Monday, 17 August 2015

Manure happens

Here at Fernglade Farm headquarters (FFHQ), we are on the cutting edge of testing and development of small holding systems (SHS). FFHQ brings to you – the reader – the most up to date information and progress on the various SHS under development here. Constant improvement is the watchword here!

And what we’ve learned so far, is that even after 5 years of living here at FFHQ, we still get things hopelessly wrong. But we’re learning and more importantly, we’re correcting those errors so that the SHS just work!

Now that the brand new chicken house and run (the Chooktopia project) has been mostly completed, I’ve had to contemplate the walking path between the house and Chooktopia. Unfortunately, there were several fruit trees on that future pathway. Something had to give and so those fruit trees had to be moved.

This week I moved quite a few of those fruit trees from that pathway. Fortunately, it is still winter here and those colder weather conditions favour moving fruit trees. That watchword, constant improvement, strikes yet again!
Relocating a hazelnut tree from the site of a future pathway to a different location this week
Soil geek alert! Observant readers will note how black and loamy the soil is around the roots of the hazelnut tree in the photo above. That is the result of applying various composts, manures and mulch over many years in the orchard.

Winter is the time to move fruit trees as many of them here are still deciduous (which is a fancy name for sleepy) and if those fruit trees are small enough they’ll relocate without too much of a shock. The trick with relocating a fruit tree successfully is to obtain as much of the root system and the surrounding soil as possible. The general rule for a well-established and healthy tree is that the root system below ground will be the equivalent mass as the fruit tree above the ground. Once you understand that general rule, you may get an insight into how hard (but certainly not impossible) it may be to relocate advanced trees.

Once the pathway between the house and Chooktopia had been cleared of fruit trees, I could then begin some of the landscaping works around the chicken housing. That work included building up the soil around the front and downhill side of Chooktopia. That newly cleared path was just perfect for using the wheelbarrow to bring soil across to the chicken’s area.
The native birds assist with the supervision of landscaping the chickens enclosure
A family of Kookaburra and Magpie birds also assisted with the landscaping. Actually, the native birds normally follow me around when I’m working because I throw (or uncover) witchetty grubs for them to feast on. As a bit of a fun fact, if I feed too many grubs to the birds they become sluggish and I can then sneak up behind those same birds and grab them! The chickens will also happily eat the grubs and in the photo above a white Silky chicken can be seen just on the inside of Chooktopia front door, willing the door to open using the full force of her fluffy personality.

That additional soil for Chooktopia was recovered from excavations behind the recently constructed wood shed. That landscaping was never quite completed, but after much digging and hauling by hand this week I can now walk completely around that wood shed and water tank – which wasn’t possible before. And there is still much soil to be removed from that area. Soil is a precious thing and it will all be deployed around the farm to good effect. Nothing goes to waste here!
Excavations this week have opened up a pathway behind the wood shed and the new water tank
The above photo shows some interesting things. That dark grey water tank is now completely full and you can see that it is overflowing at the top thanks to the winter rains. There is even a water pump at the base of the tank in a constructed steel cover, ready to be installed. Both of those items require a bit of serious plumbing which will hopefully take place over the next month or so.

Moving the soil was OK, but I was still left with the many fruit trees sitting in containers which had to be replanted somewhere else reasonably quickly.

For some unexplained reason I previously had a reluctance to plant fruit trees in amongst the garden beds with their mixed herbs, flowers and vegetables. I can’t explain why I had that initial reluctance. Then last year an Anzac peach fruit tree became absorbed into one of the garden beds through no fault of its own. If I was being a smarty pants, I would say that it was a deliberate experiment, but alas it was pure chance. And wouldn't you know it? That Anzac peach fruit tree grew much faster than any other fruit tree and you could almost see that tree growing if you watched closely enough!

So the editor and I decided to plant all of the relocated fruit trees into either existing or new garden beds and we’ll watch what happens this summer.
Relocated fruit trees are planted directly into existing garden beds
I didn’t quite have enough space in the existing garden beds to take all of the relocated fruit trees, so the lower rock wall below the house was extended quite a long way this week.
Relocated fruit trees are planted into new garden beds
Just to make sure those relocated fruit trees get quickly established, I applied two cubic metres (70.6 cubic feet) of manure into those areas in the form of mushroom compost (a fancy name for a mix of horse manure and bedding straw).

In other farm news this week, I officially ran out of firewood in the wood shed. Readers with good memories will recall that the wood shed was only (7/12ths) full just before the serious winter rains and cold weather hit. It is not the end of the world for me as a couple of hours of cutting with the chainsaw produced about another month’s supply of seasoned firewood. The firewood is not as dry as I’ve become used to, but then as the old timers say: beggars cannot be choosers!

In other energy news, the batteries for the house were completely recharged by the solar photovoltaic panels at some point in the afternoon each day this week. This is because the sun is now higher in the sky and you can even occasionally feel its bite. It is a real pleasure to check out the status of the batteries and find the following display (SOC refers to State of Charge):
The house batteries are now fully recharged each day by the solar photovoltaic panels
The solar power system statistics for the week is as follows:

Battery % full at the start of the day - Amount generated by the 4.2kW of PV panels during that day
Tuesday 11th August – 87% full – 6.8kWh
Wednesday 12th August – 88% full – 4.0kWh
Thursday 13th August – 91% full – 4.9kWh
Friday 14th August – 94% full – 4.9kWh
Saturday 15th August – 94% full – 3.8kWh
Sunday 16th August – 94% full – 5.6kWh
Monday 17th August – 94% full – 6.6kWh

From this week onwards, the batteries will generally be full at some point each day until early June (winter) next year. I do hope that readers can take away three messages from these statistics:
·         Solar photovoltaic panels provide very little electrical energy during the depths of winter;
·         It is possible to live in a modern household and use very little electrical energy; and
·         Very large batteries take a long time to become fully charged (think electric vehicle batteries!).

How did the house get here?
Way back long ago, oh well, actually, four years ago this month, I painted the insides of the front half of the house. I like painting so I only ever use a brush (rather than a roller) as it gives such a nice solid finish on the walls. Nowadays, people generally spray paint onto the walls, but I'm a bit old school with such things.
the rooms in the front half of the house were painted
Fortunately, constructing a small house means that painting is finished fairly quickly.

The rear room in the house had all of the plaster joins sanded flat that month. That was a big job as it had to be completed in a single day. All of the sanding was done by hand – rather than machine – and by the end of the day I thought my arm was going to fall off my shoulder! It hurt, and the clean-up of all of the plaster dust took about four to five hours. Still, it looked good and it is very hard to now see where all of the plaster joins are.
The rear half of the house had all of the plaster joins sanded in one day – living room
The rear half of the house had all of the plaster joins sanded in one day - adjoining kitchen
That month, I discovered to my horror, that the very fancy solar hot water system did not work – and had not worked since the day of installation.  Yes, I freely admit that I totally cracked the sads about that one as I’d gone through the entire previous summer without any solar hot water benefit! The solar hot water panels looked good though.
The solar hot water panels looked good on the roof doing absolutely nothing
Fortunately it was an easy fix and the suppliers provided a brand new hot water pump and controller. Solar hot water is excellent, but it does pay to ensure that any systems that you install actually do work and don't assume that people installing systems will actually test them.

A wedge tailed eagle landed on a nearby tree that month and I was lucky enough to have the camera on hand. I often wonder whether the eagle was eyeing off Scritchy the boss dog or the chickens. Either way, the eagles here mean business!

A wedge tail eagle landed in a nearby tree eyeing off the snack potential
The recently planted and fertilised grass and herbage began to grow that month and a couple of small kangaroos were regular visitors to the farm, although they look rather wet and bedraggled in the photo below.
A couple of small kangaroos enjoy the recently sown grass and herbage
Walking around I also spotted a seedling fruit tree which looks as though it may be an apricot. There are a few self-sown fruit trees on the farm and I look forward to seeing how they grow over the next few years. What it says to me is that an orchard can reproduce itself, exactly like a forest, given the right conditions. I often randomly throw seeds and fruit kernels about the outer edges of the orchard and it is surprising what can result from that.
I spied this self-sown apricot fruit tree in the orchard
The temperature outside here at about 9.00pm is 2.2’C degrees Celsius (36.0’F). So far this year there has been 521.2mm (20.5 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 508.8mm (20.0 inches).


LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - A couple of posts ago, you asked about mini-springs, around here. I'd mention anything of note ... mostly :-). Last week when I was picking blackberries, I noticed in a couple of spots that I had blooms, again. Otherwise, summer just grinds on into fall. We're up for a couple of days of 90F (32.22 C), then a run of 80s (26.67C). What's interesting is the night time temps are down to the low 50s (10C). My ratty sweater in the evening with old trusty stocking cap. An extra blanket on the bed. I pull in whatever shirt I'm going to throw on the next morning, so it will be warm.

There was an article in the newspaper, the other day, about problems with the huckleberries. They matured a month early. I don't have much knowledge of them, as, they grow up in the higher hills and mountains. The article mentioned other "early" anomalies, but didn't elaborate. The problem was that the Tribes get first crack at them for a month. But, the laws involved set a specific date. Rather than just "when they mature." So, the huckleberries are rotting on the vine and the commercial pickers can't get at them.

I see your rooster art made it to the new chook house, and he looks grand! Something for the other chickens to aspire to. :-)

That's a lot of shuffling fruit trees around, and the only thought I had was, is shade going to be a problem on the garden?

Your plaster joins look quit professional ... or, should I say, better than professional :-). "Smooth as a baby's bottom." :-). As good as King Tut's tomb! Big news from there, maybe. There may be two undiscovered doorways covered with plaster and paint. Maybe leading to more storerooms or, even an undiscovered tomb. Tests to follow.

Spent yesterday working in Chef John's garden. Brought home another big bag of basil, a bag of tomatoes (as if I need more ... mine care coming on quit nicely) , thinned and weeded carrots and got a big bag of those. Two bags of cucumbers. Avoided the dreaded zucchini, but, completely forgot the beets. :-(. Why does potential blanching always fall on 90 degree days? Poor planning on my part. I think they'll keep quit nicely in the fridge, til the temps drop toward the end of the week. I see stringing basil in my future. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

When you write that moving fruit trees to garden beds has worked out fine. I think, yes for the fruit trees but are you continuing to grow stuff beneath them? That seems more problematical. My experience of moving fruit trees is that it knocks them back for about 3 years.

I don't know how much difference fog and mist makes here. We are almost always damp. Right on the coast, in woodland that comes right down to the high tide. Many of the trees are covered in lichens and some even have ferns growing on them. I have heard it referred to as temperate rain forest.

We would undoubtedly need house insurance if we were prone to forest fires but the afore mentioned damp makes this improbable except for a lightening strike. I could re-build within my financial position, if necessary. Before anyone thinks 'wow!' we are good at retrieving stuff that others throw away e.g. my windows come from skips and so does much else.

Son has a turkey which has decided to keep laying eggs, I look forward to seeing what they are like.

Son has just had a health check (not something that I approve of). He is jubilant, passed with flying colours. I said 'didn't she tell you that you are over weight?' It appears that she didn't. I tell him that he is! He was irritated by her enquiries about exercise. Did he go to the gym, swim, jog etc? No he doesn't, as he told her, his whole life is physical. Weird isn't it, the assumption that exercise has to be artificially added on to ones life.

I am exhausted from digging up my potato crop. Have always been told that on shouldn't wash them. For the first time ever, I had to. I am wondering why one shouldn't, They will be quite dry before I tuck them away.


Cherokee Organics said...

Hi everyone!

Just wanted to say a big thank you to the regular commenters here.


Lewis, Inge, Pam, Jo, Angus (and let's also not forget the semi regular contributors Damo, Claire, Cathy, August, Steve, Coco and now Helen). Please, if anyone feels, that I've left them out then please drop me a comment and you'll get an appropriate big word up this week!

The blog is just about to pass the truly awesome milestone of the 50,000th read! It may surprise the regular commenters that just shy of 1,000 people per week drop by each and every week.

Honestly, when I began the blog, I thought that it would be just Lewis (respect mate) and I dropping by for a chat and a bit of an update about each others day to day existence, but I'm constantly amazed by the sheer diversity of the crowd that gathers here to read the blog. Like who would have ever guessed that some lovely people in Romania (Hi Romanian people!) would drop by each week to see all of the interesting things going on here - you know who you are! ;-)!

All of you make this blog project worth the time and effort and I greatly appreciate that.

Thanks everyone!

Yours humbly,


Cherokee Organics said...

Hi TalkingTrees,

Well goat curry is very nice. Now before we progress further in this discussion, I must also out myself as a vegetarian at home, but a social omnivore when I'm elsewhere. You know, it is just easier and some friends once brought kangaroo steaks around here to eat and we cooked them up and I paid due respect to the animal that died for my meal. Kangaroo is a very tasty meat, but people do tend to overcook it.

I respect your 40 year span as a vegetarian and will add that it is a notable achievement. The weird thing is that I understood fairly quickly once I started producing my own food that to eat meat meant that you had to take food which you could eat and then feed it to other herbivores which turned that food into protein. It is a very inefficient process from a farming perspective and I do not have the surplus here to maintain that process. It is a frightening realisation.

Oooo, I like the dorper sheep and have wondered about obtaining a few of them for here. They're a weird breed because they shed their fleece and as such seem quite low maintenance. It makes you wonder whether they were a closer breed to the more natural stock of sheep? Dunno.

Thanks for the info about St Erth. You may be interested to know just how well the diggers trust has been looking after that property and I am constantly impressed with their work in Blackwood. Mind you the soils are better here, but not quite as good as Trentham - which has some of the best soils in Australia. The potatoes are good from there.

Sorry to hear about how you are suffering in NSW with the very long drought. I feel your pain and fear. Yes, water is the key. The township here at Cherokee was originally abandoned because of a lack of water and people forget that fact. Water is everything here down under.

Glad to hear that your local RFS brigade has some younger members. No disrespect intended for the local CFA brigade here, but the membership was ageing and that fact alone disturbed me and caused me concern. Yes, the state authorities get involved here too in a big fire and those guys are very experienced, but they aren't employed all year which is another problem...



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Steve,

I have a great respect for Mr Holmgren who's farm is not too far from here (under an hour). I met him a few years ago and he is really a nice bloke. Exactly, refuse and repair are an awesome observation and I perform both processes here.

Ha! A great question. Well, to be truthful, I plan every single project here so that there is very little wastage - even the construction of the house. When there are left over materials, they are re-purposed into other projects. However, I do keep a small stock of materials (steel of various sizes and types, aluminium, timber and plastic) and I'm trying to work out how to store them so that they are kept in a usable condition... Not so easy, really.

Yeah, I'd really love to hear your thoughts about the solar dehydrator as I'm considering purchasing one this coming summer here? Nice work and I'll post a link in the comments to your blog in this blog.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Music is a hard mistress that demands attention - well at least for those of us that have no natural skills in that area. That would have been very amusing to see. Stephen King is a man of many talents and a good appreciation of the human condition (given the name of the band). I can't believe that they're on YouTube: Rock Bottom Remainders. They did look as though they were having a good time! Maybe they can get a rotating band of author / performers? I'm seeing potential there... ;-)!

Oh, that is just wrong. But having said that, the registration process here includes compulsory third party injury (to humans - not property) cover so that any human injured in any type of vehicle accident is covered by insurance. I guess that it was cheaper to do that than duke it out in the court system over personal injury compensation. Incidentally the police and sherrifs now use number plate scanning technology and bust all sorts of people in all sorts of weird and wonderful locations for all sorts of infringements. They often just clamp the wheels of the car and the owner has to pay the amount owed or no car... I see that more often these days.

Yes, we all enjoy those sorts of jokes. Hey, speaking of which what do you call a Bear without ears? A Bee... Sorry, I am repeating myself, but it is a goody! ;-)!

I trust that you scored some excellent vegetable nosh for a fair days work? An excellent arrangement by the way. Dogs are easier to understand than cats, but you still have to win them over and dog biscuits are an excellent start. You'll have no end of fun looking after a few additional hounds. They provide much sound and colour here, but I suspect that Beau will sniff the air with a certain disdain at the intruders knowing that he is above all of their machinations.



TalkingTrees said...


I enjoy reading your blog Chris. It strikes a lot of very good, interesting chords and I also find the comments and the tone of the interaction wideranging, good humoured and heartwarming, so I decided to have a go at participating, having never done so before.

Firewood gathering and storing is certainly one of the constants here too. We share wood from our farm with friends so often wood getting is a social occasion. With the steepness of our farm - 600 meters to over 800 meters from the base to the top we value assistance with the wood collection although we always do our own wood felling, cutting and carting in between. I like to leave the tricky up or down slopes work to the younger folk these days if I can.

Chooktopia has lots of very useful ideas, Chris. We need to replace our chook sheds as they are probably fifty or more years old and we lost our last flock to young foxes that found a way in. We had not experienced this before. The run is completely covered, the wire walls and iron shed walls well buried so we were puzzled. In the end we decided it was a loose section on a door but really it was just a best guess. So, planning a new shed and run is on the list. This is not so much the when funds allow list because we have the materials, it's a when time allows list. Always so many pressing jobs to catch up on. We also have geese and their accommodation is a set of old stables. I'm very fond of geese but I know they are noisy and very good manure production units. It's their breeding time and they are touchy and even more noisy but also creatures of habit so call us to put them away at dusk each day.

My husband eats a largely vegetarian diet, which he says saves his life but he enjoys meat and wouldn't want to forgo it. I think being grateful for the meat is the best attitude too. Dorpers are very solid animals that take a good deal to feed but they will do reasonably well on rougher feeds. We supplement our sheep with Lucerne hay during the winter and spring, oh, and often every other season because with lambing ewes and ewes with lambs at foot they need more protein to maintain their milk supplies and those cross bred lambs grow amazingly quickly. Fencing is our greatest challenge at present.

Inge, I just wanted to say that digging a potato crop is exhausting indeed. I will be interested to hear what you think of turkey eggs. I quite like goose eggs but usually cook a cake with them. Today we planted some fruit trees that had been heeled in and needed planting in their permanent spots. I needed to use a crowbar in rocky soil. Somehow there just isn't as much bounce and resilience in the joints as there used to be.

Cheers, Helen

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for the local climate update, I suspect that the plants and fruit trees will be far hardier than we give them credit for. Oh yeah, they adapt to the changing climate. There are quite a few very well established chestnut orchards up here and how the old timers got them established is well beyond me. Mine are struggling with the hot summers, but they seem to be getting stronger? Dunno.

Great to hear that your summer nights are getting cooler. Nothing is worse than ultra hot nights over summer. Yuk! I use an overhead ceiling fan to keep me cool those nights. You do paint quite the mental image! Hehe! ;-)!

Plants ignore laws, it is that simple. It gets even weirder down here: Blackmore Wagyu farm may have to close down after neighbours' complaints lead to council action. It would be funny if a similar problem wasn't going on in these hills with a local free range egg producer. I don't sell any produce from here because of such legal reasons. It is just very silly. By the way, do you need any lemons as I have hundreds of them...

Hey, did you notice that the rooster art was repainted black and red? When I first put the metal art work up, it was white and red and you couldn't actually see it on the shiny zinc background. Groan...

I have two orchards, one for sun loving fruit trees and one for shade loving fruit trees and all the trees seem happy enough with that arrangement. The soil gets hot enough over summer that they all survive OK.

Thank you, it was quite the plastering job and all slowly by hand. I once met a plasterer who used to fix up solid wall plastering / rendering jobs and it was a real pleasure to see an old school artisan at work. My neighbour employed the guy and I was slightly in awe of the quality of the work. People have no time these days for detailed quality work.

Wow. Thanks for that update. You'd think that they'd employ ground radar on the tombs to see what secrets lie within the pyramids. It is funny how that particular tomb wasn't raided until fairly recently. The pyramid constructions must have beggared the kingdom...

An excellent haul of vegetable booty! Well done me pirate friend. Argh, me hearties! Sorry, I'm getting a bit silly as I was reading a Conan pirate story. How come you missed out on the beets? Did John have red or yellow beets (or other colours). Hopefully you are not avoiding the dreaded Aussie burger with beetroot?



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Yes, of course you are totally correct, and plants beneath a fruit tree will stifle the trees growth, but then I suffer from too much UV over high summer so the additional shading from those other plants helps reduce evaporation. Also humidity is not as much of a problem as it may be in your area over the growing season. If I had to make an observation, it is that it is easier to grow fruit - which requires lots of sun and heat to produce the sugars - in warmer and drier areas than cooler humid areas as long as you have access to water.

It is sort of a compromise, don't you think? The reason I say that is because a lot of our food plants are grown well outside their natural range and they all suffer a bit from one problem or another. But they do adapt.

Yes, that certainly sounds like rainforest. The epiphytes and ferns are a dead giveaway and certainly a lot of your organic matter may possibly be held above ground in the trees themselves. People don't realise that when they log an area as they take away most of the soil in the process in the form of tree logs... Is that true of your area? Has it ever been logged that you are aware of?

Oooo. Be careful not to put the kiss of death on yourself, but of course you are also correct that the risk here is just so much higher (but incidentally, less high than an inner urban house - believe it or not). Nice to hear, I'd certainly consider pulling a shifty to reconstruct cheaply whilst staying within the rules. You only know how, when you don't need to know! ;-)!

Yeah, I'd love to hear what a turkey egg tastes like. Wow! I'll bet it is rich as they're such big birds? The chickens here are producing between 6 and 8 eggs per day now and they're very happy with their new digs. I've found that I can now reuse some of the bedding straw which saves money.

Haha! Too funny. Yes, the health checkups can be dodgy down here too and sometimes I wonder whether the doctors are pushing products. Like how could it be possible for someone here who works outside as much as I do, be Vitamin D deficient. It is just weird.

Oh yeah, I once knew a lady who used to drive to the gym to walk on a treadmill machine. Seriously... Apparently someone explained it to me that it was a low social status thing to be seen walking. I could not care for any form of social status...

I have no idea why they don't wash potatoes, but they don't down here either. The skins are chock full of yeasts so maybe they become activated in some way. Certainly washing eggs is a bad thing so somehow I suspect the natural processes of the potato work to slow down the decomposition (and everything decomposes in the end). An interesting question. Your mission, should you choose to accept it...



Phil Harris said...

Looks to me from all the work as if you are speeding up! Smile

Follow up to our conversation on JMG's blog where I mentioned 'fell running'. I notice some of your ancestors came from Highland as well as Lowland Scotland. I guess that explains some of your living on a hillside. Smile. The Borders are more 'sloping', but the gradients are actually steeper than they look in this little video clip. You cannot hear much of what he says - its pretty windy up there. Clennell Street is an old drove road / pack horse trail when that was the quickest road between Scotland and England.(Personally, I do not aspire to ultramarathons or even marathons even on flattish ground.)


LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Wow. Those reader stats are impressive. Little did I know that my vapid, dittzy comments and ruminations are, maybe, read by so many people. Rather frightening :-).

Well, Beau will probably never meet the chef's hounds. I'll be going there. Only 6 miles away. An hours "potty and play." Maybe I'll stay overnight, from time to time. I told the chef I wanted $10 for a p & p, $20 for an over night ... and $100 if they poop on the floor :-). After asking around, that's a bit less than the going rate. At the suggestion of a friend, also, free run of the fridge and my favorite ice cream flavor in the freezer :-). Yeah, I want to get the dogs used to me. They are quit friendly and well behaved. I also have a terrible time with names (alcoholic brain rot) so it's good I have some time to beat a few neural pathways into submission. Mac is the golden lab. Sophie is ... something. She's black and built, I think, a bit like a russian wolf hound. Tucker is a red springer spaniel. When I got back from there, Beau gave me a thorough sniffing down. Trying to figure out where I'm hiding an extra three dogs :-).

A "remainder" is what we call books over here that the publisher has decided to mark down. A close out? Those piles of books you see in new bookstores at low sale prices. How many stories have I read about authors, with high hopes for their life's work, finding it on a closeout table for $1, after a year? Any-who. The Remainders seem to have a slightly shifting cast of characters. Depending on who's available and in good health. The book on their tour through the south was interesting and funny. Part written by King, part by his wife Tabitha (the roadie), with lots of pictures. Playing dives and beer halls, mostly unannounced. Ah, the "glories" of the tour. I seem to remember a lot of concern over tricks to keep your digestion ... moving.

That's sad about Blackmore Wagyu farm. We have a bit of that around here. Someone moves "to the country" and shots off a letter to the editor about the smells, or some such. The last one was a woman from the city, who didn't like passing a "junk yard" on her way home. It offended her eye. :-). The letters in response were scorching.

I thought the rooster looked brighter. Perkier. I thought it was the change in background, or, perhaps light. He's quit impressive. Ought to provide inspiration to your chooks. If it doesn't send them running for cover :-).

Yeah, before drywall there was lath and plaster. A lot of the old buildings, here, have walls made of that. I suppose a natural progression from wattle and daub. Those old guys were real artists. And, there's not many people around who still know how to do it. Probably a few nation wide for historic restorations. Putting up a descent drywall also takes a lot of skill.

Well, I didn't get the beets as ... being at home, is different from working away. I didn't keep myself hydrated enough, and, didn't have breakfast. So, after awhile, every time I stood up, I got dizzy. Or, dizzier than usual :-). Oh, the beets will still be there, in a week or so. Just bigger :-). I'm really looking forward to the Australian beet and burger. I think I'm going to quit like it. Frankly, I haven't got to it yet as the ground beef has gone astray in the freezer. Time for a good reorganization.

I give my potatoes a good brush with a, well, a brush, that's not too hard and not too soft. A Goldilocks brush :-). Just enough to knock of the big chunks. I wash some of my eggs ... if they're really grungy. I picked up a bottle of a no fragrance, no color soap. A bottle lasts forever. Just a few drops on a paper towel. My landlord told me that when they had an egg operation here, decades ago, they used to use fine sandpaper to clean the eggs! Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Driving to the gym to walk on a treadmill had me laughing aloud. Walking indicating low social status sounded more US to me than Australia. That would not be the case here.

Yes, we don't wash eggs, their shells are porous. I will inform you, in the fullness of time, if my potatoes have their life shortened by the washing. I have unwashed ones to compare them with.

My woods have never been logged hence their appellation of 'ancient woodland' though it actually means that they have been there since at least 1630. One of the oak trees has been struck by lightening at some time. It is the presence of tall trees that makes my one storey home probably safe.

@Talking Trees - nice moniker. I have made cakes with goose eggs but the proportion of yolk to white means that it is not ideal. We now use the goose eggs to make assorted quiches; they are ideal for that.


Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Helen, Phil, Lewis and Inge,

Many thanks for the lovely comments. I got home late this evening and won't get a chance to reply until tomorrow.

Till then!



orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Fleabane is flowering.

'Cracking the sads' used first by Lew and then by yourself. I have never heard this before, so am curious as to derivation and exact meaning.

Am still waiting to be given turkey eggs. The turkey is laying an egg every 2 days. Son says that they are delicious fried or soft boiled.


Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

I really enjoyed the photos, as always. The "barn" type ceiling in the living room/kitchen (they are one big room?) is lovely. The depth of the windows and doors shows just how very thick your walls are. Sometimes in your photos it looks like you just might pitch off of that mountain! Parachute at the ready?

So - who's the artist in the family? Who painted the rooster black and red? Nice job. I have a copper rooster named Earl who guards the entrance to the garden, to keep things out. Maybe your rooster serves the same purpose? Hopefully, not necessary after all the effort you put into the Chooktopia Project.

The Blackmore Wagyu situation is very disturbing. We see alot of that kind of reaction around here, where people with a somewhat fantastical outlook about country living move in and are soon disappointed. There happens to be a petition at

I have one poor pear tree that I moved 3 times before it found a permanent home. I think Inge is right that it takes 3 years for a fruit tree to recover after being moved. This one took 9 years to bear fruit after its last move. You mentioned shade-loving fruit trees. Could you tell me one or two, please?

I have always heard to wash potatoes after they are harvested, which I have usually done since there is still a fair amount of clay soil stuck all over them. Not so sure that's a good idea.

A Bear without ears! Still laughing!


SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

Congratulations on the success of your blog! I enjoy reading it every week and participating in the conversation when I have time.

It was time to get seeds for my fall crops in the ground this past week. This morning I was rewarded for my efforts with the sight of multiple short (4 feet / a little over 1 meter long) rows of turnip, arugula, daikon radish, and Red Meat radish seedlings. With about an inch / 2.5cm of rain yesterday and very cool conditions for late summer today and the next few days, we should have plenty of roots for winter storage and arugula for fall and early winter salads. I have seedlings of lettuces, kale, bok choy, collards, and mustard greens to add over the next week or two to round out the fall crops. Now we can all root for the carrot and beet seeds to take off ...

My husband Mike says that we humans might be best known as digging animals. Your earthworks show what we are capable of. ;-) May your fruit trees take good root in their new locations!


Cherokee Organics said...

Hi TalkingTrees,

Thank you I appreciate everyones input in this discussion too - and many of those ideas get incorporated into this place. Thank you very much too as the blog is very closely moderated and trolls are given no air time. If ever they do make an appearance, then I'd have to suggest that I'd taken leave of my senses or hackers have hijacked the account!

That is quite a drop in elevation, but over your acreage it is probably quite OK. I share with some of my neighbours too - as long as they pitch in and help, and I would certainly help out those who are in a pinch. It is social isn't it? That creates quite the image that a chainsaw can also be like a nice cup of tea and a scone!

Sorry to hear about the loss of your flock. That is on my mind here too as so many things want to eat chicken and foxes are very clever and will watch for any weakness. There is a never ending list of things to do in a place like this! Geese are a bit tougher than chickens against predators.

Good to hear. I'm all in favour of a plant based diet with a small amount of meat chucked in for good measure. Everything in moderation. It is very hard to convert plant materials into proteins and that is interesting about the dorpers as I'd be considering a small flock of them here - but then there are fencing issues and I'd have to work out the worst case scenario paddock size for the sheep. Other projects call in the meantime...

Lots of manure is a very good thing for young fruit trees as I'm finding here. Someone once wrote, don't put a $30 tree in a $10 hole and that seemed like a good guide too.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Phil,

Yeah, I am feeling a bit unprepared at times. The close fires here in early 2014 were a real wake up call and I've been rapidly adapting to the "new normal" ever since. Lot's to do!

Well it is in the blood, as they say. The original settlers up this way were of Scottish and German descent and there probably is something in that. Running was in my blood too as a younger wee lad, but I gave up once I had minor troubles with my knees. I'd known too many older runners that kept pushing on and caused extensive damage. Walking is a good sport too.

Do you get much of a chance to walk about up your way on the border?



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

It is a bit frightening isn't it? Anyway, I'm right there with you as we occassionally descend into bouts of silliness and that is a good thing! Can't take ourselves to seriously now can we?

On a serious note though, I have a plan if the comments become too much for me to handle - which it doesn't appear to be the case at present - in that I'll favour the original commenters over newer commenters (although I accept that that may annoy them greatly). I don't recall that we were running a democracy here? Hehe! ;-)! It is all good.

Haha! Potty and play! Very amusing and it is great to have a good friend close by - especially one that can cook? Oh, hopefully it is not like the builders own house which remains unfinished and cooking at home is not on the repertoire? Early in the morning, when the word is hardly in focus, the dogs are way too over excited (breakfast time, you see), I just point at the noisiest and say: You, stop that! - and the whole name problems goes away neatly! I offer that as a suggestion to you.

Industry lingo. Thanks for the explanation. I won't share what accountants say when faced with problems, because they generally have mouths that would make a seasoned sailor blush! True story, even the young ones develop that quickly - must be something about the profession subtly altering a persons outlook. Now I've read Anthony Baudain's Kitchen Confidential so I know what goes in a kitchen and it is much worse. And don't get me started on librarians... Hehe!

Yes, I can see it now: I drove past this junkyard the other day and sprained my eyes. In the interests of public decency, you must close it down this very instant! I suspect that they are worried about their own land values more than anything else. Hopefully they have their own house in order? Good to see that it got an appropriate local response too. Unfortunately, that problem occurs around here and a local egg farm is in a whole lot of trouble. Someone told me on the grapevine and I cannot confirm the truth of it, but one of the local complainants is on the local council.

They really were artists. That lath and plaster is still in many of the old Victorian houses in the city and I've seen a fair bit of it in my time. It is very hard to repair as the modern plaster filler (known here as bog) shrinks as it has such a high water content. It takes a lot of effort to fill and correct those walls, but it can be done with patience.

Ooo, look after your blood sugar levels when you are outside working. That dizziness can be dehydration too - especially over summer. Glad to hear, the red beets grown down here taste pretty much the same as the pickled variety (which are very yummy too) so you only have to thinly slice them.

Haha! Hope you don't find any bodies in the freezer... Hehe! ;-)!

Good to hear about the soap. I use soap nuts here for the washing, have you ever tried them? Apparently museums use them too, so they must good?

Sandpaper is a good idea for eggs, although a lot of work. Depending on who gets the donated eggs, I give them a clean or not.

Had to run into the big smoke to go to the market to pick up the bulk vegetables, fruits and nuts for the coming month. It is amazingly cheap really. This weekend will be a bit warmer too, so spring (of sorts) is definitely here.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Hehe! Excellent! But sadly it is true too. Yeah, we've sort of morphed over my lifetime from an English perspective to somewhere halfway between that of an American culture. Probably a bit closer to the Canadian culture as they seem very similar, and just for your interest, I reckon the New Zealanders are a bit closer to the English culture. It is very interesting, but we're all a bit of a melting pot really.

Good work undertaking the experiment as it is hard to know what the basis for the belief is. Hopefully, it doesn't end up being the same result?

I've read that egg shells have a chemical coating on the outside of them which slows the ingress of bacteria and other nasties into the porous shell. It is the coating that gets washed off which does actually make the eggs go off quicker. I don't wash eggs here at all and they last for months - unrefrigerated.

No wonder your woods get studied from time to time, as they would have a fascinating level of diversity that could only ever arise in such a place. Wow. The hands of humans have been all over every single centimeter of this continent for milennia.

Oh, I just had a blowfly in the house! It must have come in on some firewood. Fortunately, I'm fast with the fly swat and it is now chicken feed. It is very early for them, not that I get many up here - even in high summer.

Yes, lightening strikes leave quite distinctive marks on a tree and I reckon one of the trees nearby died from a strike as it has that sort of a mark coming down the trunk. Lightening is unfortunately common here over the warmer months.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Fleabane is sometimes called Dogbane down here - I think - and the wombats refuse to let me grow it. They pull the plant out of the ground by the root systems...

Having a "hissy fit" might be an equivalent saying? I believe, and please correct me if I'm wrong, but in the UK they also say: "Sulking your socks off in the corner". These are equivalents and not exact explanations though.

Please let us know what the turkey egg tastes like? I'll bet it is good.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Many thanks. I call the structure underneath it a boomerang truss and I believe that ceiling is about 14 foot off the the ground which made it a challenge to plaster and paint, although it gives a small interconnected room a feeling of being bigger than it actually is. The walls are stuffed full of insulation and it really does work hard, I recommend that design, but did you know I copped a lot of negativity from the alternative building scene people probably because it didn't look like mud brick and bridge timbers... The wall designs are based on apartment party / fire walls as I had to comply with the bushfire regulations which were mind boggling.

Haha! That's the editor, I'm grunt labour! ;-)! Go Earl, I trust that he keeps a close on your flock.

Yeah, peoples expectations exceed reality by a considerable margin and they get a bit sooky, although down here there is also the not in my backyard (NIMBY) syndrome which gets a bit tiring after a while. The local egg farm is run by a precocious home schooled 13 year old who has a flock of about 2,000 chickens and supplies free range eggs to the local supermarkets. Honestly, I feel for the kid it would be distressing to be faced with adult problems at that age - still he'll probably be a future no-nonsense leader.

Great to hear about the trees. Yes shade loving trees: Hazelnut, Walnut, Chestnut, Asian Pears, Apples and the cherries seem to do OK after getting established. How does that compare to your thoughts on the matter?

I don't really know, so hopefully Inge will let us know the results of her experiment into the matter.




Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Thank you and I always enjoy your blog too. I trust that you have received some fine weather for growing?

Excellent work with the harvest - and hopefully the soil drainage is working well. Your hard work appears to be paying off. That is interesting as arugula and some of the lettuces and other greens are winter crops here, but I plant a succession of them so that I can eat them right up until New Years eve, after which time it is too hot for them to grow easily.

Thank you and Mike is certainly correct in his assertion! I am getting a lot of practice in digging - and truth to tell, there is a bit more to come on that front over the next few weeks and months. I'm going to dig a flat site for the tomato beds, potato and also a new strawberry bed. Oh yeah, plus there is the blackberry bed. Hopefully, I don't undermine the house....



orchidwallis said...

Hello again

You are quite correct about the natural coating on eggs, I had forgotten about it.

I do usually brush the potatoes as Lew does but this lot were covered in thick clay and the brush couldn't cope.

I have never heard 'sulking your socks off in a corner', it is quite new to me.

When I first visited Australia it seemed very British to me. It became less and less so on each subsequent visit. On my final visit 5/6 years ago approx. I thought it very American. I was so misguided as to mention the fact; it didn't go down well at all!

A terrible blackberry year; I have a job to find a bowlful as a snack, never mind any to freeze. Usually there is black fox dung everywhere at this time of the year as, like dogs, they love the fruit. No dung at all so far. It is proving to be a bad tomato year as well.

Were you implying that geese can fight off a fox? Not here they can't.


LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - 95F (35C) here yesterday. And, supposed to be 70F (21.11C), today. A 25F (-3.88C) drop in 24 hours. On shore flow, I guess. No rain in the forecast, though.

We had another big 100 acre fire, about 10-15 miles, from me. Destroyed several buildings at a chicken farm, but, they managed to keep it off the 10,000 gallon propane tank. I can't seem to find any timely fire information for my area ... so, last night I signed up for "Code Red", which is a notification system. I'll get e-mails and texts. The Sheriff can narrow down the notifications by address. Hopefully, the texts won't take 4 days to reach me ... as recently happened. They also go around knocking on doors.

Well, no bodies in the freezer, when I cleaned it out. Except a VERY old turkey and a VERY old enormous fish. Waited til the morning of garbage pick up day to put them out. :-).

Weird anomalies. I'm still puzzled by the lack of tansy ragwort, compared to previous years. I'd like to think my mucking about with the cinnabar moths had something to do with it, but I don't think I can claim credit. Maybe the dry year. But, it occurred to me that perhaps it's because no cattle have been run on those pastures that were full of tansy, in about two years. Since Brother Bob the Bachelor Farmer, passed away. Maybe the grass and plants that took over and flourish, crowded them out. Our local weather guru, Cliff Mass, seems to think this dry year is an anomaly, rather than a trend. And, he flourishes the graphs to prove it :-). Yes, he thinks our future climate will look like this year, but, more around 2100. Time will tell.

Ah, the temptations of the market. Cheap (and nice!) fruit and veg is a temptation to not plant my own. On the other hand, even at reasonable prices, it still irks me to pay for what I could grow, myself. Something I'm remedying, slowly. And, there's the whole question of resilience. My chickens did not seem very economical, in the beginning. Now, there's a bird flue wiping out huge, factory poultry farms, in our midwest. "Good" eggs are up to $7 a dozen.

Speaking of chooks, broody hen is still broody. Since May. Never an egg under her and always lolly gagging around the nest. I've also noticed she's getting enormous. Not that that cuts any slack with the rest of the hens. They resent her slothful ways and let her know it. I've decided if she doesn't get her act together, I'm going to "process" her when the weather turns colder. That will be an adventure, for me. I've assisted in processing, but never done the whole bit, myself. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

No worries. Jackie French's Chook book wrote about egg washing, otherwise I wouldn't have had a clue.

Ha! The commercial potato growers to the west of here on the Trentham plateau tend to have a very red / brown soil and that is all over the potatoes. Clay is just sticky. A future project will be a potato bed here.

I was going to do fencing for the blackberry bed today, but all this talk about El Nino this and that and the hottest July on record set me off into the surrounding forest chopping and dropping (soil building) and a bit of burning off too. The old fire spots produce fairy rings in the forest, whilst chop and drop produces soil at a slower rate.

Oh! I do hope that you aren't sulking your socks off in a corner - that would be unpleasant! Hehe! ;-)! I've seen plenty of people sulking their socks off and it isn't really a productive activity.

Yeah, I've seen that change too. There have been a lot of culture wars subtly going on here for quite a few decades. Mind you, when they had the referendum as to whether we'd become a republic, the majority of people voted in favour of the existing system, so maybe the changes are a noisy minority too?

Sorry to hear about the blackberries. What do you think was the cause of the poor season? They require a lot of pollination to set a good quantity of meat (so to speak - although that probably isn't the technical expression!) on the berries. I thought that you were getting plenty of heat and moisture, so I don't really know. They fail here when it is too hot and dry and the canes can't obtain enough mositure from the ground to produce full berries.

Oh no, not at all. No they're just a bit more aggressive than chickens, that's all. My dogs would give them a hard time. Mind you, the Magpies and Kookaburra's have adapted to the dogs and they really tease them. The native birds play around a lot here and sometimes you'll see them swinging around on branches (and even the whirly bird on the worm farm here) and even upside down sometimes.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I hope that your summer cools down a bit soon. Sorry to hear about those temperatures, it is hard once the temperature gets up around body temperature. People don't slow down around here because if it was constant, they'd learn to live with it. Those temperature drops happen here too and often cause livestock to get sick. Often they're accompanied by massive thunderstorms and heavy and quick downpours though (think four inches of rain in an hour!).

Oh my, that would have caused a loud bang and flattened the immediate area! That is a good idea, but the name is a bit weird to me, because they call extreme fire risk days down here Code Red - although that is a new thing and I suspect no one really knows what they're talking about.

Very high yuk factor and 10 out of 10 for not defrosting them and getting them out of the house with the bin pick up. Such meat products would attract rats and mice into your compost pile. It would be party time for them in there! ;-)! There is no garbage service here, so I would worm farm them - happy worms!

Yeah, everything seems to be a bit out of whack on a weather front this year, so perhaps the tansy ragwort only pops up when conditions are suitable? The seeds are probably viable in the ground for years though. Good thinking, perhaps the cattle were cropping other more edible plants which are now outcompeting the tansy ragwort? That can happen and soil left fallow will change the plant composition over time - certainly that is the case here. Different plants favour different stages of soil development and maybe tansy ragwort is a pioneer plant (i.e. useful for getting soil and other plants established)? Dunno. Tansy here has started to spread in the garden only recently - but it isn't the same plant as your ragwort (I'm not sure really).

Fair enough, listen to the soothing words, but plan for the worst - is my motto. Things are accelerating faster than predictions and models and its not as if we are doing anything to slow further changes. I just sort of deal with what I'm presented with and plan for the worst.

True, but there are some things that I can get there that have travelled down from Queensland (sort of like California, but damper up and east of the mountains), which I haven't sorted out systems for yet, like pumpkin. I don't think bananas will be ever able to be grown here, although they reckon very cold tolerant varieties may be able to be grown in Melbourne.

That is true as a dollar saved is a dollar earned and I'm right there with you on that idea. I don't actually know how they produce eggs and chickens for such prices, and I do my best not to support those industries. I reckon a dozen quality eggs here are about $7 to $8 each too.

Well, someone has to go broody and the other chickens tend to get a bit snarky if you take them off the nest. You can almost see them saying: Didn't we tell you to sit on the nest, what are you doing?

I broke the electric jackhammer today and had to order some replacement parts which won't be here for another 4 weeks... Ouch, at least I didn't get electrocuted! I was using it to help me break up this massive old stump that was sitting in the paddock - it was about 4 foot across!

Gotta bounce!



LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - We grow quit a few pumpkins, around here. I don't have any in, this year. A few random pumpkin growing tips. Don't grow them close to any other squash like plants. You'll get weird pumpkins and weird squash. They cross pollinate, quite easily. If pollination is a problem ... say, a stretch of rain with the bees laying low, you can cross pollinate, yourself, with a good, small, soft paintbrush. The fruiting female flowers have a little round ball, under the blossom. The male flowers, don't. For greater genetic diversity, pollinate between vines. Pumpkins tend to run all over the place and can really take over a garden. After 5 or 6 pumpkins have set on a vine, hack off the end. No more running and the growing energy goes into healthier, plumper pumpkins, instead of lots of vine.

Oh, I think the other hens peck at Broody Hen because she's taking up valuable real estate and being slothful. Not because she's deserted her post. I often wonder who produces eggs and who doesn't. I know you can tell by "feel", but I think I'd need some hands on instruction, in that area. I'd wondered about Old Mrs. Barnvelder, who's crop bound. But, there she was, this morning, standing proudly over a very warm and just produced egg.

I often wonder about animals. Their thought processes. What runs through Nell's mind, when she decides to perch on my shoulder, to sleep, some nights, and not others. Is it purely instinctual, or, is there some kind of thought process involved? She usually goes through a bit of a kneading routine, before settling down to sleep. And, she always seems to find a sore spot that needs attention. Which is very nice! That behavior, I've been told, is kind of instinctual. It's what kittens do to get milk out of their mothers. So, I wonder if she's feeling a bit homesick, missing her mum? Maybe I'm the closest available mum substitute? She also does the same thing when she jumps in my lap while I'm reading ... before settling down for a nap. Or, maybe it's all just habit. As when I run through some mental routines to prepare my brain for sleep. Endless and facinating mystery.

I watched a DVD called "Life on the Reef", last night. All about the Great Barrier Reef. Fascinating stuff. I found some of the cloud shots, really interesting and beautiful. Low clouds racing one way and higher clouds racing the other. I've never seen that, here. And, the dugongs. Very much like our manatees down in Florida. Wonder if they're related, or, if it was some kind of parallel evolution, half a planet away. A few years ago, a manatee was spotted in the East River, near New York City. I suppose as ocean currents warm, they will spread north. Oh! And there was quit a segment in the film about Cyclone Ita striking Cookstown. Sailors must have been at sea for a VERY long time to mistake manatees and dugongs for mermaids :-)

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for the pumpkin growing tips. The cutting back advice is particularly useful. I've ahd a great deal of trouble with pumpkins for some reason - but they may be the variety that I've tried. What sort of pumpkins would you grow in your part of the world?

Speaking of growing, the fruit trees are slowly starting to put on some blossom and one of the bee colonies has a whole lot of activity which is very early. They were buzzing me and occasionally landing on me yesterday - stay calm, don't scare the bees, and then off they fly again!

Good for Mrs Barnevelder! Each bird has an egg signature sort of like a fingerprint. To be totally honest, I can only tell what bird has laid what egg here because of the sheer breed diversity of the flock. Each egg really does have it's own shape and sometimes markings. Chickens lower in the pecking order tend to get a little bit pecked by the other higher order chickens from time to time and "slothful" may put her into the lower order rankings? Dunno.

Tell you a funny story, the chickens are enjoying the new outdoor - all weather - enclosure so much that some of them are laying their eggs into the deep litter mulch. I've started finding the occasional egg in the mulch and I'm not really sure what to do about it - if anything. The good thing though about that deep litter mulch is that I've been able to start using it about the place on the plants. In the old chicken run, it was just too wet and gluggy at this time of year...

Yeah, animals certainly communicate with humans - in their own ways. The kneading is very cat like and instinctual for them. I reckon it is a sign of trust and affection as they don't do that to everyone they meet. I'm not sure about the whole clawing and biting game they play though - sharp teeth and claws!

The funny thing I notice too, is that sometimes their background can affect how they act in any particular environment. One of the dogs here came from quite a sheltered and nurtured home and he often makes careless mistakes that the other dogs tend to be a bit more careful about avoiding. But on the other hand he is a very quick learner and copies the better behaviours of the other dogs. Like Nell, it is all very fascinating to have around.

The reef is a fascinating environment and is amazing to snorkel on. It is very far off shore and takes quite a while to get out to. It is suffering a fair bit nowadays because of bleaching which is causing die off of the coral and all of the other sea life that depends on that coral.

The clouds in that part of the world are amazing and there is one cloud a bit further north of the reef called a morning glory cloud. It was about three months early this year which is fairly unprecedented. The cloud is very low and sort of looks like a band of cloud as it races over the islands up in the Torres Strait.

Yeah, the high and low clouds can move in different directions here too. It is weird to see. Cyclones are a regular - annual - occurence up north. They grow bananas on both the east and west coast up north and it seems as though every year one or the other crop gets wiped out by a cyclone. Some years it is both of them and the price of bananas goes up massively!

Hehe! Yes, they probably were at sea a little bit too long to imagine that one! Or maybe scurvy was kicking in at that point in the journey? Dunno, but they sure did it rough in those days... Still, I'm not sure I'd want to incur the wrath of Neptune (is that the right one?) who was God of the seas?

There are still two chapters to go in the story that I'm writing for the Space bats competition and the deadline is fast approaching!



orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I have no idea why the blackberries are so poor this season, there have been plenty of assorted insects on the flowers. Can only think that it must have been due to the very cold nights that we have had; everything is late. The recent rain has caused them to swell up a bit but there aren't many.

Have just dug up some more potatoes and realise for the umpteenth time, that I know hardly anything. Where I expect a decent crop, it is poor. Where I expect little, there are some magnificent potatoes.

Have hung some washing out, clear blue sky and very hot sun; however the woods and hedges are dripping with moisture. Have a feeling that the washing won't dry. The humidity in my bedroom has been at 90% for days. Doesn't sound healthy to me but I keep well.

We also have the clouds at different heights moving in different directions.


LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - "Small Sugar" or "New England Pie" for eating pumpkins. "Jack-o-Lantern" for carving. But, the Jacks are also good for eating. And, seeds. The first two are smaller ... easier to handle. Just depends on how much "bang for your buck" you want.

Oh, yeah. Some eggs, I can tell from which chicken they're from. But, since most of my mob are Wyondottes, it all looks pretty much the same. Except for old Mrs. Wyondotte. She lays enormous eggs. I have four Whondottes that are black and white, and, now, can't tell her from the others. She stopped laying for awhile, so I knew she was the one molting. She's back on track, now. I don't know if my other Wyondottes will match her eggs in size ... eventually. The ... what I think is a Partridge Wyondotte was on the nest, this morning. So, I know she's still laying. So, my three oldest birds are all still producing. She looks more like a rooster, than a hen. Built light and stringy, with a rather jaunty, curly feathered tail. :-).

Yup. You got it. Neptune is the sea god. If you're a Roman. Poseidon, if you're a Greek :-).

Down the Internet rabbit hole. Dugongs and Manatees are related ... if you go all the way back to the Eocene, about 34 million years ago. When the super continent Godwana was around. They even rode out 3 extinction events. Not any of the top six (if you include today, as one of the six) but 3 mini events. Which I didn't even know about. They off hand refer to them as "flora and fauna turnover."

Looking forward to the rest of your story.

Rather hazy here, this morning. That weird, orangey red light. Hope it's just from the cleanup of the Onalaska fire. There was a further article about it in the newspaper. That propane tank actually held 16,000 gallons. Sounds like the fire crew took some real risks to make sure it didn't go up. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Sorry to hear that and honestly, I have no idea. Tell you what though, I have no idea whatsoever what a "normal" growing season is down here as it varies so much from one year to the next. I'm unsure whether other parts of the world experience such wild variations and how farmers ever contract for forward supply of produce down here is well beyond my understanding. As an interesting side note, the plants however do adapt over time and become that little bit hardier to system shocks. We do ourselves no favours at all by not saving seed from our own areas.

I'm with you and admitting to not knowing anything is definitely the path to wisdom! Potatoes here are as easy to grow as onions as they require very little care from one season to the next. On the other hand I think I'm up to my 3rd walnut tree and may just have it in the right spot now (the chickens water now flows onto the tree).

A little bit of breeze may just help to dry the washing? Yeah, I don't worry about that high humidity here either as it can be over 90% humidity for well over half the year. You know what though? I travelled to Peru when I was much younger and travelled out to see the Nazca lines. They hadn't had any significant rainfall in that area since the previous Ice Age and the humidity was less than 10%. I found that to be very unpleasant and have often wondered why people on the ADR were so unhappy about high humidity in their houses? Dunno. The house frame is relatively dry, so I don't see the problem. What do you reckon?



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Mate, those pumpkins look really interesting. Such a different colour and size from the ones down here which are usually either the Butternut or Queensland Blue pumpkins. Your lot look like melons to me because of the size with a very striking colour. I'll bet they're sweet tasting. Have you ever made a pumpkin pie? The Jack o Lantern reminds me of the peanuts comic strips - which I always enjoyed.

Out of interest, does anyone grow melons in your part of the world or is it too cool for them to ripen properly?

Speaking of comic strips, have I ever mentioned: Footrot Flats? The comic revolves around a quirky and intelligent sheep dog and the activities on a New Zealand farm. I loved that comic as much as the peanuts comics. Good stuff. There was even a movie at one stage - which was quite successful down under and NZ.

Yes, that can be difficult telling them apart. Every single chicken has a completely different personality from all the others - except - I have two white silky bantam chickens and for the life of me, I cannot tell them apart by either looks or behaviour. They both have a Billy Idol haircut too! One of them though sleeps up with the cool kids, whilst the other one hangs with the lesser Plymouth Rock chickens.

That is so true, as rooster are very hard to distinguish from hens when they're young. I sort of check the tail feathers and wattles and combs, but even still it is really hard to tell them apart at a young age. And when they're older some hens have combs and tail feathers which look suspiciously like a roosters. The crowing is a dead giveaway though.

Some friends have raised the idea of processing some of their chickens and I sort of offered a hand. It may be an absolute disaster (maybe?) but I'll offer to do the first bit to ensure that goes smoothly and then I'm thinking I may kick back and watch the spectacle. Unfortunately, my mate that has experience with these matters is now in Ohio, otherwise I would have asked him to assist...

Fair enough, although I wonder whether to avoid offending the various Gods the sailors may have provided offerings to both Gods? No sense in inviting unwanted drama from neglected Gods!

Really! Wow. Good on them. Down under their habitat has been reduced to a small area off the coast of Western Australia. For some reason the sea grass grows quite well there, plus they have stromatolite colonies which have been around in ultra salty water for a very long. Plus I visited a spot in my travels there that had some of the oldest rocks on the surface of the planet. The place looked very - unchanged - shall we say as not much was growing there. It was pretty arid. That part of the world is a fascinating place and there is not much in the way of human activity.

Flora and fauna turnover, perhaps undersells the sheer difficulties of those times...

Thank you, I'll try and get it posted this evening. I wrote half of the story whilst I was out with the chickens yesterday but couldn't finish it because I went off to dinner at the nearby 1857 haunted pub (the old cobb and co coach stop over to the goldfields) with some friends who'd never been there. It was a good night and the editor was wise enough to book the table in front of the open fireplace.

Oh my! Complete respect for those fire crews. It is such a risk for them as they never really know what they're getting into. I hope the weather cools up your way and you get some decent rain.

All this talk about El Nino has got me a bit worried so I've been slowly cleaning up around the surrounding forest. The old trees are what brings the life to this place so they should be protected as best as I can possibly do.



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis and Inge,

I thought that the giant collapsing hole was the strangest down under property story yet this year. However, this one hands down takes the award:
Solicitor Paul O'Shanassy removed Mittagong trees, hillside, for a city view

Frightening stuff! ICAC is an acronym for the Independent Commission Against Corruption (I believe).



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I just finished the penultimate chapter of the Shaman story which can be found here: Shaman - Part 4. I'm not sure fiction is my thing, but it was fun to write.

Been reading a bit too much Conan stories recently, perhaps? They are very good stories though. I haven't enjoyed a work of fantasy (other than my favourite author Jack Vance - who usually sets stories far off and away in the future, so perhaps that doesn't count as fantasy?) quite so much for many long years now.



orchidwallis said...

Hello again

What a ghastly story! One of my new neighbour's works looks as though it will cause the road to collapse, in fact I am surprised that it hasn't already done so. On the whole I prefer people to come here who are so lazy and have so little clue that they do nothing. Unfortunately they become overwhelmed and sell on to an eager beaver.

Could one get an impression of the Nascar lines from the ground? I had assumed that they were only really visible from the air?

Humidity: I do have to be careful that clothes etc don't go mouldy. Too little humidity is much worse though. I stayed with friends once whose house must have been worse than a desert. During the night, I put water on my eyes and in my nostrils because I was so uncomfortable.

Our climate is infinitely variable from day to day, hence the reason that the English talk about the weather all the time.


orchidwallis said...

Hello yet again

I should have added that our humidity is made worse by being coastal. Salt is blown in by the wind and coats everything and salt holds moisture.

I should have said 'ignorant' eager beavers. Hard workers who know what they are doing or are prepared to learn are fine.


LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, that's quit a tale of land wrecking. Obviously, Mr. O'Shanassy is very connected to the local power structure, while Mr. Lorincz, isn't. No joy til he got out of the local orbits.

No widespread melon growing here, water, or otherwise :-). Oh, I'm sure there's the odd hobbyist, who tackles it just for the challenge. But, I've never heard of any.

Comic strips can be very entertaining. Footrot Flats looks like a lot of fun. Pity it isn't still published ... but, cranking out 7 strips a week! It's always sad when a strip you like bites the dust. I still miss Bloom County. Our newspaper has a comics page and there are a couple I follow. Peanuts is still going strong, even though Schultz passed on, years ago. Something timeless about those little strips. Every couple of years I check out the "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!" animated from the library. The Christmas one, with the sad little tree, is also quit good.

The smokiest day yet, yesterday. Smoke hanging in the trees. I finally found a good website (Lewis County Sirens) that is fairly up to date. It said that there were no active fires in the county. Just some mopping up around Onalaska. All the smoke is from the fires in eastern Washington. The moon, last night, was blood red. Creepy, but kind of pretty. I finally got a good start on my go-bag. My small can of silver coin. Hard to replace paperwork like birth certificates and truck titles. Insurance files for truck and house. My check book, address book and "computer brains" book with all the different passwords and user names. I'm sure there will be more. Plenty of space left. Spare socks? :-).

Egg production down by 5, last week. Barely getting 2 dozen a week. One chicken going into molt, for sure. Maybe another. Will step up the yogurt to get the ladies through as painlessly as possible.

Will settle in to read your story, this evening. Looking forward to it. Cathy McGuire brought her book to a satisfying conclusion. Between covers, it would have kept me up, far too late, a couple of nights. I asked if it was the first volume of a trilogy :-). The things we ask from our authors, artists ... and, cartoonists. :-) Lew

Unknown said...

(Deborah Bender)

Nascar and Nazca, not the same thing. North American Stock Car racing association, or something like that.

The carriage trade (now there's an expression most people wouldn't understand) supermarkets around here are stocking a greater variety of produce than they used to, and in the autumn they bring in at least half a dozen sorts of pumpkins and an equal number of other winter squashes. Besides the Sugar Pie variety and the variety that's only good for carving and roasting the seeds, there is a variety called Fairy Tale because it looks like Cinderella's coach, a variety that has ivory colored skin, one that grows large and misshapen, and one or two others. I presume that some of these are good for cooking as a vegetable, but I don't know which ones. You can get candied pumpkin flesh in Mexican grocery stores; I like it.

TalkingTrees said...


My expression was misleading on a previous comment. The ten year drought officially ended about two years ago. Of course we still have periods of moisture deficiency as I believe it is called. Over the weekend and today we have had storms and steady rain showers. Lovely. Hopefully there will be some run off into our main dam and the underwater channels will be recharging.

Inge, thanks for your advice on the use of goose eggs. It perhaps explains why the cakes I cook with them are somewhat stodgy. Delicious though and good with custard. Our geese seem vulnerable to fox attack during this breeding period of the year and also when young foxes are being turned off to fend for themselves. I find foxes here to be quite brazen. They will simply move a meter or two away if I take after them swinging a spade. Mind you, it allows me to get hold of any goose that's been grabbed and put them out of harms way while they recover. Although geese are, like sheep, flocking animals and creatures of habit, they don't seem to mind co-opting humans into their daily patterns.

The chainsaw as a driver of sociality, hmm? Works here. We have been known to take the billy up the hill and cook lunch while getting wood. Young children love it and I suspect their parents do too.

We need to build a new vegetable garden this spring. Our last one was lost to some much needed earthworks around our house. I think we will begin in a fairly small way and see what the soil is like.

Cheers, Helen