Monday, 12 January 2015

Courting trouble


Last week was just hot. After a few days of intense heat, even the bees were constantly going in and out of their hives just to get some fresh air - even though that was hot air. With the coming of the heat, the forest smells beautiful and anyone who has experienced the rich oil smell of a Eucalyptus forest will know what I mean. Every couple of steps there is a completely different scent. Near the bee hives on those hot days you can smell the rich and sweet earthy smell of honey combined with beeswax. A friend recently introduced me to unfiltered honey and that is the closest smell to that of a raw beehive.

The new bee colonies are in a good paddock now as they get the morning sun and the afternoon shade. This was a crucial learning experience for me because last summer after 3 days in a row in excess of 40’C (104’F) in the shade, the wax on the bee frames in those older colonies melted and the bees just departed to cooler parts of the forest. They haven’t gone far, because the worker bees from the now feral colonies still come to visit and I’m genuinely happy to have a few feral European bee colonies located in the nearby forest.

Bees coming and going from their hives to get a taste of fresh air
Maintaining bee colonies is quite a humbling activity, because I realise that the more time that I spend with them, the less I actually know about them. Should you ever decide to keep a colony or two of bees, then prepare yourself to be inundated by well meaning, but otherwise annoying people providing all sorts of conflicting advice on beekeeping. The only advice I would ever provide people about maintaining bee colonies is to read as widely as possible about the subject, but otherwise listen to what the bees have to say about the world that you’ve dropped them into. That sounds a bit hippy-dippy, but the bees will let you know if something is wrong and generally (trust me on this) if they’re unhappy they’ll sting you.

As the farm has a diversity of flowers which bloom at different times of the year, I’m always observing the bees to see which flowers they like. This week, the bees have been harvesting pollen from the carrot and fennel flowers. What is really interesting is that they (and many of the small birds here) have been gathering nectar from the many geranium (pelargonium) species in flower. The good thing about this is that those species pretty much flower here for most of the year.

Bee on fennel flower
If you fail to observe the pollinating insects on a farm, you are definitely courting trouble. Speaking of which, last week in South Australia due to the intense heat and winds, just outside their capital capital city there were some pretty serious bushfires: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-01-05/quotes-and-pictures-from-adelaide-hills-bushfires/5999308 . Spare a thought for the regular commenter  Angus who lives not too far from there. Even though I’m at least a very long day’s drive from that part of the country, the smoke was clearly visible here and at night it turned the setting sun bright red.

The sky here turned red at night due to the smoke from the bushfires in Adelaide, South Australia
On a more upbeat note, the harvest of fruit is still underway and the thornless blackberries are only a week or two away from being fully ripe. I’ve also picked a good crop of apricots from those fruit trees – which it should be noted are only in their second summer in that particular location.

The thornless blackberries are ripening and are only about a week away from harvest

The second year apricot trees have produced a bumper crop this year
Even though it is getting hotter and drier on the farm as summer progresses, some of the native grasses are producing the most amazing displays of flowers. They’re an interesting grass because they stay green even over the hottest and driest summers and the flowers put on a good show.

Native grass in flower underneath a Crimson Glo Plum
The recently purchased electric chipper was put into action this week. I converted the following cuttings of plants into mulch chips:

Pile of cuttings waiting to be chipped by the electric chipper
The surprising thing was just how small a collection of mulch chips all of those cuttings ended up making:

The mulch chips waiting to be distributed
It was a surprising experience because when I transport in 1 cubic metre (35.3 cubic feet) of woody mulch or compost, that usually provides at least 30 of those same crates. I was starting to get an idea about just how much material I’ve brought onto this farm over the years.

Speaking of which, I’ve had to closely watch the weather forecast because a massive tropical monsoon was working its way down south to the farm here. In preparation for that tropical rain event, I’ve brought in about 6 cubic metres (211.8 cubic feet) of woody mulch and compost and spread it around on the garden beds. All of that organic matter absorbs water like a sponge but also later provides a blanket over the top soil so that the heat is reduced. As the stuff breaks down too, it provides excellent feed for the trees, flowers and herbs. In the photo below you can also see the storm clouds gathering above the house over a newly mulched area.

Storm clouds gather over the house from the tropical monsoon
And then the storm moved in and the rain fell in a drizzle for two days. I captured a photo of this spiders web which was abandoned by its maker:

Spiders web abandoned by its maker as the tropical monsoon moved over the farm
For two days, visibility was down to about 15m (about 50ft) in any direction and the solar photovoltaic panels produced barely half an hours production in an entire day.

As the tropical monsoon moved in visibility closed in to 15m (50ft)
The house has deep verandas and it is always interesting during wet weather to see what has crawled under them seeking protection from the storms. You can always count on finding worms, frogs and spiders, but this time the Bogong moths were also hiding there.

Bogong moth hides from the rain under the shelter of the veranda
I rarely plant new plants at this time of year because the survival rate is so low, however because of the heavy summer rain, I went with my gut feel and headed out and purchased some new and interesting flowering plants and herbs. Usually autumn is the best time to plant here.

New flowering and herb plants waiting to go in the ground
All of the plants are responding well to the increased level of soil moisture and humidity and one of the most beautiful is the globe artichoke. Those plants are not only virtually indestructible and easy to propagate, but they are very tasty and produce the most amazing flowers:

Globe artichoke in full flower

I'm not really courting trouble - at least that I'm aware of, but speaking of the courtyard I've constructed a few more steps on the staircase leading up from the courtyard. Eventually I'm hoping to establish a potato and another strawberry enclosure near the top of the staircase. The stairs are a great project to do during the sort of turbulent weather that the farm is currently experiencing. When weather conditions are less than optimal, you can build a step and then retreat into the house. I’m amazed that I’m now up to the thirteenth step and there are still a few more to go before completion.

The steps from the courtyard are getting higher with each week
How did I get here?

So I kept on moving houses and either repairing them or building them completely from scratch. A lot of people are troubled by moving houses, but in my life to date I've lived in 19 different houses, so it is no trouble to me to change address. That actually sounds like quite a lot of moves, but many of those were before I was an adult.

Having lived in so many different houses over the years, I've seen pretty much every type and era of housing that is to be had in this state. Having worked on many of them either repairing or rebuilding, I've developed a sort of feel for how that style of house is going to perform in different weather conditions.

One of my favourite houses was an old double brick terrace house that dated back to 1890. When we moved into that house there were floors in only two of the rooms. The electricity was interesting because there was only a single power point in the entire house and absolutely no lights at all. The bathroom and toilet were in the backyard and the steel water pipes were so clogged by a build up of calcium inside the pipes that they produced a strange and unusual cloudy water. We eventually took the entire house back to a brick shell and rebuilt it whilst at the same time correcting the rather unusual problems that were part of its sad state. Still, it was only hard work and wasn't that different from camping (initially anyway).

It was worth mentioning that all the work on the houses was done whilst we were both employed full time and also often studying part time at various points during those two decades. The only reason that it was at all possible to juggle all of those different activities and maintain a social life was because my wife taught me how to study effectively. The funny thing about University is that a person simply starts the process and there is no guide to how to go about getting through that process. Such a guide would probably be beneficial to students. I was always a good student, but my methods were very ineffective and very time consuming. My wife simply taught me the most expedient method of getting through that process, whilst also obtaining excellent results. I owe her a debt of thanks for that lesson.

The good thing about knowing how to learn quickly and effectively is that you can apply that technique to different aspects of your life and so I did with houses.

I even rebuilt the front iron fence and you can see I liked geraniums back then too!
To be continued...
The temperature outside here at about 9.00pm is 25.3 degrees Celsius (77.5’F). So far this year there has been 37.2mm (1.5 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 7.2mm (0.27 inches). Apparently the tropical monsoon will swing back south and hit the farm with a 90% chance of between 20mm to 40mm (0.7 inch to 1.4 inches) tomorrow morning - but you wouldn't know it by sitting in the orchard writing this on a warm summers evening.

40 comments:

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Our apricots (at least the one's I see in the stores) are oranger. Just a different variety, I guess. Some of the grasses here are quit pretty. The "weeds". LOL Don't give me the lecture about "weeds" again. I took it to heart. :-).

Your Globe Artichokes are really beauties. I think the Cardoons I want to plant this year will look similar. They are related, I think. Much to my surprise, our local newspaper had an almost full page article on Cardoons, last week. Not a line on how it can be used to replace rennet in cheese making. Which is my ultimate goal for the Cardoons.

I couldn't count the number of places I've lived. Like my employment history, there have been some long stretches in some of them, and very short stretches in others.

Oh, that's a real sweet little house. As they say here, it has real "curb appeal." Bet it hurt to move on from some of them.

I got a film from the library I watched last night. Australian. "Rover." The opening frame said "Australia, ten years after the collapse." I'd say, time wise, it's set halfway between now and "Mad Max." Pretty violent and not much dialogue. But if you listened very carefully, it brought up a lot of issues we kick around over at ADR. I'm glad I had the DVD with subtitles. :-). Young actors tend to be so mush-mouthed, these days.

Saw you're riff on terrorists over at ADR. I presume you were mostly referring to arsonists. Arson, property damage, we have the same problems, here. Usually it's some bunch of youngsters and their only excuse is "they were bored." I have no patience for that kind of thinking. I've very seldom been bored in my entire life and think such thinking is "a failure of imagination." (c. Lew). Maybe distracting the young (some of them) with electronics isn't such a bad idea.

Then there's another wide streak that I find very disturbing. The impulse to destroy or spoil anything that's "nice" or pretty or gives joy to other people. When I was a shopkeeper, downtown, I experienced a lot of this. The City put a nice tub of potted flowers in front of my place. I finally had to ask them to remove it, as it was tipped over so often. I put out a nice, large potted Bay. But I put it on a wheeled platform so I could wheel it in at night.

When I opened, I had a nice bit of signage painted on the window. Expensive. It lasted three weeks. Turned out it was some young drunk trying to impress his girlfriend. For gosh sakes, throw a dead deer on her porch like the old days! He was caught, hand slapped and no restitution. But I took comfort in the fact that such things go on his record and as they mount up, the jail time gets longer and longer.

Don't know what's up with my chooks. Egg production has taken a steep decline. Three weeks ago, 4.08 dozen. Last week, 2.83 doz. From 49 eggs a week to 34 eggs a week. Dunno. Lights the same, feeds the same, they look and act healthy, no one's molting. Weather hasn't been bad. Got me. Lew

Cathy McGuire said...

Wow, Chris - The photos of your place are gorgeous! How big were your apricots when you planted them? I got free scions on $5 rootstock 2 years ago from a scion swap, and I confess I've mostly ignored them but some are 1.5ft high and others have made it up to 5ft! None blooming or fruiting yet. I'll be going to that scion swap again this year (I just can't resist a giveaway! Hold me back....LOL)As I mentioned, this time I plan to cage the roots because the moles tunnel through even if they don't nibble roots. Recently I've been burying my crab shells and claws in the mole holes, hoping they'll get the hint.

That little place you rebuilt is lovely! I am in awe of anyone who can manage that kind of building. I have at least two friends who are that good, and my father's father made a basement under his house when he was 75, so I must have the genes somewhere... but "little miss no square corners" just can't manage. I did built the chicken coops myself - and boy, does it show!! LOL Anyway, impressive and you will never be without barter skills if it comes to that!!

And your moving history wears me out to think of it - I lived in 3 houses in childhood (counting one that was a 1-year temporary where we left most of our stuff at home) and 6 places in adulthood... now, if you ask me how many JOBS I've had - that is an impressive number! ;-)

@Lewis: I didn't know about Cardoons replacing rennet - that would be a good reason to grow them!
On the chooks - could they have worms? Sometimes happens with damp warm conditions... I've heard cayenne in their treats (I put it in scrambled eggs for them) helps de-worm any and they don't mind the spicy. Also, they've gone off when I treat them too much with the cracked corn - not that they complain, mind you! ;-)

Also - I'll put this out in case there are any music-makers (I'll post on TAR and on greenwizards): I just got a xeroxed, 3-hold punched copy of an old book, "Violin-making as it was and is" by Ed. Heron-Allen, and old enough that there's no copyright date. Looks like an excellent guide to making - well beyond my skills (I did say I can't carpenter, right?) but it was 25 cents and I had to rescue it. So if anyone thinks they can use it, I'll mail it to them.

heather said...

Ooh- the scent of eucalyptus. I used to love it, but then my husband and I were driving up the CA coast on some very windy roads, which he was taking entirely too fast, in my opinion. Unfortunately I suffered the sensation of carsickness for the first time in my life, while we were driving through a eucalyptus grove, so now the scent and the feeling are linked in my little brain... :(

Sending good thoughts for all those affected by the brushfires- a terrifying thing.

Chris, where do you get all the woody mulch and compost you haul in?

Artichokes- a beautiful plant! Mine self-seed in the strangest places, but I let them, because all four of us In my house love 'em, plus they make great gift items for the neighbors, etc. Everyone's so impressed, I hate to tell them what an easy plant they are. I usually end up cutting some down to the hearts and freezing them because we have so many- now that's a lot of prep work for a little food. But artichokes on pasta in the winter...! yum!

--Heather

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Well, whatever, it was a clever bit of humour all the same! hehe!

Actually, with blogger, I do a copy and then wait until the confirmation that blogger has accepted the comment. If the confirmation doesn't turn up I simply paste the comment back in and resubmit. Plenty of comments come through twice here - so no worries, I'll simply delete the second (or sometimes event third) duplicate comment posting.

If you don't get the confirmation that comment is awaiting moderation - then the zombies at google have eaten the comment for sure.

Yeah, I like Jason's blogs too. They're very good. He has an excellent way with words.

Wow, I don't envy the Captain of that ship making that decision. I can just imagine the phone call, sorry boss, but I've lost the ship.

That was quite thoughtful of the ship owners inspecting for environmental damage on your forest and coastline. That probably wouldn't happen here in similar but different circumstances.

There are a few different sassafras trees in different parts of the world, so it may be a different species altogether? Dunno.

It is like a tropical jungle here at the moment because of the high levels of humidity due to the well out of its range tropical monsoon. Who would have thought that high sea surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean would have such an effect on the farm all the way across the other side of the continent? There has been quite a lot of flooding in central Australia over the past few weeks. It is a great summer here - if it continues...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, well I guess apart from the occasional pre-eruption earthquake they all probably had very little notice of the eruption. Some natural disasters you can't really outrun. I sometimes think of that awful mud slide which you mentioned a few weeks back.

The film makers probably didn't let the truth get in the way of a good story! Hehe! I was just rudely interrupted by the chickens trying to scratch up the driveway so I had to run over there and whisk them off it.

Yeah, well tidal waves and lots of big explosions make for pretty epic cinema. The sad truth was that they probably all asphyxiated. Generally that's what happens in a bushfire - you run out of oxygen long before the flames get near you.

Can you believe they were up there again? The chickens have a bit of cabin fever because of the rain today.

The poor goat! Thanks for the warning. Aren't they the naughty ones? I try to keep it family friendly here.

Yeah, all of the tales have such an aura of sadness about them. What is the current theory about ecological disaster? I remember reading the Mabinogion and that story wrote about a flood which took out Ireland - although I think that story pre-dates 530 CE by a considerable margin?

With the environment, it is so variable here - that I reckon past performance doesn't indicate future performance. Who would have thought that mid-summer here and entering into the hottest and driest part of the year, it feels as if I somehow stepped off a plane and landed in the Amazon rainforest. It is just weird.

Oh no! You've done it again! Well done. Hey, winter is the serious work time here. I'm not getting much cooped up in the house sort of time this summer either. Oh, go ahead then... What was the title and author of the book?

Yeah, they tried to reform Sarah Island in Macquarie Harbour too, but once convicts learned that they could get a good trade learning ship building - the place didn't have quite the same fear factor. It was the gold rush that killed off transportation - why send people somewhere where they want to go!

Yes, Victoria about 60km (45m) north and slightly west of Melbourne. Western Australia is a whole different landscape.

I've kind of run short on time tonight to reply as I've been putting together a video for YouTube called 500 days of the Food Forest. It is almost done, but I've still got to do the voice over.

Yeah, I've travelled a fair bit of the continent and am very happy to discuss geology when you get a chance.

Have you read about the cannibal convict Peter Alexander yet? A nasty bit of work. It always surprised me that he got people to go with him on the second escape - don't fall asleep.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Heather,

I hope your child is feeling better?

Yeah, I used to commute via motorcycle for about a decade and only gave up because I realised that I'd used up all nine lives. The stairs are exactly that, if it has happened once, it'll happen again. Your interpretation is spot on.

Many thanks for the explanation on calculating the solstice. I watch the sun here quite a lot because of the solar panels, but never quite thought of doing that.

Oh yeah, I feel like an axe murderer too doing all that hard pruning.

Gotta bolt, it has just started raining again!

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Heather,

Got inside house before the rain destroyed the laptop...

Yeah, I have no doubts that Charlie is correct and glad to hear that you fruit trees are doing well. What sort of fruit trees produce well and grow best in your climate?

hehe! Well done. The kids probably never figured out that you were only a chapter ahead anyway. Geological history is probably best taught actually looking volcanoes, mountains, natural lakes etc. anyway!

Beware the dreaded ear worm and many thanks for the sneaky plus one on the book recommendation! ;-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, there are a whole lot of varieties of apricots and it all depends on how long they've ripened in the sun too. Because I water stress the trees, the fruit has a drier sort of tart taste. I have quite a few different varieties growing here which extends the season for picking as I don't really want a big crop all at one point in time.

Well, there is no such thing as a weed in botany! hehe! The old timers couldn't truck manures about the place like I can so they had to let land lie fallow for a few years before it was fertile again. Weeds were their friends in those days.

Many thanks, it's a ripper that plant. The cardoon is really similar isn't it? I believe that most chokes are edible - but please don't quote me on that. I remember reading that Salvatore had a very low opinion of Australian's who would turn their noses up at the thought of eating all those chokes growing in the paddocks. I didn't know that about the rennet. I've heard other people write about the evils of rennet, but truly I have no idea what they were actually speaking about. What is the deal with it?

Well, that's what makes it interesting isn't it? I don't mind change, but most people are quite frightened of it.

Yeah, it did hurt to move from that place. I especially missed being able to walk to all of the amenities nearby. I barely used the car there and could walk to and from the city for work. I get different amenities nowadays. The neighbour was a bit of nuisance there and built this enormous extension which blotted out the sunlight in the backyard. It was a real dog act.

That film was meant to be really good. Did you enjoy it though? I've heard good reviews about it although they often commented that it was a bit overly long. Mad Max was filmed not that far from here. You could certainly get there in under an hour. I watched it again as an adult and it seemed a bit silly really.

Yeah exactly, I wished they were bored elsewhere though. Around here, many parents don't get their children helping around the farm - I believe but am unsure that there is some sort of status to be had in house bound lazy children. I'm not sure what, but they always talk about it with a sort of pride and I've never understood it.

Very wise, some people just want to see the world burn. What a hassle the signage problem would have been. Restitution isn't a bad idea in such circumstances.

That's what they do over winter, they need to keep warm and regrow feathers more than providing you with eggs. hehe! Hopefully all being well, they'll be back on the lay in early spring when it warms up - only a few weeks away now for you.

Lot of rain here today. 20mm (about 0.8 inch) and it has fallen consistently all day. It is really humid here now about 99% outside and 75% inside. I don't seem to get mould problems here though, so I'm always surprised to read that high humidity is such a problem for houses in the US? Dunno.

The water tanks are now full! Woo Hoo! I've never had this much stored water at this time of year before.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy and Heather,

Thanks for the comments, but I've completely run out of time to respond tonight. I will respond tomorrow.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Here it is rain, rain, rain. The humidity reaches 100%. One winter, when I was away for 2 months, I came back to 100% humidity indoors. Bedding and mattress soaking.

The beaching of the car carrier was the combined decision of the captain and the pilot; they have received nothing but praise (as far as I know). Bad weather means that the boat has only been moved about 2 miles; held by 5 tugs. They are waiting for better weather before pumping out water and trying to right her.

I'll guess that they had to check for pollution because the shore here is a Ramsar site.

I love that house that you did up; gorgeous metalwork. All the old metalwork here, was removed for the war effort in WW2. I believe that it was never used.

I have moved house 16 times, 6 as a child. Perhaps I should mention that I am 79 years old. One of the disadvantages of having moved frequently is that after awhile I get an urge to move on. I stamp ferociously on it, these days.

Eggs: Son's chickens have just started laying again. He says that they re-start laying when he has got fed up and thinks of eating chickens! I need more eggs in winter as I bake cakes then; I don't do this in the summer. So egg gluts come at the wrong time.

I have wondered whether my comments come through twice as I seem to have to press 'publish' twice.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; I wonder if the Mabinogiaon flood story might have been an ancestoral memory of when the last round of ice caps melted and England was cut off from Europe and Ireland from England.

Here's a pretty good summary of the theories surrounding the ecological disaster of the 530s.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extreme_weather_events_of_535–536

We had our fair share of outlaw cannibals over here. :-).

Well, the land around Sarah Island sounded really interesting and lush. All those varieties of trees. But it sounds like the weather really took the edge off of the beauty of the place. Wettest place in Australia, and all that. Norfolk Island sounded equally interesting and beautiful but with good weather. But the stuff that went on in both places..

"...rennet is extracted from the inner mucosa of the fourth stomach chamber of slaughtered young unweaned calves." Wikipedia has quit an entry on the ins and outs of rennet. It's not the vegetarian aspect that bothers me so much, it's the availability (at a decent price) of rennet to make cheese with, as the decline continues. I'm still thinking about a goat or two and making cheese. And, I want the system to be as self contained as possible. Three of the local goat dairies are going together to open a small store in Chehalis to sell milk and cheese. So, I'll be able to get the milk for my experimental stage.

I think the kind of person who thinks "Rover" long, may be the kind of person who needs a constant background of chatter and noise in their lives :-). Dialogue is pretty minimal. It's more of a "show" than a "tell" kind of movie. It's pretty violent in spots.

I think Cathy may be right. I've been feeding my chickens a bit of corn scratch, recently. I'll stop and see if things improve. None of my chickens are molting.

Congratulations on your full water tanks. But does it make you a bit uneasy? Let's see if I can explain this. The current low gas prices ($2.35 per gallon last time I filled up) are really nice, but they give me an ominous feeling. It's so out of the ordinary. Of course, I see omens of decline, everywhere :-).
Lew

heather said...

Hi Chris-
Yes, my little guy is all better, thanks. Just a 24-hour tummy bug, thank goodness.

Motorcycles just scare me. If I'm traveling at that speed I want the vehicle around me, rather than vice versa. Plus, of course, drivers don't respect them on the road and are purely dangerous to motorcycle riders. My husband is an ER doctor and brings home such horror stories that I've already told my kids they can forget about ever riding a motorcycle while I'm around to give them a hard time… The ER docs call helmets "brain buckets". That should say it all.

Fruit trees: this area is historically a big fruit production area; our place was all dead plum and kiwi orchard when we bought it. Citrus (though we have to watch hard freezes, especially when the trees are young), plums (fresh and for prunes), peaches, nectarines (if you can escape leaf curl), berries of all kinds including grapes, nuts… just everything. Things that need a fair bit of winter chill, like apples, are harder here, though they do well further up in elevation. I also have a hard time with cherries and apricots, two fruits I dearly love but which seem to be fussy trees. I've tried pushing the climate envelope with avocados, but haven't been successful yet. I remain convinced that the proper variety, which can take both scorching heat and the occasional hard freeze, is out there, somewhere… well, I can dream.

I'm sure that geology, like all subjects, is best taught "in person", hands on. I worked in a pretty impoverished area, so field trips were hard to afford, but I did manage to fundraise for a trip to take my students to see the mountains, redwood trees, and the ocean. Though we were only about 2 1/2 hours away, my students (and many of their parents) had never seen them. We also did the best we could with simulations in class- sculpting relief maps out of clay, etc. But nothing beats being there.

We had a spot on the evening news on the brush fires in Australia tonight. Of course the story focused on the koalas with burned paws and the orphaned kangaroo joeys who need people to sew comfy pouches for them to take the place of their mothers. Sad, but I wondered why the farmers weren't mentioned, or the regular folks whose homes were threatened? Not as telegenic, I guess.

Hope you are enjoying the unseasonable rains. Hurray for full tanks! I'm jealous. We *might* get a sprinkle here on Saturday. Won't do much for the reservoirs, I'm afraid.

--Heather

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy,

The apricots are about 4 years old now, but would have been bigger but the wallaby ate a few of them. They also had to be moved into very sunny and hot positions in the orchard as befits their nature.

5ft is pretty good. They're about 7ft here now, but they grow very slowly.

Moles sound like a nightmare. If the animals here were destroying the above ground growth as well as the underground growth, it would probably not be possible to grow anything at all here!

Many thanks. I really enjoy the older houses because the level of workmanship in them is so much higher and more complicated than newer houses. The detail in them is really interesting.

Haha! The funny thing is older houses don't have square corners either - mind you newer houses are as square or level as you'd think. As a hint: a square is simply two triangles so if the diagonal measurements in both directions are equal it is a square.

Anyway, there is great beauty in the imperfect.

It wears me out too! A lot of those occurred too when I was younger due to having a single mum and then there were share houses.

Yeah, I hear you about the jobs too! Still, a change is as good as a holiday as they say!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Heather,

Oh, not good! Windows down giving fresh air and eyes fixed on the horizon is the only way to go. Motion sickness is not good. I once volunteered as a navigator in a rally car and had never experienced car sickness before then... People say don't drink and drive, I say don't read and drive (the maps on the rally).

Speaking of which once, I was on the car ferry from Kangaroo Island to the mainland during a 5m (about 17ft) swell and the small ferry went sickeningly up and down. People were passing out on the deck. It was not a good scene.

Yeah, that is - as you probably get too in CA - an Australian summer. I've read that there is now a bushfire on the out skirts of Perth, Western Australia. Hopefully the rain here will reduce the excitement levels a bit for a few weeks at least.

There is a local business that supplies the mulch and compost as well as other sand and soil supplies. The stuff is actually sourced from kerb side council collections of green waste in Melbourne. There is a place in an industrial area of Melbourne called Brooklyn where they chip and mulch all of the green waste and they have mountains of the stuff. It is awesome to visit and the smell is something out of this world. I just don't get why people would let organic matter disappear from their properties, but they sure do! The local guy used to treat me as a mild eccentric given the sheer volume of stuff that I purchased, but now he is merely curious and a little bit in awe too!

Yeah, chokes are really tasty. I was really surprised by how good they are. Glad to hear that they've ended up at a good home up your way!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Yeah, 100% humidity indoors is probably taking the whole problem from a scale of 10 to 11. Not good to hear about the after effects.

I once left the window open at night to wake up to frost on the doona. That was a bit cold for my liking! Fortunately, things are a bit more sensible now.

Good for them, clearly a sensible decision.

Many thanks. I didn't know that about the metalwork. Given the sheer amount of iron ore down under, steel is relatively cheap here. The house was built during the reign of Queen Victoria so I replicated the fence based on surviving iron fences. The details were amazing.

I must confess that I had a bit of help as my neighbour who was a successful artist had a workshop that he let me work in - during the depths of winter - using his tools to produce the fence. He was Peter Corlett and not only was he a lovely bloke, but he had an awesome workshop just across the road! I had absolutely no idea who he was but we always enjoyed a good chat. His house had a hinged moongate too which was really cool.

Haha! 79 years young I reckon. I've known many people in their 40's that were as old and staid as the hills and I've also known many older people again who still had a skip to their step. You're very lucky to have your son within walking distance too.

Yes, well, the girls feel the fear of the knife and so decide it would perhaps be a good idea to produce the odd egg or too. As you are aware of Jackie French, it may just interest you to know that she has more than one 17 year old chicken! They're in a very good paddock indeed.

No stress, hit publish as many times as you like and I'll delete the duplicates.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Have you read that? I asked JMG about it and he said that he'd read the source stories in Welsh. Seriously, that's a good effort in anyone's books.

Yeah, I've wondered about that too. The straight that separates the mainland and the island of Tasmania is quite shallow and there once used to be a land bridge there. Oh no! We've strayed into geology...

I'll tell you a funny story about that, a long time back I used to work for a transport company and during a very severe storm they lost a container or three over the side of the ship between the mainland and the island. The funny thing was that one of those containers was full of flour so - when the boss wasn't around - the sales guy used to joke around saying that it was the world's biggest damper (an old Australian recipe for bread without yeast)!

Many thanks for the link, I'll have a read. Of course, long pig never goes out of fashion if you have friends around... hehe! Very naughty!

Yeah, the land around it is very lush, and is mostly ancient rainforest - given the incredible amount of rain they get there. The western part of that coast cops the full brunt of the roaring forties and when it rains, it really rains there.

I once spent a lovely evening with a farmer on a remote farm in the west of Tasmania who had a hunting hut but had added an outside microphone to it. In the early evening he dragged road kill around his property tied to the back of his utility vehicle. As the night wore on the Tasmanian devils came out to track down and feast upon the road kill. It sounds a bit morbid, but truly it was one of the best nights of my life, because all of the wildlife had truly no idea we were watching them and they simply went about their business. It was no tacky tourist attraction either as it was just myself, my lady and the farmer all enjoying a pleasant evening watching the wonders of nature - and enjoying a good cuppa tea.

Oh yeah, the stuff that went on at either place was not good. They sent the worst of the worst.

Incidentally, Norfolk Island is one of the few electricity grids that produced more solar power than they actually used and the whole thing went pop! There was a very grisly and I think unsolved murder there a few years back too, so the history of the place is a bit off even today.

I didn't know that about rennet, but will take it under advisement. I wonder about bakers yeast, champagne yeast etc. I'll guess we'll all get used to tasting the local environment sooner or later. There are plenty of wild yeasts all over the place, but who knows what they taste like!

Sometimes movies without dialogue can be quite gripping too. I remember the actor Tom Hanks did an awesome job in the film: Castaway. Really enjoyed it! Haha! My turn for a sneaky recommendation.

Fair enough, I really don't know your breed of chickens so have no idea, they all produce differently. Interestingly, I find that the silkies come on the lay at about your time of year and for those eggs I am grateful.

Of course I'm uneasy. I'm starting to wonder whether I've put the kiss of death on myself even mentioning it! Not to sound silly, but I have literally no idea what the next couple of months weather will bring... It is just that variable here.

Petrol is down to a new low here at AU$1.11 / litre (3.8 litres to a gallon). The whole thing is just weird and it doesn't bode well for the future.

Cheers

Chris

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

Thanks for the thoughts. Thankfully I haven't been affected by the fire at all -- it was about 20 km away (I'm smack in the middle of suburbia (urbania (?)), so it would be pretty grim if a bush fire made it in here...

We've had good rain this week -- about 20 - 30 mm in the last 7 days -- that's put nearly 10 kL into the tanks (which was really needed -- they're about 1/3 full now)...

Loved your comments/photos about the rain. I visited a friend's house in the Southern Flinders Ranges this week, and it's clear just how much more rain they get up there (about double!) -- I'm envious of him and of you (though we get much better solar irradiation down on the flat, I'd happily trade PV production for water ;-)

Cheers, Angus

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Heather,

Glad to hear that the little one is feeling better and all the best for a speedy recovery.

Yeah, that is exactly why I stopped riding, I simply got the fear. Of course he is right, down under they refer to them as temporary Australians (or organ donors too). Some may laugh about the fear, but it is real and a motorcycle requires a 100% concentration which is incompatible with fear.

Thanks very much for sharing about your local fruit trees. Kiwi fruit are just awesome and fresh sun ripened plums are good too. Not to stress, no where escapes the dreaded leaf curl. I simply let the leaves fall off and the tree produces a new batch of leaves without the dreaded curl. I stopped fungicide spraying about 2 years ago and oh boy has there been a die off with the peaches and nectarines - but there have also been a number of survivors too. I just picked my white peaches the other day and they are good.

Haha! I can share something with you. I grow a couple of avocados in the orchard and the secret is - they can tolerate down to -9'C frost. What they don't like is cold winds. Put them in a sheltered spot and you have avocado trees!

Cherries and apricots seem to be undemanding here but survive best with a good mulch - no pruning - and a very good drink before a heat wave hits. Oh yeah and try to ignore the pear and cherry slug incursions. Just don't worry about them. They grow cherries many thousands of km north of here so there are plenty of low chill varieties - I'll check my books over the next few days and see what they recommend.

Well done with the field trips. I'll bet the kids - and parents - learned more that day than a year before that.

The koalas are nasty little pieces of work. They're often drunk because of their toxic diet of eucalyptus leaves and they sound like razorback the wild boar is coming to kill you. Honestly, they're very nice to view from afar, but up close and personal it is a whole 'nother story. Wicked sharp little claws too. I believe koala was an Aboriginal name for "old man - no drink" which was a reference to the fact that they rarely drink water. If you see a clip of them drinking water, then things are not going well in the koala's environment.

The wildife is often forgotten about in bushfires. Before Europeans came no more than about 30ha (about 75ac) was ever burnt at any one time or location. Forest management over here is so out of wack with the reality it is bordering on stupid. Still, it is only a point in time.

Black Saturday took out 450,000ha!

I look after the local wildlife as best as possible and they get a good run and have a place to shelter should a fire come through here - which it inevitably will.

Many thanks! The full tanks are a relief at this stage of the year.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

Glad to hear that you are OK and a long way from the fires.

You can never be too sure about bushfires as during Black Saturday in Feb 09, the Redesdale bushfires eventually got to within about 1km (I believe) of the Bendigo post office and that is no small town. Plus the Canberra fires in 03, wiped out a fair few houses too. You're spot on though, it'd be grim indeed.

Glad to hear that you received a decent dump of rain too (0.8 inch to 1.2 inches) and how good is it to hear the sound of water running into the tanks. I had to get up in the middle of the night on a few occasions just to make sure the filters didn't block up and overflow under and around the tanks, so I was a bit sleep deprived earlier in the week.

Yeah, the Flinders Ranges are a stunning part of the world, I camped up in Wilpena Pound many years ago - and it was an amazing area.

I've had about 63mm rainfall (almost 21 kL collected) so far this year which is phenomenal for this time in summer. What a storm though, it is the humidity which is really suprising as it is normally quite low during summer. Up in central Australia there were reports of up to 200mm and 300mm in parts and flash flooding. The photos of the Todd River in Alice Springs flooding were amazing. I heard that it had flooded around the Flinders Ranges too?

The rain just soaked into the ground here, although there were some flood warnings but nothing too bad happened.

Hopefully it stays cool for the rest of the summer.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Yeah, humidity can be a bit of a problem. My old place was built by an Norwegian woodworker and most of the wood came out of an old prune dryer. It's very tight. Luckily, I have two screened windows at opposite ends of the house. When I notice the humidity building up on the windows, I just crack them open a bit for an hour or two. Seems to take care of the problem.

I get the urge to move, too, every once in awhile. Usually when something has gone TU (tits up) around here. But it's silly. All places have their problems, and this place has so much going for it. Greer had a bit of a post awhile back about "conditional living." The idea that if this or that happens, all will be right with the world. Like a move.

We also had big "scrap drives" during WWII and a lot of nice old historic stuff bit the dust. Iron fences around parks and lots of stain glass windows, due to the lead in them.

@ Heather - Once after a very debauched night in Santa Cruz involving lots of popcorn and Southern Comfort, I headed down the Coast Highway. I'd never been before. Along about Big Sur, I had to get out of my little VW bug and lay beside the road. It started to rain and I just rolled under the car for shelter. That's how bad off I was. But it was soooo beautiful, I really didn't care :-). Ah, youth.

Yo, Chris; I've never read the Irish cycle. Heck, I haven't even read the Finn Kalevala, which pertains to my heritage. Just can't wade through. Tolkien spent a bit of time up in Lapland, communing with the old Lap shamans. He even spoke Finn (among many other languages.) Lifted bits and pieces of Finn myth for the Ring cycle.

Saw a trailer last night for a new movie called "Australiens." Looks so bad it might be good. :-) . Sci-fi. Alien invasion of Australia. Well, it's off for my weekly trip to the Little Smoke. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I agree that chronological age tells one little about outlook etc. I thought that my age might be relevant to my comments sometimes.

I was woken at midnight last night by an incredible noise. Hailstones coming horizontally at the windows. I didn't leave my warm bed to look. Have now been told that they were the size of marbles. Am very surprised that there were no broken windows. Another storm is arriving tonight, from a different direction. This one should pass above me, I hope. The tugs, holding the car carrier, have been told to disengage and let her re-ground if it gets too dangerous.

Crash helmets: A nurse friend of mine, who rode a motor bike, told me that in the event of an accident 'no crash helmet dead, crash helmet a vegetable; take your pick'.

House construction: In the UK if you want to buy the best possible building, buy one built between 1890 and 1910. This is the time when new techniques overlapped with the old craftsmen. See no reason why this shouldn't be the same in Australia and the US. I would certainly vouch for this having lived in 2 houses dating from then.

The boxes of flour that went overboard were interesting. Years ago, the liners going into Southampton, would throw unused stuff overboard. They didn't want rations curtailed on their next trip. We found a huge sack of flour on the beach. The sea water only penetrated a short distance forming a hard crust. I used that flour for 3 years. Gavin Maxwell described finding the same thing in his book 'Ring of bright water'.

I am indeed lucky to have my son close by. I would have had to sell up and move to civilization otherwise. The fact that he is a builder by trade is an added bonus.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I just spotted your copyright joke up top of the comments section. Very amusing! Missed it before.

The humidity is a funny thing here because outside during winter it can be >90% for months on end. Everything gets wet - thus the move towards a closed firewood shed. The house is built quite high off the ground - due to the excessive demands of the building surveyors more than anything else. I had to add stainless steel mesh vents to allow air under the floor, but also stop potential embers from a bushfire should it ever occur. It was previously sealed completely and just didn't work because of the build up of humidity.

It is funny, but many people fear moving and change - but I've faced it so many times that it doesn't bother me. Haha! I feel compelled to fix the stuff around here that doesn't work... But I hear you, how much effort do you need to put into a place anyway?

I never heard of the scrap drives during WWII before. Very interesting. A lot of the old squattocracy mansions were taken over by the government during those times though.

Have to admit that I cheated a bit and read the translation of the Mabinogion sagas by Evangeline Walton. It was a very good read. Did you sneak in a book recommendation for the Finn Kalevala? It certainly sounded like one - but then I guess we can discount it because you haven't read it yet! hehe!

Too funny! There must be something in the water down here because years ago I saw - what is now a cult film - Peter Jackson's (yes, him that does the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films) film Braindead. Admittedly it was based in New Zealand - but that is close enough. The film is widely regarded as one of the goriest films of all time. It has a very high yuk quotient.

I had to stop reading the camel trek book when it became less about the journey and more about the author battling serious mental health issues page after page after page. Seriously, if I had to offer some advice: remote parts of the central Australian desert is probably not the right place to be suffering a serious mental breakdown - people die out there as there is so little margin for error, it is no place to go and find yourself. Anyway, I found that reading about the authors constant and unrelenting inner struggles was wearing me out and impacting my own worldview. No need for that sort of influence. Seriously, I felt that the author should stop the introspection and have a good look around at the awe inspiring scenery that she was travelling through. Introspection is nice, but it should not be indulged.

I've only ever felt that way once before about a story when I watched the television show Breaking bad. Every single decision the main two characters made was the complete opposite of the decisions I would have made and the whole story line was one giant process of escalation to a very bad place / ending. I didn't like it much.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

No worries. Peoples outlook is a good indicator of their inward health. Honestly, I have some friends that work in computers and I tell them - you've got 10 minutes, get it out of your system and then not another word on the matter. Their jobs are just not that interesting - they can't even find an amusing anecdote or three.

Anyway, the point is they are much younger and their outlook on life is almost a bit off - so to speak. I'm far more interested in peoples communication skills and yours hold up very nicely.

What a decision to make about the car carrier. Life at sea can be pretty brutal.

In the distant future I reckon glass will make a big salvage item. There is a lot of it about. Incidentally I had to install double glazed toughened glass because of the fire risk.

Hail stones are a funny business and you never quite know when they will cause damage and to what. I speak with a few of the off grid solar households up north and they always get a few of their solar panels smashed because of hail storms. They're not very repairable either - unlike your windows (which fortunately don't have to be).

Yeah, motorcycles... I certainly don't miss them.

The Victorian era was probably also the peak era for inflows of wealth into the UK from the colonies. Certainly the gold production here made Melbourne the second richest city on the planet (might have been the British Empire, I forget) - after London of course.

The craftsmanship of those houses is amazing and fixing them is like undertaking an archaeological dig. Fascinating stuff. Plus the terrace houses just worked in our hot climate because the external walls were shaded and there were four bricks between your living space and the neighbours - very quiet!

Very clever and a top find - put to good use of course.

You are doubly lucky then to have him there. It is a good trade - but increasingly unprofitable down here because of the influence of the big project house builders. They captured the building process and doing anything differently here is like banging your head against a brick wall... I get the impression that it is the same in the UK - given that the whole process is a legal response rather than a common sense approach.

Cheers

Chris

Stacey Armstrong said...

Hiya Chris,

If you think your advice about the bees, and I would wager your advice on most other on the ground projects that involve living things, sounds hippy-dippy to you then it might be time to see what else hippies have to say! It sounds like the best sort of questing advice! Wasn't it Schumacher who reminded us that "the map is not the territory"!

Moths are amazing creatures. Have you read Barbara Kingsolver's book Prodigal Summer? It's about a scientist (who knows a lot about moths) moving to a rural area and making a capital "L" living/life. I have been gathering as much information on cabbage moths as I can so that I can lure/encourage them to another part of my garden. I have ambitions involving brussel sprouts that have been continually thwarted by cabbage moths. Do you have cabbage moths around your place?

I know you are making improvements on your potato growing and I wanted to tell you about my experiment this year in the evolving potato growing saga. ( not really a saga but it helps sometimes to think of yourself as the heroine of your own hard work!) I have not had good luck in the past on storing potatoes through the winter, as a result there were times during the winter where we would buy a fifty pound sack from a farmer in town. This year I planted some later in the season, in an area we had cleared where no grass had ever grown. I mulched them in late September and left them thinking they would at the very least improve the soil. I started harvesting them this week, only about a ten percent loss. Almost no wire worm damage. I wonder if I can repeat this success?

There are some welcome suggestions of spring around here. The first comfrey shoots are appearing. There was enough mint, nettle and other bits to make a pot of "ditch tea."

Lovely that your water storage is full!
Stacey

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

The storm, that came in last night, took out the electrics. I rang a neighbour to ask how long it had been out. The Aspergers son answered the phone, he is good on precision. It was out for one and a half hours. Thankfully a huge area had gone out hence the speed of correction. If it had just been local things would not have been so swift.

Building: Planning rules are dreadful. If possible, my son only takes on jobs that are covered by building regs. and they are bad enough. He isn't very polite about architects either. Has had jobs where the plans are unworkable and the building has finally ended up designed by him.

I dislike modern estates, they are so boring. I visited my aunt in Germany in the 1950s. Went for a walk around and was amazed by the lovely houses, everyone was different. I asked her about this and she said that after the war, when all ethnic Germans were chucked out of eastern Europe and came west, there was no housing and people were just allowed to build anything. My aunt had let one family build in her garden. They had built what looked like a mud house straight out of the Sahara! Unattractive in its situation but interesting. Anyhow the result of freedom in building was much better than planning.

You could eat the bogong moth.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; This houses basement can be pretty damp. The occasional fern grows out of the floor and I've seen one frog. So, there are 6 almost ground level "windows." They used to have screen over them and wooden board plugs. Mostly kicked out by the eveil children who used to live here. I cut some insulation board to fit and wrapped the inner side with bubble wrap. To get a good tight fit and provide a little more insulation. I chose two windows at opposite ends that still had enough wooden frame left to staple in some screen. Those two I open in the summer to get a good drying cross draft.

I used to refinish a lot of furniture. Some pieces I had to totally pull apart and reglue as the joints had shrunk. It always gave me that "archaeological" feeling. A closeness with whoever had made the piece.

I think I'll pass on "Brain Dead." For some reason, as I've gotten older my tolerance for buckets of blood and gore has diminished. Kind of. Hmmm. Let me think on this a minute. I think the vampire, werewolf, zombie stuff doesn't bother me much as they are so in the realm of fantasy. Perhaps gangster and crime films, serial murderers, etc. bother me more because they are so "real life."

I watched the first episode of "Australia, the First Four Billion Years". A Nova series. That segment ends when life is about to crawl out of the sea. It was quit a tour. Most of the oldest rock seems to be out in Western Australia. Jack Hills. Mileura Station. Wolfe Creek Crater. Shark Bay with it's stromatolites. Marble Bar. A quick stop at Hancock Forge in Karijini National Park. Onto Mt. Whaleback. And, finally the Flinders Range more in your neck of the woods. A stop at the secret site of a fossil bed near Ediacara. And, finally, Emu Bay on Kangaroo Island. Whew.

So then I Wikipedia-ed around for awhile getting some more background information on these places and read up a bit on Melbourne and Victoria State. Mt. Macedon.

For some reason, "Picnic at Hanging Rock" has been on my mind. Saw it years ago and didn't find if very satisfying. So, I went on a tangent of research into that. Had forgotten it was a Peter Weir Film. His "Last Wave" is a favorite of mine, but I had to watch it a few times to "get" it. And, discovered Hanging Rock isn't too far from you. Don't think I'll give it a second look. Even with the final chapter (from the book) it still doesn't make much sense. To me. :-). At its initial screening, a film critic flung his cup of coffee at the screen. I can see where that might happen. Lew

heather said...

@Lew- I like the Coast Highway, but not Southern Comfort. :) I think I would like watching the ocean in the rain.

Two bits of coincidence with this week's comments here: I just watched the tail end of "Castaway" with my husband yesterday ("Wilson...!"), and I just heard of the Finn Kalevala for the first time yesterday too. I was listening to the local public radio station here, and the host was interviewing a jazz musician (I know nothing about Jazz, but the guy's name is Rent Romus) and he was talking about a composition he'd written, I guess a series of poems and musical interpretations, drawn from an extended study of the runes and mythology of the Kalevala. That's one reason I like public radio; I can hear a story about not one but two interrelated topics that I'd have thought I'd have no interest in, and yet be interested. :)

Clouds and fog here the last few days, but nary a sprinkle... :(

--Heather

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Stacey,

Yeah good point and I did exactly as you suggest after the first bee failure. I read three books in quick succession on alternative methods of bee keeping. No point reinventing the wheel.

As an incidental side note, I loaned what I believed was the best of the three books to my local bee keeping go to guy and he told me that he thought that it was a "gimmick". I initially got deflated and then just started off again with new colonies following the common sense guidelines in new the alternative bee keeping books. I haven't been back for advice to the local guy since.

It is funny that in a world of bee colony failure - across the globe - people double down on the orthodox bee keeping methods. It is just weird because the more alternative methods seem to be working for me and the bees.

You snuck in a book recommendation. Well done! I honestly can't keep up with all of the recommendations. Around here we have a parasitic wasp that lays eggs on and in the little green caterpillars which are the cabbage moth larvae. The larvae still do a fair bit of damage to the brassica leaves, but the wasps do a fair bit of damage to the larvae and eventually take them all out. It may be a Down under thing but you can see the wasp nests (only a cell or two - nothing big) as little bright yellow nests on posts under the veranda where they pupate. I used to think that they were a moth and regularly killed them, but a local guy pointed them out to me and explained their function.

The cabbage moths are here, they're just kept in check.

Once the larvae of the moth get to the leaves, they're a write off, but the plants still produce good seed and I've been collecting them this week (more on the next blog - with some photos). I'm working on developing a succession of brassicas because I miss the mustard leaves as they're a winter crop here.

Good luck with the potatoes and please do let us know how it goes. I grow potatoes in a 50/50 mulch/compost mix because too much nitrogen (from the compost) produces a lot of leaf and not many tubers. Like tomatoes they require a fair bit of carbon thus the mix of soil.

Glad to hear that spring has sprung (or starting too) at your place. Nice work with the tea too.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Glad to hear that your place survived the storm. I assume the car carrier didn't break up or anything like that?

Being off grid has a good level of resilience in that the neighbour’s power goes out all the time and should a bush fire threaten the power company simply cuts supply to the entire area.

Yes, architects have sort of lost their way as a profession. They worry too much about design / visual impact and not enough about functionality, build ability and affordability. I hear you.

The big project builders have simply captured the entire process to make it easier for them and also to ensure a steady supply of customers. It is a real nightmare to build anything different here.

The estate sounds quite nice. I think our culture values homogeneity - with very minor detail differences. Project estates sort of all look the same to me as they're the same house over and over again as if the houses are all saying to each other: "Hi! I'm exactly like you".

Yeah, haven't tried that yet. There are also a lot of witchetty grubs in the ground up these parts. I certainly wouldn't starve here - although the diet might not be to my tastes.

There has been a bit of talk about eating insects over in the UK of recent times or am I mistaken?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hey Lewis,

Ferns and frogs in the basement are very cool. I'll bet anything stored in there breaks down pretty quickly? The summer cross draft is an excellent idea as it gives the timber in there time to dry out. Do you get termites up your way? The ants are unpleasant here, but I've been slowly changing the soil around the house so they go elsewhere.

I'll bet you've seen a thing or two with the furniture? Timber is a funny material as it changes so much with age.

As an interesting side note, when I installed the timber flooring here it was the wettest year in recorded history so even though I let the timber age for six months, it still has shrunk over the past few years. It is also getting darker too with age, which I wouldn't have expected.

Yeah, Western Australia has the really old stuff (and a lot of the big mines too). I've been past Wolfe Creek crater and Marble Bar - that is the hottest town on the continent. I saw the stromatolites at Shark Bay and they were really cool. Apparently the salt content of the water is much higher there for some reason. They also had dugongs in that area too and dolphins that came into shore to be fed.

The Flinders Ranges are quite striking and form part of the arid lands - not quite desert, but hardly lush country. I believe I may have mentioned the ferry ride back from Kangaroo Island recently. It is a big Island and I spent a few days roaming around the place. They have the only pure strain of Ligurian bees left in the world and export colonies from there.

Victoria is probably the most diverse state on the mainland covering everything from true desert to rainforest, alpine, large scale forests, grasslands, recent volcanics etc.

If you find out anything about the geological history of this area I'd be very interested to hear about it. I've often read cryptic comments saying that some of the newest soils on the continent are around here - whatever that means.

Yeah, sorry to say that I found Picnic at Hanging Rock a bit boring really. It was a bit of classic purely because of the art and photography, but story line not so much. I realise that it is easy to get lost around here as the forest can be pretty thick, but it is stretching the imagination somewhat to think that the girls could have been lost at Hanging Rock - which is really just a small volcanic outcrop nearby surrounded by extensive farmland.

The critic was quite unapologetically honest in the review! It is refreshing sometimes to see such brutal honesty.

Incidentally apparently the local council have been pushing recently to either sell off Hanging Rock or apparently develop it into some massive tourist complex. The Rolling Stones cancelled their gig at the Rock twice last year too. Maybe they got lost on the way - woo scary! Hehe!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Heather,

Wilson! Hope you enjoyed the film too as it was gripping with very little dialogue. They chucked in a few bits of corporate promotion too and I probably would have changed the ending a bit. Seriously he lost Wilson in the storm but kept hold of the package?

Yeah, I'd never heard of the Finn saga either before Lewis mentioned it. Nice to hear that you have public radio too.

Best of luck with the winter rain. I assume that you are like us here in that you get most of your rain during the winter - given the heat of your summers?

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I once had a week's holiday on Kangaroo Island, stayed in a lighthouse keepers cottage and travelled all around. Very dubious electrics; the wires outside, flashed and sputtered the whole time.

I have eaten cooked witchetty grubs, they tasted like scrambled egg.

At the moment I am eating our own pork. It tastes wonderful because the pig is slaughtered at an older age than commercial meat and has been fed beer! No growth hormones, antibiotics etc.

@Lewis I am another who had never heard of the Kelavala saga (bet I spelt it wrong). Not good as I am another unqualified librarian. Worked in a technical college library, a university library, an art college library and a number of public libraries. The art college lib. and one public lib. were where I was on my own and,like you, I loved it because one does everything.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

On Potatoes - I tried to grow French Fingerlings, Russet and Yukon Gold this year. In big plastic bags with holes punched in the bottom. Well. What I learned. Next year I have to pound some steel fence posts in the ground to hold the bags up. I have just enough of a slope for falling over to be a problem. Two varieties died. I think I added too much soil to the bags a couple of times. I think the trick is, more often, less soil. The Yukons did quit well. Next year, I think I'll try the bags again, but also some in ground potatoes. "Live and learn", or in this case, garden and learn :-).

Yo, Chris; Haven't heard of termites being a problem in this part of the world, but we do have some flying wood ants that can be a problem.

Yeah, they mentioned Shark Bay had a high salt concentration. Shallow + evaporation.

Flinders Range was where they filmed "Rover." they mentioned it was filmed north of Adelaide. I don't know. Not to ding where you live, but all the pictures I've seen of Australia look just too dry for this wet land boy. :-). And, from what I read about Victoria State, it seems like you have a lot of population there.

Jagger canceled his first attempt at a concert at Hanging Rock because his partner had just committed suicide. He canceled his second attempt over a throat infection. Interesting, we were talking about the artist McCubin awhile back. Weir had him very much in mind as far as the visual style of the film went. Filmed part of it through a bridal veil just to get the right "atmosphere" he wanted. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Great to hear that you have travelled to Kangaroo Island. The lighthouse keepers cottage is pretty attractive and is in a truly scenic and rugged spot. I can't vouch for the electric wiring though - it all sounds a bit dodgy really! hehe!

Actually around Australia, quite a few lighthouse keepers cottages have been converted to accomodation. In histroical terms the stations were manned until very recently - and some still are. Gabo Island I believe still is and you have to submit a tender for that particular job.

Well, you are one up on me. When I accidentally dig them out - which happens more often than you'd think. I throw them for the native birds that are always watching me and they swoop down and grab them. Over winter, they often hang around all day long waiting for the protein hit - especially the kookaburra's and occassionally they'll get so full of food and comfortable with the arrangement, you can sneak up behind them and catch them.

You bet. Well done. A mate of mine processed his own pork and then had a big bbq to cook it up. Honestly, it was the best pork I'd ever tasted. You're making me feel hungry...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Awesome experiment. What was the purpose of the plastic bags? I grow them in thick mulch/compost mix here and they seem to do quite well. It is an arrangement sort of like your asparagus.

I'm really interested in the bags and was wondering how they got any water? It would be interesting to do some in the bags and some in the ground and see which performs better? Dunno?

I tried large tubs with the bottoms cut out of them and just kept adding soil as the plants grew. That worked quite well, but didn't seem to have the advantage of those in the soil, which come back every year - because I forget about where they were planted when the heads die off...

Fair enough. The flying ants here are actually new queens preparing to set up a new colony. All I hope is that they go elsewhere. It is weird because I was reading about the lifecycle of the ant - in an attempt to foil them - and there are a lot of similarities to a bees lifecycle and colony.

Yeah, that's right about shark bay. It may make it easier to swim too as you'd float better, but I personally found the name of the bay to be a little bit off putting. For the stromatolites to still be there, the geolgy must have been pretty constant for quite a few years. I've read that the colonies are very long lived...

No stress at all. I've travelled around the continent and poked my nose into all sorts of out of the way corners and that was about impression too. Just too dry, why do you reckon I live in a water shed in a part of the country that most residents here think is way too cold for their liking! Mate, they'd whinge if they had to deal with your winters. Oh man, it's like so cold - I had to put a jacket, gloves and hat on. hehe! No disrespect intended to my fellow countrymen, but very few people here have any idea what cold weather actually really is.

Yeah, I knew about the first cancellation and that was a very unfortunate event for all involved. Hadn't heard about the second reason though. I wouldn't have gone to see them anyway as the ticket price put me off. Transport and the ability to put on only a few shows down under makes ticket prices really out of reach. There are a lot of big name acts touring here though as there is still many who will pay. However, if house prices here take a dive the economy will most certainly tank. There are indications that it is tipping now. Certainly Western Australia is having some serious troubles now that the mining construction boom is over and the mines are now in the operational phase. Many of them are foreign owned and I believe that a lot of the operations now are computer remote controlled - GPS is a wonderful thing - although I don't use it.

Actually speaking of which it is amazing how few people can read a map nowadays. It is like a lost art or something.

Cheers

Chris



Cathy McGuire said...

Hey, Chris - you never have to apologize for not getting to answering me immediately. As you can see, it sometimes takes me days to get back to you, and I'm not doing a tenth of what you're doing!! And of course you can print out and read - I have another friend doing that... if you want me to email you Doc files of the chapters, send me an email address. It'd probably be easier to print from.

And I almost posted to the older post again - my eyesight must be going... ;-)

I know old houses don't have square corners - oh, I know that!! ;-) But they are better than my corners, or at least sturdier. One beautiful bungalow I lived in, in Portland OR, had 36 windows - not one of which was the same size!! All hand constructed... so - no storm windows could be purchased. But I love hand-made homes. The variations feel more like nature than the manufactured stuff today.

Lewis - I tried the potato bag idea, too - and found they were horribly heavy! This year, if my hive boxes look too bad for bees, I'm gonna use them as stackable potato bins, with some metal posts in two corners for stability. BTW, Chris, I just opened one hive yesterday because it was sunny-ish and found (as I'd expected) the bees had died - and mold was setting in... but there was pounds of honey left (indicating they didn't die of starvation) that I have to harvest today... and then try to figure out if I can re-use hives that have been moldy... foo.

Heather - I remember taking a college geology class when I lived in So. Cal and the one big takeawy was never buy a house near the big Fault and never buy a house on a hill, because they dig into the hill, then dump that soil next to it to make a bigger pad! Real secure - Not!

Have you got Aaronovitch's latest - Foxglove Summer? I'm happy to say the quality continues, and as a writer I can really imagine it gets hard after the 4-5 book... I wish Fforde would do another on his "Shades of Gray" or his Nursery Crime series, but I hear he won't. Bummer...

And for everyone who's interested, Chapter 5 of lifeline is up at my blog www.cathymcguire.blogspot.com

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Oh, yeah. I've made the library "tour." :-).
Let's see. I started out working in a branch library of the Portland Public Library system at 14. 2 big regional multi-county systems. Seattle Publics big main branch (the old branch. Not the new one that JMG was winging about) in the art department. Interesting summer work in different systems. Two summers in different catalog departments. One summer working for Books for the Blind when they actually shipped out vinyl records. LOL. I think the worst summer job was at the Fisheries / Oceanography Library at the University of Washington. A summer of typing catalogue cards with lots of loooong latin names in a windowless basement room that was like a concrete bunker.

Yo, Chris - Oh, I put the potatoes in bags due to space concerns. I watered them by hand each morning unless we got rain.

The presenter referred to the stromatolites as "our oldest and most distant relatives." :-).

Yeah. My friends who keep wanting me to move to Idaho ... they're weather is a lot colder in winter and hotter and dryer than here in summer. Don't think I'd be very happy. I've mentioned I check out a couple of archaeological news sites, every day. There were some lovely photos of Pompeii with snow, yesterday.

Stacey's book recommendation? Kingsolver is worth looking at. "Flight Behavior" is fiction and has to do with Monarch butterflies. It's also a good snapshot of life in America at the lower socio-economic end of the spectrum. Her "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" is non-fiction. She and her family move from Phoenix (?) back to her old family place in the Ozarks. Same general area as Sue Hubbard. They decide to try living on only locally sourced food (mostly) for a year.

If you're interested in butterflies, the author Robert Pyle is the go-to guy. He wrote the Audubon Field Guide to Western Butterflies. Also a book on following the Monarch migration from Canada to Mexico .. and banding them. :-). A book on hunting Big Foot. He lives just a couple of counties west of me, out toward the coast. He's written some very lyrical things on this part of the country.

LOL. Well, as far as books go, at least you won't lack for selection. You're a young man. You'll have time for them all :-). I finished "Fatal Shore." I'm onto Chuck Palahniuk's (Fight Club) latest fiction venture "Beautiful You." He's absolutely mad. But I don't recommend him to everyone. He's also pretty raw. Lew

thecrowandsheep said...

Hi Chris,

What was your new expedient learning method? My own philosophy is "you ain't learning if you ain't writing." This, however, can be time consuming...

Modern Architecture: A dire, biblical disgrace.

Cheers

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy and Lewis,

I'll try and reply this evening as time permits, however, I may also have a one off post (in addition to tomorrows entry) for a very silly idea I came up with for the contest:

GM zucchini feeds worlds growing demand for energy

Should be very amusing and hopefully it gets finished tonight.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Another storm blowing through. Overnight low was only 50F. Wind gusts to 33 mph. LOTS of rain, but I haven't seen any figures on how much. No flood watches posted "yet." That surprises me. Lew