.

However, recently the magpies have learned a new trick. They must have spotted me shooing the chickens away from scratching up the driveway. Within the last week or two, I’ve noticed that a magpie can occasionally stand as a sentinel guard near the driveway and dive bomb any chicken that dares come close to that area. It is uncanny, because they aren’t dive bombing me, just the chickens.

The weather has turned much warmer over the past week or so and the rain, when it does arrive is much heavier. Last Thursday night the farm received a welcome 35mm (about 1.5 inches) of rain. In fact there was so much rain that the worms started seeking drier ground on the veranda tiles. However, that didn’t quite explain how one of the local southern brown tree frogs was found sheltering under some of the Australian yellow lettuce in a raised garden bed.

Southern brown tree frog in raised vegetable bed
 The excavation saga continued this week. A rich vein of rocks was discovered! Peak rocks, has been reached here at the farm, but the devastating effects of that can be put off for just that little bit longer due to the new find. The rock walls were extended and many large rocks were moved into their new positions just waiting for further excavated clay to be piled against them. In fact the entire area was cleaned up so that excavations could continue next week. You can even see a stack of saplings which will be used as palings for the fence around the blackberry enclosure.

Excavation site is now clean and neat and waiting to be continued
 The photo above also shows that the overflows for the new water tanks have all been connected up during the week too.  They are the white pipes hanging off the side of the new water tanks. This became a very critical task too as I had to connect all of the water tanks up in order to capture the very heavy rain last Thursday. All of those water tanks are now full.

Connecting up the water tanks was no easy job and I’ve had to bury both the overflow pipes (white pipes) and the water pipes (black with a green stripe) which equalise the water heights between the three different water tanks. Burying the pipes is really important to ensure that they are not destroyed by the harsh UV sunlight over summer, but also to ensure that someone doesn’t accidentally trip over them and in the process waste many thousands of litres of water.

Burying the black and green stripe water pipes
Burying the white overflow pipes
In breaking cooking news: Four demijohns of a lemon and ginger country wine were started this week.

Demijohns holding lemon and ginger country wine
The next paragraph contains some naughty environmental concepts, so for those that are easily offended, please skip onto the next paragraph. With that disclaimer out of the way: Have I mentioned before that the house is powered 100% all year by 4.2kW of solar photovoltaic panels? Well, it is not a really very efficient system because in order to get the household through the darkest days of winter using only solar power means that in all of the other seasons there is so much solar electricity I rarely know what to do with it all. It is simply way too expensive to connect up to the electricity grid, so I just have to keep coming up with new and inventive ways of using electricity whilst the sun is shining. This week, I found a new way to use electricity! It is very exciting too and it involves cooking toasted muesli in an electric oven.  I’ve only ever cooked it before in the wood oven (total 100% YUM) and also the gas oven. So with a bit of experimentation I can now state for the record that cooking the muesli in the photo below used 0.84kW/h of electricity. WOO HOO! Plus toasted muesli with no added salt or sugar is exceptionally yummy!

Toasted muesli cooked to perfection
The government has been undertaking early back burning operations in the Brisbane Ranges to the south west of here last week, and the smoke from the fires produced the most amazing hay-fever and also red sunsets.

Back burning operations in the Brisbane Ranges as seen from the farm
The early almonds have grown substantially in the past week and I’m considering either netting some trees completely or hanging sparkly flash tape in order to scare away the local parrots who may otherwise decide to snack upon the ripening fruit.

Almonds are growing
With such a diversity of fruit trees here (300), many haven’t yet broken their dormancy, whilst others have formed fruit. This week, I spotted that the early apricots have started to form fruit. It looks like it will be a bumper year here for apricots now that they have settled into their new sunny spot in the orchard. If experience has taught me anything, it is that apricots must be planted in the full sun, otherwise fruit set will be ordinary at best.

Early apricots have formed this week
As a final note, my trusty second hand and 10 year old Sony handycam finally decided that last night would be its final functional night on this planet and I’d really welcome any suggestions or recommendations for a dirt cheap video camera with a USB plug – new or used – with which to prepare YouTube videos for the blog. Thanks in advance for any advice or recommendations!

This past week has been quite sunny weather with a single evening of very heavy rainfall. The temperature outside here at about 9.30pm is 12.8 degrees Celsius (55.0’F) and so far this year there has been 618.8mm (24.4 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week’s total of 583.4mm (23.0 inches).


Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

It is a very clever idea recording when things happen at your place in a diary. Your frosts sound to me to be quite an extreme condition for a garden to survive in.

Ahh, winds from the north are cold because it's all upside down up your way. On Google Earth you can see that massive inlet to the north of you which must channel cold air southwards. It also looks like it provides some protection for the people that live there from the winds further north and also off the ocean. Oh my, that sounds cold. A light frost for two days here was the most extreme frost in over two decades people were telling me and it sure felt cold to me. Brrr!

I use photos here as a reminder of what was going on at that time a year or so ago. The memory gets fuzzy with all of the different activities going on.

Nice to hear the dog sleeps inside. I usually do the same here if it gets below 3'C degrees (37.4'F). They're just not acclimatised to those conditions. How do the chickens go in such cold conditions? I guess they have woolly coats on.

That coast would be spectacular and awe inspiring. It’d be like being in another world altogether. Very remote.

The machete is probably good to avoid then and stick with the pruners ;-)!

Oh yeah, I understand about the corn now and thought smaller varieties of sweet corn and not the miniature stuff. Is that normal corn just picked early or a specific variety? It’s good stuff to eat.

Yeah bucolic and cheap here too, except with the threat of serious wildfire every single summer. Cars going past are a serious event here too. I always look up from a task to see, who was that, where are they going? hehe!

No worries, being on the lean side of things, my sport was distance running, but I gave it up when I first started getting knee troubles. I knew too many older runners with dodgy knees to keep on pushing past early knee problems. Glad to hear that you know what cricket is. When I was in India, it was all anyone could talk to me about as the Australian team was doing quite well against the very strong Indian side at the time.



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; From my point of view, you're wildlife and birds seem sooo exotic. A lot more exciting than the placid deer I see out my window. But, I did have a lot of coyotes howling around the place last night. I make sure all my animals are inside and locked down by dusk.

I've been hearing frogs, about. I have a basement I don't go into, much. The landlord uses it for storage, of sorts. I have use of the freezer down there. I refer to it as "the spooky old basement." When entering the basement, I loudly declaim, "Bunnies! Bunnies! Bunnies!" To chase off any critters that may have taken up digs. Maybe I've been living by myself for too long? :-). Last week there was a little frog on the bottom step. I kind of looked at it ... it took a minute to register what it was. It hopped happily away.

Oh, yeah, Fall here. I just heard some geese flying over. The other day there was a flock of about 50 heading south, when 5 peeled off and headed west. We have some that didn't get the memo and overwinter. The other night, there was one I could hear circling the house, up in the dark, making the most distressed sounds. Lost, I guess. Or, trying to decide "Go, or stay?" Fretting away.

I did get some mowing done, yesterday. I saw a Preying Mantis! I knew we had them, but it was the first I had seen. I very carefully mowed around him. A few years ago I saw a picture in the National Geographic Magazine that still gives me the fantods when I think of it. A Mantis draining a Hummingbird! There seems to be a lot of grasshoppers around this year. Mostly small. But, last week there was a big honker floating in the dogs water. A good 3 or 4" long. Real locust material.

Yeah, I used to know a guy that was off the grid and had wind, hydro AND solar. He was always coming up with inventive ways to use his excess power. Mostly, burning a lot of lights and somehow keeping his greenhouse warm enough that he could grow artichokes in it.

When I was helping clean out my landlord's mother's estate she had a lot of cookbooks. I picked up two of "The Two Fat Ladies" (of BBC fame) books. Was interested enough to get the series on DVD from the library. The other day I made up some onion soup ... I have discovered Stilton Cheese (expensive stuff!) and fear I have developed quit a taste for it. When all was said and done, I had enough soup for three meals.

That's the thing. Our gardens don't survive our winters. Unless you've got row covers or a greenhouse or a cold frame. Cold frame is on my (very) long list of things to do. I'd like lettuce in the winter and not have to pay the price for it. It's time to examine my "woolies" (actually, some kind of light space age fabric) and make sure they're fit for the winter.

The chickens seem to do ok in the winter. 11 of them packed into a rather small coop. A heat lamp that kicks on in the wee small hours, both for heat and to keep them laying. A good layer of wood shavings on the floor. Now, this year, an extra bit of heat from the heated waterer. I could also shove a ground cover (plastic tarp) under the coop. It will be interesting to see how the young ones handle their first snowfall. :-).

The miniature corn is a specific variety. It's a smaller plant and matures in a short amount of time. Usually, 3 to 5 cobs on each stock.

After two nice days, rain today and tomorrow. Then back to a few nice days, again. Lew

Damo said...

RE: Camera, you could consider a reasonably new DSLR camera. They take great video because of the huge sensor and lens, plus you also get something that takes nice photos.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks man. The marsupial wildlife here is nice to have about the place and as long as you don't disturb their business, they'll leave you well alone. Having said that though, all of them will attack, if you confronted them. Even the placid looking wombat will give you a good and solid chomping if you're not about your own business.

It is the really small stuff here like snakes and spiders that are really lethal at the farm. I thought I spotted a tiny baby black snake the other day, but it could also have been a legless lizard (no joke). Why a snake would be able to knock out 30 horses with the venom from one bite is beyond me.

Actually, it is really interesting to hear that the coyotes howl. Apparently that is a sign that those animals are less domesticated than dogs. I'll bet the howl is blood curdling in the middle of the night!

Dingoes howl too, not that there are any of them about here. There is a massive dingo fence which stretches for a huge chunk of the continent and I'm well south of it. Dingoes are endangered as they have been interbreeding with feral domestic dogs in remote areas.

Great story and also very wise to let all of the critters know that you are entering their domain. It makes you wonder how the frog got under there in the first place? There is about almost two foot of crawl space under the floor here. I wanted all of the plumbing and wiring to be accessible and repairable. However, there are these creepy spiders that live under the floor and I wonder what they eat given that the whole space is sealed by fire rated walls with only a few vents... You have to battle through all of the intermittent webs to get from one side of the house to the other.

As the climate here warms, the wildlife gets confused and all sorts of strange goings on happen too. It would be tough for a goose to miss the window with which to travel south though.

Yeah, praying mantis's or as we call them - stick creatures - are awesome predator insects. It is a really good sign that you have them at your place. Yeah, the grasshoppers can get huge too! I may have mentioned before (I forget if I'm repeating myself, apologies if I am) that a locust plague came through here about two years ago. The local birds destroyed all of the locusts. It was like party time for the birds. Do you normally get large crickets at your place?

Ahh, the two fat ladies are highly entertaining! Well, I guess we all have to have a vice or three, life would be highly boring without them! I haven't tried Stilton, but am very partial to vintage tasty cheese.

Unfortunately for me, when I was a young lad, my mother ran out of cheddar cheese one day and substituted blue vein cheese in a macaroni cheese dish and I've had trouble experimenting with cheese ever since... Cooking was not her forte!

Thanks, I understand completely. I’ll tell you a funny story: lettuce grows here during winter and spring. Summer sees the plant bolt to seed. It's just that culturally people are conditioned here to eat lettuce over summer. Go figure. I've been experimenting with various greens over summer as it is always a struggle.

Your chickens are in chicken paradise! Thanks for the information on the corn.

Glad to hear that you are getting some rain. Today here it was warm and sunny, then late this afternoon it dropped 10'C degrees within a few minutes and dumped 3mm (about 0.2 inch) in a few minutes too. The wood heater is now going...



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Mate, you're good!

I recently upgraded my old Pentax DSLR ist to a Pentax K-r DSLR - the SLR camera that the stormtroopers in Star Wars would have been only too happy to carry. Plus it fits all of my old lenses from the 35mm days.

Wouldn't you just know it, it has a movie function with sound. It had never even occurred to me as I've only ever used the camera for photography.

Again, don't get a big head, but mate, you're good. Top work!



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; One thing about living here is that we have no poisonous snakes on "the wet side of the mountains." There is the occasional story of rattlesnakes that get caught up in foliage, floating down the Columbia River. They never last a winter. Too cold and wet for them. I don't think, due to climate change, that they will become a problem here, for quit awhile. At least, not in my lifetime.

Of course, there are the whack jobs that keep poisonous snakes as a hobby. With escapes or abandonments. Boas have established themselves in Florida and have become quit a problem. I see snakes here, and, of course they always give me a primal turn for a few seconds. Until I remind myself that we have no poisonous snakes and that they are some of the "good guys" as far as keeping things in balance.

We don't have many poisonous spiders. Not enough to be overly concerned about. I hear crickets every once in awhile. Never seen one.

Oh, yes. The coyotes do howl. I had heard about Australia's rabbit fence, but had not known about the dingo fence. Interesting stuff!

Stilton is one of those licensed things that only come from a small number of dairies in the UK. It's a blue cheese, but very mild.

My Mom wasn't much of a cook, either. Even though she was raised on a farm. She was the youngest of 5 children... but, the only girl. So, she was the Little Princess :-). When she married, she couldn't cook or sew or do any of that stuff.

But, by the time I came along, with a lot of preparation and endless lists, she could get a feast on the table at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. She worked for about 7 years when I was growing up. So, either my Dad or I would get dinner on the table. Dad was a pretty good cook. Don't know where he picked it up. He'd even bake bread, from time to time.

Of course, a lot of it was canned or frozen stuff. It was the 50's and "convenience foods" were all the rage. I've read quit a bit and watched several dvds about the commercialization of food in the 50s. Something we still haven't recovered from :-).

I'd never eaten broccoli or brussels sprouts until I was an adult. And, I love them both! I had a way of fixing eggs I liked ... nothing moving! :-). Cheese, different veg mixed in. I didn't know I was making omelets :-). Live and learn. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis. Man, you're really lucky not to have poisonous snakes there. Last summer I picked up a rock early in the morning only to find a snake curled up underneath.

Well, I'd already moved the rock and disturbed the snake plus it looked pretty sleepy so - it's a bit naughty, but well, it was a good rock after all - I took it - really fast though. The adrenalin rush took a while to come down from.

Fortunately, it is only about the third snake I'd seen in about 8 years up here. You never quite know when your lucky numbers will come up though. It is fortunate that all of the wildlife here keeps the herbage cut quite low, so you normally have a fair bit of warning of snakes, plus the local birds will call out when there is something around like that.

You're spot on though, they really don't like wet areas though as the snakes would have a hard time keeping warm. Lucky for you!

Yeah, I'd read about the Boas in Florida. Don't turn your back on them. I'll bet someone, somewhere has done a gator versus boa video...

The snakes here eat frogs, small bird eggs and mice. Thus my keen interest in keeping mice out of the chicken enclosure. Having no large bodies of water around is also a bonus as the snakes can - I believe, swim - plus there is a reliable supply of frogs. Most of the wildlife moves around the forest, rather than staying in one spot.

Yeah, spiders are pretty scary here. I once saw a local guy pull a bowie knife on a massive huntsman spider (true story) which was on the ground. The spider reared up at knife and he told me they can jump, and I've never really looked at them the same way. Plus there are the red backs and white tails...

Some of the huntsman spiders live in the tree bark on old trees and because they don't get out in the sun are this weird pink albino colour. The birds happily eat them as will the frogs too as they often live in the same areas. They're alright, the frogs.

That howling at night would send shivers down my spine and the dogs here would go ballistic in their barking. Plus I’d wonder what they are there for?

Yeah, stilton sounds reasonably mild. A diary down in Tasmania got a license to produce a raw milk cheese recently. A big win for them and the foodies. It's meant to be very good.

I'm sure she was spoilt rotten being the youngest of five and the only girl! hehe!

Wow, that's really interesting because frozen food didn't make much of a splash here until the late 70's early 80's. I clearly remember peoples horror about buying frozen vegetables - it'll come to no good, you know lad! hehe! Seriously food when I was young used to be 1 lamb chop and a couple of boiled vegetables night after night after night.

Actually, meat was quite expensive, so you'd eat all the fatty tail and I clearly remember sucking the marrow out of the lamb chop too. I'd never seen beef until I was much older.

Christmas used to be a cured ham. I remember my grandfather was rather partial to tripe, but the smell of it cooking always used to turn my stomach (no pun intended).

Broccoli is great, unfortunately I eat the florets before they get much of a chance to grow. Someone was telling me that if you eat brussel sprouts soon after picking they have a very rich and complex taste, with much less bitterness which develops after picking. Over the past few years, I've been slowly acclimatising my palate to more bitter foods because so many of the herbs I grow here are quite bitter to my taste, anyway. Do you grow any herbs up your way?

I could talk about food all day. Just had some yummy tiramisu which was the real Italian deal!



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi everyone,

Thought that you may like this article I spotted:

Crocodiles to weather events: The long list of potential killers awaiting you in the Northern Territory

Plus the weather records keep on getting broken here: September around the nation



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Another couple of things I remembered about snakes over on the "dry" side. Your rock story reminded me of it. My friends, Ron & Debbie are from central Washington. Snake country. They lived here for 8 years or so and then moved to Idaho. Recently, Ron was helping some friends "hay" and got yelled at for forgetting how to pick up a bale in such a way as to avoid getting bit if a snake happened to be in residence, underneath. I don't know what the fine points are of such a maneuver. I guess his friends gave him a ribbing over his brain getting waterlogged from living over here for too long, to forget such a basic survival move. I also remembered that snakes occasionally come in on hay and straw from the other side of the mountains. We grow a lot of our own, but still get some from there. A trip to the feed store could be quit an adventure! :-).

I was over in the abandoned orchard, yesterday, and saw the biggest snake I have seen this year. Over two feet long. There was that primal rearing back and then I recovered myself and shooed him on his way.

Albino insects reminded me .... when I moved to S. California in the early 70's I went down there to work in a bar. One forgets that the LA basin is basically desert. We had to rip out a small stage area (where, according to legend, Ike and Tina Turner performed before they hit it big). 3 albino scorpions went scuttling away.

Funny the things that creep us out. The coyotes howling doesn't bother me much. But, sometimes the way the moon and the clouds look, remind me of every horror movie I've ever seen. :-). Last night was such a night. Or, maybe it's just that Halloween is coming.

Well, the whole frozen food thing and commercial foods taking over America .. all big business and some of the best (I guess) marketing minds in the world. And, television, of course. I have a distinct memory. I must have been younger than 4 as my brother wasn't around. So this must have been before 1954.

We lived in a neighborhood that had a small business district. I can remember my father carrying me and walking with my mother, at night, to the small business district. It was lightly snowing. There was a neighborhood theatre and right next to it a hardware store. Several people were standing in front of the hardware store, looking intently through the window. At a television.

I don't remember eating many frozen vegetables. Mostly canned. The frozen stuff was tv dinners and things like fish sticks and french fries.

But just one example of marketing is that when cake mixes came out, they didn't do very well. You just added water. Marketing research indicated that if they added a step (letting the housewife add an egg) the creation became more "hers." Cake mix started flying off the shelf. I've read accounts of this whole phenomenon. It was a real complex balancing act of ownership, guilt and I can't remember what else.

When I was growing up, boy did we have meat! And, we really were not all that well to do. We patronized a little German butcher shop. Oh, the pepper cured bacon! But we also rented a small sized meat locker from them. Not so unusual at the time. We got some meat from my uncle's farm. My Dad also hunted. So, there was venison, elk, fish and birds in the locker. Beef. Chicken.

Herbs. Oh, yeah. Back in the chicken run (which used to be garden) there's lemon balm and fennel which the chickens don't seem to like. Also, horseradish which I'm going to have to move as the chickens do like the leaves. Outside the chicken pen there's Sweet William (or, it may be Angelica.)

I salvaged some Rosemary that I moved from the abandoned farm. From an absolutely huge bush. I've got it rooting and need to get it in the ground. Also some mint that's been growing in a pot for 10 years or so that I'm going to set free :-). I also salvaged some garlic and am trying to decide where to give it a home. There are several other herbs I want to try. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

P.S. (Because the blogger said I ran on too long :-) )

That was quit an article about all thing things that can kill you in Australia. It's a fine line between being aware and keeping one's head up and being frozen in fear. When going over to the old orchard or picking blackberries, I'm very "aware" of my surroundings for bear...or, anything else.

Sometimes, I don't sit on the porch in the dark, as my gut tells me it's not a good time to do that. I follow my instincts, real, or not. The other night, the old dog was making funny, out of character noises. Low barks punctuated by growls, looking toward the back pasture. I couldn't see anything, but something out there was setting him off.

PSS: I was just watching my little cat stalk something out by my little truck. I thought maybe a mouse. Nope. Grasshoppers. Apparently, fun to hunt and tasty, too.

PSSS: Found out something interesting from my neighbor. Besides the Cinnabar moths, he also introduced the Preying Mantis, here! Many years ago, his wife used to interview "Carnies" (a really interesting sub-culture) to work at the local County Fair. They noticed a lot of Preying Mantis on their rigs and gathered as many as they could and released them here. One surprise after another! Lew (I'm finished. I promise :-). )

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for the awesome comment. Apologies, but I'm unable to reply tonight, but will post a reply tomorrow night.

Hi Wal,

Thanks for the link, I'll check it out tomorrow night too.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Real world events have conspired against me in the past day or so and it's now about 8.30pm here and I've only just finished work for the day...

What do the English say? That's right: "mustn't grumble".

Central and Eastern Washington must be very dry to have those sorts of snakes? Thanks for the story. I've no idea at all what the finer points to that maneuverer would actually be. It certainly sounds tricky. Interestingly here, the snakes have no hearing, and poor eyesight but are extremely sensitive to movement through vibrations transmitted through the ground.

A snake handler at an agricultural show told me that if you stand extremely still in their presence they won't notice you. Also of interest from that discussion was that they are unlikely to waste precious venom on biting rocks and sticks, so you really have to annoy them for them to bite you.

The Aboriginals used to treat snake bite by sitting on their hands in the shade of a tree and not moving for 2 two days. There is common sense behind this as they reduced the flow of venom through the body and gave their immune system a better shot at counter acting the venom.

Incidentally, I've read that snakes can actually restrict the amount of venom that is injected into their victim, so if you are wearing pants, a bite may possibly not be fatal anyway despite the potential. I always wear long pants anyway when walking about the place - despite the heat.

The Australian March flies which are only too happy to take a chunk of skin ensure that I mostly have to keep covered up. Actually during full summer, you'll find me walking around outside in a bee hat. Last December just before I opened the garden here for visitors, a bee stung me on the side of my face as I'd seriously annoyed the colony the day before and oh boy, did my face swell up or what. The visitors were very kind about the facial situation. Unfortunately, I had to do some paid work in Melbourne and people were saying, "man, that's messed up". hehe!

Yeah, long grass and abandoned orchards are perfect snake territory! Fortunately, they are non-venomous. They may actually be like the legless lizards here?

Yeah, life in LA is probably not that pleasant? Dunno, but it always looks hot and dry. Aren't they having a drought at the moment?

You get scorpions here, although they don't seem to freak me out as they are quite small. They live under the rocks and fallen logs - although I'm planning to move some tomorrow, so you never know...

Ahh, the Shining casts a long shadow. Here's Johnny! Yeah, that was a creepy film.

The moon here casts quite a bit of light, otherwise it would be quite dark. There isn't much light pollution so you can get a good view of the milky way and the Great Nebulonic cluster is visible to the eye as long as it isn't a full moon. Is it dark up your way?

Thanks for the memories. You know what, I'd seen a similar scene in India during my travels there last century. Seriously, people were lined up in front of a glass fronted shop watching the cricket. It was quite the eye opener. I really enjoyed India, but was a bit sick in Varanasi, but recovered shortly afterwards.

Yeah, I don't get cake mixes, but I understand your point. It reminds me of bread mixes which are basically: flour, a tiny bit of salt, yeast food (basically sugars and a bit of propolis from bee hives) and grains. I buy everything here in bulk so have to get my head around what is in what in order to reproduce the products like bread for example. Cake is easy as. Biscuits are the same too. Mmmm food, yum - one of life's simple pleasures!

Cherokee Organics said...


Yeah, the Germans sure do know their way around meat. I'd never heard of renting a small locker at the butchers, but it is very clever. Did they make a good bratwurst sausage? Cheese kransky's are to kill for too, but I think they are a Polish pork delicacy?

A mate of mine processed a pig that he'd raised - and mind you, I'm a mostly vegetarian - and when he cooked it, I went back for three servings that day. Yummo!

Venison stakes are pretty good too. I'd tried them at an old bush pub in the middle of nowhere at a place called Kevington in Victoria. It was cheekily called the Kevington Hilton as it was pretty crusty! There was a sign in the public bar that pointed to the beer garden by the river. I went out to investigate with true joy in my heart only to find that it was a dodgy chair by the side of the river surrounded by long grass. Hehe!

Occasionally, if I want to travel off the beaten track I'll go and camp out in a tent near the Walhalla pub. I've never failed to have a good night out there!

Your chickens are obviously in a good paddock to ignore those choice pickings. Did you know that lemon balm is a medicinal herb used to calm upset nerves? You've inspired me! I may just do a video this week whilst wondering around pointing out and talking about the herbs here.

It is a great idea to just experiment with herbs, although some people have said that the salads from here are a bit strong tasting - whatever that means? hehe!

Oh yeah, you know somewhere in the archives I've got a photo of a guy going for a dip in a river way up north. That sounds a bit weird, until you look at the sign that says, don't swim in the river because there are man eating salt water crocodiles in there. How people can ignore those signs is beyond me...

Yeah, your gut and the old dog are a better guide to what is going on around you than anything else. There is a good metaphor in there somewhere for life. Sometimes I tell me lady here that I acted a certain way not because I rationally understood that it was the right way to go, but because my intuition told me that it was the right way to go. Oh yeah, there's a difference alright. Listen to your dog for sure. I don't head out at night here without one.

Cats are great creatures and mostly on your side. The dogs here chase all sorts of creatures. One day I found a dried up frog in their kennel which they were obviously using as a chew toy. Dogs and cats... hehe!

Yeah, I'd heard of the carnies here too. Very interesting and it is good to see that they understand their environment. There's so much history passing in front of our eyes, sometimes we can blink and miss it.

PS: We should do a gas bag off competition one day! Hehe! I reckon it may be neck and neck, what do you reckon? I'm pretty certain that you'd be as entertaining a guest here as I would be at your place too!



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

Mate, I didn't know you were from Adelaide. Oh yeah, I hear why you'd be thinking about water tanks, given the quality of the town water there. Did you know the highest penetration of water tanks in Australia is in Adelaide? I didn't know about the desalination situation there either. At least SA gets a lot of its power from wind farms - well over half some days.

Yeah. That's exactly why I installed 100kL here of storage. The summers can be brutal here as we share a similar weather pattern. On 35kL, I'd be rationing for sure by mid to late Jan.

I reckon about systems, if you're not thinking about them, they are working for you. I try to ensure that there is enough storage and capacity to handle the worst of times, not the best. It is just you never quite know when you'll be challenged by a new worst...

Mate, it's been hot up your way the past week or so.



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Yup. Our snakes are the same. Vibration is their main sense. My father didn't want to go to Easter Oregon or Washington around August. He said it was because the rattlesnakes were blind at that time of the year. I just discovered that's kind of a myth. They are blind anytime they are about to shed ... which can be several times a year.

Oh, yeah. Most of California is experiencing extreme drought. There's been lots of articles about it in the MSM. It impacts the whole country as so much dairy and veg, nuts and fruit come from California. There's talk of collapsing real estate prices and outward migration.

You went to India, I went to LA. :-). I've always thought that young folk should get out and see a bit of the world. LA was sooo dry when I was there. I moved down in the spring and it didn't rain until late fall. And, from my point of view, that was just a heavy mist. And yet, everywhere I looked there was this phenomenal storm drain system. The three years I was there, there never was any heavy rains. No earthquakes, either. Santa Anna winds, yes. They sweep in from the east and can sand blast the paint off a car. Those really feed the fires you hear so much about. They come in the fall when everything is driest.

Due to our weather, it seems like every time something interesting is in the sky, we're socked in with cloud cover. Even though I live out in the country, there is a bit of light pollution. Can't see the milky way. During the last round of solar flares, I never saw the Northern Lights.

I seem to be on the flight path out of Portland. But, over my place, they are quit high up. Can't hear them. At night, sometimes they're very pretty. Strung out like Chinese lanterns across the sky.

The meat lockers were pretty common. Before everyone had a freezer tucked in the garage or basement. I think it was Bratwurst that my father was so fond of. Anytime he went back to visit in Nebraska, he's always come back with a suitcase full of sausage. Swore "the old German ladies" back in his hometown (Gering, Nebraska. Near Scotts Bluff) made the best. He guarded it jealousy. I often tried to find some that measured up, for holidays and such. It never did :-). I finally figured out that the Brauts from his home town were long on sage ... which grows wild, there.

Oh, yes. Tell me about your herbs. I'll watch for the video.

Well, if you and yours ever make it to the Pacific Northwest, you're more than welcome to stay here. Half way between Portland and Seattle! Write on I-5! Convenient to everything! LOL, of course, I can issue such an invitation knowing your as likely to come here, as I am to go there :-). But, if such a trip comes about, then we'll talk seriously.

Yeah, "Keep a Stiff Upper Lip." There's also "Keep Calm and Carry On." Which came out of WWII. I've always been partial to the Japanese "Shikata ga nai." Loose translation: "It Can't Be Helped." :-). I suppose every culture has such sayings. If I put my mind to it, I could probably come up with some American ones. But, blogger would probably smack me soundly across the knuckles. :-) Lew

PS: Saw a hummingbird off the front porch this morning! First in months. He must not have got the memo. "Go south, young man, go south!"

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

There is really a lot to those old bits of wisdom and it is always difficult to unfurl the puzzle . The snakes here just have poor eyesight - all year round.

All this talk about snakes is sort of making me a bit more cautious ;-)! I spent the day moving fallen logs and burning off. Wow, it's hard work...

Yeah, we've read about the drought in California here too. I suspect that LA produces a heat island effect? Dunno, I'm just guessing, but a lot of built infrastructure retains heat and releases it slowly, which affects the local weather patterns.

Wow, dairy and nut crops use up a lot of water...

It is all one big cultural experience after all. It is a good thing to get out of ones comfort zone - especially when you are young - and see a bit of the world! Low humidity places are very hard to live in as I found that my sinuses were really irritated. With the exception of high summer it is reasonably humid here and that is a good thing. Parts of Peru (Nazca lines) had humidity less than 10%...

Wow, I would have thought that you could see the milky way being in a less populated area. It is a common sight up here. A few years ago I could clearly see the Hale-Bopp comet which looked amazing in the night sky. There are often shooting stars which you may have to spend some time waiting to see.

I'm too far north to see the equivalent of the Northern lights though, they'd be something to see.

I'm in the flight path for aircraft leaving Tullamarine airport which isn't too far away. Very occasionally, I wonder whether they will put enough thrust on to clear the mountain range.

What do you reckon, were they the best? It is a good idea to go to the source! I had to laugh about the name Scott's Bluff. There is a Frenchman's cap in Tasmania. Down Under, Scotsman's hill would normally refer to a hill whereby the local population could observe sporting matches without having to pay the entry fee.

Yeah, possibly very unlikely, but I'll keep the offer in mind as it would be reciprocated here.

Fatalism is a good life outlook. They say down here, "She'll be right mate".

The humming birds are great looking birds. I hope it will be alright?

As a teaser for tomorrows entry: Fernglade Farm - Herbs. Hope you enjoy the sheer diversity of plants!



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Named after Hirum Scott, a fur trader who died near the bluff. Scotsman's Hill, too funny! Reminds me of people who used to try and find spots outside of drive in movie theaters. To avoid paying the admission. Couldn't hear it, of course ... :-).

We used to visit Scott's Bluff every other year, when I was a kid. It's a National Monument with a pretty good museum. A lot of the wagon trains passed through there in the 1840s and 1850s. You can actually see the beaten down ruts in places, from the wagon traffic.

What I really remember is being on top of the Bluff and looking down a very long valley, towards Omaha. Every mile or so was a fence, trailer and concrete cap. For as far as the eye could see. Missile silos.

I don't think it's so much the heat in California right now, as more the lack of rain. They've pretty much pumped the sub-surface water dry. From the desert it came and to the desert it will return.

I'm looking forward to the "2014 Herbal Tour." Are rock bands involved? :-) Lew