Monday, 8 June 2015

Ripped off



Beginning from the gold rush era of the 1850’s, for about a century the forests in this mountain range and the surrounding areas have been logged. Large scale wild fires have also left their mark on the forests, with the most recent big one occurring in the summer of 1983 (Ash Wednesday fires).

You don’t have to go far to see the impacts of either. Sometimes it may be a broken thick rusty old steel cable abandoned in an unlikely area that hasn’t seen a person for decades. Other times it could be burnt trees or stumps lying down on the ground with their charcoal exteriors protecting the timber and the insides of that tree are as pristine as the day it succumbed to the wild fire.

The Gisborne and Mount Macedon Districts Historical society produced a beautiful hard cover book called: Pictorial Mount Macedon, which looks back on the European history of the area in a pictorial format. The picture below is of some of the timber milling activities from back in the day from that book:
Timber getting activities in the 19th century at Mount Macedon
One of the earliest European explorers, Major Thomas Mitchell, who was the Surveyor General of NSW and who crossed this mountain range in 1836 wrote at that time: “left dense timber on colder south slopes but north slopes were open enough to ride horses up. Mitchell continued south east to Mt Macedon, crossing from granite to basalt. The forest was denser, but again north slopes were more open than south, and both were more open ... South of the mount … found both thick forest and downs of park-like scenery”.

Today it would be impossible to ride a horse up one of the north slopes as the forest is very dense. The forest on the south slopes is even thicker again. Clearly the Aboriginals were also modifying the forest long before the Europeans even thought about venturing to this far country.

These days there is no requirement at all for land owners to actively manage the forest in and around their properties. In fact, some people view the forests here as some sort of untouched wilderness which should be be left alone by humans, despite evidence to the contrary. Deep down though, I suspect that people want to avoid the inevitable hard work and cost that active management of the forests involves.

The Aboriginals used to burn off between 30 and 40 hectares (70 and 100 acres) at a time on a rotational basis which allowed animals to move to unaffected areas while the burned areas regenerated. Nowadays in our advanced wisdom the state government tends to burn off between 3,000 and 4,000 hectares (7,000 and 10,000 acres) at any one time. Those large scale burn offs are much better than doing nothing, but it gives the animals that live in that burn off area little chance to move to neighbouring bush because that has also been burnt in the process. The whole process is expensive and hard work so usually only the bare minimum ever gets done. And it isn’t anywhere near enough because wildfires have occured on an alarmingly regular basis throughout the European history of this continent.

I’m realistic about the risk that arsonists present each summer and that motivates me to manage the surrounding forest with that risk in mind. Another benefit of managing the forest is that the local wildlife has a greater supply of food. Therefore, at least once every year I employ a gang of burly blokes to help with the assorted jobs required in maintaining the surrounding forest. It is a good arrangement and I’ve known these guys for many years. They have been very reliable and responsible.

So it came as a complete surprise a couple of weeks ago when they finished 90% of the current job and didn’t come back to finish the work as they promised. Unfortunately I had paid them in advance. The penance for my error of paying them in advance has been that I have had to trudge off and finish the work that they were meant to do. Ripped off! That penance has also slowed down work on all of the other projects about the farm.

This week the weather has warmed slightly as the winds have been blowing in from the hot deserts in the centre of the continent. Winter can mean humidity in excess of 90% for months on end. Sometimes you can see the water vapour in the air as a mist over the valley. That happened this week:

Mist rises over the valley as humidity is well over 90%
Olives are a bountiful crop and there are two very well established olive trees (as well as many other much younger olive trees) which produce great quantities of fruit. Olives are inedible when they are plucked straight from the tree and they require a bit of processing in brine (a fancy name for salty water). Home processed olives are awesome tasting! Having eaten all of our home grown and processed olives, when I was at the market on Friday, I spotted boxes of the unprocessed olive fruit. I purchased a box and have been busily processing them at night time.

Making two cuts in each olive fruit so as to speed up the brining time for the fruit
The warmer weather this week provided an opportunity to put more firewood into the new firewood shed. It is a real pleasure over a cold winter to see dry aged firewood available for immediate use!

The firewood shed is slowly filling up with aged and dry firewood
The new concrete stairs had another two further steps constructed. The rock wall has also been extended right up to the concrete staircase itself.

The new concrete stairs have reached the top
The tomatoes are now at the end of their productive life and I’ll probably remove the plants over the next week or so. All of the ripe and unripe tomato fruit will brought into the house. Even the green tomatoes will happily ripen in the warmth inside the house and I’ll be eating fresh local tomatoes for many weeks to come.

The tomatoes are having their winter death rattle

As it is getting closer to the winter solstice, I've been posting the solar PV statistics:
Battery % full at the start of the day - Amount generated by the 4.2kW of PV panels during that day
Tuesday 2nd June – 80% full – 2.1kWh
Wednesday 3rd June – 75% full – 2.6kWh
Thursday 4th June – 70% full – 3.9kWh
Friday 5th June – 80% full – 4.3kWh
Saturday 6th June – 75% full – 6.2kWh
Sunday 7th June – 90% full – 4.3kWh
Monday 8th June – 85% full – 4.9kWh


How did the house get here?
December 2010 was a month of plaster. All of the plaster sheets which cover the internal walls of the entire house were joined together. It was a big job, but like the story of the tortoise and the hare, I was the tortoise and bit by bit it was slowly done.

The plaster sheets are joined together

The plaster sheets are joined together: Note Scritchy hard at work asleep on the couch
The fire rated wall which encloses the underneath of the house was also constructed that month. Very observant readers will note that the first of many raised garden beds were installed. I’m not sure that I can see any tomatoes in them though!

The fire rated wall enclosing the underside of the house was constructed
About a week prior to New Year’s Eve, the local chook lady said that the chickens I’d had on order would be ready to pick up in a few days. Panic set in and I hastily constructed the chicken enclosure. A wise person once said, act in haste and repent at leisure. That is a true statement relating to the chicken enclosure as I constructed the entire enclosure uphill of the pen which is basically upside down. Still, at the time I knew absolutely nothing at all about chickens so anything was actually possible and it certainly didn’t end up as badly as it could otherwise have been.

The new chicken enclosure following its construction
The herbage above the worm farm sewage system started growing very well that month and the local wildlife finally discovered the joys of manure fed ground covers!

The local wildlife discovers the joys of manure fed ground covers
The temperature outside here at about 6.30pm is 10.7 degrees Celsius (50’F). So far this year there has been 339.4mm (13.4 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 331.4mm (13.0 inches).

38 comments:

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Yup. The history of logging in this part of the world was pretty identical. About the same time period, too. There's still odd bits of logging equipment, scattered about the place. After Mt. St. Helens erupted, there was a lot of "salvage" logging. Scorched and burnt downed timber that was useable. But, I think the window of opportunity was about 5 or 6 years before the timber was "spoiled."

So many mysteries. Why did the blokes run off without finishing the job? What changed? And, the chook pen? Why is it a bad idea to build the house further down the slope from the yard? Migration of mud, maybe?

Was 92F, here, yesterday. Supposed to be another scorcher, today.

Mudding and taping (putting up the wallboard) is more of an art, than a science, I think. Was reading bits of Steve Solomon's "Gardening When it Counts", last night. He's living in Tasmania, now. When he was talking about making home made kinds of fertilizer, he mentioned gypsum as one of the possible components. "1/4 part gypsum, and if you don't have gypsum, double the amount of lime ..." And, the thought crossed my mind that gypsum could be salvaged out of old drywall. Did you use any of your left over scraps of drywall in a gardening kind of way? Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

You paid the men all the money in advance! Dearie me, never pay all of it at once.

Scarlet pimpernel is flowering. I do have various reeds growing but am as ignorant about them as I am about grasses.

My porch was awash with baby wrens yesterday. All gone now and my life can return to normal usage of the porch.

All I really want to do is rant, I am in a furious temper with a bank. Yesterday I tried to move some money from one account of mine to another one within the same bank. It took them 1/2 hour to say 'no' because I had insufficient ID with me. I had a letter from them about one account and my cheque book for the other account. Note that I was not trying to take any money out. When one doesn't go into town very often and ones son is waiting in his truck this is utterly infuriating.

What does one do these days when they don't really want ones money they just want to lend? I shall remove myself from this bank but they won't mind about that. I don't know of any method of revenge.

Inge

Coco said...

Hi Chris,

Enjoying your blog. I was wondering if you could post a bit on building your stone walls. We´re finishing up digging out a leftover pile of infill/rubble/stone from the renovation and I foresee a number of walls and projects in our future.

Cheers!

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Queen Liz is the actual head of government here and I thoroughly approve of using those powers to grant us plebeians a public holiday to celebrate her birthday. Well done. Public holidays are always good!

A truly fascinating lady. I wonder how she felt upon re-joining society after her experience in the two World Wars. I'll bet she cut straight through most nonsense.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

When I first read your comment I misread it and thought that you had written Penny Royal for some strange reason. Who knows?

I believe the common name Pennywort refers to different plants on different continents. Do the European varieties suggest usage as a remedy for arthritis? The funny thing is that most green leafy edible plants contain useful amounts of anti-inflammatories so just eating more leafy greens is useful for that sort of muscular and joint pain. People don't really eat a lot of leafy greens these days. Some of my salads scare people with all of the different plants in them!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yup, in one ear and out the other. hehe! I'm embarrassed to admit that I did two years of French at high school too. Languages have to be practiced and there is just no getting around that.

A garden journal is a very good idea. Your lettuce experiment is awesome. Well done. The seeds are really easy to collect too as they look like small tiny black seeds with fluffy puff things so they get carried by the winds. Hopefully that explains it? Really good to hear about your experiment too. Very clever. The yellow leaf lettuce here often gets red on or near the leaf tip ends. Lettuce plants easily hybridise anyway, so who knows what plant you'll end up with.

That is the spirit with the thistle seeds. Put it down to youthful exuberance... ;-)! The gotu kola may have the same oils as fish oil capsules - it certainly tastes the same. What kind of person feeds Cod liver oil to sick people - yuk? hehe! Personally I always thought that it may have been a method of stopping them from complaining any further...

I've heard of rose hip tea as a general health tonic, but what else can you do with rose hips?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

The similarities are quite amazing really. Unusually though, the burnt logs here stay quite pristine, unless they have a split and then the termites get into that and turn the heartwood into termite mud. Plus there are lots of wood borer grubs in the trees and the birds follow me around all day waiting to have some thrown to them. I believe that they are quite edible, although they look very unappealing to me. Once the damp gets in the timber is spoiled for even firewood or hollows for the animals. I'm sort of speeding up the natural cycles of soil building.

Thanks. Yeah, it is a mystery to me why they did. Don't think I didn't chase them either as I'm like a terrier on a bone with these sorts of situations. All I know is that they catabolised social capital in the process and they benefited at my expense and we're all the poorer for it.

Ahh, yeah, I've been thinking a fair bit recently about a better design for the new chook shed and run that I never really explained why the exisiting one is a bad idea. Going back to the bit about the eucalyptus trees - because everything about them is full of oils or germination inhibitors every leaf and stick that ever landed on the roof of the chicken enclosure is probably still there. The roof of the enclosure and the roof of the shed is like a butterfly roof and everything collects at that point and just to make matters worse the rats have been using the drain at the middle point of the roof as a super highway, but I can't clean it out because there is so much other gunk in there. And so on... A better enclosure is on the way! We'll foil 'em rats we will!

Mud isn't a problem here as I keep plants over every surface possible or put down a layer of crushed rock with lime. 9 months of the year here it is very humid so the surfaces have to be all weather.

Ahh 92'F = 33'C. Nice and toasty. Are you having a hot year there? This winter here has been much cooler than usual. It is 2.9'C or 37'F outside right now. Brrr!

Exactly, it is an art as the finishing is everything. Some of my friends have some very poor work done in their project built houses. It takes time to produce art!

Really, I'm going to look him up as Claire has written extensively on her blog about that guy. Tasmania is a very nice climate indeed if you end up in the right spot and there is plenty to choose from. It is very scenic and is about the closest – almost exact climatic - match to your area down under - without all of the active volcanoes though. ;-)!

Yes, gypsum could be salvaged from drywall plaster, I don't see why not. However, the internal linings here contain Proban to achieve the fire rating (I think that is the name of the chemical) so it is probably a bit toxic for the garden. You can buy it in bulk at the local soil place. They use it down this way to grow truffles under oak trees (the soil would otherwise be too acidic for the fungi - the trees are ok though). A very expensive way to grow truffles, but there are a few farms about the place doing it.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Yes, a very wise point and I fell into a trap for the unwary.

What a lovely flower. I grow chickweed here too and it grows very fast and is quite edible according to the local weed identification books. It is very high protein apparently and must get it's name from being a source of feed for chickens?

Very nice. The local wildlife can put on quite the show! I'm sure they were enjoying themselves too.

Inge, that is a mighty fine rant too. I understand the whole need to avoid making errors with identification, but sometimes it can be taken a bit far. In my paid world I often encounter that problem for pretty much about the same reason that you were declined.

You spoke merely the truth. There is no revenge on such institutions. Mind you, they're an institution and no one really wants to be in an institution! hehe! Silly word games aside, banking is a very strange business these days and they are a force that appears to be eating away at our society. Very strange and also very exciting days to witness.

I hope you sort your transactions out with the bank.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Coco,

Welcome to the discussion. What a good idea, I'll put some thought and words into that over the next week or two. Nice to hear that you are rock wealthy. I use a lot of the smaller rocks (you could also use solid rubble) as infill on the concrete steps here as they act as a reinforcing agent - although I keep them well away from the edges and surfaces of the concrete.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - One rant yields another :-). I used to be with evil BofA. It had been Seattle First National and was absorbed. I had finally whittled the accounts to one credit card .. with a small balance that I was paying off in (for me) big gobs. It finally occurred to me that if I went into the branch instead of mailing it, I'd save a few days interest. And, it did. Quit a bit. I hadn't been to the branch in 3 or 4 years. So, I thought I'd just nip through the drive through. No drive through, anymore. Fine, I thought. I'll just put it in the night deposit. No more night deposit. So, I had to go into the bank. One or two tellers (instead of the 5 or 6 in the old days) and a long line. Looking around, the penny finally dropped and I thought "They really don't care about the "little people" anymore." So, I redoubled my efforts and paid off the card in short order. I soon got a call from a very nice young man in "customer retention." He wondered why I was leaving BofA. I told him I really didn't want to get on a rant, but he teased it out of me. And, I finished off with "...and your interest rates are too high." He offered to adjust them lower. Too little, too late.

Reminds me of when I rented my first place, here. The landlord would not fix a hole in the roof. I could see sky through it. So, I found another place to live and gave notice. He was very sad. Would I have stayed if he'd fixed the roof? Yes I would have. Lesson learned? Probably not. End rant. :-) I am so happy with my credit union. Helpful people, always enough staff.

Yo, Chris - I've never done it, and don't know the details, but I understand that rose hips can be made into a very nice syrup. Like for your scones. The vitamin C pill I take every day is made with rose hips.

It was 91F here, yesterday. Too early, yet, to tell if it's going to be a hot year. But, long range forecasts say yes.

OK. Now I understand about the chook pen. And, I hadn't thought about additives in wall board that would kill everything it touches :-). How are you're bees doing? You haven't mentioned them, in awhile.

Well, my day is to set up a couple more water sources for the chooks. With this weather, I don't want to have all my eggs in one basket. :-). And, I need to hack down the tall grass along the road ditch. Visibility to get out of the drive way is not good. Lucky, most of the ditch is in the shade of the apple trees. Lew

Jo said...

Hi Chris, your last comment about my solar power statisitics was an 'Aha' moment for me. You see, I am absolutely incompetent and ignorant when it comes to electricity - for me, it's all magic. Ex-hub is an electronics engineer, and I decided that one clever clogs electrical know-it-all was enough in one family... but now, oops, there's only me to work out how the solar panels work, and why we are using more electricity than anyone else on the planet.

So, the 'Aha' moment was your comment about the average of two usable hours of sunshine per winter, and that my reading of 14kW per sunny day for a 6.5kW system produced that average... well, it took me awhile, you won't believe this, but finally I worked out that yes, 6.5kW x 2 hrs is 13kW, which is close to my reading. I was very excited about this, because it gives me some way to interpret the numbers coming out of the inverter..

Ok, I'm going to keep picking your brains here. At the moment I if I put the read out on real time, the system is usually generating only 200 or 300w at a time, but in summer it is often generating 1000s of watts at once. Does that mean in summer it would likely be able to make more than 6.5kW x hrs of usable sunlight in a day? I mean, it is not limited to making 6.5kW per hour is it? I apologise for my ignorance and ridiculous questions, but I really want to get my head around this..

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

We have had a very cold night here brr! I have heating on; this is really ridiculous.

Pennyworts seem to be worldwide and to have innumerable health uses and are used as an inflammatory. I agree about eating a variety of green leaves. It is an area in which we are improving, no longer just lettuce.

One of son's pigs has just had a 1st litter of 10 and no runt. He called out the vet the day before because things seemed to be overdue and he was sleepless with anxiety. Vet said that the pig was fine. Litter arrived within 24 hours so £50 was wasted.

@Lew

I remember having rose hip syrup as a child during the war, wonderful stuff.

Bank tellers have suffered a severe reduction here as well

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

That is an exceptionally good point to raise. You can always negotiate with the banks. It is awkward and uncomfortable, but they will negotiate a better rate and well, it's only the first time that asking for a better rate is difficult... I keep out of debt as much as is humanly possible as debt strikes a deep fear into my soul.

Credit unions are often run for the benefit of the members so that is a very good idea.

Interesting, I'll keep an eye out for rose hips next autumn and see what they taste like. Now that you mention it, I have vague memories of a rose hip tea? Does that sound like a possibility too?

Thanks for getting it about the chook pen. It's a mess and all of that air dried plant material trapped on the the butterfly roof becomes awesome kindling come the next bushfire season... I keep the roof spaces here spotless for most of the year - except for that one because it was planned and built in a hurry.

Yeah, the plaster is a real bummer, hopefully the stuff doesn't off gas as it is sealed from the sun by successive layers of materials as well as paint. It certainly wouldn't be good for your health.

Thanks for asking. There is another hive on order which should be available in a couple of months and I have plans to build a very unusual bee hive box which is a cross between the top bar hives and the commercial langstroth hives. It should be a very quick project and have the added benefit of totally annoying every single person in the bee keeping community. The dogma in bee keeping communities is truly profound to behold, so I keep a very low profile and even then am considered to be mildly eccentric (read mostly harmless). The bees seem happy enough here and when the sun is shining strongly as it does from time to time during winter, you'll see the occasional forager. I left them plenty of stores for the colonies over winter so who knows how it will turn out. One colony was taken out by the ants after the bees swarmed and the defences were breached, but the other is very healthy.

Ahh, mystery. Did you ever obtain a few more rain barrels? Very wise to have multiple storage systems - you can just fill them from the tap when it is working. I'll bet the grass grows well up your way. My mind still sees the forest up your way as it was shown in the "Wild" film. I'm sure they added a green filter to the lens but still it looked like rich lands.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Jo,

Well done, you. It is all magic to me too! ;-)! No, seriously, I understand how all of the components link together and how to live with this stuff, maintain it, and monitor it, but honestly if you left me alone to think about how to go about building any of this stuff from scratch for 1,000 years I wouldn't come up with any of this stuff - at all. That essentially means that you are in good company!

Exactly. You are spot on and that is what I meant by an average of two peak sun hours per day at this time of year. Enjoy your new-found knowledge as it is an art more than a science because you are seeing what nature provides us. Science would attempt to be a bit more consistent...

No, that is a very fair question. You will only ever see 6,500W from your system being generated on a very cool sunny day on or around the summer solstice. For the rest of the year it will be much less than that. The difference between summer and winter though is that the sun is in the sky and much higher for many more hours a day. So during summer, your average sun hours will be much, much higher than the depths of winter. Over summer, I have never managed to use all of the energy produced on a perfect day.

Thick cloudy days will produce very little direct sunlight.

Sometimes very high and very thin cloud will actually bounce the sunlight around in a favourable way and you may get much more than a 6,500W output.

Generally PV panels only ever produce about 80% of their rated output. So your 6,500W system should be discounted by 20% and actually be rated at 5,200W.

Good stuff!

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Brrr, the wood heater is running here too.

Are those colder temperatures normal for your early summer season? Is the climate very variable? My December (your June) can be exceptionally variable and swing from very cold to very hot.

Thanks for looking that up. I have Penny Royal here as well and I recall something about that plant being mildly toxic.

Exactly. I once saw a video of George Monbiot speaking with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall early in Hugh's rise to the giddy heights that he now exists in and they were discussing the extent of plant knowledge that the average person was expected to know back in the day and it was phenomenal. The funny thing about lettuce here is that it is a winter crop. People always want to eat lettuce in their summer salads. I have no idea at all where the iceberg lettuces that people love to eat in summer here are actually grown.

Nice to hear that the sow has produced a good litter. I wish you an excellent summer with lots of feed for the piglets too. Plus I'm secretly (well, not so secret anymore) thinking about all of the bacon, hocks, ribs and sausages that he is going to produce later. I'll bet the piglets lead a delightful life up your way too. Homegrown and prepared pork could tempt me from my life as a mostly vegetarian. Yum! My mate that is moving to Ohio is the person that introduced me to that food - shame he's heading off to the US.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Did you mean to say penny royal instead of penny wort again or are you just royalty obsessed? Penny royal is a mint and I don't know of contra-indications. Penny wort should not be taken during pregnancy and I believe, should not be taken with certain drugs.

Although I believe the mints to be okay, I did once try the water mint (supposed to be edible) which grows plentifully here. It gave me a stomach ache.

Yes I long for the sausages that my son makes, they are far better than bought ones I think. Chiefly because they don't give me a migraine attack unlike bought sausages.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Rose hip tea - yup. Just happened to have that "Homegrown Tea" book, at hand, and there's a section on rose hip tea. Lots of other good things in it, besides just vit C.

Got it. Chook pen roof + air dried plant material = roast chicken :-).

"Dogma in the bee keeping community.." Or, any other community. Everyone defends their little bit of turf (knowledge). It's all about power and control. And, maybe a bit of one-upsmanship. :-).

Still just have the 100+ gallons, out in the yard. Which seems to do the trick. Plus the 15 or so gallons of drinking water in the house. And, the well is running at the Abandoned Farm. We lost water, again, for a couple of days, late last week. Apparently, some of the wiring they did on the big project in the spring was put in wrong. I saw a water tanker heading to the RV park. They had big plans for the week-end. As it is getting into their busy season, I doubt we'll see the foot dragging of last winter.

I doubt they used green filters in "Wild." That's what it looks like here. More color of green than the Emerald Isle :-). And, don't talk about mowing. I'm behind and the grass (and vetch) is running wild! So many different types of grass.

I woke up a couple of times last night and wished I had another blanket. The overnight low was down to 46. Yesterdays high was down to 86F. Today, it is supposed to be 78F. We've got a good maritime onshore flow going. Quit pleasant. We may even see some showers, this week-end. Time to make my weekly trip to the Little Smoke. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Hardly. hehe! Very funny. No, I actually meant Penny royal of the mint family. There was a notable song about the plant in the very early 90's - seriously. I quite enjoyed the song, but I suspect that it may not be quite to your taste. I'm takling about the plant Mentha pulegium. The goto book here: The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism lists a few contra-indications. As to Pennywort, only the Indian Pennywort is listed (Hydrocotyle asiatica) and it does have quite a few contra-indications, some pretty serious... I'd be pretty certain we are talking about a whole different plant though. Hopefully so, anyway. ;-)!

Oh yeah, it is definitely of the mint family, but I've never seen it growing anywhere here. Some of those aquatic plants can contain all sorts of nasty bacteria, viruses, amoebas and other assorted fun things that you probably don't want to experience.

All this talk of mint has made me go off and make a nice cup of peppermint tea. Unfortunately, there isn't much mint around here over winter as they tend to die back. Basil mint seems to be the hardiest and I can't quite get my head around basil mint tea...

Oh yeah, I bet they're good. Does he smoke the meat as well or salt cure it or both methods? As a suggestion, the migraine may be a physical reaction to the strong preservatives they use in food. A lot of preservatives tend to give me a hayfever reaction. Not to mention over use of Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) as small doses I don't notice and it is naturally present in many plants, but over use is a nightmare...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for that. It is amazing the sheer diversity of nutrients in all sorts of different plants. Our culture eats only a very limited number of plants which seems a bit weird really when you think about it.

Exactly. A few years ago, I travelled up to visit the open gardens in the bush fire affected areas and spoke to the owners for quite a bit about their experience and started seeing the errors of my ways. One place, they'd lost part of their garden some of their sheds, but the house was OK, but the chickens survived in their steel chicken house. Mind you the chickens were pretty thirsty by the time the owners were allowed back. They told me that even though it was dark the chickens all woke up to come down and have a drink of water. As the enclosure project gets started you'll see some of the things I learned from them being implemented.

Yeah that is true, but doesn't it do your head in? hehe! Oh no. Dogma. Innocent observations and comments can be cut down with brutal force. I don't have the tolerance for the fall out involved with telling the local bee keeping people about the experimental hive design.

100+ gallons in the yard is a very useful amount of water. Good for Beau, Nell and the chickens too. Nice to hear that the well is up and running. Well done them. Was it a lot of work? The local excavator bloke has a well (like an old style well) on his property and I've been wondering about them for the long term. They are a very old concept here - even the Aboriginals used to dig wells.

Nice to hear, I thought at the time they might have added filters. The Emerald Isle is in serious danger of wash overs from high tides combined with a strong off shore wind. Yikes. The photos look nice though - a few less houses would be nice too, but that is probably a mildly unpopular thought.

Hehe! Yeah, that happens here too. 46'F = 8'C which is a warmish night at this time of year here. 86'F = 30'C which is a very pleasant temperature here during summer. In the shade to me it feels a little bit cool whilst also being warm. Very nice. Enjoy your trip to the little smoke.

It is almost the perfect winters day here. Sunny skies with not a breath of wind. It is 12.6'C outside now (54.7'F) and there is so much solar I've gotta go and vacuum the house. The sun dictates my activities this time of year.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

We are in for a very hot day, lovely. The climate always yoyos here. Son lost some young turkeys during the cold night we just had.

The water mint doesn't grow in water, it grows all over the ground here.

Pignut is flowering. It is getting rather difficult to see plants coming into flower now. At this time of year the place becomes a jungle.

The squirrels have taken to eating my radishes, they have never touched them before. They are eating the leaves as well.

My son cures and smokes bacon. All attempts at ham have failed. This appears to be due to our extreme humidity.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, the new well isn't on line. As I thought, once the pressure was off (the lack of water from the RV park) bringing the new well on-line just ... didn't happen. The well at the Abandoned Farm had a few problems, but they were solved. The landlords wife, who kind of drives these things, made the comment that if the water went out again "we can always get water at the old farm." Sigh.

When I went to town I ran across an old bricklayer, who I know slightly. He still gets around. I told him I was looking for a small, cheap, isolated cabin in the woods and would he keep his ears open. I just thought I'd float that out there in the Universe and see if anything floats back. I think Idaho is off the table. Your comment about "green" got me thinking about how I need a certain amount of green in my life and Idaho doesn't have it.

Watched another entry in The First Chehalis International Australian Film Festival", last night, before toddling off to bed. I discovered a subject heading in the library catalog. "Films - Australian." After filtering out all the "Wiggles" films, there was quit a bit. Being a helpless disaster / end of the world junkie, I watched "These Final Hours" (2013). Not much CGI, but plenty of human drama that was a lot more authentic than the card board stuff in "San Andreas." Huge astroid lands in North Atlantic and Australia has 12 hours, to, well, exist. It does not have a happy ending.

The lettuce science experiment, continues. I now have a small Triffid sitting in my kitchen window. It's not developing any roots, however. I think I'll take it to the next level and plop it in a pot with dirt. See what happens. It will either flourish, or die. We'll see. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Nice to hear that you are getting some warmer weather, but sorry to hear about the loss of the turkeys that is always tough.

The summer weather yoyos here too and lambs, baby alpacas and calves are all very vulnerable to sudden changes of temperature and the drops can be quite profound when the high and low pressure systems collide.

There was a light frost here today, so I've been out having a look at where the frost settled. You'll be happy to note that the tea camellia seems to be in a frost free zone. I may try a coffee shrub again?

Oh my! You have a lot of sub surface water. Does the ground water table rise over winter or do the decaying organic matter from the leaf fall form a barrier?

Never heard of pignut before - although people feed pignuts to pigs here. What a useful plant. Thanks for the info. I'll bet they get dug up regularly by the wildlife too?

Well radishes do taste nice, so they have impeccable taste! ;-)! It is a weird thing isn't it. Jackie French writes that her wombats eat the carrots, but they won't touch them here (thankfully), but then my wallabies sample the citrus trees and her's don't so it is really hard to know what is going to be eaten and what isn't. I do like radishes though so I share your pain.

Ahh, the humidity would be a problem. No point in letting good meat go off. It is nice that there are many different methods for preserving and you have to adapt for local conditions. I've been wondering about the benefits of a solar dryer recently?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Oh no! The boss of any project has to provide the motivation to turn ideas into action, otherwise the project fails to get off the ground. Ouch. Still, you wisely have those rain barrels.

Most of my time here is spent getting the basics right with the infrastructure. It really is never as easy as people like to think that it will be. Hopefully, once all that is sorted (who knows when though?) I'll start multiplying the plant systems here. Time is always the tough limiting factor though as most of the systems are quite cheap because they're basic and simple. What do those canny and wise engineers say: good, fast, cheap - pick any two!

Bricklaying is hard work. The commercial guys down here can lay 400 per day and that is hard work. The best I managed was 150 per day, but then I mixed the mortar by hand and moved all the bricks around the site too - plus the bricks were recycled "old reds" and not one of them was the same dimensions as the other.

It isn't a bad idea at all. Sorry to hear about the Idaho project. It gets very yellow, brown and grey here over summer which is not for everyone.

Yeah, I was wondering about that film. Glad to hear that you enjoyed it. Well, lack of CGI reflects lack of funds. Actually I always prefer story line and dialogue to special effects. A long time ago I saw the film Independence day about an alien invasion and tell ya what, that was a special effects extravaganza and there was so much of it that they sort of went a bit storyline lite!

The Wiggles are a behemoth! Apparently, the newspapers were writing that there was a serious falling out between the original members - one of them and I forget which colour it was is apparently not a very nice person. Who'd have thunk it?

Nice to hear about your lettuce experiment. Have you thought about a bit of worm tea?

PS: The tea camellia seems to have survived its first light frost... Fingers crossed!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Pignut (conopodium majus): I don't think that this is the same as the pignuts fed to pigs. Once upon a time children would dig them up to eat, they wouldn't have a clue nowadays.

Yes the water table rises to the top in winter. The leaf fall hides it from view until you step down in shoes. I live in wellies (outside) in winter.

Had never heard the engineer's 'good, fast, quick' that you mentioned to Lew. I love it! Ditto the Christian god 'all knowing, all loving, all powerful'.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

I love the historic anecdotes that you tell about your part of the country!

Got the pennyroyal tea - I used to enjoy Nirvana a lot back in the day, but they eventually became too dark for me.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Interesting what Inge said about her radishes. I have lemon balm and horseradish in the chook pen. Used to be, the chooks never touched the lemon balm, but destroyed the horseradish. This year it is the reverse. Not to worry, I've got both outside the run. Nell has been on a 5 or 6 day run of sleeping perched on my shoulder. Which I find very comforting. But, I know any day now, she'll find a new "favorite" place to sleep, at night. Faithless! Just faithless! Almost as bad as the Mum in "My Father Romulus." :-) . Who knows what goes on in critters heads?

Oh, I don't know. I found plenty of story lines in "Independence Day" that all came together pretty neatly in the end. I'm pretty sure the potential breakup of the Wiggles, was received in some corners (Junior Division) with angst equal to the break up of the Beatles. Or, Simon and Garfunkel. Or, the end of Downton Abbey. :-). The things we distract ourselves, with. :-) .

Oh, yeah. I always think of worm tea. I always have a gallon or two mellowing near the bin. Cut it with a little water and it goes a long way. My tea plant is still doing quit well in the kitchen window. I really need to get it outside to get acclimated before winter arrives. I'm also thinking of some sort of ... frame that I could slap on it and some sort of fabric (plane old plastic tarp?) If the night time temperatures plummet. Maybe tuck in a few gallon jugs of warm water. A bit of rock around the base to soak up the sun's heat during the day? In some parts of the country they have what they call "smudge pots." They put them in orchards if the temperatures are going down. I don't understand the science, but they can raise the overall night temperature by just a couple of degrees, which can make all the difference in the world.

I finished up hacking back the grass along the ditch. Sight lines are a lot better. Not that we get that much traffic on my road. The entire time I was out there, not a single car went by. The Love in the Mist is blooming. Such a pretty blue. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Mea culpa, I quoted the engineer thing incorrectly i.e. 2 for speed and I omitted 'cheap. I thought afterwards that I had done that but wasn't sure until it appeared in the comments.

The music festival is on and rain absolutely bucketed down yesterday evening. I shudder to think of the mud that will be there for all those campers.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks for the pignut info. I'll try and track some of those plants down. Peanuts grow very well here, but it is unfortunate, because every animal digs them up to eat them! One of the local eucalyptus trees is known as the Manna gum and it grows in the local creek beds. It has a very distinctive bark as it is smooth and a light grey colour. It is the favourite tree of the koalas and you can sometimes spot them having a decent kip or casting a surly eye in your direction. Anyway, that tree drops a sap which is quite high in sugar and was often eaten as a candied lolly by the children in the area. I grow a couple of sugar maple trees here and they are very hardy trees - but are years away from being able to be tapped.

Well, wellies would come in handy in those conditions. It is damp here during winter, but not quite that damp...

Yeah, the engineers saying is very true. I try to aim for good + cheap. Fast, well, not so much! A very clever spin on that saying too.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

The history of this area is fascinating and it was definitely of the wild west variety, but just to complicate matters had a very small enclave of very wealthy gentry who established hill stations and gardens to escape the summer heat and crowds of Melbourne. Glad to hear that you are enjoying it and I'll add in bits and pieces of that history as time goes on.

Nice to see that you caught onto the song reference. ;-) Of course, the band was very dark and their music hit an emotional chord that few can ever reach, but I suspect that the emotional and spiritual cost eventually became too high for Kurt to pay.

Fair enough too, I understand where you are coming from.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

It is interesting isn't it? The funny thing here is that I'd expect the wombats to dig up the radishes, but nothing else would touch them, but then you never really know what the wildlife is actually happy to eat - until they've done so. Have you ever had deer in your area?

Glad to hear that you are not missing out on the lemon balm. Horseradish is a very reliable summer green here and the leaves even provide the same zingy kick of the root systems - a real sinus clearer. Have you ever eaten any of your horseradish roots? They use them down here as a fake wasabi which is often just green coloured horseradish root paste (I call it brain pain!). They sell the real deal wasabi plants around here, but it is just a bit too cold and dry for them here so I've never really bothered. It would make a fairly good cash crop for aquaponics systems though.

Naughty Nell. Well, enjoy her whilst she decides that you are acceptable. Cats can be fickle in their attentions. Has she recovered from her bout of disinterest in food? I tend to gauge the animals health here by whether they are eating or not.

I kind of felt sorry for the mum in the film, because her expectations exceeded her reality by a considerable margin and also let's be honest, the fathers character was neither particularly warm nor considerate.

Apologies, of course that was a disaster film extraordinaire, so I hear you. It did tie up all of the loose ends too. But still I was left with this massive existential crisis at the end of the film, because I was going: so, if you could travel from one star system to another, why would you then wage war on the inhabitants that you find in that strange new star system? It seemed like a sort of waste to me? Maybe, I should just enjoy the story and not ponder the details too much? Hehe! Dunno.

Has Downton Abbey finished? Was it a good ending? Simon and Garfunkel rock and their Concert in Central Park was one of my favourite albums years ago. I don't think that they ever quite reconciled their differences though. One of the Triple J presenters went to see them during their recent "Old Friends" tour and she said that the hostility between the two was palpable. Incidentally was the name of that tour an ironic name? hehe!

Great to hear that your tea camellia is thriving too. I've seen a hessian stock feed bag used over an avocado shrub in an area that is a bit colder than here and it seemed to work well, so a cold frame is a really good idea. I've lost a couple of tea camellia's here already. If it survives August this year, I may get another one growing there in that spot.

Never heard of that one and will look it up. The big commercial orchards here use gas powered blowers and giant fans to ward off the dangers of frost. Big rocks here don't seem to make too much difference unfortunately. Frost is rare here, but when it hits it is a minor nuisance and it kills off the subtropical stuff that is right at the southern edge of the plants tolerance. Some of them adapt though.

Nice to hear about the buttercup. A very attractive flower too. Great to hear that you have knocked down the grass. I assume that the new mower is a massive improvement on the old one?

Home made wood fired pizza and movie night tonight. The editor has decided upon: Some like it hot - yes, the original classic. I've never seen it before so who knows how well it translate over such a period of time?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

No worries, I knew what you meant anyway. It's all good. The funny thing is that I usually re-read comments before posting them but occasionally all sorts of grammatical errors slip in. After a hard days work sometimes correct grammar takes a back seat. hehe!

Oh no! They've got some good bands there too, although festivals aren't really my thing. Mind you I would like to see the Black Keys and also First Aid Kit. Those lovely Sweedish ladies played at the Sydney Opera House when they were last on these shores and they have lovely voices. Plus the Black Keys were first played anywhere outside the US on Triple J, so they have a long history down here.

The same thing happened a few weeks back when the Eagles played at Hanging Rock - there was one massive thunderstorm. I could actually hear the bass notes from here and they were on the other side of the mountain range...

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

The music is about 4/5 miles away. I can certainly hear the base and more if the wind is right.

My new neighbour had asked to see my set up, so I showed him yesterday. When he came indoors he said that the place reminded him of his sister's. Apparently she lives in Alaska. I look forward to hearing more about her sometime.

Blogger has got very strange. I hate it when I am offered pictures, so deliberately muck them up sometimes. Last time (after doing this) I got offered something inexplicable, words/numbers I don't know. So I wrote gobbledegook and it was accepted that I was not a robot!!

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Pretty much live in wellies, here, most of the time. They stand next to the door for easy slip on and slip off. Well, the Chinese version of wellies. I can usually get them, on sale, for $12.95. They last about a year. I keep a spare set in the closet. As with so many other things, I buy ahead when stuff is on sale. Enough to get me through to the next sale.

Hmmm. The phrase "Cheap, fast and out of control" came floating to mind. I finally pinned it down to a documentary, a few years back, about eccentrics of one kind or another. Oh, yes. Plenty of deer, here. Saw 12 in the back pasture, this spring. Now they have all disappeared as they are off busy having fawns. I usually see a set of twins, or two, every year. They haven't been a problem in the garden areas, as I think Beau keeps them off. But, when the apples start to fall, I always get some out front. For some strange reason, I've never seen anything with horns. Just the ladies and yearlings. There are also elk, down in the valley. They never seem to wander up this far. Haven't seen any, in awhile, but my landlord has. I think they were really knocked back, hunting season before last. Several bull elk were bagged.

Yes, I've tried the horseradish and it nearly ran me out of the kitchen :-). I didn't know you could eat the leaves and will give it a try. Oh, yeah. Nell recovered from whatever she had. About two days of no food or water and a lot of laying around. Gave me a scare. I think she got into something up in the second floor. It was right after I let her up there for an evening or two that she got sick. Need to set some traps up there. Something that sounded fairly large was banging about.

Downton Abbey has one more season. Number 6 will be it. I think it's more satisfying when a final season is planned. All the threads brought together. I'll keep that hemp bag in mind. I've got a couple kicking around, here. Here we call them burlap bags. The new mower works pretty well. A few pluses and minuses, but, over all, better than the last. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

The bass notes really do travel a long way, but still there must some serious damage done to peoples hearing during the festival? As a teenager I used to really enjoy loud music and at one stage even built my own amplifier and put together some impressive speakers. On reflection though it was probably a daft attempt at being noticed. Nowadays, I look after my hearing and am always using ear plugs and ear muffs with the power tools here. Once hearing is gone, it's gone... Makes you wonder how the people in the bands actually cope with the sheer volume of sound?

I assume that this is the new neighbour? If your setup could survive the Alaskan weather conditions then that is genuinely impressive. People's back stories only ever turn up in dribs and drabs and it takes quite a while to piece together a coherent picture. Have you ever travelled as far north - in your part of the world - as Alaska?

Glad to hear that you are not a robot! hehe! Sorry, but I'm not sure I'd be entirely interested to hear what the average robot would have to say. :-)! I have this funny feeling that those captcha things are used to OCR (optical character recogntition) words that the good people at Google have found and were wondering about? Dunno. I don't see them anymore and I'm not sure what that means either?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Interesting. I'd use wellies in your area too. Did you know that over here we call them: Gum boots? Seriously. They get a look in when it is really wet here, which perhaps is not quite as wet as either yours or Inge's part of the world during the very depths of winter. Still, there is some serious rain predicted for the next week here, so you never know. Pity the water tanks are all full. It should be an interesting week of weather coming up here. The past few days have been surprisingly warm and I noted that: Aussie Alps experiencing near-record June warmth. The farm here is not quite in an alpine region - but close to one, but still I was wandering around today in a t-shirt in winter feeling quite warm. Go figure?

Wouldn't it be good to have enough wealth to be considered eccentric? Did you enjoy the documentary? I’d like to be thought of as eccentric. Ahh, bambi and fawn are the usual visitors. Good to hear that Beau earns his keep, although I never doubted it with all of the wildlife that you have up your way. Yeah, hunters should actually come from the area where they hunt otherwise they may bag too many of the wrong sort of animals. I have no problems with hunting, but some sort of awareness of the ecosystem is an absolute necessity before heading out and no one knows better than the locals. The Tasmanian fox task-force failed abysmally because they failed to engage the locals.

Haha! Nice to hear. Oooo! You've know got me thinking about digging some of the roots of horseradish up. Mmmm brain pain! ;-)! Yeah, the leaves are very mild compared to the roots, so you should enjoy them. Glad to hear that Nell is on the mend. As an interesting side note, the dogs like killing rats and mice, but they have tried eating them and generally it is not a pleasant experience for all involved, so they generally don't. They love the Bogong moths though as an extra protein source.

Yes of course a planned ending is much better than a spontaneous ending, of the sort of we've sort of run out of funds and the show has to be cancelled sort of an ending. Don't want to mention Star Trek Enterprise, but that does spring to mind as a good example. hehe!

The burlap bag will work very well at keeping the plant warm during any frost event - you just have to remember to put it on ahead of time...

Sometimes an improvement in a tool can be quite a good and enjoyable thing. Glad to hear that the mower is helping you. Have you ever thought about a scythe? I have a very sharp old school Sheffield steel blade here waiting for a handle to be fitted to it at some time in the future.

Had a bit of a minor chainsaw accident today. A chunk of timber became caught on the chain and flew out and clopped me on the knee. I saw stars, had the sweats and ringing in my ears so it was a pretty nasty blow. I kept working after a few minutes to recover from the shock. Feeling alright now, and it isn't throbbing so probably nothing too serious but I'll see how things go tomorrow. Ouch!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Yes, the new neighbour, err I did say. My place would not withstand an Alaskan winter it barely copes with our winters if we have a bad one. I assume that he was simply referring to appearance i.e. lots of wood.

The furthest north that I have been is North Cape in Scandinavia. I don't really care for the world above the tree line, I love trees.

We say both 'wellies' and 'gum boots' here.

Inge

heather said...

Hello Chris-
Sorry to hear about your rip-off. I think the destruction of community, or social capital, as you put it, is the saddest part.

Rose hips are a bit sour, but delicious. I like them in tea with mint. They also make a really beautiful jelly, needing very little pectin.

Inge, squirrels in your radishes! What a horror! My rodents are continuing to outsmart my traps- they actually bury them in contempt- but at least the dog got one.

Lewis, I had no idea chickens would eat lemon balm. I have a huge plant that is constantly trying to escape its bed. Now I know what to do with all the prunings, before the compost pile!

I bank at the evil BofA. I often go in when the machines are busy or I need to do a larger transaction. I always.chat with the tellers. Once I was fascinated that, even though I had to swipe my bank card as ID, they still had to fill out a paper transaction slip by hand. (I suppose they would prefer that I do so myself at the self-serve desk before I approach the window, but I never do. What am I paying those service charges for anyways?) I asked about the incongruity and one teller confessed that the bank's intention was to make it less convenient for the customer to transact with a person than the machine outside, thus controlling costs. Evil.

I have rubber boots that I used to use here each winter, but I've gotten better at getting almost all the soil covered in the winter, plus we haven't gotten enough rain to really make it muddy (those long soaking weeks) in quite a few years, so they haven't seen much use recently. I wonder if the boots have dried out and cracked. Like Lew, I buy them cheap, at the farm supply store.

It's going to be hot again here today, near 100F, so I've got to get outside before it does. The kids and I spent most of yesterday nursing a baby bird that the neighbor kids found and then dropped in our laps when they went off to Grandma's, so I didn't get much done then. The neighbors return today, so they can have their project back! Hope to get a few replacement seedlings planted for some of mine that have failed.

A good day to everybody-
--Heather in CA

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Yup, I've heard the term "gum boots", but not very often. Sounds like your winter is shaping up as our last winter did. Weirdly warm, at times. And long stretches where the daytime highs and night time lows were identical. 50F. According to our regional weather blog, it was due to a weirdness off the Washington and Oregon coast. A large blog of warmer water that just sat there during the winter. Never observed before in recorded weather history.


"The BLOB itself is not an independent player. It has been forced by an anomalous atmospheric circulation, including anomalous high pressure (ridging) centered north of our region (see map showing the height (pressure) anomalies (difference from normal) at 500 hPa (about 18,000ft) for the last 30 days. Yellow indicates higher heights than normal." Cliff Mass weather blog. None of this makes sense to me, but then, I'm not a meteorologist and only play one on tv. :-)

Well, it must have been a pretty good documentary as I can remember bits and pieces after all this time. But, the only specific eccentric I can remember is the guy who did fantastic topiaries. Hunting is fairly well regulated, in this state. The fishing laws are so Byzantine that there's been a couple of articles in the newspaper about them, lately. It's very complicated to figure out where you can fish, when, and what you can catch.

Watch that knee. If you have a meniscus tear, they take forever to heal. Actually, they don't heal. It's the ligaments and muscles around it that have to develop to take up the slack. In the meantime, surgery will be suggested. Not necessary if you're patient. Frequent icing, helps. I know. I had one.

While taking my Brisk Morning Walk I noticed a rather pretty flower along the road, near the ditch. Red/orange with yellow center. Quit small. Five minutes of Googling and I found it. Perhaps I should mention how I Googled. It looked like a wild flower so I Googled "Washington State wild flowers, red orange. That brought up images. And, sure enough, there it was. But, the images always have no, or rubbish captions. So, I follow the link. That can be a washout, because either 1.) the link is dead or 2.) the site is so enormous you can't find what your looking for.

But, I lucked out. It is a Crimson Columbine. Aquilegia formosa. Once I had the name, it was easy to find propagation advice and interesting things about the plant. And, of course, the Native Americans used it for a whole shopping list of complaints. Once the flowers are spent, I'll collect some of the seed and see if I can't spread it around, a bit. Lew