Monday, 16 March 2015

Burning Scones

The mp3 version of the blog can be found here on Soundcloud: Soundcloud Burning Scones


The 2008 Australian film "Kenny" was about Kenny the plumber who had possibly one of the most thankless and off-putting occupations imaginable: He specialised in delivering and maintaining portable toilets to well-populated events. The film title was also called Kenny, and you wouldn’t think that a film about a plumber would be funny, but it was highly amusing. Anyway, at one point in the film one of the characters delivers true words of wisdom: "You always burn your first batch of scones". And you know what? Every time I have to repair something or fix up something here at the farm, those words keep coming back to haunt me time and time again.

The weather has turned cooler and more autumn like this week, and this morning I spotted the first of what will be many frosts in the valley below. The farm is high up on the side of a mountain so it is generally frost free. The reason for this is because cold air is heavy and falls downhill overnight and collects in valleys. There can be quite a few degrees difference between the farm and the cooler valley below. This is an advantage as I can grow all sorts of unusual sub-tropical plants like avocadoes and citrus which grow quite well as long as they can withstand the occasional light frost. Anyway, the frost way down below is beautiful because it washes out all of the colours and the view has a sepia tone:
Frost in the valley below this morning
With the weather turning cooler, my thoughts have been drifting towards firewood and the wood heater. I’m not sure whether I’ve previously mentioned it, but the wood heater is the only source of heat in the house during the winter. It is an excellent unit as it has an oven for baking bread and other edible goodies, a stove top for cooking and a wet back for heating the hot water. It is a good unit and is a crucial bit of infrastructure here. However, after only four years of use, the wood heater is starting to break down and that is a real disappointment. The damage to the wood heater is like making your first batch of scones – they’re completely burnt and inedible! Check out the damage to the unit in the photos below:

Broken glass and seals in the wood heater viewing window
The glass – which had already been replaced has broken again. Broken glass means that some smoke escapes the fire chamber into the house, which is not good. Also the broken glass allows more oxygen to enter into the combustion chamber, making it almost impossible to slow the combustion of the fire down and therefore the fire runs very hard and hot and uses far more wood than it otherwise would.

Damage to the inside of the combustion chamber
The steel inside the combustion chamber on the sides of the unit was reasonably thin (about 2mm or 0.1 inch thick) and not up to the job of containing the extreme temperatures inside the fire box and they were eventually destroyed. The photo above shows that on the side of the fire box, there is a large hole where some steel used to be. You can even see that the fire bricks themselves have broken and that even the bit of steel that held those bricks in place was also in serious danger of completely disappearing without a trace!

So I began the very thankless job of repairing that wood heater. To replace the wood heater with a brand new unit would have consumed my income from a couple of months of work so I took a gamble and have tried to repair the existing unit. The photo below shows me pretending to be happy whilst repairing the seals and glass in the door of the wood heater:

Repairing the glass and seals in the door to the wood heater

It is worth mentioning that the glass used in wood heaters costs around $1,000 per square metre (1.2 square yards) Down Under. You can tell if the glazier has sold you the real deal because if you look into the depths of the glass it has a pink hue. Normal glass has a green hue.

Today, I cut some of the leftover 5mm (0.2 inch) plate steel from the stair project and lined the sides of the combustion chamber inside the wood heater. Some of the fire bricks had fallen apart so they also had to be replaced. The bit of steel which holds the fire bricks in place was also replaced. Finally some cement which is rated to withstand temperatures of up to 1,400 degrees Celsius (2,000’F) was added which glues the whole lot together.

The guts of the wood heater now look almost as good as new
Hopefully my next batch of scones (i.e. the metaphorical wood heater itself) don’t get burnt! In dismantling the unit, I’ve learned quite a bit about how the thing works and I can now see from hindsight that it was perhaps unwise to allow the height of the combustion to ever go above that of height of the fire bricks. The combustion chamber can hold far more timber than it actually should and henceforth I will be more careful with how much timber I stack into the wood heater.

Speaking of all things wood heater related, the excavations for the new wood shed have also continued this week and I’m now probably only a couple of weeks away from commencing actual construction on the shed itself. In order to save some time, only the actual site for the wood shed is being excavated. The wood shed will then be constructed and after that has been completed, the landscaping, rock walls and garden beds will be finalised.

Excavations for the new wood shed have continued this week
I’m always on the hunt for new and interesting flowering plants so that there is a continual supply of pollen and nectar for the bees here. This week, I took a trip up to Blackwood (you can see Mount Blackwood in distance in the frost photo above) to visit some nurseries there that specialise in those sorts of plants. I picked up a few flowering plants and they are now waiting in a garden bed for their final resting spot to become available as a giant rhubarb plant has to be first removed and divided (more on this next week).

Poopy the Pomeranian looks on with approval at the new autumn flowering plants
The bees have food all year around here at the farm as there is always a large and growing diverse range of flowering plants. This week is no exception as the Jerusalem artichokes have just begun to flower:

Jerusalem artichokes have only this week begun to produce flowers
How did the house get here?

I mentioned in the previous blog that the summer of January 2010 was the wettest summer that I can remember. One evening that month whilst in the house that I rented in a nearby housing estate, I received a surprise to find out that the developers had actually built the estate on top of an old creek bed:

People on the street find out to their surprise that the housing estate was built on an old creek bed
Even the wildlife was a bit sick of the rain as one day I discovered a wallaby hiding in amongst the various construction materials here:

A wallaby is found hiding from the incessant rain of that year
It was a month of deliveries of materials too and in between the rain, the floor boards arrived and had to be unpacked and carefully stored in the house under heavy tarpaulins to prevent damage from the rain:
The floor boards arrived on site
The roof timbers had to be manufactured off site as required by law, even though I could have made them myself, and were also delivered that month. Unfortunately the driver unloaded some of the timber onto the roof which actually should have been put on the ground. Other timber that should have been put on the roof was unloaded onto the ground. An error for the inexperienced! You can see in the photo below, I have the plans in my hand and am scratching my head wondering what is going on...

The timber roof beams were delivered
During this month I even managed to get some of the roof timbers installed. Each roof truss is anchored to the wall frame with steel cyclone ties and trust me, they've survived the occasional blast of heavy winds - including being tested by a tornado!

The first of the roof timbers were installed
The only real problem with the construction was with the water tank which I'd previously mentioned that had rolled down the hill and smashed into a bulldozer. The manufacturers turned up that January and decided in their wisdom that rather than repairing the tank, they'd completely destroy it. It was instructive to see just how hard those things are to get rid of.

The manufacturer proceeds to demolish the damaged water tank
To be continued…

The temperature outside here at about 9.00pm is 16.4 degrees Celsius (61.5’F). So far this year there has been 138.4mm (5.4 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 135.8mm (5.3 inches).

42 comments:

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Glass breaks, fire runs hot, wood heater breaks down. Sounds like planned obsolescence. Maybe it's time to think about cast iron with a water jacket. Sure, the flames are pretty to watch, but ... My old propane heater looks like a little Franklin stove, with a window in the door. At night, I can see the pilot light from bed and must admit it's kind of cherry. Once my eyes adjust, it's also a nice night light.

That photo of the valley in frost is really pretty. Another one for the Fernglade Farm calendar.

Given housing estates are usually named after whatever they've replaced (as in, "Deer Run" with not a deer in sight) I suppose they called that one Dry Creek? :-).

That wallaby looks a little sad. Rain got him down? Or, perhaps it's just the nature of wallabys?

Wind gusts to 30 mph, here, yesterday. Probably higher at my place as I sit quit a bit higher than the weather station. Power held but the water is out again as the river is "turgid." Whatever. Lew

rabidlittlehippy said...

How disappointing to see your Gourmet has burned itself out. We have the same heater. I've found the oven is pretty useless but the stovetop and heating, plus water jacket work just fine. I broke the glass in ours last winter and it was $150+ to have it replaced plus a trip at some ungodly hour of the morning in frigid winter weather to Ballarat to have it replaced. A pricey error on my behalf.
Despite waxing lyrical about the Gourmet when first we installed it, I wouldn't buy it again I must admit. Still, when it wears (burns) out, I know who to call. ;)

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Thanks for the photo showing the flowers on the Jerusalem artichokes. Loved the view of the valley in frost.

At present it is cold and wet here, Spring is on hold.

Inge

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

Nice one repairing the heater -- be interested to hear how that pans out. The valley looks beautiful. I'm pretty keen to take the kids out camping as the weather cools. Very keen, in fact! Hope we can find a spot as nice as yours.

We have a 1950s wood stove in the lounge fireplace, but haven't used it yet. My plan/hope for this winter (after insulaitng the house/windows and de-drafting) is to build a solar space heater on the roof and pump the (hopefully warm) air into the house. I'll let you know how that one goes! ;-)

Cheers, Angus

Damo said...

Disappointing to hear about your wood heater. I would have thought even a cheapie would last 10 years. Another reason to stick to heavy cast iron units I suppose. Can always open the door for those nights you need to see the flames..

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Glad to see that you enjoy the Jerusalem artichoke photos. Good timing on your part too! I've heard that too, but have never noticed the plants dying back.

hehe! Yes, knowing when to be thorough and when not to do so is more art than science too!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for the tip, I'll have to check it out - they're both excellent actors. Best sellers don't lead to an early retirement these days - I'd certainly take the money whether it be for a film, television series or advertisement. One has to put food on the table.

Totally chuffed to hear that you enjoyed the film. It was good fun. Part of the film was in Carlton and Fitzroy which are inner city suburbs of Melbourne - the rest of the film was in Brisbane. I used to live in Fitzroy when it was as grungy as described in the film, so it has a certain place in my heart. I hardly recognise the suburbs occupants now.

It is very strange that they'd have three copies of the film. Haven't seen 2012, but I always liked Star Trek and occasionally remind JMG of that fact. I never read too much into it as it was always just a bit of romp through the galaxy. Who could hate "Trouble with Tribbles"? LOL indeed! hehe! Well it is sort of like a: And then I woke up sort of ending. Stephen King pulled that trick in the Tommy knockers. Engrossing book, I stayed up all night reading that one.

Yes, watch out for th bog backing up. My thinking is if it looks as though the gate to Hell has just materialised in your bathroom then don't go and investigate - run! Occasionally when people have bumped into me because they were walking backwards, I tell them: Look, it's just like a horror film - don't walk backwards. Well at least I thought that it was a funny thing to say.

Wooo - this is the second mention of Weird Al Yankovic today. It is just too weird sometimes as there is only ever six degrees of separation between us all. Personally I was very taken with his version of the Alternative Polka in the early 90's: It is hard not to smile when he is singing: Despite all my rage, I'm still but a rat in a cage - done with both an accordian and a heavy polka beat. The guys a virtuoso, you know and a very talented individual.

Yeah, I write for the sheer joy of it and expect nothing in return other than our pen pal letters which I'm thoroughly enjoying. The work I do here provides an alternative narrative for people, but really it is also a good way to share all of the interesting things going on here.

True, that anonymity works both ways. I've had the occasional troll turn up here, but no air time makes it a very boring experience for them. I can't understand why people would publish that sort of rubbish. It does the conversation no good and mostly scares off the ladies.

Your chickens are on steroids! Good for you. I'm getting only 1 to 2 eggs per day from 16 mouths. Still autumn is the lean time for eggs as they regrow their feathers. Just got the first blue egg today.

Yeah, Sri Lanka is one hot place, so go figure. I don't get how they produce the tea camellias in such quantity. I've planted it in full sun in a heavy bed of manure, so we'll see.

Good to see that you are getting some decent rain. I'll bet you have some big rivers up your way? I'm currently copping the tail end of a tropical cyclone, but it is just cloudy and very warm with the occasional heavy rain drop falling as if the squidgee in the sky had been scrunched too much and the water in it fell.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yes of course it is a subversive act. Plenty of people read in public up this way - but then of course, they love their gardens too and that too is a subversive act.

Thanks for the link to the photos. They're very candid and it is great to see people of all ages and stations enjoying the pleasure of reading. Without the understanding of that pleasure we could not be communicating across the globe! Should the internet falter we shall (hopefully) switch to snail mail. Very effective, I've already tested this method with JMG and it works.

Well, Noah Taylor has had a long acting career and film making is a gamble so they look to bankable actors. The same thing goes on with authors, bands etc. in fact any area of the performing arts. In past times some people thought very far in advance and set up things like the: Old Colonists' hostel and nursing home development builds on the past which wasn't too far from where I used to live.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

@Lewis

I gave some thought to what I would save from a burning home. It would probably be something silly that happened to be nearby. If there was time, it would be paperwork and after that it would be photos.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I've wondered about the benefits of a cast iron wood heater versus one made from sheet steel. Do you reckon they're longer lasting units?

Ha! I have a night light here too, it is just that dark sometimes.

Thanks. That calender is starting to get quite full!

Yeah, it was a big surprise as the waters eventually rose so high that they flooded the garage with an inch or so of water and it was absolutely full of building materials at the time. Reminds me of the time, I placed my entire kitchen outside as I was repairing the floor and that night I was hit by a super cell. Oh yeah, did it rain - I had to borrow a pump to draw all of the excess water out of the back yard...

Top work! I was wondering whether anyone would mention that. 5 years on and the compost fed wallabies are much healthier, glossier and more confident. Very, very observant.

Turgid - not good. Stay safe! I hope your water has not gone out?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi rabidlittlehippy,

That unit is the primary heating source over winter, so I really hope that the repairs solve the problem. Incidentally, the fire bricks came from Scandia and they are a standard size, but I cannot fathom how quickly the sheet steel inside the unit has disappeared in only 4 years! The steel plate I added to the combustion chamber is 5mm thick so hopefully that will do the trick.

I reckon that although the combustion chamber is quite large, it is very unwise to stack timber higher than the fire bricks as that seems to be where the damage is occurring.

The oven gets used here all the time, but the radiant heat shield must be in place (at the top of the oven) and I don't cook anything at a temperature beyond 110'C - despite what the recipe says. And often, I cook with the door to the over open. If the temperature is beyond 110'C, then I keep the door wide open when baking, otherwise it is just slightly ajar. Hope that helps.

You're right about it being a pricey error, although some mates of mine have a $12,000 Esse unit and honestly, it doesn't look as though it was built much better. Time will tell. I'm really interested to hear whether a solid cast iron unit would last longer.

I waxed lyrical about the unit too, but now I'm not so sure...

The glass broke here because I reckon the replacement pane that I installed was about 1mm to 2mm too tight. I can't tell you how annoyed I was when it broke the second time around...

When November/spring rolls around and there are tonnes of fruit on the trees it would be nice if you and your family wanted to drop by and visit, they would be most welcome.

As you may get the understanding from the activities here, I'm sort of dodging everything and anything at the moment, whilst trying to get the wood shed done before what I expect will be a cold winter hits here. I hope you understand?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Sorry to hear about the cold weather up your way. Spring always arrives in fits and starts.

The weather is very weird here today as the tail end of tropical cyclone Olwyn which did a serious job on the north western part of the continent is overhead as a low pressure trough - it is pretty light here though and has hardly even rained. It is very strange that it was not reported widely about the damage to Carnarvon (a massive banana growing area on the north west coast) which has now been declared a disaster zone.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

Thanks man! Yeah, I'm hanging to see how the repairs work too - they seriously beat working for two months just to buy a new unit and how do you even dispose of an existing 200kg steel wood heater? The water tank suppliers had the same issue with the water tank and you can see how their solution worked...

Yeah, what a great idea! They have those units with little solar PV fans which only blow the air in when the sunlight is shining strongly enough. Clever huh? I've got a couple of solar hot water panels on the roof which heat the water for about 9 months of the year and that heat can be redirected into the hydronic radiators.

I'd be very interested to hear how your system works.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Mate, I was filthy about how short a life span it had. Mind you, I'm going to be much more gentle with the unit going forward.

Do you have any experience with solid cast iron units as I've been wondering about whether it would be worth upgrading - if they have a longer lifespan?

Wow, opening the door really gets the fire going as so much oxygen gets into it. When the units here had been going for a day or so, you could get the walls inside the combustion chamber glowing red. Probably not a good thing to do in hindsight.

The house itself has become much better insulated and sealed in recent years so I haven't had to run the heater as hot as in previous years when much of the damage was done.

I'm wondering whether it is one of those situations where you need to have a system that can do far more than your needs just so that it is resilient in the long term? Many things are like that here.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I'm with you, photos are irreplaceable. I keep a backup copy of my data (music and digital photos) on a hard drive offsite. Some certificates are irreplaceable too.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Much warmer today. A few more primroses and the first celandine.

Serious shortage of bricks in the country which is holding up a job that Son is doing. He has just declined another job unless he is permitted proper scaffolding. It appears that someone else had declined the job for the same reason. The owner of the property is a climber and can't see the problem!!

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

@Inge - I've got a trip to Idaho in the planning stages and have no suitcase. When I think of all the suitcases I donated to the local thrift when I helped clear out an estate ... Well, anyway. I've also been thinking of a "go" bag. Something to grab in case of disaster. With paperwork, etc.. Think I'll invest in a good small backpack for the trip and then, use it as a go-bag.

Yo, Chris - Some actors seem to get a lot of work, and I think it's because they're "low maintenance." Pleasant to work with, show up on time, know their lines and don't have "issues." Seemed to be the case in the bit of community theatre I did.

I don't know about the pros and cons of steel vs cast iron in stoves. Seems it might take some extensive research on the Net.

That was some article on the Old Colonists home. I had to laugh when it mentioned that the 60s construction had "under delivered." Well, that was tactful. Some people do think ahead. Every once in awhile I run across a reference to The Old Movie Actor's Home. It started in the 1920s, I think. A clean, well lit place for old actors who have fallen on hard times. They had some occupants that were quit famous silent movie stars. They also take in anyone connected with the movie industry. Everything from costume designers to lighting grips.

Oh, I always just looked at Star Trek as a romp. I saw the first trailer for "San Andreas", which is coming this summer. Looking forward to it hitting the grocery store DVD racks in the fall.

Any time some coincidence happens, like the mention of Weird Al, twice in one day, I just think to myself "Synchronicity, chaos theory, karma ... whatever." :-)

I noticed this morning that a fairly good sized volunteer apple tree is down in the pasture across the road. A couple of weeks ago, after another windstorm, I noticed a tree is down in the abandoned orchard.

There was no water for 3 or 4 hours on Saturday and it's been out for the last 24 hours. Sigh. So it goes.

LOL. I refer to you as my "Australian Internet Pen Pal." :-). Lew

PS: Apparently, I'm back in the good graces of Blogger. It stopped asking me to interpret the odd little squiggles a last week. Back to just clicking on "I'm not a robot" and click on "Publish Your Comment."

orchidwallis said...

Chris and Lewis

Hey, I'm also not having to interpret those blasted squiggles anymore.

What's the betting that it will confound me when I try to send this?

Inge

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I had a squiggle to interpret, I guess the fates are gunning for me.

Inge

Damo said...

I must confess I know very little about plate steel vs cast iron wood stoves. Up until today I just assumed cast iron was better, but the first few results in a google search claim that cast iron is more maintenance intensive.....not sure I follow their logic.

My uncle has built a few wood heaters from old hot water systems - at least 10 years old and no obvious problems. The steel wheel hub as a door makes a nice touch.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Ahh, the mythical low stress actor: A rare, often spoken about, but not much seen beast. hehe! Just being silly, I'm sure there are plenty of them around. It is like everything I guess, there is a real diversity of people out there.

People say both yes and no. Go not to the elves for advice... Seriously, I can't get a straight answer on the whole cast iron versus sheet metal thing, but Damo has provided an interesting idea.

You bet it undelivered - what an understatement. The main houses in that estate are beautiful old Victorian and Edwardian buildings - and then some dolt goes and builds a couple of el-cheapo cream brick veneer 60's dumps. Nuff said really. Real estate agents would sell the idea as a juxtaposition.

The Old Movie Actor's home is also a very clever idea.

Man, that film looks big. I mean really big. Yeah, the Star Trek thing is just a story to me, even if people consider it to be lame.

Woooo. Most likely you are correct in the matter. Life is weird like that.

Those must have been some winds - combined with rain to topple the fruit trees. That is what happens here rain and then heavy winds and the trees lose hold of the ground.

Mate, your water situation would drive me bananas. I see a large rain barrel in your future.

Cool!

Yeah, maybe we've hit some sort of critical mass with blogger - or perhaps also we got it so wrong that they took pity on us and stopped harassing us with that nonsense. I reckon a long while back we were performing OCR (Optical Character Recognition) for parts of their book scans or street view that didn't work. Dunno?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

No worries, you made it past the bridge troll on two occasions. I reckon that is a pretty good hit rate. Now I'm thinking of that Monty Python scene where the bridge troll is asking the knights what is their favourite colour?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Yeah, it is hard getting an answer on that subject and assumed much the same as you about the cast iron.

Incidentally, I'd never considered actually building a replacement wood stove from scratch. I'll observe how the 5mm plate goes over the winter and consider the project for the future. Top work!

Cheers

Chris

Les said...

Hi Chris,

Bummer about the Gourmet Cooker. Yes, we have one too, but it's just coming up to three years old. No sign of breakages yet.

Mind you, we have some mates around the corner who've been using one for over eight years and it's still going strong (the steel that holds the fire bricks in is a bit corroded, but that's all).

Do you run your oven really hot? I know if I'm frying something, or running the wok, it gets too hot for comfort - I'm not sure Annette likes watching me cook in my undies - maybe that shortens the lifespan...

It is kinda fun sitting here in winter watching the bread bake.

Cheers,

Les

LewisLucanBooks said...


@ Inge - I can see the headlines, now. "Britain Faces Peak Bricks!" "Keep Calm and Carry On!" :-).

Seriously, though, it's interesting in all the archaeological stuff I read, they're always running across "robber trenches" or "ghost walls." Foundation stones, and such, that are used in newer construction. Sounds more like salvage, to me.

Seems like every town of any size here in the Pacific Northwest had a brick yard and kilns. Vancouver, Washington had one that was still producing into the 70s. When I moved here in '81, there was a disused one. They finally tore it down a couple of years ago. At one point, "used brick" was very trendy. Of course, here in earthquake country, "unreinforced masonry" buildings come down with regularity. Old historic piles can be retrofitted, but it takes a bit of will (and money) on the part of the building owner.

Yo, Chris; Well, consulting the Elves seems like a plan ... they being metal smiths, and all. Oh, wait. It's the Dwarfs you want to consult. THEY'RE the metal smiths. The Elves probably wouldn't take kindly to being associated with the hands dirty old Dwarfs! A terrible social blunder has been averted :-). Well, you can look at the issue, again, when it comes time to replace your stove.

Yeah, "San Andreas" looks like a big film. Don't know if it can hold a candle to "2012" though. Great flaming slabs of LA sliding into the ocean. Woody Harrelson being blown to atoms when the Yellowstone Caldera goes up.

That last bit struck a little close to home. When Mt. St. Helens went up, there was a geologist named David Johnston who was a wee bit to close. Of course, no one expected a lateral blast. He radioed, "Vancouver, this is it!" and that's the last anyone ever heard of him. They found bits of his kit, and that was all. They've named Johnston Ridge after him and a couple of volcanic observatories.

Well, if nothing else, movies like that get me to strap down the book cases. When I moved the china cupboard in here, I made sure there were shims under the front feet so it slants back and rests against the wall.

Of course, there are so many unknowns in an earthquake. How big, how long, which direction the seismic waves roll in from. Do those waves hit a building broadside or narrow end on.

Well, on that cheerful note I guess I'd better pull myself together and make my weekly trip to the little smoke. Unless the waters back on, it's a bird bath for me! :-). Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Sorry, I missed the bit about shortage of bricks holding up construction. What? Down under bricks are manufactured locally. Where do they come from for the UK and is there some sort of building boom going on?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Les,

Many thanks for the status of your wood heater. I've been wondering whether I've been overloading the combustion chamber and running the unit too hot which has contributed to the destruction of the steel. It certainly has delaminated and was paper thin.

Wow, I'm glad to hear that report about your neighbours too. I've already replaced that bit of angle a few years back.

I'm sure that would shorten the units lifespan - plus you really don't want to get burnt. Ouch!

Yeah, I use that oven all the time over winter and put a pizza stone in and it makes the most awesome pizzas too...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Too funny, those keep calm and carry on posters have been turning up in all sorts of places. Did you know that there was a story about the commercial hijacking of that concept which rivals the unusual turn of events surrounding the Men at Work song - Down Under? In my opinion, both cases are a bizarre use of the legal system if I must say so.

Guilty! I purchased a pallet or four of used bricks and built the most beautiful looking brick wall as part of an extension - and the neighbour who'd been breaking me for it, didn't end up liking it and wanted all sorts of add ons. I put a quick end to that bit of shark like behaviour.

Yeah, they still produce bricks north of here, although all of the brick yards and kilns in the city are now fancy housing options for the well to do.

Of course, and thanks for the advice. What a faux pas! I hope the elves don't come and get me for it. They seem a bit touchy and prideful?

Woody Harelson is an outstanding actor. I liked Cheers, but what the heck I like Zombieland too. True detective was genius.

Don't go poking volcanoes seems to be the lesson there. I remember being enthralled by the National Geographic on the eruption - it was big! Yes, I believe they mention David. Well, they're predictable, yet unpredicatable.

A very wise precaution. My entire library takes up the floor to ceiling of the hallway in the house. It looks pretty cool, but those shelves are securely anchored to the wall (the benefits of building the house yourself).

That would be very hard to predict and you just have to sort of get on with your life and not worry too much. However, past performance in that case is indicative of future performance (having said that I do hope the volcano which I'm on the side of is actually dormant)...

Noooo! Not the water again. Best of luck with that. Hope you enjoy the little smoke too.

PS: I hope you enjoyed my little rant over at the ADR... I was being more than a little silly.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

They used to make bricks here on the Island; but no more. Everything seems to get bigger and bigger and smaller businesses go under. The shortage is due to a lack of house building! Result, brick manufacture slowed up. Suddenly house building has re-started, result=shortage. We do tend to be last in the queue as stuff has to come over the water.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Leave a bowl of milk out for the Elves and maybe they'll calm down. Or is leaving milk out a way to calm down Fairies? Oh, the protocol! :-). I know it's milk and cookies for Santa. If you haven't done so already, you might high thee over to the Green Wizard site and post a query. One question, 5 responses, 4 opinions. :-)

Oh, I didn't think your post over at ADR was silly. Even if it was, ADR needs a little silly, every now and again.

Loved "Zombieland." It was a hoot!

Watched a couple of interesting DVDs from the library, last night. "Slow Food Story; The History of a Revolution in Pleasure." Back to our Italian friends, again. All about Carlo Petrini and the development of the slow food movement. Who knew it was a Commie plot! :-). Sadly, some people will see it that way. Sigh. The only complaint I had about the film was, it was mostly in Italian. No problem as there were subtitles, right? Another deep sigh. Subtitles on images of newspaper print or white tablecloths are pretty much lost. And, they went kind of fast. Or, the images went kind of fast. So I felt like I could either read the subtitles or watch the movie.

The other one was "The Story of Tea" from the Planet Food Collection. One of those "group of bright young energetic (makes me tired just watching them) people racing around the world poking into the subject of tea." But there was still a bit of information to be picked up along the way.

We'd talked about tea and shade, or lack there of. What I noticed was that the only tea plantations with a scattering of tall shade trees, right in the fields were in Bangladesh. But I also noticed that a lot of the fields in other countries had large trees at the edges of the fields. Or, how can I describe this ... a lot of the terraces looped quit deeply into the hillsides ... so they'd be shaded part of the day. I'm sure there's probably a whole science (or maybe more of an art) to planting tea. I suppose it depends on the latitude.

Well, guess I'll wander off and do something constructive. So much to choose from! :-) Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for the comment. I will be unable to reply today.

There has been a small hiccup today: Rats have chewed through many and varied parts overnight in both of my small vehicles. One is at a standstill. Top work... This is gonna be expensive... I'm not quite sure what the emoticon is for unhappy face?

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Sorry to hear about the damage rats have caused you. Our rats are being eaten by buzzards. When myxomatosis arrived here in 1953, the decline in rabbits meant that the buzzards left. They returned about 4 years ago and it is now 3 years since I have seen a rabbit! There are a vast number of buzzards now and sheer hunger is turning them to the rats; fine by me. However our squirrels are the red protected ones and the buzzards are after them. We are one of the only 2 areas (both islands) where there are no grey squirrels in the UK. I feed the squirrels and it is amazing to watch the buzzards stunning flight antics as they try to pick off a squirrel; so far without success. Sometimes everything goes silent and not a bird or squirrel can be seen. If I look up I see a buzzard flying high overhead.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Oh, Chris, how awful. :-( . <:-(> . Last time I took my truck in for an oil change, they found a mouse nest in the air filter. Didn't find any other damage. Nell is always nailing mice under the truck. I looked around on line for solutions to rodents in vehicles, at that time. Nothing definitive. A lot of it seemed to be just folk remedies. Dryer sheets in glove boxes?

Trot out the hoards of commenters in defense of dryer sheets in glove boxes :-). Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yes, the elves and fairies have both been making mischief here. The protocol is really hard to get a person's head around. To my mind it works like this: I'll create a really awesome space for you lot to play around in. The only problem is that when the elves and fairies actually do play around sometimes they're thinking of their own interests and not considering mine at all. It is most annoying. Do they do that at your place?

Well a diversity of opinions can be a good thing. Speaking of which, I was at the Otway Herb garden this morning and had a very long and extensive chat with the lovely bloke that is married to the lady that runs the place. A true mine of information as they'd lived up in that remote spot for going on 3 decades now. It reminded me of your discussions with Brother Bob the farmer. There is just so much to learn...

Well, I introduced a good bit of silliness in a good cause and now someone has taken me seriously over there...

Yeah, Woody rocked in Zombieland. Actually, Bill Murray's cameo appearance was pretty funny too. Someone described that film to me as a story with no beginning and no ending. Still it was a ripping good yarn.

Of course our Italian friends are just pointing out the very obvious: Eat what is in season - or has been preserved well and remember to enjoy it whilst you are at that serious business.

It is a bit hard isn't it. My Art of War book which is a hardback edition too ($8 second hand ;-)!) has black raised print for the title on a black background and much the same effect can be seen. At a cafe in Melbourne a barista I've known for about a decade was asking: what are you reading? I showed him the cover and was going: cool isn't it?

Yes, some people and cultures are fast talkers. Seinfeld covered that issue in an episode, but I actually know a lady of Spanish descent and she is a fast talker and sometimes I have troubles keeping up - too much time in the forest talking to wombats perhaps? People around here don't tend to be fast talkers, but on the other hand they're not speaking in a drawl either so it is somewhere in between.

Out of interest did they find the perfect tea anywhere? Much of the tea we drink has been fermented to an extent.

Interesting, I'll observe how the camellia goes here over the winter and then the following summer. It looks a bit sad at the moment and there are only a few green buds on it...

Don't work too hard!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Can you please send some of those buzzards down this way, they sound very handy.

Trust me, the rabbits will recover in time, they certainly have here. Although a new rabbit disease calicivirus escaped containment in 1995. Such things build resistance in fast breeding populations.

The wedge tail eagles dine on rabbits here, but the dogs wouldn't allow them to get settled here. I've heard that rabbits eat the bark off fruit trees, but do not have first hand experience of those activities.

Go the buzzards!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Sorry to hear about the mouse nest. The rats chewed through many rubber lines - degassing the air conditioner in the process - in the engine bay as well as plenty of cables - including the fuel injector control cables. Well done them. Gonna be expensive... I suspect they can eat things faster than I can earn the money to repair them...

Yes, well I was picking the brains of a serious old timer this morning who runs an organic herb farm and he told me to simply poison them.

The rats have been avoiding the fancy trap I set for them - whilst eating the bait leading up to the trap door - and a cat would eat a lot of the smaller birds here which would then upset the insect population. A cat is a good idea though for the specific purpose of catching rats. Does Nell have an hourly charge out rate?

OK, what is a dryer sheet in a glove box? Sounds to me like something you blow your nose on?

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

I regret to say that poisoning is the only final solution for a rat problem. If anyone knows different, It would be interesting to hear.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Doesn't seem to be much elf and fairy activity around here. Maybe it's the number of cats and coyotes around that makes for less than ideal range. :-).

I know what you mean about picking someones brain. When the pruners were here, I was sure picking there's while hauling branches out of the way. They lie just over the next ridge from me and she was born there. So much to remember. Didn't quit seem the time to say "Do you mind if I record this?" :-)

Fast talkers and fast livers. When I first moved here, I hadn't been back to Portland in about 6 months. Drove down to meet a friend for coffee downtown. Parked, got out on the sidewalk and thought, "Why are all these people running?" I also found all the signage and ads kind of oppressive.

Well, they weren't exactly looking for the "perfect" tea. Just poking about at tea in general. One of the blocks did sample some $350 tea. Per kilo? He made some polite sounds on sampling it, but, judging from his face, it wasn't all THAT great.

What was interesting is the bizarre (from my very narrow point of view) people do to tea around the world. The things they add to it. My coffee or my tea? Straight and very strong, please.

The green buds on your tea sound promising. Just keep talking to it.

If you poison the rats, make sure your dogs don't get at any of the corpses. One of the reasons I don't let Nell upstairs except for short sweeps. There was some poison put up there, years ago. Probably not a problem, anymore. But, you never know.

Dryer sheets. Never underestimate the lows of American ingenuity. They are these gauzy (but sturdy) sheets that you've supposed to toss in your dryer. They smell like nothing in nature, yet are supposed to provide a "spring-like" or sun dried odor to you laundry. What does spring smell like? :-) . Oh, and they also do away with the dreaded "static cling." You don't have to go to all that bother of pulling your socks apart. Actually, the one thing they are good for is, if you throw them in a box of musty books, it cuts the odor. If the books aren't too far gone.

I feel a lot better now. When you were talking about your secret used bookstore, I decided that's why mine failed. It was so wonderful, everyone kept it a secret :-).

Just got back from a water run. We are in our 5th day of no water. My landlord showed up right after I got back, and told me he's visiting the well drillers, next week. And, I got his permission to have my handy friend, Elvin, stop by to see if we can figure out how to switch the well at the abandoned place over to providing us with water. Or, at least, now that we are safely past the frosts, turning the well back on over at the old place. So I don't have to run to town for water, but can get it just a few hundred feet down the road. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks for your advice, that aligns pretty closely with what others have told me. I'll ask the question on tomorrow's blog and we'll see what the results are. The rats can eat the car faster than I can earn money to repair it...

Everything is really a compromise here between living with the wildlife and trying to get some produce - it is a fine line and sometimes I'm ahead and sometimes they're ahead.

I set a trap for the rats, but honestly, they're too smart to be fooled by it.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Well the elves and fairies are fair game for the cats and coyotes. Incidentally I read a story a long time ago that mentioned that the line for them failed due to the mingling of human bloodstock. If I found them in the garden I'd probably leave them well alone as they seem to be a whole lot of trouble. The old tales were cautionary tales and nothing ever went well for the protagonists after that lot became mixed into the story.

Speaking of coyotes, I went up a road called Wild Dog Road yesterday and all I was thinking about were coyotes! I'll drop some photos tomorrow. Although I hope they turned out OK?

Yeah, it is a great idea to pick other peoples brains as you never know what you may learn. It is possibly not quite politic to ask permission for a recording of the conversation. My brain is full and sometimes concepts are just lost on me! hehe!

I spotted a very large and old fig tree for sale for not much cost and was wondering whether it was even possible to move the tree? Dunno, but it might be worth the hassle?

The same thing happens here in Melbourne over summer. It can be a really hot day and the sun is baking your head and people are running around like blow flies (common house flies). You feel like telling them to slow down as it is just so hot, but they don't seem to acclimatise and thus keep up their high energy pace. It makes me tired even thinking about them…

Seriously I rarely see or hear advertising and it is a shock to me because when I do because it is very flashy, full of emotive content and just loud. I would like it to be elsewhere at those times, but just sort of tolerate it quietly.

That is expensive for tea. I heard of coffee that had passed through the gut of a native cat in Java as being the ultimate coffee experience, but I’m somewhat dubious as to those claims. ;-)! A mate of mine once served me what he described as green tea and I dumped it into their vegetable garden when they weren't looking. There is a long history here with the Chinese culture and one of my favourites is Jasmine green tea. Yum!

Exactly, tea does not require milk or sugar. And we will not talk about teas that are meant to be caramel flavoured - yuk. What do they put into those teas?

I gave the tea camellia a big drink yesterday but today was also hot so will try to have a bit of a chat to the plant later. Thanks for the advice.

The dogs aren't partial to eating mice and rats and they usually kill them for sport. Poopy the Pomeranian has the highest number of kills due to his size and agility, but I can't let him out at night otherwise he'd chase off the wombats and wallabies... The whole mess is doing my head in...

What is a dryer? hehe! Mate, I don't even own or use a dryer here. Plenty of people down under do though – they’re very common. Washing horses in front of the fire dry the clothes quite well and right now, the clothes are out in the warm sun drying for free. I don't have your winters though and would probably not know what to do if presented with them.

Musty books hold quite an interesting smell so I can well understand that usage.

Of course your book store was a wonderful place full of interesting books. I get that and would have thoroughly enjoyed whiling away a few hours digging up rare and interesting treasures. No stress, small business is a tough school.

Oh my, 5 days without water and I'd be: cracking the sads - as they say here! I hope Elvin gets the well sorted as it will save everyone a massive load of trouble. Still something has to be done.

I'm about to order another 4,000 litre (about 1,200 gallon) water tank for here over the next few weeks. Water is everything up here and the original town of Cherokee was abandoned because of that lack. The autumn has been quite warm but March is usually dry here so there is nothing unusual in that and there hasn't been much rain yet, but they reckon it will rain Tuesday morning. Time will tell.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris; Ah, yes. Ordering books from bookstores in "the old days." As I remember, a lot of my time was spent explaining the book and publishing biz to disgruntled customers who wanted what they wanted, now, preferably, yesterday. :-).

Say, someone would come in an want to order (what we didn't have on the shelves) every Agatha Christie (or, any other popular, prolific author) in paperback. Well. Publishers would generally rotate through an author's titles. Ten or twenty of an authors titles (backlist - older titles) would be sold out, and they might not re-publish for a year or two ... or longer. Then they would republish, usually with a new cover.

Once a week we'd take our special order lists and add those to whatever we needed, in a hurry, for stock. We needed a minimum order of 25 books. Oh, this is the book wholesaler orders. There were about 3 big ones and they sent us weekly microfiche updates. Remember those? Those funny little plastic squares full of data. Any-who. When we'd call in the order, the operator could tell us if the book was in stock. If not, we'd add it to the list of the next wholesaler to call. Hoping that wholesaler would have a copy of, whatever.

When I see ads on the random tv, these days, half the time I can't even tell what they're flogging.

The daffodils are about played out and I noticed there are some tulips about to burst into bloom.

The only messing about with my tea or coffee I'll tolerate is maybe a nice Earl Gray with bergamot. or, maybe a squeeze of lemon, which I administer, myself.

If you haven't already, try baiting your traps with a dab of peanut butter. Seems irresistible to rats and mice. Lew

rabidlittlehippy said...

Hi Chris,
We're working on a larger than usual wood supply too. I fear a long and very cold winter as well. It's a cold week forecast this week so our Gourment (Ignisa as we named her) is already on. I am looking forward to ditching the leccy hotplate (never did get gas connected) again until it warms up once again.
Thanks for the invite next spring. Whenever is a good and quiet time will likely work best for us too. :)