Monday, 29 December 2014

The Hills have eyes



For the past few nights something new has turned up here at the farm. Scritchy – the boss dog – and I, go for a walk at night to keep an eye on the kangaroos, wallabies and wombats just to make sure that they’re not wreaking too much havoc in the orchard. The past few nights the torch that I carry on those walks has shown that we’re being watched by a set of eyes glinting in the torchlight. Those eyes when spotted quickly run for cover and then peek out at us from a nearby hiding spot.

The title of this week’s post is actually a nod to a 2006 zombie film. It is a known fact that zombies clamour for brains. I was hoping that the eyes in the forest weren’t a zombie clamouring for my brains as I believe that would be an unpleasant encounter with an uncertain ending. Maybe the eyes were actually after Scritchy’s brains as she is boss dog here after all? Who knows?

The kangaroos, wallabies and wombats were certainly aware of the new intruder, but they were mostly unconcerned by the new presence. I took this to be a good sign as it is good common sense to avoid zombies and wombats and their friends generally display good common sense.

After a couple of nights of the furtive behaviour from the eyes, the intruder displayed themselves for the creature that they actually belonged to. Fortunately for the readers of this blog it wasn’t a zombie as I’m uncertain as to whether I would survive such an outcome and few people would want to read a blog that went like: “brains, brains, brains … moan”. Honestly it would get quite boring after only a very short while.

The eyes became comfortable with the torchlight and eventually the new presence revealed itself to be two fox cubs. I’m not sure what to make of this new addition to the farm.

The Aboriginals believed that the Dreaming has two rules: obey the law, and leave the world as you found it – not for better or worse, for God judges that, but the same. The first rule enforces and exists for the second. Together they let place dominate time, and translate well understood ecological associations into social relations (taken from The Biggest Estate on Earth written by Bill Gamage). This is not an entirely helpful set of rules as to what to do about the fox cubs and it is worthwhile mentioning that dingoes which are the native dog (similar to a coyote) presumably arrived on this continent via a trade between the Indonesians and Aboriginals many millennia ago. The dingoes then out competed the Thylacine’s (Tasmanian tigers) on the mainland and resulted in that species extinction on the mainland. Certainly there are no wild dogs in this forest though.

At this point I’m going to take an observe and wait approach to the two fox cubs here. On a positive note, the rat, field mice and rabbit population here has taken a savage blow so perhaps there is a place for them at the farm?

Returning back to the zombie theme, I’ve recently installed a stainless steel mesh over the glass and timber door to the cantina shed. Alright, it wasn’t actually for zombies, but it was to reduce the likelihood of that door breaking during a bushfire. I also installed an aluminium door jamb on that particular door and very observant readers will notice that the underside of the cantina shed is now enclosed by dark grey corrugated steel sheeting.

Cantina shed with stainless steel mesh over the door and the underside enclosed by steel
It is also worthwhile mentioning that Scritchy the boss dog, has a secret talent (well it isn’t secret anymore!). She knows when it will rain here and is all too happy to let me know by hiding under the bed. Unfortunately, she fails to be quiet whilst hiding and will happily provide at least 24 hours’ notice of the impending rain – which is probably more than a few too many hours advance notice for my undisturbed sleep.

Sudden summer downpour over the farm this afternoon
The photo also provides an update on the tale of the two tomato beds with the planting being only two weeks apart. This year, I’m also trialling some steel reinforced mesh to ensure that the tomato plants don’t fall over but keep growing upright.

Speaking of tomatoes, there are a few good examples of the local species of the nightshade family growing here and I took the photo below of a Large Kangaroo apple (Solanum laciniatum) at the farm. There is even a small robin nesting in the foliage at the very centre of the photograph.

Large Kangaroo apple (Solanum laciniatum)
Unfortunately the edible fruit from the above shrub tastes like soap to me, so the species could possibly benefit from a bit of selected breeding. Back to the usual tomatoes though and I have a new story called the tale of three tomatoes. The photo below says it all:


Tomatoes growing strongly at Christmas time
Those aren’t tomatoes growing here! Over Christmas I spent a day with some good friends who live in a shed not too far from here. Now that may sound very unglamorous, but this shed is truly awesome. Seriously, they live in a greenhouse with living modules at each end and also the middle of the building. It is a really cool idea and all of the plants grow as if they are turbo charged. If you’d left me for a hundred years to dwell on the matter I never would have come up with that arrangement (it just works):

Shed living - it's good! The Long House
Not to say that the plant growth hasn’t been going strongly here too (just not quite as quickly). Unfortunately the flower garden has grown so much that it has taken over the paths and steps. Maybe it is triffids that I have to watch out for and not zombies? In the past, I’ve placed those plant cuttings in new garden beds as food for the worms. However, at this point in time I’m not making any new garden beds so have had to work out what to do with all of the plant cuttings.

The flower garden has now completely over grown the paths and steps
So last week, I picked up a 2hp second hand electric chipper chopper. What a great little tool. It rips up all of the plant cuttings so I can throw them back into the garden beds as a mulch. And at the same time I use up some of that electrical power with the off grid photovoltaic solar system which would otherwise be going to waste. Winning! The unit was purchased second hand for $55 and was sold because apparently it wasn’t very good. On bringing it back here, I found that the blades looked as though they hadn’t been sharpened since its’ manufacturing date way back in 1997. A quick sharpen and the machine was ready to go.

2hp Electric Chipper chopper
There was a bit of interest in the native yam on last week’s entry so I thought it might be nice to show just how many of the dandelion family live at the farm here through a photo. The plants are a great source of bee food:

Dandelions a good source of bee food
In other farm news, the strawberries have gone on strike and decided to produce runners instead of fruit. This is a real shame, but other berries have gone on to fill that gap and the black (and some remaining red) currants, gooseberries and jostaberries are all producing strongly this week. I’m going to have to learn how to propagate these plants which look as though they are from a similar family. If anyone has any time tested methods, please let me know?

black/red currants, gooseberries and jostaberries
How did I get here?

Way back in 1994 when grunge was still cool and Kurt Cobain hadn’t ended his own life so tragically, I went to a dinner at a cheap Chinese restaurant. It was at that dinner that I sat next to an attractive and engaging young lady. I’d known her for many years and in fact the first time that I’d met her, I didn’t even notice her because I was underneath my trusty old 4 speed Suzuki four wheel drive fixing the clutch lever which had broken again. I believe that at the time my feet gave a friendly wave.

As an interesting side note, it is worthwhile giving a bit of hard earned advice at this point in time. Never buy a soft top (convertible) vehicle. Honestly I’ve never owned a vehicle that was broken into more than that particular car. I once had a CD player in there, but not for long. I kept down grading car stereos until I’d gotten to point where thieves would break into the vehicle, they’d take a look at the rubbish radio and then go: I don’t think so. They used to let me know that they visited frequently by leaving the zippers on the roof undone. Well done, there is a lesson in there about possessions I’m sure.

Oh yeah, the Chinese dinner. Well at that particular dinner, this engaging young lady drew pictures of her Dachshund dog and other such fun things on my arm. I was intrigued.

A week or so later Valentine’s day arrived, and fortunately I worked not too far from her house so after work I rode around on my push bike (remember it was the recession here) and dropped off some red roses and a card.

A formal date was organised and due to circumstances beyond my control - but probably to be expected, the little Suzuki four wheel drive was in at the mechanics getting its gearbox repaired and I had to ask this young lady to pick me up. Now it should be pointed out that this situation is a total dating disaster, but fortunately the times were on my side and being the era of grunge such things were to be tolerated at best.

The date went well and two weeks later I moved into her home – with of course her Dachshund and Jack Russell terrier and all of the other assorted share house people. It was a full house.

Now it is worthwhile remembering that this was indeed the era of grunge and money was in short supply everywhere. The house, despite being only four kilometres (2.5 miles) from the very CBD centre, it had a bathroom that was in a separate building in the backyard. What made winters at that house really challenging and interesting was that the toilet was in the rear corner of the backyard in what is known here as an outhouse. There were slightly more spiders than residents in that outhouse too. I was a bit dubious as to the claims that the carpet had been vacuumed sometime in the past six months and the furniture certainly looked as though it had been obtained through hard rubbish collections. Still that’s how it rolled back then and it was home enough for me and I was very pleased to be there.

Too be continued…

The temperature outside here at about 9.00pm is 11.0 degrees Celsius (51.8’F). So far this year there has been 816.8mm (32.1 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week’s total of 810.0mm (31.9 inches). Today, I have been sunburned, then rained and hailed on only to end up being finally frozen whilst out in the orchard tonight whilst writing this

61 comments:

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

I have foxes here and an used to the scream of the vixen and the hoarse bark of the dog fox.

Years ago, when wandering on another owners neglected land, I spotted grass and sunshine indicating a clearing completely surrounded by blackthorn and bramble. I dragged myself underneath on my stomach. There, fast asleep in the sunshine, was a young fox. I slithered out backwards without disturbing it. It remains a beautiful memory.

@Lewis
I like the word 'prat' verb or noun; haven't heard it in a while. I guess that it comes from 'prate'.

Would that the tree just had to be declared dead. But no, even though dead I need permission to cut down or even lop.

Every few years earnest people, with the appropriate academic degrees,leave their desks and walk through the woods to see whether I am doing anything that I shouldn't!

I was recently told off because there are some holm oaks there. I discovered later that they have put a preservation order on holm oaks further up the shore. How I wish that I had known that at the time.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; The blog ate my homework, again. :-). Odd that. It was between my note to Inge and my PS. Oh, well, nothing much lost. We did not get snow. In fact, it didn't even get down below freezing, last night. But, we will have cold for the next 5 days. Not too bad. Just a little cold snap.

Pumpkin pie - Savory or sweet? Hmmm. Not so sweet. But it's sometimes served warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped creme. I read a book last year on the history of the pumpkin. Back in colonial times, it was considered animal food or what you ate if you were very poor or starving. Of course, the Victorians created the whole, mostly fictional, Pilgrim story of the first Thanksgiving. Also, about the same time pumpkins began to be carved for Halloween. It's quit an industry.

But, too you're post. I've thought, of late, that the whole zombie craze is just a vast conspiracy to get us all used to the idea of cannibalism when everything heads south. The fox cubs may have chicken brains in mind. It will be interesting to see how it all works out.

I really like the two trees in front of your cantina. Quit nice. And you're friends shed? Wow. What a great home.

Ohhhh! The story of Chris and the Editor's courtship! (Claire?). The archetypal "meet cute." It will look great on the screen :-). I haven't had a roomate since 1983, but "Lew, the Early Years" was a whirl of shared digs.

Am reading "British Food" by Spencer. There was an Anglo-Saxon doctor who wrote "Leech Book of Bald" in about 900 CE. In vernacular. "As an antidote to many diseases and afflictions some herbs became sacred like watercress, chervil, fennel and camomile and these are but a few." My fennel is already sending up little green fronds at the bottom. Camomile is on the list of things to plant this year. I'm covered. :-)

"Fatal Shore" is in transit to me and I should pick it up on wednesday. Have you poked into your or the Editor"s genealogy? I poke at mine, every once in awhile. On the Finn/Norwegian/Laplander side, we've only been in the US since the 1880s. The Russian/German side, 1913.

It's months too early, but every time I walk past the asparagus bed on my way to the chicken coop, I always check to see if there are sprouts. See if all last years hard work comes to anything. Not that I'll be doing any harvesting this year. Maybe a sprout or two.

heather said...

Hi Chris-
As long as your chickens are secured, maybe it will be neat to get to know your new foxy neighbors! Wonder if their mother is also nearby, out of sight? I also met our first fox through his eyes reflecting my headlamp one night, but they were shining down at me from way up in a tree! I couldn't imagine what could be up there, so went back to the house for my bigger lantern, whose light showed me his tail hanging down out of the oak leaves. I'm sure he or his kin had been around before, but since they are very shy, they're pretty rare to see here. That was last year and I haven't seen him again since. My dog may have encouraged him to move on.

Your cantina shed is looking lovely (are those olive trees in front?), but your friends' live-in longhouse shed- wow! I'll bet being in there when the rain is beating down is amazing.

I think you mentioned before that your cantina will be used for storing kitchen equipment (I'm jealous), but didn't you also say canned (bottled) goods? I'm wondering how it's not too hot in there… I saw the solar panels, which surely provide shade and keep it cooler than a metal roof in the full sun, but our barn has those and still seems too hot to store my precious pickles and sauce, &ct. in the full summer.

Your currants and gooseberries reminded me of my grandfather, who had lovely big orchard. I don't remember much about his vegetable garden, if there was one, but I certainly remember trying some not-quite-ripe currants- ooh! Sour! What will you do with your berry bounty, since you've got an overabundance of jam?

Rain/snow in the mountains tonight, which is better than nothing since it stores up some water for the summer, but nothing here… :( Frosty this morning, though. Much better than 100 degrees, I keep telling all the people who are complaining about the "cold" here!

--Heather in CA

Cathy McGuire said...

It's a treat to see all the hot weather plants on your 'stead, as I batten down for a week of nights in the teens F (needing to leave the faucets dripping, etc.) Those tomatoes look good - and your friends' "shed"is awe-inspiring!! I'm guessing it's a bit warm, but something like that up here in the temperate Pacific NW might be really fabulous! My place, unfortunately, was not built with solar power in mind, but there's a possibility later on to put something on an old garage that came with additional land I bought (August the ham-op wizard will be advising me)... there's so much to do just to keep things from falling apart that it's sometimes intimidating to think about a new big project. But we've had so much sun this year that solar power (even just solar power for backup or water heat) seems a bit more viable.

Keep your chooks away from those "cute" fox cubs!!

@orchardwallis: nope - prat comes from an old criminal slang for the round soft part you fall on (ie: prat fall); I hesitate to name it in a G rated blog. ;-)

And thanks to all who've checked out the unfolding novel over at www.cathymcguire.blogspot.com - I appreciate your comments, and I've been writing like crazy the last few days.

PS - verify code was "tomatiao are" - the tomatoes have spoken?

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

12ft from the house would be a bit too close for my tastes. Felling trees is a risky job. Given it is so close, here they would probably climb it and drop the tree limb by limb.

Sorry to hear about the squirrels. It is really hard to know when to interfere and when to leave well alone.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Nice to hear that you are onto the chamomile tea. I really do notice a mild sedative effect with that tea and the more you drink the stuff, the less you notice the initial taste.

Tell you what about that, I have the occassional dodgy batch of mead. But then it is only the first sip that makes you pull a face! The second not so much and by the third sip, you're left wondering what all the fuss was about!!!

Glad to hear that you like the word prat! It is most versatile.

Vegetation laws here read like: every tree is precious. Never mind the fact that the Aboriginals managed the forests for many millennia before the laws were imposed...

There is a great book about the subject called: The Greatest Estate on Earth by Bill Gamage - he's a historian who sifted through a huge majority of the early settlers and explorers records of the landscape to provide a reasonably consistent picture of land management back in the first days of European settlement. It is an eye opener for sure.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Heather,

No pumpkin pie at all. It looks as though I might have to remedy that lack. Are they meant to be sweet or savoury as I'm confused on that matter? It does sound like a very pureed recipe which can be an unusual texture.

Yeah the tomato slices were just weird. You know when you're looking at something and thinking to yourself, that ain't right, but social constraints forbid you from pointing it out? I was both fascinated and appalled by the tomato.

Wow, that is surprising about the mandarins. I would have thought that CA would have been perfect citrus conditions - I'm surprised the local sellers aren't buying trouble doing that? Did you know they sell oranges from CA over here - despite the fact that they grow oranges north of here. One year, there was such a surplus that they were feeding them to cattle. If I hadn't seen the photo, I wouldn't have believed it.

Top work! I just picked the first round lime of the season this morning. Yumm!

Exactly about winter work. Nice to hear about your garden and produce.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Yeah the vixen scream is something else isn't it? It certainly sends shivers up the spine. Thanks for sharing the great story too.

Earnest people need to be put to work assisting managing the forest before they offer one word of admonishment. It's a bit cheeky - well that's my opinion. They wouldn't be allowed onto the land here without permission - fortunately.

I realise you have a significant overlay on your title, but it is a bit rich to impose restrictions and not assistance. Still, you have to work with the system you have and not the one you want and I reckon with these things that it is only a moment in time. Although that doesn't really help with day to day issues though.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Who knows what happens with blogger. Like everything else, it is mostly reliable! hehe!

Now I'm really confused: 1 sweet and 1 savoury - mind you this is not a statistically valid sample (has to be at least 30). Seriously though, they all like sound tasty pies!

What is the Thanksgiving thing a completely fictional account? Wow, never heard of that before, but I see you have no reason to dissemble. Naughty Victorians...

Too funny about the zombies! Good point about the chicken brains - I've been wondering about that and keeping an eye on all the goings on around the chicken enclosure every day. Mind you, the neighbours chickens might be easier to get at and they're not that far away. I'm really taking a watch and wait approach. I do need to pick up two more chickens early next year as some are into their 4th year and they're slowing down on the egg production. I'm too much of a softie to retire them and they serve other purposes anyway.

Thanks about the olive trees in front of the cantina. I reckon they're about 10 years old now and produce an enormous amount of fruit. I'm going to try and pickup some more advanced olive trees once autumn kicks in - but we'll see. People dig them up as they don't like fruit trees for some weird reason. Or they're too big.

Yeah, my mates shed is the biz! The housing pods are heavily insulated and I think they are a - passive house - so use not much energy at all. The centre of the shed has a wood fired Esse stove and oven and we sat around that and talked rubbish. I reckon you would have enjoyed it.

Thanks. No not Claire - although I do like that name. My editor wishes to remain anonomyous! Were are those offers for the screen play? I do need a manager to negotiate that deal - what do you reckon it will be worth? ;-)!

You are covered for medicinal herbs as that is a decent collection. I think you'll find that chamomile takes very little effort to self seed and it is an attractive plant too - the chooks will destroy it though if they get near it!

Glad to hear that the Fatal Shore is on its way. It was a gripping read. Mate, they did it hard back then. It was brutal. Hope you enjoy the tale of Peter Alexander the convict from Maria Island too speaking of zombies - except he headed east.

The background is Austrian - Czech / English.

Not too long to go now. Actually it is amazing how fast the wheel of the year turns from one season to the next.

This Friday and Saturday look to be a hot one here with temperatures up around 38'C (100.4'F). Yikes. It is the cool change on Sunday morning that really worries me though.

I'm always banging on about the wacky weather here but this is a good summary for New Years Eve: Australian singlets versus Siberian reindeer coats - extremes of New Year

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Heather and Cathy,

Sorry but I've run out of time to reply and have had to bounce this evening and won't be able to reply to your comments until tomorrow.

Stay warm!

Chris

Damo said...

Hi Chris,

Nothing insightful to say, just that I am quite enjoying your blog (found you in an ADR post a few months back). I also like how you go about doing things on your property - everything looks very well built and organised.

As a dabbler in home brew mead myself - can I suggest not drinking it for at least 18 months? If you are already doing this and it still tastes a bit rubbish, drop me a line for a basic recipe I found on the internet a few years back. It is bullet proof and delivers the goods (but only if you leave it for 18 months!).

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Pumpkin pie = sweet to me,I have never heard of a savoury one.

Our foxes can leap a 7ft fence to get at chickens.

@Cathy Thanks for the info. on the derivation of 'prat'.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Prattle on = To talk or chatter idly. Babble. I had forgotten the once Cathy mentioned, Prat fall. A useful word you don't hear too often, anymore. I see "A**-hat", more and more.

Oh, well. One silver lining as far as the coming decline goes, there will be less and less of those people with "academic degrees" mucking about. Our county has already cut back in the building and inspection department.

The city of Centralia, which is close to here, has an interesting "tree" history. Of course, due to the logging industry, it's a very bad thing to express any love of trees in this part of the world. You're a "tree hugger". But knowing this, any time the city needs to take out a tree, they do it unannounced and very early in the morning.

The local library there sits in a little park. There's a flag plaza out front. There used to be four very nice old cherry trees out in front. One morning as I was on my way to the library, they were gone and the final bits were on their way into a chipper!

The story finally came out. Some A**-Hat, a retired Vet from California (sorry Heather) was driving by and noticed the flag was touching the trees. Sacrilege! He complained bitterly to the City and down they came. Sigh.

Yo, Chris; The first Pilgrim Thanksgiving is "Poorly Documented." Turkey isn't mentioned. Pumpkin pies aren't mentioned. As an author once said, "I have often been known to embroider the fine white linen of truth." :-). Being a new country, there's a lot of mythos floating around. Poking about the Net, pumpkin pie is described as both sweet and savory. No help there. Guess you'll have to make some and decide for yourself.

From the lost blog post ... The new "Planet of the Apes" series. Rather than starting with the time traveling astronauts and filling in the backstory with further movies, this series is linear. And, set in and around San Francisco. In trying to develop a drug for alzheimer's, the chimps being experimented upon develop a virus ... harmless to chimps but whips out most of humanity. The second film is about the remanent of humanity trying to get around the apes to restart a hydro plant.

23F here, last night. Supposed to go down to 16 tonight. Water out again, who knows for how long?Lew

heather said...

@Lew- I am horrified to hear your cherry tree story. No one thought to maybe get a smaller flag, or a taller pole, or something? I take no offense at the antagonist in your story being from California. There are any number of people fitting the description of your new vocabulary word hanging around this state... ;) In fact I'm not a native Californian myself. Now if you told me the vet was from Michigan, my very nice midwestern home state, then we'd have to have some words... Actually there are some head-shakers wherever you go, aren't there?

I staunchly defend my description of typical pumpkin pie as sweet. There's an awful lot of sugar in every recipe I've ever seen. I can't imagine a savory one as anything but awful! Well, maybe if there were some sautéed onions, or something, in there for some texture... Hmm, and some herbs, rosemary or thyme, maybe? A bit of red pepper? That I might be able to eat. Now you've got me thinking... I'll let you know if I try it. My daughter might not speak to me for a week if I did, though! She believes pumpkin pie exists mainly as an excuse to consume huge mounds of whipped cream.

--Heather in CA

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Heather,

Not to stress as the chickens are in a secured enclosure. Not secure against rats mind you, but the lower layer is 2 x layers of 1.4 gauge chicken wire (heavy duty stuff) with welded mesh then covering the top half of the enclosure. The chicken wire is buried into the ground and also galvanised steel so shouldn't rust for many years. I used to use bird netting over the top of the enclosure, but the rats chewed holes in it and then the local parrots started getting in to eat the chicken feed. It was truly astounding how much food the parrots could eat. They've already eaten most of the nashi pears here.

That is a good thought about the mother being out of sight. I haven't seen her, only the cubs so far, but hopefully there is a place for them here. There are certainly mice, rats and possums enough for the foxes. Hopefully they don't make a nuisance of themselves. Most of the animals here get to an equilibrium sooner or later.

I'd heard that foxes climb trees and fences, but that story about the oak tree is something else! On an interesting side note, I've noticed that the rats have moved up into a tree hollow near to the chicken enclosure which is no good for the bats and sugar gliders, so hopefully the foxes give them a hard time.

Incidentally do you have manchurian pears up your way? They are ultra drought and heat hardy here and provide the most beautiful shade. If you have oaks, they'll happily grow too.

I can't really let the dogs out at night as they'd scare away the wombats, kangaroos and wallabies whilst eating every frog and lizard they could find. The dogs certainly spend most of the day marking out their territory and running checks on the perimeter. Fortunately all of the birds are way to fast for them. In fact I reckon a lot of them play with the dogs teasing them and generally having fun. The birds muck around a lot here.

Thanks about the shed. I built the whole thing out of recycled scrap I had lying about the place (which I've almost run out of now).

Yeah, they tell me that about their shed too! Too funny. The plant growth in there is phenomenal as it is just so fast and months ahead of here. Their fruit trees grow at about 3 to 4 times the rate mine do here. It is such a clever idea and they even had pumpkin and zucchini vines climbing up the walls. There is also 100,000 gallons of water (about 3.6 x the water stored here) in tanks on site and with a huge roof catchment area (about 4 times that of here), the worst droughts won't even be noticeable.

If it feels too hot for your preserves it probably is. The light can be a factor in breaking down preserved goods too. I don't really know though as it all depends on how good the seals are in your bottles. I lost 12 bottles of apricots a few weeks back due to a failure to read the instructions...

Cherokee Organics said...

cont...

The cantina shed is not your ordinary shed... Just under the steel roof sheets, there is a fire blanket which seals the roof to the walls. It sort of like a big space blanket. Under that there is a thick layer of wool insulation - much thicker than required by the building standards. The walls are fibro cement over plywood with a timber frame. The walls are also insulated to normal building standards (not very exciting). The internal walls are plaster lined (dry wall I think you call it?). All of the windows have stainless steel mesh fly wire in various gauges so the glass doesn't get that hot. It is OK inside the cantina shed on hot days.

The funny thing is that it is impossible to see all of that detail as it just disappears. The house is the same too which sometimes is exasperating for me. After I've finished the "How did I get here" bit of the blog, I'll do a bit about how the house here was constructed by hand. It took about 18 months from start to finish. There are only a handful of houses built to the fire resistance specifications in the country as they no longer allow them to be built in the first place. It wasn't my choice to go to such extremes but it is an interesting story all the same.

Too funny. Yeah, they're really not good unripe - oh yeah they're bad. I'll bet you pulled some funny faces when you consumed those berries?

Most of the berries go into breakfast. I am a bit sick of the black currants now though and there are more to pick still. No more black currants...

Nice to hear about the rain and snow. Do you get run off from those mountains in the form of a creek or river at your place?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy,

It is my pleasure to give you a window into the warm to hot climate here during the depths of your winter.

It is interesting that you mention that because I'm trialling many flowering plants for their heat hardiness. My new favourites are the penstemons as they are just givers. Still, the geraniums / pelargoniums seem to be hybridising here and I'm getting all sorts of weird and wonderful flower combinations. Where I enjoy my evening coffee, there is a lemon scented geranium and when you accidentally brush across it, the plant produces an amazing fragrance.

It was quite warm and sunny here today and the insects are out in their millions. I've started building some new concrete steps due to a recent slip and fall accident in one of the garden beds...

Yeah, their shed is the biz! The amount of produce grown in there is amazing. I can't match it here without quadrupling the garden beds. It would work really well up your way too! At night the Esse wood stove was lit and we sat around the wood oven and talked rubbish and recounted silly stories whilst drinking organic wine. Lots of fun.

Am I assuming that your land dispute is now nearing - or has reached - a settlement?

August has always come across in his comments as having a level head and good technical skills so you are presumably in good hands with the solar! The stuff is pretty easy and PV panels are so cheap these days so go hard. The close shave with the bushfire last summer completely altered my plans here so ham radio is on the back burner for the moment. There are only so many hours in the day!

Hopefully, the chooks here will be OK. It may not go so well for the fox cubs if they develop a taste for chicken...

As to the captcha, perhaps it is a reference to forgettable film "Attack of the killer tomatoes"?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Thanks mate, I really appreciate hearing that!

Yeah, I'm learning by trial and error about how to go about doing stuff for the very long haul. Hopefully in the next week or so I'll get around to writing about old houses which taught me a thing or two in relation to that issue.

18 months I reckon would make the mead smooth as. As it stands I can only make about 10 months supply in advance without getting more empty screw top bottles. A mate of mine collects them for me. How the old timers did it is beyond my comprehension...

Many thanks for the advice and I'll aim towards that goal.

Out of interest, do you add sugar to your demijohns with the mead? One of my mates filters the sludge at the bottom of the mix and then adds sugar and it is a smooth clear mix.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Many thanks for the explanation. Pumpkins are usually eaten roasted or boiled here as a savoury vegetable so sweet pumpkin pie just seems a bit weird, but like zucchini and carrot cake it is probably really nice stuff. You just don't see it here.

I installed steel wire over the entire chicken enclosure about a year ago so hopefully they don't get in or under. I'm doing daily checks now to see if there are any signs of fox activity, but so far it seems OK. Interestingly, I reckon they come onto the farm for the water I leave out for all of the animals to drink at.

PS: I hope the wind has died down now up your way.

Cheers

Chris

Damo said...

Hi Chris,

No I don't add sugar, I am guessing your friend does that to sweeten it out a little bit? The recipe I follow calls for using simple bread yeast (i.e. cheap stuff from woolies) and in theory it will die a little early (say at ~12%) leaving some unfermented honey as a sweetener.

In practice, the exact strain of yeast from cheap stuff is somewhat in flux and I found my batch was pretty dry at 18 months - although still delicious (and much better than at 12 months when it was sweeter, but not as smooth).

Fascinating hobby and I plan to continue brewing a lot more mead in future now that I know how good it can be (I also hear rumours of a chocolate mead - the recipe calls for an absolute minimum of 2 years aging)!

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I reckon both you and I would be guilty of prattling. I suspect that you'd be an entertaining dinner guest that would happily sing for their supper. hehe! Hey, there's nothing wrong at all with being entertaining, I certainly aim for that goal. ;-)!

What is meant by a "prat fall"? I've heard of a "prat party" but that seems like a completely different beast - although maybe not...

You know, I'd really be annoyed if someone came up here to tell me how I should and shouldn't be running the place. It is a bit of cheek to do so and not offer any assistance with day to day management in the process. Actually my last interaction with the county (we call them council) department involved them telling me off about forest management, me telling them to go and naff off and them finishing with: "I can see why you live here as it's really beautiful". Honestly... I'm ranting, so lets take it down a notch! ;-)

I suspect they have funding problems here too as they fail to put away funds for the future contingent liabilities.

Oh yeah, I love trees, but they're not all the same or even in the same context. It is very sneaky of the county to process the trees that way at that time, but at the same time I fully understand their point of view. A lot of people are happy to purchase timber here logged from West Papuan rainforests and as long as they don't have to see the damage themselves...

Actually there is an un-managed pine plantation at the base of the mountain range here. It was always planted with the expectation of being harvested and the company that planted it - I believe but am not 100% sure - went under. This year someone has begun felling the trees to use as lumber. What was weird was that some people were upset by that and wanted the logging license to be revoked. You cannot please everyone all the time on such matters.

Yeah, that probably isn't good about the cherry trees. A bit of pruning might have done the job. What is a flag plaza anyway? You rarely see flags here except in some federal government buildings.

Out of interest, did people originally eat bush turkeys? They would have been an entirely different beast from the sort seen on tables nowadays?

Haha! A famous crim from here - turned respectable author, but recently passed - said: "never let the truth get in the way of a good story". They made a film about the guy too called "Chopper" and it was Eric Bana's break from comedy into serious acting.

Pumpkin pie has left me completely confused!

Thanks for the movie review. Sounds like good stuff. My advice is don't mess with things - whatever that means...

Sorry to hear about losing your water again. Did you get a chance to top up your supplies before that happened?

Mate, that is really cold. I hope Beau is staying warm - seriously he perhaps should try a bit harder at making friends with Nell as I'll bet she's warm?

I went out last night to watch a French film called: 2 days, 1 night. It was pretty good. It was about a lady who was made redundant from her job via a ballot where her co workers had to vote whether she stayed on as an employee or they received a 1,000 Euro bonus each. Nasty stuff, but in a declining or static community every advantage for one person comes as a disadvantage to someone else.

Actually what was also interesting for me was seeing on film the outer suburbs of Paris. Honestly I thought that it would have been more tres chic, but it didn't look that different from a post war development here.

Needless to say that with all good French films there was an ending but no one was happy with it!

Plus a trip to the big smoke is not without the decent burger and chips!

PS: I hope your water gets turned back on soon.

Cheers

Chris

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

Always love your posts, but particularly loved your neighbour's "shed" (sorry mate, yours is lovely too, of course! ;-)

But, does theirs not get overly hot in summer? Do they whitewash the roof or something? How to keep cool?

Cheers, Angus

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

The wind died down and then we had 48 hours of white frost. Very cold; all day sunshine failed to clear it. Now the weather is warming up again.

We also say 'stop pratting about'.

Roast pumpkin, yum yum. A New Zealand friend told me that one could roast it.

One can also make a parsnip cake but I have never tried it

@Lewis Lucky, lucky you if planning authorities are fading out a bit in your area. No such luck here, it is still getting worse and worse.

There is a distinction, here, between residential and holiday use only properties. Wow does that produce problems.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Yup. There's some zoning difference between residences and hunting/vacation cabins. But I don't hear much about that. Chris & I have talked a bit about this. The county I live in is very ... conservative and anti-governemnt. Back in the woods, you can pretty much do anything as long as you don't get on the wrong side of your neighbors and they complain. If children are involved, you may have problems. If you go to sell your place, you may have problems. So, building something without the blessings of the powers that be can be a bit of a gamble.

Yo, Chris; "Prat Fall" is, I think, an old music hall / vaudeville term, I think. You know. That physical humor usually involving two comedians winging at each other.

Americans have a real "cult of the flag." There are all kinds of rituals for folding them, displaying them, etc. You may remember pictures of flags over the 9/11 ruins. Seems like after every disaster, someone flies a flag over the ruins. Flags are flown over all government buildings. They are in great evidence on the 4th of July, Veteran's Day and there's even a separate "Flag Day." The flag plaza in front of the library is a nice bricked circle with benches. Great place to have lunch on a summer day. There is a quite nice sculpture "The Doughboy" that was put up after WWII, with the names of all the Lewis County dead. And, the flagpole. The author Sinclair Lewis said in the 1920s "Fascism will come to America, carrying a bible and wrapped in a flag."

Barbara Kingsolver, in her book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" has a whole chapter on turkeys. Most turkeys in the US are so overbred that they can't breed naturally, anymore. She got an old breed, but still had to go through quit a song and dance (literally) to produce turkeys. We still have wild turkeys. Had one in my pasture, last year.

The water came on in about 6 hours. Whew! I hadn't put up my usual amount of water after the last go-around. But, I am giving serious thought to water storage. Both these outages have come during hard freezes, so I have to give some thought to either heating, or insulation.

Oh, Beau's been in the laundry room the last two nights. I give him a dog biscuit before I tuck him in :-). And, I scoop Nell into the bathroom while I'm doing this. Don't want a late night riot in the kitchen. :-).

That French film reminded me of when I lost my job at the library. There was a vote on funding the libraries, that didn't pass. A 5 county vote and the deciding factor was the citizens of THIS county. Later I heard that a fireman had not voted for the library. I haven't voted "for" a fire department tax increase, since. Bitter? Well ...

Only got down to 23F last night. Oh, well. Come friday, the wet weather is coming back and the temperatures will go up again. Lew

artinnature said...

Hi Chris,

Replying to last weeks conversation re: planning my place (Fir Bottom)and my woodshed.

Yes the plans are constantly changing for various reasons. The woodshed will be in the back but lined up with my driveway, which is also lined up with a "truck-sized" gap between the house and the storage shed, there is no garage. This way big arborist trucks can back straight to it and dump loads of wood, or tree-mulch. This location will also allow winter overflow water from the shed roof to flow into the swale & pond.

I'll take some pics as things come together.

Happy New Year everyone! Enjoy all of your home brews!

Cheers from Cascadia - Klark

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Yeah, he does add sugar and filter the lees (I think that is what the stuff at the bottom of the demijohn is called) and it gets clearer, but sweeter as it ages. It tastes a bit like a sugar wine to me, but it is smooth stuff.

Yeah, I reckon the bread yeast won't convert all of the sugars in the honey into alcohol. As a rough guide someone once told me that honey is the equivalent of about 80% sugar so I use that as a guide to volumes of the stuff to use. Hey, you know I picked up a champagne yeast from the local home brew shop and that'll take it all the way to 18% given the 18 months to mature. At 10 months the stuff is about 14%, so the extra time for maturation is probably worth it on a few fronts. I just don't have enough demijohns and bottles yet.

Yeah, dry is a better taste than the sweet I reckon so you're on the right track anyway. That's what I'm finding too.

It is fascinating and I reckon we're sticking it to the man one demijohn at a time! hehe!

I've also started producing a lemon and also a ginger wine and they're very good too. The elmon has the lowest cost base of all though.

Keep up the good work!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

Thanks. hehe! Too funny.

Yeah, my shed is good, but their shed is the biz.

I haven't found that the shed gets too hot as the ceilings are 6.5m and the cladding of the shed is an Ampelite product (fire rated too to BAL-29) which lets the light in but not the direct sun.

There are huge sliding windows in the shed so you can let the breeze flow through, around and across the shed. It is hard to get your mind around how big that shed is. Plus the greenery creates a bit of a microclimate.

The house pods are built to passive house standard so they're neither hot nor cold.

Speaking of hot, I'm not looking forward to tomorrow's and Saturdays weather... I've gotta get outside tonight and dump a bit of water on some of the first and second year fruit trees.

How are the water tanks going? I'm at about 90% full which is good given this time of year.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Wow, that's a heavy frost. Out of interest, do you get frost under the drip line of the trees or is it slightly warmer there?

Frosts here are generally light, but they tend to fall in open areas - and mulch seems to be some sort of frost attractor. I can't explain that.

Hopefully, you'll get a bit of sun soon. It is great watching the seasons come and go and all of the changes.

Yeah, that sounds about right! hehe!

Roast pumpkin is awesome. That is usually how it is eaten here. Mostly, you only see the Japanese style pumpkins (we call them butternut) or the Queensland blues (for their thick blue / grey skin). They're both good eating.

Incidentally it is just slightly too cool to grow pumpkins here. The can down below off the mountain range, but it has been a constant struggle for years.

Unfortunately, parsnips grow really easily, but they just don't taste nice to me. I once had a parsnip mash that looked like mashed potatoes, but unfortunately tasted like parsnips...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Just out of interest, for backwoods building, is there a process to bring people in from the cold - so to speak - and back into the regulated system.

I'd imagine that a bit of activity goes on to avoid having your land taxes increase in line with building improvements on your land? Dunno, but it is interesting stuff.

Sometimes here, they'll issue instructions to demolish an "illegal" building but generally they leave it alone unless the neighbours complain.

I always think of the Three Stooges when I hear the term physical comedy. You don't get a lot of exposure to that here probably because earlier exposure to English humour which is sometimes just silly. Some of it is cringe worthy and I remember some notable examples as a kid which I totally hated - perhaps those examples were lost in translation.

Like: I enjoyed the Monty Python films Life of Brian and The search for the Holy Grail, but the Flying Circus skits were just lost on me. Instead I enjoyed the Goodies as they had more my kind of silly... I dunno.

Many thanks for the insight and history. Really appreciate that. Getting back to Elm and Oak trees, the dead were generally remembered around these parts with avenues of honour with a tree for each soldier that served. They're still maintained today and some of the avenues are most impressive. I often collect acorns from those trees.

Yeah, I remember you mentioned the bush turkey. Wow, that is scary. Bush turkeys here are generally lyre birds which can mimick most other birds and all sorts of other sounds in the area. I've read that they love scratching up gardens too - like chickens but much stronger. There are none of those birds around here as I reckon they were wiped out in the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires. The spotted quolls (native cat) disappeared then too.

Glad to hear that you have water again. Did the pipes freeze?

Lucky Beau. Yeah nighttime dustups between Beau and Nell would be a nuisance.

Speaking of dogs: Scruffy earned his keep last night because a couple of cars with New Years Eve drunks turned up to check out the view thinking no one was home...

Scruffy woke me up to tell me what was going on and I went out with a strong torch and they all scuttled off back in their cars to wherever they came from. They left some wild turkey bourbon bottles too. Well done, unfortunately for them I don't really do drop ins! I just hope they didn't hit any wombats or other wildlife on their drunken way home.

It is funny how people vote for self interest in such matters, that's what the film was essentially about after all. I would have voted for the library.

Cheers

Chris

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

Regarding water, I wish I was in your position! I lost a few thousand litres when I connected up my front tanks, and I estimate we have 6000 - 7000 L remaining... there's a lot of summer to go! I think we'll be back on town water before it's out, but I'm hopeful that next summer, with the whole roof now collecting, we'll have more success...

It'd be nice to add another 20 kL of storage, but I want the space! ;-)

Cheers, Angus

Cathy McGuire said...

Happy New year, all!
I spent this dawn unfreezing waterers for rabbits and chooks, and giving extra cracked corn to chooks to keep them warm (16F this a.m.) and as is my tradition, walking the Labryrinth that is my veggie garden (I used to walk a 12-circuit Labyrinth in a cathedral in Portland, but out in the boonies, I only have a 4 circuit) and setting intentions for new year. But at this moment, I intend to get more hot coffee! Brrr! :-} So many of the plants are shrivelled with cold, and I'm so glad this is forecast to be gone starting today!
Chris, you'll have to get some sun and have a lemonade for all of us freezing our nadgers off up here! ;-}

Cathy McGuire said...

Hi, Chris:
No, I wish the lawsuit was getting settled... there are so many in our system, apparently, that they are scheduled far out - mine might not actually get to trial before next August!! :-[ But there's another hearing at the end of January and I think a mediator is assigned, which hopefully means I can speak English instead of legalese, and maybe the court will see how nuts this lady is (seriously, I'm pretty sure there's some clinical symptoms)...

Anyway, I forgot to mention in the first post that I spent a nice New Year's eve dining at August and Debra's (early though - it's a steep switchback to the top of the ridge about 3 miles away, and I wanted to be home before the revelers were out) - it's really nice to have neighbors who are aware of the decline and the need to be as localized and self-suffient as possible - it's really frustrating to have to swallow most of my honest opinions about what the new year will bring.

I've been a Monty Python fan since high school - though I notice now that I'm middle aged, they're not quite as funny (so much of that was college humor). I also love listening to the Goon Show - the 50'sradio program that the Pythons grew up on. You can find it on YouTube, if you want to listen. Peter Sellers does about 6 different voices. Silly, and very radical at the time.


Nollaig shona agus bliain ur faoi mhaise!

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Well, it got down to 23F last night. A guy named Cliff Mass does a regional weather blog. He's all excited about records being smashed in the "sea level pressure" department. "Highest sea level pressures ever recorded at some NW weather stations. For some it is the highest sea level pressure on record for December." He's talking 1045.5 hPa (hectopascals). I guess another way of measuring it is "inches of mercury" ... which is 30.87.

Now, I have no idea what this means. He mentions "sinus pain and headache." But other than that, not what this actually MEANS as far as weather goes. Seems like there's all kinds of weirdness going on with our weather, but it's really subtle stuff ... like the high overnight lows for a great chunk of this year. Not something you really notice or that has a great deal of impact. But, still, weirdness...

No frozen pipes. I leave a bit of a drip going at night. I don't know if there's a way an uncoded dwelling can get back in the system. I suppose a list of "improvements" running to several pages and amounting to several thousands of dollars.

I started reading "Fatal Shore" last night. How foreign and alien Australia must have seemed to the first settlers. Another thing I noticed was the mention that when the ancient sea levels started to come back up, they advanced in some areas at a rate of 3 miles a year. Now that wold have been noticeable. No wonder so many cultures have flood stories.

The bits about the English legal system in the late 1700s was interesting. Especially since last year I watched a BBC series called "Garrow's Law" (2010). It's based on a real person, William Garrow who practiced law at the same time the transportations were going on. He lived 1760-1840. He was quit the reformer. Australia wasn't mentioned, but several of the cases verdicts were "transportation."

No wild New Years Eve revelers, here. But I could hear fireworks off in the distance. On the 4th of July, late in the evening, a car full of screaming idiots threw a large fire cracker of some sort in the road out front. It was very dry about that time and I stayed up awhile to make sure it didn't ignite anything.

Another thing I happened to remember about our flag. When I was a kid, in school, up until about the 8th grade, every school day began with "The Pledge of Allegiance to the flag." Which was displayed at the front of every school room. I don't know if they still do it, as I think there were some court cases objecting to the line "One Nation Under God." Of course, even our National Anthem glorifies the flag. I think that was written during the war of 1812.

My chooks are so funny, sometimes. I have to fill up a watering can at the kitchen sink to water my chickens in the morning. There's always this one curious little bird who watches my watering with great interest. Well, the other day I set the watering can down, went to let the chickens out and before I had turned around she had jumped up on the handle and dumped the whole thing. So, a trek back into the house to fill it up again. Now I have the sense to put it on top of the compost bin. The next day, she was her usual curious self and I bent over and gave her a pet. She didn't run off, but she was startled. LOL I just wanted to let her know that everything was ok between us.

Nell is almost as bad. When I brush my teeth, she really crowds me at the sink. She just can't figure out where the water goes.

Well, I'm tamping down my social anxiety disorder and going to a big annual New Years Day auction. Old glass, china and furniture. The usual tat. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Yes it is warmer under the trees; unless we get such a severe frost that the trees are completely white. Even when the sun comes out there is no warmth in it at this time of the year. Doesn't give us vit.D either.

@Lewis Oh yes, never quarrel with the neighbours. We have something called 'A certificate of lawfulness'; I had to get one for the last property that I sold and I have helped others who were having trouble proving their residential right.

This country seems to have a phobia when it comes to wooden homes. Wonder if it is a hangover from the great fire of London?

Chris and Lewis. We don't have land taxes here, only property taxes. I believe that Australia has land taxes; does the US? Does it vary in different states?

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Klark,

Yeah, the plans evolve as you spot opportunities and necessities. It would be good to see some pictures too as your place progresses. I hear you about the truck unloading area and am quite envious of your arborist chips. A really great addition to your garden beds. I find it takes about2 years here for that stuff to break down into a rich black sandy loam. I’ve even started experimenting planting directly into the mulch and some plants do OK in that.

I leave an area here covered in mulch for unloading materials off the back of the trailer during all weather. If some materials spill onto it, then I don't have to worry too much about the clean-up, it just makes it easier.

;-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

You're in good company because 2 years ago I lost 15kL (about 4,000 gallons) on one day through what can only be described as stupidity. It then didn't rain for months... It was a hard lesson to learn, that's why it's good to start learning when you've got a no brainer backup plan. ;-)!

Mate, you're doing it hot up your way today. It is 38.5'C (101.3'F) outside now in the shade but up your way I spotted that it just hit 42.5'C (108.5'F). I spent the past two hours dumping some water on the fruit trees and hopefully the appreciate it? They looked as though they were doing OK though. The funny thing was that after a while I started acclimatising to the heat and the wind kept me feeling cooler than I should have.

Glad to hear that the whole roof is now part of the collection system. When the new wood shed is built I'll add another 4,000L (about 1,100 gallons) tank. You can never have too much water storage? Space is at a premium here too because I've to excavate it out of the side of the mountain. It is all a compromise.

Stay cool over the next few days and here's hoping for some rain.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy,

Best wishes for the rabbits and the chickens during the cold snap up your way. 16'F is -9'C! That is one cold morning and well beyond my understanding and experience. The ground would have frozen solid and it would be crunchy and slippery under foot.

Last century (sorry I couldn't help myself! hehe!) I was in Nepal up in the Annapurna range at about 4,000m (13,100ft) and I awoke in a tent to find that the clothes had frozen solid over night. They were like flat ironed clothes frozen solid. The weird thing was that they dried due to the low humidity there. Just strange.

Sorry to hear about the plant deaths. You know a lot of annual plants spring back up at the same spot every year here. Lovage and fennel are two that just die off but keep coming back no matter what the winter throws at them.

There are about 8 weeks of crazy weather here, but after that will come another surge of plant growth and up your way it will be Spring!

PS: It's all iced coffees down here at the moment. Enjoy your hot coffee!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy,

Sorry to hear about the wait. The legal system grinds along at its own pace - which is invariably slow - possibly for them to avoid heated emotions. I personally avoid it like the plague, but sometimes it can drag you unwittingly into its tentacles. Actually I find the whole process to be a bit mysterious and stressful.

Glad to hear that you have a hearing lined up. Such things are designed for exactly that process. They want to avoid frivolous issues too. I hesitate to provide advice, but with the water tank disaster - I mentioned a long time ago on the blog - the supplier appeared to bend the truth somewhat and I was so shocked I made the mistake of not immediately contesting that point and it cost me and the apparent falsity was included as a fact in the weighing up. A strange and unrewarding experience...

What a lovely New Year’s Eve celebration! Yeah, I was in early too this year. A long time ago the prospect of a New Year’s Eve drink and snog (slang here for a kiss) was something to look forward too, but these days I prefer to enjoy the daylight instead and drink in moderation. Sounds a bit boring doesn't it? hehe!

Too funny. You know what, I got a letter from the bank today explaining something or other and my level of comprehension is not bad, but I actually failed to understand the point of the letter. It has since been directed into the kindling crate where all such items belong. Anyway, I was saying: "Romans go home - conjugate the verb..." hehe! I'm not even sure what conjugate the verb means...

Yeah, I used to listen to the Goon show too. Funny stuff, I remember one show distinctly where they set out to put out the fire on the sun. Funny people and big personalities.

Too funny. Best wishes to you too for the new year.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Mate, there is no way around it, that is just cold. Actually I've never seen air pressure that high here. That would indicate out of control hot and sunny weather here. About 990hPa and it means a big storm is approaching.

It just clocked about 40'C (104'F) outside here at about 5pm. Too hot to be outside in the sun for my tastes. In about another hour I'll nip out and build another step. Tell you what, the concrete is drying super fast today. Hopefully the sun is less intense by that time.

Yeah, the high over night lows up your way is really weird. It is sort of like a great moderating of your temperature extremes. It'll be interesting to note whether that pattern continues through the winter?

It is very clever how you all leave a slight drip going in the pipes and taps.

The water that comes out of the hoses here today has to be run for a minute or so because the 30m (about 100ft) length of hose acts like a giant solar hot water heater. It will actually scald you and the brass connectors are very hot to touch. I have to be careful today not to water the leaves of plants as the reflected sunlight from the water can burn the leaves.

Yeah, the process puts you back at square one here and you have to apply for a planning and then a building permit to come in from the cold. It is no cheap process and more layers of complexity get added every year.

Yeah, the journey would be like being dumped on a slightly more hospitable version of Mars. Agriculture was a real problem because the soils didn't respond - and still don't - to techniques learned in cooler, moister Europe. Imagine someone from Wales turning up to New South Wales in the early days...

Yeah, the change from Ice Age to the more temperate climate of modern times would have been a shock. You're absolutely right about that. The Australian continent is reasonably flat so parts may have been cooler, but as a paradox - drier. A third of the continent was and extensive rainforest, so there was little in the way of glacial action, but there was some volcanic action (says he sitting on the side of an extinct volcano!). The most recent eruption was only a few thousand years ago at most.

Transportation was pretty rough and I reckon the book dispells some of the myths. They were generally recidivists (with multiple convictions), although it will be interesting to see your take on the matter as you progress your reading. Did you know that it has only been in recent decades that the convict history was a mentionable topic - surely not for polite dinner parties! hehe!

Fireworks are a bit of problem here for that reason too. Very wise. When I was a kid you used to be able to buy them at the local corner shop (milk bar), but they were banned after one too many accidents.

Thanks for the history. It is fascinating the differences and similarities. When I was in primary school we all had to line up at attention like miniature military companies and sing God save the Queen. The stupid thing is I don't know more than a few lines of the national anthem which they introduced in the 1980's or was it the early 1990's. If I have to sing it, I sort of make incoherent noises which sound more or less similar to the melody. I still have a soft spot for the Punk Rock band - The Sex Pistols - version of God save the Queen though. Very irreverent.

Too funny! Chickens are pretty clever in their chicken like ways. When I'm out supervising them free range at night, I take out a laptop and I've got a photo of one of them who'd jumped up on the table and looks as though she's reading the ADR! hehe!

Cats are so curious, they're up to mischief all of the time.

Good luck at the auction, I hope you score some bargains! They have clearing auctions over here and people reckon that they're good value.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Many thanks for that info. It's interesting how the trees give off heat. How good are frosts when the whole area around you turns into a sort of sepia toned black and white movie? Of course, such things only go on for an hour or three down in the valley below here and it might get to be a bit of a nuisance after a few days.

Speaking of the certificate of lawfulness, I read of a case after the Black Saturday bushfires in February 2009 when two homes were destroyed on a property. Now the two homes had been standing for many decades, but were on a single land title. Now the owners received compensation from their insurers and wanted to rebuild, but council came back to them and said that they could only rebuild a single house, despite the history. One title = one house was the councils story. Anyway, there was such an uproar in the community - as the story made it into the media - that the state government over ruled the council and granted the planning permission for the two houses on the one title. It was a case of local bureaucracy gone mad.

Haha! Well about the phobia of wooden homes and the Great Fire of London, I have a story to tell - but we'll get there over the next few months. Yes, such things impact here too all these years later.

Yes, the local council levies a tax which is about AU$2,400pa here. If you do not pay, they will seek to recover the funds from your forced property sale after a good long while (just to make sure the hassle is worth it for them).

The state government also levies a land tax for any property that is not your primary dwelling. Whilst I was building this house it had no officially completed dwelling on it so I had to pay land tax - which was actually refunded back to the start of construction (but not prior to that time) once I got my official paperwork nod to be able to live here. That means every vacant block of land or commercial land, or rental property pays land tax and the more properties you have, the higher the percentage value of the property you pay. It can add up.

If you sell any real estate that is not your primary dwelling then you also pay a tax on the profits of that sale.

The only certainty in life: Death and taxes!

Actually, on a serious note, it is my opinion that the insane property prices here are a bit of a social evil.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Heather,

No rain for a fair while and then snow? What's going on in CA?

It's hotter than the back blocks of hell here - and that is cheap real estate!

Cheers

Chris

heather said...

Hi Chris-
I'm on the very edge of the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It's been sadly dry here, still, but when the air mass moves up the mountains (systems generally come in off the Pacific and move west-to-east), the moisture will often get "squeezed out" as snow at the tops. I don't have any creeks on my property- we are at the top of a ridge- but there is an irrigation ditch down by the road, and if you stand down there in the shade in the summer and close your eyes, at least the sound of running water helps a bit…! The irrigation system here is actually quite amazing- first built by the gold miners in the 1850s to funnel snow melt where it's wanted in the summer, including into huge reservoirs, and run all the way across the state, east to west and north to south… It just all seemed so completely unlikely when I first moved out here. What do you mean, you save the snow and use the meltwater hundreds of miles away in the summer, when it doesn't rain at all? Coming from Michigan, surrounded by the Great Lakes and rained on year-round, I had honestly never even thought about such water issues. Back home we used to think a "drought" was two weeks without rain in the summer, when you might have to haul out a sprinkler to keep your lawn green. Things sure are different here!

I've never heard of Manchurian pears, but Google informs me that they are quite a nice tree. Beautiful fall color, which I crave (that old Michigan to California transition again!). Some of the sources I read said they were susceptible to wind damage, which would be a problem on my particular site.

Lots more thoughts to share on the other comments, but a busy day beckons! Hope to get back here later-
--Heather in CA

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Property prices here are utterly insane as well.There is a shortage of property but it is almost impossible to get permission to build. So many people live in properties and caravans which are designated holiday use only. This gets the owners into trouble.

If you build without planning permission you can certainly be told to demolish the building; sometimes because you have slightly exceeded the permitted height etc.

One can apply for retrospective planning permission. Local councils seem to refuse just about everything but one can then go to appeal. This has a marginally better chance of succeeding.

I could prattle on this subject indefinitely!

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Cathy - Recently, our county has had to dip into reserves to cover their budget ... and they can't do that for too many years. What surprised me is that 75% of the budget goes to law enforcement and the courts. That was a surprise.

@Inge - Well, here it's all just called Property Taxes. The land and any buildings are assessed separately in the records, but the payment is one lump sum (which can be paid in two parts in any one year.) Yes, when you buy something, there are taxes to be paid. And, when you sell something. The Federal government also takes a cut when you sell ... on any gain from the cost of buying the the amount you get when you sell ... but there's a pretty high exemption, so that doesn't really impact the "little folks." And, you can subtract some of the costs you paid over the years. It's all very complicated and people resort to tax accountants and lawyers.

Of course, with the real estate slump, assessed value has nothing to do with what you can actually get for a piece of property. It used to be the reverse ... assessed value was lower than what you could get for a piece of property. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Well, it was a balmy 27F last night. But the clouds are rolling in and the temperature is going up. It's going to be (just) over freezing, tonight. Oh, yes. The ground is frozen solid. I know where to watch my step as far as slick goes. Actually, the frozen ground has made it quit nice when I deal with the chocks. Not the usual morass of goo :-). All that gravel I dumped around has pretty much disappeared into the muck.

Well, I stayed up way to late last night reading "Fatal Shore." Was reading about James Ruse, "the father of Australian agriculture." (pg 106) One of the few "real" farmers that were transported.

"Having no animal manure, he burned off the timber on his little acre and dug in the ashes, which were rich in potash. Lacking plough horse and plough, he hoed the the ground thoroughly - "not like the Government farms, just scratched
over, but properly done," he proudly told Watkin Tench - and turned the sod over, so that the grass and weeds composted into the soil, then, just before sowing he turned the earth again."

A lot of Hughs" statistics were really interesting. As far as can be known. Occupations, reasons for being transported, age and sex breakdowns. Most of the crime convicts were multiple offenders. A lot of "political" offenders were shipped to Australia without trial.

Yeah, our National Anthem can be a trip, depending on who's performing it. It's an almost impossible piece to sing. The high notes almost unreachable. I find if I start in the "basement", I can just hit them ... kind of. Helps to be a tenor :-)

The auction was ok. A long story, but I got what I went for ... buying back a family piece I had let go. Other things I wanted, I didn't get. Just didn't want to go that high and dithered, too long. I suppose a clearing auction is what we call an estate sale. If the consignee is still alive, it's sometimes called a "living estate sale" or a "downsizing sale." There are also "farm auctions", "livestock auctions", "land auctions", etc.. I didn't stay for the whole thing. I got what I went for and got out :-).

It's a lovely old German porcelain bowl. With spoon and fork serving pieces. The three feet are strawberries and strawberries, blossoms and leaves are on the outside in high relief. The handles of the serving pieces are also porcelain berries and blossoms. Silver metal rim.

Well, I better be moving along. Need to haul a 50 pound bag of feed down to the choke pen before it starts to rain. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Heather,

Thanks for the explanation of your part of the world. I hope those mountains scored some serious snow in the past few days. Yeah, being at the top of a ridge is a windy place to be - still shelter belts of trees are an easy - yet slow - way to moderate the wind. You could run a small scale wind turbine up there easy enough though.

The irrigation system would have been an amazing achievement. The photos of your area are stunning. I'll bet those granite mountains had some serious glaciers during the last ice age which would have ground the granite into very fertile and rich soil?

I'm about two thirds of the way up a saddle which then connects to the main ridge of the mountain range here which is much higher up again. I hear you about the wind as the main force of the wind here hits the main ridge from the south west in winter, so it is a bit more protected lower down.

Two weeks without rain being considered a drought is just funny. Five months was as long as I've seen it here without rain and it was dry and dead looking! The trees were doing OK but the big eucalyptus trees were dropping leaves. They think that over in New Zealand too and it is quite the shock for them when they travel over here. A kiwi mate once told me that the NZ landscape colours were green and blue whereas over here it is all browns and yellows.

The pears are a great tree - very drought hardy, but there isn't really much point growing trees that fall over. A lot of old cypress hedges are falling over around here as they're getting towards the end of their lives.

I've been working out in the sun today and yesterday so it is nice to be inside where it is cooler. They reckon a storm may be coming through here tonight so it would be nice to get some rain.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Sorry to hear that. Property here is just unaffordable and construction costs are out of control. I ended up having to build this house myself because I couldn't afford to pay a builder to do it.

Permission to build is getting harder to obtain here too and every man and their dog has a say in whether you can build or not.

I noticed in the UK television series Kevin McLeod's Man made home that he built a house on a truck trailer to get around the planning restrictions. He looked as though he was having a good time in the process!

What does holiday use only mean? There is no such designation here. Only a few decades ago here, there was no requirement to obtain planning permission to build a house as your title zoning type provided the permission. Years ago, I met a lovely old bloke who ran a heritage apple orchard down in Tasmania. I had a great day checking out the orchard and sampling the local cider and I started speaking about such planning matters and he told me that back in the day if you were allowed to build then you just did. Ahh, the halcyon days.

Some people can buy property around these parts with the zoning saying that the land can be used to build a house, but for all sorts of reasons which they can't find out about until they apply for permission to build they will be denied permission by the local water or fire authority. There is a bit of anger in the community about that as you don't know where you stand.

There was an illegal shed on the property here and as part of the permission to build a house I had to demolish a perfectly good shed. It was heart breaking work.

Sorry to hear about that. The appeal process here is complicated but run by the state government so is a bit more impartial. My understanding is that 90% of appeals are upheld in favour of the property owner, but I could be wrong in that.

I had to apply for special circumstances with the construction here because the rules lacked common sense - but will get to that story in a few months.

Hope you are enjoying your frost. At this stage of the year I sort of remember cold weather? It was 20'C overnight here...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

This is too funny, but in Melbourne last night the overnight low was 27'C (80.6'F) as distinct from your 27'F. Fortunately it was a bit cooler here at 20'C (68'F). Thankfully ;-)!

Actually the clouds make a difference here too in trapping heat. Winters here are quite cloudy so that keeps the temperature much warmer than it would otherwise be, plus summer cloudy days are just so much cooler. The hole in the ozone layer is no joke down here as the sun is so intense.

Haha! You know my little secret now. The area that I live has had geologically recent volcanic activity and as such has newer soils than much of the rest of the continent. Newer soils means that they contain higher trace amounts of all sorts of minerals. This in turn leads to increased soil fertility which makes agriculture that much easier than elsewhere.

James Ruse was a smart bloke, but he was actually observing the Aboriginal fire-stick gardening practices for recycling potassium (potash) in their environment. Even today, people get funny about those practices, but cool fires just work because they release potassium from older plant growth for new plant growth to enjoy. I never waste ashes from burn offs here, but spread them around and the results are startling. Unfortunately the entire continent is short on the stuff - yet few people know about it for now because we import so much mineral fertilisers. There is one big storm coming one day here on that front!

Unfortunately for Mr Ruse, didn't he lose his farm in a gambling stake?

Yeah, it is a fascinating insight into history and a good insight into what can possibly happen in a so called "civilised" society should it be deemed politically expedient to do so. Fortunately the political prisoners sent off to the gulag here were quite useful members of society. hehe! Did you know that even today some recidivists are still sent out from the UK to begin life anew - it is not often spoken about but it does still happen?

Nice to hear (sic) that you are a tenor. I was tone deaf until I picked up an instrument and started to learn how to play it which is a very hard process. Now I unfortunately can hear when things are a bit off key and it grates on my hearing... Some bands do this deliberately to get attention. I've always thought that the musical scales and notes are not quite mathematically correct in terms of their frequency - but who am I to criticise hundreds of years of music history? The whole thing is like another language really - once you stop expecting it to make sense, it becomes that much easier to understand.

Glad to hear that you got back your family piece that you'd let go. Regret is a waste of emotion, so I'm really glad to hear that it was settled. There must be a story in there? You're like Indiana Jones getting that piece back...

Hope you made it before the rain hit.

The cool change has just arrived here at about 7pm and it has started to drizzle - I took a break from replying and sat outside enjoying the cooler air until it got too wet. Hopefully I receive a huge amount of rain because I took a gamble and filled up the shed water tanks off the main house tanks. Who knows how it will go?

Cheers

Chris.

Bogatyr said...

Chris, I haven't posted here before; in fact, I've only just discovered the lively discussion in the comments here! It'll be a welcome addition to my RSS reader.

I see in the headlines today that there are big fires in the Victoria region: I hope you're not affected.

On a couple of points I noticed in the discussion... I'm trying to teach myself to play the balalaika, and I agree that learning an instrument solo is no easy task. The weather here in north-west Russia is currently rather mild but tomorrow will go down to minus 15 celsius and stay that way for at least a week or so.

Bogatyr said...

Further to my previous comment - there doesn't seem to be any way to subscribe to comments here via RSS. Blogger certainly allows it, as that's how I follow the discussion over on TAR, so I think it's something you need to enable. Any chance you could do that?

Cathy McGuire said...

I'm glad to hear it's drizzling there - are you anywhere near the latest bushfires?? (Sorry, my geography is bad) They sound awful, and remind me of Southern California, where residents refuse to move away despite being burned out many times. You seem to have the right attitude - get the place fire-resistant, but the photos I saw from the evacuation site looked like suburbs... not very fire proof... so tragic, to lose everything.

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

The designation of holiday use only is a minefield; awash with corruption, evasion and variability as to meaning. At one time I let out holiday chalets. I was only allowed to rent them out from 1st March to end of October and nobody could be in one for more than 6 weeks at a time.
Some places have 48 weeks holiday use in any given year.

If you own a holiday home you must be able to demonstrate that you have a residence as well; thus demonstrating that you don't live in the holiday home.

Kevin... would not have avoided problems by building on a truck. He would have had to keep moving the truck on. Probably only allowed 28 days in any one place.

The laws change the whole time and I am never up to date.

@Lewis. We don't have any tax to pay when we sell the property designated as our residence, only when we sell another property. Hence the trouble that our MPs got into when they did something called 'flipping' in order to avoid tax.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; No glaciers in Heather's part of the world. they didn't get that far south. They gouged out Puget Sound and stopped just a little north of where I am. Leaving some interesting geological features.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mima_mounds

Your geology sounds interesting. A couple of years ago I got a dvd from the library, "Australia: The First Four Billions Years." Now that I have an Australian Pen Pal :-) , I'll have to go back and take a look at it, again. I remember it had one of those over enthusiastic, hyperkinetic presenters, why make one tired. :-).

The house on wheels? Over here, "Tiny Houses" are becoming quit the craze. There are books, web sites, magazines, dvds ... A lot of them are on wheels.

Another late night with "Fatal Shore." I know I'm an old softy (sometimes) and have been taken advantage of. But, my. People sometimes treat each other so cruelly. Didn't know "transportation" was still an option. I don't know if they still do it, but there are a lot of stories about where judges give young criminals a choice of jail or joining the military.

I found it interesting that Luddites were considered "politicals" and shipped off. I better watch my step ... sometimes being an old neo-luddite. I had also not thought of transportation from other British colonies to Australia. I mean, England and Ireland, but I had not considered South Africa, Canadian Separatists and, maybe, even some from here. And that Australia was considered a possible haven for Royalists after our Revolution. I knew some of those folks moved to Canada. After our Civil War, many Southern Confederates moved to Central and South America.

We also had "bond servants" and "indentured servants" in colonial times. But there were some subtle differences that Hughes mentions.

Well, the piece I bought back .. at the time I sold it I needed the cash and thought it would bring a lot higher price. Also, at that time I had nowhere to display it. Now, I do. The "antique", collectible and tat market has quit bottomed out, here. For a lot of reasons. Unless it's something I want :-). But I only paid $35 to get it back.

Oh, I was quit the little song bird in high school. Lettered in choir, went to "all city." Was in the "Swing Choir." Did some barber shop. The voice is quit gone, now. The booze .. the pills ... the cigarettes. :-). I'm not what I consider a musical person. I don't have music on, all the time. But, occasionally, something will catch my ear. My current mania is "Come on, Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners. An 80s Celt-o, folk thing. The music vid is a hoot. Available on YouTube :-).

May your water tanks be full :-). Lew

Cathy McGuire said...

@ Lewis: I think rural areas are pretty supportive of police/fire, so I'm not surprised if they get a good chunk of budget. My conservative neighbors think government's top job is to protect their private property! ;-) I'm just really glad I plan to live out my life here - the value of the place has dropped and I can't really see it going up much... but that's fine by me, because no developers will be sniffing around.

I just wanted to mention to all that I've posted the third chapter of Lifeline on my blog: www.cathymcguire.blogspot.com Hope you can take a look.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Bogatyr,

Many thanks for the suggestion about the RSS reader and I'll look into it over the next few days.

Yeah, there are some very fast moving grass fires a few hours drive to the north and west of here. Photos of bushfires in SA and VIC

Last night the air itself here smelled of burning forest. The risk is always at the back of my mind in those weather conditions.

The balalaika is a beautiful looking instrument. I salute your efforts in learning how to play it. Music is a tough mistress!

I've never even seen -15'C! Wow, that is so cold. A Canadian friend told me once that once it was so cold where they came from that the moisture in their breath froze and it ached to breathe. That hurts, still 42'C is no laughing matter either.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy,

I was grateful for the cool change and really appreciate your concern. The change came through with a bang and some of the wind gusts were well up around 60mph.

The fires are a few hours drive to the north and west of here, but last night I could smell them, so on top of the hot night, the whole mountain range (and my house) smelled of smoke from burning grasslands. As a fun fact, the smoke from the Black Saturday fires in Feb 09 were clearly visible in New Zealand...

It is unfortunate, but houses built in areas close to bushland, but not in it, fail to be constructed with their environment and risk in mind. In 2003, a bushfire ripped through the capital city of the country! 70% of the land around the capital city containing pastures, nature parks and pine plantations were destroyed along with 500 houses: 2003 Canberra bushfires. Urban areas are very much at risk here too.

Imagine if that happened in Washington DC!

The rebuilding won't go on indefinitely in SoCal as eventually reality will set in. The funny thing is that risk from flood damage is many times higher Down Under. The floods in Queensland a few years back took out 40,000 houses or some such crazy number and many of them were flooded multiple times in that year.

Needless to say that house insurance premiums are quite expensive here!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

That is what is known as placing complexities on an already complex system. What a nightmare of different rules! I always reckon that once a rule can be interpreted or bent, it becomes open to corruption.

48 weeks + a 4 week trip to Spain sounds like a year to me? I'm unsure what that says about my imagination though...

I can imagine many ways to game that particular set of systems. I'd imagine that it all boils down to this: Has someone made a complaint against you? Otherwise you would fly under the radar.

Down here because of the crazy property prices, very few people make any money on holiday accommodation. I have spoken to a few people with such businesses over the years and rarely are they making heaps of cash. I rarely travel much anymore myself because it costs so much everywhere you go. Property prices are definitely at the core of some of the evils in our society - but that is just my opinion.

Good to hear that Kevin had his share of problems. A few years back he started building developments for social housing and it was a true pleasure to see him getting a dose of his own medicine! Even he admitted that was the case. In his most recent series he has clearly displayed a higher level of empathy and quirkiness.

You can actually install a mobile dwelling here on property and it is not a drama.

I try to keep up to date as much as possible. Years ago a landowner used to be able to build a 50 square metre shed on a property. Then it was changed to 20 square metres as long as you had an existing dwelling, then it has recently been changed to 10 square metres which is just ridiculous on an agricultural piece of land. It smells of fee chasing to me.

I'm really glad that it has cooled down here and I'm enjoying feeling cold watching the antics of the chickens and typing this reply.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Ahh, what a mess up tonight has been. I got so used to working in the hot weather, that because today was so cold, I didn't actually notice that it was 7pm by the time I'd finished outside. Then I got inside only to find that the 10kg (22 pounds) of apricots still had to be cut up for preserving in bottle (canning). It is now well past 10pm and whilst the chickens have been exercised, my dinner is still far into the future. Musn't grumble though.

I probably cooked my brain a bit over the past few days of extreme heat...

Thanks for the link to the Mima mounds. Has anyone ever suggested that they were created by humans? I know it sounds slightly left of center, but over a long enough period of time people have been known to achieve all sorts of unlikely things. From my perspective, the mounds may have served to provide well drained fertile soil for plant growth in otherwise boggy areas... Dunno really.

The Aboriginals here built all sorts of weird and wonderful natural systems, we just don't have an eye for them. The early settlers cleared a lot of the creeks and rivers of detritus because it reduced flooding. Makes sense to us huh? But reducing flooding, is a disaster for the land as it reduces the ground water in that area thus affecting every single plant over the course of its lifespan. They're still doing that today too. Oh well.

Yeah, they make me tired too. It's like they've got ADHD or something. hehe! Or maybe they're worried that if they speak slowly and enunciate words then people may be bored by them. Yeah, the geology here is interesting and I took good note of it during my travels. Over in Southern Western Australia, they reckon that some of the rocks date back almost 3 billion years and are the oldest on the planet. Needless to say that area looked pretty sad and worn out.

You've got me started! The MacDonnell Ranges Northern Territory used to be 10,000m (32,800ft) above sea level (but are now much lower at a peak of 1,531m / 5,023ft).

Yeah, I like having a pen pal up your part of the world too. It is great to swap stories. I really enjoy that.

Yeah, the mobile houses are very clever in that they bypass the planning regulations here - probably they'll catch up eventually. They're called tiny houses over here too and as you say there is a bit of a movement driven mostly by the insane property market here. It really is crazy and they're chucking everything they can at it to sustain it. Still what is unsustainable usually can't be sustained!

Cherokee Organics said...

cont...

Yeah transportation apparently does happen for high profile cases in the UK - it just isn't spoken about much. There is a bit of speculation that this happened with the case one of the murderers of James Bulger.

A nasty business. The Fatal Shore exposed a brutal side to the colonisation of this country, but oh my, was the book hated for doing so. Possibly what really irked people about the book was that it gave a human voice to the extraordinary suffering that went on at the time? Dunno.

Yeah, it is possibly a wise move to consider the political climate prior to expounding on strong viewpoints that may end you up in a gulag in short order. Generally in such situations where viewpoints are expected to be shared, I act dumb and think of parsnips and pretty soon the attention goes elsewhere. hehe! Well, it is sort of hard to get excited by parsnips...

The higher class of crim was treated quite well back in the days of transportation as Australia was really the road to nowhere and the colonial powers that be really needed the assistance. Governor Macquarie was a good one for that. I'm not sure the book covered Governor Bligh's (of the Bounty fame) but I'd have to suggest that he guy lacked a certain level of flexibility which landed him in hot water. Interesting stuff.

The convicts were as good as indentured slaves as the local aristocracy made use of them as they saw fit. That's what went on back in the day as injustice was rife.

Glad to hear that you got back your antique piece. Well done. Did it involve much detective work or how did you know where it went?

Haha! I remember when Eileen was released as a single. Very cool. I believe they toured down under recently...

Hmmm, I'm getting a Joe Cocker (who has unfortunately just recently passed away) kind of vibe to your voice when you mention booze and ciggies. All gravel and stuff. Or is it now more Tom Waites? ;-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cathy McGuire said...

Hi, Chris -
Glad to hear the current fires aren't nearby. When I lived in So. California, I remember the smoke and ashes that would rain down from nearby fires - it felt like Pompeii or something! Everyone who grew up there was complacent, but I (going to college there) couldn't concentrate with ashes falling on me!

You put in some brutal days!! Amazing that you have the energy to get it all done, but that's why your place looks so good. During the height of the growing season around here I feel like I could work 24/7 and not be done... but I don't. :-}

Up here, the weather has finally turned "normal" (warmer and wet) and I'm quite glad not to be hauling hot water out to the chickens and rabbits to defrost their waterers! (I know there's such things as lamps and heaters, but that involves electricity and I already run too many extension cords around here. ;-))

BTW, as long as folks are slipping in book reviews, has anyone read the Ben Aaronovitch "Rivers of London" series? It's a crime show meets wizardry theme, but he does a much better job than that sentence suggests - I love his brash style. First book is called "Rivers of London" in UK, but "Midnight Riot" in US (that tells you all you need to know about the US publishing system!) I'm getting the latest book in the mail this week, and I hope it holds up. Nice to read a book for pure enjoyment.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Wow. Those brush fire photos are something. They do remind me of the California fires. What I notice is, the photos (as photos) are really high quality and better than anything we have here.

There's one theory about the Mima Mounds that they were created by the Native Americans passing through and dropping a rock in some obscure religious rite. Don't think so. I think it was glaciers scooping up gravel into pockets and when they melted ... Our Native Americans here didn't really "do" agriculture. The land was so rich it wasn't necessary. Unlike the tribes on the East Coast.

The art work of the Cascadian tribes is really something. There's quit a nice collection at the Portland Art Museum. Speculation is they had such a high art tradition because 1.) the land was so rich and they had more leisure and 2.) our long rainy winters with everyone cooped up inside. Like me, today :-).

So far, Bligh has been mentioned a couple of times, but not in as great a detail as some of the other Governors. There was some mention that after being tossed off the Bounty, there was an insurrection in Australia and he had to flee. Wonder if he ever felt unwanted and unloved :-).

Seems like anytime anyone writes a book about someplace, someone gets their nose in a snit. Years ago, one of my cousins wrote and wanted to know a bit about the family history. Well, I wrote her back some of the weird and a bit off color stories about our grandparents and great grandparents. Never heard from her again! :-).

Well, the auction I use had bought the piece in (as the price was so low) and put it in their shop. Where it sat for a couple of years. Every time I saw it, I felt a little bad. They lost the lease on their patch a couple of months ago. So, they had to clear out the shop. I keep an eye on their on-line auctions (which are also on-site auctions). There were quit a few things I recognized from the shop in their big blow-out annual New Year's Day auction at our fair grounds. So, it was less detective work than just doing what I do :-).

I first ran across "Come on Eileen" on some Simon Pegg (one of my favorites) tv series. "Spaces?" Looking at the Wikipedia entry for Maxy's Midnight Ramblers, over the years the band has had a "cast of thousands" rotating through.

My voice? Got me. All I know is that if I sing a snatch of song, people turn away :-).

Stay safe. Lew