Monday, 10 November 2014

Children of the corn

The title of this week’s blog is a nod to Steven King’s truly frightening short story written way back in 1978. The story revolved around a demon haunted town in the corn belt of the US. The demon in that town decreed that no one in that area should live past their 19th birthday and all of the children in that town ruthlessly assisted in the enforcement of that decree. In that imaginary town a person who was 19 years and 1 day old would possibly be facing some immediate and reasonable fears for their personal safety!

So, what could all that possibly have to do with a small farm Down Under? Have I decided to chuck all caution to the wind and grow only corn here and enforce rules which could only ever quickly lead to my own untimely demise (being well past 19 years old)? Perhaps someone has been messing with the local malevolent spirits? Well, not really (and hopefully not anyway).

The truth of the matter is that I have simply run out of established space with which to grow edibles. To get around that problem, I have had to remove perfectly healthy and edible plants so that I can get the next round of crops growing in their place. Somehow, I’ve become like the demon in the short story as I’m cutting down vegetables in their prime.

Salad greens awaiting their awful fate
If I don’t get the next crop of salad greens in the ground shortly, then during high summer – which is not that far away – there will be no salad greens for me to eat. The reason for this is that it is very difficult to establish new crops in high summer due to the extreme heat and sunlight both of which kill seedlings. That was my fate from only a few short years ago to learn this harsh lesson. A shade house would be very handy in these circumstances, but I don’t have one – at present, anyway.

As I also collect seed from the plants here, it becomes a delicate balance between: having crops ready to eat, leaving some crops to go to seed and getting in new crops for future food. It is a really complex problem to solve especially if planting space is limited.

Throw in a couple of unknown variables such as climate and predation by the local wildlife and that problem becomes even more difficult to solve.

For example, Stumpy the house wallaby may just decide – without warning – that the Australian yellow leaf lettuce he’d had his eye on, suddenly becomes the next big taste sensation. The next morning you may possibly awaken to find a healthy and very well fed wallaby sitting in the vegetable garden happily munching on that lettuce. Whilst this would be bad enough if you had intended to eat the lettuce in your lunch, it could possibly be disastrous if you were planning to save seed from those plants!

Climate is the other unknown variable as for example: local lore handed down from time immemorial says to get your tomatoes outside of the house and in the ground by Melbourne Cup day (the first Tuesday in November). Well, this year was a warm October, so I probably could have had them outside in the sun by mid-October. It was interesting too that this year I spotted a self-seeded tomato plant in mid-October which was a few weeks before I’d even planted the tomatoes outside.

Tomatoes Cherokee Cherries
The photo above shows the cherry tomato plants happily growing in the warm conditions here. This is their second year as last year I selected seed from a particular plant which fruited a full month earlier than all other varieties. That plant also produced a good sized and good tasting crop too. All being well, the fruit should commence ripening from about mid-February and will continue to ripen until early June.

Many years ago, I wouldn’t have had the heart to clear the growing beds for the next crop as I was just so grateful that anything at all was growing. However, now it’s more like: “we’re done here – prepare yourselves to become chook food!” How things have changed these past few years.
shed with all posts now in the ground
Construction on the new shed has continued apace, and now all of the posts are cemented into the ground. The next activity – all being well – will be installing the roof trusses, battens and bracing. I’m really excited about this shed but it is also becoming necessary for me to complete the construction before the serious bushfire weather hits here during summer.

The concrete stairs below the cantina shed are now complete! I thought that the photo below might be useful for anyone who may be considering constructing their own concrete steps as it shows the timber formwork in place and ready to receive the cement mix. The yellow level stick gives a good indicator as to whether the stairs are constructed level front to back and also side to side. If the timber is not exactly level, it can easily be propped up on one edge or another before pouring the cement mix. Observant readers may notice the white pipe and this is covering a much smaller ¾ inch (20mm) water pipe that travels underneath the stairs. Should that water pipe ever break or leak, I should be able to pull a new water pipe through that much larger white pipe – without damaging the stairs.

Last stair step under construction
Stairs now completed
It is a great time for flowers here and it seems as if every plant is trying to out compete its neighbour. I’d thought I’d include some photos from about the farm:

Ixia flowers
There are only a few Ixia flowers about the place, but they are really noticeable because they have an eye catching light blue colour for their flowers. You rarely see that particular colour in nature.

a big furry unidentified flower hiding amongst the garlic and onions
bearded iris, lambs ears, Californian poppy, wormwood, geranium, aluminium plant and borage
Also, I spotted one of the local reptiles sunning itself under an African daisy today:

Skink sunning itself under an African daisy
The fruit is also continuing to ripen on the trees too:

Nashi pear
Jonathon apple
Anzac peach
The peaches and nectarines are interesting, because in the humid spring climate here, they consistently develop curly leaf which is a fungal disease. It is recommended to spray copper fungicide on the trees at various stages throughout the year. However, a few years ago, I undertook an experiment to see what would happen if I simply stopped spraying the peach and nectarine trees. My reasoning behind this is that not only does the copper spray cost money and time to apply to the fruit trees, but it will also kill fungal growths in the soil (both beneficial and non-beneficial) as it drips off the fruit trees leaves. The results have been mixed, but I can say with certainty that about half of these fruit trees survived and have since become more productive and less affected by the curly leaf, whilst others died. However, I do not regret undertaking the experiment as I have seen quite old peach and nectarine trees that receive no attention at all and yet still produce fruit.

In a strange and unusual turn of events on Sunday evening I spotted a rabbit running up the driveway. It is unusual because it is the first rabbit that I have seen here in eight years. I set one of the dogs on the trail of the rabbit but it had clearly left the farm. However, past experience has taught me that it is unwise to completely ignore strange and unusual events.

This week has been quite warm for this time of year and by Saturday evening I was feeling the beginning stages of heat exhaustion after working outside in the sun all day. Today has been much cooler and the temperature outside here at about 9.45pm is 8.0 degrees Celsius (46.4’F). So far this year there has been 676.8mm (26.6 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week’s total of 676.4mm (26.6 inches).


dltrammel said...

"a big furry unidentified flower hiding amongst the garlic and onions"

Best get some seeds from that flower quick, it looks like a keeper, lol.

Let me just say, while I don't post comments here often, I always look forward to your posts.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Stacey,

Good to hear. That is a great mix of materials too as it covers lots of different minerals. Wood chips in a swale path is an excellent idea too as the increased moisture will break the woody material down faster and provide lots of food for fungi.

Interestingly, I grow garlic here in a higher carbon soil - the basis for this thinking is that they are originally forest plants (I'm guessing so anyway) as they grow well underneath fruit and other trees. There is some serious interest in garlic growing around these parts as last year a local field trial took place in the area, and I ended up with about 35 different species.

Apparently, they've cracked the secret to growing garlic from seed too and if you are interested I'll post the notes on that issue as it is important for the continuation of that species.

How good are fresh biscuits and cakes! Yum! Michael Pollan takes a middle of the road approach - which is often the path of truth - so he annoys everyone. I enjoyed his take on eating meat and agree wholeheartedly.

I think we call soft sandwich cookies - slices - but I'm still not 100% sure. You'll often see lemon or apple slices for sale in bakeries here and the quality can be very variable - ranging from genius to ordinary.

A local bakery produces an award winning vanilla slice - and really, it is to kill for: Vanilla slice top left hand corner photo. The filling is custard.

There is an annual bake off competition for these things and it is taken very seriously indeed.

Wow, that is what I'd call a score! I'm left wondering what you mean by fussing though? I've put the call out to the renewable energy community Down Under to get their real world experiences too, so I'll let you know if anything really interesting turns up.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, well it would have been nice if someone had told me that straight lines in a garden are bad karma! Yeah, the Japanese probably borrowed heavily from Feng Shui which covers such topics extensively. I've just nicknamed it the law of Ben after the cheeky sod pointed it out to me in no uncertain terms. hehe!

Sometimes with those Japanese gardens I reckon they frame views too? Not sure really.

I certainly have no wish to upset any spirits here - malevolent or otherwise. The government is doing another massive burn off on the western end of the mountain range this evening and I looked across and went what is all that smoke doing over there? Anyway, it is shaping up to be a long hot summer so we may have to appease the local forest spirits before too long?

You were very lucky not to get any roosters. A mate of mine raised chicks from eggs and got all roosters which he then had to process. Did you get Barnevelder eggs or another species?

The daily egg count has been down this year so I'm thinking about getting some Isa Browns to prop up the egg supply? Mind you, some of the older girls are now about 4 years - but an author whom I've met a few times has chickens that are close to 17 years old.

Ahh, that is a modest sized house. Truly, how much space do you need anyway? In metric terms that is 106 square metres. I reckon the smaller the house the easier - and cheaper - it is to live in. Actually, we're about the same as I'm on a single level but have about 175 square metres of space. It was fortunate that I didn't submit plans for a bigger house as I wouldn't have been able to pay for it. The building requirements due to the bushfire construction regulations were expensive and there are only a few of these houses built.

hehe! That is a keeper: "Junk fills the space allowed"TM. hehe!

Too funny.

Who knows? Perhaps it is the ADR effect? It helps having no TV reception here, plus so many years of part time study never got me into the habit in the first place. From my perspective you have a good library system which is a real treasure. I ordered the Sue Hubbell book, which still hasn't arrived, but being at the bottom of the planet and in a remote location means that things take a while to get here.

Yeah, your magic stuff probably changes the biology in the septic system which is no bad thing. The ones here have an inspection hatch - if you're brave enough ;-) - but mostly they overflow through the vents when they need to be pumped out. I wouldn't worry too much as nature can sort out most organic piles.

Yeah, I wonder whether rum was easier to make here and whiskey was easier to make up your way? The parallels are amazing. Still Captain Bligh - as govenor of the colony here - was probably a bit of a nob head! He didn't have a good track record given what happened on the HMS Bounty. It was amazing that he survived - both occasions.

Yeah, that'll tell em! hehe!

The same thing has happened here and the courts have sided with the GMO farmers. Nuff said really.

Your halloween sounds like a lot of fun. I'd never heard of Mexican muertos before, but have seen their representations. Spooky stuff, apparently it is a reminder of our own demise...


Cherokee Organics said...

You can definitely buy a pizza for that increase. It ain't much.

That is rotten about the land valuations. What they are saying - and his is my take on the matter - "Sure, you've taken a hit, but we're immune from your pain cause we make the rules".

Mate, it is harder for me too as I get older here. That is part of the reason for the rush on all of the big projects...

Is Idaho cheaper than where you are? You have reasonably reliable rainfall up your way which is no small thing.

The concept of provisional living was an eye opener. I have a few mates who are up to their eye balls in that, so you are in good company. I have been wondering about that concept recently as he didn't explore it that far really?

Nice to hear about your asparagus and rosemary. They sound like they're in good hands. I'll have to try that with the rosemary.

I picked the first couple of strawberries tonight!

Great to hear about the owl and other wildlife at your place. It is all a good sign of health.

The magpies swoop the chickens here, but if the girls spot them, they get pretty angry - especially the larger Plymouth Rocks - and start taking the fight to them.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi dtrammel,

Great to see you here and thanks for the lovely comment. Much appreciated and Scruff appreciated it too.



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Google "Fig Newton Image" and you'll see exactly what Stacey is talking about. There's also several pictures of the home made kinds. Interesting. My Dad started working for Nabisco (the cookie company) back when they opened a plant in Portland after WWII. Retired from there. My brother also did the same and just retired. He was a cookie dough mixer.

Two interesting things. Back in the day, my Dad was always very proud of the Nabisco products. They cost a bit more, but the quality was good. Here, commodities used in commercial foods (flour, honey, cheese, chocolate, etc.) are graded ...A, B, C, etc.. Nabisco only used grade A commodities. Oh, and they're certified Kosher.

When my brother left Nabisco, he was pretty unhappy with the quality. What used to be 500 pounds of brown sugar is now a couple of cups of some kind of glop. He was also very unhappy with the decline of sociability. He mentioned that now, when he went to the lunchroom, no one ever talked anymore. They all had their noses buried in an I-Pad, or some such device.

Ah, Stephen King. I love his stuff. A lot of people say they don't like his books because they are "horror." I always try to point out that several of his books have no paranormal elements. "Delores Claiborne", is a good example. King has talked a bit about his books adapted for film or tv. Some he thinks are ok, others, he doesn't like. But, he feels that as a writer, when you sell the film rights, you just have to let it go. LOL. When he sold the rights to "Children of the Corn", he also sold the concept rights. So, there were some truly awful sequels. "Children of the Corn IV", anyone?

That's a wizard idea, of a pipe within a pipe. Planning ahead. Scruff looks like a lovely dog. Looks to be about the same size as "my" Beau. Beau is mostly Blue Heeler.

Yup. Got to keep an eye on those strange and unusual events. I used to see rabbits around here. I haven't seen a single rabbit in several months. I don't know what changed. Something in the carnivore department. Coyotes? Cougars? Bob Cats?


LewisLucanBooks said...

Well, I was hoping for at least one rooster. I had a lead on some Barnevelder chicks, but it didn't pan out. It was late in the season, so, I just kind of panicked and bought 8 less-than-week old chicks from the farm store. Wyondottes. One of the three old hens I rescued from the neighbors was a Wyondotte. Nice big eggs and a good dual purpose bird (meat and eggs.) So, I raised the chicks in the laundry room til they were about 16 weeks old and then integrated them into my "flock." So, I have 11 hens. I'm getting just over 4 dozen eggs a week. I want to get a rooster so I can get the whole chicken system working. Will try and hatch a clutch next year so I can cull out some of the old hens for meat.

Yeah, I don't have tv, either. All those series I get are from the local library system.

The Muertos I collect are the little skeleton figures that are occupational or things like brides and grooms. My favorite is a skeleton angel. Real feathers and a golden halo. Of course, I kind of like my skeleton "Little Mermaid", too. It's kind of a hoot.

Yes, land in Idaho is cheaper. On line I've seen little cabins and homesteads for a lot less then here. But, rationally and realistically, I don't think I'll be moving to Idaho :-). But, if things get "iffy" here, if my landlord/friend/neighbor passes on and living here gets untenable, well, anything is possible.

Yes, I wish the Archdruid had spent a little more time on "provisional living." But, he has soooo much territory to cover. But, it rang a bell with me. I'll have to Google it up and see what pops up.

Well, we had our first frost this morning! Light. Didn't even nip the tomatoes. Which, speaking of ripping things out, I need to add to the compost bin. What's really strange is that there is a forecast for possible snow, day after tomorrow.

And, the other day I cracked an egg into the frying pan (one of the old Wyondotte hens super sized eggs) and it was a double yoker! Oh, I know such things aren't that rare, but it's the first I've got from my hens. Signs! Miracles! Wonders! Well, it made me smile, anyway. :-). Lew

Phil Harris said...

Fernglade is looking bonny as they say here. I'm glad to have dropped by. Stumpy is a very well fed mascot! :)

I caught your comment addressed to me on the ADR too late to respond this week. Just to say I agree with all the points you made about soil and weather.

Whether Scotland or Britain can "feed itself" is really a hypothetical peg to hang some (self) education on. We have not fed ourselves for more than 150 years and have preeminently been a trading nation since the Middle Ages (London grew from c. 80,000 to over 700,000 inhabitants between 1550 and 1750 when population of England was below 6M)

As you say, cities have a big footprint and the soil nutrients flush out to sea.

So it goes :(


Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

That explains it perfectly. Definitely lost in translation. We call them: Spicy fruit roll

Can you grow figs in your locations? I have about 6 of them here, but they are still quite small fruit trees.

I bet those two know a thing or two about cooking biscuits. Those factories almost always smell nice too. Many years ago I used to live not far from a major brewer and some warm summer nights well, lets say, you could leave a cup of water with some flour in it and collect brewers yeast pretty easily! You could smell it in the air.

That is weird that you mention the sociability aspect of workplaces. That disappeared here during the recession in the early 90's. Before that drinks on a Friday night was serious business. After that people sort of went home grateful to be employed and not to rock the boat.

The whole i-whatever thing is lost on me. I see people going out to dinner and they have their heads buried in an i-whatever surfing the net and not talking at all.

On the other hand, I'll be happy to take a book to the local cafe post office / general store and have a read of the book whilst enjoying a coffee, but it sort of seems a bit different as other people are sitting around reading the newspaper etc.

That is a very mature attitude about letting go once you sell the rights to something. That reminds me, there is a house obviously built by an engineer along the Great Ocean Road, and lets be honest, it stands out like the proverbial dogs...

Pole house

The family that had built and owned it, sold it. The new owners wanted to give it a freshen up - and it looks reasonably unchanged from the ground. Anyway, after they sold it, they started cracking the sads publicly that the new owners wanted to make any changes at all to the house. To my mind it sort of appears to be a funny perspective to take, because if they felt that strongly about it, they shouldn't have sold it in the first place. One possible interpretation is that original owners wanted keep their cake and also eat it at the same time?

Yeah, I like Steven Kings writing, but occasionally he builds up to a crescendo of plot intrigue only to have a Space Bat ending - The Tommyknockers was one such book. I couldn't put it down though and stayed up an entire night reading it! hehe!

Yeah I try really hard to make the place easily repairable. Speaking of which the western end of the mountain range looks as if a volcano has erupted. The smoke plume from the burn off was truly impressive and the evening light here was red due to the thick smoke. I hope they know what they're doing. Got some photos too.

A Blue Heeler is an awesome farm dog and it is the farm dog here - as well as Border Collies of course. The Blue Heeler looks more sturdy and functional to me though. You can often see them chained up in the back of a ute enjoying the fresh air!

Yikes, that is an impressive list of apex predators! Don't take this the wrong way, but really glad they're not roaming the forest here.


Cherokee Organics said...

Those are excellent birds too - both of them. I'm planning on increasing the flock in early February when I head off to the farm expo. That is a pretty good egg rate for the birds.

Did you end up getting and installing a light and water heater for the chooks?

haha! A great reminder of our own mortality. The little mermaid would be a hoot!

You have a great library system.

Plan B's are a good thing to have up your sleeve. Nice not to use, but also comforting to know they're there when and if needed.

Actually, I did watch a commercial TV show the other night. No true story. It was called: "Bushfires - Inside the Inferno" on the government commercialised station SBS on demand service over the Interweb. I thought that any additional information on bushfires may be useful. Wow, it even streamed the advertisements too. I didn't expect that and had to sit through them. It has been years since I've had to sit through advertisements...

If you get any insights on provisional living I'd be interested to hear. People claim they're very busy these days and I suspect that that concept has something to do with it, but don't know really.

Hope you get some snow - how cool! It'll reach 34'C (93.2'F) here tomorrow and then some rain - apparently for Saturday - which would be really nice. At least it isn't windy.

They make me smile too because they are rare. I reckon it is a sign that they have a good life and are getting some good feed.



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; I forgot to mention, Newtons also come in flavors. Blueberry, raspberry, etc. But the commercial ones, it's mostly smoke, mirrors and "artificial flavorings." But, good to keep in mind you can roll all sorts of things into those bits of pastry.

Odd you asked about figs. There was an article in our local newspaper last month about growing figs in this part of the world. I guess there are varieties that will grow here and some development in trying to develop more varieties that can take the cool and wet. I didn't pay much attention to the article as it was kind of a song and dance to get them to produce. Standard veg is enough of a challenge for me. I am going to try some turmeric and ginger next year. I mean I know a man that has a couple of producing artichoke plants in his solar greenhouse. But, I don't think I'd attempt it.

Sociability seems to be bitting the dust worldwide. There was a book a couple of years ago called "Bowling Alone." About the decline of ... communal activities. People used to be "joiners." Not so much anymore. But there are some comebacks. I noticed that the local Mushroom Society, hot in the 80s, languished for quit a few years, is making a comeback.

I always drag a book along with me when I think I'm going to be stuck somewhere for awhile. Last week, I took my neighbor to a doctor's appointment and was stuck in the waiting room for awhile. It was quit crowded, but I was the only one escaping into a book. I always get a few curious looks. I once accompanied a friend as he negotiated a car at a dealership. I was tucked in an office happily reading away when a salesman came in and practically snarled "Oh, a reader, huh!" I just ignored him. When I was at the doctor's, by the way, I was reading Sue Hubbell's "Shrinking the Cat." Picked it up at a thrift.

The pole house is pretty interesting. Interesting to look at, but I don't think I'd want to live there. Frank Lloyd Wright used to be very proprietary about the houses he designed and built. He designed everything right down to the furnishings and didn't want any anything changed, ever.

Yeah, every time I get a King book, I pretty much know my life is over for a couple of days :-). And, I stay up way to late. "One more chapter, one more chapter." You know how it goes. :-). His son is writting under the name Joe Hill. Writes some pretty good horror. Almost as good as the old man. But, being younger, a little more hip and with it. His book "Horns" is about to come out as a movie with Daniel Radcliffe. He wrote under that pseudonym for quit awhile. He wanted to see if he could stand on his own and not ride Dad's coat tails. Had several books published and won some awards before anyone tumbled to the fact of whose kid he was.

Well, at least our predators are seldom seen. Come to think of it, I haven't herd the coyotes in quit awhile. We're in our hunting season, here. Deer and elk. I wonder if the hunters also take pot shots at the coyotes?

Chooks have had a light for quit awhile. Heat and light. I haven't hooked up the heated water, yet. I take them out fresh, every morning, so it's not an issue, yet.

Well, I've run across a couple of websites that recently make you sit through an advert before you can read an article. I surf the net with the sound off and when one of these things pop up, a wander off to get a cupa, or something. :-).

It got down to 23 F last night. Beau's in the laundry room on a nice warm blanket. Very windy and sunny, yesterday. So, I gave his yard one (last?) mow. Snow is on and off the forecast. And, on again. Maybe tomorrow ... or saturday ... or maybe next week :-). Forecasting snow for the "lowlands" is hard. I'm putting off my weekly trip to town later then I usually go. There will be icy spots anywhere it's shady. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

PS: Looked into the "Provisional Living". LOL Doing a search was a bit tricky as apparently there's a chain of retirement homes called Provisional Living :-).

Any-who. The Arch Druid talks about it on 7/23/14 ..."Gray Light of Morning." And, he expounds at length. I'd just missed the extra information as I was so caught up in the initial concept.

But it comes from Jung (figures). The search to do is "Provisional Life." With maybe "Jung" thrown in there, somewhere. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Phil,

Stumpy says Hi too! Glad that you dropped by.

The same points are just as applicable to here - even given that we've got 1/12th the people as the UK, but on the same land area as the UK - just in this state.

When we introduced the sheep from the 1820's onwards, they caused massive changes to the grasslands and water cycles in the landscape. Not good. The worst damage we did was not maintaining the forests though...

You may find that many of your seed banks are far longer lived than you expect! Once an area is fenced off from predation, all sorts of seeds that may have been dormant in the soil get their day in the sun. Interesting, that you've noticed Rowan's coming back up your way.

Down here, I've noticed something really odd. The wildflowers are coming back under the eucalyptus canopy here. There are even orchids. The other interesting thing is that the wallabies which used to be lone forest dwellers now turn up en masse and you can sometimes see a mob of 6 of them in one night.

Thanks for the comment and all the best for the autumn.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah aren't they all? Actually local bakeries around here - whilst hardly massive industrial complexes - can be very variable too. I try and make my own snacks, cooking is an addictive art. You probably got the inside story on what went into the newtons!

Figs seem quite hardy and they go dormant here. They definitely didn't like not getting enough water last year - but apparently they grow naturally on really rocky dry hot sites - so who knows whats going on?

Yeah, ginger crashed and burned here, but turmeric is meant to be very cold hardy - so you are probably on the money. I bet you could get ginger growing inside and then move it outside during the growing season. People locally do that with tomatoes here and they're miles ahead of the growth here. Turmeric is an excellent culinary herb.

Yeah, it is the same here, most people tell me they're busy - whatever that means - probably watching television? But there is still a lot of interest in the local groups and I've joined a few of them.

Books are great. I took Galbraith and also read the ADR on the train this afternoon. I like the country trains as they are really comfortable, clean and fast. I can't drive into the city as fast as the train gets there. You can lose yourself in a good book. Hey, the Sue Hubbell book was in the post office today waiting to be picked up. I'm looking forward to it. Why did the cat require shrinking? hehe!

I get vertigo so the pole house is a non starter, but people can get fired up about change. Architects have lost the plot a bit when they talk about artistic vision. Honestly the walkway to the house was left uncovered, and being on that coast, they get huge storms (roaring 40's).

Just one last chapter, but the next one is calling! ;-)

A good thing too. I'll keep an eye out for the book.

Predators have to move around a lot. The Aboriginals used to have a saying called "spear shy" to describe an area where people had captured too many animals from in too short a period of time. The herbivores aren't stupid and simply move on as the area has bad spirits (I guess?) and the likelihood of them getting caught and eaten is very high.

Your chooks are in chook paradise! You're getting a good amount of eggs too for this late in the season. Autumn is the tough time for eggs here as the chooks are recovering from their summer molt.

23'F is -5'C. Man, that is freezing. Glad to hear that Beau is inside. As a contrast it is a really warm night here at 21'C (69.8'F). I've got the whole house open to the outside air. It is cooler here than it was in Melbourne too - it felt like Bangkok or somewhere really tropical like that.

Thanks for the tip on provisional living. It is a weird thing. I try to live for today with an eye for tomorrow. Not an easy balance though.

I enjoyed the ADR today. Interesting stuff. You and I are in the early stages of the gift / barter economy.



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Yeah, that's what I intent to do with the turmeric and ginger. Start them inside and then, move them out. There's an old, overgrown stock tank (more yard art) in back. Faces south and is pretty good sized. I'm going to put the turmeric and ginger in it.

Sue Hubbell's book "Shrinking the Cat" is about ...genetic manipulation. How we're all wound up about GMOs, like it's a new thing, but humans have been manipulating genes for just as long as there have been humans. I'm not far enough into it to figure out where she stands on the issue, but I think there's something really different about something that jumps out of a test tube and you saving seed from your earliest producing tomatoes. It's a slim little book.

I was a little disappointed. Reading between the lines, Ms. Hubbell has left the Ozarks, re-married rather well, and now spends her time in Washington, DC and Maine. She "sold the farm and moved to town." :-). Sigh. People do what they gotta do. And, looking at her author picture, she's quit an elderly lady, now. But, I always feel a little sad when someone "gives up the farm." As my friends did when they moved to Idaho. I try and keep such feelings to myself. That time may come to me, but I think I'd rather die on the place :-).

I read Kunstler from time to time. Especially his stuff about architecture and urban planning. I tend to agree with him that architecture, these days, has more to do with splash and ego. Awards and celebrity. Not much to do with useability or form follows function. I've had some conversations with a friend of mine as to why people in tornado prone areas don't put more underground. My thought is that if you put a million dollars into a house that is underground, no one knows you've spent that much. It's all about keeping up with the Jonses and out flashing your neighbors or brother-in-law.

My Barnevelders molted. But, I wasn't managing the chickens as I do now. Of course, my young hens are less then a year old. But even the 3 older hens didn't molt this fall. I know they should molt, for their own health. But it's hard to give up all that nice egg production.

I'm still plowing through and really enjoying "Ripe for the Picking." But, my, the politics of family and village life is sure complicated. And, sometimes, stifling. Way down at the end of the comments on last weeks ADR, I think it was Deborah Bender, had some interesting thoughts on that sort of thing. Two neighboring families, one old lady in each family that keeps a running tally of pluses and minuses. And how if things get too far out of balance, there can be real blowouts.

I found this weeks ADR really interesting. Sicne I know people that stash large caches of silver and gold. Here in the States, in 1964, they began to, from my point of view, debase the coinage. It went from 90 some percent silver to silver washed copper.

Even at that time I made the connection between what the Romans did to their coinage, at the end of Empire, and what we were going. But no one I knew talked about that. I follow a couple of archaeology sites, and had just lately made the connection between people stashing away good coin and the Roman hoards that turn up with regularity. But this weeks ADR brought everything into focus.

I myself have a very small stash of the old silver coin. I always thought that if things get bad, I could always trade a well worn old dime for maybe three loves of bread. :-). Now I'm beginning to think maybe it's better to get rid of that stuff and put the current cash into skills or tools. Plants.

It seems like it's going to be nothing but a trouble magnet. Or, have no value at all. And how many old movies have we seen where the guy weighted down with his newly discovered gold and jewels is either pulled into the watery depths by the weight, or can't make that leap across a casym? :-) to safety?

LewisLucanBooks said...

LOL. Too long. I do run on ...

Got down to 27 last night. Probably colder here as I'm higher up and away from town. Yesterday was very windy. Cuts right through you.

Morning before last, the frost was obvious. Winter Wonderland. Yesterday and today, no visible frost but the ground is rock hard. I know it has to do with dew points and humidity, but I've never quit understood all that and am not interested enough to figure it out. :-).

Today, the sky "looks like snow." I guess it's snowing down around Portland and east. I keep glancing out the window, watching for flakes. First snowfall is always exciting and it's fun to see how the animals react. Also, from the tracks I can tell what's been prowling around. Lew

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

Those flowers made me homesick for spring. We had off and on snow flurries all day. The high temperature was 0C/32F. More like January than November. Wonder if we have another winter like last year ahead of us? I've moved the front-tender plants out of the glassed-in front porch just in case.

Enjoyed your post as always and I admire your and JMG's dedication to weekly posts! I haven't made it there yet. I have a post in process but it will be at least a few days till I get it up.

Re your rabbits: we used to have quite a few rabbits around our place, then didn't for several years. Now we are seeing more again. I think it's because our neighbor's free-ranging cat hasn't been seen since August. In her prime she was an excellent hunter. I think she hunted most of what she ate, and got most of that from our property. This year we didn't see her as much and she didn't seem as successful a hunter. Age and/or illness, most likely. She probably died or got run over in August. Let the rabbits grow ... my husband has a hunting license and I am looking forward to rabbit stew.

Stacey Armstrong said...

Evening Chris,

Just to carry forward on the dehydrator question. The 'fussing' with the dehydrator means flipping the fruit over and rotating the trays, on humid days I have wiped the condensation off the domed lid. Not too big a deal. I am still experimenting a little bit; I am going to try placing it closer to the wood stove and also in full sun to see if there is any difference.

Clearing out your vegetable beds in one fell swoop must have still taken some gumption. I have noticed that I am gradually becoming more ruthless in the garden. I still have to really work at thinning some of the greens and the carrots. I find transplanting, rather than direct sowing has really helped to see that the spacing requirements on the seed packet are more than a 'suggestion'!

My understanding of provisional living is based on Jung's idea that some people ( or maybe swaths of society) get trapped in a kind of eternal childhood like a Peter Pan figure, living in a world of fantasy with few consequences. I was caught up short a little when it was unpacked further by John Michael Greer because it occurred to me that I was putting off any number of things for 'retirement' that I could reasonable start now. Oh...and that I won't really ever be retiring!

@Lew. The fig newton factory reference was great. I probably won't be scaling up the Quince Newtons just yet.

I have four figs ready to go in the ground here. They have all been given to me by the mad fig propagators who live here. I can hardly wait for the figs. I would be curious to hear more about the garlic seed saving when you get a chance.

Best. Stacey

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Chris & Lin, Lewis, Claire and Stacey,

The cool change came through this morning, so I went a bit feral and I may have cooked my head a bit! That's my description for heat exhaustion.

I'll reply to you tomorrow evening. Apologies.



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; No apologies necessary. I do get carried away. :-). Back when I worked out in the rural library branches, I did a lot of "readers advisory." "You've got to read this! You've got to watch that! This will probably interest you!" I've got to reign myself in and remind myself that other people have lives and obligations that I don't have. :-). I, am a menace.

I finished Hawe's book, "Ripe for the Picking." A delightful book that I savored, rather than my usual gallop through.

What I found really interesting were some of her observations and ruminations in the part where Franco and the Albanians are working on her roof. I think she's been reading ADR. :-).

She seems to have no problem accepting that all our great works will eventually unravel. Her ruminations on how the saddlebags or panniers probably took hundreds of years to develop and may be lost. The bit about the only work available in Albania was guarding fields from hungry hoards coming out of the cities.

Purely anecdotal, but over the last years I've read a few articles about things unraveling in Greece, Spain, Italy ... and how the young people are returning to the mountain villages because there's no work in the cities. Picking up the old ways and skills. Interesting. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Chris,

Mate, I hear you. I've travelled to SW WA and it is a truly amazing and beautiful part of the world. How are you enjoying your 8 acres? Yeah, the climate here is Mediterranean too so I've been trailing all sorts of strange plants over the past few years and there are some real winners.

I've read that your part of the world has very sandy soils, how is your place?

Very wise to sort out your water first before all else. I'm on rainwater here and the tanks are currently holding about 95kL which should be plenty to get through summer. I've read that WA is getting some cold weather - between hot spells - over the past few days so I hope you get some rain.

There are about 23 photovoltaic panels here varying between 180W and 200W - although to be honest I can't really tell the difference between their outputs. That's 4.2kW in total. In the real world you get about 80% of that output unless conditions are perfect.

The batteries are gel (sealed) lead acid and there are 1,200Ah at 24V. They're Neuton cells and they seem to be reasonably reliable. Over winter I didn't go below 70% full so don't really need a generator.

If you have the grid to recharge your batteries, then you could get a smaller bank - say 4 to 5 days supply and simply make up the difference from the grid using a good quality battery charger. The less you use your batteries, the longer they will last.

I should probably provide the power statistics graph which shows the voltage at the start of the day and how much was generated during that day. I'll have to think about how to do that.

There is really not much difference between mono and poly panels. Originally a 180W panel cost $750, but they're about $200 now so go hard and install as many panels as you can afford and regulate. They're now cheaper than fossil fuel generators.

Lithium batteries are good, but the tolerances are really tight - a bit too tight for my comfort. A 787 aircraft caught fire because apparently the lithium batteries were overcharged... Lead acid is an old and mature technology. Nickel iron has a lot of advantages too.

AC coupled means that the entire system operates at voltages which require an electrician to install the entire system. I use DC here because I could DIY the entire system from the panels to the inverter (i.e. 240V mains). I don't like the idea of having to rely on an electrician to wire up the solar system as if it goes wrong on a Saturday night, who is going to fix it? Still, there are some good AC coupled systems around.

As a suggestion: Setup a new topic on the: Energy Matters Forum and ask the advice of the people there. They're good people and they both live and install this stuff and can guide you through the pitfalls as well as put you in contact with the people who can actually install the stuff.

Just remember - one final word of warning - go not to the elves for advice as they will say both yes and no!

I'll email you directly over the next day or so.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

That sounds like a plan! There are lots of ways to get around a short growing season and that is a good one. I did that with the tomatoes here and they seem to be doing well outside - it is drizzling outside here now!

Yeah, I'm a bit dodge about test tubes versus selective plant breeding - but that is a personal preference thing. Selective breeding of plants seems to be a good and well established tool, so why mess with it? Down here they say: if it ain't broke don't fix it!

haha! Too funny, money will do that. Oh Well... ;-) Taking you out in a box is always an option. I reckon we put down roots in a place and it sort of gets under your skin. I travelled to the Yarra Valley today for a mates birthday and it is a little bit greener, a little bit wetter, a little bit richer soil, and the mountains are a little bit taller. But, you know what? When I got home, I said to myself - this is home and that felt good. I hear you.

I haven't read Kunstler can you recommend a good post?

Yeah, some architecture can be visually jarring and I've read that they enjoy the discomfort of others. There is also a school of thought that says that houses in bushfire prone areas here should be underground. If you see a blog post called "Mordor" then you'll know things haven't gone well here. Mind you, I travelled back via Kinglake today and 5 years on the place is looking pretty nice again.

Your chooks sound like they're in a chicken utopia. I wouldn't worry too much about the moult as if they need to do it they will. It is the hot summers here that trigger them to moult, so who knows? I reckon nature is more adaptable than we give her credit for?

Glad to hear that you are enjoying the book, it was really hard to put down! Oh yeah, family life is complicated, like how did she end up getting manipulated into house sitting the chickens up on the orto? Complex stuff and she has a lovely way of just going with the flow, whilst observing everything around her.

Yeah, don't mess with those ladies business, they'll mess you up! hehe!

I bet those two ladies know how to deal with precious metal coinage that had been debased. Actually the gold standard caused a lot of grief and wasn't around for that long. I've only just been reading about it and had no idea how it all worked until recently.

You have to follow your own gut instinct on that sort of thing. Sorry, that is ambiguous, but there you go! I turn most of my income into infrastructure here.

Yeah! We're both guilty of such things. I'm reasonably certain that we'd be entertaining dinner guests! hehe!

Wow, when it gets cold at your place, it really kicks in quickly. What would it be like by February?

They're predicting a 90% chance of 1/2 inch to 1 inch of rain tonight here - so here's hoping!



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

The winter wonderland would look really nice though, and you probably get a white Christmas? The images at that time of year here are completely confused. Snowmen in 40'C (104'F) heat just seems weird to me...

Down below on the frost prone elevated plains, the locals tend to put their frost tender plants under their verandas and into cold frames and poly tunnels during weather like that.

I won't even mention the local gardening meeting when they were hit by a heavy frost during August and lost a lot of their plants. At one point - and on reflection it was probably a bad idea - but I mentioned that the coffee shrub here died due to the frost! They completely lacked any sympathy whatsoever. hehe!

Excellent, please let us know when your post is up with a link at the ADR. I set aside a bit of time of Monday's to write the post and have very little idea in advance about the topic, the photos provide the structure for the text.

Rabbits are very good meat. The dogs here have been telling me about them for a few days now, but have failed to do anything about them - yet. The rabbits particularly bad as they'll displace the wombats, but the dogs won't let them get a foot hold here.

PS: I really liked the cone (echinacia species) flowers in your garden - they've just imported them here with the Diggers Club, so I'll look into them next spring. Very nice.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Stacey,

Thanks for your real world experience as I'd never considered the external humidity problem before as well as flipping the fruit. Have you ever dried tomatoes in the unit? Did you add oil to the finished product? I was speaking with a guy today who grew up in Sardinia and he was extolling the virtues of semi-sun dried tomatoes with a bit of rosemary and oil. Sounds like good stuff.

Incidentally, the people Down Under have also highly recommend the Exaclibur units too. Sounds like they are well worth the outlay.

Glad to hear that you are getting more ruthless with your plantings as that is definitely a sign of an experienced gardener.

Yeah, the spacings can vary from year to year too. Hot years here will see plants with closer spacings do better as there is less evaporation, but cooler years the spacings can be wider as the chance of disease and unknown predation are worse.

I have no idea really and just see what works and then hope for the best whilst following many different planting strategies at the same time.

As your climate is cooler and you have access to lots of water it may be best to give the plants a bit of space. However, who knows what is possible if you collect seed from your veges over the course of a few years. They really seem to be getting hardier here, so who knows what is possible? I'm mean, they have European honey bees in Alaska and I would have thought that was too cold?

Retirement is not happening here either. They recently lifted the retirement age to 70. I'm not sure how many brick layers can keep laying 400 bricks a day into their 60's... It probably won't end well.

Sorry to hear that the same expectation is up your way too.

Great to hear about your figs and they may adapt to your climate really well. When they're young plants, they look to me as if they need a bit of extra water during summer, but they do bounce back. I took a photo today of one of the first year figs here as they're looking so good. Wait until you try the fruit in a jam! Not just good, but great!

The book that describes the process was by Penny Woodward and it is called Garlic. There is even a note of thanks to the local seed savers group here for partaking in the garlic growing trial. I still have about 35 varieties of the stuff here. I have actually been replanting the bulbills but there is more to it than that.

There is a link here to the fascinating subject: Growing garlic from true seed

The process sounds complex, but is well worth the time - although I haven't tried it here.

Hope the cool change up your way isn't too severe.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

No stress we're all good - I suffer from the same problem. hehe!

Yeah, what a delightful book. Her first book "Extra Virgin" was outstanding too. Nooo! Did I just slip in a recommendation? hehe!

Frank the knife was a fascinating character and he was the one that could finally do the job that no one else was up for.

The bit about Albania was quite eye-opening and she had no reason to dissemble either which made it all the more scary.

I've read the same things too. JMG would probably say that time is actually a circle (as distinct from a straight line) and things come back to where they started...

Did you notice the sheer flood of funds and farming equipment and cashed up Germans into the region once Italy joined the Euro? It was bizzare to read about.

1mm (1/25th of an inch) of rain so far since I started typing. Here's hoping for more!



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Well, it got down to 19 F last night. Clear and cold during the day. Around 40 F. If the forecast holds, by Tuesday the rain will be back and that 40F will be our overnight low. Noticed my taps were a bit slow this morning. So, I'll be letting them all drip, just a bit, tonight.

I'm sure Beau will be glad to get back to his nice quiet straw pile in his dog house. When I move him into the laundry room at night, I pop Nell into the bathroom so we don't have "problems." Well, last night she finally figured out that Beau is in the laundry room and began to torture him through the door. Lots of running about until I could finally get her into my lap and distract her long enough to forget that something interesting was going on in the laundry room. Peace reigned.

Much to my pleasant surprise, I discovered that our library system DOES have a couple of copies of "Extra Virgin." With luck, and if the wind is blowing the right direction, it will probably be waiting for me at my local branch on my next weekly trip to town.

I really didn't catch the part about Italy joining the EU and it's impacts. Maybe it's in the first book?

Kunstler is ... a little problematic. He posts to his blog every monday morning. I used to participate in the comments, but, it wasn't very well moderated. It seems to be better moderated, now, but generally I just read his post and the first mornings comments, and call it good.

In general, he covered a lot of the same themes as the Arch Druid. His book "The Long Emergency" is similar to Greer's "Long Descent." His "Too Much Magic" covers a lot of the same ground as Greer. That technology won't "Save" us and why.

His older books "Geography of Nowhere" and "Home from Nowhere" are, broadly, about urban planning (or the lack thereof) and the end of suburbia. Or, as he put it "The end of happy motoring." I don't know why, but I've always been interested in cities and urban areas. Don't know if that would interest you, or not.

He also has a fiction series "World Made by Hand." It's a 4 volume opus. 3 volumes have been published so far. About a year in the life of a small upstate NY town "after." Pure entertainment value.

Some of his podcasts are pretty interesting. There's even a couple with the Arch Druid. They seem to have a cordial relationship. Well, that's my sketchy take on Kunstler. Lew