Monday, 25 January 2016

Accidentally Hugelkultur

Summer storms roll in quickly. Thick clouds scud across the sky. If the storm is big enough, the clouds will hover and scrape just above the land and they can certainly get stuck in the mountains here where they swirl and form fog and mist. And just before those clouds deliver their precious rain, a strong wind usually blows the hot air trapped under those clouds to somewhere else. And that is exactly what happened this week.


Earlier this week, I was hoping to catch a glimpse of a once in a decade alignment of five of the planets. The night sky is usually quite clear and it would have looked very cool. However, that night thick clouds built up over the farm. The clouds were the tail end of a tropical storm which stretched all the way down from its origins in the oceans to the north west of the continent. The clouds did look cool though as the moon peeked through:
The moon peeks through the thick clouds building up over the farm
The moon is always interesting to see here during summer because the pollution in the air from the frequent bushfires creates an orange and/or red circle at a slight distance away from the moon. Part of that circle can be seen in the photo below the moon.

I breathed a small sigh of relief this week as those dark clouds brought with them a little bit of rain. What was even better about the rain was that it fell very slowly and was spread over a number of days. Those rainy days can be described as: 'It rained a lot, but we didn’t get much rain!'

Slow rain is always the best type of rain during long hot summers because the water has a chance to infiltrate into the ground. On really hot and dry summers, the soil can become water repellent (or technically speaking hydrophobic). With hydrophobic soils water will run over the top of the soil and roll away as if it were liquid mercury. It can be quite a common problem in Australia and is treated through the application of mulches, composts and manures or even deep ripping of the soil.

Anyway, after a few days of rain cold and mists, Poopy the Pomeranian (yes we all now know he is a Swedish Lapphund, but don’t tell him about his ancestry as he may start taking on airs and graces!) had decided that the outside conditions were a bit sub fluffy optimal:
Poopy the Pomeranian declares that the weather is now sub fluffy optimal
It takes a bit more than a slow summer storm to derail the juggernaut that is Fernglade Farm, and so this week the new firewood shed was completely filled with cut and split timber, ready for serious cold weather – not merely this temporary cooler weather aberration!

And it was whilst I was splitting and storing the seasoned firewood this week that I had the realisation that I had become the Accidental Hugelkultur dude. Seriously!

For the readers that have no idea what I’m talking about: Hugelkultur is the art and science of turning timber into soil. The concept is really that simple and the next photo shows the process of converting timber into soil.
A view into the guts of the firewood pile that was left to season for three years
Ordinarily, timber and leaves from Eucalyptus species takes an inordinate amount of time for them to break down into fine soil. The difference here in the firewood pile was that the logs were cut into firewood lengths which increased the surface area of the timber. Also those firewood lengths were then placed onto a plastic tarp (which is the blue tarp in the above photo). My original thinking was that the blue tarp would reduce the amount of moisture in the seasoning firewood by acting as a moisture barrier. Instead the tarp had the opposite effect in that it trapped moisture and so the bottom layers of seasoning firewood were actually far wetter than they would otherwise be if they were just sitting on the soil. The increased moisture in the seasoning firewood meant that every fungi and insect in this area turned the bottom layers of stored seasoning firewood into quality soil. The trapped moisture means that despite the hot weather this year you don’t even need clouds and rain to keep that firewood pile damp!
Close up photo of the rapid conversion of firewood sized logs into top quality soil
I recovered all of the firewood that I possibly could for storage in the two firewood sheds and then distributed the newly developing soil over a large area that had previously had the seasoning firewood sitting on it. The editor has decided to plant a new garden bed in the slight incline behind that now cleared area. A very large rock was levered into position as the very first rock in that new rock wall. It is all starting to look neat:
The area that contained the stored firewood has now been cleaned up and the very first large rock has been placed into a future rock wall and garden bed
Every evening since then the chickens have been happily rummaging through that distributed soil looking for all manner of unmentionable yet tasty things.
The chickens work their way towards the distributed soil from the firewood pile
Splitting the timber in the seasoning firewood pile produces a lot of bark and sawdust, which I collect and place in natural depressions in the orchard (edit: filling up holes). In the photo below you can see a Plumcot fruit tree enjoying the additional organic matter placed into a depression next to it.
The detritus from the firewood splitting process is placed into a depression in the orchard as feed for a Plumcot fruit tree
The new firewood shed has now been completely filled and I’ve now commenced filling the original firewood shed with the remaining split timber from that firewood pile.

The next task was to place rock toppings from a local limestone quarry around the newly commissioned firewood shed. The toppings provide an all-weather surface, but really, I just don’t like mud!
Rock toppings from a local quarry were placed around the new firewood shed
The toppings provide for an all-weather walkway around the new firewood shed.
Rock toppings provide for an all-weather walkway around the new firewood shed
It wasn’t only Poopy the Pomeranian who decided that the recent cooler and damper weather was sub fluffy optimal, because Stumpy the Wallaby also became rather annoyed by the weather and decided the best way to display her annoyance was to assist with an impromptu pruning job on a four year old apple tree. I had only removed the apple tree from its wallaby proof cage a few months earlier too! Fortunately Stumpy the Wallaby hasn’t taken out the main trunk of the fruit tree.
Stumpy the Wallaby assists with pruning the lower branches of this four year old apple tree
Despite the clouds and rain, the flowers are putting on a good display with the mints (Oregano in the photo below) and the long flowering Agapanthus all providing a huge quantity of feed for the bees:
The Oregano and Agapanthus are putting on a good flower display this summer and providing plenty of feed for the bees
And whilst we are discussing the European honey bees, the new young colony in the experimental hive is doing well and ever so slowly expanding. Now that I can observe a young bee colony, I can see just how long it takes for the colony to become established. It is a slow process.
The new young European bee colony in the experimental hive is doing well and ever so slowly expanding
I couldn’t resist adding in the next photo of swelling apples on a young apple tree, just after the rain. There are 26 varieties of apple trees in the orchard and they are the hardiest and most reliable of all of the fruit trees. It seems as if every year there is more produce from these apple trees.
Swelling apples on a young apple tree, just after the rain
Lately with the extreme hot weather, the gremlins have been wreaking havoc with many tools and appliances here. The now much cooler and cloudy weather has had me breathing a sigh of relief on that front. But that was not before my trusty and much loved outside portable electric oven died. Honestly, the death notice hadn’t even been placed in the newspaper before the locals had begun inspecting the real estate and I spotted this praying-mantis checking the dead oven out as a potential new home:
A praying-mantis checks out the recently deceased portable oven as a potential new home
In order to extend the life of the various bits of technology that I use on the farm, the editor and I have developed a maintenance list of what tasks are required to be undertaken in each particular month of the year. Water pumps are one item of technology that are invaluable and the maintenance schedule had them listed for inspection and cleaning this month.
The water pumps were all inspected this week and the stainless steel mesh filters were all cleaned
Observant readers will note that the above photo of the stainless steel mesh filters for one of the water pumps is covered in algae. The mesh is worthwhile cleaning as a regular maintenance item because as the algae increases in coverage and thickness on the water pump mesh filter, it slows the flow of water through the pump (the fancy technical name for that part of the pump is the diaphragm chamber) and it increases the amount of work that the pump has to perform which will inevitably reduce its lifespan by burning out the motor.

There was a bit of discussion last week in the comments section about the Australian designed steel star picket – which is used for fencing, amongst other uses. A star picket is a Y shaped steel post which a person can bang into the ground using a hammer or mallet. It is quite a clever design because the steel post has holes in it to thread steel fencing wire. The other benefit of the star picket is that it can produce quite durable and cheap fencing which is also quick to establish.

Star pickets are designed and constructed to resist the pressures that large animals can place on them, and I find them almost impossible to remove from the ground. However, I have a very heavy duty tool which can grab onto the star picket and lever it up and out of the ground and I demonstrate its use in the photo below:
The author showing a star picket removal tool in action
It is a clever tool, is it not?

Oh yeah, just quickly and this has absolutely nothing at all to do with the blog, but it is a long standing personal interest of mine. As some of the regular readers may now know I’m something of a music nerd.

And tomorrow is Australia day which celebrates the landing of the First Fleet at Port Jackson way back in 1788 on January 26. They arrived during the midst of a drought.

The First Fleet was actually a convoy of ships which were sent by the English to set up an off shore penal colony for unwanted citizens. Seriously, the continent was settled by the Europeans as a prison. In those days it would have been akin to a one way ticket to Mars!

Some people reflect on Australia Day as Invasion day as it marks the point at which 90% of the indigenous population died through disease, murder and destruction of culture resulting from lack of access to their traditional lands. I understand their point of view.

On an altogether different and perhaps irreverent note, Australia day for me has long meant Triple J’s hottest 100 day. Triple J is the government national youth commercial free radio station and it is awesome. Every year since 1992, I’ve been enjoying the Hottest 100 songs of the previous year every Australia Day. It is important to note that the radio station – unlike most radio stations in the country – has a quota for Australian music and I also suspect that they have a quota for Female vocalists too.

Anyway, I thought I’d chuck in my predictions for tomorrows vote (warning some of the songs may contain adult themes and naughty words):
  • The winner will be from the stoner rock category: Tame Impala – The Less I know the better, which is a song of unrequited love from the very talented Kevin Parker;
  • From the pop song category, there is another song of unrequited love: Jarryd James – Do you Remember. There definitely must be something in the water for so many potent songs of unrequited love to be gaining airplay? I reckon it will score well;
  • I reckon a prediction for the hip hop crowd: Illy - Swear Jar. Illy has a law degree and he’s up to his fifth album and I suspect he is now just grumpy, no doubt about it;
  • For the ladies I can’t work out which band will achieve high ranking status between the bands and performers: Courtney Barnett; Alpine; Tkay Maidza; Chvrches; Meg Mac and Alison Wonderland – all excellent performers and I hope they all do well; and
  • And one for the hardcore and metal heads: Bring Me The Horizon - True Friends. How can you ignore the lyrics: “Cos I’ll forget but I’ll never forgive you”… “True friends stab you in the front”. Powerful and slightly scary stuff, I hope I don't meet them.
Anyway, you heard my predictions here first and the countdown can be streamed from midday (local time) tommorow over the internet at: http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/

The temperature outside now at about 9.00pm is a cool 13.0'C degrees Celsius (55.4’F). So far this year there has been 23.8mm (0.9 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total 7.8mm (0.3 inches).

70 comments:

Coco said...

Glad you got some rain. You can have some of ours ;)

Very warm winter so far. We have azaleas blooming! And the grass probably needs cutting, but I´m afraid we´ll get a cold spell the minute I´ve done it. Also waiting for chilly weather to do the mountains of pruning. At least the firewood is lasting longer.

I made some oat and squash biscuits for Breo which have been a hit. Going to try carrot and liver next.

Your flowers make me sigh with envy.

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Thanks for putting up the picture of your star picket removal machine, very ingenious.

Son has just discovered the concept of raised beds and is all excitement, he will be organising 8 of them. 5 pigs go to be slaughtered next week; fresh pork yum yum.

The bank, into which my old age state pension is paid, is closing the branch I go to. The nearest branch will be on the mainland, utterly hopeless so I have changes to make. The staff have all been sacked; this does not bode well.

@Margaret Thanks for the medicare/medicaid information.

@Pam I always loved knitting and crochet but had to give up because it had started to give my hands trouble. I have knitted all the pullovers, gloves and woollen socks that I can possibly need for the rest of my life.

Inge

Damo said...

Nice job with the firewood shed - that little bit of extra work putting down the gravel and stepping stones ties it all together!

I think today is the first "hottest 100 day" I will have missed in a long time :-( My roster makes no allowance for weekends or public holidays, although funny enough the managers never seem to be around on public holidays or Friday afternoons....

That soil from the firewood hugelkultur looks alright, it doesn't have any oil-based nasties in it does it? Hard to imagine eucalypts transforming into something plants actually like.

I have been slowly working through old episodes of River Cottage Australia (not as good as the UK version, but nice for the local angle). I just watched the first one with baby pigs and to build a fence he visits a friend with an Australian built lucas mill (for those who are not familiar, it is an affordable, car portable mill that can process logs of almost any size into planks / beams etc). I have always thought those things were pretty awesome and would quickly pay for itself if you had a property with lots of timber.

akl said...

Maybe things are done upside down in Australia (for sure they are!), but that doesn't look like what we call a praying mantis over here in the New World. Looks more like some sort of leaf cricket!

Most of your garden beds are on slopes, and so are all of the ones I'm making, since moving that much clay to terrace by hand just doesn't seem worth it. I'm sure the plants don't much care, but do you have issues with uneven watering? As I lay in drip irrigation, I'm wondering if I need to put a higher emitter density upslope in the beds rather than at the bottom, since the water will naturally migrate there anyway.

Cheers!

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

My mate up in Ohio said that the storm didn't quite make it to his part of the world. Did it make it near your area? The seasons are particularly wacky this year, no doubt about it. It might not be a bad idea to leave some grain out for the Robins they may need it over the next month or so.

Tonight a huge tropical storm is meant to be rolling in here. I honestly don't know what to make of it all.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Far out that is a huge dump of snow in a short period of time! Your snow plough sounds like just the right tool for the times! I like your use of French accents too! :-)! Very funny.

I don't normally feed the local birds either, but I sure do provide them with constant water - both them and I would be completely lost without that.

The high fat seeds are definitely the way to go. You're starting to make me feel guilty that I don't grow sunflowers here - which I probably should.

Oh my. That is certainly the gift that keeps on giving! Mice are a nuisance in a house. They made me understand why cupboard doors are such a crucial hygiene matter! I do wish you the best of luck with catching them, mice are very clever creatures.

No worries. It is a lot to read and I'm a little bit in awe that JMG could respond to as many comments as he does. This week is certainly a record, although commenters seem to have fallen down a very strange rabbit hole which I'd never heard of before.

Sir Scruffy thinks of himself as a lion prowling the Cherokee savannah for prey. Honestly a 6+ foot kangaroo (and there is one in the orchard right now) would kill him, but he is pretty quick for an old boy.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I hope the photo satisfies your curiosity? The tool is a little ripper as the pickets are virtually impossible to remove from the ground without it.

Your goldcrest bird is very beautiful - it is about the same size as a wren or honeyeater here and I assume it is a good sign that you have enough feed and shelter on your land. That was a lovely thing to do for the bird too. Windows can be a big ask for a bird as it confuses them.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, the whole thing makes no sense. I guess the authorities are trying not to freak people out who may otherwise find human skeletons about the place. Still some wealthy families maintain burial grounds on their country estates. It is not for the likes of you and I though. Fair enough about the cremation, I get that, my thinking on that process is that it ensures that you stay dead... Imagine if someone made a mistake and you woke up in a coffin in the ground? That thought is totally errie. But then a person is hardly likely to survive the embalming process are they?

They use some pretty heavy duty chemicals in that embalming process. Gut feeling is a sensible approach to such matters. I do hope you find some trees near the plot, they could use a feed. I hear you.

Incidentally I liked your take on the whole SJW strangeness over at the ADR. A very sensible and accurate description.

Slightly daft, slight potty and full of beans is a great endorsement! Thank you. That doesn't surprise me at all about the Roman commoners. It does make you wonder how much of our lives will be known about in millennia to come. Surely not much, as so few of our records are kept in durable formats. It pains me to see a few of my favourite pulp fiction works looking a bit worse for wear nowadays.

Speaking of which, did you know that a vast group of unrelated people produced a complete edition of Jack Vance's works under the moniker: The Integral Vance edition. I wish I'd twigged to that program a few years ago as I would have loved to have added that series of books to my small and humble library.

cont...

Jo said...

So jealous re rain. We still have smoke, and more smoke, and just plain hot.

My oregano is flowering madly, and has crowds of bees all over it. My top bee attracting flowers are: rosemary, fruit trees, oregano, sedum Autumn Joy.

Jo said...

PS Meant to note that after my bee sting last week, I got to try out the efficacy of peeled sedum leaves for treating bug stings and swelling. They actually have a very cooling action, like aloe vera. Also helped with the itchies the day after. Worth remembering! (I am not allergic to bees, and iced up before trying the sedum. Ice cubes, best remedy I have ever found, sedum worked once the shrieking and cursing pain went away)

Cherokee Organics said...

That jogs a memory as I've had nutmeg in various savoury dishes and it did work out quite well. From memory, I've tasted in pasta sauces. Do you use nutmeg much?

Nell is very brave to face down a deer, but she may also have been saying hello too. Cats can be very curious - as can dogs too. Size doesn't seem to be as great an issue in the animal kingdom.

Mate, I feel for Chef John, he does it hard as a teacher. And of course, he is correct in both accounts as they are very hard expectations to counter - if that is even possible :-)! Probably not in that environment. A lot of people are in for some serious disappointment in the future. I know people who have never experienced a single day of recession and I wonder as to their abilities to cope and adapt.

Don't confuse my poor brain with such of different moons. Hehe! Oh my, is that actually true? It had never even occurred to me that that could possibly be the case?

No one seriously wants a good dose of rabies - which fortunately is not present on this continent. The editor heard a radio program podcast from the US where a lady was attacked by a rabid raccoon and then had to face the US medical system where she got the run around between one county hospital and the next...

The hay would have made almost perfect fertiliser. And of course you are totally correct with both sayings! I'm trying to work out how to take the steel legs out of the moats for the experimental bee hive. The moats protect the bees from foraging ants climbing up the legs. If you have any ideas on the subject I'd really appreciate hearing them? On a serious note, hay bales are easier for cows to consume if they are slightly fermented!

Poopy would be very handy to have as a sacrificial tester for approaching Triffids! Who would they take first is the real question? I may have to feed him up a bit more.

Absolutely, the depression was left from a long dead fallen tree. When they fall over they leave huge holes behind them in the ground. That one was well before my time. Interestingly, the clay beneath the tree in those holes is really quite compacted which is hardly surprising given the weight of the tree sitting on it for years. Those are all excellent soil additives. I've heard kitty litter is particularly good, but I'm not sure what sort of minerals it has in it. Dunno?

Yay! 6 eggs is worth celebrating as it means your days are getting longer and the chickens are soon to increase their laying. Still 6 eggs is quite a lot too in a day! :-)! Those broody chickens can be right vicious little biters...

You may be interested to note that this week marks the progression here from extreme UV to merely Very High UV and I can tell you for sure that the sun feels less toothy to me on my skin. I reckon the danger period is four weeks either side of the solstice and my records seem to indicate that that was the case last year too. It is a whole different season now and the fruit trees have started to grow and apparently it may rain again over the next few days. Yay!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Coco,

Thank you and I most certainly would be happy to take some of your rain and will remember to reciprocate that when summer arrives in your part of the world.

Wow, that is warm, you're starting to get very close to this climate. Mowing is never done - I aim for once a year in October / November (your April / May) as all the animals eat the grass at every other time of the year. It must be warm for you to be getting grass growth?

Well done, and nice to hear that Breo approves. Breo would certainly enjoy carrots and liver. Hey, I've been experimenting with the dog breakfast food and am now trying a mix of rice and blitzed vegetables with tomato chutney with raw egg and they are totally feral for their breakfasts now.

Ha! I will feel the same when the July and August cold air has killed off most of the flowers. I hope you enjoy the page for the flowers as I reckon most of them would thrive in your part of the world?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Your son is very wise to consider raised beds in your climate as it keeps the root systems of the annual plants dry. Plus being raised off the ground, the soil will get more heat and the plants will grow much faster. Well, that's the theory and how it works here.

I'm totally jealous of your fresh home grown pork - and all of the products that you make from that! YUM!

Sorry to hear that. Yes, they close branches in order to save costs for the bank. It is not a good sign and they tried that here many years ago and there was a big backlash against the banks. You may be interested to know that I went to the bank last week and it was closed and even the ATM was dead. It was a very weird experience as there are only two banks locally.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Thanks very much, that's the plan. I spent a few hours today listening to the countdown and putting more firewood away for winter in the original shed. The gravel also provides a minor fire break as well as an all weather surface. It does help over August when the ground is very damp.

Bummer! You will be happy to know that usually it is available to download as an mp3 file for a week or so after the countdown. It was a good countdown! Well, the shifts are pretty much how it rolls. I read in the business section on the weekends paper about some high up dude in Woolworths (note total disaster zone with the Dick Smith and Masters debacles) has been told not to come in to work, but he won't be finished up until July when I believe he becomes eligible for a $10m defined benefit scheme. Just sayin...

I hadn't thought about that and it is a good thought. The oils would be in the soil anyway around the drip lines of the big trees, so who knows. I'll keep an eye on it and see what happens over the next 12 months. I was thinking of adding a small top dressing of manure onto it? Dunno. Good thought.

I haven't seen that show, is it good? Mate, I would kill for a lucas mill! Those things are awesome and they've come down in price in the past few years. Oh yeah, you could obtain the timber for a complete house using one of those things and a machine that makes profiles. How cool would that be? They always have demonstrations of the mills at the agricultural shows and I look on with envy! In your part of the world, the Blackwoods would make the most amazingly durable timber - incidentally it was those that were the least affected by the fungi and moulds regardless of where they were in the pile.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi akl,

Thank you! Yes, things are upside down here. The body of that insect is as you say like a cricket, but the head was actually very praying mantis like. It may be some sort of mutant insect? You never know?

Creating flat land is really hard work and I plant to create more of it over the next few months. As a general rule, I plant garden beds on the slopes so I don't have to worry too much about access, and the beds that I harvest are on flat sites. Hope that makes sense. The orchard simply follows the lay of the land.

There are no issues with uneven watering. However, I notice that garden beds on slopes survive hot and dry summers with no watering - other than rainfall - if they have at least three years of growth. Two years doesn't seem to be as hardy, and one year is definitely only for the very hardiest of plants.

Water moves through the ground anyway, so watering at the top of a slope seems like a good idea. I try to heavily feed the garden beds with mulch and manure so that I can avoid the whole watering issue and it does seem to work as the ground will store water if you set it up to do so.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Thanks for the info on health insurance, it is fascinating and I particularly appreciate hearing the personal stories.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi everyone,

As to the predictions:

* Tame Impala – The Less I know the better (I picked as the winner but the artist ended up a very respectable number 4).
* Jarryd James – Do you Remember (number 7 again not too bad)
* Illy - Swear Jar (The US rapper Kendrick Lamar kicked sand in Illy's face and Illy ended up at number 39 which is still very good)
* Courtney Barnett (#43); Alpine (#57); Tkay Maidza (#66); Chvrches (#32); Meg Mac (#11); and Alison Wonderland (#59) - All very respectable and Meg Mac has an awesome voice - very strong stuff.
* Bring Me The Horizon - True Friends (#99) - just shows how much I know about hardcore and metal music as their own song beat that at (#45)

All up lots of fun and enjoyment oh yeah and the winner was a band from northern New South Wales: The Rubens: Hoops. Those guys rock, well done them!

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

The Robins eat worms and fruit. I guess this flock found our crab apple trees as that's where they've been hanging out. There's not too much fruit left now and I haven't seen them for a few days. They were competing with the chickens over the tree in their outside pen. I do put suet out all winter and some sunflower seeds as well but the robins aren't interested in those choices.

Regarding health insurance I should point out that there are some improvements with Obamacare - regular health screenings are covered 100% and not subject to the deductible and most importantly you cannot be denied insurance if you have a pre-existing condition. This was never a problem if you had health insurance through your employer but rather if you had to get private insurance. Many people stayed in jobs they hated just for the insurance. My husband had Hepatitis C for decades (from a transfusion when he was in his teens). There is a new, very successful treatment that he went through last year and is now free of this disease. He would have had to stay in a job he hated to get the treatment but with our, albeit expensive, private plan he was good to go which we are very thankful for .

Thanks for the history lesson. I'll have to re read the book, "The Fatal Shore".

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Oh, I throw a bit of nutmeg in ... whatever. Mostly, baked stuff. But, the occasional casserole. Of course, it's a major component in pumpkin pie spice. Which goes into a lot of my baked, stuff. Sometimes, if a recipe calls for cinnamon, I'll use the same measure of nutmeg, instead.

Well, sunflowers are so pretty. They were "on the list", last year, but I didn't get around to putting them in. I can get a 40 pound bag (18.14kg) for around $16. The chooks get three handfuls, every day. Makes their coats nice and shiny, and I wonder if it helps repel our rain? And, you can get cooking oil, out of them, if you have one of those nifty little machines I've been contemplating.

Our full moon fell on last Saturday, the 23d.

Don't think I'd use kitty litter on the garden. Who knows what's in it? And, it might attract kitties, and you'd get damage. However, a hole in the driveway ... I use some litter that is called "Integrity", that I can only get one place in town. The animal centric Feed and Nursery, store. Wizard stuff. Although, since Nell has decided her cat box is haunted, don't know how much longer I'll be buying that. I've been putting her out, about a half an hour before bedtime (which makes me nervous, for her) ... and hustling her out, first thing in the morning.

Since chickens lay on a just over 24 hour cycle, and mine seem to lay most of their eggs between 9am and 10am, well, I was trying to figure out if all my hens are laying. I had a lot of 5s and 3s, last week. So, 8 laying? The last two days were 6 and 4. So, all 10 hens, were laying? It's fun to speculate.

You've mentioned "Grand Designs", a couple of times. Since I don't have tv, and the library doesn't carry the series, I don't see it. But, there was an article on the internet, yesterday, about a "businessman diagnosed with MS", who carved and "elf house" out of a sandstone cliff. Looked really interesting. And, quit pretty.

Well, I ate my last two Anzac biscuits, night before last. So, it was either make more, or do, without. And, since today is Australia Day, I made another batch, last night. Wrong holiday, I know. Hope it doesn't cause an "international incident." :-)
Well, Anzac biscuits are about as tough as ship's biscuits (hard tack?) and I used oats and flour with weevils in it, in the interest of authenticity. :-). Maybe I'll squeak by.

Second batch was better than the first. I mean, they both tasted really good, but I got the form right, second time around. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? :-). Didn't take near as long to make, as the first batch, since I knew where I was going with the recipe. And, I could do great swaths of it, from memory. Ate way too many, before bed.

Your First Fleet got me thinking about our Jamestown. It was the first successful English colony (never mind the Pilgrims) founded around 1607. Watched a film about it, a couple of weeks ago. The loss of life, in the early days, was horrendous. Over 2/3s. There was cannibalism .... A grim tale.

This morning was one of those odd times, in Nature. Grey overcast, dry, not a drop of rain, no wind. No birds singing. Absolute stillness. As if Nature is holding it's breath. Like stop motion. Then, a robin sang, a crow cawed, and everything started up again. Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

You do indeed sometimes seem to be riding a Fernglade Juggernaut! That new hugelkulture bed looks very nice and neat and that's a nice rock, too. I wonder, like Damo, if the fact that the decayed wood is eucalyptus will matter. We have been told by older gardeners around here never to use parts of walnut trees in the garden or even let one grow within 30-40 feet (9-12 meters) of any garden plants. I suspect that when really thoroughly broken down that no longer applies. I set up two small hugelkulture beds in September as my first experiment with them. Can't tell how they are doing at the moment as we still have almost a foot and a half (43 cm) of snow. I've been giving Mother Nature a hand and shoveling a lot today as this is the one day it is really warming up.

The flowers are so beautiful. My oregano just doesn't bloom that much.

The firewood shed is so handsome and what a solid and attractive ramp up to it. Couldn't be nicer, especially when full of firewood!

That poor apple tree! I'd been wondering what Stumpy had been up to lately . . .

What a fantastic tool that star picket remover is. Is it made especially for that purpose?

I'm sorry to say that I could not critique your song winner predictions as I have never heard of any of those people!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

It is a dire circumstance that your bank branch has closed. Can you transfer your funds and set up a new account for your pension payments in a different bank near you - assuming that there is one?

I haven't noticed any branches closing yet, but there are only a couple of employees in each branch where there used to be a full staff. It takes forever just to get a check cashed. We never use the ATM, for which I was especially glad when recently my son made a deposit through the ATM and the machine would not acknowledge it after it ate his money, and he could never get the bank to credit his account even though they admitted that the machine had not been working correctly that day. And he had a witness to the incident, too.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Damo:

You've given me an interesting idea with your mention of the lucas mill. We have a lot of timber.

@ Coco:

What a nice winter weather you seem to be having! And charming companionship,too!

@ Lew:

We have a couple of those giant, round hay bales at the end of the driveway that we bought from a neighbor for $10 each a couple of years ago. They have rotted to the loveliest soil imaginable. I mulch with the parts that haven't completely broken down yet. One does have to be a bit careful when gathering up buckets of the soil under them as snakes like to look for mice in there.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Margaret:

A huge flock of robins came in before the blizzard and are still hanging around. The din is amazing. I don't know what they are eating as their usual foods - holly, pyracantha, and dogwood berries are all gone. As you said they don't touch sunflower seeds or suet.

Hepatitis C is so hard to beat. I am so glad that your husband has overcome it.

Thanks for reminding me about "The Fatal Shore"; we have it!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

I've been to Jamestown, it being just down the road (2 1/2 hours). A less auspicious place would be hard to imagine; swampy and full of mosquitoes, with hurricanes, and snow and ice in winter. And that was before they ran into the Native Americans: some who were friendly, but some not so. Glad I live now.

Pam

Damo said...

@ Chris

River Cottage (UK) and River Cottage Australia are great smallholder / permaculture / cooking shows. I would dare to say they might be right up your alley! The UK version is better, the presenter feels less forced and natural. I suppose the Australian guy is alright, I think the producers coach him to act a certain way and it shows. I expect you would be familiar with the area River Cottage Australia is filmed - somewhere around Narooma.

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

We got 35 mm of rain in half an hour (woo hoo!). Lots of lightning and thunder. It reminded me of being back in Brisbane. The kids and I had a great time dancing in the rain and stomping through puddles, though I did have to go up the ladder and remove a downpipe blocker to stop the house being flooded... (Good thing I was at home). We have an underpass near my place, and it was flooded with about 1m of water. It was good stuff though, I think we got 6 kL into the tanks in 24 hours.

I like the hottest100, but tbh it's the only time I really listen to JJJ -- I generally prefer community radio (Radio Adelaide, 5MBS and 3dRadio are all excellent)

Your trees are looking great -- it's such a fantastic time of year. I imagine you had a mixture of satisfaction and frustration at seeing your lovingly-prepared-and-stacked firewood turn into soil ;-) We're thinking about replacing our only non-secondary-glazed windows with double-glazed panels (a cool $2k for two (big) windows). If we do that, I'll try using the reverse-cycle during solar PV hours and use the fire less. If I had a wood lot, I'd think differently, but car-sourced firewood just looks like fossil-fuel heating by proxy!

I had a couple of brews yesterday, and enjoyed them thoroughly. Totally agree with your comments about "invasion day". I refuse to feel guilty (as some of my friends do), but think we need a lot more recognition of the atrocities our ancestors committed.

Cheers, Angus

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Oh, the poor Robins would be struggling with worms and fruit. The Robins here tend to eat the bugs on the plants and through the thick under story of the garden beds instead. It makes you wonder whether they'll get hungry enough and adapt? I dunno, but I recall the wildlife people telling me a story about the Koala bears up here and they said that the Koala bears are slowly adapting to consume the leaves from the species of Eucalyptus trees here. You never know. I reckon the plants are a bit like that too, as I've noticed that they are slowly adapting to warmer winters and all sorts of strange things happen with that.

Thanks for all of the information with the health insurance. It is pretty scary. As a comparison, down here an individual pays 2% of their income towards health insurance (and wealthier income earners pay a surcharge on top of that). Private health insurance is an option but honestly I've never seen a policy in excess of $2,000 for the year and that gives access to Private Hospitals which avoids the waiting lists. But if anything is life threatening you jump the queues in the Public system, so it is not too bad. Mind you everything has costs and the insurance has excess payments, but nothing at all like the $325,000 previously mentioned. The outcomes are apparently not different between the Private and Public systems based on accounts I've heard.

Hep C would be a nightmare. My mum had Hep B and wow, was she sick or what. Not good, I feel for your husband - he got a rough deal. I took it on myself to get vaccinated against Hep A and Hep B when I was much younger, not that my mum thought of such things.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, that is exactly what I've tasted too and it is good isn't it? Yum! When I was very young people used to slow cook food in these large sort of electric pots. They were called crock pots and always seemed to be sold in a sort of 1970's burnt orange colour. What was with that? Who knows, anyway, you'd put in vegetables and the dodgiest cuts of cheap meat and a day or more later, the casserole would taste amazing. You never see those things nowadays.

But then, you've got me reminiscing. I recall my grandmother used to have a bench hand grinder which produced mince meat. The thing used to bolt onto a table top and you'd chuck in the dodgiest el-cheapo cuts of meat and hand crank the grinder and out would ooze (that is more or less the best description) mince meat. I don't actually know what they put in commercial mince meat. That reminds me, about two decades ago there was a serious drought (what a surprise) and many cattle had to be put down as they were unable to be carried on the land and the mince meat that year was superb - really high quality stuff. I stopped buying it after the quality dropped after the rains returned...

That's pretty good value for sunflower seeds and for your interest I pay $20 for a 44 pound sack of mixed grains for the chickens. Mind you, sunflower kernels for human consumption set me back about $8 for 2.2 pounds at the market, and I shudder to think what the difference is. Also just to completely freak you out 44 pound sacks of organic rolled oats sets me back $90. That may be an indulgence because I can't see or taste the difference in the oats with the cheapies, but at least the farmers deserve a bit of support.

What is this super nifty grinding mill you were thinking of buying?

Oh! I'll report back at the next full moon - as long as neither of us sprouts hairs and starts howling at the full moon! ;-)! Hehehe!

Integrity is an unexpected choice of descriptive word for kitty litter, don't you think? I mean, in a different world we could imagine a bank with integrity? Or maybe an accountant? But kitty litter seems a bit of a stretch. You are probably correct though. At one point I'd heard something about kitty litter being manufactured from waste paper?

Exactly, by 10am, most egg action is done for the day! 10 chickens is a goodly number. Do you have plans to breed new chicks or do you supplement? I find that one or two chickens fall off their perch every year so I tend to add a few every year and the whole mess sorts itself out.

Ask and ye shall receive: Grand Designs Cave House. Is it worthwhile watching - Absolutely. I could use that guy down here - and he'd enjoy the work experience. The show is sometimes a testament to the human spirit.

Well the weevils add an element of authenticity as well as some much needed protein! Hehe! Oh, did I mention that weevils were gifted to me by the bread ladies? A fine gift that was and I took the weevils back to the lovely bread ladies and there was much uncomfortableness and they admitted to me that there had been: some problems. I don't reckon weevils have killed anyone? Maybe?

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

A truly fine way to celebrate Anzac day - and yeah the biscuits were made to last the perils of the long voyage. I've often been frightened of tack biscuits and now have to ask the important question: Have you ever cooked or tasted a tack biscuit?

The journey to Carnegie Hall is full of unexpected twists and turns. Mind you, those sometimes end up being unexpected additions and deletions from recipes. But then how else would we achieve genius in our cooking - although here I suspect Chef John would not approve as he may reach for consistency instead? Enjoy your upset stomach - a sure sign of an enjoyed meal!!!!

That sounds horrendous! Mind you, once they landed at Port Jackson in 1788 the first thing they did was send off the ships to the nearest ports to obtain additional food. One suspects that the English had a rather cavalier attitude to provisioning expeditions? The convict that escaped from Sarah Island near where Damo is today, said that the bit under the arm was the tastiest in the long pig cook book. Yuk!

Silence can be very strange in nature. The calm before the storm? It was meant to rain here today, but not a single drop fell. And in a town to the SW of here along the coast they had a 1 in a 50 year flood event: Geelong weather: 18 people rescued in 'one-in-50-year' rainfall, as storm heads towards Melbourne. Not to sound a bit miffed, but I could seriously have used and dealt with that sort of a downpour... Tis but a minor drizzle, well maybe not for them...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed that. As I write, the little sprite sits on my shoulder and urges me: Go on just write it! Hehe! That is definitely the fluffy component. :-)!

It will be interesting to see just how long it takes for the organic material to break down and I will drop a few photos on the blog as time goes on. I actually don't know, but suspect it will take well over a year. Dunno.

How good is that rock? It is massive and there is another one just like it, but I wasn't quite sure how to move it without it rolling into the orchard - and the editor talked sense into me about the danger of losing the rock down the hill - which wouldn't be good... I have a plan to dig a hole in front of the new rock and then lower the rock into the hole so that it doesn't roll away. It is complex. If the weather is OK over the next few days - which is doubtful, I'll show the technique that I've been using recently to cut up larger rocks into smaller more manageable rock wall rocks. The editor is generally correct in such matters - and my dinner just got dumped onto my keyboard so...

That is a huge amount of snow. Does it feel cold or are you slowly getting used to that snow? Snow may be like firewood in that it warms you - when you are moving it of course!

Yeah, oregano really likes the heat. I gave that lot a good feed of manure and they seem to enjoy that. Those plants are about three years old and they get hardier every year. How old are your oregano plants? Do you grow any other mints? I can't recommend them highly enough as I eat them in a Vietnamese summer salad which is a bit toothy tasting but uses all of the things currently in leaf.

I love that paving too and only wish that I had more flag stones to continue the job. Oh well. A full fire wood shed is better than money in the bank!

Stumpy is naughty. Nuff said.

Yes, the tool is purpose built for that purpose - and to cut a long story short, I picked it up brand new for about $6. Best $6 I ever spent.

No worries, they were all Australian artists. My understanding is that Courtney Barnett has made quite the splash in the US and has apparently done the late night TV show circuit. She writes about life as a youth in this country and puts incredible thought into her work. My favourite is the: Courtney Barnett - Avant Gardener . Lovely stuff with an Australian twang.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Thanks for the tip off. Sounds like good stuff. How hard would it be to be yourself and natural in front of the cameras - especially if you became lost for words. I reckon we'd all need coaching on that front, but then it has to be authentic too.

Nah, I've been to Narooma - although I only drove through - and it is a nice place, although it is a long long way from here. I reckon it would take about a day of driving to get there. The south coast of NSW has an awesome climate. The far east of Vic is pretty good too as it has this sort of sub tropical feel and the forests up around the Erinundra Plateau are spectacular.

Hey, I had a funny thought this afternoon that I thought I'd share: Not all shifts are equal! Hehe! Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

It was meant to rain here today, but no luck as not a single drop fell. Here's hoping for both of our parts of the world over the next few days.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

So that is where all the rain went? That was awesome, as you've done it harder than here this year - you deserve the rain. That is great fun for you and the kids - they'll remember that as they get older too. Those storms are strange because when they hit here, it is still warm. I'd heard that your part of the country was getting more humid over the past few weeks.

Yeah, cleaning the water tank filters is a very necessary and very damp job - no doubts about it! It is amazing how much gunk can exit from the pipes and drains and if you don't remove them, the water over flows to under the water tank which is no good at all.

6,000 litres means you can start breathing a slow sigh of relief! :-)! How is the walnut tree going? Mine looks a bit sick. Is yours in full sun?

No worries, they're all good and glad to hear that you enjoyed the countdown.

Absolutely, it is both good and bad. I'm starting to fill up the second firewood shed now, although that will take a few weeks of work as it is a big job and is in the "too hard basket" category to do over a couple of days.

Yeah, windows are expensive, but double glazed really does slow the transfer of heat in and out of the house. Stainless steel mesh shutters really reduce the heat too, although they don't stop leaching of heat to the outside world during winter, but summer they really work.

Exactly, change your habits to match the output of your solar panels. Very wise and an astute choice.

I reckon recognition is a far better start than merely guilt. Guilt rarely translates into communication or action. It is what happened anyway, in some other settings and language it could even be referred to as a war. Dunno.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Rain is absolutely tipping down here. However the hens are laying again so we have eggs.

Our robins must be different. Male and female are identical and are seriously territorial on their own. They never flock and it is only in the breeding season that you will see a pair of them.

Silence outside here means that a bird of prey has flown over.

@Lew Go gently on the nutmeg. I was told that a whole one can kill a child so it must contain something nasty.

@Pam Yes I can shift my pension's arrival to another bank. I am simply whining because the bureaucracy will be a pain, the new bank will be less convenient and the staff won't (possibly) be as nice as the lovely lot that I have been dealing with. There is a steady cull of all bank branches but usually at least one remains on the Island.

To all those who use ATMs. I don't and also I do nothing financial on the internet.

Have just told my poor son about walnut trees. He is growing one, it produced 2 nuts last year.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

You would do better to eat off of a table, rather than a keyboard. Which reminds me that I've been meaning to ask you how you use the internet whilst lounging about in the orchard? Do you have wifi and the reception reaches out that far?

I used to want to try a tack biscuit, just for the experience (ahoy, matey!), but I don't think I'll risk my teeth on one at this stage in life.

It would be great to see how you break up large rocks into smaller ones. Do you ever make concrete paving stones? We have a nice mold that you pour concrete into and it turns out 6 "stones" at a time. After they've weathered and have moss and such growing on them they look like real stones. They have held up very well, too. Some have been in place for over 15 years. We do use stones from on our property, also. It is fun after the winter to scrounge around and see what new ones the frost has heaved into sight.

It is curious, but it does seem warmer with a blanket of snow. They say that it protects the plants from further freezing. Perhaps I am just warm because of shoveling and stoking the fires.

I had read that the oils in herbs would be stronger if they were not fed, so I haven't been feeding them, but their flower production has not been very good. We grow peppermint and orange mint. The pennyroyal has disappeared. I will also include lemon balm and catnip as they are so closely related.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

Did you see The Keiser Report over the weekend? Since we have been talking about healthcare I was interested to see this episode because Max was interviewing a doctor from 54000doctors.org. It was about a strike amongst younger doctors in the NHS. Is this good or bad news for your healthcare system? It's also interesting, because I have heard so many people here put down your NHS, but from the people that actually use it, I have heard some pretty good things, as you commented about it. Horse's mouth is always best.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I just found a container that had fallen behind some other stuff in the pantry that has a chunk of rye/white wheat flour sourdough bread in it that is a week and a half old. It looks completely fresh. However, I will not be tasting it. I wonder if the enzymes in the sourdough starter help to keep it fresh? That is very encouraging. It is very cold in the pantry right now, also.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

There are caraway seeds in the bread, too, and canola oil. One must examine all clues.

Pam

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

I forgot to answer your question about the recent storm here. No we were not affected at all. In fact we've only had two significant snow falls this winter. Yes our health care system is really messed up here. My brother-in-law, a retired cardiologist and sister a PharmD (a pharmacist with a professional doctorate) have little good to say about it. However, it has been involuable to have both of them for medical advice. More important than ever to take care of your health.

Last night three deer jumped the 4 foot fence into our large chicken run. If they can get into there that easily they'll have no problem with our fenced in orchard. The trees are only 4 years old and have sustained damage in past years from the deer. So far they haven't been in it this year but have been walking right past it.



@Chris and Pam

Yes, my husband was very fortunate that the new drug treatment came along in the nick of time for him as he had progressed to moderate fibrosis and would have had to endure the old treatment which was kind of like chemo for a year with a 60% chance of success. A patient going through that treatment was automatically put on antidepressants and many had to go on disability because they were too sick to work. The new treatment was one pill for 3 months with virtually no side effects. His viral count was in the millions (had been for years) and after the treatment is was zero.

@Lew

Our book club selection last month was Gene Logsden's "Holy Shit" which was about manure of all kinds including pets and human, it's benefits and our attitudes about it in general. During the discussion a few people said there was a safe cat litter now but as I don't have indoor cats I promptly forgot the specifics.

@orchidwallis

I'm with you regarding ATM's and online banking. In fact I'm going more and more to cash these days. I'm fearful that it's going to become more and more difficult to use cash or even checks. For example one of my brothers (I handle all their finances) has a new landlord and he wanted the tenants to use Chase Quick Pay which hooks your bank acct to Chase. There was no option to mail a check so now I take the check to a Chase branch in the next town and deposit it into the landlord's account. That was my only other option. Fortunately I go to that town on a regular basis so at least it's not an extra trip.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - A bank I no longer deal with, is down to 2 tellers (or less) at any one time. I also had to make a deposit there, once, and discovered they had closed the drive through and done away with the exterior drop. Had to go inside and stand in line. I'm looking around and it suddenly hit me that they really don't want to deal with the "little" people, any more. Love my credit union.

I have a lot of snakes, around here. But we're lucky. No poisonous snakes west of the mountains. So, even though they give me a bit of a turn, I always stop and remind myself that they're not dangerous ... and eat lots of bugs, slugs and rodents.

I've always been interested in Jamestown, and, over the years have read all of the archaeologist, Kelso's books on the place. Besides all the bad things you mentioned about the site, they've also figured out that they landed there in the middle of a prolonged drought. National Geographic also has had several good articles.

@ Inge - Nutmeg, if you eat an enormous amount of it, also has mild hallucinogenic qualities. As good ol' Julia Child, used to say, "Everything in moderation." :-). Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Oh, there's still plenty of crook pots around. Now they've just given them the more trendy name, slow cookers. Cycles of kitchen colors are interesting. Before flame, it was all Harvest Gold, Avocado Green and Almond. Go back to the 30s, and it was all apple green and cream.

Mmm. It's a little press with a flame ... I think someone here, has one. Lehman's carries a good one. They're a bit pricey. I know exactly the hand grinders you're talking about. Back in grandma's day, it seems like every home had one ... so, you find a lot of them kicking about. I think I have one or two, packed away .... still in their boxes with all the different grind plates. Next time I run across it, I'm going to pull it out, clean it up, and see what I can do with it.

Well, this spring, I want to get another couple of hens and a rooster. Then let a clutch of eggs or two, come to fruition. Then it will be time to cull, next fall. At least, that's the plan, if I don't loose the plot :-).

Yeah, they make kitty litter out of all kinds of things. Paper, clay. i don't know what's in my cat litter, but it's sandier. If you scoop, regularly, it lasts forever. Costs more, but goes so much further.

Nope, have neither made, nor tasted a tack biscuit. They sound rather bland.

Actually, Chef John feels that you should stick to a recipe, the first couple of times ... and then play around with it. Saw a funny recipe for grated fried potatoes (hash browns) in the newspaper, the other day. Learned a new culinary term: non-stickitude. :-).

Most of the early colonies here were private enterprises. And, various wars stopped shipping. There was a large fleet, on the way to Jamestown, with plenty of supplies and 500 more colonists. it was blown apart by a storm. Some sunk ... one boat floundered on Bermuda, by accident founding Bermuda ... and providing grist for Shakespeare's "Tempest." The remaining ships arrived at Jamestown with supplies spoiled and more hungry mouths to feed.

We have another atmospheric river, coming in. But, it's not supposed to last to long. The nozzle is going to move slowly south, to Oregon, and then California.

Well, this morning I sat down at the computer, grabbed the ratty paper towel I keep around to blow my nose, felt something on my face and brushed it off, and a giant spider from outer space plopped on my keyboard. Tried to crush it with the paper towel, but it just laughed at me. And, fell into the garbage can, next to my desk. Ran in the kitchen, and the first thing that came to hand was a bottle of spray bleach. Soaked the sucker down, and hope it did him in. Wonder what the rest of my day is going to be like? :-). Well, at least I know my ticker is still in good shape!

Off to the Little Smoke. Lew



orchidwallis said...

@Pam

I missed that particular Keiser report and am finding it very difficult to get to grips with the argument between the doctors and the government. There was a 24 hour strike and the next strike was called off. So far I don't think that patients have been seriously affected only inconvenienced. That is my view, I am sure that many patients are screaming blue murder about their entitlement! There is a nursing shortage.

@Margaret

We are constantly told that we are heading towards a cashless society. I don't believe it as I know many people who only use cash and even don't have bank accounts. I use cash and also write cheques which are still accepted even by utilities. I only use a credit card for such things as booking hotels in advance.
Mind you, every now and then I'll get a letter saying 'We see that you have not used your credit card for a while'. If they want to cancel it, I just use it for my next shop. I assume that the aim is to have everyone indebted. I am amazed at the numbers who don't regard it as a debt if they don't pay off their credit cards.

@Chris

My apologies if I went on too long about the above.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge, Pam, Margaret, and Lewis.

Did I just sneak in an Oxford comma? ;-)!

Apologies, I am unable to reply tonight to all of your lovely comments. And Inge, no, these matters that you are discussing are important and will affect all of us sooner or later. I wonder about bank branch closures in rural areas as they are talking about the possibility of them in the business news.

Life can take some strange twists and turns and down here there was a terrible car crash yesterday morning. One of the main freeways in the north was closed both ways for most of the day as the police investigated. It really wasn't good: EJ Whitten Bridge crash: Two dead after 'drag-racing' ute careers into gully, bursts into flames in Melbourne.

My sympathies go out to the families impacted by that tragedy. Such a waste.

Anyway, I had to swap yesterday's work for today as it was very difficult to get anywhere near the city yesterday with the ensuing chaos and the train wasn't an option for that particular job... So to cut a long story short, I got home quite late - no ADR even! What’s going on?

On a completely and slightly more upbeat, yet strangely morbid too note, I heard a crunching sound coming from one of the dogs this morning in another room. And Sir Scruffy was busted chewing on a now long dead marsupial nose which he'd brought into the house for his personal enjoyment... One for the composting worms that one!

Cheers and thanks for the comments and I promise to reply tomorrow evening.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I love the Oxford comma and I refuse to give it up!

Sir Scruffy, Sir Scruffy . . . sigh . . . a marsupial nose . . .

What a useless waste of life. We all did some pretty stupid stuff when young. Apparently we have been the lucky ones.

@ Inge:

We only use cash in town. And in the country. Cash deal, anyone? Barter works, too, but can be kind of iffy if both sides don't feel the exchange is equal. We pay our bills, through the mail, with checks. And, like you, use the credit card for travel, or we buy gas occasionally if we need to keep the card in use. Do you have a car? The nearest bus line to us is 7 miles (11 km) down the road. Interestingly, there used to be a train stop only a mile from us. Now, all the old rural train stations have either fallen to ruins or been repurposed as shops and restaurants.

@ Lew:

We always used plain clay kitty litter. I had a cheap source for that and the cats seemed to find it kind of similar to the dirt they also had access to outside. They would not use any scented stuff.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, our atmospheric river, is here. Cliff Mass, the weather guy, said it was the longest atmospheric river he's ever seen. A commenter stated it stretches from our coast, all the way back to Midway Island ... and, beyond. Won't clear off til Sunday or Monday. The chickens just starred dolefully out the door, when I opened up the coop, this morning.

Pegg's "How to Lose Friends & Alienate People" was waiting for me at the library, yesterday. It arrived fairly quickly, as a library system down in Oregon was willing to Inter Library Loan it. I thought it was pretty good. A prat, surrounded (mostly) by other prats. I don't know how people can be so cruel, to each other. But, I know it happens. Given the coming decline, I couldn't help but think that (most) of those people in the film are on their way out. It was like watching an endangered species film, on the nature channel. :-).

It had a lot to say about celebrity, too. I stand in the grocery store lines, and am surrounded by tabloids ... not much else to look at when somebody is fumbling through there small change, arguing about an expired coupon ... suddenly pulls out their check book after the whole transaction has been completed. I'm just cut off enough from the media to see names and often wonder, "Who ARE these people." But I'm not much interested in finding out. Same thing with internet headlines. I once did a quick bio search on these people, and they mostly seem to be refugees from reality tv shows, or, ex Disney Mouseketeers.

I think Pegg did quit a fine job. He seems, more and more, to take rolls where he skates along the fine line between pathos and drama on one hand, and comedy, on the other.

I know exactly what you mean with Sir Scruffy. It gets pretty grim when Beau wants to play a game of keep away, with a dead possum. Or use it as a chew toy. Ditto, Nell and mice. Lew



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Yeah, like Lewis's chickens, the days in your part of the world are getting longer so the chickens respond to the extra light by laying eggs. Aren't they awesome farm creatures? I'm quite fond of my chickens and all their happy little antics.

Today, it finally rained here too which was a relief as the last couple of nights have been warm and lightning and thunder has been cracking across the sky. It has quite disturbed my usually deep sleep this week. The lightning is particularly troublesome as it sparks off fires in the tree canopies, but fortunately that doesn't seem to be the case. Lightning is very common here.

Did you get much snow this winter? I suppose you may get some snow in February? Usually August is the month for snow here. Your maritime climate is probably quite pleasant really.

Thanks for the info on the Robins. What a difference half the world away makes. The robins here live in mortal fear of the much larger birds so they bounce through the undergrowth, but they lead a very nice existence too. I'm finding the more garden beds that I'm establishing, the more small birds turn up to stay and they really work hard in the garden. I rarely see a slug or snail - they don't stand a chance.

Oh yeah, silence in a forest means all the animals and birds are waiting and watching. Did you happen to see what bird of prey it was? You may get sea eagles too?

The birds here react differently to birds of prey as they all call out to one another to let them know of the presence of the eagles. The eagles in turn try to ignore all of the birds - they probably live in a noisy world! - whilst the magpies, which are tiny compared to the eagles will fly up and attack the eagles on site either by themselves or in groups. It is amazing to watch.

I do use ATM's and internet banking was the reason I jumped onto the internet early on. As to the walnuts, well, I don't know. Your son is doing well to get any nuts. I've seen massive well established walnut trees here and they are huge, but getting them established in the hot summers is quite tricky and I haven't given them enough attention so far. Mine is looking very sad indeed.

Not to stress, the talk about the banking system is very important as I've felt that given how much of an unnatural chunk of the economy that they consume, it is quite indicative of the real returns that they are making if they are in the position of closing branches. Plus, there has been talk in the financial press of doing the same thing here.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Hehe! Very amusing! If you ever want to scare yourself, try turning a computer keyboard upside down and banging it on a table to see what falls out between the keys... Not good. It is life but not as we know it! :-)!

The internet here is over the 4G mobile phone network and it is way expensive ($115/month for 15Gb). On the other hand I'm on the side of mountain so I have line of sight to three or four towers and I point the external Yagi antenna at them and the speeds are stupidly fast. Honestly, the 15Gb could be gone in a few hours... The modem has a wifi signal but it isn't good enough to reach into the orchard so I take a cheapie laptop out into the orchard and type up the replies, walk back to the house and reconnect to the internet wifi and then post the comments. The chickens don't seem to mind not having a good wifi signal, although they do seem rather grumpy if they don't get their run in the orchard in the evenings.

Yeah, imagine having to fork out for porcelain crowns because the tack biscuit was too hard and broke some teeth. Dental is reasonably priced down here, but still a porcelain crown will set you back. I broke a tooth once...

No worries, I'll chuck some photos of the rock breaking process on the next blog. Hmmm, breaking the rocks on the chain gang? How's that for a blog title? :-)! Your pavers are a good idea. Do you add reinforcement steel into the cast? Oh yeah, I'm totally jealous of the moss and lichens growing on your pavers, that would look very cool. :-)! The moss has started to bounce back here after the long hot summer which is nice, but it doesn't like areas with no shade at all.

I'll have to take your word on that as I have no experience, although all that work sounds an awful lot like the old adage about firewood warming you multiple times.

That is interesting to hear about your experience with the herbs. I've been cutting them back severely in the past couple of years and they seem to respond well to that. I do feed them by just throwing manure over the tops of the plants and then washing it down using the hose - or doing that top dressing prior to a storm. Some of the herbs are very surprisingly heat hardy and despite the hot weather, I've even managed to transplant some - which I shouldn't really do until mid-March.

That is interesting about the sour dough starter. Unfortunately, I've had no experience with that method of bread baking - the yeast I get from the bakery supply ladies is very good stuff. The experiment can be conducted on the dogs - they have cast iron stomachs... The bread mix here, if it is just rising and waiting to be cooked in the oven and I forget about it starts to ferment and it gets a slightly sour taste, but you have to forget about it for quite a long time. The cold slows that process down. The oil also is a good pick up and that as you say probably slows the fermentation down too. Dunno.

Yeah, go the Oxford comma! The funny thing about that is that down here they reckon not to use it. But when I was a wee young lad at school, they told me to use it, so who knows what is going on? I say let's reclaim the Oxford comma. ;-)! Hehe!

Hmm, I don't know where he got the nose from either, dogs have a nose for dead things that they can happily munch on... And slightly dodgy palates too! Yuk! The worms will probably enjoy it. Sir Scruffy is very well behaved and handed it over where it was whisked off into the worm bucket.

That is true, we were all young and dumb once and somehow survived the experience. It is a waste and tragedy and the families will feel that loss and carry it with them.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Oh, is two significant snowfalls a bit on the low side for this time of year? Perhaps February will make up for that lack of serious snowfall? The weather sure is crazy and very unpredictable. At least it rained here today and I forgot to mention that 17mm (0.67 inch) has fallen so far which is good insurance against a possible hot and dry February. A tropical cyclone is forming off the northern coast of the Western Australia right now, so I have no idea what weather to expect. March here is usually dry, but after that I should be able to breathe a sigh of relief. Hopefully so?

Do you use firewood for heating? I'm assuming that peoples consumption of heating fuels has reduced somewhat with the mildly warmer winter?

You are very lucky indeed to have access to family in the medical industry. I reckon the most we can ever do is make the best of the cards (i.e. our genetics and predispositions) that we've been dealt through activity and diet, the rest is chance.

Ouch! Those naughty deer... I use 6 foot individual cages around each of the fruit trees as 4 foot would be no dramas for the wallabies - until the trees are big enough to withstand the browsing - although stripping bark off the apple trees is out of the question... Dunno. It is very hard to try and work out what boundaries you have to set between yourself and all of the animals and birds that want to enjoy the orchard - a middle ground is there, but hard to find and the edges are always being tested.

Your husband was very lucky indeed to get that treatment. I'll bet it has revolutionised his life - I'd certainly miss the occasional lemon cider. I feel for him as it is an unfair world sometimes, but glad he is now on the other side of that health problem.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Mate, the lightning and thunder every night for the last couple of night has disturbed my sleep, plus there was this build-up of warm air and - it is hard to describe the pressure from an approaching storm. The bureau has described the air mass over the central highlands here as unstable, and that sure is an understatement! At least it rained today 17mm (0.67 inches) which I'm quietly grateful for. It is starting to look a bit greener here.

Ha! Slow cookers is a way trendy name. You don't see them here at all, as they sort of got lost in the 70's. My gut feeling is that a lot of people down here don't cook anywhere near as much as they used to. And having to have two adults work full time just to keep their heads financially above water because of the crazy house prices, I can't honest see that changing anytime soon. Oh yeah, I remember all those colours. The burnt orange was my favourite because it also had fancy 70's style motives printed onto the outside of the cooker in brown and then when the inevitable food boiled over the resulting mess sort of blended in. I always recall that the cookers were sort of crusty looking after a lot of uses. It is weird that colours go in and out of fashion, it makes you wonder how much of that is economic? Weren't we talking about the colours used in glass during the Great Depression and how it utilised some sort of cheap replacement mineral instead of the more expensive process? Have you seen any of that glass in your travels and acquisitions?

Interesting to hear and a flame too? How was that fuelled - propane? Dunno. Hey that would be interesting to see how the outcome of that goes? You could do a blind taste test with Chef John between the home ground mince and the store bought stuff. The problem is you might develop a taste for the home ground mince, and then you end up with more cooking and preparation activities to do?

I'll be very interested to hear how you go with the rooster and raising the chicks. A mate of mine does that and it seems complex to me. Incidentally and I was stirring him up too, but his prize chicks seemed a bit low quality and one of the chicks he was talking up drowned in a bucket - and I unfortunately pointed out that that was probably not a good sign of outstanding breeding - but I'm talking rubbish as he's miles ahead on that front than I am. Roosters have been such a mixed bag. I don't know how to introduce one to the flock so he's not a nuisance to the established social order? Maybe get a bantam rooster like a little Peking bantam? Maybe? Good luck with processing the chickens as I haven't done that myself, but my mates have and they seemed fairly competent. It is like eating a crayfish - it is only the first one! Hehe!!!! :-)!

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Excellent, if it is sandier, it will probably break down faster in the garden - or compact in the driveway faster - because it has a greater surface area.

Yeah, they're a bit dodgy sounding... And a bit risky for teeth!

He has an excellent attitude towards cooking. That is good to hear because that is how you discover cooking secrets and preferences really. I stopped putting bi-carb into the biscuits one day after I forgot to add it and they turned out really well, then it took four batches to re-engineer exactly what I'd done wrong.

"non-stickitude" is a keeper. Yes, things that don't stick but would otherwise have attitude. Like caramel that miraculously doesn't stick to whatever pan you were careless enough to cook it in... ;-)!

Oh my, that is a disaster waiting to happen. The original settlements here were under-provisioned, but still things could have been worse. Sometimes private enterprise tries to do important things on the cheap - for profit. On the first fleet some of the provisions were withheld and then kept for later resale - although what people were using to buy the stuff is anyone’s guess.

Good to hear that California is finally getting some decent rain. How is the drought going there? How is the snow pack in your part of the world?

Oh! Large spiders can make one produce some interesting sounds and surprise is never a good idea in such circumstances. Glad to hear that you were OK. Not a particularly pleasant way to test your heart! Hehe!

The other day I had the chainsaw out cutting logs into firewood lengths and I looked down to see a huge huntsman spider crawling over my boot and the editor said I squealed in fright. ;-)!

Enjoy your trip into the little smoke and I hope that it is fun and uneventful.

Wow! Have you got a link to the weather forecast as that would be impressive to see. Well, rain is good too at that time of year. How are the chickens coping with the atmospheric river? Did you get much rain?

There is a cyclone forming off the north western coast of Australia right now. The weather events seems to be getting stronger the more the globe heats up.

Yeah, that was my take on the film too and glad that you enjoyed it. The character Pegg played seemed aware and at the same time uncomfortable in his role too. I did like the t-shirt too which was a quote from the original Point Break film. I shorten that one done to Young and Dumb which seems appropriate.

That is an exceptionally astute judgement on those people and that had not occurred to me, but you are correct.

Yeah dead possums are not much fun! And I don't enjoy games of chasy with the dogs in such matters - fortunately, the dogs understand the English language well enough to get the gist of my instructions...

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Yes only two snowfalls is kind of on the low side but we did get much more rain than usual so moisture is not an issue. We've had some decent length cold snaps as well so that should kill off some of our pests as well. Sure glad you've gotten some rain lately.

We do use firewood to heat but as our house is very large it only heats about 1/3 of it. When my mother died almost 18 years ago I inherited all my handicapped brothers (three) and we had to add on significantly to our house to accommodate them and give everyone their space. Our old smaller house was able to be heated almost exclusively by wood even when well below 0 degrees. As this was a family crisis many decisions were made that were less than practical so we live with them now. None of the brothers currently live with us now but one will most certainly be returning. After they lived with us my mother and father in law moved in for several years. My MIL due to some significant health issues moved into a nursing home close by a few months ago - it's been quite the revolving door around here. (Well that was a long answer about heating with wood.)

As soon as my husband started the treatment last January he brewed up his first batch of mead and it is quite good. We recently brewed some dandelion wine as well.

Margaret

orchidwallis said...

hello again

No snow so far in my neck of the woods. The 3 days of frost that we had, has halted the premature Spring.

No sea eagles either. It is usually a buzzard when everything vanishes and goes quiet. Apart from buzzards, we only have kestrels and sparrow hawks. The red kite has arrived but not on this side of the Island yet. The corvid family do mob birds of prey here.

@Pam I don't have a car. I gave up driving some years back due to intermittent attacks of vertigo. I am one and a half miles from a bus service, but the route is through mud and water in one direction and mud and really deep water in the other. I am reliant on my son and his truck, also a friend approximately fortnightly.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Always glad to hear of any bit of rain that you get, though that was a pretty nice amount. Summer is meant to be green! I should think that you sleep like the dead with all the physical activity you get every day!

Our robins are big, robust birds, members of the thrush family. We have had these huge flocks hanging around, though it's quieter today. I think maybe they got stranded when the blizzard pushed in. There were hundreds of them in the trees along our dirt road the last time I drove into town. One of them flew into our kitchen window the other day and knocked himself for a loop. I took him in and sat on the sofa with him until he came to and then took him outside and let him sit on my finger and listen to his friends until he flew away. Reminded me of your kingfisher.

That's so clever of you to use the laptop al fresco and then transfer what you wrote on the internet inside. I shall try that.

We have "chain" gangs here; they are not actually chained together. They don't even have leg shackles. Groups of volunteers from among the prisoners at the jail are allowed to do work on the public roads, under armed guard, of course.

No, we don't add any kind of reinforcement to the concrete when making paving stones.

How about starting with a very young rooster (roosterling?); he'll very soon take over, I'll bet. I can't believe that you practically pointed out to your friend that his bucket-drowned chick was probably better off out of the gene pool, but it is a hilarious story!

As relaxing bedtime reading I have been reading my sons' old Hardy Boys books, from the 1930's onward. Did you have the Hardy Boys (by Franklin Dixon) in Australia when you were growing up?

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Sounds like you're having a bit of weather. Will be interesting to see what that low, does. Our atmospheric river seems a bit shallow, in spots. Yesterday afternoon was glorious and sunny. There was a lot of rain, this morning, but it seems to be drying out, now. Compared to last year (none) this years snowpack is quit substantial. Just Google "Cliff Mass weather blog". He pops up, right at the top. The satellite pictures he posted are spectacular. Of course, he's always posting one spectacular picture, or another.

There's landslide warnings out, all over the state. The ground is very saturated. There is a slide that closed a backroad from Centralia, to the coast. I used to drive it, often, when I'd go out and work in the library branches in McCleary, Elma, Montesanno ... and beyond. THE worst tip I ever had, coming home, was along that road. Branches the size of Christmas trees, coming down on the road. Pouring rain, cascading down the roadside cliffs, being caught by the wind and shooting horizontally out across the pavement, trying to blow me into the Chehalis river.

There's a whole collector's niche for "Depression Glass." Books and books on the stuff ... and some of the rarer pieces or colors, go for quit a bit of money. Lots of patterns. Most common colors were green or pink. Used to be sold for pennies, at the Five and Dime stores. Or, given away as premiums in flour, cereal, etc.. Some glass designer was really having one on, sometime in the 1930s. There's one pattern called either "Floral or Poinsettia". When I worked at an Antique Mall, little old ladies used to come in and ask for it. One day I took a good look at it, and thought "My gosh! That's marijuana!" The 1930s, was when the stuff REALLY became illegal. But getting back to the plot, you're right. A lot of it was made on the cheap and is very brittle and subject to flake.

Your right about stumbling on recipes. Not long ago, I threw some turkey stock, turkey and veg, into some rice. Nuked it, and was surprised to discover all the stock had been absorbed by the pre-cooked rice. Without intending to, I had a nice paella. Which I'd never made, before. But so far, never to be duplicated.

Re: The Huntsman spider: We have a fairly recent saying, here. "Screamed like a little girl." :-). Luckily, when I had my encounter with the spider, I had not yet seen the picture of an enormous Australian spider, devouring a bird. Years ago, I saw a National Geographic picture of a preying mantis, sucking the life out of a Hummingbird. Gave me the horrors. Wish I had never seen it. :-).

Was checking out the "new" list at the library, this morning, and another Bryson book has popped up! "Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain." The hold list is already rather long, but I put it on hold, anyway. Probably won't see it for three months, or so.

Saw a picture of Simon Pegg at the opening of Star Trek. He looked rather well turned out in formal black ... with a kilt :-).

Well, it looks like the chickens might beat last weeks record in egg production. We'll see. I don't know. When I got my eight chicks, last year, it really wasn't that hard to raise them in the laundry room, in a big box with a light over it. Which I slowly moved up, over several weeks to acclimate them to cooler temperatures. I think the best way to get a good rooster is to get a really young one, and grow him up in the flock. I think. When I got my 8 chicks, I was hoping for a rooster, but, no dice. I think I can order sexed chicks. But how many? An heir and a spare? Maybe two spares?

Must have hit another shallow spot in the atmospheric river. Sun's out, and it stopped raining. Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Margaret:

Our young pecan trees are planted outside of the 8 ft. (2 1/2 m.) garden fence - we have run out of room for trees in there. They have 4 ft. fencing around them with chicken wire over the top, soon to be either 6 ft. fencing or fencing set around it that has a diameter of a length that a deer can't reach over it to the tree. That takes a lot of fencing.

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Over the past decade here, the winter snows more often than not fall as rain. A mate of mine is from the northern state of Queensland and he said that he enjoys the break in pest cycles down here that a cold winter snap brings. Having never lived in a warmer area I never would have understood what you meant by that, but it makes perfect sense. You may be able to grow citrus and olives outside soon with the way that the winters are getting more mild over time. Thanks for saying that about the rain, it has been a bit scant this summer.

Today I travelled north to the apple growing area to buy a few boxes of seconds apples (which are really fourths I reckon) and pick some feral apples for the purposes of making hard apple cider today. And that area has irrigation channels from way, way back in the day and the apple trees and orchards looked quite healthy. The reason they grow orchards there is because the mountain / volcano produced the exact mix of minerals for fruit trees and the climate has very cold winters - colder than here, but the summers are much hotter. Anyway, just north of there was very, very dry and the paddocks - if they had been overstocked - looked threadbare...

Thanks for the answer and of course, apologies, I forgot that you had mentioned that before. Yes, act in haste and repent at leisure the old saying goes. You are very kind to have taken your brothers in. Respect. Health issues will - my gut feeling says - loom ever more largely in out futures and home is probably the most likely place that such things will play out. And yeah, large houses are tough on the heating front. Heating is one of those things that is hard to get right until you live with it and find the systems shortcomings. The rotten heater people here sold me two hydronic radiators which I've never used and it will cost more to remove them than they are worth selling second hand...

Ha! That is exactly what I was thinking! :-)! Good for him and glad to hear that it turned out well. The only bad batch of mead I've ever produced was when I purchased honey from a different supplier than my usual two and they had substituted sugar syrup into the honey and the mead was really bad and had to be rescued... Well done with the dandelion wine too, I've never tried that although there are plenty of them here, because I'd read that it takes bags of the flowers to produce. Did you had gather much dandelion?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Oh! I hope the early spring plants aren't too surprised by the sudden frost? I've read that it isn't the freezing that damages the cells in the plants, but the thawing out of those cells in the plants? I suppose the cell walls break or something like that? Are most of your plants fairly frost hardy? I was also wondering whether you've ever tried growing anything from outside of your climate zone and wondering whether that worked out? The heat and dry this summer has been pretty hard on the poor tea camellia... I reckon it likes the heat, but needs far more water than I was prepared to commit to the poor plant. I was thinking of writing this week about the water, how much was used etc...

So many of my interactions with nature are like the water storage, when nature supplies it usually in abundance, you have to run around like crazy collecting and storing it for later use - when it just won't be around. Even the solar electricity is like that, it is still very baffling to me how people don't want to accept that the sun is low in the sky and just doesn't shine much over winter - and that is why it is cold. You would think that that would be common sense, but people are genuinely surprised by that revelation! :-)! Hehe!

No sea eagles. That's a shame, were they ever once present on your island? I've never heard of a buzzard before. What an unfortunate name for a beautiful bird. It likes like a hawk or a falcon. Very impressive. Who names these things... Well that is hardly surprising as Corvid family birds are the smartest of the smart. Very intelligent birds and your corvids sound exactly the same as the magpies here (which are of the same family). Unlike many people, I have a cordial relationship with the magpies, who do the same thing to the birds of prey as up in your part of the world. Do you get along OK with your Ravens? Unfortunately for some humans - especially bike riders - corvids take an instant dislike and they have excellent memories for humans and can live for 20 years. The magpies dive bomb the chickens when they are free roaming in the orchard, but it is mostly harmless and well, it is not as if the chickens aren't getting up to mischief... As a funny story, the magpies must have been watching me shooing the chickens away from digging up the driveway because they now clear them off that area - and I don't have to do a thing. It is weird isn't it? Anyway, I'm grateful for their services and they get permanent and safe drinking water. We're all happy, except for the chickens... And the rhododendrons growing along the driveway no longer have their root systems dug up and exposed to the sun and the editor and I get to enjoy the flowers!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thank you and it was a relief - especially after all the thunder and lightning. Lightning was apparently the cause of the Wye River fire which took out one third of the houses on Christmas Day. Now as an interesting side note, I have it on good authority from a credible source in the building industry that the hand full of houses that were built to the - extreme crazy standards - that this house was constructed to survived the Wye River fire regardless of how close the trees were. It is no guarantee of survival, but it is a relief to hear, because no has tested these things in their entireity.

As an interesting side story to that fire, there is a lot of public outrage because many of the houses there were holiday homes of the old school shack variety style and had been there for decades. Many of those holiday homes were unable to be insured and people are surprised at the current situation that they are unable to rebuild an old school style shack because of the heavy costs of having to comply with the new standards to replace what was a cheap shack. And then other people were under insured and the insurance companies appear to be offering the funds to replace what was there and not what can be built which will clearly cost far more. I keep telling people to over insure their homes because of the costs of the new standards of construction and I'm not sure how many have taken me seriously. The whole thing is a disaster on many fronts.

Ha! Maybe in your part of the world summer is meant to be green. A mate of mine from New Zealand says that summers here are brown and yellow! I actually live here because it is far greener than the rest of the state and that is one of the reason the old timers built their lovely old homes and planted out the English gardens and that part of the mountain range is greener than here because it faces south and not south west like here (remember things are upside down here!).

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Ah, thanks for that and it is nice to hear that the very large Robin returned to its family and friends after a bit of TLC. :-)! The Robins here are very small - and very fast.

Yeah! The laptop doesn't mind at all. I have to be very careful with it as it is seven years old now which is quite ancient for a laptop, but it does alright. You'll have to let me know how it goes (once your spring kicks in though).

That doesn't surprise me as the prison population in the US is huge. Mind you, it is increasing here too. I've always taken that to be a measure of the increase in wealth inequality in society, but I don't really know though. I could use their help breaking some rocks!

Fair enough about the reinforcement. I'll bet the moss and lichens look good! Concrete has a lot of surface area. I'm a bit embarrassed to mention that there was moss growing on top of the rear rubber door seal on the little white Suzuki! It sort of made the door stick a bit, the rubber seal looked pretty good after a couple of minutes cleaning...

Hmmm, I don't know, but the ladies may sort him out if he started as a little chick? Dunno. Roosters have been a mixed bag for sure. The reason I mention the Peking bantam rooster, is because I've known one and he was a right little gentleman. Haha! Yeah, my mate didn't take it so well, but he's going to try again so who knows how it will turn out. All I'm saying is that champions rarely drown in buckets of shallow water. ;-)!

No, I've never heard of those stories. Thanks for the reference.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, the weather is really weird here this week - I mean more weird than usual! :-)! The possible rain seems to be coming from the north east tonight swirling in an entirely different direction than it otherwise does (most weather comes from the west, north west, and north west). I have no idea what to make of it.

Rain one day and glorious and sunny weather the next sounds almost perfect to me. I hope the chickens got out of their hen house and enjoyed a good scratch around in the sunny conditions? Your good snow pack will lead to decent summer stream flows (well, I reckon that anyway). OK, I'm impressed that satellite photo shows one huge storm. Truly massive! It is interesting that the storm moved further north compared to the earlier predictions as it progressed its way ever closer to the west coast. I wonder if the heat island effect from southern and central California came into play pushing the atmospheric river further north? Stay safe, those landslides are something else altogether. As an interesting side note, the recent rain over the fire damaged area in Wye River (the Christmas day fire) has produced landslides too. I reckon it may have something to do with the steepness of the terrain combined with torrential rain? Is the terrain steep in parts of your country?

Ha! I haven't heard the term five and dime for absolutely years. Was that term seriously used? My grandmother use to tell me to stop carrying on like a two bob (twenty cent) watch! ;-)!

Haha! Ah yes, artists can be quite naughty in the things they try to slip into the mainstream narrative. Anyway, it could stand a bit of shaking up! :-)! I wasn't aware that the Depression glass was brittle or subject to breakage. It sort of makes sense as the economics of production enters the discussion... Ha! The Bendigo pottery company (which is north of here) used to export pottery demijohns to the US under the guise of health drinks during the prohibition. Ahh, happy days of export income from the silliness of prohibition. Personally, I'd probably legalise the lot and gain tax revenues, but then the crims don't necessarily go away do they, and the other sources of income for them are mildly unpleasant from my reading of history...

Oh yeah, how good is paella? That is so true. As a bit of a confession (what's going on? There must be something in the water?) I recently substituted cheese kransky (which is a polish style sausage) for chorizo sausage which is the traditional Spanish addition just because I reckon it tastes better in a paella I prepared for guests. And they loved it too! Turkey would be an awesome swap in paella. Yum, I'm totally salivating! Yum! Good luck, your mission, should you choose to accept it ... Hehe!!!

Alright, the same thing is said here and I was sort of hedging around that a bit. Look it was a really scary and massive spider... Oh, the bird eating spiders... Yeah, exactly as was once wisely spoken in the most excellent film: The Hangover, some things can't be unseen. And thus the word "unseen" entered the English language. And I've neatly and tidily avoided further discussion of massive spiders that want to bite you! Nooooo!

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Bill Bryson is a prolific author. Now the term Little Dribbling clearly has other connotations, but wasn't that the subject of another series, as it seems to ring a mental bell for some strange reason? Who makes up these names anyway? As in the past, I am in awe of your library system.

Well, I couldn't find those images, but word on the street is that Simon Pegg has written the entire third film. Oh, it's going to be good! :-)! The thing I don't get about the kilt, is that winters there are very cold, no let me re-phrase that, extremely cold - so I just don't get the kilt. Brrr! But respect for Simon for wearing that.

Wow, you seriously got lucky (or maybe not?) in getting an entire batch of hens from your chicks. Statistically that is very unusual and quite improbable. I'm not saying that you are telling tall tales, it just makes me wonder whether something unusual has happened to the gene pool with the suppliers of chickens in your part of the world. Honestly, that would be unheard of down here from a clutch of eight. How they sex their chicks is way beyond me, because I buy point of lay chickens (which is about 12 to 18 weeks) and it is almost impossible to tell who is who in the zoo.

That is a tough question, how many roosters do you maintain? I honestly don't know the answer, but I suspect it has to be more than a few and I've been wondering about that question for more than a while now.

Nice to hear that the sun is out in your neck of the woods!

I may head off to see the film the "The Big Short" one day soon as the reviews have been glowing for what is a film on high finance - which is sort of unusual and unexpected really. Anyway, it will both entertain and annoy me at the same time. In a sign of the downturn here, the banks have been shaking loose some of their predators - which is a very interesting move as they are usually protected species.

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

@Pam

Well we may have to resort to a taller fence though the trees are getting tall enough now that the deer can't get to all the new shoots.

I should have mentioned that the robins I was referring to were in the thrush family since robins around the world are not the same as here. More flocks are around now - quite strange. You really only see flocks of robins early in the spring when they are returning and before they migrate in the fall. During the rest of the summer they pair off. However, they are very common. They like to next in some inopportune places too. Do you find the same in Virginia?

@ Chris

Your fruit looks beautiful. Are you plagued by specific pests? Apples are hard to raise without some treatment. Some years they are so damaged that they aren't even usable for applesauce. Interestingly pears right next to the apple trees are pretty much pest free.

Re: roosters I like to have a rooster as an alarm. They really round up the hens if there is a predator. Fortunately roosters are easy to come by so if I get a nasty one he's in the soup pot. I'm not sure if it was here or somewhere else though that said hens may not lay as well with a rooster around. I'm guessing it would depend on the temperament of the rooster and if you have too many for the number of hens. I had a bunch of young Buckeye roosters that I was growing until they were six months old. As they had all been raised by their mothers they remained in the same pen until I realized they were too much for the hens - something I should have foreseen. I removed them all but the hens would hardly lay at all for weeks. They did dress out to at least 5 lbs though so I was glad I kept them though it sure got noisy around here.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - As atmospheric rivers go, this isn't much of one. I think they move in a north easterly direction, because of the hot spots, you mentioned, off the California Coast. And, they get a bit of a northern nudge, due to the Japanese Current. Landslides often happen, because the veg that holds everything in place, is burned off. Yes, it's very up and down, here. But, even gentle slopes can start to move, due to the clay layers underneath, everything.

Yes, Five & Dime is a phrase I don't hear much anymore. Now it's all Dollar Stores :-). As all the chains of five and dimes started closing up and blowing away, it fell out of use. Even the smallest towns had them. Speaking of which, I real a very small little book, a couple of days ago. "I Lost It At The Video Store." Something I hadn't really thought about, much. It's interviews with a lot of independent film makers (Kevin Smith, Tarantino, etc.) ... all those people who started out as video store clerks and later went on to make movies. A 15 or 20 year "golden age" when the video stores created lots of money sloshing about, which fueled independent film making. And, the cultural impact they had ... the entire history of western films (pretty much) at your fingertips. We used to have a Blockbuster Video, Hollywood Video and a large independent, here. All gone. As far as I know, the only place to rent DVDs is at the Safeway. Just to be able to browse the aisles and make discoveries.

Ah, yes. Tax revenue. I've quit lost patience with our County Commission. We're one of the poorest counties, in the State. Mara-hoochie is now legal here, and regulated, pretty much like liquor. In the State. Now, I don't partake, myself ... but couldn't give two figs what other people do. The Commission is throwing up one barrier after another, to sale, and commercial grow operations. All that potential tax revenue is going to other counties. And, they had to dip into the 9 million dollar reserve, this year, by 3 million dollars. So, if this keeps up, the County will be broke in another two years. Sigh.

Oh, yes. Substitution, in food, can be fun. I used to make a quiche, that instead of using bacon, I used cheap ground pork ... and replaced all that expensive swiss cheese with a cheap sharp cheddar. Yum!

Well, in facing off against the giant spider from outer space, I sure was running around with my hair on fire (and I'm pretty much bald ... beard on fire?). I think I was yelling something like "Ick! Ick! Ick!". :-)

Bryson did a book "Notes from a Small Island", years ago. This book will retrace his path, as he observes what's changed in England, and what's remained the same. Hmmm. Maybe I should get that, while I'm waiting for the new book.

Well, I don't think it was lucky at all, as I was hoping for at least one rooster :-).

Decisions to be made. I've been relying more and more on Chrome, as my operating system is old. Now I got a notice from Chrome that as of April, they'll stop supporting the version of Safari, that I have. No more updates or patches. Sigh. I thought Chrome would go on forever ... that it stood alone. The expense ... the learning curve. Sigh.

Heading to Chef John's, today. Going to take him some eggs! Hee, hee! Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

There was a terrific wind last night, bad enough to keep me awake. New neighbour thought that his roof might come off (much creaking) it didn't.

We have never had sea eagles here. Ravens have only recently arrived to the west of me. I certainly have magpies and crows, I see a magpie whenever I glance out of the window. However they are terrified of people and will fly off at the slightest human movement. Their terror must have arrived genetically after centuries of being shot by game keepers. I suppose that centuries may be an exaggeration.

Neighbour is stringing through 2 layers of barbed wire on top of his fencing. It all looks a bit like a prison.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

The only pests I seem to get for apples are the rosella parrots and it is really weird because they will eat some apple varieties but not others. I don't understand that at all. The Jonathon variety apples seem to be a favourite of theirs and I've never seen a single fruit from those trees. I'm waiting for the canopy in the orchard to get very complex and confusing for the birds and that should reduce the amount of fruit the birds take. I've seen this in action elsewhere and it does work. I can't afford to net the whole orchard. The editor has suggested netting just a few trees which is a good idea and we'll probably do that next year. Honestly, every year there is a little bit more fruit from all of the trees so I'm not too concerned.

As to insect pests and diseases - nope! Seriously, the sheer volume of small birds and predator insects cleans up most of the insect pests. A locust plague came through here a few years back and it stopped here as the birds got very fat and happy over a few weeks. With disease, I'm in a clearing in a forest so there is a bit of buffer between me and other orchards and no one is growing many of the species of fruit that are here at the farm in the entire mountain range. When I was in Melbourne it was a different story and pests and disease were a disaster zone. The sad citrus trees were full of gall wasp and peaches and nectarines were totally full of fungal problems. It was very disturbing and you were only as good as your neighbours.

Pears are hardier again than apple trees because they usually have bigger root systems so they're not as hungry in lean times. More manure in late winter and early spring for your apples may help a lot? Dunno. It is worthwhile experimenting.

Thanks for your experience with the roosters. And yes, angry roosters make good soup stock. Oh yeah, that would have been noisy as! :-)! Sometimes the larger roosters can be a bit hard on the smaller bantam hens and I sorted one rooster out for doing that bit of nastiness.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Mate, that was impressive photo all the same, even if the results were a bit less than impressive on the ground. The clay is apparently quite stable here in this mountain range, but worse in more steep ranges. With the burning, is that deliberate to get the wood ash into the soil? I was sort of wondering about that as people have a whole lot of different definitions of burning and reasons for doing so and I find it to be a fascinating subject which has a complex history here. Oh my! You would never expect a gentle slope to slide. Is that more likely in very wet years? Or is it in the period of time after the wet year?

Five and dime lost out due to the impact of inflation so it became the dollar store. Don't laugh but down here they call them two dollar shops - the curse of the weak exchange rate, I guess. A lot of stuff in them is more expensive than two dollars anyway... Hey one other interesting difference is that what you call Thrift stores, we call Opportunity Shops. Seriously, it is like we put some sort of positive spin on the whole thing.

There is still a video shop in the nearest town and I'm a member. They do daily and weekly rentals of movies and TV show series. I watched Six Feet Under courtesy of them.

Well, as a fun fact: In Tarantino's latest film which is at the cinema and the movie is called: The Hateful Eight, apparently he has gone old school enough to insert an intermission. Ah, remember the intermission where you'd dive out to pick up an ice-cream or popcorn or more lollies? Yum! Or the more utilitarian exercise of visiting the toilet.

I hadn't realised that Kevin Smith had that sort of a background. I really enjoyed the films Clerks and Clerks 2 which was so very wrong it was amusing... He has made some entertaining films over the years. Apparently he was out here on a speaking tour recently.

Yeah, it does seem to be slightly disconnected nowadays. When I was a very young adult a mate of mine lived across the road in a share house. The TV station used to screen Star Trek: The Next Generation series at 11pm on a Tuesday night. They didn't own a TV so the entire household would lob over across the road to watch the show in the small flat that I lived in. It was a lot of fun and laughs. Then one day for no apparent reason the TV station dropped the show without finishing it. We were all distraught! Fortunately the video shop came to the rescue, but it was never the same because there was no reason to sit up late into the early hours talking rubbish. Still, I saw the ending which was a couple of years behind the US and all of the movies when they were released!

A very tidy choice of name too! I actually care very little what other people do too, as long as they don't extend their problems. Ouch. I hear you. If I'm correct in my supposition, your pension comes from them? Ouch. I saw the film: The Big Short a few nights back and the editor and I sat up way into the wee hours last night - watching the thunderstorm roll through the valley below - and discussing economics. It seemed somehow appropriate. I must admit that I'm mildly worried about the next twelve months.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Sharp cheddar (we call it Tasty cheese) is awesome on a quiche. I never got the whole real men don't eat quiche thing as it was just stupid. And you know I hear about it now when I'm eating homemade lunch elsewhere and I just look at them and say: "whatever". Actually, I normally tell them to F off.

You win! I'll trade my girlie squeal for your "Ick! Ick! Ick!" Hehe!!!!! Very funny!

I read that. You know, the good Doctor Bryson appeared to be a bit depressed when he wrote that book and I do hope that he manages to redeem himself with the next book although I will await your review?

Well, we can look for different outcomes... I'd suggest that you won, but objectives can be quite different depending on ones goals. :-)!

Ouch. I hear you man. Linux is meant to be good for very old computers, but is outside my experience. I run an old laptop with Win XP which is still quite good. Everything else in Win 7 and Firefox, but I have turned the updates off and deleted the awful bit of Malware which urges you to upgrade to Win 10. I remain unconvinced as to the benefits?

Why would you require updates and patches anyway? Dunno. It all depends on what you want to view and whether they have all the flashy gee-gaws that people expect.

In my experience the hardware rarely lasts long anyway. It is the capacitors that give out in electronics before all else.

Hehe! I do hope that appreciate the hard work of all of your hens?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

That sounds like a huge amount of wind. Out of interest, are the new neighbours in an old house or a recent build? Just for your interest, a lot of houses are constructed so that they have a little bit of flexibility in them. Too much rigidity is a bad thing as the structure may fail without warning... I do hope their land is holding together...

Fair enough, I just assumed that one bird would assume that high order predator role. I recall seeing a very old River Cottage UK episode when Hugh was talking to a very old neighbour who said that people used to band together and hurl clubs at the Ravens in order to clop one so that it fell out of its high perch and they could cook it up. I don't doubt that that sort of thing gets wired into the consciousness of animals. It probably isn't an exaggeration. The Aboriginals used to be very careful so that the marsupials didn't become too spear shy and they constantly moved the hunting grounds around. Certainly the big marsupials show little fear of me as they know I mean them no harm.

Ha! Well, it is unsightly, but cheap. That is like a lot of things these days, is it not?

From my experience, the fencing falls over. Like most fencing, other than stone fencing - and even then - it just doesn't last long. The engineers have it right when they say: Good; Cheap; and Fast - pick any two. ;-)!

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Mostly, it's landslides after, or during, heavy rains. The burn offs come through forest, brush or grassland fires.

Thrift stores called opportunity shops? That is interesting. Sometimes, we just call them junk stores :-).

Oh, yeah. Don't see many intermissions ... not as many long extravaganza movies, anymore. "A cast of thousands!" as the old trailers used to say. Also, a long intermission in theaters that showed two movies, or, as they were called, a "double bill." Don't see those, much anymore, either. They played a bit of a cartoon .. that looked really old. Dancing popcorn and soft drinks, singing ... "Let's all go to the lobby, let's all go to the lobby..." Today's ear worm. :-). Drive in movie theaters? There used to be thousands from coast to coast. Now, I think there's just a hand full. Movie palaces ... and, they were palaces. The "big" movies, (Cleopatra, Sound of Music, etc.) first played the big palaces, downtown. Before they filtered out to the neighborhood theaters. I remember the Bagdad had huge concrete elephants, that looked like they were holding up the ceiling ... their eyes glowed red when the lights went down.

I saw the silent version of the Phantom of the Opera, there. Actually, you were supposed to be there for the (semi) famous organ player ... I was there for the movie :-). The lights went down, there was a deep rumble that sounded like an approaching earthquake ... the organ rose out of the floor with those crashing, chilling opening bars of "Phantom." Everybody screamed (like a little girl, or otherwise :-) when the femme fatale ripped the mask of the Phantom. :-) Great fun.

Oh, I quit like Kevin Smith's movies. They're so ... transgressive. Jay and Silent Bob are two of my favorite characters. And, yes, getting together with your mates, watching some bit of serial, eating bad junk food, talking way too late into the night and solving the problems of the world. Spent the afternoon a Chef John's. He has the standard 300 channels and is addicted to football and cooking shows. Boring! But he made a big tray of nachos. The standard. Corn chips, ground beef, peppers, olives, cheese ... he could have skipped the mangoes :-). That quiche thing ... sounds too ... French .. foreign ... effete. Who cares. Yum! Some people got around all the cultural baggage by just calling it "cheese pie." :-)

Most of the upgrades and patches seem to do with the graphics. As if, we need more distracting graphics.

A small part of my pension comes from the State of Washington. The rest from the Federal government, via Social Security. So, the county can go broke, but my little checks will keep rolling in.

Oh, I quit appreciate my hens ... and tell them so, frequently. Even when they're off the lay. 29 eggs, last week. Three more than the previous week. Lew

Damo said...

RE: Chris & Others on computers / upgrades / patches

In a previous life I used to work at the pointy end of IT support. As with most things in life, everyone has their opinions and thus I shall offer mine.

Linux has never been great for the typical home user, and I suspect it never will be. Although, if someone with moderate computer skill sets it up and you will only be browsing the web it will probably be OK. Occasionally I have done some basic programming and it is a lot easier on Linux to do that sort of development stuff.

RE: windows and updates. I strongly suggest keeping automatic updates on, although this can be painful on metered connections. I remember one time over a decade ago when broadband was starting to become commonplace and a customers brand new unpatched XP computer got infected within 30 seconds of going online, the user had not even clicked anything. Things are worse today, although no matter what you do there are back doors and secret (zero-day) exploits which large, nefarious institutions can always take advantage.

It used to be the case that you needed to upgrade to do anything, as the constant increase in computing power left you behind in a matter of years (e.g. DOS -> Windows, Dial-Up -> broadband etc). Nowadays, not only has that pace slowed down (and perhaps even stopped), but the requirements of the average user is so far removed from what a modern computer can do, that basically any old thing is normally pretty good. My computer is 3-4 years old and I have no intention of replacing it for the foreseeable future. However, running old software on the internet is sort of like playing Russian roulette. And even if you don't get infected, most websites don't render correctly on Chrome/Firefox and Windows XP anymore.

My suggestion is a minimum of Windows 7 (updates on) with Firefox (install an ad and script blocker). Windows 8 and 10 by all accounts seems pretty good and will actually run quicker than Windows 7 (code has been optimised). Don't bother with anti-virus / system clean up tools - they tend to just gum up the works.

If your current computer is a bit slow, save your files to a memory stick and buy an SSD for about a $100. Put that in and install a fresh copy of windows. The difference will be night and day (probably not worth while on computers getting closer to 10 years though - they will most likely fail soon and it wouldn't be worth putting money into them).

Back in the day, cheap motherboards use to get leaky capacitors within a few years and start crashing randomly. Dust and heat can also shorten lifespans. I reckon you can reasonably expect 5 years from most computing devices and hope for 7. Anything beyond that is cream.

Steve Carrow said...

Harvesting and storing the surplus- Yes, this is one of those natural processes that is fractal in nature- happens at many scales. I saw a fascinating documentary on hummingbirds. It was mind boggling how much they had to eat to survive, and how touch and go it is just to survive overnight. But storage of surplus is everywhere. The trees collect sun all summer, convert to carbs, and send down to the roots to enable growth and buds next spring, the squirrels stash nuts, the bears fatten up for hibernation, organisms everywhere scrambling for their portion while the getting is good. Storage for lean times and simply for the annual cycles of life is one more example where we should observe and learn from nature.

Permaculture principle #2, capture and store energy- That's what all the canning, preserving, nut gathering is all about.

I like your observation that the just in time fad has been a pure economic phenomenon, and shows how disconnected from natural rhythms we've strayed.