Monday, 30 November 2015

I like my new shed better than my old shed


It’s hard to know when to abandon a project or a bit of infrastructure. Sometimes it is obvious that something isn’t performing as originally intended. Other times, the weather conditions have proven to be too much for the project or bit of infrastructure. And that was certainly the case with the original chicken housing and enclosed run.

But before we look at the process of deconstructing the old chicken shed and run, it is worth mentioning that the weather this week has been particularly extreme. The weather has produced little to no rain and the daytime temperatures have changed from very hot one day to quite cold the next day. Some of those changes in maximum daytime temperatures have been as much as a 20’C degree difference.

When the winds blow in from the south of the continent, they bring in cold air from the Southern Ocean and temperatures can plummet often quite quickly. The dogs are understandably a bit reluctant to venture outside on those very cold days and they instead lounge around the house conserving their energy until the outside weather becomes optimal for their canine selves. I’ve given those very cold days the nickname of: “sub fluffy optimal” and in the photo below you can see the very real and serious effect that sub fluffy optimal days can have on the hard working dogs here. It is very distressing to observe and I do hope they survive such stressful conditions:
Scrtichy the boss dog and Poopy the Pomeranian adapt - with hardship - to a truly sub fluffy optimal day
I have decided to repurpose the old chicken shed as a second firewood shed, however the old attached chicken run has to go! Deconstructing the old chicken run continued this week and my main aim with deconstructing this project was to recover as many of the materials as possible for use in other future projects.
The old chicken run continued to be deconstructed this week
Observant readers will notice that the old chicken run was seriously over engineered as there were two layers of thick gauge steel chicken wire running all of the way around the chicken run. There was also a plinth of fibre cement sheet with logs in front of those. The whole lot was held in place by hundreds of very solid nails. And I spent hours regretfully removing all of those nails this week.

The reason for the over engineering was that the dogs had learned how to break the very thick gauge steel chicken wire and so a second layer of thick gauge steel chicken wire became necessary. In addition to breaking the steel chicken wire, I was also worried that the dogs and foxes may attempt to dig under the chicken wire. Therefore a dog and fox proof plinth became very necessary for the safety of the chickens. You could say that the over engineering was a very sub fluffy optimal bit of engineering whereby the dogs could look at the chickens, but not eat them! I feel for the dogs...

The funny thing was, that whilst I was worrying about the dogs and foxes impact on the chickens, I was completely oblivious to the unexpected problem of rats and mice, which as regular readers would now know, completely overwhelmed the old chicken shed and run’s defences. There were a whole lot of fat, happy and relaxed rats in that old chicken shed enjoying the chicken food and water.

Anyway, all of that over engineering had to be removed from old chicken run before I could commence any work on converting the old chicken shed into a brand new (well, almost brand new) fire wood shed. The process of removing the over engineering around the chicken run took well over a day, but was eventually done. It is worth noting that there is now a pile of materials messily lying about the place just waiting to be properly and neatly stored in an all-weather material storage bay, but that is the next project in the long list of things to do here at the farm!

Eventually the two layers of chicken wire were removed from around the chicken run and I was then able to start deconstructing the timber structure that held up the steel mesh roof of the chicken run. The roof beams for the chicken run were secured onto the treated pine posts with large galvanised steel bolts and fortunately they were quite easy to remove and store for later reuse.
The author removes one of the many galvanised bolts used to bolt the chicken run structure together
In the photo above, we can also play the continuing game of “Where’s Toothy?" for those that dare take on the Toothy photo-bomb challenge!

Observant readers would have noticed in the various above photos all of the lush vegetation that has grown in the old chicken run since the chickens were removed to their new chicken run and shed - the “Chooktopia” project from the middle of this year. In the close up photo below of all of that lush vegetation, I can spot: poppies; green mustards; wild brassica; carrots; coriander and I’m unsure whether it is either barley or wheat (time will tell). All of these plants have grown without any care, water or attention on my part and it has made me wonder whether I am putting too much effort into the vegetable beds here? I reckon the poppies may have come from the uneaten poppy seeds from my bread!
Close up of the various plants growing in the old chicken run
It is also worth mentioning that after having the chickens continuously in that chicken run for a few years, the soil is superb and very deep. Fortunately, the chickens are now assisting me with excavations within the old chicken run:
The chickens are now assisting with excavations within the old chicken run
It may be hard to believe, but regular readers may be surprised to know that the hot and dry days at the farm have produced even more flowers this week. On hot days there is so much bee and insect activity over the flowers that the buzz sound is unrelentingly loud. And if you were to put your ear next to the air vents on the larger of the two bee hives you can hear a sound that is not dissimilar to that of a jet aircraft in flight. I may yet add a honey super box to that large bee colony.
Yes, there really are even more flowers this week at the farm
Over the past year or so, I have been experimenting with planting fruit trees into those thickly vegetated garden beds and what has surprised me about that experiment is that despite the very thick vegetation, the fruit trees seem to really do well. In fact, I’d reckon that they grow faster in the thick vegetation and produce more fruit than they do in the open paddock of herbage. The photo below shows a second year avocado tree enjoying being completely surrounded by rhubarb, carrots, borage, French sorrel, Jerusalem artichokes and geraniums.
An avocado fruit tree enjoys the protection of being surrounded by a mass of vegetation
Tomatoes are a very important, very heavy yielding, but also a very water hungry crop and this week, my gut feeling says that they have finally established themselves in the berry enclosure. I recently purchased a second hand quality electric food dehydrator and I am already envisioning drying a huge crop of tasty tomatoes and storing them in olive oil for consumption over the winter of 2016. Yum! I’ve also been considering planting out the remainder of the tomato seedlings into various garden beds over the next day or so.
Tomato Cam (TM) shows how the tomatoes are growing early in the season
The recent hot conditions have forced me to commence chopping and dropping the herbage which grows under the two orchards here. The chopped and dropped herbage provides a cover of mulch over the living herbage and helps reduce evaporation from the soil on very hot days.
The herbage underneath the orchard has been chopped and dropped this week and left as a mulch
In the photo above, you can see that most fruit trees have also been given a good feed of manure which increases the resiliency of those fruit trees to stress and keeps the roots of those fruit trees cool on very hot days. You can see that two trees (at the bottom of the photo) have yet to be fed with the manure and in all honesty I have only fed about one quarter of the entire orchard, but will get to the other fruit trees over the next few weeks. One of the fruit trees in the photo above at about the middle left hand side is a pecan nut tree which has tapped into the flows from the worm farm sewage system and I have no doubts that that particular tree will eventually become an absolute monster of a nut tree! Already the young pecan nut tree is surrounded by massive growth of borage plants and eventually it will provide afternoon shade for the rest of that orchard.

Despite the lack of rain over the past couple of weeks, the apples are swelling in size on the fruit trees and I noticed this Gala apple tree yesterday:
The fruit on a gala apple tree has swelled this week
I also spotted the very first of the horse chestnuts on the farm. This horse chestnut tree has never before produced nuts, and I believe that the nuts can be used as a soap replacement:
The horse chestnut has produced a few soap nuts for the first time ever this year
Not to make all of the Northern hemisphere readers jealous, but the cherries have gone from strength to strength over the past few weeks and I noticed this ripe cherry yesterday. I have to now rush out and pick the fruit before the birds (or the editor!) get it. Cherry trees were not given the Latin name Prunus Avium (or alternatively Prunus Emendator!) for nothing!
I spotted this ripe cherry fruit yesterday and hope to harvest it before either the editor or the birds
I absolutely adore Quince fruit and the very first quince fruit has appeared high up at the very top of one of the many still young quince fruit trees:
The very first quince fruit was spotted yesterday at the very top of a fruit tree
The warmer and drier conditions have also brought the ripening of the apricot fruits and despite the lack of rain or any watering over the past few weeks, the fruit has swelled in size and they have also shown the first signs of blush which is another indicator of impending ripeness.
The apricots have swelled in size and are now starting to show some signs of blush which is an indicator of ripeness
One of the earliest trees that I planted as an experiment in amongst the flower and garden beds was an Anzac peach fruit tree which had been previously struggling. The prolific growth from this one peach tree in its new location has left me wondering whether I am actually providing enough food for the fruit trees here as the growth has been nothing short of amazing.
An Anzac peach tree is thoroughly enjoying planted in amongst the many flowers in the garden beds
Scritchy the boss dog is acting a bit weird as she always does when there is a thunderstorm anywhere within a hundred kilometres (or more) of the farm. She is a sensitive lady! The thunder and lightning is now cracking over the farm and the heavens have finally opened to deliver some solid rainfall. The air itself smells of moisture, warmth and vegetation and the water tanks are getting a small refill. Tomorrow is the official first day of summer (which in reality began a month ago here) and we are going into summer with about 90% of a total possible stored water capacity of 104,000 litres (27,470 gallons).

The temperature outside today reached over 33’C (91.4’F) but with the most excellent storm outside right now, the temperature at about 6.45pm has fallen to 20.8’C degrees Celsius (69.4’F). So far this year there has been 689.4mm (27.1 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total 688.8mm (27.1 inches).

53 comments:

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Ah, fair enough. Flat roofs don't generally get a look in here except for warehouses etc. although I have seen enough of them in other countries. Butterfly roof designs are the very worst of the lot for that too and why anyone would design and build one is well beyond me. I didn't know that clearing snow off your roof was a dangerous exercise so thanks for that. The steel roofs here are fairly safe to walk on if there is no moisture at all. The funny thing is down here, people often prefer the cheaper tiled roofs but they are virtually not sealed at all to the weather conditions (from my experience) - you only need to stand in a tiled roof space on a windy day to feel the air moving through the roof space... Not good for insulation of fire resistance purposes!

Thank you, I really appreciate that about the video! That makes sense about the bread as a whilst there is not much energy in flour - it is all of the rest of the stuff that gets added to bread that makes it not very good for you - it is like everything really as the devil is in the detail. Fair enough about the gluten too as everyone has a different tolerance to that substance and not all flours are the same. You are correct though in that some people here treat it as a fad diet which sort of makes people with actual gluten tolerance problems look like they are on the bandwagon when they actually have real dietary troubles.

Oh yeah, that plant is hardy as and it can easily survive 40'C+ (104'F+) temperatures too! Go the perennial spinach!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Oh yeah, after 4 and half weeks a drippy tap is a serious win! Nice also to read that the water supply - of sorts - has been restored. I have lots of redundancies on that front so that I'm not caught out as it would be a total disaster. A few years back I almost ran out of water during summer...

Blenders are pretty handy in the kitchen and I use a rotary mixing machine to help make the dog biscuit mix - but in all honesty, like most gizmos in the kitchen there are manual work around. Do you find that to be the case too? Your low tech method for sealing the plastic bags with turkey is probably all you really need - don't you think it all depends on how long you want to freeze the meat for really? It is like everything, there is the easy way to do something and then there are diminishing returns from that point onwards.

Yeah, they call them a larder or pantry down here too, you just don't see them in any houses anymore... The linen closet is often called the linen press down here, but I don't really know why? Again they're not usually in evidence in newer houses either. In fact built in robes in newer homes are pretty sparse, given how much stuff people seem to want to have nowadays.

It is a pleasant thing to open a cupboard and see all of the preserved goodies in there! Yum! I'm still eating last years bottled apricots and made so much tomato chutney I've been feeding it to the dogs in the morning with their breakfast - they love the stuff. But there is now more jam too - possibly over two years supply, so I'll have to slow down making the stuff this year.

A raccoon - cool! They are one smart animal - prepare yourself to be outwitted and I look forward to reading the many stories that arise of the raccoon narrowly escaping your traps and still enjoying Beau's food! On a serious note, I do hope the raccoon stays out of the chicken yard.

Perhaps, but it is interesting that it was described as a cave when it was in fact a dungeon. I reckon the whole thing is a giant rabbit hole and not worth spending much time considering. It reminds me of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy with Broomfundle and Magic Thyes (I think I spelled that correctly) arguing incessantly over minutiae of some thing or other and becoming famous talking heads in the process. A complete waste of time - but I can see that from the comments I am in the minority on that opinion. What is you take on the matter?

Too bad about the gold star, anyway I run my own race and set my own goals, but it is nice from time to time to get a bit of endorsement! Hehe! :-)! Anyway, there is always next time and the race is long! Hehe!

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

Oh, my! Oh,my! Those dogs! Are they the kings of the castle or what? I would say that THEY are sub fluffy optimal!

It's kind of pleasant to think of such fat, happy, and relaxed rats. Is a rat not worth something?The question is: what? And at whose expense?

It is great to have all those recovered materials at hand now. It does seem that it can often be even harder to deconstruct than to newly build. Maybe it's mostly the frustration of destroying something so painstakingly built, especially if you built it yourself.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ All: Toothy spoiler alert! Don't read if you haven't viewed the photos.


He's about to bite Chris' left ankle.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - 25F (-4C), last night. But, the weather is about to change. Looking at the satellite picture, a warm rain is coming in from the ocean. Temp for tonight is supposed to be 35F (1.67C). A welcome change. Went to John's to get more drinking water. Waited til 11 as the roads looked quit frosty. Didn't wait long enough. There's one long hill that I almost didn't get up. Wanted t turn back, but there was no place to turn around. Sliding around and trying to stay on the road, while inching my way forward. And, my tires are pretty new. But, I forgot to put some weight in the back end of my truck. Came back at one and the road was better. Still scary, but not as scary.

Your puppies look so mellow. It must be exhausting for them to keep their internal thermostats ticking along. :-).

I saw the picture of the old chicken run and thought "It's a jungle, in there." :-). The chickens ought to enjoy all the fresh nosh. Yes, taking things apart is not near as much fun as putting them together.

You asked about the tea plant. Still happy and blooming in the kitchen. It seems to really enjoy the winter sun, and, I can leave it in place. All summer I was careful to move it into the shade in the afternoons. This cold snap has got me thinking about how it would survive a similar cold snap, outside. A quick survey of the Net yields lots of information on plants in general ... and there's one video about freezes and tea plants in particular, but I haven't watched it, yet.

The whole Plato thing. Well, I'm really not a "deep thinker." Pretty much skipped those paragraphs and moved onto the stuff I can wrap my head, around.

Ran across an interesting Thanksgiving bit of information. Turkey Walks. Not to be confused with the Turkey Trot, which was a popular dance in the 1920s. :-). In the 1800s, and up to about 1930, turkeys were often driven in large flocks from rural areas to larger cities. There were turkey drovers who herded the turkeys using long sticks with a bit of red flannel on the end. They could travel about a mile a day. Shaded pathways had to be avoided, as the turkeys thought it was night and would begin to roost.

No raccoon in the trap, this morning. I "got skunked." That's what they say here, if you're hunting something and don't find it. I don't know the history of that term. Judging from the bait, still outside the trap, the raccoon didn't make an appearance, at all. Will try again, tonight.

Made myself a couple of TLT sandwiches, last night. Turkey, lettuce and tomato. As opposed to the more standard BLT. A spread with plane yogurt, a bit of garlic, sunflower seeds and a shot of horseradish mustard. Yumm! The last piece of pumpkin pie, bit the dust. Sad :-(.

I can see clouds on the horizon, and the wind is picking up. The freeze is over. Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Such a lovely, lush, full growth of all kinds of flowers - Fernglade Bee Heaven (Haven?). It seems kind of weird to me that your fruit trees seem to be thriving among all the lush growth that surrounds them. I would have imagined that they would have to fight the other plants for water. And, if I remember correctly, it's not just tropical fruits that are enjoying it, but also some stone fruits and maybe apples?

I have been kicking myself this past week, before you even mentioned it, for not trying harder to dry tomatoes this past summer. We did have a lot of tomato disease and that discouraged me, but I am certainly missing them now. I've never stored them in olive oil. How does that go? Wasn't Australia always known for its dried fruits? Is that still so? Fernglade Organic Dried Tomatoes, Apricots, Cherries. You must let the editor have first call at them, though. Apparently you are hogging them.

Do you really have a TM? You're putting us on! A RAT cam would have been useful (Rodent Around There . . . .).

Thanks for the chopped and dropped photo. Where do you get your manure (besides chooks)? My son goes over to the livestock auction in the next county. A fellow there sells it really cheap.

Pecans are my favorite nuts. We have some baby pecan trees growing from friends' trees in Texas. What is a horse chestnut? We have the Osage Orange ( Maclura Pomifera ) here that we call a horse chestnut, also called a hedge apple. It has fruits the size of softballs that are really icky and sticky, that I was always told are poisonous. I think they are mostly just indigestible.They were used to make hedges a long time ago. Bingo - hedge idea!

Our first official day of winter is supposedly always the Solstice, though the climate never jives with that and it is actually winter-like well before that; but so tradition dictates. Excuse for a celebration anyway. Yay! Rain! Wow, was it hot there!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lewis:

Like you, I thought that Plato's caveman went back to rescue those left behind, and show them the Light on the Path.

I certainly enjoyed your cable TV and rotary phone story at ADR. My, it's hard keeping up with all the comments.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I ground up some wheat berries and added them to may last batch of bread dough. Fantastic! Wonderful extra flavor and just a touch crunchy,and very good for you.

We built a pantry in our kitchen when we built this house. One of the best decisions we ever made.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Margaret:

Another very good reason to try the Gator perpetual spinach - REALLY freeze-proof. It is earning its name!

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Too funny, they are the king of something for sure!!! And yes, they are acting very sub fluffy optimal. That is an excellent description. There was no pride on my part seeing those lazy canines reclining at their ease when there is work to do on the farm! In their defence, they're usually very active, but I couldn't quite believe my eyes when I saw them lounging around that day. Everyone deserves a day off.

That is a fair question and the rats have every right to enjoy the place. I was a touch annoyed about the wires and hoses that they chewed through on the car, but the original chicken house was weighted too much in the rats favour as there was no balancing species and so their population just boomed and boomed and they were eating some quality chicken feed and making a mess of the chickens water. Dunno, excluding the rats from the new chicken shed and run was the least worst option for the rats and it put them on a more even footing with the owls and foxes that otherwise eat them.

Exactly, you go to the effort of making something and then find that it doesn't work as well as you thought that it might and then you have to face the hard decision of reconstruction which is never easy to reconcile yourself too. The materials are good though!

Well done! You spotted the elusive Toothy who would probably really like to bite my ankle. How he sneaks into all of the photos is way beyond my understanding?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Ooo! Before we continue, I spotted this article about an unusual archaelogical dig (of sorts) up in the port of Darwin and thought that you might be interested: WWII wrecks and Darwin's ice age history unveiled by start-of-the-art technology. Interesting stuff.

Sorry, but I'm having trouble over here in the land of summer trying to come to grips with your observation that the weather is turning warmer in your part of the world - and warmer means 35'F! Brrr, all of those temperatures sound cold to me and I totally agree with you that 35'F would be a welcome change! Brrr. Stay safe, that frosty road would never have occurred to me. I used to own a utility vehicle (a Toyota HiLux) so I hear you about how light the back end of the car is with no load. That would scare me for sure!

Hmm, mellow, I was thinking more - lazy. Honestly, it wasn't that cold outside, but it is nice to know that they can work hard and play hard. I couldn't quite believe my eyes when I saw them lounging around like that.

Thanks for that and great to read that your tea camellia is doing well in the kitchen. It would be the almost perfect climate for a tea camellia. I don't know about the frost, but I'm always pushing the boundaries with plants and their range, so who knows. If you get any decent tips about the tea camellia outside in frosty conditions, I'd really appreciate hearing them?

Fair enough. I have no background in philosophy at all, so perhaps my excitement was misplaced and I guess after 2,300 years many people had covered that walk... I can usually tell within a sentence or two whether I'm going to enjoy a persons comments over at the ADR. It is good to have your mind stretched by new ideas and perspectives though and I enjoy that.

No way! Wow, I can just imagine the poor turkeys hitting a shady spot and thinking to themselves - well, that's it for walking today, I'm beat, lets all go and get a bit of shut eye. Scritchy and Poopy could teach them a thing or two. Hey, do you reckon the meat would have been a bit tougher with all of the at walking? In the 19th century here, the farmers used drays to take their produce to the market.

Yeah, you skunked all right. Honestly, from everything I've read about raccoons you have one monster entertainment coming right at ya. They are very clever animals. Good luck and please keep use informed (and entertained). I'm getting shades of the old Warner brothers cartoon of the sheep dog and the fox as they clock on and off again for another days adventures.

The TLT sounds really nice, what a good idea. Yum! I'll bet the pumpkin pie got better as the days went on. Some food is like that.

YAY! Great to read that your warmer weather has arrived. I wouldn't know how to cope in such cold weather for a prolonged period of time - I'm not even sure whether the pipes and pumps would freeze (they are mostly underground, but you never know) up solid. Water outside certainly gets frozen on some winter nights, but frosts are mostly a rare thing (except for this crazy years weather). We just seem to keep getting one weather record breaking after another. Is that happening up your way too?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thank you that is very sweet. It is bee heaven. The local go to guy for bees, chastised me for failing to plant enough flowers years ago when I first got bees. He never gave me an answer as to how many flowers a bee colony needs to survive the foraging season, so I just sort of kept planting and then planting some more. I will definitely be expanding the area under flower over the next year or so.

Yeah, that is an excellent observation and I wonder about that too. But then it is less humid here, so the lush growth also shades the root systems of the fruit trees slowing evaporation and we humans don't really know what plants accumulate what minerals from the soil via their root systems and then into the leaves. The leaves die and then those minerals become available for the soil animals and the other plants. We just honestly don't know...

Yes, I have to be careful though to ensure that very young fruit trees aren't overgrown completely, but once they can stick their heads up above the mass of vegetation it doesn't seem to matter.

Also, the really weird thing is that the roses are also really enjoying this dense growth and they'll pop their heads up a start putting on a flower show - and there doesn't seem to be the sort of threatening fungal diseases that people keep telling me will ensue. I don't know what is going on exactly because it has become too complex and I just let it go and see what happens. Dunno, really.

Oh yeah, dry the tomatoes and then store them in olive oil and they'll last for months and months. Yum! Yeah, we have a lot of orchards up on the border which is near to arid country, but they can irrigate the orchards via the Murray river. There are salt issues though with that. That is for citrus and stone fruits. Apples are mostly grown north of here (remember we're upside down so that would be your south) as well as in Tasmania. No one is trying orchards around here, so it means that the orchard is fairly pest and disease free - but I feed it a lot of manure.

Thank you, yes, the editor would agree with you!

No I was just kidding - there is no TM - I was being silly. Hey, don't laugh, I actually took photos of the rats peering down at me - they had very glossy coats and were unafraid of humans...

The photo explained it better than I could in text. I have to do that because of the fire risk. I would suffer from less evaporation of water in the soil if I could leave the long grass and native flowers though, but the risk is too high.

The manure is mushroom compost which is a mix of horse poo and stable bedding which has been composted for about 6 months - they tell me. The local sand and soil guy at the bottom of the hill sells the stuff to me by the cubic metre and I usually bring up at least 1 cubic metre (about 1.1 cubic yards) every week for the past couple of years. He used to find it amusing that I would require so much manure, but he's not laughing anymore and is asking questions about the place.

I love pecans too, just about another 8 years to go before they produce some nuts. They do well over the summer but not so well over the winter. I reckon they are about the same sort of climate requirements as the Macadamia trees (I have two here which way out of their range). This is the horse-chestnut or conker tree. Yeah, I've heard of the ossage orange but never seen them for sale. They have some sort of use in permaculture circles so they may be valuable trees for the soil or shade? Dunno. What do you use them for?

Thanks for that. We are one full month early this year and I'm a little bit worried, but it was nice to have a small bit of rain to give the place a drink. Most of the garden survives unwatered...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Nice work, and glad to read that the bread turned out well. It would be interesting to be able to taste some of the older strains of wheat. I suspect a lot of problems are caused by some of the strains available. It is like the difference between long grain rice and basmati rice - it is apples and oranges!

Very wise too with the pantry - now if I can only convince the editor... The preserves and alcohol are all taking over my office!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Forgot to mention, but last night was quite warm so we sta out on the veranda and watched the lightning show off in the far distance. It is quite impressive and once I saw lightning take out a signal box on the train line in the valley below. It was hard to miss because it looked like the signal box actually blew up. I wouldn't have wanted to be close to that one for sure.

Cheers

Chris

Damo said...

Hi Chris, do you think the fruit tree will adversely effect the garden bed once it is larger?

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

What an awesome question. Absolutely, those fruit trees will adversely affect the garden bed! You betcha they will.

The thing is I don't see the garden beds and orchards as fixed and separate locations. Plants move around. I've currently got pumpkins starting to grow in the orchard as well as herbs that have escaped from their herb beds into the orchard. And there are seedling fruit trees that have escaped into the garden beds.

If you've ever had the chance to watch strawberry plants over a few seasons, you'll see them on the move and as one part of a strawberry patch dies off another location is taking off. It is a human construct to try and constrain them into a location and size of our choosing - nature has other plans.

I suspect even some of the fruit trees will out-compete the other fruit trees and I've been taking seedlings of various fruit trees and moving them about the place. For example the pecan nut trees will be humungous when they are mature and they will definitely out-compete the other fruit trees, but that is OK because the smaller fruit trees (like citrus) have a faster growing cycle and set more seeds and move on from their original location. Even the myrtle and blackwood forests down your way are constantly on the move - it just happens on a time frame that we won't live to see.

What an awesome question. Mate, there is a massive black cloud heading straight at the mountain here - I hope it brings some rain! Tasmania had it warmest spring on record too. How is it looking down your way?

Cheers

Chris

Damo said...

Good explanation on the movement of plants and trees on a longer time scale. I if course was focused on the (immobile) tree and missed the (moving) forest! Do you know if this (planting trees in 'temporary' garden beds) is a thing that many people do? It seems to make sense in the co-planting/permaculture way..

Weather has been quite dramatic down here. On the west coast we get all the lovely cool moisture that half a planet of southern ocean brings our way, except for most of October, when it didn't rain at all! It was getting to the point where wise elders would shake their heads and mutter about Bush fires! Madness I would think, we get over 3m of rain a year, but they were right. The forest was like tinder. Luckily last week, the rain has started up again. There was even snow on the mountain peaks the other day, last night had thunder and lightning (rare in Tasmania) and the weekend is forecast for 23 degrees and clear skies!

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - Yeah, by the week-end, I'm usually done reading comments on ADR. But, I do scroll through, looking for Chris' bright, smiling face on his avatar :-).

Yo, Chris - It was a steady 39F (3.89C) all night long. That change in our weather did move in fast! I thought we might have a snow flurry, or two. The rain looked a little "thick" at one point, but, no actual flakes. It happens often enough to take note of it. There is really a rather narrow window of temperature / rain, to get snow. To get a lot of snow, everything has to stay in balance, for a good long time period.

That was an interesting article on the sunken ships in Darwin Harbor. Yes, tech is really changing archaeology. Not so many shovels in the ground. Which takes money. Not so many "dry holes" if they do decide to excavate. The big news this week is that they found a Roman "fortlet", on Anglesey Island, off Wales. The old Druid stronghold. Maybe a nearby lighthouse. It's the first major Roman remains, found there. No excavation, yet, but they have a good ground plan due to ground penetrating radar. The possibility was first spotted in an areal survey.

Well, it was quit a dust up in the back yard, last night, between Beau and the Raccoon. He got a small cut on his head. Then I set the trap. It was tripped, this morning ... but, no raccoon. I've got to get the timing, right. Beau in, trap set. Will try again, tonight.

Yeah, I wondered about tough birds and weight lose, on the turkey walk. I suppose, when they got wherever they were going, they fed them up for a week or two, before butchering. The old "long, slow oven" probably took care of the toughness.

Weirdness in the chook run. I have an old, plastic pitcher that I use to transfer chicken feed from the covered garbage can I keep the feed sack in. I mentioned, last summer, that the bees found it, but ended up dead and feed dust covered. Well, about a week ago, I found a live mouse in the pitcher. I tossed him out, into the bush. Well, this morning, there was a dead mouse in the pitcher ... and he was quit desiccated. A little mouse mummy! In 24 hours. What's in that stuff?

You have parrots, after your chicken feed. I have sparrows. I always have a sparrow or two, shooting out of the chicken house when I show up. I don't mind. They're so small, they don't eat much ... not even noticeable. Would cost me more to set up a feeding station.

You shouldn't have problems with rose fungus, given your climate. The people that do, probably spray water, instead of watering on the ground. They could also be thinned out a bit, for good air circulation. If I get fungus, black spot, or aphids, I just give them a light spray of baking soda and water. Seems to solve the problem. Lew

margfh said...

Very wet here in the midwest. First the 18 inches of heavy, wet snow (which is now long gone), two inches on Thanksgiving and another inch tonight has left lots of standing water in the fields. The dogs are rather miffed that I'm not allowing hours of romping in the mud.

While I agree that raccoons are smart they are no favorite of mine. We've lost more chickens to them than any other predator.

Speaking of herding turkeys, I used to let our turkeys out to roam the property all the time keeping an eye out for them so they didn't get too far. Herding turkeys is not much fun as you'll get the flock moving in the right direction and one will break loose and head in a different direction and you're back to square one. I was a teacher and one day we had an institute day for teachers (students stayed home). I told my daughters to keep an eye on the turkeys and one of them was looking out the window at them when I said it. Well when I arrived home hours later there were no turkeys in sight and I asked the girls where they were and their response was "they were out of their pen?". I found them not too far down the road visiting the neighbors flock of chickens. It took me over an hour to herd them back home.

Another year we had a dog who liked to chase the flock intending no harm but he found it fun. After a few days the turkeys started chasing him and every time he went out they chased the dog much to our amusement.

Margaret

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

I know that the permaculturalists talk about the shifting trees and succession planting, but I'm not sure how many people actually give it a go. You need a bit of space for that one. It does make sense and it is how the forest actually works. If you ever get the chance to watch a patch of land go from pioneering species onwards - it just gets successively more complex with age. I'm not sure what is going on with many of the garden beds here - I can identify the various species but the details are their business really.

Oh yeah, October was beyond hot. I reckon we're about a full month earlier than what I'd normally expect for this time of year. I've seen a bush fire over near Corinna and was evacuated from that area before I even had the chance to see the place. You do get a lot of rain, but the soil on the west coast is a sort (from memory - and please correct me if I'm wrong) of shale looking sandy white well drained soil. Even in the depths of the rainforests on the west coast, it can get quite dry like you say. Mind you, the soils here are drying up pretty rapidly and the mountain here is like the last bastion of green anywhere close - and even then only the south facing slopes. I hope that we get some decent rain soon.

I didn't know that lightning was rare in your part of the world? It is quite common here as the cold and warm fronts clash. Hope the experiments with the bread are continuing to be successful.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I liked your rotary dial phone story this week. :-)!

It was 3'C (37'F) outside when I woke up this morning so you are in good company with those sorts of temperatures. They're kind of bearable. Your snow is fascinating that it has to fall within a temperature window. Down here, it just has to be near or less than the freezing point of water - add in a bit of rain - and you get snow. Hail on the other hand which is like frozen golf balls of greater or lesser size happens during the summer months when there is a snap cold change. Hail can destroy cars and windows - it is feral, fortunately the size here is quite small.

Wow, that is really interesting. Out of interest, how do they know that it is an old Druid stronghold? It is very cheeky / canny of the Romans to build a fort there in the first place if that is the case. I'll bet they stripped the islands bare of wealth - it would have been a very different place 100 years after they had departed, although I suspect the population would still have thought that they would come back - eventually...

Good luck with that timing. I reckon the raccoon will be much smarter and a more challenging customer than the rats. Diaries are funny things because two years ago I wrote that I added welded mesh to the old chicken enclosure and put in my hopes that it would help thwart some of the rat activity. Not so. The rats enjoyed the welded mesh as it was like a super highway for them - just sturdier than the old bird netting.

That sounds about right. They do that with cattle here.

Run for the hills! That is a good question as I don't know what could possibly dessiccate a rat with that short a period of time. What does the label say about the feed ingredients? If the chickens are healthy and happy, I don't really know what to think? My gut feel says that if it seems odd, it might just be odd...

Not any more! The parrots are now foiled (for the moment). I spotted them trying to get into the strawberry patch this evening which is not good because sooner or later they will succeed. Tree sparrows are very nice little birds and how much could they possibly eat really? They're about the size of the blue wrens and red breasted robins here and they fill the same ecological niche. Some of my chickens are bantams because the chook go to lady around here told me that they eat far less than full size chickens, but the eggs are almost the same size and I reckon that was good advice. They're not all bantams though but the larger chickens seem quite pleasant natured and Boss Plymie does rule the roost with an iron claw - she brooks no nonsense! Hey, how did your chickens go with the sudden cold snap at your place? I hope the rocks helped too.

Thanks for that advice and I'll keep that in mind with the roses - but it hasn't been a problem for years.

I've been a bit stressed out this week as the editor has set a cracking pace for paid work. We had a bit of a discussion about it this morning as it is not sustainable, well for me at least anyway. The editor has thrown herself into work as an antidote to the very real grief that she is experiencing and that is no solution from my perspective. This has happened before for very similar reasons and things had ramped up here so quickly that I hadn't noticed until I was starting to feel stressed out and wondered what was going on.

It reminded me a bit of your descriptions, as many long years ago when this originally happened here and for good reason too, I'll tell you grief is a rough thing for people to experience, we took time out and travelled around the country and just healed. The funny thing is that to me, that sort of reaction looks like an addiction and it is always really hard to find the middle ground for those that have once been addicted. I hope you understand? Anyway, it is all good now and these things have to be talked out and worked through as best as they can be.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Wow, that is a whole lot of snow! I feel for the dogs not being allowed out to romp around in the mud - they'd love that, but then of course, they'd need cleaning up before being declared fit for civilised company?

I do everything I can to ensure that there is not much in the way of mud here, but if the dogs are occasionally stupid and crawl down into a wombat hole (which is a really dumb idea on their part), then they get a hosing down with soap. Unfortunately, I tend to end up damp as well because the dogs want to share their exciting adventures...

Actually the dogs are collecting lots of bindi seeds in their hair at the moment and are probably spreading the naive bidgee widgee plant far and wide!

Sorry to hear about the raccoons and your chickens. That is not good. Does anything eat raccoon?

Thanks for the funny story and I now have a mental image of you herding turkeys back home again. Sorry, I shouldn't laugh because it isn't funny, but it is sort of funny isn't it? Chicken duties fall on my shoulders here as we split the tasks pretty much 50/50 and monitoring them when they are out in the orchard is a big responsibility as so many things want to eat them. I don't actually let them roam around the orchard because a mate of the editors accidentally let the chickens and dogs out together and Poopy took out one of the chickens before I put a stop to it. It was an unpleasant visit and I've learned my lesson.

If chasing turkeys is as hard as chasing chickens then I feel for you - they are unpredictable.

I'll bet the turkeys enjoyed chasing off the dog too! Geese can be quite large and aggressive birds too. Have the turkeys ever chased you? The chickens are only too happy to give me a nip when they are sitting on eggs - I don't worry about it at all, but if you weren't expecting the nip, it could give visitors quite the surprise!

Cheers

Chris

Coco said...

How lush and lovely your garden is! Someday I will have a riot of flowers and herbs. The bees must be very happy. I see an occasional, lonely bumblebee searching amongst the flowering nettles and it makes me sad. They went wild for a weed - bugloss, that reproduced at an alarming rate when I left them because they were so popular. Any tips on very early and very late things to plant for bees?

How long total until your pecan produces? I´d love a pecan tree, though I understand they´re huge. Someone on the permies forum had one in northern Spain, and I have no idea where he´d got it.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - A bit rainy, here. The temperature, last night, held at a steady 39 and then jumped to 41, and held there into the morning. Can't say the weather here has been all that unusual, for winter .... yet. The first hard thaw did come two weeks later than last year. But my records don't go back far enough to see if that's weird. And, it's difficult to find "first frost" records for this particular location.

The Roman historian Tacitus wrote about the siege and fall of Anglesey (then called Mona). His father-in-law, Agricola, was the general that led the charge. So, he got it straight from the horses mouth, so to speak.

The raccoon (or something) tripped the trap, twice, last night.

The chickens rode out the cold snap just fine. Those wooly jumpers :-). And, the light/heat lamp that kicks on at 3am. Egg production was a bit down ... 21 eggs for the week instead of 24 or 25. I kept giving them oats and sunflower seeds, but they didn't get their yogurt. Couldn't spare the water to clean out the bowl. They've got it the last two days and will get some today. Then I'll go back to the every other day.
I might have my bird species wrong ... our sparrows (or, what I call sparrows) are tiny little birds, about the same size as a budgie.

Finished off picking over the turkey, yesterday. 10 packets of meat in the freezer. Now, to turn what's left into stock.

Grief is funny stuff. We mourn for all kinds of things. Lost youth, anyone? :-). Of course, you know what the Buddhists have to say about yearning for things we can't have. I think Kubler Ross was pretty spot on, about the five stages. But, what people tend to forget (and, I think she made the point) is that it's not a progression. That it's up the ladder and down ... and that two stages can be held, almost at the same time.

Off to the Little Smoke, today. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

HI Coco,

Thanks for that and I'm glad that the photos are bringing sunny summer cheer into the cool Northern hemisphere winter. The bees are happy here and there are more flowers every single year. I'm planning on extending the garden beds further again next autumn and winter - there is no planting now because most seedlings tend to die off because of the warm dry conditions. Oh well - autumn is less than 90 days away now!

The bugloss is a pretty flower. Weeds are really just pioneer plants trying to help the soil along by getting established into it. They're your garden friends really so it is nice to read that you left them grow. I may write about that very issue over the next few weeks and provide some photos too. Imagine an acre of mint - I may get there one day...

Oh, the pecan will probably need another 8 years of growing before it produces any fruit - the macadamias need about 10 years of growth too (probably more like 30 years this far south).

They may have started the pecan from viable seed - you never know. I reckon they'd grow well in northern Spain. The one here has tapped into the worm farm sewage system trenches so it looks pretty happy.

Thanks also for sharing the beautiful photos from your place.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Glad to read that your weather sounds sort of what you'd expect it to be at this time of year. No one really wants to see record breaking weather events, although I reckon a whole lot of people are cheering them on judging by their actions. That sounds like a film advertisement, doesn't it? Coming to a location near you! Pity it seems to be a whole lot warmer this spring and summer so far down here, which is kind of weird after the very cold winter we just had. Oh well, adapt we must.

Yeah, no one really maintains first frost records as they are just one of those things - I'll bet someone, somewhere has maintained those sorts of records diligently for decades. Most of the weather data here is recorded by volunteers (mostly they support machines nowadays) dotted all around the continent and then collected by the Bureau of Meteorology so it is a vast network really. Important stuff. How good is the rain radar too? That is amazing and also highly useful.

Thanks for the reference about Tacitus and I'll have a look for any references the next time I'm in the second hand bookshops. They're a real treasure trove of all sorts of texts. It was interesting that the island was called Mona because I can't imagine that it is a coincedence but... Down in Hobart in Tasmania there is a museum of new and old art called Mona. It is apparently quite the destination and seeks as much to outrage as it does to inform and entertain. It may be a coincedence, but then again maybe not.

Just out of interest, how do you know that the raccoon tripped the trap twice, did you have to go outside in the rain and reset the trap? This is like Clash of the Titans! Has anyone provided any useful advice about the raccoon? I'd bet that there are more opinions on that matter than there are people in your part of the world. I was on the end of a never ending stream of advice about the rats - not that much of it did much if any good! Oh well, they are banished for now.

Those woolly jumpers are ultra nifty! Some of my chooks are starting to shed a bit of their wooly jumpers in response to the early heat. The yoghurt is a great idea too. I feed my lot warm milk with oats on very cold days and they seem to appreciate that.

Have you thought about trying the well water on the chickens? It probably isn't a good idea, but going thirsty is not good either - not that yours are mind you.

Oh yeah, I get that, the sparrows are tiny birds here, but they stick to urban areas rather than venturing into the unknown wilds like up around my place - they'd be destroyed.

With your stock do you boil down the bones as well as all of the other bits of the turkey? 10 packets is a good collection. Yum! Did you consume all of the modified stuffing mix too?

I think your lost youth fell behind the couch whilst you weren't keeping a close eye on it! Hehe! Certainly I've had to retrieve mine from their too over the years and it seems to be harder to find every time... Oh well.

I reckon the Kubler Ross theory is a good one too and some people experience the different stages in different orders, whilst others skip some of the stages too. However, I wasn't aware that people could experience several of the stages at the same time, but then we are complex animals. I raised the addiction metaphor because it was interesting to me that we had to swing from one extreme all the way over to the other extreme before a middle ground could be sort of reached. It is funny how a person can learn all of these lessons just from insight and experience during a lifetime - but it is really hard trying to communicate them or hand them across to others. I respect JMG's efforts on that front and am impressed with how he has stayed more or less "on message" over the now more than half a decade or so that I've been aware of his works. Good stuff.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Speaking of extreme weather, the question needs to be asked: Why would anyone want to live in Marble Bar in Western Australia? No disrespect to the people living there, but it is very hot in an extreme sort of a way. Check this out (if you get a chance): Western Australia - An old land of extremes.

I've seen the area where they reckon the oldest rocks on the surface of the planet are over there and it looked suitably worn out and old. I don't reckon either of us will look quite so good in 4.4 billion years though! Hehe!

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Margaret:

You have great animal stories! I have never personally known any turkeys, but we have wild ones around here; they are very shy, however. When my sister lived in rural New York state the wild turkeys behaved like your turkeys: they loved to chase her - very large - dogs. Maybe the turkey should have been our national bird after all, as Benjamin Franklin suggested.

Is it early for that much snow? It has been milder than usual here.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lewis:

I do the same thing at the ADR comments; occasionally I am also lucky enough to read your comments and those of other people here. But where is your bright, smiling face?

Once I found a dead mouse in the horse feed. A baby mouse who had obviously tried to eat his way out of his predicament. He looked like a tiny beach ball.

Thanks for the baking soda and water rose spray suggestion. Certain varieties have a terrible time here with blackspot, etc., others not at all.

I also want to know how your chickens did in the sub-freezing weather.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I prefer to stay as busy as possible when dealing with grief, also. Distractions are so necessary at that time. Talking is the other part of the healing remedy.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Coco:

It might be possible to buy a bag of pecans in the shells? I don't know if they are ever sold that way (like chestnuts). Ours came from a friend's tree in a far away state (galaxy?!), so I know they were fresh when I planted them, but we've stored them in the shells for a year and they were still entirely edible.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Everything I see on average frost dates here is last frost, early May; first frost early October. Which doesn't seen to reflect what I've observed, at all. According to my calendar, the last frosts were in April and the first frosts in November.

Oh, when I let Beau out to potty, before bed, I noticed it had been tripped. So, after a careful look around, I reset it. There's a small bit of roof, over the back door. So, I didn't get too damp. General advice is to trap or shot raccoons. I'm doing the trap right, the raccoon just isn't cooperating :-). I noticed this morning, that the trap wasn't sprung and the bait was still there. Maybe the raccoon has moved on, since I'm not setting out a dog food buffet? :-)

Well, the chooks have been getting well water, since Sunday, and seem just fine. The water is clear and doesn't smell.

The little birds are so small and so fast, I can't get a good fix on them. They're brown, gray or brown and gray :-). The possibilities for this part of the world, at this season is : Song Sparrow, Juncos, Chickadees or Grosbeaks. The pretty orange and black bird I saw is not a Bullock's Oriel. It's probably a Varied Thrush. Also a pretty bird.

Oh, I'll boil the bones along with the leftover bits for stock. The dressing is long gone. But, I have enough "makings" to do another batch.

I started "Dirty Cooking", last night, and am quit enjoying it. My, he's got quit a mouth on him and led a rather disreputable life. Not that that bothers me. Luckily, I only worked in a real, commercial restaurant chain, once. And, I was "front of the house" ... waiter. Not on the line. Even so, it was a new restaurant, and I was the 86th employee hired. When I quit, three months later, I was the 3d oldest employee in the place. A truly terrible place to work.

Sad news on the banana front. It seems there's a virus. Back a few years ago, most of the bananas were Gros Michael variety. A virus called Tropical Race wiped them out. But, the Cavendish variety that we all eat now was immune. But now, Tropical Race 4 has come along and is wiping out the Cavendish. So, unless they can find another variety that is resistant ... What am I to do? I eat a banana, a day!

I don't know why anyone would want to live in Marble Bar. I've never understood some people's attachment to very dry, very hot places. The desert. But then, they don't understand why I'm so attached to living in the drip :-). Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Hehe! You are cheeky - I notice that you have no photo either. Very amusing! :-)! I read somewhere a long time ago that someone had made a study of peoples internet icons and they revealed all sorts of interesting facts about the people, but mostly it is all just a sort of general reading of people. I tend to not notice whether people have icons or photos or whatever for their profiles unless of course it is something notable like a unicorn or something like that - and then I sort of wonder what they mean by that for a while, but then something else comes along and I completely forget about it! Before the Internet came along, we were often left with all sorts of unusual problems and just sort of carried them with us - but we mostly forgot about them and they went away. Hope that explains it all! Hehe! I heard that line a few weeks ago and thought that it was a particularly clever observation.

A weak chamomile tea is also a reasonable fungicide.

Thanks for your suggestions and experience with grief. It is hard to know what to do and I don't reckon there is any one right way to go and everyone experiences it really differently. I’m more of a talker, but plenty of people aren't. The focus on work here was stressing me out a bit so that is part of the reason I put the brakes on that.

Hey, I was just thinking about the fungus problems and I've noted that as you quite correctly pointed out, many different varieties suffer differently. But I've also noticed that the amount they're fed makes a difference as well as how well established they are. Oh yeah, location and amount of available sunlight makes a huge difference too. I'm thinking particularly of leaf curl on the peaches and nectarines which can be quite variable from tree to tree here. It is weird one, that fungus and it seems very well adapted to the copper sprays. I spotted one at a local nursery that was almost blue coloured from too much copper spray. I felt bad for that poor tree - not bad enough to buy it though as it looked quite ill.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

That is really interesting as I don't believe that anyone records the incidence of frost at all here - not that I've ever heard anyway. Do you believe that you are in a warmer (or more sheltered) spot on average or that perhaps the climate has shifted from the general and previous expectations?

That reminds me that down here they have a saying about getting your tomato seedlings in by Melbourne Cup Day (which is the first Tuesday in November - that would be your May). Now what is interesting about that is that I have observed over the past few years that they have to be in the ground by early October (your April) - at the latest and I don't know whether this a shift in climate - although I rather suspect that it is. Dunno really?

Ahh, that makes sense. Does Beau alert you on those toilet runs as to the presence of any animals? I do a similar thing here with Scritchy and Sir Scruffy and they are onto everything. Sir Scruffy relies on his nose a lot as there is so much hair in front of his eyes and he will stop and sniff the air and point in the direction of any wildlife (or people). Dogs are very handy. Does Beau sniff around the raccoon trap (hopefully he is careful - although he sounds like a sensible canine)?

Maybe, Beau's food simply lured the raccoon and with nothing else to eat, the raccoon simply took itself off somewhere else - not too far away though I would guess. Wildlife, as do people, generally take territory matters pretty seriously. Too funny about the buffet! ! I feed the dogs inside the house because the wild birds would eat every single scrap and the ants would take away whatever was accidentally left over. Ants are a pain, literally too, as they bite.

That is a good sign about the well water. Any sign of the test results? Underground water in these parts (and there are some natural mineral springs not too far to the west of here) tends to have either sulfur or iron in it - which can be a bit interesting tasting but usually pleasant when fresh.

Those sparrows sound exactly like the same birds here. They were an introduced species and came along with the colonists. The Varied Thrush is an absolute stunner of a bird. Very attractive colouring and markings.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

A good stock is hard to find nowadays - I reckon people think that stock comes out of a packet - what do you mean that you boil down bones and fish heads? Fish heads and tails make a particularly yummy fish stock. Actually, a stock cube I do use is vegetable based but chicken flavoured - now that I think about it, it does sound a bit odd... Makes you wonder what Jason Sheehan would have said about it? Hehe! I'll bet he'd say something picturesque! My doesn't he have quite the colourful language?

The editor is reading it at the moment and thoroughly enjoying the book. Glad to hear that you are enjoying it too.

You know, when I used to be an employee I'd ask them about staff turnover in interviews - because your experience is spot on and I shared one of those places too, it was horrible - and sometimes, they'd lie to me! I couldn't believe it an employer lying in an interview. As a funny story, I used to ask them about cash flow too as I got rather nervous after a few years about large companies having large cash flow problems and again I was lied to in an interview - who would have thought it could happen? I fell for the lie and they went under within about three months - but I'd jumped ship long before that stage. Honestly, I couldn't have helped them as they didn't want to listen to good advice, they kept mentioning something about growing their way out of the present problems.

Yes, I'm aware of the banana news and it is sad. I like bananas too and they've been shipped south here since the mid 19th century. There are even beautiful old granite warehouse buildings alongside the major river in the city - and those buildings were on - tada! - Banana alley. The cyclones are continually hitting both sides of the continent too and wiping out the banana crops too.

I don't get it either, but I tell ya what - they're either fly by night or totally rusted on. There seems to be very little middle ground in living in one of those places. They are in an awfully fragile environment and like all of us rely heavily on fossil fuels. Mind you I heard a story once that said that the water coming out of the hot tap in a house in Marble Bar was colder than the water coming out of the cold tap. That's not good.

It is hot here today and for the next couple of days. Fortunately, Poopy was booked in this morning for a serious pre summer haircut (his second so far). I cracked the hammock out this afternoon too which was tidy. I've got to go and water the garden now - although only parts of it ever get watered - the other parts just have to deal. The tomatoes and strawberries enjoy a bit of watering. I believe I noticed that the Gooseberries were looking a bit more ripe today which is very early in the season...

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Less than 90 days till autumn/spring . . . . my, how time flies.The old wisdom here used to be to plant potatoes on St. Patrick's Day (March 17). That used to be too early for my site. Now, it's just fine.

Perhaps I do need an icon. Now I have feeling I am going to be fixating on this for awhile. I do like your philosophy of "problems". Thanks for the new problem. Ha, ha!

I drink chamomile tea for tummy problems. So, you think the roses might like it, too? We grew a bit of it last year - hope it self-seeded.

@ The old saying: "Hard work never killed anyone" - I beg to differ. I like the other version: " Hard work never killed anyone, but why take a chance and be the first victim?"

I have read that copper spray is quite toxic. You hit the nail on the head (ouch), I think - a lot of things around here are probably pretty undernourished . . . Now - let's go back to hard work never killed anyone . . .

Perhaps Sir Scruffy needs a hair clip?

Pam

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Actually chickens are much worse than turkeys. As long as the turkeys weren't down the road they are pretty easy to herd.

Lew & Chris,
My chickens do just fine no matter how cold it gets even down to -20 F as long as they have a good build up of manure and bedding and are out of any drafts. I teach classes and workshops about raising chickens and always advise against heat lamps as I feel they are a fire hazard. The worst that's happened is a few frost bit combs but they seem to repair themselves.

Hi Pam,

Glad you enjoy the animal stories. I find that animals provide an endless supply of entertainment. Maybe that's why we keep them as they can be a royal pain as well :). In my classes I relay many of the funny situations I've encountered. My neighbors have a front yard of those awful inflated Christmas characters including carolers that shake and sing. When I was walking the dogs yesterday (they need very close supervision right now as it's deer hunting season) our new dog, Salve, was quite taken aback by the carolers and with her hair up gave them her most ferocious bark. It made up for all the whining both dogs are doing as they know where my husband and friends are hunting and would really like to be with them.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - Why I don't have an avatar. Simple question, long answer. People think I'm pretty computer literate, but I'm not. At one point, I could do pictures. With a lot of work arounds and a lot of fiddling. But, the hardware and software moved on. I now have a $200 camera that makes a nice paperweight :-).

Early on, I discovered that mastering computers is like trying to hit a moving target. You can't master a skill (like pictures) and call it good. And, life's too short ... especially at my age :-). Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, it's been a steady 46F (7.78C) since 9, last night. We're between storms, right now. One rolled through and we have two more to go, over the next week. I guess there were high winds, but that was mostly up north. They think there's enough break between the storms, so the rivers won't be a problem. You asked about radar. Up until a year ago, there was a blind spot, out on the coast. So we couldn't see with much clarity, what was coming at us. They opened up a new station (Langley Hill), which improved the forecasts. The planting advice I hear most often is "Plant your peas on Washington's Birthday". Which is mid February, here. But, I think that's rather early. I don't think I'm in a warmer, or more sheltered spot. Pretty high up (600+ foot, elevation). But, in general, I think the growing seasons are getting longer.

Beau did not mess with the raccoon trap. What I've noticed about both Beau and Nell is, mostly, sometimes, if something changes in their environment, they don't take much notice of it if they don't SEE me alter things. So, if I put out the possum trap after putting Beau in the laundry room, it's just part of the scenery. Hope that works with the Christmas Tree and Nell. I'm going to pile holly around the bottom to try and keep her off of it. And, rope it to the ceiling!

Fish heads? I don't remember anything about stock and fish heads. I'll just do the turkey as if it were a chicken. Long slow boil with veg and herbs. Deglaze the roaster to get all the good bits.

"Growing their way out of a problem." That's the kind of nonsense corporate speak that I've learned should send me running for the door. Another all time favorite on my hit parade is "Empowering the employee." I think the Archdruid would recognize those as magical incantations ... that don't work. :-). Maybe even black magic. As far as lying goes ... well, the assistant director of the whole Timberland shooting match, assured me that Timberland would "always have substitutes". Two months later, we were all out the door. Maybe he was lying ... maybe he really thought that based on the information he had available to him at the time. I'll never know. Water under the bridge.

Read some more of "Cooking Dirty", last night. I think the author and I have a lot in common, outlook wise. He doesn't suffer fools or phonies, gladly. Same with me. Anywhere I ever worked, that was pretty much my attitude. Which occasionally got me in trouble. :-). I understand the camaraderie. It was we in the trenches, untied, against the public and management. Lew

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

How do you find the avocado? We've already had one die, and our second really struggles on hot days (I've got it completely covered with white shade-cloth for shelter). It's lost many leaves and even some branches.

Regarding tomatoes, we really don't water ours much at all (once a week, maybe, when it's hot and dry) -- you mentioned they're struggling -- perhaps you're over-watering?

At the food-forest at Gawler (great place, look it up) they use geese in their orchard. I wonder if you could recruit some animal helpers to keep the grass in check?

It's all looking awesome :-) Spring and early summer is a great time of year!

Cheers, Angus

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

I reckon the climate has shifted here too as the growing season seems so much longer than historical accounts and guides. Fortunately it is not hot everyday. Thanks for that about St Patrick's day and planting potatoes - over the next year I'll build a proper area set aside for potatoes and now I have a deadline of March for that project!

The potatoes here have sort of looked after themselves as I planted them and basically forgot about them and they seem to be very reliable - they even set little potato seeds and I've been told that those produce localised varieties of potatoes. What is interesting is that the potato plants normally produce flowers about January so I'll have a look about the place because I reckon I spotted some potato flowers already. Hey, just out of interest, with your potatoes, do you introduce new soil into that area or how do you manage them? I know someone locally who grows them in an old compost patch and just lets the potatoes worry about the feeding and disease etc.

Hehe! My pleasure and please enjoy your problem and by the way, didn't you just give me a deadline for a major project (which I'm probably going to miss)? Hehe!

Yeah, I find chamomile tea quite soothing too. Apparently common mint is a good cure all for tummy problems, but feverfew (which is a total weed here and I love it) is the absolute A-bomb cure-all for that sort of thing.

You are on fire tonight with the gags! Nice work. I'm trying hard to come up with a clever retort and for once I'm completely lost for words. That is definitely worth an elephant stamp. On a serious note, because of the heat I'm up bright and early and packing it in by midday.

Oh yeah, for sure. What people seem to forget with the copper sprays is that it kills the fungi in the soil immediately below the fruit tree and the main problem with that is that the roots of the fruit tree swap sugars with fungi for nutrients and when you spray the tree, you correct the fungi problem in the leaves and cause a new and interesting fungi problem in the soil that starves the tree of minerals. Someone remarked recently that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Cheers.

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

I hear you, chickens are hard work to herd as they duck and weave and dodge and basically end up somewhere other than where you want them to be. If I'm unfortunate enough to be in the position where I have to herd them I grab long sticks with eucalyptus leaves on their ends in each hand and sort of shepherd them in the direction that I want them to go. Chickens unfortunately have their own opinions on that subject... :-)!

Well done with the classes, that is very important work. Respect. I don't have a lamp in the chicken enclosure because I don't have the spare energy at that time of the year and the chickens pretty much follow their own natural cycles. But if I was in a colder climate like Lewis's I might consider it. Dunno. Your comment about compost was very astute and I once watched a short video of a chicken and compost farm (if you are interested please let me know and I'll try and track it down?) where they were in Minnesota and bred up - the Australian breed chicken - Australorps but used them to turn over composting heaps. The whole set up was fascinating as the area experienced weather conditions similar to what you describe. You may be interested to know that since the chickens have been in their new enclosure where the litter is much drier they have been far more healthy and I've noticed that the dreaded scaly leg mite is now a forgotten problem. The difference is quite marked.

It is good to read your experience about the combs repairing as sometimes the more aggressive birds can take a chunk out of some of the other birds combs and it is nice to know that they regrow.

Dogs can be dogs and thanks for the story. You may be interested to know that I spotted another deer in the creek bed today - clearly the dry weather is flushing them out from the dryer areas...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I wouldn't feel bad about the computer skills, they're as much of a mystery to me too. I used to be more of a tech head - even understanding and programming in machine language which I doubt has changed much over the years - but I seriously believe it to be a waste of life now.

Well that really is shorts and t shirt weather and at 46'F, you'd find me sitting outside at the local general store in winter enjoying a coffee and toastie - well that is as long as the wind is not blowing. The wind chill can take away the pleasantness of such a quite bit of enjoyment! Hehe!

Just out of interest, do the storms roll through your area with any sort of regularity? The only reason I ask is because the roaring forties which provided so much free energy for wind driven shipping (and most probably will again in the future) ensure that storms are a regular feature of the climate here. I was wondering whether such a force is acting in your part of the world too? It does sort of sound that way.

The weather radar is good - no seriously, it is really good and they have black spots here, but the canny Japanese recently launched a satellite - the Himawari 8 - and it provides amazing high resolution pictures so I can sort of get a feel for the black spots. Incidentally, the escalating implications of the satellite destruction in the Retrotopia story is not lost on me at all, but I do enjoy the services whilst they are available. You may find it interesting that I can more or less get a feel for the day here. Do you find that is the case in your part of the world for you?

Incidentally I first came across a fictional story of space being sealed off by cascading events in the story by Peter F Hamilton called Fallen Dragon. It was a good read.

I tend to agree with you about February (my August) being too early to plant peas as I tried some at that time this year and they died. The ones planted in September (you March) did much better. It was the cold winds that took them out. But yeah, I agree with you entirely in that the growing seasons are getting longer.

Wow, that is an interesting observation and I'll have to check out what the pack here do. The interesting thing here is that the canines are into all of my business here and they investigate everything and patrol the borders with a level of precision that I would not be able to maintain without their assistance. I can't really get a cat here as they would stalk the small birds which provide me with huge bug eating services free of charge in return for water and habitat. It is a precarious balance that I don't want to alter because it works in my favour so far. For example, I've spotted plenty of cabbage moths but virtually no green grubs eating my brassicas so I've assumed that the wrens and robins (and native wasps - which lay their eggs in the grubs - a nasty business for sure) are doing all of the hard yards? Dunno.

Thanks for that as I now have this mental image of Nell taking baubles off the Christmas tree in order to play with them! :-)! The holly is a good idea too. Ouch! That plant flowers here over the next month or so and it produces the most beautiful solid hedges with dark green leaves and these bright red berries.

Hey, speaking of berries the Jostaberry has ripened one full month earlier than last year... Not good. Yummy fruit though.

Oh yeah, fish heads can be boiled down and produce a really rich seafood stock. Yummo! Nice work with the turkey too and a long slow boil generally does the work.

Yes, I've heard that rubbish too. Basically, I've always interpreted it to mean that brace yourself as you are about to receive more unpaid work, but then I am a cynic in such matters.

Apologies, I had to stop replying to remove some sweet Anzac biscuits from the oven - the ding from that is like Pavlov's dogs to me!!! Hehe

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Always having substitutes is a rough thing to say as it make you feel less than special indeed. Down here we'd call that a dog act. I hear you about it being water under the bridge. Over time I developed a guide to organisations that has paid dividends more than once: If they can do that to other people without apologies, then sooner or later they'll do that to you. Seems to more or less work.

Oh yeah, I thought that you'd enjoy that book and I'm having to tell the editor not to recount scenes because it may spoil the read later on. Phonies are a nuisance and are generally full of hot air - I hear you. We all get into a little bit of trouble from time to time so you are in good company. And in the trenches is a perfect description of how I used to run the various accounts areas that I presided over. I remember one memorable occasion of colourful language when I was mouthing off about something or other and generally clearing the air of any and all ambiguities for my team without actually realising that the owner of the company was standing just out sight and enjoying the colourful language. Anyway, bold as brass I said to him: "Hi Tony, how are you and what can we do for you?" Oh well, I did feel a bit of sheepishness for a bit anyway.

I almost got s photo of the King Parrot having a dip in the water that I provide for all of the birds to drink - and the birds have been turning up in droves to have a drink too. Oh yeah, this morning I spotted a very rare pair of long beaked corellas high up in a tree and I have never seen them before. It is still hot here tonight and I've got the whole house open letting in the cool night air. Another early start tomorrow morning too...

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris et al

I have my laptop back but am overwhelmed by what awaits me on it. So I give up until next week.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

Avocado will definitely 100% grow in your area as long as you keep them out of the wind (cold or hot). I've seen some producing trees in Melbourne. Everything you are doing sounds fine and they bounce back from the loss of leaves over winter or summer, but they are thirsty and hungry plants and could probably do with a huge mulch of compost and also drip irrigation until they are well established. I give mine a little bit of water every few days and about a bucket before (and maybe during) a heat wave. If you noticed just how busily the avocado is planted around in the photo you can get an idea of just how protected they need to be this far south - you are providing those same services manually whereas I use heat loving drought tolerant plants. Same, same.

Well done - that is an elephant stamp for you too! It always surprises me just how observant the readers are here. I planted the tomatoes into reasonably fresh compost in the brand new berry enclosure and it always takes a year or so for that soil to settle down and become productive - thus the plants need more water than normal. I wish I had enough water reserves to over water plants! :-)!

The Gawler food forest is an amazing place (and if anyone is interested, I'll rustle up a video link?) and I have great respect for their work. The kangaroos, wombats and wallabies all eat the grass all year long, it sometimes - about once per year -just becomes a bit more than they can consume.

Thank you, it is a great time of year. Unfortunately, you need the heat in the air and soil for the plants to grow... How are you going with the heat wave? Man, it was way hot down here today.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, night and day, the temperature has been hovering right around 45F (7.22C). Which is kind of weird and is shaping up to be like last winter. But, it's really to early to call. With the El Nino and La Nina ... well, I haven't been able to tie any predictability to those phenomenon. Predictions are for a wet and warm November and December ... and then warm and drier after the New Year. We'll see.

Well, we've always had good satellite coverage ... but the doppler radar (for reasons I don't understand) apparently is better for nuances that make forecasting more accurate. Before the doppler, weather would go in one end of the black hole ... strange things would happen, out of sight, and unexpected weather would come out the other end. If you go to "National Weather Service - Official Site" and click in the upper left hand corner of Washington State ... the Langley Hill image is just a ways down the page. Right now a huge green and blue blob is covering most of the western part of the State.

The second storm is rolling through. Got really drenched organizing the chooks, this morning. Even yelled at them a bit ... they just wouldn't cooperate and stay out of the way. :-). But time and chickens wait for no man ... :-)

One problem with peas and potatoes, here, is that if we get a really wet spring, they'll rot in the ground ... and need to be replanted.

Well, Beau, who's really so good about staying in the laundry room started whining and bouncing against the door. Thought he might want to go potty. But, then he wouldn't come back in. Guess he knows best. No raccoon mix ups, last night. So nasty this morning that when I put out his food, he wouldn't even come out of his dog house. Smart dog.

Nell catches the occasional bird, but doesn't seem to put a dent in the local bird population. She's better at the mice. Those Corells's sure are beautiful birds. Your animals and birds just seem so exotic, to me. Probably a bit of old hat, to you.

I think, overall, the ... compact ... mutual trust between employers and employees has been broken. There used to be (in general) more trust. Not so much, anymore. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Nice to read your voice again and glad that your laptop is back in operation.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Isn't it weird when the temperature is like that and doesn't change much between the daytime and the nighttime? That happens here too during winter when there is a thick blanket of cloud over the mountain range at nighttime - which is pretty common really at that time of year. The clear nights are when you start to feel the bite of winter. Brrr.

45'F is actually quite a pleasant temperature. I do hope that you get some solid dumps of snow up in the mountains through this winter? I reckon the snow pack may be one of the keys to maintaining your rivers and streams running through the summer? It is too early to tell isn't it? By mid January I should have a good feel for it though...

It has been another hot day here today, so I'm sitting on the veranda penning this reply and enjoying the cooler evening air. I can smell the fragrance from the strawberries which have ripened in the sun today, insects are flying around randomly - they look like flying ants searching for a spot for a new colony - and the birds are all singing and squawking. It is quite pleasant really. My head is a bit sore from working outside earlier today. I'm in the process of getting the orchard ready for a long hot summer and with 300 fruit trees - it's a big job. I took the loquat fruit tree out of its cage today so hopefully the wallabies don't destroy it. The loquat is big, but I'm not sure how it will go, but the steel on the cage was rubbing against the bark on the tree and, well, everything is a compromise really. Oh! Sir Scruffy and Scritchy just chased off a massive kangaroo and were making a big song and dance about it. I'm not sure I'd face off a large kangaroo, but I guess they know what they're doing? Maybe?

Isn't that interesting. We were the other way around and had good radar but rubbish satellite coverage. Thanks for the info from the National Weather Service - Official Site. Wow. I'm not sure that I like the sound of Winter Storm Warning at all! Hehe! Centralia is looking quite warm over the next few days and I enjoyed the photos of cars driving through what looks like heavy rain at night too...

Yeah, chickens can be total trip hazards. Sorry to read that you got drenched in the process, my gut feeling is that the chickens are more interested in the feed than your personal well being. One of mine has learned to jump up and try and knock the bucket out of my hand to get first peck at the contents.

Speaking of birds, the Kookaburras have been kicking up a bit of a fuss over the past hour or so and I finally spotted the reason for it. It looks like a falcon (or hawk) but most likely a falcon was flying about the place and trying to attack the other birds. It was chasing a couple of galahs and trying to t-bar them, so I'm going to have to monitor the chickens closely whilst they're in the orchard this evening. I was spotted one of those falcons t bar a mountain duck and the duck dropped from the sky. It is pretty rough in the bird world.

Nell is a most excellent cat to focus on the mice. I reckon you need predator species in a rural system anyway otherwise you get build up of populations like the deer. No way, they are totally exotic to me too and I love living here with them all and every year there seems to be that many more of them and in greater diversity. It is a real pleasure.

Yeah, that is so true and I've seen both sides of the coin and it makes it harder to witness the more dodgy aspects of the problem. I can recall a local truss manufacturer who had either the owner or one of the managers - I can't quite recall - apparently randomly fire a nail gun at a young employee who wisely went to the police with the matter. Now at the time, I recall that the mayor of this council - and I may be wrong in my understanding of the matter - supported the employer. I read a lovely quote a long while back: A fish rots from the head. Nuff said really.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

When growing potatoes we just add compost, sometimes a bit of sand, and a handful of organic plant food to the soil already there. We do plant them in a different spot every year. I have tried growing them in pots and bags and raised beds and they only do well right in the ground where I am. Voles and mice do occasionally chew on them. We grow them from our own potatoes saved all winter and some from the store, too. I tend to plant them all within the same week or two, but some varieties don't even show their heads out of the soil for a really long time. Perhaps those could go out later.

Goodness - I have a lot of feverfew. I had no idea that it was good for digestive problems. Always heard about using it for migraines. Thanks!

I love the corellas. Their eyes make them look loony!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lewis:

When we had a lot of cats, I used to attach the top of the Christmas tree to the ceiling with fishing line. Boy, the times they climbed those trees! There were years when we could hardly put any ornaments on the tree at all. Tried strings of cranberries and popcorn and the dogs ate them, and also the presents under the tree.

@ Angus:

We have an avacado forest growing in our compost pile (a volunteer forest). There are still a few alive even after several nights of just-below-freezing temps. I may bring one in to live for the winter with the mango tree.

@ Margaret:

I'm with Salve. Somebody should bite those things.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - From what I've heard, the snow pack is building up, quit nicely. Way more than last year. Chef John is beside himself with joy. He's a snow boarder. Well, whatever turns you crank. :-)

The predicted high winds were a fizzle. According to Cliff Mass, small fast moving systems are much harder to predict than arctic outbreaks or atmospheric rivers. So, in a 12 hour period, the predicted high winds forecast just fell apart. Overnight lows were a steady 48F (8.88C).

First thing I do in the morning is put the tea on, and head to the chook run. I have about a one hour window, before the light kicks off. So, there's not much time waiting around for the weather to change. So, this morning, it wasn't raining, but as soon as I got to the run, it began pouring down. I'm still damp. I have a lot more flexibility as to when they get their afternoon treat. I'm still a bit damp, but the sun is out, now. Looks like just scattered showers, for the afternoon.

One time I was out there, in the afternoon, and suddenly the chickens just scattered. Into the hen house and hugging the giant fennel. I looked up, and there was a young eagle ... way up in the sky, just a tiny dot. But the chickens knew he was there.

Read some more of "Cooking Dirty", last night. Should finish it off, tonight. Without giving away any spoilers, when he quits working at a restaurant he calls Le Cite, well, it's a good example of being stabbed in the back by management. He's also, in hindsight, got a pretty good grip on how the "food industry" is changing. Hundreds of "chefs" are being graduated from high profile cooking schools (Culinary Institute of America, etc.) every year. And, a lot of them have never worked in a restaurant.

I have a lot more respect for a librarian that started off as a page, somewhere, worked their way up, picking up the degree somewhere along the way. Than a newly minted MLS (Master of Library Science ... though these days, it's usually an "information Technology" degree of some kind), then a librarian with a degree who's never worked in a library.

Picked up a new "food" book at the library, yesterday. What a door stop of a book. Over 900 pages. "The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science" by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. Dipped into the introduction, last night. Pretty interesting stuff. Might have to pick it up for the cookbook shelf(s). :-). But, at $50 a pop ... Maybe my Christmas gift to me! I'm still waiting on the Australian Alexander cookbook. Last estimate of arrival was Dec. 10th. We'll see. Lew

Damo said...

Not sure if this link will work, but I took a photo of my sourdough starter today - might try and turn it into bread shortly:

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=7EB98C4C9D4D00C3!75265&authkey=!APnXWD9kpmwAl5A&v=3&ithint=photo%2cjpg