Monday, 21 September 2015

Frankenstein lives


It is not often I’m impressed with new products. Many new products are complete rubbish and very poorly made. I have a saying for that very circumstance: “That product is in for a good time, not a long time”. However, very occasionally even I can get suckered in by a bright new flashy product.

Living in a remote spot surrounded by tall forest where even the neighbours are a distant memory, a person can easily forget about the world and all of its concerns. It is a sleepy way to pass the time and the biggest outrage can be when Stumpy the house wallaby has decided to destroy your favourite citrus tree. The seasons come and go and one day you look down into the orchard at dusk and discover that one of the two kangaroos that call this place home has grown up and now has a joey in her pouch and that joey is reaching out of the pouch to taste some juicy compost fed herbage.

So to avoid falling asleep at the wheel, I regularly travel into the big smoke of Melbourne. Fortunately the country train services can get you there faster than a car and in considerably greater comfort – they’ve even got toilets on the trains! And from the Southern Cross Station with its wavy roof at the southern end of the city, I walk around and just look. Often those walks can take hours at a time.

Over the past decade or so, the influx of University students to Melbourne (whom mostly derive from the Asian countries) have changed the city completely. Two and half decades ago the city at night was a complete dead zone where nothing moved other than the occasional rodent or wino. Sure, there were nightclubs, and they were dotted here and there, but away from those spots the city was dead. Nowadays, the city is full of life at night, people are everywhere, and there are even small hole in the wall restaurants that are frequented by their regular patrons. To me the exhaust from all of those restaurant kitchens reminds me of the alluring smell of an Asian city at night. It is a vibrant place to visit and I enjoy it.

However, the long walks mostly take me through that city area and into the inner northern end of the inner city where all of the hipsters congregate. There are late night cafes where I can enjoy a well-earned coffee with an exotic and also very tasty cake. Quality food of many national origins is also there to be enjoyed. Sometimes it is a hard decision to know where to eat: Do I enjoy the Cajun food or maybe try some outstanding Chinese dumplings or maybe even something else altogether?

The inner north of Melbourne is not only a place to find good food, but there is also the previously mentioned hipster congregation. If you’ve ever wanted to spot a Ned Kelly beard (so named by me after a notorious bushranger in the 19th century who ended his days hanging from the end of an official noose), well, the inner north of Melbourne will satisfy that curiosity. Personally, I don’t get the bushranger 5,000 overdrive thick beard look, but that may be a matter of personal taste – they just look like the beards are possibly unwashed and that is a bad thing! 

Unwashed beards aside, that inner part of Melbourne also has a lot of leading edge design shops displaying their various wares for sale. A lot of the products on display at those shops are locally made and chock full of creativity. I enjoy viewing those products on display through the windows because they are usually constructed lovingly with care and attention to both the detail and finish. I respect such work for the art that it is.

Over the past year or so, I’ve noticed that many of these leading edge design shops were illuminated by some very funky, old school, steam punk, filament light globes. Those funky light globes have always reminded me of the sort of light globe that you’d see in a Victorian era mad scientists workshop. I can just imagine the mad scientist (with the funky light globe in the background) working alchemistic miracles to bring Frankenstein back to life!

It is worthwhile remembering that the house here is completely powered by solar photo-voltaics and batteries and as such energy hungry devices can generally apply for residency elsewhere as there is no tolerance for them here (edit – Hair straightener, hair dryer and Italian espresso machine are excluded!).

So, on Friday evening I was on my way to get some Mexican food and stopped by the hardware store in the nearest big town to pick up a couple of new light globes. It’s an exciting life here at Fernglade Farm and Friday nights are no exception to that rule! Anyway, to my utter amazement, the hardware store stocked those funky steam punk light globes and so I thought to myself: I’ve gotta get me some of those! As I said, it’s an exciting life here at Fernglade Farm.

I installed the steam punk globes in the hallway today and I can report that they use very little energy (about 25W a globe) and whilst they emit stuff all light, wow, do they look cool or what?
Steam punk filament light globe up close
The hallway is a good spot for those globes because I don’t need much light in there anyway, and they remind me of the ambience of a late night bar or café which seems sort of appropriate for a library. Even Poopy the Pomeranian – who is sporting a very recent haircut – approves of the new light globes!
Poopy the Pomeranian enjoys the ambience of the steam punk filament lighting whilst trying to decide what to read from the mini library in the hallway
Back to more serious farm business and the new design bee hive received a coat of quality paint this week. I have also installed some removable plywood sliding covers for both the double glazed perspex observation port and also two of the three round entrance holes on the opposite side of the hive box from that observation port. The plywood cover over the two entrance holes will be in place when the bee colony is still young and they may not have enough guard bees to be able to defend all three separate holes. As the colony gets stronger and gains more numbers, I’ll then be able to remove that cover over the remaining two entrance holes. Over winter, that entrance cover will be in place to assist the bee colony using less of their stored food energy (honey) to stay warm.
The author is putting the first solid coat of quality paint onto the newly designed and constructed bee hive

The bee hive with the perspex double glazed observational port

Over the past few days I created a further 99 pickets for the new berry enclosure. It will most certainly take about another full day to install all of those pickets onto the timber fence frame and even then, I’m still 21 pickets short of completing the job. Hopefully though, next week I’ll be able to start planting many of the various berries I have on hand into that enclosure.
99 timber pickets were created this week for the new berry enclosure
Observant readers will note that in the background of that photo above and slightly to the right of the solar panels, the almond trees are in full leaf and blossom and are clearly enjoying the (slightly) warmer spring conditions.

Other fruit trees have only just begun breaking their dormancy this week. However, the evergreen Tagasaste trees (Tree Lucerne) are exactly like the native Acacias in that they are producing copious flowers this week. The leaves of this excellent tree make great chicken food as they contain very high levels of protein, so I have a few of that species next to the chicken enclosure.

Tagasaste trees next to the chicken enclosure are in full bloom this week
Last summer, I harvested the seeds from many types of tree species, but the frosts over winter have killed off quite a few of them, the Tagasaste trees seedlings on the other hand have shrugged off the frosts and have been growing strongly.
The nursery bed has many Tagasaste seedlings
Speaking of flowers, the rosemary shrub in the herb bed has produced huge quantities of flowers over the past few weeks and the European honey bees adore that plant. Just behind and to the left of that rosemary plant there is a locally bred Anzac peach which is about to unfurl its pink blossoms. The fruit from that peach tree is a beautiful white fleshed sweet and juicy peach which is rarely offered for sale in the shops.
Rosemary in full flower with Anzac peach tree just about to blossom behind it
Hellebores have been flowering strongly over the past few weeks too. They’re great plants because they are very undemanding with the only exception that they require full shade, but once established in those conditions they’ll happily self-seed.
Hellebores have been flowering strongly over the past few weeks
Two years ago, I conducted an experiment by throwing some seeds of sweet peas (non-edible) into a garden bed to help boost the fertility of that particular garden bed. Plants of the leguminous family which include sweet peas can fix nitrogen into the soil – and generally also provide copious quantities of mulch when they die back. The sweet peas have since gone completely feral, and believe it or not in the photo below, under that mass of sweet pea there are actually a couple of very happy Chilean guavas. As well as those plants, in the photo below observant readers may be able to spot: gooseberry; rhubarb; fennel; lemon thyme; garlic; salad burnet; perpetual spinach; French sorrel and Vietnamese mint. Most of the garden beds have very diverse collections of plants but they all seem to play together well.

A diverse garden bed that has been an experiment for plantings of the nitrogen fixing sweet peas
I always encourage people to plant far more densely than they believe is possible. Dense plantings mean that the plants in those beds grow more slowly as they fight it out for minerals, light and water. I want to be able to harvest edible plants over a long period of time, so if the plants grow more slowly, that makes for a much longer harvest period. When harvesting the leaves, I am absolutely ruthless about not allowing the plants to grow too quickly and bolt to seed, by simply harvesting all of the highest leaves regularly. 

However, I’ll allow some of those plants to grow large and produce seed which I will then collect for planting the following year.
One of the raised garden beds devoted to mixed edible greens
With a bit of spring warmth over the past week or so, the asparagus spears have just started to push their way out of the warming soil. Some of the crowns of those plants are now just over three years old and I can start to harvest the occasional spear to eat.
The asparagus spears have slowly begun to emerge from the slowly warming soil
I’ve been guilty of rabbiting on again this week and have completely run out of time – and reader’s patience – to talk about house building activities, so I promise we’ll return to that topic again next week.

The temperature outside here at about 9.15pm is 4.7’C degrees Celsius (40.5’F). So far this year there has been 595.8mm (23.5 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 575.6mm (22.7 inches).

40 comments:

Cathy McGuire said...

Ah - it's nice to see Spring, even from the far side of the world. ;-) Fall has come suddenly here, and although I'm very happy to see the rain, part of me is mourning the loss of long summer days (note, I did not say "leisurely". I'll probably never get to say that again. ;-)) And with the Equinox in 2 days, we will again be having more dark than light, and even if I want to curl up and hibernate, the 15 tomato plants, and all the other wonderfully producing veggies and fruits this year are still demanding to be harvested! I've been canning, freezing and drying like crazy, so I don't waste the bounty. Two big flat-rate boxes are heading to the East Coast this morning, full of jam. Only got one small comb of honey this year, but wow is it delicious!! I've been having a problem with ants attacking one hive, but I think the combo of boiling water and constantly brushing/crushing them has worked. Other than that, I've been "winterizing" the hives by feeding sugar water and wintergreen oil - to help with mites (I hope).

As always, your posts are wonderful and make me feel like a slacker. Thanks!
(PS - Google ate the first post; luckily I copy my text first, and could paste back in... Bad Google!!)

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

I certainly envy you those Melbourne restaurants, my mouth was watering. There is nothing like that here on the island. Re. cookbooks: I have a large collection of them and apart from a very few, they each contain only one recipe that I use. It is high time that these were copied out and the books moved on to a charity shop. I'd be able to shelve other books which are currently in boxes.

Your beehive has begun to look like a doll's house; very sweet!

I await Lew's comment on your use of hair straighteners.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - As Lew had no hair, Lew has very little to say about hair straighteners :-). Years ago, I picked up a really nice German hair cutting kit at a traditional old time hardware store. For about $25. It has paid for itself, many times over. I just pop in the 1/4 inch blade guard and hack away at the sides, til the hair stops falling. Ditto the beard. A bit of fine tuning with a pair of old (and very well made) hair clipping scissors. A clean up of the edges with my great uncles brass safety razor, and I'm good to go. Luckily, I live in a part of the world where sartorial splendor is a rather low priority. And, people don't look too closely at the aged, anyway. Sometimes, the invisibility of age is a plus :-).

But I think what we're touching on here is those little, kind of useless things that make life worth living. Even the Amish, a rather aesthetic people, have things they designate as "for nice." Or, as my mum used to say, "something to feed the soul." Some people run through the exercise of "the house is burning and you can grab one or two things ... what do you grab?" A recent study found that 20 years ago, it was a photo, souvenir of a happy trip or a little family thing of no intrinsic value. Now a'days, it's the I-whatever or laptop. Sad, that.

Now that I've got my go-bag together, in case of disaster (important, hard to replace documents of one type or another ... a bit of silver coin ... extra socks and shorts) after the dog and cat, I think about a not too big box of "tat." Bits of glass or china I'd feel bad loosing. Another exercise that some people may find a bit grim (but realistic) is that of imagining end of life. When everything is whittled down, with luck, to one smallish bedside table. A small, blue frosted Fenton glass, jumping fish. My Dad was a hobby fisherman. He was one of those blokes who it's impossible to buy anything for ("I have everything I need."), so, for some occasion, I got him that. I noticed he held onto it, through numerous down-sizing. Now, I have it.

Years ago, I ran across an interesting book called "Material World." A big giftey, lots of color pictures "coffee table book." I recently found a paperback copy for $1.99. The premise of the book was, the authors and photographer traveled to countries around the world. They figured out what the demographic average family looked like on paper. Then they went out and found an affable family that matched the countries average. The family then displayed everything they owned in front of their house for a photograph. What I noticed about "poorer" countries was that after the basic bed, table, a few chairs and benches, cooking equipment .. the next item of furniture that seemed to show up was a set of display shelves. A china cupboard or hutch. To show off the extras for one reason, or another. It seems like having a bit of tat "for nice" or "to feed the soul" is a very human impulse. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - "Igor! Open the roof and let the lightening come in!" :-). That line still gives me a bit of a thrill when I re-watch the old Frankenstein movie. Or the glass shattering shriek the Bride of Frankenstein gives when she catches sight of her intended. The old gypsy in "The Wolfman" nattering on about "Even a man who is pure of heart and says his prayers at night..." Gosh. They knew how to do it up right, in the old days. :-).

I know what you mean about "buying stuff." I want a zester ... something to peel small pieces off an orange or lemon. Not a grater ... have plenty of those, thanks. After upending the thrift stores and coming up empty, it was resorting to Amazon. So many choices and which one is best? Will last? You read the reviews...some of the vendors even had videos! Finally settle on a choice and still feel like you're shooting in the dark.

I really liked you're writing about wandering around and observing Melbourne. It was very good. Lyrical. I used to like wandering around downtown Centralia, especially at the holiday season. At night, when no one was around. Really ideal if a bit of snow was coming down. Speaking of snow, I forgot to mention I wondered if maybe your cold winter had something to do with those Indonesian volcanos. Plenty of "years without a summer" in history, due to the same cause. History changing events.

Like Cathy, I'm drowning in produce. So far, more into the larder / panty / freezer and less spoiled out to the chooks. I'm glad Cathy mentioned the equinox. It's a wake up call.

Your gardens are "really coming on," as some say. Thanks for the re-reminder about the Tree Lucerenes as possible chicken feed. Good to know they can ride out a bit of frost. And the bit about the hellebore growing in full shade. I have a couple of plots that are in a corner between the house and shed that get very little sunlight. So far, I'd only come up with ferns and a few other woodland plants, for that spot.

"...diverse collection of plants but they all seem to play well together." That's, perhaps, is one of the central tenants of permaculture? Speaking of which, I've read your comments on the topic over at the ADR and agree with you (correct me if I'm wrong.)

It seems like some people seem to think that you get a permaculture garden up and running and then just wander out in the yard, harvest the bounty that meets all your needs and that's it, forever. If I'm feeling really cranky, I suppose I could write it off to laziness and a "something for nothing", attitude. If I'm feeling more charitable, a lack of experience.

It's more like constant vigilance, attention to detail, tinkering ... and lots of work. Good .... no a great kind of work. If one is so inclined :-).

I almost forgot. I didn't get around to giving my tea plant a shot of worm juice. But last night I noticed one of the flower buds was swelling like a popcorn kernel. This morning it burst open. It looks like a rather hardy apple blossom. And has a rather nice, subtle smell. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Fair enough, I never for a moment considered that you might maintain those illusions.

Manure is good stuff. If you're importing feed onto your sons property for the pigs, then you are effectively bringing in soil from elsewhere. ;-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Good luck and I do hope that you both resolve the mystery of the disappearing chestnut orchard. Wasn't there some sort of chestnut blight in the soils of the US? That blight may be in your area? It is always sad when a farm becomes sold off for property developments. Some of the best orchard areas in Melbourne's east were converted into housing many decades ago and I wonder if the residents even know just how good the soil is that those houses are sitting on?

Yeah, I've seen carved pineapples on antique furniture too. Makes you wonder doesn't it about the economics of that plant in that location? It is a stretch to grow a tea camellia here outdoors, but pineapple is in total dream land... I can't even imagine the fuel they must have pumped into those boilers to keep the plants feet toasty warm whilst blizzards rage outside. Imagine breaking one of the panes of glass in that glasshouse? Sorry guvnor might not quite be appropriate.

Oooo lard. Yeah not good for the arteries really. As a kid I remember a cup of lard in the refrigerator - it made the best tasting chips.

Exactly! A fruit tree would love to be planted on the remains of an old privy (fascinating history in that word too) - although it could be a tall story! Still it is a goodie.

Is the book any good? The funny thing about the psychology profession is that one half spend their time inserting ideas and memes into peoples heads, whilst the other half deal with the consequences.... Hmmm...

That is a far deeper question than its face value makes it out to seem. People say that sort of thing about bands. Like I remember when REM signed up to Sony music for some gargantuan fee, I thought they'd sold out - and they might well of, certainly their most creative days were behind them (well that's my opinion for what it is worth) - but weren't they "authentic" when they only got airplay on the alternative airways?

Oh yeah, no worries - there is no such thing as a dumb question when it comes to solar as our beliefs don't match the realities. So feel free to ask away because I've been there and done that.

Fleas are not good. I haven't seen a flea up here in well over 5 years - not even on the chickens.

If skies are not 100% clear, you won't get the full output from a solar panel. Thick cloud can reduce the output down to 10%. Mist and drizzle to 1%. Very high and very thin clouds can produce over 100% though as the light gets scattered and sometimes concentrates.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy,

It is great to see spring here too - although it has been an exceptionally cold winter and spring so far though. The rain is always well received in a garden.

Too true, leisurely is a thing of the past. Are your chickens molting - or regrowing their thick winter coats? You might notice that the egg production starts to go down after the autumn equinox until about the winter solstice when it picks up again.

Great to hear about the jam too. I assume that you sent that to your mum? Nicely done.

Haha! The ants are one of the reasons I built the new hive so far off the ground. Have you considered adding longer legs to your top bar hive? The bees wont care too much as long as it is easy for you to work with.

I'm impressed that you got some honey comb from the bees. Well done.

Stop slacking off! Hehe! Congrats with getting into the anthology. You are an outstanding author.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks, sometimes it is hard to know where to go to eat. If you have the internet bandwidth here are some photos of a typical inner Melbourne street: Smith Street Collingwood images

That happens here too with the lack of choice on the island (or mountain range). I don't mind as long as too many tourists don't descend on the few local amenities and take over which happens from time to time. The large groups are the worst... Oooo musn't grumble! :-)!

It is hard to know which books to let go of though, but it sounds as though you have a cunning plan in store for your book shelves?

Thanks! That's cool. I thought that it look like a dog kennel on stilts or a miniature version of the much bigger sheds - it is the same design and dimensions after all (hive height to roof height). The editor tells me that there is some sort of rule of thumb about roof heights which I follow - who am I to argue.

Hehe! Cheeky! Hey, I wish I had enough hair to use a hair straightener. On a serious note, way back in my early 20's I used to sport long hair and a pony tail. Only the select few can keep such things as they age.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for sharing your story of the blue frosted Fenton glass fish. The photos and documents are the hardest things to replace. After Black Saturday, the stories in the media were harrowing but everyone was quite good about it all.

I remember one story in particular. A property had two houses on it and had done so since well before the second world war. When the owners who had both survived the fires went to put in a new planning permit, the council said, under the rules you can only have a single house on that one property. Fortunately common sense prevailed and the state government over ruled the local council and told them to just sort it. There were lots of little painful stories of people placing themselves in the hands of the bureaucrats - not good.

Thought you and Inge might enjoy and update on the excavation pit collapse: Collapsing Mount Waverley pit refilled with truckloads of rock. Oh no!

Those were very cool films. I hadn't heard about The Wolfman and will have to check it out. Thanks. Watch out for the electric sparks and lightning strikes. They ripped that off in the 80's film Back to the Future...

Speaking of films I was thinking about going and seeing: People Places Things. It sounds interesting and anyway I enjoyed Flight of the Chonchords.

Yeah, the zesters are really good. Down here the old school ones looked a cheese grater and they last forever. Nowadays people are crazy for micro-planers but they are so sharp if you slip off them you get a fine grating of skin into the zest. They are razor sharp.

Thanks, it was a bit of an experiment that story and I was playing the scenes over in my head as it appeared on the keyboard. Glad to hear that you walked around your city too. The snow fall would be very appealing. The city here has changed so much in a very short period of time. Has Centralia changed much during your lifetime?

Absolutely. I was going to include a photo of the red sunsets that I'm seeing and it can only be from the volcanoes because it is not as if there have been any large fires nearby. You know after the really big bushfires we get a very wet and damp year following. Just sayin... It's not a coincidence. Does that happen up your way after a large fire or volcanoe goes off (Mt St Hellens for example).

Enjoy your surplus - winter is coming! (that was a pun based on the Game of Thrones series - haven't seen the show, but have read the books - how do they compress 1,000 pages per book into a season of TV shows - something has to give).

Yeah, I reckon they'll survive up your way as the snow doesn't hang around for weeks on end. It is highly reliable all year feed for the chickens. The gardens here are a real pleasure - thanks.

Hellebores love the company of ferns too so they should do well in such places. They've even got really dark coloured ones now - they describe them as black, but I'm a bit dubious about the particular description - they're more a deep purple.

Exactly, you are spot on as people get a bit silly about Permaculture - it is a tool kit to be used and not an end in and of itself - people are always on the shark for a free lunch...

That's exactly the spirit.

Glad to hear that your tea camellia is doing well and producing flowers. I reckon it will be an exceptional indoor plant given how it is responding. I'll check out the smell once the plant produces some more flowers here.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi I Janas,

Welcome to the discussion.

Thanks for the link and they make excellent points. If the bees don't have enough pollen and nectar to forage from, they have to resort to consuming their honey reserves.

Those pseudo scorpions are fearsome looking beasts.It will be interesting to see what the bees make of them. Of course, in their natural environment, the European honey bees only can be pollinators because the winters are long and they use their food reserves. There just isn't as much of a honey surplus as we demand and so they are stressed.

They sound like an awesome group to belong too. No stress, I'm totally cool that someone else has come up with a similar hive design. It is common sense really and the idea arose out of a fusion between the top bar hive designs and the langstroth hives. There are plenty of smart people out there, and I do hope for the sake of the bees that people keep experimenting. We are in dangerous conditions when we repeat the past in the face of disaster, and yet expect a different result.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Thanks for the images of Melbourne. I visited there 30 years ago. A bomb went off just round the corner from where I was walking. I have never forgotten the sight of every bird in the city, taking to the sky.

That is one heck of a pit to have to fill.

How about a youthful photo of you with pony tail? I agree that it doesn't look good on older people with grey hair; even worse when half the front has receded.

Lard: The best short crust pastry is made with lard, plus only roll in one direction. I was taught this by an old alcoholic Scots lady who I adored.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Ya, the chestnut blight was really something. But, before my time and mostly on the east coast. Wikipedia has quit an entry, about it. Now there are hybrids and resistant varieties.

Yeah, heating greenhouses with stoves would be pretty resource intensive. But, some of the Great Houses used manure pits instead. A nice system. Once the heat from the manure was "spent," the composted manure could be used in other parts of the gardens for fertilizer.

That book "Rewire" is pretty dense. I dip in here and there. Have re-read the section on procrastination, a few times :-).

I find there's a few bands from the 80s and 90s that I like ... their early stuff. But don't particularly care for their later works. REM is one of them.

That's quit a story about the excavation pit. Here, we have problems with landslides. There was that terrible one up in Oso (north of Seattle) that killed dozens of people. There was also another big one, a year or two before Oso, over by Naches, Washington. It blocked a river, cut off a road ... flooded farmland and destroyed a few houses. But, no one was killed. Other parts of our country have problems with sink holes. Florida, mainly. Built on limestone that water hollows out. Cars, buildings, and the occasional person falls into them. There seems to be a story in the news, every month or so. A collection of classic Corvettes.

Chef John offered me a micro-plane. I passed. The results are pretty much like a grater, and, as I said, I have enough of those. He gets quit cranky with me. :-). He attempts to off load stuff on me and doesn't seem to "get" that I fight a constant battle to avoid "stuff." Hoarding, in other words. Shirts (I only wear certain colors .. and they have to be long sleeved), tea (no weird flavors), personal care products (don't use the stuff). So, why take it on if I'm not going to use it? I graciously decline. If that doesn't work, a firm "No thanks." The art of saying "no" is something more people should cultivate. I suggest he should donate some of the things to the Visiting Nurses Thrift Shop. It supports hospice, and is a worthy charity.

Has Centralia changed since I moved here in 1981? Hmmm. Well, the basic structure of the downtown has remained pretty much the same. A bit of historical renovation, here and there. Seems like there's always small shops and businesses, coming and going. The small cafe (which has been in business since 1938) next to my bookstore changed hands 7 times in 15 years.
At one point there was a 40+ percentage vacancy rate in a 6 block run of our main commercial street. It seems there's always grandiose plans, a lot of money poured in ... and it all comes to naught. There was a bit of a boom in the antiques and collectibles business. Several antique malls and small shops. But, that whole market has changed. You don't see the quality, anymore. The "name" antiques. Or, not much. Just lots and lots of "decor." The good stuff has disappeared onto the internet, into private collections or, off to the big city. On the fringes, lots of big box stores and factory outlet stores. Built in the flood plane. Seems like there's always a large building being vacated and left empty in other parts of town. Two lumber yards/hardware companies. Chain restaurants. Our local small mall has changed beyond recognition, from when I came here to run a small B. Dalton Bookstore.
Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Volcanos. Just working from memory, here, but I seem to remember that volcanos effect weather .. sometimes. The blast content has to be high in sulphur. And, it must be very small particles. And, it must be blow high enough to catch the jet stream. The Mt. St. Helens initial blast was sideways. Later clouds went high, but I don't think quit high enough. I can't remember ever reading that the sulphur content was especially high.

Never got into "Game of Thrones." I'm not a particular fantasy fan. All those long names with too many consonants. :-). When it came on tv and I read that it followed 7 families ... well, that just quashed it, for me. I'd need a flow chart. :-). I only regret that I don't get to see Peter Dinklage in action. I think he's a great actor.

I picked up the dvd "Casual Vacancy" from the library. I watched the dvd "extras", last night. It's a Brit, 3 part miniseries. From a book by J. K. Rowling (Harry Potter). But, the book is referred to as her "adult novel." Not a wand or flying broomstick in sight. I'll watch the first episode, tonight, and see if it "grabs" me. About the ins and outs of life in a small English village.

It was very foggy, here, this morning. I could still see the trees across the back pasture. It's all burned off, now, and the sun is shinning. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Oh my, what a memory of Melbourne to have! That would almost certainly - and please correct me if I'm wrong - the Russell Street bombing? That was later found to be a retaliatory attack against the police by some crims. Not good and I hope that you weren't scarred by the experience? A decade or so ago there was a long and sustained spate of underworld killings and revenge killings. It is a strange tale and one of the main instigators was a virtual nobody (who is now dead). Many books have been written on the subject and they were eventually turned into a television mini-series (Underbelly). It is very strange indeed, that all the way away on your distant island that you had an insignificant role in the goings on. Such is life.

Oh yeah, and did you notice that they hadn't quite manage to fill that hole yet? Did you also notice that right in the middle of the hole they'd somehow managed to dump miscellaneous steel bits?

Some older men have excellent and very thick heads of hair, but they are the rare ones. Stress tends to make your hair fall out! If you stop the stress early enough it grows back, but that isn't a choice most people want to make. ;-)! I'll see if I can dig up a photo from the days of yore, but that was then and this is now. Now is very exciting too! Someone that I have known for a very long time says I haven't changed much in the years and that is a bit weird to hear - it is not as if I have some secret ring of power like Frodo. But then that can also mean that I look preternaturally old when I was but a young lad - and that's not good either...

Ahh, you were lucky to have such an excellent friend and mentor. I envy you your old Scots friend! The person that was physically closest to understanding my existence is now enjoying himself with his lady in Ohio.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Glad to hear that the chestnuts in the US are making a come back with resistant varieties. Such widespread diseases tend to breed immunity to the disease - after wiping out 90%+ of the population of course. Did you know that the last great stands of Elms are not too far from where I live?

Yeah, the manure would be a great idea. I remember reading once about a French dude that heated his house entirely over the winter on a 10 cubic metre (about 13 cubic yards) of compost pile. The clever bloke ran water pipes through the mass of organic matter and used the whole lot as a giant heat exchange mechanism. Very clever stuff.

You're just being funny now - but it was good. Enjoy your "rewiring" - we all need a bit of that every now and then.

I went to see REM live at the Sidney Myer Music bowl when they toured here way back in the 1990's and I can still close my eyes and see them on stage. One of my favourite songs of theirs was Night Swimming - a haunting track. But I did like their older stuff better than their newer stuff.

Yeah, we hear about those sudden pits in Florida down here too. The photos are a little bit scary. Mind you, we had a similar thing happen when a large chunk of the Princes Freeway out near the brown coal mines disappeared into an old coal mining hole after heavy rain... They had to shut off the freeway for quite a few months whilst they detoured around the giant hole which appeared one day... Hey, did anyone try to recover the corvettes? One of the households up this way had an old mansion and a classic car collection which was completely lost during the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires.

One must battle their inner hoarder and one day, grasshopper, you may be ready to go out into the world! It is very weird that you mention the art of saying "No" but I was discussing earnestly with someone today that particular art. It isn't easy by any means.

If it means anything to you, I've noticed that the turnover of shops has increased down here too. Much money wealth is being lost in the process. My take on such matters is that the rents often exceed the allowable thresholds. I once knew someone who pumped $0.5m into a renovation on a cafe and I upset them by saying that it takes a whole of coffees to recover the funds spent on that renovation.

The volcanoes down here - a well as the massive bush fires - generally affect the weather. The Indonesians after all suffered the fallout from Krakatoa and New Zealand has some monster volcanoes too like the Taupo eruption which was world's largest known eruption in the past 70,000 years - oh yeah, it's big!

A flow chart is a good idea, I sort of gloss over the detail and enjoy the story, if there is a bit I don't understand, then not to worry - even though the book is thousands of pages long, there are surprisingly few main characters. Yeah, Peter Dinklage rocks - actually he plays one of my favourite characters in the book too - I do hope the George R R Martin doesn't kill him off because I reckon he's a survivor.

Thanks for the referral on the series. Right back atcha: You may enjoy the book series by Alexander McAll Smith titled 44 Scotland Street. It is charming.

PS: Apologies for the typos, Poopy was sitting on my lap because it is so cold again today and he was constantly fidgeting...

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

'Notayesmanseconomics' dealt with the Australian housing price bubble on 22nd Sep.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - After what Inge said, I'm going to have to re-think lard. Oddly enough, the newspaper had recipes for pot pies and pasties, last night. Well, I suppose the lard won't outright kill me. If I only resort to it on special occasions. And, as Julia Child said, "Everything in moderation." :-)

On not looking one's age. In your case, it's all that clean country living out in the fresh air :-). Someone told me I didn't look 66, last week. Admit it gave me a thrill. Still homely, but a thrill, none the less :-).

Over the years, I've read a few articles on "pipes in manure" for heat. Steaming piles of poo, steam for a reason.

REM - "Losing My Religion", "Radio Days" ..."Bright Shiny People." I'm not much of a "music" guy, but every once in awhile I throw a disk in the player when I'm working about the house. Or, some Cajun music ... with lots of accordians :-)

Oh, yes. The Art of Saying No. I have occasionally advised people to get up in the morning, stand in front of the mirror and practice saying "no." I'm being a bit flip, but, really pretty serious. Sometimes couple with that advice (or, suggestion) is that if your friends or relatives say things like "Who do you think you are?" or, "Do you think you're better than us?" that you should run. Head for the nearest exit. These people do not have your best interests in mind.

Rental real estate is just another kind of wealth pump. Hundreds of thousands have been squandered on downtown Centralia by well meaning, hopeful, and sometimes stupid people. Myself included :-). Sometimes I'd see a new business open up and think, "Doomed ... doomed...".

I have a new neighbor! I was talking to my landlord in the drive, yesterday. Watching Nell play lion in the tall grass. And, suddenly, Nell is standing by my side! The evil step-son got another cat. Her name is Audrey and she looks like a very close relative of Nell. Right down to the very subtle brown stripping in her undercoat that you only see in the sun. I thought the cats had been acting a bit weird the last week. Jostling for position and territory.

Heading for the Little Smoke, today. Going to stop by the County Extension Office and see if they can identify the variety of a couple of my apple trees. Made a ground goat stew, last night. Had it over rice. Yummy! Enough left over for four more meals, that I froze up. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks for the heads up - it's not going to end well, but I'm impressed by how long the whole thing has been going now. It is kind of amazing to watch. I left a little comment for the blogger too!

Is it bubbling in the UK?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Haha! You must rethink your second lard in that case! ;-)! I reckon lard is good, but it is like beer in that a little bit of beer is a good thing, but fifteen is definitely a bad thing. Hehe! Yeah, like you say - everything in moderation - there is lard on meat anyway as I believe it is just animal fats, so I doubt a small amount is going to have any impact whatsoever.

Aren't they nice. What a lovely thing to hear from someone else. You're getting plenty of fresh country air and activity too.

Interesting, I've only ever come across one reference to it. Most people nowadays go for the methane bio-digesters, but I reckon they're probably a lot of hard work, but I have no experience with them either so that is merely an opinion.

Those are all good songs. I always called Radio Days, Radio Free Europe, but it may have had a different title down here. Imported albums were really hard to get back in the day - much like imported books such as David Eddings Belgariad and Malloreon series which were very amusing in their own way.

No! Nuff said. I've heard someone say "we're done here" - that seemed a bit rude and final to me. I have to negotiate a complex local social situation here and it is going to have to involve a "hello and have a nice day" sort of finality about it, but I haven't quite worked out the details yet. Because it is local, I have to tread very warily. Have you got any advice for me in such matters?

Exactly, they are doing it tough - no doubts about it. The rents are eating the profits and the owners are left with not much. There are a lot of hungry mouths hanging off those rents you know and it not you, nor I, nor Inge and I can tell you that because I see them when I'm in the city. I don't expect to ever be able to retire from working and that is just the reality.

I do hope the step son is nice to that cat. Cats can be pretty mean to other cats, the last cat that I had thought that it was a dog because one of the dogs - both of whom are now dead - kindly raised him from a very young and sickly kitten. When the kitten finally grew up and started to realise he was a cat and not a dog, he came under the influence of an older cat who knew every trick in the book - ooo, she was a naughty cat but lived to a ripe old age. Anyway, in exploring his territory he came up against the might of King kitty who eventually split my cats ear in half. King kitty learned to avoid my house because the little rotter would sit on the fence and spray into my yard and give me stink eye, and so one day I got him with the hose - a good shot and he was much warier after that.

I wish Nell the best of luck with her new feline mate.

Enjoy your trip into the little smoke and I'd be interested to hear if they do identify your apple tree.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

I so enjoyed the first part of your post, journeying to and through the Big Smoke, drinking in the sights and smells. You do have a way with words.

Poopy, you're all tail now!

If looks count for anything, your hive is already a success. It's going to be so interesting (especially from the side of mere viewer, and not doer) to see how it works out.

I was recently combing our woods for saplings to use in place of wire or PVC pipe for small hoop-house covers for a couple of beds; I found a couple, but mostly (as I have lamented before) the deer keep the woods so scoured that only the really big trees are left. I think that we will have to do some coppicing - or more likely, pollarding - (well, we did do some coppicing and the deer ate all that grew back) to ever get anything of sapling size to grow. I couldn't even do a picket fence like yours without cutting the lower branches off of a whole lot of trees, and they start way high off the ground. From what are you harvesting your pickets?

Pam

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I just lost a longish comment to you and feel disheartened. Yes I know 'cut and paste' but I don't know how to do it.

I went out into the sunshine and did some clearing up and then collected my post. Now it is raining again.

Unfortunately I was a day late re notayesman. He usually welcomes all new commentators but as he blogs daily during the week, he moves on. A pity because I have now read your comment and I am sure that he would have responded to you if I had told you in time. He does avoid politics if possible and sticks to economics.

Russell street must have been the bomb that I came near. I was around the corner from another one once; the IRA attempt to bomb the Ritz. I was indoors then and we thought that a plane had gone through the sound barrier as the windows crashed open and closed again. I am not scarred.

I think that lard is no longer considered to be bad for one.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I noticed the short crust pastry recipe from the newspaper (for the pasties and pie) used just butter. I've been reading quit a bit about pie crusts, lately. Sure, I've made a lot of pies, but I want to up my game and get a real nice, flakey crust. It seems like the trick, no matter what kind of fat you use (butter, lard, veg shortening) is make sure everything is cold (hands, bowls, rolling pin ... whatever) and not to overwork the dough. And, once the initial pull together is done, to pop it in the fridge for a good long time. More chilling. Also, if the filling tends to be a little runny, pre-baking the pie shell, helps. "Blind baking." Filling the pie shell with beans and pre-baking it for awhile. Maybe fold a little foil along the edge so it doesn't get overdone.

Navigating complex local situations. Oh, gee. Call in the U.N.? :-). Turn the whole mess over to an impartial arbitrator? :-). Oh, let's see. Listen carefully. Don't say much until the other person has wound down. Think carefully before speaking. And, maybe not say everything that pops into your mind. Maintain eye contact? Hunker down? That may be a regional thing. I've seen it a few times. When country guys hash stuff out, they all get down on their haunches. If we were Native Americans, we'd pass around a stick or bone. No one can speak unless they're holding the stick or the bone. Consult with the Editor.

Speaking of local issues, there was all sorts of nonsense floating around when Brother Bob the Bachelor Farmer, passed away. "He lay on the floor for days, before anyone found him!" Which was nonsense. And "When's the sale?" before the body was even cold. So, I very firmly quashed the nonsense, where ever possible. The Post Lady was useful, for that. :-). A couple of weeks ago, I was coming back from the chook run and noticed an elderly lady apparently rummaging through the mail boxes. I hit her with my frostiest "Can I help you?" She was delivering flyers for an annual picnic they have down in the valley. She invited me to come, but I declined. Told her "I'm not from around here." :-). It's mostly families and well off farmers from the old families. Don, my landlord, went. Now, he's the oldest family, in the area. But, I've noticed he keeps a certain "distance" from the lot. Unlike his mother and brother, who have both passed. Don said there was still a bit of nonsense about what's happening up here. Which he set straight. But you wonder, even when it comes from the "horse's mouth" how much good it does.

I've really never understood the thinking of the rentier class. They don't take care of their properties. They don't seem bothered when a property stands empty. If they go to sell a property, they ask crazy prices.

Oh, I'm sure the cats will sort it all out. There's a big black and white from up the hill that comes and goes through my property, every once in awhile. On his way to good hunting in the fields. The rest of the cats just scatter when he's around.

The people at the County Extension Office were lovely. They got back to me by e-mail, the same afternoon. One of my trees is probably a Melrose. The other, a Jonagold. I knew one is a Chehalis. So, three down and two to go. The County Extension Office is part? mostly? supported by the Washington State University, which is one of our more agricultural colleges. They also offer a course to get a Master Gardener certificate. I've toyed with the idea. It's been a bad year for fruit trees. Took a walk around Chef John's orchard .... trees that produced heavily last year have nothing on them. Or, what fruit there is has been spoiled by the Jays. I did notice that the honey bees were working over the spoiled fruit. So, all is not grim. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks that's high praise and glad to hear that you enjoyed the tale. Now that I live out in the sticks I feel a bit like a tourist when I'm in the big smoke.

Hehe! Yeah and all legs too. The lady that clips Poopy tells me off if I cut his tail after she has clipped him, so he gets to live with a pom pom. She always knows too somehow. The dark arts of shearing a Pomeranian...

Exactly. I'm looking forward to the hive and because the hive has the observation port, I'll post some updates along the way.

The saplings are grown from Eucalyptus Obliqua (commonly known as messmate). Nothing eats the saplings because the leaves have a very high oil content, so there are way too many of the trees. Back before people ate all of them, there were giant wombats (Diprotodon) that had the role of crashing through the forests keeping the under-story clear. I have the opposite problem in that there are too many saplings in the forest and nothing eats them. There are feral deer roaming through the forests here - but they steer clear of the farm because of the presence of the dogs. Do you have a pack of dogs to assist you? The other idea that comes to mind is to walk around the forest and see whether you can spot any saplings at all that aren't eaten by the deer and then try and identify the species and maybe plant some of those? Deer certainly don't like eating Eucalyptus species.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

If you are using Windows then the Ctrl key and the A key together will select all. Then Ctrl key and C will perform a copy of whatever is highlighted (usually in blue). If you need to paste it back again, Ctrl key and V together will do so. Give it a go as it save a lot of heartache.

Nice to hear that you are getting some sunshine. It is funny, but I live in some sort of services black spot - it is as if I don't exist - there is no postal delivery here. I didn't realise such places exist until I moved here.

Daily blogs! I'd run out of things to write about... No worries, it was a good essary - very enjoyable, if a rather bleak topic.

Absolutely! They are rare occurences down here - fortunately. You have been exceptionally luck not to have been involved in either event. I got caught in the middle of an armed hold up once. Unfortunately, I found myself internally critiquing their performance. I was actually in the post office buying a local painting as the artists were doing a display and I had like $500 in my wallet, fortunately the robbers were idiots and I got lucky.

Yeah, everything in moderation seems like good advice. My grandmother lived to 94 and I don't believe that she held back on the lard.

Cheers.

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

That is a worthwhile goal indeed. The local general store / cafe makes an awesome pie. Yum! I reckon if you're after flaky pastry I'd go for puff pastry myself rather than the short crust. I'd be interested to hear how you go and what you fill the pies with. Runny fillings in a pie is not perhaps the best because they tend to run out of it. Thick gravy bases are well worth experimenting with.

Yeah, right! Too funny. Hmm, I'll let you know how it goes, but I have to be very careful. Perhaps firm and pleasant may be a good middle ground?

Oh that's not good. People fill in the blanks, but repetition and consistency is a good strategy. Did you know that after the Black Saturday bush fires, there were property sharks skulking around the affected areas trying to snap up a property bargain. Very unethical.

Hey, I have to bounce as I've run out of time to reply, but I promise to reply tomorrow evening. Apologies.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Thank you for the sapling suggestions. You know, I have walked all through the woods looking for such not-eaten-by-deer plants/trees. It had seemed that they were eating absolutely everything, but on a review of things I realized that there are, indeed, a few things that they don't touch (except in a starving season, maybe). Ah, ha! I will concentrate on those; some of the plants are "domesticated" ones that we planted as ornamentals. Thanks for the advice!

Giant wombats! Ick! As though Fatso and his ilk weren't enough!

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Mmmm, I don't think you can use puff pastry for traditional pies. Yeah, one of the grape pie recipes I looked at made mention that the filling is runny. Haven't tackled it yet, but, heck, I thought, you just throw in a tablespoon of corn starch ... or, two. That takes care of the runny.

Picked some apples over at the abandoned farm, yesterday, for Chef John. Threw away 3 for every one I kept. And, the keepers are so-so. Jays, blight, worms ...

Got to bounce, myself. Unexpected trip to the Little Smoke, today. Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

We did have a pack of 5 dogs - from 20lbs. to 92 lbs. - for many, many years. The deer here are not much afraid of the dogs. The dogs certainly chase them, but the deer just bound off, make a circle, and end up back here in a short time. The funniest deterrent was a Siamese/tabby cat that we had once. He used to stalk them and that made them really nervous. The deer seemed to think that he was a shrunken tiger of some sort. His name was Boo Boo. He was some bad kitty. May he rest in peace.

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Apologies, yesterday all the pickets on the berry enclosure were installed and so it was off the local plant nursery (before it closed) in the evening (they're open to 9pm on Friday nights) to pick up some blueberries, currants, and blackberries. All worthwhile plants and I'm looking forward to getting them in the ground before it heats up too much here. It is a glorious day here today. Blue skies, cool slight breeze and there is just so much promise. The bees are absolutely feral outside, so I may have to drop another box on top of the current two tier hive over the next day or so. Hopefully they don't get too annoyed by that... Unhappy emoticon face - whatever that one is?

Back to your comment.

It is funny to see that sort of thing going on but it really does. Incidentally, I totally avoided the whole social thing here this morning, tidily - but it isn't going away anywhere quickly and will have to be dealt to sooner or later. It makes me a bit uncomfortable because some people play social games for their own benefit, abusing social niceties in the process and they just use up social capital - and then if you bring it to its inevitable conclusion, they get to blame you and then possibly bad mouth you about the place - for a long time to come. It is a fine art to negotiate...

The editor is part of the problem as the person involved is being overly familiar - and just keeping this side of the line of propriety - and making it very difficult for me to just take him out back and give him the thumping he truly deserves. I've watched him over a few years perform this trick on other people and mostly am firm, polite and not engaging of conversation with him, but he is exploring the boundaries - whilst not providing an edge for me to tell to him to **** off - which annoys me no end. He's well practiced at this game, I'll give him that - and he's also a bit of a local fixture. Grrr! Sorry, I'm whingeing...

I don't get that either - and what is worse is that sometimes they get those prices that they demand - simply because they demand them. I've always focused on the worst house in the best street and simply repaired it properly so that it could withstand another 100 years of malign neglect. Incidentally, this property here was truly unloved - and it showed, but I believe that the person involved inherited it and then perhaps lost the time and energy due to ill health to put any further effort into it. What do they say: Silk purse out of a sows ear? I've never been involved in speculative activities - because I've seen the house market drop 40% in price over a very short period and that taught me a lesson that no book could ever teach someone - and even then I was never inclined towards speculation.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Yes, well cats will be cats won't they. Just hope that Nell knows her place in the pecking order? Still cats are also very wise creatures. My last cat was a bit hamstrung because he thought that he was a dog.

That is awesome service - no one around here would have a clue and probably go that's an apple isn't it? Hehe! Hey, the big smoke has a local heritage apple fruit club which used to run a thing at an old orchard on the side of the Yarra River just out of Melbourne. I used to go to it and buy heritage apple varieties from them, and they were lovely people, but unfortunately the last time I went there it was like a football crowd because somehow it had made it onto television on a gardening show and I couldn't even get close to it (like as in miles away). It was crazy.

Nice to hear that there is a local apple variety in amongst your collection. That's really great - does it grow well and are the fruit tasty? Yeah, well bees and wasps get sugar anyway they can. Most apple trees are biennial meaning they'll put on a good crop one year and a lesser crop the next year. Like the chickens growing their feathers, they have to have a time to put on more wood - which will produce more fruit next year. That is one of the reasons it is nice to have a wide variety of fruit trees.

Incidentally, with all the heat and dryness up your way this summer have you noticed that the fruit is smaller and sweeter this year?

Cheers

Chris

PS: I'll respond to the remainder of the comments tonight!

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Excellent work to have noticed that. The starving years can sometimes be starving parts of the year too as plants that the deer prefer but don't usually eat start looking good - like the citrus trees here: Most of the year Stumpy the wallaby and his mates will leave the citrus alone, but then at times when the protein is low in the grasses, citrus trees will start looking good again. I haven't worked out the balance yet, but I'm getting there. Plants out of place such as ornamentals are a very good starting point.

Oh yeah, those giant wombats would have been something else - I've seen the bones of them in the Naracoorte caves and those things were big, but unfortunately also tasty...

Fair enough, the deer learn as they're not stupid at all.

Thanks for the story of the Siamese/tabby cross. A true champion of a feline - but perhaps one suspects that your feline was making up for his name. I mean the name Boo Boo like Poopy is hardly a name to strike terror into its enemies, but then both of them pack the biggest punch. Poopy, like Boo Boo is the most fearsome and fearless of all the dogs here - although you wouldn't think it because of the pom pom. Like a boy called Sue they both have to make up for their name. My respects to Boo Boo and may he rest in peace.

Incidentally, you have a way with words too: He was some bad kitty is the funniest thing that I have heard today. I salute Boo Boo!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I do hope that you enjoyed your extra trip into the little smoke and that all is well?

I haven't been anywhere at all today of note, but on Thursday night I did head into the big smoke to see the film People, Places and Things. Well, for a start you wouldn't enjoy it because it is a rom-com (nuff said really), but it was a very sweet film and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Oh yeah, I did splurge this morning and pick up some raspberry plants. I don't honestly know about raspberries as they always taste a little bit watery to me - unlike the very sharp and sweet taste of a blackberry. I've never heard you mention raspberries, do they grow them up your way and what do you reckon?

Fair enough, I've seen people use shortcrust for the base and puff pastry for the top and I must say it was an excellent innovation. Are you seriously considering the grape pie option? Grapes are very liquidy so it is a big ask, but I would be very interested to hear how it turns out - you may be onto a serious winner there? Ahh, the corn starch - which you don't often see down here (we use wheat and other flours instead) - would certainly solve the runny problem. I chuck a bit of flour into the dog biscuits as they bake to ensure that they stay dry and bake ultra crunchy.

Fair enough about the apples. With your hot and dry season the birds often take far more than the normal amount of fruit because they are thirsty. Sometimes they'll just peck fruit to get at the soft flesh for a bit of refreshment - even when they don't want to eat the fruit. I leave water out for them all year.

What is blight in apples? Is that bad? I don't believe that apple (fire) blight is here, but the WTO over ruled the restrictions on apple imports recently, so we are probably doomed.

Cheers

Chris

Trevor S said...

Came here via the Archdruid Report :) Interested to see a fellow Aussie, we're off the grid and away from it all in the Northern Rivers area of NSW.This is us

http://menuchanechona.blogspot.com.au/

Hope it's okay to link from our blog to yours ?

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Just watched a Grand Designs episode on the Isle of Wight. The house was called the Seaside House. You live in a truly beautiful part of the world and the surrounding forests are lovely. Unfortunately the house was a cautionary tale as the budget went totally out of control and the house was so crazy big and then some more again. I think I feel that it elevated my blood pressure watching it... I was trying to work out just what sort of story that they tell themselves to attempt that?

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I watched the same 'Grand designs' programme. I was very puzzled because the beach looked like mine, where a tree frontage was shown; but then a liner was shown much closer than I get to see them. I have now found out that the property was east of me. The liner could not have been as close as it was shown to be!

I thought that the couple were quite insane; that debt level!!! I was also stunned at the amount that they had paid for the land. Ye gods, what am I worth? Admittedly they had a nice slope to their beach whereas I have a climb down about 80 feet, but even so.

Er, I still can't cut and paste. I need instructions suitable for a backward toddler and even then the toddler would probably get there before I did. I do have windows and have even been shown how to do it, but have forgotten. Embarrassing really.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Emoticons - Happy :-) Sad, or unhappy :-( . Don't see them much, anymore. From the odd comment or two I've seen, I guess they are considered a little juvenile. :-). Some programs automatically convert them into little cartoons. Or, there's a whole smorgasbord to pick from. I just stick with the two little basics. Juvenile? Well, I'm probably just descending into second childhood :-). I use them as I don't want to be misunderstood, or, inadvertently, offend. It's such a shorthand way to indicate that I'm making a stab at humor, being wry, or, ironic.

Now that the bad social situation is a bit clearer, all I can say is "oh, my!." A pushy backwoods Lothario. Ohhh. That IS sticky. He's probably been watching too many rom-coms :-).

Yes, the drought and Jay connection occurred to me when I was walking around Chef John's orchard. But then we were off on some other tangent before I mentioned it too him ... and, will also be taking my own advice, next year. Provide more water for the birds ... so they'll maybe leave my apples alone! The drought, yes, smaller apples. Sweeter? Not so much.

My five dwarf apple trees didn't produce much, this year. I think it was a combo of things. An "off" year. The on-going pruning. I also carefully observed the bees / weather / blossoming ... sequence? It was not a good year. When the trees were blossoming, most days, there was rain and the bees were not about. I was encouraged, however, that one of the trees that looked rather diseased, looks a lot better this year. And, I only have done a rather hit and miss soap spray, the last two years. Next year, I pledge to stick to a regular schedule. Honest! :-). And, I'm going to add a bit of Neems oil to the mix. Blight, or scab ... at least the kind I have .... well, it makes an unsightly apple for commercial crops. But for home use, not so bad. It doesn't run deep and comes off when I run the apple through my little hand crank peeler/corer.

Another thing about the Jays. Do you ever have a problem, or inconvience, that you put up with for quit awhile ... and then the simple obvious solution occurs to you and you want to smack yourself in the head? I used to feed Beau under the edge of the deck. If I didn't get the bowl just right (or, if it was windy) there were problems with wet food and slugs. It suddenly occurred to me (after only three years) that if I just moved his dish to the dry area, underneath a small back door roof, end of problem. A couple of unintended consequences .... Beau didn't seem to mind sharing a bit of his food with the Jays. They won't come that close to the house. Hungrier Jays. More apple damage. So, I may set up a few feeding stations, with dry dog food on offer, during apple season, next year. Also, the wet dog food lured in the slugs for easy disposal.

Watched "50/50", the other night. I liked the movie. Filmed in Seattle, so that was fun. But, I must say the first girlfriend was truly awful. OK. I understand that some people do not deal well with illness. I'm sympathetic. I consider myself lucky that it's not a problem for me. I have even soothed people's guilt over not being able to deal with sickness. I understand. But, the first girlfriend went far beyond shallow, and into the realm of ghastly. Finally got the library copy of "The Great Crash 1929". The library system only had one copy and whoever had it before me didn't return it in a timely manner. Blighter! :-). Hope they enjoy paying the overdue fees.

Oh, yes. Raspberries are grown here. Quit easily. But, they are a cultivated crop, rather than just growing anywhere, like blackberries. Putting in a patch is on the "too do" list. I've always thought the jelly and jam is like eating liquid sunlight ;-).

Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont.

Trip to the Little Smoke was fun. Chef John is on strike, and not liking it, very much. Yesterday was a rainy day, so, no work in the yard. I think he's a bit lonely, too. He has a rather strong personality, that some people find hard to take. I think he's amusing. He took me to lunch, a Chinese place I hadn't been to, before. Buffet, style. So, I got to sample lots of things. It was quit good. Especially the peanut chicken with sesame seed crust. I'd never tried that before. He's also interested in antiques and collectibles, so we wandered around downtown Centralia, hitting the shops. I found a couple of things I couldn't pass up, but didn't do much damage. Also, a lot of talk about the rise and fall of Centralia. Don't know why I haven't thought of it, before....

https://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images;_ylt=A0SO8yuW6wZWOkAAM5BXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTB0NjZjZzZhBGNvbG8DZ3ExBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNwaXZz?p=Centralia%2C+Washington&fr=sfp&fr2=piv-web

or, just Google Centralia, Washington, images. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Great to hear that you watched that programme too. The ferry shots were probably a camera lens trick? I hadn't realised that you were that close to the mainland and those were some big cities on the mainland too. Honestly the shots of the island traditional architecture were stunning with the old traditional houses and even the odd thatched roof - which would be a total disaster here due to the bush fire risk.

Oh yeah, right at the conclusion, wow, did those two looked stressed out or what? 11 different types of debt is quite profoundly shocking and I'm not sure about your opinion, but my take is that an accountant should be able to tell when he is trading insolvently or not (meaning the ability to meet debts when they fall due).

Who knows, but then you do have to live somewhere and personally I'd prefer the ancient woodland and a small beach shack to that monster debt. It really was feral and they looked really stressed out. My prediction was that they'd have to sell.

They did have a nice slope to the beach - but why have a swimming pool when you have direct beach access? You know, even with the hot summers here - an outdoor unheated swimming pool up here the ground temperature is so cold that it is probably only usable 20 days in every year...

Not embarrassing at all really, just practice: Try this:

Left Click anywhere on the text that you have just typed.

Hold your finger on the Ctrl key and don't let go, and then press the A key. That will perform the function of Select all and everything that you typed should turn blue.

Then right click on the blue highlighted text that you have just typed and a new menu should pop up.

Left click on Copy in that new menu.

Then click on "Publish Your Comment" and do the usual thing.

If your comment disappears for any reason then left click on the box in the "Leave your comment" section. Then right click anywhere in that same box and the new menu will appear. Left click on Paste in that menu and your text will re-appear.

Give it a go and see what happens! I usually delete multiple comments so not to stress - and there is no judgement here as computers skip to their own beat.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

No worries, well juvenile is OK by me! ;-)! Thanks for the heads up, I don't really get out much on the Internet because there is so much noise out there for me it is hard to sort the wheat from the chaff. By the way, enjoy your second childhood, it is no bad thing. Some people are way too serious for my liking. Exactly, there is quite the future for shorthand.

Incidentally, I sold some book shelves that were superfluous to my needs and the guy that bought them was totally trying to out-alpha me at every opportunity and honestly, it was tiring to have to communicate with. The totally funny thing about it all was that he got lost using his GPS device, but he had such confidence in it - I shouldn't enjoy myself at his expense, but well, you know...

Hmm, I do dispute your general thesis about the rom-coms, but further study may reveal previously unknown insights? And just to be totally juvenile: ;-)! Hehe! - That was exceptionally funny! On a serious note, I really do have to tread warily with that situation when my automatic reaction says to deal directly with the problem.

Actually, that is just an observation about the birds, but it is really worth a trial because all of these systems are so incredibly complex that it may just do the trick? I dunno. I enjoy the tangent too as you never know what may be discussed - it is always quite exciting.

I reckon you just described about five different things! :-)! The whole thing is totally complex and all of your observations are rather cogent and bear on the subject at hand. That crank peeler / corer sounds like a real winner of a tool - I feed the cores to the chickens, I never thought to ask what you do with them?

It was very astute of you to have noticed that series of events. Top work and excellent observations. I'm mildly embarrassed to mention that after five years of living here, I no longer have to pick up the dog poo because the local birds consume it. After changing the dog’s diet to the home made biscuits and muesli, the birds are onto every single little lump about the place... It does save a bit of work.

Excellent to hear that you enjoyed the film. I liked it too as it didn't shy away from the rougher edges of that particular issue. The first girlfriend was in for a good time and not a long time and bumps in the road were for other people. It is not a good look. I'm sympathetic too as long as people have established a rapport well before hand, I have known some people over the years who want all benefits and no costs and I find them to be a bit disturbing - generally I avoid them.

Out of interest, how does your library system collect those late fees? I do hope that you enjoy the book as it is an excellent - if somewhat disturbing - read.

Excellent to read. Yum! Raspberries. Just for your interest, the wallaby has taken an undue interest in the previous raspberries so it will be quite interesting to see what they taste like when ripe. They went in the ground today and mate, I'm feeling it as it was a very long day today, so if the response isn't making sense, then there is the answer!

Out of interest, why is Chef John on strike? There is a lid for every pot as my grandmother used to say to me, so strong personality or no, he sounds OK. Oh yeah, Chinese style chicken with sesame and peanut sauce is to kill for. Speaking of Asian chicken, I'm quite partial to Japanese style barbequed chicken in Teriyaki sauce - total YUM! Enjoy your finds too!

Thanks for the images. Honestly, it wouldn't look out of place in an inner city suburb here, other than the buildings rarely go beyond 2 storeys.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Before I loose the plot ... your steam punk lights are really great! But I wonder 1.) how long do they last and 2.) do they soak up a lot of power? I've been meaning to comment on them, all week. And, keep forgetting. And, before I forget, blood moon with a serving of eclipse on the side, tonight :-). Don't know if you'll see it, down there. Looks like we have about a 50/50 of the clouds cooperating, up here. The stuff I get from the library has these hold slips in them ... that are ideal for jotting down notes and for grocery lists. So, as I read along in your blog I jot stuff down that I want to gas about :-). Of course there is a snowstorm of the things, around my computer :-).

Are bookshelves ever superfluous? :-). Just saw a National Geographic film that touched on GPS. Some horrendous number of people are led to their deaths, every year, relying on the thing. Over cliffs ... into the wilds of Death Valley. The one time I was in a car with one of the things, we got totally lost trying to find Mt. St. Helens. A new kind of natural selection :-)

When it comes to apples and apple trees (or, anything else that goes on on my little patch) I just "free associate" for awhile. Also known as "nattering on." :-). Just set me in a corner, until I run down. Yeah, the little apple peeler / corer is quit a little gizmo. They date back to the 1800s. I've seen some in cast iron. Mine is mostly cast iron and steel. I noticed you can still buy them and they were mixed in among the canning supplies, locally. I did discover a little trick to make them work, properly. The blade to peel is on a swivel/spring do-hickey. You have to lightly rest your right index finger on the swivel, to keep it in contact with the apple, while turning the crank with your left hand. Once you get the hang of it, you can just zip through piles of apples. I discovered that if I drop the pieces in salt water, they don't discolor. Sure, you can use some kind of citrus juice, but the salt water is a lot less expensive Unless you've got a lemon tree growing on your patch :-).

Library fines. Mobs of library police hunt the offenders down with pitchforks and torches. They flog the fees out of them in the town square. :-). Actually, fees are .15 a day, per item. Until the balance gets to $10, nothing much happens. Once it hits $10, the patron can't put books on hold, or, check anything out, til the fee is paid. Luckily, I worked for the library in the Golden Age of Kissing the Patrons ... Ring." So, I didn't have to deal with the whole fee thing. If something had never been returned, and the patron showed up, even years later, we'd try and collect the cost of the item. The excuses I heard ...

I think I'm enjoying "The Great Crash, 1929." But I just don't have a head for it. I think I'm only catching about 10% of what's going on. But, I'm learning some things I never knew, before.

Chef John teaches "Culinary Arts" in a high school. The teacher's haven't had a new contract in over 10 years. They've been working without a contract for over 6 months. So, the Union called a strike. Same thing happened in other parts of Washington State, this year. But Kelso, is the only district that has actually gone out and hit the picket lines. Other areas have either caved in and are back to work, or, new contracts have been settled.

Glad you liked the pics of Centralia. It's really typical of what "small town America" looks like, or, did. Or, if you hear the term "Main Street America", that's what people have in mind.

Speaking of Chef John, I've got to bounce ... just got a call to help harvest pumpkins and squash. Ought to be interesting. Thinking about it, he's kind of like the Seth Rogen character in "50/50." I guess that makes me the other character, without the cancer ... as far as I know :-). Or, think Laurel and Hardy. :-). Lew