Monday, 29 February 2016

Friend or Foe?

The days are still hot here. And for the past few weeks the rain seems to have gone elsewhere. Blue skies and light winds are slowly turning to Autumn conditions and the nights have been both cool and clear. The plants are also showing signs of the approaching autumn. Today the blackberries have almost finished supplying their delicious berries.

Blackberries are one of my favourite berries, as to me they taste of the summer sunshine. It is very considerate of the plants to capture that taste. Blackberry plants are also virtually indestructible and will produce huge quantities of fruit even in the sort of hot and dry summer conditions like this one.

It is a surprise to me when people tell me how much they don’t like blackberries. Or they describe the plant as a noxious weed – whatever that means. The local council in this mountain range sprays herbicide on many of the blackberry canes. That spraying unfortunately produces a huge quantity of dry flammable material a month or two later at the height of summer, which is a serious fire risk. The blackberries however, don’t seem to mind the herbicide as two years later they grow back and look more or less the same to me.

Not everyone is as excited about the blackberry bush as I am. So I undertook a bit of an investigation to find out what all of the fuss was about.

No research on any fruit is complete without opening Dr Louis Glowinski’s most excellent book: “The complete book of fruit growing in Australia”. It really is a complete book as he covers over 200 fruits growing in Australia. He writes about the blackberry: “Well, it is rumoured that blackberries are invasive plants, weeds that can take over a garden, are hard to manage, and unless carefully tended become a tangled mess and hardly bear at all. And unfortunately the rumours are correct.” However, on the other hand he also writes: “These most luscious of fruits are so delicate that their indescribably delicious flavour can only be experienced by those lucky folks able to select their berries direct from the vine”. I note that those observations indicate that the plant is equal parts friend and foe.

Even Pliny the Elder weighed in to the dirty blackberry dogfight with the opinion: “the blackberry’s habit of spreading by tip layers (which is a fancy name for a new plant appearing wherever the end of a cane hits the ground) ‘in a manner that would fill up the whole place if resistance were not offered by cultivation’. I believe he reckons the plant is a bit weedy! However, I also note that in the Middle Ages the plants were also used for wine, making blue dye and for medicines especially to soothe the throat and eyes. So again, the blackberry plants are both friend and foe!

The Victorian state government has a website devoted to weeds and blackberry is listed as one of those plants. Of particular interest on that website was the statistic that there are over 2,000 named entities in the Rubus fruticosus aggregate, and that all of the blackberry species in the aggregate that are found in Australia are of European origin. So who knows what the blackberry plants are in your area? All I know is that the blackberry fruit which I pick locally can be turned into jam and wine and it is a real shame to me that the blackberry picking season is now over.

The weedy website can be found here: Agriculture Victoria: A to Z of weeds: Blackberry
As the blackberry fruit is collected, I freeze them until I have enough berries to produce a good quantity of jam and wine
For the past few weeks the editor and I have been picking blackberries from a secluded spot in the local forest. Once the berries are brought back to the kitchen, they are cleaned and frozen until the end of the season, at which point they are converted into jam and wine. And today is that day!
A huge pot of blackberry jam simmers on the stove whilst the glass jam jars and lids are sterilised
Today, the editor wove her magic in the kitchen and produced blackberry and rhubarb jam as well as two demijohns of blackberry wine. The jam will stay fresh for over two years, whilst we are working towards ageing all of the wines for at least 12 months.
Blackberry jam in the glass bottles and two large demijohns of blackberry wine was produced today
This time of year the farm activities are all about preserving the glut of summer produce for consumption over the following months when the sun is low in the sky and the air is cold and summer is far away.

The tomatoes are currently producing a huge quantity of fruit and a few minutes of picking produced this sizeable collection:
A few minutes of picking produced this sizeable collection of home grown tomatoes
In the past, we’ve consumed the tomatoes as they’ve ripened, but really a person can only ever consume so many tomatoes. Yes, it is a problem that we bear stoically! This year however, we purchased a second hand food dehydrator with the intention of using the huge amount of solar electricity which would otherwise go to waste at this time of year. What better way to use the glut of tomatoes and solar electricity than to produce sun dried tomatoes…
The glut of tomatoes were laid out on the trays waiting to be processed in the food dehydrator
Sun dried tomatoes (using the solar power of course) have to be stored in olive oil once processed, to ensure that they do not come into contact with the air which may potentially cause them to become inedible and/or toxic. Fortunately there are many quality olive oil plantations nearby and olive oil is of a very high quality and excellent taste. Our sun dried tomatoes will be used both on fresh bread and pizza as the dehydration process really concentrates the flavour.
The now processed sun dried tomatoes sit in oil so that they do not spoil by coming into contact with the air
Seed saving for particular varieties of tomatoes has commenced this week. We grow cherry tomatoes which are yellow, red, yellow/green, and black Russian varieties, and we will be selecting seed over the next few weeks from the best tasting fruit with the most vigorous growth. Generally the seeds are left in water for three days so that the natural fermentation process that occurs kills off any nasties that may exist on the seeds and cause them to spoil. The seeds are then left on paper to dry and stored for the next season (which begins in late August / early September here).
Yellow cocktail tomato seeds were selected this week
Another form of storing the summer surplus is storing the cut and split firewood in the original firewood shed. Firewood is hard, hot work and it is a pleasure to see the original firewood shed slowly filling up.
The original firewood shed is slowly filling up
Did I mention already that this summer has been particularly hot and dry? Well, since the beginning of the year, each week has produced a little bit of rain, but overall not much more than two inches of rain has fallen so far this year. Despite those conditions I’ve been managing the water resources reasonably well and have a bit of spare capacity to spray in the dry orchard. With that in mind, the other afternoon I raced off to the local hardware store to see whether they had a water sprinkler on a stand which I could place in the orchard. The hardware store did one better than that! They had a number of water sprinklers on tripods which they told me no one wanted to purchase, so I availed myself of two of them. Being on a tripod with adjustable length legs the sprinklers are almost perfect for anyone who lives on the side of a mountain.
I picked up two sprinklers on tripods with adjustable legs this week
I always worry about water and a few days ago, I undertook an audit of the water used since the beginning of the summer season to that point. The audit calculated that we use approximately 740 litres (195 gallons) of water per day during summer between ourselves, the dogs, chickens, bees, orchard (300+ fruit trees), herbs and vegetables. I reckon that the vegetables require the most water. The calculations are as follows:
Water usage for the summer including: ourselves, the dogs, chickens, bees, orchard (300+ fruit trees), herbs and vegetables

The activities this week weren’t all about the sort of pragmatic, putting away surpluses for later in the year sorts of activities. The editor found a weather vane (with a chicken) at the hippy country market and she just had to have it. The weather vane was installed onto the recently converted firewood shed this week:
A weather vane was installed onto the recently converted firewood shed this week
Last week I introduced five new chickens to the farm and it is with pleasure that I announce that the new chickens are doing quite well and really enjoy their evenings roaming around the orchard looking for choice greens and grubs!
The new chickens enjoy their evenings roaming around the orchard looking for choice greens and grubs!
The chickens here are totally spoilt rotten! A few months ago, I installed a swing in the chicken enclosure for the chickens to jump and play around on. Unfortunately, none of the chickens ever enjoyed the swing, so today, I removed the swing and installed a solid steel perch in its place within the chicken enclosure. Within a few minutes the chickens were jumping all over it. Observant readers will note that in the photo below one of the new leghorn chickens is on the steel perch!
One of the new leghorn chickens enjoys the new steel perch installed in the chicken enclosure today
The temperature outside now at about 7.15pm is 18.4'C degrees Celsius (65.1'F). So far this year there has been 57.8mm (2.3 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total 55.8mm (2.2 inches).

90 comments:

Damo said...

Another blackberry fan here. I have loved them ever since I was a kid. On a summer morning walking to the dairy (it was my job to feed the calves) they provided a delicious treat. Of course, as the season progressed, competition with my siblings for the choicest berries intensified and thorn related injuries would increase! Coincidentally, I made two jars of jam today (only picked a little bit). 2 parts berries, 1 part sugar plus lemon juice and chia seeds. I admit to sneaking some out of the pot, tasty! I can also report the blackberry chutney I made a few weeks ago is almost gone - great with cheese!

Some readers also might be happy to know I wrote an exciting essay for my blog the other day. It involves roman history, mad max and star trek. Terrific stuff :-)
http://zeehanmanse.blogspot.com.au/2016/02/the-future-belongs-to-mad.html

Coco said...

I can finally report that the varieties of eucalyptus planted round these parts are: Nitens, for cold zones, and Globulus in more coastal areas. There´s a proposal to limit planting of Nitens in the higher elevations that´s being hotly contested.

I have a single bag of frozen blackberries in the freezer and am wondering what to do with them. Topping for cheesecake?

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Fay - I've never run across any articles or books about the transportation of convicts from England to America. I'm sure they are out there. The migration to America, was so huge, I'm sure they kind of got "lost in the shuffle." I suspect a lot of convicts, once they served their term, probably just moved to another part of the America's, kept quit about it (or, invented entirely new stories), or went back to the Mother Country. I'm sure you've read Hugh's "Fatal Shore." So have I. And, there was a book and film about the ship, "Pandora."

I'd say, if anyone, at this time, stumbled across a convict in their genealogical wood pile, they'd be quit proud about it. "Bad" men and women (as long as they didn't do anything too horrendous) have a certain ... cachet.

Being an old guy (and, Mama raised me right) I tend to be a bit uncomfortable with the new familiarity. I worked long stints in libraries, in the 60's and mid 70s. After a long hiatus, I went back to working in libraries, in the late 90s. Gone was the Miss and Mrs. It was all on a first name basis. It took me quit a bit of getting used to.

When the internet first came thundering in, I actually had the sad thought "Oh. No more little packets of letters, wrapped in a blue ribbon, up in the attic." I have also had a long history of correspondence. But now, it's all E-Mail. Friends are quit startled when I send a thank you card, for say, a party or dinner. Or, a birthday card. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - LOL. When I first started reading the Dr. Glowinski quotes, and he said blackberries were "rumored" to be invasive, I thought to myself "The good Doctor doesn't get out much." :-). But, I see he recovered himself. I'd also say, that even if the blackberries here are a tangled mess, they still produce quit well. Might be different varieties. I have mostly Himalayan and fewer Evergreen blackberries. All wild. I have mixed feelings about the blackberries. I certainly appreciate the 10 or so gallons I put up in the freezer. But, their invasive qualities, not so much. In fact, on the list of things to do, this week, is to get at the blackberries. The new leaves are just budding. All the leaves that fall off, have fallen off. It's the optimum time to hack them back, when I can still see where the canes to into the ground. This year, in a few spots I'm going to try cutting them to the ground, throwing a couple of layers of cardboard on top. And top that with some good earthy compost. And, plant something else on top. There's also an article I saw in the "Country Side and Small Stock Journal" about using two layers of plastic, air space between, to kind of "fry" the ground. I'll give that a whirl, too.

My, it is your busy time of the year. I didn't know that dried tomatoes needed to be put in olive oil. Here, that could get pricey. I usually can (why is it called "canning", instead of "glassing". Hmmm. I have heard "bottling.") or, freeze tomatoes as paste or salsa.

Harking back to the conversations on bread making, I found something interesting. I picked up a little book from the library called "Traditional Recipes from Finland" by O'Connor. Privately printed. Just a little 50 page paperback. In discussing breads, and sourdough, there was this: "...or soak the dried bowl and spoon with water and add the flour. ...During this time remove a small amount of dough from batch into a covered container if it is preferable to save started in refrigerator rather than dried in bowl and spoon." There was also this note: "Often the wooden bowl and spoon are not washed, only scraped and sprinkled with flour and allowed to dry. The sourdough starts to work again when it is soaked."

Also, under the rye bread recipe, there was a little note about something my older Finn relatives used to talk about. Round rye loaves with a hole in the middle. "In the olden days the "hole" breads were put on long rods and hung near the ceilingto dry."

Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Those sprinklers are really nifty. And, the weather vane is really "out of sight." Here, the oldest, hand made weather vanes are considered "folk art" and can bring a pretty penny.

Got the movie "Love and Mercy", from the library. Fictionalized story of the Beach Boys. That ought to be a real walk down memory lane. Part of the sound track of my adolescence :-).

If there was a movie of my lunch, the disclaimer would be, "No kitchen chairs were broken in the filming of this movie." :-) Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

Blackberries really are a wonderful food and just there for the picking! I liked the artistic arrangement of the tomatoes laid out for drying; it made a photo worthy of hanging on a wall.

I find that there are so many regulations here, relating to land, animal husbandry and growing things etc. that I am often nervous of saying what we do. The chance that one is inadvertently breaking some law seems great to me. Do others worry about this or even have the same problem?

Re: my ancestry. Both American great grandfathers were named O'Brien and almost certainly came from Cork in Ireland. This renders tracking them down virtually impossible. One thing that did turn up was that my father's father had 3 siblings unknown to us all. So I almost certainly have unknown relatives in the US.

Cold and frosty here but dry for the moment thank goodness.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris:

I'd forgotten about the Australian gold rush. My husband has a friend who's family owns a mid-19th century gold mine in California. He used to go there with them and they did find gold. My geraniums have no scent either, beyond that geraniumy smell that they all seem to have. You can buy scented ones in the garden shops, though.

Do you mean that an eagle could pick Scritchy up and carry her away? What a horrible thing that would be to see! It would be the sort of thing that would give you nightmares forever. Maybe you could get her a hefty leather collar with spikes, except that she is rather too dainty for that?

Those tripod sprinklers make me think that I am viewing Planet Fernglade! Since you get a shower when using them, perhaps you'd better only use them when it's quite hot! But then that is when you turn them on anyway?

What a delicious garden book that is! Perhaps other people besides you are preserving it? Doesn't Lew have a copy? It would make nice Christmas or Solstice gifts. I looked at your link to Australian weeds to see if our naturalized wild Asian wineberry was among the blackberries of Australia, and it is! In Australia it is: Wine raspberry/Rubus phoenicolasius. I hope that you come across some someday.

How long do you reckon the dried tomatoes would stay fresh in the olive oil?

You have such talented artists at the hippy country market. It's always something new and exciting, and adds so much to the character of Fernglade Farm.

I was scrounging around in the woods today for some nice loamy soil to start seeds in - I am trying that mixed with the sort of mushroom compost that you spread around - and I came across a lovely, big cube of a rock that I could not resist dragging home, along with my bucket of soil; uphill, of course. So - though we have hit Peak Rocks, they do pop up sometimes. Note that this is Peak BIG Rocks; wherever I dig (though it is getting better in the garden beds) that are still trillions of small rocks. They will never reach a peak, or a decline.

Those black leghorns really stand out. They look like they are feeling pretty comfortable in their new home, sauntering about the orchard and lounging on the new perch.

How close do you plant your onions together? I have kind of a small plot allotted to them this year so I hope I can crowd them a bit. I know that you have them pop up all over, but I think those are the Egyptian (walking?) onions and these are just ordinary ones.

Pam

foodnstuff said...

Hi Chris, I don't store my dried tomatoes in oil and they are fine. I only dry cherry varieties because they dry quicker. I cut them in half and add a sprinkling of salt which helps to draw out the water and makes them taste better if you want to use them as nibbles. Mostly I dry them on wire frames in the sun but if the weather's not suitable they go in the dryer. I use them in omelets, scrambled eggs or casseroles and of course as computer nibbles (eats to surf by).

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks, hopefully the Macadamia trees produce some nuts one day. The chestnuts, hazelnuts and pecans seem to grow faster, but the Macadamias are so far out of their normal range, they never would have made it here at all without human assistance. The other lesser known tree from that part of the world that produces edible nuts is the Bunya Nut tree which is a close relative of the South American Monkey Puzzle tree. There are a few of both of them up in this mountain range, I've tried both here, but they need more water during summer to get established than I previously gave them - maybe in the future? The Macadamia nuts are really good!

Man, you've been getting a huge quantity of rain this winter. The poor chickens. Well they are jumpers aren't they? Or maybe a jumper was a kangaroo? Who knows? :-)!

Wow, I hadn't realised that census data was lost, and I'd read about the NASA Viking mission data being basically unreadable... That was an excellent description too, so true. I tend to store books but with the paper they're written on, I doubt they last that long... Some of my Sci Fi pulp novels from the 60's and 70's are looking a bit tatty, who knows what they'll look like in 100 years time - it won't be good though.

Glad to hear that the company was pleasant - if mildly uncivilised! Hehe!!! - and that the weather was nice for the occasion. Goat stew is very nice, especially if it has had time to slowly infuse in the stew. Yum! You're a brave man feeding corn bread to a person from the South. I salute your efforts and nice to read that it was approved of. ;-)!

Just have to look up what is meant by Vashon Island... ... ... What an interesting island. I do hope that they have either income from elsewhere, land and skills or are able to commute to Seattle? It is a shame that the urbanisation of the island has driven out the small farms, but there still looks like a lot of local production, which is good. Plus I reckon that the island would have a mild weather and climate?

Good to read and nice to see that they appreciated the tat. Ah! I had a different understanding of that particular pan. The old timers here used to collect fat in the drip trays and then store it for later cooking use. Chips made from lard are really quite tasty, but probably quite rubbish for your health.

As to the cleaning, yeah, some things are impossible to clean. A mates father used to tell me: "Builders bog (which is like a sort of sandable plaster) hides a multitude of sins". The old houses taught a person how to cover over the worst of things and I never minded as long as it was structurally sound.

Enjoy your day off and leftovers! Yum! I reckon eating seasonally forces you to break food routines? Dunno, what do you reckon about that?

Oh, that's good (maybe that can be used in a couple of years time!)

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Thanks for the story. Thorn related injuries - that is a classic!

Interesting about the blackberry jam. I believe we use more sugar than your recipe and we chucked in rhubarb stalks for the pectin (cheap jam setter and there's heaps of it growing here).

OK, I'm intrigued. What is blackberry chutney? It is a real shame that the blackberry season is now over...

Yes, who says Hollywood doesn't do subtle? Indeed. :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Coco,

Thanks for that. What an interesting choice of Eucalyptus tree. The Nitens is the Shining Gum and it is found in the state to the very east of here in mountain ranges that receive a lot of rainfall and they can grow huge in the right conditions (90m or about 297ft). You'll see them up in the Errinundra plateau image. It is a very beautiful and very remote part of the world. Everytime I've camped up there, I haven't seen another soul for days.

What is your view on the Nitens at higher elevations? That is certainly the plants natural range, no doubts about it.

Globulus is the Tasmanian blue gum (which grow naturally up this way too). They're very fast growing trees and are one of the mainstays of the timber plantations down here.

Oh yeah, go the cheesecake! That sounds like total YUM!

Cheers

Chris

Damo said...

A recipe for blackberry chutney can be found here. I can confirm it is delicious, even when using plain onions, some nondescript vinegar from the pantry and old crushed ginger from a jar. No doubt it would be even better if I followed the recipe!

I am pretty happy with the sugar ratio in my jam, I got the recipe (including the lemon suggestion) from a very old 'handbook' written in the late 1890s. The lady who wrote it is a bit of a character, been both aristocratic and down-to-earth. I plan to shortly start transcribing it online to my blog as a sort of knowledge-preservation project - currently you can only get it in a scanned-pdf format which is not great for searching and printing.

In other news, Mrs Damo and I are leaving Zeehan soon. Indeed, we are leaving the country and will be spending at least 12 months in northern Laos assisting with an agricultural research project. I am particularly interested to see how much of the local agricultural practices lean towards 'modern' or more organic methods. In the near future I plan on starting another blog to document the experience, more for keeping family and friends in the loop than anything.

Cheers,
Damo

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Oh it is a fun read for such a serious book. The entire book is like that and I love all that stuff as it just makes it far more approachable. The tangled messes of canes produce fruit here too. I believe he is referring to cultivation of the canes for the fruit, but don't really know. The plants are so reliable. Everyone has mixed feelings about the plants but, well, they're givers, so it is hard to hate them too much. The good Baron Von Mueller brought them out to the botanical gardens in the 19th century. He's an interesting character: scientist; adventurer and gardener. Unfortunately, the tides of public opinion shifted around him and the public started demanding that the botanic gardens be run on a less scientific basis and a more aesthetic basis and he failed to bend with that change of the wind. He set up many of the large hill station gardens up in this mountain range and for some strange reason he had a signature tree: The Monkey Puzzle (which we previously corresponded about).

The plastic sheet is probably a good method, give it a try and let us know how it goes.

Of course, I get it, but never understood before. Your electricity is cheaper, so most of the food preserving techniques here (bottling) revolve around how to do this stuff without a refrigerator or freezer. That is not a criticism either as I'd love to have a large freezer. All the stuff here sits in dark cupboards or on shelving racks. Dried tomatoes would quickly go off without the Olive Oil - which stops the oxygen getting to the fruit. The dehydrating process with the tomatoes is a form of cooking which is another preserving technique. The reason I use Olive Oil is because to my taste buds it is the only Oil that tastes nice - Palm Oil and Canola Oil taste revolting to me - plus I grow plenty of Olive trees. Olive harvest should be next month - but I'm honestly not sure.

Glassing has a frightening meaning down here... I never got the use of the canning word either? Didn't they originally use Tin?

That's awesome. I never would have thought of doing that, but of course, it is such a clever way to keep a starter. As an interesting side note, the bakers yeast I purchase from the baking shop comes dried, so it makes a whole lot of sense. Didn't the Finns also produce a bread from some sort of wood pulp (beech?). Not sure, I've never seen one for sale... And the poor native Myrtle Beech would not appreciate me hacking chunks off it to produce bread. I grow European and Copper Beech trees here too, they both seem very hardy.

That sounds like a bagel. You'd imagine it would be like a hard tack bread? Dunno.

A bee stung my thumb today. It was on the underside of a bowl of water for the wallabies, kangaroos and wombats which I keep filled for them to drink from at night. As an interesting note, I sat my thumb in a spoon with honey for about 15 minutes and it seems to be quite good now which is almost unheard of. Might be onto something...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, the guy at the store told me that they couldn't sell them! Go figure that one out. I've had them running a bit over the past day or so, but it has meant that I've had to fill up the main house water tanks from the reserve tank (which will be empty in a few hours). It is complex, but there is still plenty of water left and hopefully it rains soon over the next month or so.

Oh yeah, how cool would the old weather vanes be? Excellent. The hippy market is pretty nifty for some stuff.

Ah, the Beach Boys. Yeah, they had some talent those guys and sung quite a few hits.

And no animals were injured either! Hehe! Speaking of which, I do hope that Beau and Nell were on their best behaviour?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Blackberries are incredible tasting berries. I reckon they're superior to raspberries too, but maybe equal with the strawberries. Absolutely, it is not as if there are huge queues of people waiting to gather in the blackberries, although I do see people collecting in some areas.

Thanks. It did look good! Have you ever tried drying tomatoes? Purchased semi-sun dried tomatoes are very tasty but there have been some health scares recently with mass produced ones. They're quite expensive too, so I mostly avoid purchasing them.

For good reason. Some subjects in the comments here I have to politely shut down (one came up a few weeks back) because people are frankly bonkers about them down here - even some of the people in my area despite evidence to the contrary - hold some views which are counter productive. So not to stress, if you feel uncertain about a subject - it may be because it is a complex subject which would be interesting to discuss, but not at the expense of getting into trouble with your local authorities. Such are the times that we live in.

Cork is a very pretty town and the land all around it is very green. Yeah, there was a lot of migration from Ireland to the US, no doubts about it. The recent 2008 economic troubles sent quite a lot of Irish people down under. The weather would be something of a shock to them, no doubts about it.

Nice to read that it has dried up a bit in your part of the world. Is the forest showing signs of Spring yet?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Absolutely, the gold rush from 1850, made Melbourne the second wealthiest city on the planet - for a short while, anyway! And put an end to transportation of convicts. I mean why send people as a punishment to somewhere they willingly want to go? I believe it occurred at about the same as the gold rush in the US and the culture in those remote spots would have been very similar. Think Deadwood. :-)!

Good for them. Most gold mines can produce gold, it just may not be economical to do so. Some of the inland towns are riddled with mines and they start them up and stop them in line with the gold prices.

Yeah, they're really good. One of my favourite is a mint scented, but there is also an apple scented as well as the ones that smell like insecticide - not that it scares off the bees mind you. They're very, very hardy plants to heat and dry and produce flowers for most of the year here. I don't know how they would cope with your frosts. Some local people I know down below tend to have troubles with them because of the frosts...

Scritchy is a lady and would not dare be seen wearing a spiked collar (in public at least!) :-)! Hehe! No seriously, the wedge tail eagle was eyeing her off. It would probably pick her up and drop her from a height, so I keep the other dogs out with her but for some reason that day she was out by herself.

Oh yeah. When visitors turn up with their children, they all have hours of fun running around under the sprinklers. Most of the time, I have to be very careful with the amount of water that I use, and I'm topping up the main house water tanks as there doesn't seem to be any sign of rain over the next week...

He tells a great tale and every fruit is described that way. It is quirky and enjoyable, plus it makes what would probably be a rather dry topic - entertaining! That wine berry is a bit: (Rubus phoenicolasius) east of here. I'll keep an eye out for it, although it seems to be in the high country so it may be very hard to find.

I dunno about that. Maybe until next tomato season at least? I'm not sure, but I'll let you know when they go off, as most preserved goods slowly do anyway. Oh, I forgot to mention, we made a tomato wine and it is quite good, so that is another use for the humble tomato.

They're very good those hippy markets and metal art is appropraite here.

Yeah, that sounds like a good mix of soil to raise seedlings in. I dunno, but I reckon the sandy loam on its own isn't fertile enough to raise small seedlings in and I don't like transplanting plants very much as they go into shock. I'll be interested to hear how it turns out for you. Nice work with the big rock and of course they are always down hill and have to be brought back up again. By the way have you got any more rocks to share? Hehe! Peak rocks is a terrible thing as the rocks themselves are so useful. Nice to read that the garden beds contain less rock as time goes on. I've been removing them from the paddock for years because it makes mowing by hand a whole lot easier. They appear in veins in the ground here (possibly old lava flows?).

They're such nice personalities too. The Wyandottes don't think very highly of the leghorns but the leghorns are much faster and fleeter of foot!

To be honest, I haven't really understood the lifecycle of the onion - yet. I just sort of plant them all over the place and then harvest from that. Two years back I had a raised bed of onions and the plants were very closely spaced together and it didn't seem to trouble them, but there must be more optimal conditions than that? Dunno.

Cheers

Chris




orchidwallis said...

Hello again

The only people one sees picking blackberries here have white hair. Everyone else buys them in supermarkets, ludicrous. I always used lemon juice when making jam that required more pectin. Combining apples with blackberries worked well though.
I used to bottle all sorts of things when I lived off grid, remember a disaster with pears. Have since read that they are dicey to preserve and I believe that tomatoes are the same.

Have never heard of tomato wine before.

Was just interrupted by a phonecall trying to sell me something.

Most questions of land management are made really complex here by the fact that I am given contradictory information by the people who come and inspect my woodland every few years. My son is luckier, his land is not bound by so many regulations.

I have never dried any fruit or veg, nor do I know anyone who does. Having said that, my son did dry chillies by hanging them from my high ceiling. It worked well.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Thanks for the recipe, I will try that and report back. No doubt, it would be better! Hehe! I have some ginger here in the kitchen and it has sprouted and it is very tempting to plant it in the frost free area, whilst the editor wants to use it to make another batch of ginger wine. Ah, the difficulties.

No worries, the sugar content varies according to the pectin in the jam anyway - that is why I add rhubarb to many of the jams. You can't taste the stuff. Pectin can be observed in edible plants that are annual but are quite stiff like rhubarb stems. Just a bit of useless information...

What? No way. That is very cool. I've travelled to Laos in the late 90's and it was a beautiful country and the people were lovely. I have very fond memories of sitting in a cafe in Luang Prabang enjoying a proper coffee and French pastries reading a book and watching the world go by. They also prepare the most awesome French stick breads and touts on bicycles ride around in the morning offering them for sale. Laos was a lovely place.

Ha! They've got the Internet there too you know! :-)! I look forward to reading about yours and Mrs Damo's experiences there - it is a far cry from Zeehan. It will be interesting to see the agricultural methods employed there. Plus it is a short hop, skip, and jump to Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.

I realise this is a public forum, but why Laos of all places?

I wish you the best of luck.

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi foodnstuff,

Thanks for the info and that is great to hear. I appreciate the feedback as I've never tried producing sun dried (well solar powered dried via the Fowlers Vacola 4000 unit :-)!) before so I'm ultra cautious. The Olive Oil is very high quality anyway so it should taste very good. Once the tomatoes are all eaten, I use the Olive Oil which is infused with tomato taste in all sorts of cooking things. It is very yummy!

Those are all excellent uses for sun dried tomatoes. I'm starting to salivate. Tonight's dinner is French lentils! Yum!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Oh, that made me laugh. Yeah, it is a real worry that the berries seem to somehow have been forgotten about, I'm pretty certain that it is a minor scandal that I'm sometimes busted picking berries and other food items from the side of the road. :-)! Many years ago, the locals in the volunteer fire brigade busted me for doing just that and it was considered at the time to be mildly eccentric. It would be nice to have enough money to be actually eccentric, but that is life. You know, the berries are for sale here too and small punnets cost about $4 each which seems bizarre to me...

Apples are an excellent source of pectin and Quince are even better again. I love Quince fruit.

I've never tried pears. What happened - I detect a story there?

Tomato wine is very good. However, I put it into the "experimental" category more than a staple.

Ha! That is funny. Someone tried to sell me cheaper electricity today too... What a strange world we live in.

Your son is luckier, sorry to say. Oversight can be something of a burden - and if we were being really honest, some of the stated requirements are aspirational and ideologically driven. Sometimes people get carried away by fads and they can have an impact on your life. I've tried arguing it out and to me the whole mess can smell of a legal argument rather than solid ecological observation. At the end of the day, the wombats rarely seem to care one way or another.

Yes, drying may be complex in your climate. Didn't the old timers used to use salt and hanging as well as smoking in your part of the world. One of my mates smoke cures his own bacon and hasn't yet handed any over for a proper taste test. I'm a mostly vegetarian who rarely cooks meat here, but I can truly respect and enjoy properly grown and prepared meats. The stories of your sons pork make me salivate from half a world away! :-)!

Has that frost disappeared yet?

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

hello again

Quince jam is wonderful. Unfortunately the friend, who gave me quinces, sold up and the next owner grubbed out the trees. I have had quince as a vegetable in Morocco, ghastly.

Oh the pears blew and the stench was not good.

Son salts and smokes his own bacon. I find it a bit too salty, but that is just me. I tend not to salt my food at all. He has no success with hams though and I think that he has given up.

No frost today as it is raining again and the land was just becoming walkable on. The woods are still in winter mode though there are some buds + the daffodils and primroses.

Inge

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

I've dehydrated tomatoes but haven't put them in oil and they've been fine. I have a small green house that doesn't get used too much as it really needs supplemental heat when growing seedlings. When my brothers all lived with me I did a farmers market for a couple years and used it more then. I can start my seedlings under some lights I have in the basement now as I don't have as many. Now the greenhouse is primarily used for drying chamomile, sunflowers and a few other things. Humidity is the issue for the tomatoes drying in there so I use a dehydrator like yours. I dry herbs in the basement but in the summer they re-hydrate so I pop them in the dehydrator for a short time if I'm looking for dried herbs though mostly use fresh at that time of year.

I haven't gotten a report yet on the queen raising class my husband attended last night. He got home after I was in bed and briefly reported that it was "OK" and he already knew much of the info. He had to drive home in a snow storm which started with ice so hoping he got some good info.

Margaret

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

I hope that your cough and cold is better? So - you're half Yank, eh? When we have the slightest suspicion that we might be doing anything that the government might consider untoward, well, we just don't mention it. It is very hard to know where the line is sometimes. We are in a fairly private spot, though certainly tradesmen do drive by, and UPS, etc. I have heard of using apples for their pectin, but I didn't know about the rhubarb that has been mentioned.

I was having a look at Rupert Besley again. Hee hee!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Fay:

I had no idea that the delicious Macadamia nuts grew wild in Australia. Was that the same Macadam who innovated the road topping?

I was shocked to hear that you had lost 5 years of your blogs.That's actually nauseating. My father - a banker of over 50 years, who became adept at using computers when they came in - still backed up everything on paper (boy, he kept his printer busy!). He says that there were innumerable times that he saved the bank (and himself) from big legal headaches by doing so, after pertinent documents had vanished into he ether (this was a small, family-owned local bank). This works well when dealing with our Infernal Revenue Service, too.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Yes, I think eating seasonally would really shake you out of a food rut, no matter how healthy you eat. I eat, pretty seasonally ... but, not as much as you seem to. It's a sliding scale :-). I was a bit surprised, when I went to have dinner with Brother Bob the Bachelor Farmer, and his mother, that there wasn't a single thing on the table that came "from the land." Not that I commented on it :-).

I think I visited Vashon Island, years ago. But, there are so many islands in Puget Sound, that I get them all confused. I don't have any distinct memories. Mike works for the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). His specialty is shell fish. He travels to far flung places, at least a week, a month. He can work from home, quit a bit. Jon is a nurse and works in Seattle. He has some schedule that is 10 days on and 4 days off. Seattle is a short ferry ride, away. Neither are "country boys", but their smart and hardworking. And, seek other's advice. I'm sure they'll do fine. The had their 1 1/2 year old black lab, with them. Roxie. Beau didn't do a lot of barking ... more worried whining. Nell promptly disappeared and didn't return until two hours after the company left :-).

Olive oil is the only oil I use ... other than butter. :-). If I run across a recipe that calls for any other kind of oil, I can usually find an alternative that uses olive oil or butter.

The only things I can remember running across where bread was adulterated with wood pulp, was Medieval bakers who lost a hand, if they did it. It was also the reason a lot of our food and drug laws are in place. To stop 19th century bakers from doing the same. But, also, in the series I've been watching "Foyle's War" (WWII, home front, England) there are references to the rationing, and that wood pulp was put in bread to make it stretch, further. Well, we can thank Napoleon for kicking off canning. He offered a very large reward for anyone that could figure out good food preservation to feed his troops. But, it was a rocky start. They began with tin, or, tin washed cans ... but sealed them with lead solder. Took them awhile to figure out what was making people sick and/or, crazy.

The Romans used to dress some wounds, with honey. So, you've (re) discovered, something. Ouch. It's such a hassle when you insure you're fingers. Puts you out of commission, for awhile, just when you seem to be needing to do "stuff."

Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. No animals were injured in the production of my lunch? Well, there was the goat ... And, I actually helped care for those goats, from time to time, while my friends were in Idaho. One was quit lovely. The other I referred to as Poopy Demon Goat from Hell. I just tell myself that that is the one I'm eating :-).

Scritchy in a spiked collar? Scritchy goes Goth. Just paint her toe nails, black. That might work for Halloween :-). I heard a story that a bald eagle's nest had fallen down, and it was full of cat and dog collars. I worry a bit about Nell and the chickens, but I think the eagle's are just shy of all the buildings.

Much to my surprise, I noticed the plums are in flower. It's some small fruit variety, and the patch is mostly volunteer, I think. They're good eating, fresh, but my experiment with jam, was a washout. But, maybe I didn't let them ripen, enough. I need to do more fooling around with them, because it's usually a bumper crop.

"Love and Mercy" was quit good. Brian Wilson is a musical genius, but as with so many genius, does have his problems. He's probably borderline schizophrenic, but instead of hearing voices in his head, he's overwhelmed by music. His father was an absolute beast. Smacked him so hard in the side of the head when he was little, that he doesn't have much hearing in one ear. Later, his life was taken over by some dodgy doctor. Yes, the Doc got him out of bed (after 3 1/2 years) and got him to get his weight down from 300 some pounds, to something more healthy ... but at the same time, completely took over his life and pretty much kept him imprisoned and exploited him. Of course, it was the love of a "good woman" who finally sprung him from the trap. Interesting the way they did the movie. Two actors played Wilson. One for the younger version and John Cusack played the older, Brian. Worth a look if you run across it.

Took care of the chickens before it started pouring down rain. Oh, well, I have to take a load of apple wood to the tip, and I'll have plenty of opportunity to get good and wet! Lew

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

Awesome post! Yes, I think that's one reason permies can get a bad rep among conservationists -- they tend to have a laissaez faire attitude to weeds. The quote "there's no such thing as a weed -- just a plant in the wrong place" comes to mind ;-)

I agree about the taste of blackberries though -- beautiful. I took my kids bushwalking recently and we found some -- very popular!

I would be very interested to hear about your social networks in your area, and any trade or assistance your provide your neighbours. I understand you'd have to speak generally for privacy reasons. I confess, I'm not particularly great at this, although I've helped some neighbours with fruit-picking, and have given preserves, etc. We also have a local food coop where home grown and made produce can be shared.

Nice work with your water calculations. I presume you don't hand-water your orchard -- how do you water it? How often and much? I'm giving my fruit trees 1/2 hour on the dripper each week, and am aiming for 10 - 15 L per tree per week.

Cheers, Angus

Damo said...

Hi Chris,

My brain is failing me and I can't quite figure out what you mean by "the sugar content varies according to the pectin in the jam anyway"? Is that just an observation that you need to dose more sugar if you have more pectin-bearing substances in the mixture? i.e. rhubarb isn't sweet = more sugar? Hmm, that makes sense, maybe my brain is working.

You are not wrong about the French bread sticks in Laos. I know that colonialism is not really a good thing, but that combination of French and Asian cooking styles makes for some great food :-)

As for why Laos, it is a pretty long story, and one I will flesh out on the other blog (once it is setup properly, placeholder is here ). In short though, a friend from high school was working there and we met up whilst traveling through Thailand-Laos two years ago. Once he found out what Mrs Damo was studying the pieces began to fall into place. It feels wrong to leave a decent job in Tasmania, but the opportunity to spend some time overseas was too tempting.

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I had never heard of tomato wine and mentioned it to son. He says that he tried to make it twice but has given up on it. Apparently it separated.

Friend turned up yesterday bringing me a copy of Gammage's 'the biggest estate on earth' as recommended by you. I had been having difficulty getting hold of a copy. I look forward to reading it.

@Pam Yes, half a yank. My father was an anglophile which is why I am English. My sister lives in Delaware and her descendants are in Texas. With both my daughters and grandson in Australia, we are really spread around.

@Lew Plum jam is a hard one to set.

Inge

Coco said...

Remarkably enough, a gov´t agency has predicted that the Nitens will be over planted and not sell in 5-10 years so they´re trying to eliminate plantations from the native forested areas in the mountains to the east, pleasing the environmentalists. The globulus fiber is preferred for paper production and is an easier sell. Sounds surprisingly sensible to me. Interesting that the planning has to be worked out so far in advance in forestry.

I´m trying my hand at hedge wrangling when it´s not raining, which it is, most of the time. The daffs are up and the hyacinths, which smell lovely until the dog knocks them over.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

It is lovely jam isn't it? I reckon we're about a month or so away from the quince season too. The fruits go a long way here too as I poach them and use the juice to make jam and wine and the cores and skins go to the chickens. Your son may say: "Everything including the squeak!" :-)!

Fair enough about the pears.

Yeah, heavily salted meats are not to my liking either, but of old it was used a lot. Hams would be hard in your humid environment. I add salt to bread and tomatoes and that is really about it. It probably isn't conducive with a long life...

Wow! You get a lot of rain - which makes for a nice forest. The daffodils are lovely when they show their faces to the sun and I absolutely respect the primroses for their sheer hardiness. You've gotta love them.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Thanks for that about the tomatoes. I'm still in my first year with them and just don't know so I appreciate the feedback.

You may recall that I said one of my bee colonies had been attacked by the ants. Well, the other - very hardy and totally huge - bee colony took them out yesterday so I'm down to one bee colony which is a shame. The assault was unrelenting and I decided not to get involved because I believe the smaller colony may have lost its Queen... And in yesterday in other breaking bee news, a bee stung me on my right thumb. It was my fault really. Anyway, I poured honey into a spoon, opened the wound with a knife and sat my thumb in the honey bath and it was nothing short of miraculous. It still hurts from the venom but the swelling was quite minimal. Plus, just to be sure last night I - it was a hardship I can assure you - quaffed a glass of aged mead just to be safe. ;-)! I reckon I'm onto something with applying honey to a sting wound...

Honestly, a lot of greenhouses down here remain unused too. It is not unusual at all. I've often suspected that they come with benefits as well as costs, but haven't run the experiment for myself and the editor is very much against a greenhouse.

That dehydrator is a local brand but was manufactured in the US so it is a quality bit of kit and it would not surprise me at all to find that we are using the same item. I mostly stick to fresh herbs too, but they grow for most of the year so access is not too much of a drama. I find that they lose a bit of efficacy over the winter, but they're still good.

I look forward to hearing about the course and I hope that the weather conditions weren't too rough...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

It sort of does shake one out of a rut. It is funny that you mention that but, over the summer we had a lot of very peppery tasting greens and I was struggling to know what to do with them but eventually settled on a spicy Vietnamese salad and it has been a revelation in summer salads. It is sort of weird down here because people think of iceberg lettuce as a summer salad component and that actually grows as a winter green, so the whole thing is just a total 100% mess as our food expectations don't meet the realities of existence and the conditions.

Absolutely! Your sliding scale is much like a continuum and people exist along it at different points. It is sort of like the whole vegetarian thing where at one end you get the paleo people shouting: "give us more meats, my precious" and the other end you get the vegans who shout: "give us more vegetation, my precious" and there is a world in between the two points of view. I mean I respect both points of view as they are a hard school, no doubts about it but there is a little bit of middle ground.

Ooops! Me being me, I may have accidentally pointed that out which would be uncomfortable for everyone... Still it would make for a lively and entertaining dinner party! Hehe! Actually, I'm very polite and probably would have done exactly as you did.

What? If you get the islands confused, how do you expect me to know about them? Hehe! Actually, I did look up that island and it did mention that most money came onto the island via commuter traffic with Seattle. The problem I have with that is that it is an unsustainable course of action over the long term. I hope they're both good with the locals and the land? The photos looked as though they oozed fertility and natural rainfall. Shell fish is a good speciality for one that lives on an island.

Yeah, you know that is so important that ability to ask other people for help and/or advice. I do that all of the time, but apparently it is not considered to be a masculine trait which is so weird to me. The world to me is a very complex place and in order to navigate the muddy waters you kind of have to ask other people - and most of the time, if it is just advice, they're all too happy to provide it for nix. They'll do well those two.

Poor Beau wondering as to whether the new competition had arrived. Nell acted on cue for a moggy.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Oh you are good! Yeah, of course, butter is good and an important addition to the kitchen. ;-)! I completely forgot about that! What would Anzac biscuits be without a solid dose of 50g of butter...

That is brutal, but probably deserved. No, I'm being serious, they really did make a sort of bread like food from the pulp of the Beech trees. I read it on the Internet somewhere... Well, WWII UK almost ran out of food because they relied too heavily on food imports from the colonies - not that much has changed in the meantime. I worry about their ability to feed themselves from such a small land space. The UK land mass is about the same size as the state of Victoria but it contains 12x the people... I mean it is quiet here but I could not imagine this area with that many more houses or people. I read that Davy Crockett once "cracked the sads" because he could see another household in the same mountain range. That perhaps is a bit extreme though.

Oh yeah, the lead seals on tin cans was a problem for a few Arctic and Antarctic expeditions as well. And dog meat from the animals that pulled the sleds has high levels of Vitamin A? Anyway, it is not good for you.

Thanks for that. The thumb is a little bit swollen and sore tonight. I may have to redress this inherent imbalance with a mead? ;-)! It is a good idea! Oh, I'm going straight to hell for that one - sorry...

Ha! That is so funny, yes I forgot about the goat that contributed to your excellent meal. Goat stew is very nice. I reckon you are onto something with that. Of course it only makes sense to eat the most annoying of the pack. Now what did this Poopy demon goat from hell do to you? There is definitely a story there.

The wedge tail eagles here are huge. The wingspans are almost 3m (10ft) across maybe more and this eagle was bigger than most. It was 100'F in Melbourne today despite the official records and so the eagles are as hungry as one would expect. Did I tell you that they moved the official weather station into a park next to the river early last year and it now gives lower readings?

Oh plums are really tasty and the trees are such givers with minimal care and attention. I've done plum jam but it doesn't have a sharp taste like the blackberries (or blueberries) do.

Ouch. I've read that borderline people are usually shunned by the mental health profession. Thanks for the review, I can't even begin to imagine what the guy went through. John Cusack is a blast from the past. His sister has been a much more recent actor (Joan) and she pops up in all sort of roles. I spotted her recently in the film I mentioned a few months back called: End of the Tour, which I really enjoyed. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that there is a bit of schadenfreude in those stories.

Enjoy your rain! It could go elsewhere... If you have any spare, I'd really appreciate it...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

Thank you and absolutely correct. Weeds are just a pioneering species of plant that is trying to get the soil shaded and the soil food web reestablished. ;-)! They offend our senses more than anything else.

Good to read, the blackberries are really tasty!

I'm not good at it either. As a funny side note, I was due to attend a local group meeting tonight and they put the wrong date on their flyer (it should have been yesterday), so I missed the meeting entirely. It was a bit of a shame because two people I know were presenting to the group about seed saving... Still, it was a good excuse to have a chat this afternoon about the error and make connections. That is more or less how it goes. I make mistakes too as it takes a lot of mental effort to navigate through the rural social networks and in many cases those networks are being abused. Remember we have replaced dollars with social currency so everything is complex. I do help my neighbours out with emergencies and one of them hit last year and we both went over and assisted with minimal fuss. I believe we are still a long way yet from requiring the sort of local networks that we actually have to rely on in the longer term. It is a complex matter, no doubts about it.

OMG! No way, with 300 fruit trees, they have to deal with the summer. I keep them water stressed deliberately whilst building top soil and getting every single scrap of rainfall into the soil. If I run out of water, it has to be trucked in at huge expense, so I manage it with that in mind. The vegetables use the most amount of the water. It is complex, but it is also nice to live with limitations. You are asking very hard and complex questions! :-)! The dripper here is not possible.

Cheers

Chris

Fay said...

Hello Chris,
I know a lot about Bunya Nuts as I grew up in the foothills of the Bunya Mountains (just north of Dalby in Queensland) but again they are a rainforest tree and I can't grow them here because our winters are just too cold. I think you will need at least 2 trees for pollination. They will only produce a big crop of cones every third year. Prior to white settlement the Aboriginal tribes came from all directions to feast on these nuts and during this period there were no tribal fights. Jondaryan is an Aboriginal name meaning last big waterhole before the mountains. The Myall (Aboriginal tribe) creek ran through my father's land. My parents built a new house on 'Blacks Camp Hill' which was where a tribe camped at night on the southern side of the mountains. They would not stay in the mountains after dark as they feared spirits. I rode a horse 6 miles to the Yamsion primary school, so named because apparently the Aborigines dug yams in that spot. The region was opened up by timber-cutters who felled many of the pines. However, the establishment of a National Park in 1908 preserved many of these trees. My family enjoyed eating the nuts boiled in the salty water left over from cooked corned beef. The nuts are the size of a small hen's egg with 40-60 nuts in a cone. Don't stand under a Bunya cone when the cones are falling - they could kill you. When boiled they will begin to split and a sharp knife can be inserted to divide them in half. A yellow shoot is then removed from the centre, after which the nuts may be spread with butter. Best eaten hot!
Fay

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

I just checked with the editor and I was wrong with that assertion. Apologies. We use a 1 to 1 ratio of sugar to fruit. The lemon juice provides additional acidity to assist with the preserving process. Sorry about that!

I don't find rhubarb to be sweet. It is almost tasteless in jam and it really does provide pectin for the jam setting process.

Your brain is clearly working fine. Elephant stamp for that pick up!

Laos was good for food, although I got pretty sick from an uncooked salad in a tourist town of all places. The Australian embassy in Phenom Pen in Cambodia runs a medical clinic which I almost considered going to.

Please do keep us up to date. I'd love reading about your experience.

The museum in the Laotian capital was a hoot and it described us as "imperialist running dogs" - whatever that means.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Oh. The tomato wine looks good so far. It is admittedly an unusual - but not unpleasant - taste, but most country wines require a little bit of adaption. I'd imagine that Oak leaf wine would be a bit dodgy (at first sip anyway)!

Wow! Alright, I'd be very happy to read your opinions and/or discuss the implications with you about that book. It was a fascinating read and I kind of felt sad for the author at one point as he had to keep on belabouring the point because it was considered controversial. I was also very interested to read about the state of the country prior to the sheep - it is fascinating - plus there are references (albeit minor) to this mountain range!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Coco,

That is interesting. The nitens are a very old growth tree, so whilst they are being harvested here for pulp, it probably isn't a good idea. The globulus on the other hand is as you say a very fast growing useful timber species so it is good for quality saw logs and/or pulp.

The forestry industries people tend to be a pragmatic bunch. It is a very dangerous and much hated job, but still people want timber products. The planning time frames for that is huge. It would take at least 30 years to grow a tall useful for industry tree here. It is a big job and there is demand despite peoples ideological positions on the matter.

The naughty dog! :-)! Nice to read about the early flowers and rain! Your hedges are very valuable things and worth getting mildly damp for! Hehe!

Cheers

Chris

Fay said...

Hello Chris,
You wrote: Most gold mines can produce gold, it just may not be economical to do so.
Again my family history involves a tale of gold. If you research via Google the history of the Tooloom Goldfields of northern NSW you will read about John Payne, who was one of my convict forebears. The story is that he sent up a bucket of dirt which shone in the sunlight about 1857. They called that shaft 'The rise and shine'. He then built a hotel on the goldfields, which is still standing today as a B&B home, mostly out of beautiful red cedar wood.
In recent times the country is being worked over again with heavy machinery.
The day that my grandmother, Henrietta Payne, was born the little baby was shown to the butcher's boy, who was delivering meat. Seventeen years later he married her. I once asked her about their courtship. She told me, "I had known him all my life and I knew him to be an honourable man."
Fay

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Out in town today and got caught in driving hail. The wind was too strong to stand up in and I had to take shelter with many others in a bank. When I emerged the pavements were very slippery with ice. Our weather is quite insane and on my return I found the woods to be an almost dangerous swamp. I notice that thanks to this mild winter, a lot of ground plants have kept leaves that would normally be completely gone. No doubt this will give them an early start.

@Pam Forgot to thank you for your kind enquiry as to my health. Not right yet but much improved. The virus is doing the rounds and there was a lack of staff in the shops to day as so many are off sick.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, "I don't know" is right up there with "I made a mistake." Or, "I was wrong." I've never had much problem with those terms. I think it's much worse to "cover up" and be found out :-). I suppose it's all tied in with loss of status, or, pecking order, or something. Silly. There's a long running joke, over here, that men will get endlessly lost, as they seem to have the inability to stop, and ask for directions. When we used to go on family vacations, in the 1950s, Dad would drive and Mom would navigate. Sometimes, things would get pretty tense. In Mom's defense, they were building our interstate highway system, then, and routes changed very fast.

Yes, the weather station here, is at the Centralia / Chehalis airport. Seems like if it's hot, it's about 10 degrees hotter at my place. If cold, about 10 degrees colder. If it's windy, it's windier. More on that, later.

Nell is so funny. i was sitting on the front porch, yesterday, watching the wind whip the trees around. There she was, watching the tree tops with equal interest. I've mentioned she perches on my shoulder, when I sleep. Well, yesterday, I discovered she snores. Right in my ear. I think she may have a little chest cold. She sneezed, yesterday.

Oh, Poopy the Demon Goat from Hell, was just all around naughty. Constantly tipping over his water or feed. When I moved them from their night pen, out on the grass, he was the one that always tried to do a runner. Just a general all around pain in the ... ear. :-)

The trip to the tip, wasn't bad. I just got lucky and hit a spot, without rain. But it was quit windy. Lost the power, about 3. Called our local PUD (Public Utility District) to report the outage. They have a new phone tree. "Press one for outages." I did. "Estimated wait will be 34 minutes." Held on for a real live person. Mentioned the new phone tree and the 34 minutes. Told her it wasn't going to happen. Then we both laughed. One thing I've got to say about our local PUD is that the people who work there are all unfailingly polite and cheery. And, I'm not talking to someone in India. As opposed to any large corporation I try and contact, by phone. Judging from where the outages were, the worst of the wind was from my place, and SE of me. And, probably higher than the 22 mph gusts reported by the weather station. I did not envy the repair crews, out in the wind and rain. Power was restored about 8:30, at night.

Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Cliff Mass, at his weather blog, had a posting saying that this year was the wettest in Seattle history. It appears there is a "meteorological winter" that runs from October 1st to March 1st. This year, we had 38.22 inches. The most on record. That's 13" more than normal (average?).

He also had another post, stating that, we have the longest spring, in the Nation. Our spring conditions, start earlier, and last longer than the "meteorological spring." He also mentioned that Washington has the foggiest spot in the country (Cape Disappointment ... probably so named because someone tried solar, there :-) ... and, the largest non-tropical storm in history ... Columbus Day Storm, 1962.

Saw my landlord yesterday, and mentioned the flowering plums. He thought it was early, too. But, since I didn't put it on the calendar last year, can't say for sure. Off for my usual trip to the little smoke. Lew

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

Yeah, I see what you mean about the water. I wonder what people do near Adelaide. My feeling is that if I didn't water my trees all summer they would die, no question (especially their first summer)! We had good rain in January (about 35mm), but almost nothing for the three months prior. I will ask the Food Forest people (Graham and Anne-Marie) and report back ;-)

Cheers, Angus

Fay said...

Hello Chris,
For all those in the Northern Hemisphere enjoying a mild, wet spring it is possibly due to the El Nino which is giving us a long hot summer. You folk get wet weather when we get dry weather from the El Nino Pacific ocean currents.
Satellite data just in for February 2016 indicates this is the warmest month on record since 1979 (when satellite records began). Many people are attributing this record to the El Nino. February 2016 was the driest February ever for Brisbane, my state capital, but in recent days there have been some showers. Heat doesn't create droughts, but droughts create heat. There is drought in Indonesia, Timor and New Guinea because the monsoon rains have failed this year. That means the monsoon rains have failed to come south and break the drought that has been over much of western and northern Australia too. This district where I live had patchy storm rains from October through to January, but no big soaking falls of rain. Then the February heatwave sizzled everything. Starting last Sunday a small storm brought 10.5mm rain and then on Tuesday coastal showers came across and I measured another 11mm. For you folk not on metric measurements there are 25mm to an inch of rain. These falls of rain have cooled the air, but the heatwave has moved south to Victoria. I feel for you Chris.
Fay

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

I'm impressed by your low water usage for the summer, considering how little rain you get then and how large your orchard is. We average about 100 gallons of water used per day from May to November (Sept. and Oct. are really autumn, but they are still in our growing season and often rather dry). That's for Mike and me plus the 1800 square feet of vegetable and small fruit garden space. In the winter, Mike and I together use about 30 to 40 gallons of water per day. If I have to water the fruit and nut shrubs and trees during the growing season, as I did in 2012, water use goes up a lot. But it's rarely necessary to water any shrub or tree here after its first growing season, and we usually get enough rain that I can water them during their first growing season from the rain barrels or the rain tank.

Re weeds, I agree that a weed is a plant in the wrong place. The plant I have in mind is violets. I love violets in the yard. They make a pretty blue-purple flower in spring and in mass they make a good ground cover, plus the flowers are edible (the leaves too but they are a little too tough to make a good salad green). However, I consider violets a weed in the vegetable garden, because they make something like a sod that crowds out the plants I am trying to grow there. I remove them from the vegetable garden but encourage them in the yard.

I'm going to be contrary and announce that I do not favor the taste of blackberries, so you do not find them in my garden and I do not forage for them. But I do like and grow both raspberries and strawberries.

It's just been announced that we are likely to have a warmer than normal spring, another effect of El Nino. I won't mind that if we get a reasonable amount of rain along with it. It was cold today, high in the mid 40s F after a low in the mid 20s F, but it should get quite warm over the weekend and into next week. Apparently it might also be stormy next week as well.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Fay,

Thanks for the family stories, they're great. John Payne did well getting transported! The Red Cedar trees are stunning too and they produce great furniture timber. I have red (x1) and white cedars (x3) growing here. They're both slow growing trees.

That is my understanding of the El Nino phenomenon too. Yes, Brisbane has had a very dry summer and I noted that there was some sort of - lost rainfall data included at the last minute - which meant that it wasn't the driest on record. Not that it makes much difference. I believe the official weather station was moved out of the city last year (after about 107 years of records) and placed in a parkland next to the Yarra River, which is possibly why I see 37'C when in Melbourne and the official record is about 33'C...

Yes, New Guinea and Indonesia are doing it tough this summer too. The drought there is not often mentioned.

Thanks. Yes, a high pressure system over the Tasman Sea is currently producing a heat wave here. 4 of the next 7 days are over 30'C (and the others are above the long term average for the month). At least it is not predicted to be windy...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Oh my! What thing to experience and to have to shelter in a bank of all places. Are they still considering closing your local branch? The leaves on many of the deciduous trees mostly fall off, but some don't. The Oak species tend to lose most of their leaves but some green ones hang on all year. They adapt to the changing climate. Last winter a nectarine tree kept its leaves all winter (which was also the coldest in 26 years). I don't know what to make of it all.

Hope it dries up a bit in your forest. And am glad to read that you are on the mend. :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Don't you reckon it is weird how people seem to want to dodge those phrases? I'm mean they're sort of important as far as the whole social smoothing process goes and I mean you can't learn until you admit that you don't know nuffin! :-)!

Cover ups are the worst. When I ran the graduate program I told them all upfront, I've never shot anyone for making a mistake, but I have shot people for lying to me. They looked nervous as they should because that advice goes against most social programming and I'm sure things are worse nowadays. Spin has a lot to answer for. Incidentally, that business did sack people for covering up surprise issues. It is just not worth it and the loss of credibility is hard to come back from. I make occasional mistakes with client stuff and I always fess up and fix the stuff up without charge - I mean what else do you do?

Your poor mum! I see those sorts of disputes with friends who turn up here - after getting lost - and they look a little tense. You can see it in their eyes! :-)! I'd imagine things wouldn't have been much better for your dad if he had a GPS!!!!

Airports are exposed hot / cold and windy places. I find them to be very unpleasant places to spend time. I was once trapped in an airport Santiago in Chile for just short of a day and it was torture. It was a nice airport as far as they go, but the cost of leaving the airport was extortionate and there is nothing to do. I reckon Dante might have something to say about that experience?

Oh poor Nell. Hope she feels better soon. The movement of the tree tops would have been a fascinating and perhaps sensory overloading experience for her? Has the wind died down yet? Yeah, some animals snore more than others. I used to own a cat that blew snot bubbles onto glass windows and if they weren't cleaned up the summer sun would bake them into a form of epoxy resin - tough stuff.

Very tidy verbage! Hehe! Poopy the Demon Goat from Hell, escape artist extraordinaire! Still, he made a good stew.

Does your tip have a tip shop where they sell collected items that have a value? I pick up a lot of materials there - it is amazing what materials people discard. I'm currently tracking down corrugated steel sheets for the next project... Nice to hear that you made the trip in between rain storms. Yes, the overseas call centres... You may be interested to know that down here, they don't take calls but my understanding is that there is a recorded message advising of the current outages. Makes you wonder what would have to happen if you're not part of the recorded message? Nice to read that they're a cheery and helpful bunch as that is a good thing.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Ha! The duck is funny. He's good. The link is here: The Wettest Winter in Seattle History . What is this going to do for Seattles already dampened reputation? ;-)! That is a whole lot of rain. Please spare some for us down here!

That must be a common sentiment, because not far from here there is a Mount Disappointment (Australia). Apparently the story goes - that it wasn't fog, but still - "After making the arduous climb to the summit, British explorers Hume and Hovell hoped to view the distant Port Phillip Bay. Unfortunately, the mountain's many trees prevented this resulting in their immense disappointment. Consequently they recorded their feelings in the name they chose for the mountain". That sounds an awful lot like cracking the sads to me! I reckon the same thing happened on the Cape?

It is hard to know those sorts of things and one can only record so much can't they?

Enjoy your trip to the little smoke.

A tiny little bit of rain fell today and last night (1/25th of an inch). It was exciting and Sir Scruffy and I just stood out in it and enjoyed the feeling of being damp. Mind you 38.22 inches would have me singing a different tune! No watering today! Yay!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

Dunno about Adelaide, but certainly the same techniques would work - no doubts about it. Man this week is crazy hot and you're doing it harder than me. At least the nights are cooler but the other night the low was about 22'C here.

The first summer, I have to give the trees a bit of attention, but that usually translates to maybe half a bucket before a heatwave. I've had a few tree deaths, but the vast majority survived OK. The ones that look stressed right now are surprising - like the almond trees (go figure that one out).

I've brought in a huge quantity of compost and/or mulch - there was no top soil when I started about 9 years ago. None at all.

I'd be very interested to hear what they have to say. If you visit them, would it be too much to ask to write a post with photos on the experience (if they're OK with that too)?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Thanks for that, I really appreciate the feedback. Some years summers can provide a reliable 2 inches of rainfall per month and occasionally much more than that. The fruit trees cover an area of about 3 maybe 4 acres, but most of the trees are a fair few years old now and they get much hardier with good feeding of lots of compost per tree.

Winter we don't usually use much water at all either and I always try as much as possible to go into summer with full storage (this year it was 90% full).

You may be interested to know that in early summer I generally cut and drop all of the grass and herbage down to the surface level around the fruit trees. The cut leaves form a mulch which reduces evaporation and keeps the soil cooler near the trunks. The interesting thing too is that the root systems of all of those plants provide food for the soil life and you can see the fruit trees go through a cycle of rapid growth and good health. I then apply a bit of compost near the trunks of the trees too. Of course it is a very humid summer (which happens from time to time) I have to be careful of too much growth near the trunks of the fruit trees as this can encourage disease - although I rarely see disease in the trees.

Violets are lovely plants. Very cheery. They don't seem to be in the orchard at all, but more in the garden beds. In the orchard I sometimes spot the perennial herb: Ajuga reptans and it is a cheery ground cover too. I have no idea how it ended up there but they've happily grown for years and they don't seem to spread.

No worries, I appreciate a bit of contrariness. Strawberries are excellent, but I don't know why but the raspberry cultivars down here have very little flavour. There are a few native raspberry varieties I probably should try...

That is quite warm. Exactly, a warmer spring is not a problem at all as long as it comes with a bit of rain. We're so far beyond the long term average temperature I'm unsure what warm actually means anymore. Words fail to adequately describe things down here.

Cheers

Chris

Fay said...

Hello Chris,
It wasn't John Payne who got transported.
Here is a brief history of the Payne family.
The Payne family came from Kent in England. Edward Payne, at the age of 22 was convicted in 1824 of killing a wether sheep and stealing part of the carcase, valued at 20 shillings. His sentence was death by hanging, commuted to transportation for life. When he arrived in Australia we know he already had 3 brothers here who had been convicted for stealing poultry. Later, in 1838, another brother came out with his wife and family as sponsored workers. Edward received his Ticket of Leave in 1834 and his Conditional Pardon was granted in 1841. He married Ann Hanratty in 1837. Ann was Australian born, but her father Patrick Hanratty had stolen flax to the value of 3 shillings and was convicted in Ireland in 1801 and transported to Australia. Of 151 men and 28 women on board, 63 men and 2 women died during the voyage and others died after arrival due to starvation and fever. The ship’s master faced an inquisition over the amount of trading goods he had stowed on board. He was also found to have cheated the convicts of some of their rations, but was never charged with any crime. Patrick married Sarah Primer who had been convicted in 1816 of receiving stolen goods valued at 6 shillings. A claim to fame was that they were married by the clergyman known as ‘The Flogging Parson’, Samuel Marsden.
Edward and Ann’s son, John Payne, was born in 1843.
John Payne married Mary Merrick, the granddaughter of Edward Merricks, a convict who arrived in Australia in 1790 and his wife Mary, another convict, who arrived in 1891.
John and Mary’s son, John Edward (Jack) was born in 1866.
Jack married Annie Smith, again of convict stock, in 1889.
Their daughter, Henrietta Matilda born 1893 on the Tooloom goldfield, was my grandmother.
Thus I have convict forebears going back to the second fleet which arrived in 1790. The mortality rate that year was the highest in the history of transportation to Australia. Of the 1,026 convicts embarked, 267 (256 men and 11 women) died during the voyage (26%). They arrived to find the colony short of food, as there hadn't been time to grow crops.
I hope you find this history of Australian settlement of interest.
Fay

margfh said...

@Lew

I'm embarrassed to say I've never tried goat even though I raised them for 25 years. They were my youngest daughter's 4H project and were dairy and pygmy goats. We did sell a few of the wethers for meat but at her insistence sold most as pets. The kids are so darn cute and personable. One of these days I'll have to try it if the opportunity arises.

I've tried the black plastic method to fry weeds. Works well for some but not for bindweed and quack grass which I'm constantly battling. The bindweed just grows from underneath and quack grass grows right through the plastic.

Margaret

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

My husband said that the course was useful and he'll go ahead with raising queens once he gets some that get through the winter. This winter is the first that I can recall that he lost all his hives. The instructor has been raising queens for some time but has yet to see real changes as far as hives overwintering. He has had heavy losses this year too.

We've had some trouble with ants too and I'll have to ask him what he's done to prevent that.

We've had several small snowstorms this week - nothing too major but on Tuesday it was very windy causing a lot of blowing snow on the roads. It's supposed to warm up significantly next week.

Margaret

margfh said...

@Claire

Our weather patterns here in northern Illinois are similar to yours though you are quite a bit warmer. Same long range forecast too.

Margaret

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Damo:

Your impending Laos adventure sounds so exciting! I can't wait to hear more about it! Best of luck to you and Mrs. Damo.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

A bald eagle nest full of dog and cat collars - how horrifying! Just think if someone should trace the tags and feel that they have to present a recovered tag with a tip of the hat and a "Here's what's left of Fluffy."

You have really interesting weather! The "longest spring" sounds very nice to me; I always hate to see it go. That's an awful lot of rain, though.

@ Inge:

Your weather may be more insane than Lew's, even! I hate to think what the "Ides of March" and "spring showers" may have in store for you.

@ Claire:

Your amount of water usage sounds excellent to me, especially if it includes showers/baths. Good for you and Mike!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

What a shame about the bee colony. I have pangs of guilt now whenever I eat honey (which is fairly often) because I have seen through the people who comment on this blog how very, very difficult it is to raise them. The bees do seem to have it in for you and the Editor lately! And you are only trying to help them!

Aaaaai! Davy Crockett cracked the sads! We all have our troubles . . .

Imperialist running dogs sounds like a high honor to me. Perhaps such a medal should be bestowed on Toothy?

The last couple of years we have had ajuga reptins pop up all over the garden. We have been encouraging it in the pathways, but it wants to take over the beds, too. Give an ajuga an inch . . . Apparently they don't behave that way where you are. But -

I don't know nuffin . . .

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Fay:

Wow! A nut the size of a small hen's egg! Are they at all tasty? Do they have a shell? And are yams indigenous to Australia? We grow yams and sweet potatoes here. The sweet potato is indigenous. Or at least it is somewhat further south; not sure about Virginia. I can tell absolutely no difference between the yams and sweet potatoes, except, maybe, the leaves are a little different.

That was a charming anecdote about you grandmother.

We have red cedar here, also. I encourage it everywhere I can as we actually do use it for fence posts.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I always told the "kids" that worked for me, in the bookstores, that there wasn't a mistake we couldn't fix ... except loosing cash through stupidity ... like wandering away (or, being lured away) from the cash drawer, and leaving it open. Otherwise, just about anything else could be fixed, or papered over.

When we traveled, the folks were always looking for short cuts. We ended up in some ... interesting places. One stint in particular, I remember. It was somewhere in the mountains, along the California / Nevada border. Down, down, down, the road went. Hairpin curves ... mostly gravel and not "banked" correctly, so in the curve, the car would spin a bit in the gravel and start sliding towards the abyss. Deep in the valley, was a little town. Like something out of the Twilight Zone. Dirt streets, hitching posts and board sidewalks. The Pony Express Office was still standing ... the stagecoach station. The saloon had swinging doors. It looked like a set from "Gunsmoke." But, it was all real. Not a tricked out tourist trap. My brother and I thought it was great, because they were so isolated, they didn't worry much about the liquor inspectors. Not only could we enter the saloon, but we could sit at the bar .. and drink pop. Can't remember the town, and have never been able to find it on a map.

Nell watching the trees snap in the wind ... her little head bobbing back and forth. Like she's keeping time to music. Her chest cold seems to have cleared up. No more snoring in my ear.

We probably got more rain down here. Seattle is partly sheltered from the incoming storms by the Olympic Mountains. Here, we're a pretty straight shot to the coast. At least our rain was fairly spread out, this year. No major flooding, except one patch way out in the eastern part of the county.

Cape Disappointment, was named by a British Fur Trader, in the 1780s. He was sailing down from Alaska, and turned back at the Cape ... missing discovering the Columbia River by just a few miles.

My inadvertent First Chehalis Australian Film Festival. Picked up the first season of a series, I thought I'd give a whirl. "Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries." Much to my surprise, the opening credits referenced the Australian Film Board. And, it takes place mostly in Melbourne. It's about 1925 and Miss Fisher is very much a modern woman. Full on flapper. Even though she's an independently wealthy woman, she falls into a mystery, and solves a murder. Quit liking all the excitement, she decides to become a private detective. What's nice about the series is all the re-occuring secondary characters are falling into place, And they are an interesting bunch. Sometimes, I think I watch these things to follow the supporting actors.

Our tip used to be an open land fill. Since I've moved here, it was capped and the current arrangement put in place. All clean, sanitary and well organized. But, no chance of pulling anything useful, out. The tip part goes into shipping containers that are hauled off to somewhere in eastern Washington. Other areas are for putting recyclables. Glass, paper, etc. An area for yard "waste", which is chipped and composted. But, I don't know what happens to the compost. They have an area for hazardous materials. fluorescent lights, old paint, chemicals, etc.. They'll take old fridges and stoves, for an extra fee $5. Same with computers and tvs. But, they advise you that the thrift stores take them for free, either for resale, or to recycle. Some arrangement with the State. Lew

Fay said...

Hello Pam in Virginia,
For more information on the Bunya Pine tree and its nuts I suggest you google these sites. I've seen them growing in home gardens in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The yams that the Aboriginals dug for bush tucker (indigenous food)are only small tubers and I have never dug them, much less eaten them. I know they grow on my land as I recognise the single stem, lily like flower.
Fay

The Bunya-Bunya Pine (Araucaria bidwillii)
permaculturenews.org/2013/.../the-bunya-bunya-pine-araucaria-bidwillii...

Bunya Nuts – Enjoying this wonderful bushtucker ...
www.happyearth.com.au/.../bunya-nuts-enjoying-this-wonderful-bushtu...

Fay said...

Hello LewisLucanBooks,
As part of the service I have received for paying rates (land taxes) to my regional council has been the opportunity to drive my domestic garbage, anything I can't compost) to a fenced site 2km from my home. The gate is padlocked, but as a rate payer I have been given a key. I throw my bagged garbage into one of several skips. Twice a week a garbage truck comes to empty the skips and take the rubbish to a big landfill site near Stanthorpe 10km away. To my dismay, this small refuse centre is to close and I will be then obliged to take my garbage to the landfill site. This big site is marvellous as it is well managed, but I don't like the thought of travelling miles to dispose of garbage. Not only does the big site have positions for dumping metal, plastics, wood, garden greenery etc. it has a thrift store that opens to the public every Saturday morning manned by charity workers. Furthermore the site creates chip mulch which can be purchased by the public. The council also uses the mulch around roadside planted trees and in local parks.
These types of refuse dumps are becoming quite common across Australia.
Fay

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Fay,

The increase in the number of sheep, the growth of the textile industry, the closures of the commons, and the concentration of wealth are all linked. That was a sad tale and the response of the authorities was quite extreme. The funny thing is that the sheep will have the last laugh - which is not wholly appropriate to say, but still it is true. You see sheep are funny creatures and can survive on very infertile land. They did really well in Australia, because during droughts they can not only graze the herbage, but they also can consume the roots of the plants. This has huge implications for the health of the soil and over in the UK, they don't seem to notice that.

I really enjoy the show Grand Designs UK because it is quite quirky and the presenter asks the hard questions - in between all of the fluff - and I get to look at the excavations for houses and what they show me is that there is very little in the way of top soil in agricultural areas. It is not good. Certainly sheep have done enormous damage to the soils down here.

Ann would have had a little bit higher social status than her father. Didn't they refer to the local born children as "currency lads and lasses"?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Yes, we certainly all need to experiment to see what is possible with the bees. I mean we know what the outcomes are if we continue business as usual, so I applaud your husbands efforts in that direction.

Just for your interest some of the things I'm doing to ensure that hives survive the winter are:
- Creating larger hives (4 boxes of 8 frames - 3 brood and 1 honey super)
- Encouraging a diverse diet for the bees (diverse flowers and then more flowers)
- The colony that died, I used a heavier grade of timber so that the bees are more insulated from the winter weather conditions and so require less feed
- I'm allowing the bees to retain their honey stores for later winter use
- The bees have a constant source of water to drink from over the summer
- I increased the airflow on the larger hive to reduce the build up of humidity in the hive itself over summer
- Protected the hive from ants by placing the hive boxes on a pallet and used a physical barrier on the experimental hive

There may be more things that I've tried, but seriously I would love to hear about your progress as the bees are really tough to work out, and they need our help.

Snow and wind. Wow! That is unpleasant. The wind picked up here this morning and without any warning it blew hot air in from the central deserts and it was hot - just shy of 100'F and initially a cooler day was predicted. It took most people by surprise.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Well, the other side of the coin is that by purchasing locally sourced honey, you are supporting the efforts of the beekeepers in your area and helping them to keep their heads above water financially. I enjoy honey too, but bees are very complex creatures. That is certainly a worthwhile thing to do in any case. The bees themselves are doing it tough everywhere and they are a sign of the decaying environmental conditions no doubts about it.

We all have our problems, such is the condition of life. Still, it beats the alternative doesn't it? ;-)! Things go wrong here too. We had a fascinating insight into tomato production this morning and have since had to revise our plans over the next few months, so that should be interesting. None of us are born knowing anything at all about any of this stuff and we just sort of muddle through as best we can. It seems to more or less work.

Yes! That's funny. Toothy would just enjoy it! It was amusing to read, but I believe it was written in all seriousness too. I enjoyed travelling to that part of the world and it was interesting. Some of the ruins in Cambodia are amazing, although I believe they are over run by tourists these days.

No, but thanks for the warning. The plants happily live under the fruit trees and go about their plant like lives. They are a useful ground cover and the blue flowers are very cheery!

It is hot again here today and it looks as though this will be a hot week. I'm wondering where Autumn has gone?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Oh man it is hot here today - and this morning was very windy. It was a dangerous day which nobody picked. Makes you wonder what Cliff Mass would have said on the matter: Melbourne weather: Surprise winds bring unexpected heat blast to the city?

Yeah, the cash one is a tough one because there is a loss of credibility and also you'll never know the story behind the loss and you may also wonder if the staff member was telling the plain truth about the story. I once worked with a massive cash business and it was nightmare of a problem on so many fronts.

Short cuts! Hehe! Good luck with those. Mind you, as you say you can occasionally come across all manner of interesting places in a short cut - like a functional western town or a hermits shack - for example. You never know what is around the corner. The only problem arises when that is not the actual expectation of the journey and possibly there are time deadlines. I'm not really one for poking my nose around the next corner just to see what is there and I reckon with peoples reliance on GPS I often wonder how much they see of the world anyway. I mean talk about mediation on a journey?

Did anyone say "walk ten paces and then draw!". It would be a tough thing if the person in question was morally dubious...

Nice to read that Nell is feeling better. Scritchy was a bit freaked out this afternoon because a brief thunderstorm rolled overhead. It was a strange day weather-wise down here. I overheated the inverter that converts the battery voltage into mains voltage this afternoon and the power just disappeared for a few minutes whilst it cooled down a bit!!!

More rain! Oh my, that is hard to imagine. It was interesting that he wrote that your summers are generally dry though. That was interesting and I wonder if that is increasing in severity in recent decades or otherwise.

Ha! It does make you wonder just how many of those events happened? The infamous (perhaps inept) explorers Burke and Wills made it back to the base camp one day after the waiting party left. And there they died.

I hadn't heard about that show. It sounds like a lot of fun. Well, the supporting actors have to try a little bit harder. Speaking of having to try harder, Scritchy demanded to come inside the house as she was outgunned by the regular mob of kangaroos that calls the orchard home. She wasn't even asking for backup.

Hey, do you reckon they had guns for hire in those old western towns? It sounds a bit dodgy and you would want to ensure they were paid promptly. One of the mob guys down here - who is now deceased - used to cheat hit men. It sounds like a recipe for disaster. The only ones that seem to survive long term seem to utilise the gift economy and build social currency. There is something in that.

Yeah, that sounds like the local transfer station run by the local council. Years ago, you used to be able to pay for scrap materials and they had plenty of metal for projects. Now that lot gets shipped off to China for recycling which is just weird because apparently the council was a bit weirded out by insurance concerns over people hurting themselves in the process. What a strange world we live in. Your tip sounds exactly the same as the one here.

I have to travel into the next council area which is a fair distance away because they have a tip shop with stuff you can buy and the whole thing is organised and well run - and polite which is not a term freely I'd use with the local mob. What do they say about meaner than the junkyard dog?

Had a whole lot of good ideas about the place today and so will implement them over the next few months. It is amazing how one observation can force you to rethink many different systems like a cascading series of ideas... It is still hot here now.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

hello again

I am writing this to the sound of heavy machinery. Neighbour is removing the clay in huge lorries. He has not yet got permission for his replacement home and has been asked to put in a new application. An ecological survey was not happy. I guess that they would be even less happy if they could observe the current works. There is talk of floating piles, what are they?

I looked up the rainfall for the Island. It was 846.6mm (33.33inches) for 2015 and it has been raining on and off ever since.

Re: honey for wounds. I have always understood that it must be cold pressed honey i.e. not el cheapo from the supermarket.

My bank is still going to close towards the end of April (not the one I sheltered in).

Gammage's book is reading well. It puts a whole new complexion on the simplistic words 'Hunter gatherer'. I keep relating the info. on water and land to the woods here, very interesting.

@Fay Your family history is absolutely fascinating. Surviving those sea voyages meant that the people who arrived were the very tough ones. I have noticed that the West Indians who I have known here, tended to live into their 90's. Their ancestors would have been the ones who survived the slave ships.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

You must have been a great boss!

What a dream of a western town. If you ever find it let me know - my husband and I have been looking for it for years.

Glad Nell's better. Even a sniffle can make one nervous.

We've had snow again, just an inch; no problem. It's suppose to be really warm next week.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Fay:

I have just remembered that we have wild yams - Dioscorea villosa - growing here; the deer have missed a few on our property. The tubers are tiny. The plant is just used medicinally in the States.

Thank you for the bunya links; I forwarded them to a couple of people as I have rarely seen such an astonishing tree! We have pines in the western U.S. which produce really tasty pine nuts (pesto, anyone?), but the trees themselves are really small and so are the nuts.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Tomato production insight would be much appreciated. I forgot to put some of my tomato seedlings away in one of the seedling fortresses the other evening and when I went back a couple of hours later they were eaten. We have started power washing the house exterior and are filling in every nook and cranny with caulk or what-have-you. Keep those mowsies out!

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Margaret - I think goat meat tastes a little ... gamey. But, braised with a lot of veg, herbs, garlic and onion, it looses that. Then I used a lot of the braised meat for the stew ... which took the edge off, further.

Ants. I had these wee small ants in the kitchen, last year. I rummaged around on line and found a recipe for creating a liquid with borax (the laundry soap works just fine) and sugar. The ants take it back to their nests, and it destroys the nests. Same thing happened this year. I had saved the liquid from last year, and it's been working, just fine. The ants disappear in two or three days. It is very poisonous, though. So, you have to be careful about getting it on your hands ... pets and other beneficial insects. I always have to plan to put out the bait when Nell isn't in the house. I just soak a bit of paper towel and let it hand over the edge of a jar lid or can lid.

@ Pam - I think I'd rather not know that my animals had met such an end. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss :-).

@ Fay - That sounds like a well organized tip. I think Chris is right about them becoming so organized because of liability concerns. And, environmental regulations. My father and brother once discovered some poor man who'd died at the dump. Apparently, all the hauling and unloading was just too much for his ticker, and he passed away. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Explorers and their narrow misses. When the explorers, Lewis and Clark traipsed across the continent in the early 1800s, they over wintered on the coast. A ship was supposed to pick them up and take them back to the east coast. They waited ... and waited and finally set out as they wanted to get back over the mountains before winter set in. I think it was, two days later, the ship showed up. Well, on their way back they took slightly different routes, in spots, and explored new areas.

The Miss Fisher Mysteries are quit lavish. I read somewhere where it was budgeted at a million dollars, an episode. I think most of it goes into the transportation. The cars! The planes! The steam engines! Lavish costumes and sets, too. Miss Fisher is VERY well dressed :-).

Your right about gangsters and organized crime. I hadn't really thought about that, before. How they utilized the gift economy and social currency so that the local community would protect them, to some extent.

Well, we live in a culture where people sue people at the drop of a hat. But still, sometimes I get quit exasperated at the unlikely scenarios the bean counters and lawyers come up with. Many things have been curtailed, due to the high cost of liability insurance. The lake behind the reservoir I used to guard was closed to the public, due to liability concerns.

Big day for me ... I'm going to an Ivey League college! Well, kind of, sort of :-). In the late 60s, I worked (and lived in) a kind of hippy dippy, peer to peer counseling service, in Seattle. Some one at Smith College is doing a study, or paper on that topic. So, at one, I'll be interviewed by phone, about the old days. The recording and transcript will be used for the study, and then archived at Smith College. So, the last week I've been reflecting. Dipped into a few books so I can get my personal time line right. Jotting down the odd memory that comes to mind. Ought to be interesting.

Your weather sure has been "interesting", this summer. Interesting, as in that old curse, "may you live in interesting times." I hope it settles into a more normal autumn and winter. Yesterday, I notice that it actually smelled, like spring. More of the volunteer fruit trees are blooming. The domesticated varieties seem to hang back a bit. Makes sense. They're probably developed to flower later, when the chance of frost has passed and the bees are about in large numbers. Lew

Fay said...

orchidwallis wrote Your family history is absolutely fascinating. Surviving those sea voyages meant that the people who arrived were the very tough ones. I have noticed that the West Indians who I have known here, tended to live into their 90's. Their ancestors would have been the ones who survived the slave ships.

This may be true, but most people are now living longer lives. My father died aged 98 and his mother died at the age of 94. My mother, who had no convict forebears, also lived to be 96. Although her forebears were free settlers and came in the years prior to 1860 they too endured difficult voyages. Now at almost 76 years of age, I am still physically strong and active and require no medication. While genetics are important, I also believe that lifestyle is a factor.
Fay

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Oh my! I wonder what their intentions are in relation to the removal of the clay? And the next question that comes to mind is where on earth would they be taking the clay? I wouldn't want to lose any clay from here as it would affect the flow of water in the ground and that in turn affects the ability of the established and older trees to get a drink of water when they need it. Strangely enough, down here you don't need a permit for earthworks.

On the other hand the planning process is an unnecessarily complex maze that one must navigate. I'm not necessarily convinced that the level of complexity produces good outcomes for anyone and in some cases it can be quite corrupt and even a bit ad-hoc which is not good either. I certainly have my doubts that the ecologists will be happy that large chunks of clay have been disappeared from the site. ;-)! It is interesting that there already is a house on the site and that there are still complexities. Having a pre-existing house on a block of land - regardless of the decript state that it is in makes the permit process easier down here.

I have not heard of floating piles before, so had to look them up. They seem to be some sort of pile that rests in the clay rather than on bedrock - thus they float in the clay. One would certainly hope that the clay that they rest on is not to reactive? Piles sort of indicates to me that there will be a lesser number of much larger footings into the clay than what I see down here. This house here floats on about 115 concrete stumps sitting on quite a lot of concrete pads down to various heights of between 1m (3.3ft) and 2m (6.6ft) deep. The clay at that depth is very solid and a different colour to the clay closer to the surface.

Ha! Who knows what the honey at the supermarket is cut with? If it is cheap there is a reason for that. I only purchase honey from two reputable suppliers one of whom is a lovely older couple living an off the grid life in a spot even more remote than here.

Sorry to hear about the bank closure. Have you considered your next move in relation to that situation?

Yes. It is a very interesting read indeed. The concept of templates in the book was also very interesting and it is a shame that I can't see them in practice. I'm doing my best to replicate the various strategies - without annoying too many people in the process. People love to simplify complex notions and I found the gardening practices as interesting as the hunter gatherer practices and clearly both were pursued at the same time. It is just bigger than our eyes are trained to see.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks! The tomato saga this season has been nothing short of fascinating and on the next blog I'm hoping to discuss what I've learned. What has been interesting for me is that the plants have failed to conform to my world view, and instead have demanded their own treatment which I only supplied by sheerest accident. Plans have had to change...

Well done with the power washing. It is a bit like War of Worlds and the fate of those pesky Martians when you see the plant ecology eating the house! :-)! I grew up listening to Jeff Wayne's musical version of War of the Worlds. It is a bit 70's really.

The mowsies are a bit pesky too, now that you mention it. Mind you Toothy is doing his bit for team fluffy down here as he got one this afternoon and left it out on display. He's fast, and looked rather pleased with himself, but on the down side had the breath of 1,000 camels! Horrid. Anyway, the mouse is now in the worm farm contributing to the soil creation processes. Do you ever find many mowsies around your place?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

My that Lewis and Clark were quite wise to over winter along the coast line. Man, it would have been something to see way back then! I must say that they had a very upbeat attitude in returning along a slightly different route - just to see what was there! That is certainly the adventurous spirit. Did they make it back alive? I'm assuming they did. The journey of the people on the ship would have been quite adventurous too. I'd imagine they would have to have travelled all the way to the bottom of Patagonia and then back up again. Even that would have been perilous.

Nice to read. Wow. I'm amazed to read that the ABC which is the government broadcaster partly funded the series and they do good work that lot. They also control and fund the youth radio station Triple J that I'm so enamoured of. A good use for public funding! You may be interested to know that the house: Wardlow, Parkville, Melbourne wasn't too far at from where I used to live - in less glamorous circumstances, mind you. That area was constructed in about 1880 to 1890 and there are Victorian era houses all over the place. Most streets appear just as they did back in those days and sometimes when I'm in the big smoke I just sort of walk around and suck up the ambience of an older time.

Absolutely, the gift economy is the only thing that keeps mobsters alive. That is how the mafia did it, they provided services to the community at a cheaper cost than the official government which most likely disdained that community. Mind you, that also probably meant a lot of people were killed in the process, no doubts about it, but they at least provided some measure of services. I reckon the move to extremes in ours and yours political systems leaves gaps which other more ruthless entities fill in.

Anyway, I blame such thoughts on the fact that after the Merlin book, I decided to go for something a bit more fluffy and am now reading: Dexter is Dead by Jeff Lindsay. Oh no! It is the final book in the series and our anti-hero is most certainly in a whole world of trouble. I suspect that it will take no more than four hours to complete the book. The Merlin book made me think and cogitate. Dexter is just wrong and entertaining and an amazing insight into the mind of a psychopath. It is not a good place...

Yeah, it is crazy that response. Some of the sports I used to be involved in ceased because of the failure to afford liability insurance. That was a bit sad, so I went off and did something else with my life.

Good luck with the interview. Dare I say it? Break a leg! I'm pretty certain you would have some fascinating insights into those days. It is good to be prepared. How did the interview go? Were you able to insert any entertaining stories into the interview?

Yes, the curse adequately describes the weather here. This summer has been endless and it is now at almost 6 months long. That is perhaps a bit too much summer for my tastes and every day for the next week is close to or over 30'C (86'F). I'm getting an awful feeling about the future...

Glad to hear that you can smell spring. Yes, the change is noticeable isn't it? We were talking about such things at the Green Wizards meeting today. It was good fun, good food and the turnout seems to be getting bigger with each meeting.

Mmmm, yes, there are a few fruit trees here that bloom early when the bees aren't out and about and they have the indignity of producing no fruit. It is a problem no doubts about it, but I will see what happens in the future. Who knows? The trees are better at adapting to a changing climate than I am! :-)!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Neighbour's planning: Planning difficulties are notorious here. Without a building in situ, he wouldn't have had a hope; even so he has to be careful. If one removes a building without having planning for the replacement, the planners go 'whoopee' and deny a replacement. Hard to believe that there is a serious housing shortage! Son says that the firm, removing the clay, has plenty of large holes in which to dump it. Son has also pointed out that it isn't just all the seeds being removed but also the livestock within the ground. Drainage pipes are being put in; they won't work for long.

Floating piles: I had tried to look them up but didn't really understand what I read. Surely they will just move down along with the slippery clay?

The huge holiday site development further along, has just created a small woodland walk for its holiday makers. Son has walked it; he says 'Very sweet, nothing there, but okay for the townies'.

Bank closure: I have dealt with what I can so far, but some money is tied up until nearly the end of the year, drat. I hope that I'll be able to deal with it by post.

@Fay Your other long lived ancestors seem to support the genetic idea. I would guess that genetics give one the potential and that life style then affects things. Having said that, I read a book many years ago, by a man determined to live to 100. He interviewed every centenarian in the country. Amazingly he found nothing in common at all in their lifestyles. They varied from the carefully abstemious to the lifelong smokers and drinkers. Said author didn't make it beyond his 70's. He was a yoga addict. Regrettably I don't remember his name or the book title.

I am an active 80 year old also on no medication and believe in avoiding the medical profession as much as possible.

Inge

margfh said...

Hi all,
Regarding garbage disposal - here an ordinance was passed that our garbage collection must also pick up recycling. Here's the kicker - two separate trucks drive throughout the county, one for garbage and the other for recyclables. The local environmental group was so successful promoting recycling that the ordinance was passed and their recycling site (which provided enough income to have a 5-6 person staff) was put out of business. We still have monthly recycling drives to take everything else that the collection companies don't pick up such as florescent bulbs, styrofoam, electronics of all kinds, VHS tapes and batteries. I work at the collection days and we fill up two large trucks in 3 hours. Illinois passed a law that all electronics cannot be sent to the landfill but made no provision as to where they go. Subsequently we've had to cancel a few of the drives as we have no where to send some of the stuff particularly the electronics. Tons of TVs come on now that the flat screens are so cheap.

Margaret

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

My husband does many of the things you do with your hives. Each year he leaves more and more honey but still takes a fair amount to finance this endeavor. It is fortunate that there a large bee club in the area as the experienced bee keepers have many ideas to pass one. One member has over 1000 hives as honey production is his family business. He does employ some questionable methods but has developed a black wrap for hives in the winter. It appears that the wraps have helped somewhat. I asked my husband about ants and he said he sprinkled cinnamon on them where they congregated in the hives and that helped. He said he only has had a problem with them a few times.

Margaret

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

Meriwether Lewis is a relative of mine. He was born here in Albemarle County. As you can imagine, there are lots of places here named after him.

Thanks so much for mentioning the "Miss Fisher's Murder Mystery" program. I'd never heard of it. It is right up my alley. One of my all time favorites is a British series:"Partners in Crime", featuring two of Agatha Christie's characters, Tommy and Tuppence. The 1920's version, not the new 1950's version, which I haven't seen yet.

So interesting about your interview! Good luck to you!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Fay:

Good for you with your health! If I had to bet, I'd bet on lifestyle usually being even more important than genetics.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Good old Toothy! I never find dead mowsies, only much-too-alive ones, like the one who ran past me this morning carrying a very large chunk of cheese. I had better go back to trap-setting class . . .

How horrible is a 6-month summer? It might be o.k. if it was pleasant, but it has been SO hot at your place!

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I was thinking the other day, that if it weren't for all the cats around my place, I'd be overrun with rodents. I have Nell, the Evil Stepson has three. There's one from up the hill that comes down, every once in awhile. Yesterday, looking out my bathroom window, I saw a very large, fluffy orange cat with a white chest. Don't know where they came from. Think I may have seen it, a year or two, ago. Transients that travel through, from time to time.

Lewis and Clark were pretty lucky, for the time. The entire "Corps of Discovery" made it back, intact. There was one fellow, who died before they even got a good start. But, everyone else (and, the dog) made it all the way to the Pacific and back. They're unabridged journals run to, I think, more than 10 volumes. We studied the expedition, at several points, in school.

Yes, it's always fun to wander around areas like Wardlow. I always wanted to live in a house like that (or, part of one ... the tower, say), until at some point in my life I realized how much it would cost to heat such a pile :-). The architecture was so interesting. The craftsmanship. We certainly don't see much of that, these days.

I never read the Dexter, series. But, I got all the seasons, from the library, and watched them. There's something about the character of the vigilante, that is very appealing. Wrongs made right ... the evil punished. Oddly enough, the young woman who interviewed me is named, Dexter Rose :-). I asked her if she was born with that name, or, if she picked it. It was her choice. I didn't inquire too deeply as to where it came from :-).

The interview went well, I think. Lasted just over an hour. Oh, yes, I threw in a few of my tired old quips, which she seemed to appreciate. I forgot to ask where the study will appear. E-mailed, this morning to find out. I suppose it will be online, or, in some scholarly journal. Maybe a book from a small scholarly press. The thing that made me most nervous was if my tela-communications would hold up and behave. It did. Whew!

Gosh knows, Mr. Greer more than deserves a break ... but my Wednesday nights are a little bleak, without a good shot of ADR. :-). He's probably preparing to put a good garden in. :-) Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge, Margaret, Pam and Lewis.

Thanks for the lovely comments. Unfortunately, I have guests over this evening and so won't be able to reply this evening, but promise to respond tomorrow evening - with the next blog!.

Hi Lewis: I suspect Mr Greer is probably doing just that and I wish him well. His email inbox would scare me! :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Yahoo2 said...

Hi Chris and friends,
thought I would drop you guys a note regarding pectin before the lightning zaps my electricity (again). I dont think you quite have the full story. We need the combination of pectin and acid to set a jam, its important to have both. rhubarb has very low pectin when it is FULLY ripe, so I would think the pectin is coming from the blackberries and the rhubarb is providing mostly acid. it is the same with a lemon, there is pectin in the peel, acid in the juice. When we pick our own fruit for jam it is easy to slip a percentage of greener fruit or berries in to boost the pectin levels or add some citrus peel or apple.
Where it gets tricky is when some over-ripe fruit lands on the doorstep and it needs dealing with ,like ,yesterday and there is no high pectin fruit in the garden to add to the jam. It is so easy to overcook it and ruin the taste and still end up with a sloppy runny mess. it pays to have some pectin and acid on the shelf for emergencies.
cheers Steve
PS would love to know what Charles Eisenstein interview you made the comment about in ADR.

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - Poor Lewis. Such a sad and mysterious death. So many things along the path of expedition named for Lewis, Clark, or Lewis and Clark. I live in Lewis County, after all :-). Somewhere along the way, I read a book about what happened to all the expedition members. Some vanished into history. Others returned to the West and were killed by Indians. Some died in bed at a ripe old age, surrounded by children and grandchildren.

Yo, Chris - I got quit a tour of Melbourne, last night. The extras on the Miss Fisher Mysteries, DVD. The great houses of Ripponlea, Como House and Lasassa. The Windsor Hotel, Spots Wood Pump House, Parkville, Colling Wood Town Hall, the Trades Hall in Carlton, South Melburne Town Hall, Kensington Wool Sheds, Melbourne Town Hall, Melbourne University Boat Club and the Treasury Building. Nice to get a feeling for your Big Smoke.

Interesting how they used different parts of buildings, for different episodes. Say, an alley behind the wool sheds, tricked out to look like 1928 Chinatown. And, through the magic of CGI, anytime they have an exterior shot, they restore the 1928 skyline, in the background.

Overnight temps here have been in the low 40s (4.44C) and daytime highs in the low 50s (10C). Feral weather, this morning, but it seems to be clearing off, a bit. Everything is blooming ... all the volunteer fruit trees. The domestics, still lag behind. Chickens did quit well, last week. 28 eggs. Lew



Fay said...

Yahoo2 on the subject of jam making. Way back in the 1960s I exhibited my jams and other baking in the country shows (fairs) and learned a lot from the judges, via an Aunt, who as a steward accompanied the judge.a
One of the most important rules in jam making is not to rapidly boil the fruit prior to the addition of sugar. If you need to add water to your fruit to tenderise it, just simmer the fruit until it is soft. The later addition of sugar will preserve the pectin. After the sugar is added you should boil your jam as fast as possible without boiling it over the pot and stove and making a mess. The faster you can get your jam to reach setting point and you then bottle it, the brighter will be the colour. When making Strawberry or Fig jams I only add sugar at 3/4 the weight of the fruit, as these are sweet fruits. I always add lemon juice for acid. If I don't have any lemons, which are winter fruit here, I use Citric Acid.
Another tip: I no longer use wax to seal my jars. Modern commercial jars have lids that clip on tight. Fill your jar, clip on the lid and turn the jar upside down for 2 minutes while you are repeating the process with more jars. Afterwards turn the jars the right way up. This process will create a vacuum seal and as no air can penetrate the jar, you jam will be preserved without mould.
Fay





Fay said...

Hello Chris,
Can you or your readers tell me what I need to do to make either grape or elderberry jelly that will set, plus why does my grape jam go candied after awhile.
I deliberately grew the American Isabella Grape, which was often used as a root stock for wine grapes in this district because it was disease resistant, because these grapes are so easy to use for jam.
After picking the grapes, each grape is easily separated by popping from their skins. The pulp is then simmered until the seeds loosen. The pulp is then strained through a sieve and the seeds thrown out. The juice and the skins are then placed together and simmered, perhaps with a little extra water, until the skins are tender. Then the jam is cooked until it sets. But, within a few months some of the sugar in the jam has candied. Help!
With both my grape jelly and elderberry jelly I simmered the product in a little water and then strained off the juice and added equal cups of sugar, per cups of juice. I also added citric acid. The result was been a product with the consistency of honey.
Help!
Fay

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

I was talking to my wife about new tree irrigation -- she did a PDC at the Food Forest and told me they irrigate with dripline. Sometime, I'll try and have a chat to them about it, and we'll definitely visit at some point. Will take some photos ;-)

The monsoon has hit here. Into day 3 of sticky weather and rain. Had about 15mm so far. Very nice!

Cheers, Angus