Monday, 27 April 2015

A water shed moment


Having an eagles eye view across the valley to Mount Bullengarook and also to Mount Blackwood, means that sometimes you get to see some very strange clouds moving across the valley. Earlier this week the clouds did a great impersonation of the mothership which was clearly about to land in the valley after a long voyage across space:
The mothership descends into the valley

And land in the valley that cloud certainly did! Fortunately I didn’t spot any aliens exiting the mothership, but it is perhaps good advice not to go looking for them in the first place as they seem like bad news. Anyway, with the thick cloud, visibility was down to only a few metres (feet) and it stayed like that for many days.

The chickens are a mostly hardy lot and they didn’t let a little bit of thick cloud upset their fun which usually involves digging up the plants in the orchard!

The enforcer chicken braves the thick cloud for a peck in the orchard
Observant readers will note that I described the chickens here as a mostly hardy lot. The reason for the use of the word “mostly” was because one of the Australorp chickens died suddenly this week. She was healthy one morning and then very dead the following morning. I’d suggest that the sudden change to very cool and damp conditions here brought on some sort of illness. Sudden changes in temperatures can produce shock in farm animals and sometimes that shock can be fatal.

Over the next few months, I’m considering rebuilding the chicken enclosure and chicken hut. Lewis has suggested that it may be a Taj Mahal in the making, but I’m thinking that it will be something closer to a Chookingham Palace! The current chicken housing arrangements are quite unsatisfactory for a few reasons, least of all being that the enclosure which the ladies spend most of their time in, is actually built upside down and on a slope. It will be quite interesting to be able to implement what I’ve learned about chickens over many years and I’ll include some preliminary designs on the blog over the next few weeks. I’d certainly be very interested to hear from everyone about what works and what doesn’t work with their own chicken enclosures, so feel free to discuss all things chicken enclosures.

The weird thing about the thick cloud here was that for quite a few days, if you ignored the constant mist and the fact that the solar PV produced next to no power, it was actually quite dry and OK to work outside. So, excavations for the new wood shed site continued and are now complete for that stage of the project.

When you excavate anywhere here, you never quite know what you’ll find in the ground. There can be giant rocks happily floating (seriously) through the clay and loam and they’re like the iceberg that finished off the unsinkable ship - The Titanic, because you’ll never know just how big they can be below ground level. And usually, they are exactly where you want to dig! This area has also had forests for millennia so there can be old tree roots or stumps underground in various states of decomposition and you’d never even know it.

To get a flat site for the new wood shed, I’ve had to dig at least 2 metres (78.7 inches) deep at the deepest point of the excavations. And wouldn’t you know it? An old and very large tree stump was sitting in the ground just waiting to be uncovered, just where I wanted to dig. I removed that tree stump by digging around it and axing off any side roots – some of which were enormous – and then cutting the tap root with the chainsaw.

Old tree stump uncovered in the excavation area
That one stump took about half a day of work to remove and I’m very happy to say that after that, the rest of the excavations went very quickly.

The final corner post for the new wood shed was then able to be cemented into the ground – and then all was good with the world and I went off and had a celebratory mead!

The final corner post was cemented into the ground
Unlike timber, there is little room for error with steel, so I had to ensure that the final dimensions of the shed were perfectly square and all of the faces of the steel posts exactly lined up to each other.

As of this afternoon, all of the posts have now been cemented into the ground. The height of the roof has been set at 2,300mm (90.5 inches). That height was itself governed by the height of the water tank that will eventually collect all of the rainfall that falls onto the shed roof. It is a funny process building a shed this way, because you have to understand every single step of the process before you can even begin construction.

All of the posts for the new wood shed have now been cemented into the ground and the height for the roof has been set
Hopefully, if the weather holds this week, I’ll be able to install the roof and begin cladding the frame.

Autumn has truly taken hold here and over the past few weeks the tourists have descended on the mountain range to witness the change in leaf colour. The maples produce some spectacular colours and some of my favourites are the Japanese maples and below is a photo of one of the many Japanese maples here which has had a particularly nice colour change this week:

Japanese maples produce an awesome autumn colour display
How did the house get here?

With the roof now installed, by July 2010, I started installing the underfloor insulation and the very beautiful Sydney Blue Gum flooring. The flooring is actually a species of red gum and even today the floor has this sort of wild “red head” feel to it! To add to the interest, the timber was a downgraded timber, which is what the timber supply people call feature grade. Being classed as a feature grade the floor has a whole lot of visual interest, but is much cheaper to purchase than higher grades. I also strove very hard to increase the visuals of the floor by off-setting the very dark (which are the older timbers) with the very light timbers (which are from much younger trees).

The underfloor insulation is installed at the same time as the timber floorboards
The fibro-cement weatherboards were also installed that month and although the boards themselves were individually quite high at 230mm (9 inches) each, I provided a lot of overlap between the the boards so that the house looked as though it was a traditional weatherboard house, instead of a cabin park trailer. I actually had to sneak around some of the older suburbs in Melbourne at night with a tape measure to get a feel for what sort of measurements the older weatherboard houses actually had. Fortunately I was not caught in that act as it would have been very hard to explain!

The external fibro cement weatherboards are being installed
And then one day that month all of the flooring in the house had been installed.

All of the floorboards were finally installed in the house
The batteries which store all of the electrical energy for the house were connected up to the inverter at that time too. The inverter is an amazing bit of locally manufactured equipment that takes the 24V DC of the house batteries and converts it to the sort of mains power that you’d expect to find in a normal house. It works so well, most people have no idea that the house itself is not even connected to the electrical grid!

The inverter is now connected up to the house batteries
The electrician then could begin the exceptionally complex task of running electrical cables all around the house frame:

The electrician began the complex task of running wires through the house frame
To be continued…

The temperature outside here at about 9.00pm is 7.2 degrees Celsius (45’F). So far this year there has been 224.0mm (8.8 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 209.4mm (8.2 inches).

43 comments:

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, they really do slow everything down - especially the ones with video! At $7.67/Gb for Internet here I get a bit tired of all of the extra unwanted stuff and usually stick to text. The service is amazingly fast, but very expensive.

Nice to hear that you run a pop up blocking service. They're mostly pretty good.

Oh no. Yeah, somewhere along the line bits of paper were converted into very effective (and also very expensive) barriers to entry. There is a point to education, but most people tend to think of it as an ending and not the beginning that it actually is. I once trained a very promising subordinate and promoted her to the position of assistant. It was unrealistic to demand that she go back and study at her age and she had the talent and the aptitude so I gave her a chance. And to this day she still works there and despite the hassles that it gave me, I'd do the same thing all over again. You know, no one ever talks about the fact that many of the older people in my profession did no study at all and learned by apprenticeship. Mind you, sometimes they can be the most arrogant of the lot too.

Yes, Te Radar, the New Zealand ex-lawyer turned serious journalist and also comedian said: "Live stock becomes dead stock". That Brother Bob was a smart bloke too. Makes you wonder what you'd have to do with a dead horse or cow or something large like that?

Ahh, well, I guess they've argued for years about who shot whom first and who was standing on what side of the bridge. Mind you, which side of the bridge were the Redcoats on? There lies the crux of the matter.

Stop encouraging me about a Taj Mahal of chicken houses! Seriously, I don't need the encouragement. hehe! I've actually visited the Taj. Very impressive and highly symmetrical. I can appreciate that too. The son of the guy that ordered it built placed his fathers tomb deliberately and slightly off center as a bit of a statement about financial prudence. Very nasty stuff.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

Thanks mate. Yeah, the blog and comments roam far and wide. I try to chuck in some interesting information too.

The geranium actually works - I was channeling the herb dog bane - which the wombats continue to pull out of the ground, so I've given up on them.

Yes, greater care, better feed and water = more productive plants. I have to repeat that process on the orchard before spring and it is a big job. You should be able to achieve cherry tomatoes into early winter too.

Go hard with the rhubarb. You don't have to even be remotely careful - just give them a drink to get established.

I haven't used a rocket mass stove, bu people swear by them. Plus given they usually seem to be building the stoves themselves and they don't appear to be pushing products or courses, so I'd guess the claims appear to be on the level.

A good thought. One fire box to perform multiple uses. I noticed Bunnings here seems to be selling Scandia wood stoves and they had a unit that was remarkably similar design to mine even with the wet back option - although they are now made in China - but with a 10 year warranty on the fire box.

The sticks would be very easy fuel to obtain if you have any forested reserve nearby and that is the trick to rocket stoves. The eucalyptus trees here are constantly dropping sticks and branches - every day of the year.

Nice to hear that you have had so much rain. I'm glad summer is well and truly in the past!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

I was much amused at the thought of you touring the Melbourne homes, at night, with a tape measure. It certainly smacks of someone casing the joint.

The bluebells are flowering + one large clump of white ones.

There are no bluebells around my shack but the ground is blue. People say that they love these bluebells. Oh, the ignorance; if it is a mass of blue it must be bluebells! In fact it is the bugle.

Hen of the woods: No1 honorary son's father in law is Italian but in the US. He gathers this fungus. It grows to the size of a human torso. He then pickles it and I am told that the taste is wonderful. I went on the internet and there are lots of pickling recipes. Regretfully it doesn't grow here.

I have long given up trying to grow fungi. On the rare occasion that I have succeeded, I had already left the property concerned. I once snuck in and picked fungi that I had introduced. It had taken 8 years to produce anything. I now rely on foraging.

Inge

John D. Wheeler said...

The problem with my chicken enclosure is the enclosure part. I didn't realize that chickens could dig, so I didn't have any kind of bottom on, so it was only a few weeks before they were out and roaming the yard. Then the snow came and they were happy to stay in their coop, but the next spring the really started to spread out, eventually winding up roosting in my big blue spruce tree. This past winter when they weren't there they would frequently huddle under my back deck. Now about the only thing they use the coop for is as a nesting box. I don't even know where they roost for the night, they just disappear!

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Angus - You might check out smallbatchgarden. blogspot. com. Tripp posts occasionally to the ADR. He put in a rocket stove and there are several pictures and observations. Not a how to, exactly, but lots of information. In the older posts.

Yo, Chris - A watershed moment? Oh, what a groaner! :-). We're taking away your words for awhile, young man, until you straighten up and fly right! :-)

Well, as long as the "mothership" didn't have running lights, you're probably all right.

Ought to send a sample of that stump off to be Carbon 14 dated. Wonder how old it is?

Well, when a cow died around here, Brother Bob would just haul it back to the canyon. The crows and hawks made short work of it. I haven't been back there, but there's probably quit a bone pile. There was a bull's skull lurking in the blackberries. Gave me a bit of a turn when I ran across it. I have it peeping out of the ivy ... move it out near the road at Halloween.

When I was taking some library prerequisites back in the 60s at Uni, a very young, hip librarian pretty much said "Look. This MLS thing is pretty bogus. Back in the early 20th century, librarians wanted to be as respected as doctors and lawyers, so they created a BA program and then the MLS." Well, that kind of soured me on the whole library thing. And, I wanted to get on with life. An excuse I seized on.

I guess the son of the Taj Mahal builder was indulging in a little pay back for Dad's "We're spending our children's inheritance" mindset. :-).

Back in New England, they call the hoards of tourists out to see the changing foliage, "Leaf Peepers." The Main farmers are always complaining about "lowlanders" and people from Massachusetts (with some very unkind names not fit for a family blog) but not too loudly. They bring a lot of money into those Main roadside farm stands.

Grant Wood, one of my favorite Regionalists did a great picture of a country woman / town woman standoff over a chicken.

http://search.yahoo.com/search?ei=utf-8&fr=aaplw&p=Grant+wood+chicken+picture

Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

PS: Ah, found it. The painting is called "The Appraisal." By Grant Wood, 1931. He worked quit a few chooks into his paintings. :-). Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris:

That vision of you sneaking around the neighborhood in the dark, measuring peoples weatherboarding just did me in.

Pam

thecrowandsheep said...

Hi Chris,

Chookingham Palace is a good one, but have you considered The Egg-White House?

Cheers

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Hehe! It was one of those times that it was best to just do and not ask as it would have been too hard to explain. Fortunately a lot of the older weatherboard houses have only very small front gardens and many of the houses abut the footpath.

Well, a lovely lady around thee parts tells me that her father used to say that: The best gardeners are always thieves. I've only ever been caught once taking cuttings from plants over hanging a fence and the owner looked very unimpressed. ;-)!

Yes, I once saw an interview with the English journalist George Monbiot and he was saying that in times past the average person had to know the names and uses of at least 120 plants local to their area. I doubt many would pass that test these days.

Wow, that is huge! I've never tried it either - it has a good reputation though. There is a guy at the nearby Lancefield farmers market here that collects unusual varieties of mushrooms from pine forests and sells them. Some of the species are quite tasty and others, well, not so much. The species in the pine forests are all imports and mostly of European origin so they can be identified with a high degree of accuracy.

Foraging is good as you outsource all of the hard work to nature. I rely on the market, but mushrooms will be on the agenda long term.

Has the weather improved for your extended birthday - or shall we call it the Festival of Inge? :-)! Celebrations are good fun and I wish you well.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi John,

Thanks for sharing your experience with the chickens. Well at least your chickens seem to be thriving in their escapee environment! ;-)!

Hopefully you are OK with the next bit, but: I'm going to credit individuals who have suggested good features in the final design and construction - more on this later though and many thanks for the excellent advice!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Hehe! Yeah, I knew it was a groaner, but went: what the heck! And did it anyway. ;-)!

That cloud could have hid an armada of motherships! But looking for the running lights is probably not a bad idea. Hearing about space lizards makes me laugh - what are they thinking?

Yeah, I was wondering that too. It could be very old indeed - especially if it had been burned in a bushfire. Some of the tree species in Tasmania (Huon Pine) can be left permanently - more or less - in water and they won't rot. They are very slow growing though. In New Zealand they have they Kauri Pine which performs the same neat trick and the occasionally pull logs out of swamps and all sorts of weird places. They're both very valuable timber - but strangely neither are much to look at when used in furniture making - or ship building.

The bulls skull would give me quite the start too as you'd never know whether the area was some sort of old sacred site. Don't go near there. I often wonder whether those sorts of things will mark out future toxic or radioactive waste sites. I found a load of old sheep skulls here years ago, but crushed them up and put them into the soil. It was a bit spooky because it was a more or less random spot.

Yeah, I hear you man. Sometimes I reckon that the barriers to entry and ongoing restrictions just keep getting raised higher and higher because it is more or less a lucrative feed-trough and the system is gaming us all.

Spot on! Yeah the son was pretty annoyed by the massive expenditure and drain on the treasury and eventually locked his dad in the Taj compound because the guy was just about to bankrupt the state by building a matching Taj Mahal - but in black this time. Why let money get in the way of good art? Hehe! Pah, the philistine! ;-)!

Well the Leaf Peepers up here have been taking over the mountain range for the past few weeks. Fortunately I live at the less touristed end of the mountain range on a dirt road off a dirt road and that keeps most tourists and bicyclists elsewhere. Yes, I've heard both Flatlanders and Bottom dwellers used here. But then I've heard other locals telling me that I live in Hill Billy country - which I've always taken with a sense of pride. Personally, I'd be a bit worried that they'd steal the farm gate produce and not pay for it!

Thanks for the link. You know, I'd seen that portrait of the older couple where the guy has the pitchfork in his hands, a barn is in the background and they have a very dour (I'm not sure that is the correct term?) expression on their faces. I'd never previously understood the cultural significance. Grant Wood certainly sees life from an interesting perspective and some of the landscapes stretch to the horizon in unusual ways. In the photos of the guy he was smiling, but the characters in his paintings are expressing completely different emotions. A complex guy for sure.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks. You know, I was grateful that I wasn't caught in the act as it would have been very hard to explain. hehe!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi thecrowandsheep,

I take my hat off to you and at the same time express my respect for the sheer eloquence of your words.

You have just provided the name for the soon to be built brand new chicken enclosure and like John's comment I will work you into the story and acknowledge your contribution. Well done.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Yeah, the farmer and farm wife is called "American Gothic". A reference to the house behind them, which is in the American Gothic style. And, of course there are also all sorts of other, some far out, interpretations of the "Gothic" part of the title. Sometimes I get a little impatient with people trying to tease out "meaning" in paintings or books. What the writer or artist was REALLY saying. Oh, well. The fodder that launched a million dissertations. I think it was Freud who said "Sometimes a cigar, is just a cigar." :-).

"American Gothic" is probably one of the most satirized and parodied work of art. Right up there with the Mona Lisa. When I was looking for "The Appraisal", I ran across one parody where the man and woman in "American Gothic" had chicken heads :-) .

The major American Regionalist Painters were Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton and John Stewart Curry (he of the tornado picture we talked about, awhile back). And, a few other minor artists. They all did a lot of rural and small town pictures in the 1920s and 30s. Some of my favorite artists.

Was thinking a bit more about your dog food problem. Do they have a hunting season on kangaroos, down there? Bring down one of those 6 foot fellows and you'd probably have meat for 2 or 3 months. Maybe a bit stringy, but, dogs like that.

I was looking for something to leave Beau while I'm gone. Something to keep him occupied and less likely to chew up the plastic buckets I'm going to leave him food and water in. Picked up some braided Buffalo tendon. Pricey, but if it works, worth the money. He loves to chew on plastic. I can't leave a plastic flower pot anywhere in his yard. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

The family have all left now. They were so very lucky with non-stop glorious weather. It is much colder today.

My husband used to take cuttings from plants that overhung the pavement. It used to make me feel uncomfortable when we out walking. He was never caught.

Inge

Auriel Ragmon said...

First post here. Those funny clouds remind me of the lenticular (lens shaped) clouds we sometimes see over Mt. Ranier here in Washington State. Google it and you will find some pretty pics of them.
Jim of Olym
PS Love your blog! when I was a wee lad I loved to wander in unfinished houses. Hated to see them get closed in. Your house pics reminded me of that time...

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris and Lew,

Thanks for your suggestions about the stoves. I've been doing lots of reading... a bit to ponder ;-)

Cheers, Angus

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Many thanks for the explanation and the warning about offering interpretations of art. Phew, thankfully I avoided that pit of snakes. Mind you, the couple in the painting look really serious. It is in the eyes and set of their mouths. Like I wouldn't waste a good mead on either of them - although it may improve their general demeanour? I wonder what they were thinking? hehe! Sorry, I couldn't help but add in a bit of interpretation. ;-)!

The chicken heads may actually have been an interesting interpretation? Freud is clearly onto something with that quote.

The Beatles had that problem with their music. I always remember a teacher explaining that some people thought that Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was actually a secret message, rather than the idle drawings of a very young Julian Lennon.

The American Regionalist Painters captured the scenes of the times very well. Did they ever cover the dust bowl scenes? I've seen film footage of that and it looks like the Sahara desert is encroaching on the farm steads.

A 6ft kangaroo is a lot of hard work and whilst it may seem like there are a lot of kangaroos around here, if you wanted to eat meat here, you'd quickly exhaust this area of forest. There just isn't enough food for the herbivores to build up a population that you could reliably cull from time to time. The Aboriginals had this country set up very well for such things and we've basically stuffed it up completely.

I've managed to source a bulk supply of organic rolled oats and will pick it up in a week or twos time. More on this in a few weeks though.

Dogs like chewing things for sure and that sounds like a great idea. So you're really going? Good for you!

I'm a bit exhausted tonight as I put the steel roof beams onto the new shed. And most importantly of all the sun shone today for the first time in over a week and a half. The batteries got down to 70% full this morning - which is not good.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Lovely to hear that the weather spirits were smiling on you and your family for your birthday. Did you and they all have a good time?

They're smiling here too, because the sun finally shone here today after about a week and a half of either heavy cloud or fog. Not good for the solar power system.

Sorry to hear about your discomfort, but on the other hand, well, you probably have some lovely flowers about the place. Glad to hear that he never got caught either, people get a bit funny about cuttings.

Sometimes such activities can have unusual outcomes too. There is so much genetic diversity in the geraniums / pelargoniums that they have started to hybridise and I'm getting some very unusual colours.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Auriel,

Welcome to the discussion.

Well, that's very impressive. The clouds had a sort of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" of look about them - especially given they were right on top of the mountain.

The mountain range here is quite short end to end, but rises up out of an elevated plain and is mostly forested. The interesting thing is that clouds can often form and settle over the mountain range and be no where else in the area.

Haha! Well there just so happens to be a school of thought that reckons that cake batter can often taste better than the finished cake. ;-)! Houses are the same and there is a level of beauty and symmetry in the structure which does get hidden.

Thanks for the praise.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

No worries and I'd be interested to hear what you think about them.

I noticed that you had a new entry up about your: Kitchen Hot Water.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris and Lew

See, I have given in about your name Lew.

Re: explanations of art and literature. When I was at school, a teacher gave us a lengthy rundown of the meanings in T.S.Eliot's 'Murder in the Cathedral'. Later on Eliot announced that he didn't mean anything. Exegesis is a very dubious academic endeavour.

I know the painting of that pathetically dour couple.

Inge

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Yes, we all had a great time. A pity though that it has to be all or nothing when one lives so far apart. Nothing is not quite correct of course.

No I don't have flowers around here, other than the natural wild ones. My husband died 14 years ago and we didn't live here then. I try to keep the woodland as it always was since 1630 or longer, hence I only grow veg. in pots.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Jim in Olympia, aka Auriel - Nice to see another Washingtonian, here. I'm just a little SE of Chehalis. I used to work in the Capitol Mall when there was a B. Dalton, there.

When I head home from town, if it's a clear day, I get a great view of Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens. Can see right into the crater. Can't see them from my place. Too many trees! :-). It was around Mt. Rainier that some of the first (modern) UFO sightings took place. 1952, or so.

Yo, Chris - The models for "American Gothic" were the artist's sister and his dentist ... who in photos always looked like a jolly man. There's a formal picture he did of his sister, where she looks like a very "hip and with it" young lady of the 1930s. She holds a chick in her hand.

Oh, I think the Beatles were having a bit of fun and being a bit sly when they hinted at "meanings" in their songs. There are whole books out "interpreting" the lyrics.

On the topic of music, and for the musical earwig of the day ... I see one of the Kingsmen passed away. He was 70 something! Boy, does that date me. Known for, "Louie Louie." The Official Washington State Song :-). Lots of consternation over the lyrics when it came out. Trying to read some nastiness into the lyrics. Banned in places. Actually, the song was just an old, kind of Caribbean folk tune.

Chooks are ticking up their egg production. Turns out I didn't take into account Daylight Savings Time as far as their coop light, goes. And, somewhere along the way, they broke the light in such a way that it looked fine. Silly me. Lew

artinnature said...

Hi Chris,

22 tons of stone arrived on Friday so I'm busy building our front stone wall and haven't read the comments.

This is my neighbor's blog:

http://www.nwedible.com/

she has a lot of posts there about her ever-evolving chicken enclosure, I see she has a new post on her ducks as well.

Your floor is beautiful, reminds me of the red birch we used when we built our house in Minnesota.

It looks like you don't have a "sub-floor" is that right? I don't think I've seen a house here that didn't have this. These days its always plywood (and they're glued to the joists in addition to the screws/nails) but used to be regular boards that would never been seen (except from the crawl-space or basement) I imagine very old houses didn't have sub-floors, but I've never seen the underpinnings of any historic houses.

One more comment/question: It seems that you haul (tow, actually) a lot of heavy steel and concrete mix up your mountain, and your vehicle seems to be rather modest, how is that working out? I can tell you that most Americans wouldn't even consider taking on such tasks without first acquiring a Ford F150 with a huge six litre V8 (but an F250 or F350 would be even cooler!!!...right?)

Good job getting it done with L.E.S.S. (displacement & petrol)

Cheers from Cascadia,

Klark

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Just had to clean out one of the drains in the handbasin here - which was clogged - by dismantling it and was thinking about Exegesis. That does seem like a rather fruitless or fruitful academic adventure depending on your perspective. Many things can be interpreted quite wildly but it still doesn't change the original words.

The resultant goo from the drain could have been viewed as a sort of tea leaf reading.

The distance does make it hard. Makes you realise how hard such things would have been back in the 19th century as once they were gone over the seas it was rare for them to ever return.

Fair enough and that is a very worthy goal. Have you ever come across texts describing the land from that time? It would make for interesting reading. I use the old accounts of the forest here to guide my efforts. Sometimes it annoys people though... I should put up some photos showing this area as it was in the late 19th and early 20th century and take a comparative shot from today.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, I'm really chuffed with how many people read the blog from the PNW. There are an awful lot of similarities in the environment between here and there. What is weird is that I don't believe anyone from the NE along the Atlantic has ever commented - there must be something in that.

I hope the weather was nice for a trip into town - and a look at the hugely impressive and active (!) volcanoes in your part of the world. The UFO thing is interesting because JMG wrote a book about the subject and it annoyed everyone because of the weird dichotomy that goes along with UFO sightings (Didn't happen vs. Must be from Zeta Reticuli).

Yeah, I saw the painting of the sister and I get the dentist - whom I visited for an annual checkup this past week. They're allright - dentists - but who likes going to them? Of course the painting was a stylised image but it still makes me wonder how he evolved that particular style.

Really? I knew people took the interpretations seriously, but whole books seems to be taking it to the next level of - I don't know what that means, but it isn't a good thing. ;-)!

Ahh, Louie, Louie - of course may also have a special meaning to you? I remember the scene in National Lampoons Animal House when they were all drunkenly singing that song. Very amusing and sorry to hear of his passing. I note that the legendary Australian rock band AC/DC - who have sold something in the order of 200+ million albums are touring again later this year. Their last tour was the highest grossing tour in the history of rock acts. Who'd have thunk it. I remember them singing "It's a long way to the top, if you want to rock and roll". The video clip shows them on the back of a truck driving down the main street of Melbourne's CBD back in the late 70's.

Naughty chickens! Nice to hear that your chickens are producing plenty of eggs (3 per day here). I get the outrage about daylight savings time because I feel mildly jet lagged when the change over happens. I don't wear a watch and sort of more or less have a feel for approximately what time it is, but the change over slightly throws me. I'm a finely tuned machine you know? hehe!

I'm having the day off work today as I dropped the drill off the ladder yesterday and it fell down and cracked me across my hand. It is a bit bruised today but feeling mostly OK. Back to work tomorrow.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Klark,

Little wonder! With 22 tons of stone, I'd be busy too. It is amazing what materials and the quantity that you can bring onto a site.

Many thanks for the tip about the chicken enclosures, I'll check it out over the next few weeks.

Haha! Too funny. The floorboards that were installed are solid hardwood (tongue and grove on all sides and also the ends). They're 19mm thick (0.74 inches) each. The timber has a structural density of over 750kg/per cubic metre (sorry I don't know what the conversion to imperial measurements is). They're really, really dense and strong so no need for plywood.

They use plywood here, but only when a thin timber laminate is applied to a layer of plywood, so you get the timber flooring look - but at a very low cost. Flooring plywood is also only 15mm (0.59 inch) thick. However, timber floors can be sanded and oiled whereas the laminate over plywood is very questionable as to whether you'd sand it much or even at all - however it is also much quicker and easier to install and rarely shrinks due to moisture loss in the timber. I had to age the timber in the house before installation.

Very amusing! Yeah, you know they've tried to sell those beasts over here from time to time and you'll also see the occasional left hand drive import conversion too. Mostly you'll see diesel engined utility vehicles sourced from the Asian markets: Toyota Hi-Lux is probably the number one seller on that front here - but even they're a bit too big for my liking. They used to be a whole lot smaller. I can barely see into their trays these days and the things are so high off the ground - what is the good of having a tray that you can't access easily?

My little Suzuki with it's little 2 litre 4 cylinder motor has low (and high) range gearing and a manual gearbox so it has absolutely no problems pulling a heavy load up into the mountains. Plus it doesn't use much fuel at all which is a real bonus because that stuff is expensive here.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

The woodland is as it always was (to my knowledge), hence my fussiness about how it is kept. During the 17th century and for a long time after, it was one very large estate. At one time I lived in an old cottage which had been the lodge to the estate. The cottage dated to about 1630. The ground outside it was higher than the floor inside, hence things were damp. My husband lowered the ground and found himself looking up at the base of the cottage walls. There were no foundations!! The stone walls were just built straight up from the ground. The upper floor had brick walls; it was the bricks which made dating the property possible, there were no old deeds accompanying our purchase.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I'm awfully sorry: I hadn't finished reading before I sent my last comment (if it went through) and didn't see about your hand injury. I do hope it gets better fast.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Thanks for "pathetically dour couple." Gave me my first good laugh of the day!

Yo, Chris - Drains. I found a nifty gizmo at the hardware store. And, cheap, too. A thin flexible plastic strip, about 18" long. It has little "teeth" that point backward, toward the user. There are all sorts of disclaimers as to beware of the sharp teeth! Well, it does take a bit of care. And, they say only use it once and throw it away. Naaaw. I just took a paper towel and pulled it through, going with the teeth. Cleaned right up. I suppose it could get hung up inside or break off. THEN I would have to disassemble the plumbing. But, I use a loight touch and try not to force anything. The story from my drain, this time around, seems to be mostly about Nell fur. :-).

Well, so far, our volcanos activities seem to be once in a lifetime, things. Thankfully. Had my experience. The next generation can have theirs.

Oh, most of those bound dissertations of interpretations are just more academic gatekeeping. Rarely, interesting or useful. Sometimes they even make it out of Academia to a popular publisher and make the best seller lists. Being hit by lightening is more likely :-).

Saw a possum waddle by the front porch, night before last. Yesterday morning, since I was going to town, I let my chooks out a bit earlier. When I went down to the chicken yard, there was a possum! They can move fast when they want to. I set a live trap, last night. This morning, the bait was gone and the trap tripped. No possum. Wiley devils.

I read your "Shaman" story. I didn't see any glaring problems. I might have capitalized "Bad Spirits."
"Whingeing" must be an Australian or British-ism. Reading it in context, I suppose it's like "whining." But, since this is an Australian story, by an Australian author, I'd tend to leave it alone. Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

No, it didn't go through. I thought it was funny, also, that so many comments were from the PNW. I live in the region we call the Mid-Atlantic, outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. We are about 175 miles west of the Atlantic Ocean, on the western side of a very small, old mountain range - the Southwest Mountains.

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge, Pam and Lewis,

Thanks for all the lovely comments, but I am unable to reply tonight and will reply tomorrow evening as it should be a bit more quiet.

Today I worked quite late into the evening - well into the dark - installing the remaining parts of the steel frame for the new wood shed. It is looking good, but there is some rain forecast for Tuesday so I'm trying to get the cladding onto the shed and hopefully even get some wood into it before the rain hits and the place becomes a wash out.

There have been some very crazy storms going on in the state to the North of me (New South Wales) and I cop the tail end of those storms (which is usually pretty mild but quite wet!)

Cheers and we shall talk tomorrow!

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - You might get this twice. Seems there was an "issue" with blogger :-).

There was a possum in my trap this morning. Ugly brute. Tried to gas him, twice. No dice. Tough character. So, now either my neighbor will come down with his gun, I can turn him loose to Beau, take him down to the river to drown him or turn him loose on the other side of the river.

Yes, the whole thing makes me queasy, but it's him or my chooks! Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

It is fascinating to hear of your forests and I fully agree with you that it is best to leave things as you found them.

Just for your interest and as a comparison, the forest here is always in a state of flux. The remnant patches of rainforest plants are waiting in their shady and damp gullies for their day in the sun again (simply exclude human activities) and they're battling it out with the drier tall eucalyptus forests at this spot.

It is really interesting to look at all of the different plant communities and see the story that they are telling. It is a very dynamic plant community, but also it has a solution provided for every ecological niche and the plants can adapt to new circumstances within only a few generations so they're constantly hybridising.

Wow, it is amazing that the cottage was sound - albeit damp - for so long. It is a credit to the original builders and subsequent people that maintained the building.

As an interesting note, the 1890's terrace that I took back to a shell and restored had footings only about one foot deep. And what was interesting was that they contained sea shells and all sorts of other interesting chunks in them.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks for your concern. My thumb swelled up and bruised, but was OK to work with yesterday so there was no breakage or anything serious like that.

It's all good, yes I looked up Virginia on the map and realised that you were in the middle on the east coast.

You live in an area of great beauty: Southwest Mountains Virginia image. Your area has a lot of similarities to the high country here. It is a real pleasure to know that in amongst all of our industrial society that so many beautiful places exist!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

They look as though they are just about to be descended upon by the fun police, so dour is an apt description!

Just out of interest, how did Nell's fur get into the drain? I chuck the dogs hair and pretty much anything that had once been alive at some point (including deceased chickens) into the worm farm sewage system. Man, things disappear in days - I certainly wouldn't recommend putting your hand in the compost bin which is attached to it. ;-)!

That flexible saw sounds like a pretty handy bit of kit for such a job. Don't you have to laugh that such things come with massive warning stickers? Sometimes I reckon the legal profession in the long dark past settled on signage as the perfect answer to any legal dilemma involving litigation. Honestly, you can never have too much signage, so whatever you do you're going to get into trouble. I'm considering opening the house and farm as part of the Sustainable House Day later this year and I haven't quite gotten my head around the legal issues or costs yet. What a nuisance.

Haha! You sound very confident, my friend. hehe! Mount St Helens left a strong impression on me with the awesome photos of the eruptions in the National Geographic when I was a wee lad.

I live on the side of not one but several large and extinct volcanoes and they swear that they're extinct (I guess it is a more or less safe bet at over 360 million years, still...) List of volcanoes in Australia.

Well, you are in good company because the rats thumb their twitchy noses at me and go about their rat like business. Possums are probably as wiley.

Thank you for the feed back, I appreciate that and yes, the words are interchangeable. Fiction is a hard business, so I took a different tack this time and simply imagined the story and wrote it down. Cathy says practice makes perfect and I suspect that she is correct, but I dunno.

The possums here are herbivores so they don't compete with the chickens, although they would steal the chickens feed if they had the chance. Years ago, I once had a sugar glider which is like a small flying possum (that'll give you nightmares for sure!) over winter in the chicken enclosure and I didn't begrudge it the high energy grains. Flying is tough act at the best of times.

Your possum conundrum is a difficult one as the species here are quite territorial and displacing an individual can lead to their demise due to lack of housing, increased predation and uncertain feed. It is a tough call, what did you end up doing?

The owls absolutely destroy the possum population here. It is an owl eat possum world down here as they are natural enemies.

I travelled into the big smoke today to have lunch with my mate and his lady whom are moving to Ohio. It is a bit sad, but at the same time it is a massive adventure. Life is like that.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

My orchids come up, in the same places, every year. Their numbers are steadily increasing.

Stitchwort has been flowering for a week. I ignored it at first as it was only along the roadside and not on my land. But aha, it has snuck through the fence. I don't know whether it is the greater or the lesser version; seems to be somewhere between the two.

Forget-me-nots are also flowering.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Nell's fur in the drain was a slow, unnoticeable process. :-). When I moved in here, I cleaned out the drain after the last tenants. Well, Nell uses the sink counter to launch herself to a high window ledge. She likes to watch the moon come up.
:-). She also likes to supervise me, brushing my teeth.
:-). So, over a two year period, she apparently shed enough hair to plug the drain. I never noticed. A hair at a time ...

Imagine the money the lawyers make, dreaming up all that signage. Must admit when I was working for Dalton's Books, we'd get signage for this sale or that from our home office. I'd often spend a lot of time thinking "Now, how many ways can this be interpreted?" And, have to add a disclaimer. Such as, only the books on THIS table top are 50% off. Not the entire store. And they must have THIS special label. So, if some $75 art books "accidentally" wanders onto that table top "by accident", it's clear it's not included in the sale. :-)

Well, our possums are omnivorous. And, not even native to this area, so they don't seem to have many natural predators. Had another one in my trap, this morning. Twice as big and twice as mean as the one, yesterday. Don, my landlord/neighbor/friend came down and dispatched it, with his gun. I'm waiting for it to stop twitching so I can dump it in the woods across the road. Cleaning out the live trap is .... a grim business.

Sugar Gliders were the pet du jour, here, a few years back. One of those crazes that sweeps the country. Poor things. I don't know. I thought they were kind of cute.

Tried the tea from the loose leaves. Made up a proper cup, rather than just a bag in the microwave. Heated the mug, used hot water. A tea ball. Very delicate flavor (should have used more tea), slightly astringent with an under note of fresh cut hay. Nice.

I noticed someone named "Hello" was larding out advice on your writing over at ADR. Oh, there was a useful tip or two in there. But I noticed he didn't actually say he READ your story. Just remember. Opinions are like .... noses. Almost everybody has one. :-). Take what you can use and leave the rest. Cathy is well worth listening too.

Well, enough procrastinating. Off to deal with the grim business. Lew



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Nice to hear about the orchids.

Wild orchids grow through the forest here too. Some years there are many, whilst they stay underground during the drier years. After a good summer storm they'll appear everywhere. Many decades ago there was a sudden interest in the native orchids and many plants were removed from the forests, so I rarely show people where and when they appear. I once had a visitor remove a very rare plant from the surrounding forest and bring it to me to ask me what it was... Oh no!

The Stitchwort is a very attractive plant. Out of interest are you aware of any medicinal purposes for the plant? The name sort of indicates some usage.

Oh yeah, forget-me-nots grow very well here too and love the damp area near the swale. They produce masses of flowers every year too.

I was thinking about adding some onion weed into the swale this year too as well as a white bark willow. I was told that willows will take from cuttings so will give them a try.

I ran out of time this week to get the many hundreds of bulbs into the ground. Oh well, they'll have to wait.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah cats and dogs can shed an amazing quantity of hair and before you even know it there are dust bunnies floating around. In one week the dogs here will produce enough dust bunnies to fill a third of a bucket. The hair is fed to the worms and by and large they seem quite happy with the it. Hair is high in sulphur I believe...

Does Nell enjoy the full moon, any more than other lesser moons?

Nell is clearly an observant creature! ;-). Makes you wonder what Nell is actually thinking. I'm kind of glad that the dogs can't actually speak because a lot of what would come out of their heads would be self centered rubbish. No truly! Most of the time I can sort of guess what they're thinking, but sometimes, they'll sort of be sizing you up and silently watching and judging. Those times are a bit unnerving really.

Makes you wonder whether any of your customers actually thought to place any of the ultra pricey books on the bargain table and then tried to argue it out? I'll bet it happened?

Wow. For some strange reason I always thought that the possums here and your possums were part of the same genetic heritage. Are your lot marsupials? The possums here are only herbivores so they may eat the entire orchard, but they'd never eat a chicken...

A lot of introduced animals don't have any predators and they run amok - for a while until something adapts to eating a rich supply of invasive animals. The cane toad is an absolute disaster up north and they are slowly moving south. They're quite toxic, but I have read reports that the local wildlife are adapting to eating them. It is sort of like the snakes here: why do they need to be so venomous as to take down 30 horses in one bite - I mean it does seem to be a bit extreme?

The sugar gliders are quite sweet. Did any of them ever get loose into the forests? They'd probably enjoy your part of the world as it has healthier and richer soils than here. They deal with snow, but require quite a bit of feeding during winter because of their high metabolism.

Haha! The trailblazer. Well done and respect for the tea experiment. By the way, how is your plant going?

Very diplomatic. Yes, I saw that and her pain affected me so I applied the golden rule of if in doubt - do nothing. Writing is not a painful activity for me, I'm just not clued into the whole fiction thing, which is why I asked for help. I've been considering a response and haven't quite worked a diplomatic one out yet, but have an idea.

Tell you what though. Drilling into structural steel - mate that is actually hard and it will be nice to do something different tomorrow.

Good luck with your grim business. Over in New Zealand they produce the most beautiful possum fur and even the meat is consumed.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Stitchwort: I know that it is all edible though haven't tried it. It does have medicinal uses but I haven't researched it. 'Wort' means worth and always indicates medicinal use.

Willow slips take very easily indeed here. I assume that they like a damp/wet soil.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge and Yo, Chris - What's blooming here (Western Pacific Northwest). Well the tulips, forsythia and daffodils are played out. Rosemary is blooming. The sweet william (or, is it angelica?). Lilacs and rhodies. Forget me not. The climbing rose in back is all budded out. Most of the fruit trees are done blooming, with an odd spray, here and there. I think we have a wild orchid or two in this part of the world. But, I've never seen them. Deep forest stuff and protected.

Nell seem to watch the moon from her favorite window, whatever the phase. But, seems to spend more time the fuller it gets. The books "Dog Sense" and "Cat Sense" are pretty good for the inner workings of same. Up to date scientific research and the authors own observations.

Oh, yes. The bookstore customers sometimes tried that "put the expensive book on the sale table and create a scene. Hence, the disclaimers on the sale signs. Ticket switching could also be a problem. Sigh. Work with the public and you'll see the worst of people. And, sometimes, the best.

Possums probably do share the same genetic heritage, but, probably a long time ago. And, yes ours are marsupials. But ours will go after chickens and kill them. The only reason I think I didn't loose any chickens is that I'm so rigorous about only letting them out in the day. Our possums are pretty nocturnal. No possum in the trap, today. Will keep it up for a few days and then move it up next to the front porch. See if the big bruiser I saw last week was the one I got yesterday, or, another.

Yes, introduced plants and animals can be a pain. There was an article in the paper the other day about what to do with scotch broom. An introduced plague, here. I hear Florida, which has been having a terrible problem with boas, now also has a problem with some giant lizard. Related to the Komodo Dragon.

Oh, I suppose there's some sugar gliders in the wild, by now. Parts of the east coast have flying squirrels. Native. I remember some long ago Disney nature film about them.

The tea seems to be having some problems with curly leaf and bumps. I think it's aphids. I'm going to give it a spray with diluted soap, today. Lew

PS: Best leave the (kind of) troll alone. Feeding them only encourages them. I've suggested King's book on writing, and, Cathy liked one by Gardner.