Monday, 6 April 2015

Easter eggs


Mid-autumn is a good time for chickens because they’ve regrown their feathers after the summer moult just in time for the weather to turn cooler when they’ll really be requiring all of those feathers to keep warm. It is sort of like being able to grow your own woolly jumper just as the weather turns cold. It’s a neat trick for a chicken. Chickens however, have a great deal of difficulty producing eggs and growing feathers at the same time so egg production has seriously declined (but never ceased) over the past month or two, and this week egg production has picked up again! Eggsellent work ladies.

Just to show you how cold the nights are getting here, you can see in the photo below that all of the cold air from the farm has settled in the valley below.

Frost and fog settling in the valley below the farm
Cold air is heavy so this means that it falls downhill and collects in valleys. Because of that little trick, frost is quite rare at this elevation. It does get cold here over winter but most of the time it doesn’t freeze!

Speaking of rare events, a few days ago there was a blood moon. A blood moon is where the shadow of the earth completely covers the moon and as a really weird side effect, the moon turns red. I took the photo below at around 11pm that night and together the moon and earth put on a good show:

Blood moon over the farm
With egg production slowly increasing (maybe it was the blood moon?) I thought that it might be interesting to show all of the different sizes and colours of eggs that get produced here. I keep a lot of different chicken varieties and they all lay very different coloured and sized eggs. Different varieties of chickens also produce eggs at different times of the year, so it is good to keep a diversity of chickens because that will ensure that you have fresh eggs every day of the year. A good example is the Silky variety of chicken which if I was being entirely honest, don’t produce many eggs per year and are also very prone to indulging their more maternal side (i.e. going broody). However, the Silky has an advantage as she will produce eggs during the late summer to early autumn months when all of the other chickens have stopped producing eggs. This is because the Silky chicken does not moult as heavily as other chicken breeds.

The various eggs produced by the chickens at this time of year

Chicken secrets are revealed as the eggs are associated to the various chicken varieties here
The excavations for the flat site for the new wood shed continued this week. In the photo below you can see Sir Scruffy ambling away from the excavation site (from fear of hard work) as a very old and very large tree stump is exposed. The very old tree stump will take perhaps half a day to remove and there is probably about one to two days of further excavations before the frame of the new wood shed can commence in earnest.

Sir Scruffy ambles away from the excavation site for the new wood shed
As an individual, I have few regrets. However, one regret I have is that I planted too many zucchini (courgette) plants during the summer. The fruits were harvested this week as I was a bit scared that they would grow even larger and more prolific!

Zucchini fruits were harvested this week
The tomato harvest is also occurring and I’ll be picking ripe fruit until early winter. Each year some fruit has to be set aside so that the seeds can be saved so that new plants can be started in early spring (September). This week I chose some of the excellent tasting fruits from very hardy plants in order to save the seed:

Tomato fruit set aside for the seeds to be saved
A few months ago, I collected seed pods from the local Blackwood trees (Acacia Melanoxylon). This week those same seeds have been left in hot water overnight (which breaks their dormancy) and then planted out into a raised garden bed which has been left alone for that purpose.

Blackwood (Acacia Melanoxylon) seeds are placed into the raised garden bed
Earlier in the week I travelled to the Bacchus Marsh seedling farm and picked up some new and interesting flowering plants. Plus one day during the week found me in the inner city and I stopped by the CERES plant nursery in Brunswick and picked up another tea camellia (Note to Lewis: Yeah, I’m giving the plant another and very final go!) which is the same plant used to produce the tea beverage.

New and interesting flowering plants waiting to be planted
Over the past few days, I’ve planted out a hedge of olive trees. Olive trees are particularly prolific around these parts and over the next few weeks I’m hoping to harvest the olive fruit and cure them in brine. I have not done that curing process before so it should be very interesting.

Olive trees planted in a hedge – note that the trees are in metal cages to protect them from wallabies
Over many years, I have brought up to the farm a truly massive quantity of mulch and compost. I thought that it might be worth showing how a cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) of mushroom compost can be quickly removed from the trailer and transported to anywhere on the farm.

The technique used to remove mulches and composts from the trailer is simply to use a rake to scrape them off the back of the trailer into 3 crates. The farm has an area set aside for unloading these materials and it is a very quick process.

Using a rake to scrape mulches and composts off the back of the trailer into 3 crates
Those 3 crates are then loaded onto a wheelbarrow and simply wheeled anywhere they are needed around the farm.

Scritchy the boss dog looks on with approval at the efficiency of the unloading process for materials
Generally there are 30 crates to a cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) and that means only 10 wheelbarrow loads. The mulches and composts never go as far as you’d think and you can always use more!

How did the house get here?

Over the following month (March 2010) the frame of the house was almost complete. Very observant readers will note that in the photo below the veranda posts which are the only exposed bits of the house frame were all required to be galvanised steel – due to the bushfire risk.

The house frame is mostly complete as of March 2010
Once the house frame was completed, I could then commence cladding the exterior walls. It was always my intention to make the house super insulated (which Down Under meant double thickness walls at 200mm or 7.87 inches of timber). As I began cladding I realised that some sections of the wall had plywood backing which performed a bracing function for the house and needed to be insulated prior to installing the external cladding. On those sections I added the insulation prior to covering the external frame with commercial grade 16mm (0.64 inch) fire retardant and wet resistant plaster.

Very thick insulation is installed into the timber wall frames prior to cladding with fire rated plaster
On several occasions as an experiment, I have tried to burn scraps of the fire rated plaster in very large and very hot bonfires and that stuff just doesn’t burn. Even the following day after the bonfire, the labelling on the back of that plaster can still be clearly read. It is uncanny and sort of weird. In the photo below I’m leaning against some of the almost 5 tonnes of fire rated plaster installed onto the internal and external walls of the house admiring my handy work.

Leaning against the very strange fire rated commercial plasterboard and admiring my handy work
To be continued…

The temperature outside here at about 8.30pm is 8.6 degrees Celsius (47.5’F) and a storm is threatening to arrive in the next few hours. So far this year there has been 163.4mm (6.5 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 162.6mm (6.4 inches).

50 comments:

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

The similarities in the photos are uncanny. The dust storms were for the same reasons too. I remember that one when it hit the school I was in way back in 1983... Day was turned into night...

The funny thing was that there was no dissembling about the causes of the dust storm here as it was very hard to ignore the drought and heat of that year. 2009 was worse too.

Hey, I didn't know that such things happened in eastern Washington and Oregon. Those mountains must block any moisture traveling east off the coast? Dunno.

That is about the community sentiment here. Really. There really is no place for them. In some states, I have heard that the police lock up convicted arsonists on extreme weather days. Some individual to the south of here just out of the outer suburban area of Sunbury almost took out the farm here a year ago. I never expected the fire risk to come from that direction on what was only a mildly warm but very windy day. That single event has impacted my plans for the previous year. An amusing author and convicted felon Mark "Chopper" Read once remarked that Australia is a big place and shovels are cheap. ;-)

Well done. I never watched the Deep Space Nine series, but enjoyed the Next Gen and Voyager series. The recent Enterprise series was a bit of a flop - I reckon the writers were too fixated on a single storyline, but that is merely my opinion. The films have all been fun and I have a warm and fuzzy feeling for the film Star Trek 6.

Well, with Simon Pegg as one of the writers, it should be a fun romp through space! I'm looking forward to it. He may just sneak in Paul the alien? Just sayin...

The Galaxy Quest film was pretty funny. Have you ever read National Lampoons Bored of the Rings or Doon books? Very amusing... I don't mind a bit of silliness from time to time.

That isn't good about the domestic turkeys. Not good at all. Most of the birds and animals here are quite specific in their requirements too so it isn't really surprising.

A mate of mine makes sausages and they're really tasty and I once lived around the corner from the Sausage Kings who make the best Cheese Kransky's in Australia. That stuff is to kill for and I'm a mostly vegetarian. Still supermarket sausages leave me feeling like I've just eaten a cereal and offal product. Dunno why?

Speaking of which, I'm just making some pancakes for dessert. Yum with blackberry jam (which didn't really set properly so it is sort of like a fruit conserve and very unlike a jam)!

Probably, a good siesta after a serious celebratory feast is no bad thing. It is good for the digestion (as the Italians would say).

50 to 100 gallons of water is better than none is my thinking. It is good that you are thinking about implementing multiple water systems. Such things are acceptance! I'm probably going to add a new 1,000 gallon tank here shortly as I never quite know what the future holds. The rainfall here is like your water system - don't count on it. hehe!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Jo,

Many thanks for the comment and welcome to the discussion!

Launceston is a beautiful part of the world. Lucky you! Nice to hear your story and I'm glad that you are getting some inspiration from here.

PS: The commenters are a good bunch of people and I enjoy them too.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

I was fascinated by the different chicken eggs, especially the one that was coloured like a duck egg.

My son had 7 of his 8 ducks taken by a fox the other night. He says that he heard the dog barking but it wasn't a frantic bark just a 'something is walking through' bark' so he didn't get up.

Summer has arrived to day. Washing is hanging outside, first time for 6 months. I have been working outside most of the morning, sheer heaven.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - When I went out to feed the chickens on Easter Morn, There was the Easter Bunny in my front yard. Haven't seen any rabbits around, for a long time. Egg production, here, has taken a big tumble, last week. Don't know why. My Wyandotte chooks lay eggs colored from light tan to a darker brown.

Two more pics for the Ferndale Farm Calendar. Weather allowing, we get huge, orangey red Harvest Moons in our fall. Nell likes to sit in the bathroom window and watch the full moons.

Well, for the zucchini, you could always wrap it in a blanket, put it in a basket and leave it on the church steps with a note saying "Please take care of my child." :-). I wonder if you can do zucchini like pumpkins. Snip off the vine end when a reasonable number of fruit have set. Quality might be off.

Need to get my tomato seeds into pots on the kitchen window, this afternoon. See if the seed I saved is viable.

Yeah, they call Eastern Oregon and Washington "The dry side." The Cascade mountains do block a lot of moisture. The summer over there are very hot and the winters, very cold. The last time I drove over that way, a storm came up and a small tornado began forming over a plowed field, off to my right. It was picking up stones in the 2-3" range. Then, it just blew out. Lots of dust, hail and tumble weeds.

I really didn't care much for Deep Space Nine, but, then got hooked and watched the whole series. A little bit of silliness keeps us sane.

Me, I'm going for oatmeal, this morning. With the blueberries I froze up and apples on the bottom. Banana and mile on top.

Managed to get half the dogs yard mowed, yesterday. Damn near died. Left it too long. Lots of stalling, tangled pull rope, ran out of gas, once. But it sure looks great! If we don't get a shower, will do the other half, this afternoon. Lew

akl said...

Hello!

When you save seed from tomatoes like that, you probably get hybridization between the varieties. Do you just let the chips fall as they will and get tasty tomatoes each season anyway, or is there some chicanery with pollination that you aren't telling us about?

I much enjoy your blog.

Cheers and thanks from the Inland Northwest, USA.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

I had Adelaide and the experience here at the back of my mind when I wrote those comments. Water really troubles me too. Those desalination plants are really expensive to run as they use a whole lot of energy and then dump a whole lot of salt into the gulf. It is about as expensive as it gets for fresh water systems.

Hope you picked up some of the recent rain and those water tanks got a bit of a fill?

I noticed you had a new blog entry up too: The philosophy of ethics

I inspected some local wicking beds about a year ago and they still require an awful lot of water, but delivered less regularly than raised beds. There is also an undiscussed issue relating to salt build up in the soil in the wicking bed so I'm not really sure that they're the saviour that people make them out to be. If you have a little bit of free energy then aquaponics are very promising and I know of a few people that run those systems. However, they have the down side that the pumps cannot fail for any length of time. Basically with any system if you move away from natural systems then you have to add more energy and maintenance.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Wow, that is what I call a garden and a proper lake. 2 tonnes of manure each day - I wouldn't even know what to do with so much manure! That is setting a very high standard and it is a bit awe inspiring to see such history.

It is funny isn't it, but over here if a garden dates back to the late 19th century - and there are a few of them about the place here - then it looks very well established and I personally get very excited about the opportunity for a sticky beak, but they're just babies in comparison to that one! hehe!

I didn't know that about the white mulberries. The berries are nice to eat (red, black and white varieties here), but I find them to be a little bit bland. The trees are really hardy though.

Can't imagine where the parakeets might have come from... They could let a wallaby or twenty loose in there - they'd have an absolute ball!

I'm in awe of the place, it would have been a fascinating show.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Great to hear that you are getting some summer weather and that you are making the most of it. A gentle summer is a true joy.

It has turned cold here 6.4'C (43.5'F) and the wind is blowing straight up from Antarctica. It dumped half an inch of rain today too which was appreciated.

The blue eggs are always a surprise for people. I try to gift them away - when they're not being eaten here - as people rarely see that variety any more. The variety is usually very hardy too as they have more of a jungle bird sort of stance - all legs and crafty intelligence.

Sorry to hear about the ducks, that is hard. Is he considering starting again or is it a bit early for that? One of my bee hives has died too recently.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

The bunny is definitely a sign - although who knows what it means? Do you get many rabbits up your way normally? Hares are feral in the forest here, although they won't turn up at the farm here as they'd be eaten by the dogs or foxes.

It is really hard to ever know why the chickens egg production goes down - it is sort of variable. I read once that even loud noises can affect egg production. The ladies here missed their run in the orchard tonight as there was no way I was going to stay out with them in the cold weather here (6'C now 42.8'F). Brrr!

Much nicer to be inside with the wood fire going, cooking some biscuits, bread and a pizza. I hope it doesn't get too wet here before the wood shed is built.

Nell is a clever cat to sit and watch the harvest moon. The dogs here didn't even notice the blood moon - pah! You'd expect at least some baying - purely for the authentic experience?

There are a few of them. Do you think they'd take in multiple zucchini's? ;-)! They'll last inside for months, I just don't know whether I can eat that many...

Good luck with the tomatoes. I'm sure they'll be fine and in a nice warm sunny spot in the kitchen they'll sprout before you even know it. The tricky bit is timing when to plant them in the garden. You had a rule of thumb for that if the old memory is not playing tricks on me?

What sort of tomatoes did you save the seed from? Like are they cooking or fresh eating? You'll notice in the photos that the fruit here is not large as bigger than those and they will not ripen due to a lack of heat.

Wow, that would have been something to see. I visited my mates in the big shed over the weekend and they were hit by a tornado too and it tore some of the roof sheets off. Not good. They pack a punch and can be very localised storm events here. They're very common actually, but usually they hit very remote spots.

Interesting, as that was my initial take on that series too. I know people who swear that the series was very entertaining and their favourites, but I just couldn't get past the initial couple of episodes. The Ents would say that us humans are a bit too hasty and perhaps that is so.

Very nice. Were the blueberries locally sourced? There was a bit of a food scare here recently with imported blueberries - I might have mentioned that. It was mildly surreal because it happened over the period of time I was buying blueberries from the local blueberry farm. Not good.

I hear you, that is hard work when the grass is that long. I'm feeling your pain.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi akl,

Many thanks for the comment and welcome to the discussion.

What an excellent question. The yellow tomatoes were a chance gift from a local organic seed group that do a lot of good work in this part of the world. The group is run as a Club "The Diggers Club" and they have a demonstration garden not too far from here: Garden of St Erth.

The middle tomatoes that are a bit green, black and red are a variety that I've been growing and saving seeds from for a few years now. They were originally a black cherry tomato but somehow cross pollinated with a tigerella variety. They taste amazing.

The larger red cherry tomatoes don't seem to cross pollinate and hybridise at all and are now in about their fourth or fifth year here. They taste really good too.

The plants themselves are getting hardier to reduced water, growing slightly larger fruit and fruiting slightly earlier every year. Saving seed from your favourite tomato plants is well worth your time and effort.

I'm no purist really as there are only so many hours in the day. I tried brassica species a few years back and there are some very weird cabbage plants growing wild about the farm...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hey Lewis,

You might enjoy checking out the photos of the Garden of St Erth too. What is even more amazing about that place is that it was established on old gold mining rubble. We won't mention the volcanic loam clays here to them...

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - We have some pretty phenomenal gardens in this part of the world, and they're not that old, either. There's a book by Annie Dillard called "The Living". It's a fictionalized account of the settling of the Bellingham, Washington area. That's on Puget Sound up between Seattle and the Canadian border.

One of the many things I found interesting about the book (that covered the time period of 1840 to about 1900) was that it went from the first settlers who came to a howling wilderness (save the Native Americans) and how it developed into having all the modern amenities (for the time) in such a short period. That's pretty much the story of all of western Oregon and Washington.

There's a book and a DVD called "The Parrots of Telegraph Hill." Escaped and released birds have formed viable flocks. There are also flocks in Brooklyn, NY and several other places. In the Carolinas, Quaker Parrots have moved into the niche of the extinct Carolina parakeet. Quaker's are evil little birds. I had one once and had to set up the cage so that I could feed and water him without putting my hand, inside. I eventually donated him to the local college biology department for medical experiments :-).

One of the funniest scenes in the DVD is in the opening. Mr. Yuppie business man comes along and the author is feeding and observing the parrots and Mr. Businessman is just clueless as to why anyone would do that on their own dime. That someone would get deeply involved with an aspect of nature for the sheer joy and curiosity. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. - The rabbit population round here seems to rise and fall. Sometimes, there are a lot about. Then none for a few months. I suppose the coyotes, owls and maybe a cougar clean them out, from time to time. The other four cats (sometimes five) have been known to kill rabbits. Nell has taken off after them, but to my knowledge, hasn't caught one.

San Marzano tomatoes. Like my chickens, a good dual purpose tomato. Good fresh or cooked. Just slightly zesty. I think the rule of thumb is start inside in March and plant out in April. For this part of the world. But that came from one of your other contributors.

The blueberries I bought last year were from a local grower. My local fruit and veg store is very good about marking where produce comes from. I never buy the stuff from strange foreign places like Chili :-). Strawberries and blueberries came from there all winter. Had a big bowl of apples, strawberries and plane yogurt for dinner last night. Only the yogurt didn't come from 500 feet of my place.

The Gardens of St. Erth are lovely. It reminded me of the Peninsula Park Rose Garden in Portland. Spent days there as a lad. It was quit a bike ride from home, but especially in summer, the trip was made several times a week.

It's a sunken rose garden. Built for the 1905 Lewis and Clark Fair. A kind of world's fair to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the expedition. Portland was also into the "City Beautiful Movement" (see Wikipedia). Don't know if it's still true, but at one time, Portland had more park acreage per citizen than any other city in the US. Parks, statues, fountains ... that's Portland. Peninsula Park also had a public pool and an Edwardian bandstand overlooking the rose garden. Oh, and all those big trees you see around the park? They've all grown since 1962. The Columbus Day Storm took down all the old ones.

Well, mowing the lawn turned out to be quit an ordeal (continuing). The mower died. My initial impulse was to run off to the Big Box Store and buy another. But, on cooler reflection, I remembered that the same thing happened last year and I need to pull out the spongy air filter and clean it. Maybe. Of course, it's a very messy job and the water is out, again. Rubber gloves! It's raining, today, anyway, but I can do it in the shed. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Ooops. Peninsula Park. Lots of images.

http://search.yahoo.com/search?ei=utf-8&fr=aaplw&p=peninsula+park+rose+garden+portland

Lew

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

The past few days have been great -- we now have about 8 kL in the tanks, which is lovely. We even have enough to access it gravity feed :-) I had a nice long shower last night (solar heated rain water), which I really enjoyed. (When I say long, I mean ~3 minutes ;-) I think we drew 3 - 4 kL of townwater between when we ran out of rainwater and the weekend, which I'm fairly happy with for our first summer.
A big problem I see with water is institutionalisation. It's pretty easy for domestic water use to be hugely curtailed (I think it wouldn't require large changes for a family of four to use less than 100 L/day -- about 1/12 what is used in Adelaide on average). However, in Adelaide only about 1/3 (this number from memory -- can't find a reference) of total consumption is domestic -- the rest is commercial/industrial/agricultural. These big consumers tend to get legislated entitlements that are hard to roll back...

The affect of climate change is also a wild card... looks like we can expect hotter drier weather. I know it is possible to live here using very little water (the first Adelaidians did it!) but it will require social adaptation. I hope we're mature enough to make it!

Regarding wicking beds, yes that was my thought too. We're going to set up a bed or two as a trial, and maybe grow the leafy greens in it in summer -- they really struggle here, and it's hard to keep them happy. The thing I wonder is how often you need to empty out the bed and do it all again. I'd be amazed if it lasts 10 years, but realistically, any intensive gardening is going to require that kind of thing. What we need to do is move towards more woody perennials as a food source... I need to plant some more nut trees!

A friend is interested in aquaponics. To me that seems just like a more technical/fragile version of a wicking bed ;-) Although you do get fish as a bonus (we don't currently eat fish, but if we grew our own I'd revise that in a heartbeat!)

Cheers, Angus

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

Wasn't the blood moon spectacular. We were staying down the South coast (Pt Elliot) for Easter, and it's always a bit darker down there (less light pollution). I went for a night time bike ride, and then a walk with my wife. Very nice evening!

Our chooks have just curtailed their egg production, I think it's because the weather has turned (we're a few weeks behind you now)

We haven't had a good year for curcurbits. Had loads last year, but not many this year. Not sure why.

I've been going around trying to draught proof the house for winter. Very big job, and one that will never be finished ;-)

Cheers, Angus

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Things happened very quickly here too after settlement in 1834 to the south of here. The gold rush from 1850 onwards certainly sped things up.

The thing I don't quite get is that with Oregon and Washington being along the coast line, I assume that most people and goods firstly travelled the overland route? Is that a fair thing to say? Apart from the access to land what were the other driving forces behind settlement? I noticed that you used the term Western - is the Eastern section fairly quiet?

Here, even today the population is settled along the coastline. Once you head further inland there are less and less people. Even where I am only 60km (about 40 miles) from the head of the bay (it's big Port Phillip Bay) there aren't really that many people living. They're usually a bit stressed out by the forest. Even the nearest town Gisborne has only about 8,000 people - I think.

Ha! Too funny. There are Indian Myna and starling birds in the paddocks down below, but they can't get a foothold in the forest. Still the bird populations are mostly stationary with a few species that move around. The black cockatoos started being regular visitors after the Black Saturday bushfires and they've never been noted here before.

Quaker parotts sound positively dodgy and a little bit bitey. They may well have a zombie gene in them (rage?), so perhaps medical experimentation was a harsh but somewhat deserved fate?

Yeah, people tend to think that humans are separate from the rest of the nature. It is a bit of a silly conceit really. Mind you, the wildlife here takes some serious advantage when they get a chance! The wallabies have ripped a giant hole in the netting of the strawberry enclosure and are proceeding to eat all of the plants in there. Once the wood shed is done, I'll have to set up a proper strawberry enclosure with steel - seems to be impervious to the wildlife for some strange reason!

That is probably a good sign as to how healthy your area is. If populations rise up and something comes along and eats them back to equilibrium and then goes off about its business then that is OK by me. That's how it rolls. The fox here cleaned up a lot of the rats but I haven't seen the fox for a few weeks now...

Exactly, that is the pattern I do here, but six months off (e.g. Sep / Oct). Are the San Marzano large tomatoes?

You are lucky. There has been a lot of dodgy origin of product labelling going on here. Lots of product comes into the country from China via New Zealand due to the free trade agreement - or so I read... I just try and grow my own or buy from the farm gate as much as possible. It is nice getting to know the growers, but they take five years before they recognise you as a regular...

Thanks for the mention, I'll check that out. The internet is quite good for that sort of thing.

Yeah, I'm a regular visitor to the Garden of St Erth because it isn't very far away from here and they achieve so much in slightly worse conditions than the farm here... Mind you, having a few full time gardeners would help matters a whole lot.

The park is a stunning place. Really, really nice. Thanks for sharing the story too. Wow, trees grow fast up your part of the world.

Glad to hear that Beau no longer gets lost in the tall grass. hehe! Yup, if at first it doesn't start, clean the air filter. Some of the long life foam filters clean up really nicely when dunked in diesel fuel - that is what the shops down here do. The paper filters, well, I sort of bash them against a rock to dislodge the gunk and hope they don't get ripped in the process.

Scored an inch of rain yesterday, but it is like the depths of winter here today. The wood fire has been ticking along all day - lucky I filled up the firewood bay as they said we'd only get about 1/3 inch of rain. It is a bit wet outside now.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

Awesome to hear. The storm looked pretty intense on the radar over your part of the country. Scored an inch here (about 7.5kL) so that puts a smile on my face - plus it is nice to see some moisture in the ground.

Exactly. It doesn't take very much effort at all to reduce the household water consumption. It just takes a change of behaviour. Respect too, because you use less than I do here. I think we're about 150L/day, most of which ends up on the vegetables - especially over summer.

The Bureau of Meteorolgy is predicting that too especially for your area - which is not good. I'm adding a new 4kL tank to the new wood shed when that is done and the chicken enclosure may get a revamp soon which means even more roof rain water collection space! It is a valuable commodity that.

Yeah, people will adapt when they have no choice in the matter. The last drought in Melbourne was not good and the Thomson dam which is the main supply got pretty low at one point. I've read that the last 12% is not usable anyway becaus it is stagnant water - although it could probably be treated - I guess?

Definitely give it a go and I hope you write about it on your blog as it will be interesting to see a considered perspective on the matter. I only have the feedback second hand because I use raised beds here as they have a simple factor which is hard to ignore.

The nut trees have been hard to start, but they seem to be kicking off this year - a bit anyway: horse chestnut, chestnut, hazelnut, macadamia, pecan - and there might one or two others I've forgotten about. Don't forget the avocado too - which would do really well up your way as long as they stay out of the cold wind.

Aquaponics isn't too bad, but you have to monitor the entire system otherwise bad things can happen - surprisingly quickly. A guy I speak to up north around Tamworth has been into aquaponics for a few years and he swears by it: Gunagulla farm. There are some good photos on his website and he's a top bloke.

Thanks for the story and glad to hear that you were in a nice part of the world to enjoy the show. It was a beautiful night as it was so warm and still. I took some star photos of the southern cross constellation that night and the stars look like small orbs in the photo which was really surprising.

South of Adelaide is a beautiful part of the world.

The ladies here produce about 4 to 5 eggs per day now and they're ramping up to good winter production. Are the chickens recovering from the summer moult?

Who knows why they've slowed production, they are a law unto themselves!

Dunno about the curcubits as it can be very variable here too. Pumpkins can be exceptionally variable here as it has to be very hot. Maybe the cool early Feb put them off their game? My mates in the shed had them growing right up to the 6.5m ceiling (watch out if they fall)!

Haha! That's life man - I hope you write about it as I'll be interested to see that. The acrylic gap filler is very good and very cheap per tube, but you have to paint it with quality paint as it runs if the rain gets to it... Outside door draught stoppers are excellent and only take a few minutes to install.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Most of the settlement here came overland. The ocean voyage around the tip of S. America was very long, expensive and dangerous. Some people crossed Panama by mule and caught ships north.

I'd say the major reason for inland settlement was the rivers. Of course, the mighty Columbia. The Willamette. Here in Washington State, the Lewis, Cowlitz, Chehalis. And, of course, Puget Sound. You could navigate those rivers a good distance inland.

Eastern Oregon and Washington are more sparsely settled. It's very dry and the winters are bad. They do a lot of wheat and cattle. Oh, and there are a lot of dams on the Columbia which produce power. That provides a lot of jobs and economy.

Politically, E. Oregon and Washington are very conservative. The west of both states tend to be more liberal. There's always some uproar about splitting the two states on a east / west divide. Not going to happen, but interesting to contemplate.

Actually, the Quaker parrot became a kind of classroom mascot. But, eventually escaped out a window. If he found another Quaker, we may have our own flock. Occasionally, I see (very rarely) canaries, here. Not gold finches, but honest to gosh canaries. Escapees, I'm sure. Or, dumped pets.

The strawberry beds at the Abandoned Farm are steel chain link fence. Often called cyclone fencing, here. Don't know why. About 5' high. Must work as I pulled a pretty respectable amount of strawberries out of those neglected beds, last year.

San Marzano tomatoes look like a Roma. They are an heirloom, open pollinated tomato.

Well, the first thing I did with the mower was clean the filter. It was one of those sponge things. Did all the trouble shooting things I could do from the manual and a few things my friends suggested. No dice. So, I bit the bullet, went to The Big Box store last night and bought a new mower.

A gas push. Paid a bit more and got a heavier machine with more power. A bit broader, too. And, to adjust the height, I just need to work some levers instead of taking all the wheels off. Putting the wheels on the last one (holes adjusted the height) was a heck of a job.

Of course, it rained today :-). So giving it a spin will have to wait until tomorrow.

Beau seems to appreciate the effort. He doesn't get tickled in his sensitive spots when he does his business :-).

Oh! They started drilling the well, today. Didn't think they were going to get to it until the 17th. Will be nice to have a more dependable source of water. But, I'm still going to put in some formal rain catchment. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

LOL. Well, that was strange. When I clicked on the Captcha, it was pictures of food! Very yummy food. "This is spaghetti. Click on the pictures below that are spaghetti." And, nine pictures ... two kinds of spaghetti, two different pizzas, a nice looking cream soup, cakes,etc.. Suddenly I'm hungry. :-). Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Oh, it gets better. The next was beer. :-) Lew

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris and all,

What beautiful eggs! Maybe I will have chickens someday after all, if the garden work continues to go as rapidly as it has. But I have to wait for the soil to dry a little now before I can dig any more or prepare for seeds and seedlings to be planted. We had 1.6 inches (close to 4 cm) of rain yesterday and it's supposed to rain again tonight and tomorrow (Thursday). Maybe severe storms with hail and/or tornadoes and/or high winds. Being in the US Midwest, that means it could get nasty.

I either twisted or mildly sprained an ankle yesterday but that is not stopping me from walking on it. I bought a new, much sturdier and higher quality human-powered reel mower a few weeks back and mowed for about an hour this afternoon. Wish I'd known about this brand years ago. Eventually it and more will get into my blog. I hope to pick that up later in April, after the cool weather veggies are planted. I won't plant things like tomatoes and other frost sensitive plants till May.

Speaking of tea camellias - I'm a glutton for garden punishment, I suppose. I just bought two more plants that are supposed to take the kind of cold weather we can get here - but just barely. I'd planted two much smaller ones two or three years ago. One of those died, the other is struggling. But it will be great if the new ones live! Good luck with your plant, Chris!

Jo said...

So Chris and Angus, and all you other gardeners here - I was going to put some wicking beds on my back lawn.. should I reconsider?

Half of my suburban back lawn has the perfect orientation for vegie growing, sun all day HOWEVER several metres away is a huge, old, very productive pear tree. It doesn't throw shade on the potential vegie garden site, but I fear if I just use a raised vegie bed without an impermeable base, that the pear tree's roots will find their way into the vegie bed.

So what I am planning is basically enormous planter pots, hence I thought wicking beds might be a way to go. Will salts build up in such a bed even if I don't go the wicking bed route? Will I have to empty the beds every few years anyway?

Would love any advice you can throw my way..

Chris, if you can't get rid of your giant zucchinis via Lewis's suggestion of adoption, there is a recipe on my blog for Caramelised Zucchini Risotto which is absolutely delicious and uses a whopping 1 1/4 kg of zucchini..

http://alltheblueday.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/use-up-all-that-zuccini-caramelised.html

Lewis, I have a friend who grew up in Bellingham and handed me 'The Living' to read last year - I was really captivated by it, it's quite dark, but like 'Little House on the Prairie' for grown-ups. I was especially interested in the section when depression hits the town.

It also reminded me a little of Wallace Stegner's 'Angle of Repose'. I am fascinated by accounts of people's lives through difficult times. It assures me that although we live soft, (well, you may not - but I certainly do!) we could survive on so much less, and that hard work and making do probably won't kill us..

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for the explanation. That all makes sense. The east west divide is quite fascinating. Have you ever noticed how complex and fragile environments tend to breed a certain sort of conservative (in the old school sense of the word) style of thinking? Such schools of thought tend to shun novelty, but then that can also make them vulnerable to change as they don't adapt quickly enough to new information. That is certainly the case here.

Some parts of western (as in west of the Great Dividing Ranges - it is back to front here) Queensland and New South Wales have been in serious drought for years now and yet the land holders persist in farming practices which no longer make commercial sense due to the shifted climate. They're doing it tough, there is no doubt about that.

What? How did that happen? Is this another bird or were you only joking around about the donation to medical research? hehe!

Most of the feral birds around here are pet escapees. Plus the deer, goats etc... Actually there is a feral white goat which happily runs around with a large mob of kangaroos up here. I spot it occasionally grazing.

Yeah, the stuff is called cyclone fencing here too. Nice to hear about your strawberry patch. You may be surprised by the design of the new strawberry bed here as the months go on.

Ahh, all is explained Roma is a quite a popular tomato here, but it seems more like a cooking tomato as it doesn't have a lot of flavour.

Fair enough. What a hassle. Those wheels sound like a disaster. When the grass is like that here (i.e. a triffid sized monster) I cut the whole lot on a higher setting and then go over it with a lower cut - but not too low which kills the grass - although in your part of the world that might be a reasonable response?

Broader cutting means less work in the long run. My Honda push mower is a 19 inch cut which seems about right to me. People laugh when they hear I cut a few acres with the thing, but I really do. It only takes a couple of days of walking which is quite meditative really. Ride on mowers here would lead to a serious injury as sooner or later it would tip over.

Ha! I'm jealous of all the rain you get there. ;-)! Still there are pluses and minuses to every place. Glad to hear that Beau appreciates your efforts. He is a sensible dog.

Multiple systems are the way to go. I do that here too. The tank near for the chicken enclousre has recently had the valve leak and it has drained the tank in short order, so I now have to bucket water across every day to the ladies. The rats mess up their water supply, so I can't not clean it daily. I have plans for those cunning creatures in that area - that'll give them something to think about.

Too funny. You're a brave man clicking on the captcha at all. I sort of let sleeping dogs lie. Nice to see that they can come up with food and beer - shows you where their minds are at. hehe!

Mmmm spaghetti is good. I make my own pasta here and it is as good as it gets when it is freshly made. Yum! All this talk of food is making me hungry. I'm cooking up some muesli right now in the electric oven - whilst the sun is shining.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

I hope the storm is both gentle and provides lots of rain for you. 4cm is a whole lot of rain in one day!

Thanks. The chickens could possibly do the digging for you? They are notoriously hard to direct though and it is a real challenge to stop them from digging up the driveway here - and for some strange reason they just want to dig up the roots of a medium sized horse chestnut tree too. I wish they wouldn't do that, but then on the other hand imagine the manure that a brood of chickens would provide for your beautiful garden plants – plus they can eat all of the excess produce (they seem to enjoy zucchini as long as it is cut open lengthways into quarters). Nothing turbo charges plant growth like a good dose of manure. I'm determined to get to manure all of the fruit trees here later this year before they break their dormancy in spring.

I've thought about putting together a quick video on the soil that the chickens do generate here as I use a slow composting deep litter system in their enclosure to produce soil from their manure. It might be interesting?

Sorry to hear about your ankle. I hope that you are recovering well? Yes, that would be very interesting to hear about your experiences. They're such a good idea and have very little ongoing maintenance apart from sharpening the blades. Would you be interested in a video about how I go about sharpening blades here? So many garden tools require sharpening and I've got about 3 different methods depending on location, power, time etc...

Fair enough too. The garden is the priority in all circumstances. Wow, May is quite late from my perspective – but obviously I don’t know your climate. Can you ripen larger tomatoes or are the tomato plants already quite large when they are taken outside? A local bloke I know grows them to be about 3ft (1m) inside his house and then takes them outside as early as possible. He's always bragging about how he gets his first ripe tomato by Christmas. The effort required is too much for me.

Well, you're in good company then. hehe! Nice to hear. As the years go on, they get hardier and acclimatise slowly - but generally I feed them well during the growing season. I grow a couple of Macadamia trees here and whilst they haven't fruited yet, they haven't died either so it is really hard to tell in advance about what will survive and what won't. I don’t believe that many people understand the actual real world abilities of our fruit trees to adapt to a shifting climate as a lot of what you read is hearsay?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Jo,

No definitely give the wicking beds a go and then let us know how they performed. Most annual plants tend to eat the soil reasonably quickly, so you'll have to replace it or top it up regardless of whatever system that you use.

It is really interesting to watch over time how the soil levels drop in raised garden beds and that happens in the orchard and forest as well. The plants turn soil into plants and then we eat the plants or compost those plants elsewhere - every time you do that you are moving soil to somewhere else. Some of the very old trees around here clearly started growing when soil levels were higher than they are today.

Well, I haven't tried growing vegetables under the drip line of a pear tree, but I do have quite a few largeish pear trees (Asian and European) here and noticed that the herbage underneath them does quite well over summer so they may not be very invasive. They do have big root systems though and Manchurian Pears are seriously drought proof once established - which is a sign of a big and also very deep root system. I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Yeah, you'll have to refill those pots anyway as the years go on, so again I wouldn't worry about it and instead do whatever provides you with a good amount of produce whilst trying to make it as easy for you as possible. I'm no purist and I reckon if it easy for you to maintain, then you'll have more fun with them and you'll produce more food. :-)!

Many thanks for the recipe and I'll check out your blog. The risotto looks awesome! I would never have thought of that - the best ideas are other peoples! 30kg of zucchini left to go...

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

hello Chris

My son has some fertilised duck eggs, so there will be more ducks.

My grass isn't cut until July because of my wild orchids. Son does first cut with a scythe.

I have never before heard of tomatoes classified as eating or cooking ones. All the myriad varieties, that I have grown, have tasted wonderful. I think that they need to taste good raw to taste well cooked.

Dandelions are flowering but, as stated before, they shouldn't be in my woodland so I deadhead them which produces steady weakening.

A wren is building a nest in my porch and I can watch it as I sit here; very sweet.

No 1 daughter arrives today. No 2 daughter arrives Monday with her family.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Jo - When I had a used bookstore, I always kept copies of "The Living", around. It was always a sure fire suggestible for anyone interested in Pacific Northwest History.
Yo, Chris - Yeah, I think "hard" land tends to make people conservative. It's odd, though. I live in the most conservative county in W. Washington. It is also the poorest, has the highest unemployment and a recent study found it has the worst health (based on several factors). Sometimes, I am appalled that I landed in such a conservative place.

Yeah, the "bird to medical science" was a joke. I must have forgot the ... :-) .

I mow about an acre. Divided into 5 sections. Once the first mowing is done, I keep on top of it. Since the new mower has a pretty easy height adjustment, I intend to try that double mowing method.

Made my monthly pilgrimage to the grocery store for 3 dvds that the library either probably won't get or the hold lists are so long I'll never see them in my lifetime. "Miss Meadows" a very dark comedy. "Exodus: Gods and Kings". Tonight I'm going to watch "Intersteller", which you mentioned.

A beautiful day. And, the lawn awaits! Lew

thecrowandsheep said...

Hi Chris,

I am eggcited you mentioned olive trees because I have a question: I hear Olive Trees, the very trees upon which Western Civilization were built, are regarded as a "pest" in your neck of the woods. Now I am no eggologist, but this notion seems rather absurd. Have you heard of this Olive tree-"pest" talk before?

Humanity, especially in this day age, regarding something as a pest seems like a classic case of Donald Rumsfeld's Soul calling the kettle black.

Cheers.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I hope that you have a lovely birthday and it is very nice thing that your family has gathered around at this time.

Nice to hear that your son hasn't been discouraged by the foxes and that he'll start again. I assume that he has an incubator for eggs? I've never used one of them.

Oh yeah. Some of my friends of Italian origin tend to grow quite large tomatoes, but they don't taste like much to me. They make passata with it so require the volume. The tomatoes are monsters they're so big!

You could collect the flowers and make a dandelion wine and then perhaps you may feel more kindly towards them?

It is a real pleasure being able to watch the birds and animals as they go about their business.

One of the Jerusalem artichokes fell over in the recent rain and uncovered a huge quantity of tubers. There were so many, I left a third in the ground, I'll replant the other third and the remainder will go into the pot. Expect a review shortly...

All the best for your birthday!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

The funny thing about real community is that you have to learn to live with your neighbours whomever they may be - even if they are a complete jerk!

Yeah, nah as they say here. Given what you've just told me they probably have excellent and useful real world skills - the sort that are useful in a crisis and can get by with less.

After the Black Saturday bushfires, I attended a local meeting of the residents to talk about issues relating to the bushfires. I was a volunteer in the local fire brigade at the time and I was appalled at the level of expectations that people had there, so yeah, real community can be a mixed bunch. Those stats are probably also released to prove some point or three. Stats are often gamed nowadays.

Thought so, cheeky! I had a mate that worked in biological research and he used do all sorts of experiments on animals so such things do happen. I couldn't do that job, it would be hard on my soul.

Nice to hear that the deck height can be adjusted on the new mower. It is good exercise just walking around.

Yeah I heard a review of Exodus so I'll be very interested to hear what you reckon about it. Now don't start saying I recommended Interstellar - anyway I hope you enjoy it and remember pushing your mower when you see all of the big machines in the fields... Plus the dust storms...

The planet has aligned because it was a beautiful day here today too. The sun was shining and I spent about 5 hours happily digging the new wood shed site. Bit tired now though and the warm bath is calling me!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi crowandsheep,

Very funny! Olive trees haven't naturalised around here. I believe that they have in some parts of South Australia in the hills north of Adelaide, but some commenters here may be able to confirm or deny that account. Glad to hear that you are an eggologist. ;-)!

Generally when people say such things to me here at the farm I ask them about the origins of the plants in their most recent meal. That tends to put an end to that. On the other hand, olive trees provide a reliable food source for birds which have lost quite a bit of ground so I don't really begrudge them a few feral fruit trees.

Yes, it is some dodgy logic!

Down here there are feral apples, plums, pears and berries. Not to mention feral wild cabbage turn up here reliably every year.

What is it like in your part of the world?

Cheers

Chris

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Jo,

I think they're definitely worthwhile and am planning to set up one or two. As you say, you get the benefit of a root barrier too. The importance of this will depend on whether your fruit tree is deep or shallow rooted, but I suspect its roots will get into a bed, whereas a wicking bed should prevent that. Of course, the fruit tree then gets less nutrition/water...

In the context of water conservation, they seem like a no-brainer, but as we make such use of grey water it's a bit harder to justify (and you can't put grey water on a wicking bed).

I did have a fantasy of setting up a 15 meter reed-bed grey water purifier that then acted as feed to the underneath of a six-wicking-bed system, but it just ain't gonna happen ;-)

I'm not going to worry about a wicking bed for winter (got hot water, insulation, draught proofing, solar space heater projects on the go) but will try to set one up in spring in preparation for summer.

Cheers, Angus

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Speedwell is flowering. Every time that I tell you that something else is flowering, I am noting it in my diary. This will make an interesting comparison in future years.

My vigorous culling means that there aren't enough dandelions for wine making. They don't belong in these woods anyhow. If I needed them for food, I could get them back in no time so eager are they.

One of my sons' ganders has been seriously beaten up by another gander.

Yes, son does have an incubator.

No 1 daughter has been washing down my 2 greenhouses; great that she likes physical activity.

Fog horns were blasting all yesterday; it appears that we have seriously bad air quality at the moment. It hasn't affected me.

Thanks for the kind birthday wishes.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Re: Your comment to Inge on monster veg. I blame the county fairs and granges. Seem they always have a competition going for biggest ... whatever. Never mind the taste. Record pumpkins are 2,000 lbs. +. Well, sometimes there's money awards, involved.

I never go for mammoth, anything. The pumpkins I want are about the size of a head. Easier to store, shorter growing season. About the only mammoths I grow are sunflowers. Weird and wonderful how their heads turn to follow the sun. Usually, when your back is turned. :-). Probably related to Triffids.

"Just walking around?" Oh, please. First I have to knock the tops of the mole hills. All that nice top soil goes in the garden beds. And, the ground is rough. And, slanted. Not a big pitch, but enough to notice. I usually loose a few pounds after a mowing session. There were over 30 mole hills in Beau's yard.

"Exodus: Gods and Kings" was a bit disjointed. And, I think they could have done more with the CGI. I mean, gosh, they had the Plagues of Egypt to deal with. But then, I'm a disaster film junkie. And, I'm not buying God personified as an eight year old boy with a clearly dubbed English accent. :-). If you see it on the 99 cent rental rack, might be worth a go.

"Intersteller" was just a "suspend belief" sci-fi romp. I should have made popcorn. So, instead of the Space Brothers saving US, it's really us from our own future? Oh, please. And, those giant spinning space platforms? Where did the materials and energy come from to build them?

The scene with the teacher was a bit chilling. Someone over on ADR mentioned it. And, it falls into line with JMG's post from a couple of weeks ago about the backlash against science. I wish the robots had more robot like voices. Sometimes, I had a hard time telling when they were talking and when it was a crewman. Another 99 cent rack filler. I did find the scenes of the crumbling eco-sphere interesting (see disaster flick junkie, above.)

Another ok day, weather wise. Our overnight lows are still around 40F. Not high enough, yet, to put out anything that needs a bit of warmth. Lew

I Janas said...

Hi Chris!
ometimes I wander over from JMG´s blog to here, so thank you for the links over there!

Dandelions: if no childrens are eating it, can be used for salad in spring, or in a pesto - speaking of spaghetti ;-) Apparently some medicinal tea can be made from leave and roots but check that elsewhere first, of course.

Fog rolling down of the farm: uhm, I´d label myself as a non-gardener-but-bookreader-about-this - still I wonder: I heard that fog could somehow (via netting? or shrubs?) be harvested for the water it contains. Have you thought along those lines for your farm?

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

All excellent thoughts for Jo.

CERES in Brunswick has such a reed bed water purifier system using old bathtubs. It is very clever as one bathtub drains into the next and the whole lot is gravity fed.

I hear you man, so much to do - best get to it. ;-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Excellent work. A diary is like a written map / history of your garden / forest over the course of a year. I'm in the early stages of getting a thorough diary going. Honestly I just forget to do things at certain times of the year and it does seem sort of important to remember!

Do you happen to know the Latin name of your Speedwell herb? There are so many different ones down under and the internet search produced just as many different plants again that I have conceded defeat. I grow something called speedwell here, as well as wound wort, self heal etc.

I hope that things do not ever get to that stage.

Sorry to hear about that, birds can be very forthright in their pecking order and sometimes downright mean. I have had both good roosters and some very unpleasant customers over the years. One of them used to regularly attack me when I turned my back on him in the chicken enclosure - a very unwise move on his part. And he was very ungentlemanly with the smaller silkies.

Good on them both. I hope that they all enjoy themselves there too. I have a couple of visitors here tomorrow and there are plans afoot to put one of them to work - little do they know it now! hehehe! Actually, most people really enjoy doing stuff about the place here as I try to make it as interesting and fun as possible. Half of the time, they don't even realise they're working.

Hope the fog clears for your birthday and thanks.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, I’ve heard that that is a bit of a thing. Exactly, the monster vegetables taste like rubbish. I sort of recall in the Annie Hawes books one very late night she stumbled into and was roped into helping out on a passata making session with one of her neighbours. The large tomato thing here is more about bulk for the sauce rather than any great taste thing. Tomatoes bred for bulk and cooking taste like cardboard to me. Fresh eating tomatoes are really nice tasting but they have to be ripened on the vine and just don't travel very well. My thinking is that fruit that doesn’t taste good before it is prepared, doesn’t bottle (can) very well at all.

Well, that is because you were blessed with a good dose of common sense. ;-)! Sunflowers are amazing how they do that trick too. Very cool. The Jerusalem artichokes which are from the same family do the same thing. I took a photo today of the tubers which self-excavated. So many tubers... It is always good advice to watch out for triffids - that book scared me silly when I first read it!

The rotten little monsters. 30 holes. That is more than on a golf course! Just out of interest, do the moles get into the vegetable beds - what a mess they'd make? On the other hand, they are turning your soil over, but I just can’t think of any easy way to harvest that energy. Do you reckon anyone has come up with a system to put all that digging to good effect?

All of those rocks you see in the photos of the rock walls here were ones that were pulled out of the ground in order to make it easier for mowing. Sometimes, they're small and sometimes they're massive... Plus I smoothed the surface. Rough ground can be very hard work. I'm feeling your pain, I hear you.

I told you so! Ooops, sorry I didn't mean to tell you that I told you so, but like, I did tell you so... hehe! Man, I'm still giggling to myself about both of those films. I enjoy a film with a dodgy premise and can take a whole lot of silliness, but you know: I kind of prefer my aliens to be a bit more like Paul and what was with the whole tsunami planet thing? Like they're flying over the surface of the planet and kind of don't look down and miss the whole monster wave crashing down on the surface thing? What's with that? Call me overly cautious, but checking things out before you land on a strange planet seems like a really good idea. But what do we both know?

You do like your disaster flicks, I get that - good stuff. And the scene with the teacher was very chilling - I just didn't see them do much actual farming!

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

I'll let you in on a little secret (well it isn't a secret anymore, I guess)... There is a guy on the Triple J radio station that does regular film reviews and has done so for years, and I tend to agree with his reviews about 99% of the time. So I check out whether he has done any reviews of a prospective film before heading off to the cinema. If you have 2 or 3 minutes to spare to listen to the audio review of Exodus, then I'd appreciate your thoughts?

Marc Fennell - Exodus: Gods and Kings Reviewed

His website is at: Marc Fennell - That movie guy

Seriously, the guy makes me laugh and the review of the film Exodus is just funny as he takes an absurdist approach to that review.

I took the day off work or doing anything really today (I did make some fresh pasta sheets by hand for a lasagne, but then that is food so it doesn't count). Had a very pleasant time trawling through some second hand bookshops and the editor and I had a lovely conversation with the owner of one of the shops for a while about the difficulties of a bookshop business and the state of the world. They run a tough but very worthwhile and enjoyable business. I went looking for William Catton's book Overshoot, but lucked out.

Tonight I found out that a mate that I've known pretty much longer than anyone else is moving to Ohio of all places. Wow, that is a big move and I respect him for taking on that challenge. A massive change. He was telling me they have cold winters there - like -20'C cold winters. Brrr.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi I Janas,

Thanks for the comment and welcome to the discussion.

My pleasure!

All excellent suggestions for the dandelions. They are amazingly hardy and prolific plants. They taste allright too, surprisingly, although I must fess up to having low expectations. I never tried the wine because it required a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of the flowers for the recipe which sounds like a whole lot of hard work and there are easier plants to harvest. ;-)!

Of course - an excellent comment, at many times of the year (summer and winter), the outside humidity here can get to 99% and that water collects on the steel roof of the house, and the collection area is big enough that it will start draining into the water tanks once the fog lifts and the roof and water warm up. The trees use the exact same trick here and some summers when the rain fails, that is how they get a drink. On warmer nights you can hear the water dripping off the downward facing leaves which are collecting the condensation.

Excellent observation.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Hmm, the speedwell. It is in land that was once fields, it is not the speedwell that I get in the ancient woodland. I haven't brought some leaves down, so am not sure at this minute. I think that it is the 'creeping speedwell' veronica filiformis. I'll let you know if I think differently later.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - As far as tomatoes go, to paraphrase my Dad (Paint covers a multitude of sins) tomatoes can be really enhanced with herbs and spices. Sometimes, I think they work in some mysterious way to sharpen the tomato flavor. I followed a tomato catsup recipe, once, and was startled when it turned out pink. :-). Once gets used to the visual of a product with Red Dye #2. :-).

Like Inge, I keep a little notebook where I record plants I identify around the place. And, a big yellow legal pad where I map out, what it where. And, of course my calendars that I keep saying i'm going to map out on a big piece of butcher paper. It's all kind of haphazard.

Lots of dandelion around my place. I've been picking the leaves for the chooks as their yard looks pretty bare this time of year. Once I was so poor I was eating dandelions out of the yard. Not bad with a little bit of vinegar and salt. :-)

Yup. Ohio can be very cold in winter and very warm in summer. Tornados in some areas. But it's part of the rust belt and there's some very cheap land, available. Not farm land, so much, but houses and commercial buildings in dying towns. I have another Internet pen pal (just the two of you) who I exchange e-mails with, from time to time. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio. He's bought some land in, what looks to me, like a god forsaken corner of Colorado and is planning his escape.

The movie review was a hoot. He was pretty spot on. My gosh! I didn't even notice it was Sigourney Weaver under that wig and makeup! As far as the special effects go, memory plays tricks, but I think the original "Ten Commandments" was a lot more effective. Back in the day when I read Playboy magazine, I had a sure fire way to figure out if I'd like a movie. If they panned it, I'd like it. If they liked it, I wouldn't.

Maybe bad news from the well site. They're down 400 feet, and no water. They're going to go another 20 on monday, and, if they don't hit water are going to call it a day. There was one area where they hit a bit of seepage. They're going to pierce the well casing there and see if it's enough to bother with. Sigh. Fingers crossed and I may even resort to prayer. :-) . Lew

thecrowandsheep said...

Hi Chris,

This reminds me of a story I read recently. Over here in Central Europe, there is currently an invasion of squirrels from North America who are able to compete better against their European cousins. Some locals, upset at this turn of events, have decided to take matters into their own hands and have taken to shooting the American invaders. Unfortunately, over-enthusiastic hunters have also ended up shooting local, sometimes endangered, squirrels.

Now I am no hunter, but I guess if you have a clear shot, you have to take it?

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks for that. Veronica filiformis produces wonderful carpets of flowers.

Cheers.

Chris

Jo said...

Thanks Chris and Angus for your input re wicking beds, I'm beginning to wonder whether they would be really effective here in Tas where we have so much rain. Would an impermeable base to the bed just make it fill up with water and drown the roots??

I will do the sensible thing and ask around local gardeners and see if anyone has tried them here..

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

You learn something every day! Ketchup has sugar, whilst catsup doesn't. You know I'd never heard of the word catsup before. Down Under it is mysteriously labelled "Tomato Sauce", although it probably contains sugar so would be the equivalent of Ketchup.

Your dad was onto something with that saying. I've heard: "Builders bog hides a multitude of sins". True too.

Yeah, the pink stuff can be quite startling and sort of hard entice people to consume. Go on, give it a go, it won't hurt you - trust me! I did a tomato soup that was once pink and somehow it just didn't seem OK as you sort of expect tomato soup to be red.

Yeah food colouring is weird stuff. A few months ago, a red velvet cake recipe required red food dye which could best be described as "Fire engine red". The editor was telling me that it was an extract from some sort of insect which seems a bit weird really.

The green tomato chutney which I make here is actually quite a vivid green colour which can be a bit disturbing for some people.

Yeah, well it is all haphazard here too. Mapping things out, man that is really hard. I sort of started that once with the orchard and after about half an hour, I was scratching my head thinking: There must be an easier way...

Ha! Did you enjoy the tubers? Putting food on the table trumps all other considerations and niceties. :-)! I thought that the tubers were quite bland like a parsnip and I don't really like parsnips, the leaves were OK though. During the very hot summer two years ago dandelions were one of the last fresh salad greens. There are now a couple of raised beds set aside for green stuff that can cope with crazy hot conditions, so hopefully there is no more requirement for dandelions in summer salads.

Very interesting indeed. My mate and his lady are in for a shock as the weather in Ohio is not quite as hot as here (almost though), but oh my, the winters look like a lesson in serious extremes. Wow, you know in 9 years here the coldest it ever reached was -1'C (30'F) and both you and Inge would probably go: That's shorts and t-shirt weather, that is! ;-)! Anyway, I thought that it was cold.

I have absolute respect for him making the call to move overseas. Top work. As you are clearly a film buff, lets talk more enjoyable films and forget all of that rubbish that you mentioned. As a suggestion (yes, this is another word for a recommendation!), try the film: The five year engagement. That is my mates new life.

Have you ever considered heading over to Colorado to join up resources with your pen pal? Still, your eloquent description: "God forsaken", strikes true fear into my heart. I reckon there would be some awesome scenery there though?

Glad to read that you enjoyed the review. Seriously the guy makes me laugh and most of the reviews are like that. Fair enough too, sometimes you just get a gut feel for things and your method is a good one. Your story reminded me of a time a long while ago when I was involved in a very serious footy tipping competition. Now, I must confess that I know nothing at all about football. So there was this guy on the radio in the morning and I had this rule of thumb: whatever team he chose to win, I'd choose the opposite. And weirdly, it worked. So I was miles ahead of everyone else on the tipping competition and people would be saying, wow, you know heaps about football. I would nod sagely and say very little.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

After a few months, it all went wrong because I started listening to what the guy on radio was saying and going, yeah, that sounds really reasonable, so week by week I ignored the original rule and ended up in third place. A sad loss. hehe! :-)!

Man, I feel for you. That is a long way down too. The same thing happens here. Has your neighbour ever considered a water diviner? In all the digging here, I've never come across underground water, so I just don't know. I have seen it in other locations though. The local creek here runs underground so a well there would possibly yield a result? Maybe.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi crowandsheep,

That goes on here too. I respect people that can hunt for their own food. Yet at the same time as that, you get hunters that shoot anything that moves. Humans are a paradox.

The Aboriginals avoided that paradox by having totem animals. Individuals within a tribe were allocated a totem animal and they were responsible for the care of the populations of that totem animal within a specific area. Indeed the culture was strong enough that the totem animals were considered to be brothers and sisters to the Aboriginals. That is a strong bond but also affords an ecological perspective on such matters.

Just something for you to cogitate on. There is no easy answer for the paradox you describe. The fault lies within our culture.

A very tough question for a quiet Sunday night!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Jo,

That is a very sensible strategy as I too look around the local area to see what is working and what isn't. No point reinventing the wheel. :-)!

Geofabric may be a good root barrier, although even that breaks down eventually. A nylon mesh would probably work too as it would take years to break down, but would allow excess water to soak into the surrounding garden?

Your part of Tasmania can be a bit like here in that some summers can be unusually dry. Still, you have a serious advantage with town water, so whatever works easily is a good thing too.

PS: I hope you are getting some good winter veg in?

Cheers

Chris