Monday, 13 October 2014

History revealed



Every now and then the soil releases another strange artefact to show that I’m just another in a long line of humans that have been traversing this land for many millennia.

The other day I tripped over a strange old rusted heavy duty chain. The chain was in the middle of the path between the house and the chicken enclosure. I’d been walking that path for years and had never spotted it before, let alone tripped over it, and yet there was the chain poking up out of the ground. The soil had clearly decided that it was about time to eject this rusty old bit of iron.

Rusty chain - a remnant of the old timber milling days
 The chain was only a few links long. I don’t know much about such things, but the force required to break those chain links would have been reasonably huge.

The chain was a reminder of the days when the area was extensively logged and the mountains were riddled with old timber tramways, timber mills, rough timber huts, even rougher grog than mead and bullock tracks. The chain itself was probably used by bullock teams to drag a saw log to the nearest tramway or timber mill for processing into sawn timber. Then the chain must have broken…

Most of the re-usable materials relating to the timber milling have long since disappeared from the mountain range (even the saw dust mounds near the mill areas have since disappeared), but every now and then, you can stumble across rusting old cables (used for winches I guess) and other mysterious bits of rusted machinery. All these items tell a story about the history of the area. It also serves as a reminder to just how quickly this particular forest can regrow.

The excavations continued again this week and there is probably only a couple more hours of work before the construction of the first shed can commence.

It is very exciting that the first stage of the excavating is nearing an end point because the temperature on Sunday reached just shy of 30 degrees Celsius (86’F) in the shade. By about 3pm that afternoon, I really had to call it quits. Heat exhaustion can be a serious problem during long hot afternoon’s here and it is not even summer yet!

Excavations continued and the shed site has begun to be marked out
During the recent weekend, I also assisted a neighbour with cleaning up their property and burning off. Apart from the fact that the neighbours are also lovely people and giving them a helping hand is a good thing to do, their property contained areas which the naughty rats live in. Yep, they are the same naughty rats that sneak into the chicken enclosure at night to feast upon any food that the chickens have not consumed during the day. I think I’m winning the ongoing encounter with the naughty rats, but you never know as the rats adapt to new tactics quicker than I can come up with counter tactics with which to foil them. Perhaps they have been quietly reading Sun Tzu’s classic book of strategy, “The Art of War”?

The state government has continued its strategy of large scale burn offs in the forest to the west and north of here. A couple of days ago, they burnt 1,000ha (2,500ac) near Greendale. This is a good thing as the burn off at this time of year (i.e. cooler) reduces the ground fuel loads within the forest and also encourages quite a bit of regeneration of plant life. This is good for both the animals and the forest itself. It is also worth mentioning that because the day was reasonably still (i.e. not windy) the animals would have been able to either take shelter or move ahead of the fire front. The rain which was received today, would have extinguished the fire completely.
 
Greendale burn off October 2014
Incidentally in the upper middle section of the photograph is a wedge tail eagle happily soaring in the thermal currents above the Barringo valley.

My observant lady noticed that when you zoom in on the eagle in the photo above, you'll also notice that it is being attacked by many smaller birds:

Close up of wedge tail eagle being attacked by 3 smaller birds (circled in red)
I realise that to many people, it may sound counter intuitive to actively burn off a forest in order to lower its risk of an even larger forest wildfire, but without completely altering the forest ecology and introducing completely new plant species, the Eucalyptus forests here have simply evolved over many millennia to have people actively involved in their lifecycles. That is just how they work.

With the summer and the bushfire season fast approaching here I have installed a new bushfire sprinkler and pump this week. There is a short (2 minute) YouTube video showing the system in action. The four bushfire sprinklers sure do pump a lot of water and they are all ready to go 24/7! Plus the video from yesterday shows how green the place is looking.


One of the common plants grown here are Echium’s http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echium_candicans. I love these plants, not only for their prolific and long lasting flowers but for: their shade of the soil; summer heat hardiness, shelter for small birds; massive quantities of pollen and nectar for the bees; and ability to self-seed. The downside with these plants is that they have to be grown in reasonably fertile soil otherwise they produce a woody upright trunk with the bare minimum of leaves and flowers. Get the soil fertility right though and they look like this:

Echium plants in full flower
 The flowers are covered by bees any time the sun is shining!

Echium flower close up with bees
 Les a regular commenter from way north of here asked me a few weeks back whether the Echium plant is flammable. Truth to tell is that I have no idea. Well, the only way to find out whether a plant is flammable or not is to run the experiment. So, I went all myth busters and did the experiment! The experiment involved utilising a chunk of the plant and the neighbour’s fire which had been burning for almost two days solid and so was pretty hot. Into the fire went the plant and here are the results:

Echium leaves tested for flammability
The results are now in: The Echium leaves did not burn for quite a while in the experiment and eventually just smouldered. Plants that encourage fire generally readily combust when exposed to flame. If you’ve ever seen a bunch of eucalyptus leaves thrown into a fire, you’ll know what I mean. Plant species that are reasonably resistant to fire tend to smoulder instead. This has the effect of slowing down the movement of fire from one plant to another in an area. My understanding is that this all due to a combination of the effects of oils and minerals in the leaves. More oils makes a plant more likely to combust, whilst more minerals makes it less likely to combust. I’d say that – whilst not conclusive – the experiment has shown that the Echium plant is somewhat resistant to fire. Good stuff!

Here is a photo from the other night of a wombat cruising the herbage with an Echium in the foreground!

Wombat with Echium in the foreground
Apologies in advance, but the next bit is truly the dodgiest segue ever: Tonight is a night that no sensible wombat would dare leave its burrow – even to sniff the Echium flowers. (I did warn you!). A blast of cold moist air has drifted north from Antarctica. It’s cold and wet outside. After the early summer advance preview screening yesterday (and that would be considered a cool day over summer), the temperature has plummeted and outside here at about 9.30pm is 2.9 degrees Celsius (37.2’F) and so far this year there has been 639.0mm (25.2 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week’s total of 622.2mm (24.5 inches).

19 comments:

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Interesting about the logging chain. Same here. We find bits and pieces of old logging equipment all over the place. My landlord can usually identify what it was used for.

I have three "misery whips" (very long, two man saws) sitting on an old stump. I keep meaning to hang them on a shed wall. So much of the old logging equipment is used for "yard art" (ie: junk sitting in the yard :-), here.

There's an old joke in the junk / antique biz. Someone enquires as to the price of a misery whip. The dealer responds "Are you going to cut wood with it, or paint a picture on it?" I've seen many misery whips with, usually, very bad art on them. But maybe that's just my art history interest, talking.

That's a really interesting picture of the eagle and small birds. Drones have been in the news a lot, over here. Some doofus crashed one into a hot spring at Yellowstone Park. And, there's a video making the rounds of the Net right now where a hawk brought down a drone. There was mention that another drone was brought down by a flock of birds, species unidentified. Rich people's latest toys.

Went over to take care of the hairless sheep, yesterday. I had not seen them in a couple of months. They appear quit healthy. The little ram has acquired quit a set of horns. I had to go into the pen to move their feed bin (so I don't have to go into the pen, again) and I was quit leery of his horns. But, he seemed more curious than aggressive. Still, don't think I'll turn my back on him.

Hauled back my first couple of buckets of rock for my chicken pen. More, today. Hopefully. Between rain showers.

Yesterday it was 66F with an overnight low of 51F. The rest of the week it's supposed to have daytime temps in the 60s and overnight lows around 50. Rain until next Sunday, with a little break around Wednesday.

I was going to do some mowing, yesterday, and then a band of rain swept through. So, I did other things. It's a little tricky this time of year. Timing the mowing when it's dry enough to mow, but before another bunch of rain sweeps through. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Chinchilla's! hehe! I remember sea monkeys being a big seller too. The cartoons never quite captured the reality... Who'd have thought that advertisers would overstate the truth?

Your old neighbour with the tarantula might have been conducting some sort of strange student psychology experiment on you? You may have been part of some dudes research paper? Of course the dude might have just been a bit odd too.

Tell me that's not true, about the people fainting in the aisles? I ate an alpaca steak in Peru and it was really good stuff. It reminded me of the leanness of kangaroo meat, but had plenty of flavour. They also served up guinea pig in Peru, but there were way too many bones for my tastes so I didn't order it. Not dissimilar to rabbit.

Alpacas needed to get their nails clipped and their fleece cut with shears here so they seem reasonably high maintenance. Plus they spit. Not an endearing habit. hehe! I was spat on by a Vicuna in Peru. The animal possibly had tickets on itself.

Cool. It is amazing what is left around the bush from those days.

Those misery whips were really hard work. The old timers here used to cut planks into the trees first to create a platform so they were off the ground. The platforms were quite high off the ground too. I spotted a large old tree nearby that still had the cuts in it for the planks, but for some reason (probably the tree was hollow), they never cut it down. I'll put up a photo over the next few weeks.

hehe! Yeah bad art = not good. I appreciate the fact that you tell it like it is!

Thanks. The eagles shrug off the attacks with aplomb, but they must be effective because the massive birds get moved on.

What? Can people afford their own drones? No way... If you'd left me a hundred years to contemplate the world, it never would have occurred to me that people would own and operate their own drone.

A quick search of the Interweb finds that they've got them here: Angry birds attack drone. I think I'm slowly turning into a Luddite.

Beware the horns. A very wise decision not to turn your back on that ram.

Excellent, you now hear the call of the rocks. You'll never look at rocks quite the same way! hehe!!! How is it going?

51F is really starting to get a bit toothy. Mid 60'sF is a really nice temperature though. I hope you get some warm sunshine. Hmmm, a good book and a hammock would make for a perfect scene. A rocking chair would be alright too, but unfortunately it conjures up scenes from the movie "Deliverance". I actually read the book first. Actually as a young kid, I read the book "First Blood" and enjoyed it as it was a fascinating insight into a different culture. It was a shame that the movie completely misrepresented the complex main character.

Funny you mention that about mowing, but it really is a juggling act here as well too between when it is dry enough and before the grass gets 3 foot high.

Last year I experimented with letting the grass go feral in some parts and it was a big job to cut it all back before the onset of the bushfire season. Mostly the animals keep the herbage down, but sometimes it gets away from Stumpy and co.

Just for your interest, I've decided to mow a bit earlier this year. The thing I don't know is when the daffodils and all of the other bulbs have put away enough energy so that they can happily get through to the next season and produce more bulbs? I cut the tulips this year before the cockatoos got to them.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Stacey,

Ooops! I posted the recipe last week, but a couple of days later remembered that as you were in BC, you probably used metric measurements! If you need, I'll repost the recipe with (proper - just stirring - hehe!!!!) metric measurements.

Truly the border between Canada and the US must be a confusing place for such things.

Cheers

Chris

Stacey Armstrong said...

Good Morning Chris,

No worries about the metric. Living in Canada means you have the pleasure of working with both systems all the time. I have a few recipe books out of England that have me reaching for my kitchen scale to measure out dry ingredients as well. Keeps the brain working. I am tackling the chutney today as well as canning some jars of mustard.

The property I live on was the home to a herd(?) of emus at one time when they were in fashion. You can still find them for free occasionally in the free-to-a-good-home listings.

Those are some serious swings in temperature that you experience in the shoulder seasons! It would definitely shape your attitudes towards your work...just like the use of solar power.

@Lew. What do you do with all the brambles once you have chopped or pulled them into submission?

Thank you for the work that you do! Stacey

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; The guy with the tarantula is from when I lived in a big ol' apartment building in Seattle. He was a hairdresser. 6'6", an early hippie and loved to shock. :-).

Fainting in the aisles and a lot of nausea was involved :-). Some people here (quit a lot, actually) don't much of a border between pets and livestock. There was a craze here for Viet potbellied pigs. They're a small variety. People raised them as indoor pets. When the craze was over (yes, rescue groups were formed) I doubt many of them were eaten. Too much time, too much money, miss-placed affection. Saw a vid once of a woman who kept her chicken indoors. Kept it in diapers.

I've actually seen old photos of loggers on those platforms to cut trees. Quit a balancing act. There were also saw pits, before mills or where mills were not available. A pit was dug and one man went into the pit. Poor guy. Lost the coin toss or low man on the totem pole, I guess.

Heck, Martha Stewart has her own drone. Friends gave it to her as a gift. She was singing the praises of being able to fly around her vast properties, keeping an eye on things. A guy in New Jersey shot one down that was over his property. He was arrested. The law is running behind the domestic use of drones.

Went over and feed the sheep this morning and hauled back another two buckets of rocks. The pen is already more pleasant to work in. The "girls" are quit curious about this new development.

Yeah, one of the lessons I learned last year was, if we get a dry day in our spring, I need to get out and MOW! Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Stacey,

Too good and nice work with the canning and chutney. I hope you like it? The recipe works better with green tomatoes than the red ones. Hope the canned fruit is looking good!

Emus? Too funny. They usually live in the hot and dry parts of the continent where they can run from water source to water source.

You see the occasional emu around here, but they never really lived in these parts and they are also mainly behind very tall fencing!

Yeah, the weather is very variable here - all year around. A local farm (Taranaki Farm just out of Woodend) brought out Joel Salatin from the US for a farm talk and he was an excellent and passionate speaker. He remarked at one point that Taranaki farm being on the elevated plains at the bottom of the mountain range could potentially receive a frost any day of the year and this was a concept he'd never heard of before. The weather variability makes growing stuff here that bit harder, but it can also work in your favour too, you just don't know in advance.

Exactly, the solar is the answer: Just keep planting and hope for the best (i.e. that there is enough of a surplus that you are not thinking about it).

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

He would have been a colourful character. The tarantula would have made me personally a bit edgy though, so I would have had trouble staying cool. Well done on out cooling him. Blessed are the hippies (apologies, bad Monty Python joke).

I'm a mostly vegetarian and pets are nice and all, but live stock is good too. A mate of mine raised and processed his own pig and that stuff was sooooo good slow roasted in the oven. Best pork I've ever eaten. I went back for three servings. There are houses I visit where I really look forward to the food that will be served up and that is one of them. Actually pork belly has become a bit of a thing here, but it is way too rich for my tastes.

An indoor chicken! hehe! I don't doubt you as I've heard of other people considering such things. They're such creatures of habit that they'd be constantly freaked out by all of the movement and goings on and probably would never lay.

Oh yeah, you wouldn't want to be in the saw pit. Actually I've read that during some early bushfires - before saw mills put in dug outs, some people slow cooked by escaping the flames and trying to hide in the saw dust mounds. Not good. Lack of oxygen would have got them well before the heat.

The whole drone thing seems sort of strange to me. It is a bit detached. Oh well. Martha Stewart was a bit naughty, wasn't she?

That's the spirit. Yeah, the chickens can't actually scratch the rocks, so it is much nicer to walk around on during the winter. The first evening the flag stones went into the chicken area, the chooks were so scared that only one of them would cross the area. Strangely enough it was a Silky that braved the newfangled idea. They’re tough birds.

Yeah, everything in its season, I guess, if you've got time for it. Not everything gets done here at the right time either, I'm still learning what I can get away with versus what has to be done or else. All part of the fun.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Stacey - Sometimes, I just take the blackberry brambles to the dump. Feeling guilty and neurotic over it. I do pay attention when Chris talks about biomass in, biomass out :-).

The first year I was here, I had two borrowed goats. They made short work of the leaves and tender tips, but I burned the thick stems. Sometimes, I just leave them where they lay and stomp them under foot. I could make one of those raised German beds, but so far, it doesn't really fit in with any of my gardening plans. And, I'd want to make sure those canes were dead, dead, dead. I noticed in the newspaper that someone was even teaching a class in the technique.

Yo, Chris; Yeah, I'm a half-a___ed vegetarian, myself. Mainly through concerns over factory farming, health, economics (mine.) But, I seem to have this freezer full of meat :-). Gifts of locally grown meat. I chip at it ...

I had to make my weekly trip into the "Little Smoke." today and heard another report on drones on NPR (National Public Radio.) The FAA (Federal Airanatical Administration) doesn't license or regulate "hobbyists." I'm sure there will be court cases to determine or define, what is a hobbyist.

Awful weather here, today. Lots of rain and wind. Even the cat didn't want to go out. And, she's usually bouncing off the door as soon as I get up. I try and keep her in until 8 or 9 am, hoping the coyotes are all safely back in their dens.

On the way to the barn I noticed a steaming pile of poop. I checked with my neighbor as to the identity of the depositor. Yup. Bear. I am now even more hyper-vigilant than I usually am. If I drop off the internet radar, you'll know I have become a steaming pile of .... :-) Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

hehe! Yeah. Blackberry is a serious problem up your way. The fruit does make a very decent jam though. The canes get quite thick here too - I mean you wouldn't cut floorboards out of them, but they're pretty big.

Still poisoned blackberry fruit doesn't really float my boat either. Stumpy really won't let me grow them. I should send some wallabies up your way!

Cutting and burning isn't too bad an idea. The ash is an awesome fertiliser.

Yeah, I went to a beer hall in town tonight and it was really good stuff. Slow cooked beef cheek on mash potatoes with a jus gravy sauce. I shared that and a ploughman’s platter. Small servings but very high quality.

What do they say: you can't look a gift horse in the mouth. Enjoy your freezer. I think we'd all be better off if we respected the meat that we do actually eat. Feedlots produce shoddy fatty meat and it is hard on the animals and people that have to work there. I don't really worry about that sort of thing because it is only a moment in time and time will ultimately resolve that matter.

Wow, cats are usually pretty resilient to bad weather, although they look pretty funny when they’re wet and bedraggled. The dogs will go out in any rain, but expect to be inside and dried off asleep in front of the fire box before 10 minutes outside is up.

That is a real nightmare risk for the cat! I worry about the dogs and chickens attacking a snake. It'll happen sooner or later. The small old dog here is fair game for the eagle too, so I always let her out with the other dogs who are a bit more alert.

Be vigilant about that bear. Wow! Did your neighbour know whether it was a black or brown bear based on the scat? Usually bigger scats = bigger animals.

PS: Baby wombat is pregnant as I saw her waddling slowly off tonight with a very full pouch almost scraping along the ground! She is in a good paddock.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; I don't think we have any brown bears around here. They're all black bears. And, the semi-mythical grizzly.

Yeah, I'm pretty committed to not using any poisons around here. I've stopped complaining about my blackberries as I get funny looks when I'm advised to use Roundup, and say I'd rather not. The only time I've caved in to using poisons is with the wasps. I tried commercial traps and home remedies. Zip. Nadda. But, I use the stuff very sparingly. I did use a Borax and sugar trap for ants in the kitchen. That worked wizard!

When I eat the goat, I always have a moment when I think about when I was taking care of them when my friends were bouncing back and forth between here and Idaho. Doesn't keep me from tucking in!

Sun shinning here, today. I'll check the weather report to see if it's supposed to keep up into the afternoon. Maybe I'll get to that mowing ... :-) Lew

Les said...

Hi Chris,

thanks for the fire test! Definitely going to use E. Candicans in the gullies and around the house. My ecologist mate even seems to approve of it as a Lantana replacement...
Cheers,
Les

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; If you want an interesting walk down logging memory lane, Google "Kinsey Logging Photos." Kinsey was a photographer who wandered the west in the old days, taking photos of logging and many other things. You see reproductions of his work in this part of the world in banks, bars and restaurants.

So, what are you going to do with you're old logging chain? Yard art? :-) . Give it to an artist who will incorporate it into some work?

My friend Debbie who moved to Idaho (the chicken information Goddess) makes wall hanging quilts out of old scrap metal. She's even won ribbons for her work at some county fairs in Idaho.

Beautiful day, yesterday. Got the back mowed. Saw another Preying Mantis. Hauled over two more buckets of rocks. Wanted to do more outside, but my neighbor asked me to take him to town to run some errands. Two banks, the post office, pay a gas bill, grocery store. Glad to do it. Build that social currency and interesting conversation.

Raining puppies and kittens, today. Maybe I'll finally get around to processing those apples. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I checked out on the Interweb the difference between a brown and black bear. Glad to hear that you don't get brown bears as survival may be an unlikely outcome of that encounter.

You know what? I was going, black bears, medium size, they don't sound too bad. Then a link to the left of that part of the screen displayed: Mans body eaten by black bear, so perhaps caution is recommended after all. Don't go to sleep out in the forest...

Yeah, poisons come in all shapes and sizes. I try not to worry about such things as most of the compost I bring in here probably has trace amounts of all sorts of bad stuff as it originates from green waste sourced from Melbourne. I’m not a purist and it is well outside my control, so I don't worry about it. I reckon people can go a bit overboard on such matters, which is the main reason I'd never try and get organic certification here. The added layer of complexity with certification is a nuisance and doesn't add much in the way of value anyway.

What sort of wasps do you get? Most of the native wasps here are harmless, but there are also invasive European wasps which are a nightmare here during high summer as they are quite aggressive. The hotter and drier the summer, the more active those invasive wasps are too. I'm going to try some traps this year as they're easy to make, but I wouldn't hesitate poisoning them at all either if I found their nest.

Hey, how good is goat curry? There is an Afghan restaurant in Fitzroy in the big smoke and they do an outstanding goat curry. Respect too as it wouldn't keep me from tucking in either! hehe!

Great to hear that the sun is shining there. The in between seasons are always the best.

Thanks for the tip about the Kinsey Logging Photos. Seriously, it was like looking at what went on here with the tall forests too: Victorias biggest trees.

Actually the Centurion tree is the biggest of all the trees Down Under. Check out the photos! The trees here are of a similar species to there but at about half the size of that one as they are still young uns. Before the area was clear felled, there were probably many comparable examples.

I'd never thought about making art out of the chain or providing it to an artist to be incorporated into an art work. I was actually going to recycle it, but you have provided other options and something to think about.

Insects - especially predators like the preying mantis - indicate a very healthy ecology. Have you noticed an increase in the bird life since the insect population increased?

Cherokee Organics said...

Hey, are you thinking about making the apple cider vinegar for the girls? Stewed apple makes an outstanding dessert too! I had the best apple cake today from this dodgy looking cake shop out in the middle of nowhere. The apple cake was so good I picked up a second one to take home for later on. Yum! The thing that tipped me off that this would be an above average experience was the serious amount of custom going into and out of this dodgy looking building which wouldn’t have been out of place in a trailer park. Freshwater Creek Cakes

Oh yeah, it was good!

I had a big walk around the orchard this afternoon, and the almonds and apricots here are continuing to swell so I'm hoping to get a good harvest this year.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Les,

Thanks! Lantana has so much dried and dead wood that it can't help but be a fire hazard. A lot of cypress trees and plants like pencil pines are like that too: Lots of live growth on the outside, but tonnes of dead material on the inside against the trunk.

You know what too? Today I saw the biggest lizard I'd ever seen here scuttle into the shade of a stand of the Echium's. It was too big for a skink, so I have no idea what variety it is, but it is great to see a bit of extra diversity in animal life here. The European honeybees are also going crazy over the blue flowers today too.

If I were in your situation, I'd chop and drop the lantana so that you had a woody mulch to plant the Echiums into. They do much better in woody mulch than in the volcanic clay here. A good burn off and planting into the ash would do the trick too.

Cheers

Chris

Stacey Armstrong said...

Good Evening from Denman Island.

The chutney is quite good. My mom asked for the recipe after a tasting and then proceeded to make twenty jars herself, that means it is top shelf! I am imagining lashings of the chutney on a pecan mushroom burger that is in rotation here. We are unapologetic omnivores which can cause some tension locally. Food is very political in my community, self righteousness abounds. We still seem to have that luxury.

Lew....I was hoping you had a few bramble-incantations in your back pocket that I could put to good use. I am a fan of biomass as well, my exceptions seem to be brambles and buttercup. At the moment, I make crazy string-balls of brambles and throw them over the fence to the goats. When this is not an option I place them on a black tarp on the gravel drive until they are completely dry...and then they go into the chicken pen.

Chris, do you think your worm system could process small amounts of brambles?

Exciting news about baby-wombat! We looked at the marsupial page in our visual dictionary this week. The Pre-Raphaelite poets were a bit obsessed with wombats. I think Dante Rossetti kept one as a pet. It's a bit random and I find myself quite sympathetic to the wombat in question....how did it get to England in the first place?

The climate here seems to be more variable lately as well. The California Lilac is blooming for the second time in six months and the rhubarb is sprouting again. We have not had our first frost yet.

Best. Stacey

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Stacey,

Firstly, what a truly stunning part of the world that you live in. The oceans, forests, islands and snow-capped mountains. Wow!

Having such a large body of water near your island would really moderate the temperatures over both summer and winter too.

Interestingly, your island is at latitude 49'N. Whilst the farm here is at 37'S, however being 700m above sea level gives it a climate equivalent to about 44'S (which would be the absolute bottom of the massive island of Tasmania Down Under).

Many thanks for the feedback about the chutney! Nice to hear that your mum approves as that is the ultimate tick of approval! Hehe! I use it here as a replacement for tomato sauce and also because so many of the tomatoes here don't get enough heat to ripen properly. Glad to hear that it is top shelf stuff! It is good as it is not too sweet, which a lot of chutneys are. Feel free to eat whatever, there'll be no judgement from me.

Actually, I grow a couple of pecan nut trees and whilst they need a bit of extra TLC during summer here, they seem to be growing well. Interestingly enough, I'll mention food tomorrow in the next blog as there has been so much talk about insects in the past few weeks over at the ADR.

Yeah, of course, the worm farm system processes anything that was once alive in one form or another. Mind you the ground here doesn't freeze over during winter though and the fungi and bacterial action keep the worms toasty warm even when the air temperature is 3’C. Lots of plants grow inside the 3,000L chamber, but they eventually die due to lack of light. I should do an update on that system sooner or later. That was the most popular YouTube clip which makes me think that people like toilets, cause other than that I can’t explain it.

I'm not sure that wombats would make a great pet as they seem to be pretty grumpy to me but I am aware of (and have met a couple of times) an Australian author Jackie French who has quite strong attachment to wombats.

The Pre-Raphaelite poets and artists seemed to be quite the cheeky bunch stirring up trouble whilst also generally having a good time. Thanks for the art history lesson. Good stuff.

Well, the English transported all manner of stuff back from Australia from 1788 onwards. Interestingly too, the first kangaroo hide taken back was considered to be so unusual that it was thought to be a fake. I can assert for the record that they are very real.

There was even an Australian Aboriginal cricket team in England in 1868. Actually, they played pretty well and stuck it to the English, so to speak - a tradition we try our best to continue.

Yes, well the climate here is undergoing all sorts of changes too and every autumn, the fruit trees and flowers are increasingly confused. I wouldn't have considered that that would affect you in your location though? Not many people want to talk about that issue though, which seems odd to me.

Glad to hear that you have rhubarb. Most of those plants (about 30) here now no longer go dormant... They’re great to add to jams as the stems contain so much pectin.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Man it was warm here today. 28'C (82.4'F) and they reckon that this week will be one of the warmest October weeks since records began: Wave of heat near record for inland South Eastern Australia.

Marble Bar is incidentally the hottest place on the continent. Why anyone would live there is completely beyond me! I read once that the water coming out of their hot water taps was actually cooler than the water from the cold water taps.

Fortunately it was warm but cloudy here today so I woke up at 6am to finish off the excavations for the new shed site. You know, I thought that it would be a two hour job. It ended up being 10 hours and oh yeah, I'm feeling it body and soul!

Hope your weather improves for a bit there. Did you get any mowing done?

Do you get an Indian Summer up your way? I often get that here recently during autumn when things just sort of warm up.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Stacey & Chris - I've always really liked the Pre-Raphaelite painters. Mostly English. A group of artistic rebels with a manifesto, and all. Pre-dated the next group of rebels ... the Impressionists. I saw a nice fictionalized series (BBC? - probably. They do all the good stuff) about the Pre-Raphaelites. Name escapes me.

One of my favorites is "The Last of England." This one

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_of_England_(painting)

They are leaving England to live in foreign lands...probably Australia. :-). If you look very close, you can see the woman is clutching the tiny hand of a baby tucked in her cape.

On the unusual weather here. I follow a local weather guy and his blog just had a post on our extreme overnight highs. He is quit blown away. We've only hit the average overnight low once in the last month. Apparently, there is a huge blob of warm water off the coast that is keeping us toasty.

http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/

I picked up this year's "Old Farmer's Almanac" the other day. They predict a warm and dryer winter.

Have no idea what kind of wasps I have. Woke up yesterday morning to discover one on the inside of the kitchen window. Took three solid smacks with a fly swatter to knock him down. Tough buggers!

Have no idea if the bird population is increasing. They're always around in large numbers. An ever changing cast of characters as they migrate through. Saw a flash of sky blue twice, yesterday. Bluebirds? Not around these parts for years but saw a report that they are coming back.

You: "Clear felled." Us: Clear Cut. :-).

Got a lead on chipped wood mulch free for the hauling. I also wondered about chemicals riding along ... but also decided not to worry about it much. Lew