Monday, 22 February 2016

The early worm gets the bird

Friday morning found the editor and I awake before the sun had even risen. Usually, it is an unwise person that would attempt to discuss important matters with me before breakfast. No one is safe in that regard and even the editor is shooed out of the kitchen should she attempt cheery banter before breakfast. It is fair to say that I’m not an early morning person, but on Friday, I made an exception.

That exception was for the Seymour Alternative Farming Expo which opened its gates on Friday morning at 8am. The expo is held every year in the town of Seymour which is on the Goulburn River. Seymour is a long drive from here through predominantly rural roads and it usually takes about an hour and quarter to get there.

From past experience the Seymour Alternative Farming Expo is a hot and sunny event which I prefer to attend in the early morning thus escaping the heat of the afternoon. However, there is also another reason that I prefer attending the expo early in the morning.

That other reason is because the Seymour and District Poultry club take over a large pavilion at the expo. The poultry club offers a huge selection of chickens (and other birds) for sale - raised by their club members - including various heritage as well as the more usual breeds.

On the expo day, this means that the earlier that you visit the poultry club, the more likely you'll be able to select and purchase the best of the best of the chickens on display. Them chickens, they sure sell fast!

And so the editor and I were there early critically examining the various chickens for sale. We had many earnest discussions such as: “That one is listed as a hen, but don’t you reckon it looks like a bit like a rooster?” Amongst other such silliness. We did eventually more or less agree to two lots of chickens comprising: three black leg horn’s; and two isa brown chickens.

Fortunately you can pick up the chickens when you leave the expo which means that you don’t have to carry them around all morning in the hot sun.

All that decision making so early in the morning left me feeling hungry so we enjoyed a Polish cheese kransky sausage with onions in a bread roll and listed to bluegrass music whilst sitting on hay bales in the shade of a tree. Such is life in the country! The couple that were playing the bluegrass music were very good and they’d clearly lovingly made their own instruments from scrap. In between songs they told stories of the history of bluegrass music as well as the instruments. They earned their busking tip.

Whilst chickens, music and food are an important part of a farming expo, they’re not the only part. We visited many displays of small holder farm machinery where we drooled over machines that we would like to own, but probably never will (how about that portable mill?), there were animals for sale, hardware knickknacks, craft stuff, chainsaw artists (they make great timber wombats), plants and pretty much everything you could ever need for a small holding. I even met a dude that manufactures steel water tanks from sheet metal and has a side line producing raised garden beds. I intend to purchase some steel raised garden beds from him over the next few weeks to replace the rusty ones here.

All good things come to an end though, and the sun was fierce and the day heated up and so we left the expo and drove our way home again (with the new chickens, of course). 
Chickens on the run! The new chickens arrived in boxes waiting to join the chicken collective on the farm
Once the two boxes were inside the chicken enclosure, I opened up the first and tipped out the two Isa Browns.
The two new Isa Brown chickens were unceremoniously tipped out into the chicken enclosure
The next box to be tipped out contained the three Black Leghorn chickens. Observant readers will note in the photo below that an egg also dropped out of the box with those chickens. At the expo the birds were described as “point of lay” which is about 22 weeks old, and I was left with no doubt that that was a true statement! The thing that was not disclosed about the birds was that they are bantam chickens. Bantam is a fancy name to describe a smaller breed of bird. From hindsight it was obvious that the new chickens were bantams! Bantam chickens are quite good because whilst they produce smaller eggs, those eggs are not much smaller than what a full sized bird would produce, and the birds themselves eat far less than a full sized bird. My only concern with the bantams is that the other much larger chickens may give them too hard a time.
The three new Black Leg Horn chickens and an egg were also unceremoniously tipped out into the chicken enclosure
The world of chicken is a rough place until the pecking order is properly established. On the day of introducing the new chickens, a few wing, chest and beak fights broke out.
A few wing, chest and beak fights broke out between the new young gun chickens and the older established order
Eventually the new birds more or less settled in to life in the chicken collective at Fernglade Farm.
Eventually the new birds more or less settled in to life in the chicken collective at Fernglade Farm
It was hot at the Seymour Alternative Farming expo, and it has been hot here too. The valley below this mountain range is looking very dry and crispy. However, there is still a lot of green and colour in the gardens here despite that heat.
There is still a lot of green and colour in the gardens here despite the hot and dry summer
Over the past few weeks I’ve been continuing to fill up the firewood shed with cut and split seasoned firewood for the coming winter. We have never been this organised with firewood before and it is a real pleasure seeing the original firewood shed fill up. I often quip to the editor that firewood in the shed is like money in the bank – but better.
The original firewood shed is rapidly filling up
The replacement cowl (which is the fancy name for the bit at the very top of the chimney connected to the wood heater) arrived in the mail this week.
The replacement stainless steel cowl arrived in the mail this week
The above photo shows the replacement cowl on its side with the bottom facing closest to the camera. It is an impressive piece of steel work and it serves the function of stopping rain from falling down and into the chimney (for those that are technically inclined a chimney is described as a flue in this circumstance) and possibly rusting out the wood heater. The interesting thing about the old cowl was that when I removed it from the chimney, I discovered that the top half of the old cowl was made from stainless steel and in very good condition, whilst the bottom half was made from galvanised steel which was mostly rusted and full of holes. The old cowl was one of those situations where a manufactured item looked like you’d expect it to look like, but the materials used were not up to the job and so it failed. The only reason for that situation to occur is that it saves the installer a few bucks. I’m finding that many manufactured items are like that these days.
Using a rubber mallet to tamp the replacement stainless steel cowl onto the wood heater chimney (flue)
I used a rubber mallet to gently tamp the replacement stainless steel cowl onto the wood heater chimney (flue) and then anchored it with three metal screws to stop it from blowing away in the wind.

Save our Toothy!
Toothy the long haired dachshund who can be seen happily lurking in the background of the photo with the cowl above is occasionally bad tempered. No, please don’t defend Toothy, it’s true and there is no getting around that fact.

Anyway, the other night, Toothy decided to pick a fight with the gentler natured but much larger dog Poopy the Pomeranian (OK, he’s actually a Swedish Lapphund, but don’t go giving him airs and graces!). Needless to say that Toothy lost that fight. However, Toothy made the unfortunate error of having that fight in the middle of the night which in turn woke me up. Toothy received the same sort of reaction from me had he decided to do the same thing before breakfast (Please recall that I’m not an early morning person).

When cooler heads prevailed the next day, the editor and I discussed the situation and decided to separate the two dogs by constructing a new and smaller kennel purely for Toothy’s use.

The scrap plywood was gathered into one place. Being naturally tight with resources, a template was drawn onto each of the plywood scrap pieces so as to minimise any potential waste.
The gathering of the plywood scraps took place in the shade
The individual plywood pieces were cut out of the scrap and then screwed together. Before too long a brand new Toothy sized kennel was constructed. Observant readers will note in the photo below that the roof is deliberately hinged so that any dogs attempting to hide in their kennel can be easily removed.
Before too long a brand new smaller Toothy sized dog kennel was constructed from what were previously scraps of plywood
The festival of blackberries continued this week and we added more fruit to the collection which was then frozen. When enough fruit has been collected over the next few weeks, we’ll produce a blackberry and rhubarb jam.
The festival of blackberries continued this week and we added more fruit to the collection which was then frozen
The heat has meant that the tomatoes have also been rapidly ripening this week.
The heat has meant that the tomatoes have also been rapidly ripening this week. The right hand tub is freshly picked oregano for a home made pizza
However, we are not the only ones who have been enjoying the tomatoes, because one night this week a wallaby succeeded in breaking into the tomato enclosure through the gate. The evidence was overwhelming.
A wallaby broke into the tomato enclosure and left plenty of scats as evidence of its daring night-time raid
I’ve since placed a heavy duty steel mesh fire place screen over the gate and that may keep the wallabies out of the tomato enclosure for the foreseeable future.
The author looking less than impressed because a wallaby broke into the tomato enclosure through the front gate
Soap, it’s basic!
Here is an update of this week’s activities with the soap making.
The soap mix was poured into the silicone cake mould and left to set for a few days
After a few days the soap had formed solid cakes and they could then be removed from the silicone cake moulds
The old and the new soaps. The soap on the left is from a prior batch whilst the soap on the right is from the current batch. Observant readers will note that the soap cures to a white colour
The ingredients for soap making is as follows:

  • 380g (13.4 ounces) Olive Oil - usually a very low grade of oil will produce a good soap
  • 50g (1.7 ounces) Caustic Soda (Sodium Hydroxide) - clever people can make their own lye using wood ash and water, but I have not tried this
  • 140g (4.9 ounces) Water
The recipe for soap making is as follows:

  • Common sense plays a big part in this recipe - Do not splash any of the solution onto you at any time and/or handle the soap cakes until they are firm. If you do get a splash on you wash with water and seek medical assistance. Use gloves at all times.
  • Add the caustic soda to the water slowly and carefully so that it doesn't splash. It is a chimical reaction and will heat up, so you have to wait until it cools down to 32'C (90'F). Be careful not to breathe in any vapours rising off the mix
  • At the same time you need to heat the Olive Oil to 32'C (90'F)
  • Into a glass jar, pour the caustic soda/water mix (i.e. the lye) into the now warm olive oil and then stir for a couple of minutes
  • Leave the glass jar in the sun or next to a heater for a few days. You will have to stir the mix regularly (I reckon it was about eight times per day) as it is an emulsion. Obviously, don't leave it in an area where children or pets can get to it and don't touch the mix or they can get chemical burns
  • Over time there will be more soap paste and less oil in the mix
  • Once there is only paste, pour it into moulds
  • Leave it for a few days to dry and harden and then turn the now firm soap onto a tray
  • The soap will cure to a white colour over the next few months. Do not use the soap for at least 2 months.
The temperature outside now at about 7.00pm is 21.9'C degrees Celsius (71.4'F). So far this year there has been 55.8mm (2.2 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total 49.4mm (1.9 inches).

91 comments:

Coco said...

Ooh Ag expos! So much fun. Congrats on the new chickens - hope they´ve been assimilated into the group.

I find the soap calc lye calculator invaluable. Lots of various ingredients to plug in. http://soapcalc.net/calc/SoapCalcWP.asp

I also make soap at approximately room temperature. Add the water to the lye, and let it heat and cool. Meanwhile, gently heat the oils to melt them together and then mix all together with a stick blender until they gel or ¨trace¨. Bang into a prepared mold and leave to set. If you have a slow cooker / crock pot, you can do a batch of hot process soap and save a few weeks curing time. I´ve been on my very last bar for a long time now, so I really need to dig out the equipment and get started.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for the story and it was a fine rant. I couldn't agree more.

Absolutely. It is really hard for people to put learning into the proper perspective when the environment is purely academic. There is something to be said about part time study when you have experience under your belt. At the very least people muck around less. I often used to stare in horror at films from the US that depicted University and College life. There are very few campuses down under that encourage students to live on site, it just doesn't happen. Student share houses down here were dirty and grungy, and nothing at all like a frat house. They were more like the film: Dogs in Space.

Well, it is hard for the youngsters to understand the course material without the experience. I mean that is really hard. And sliding into a cushy job is the promise behind the sacrifice for the study, but it wasn't there for me and who knows where it is at today. I mean courses get over sold so it looks to me like it is a social explosion gaining momentum, but what do I know?

Oh that made me laugh! Very amusing. Yes, libraries would be excellent places to work if it wasn't for all of the public! Hehe! I've heard that said to me many times in different environments. Don't you think that it is a funny thing to say, like avoiding other people would be a good thing. I mean sometimes it is, but sometimes it isn't. Interactions with the public in general can be a mixed bag, but I suspect that it has always been thus.

The volunteer angle was a very clever strategy. I'll bet HR was paid more than just grocery money? :-)! No need to reply to that one. Yeah, you know travelling around visiting different branches would have been very social too. I'm always in different businesses and it is good fun seeing all of the different people and knowing their stories and actually helping them too. It is very rewarding, you and I were probably not made to sit in the same spot each day were we?

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Ha! You showed them for sure. Good for you. I respect that attitude. Exactly, opportunity comes knocking every now and then and you have to be able to recognise it when it shows up. Usually opportunity arrives in overalls and looks like hard work...

No, I try not to judge too. Walk a mile in their shoes and all that. Maybe their troubles is what makes their body of work more poignant and fleeting, because perhaps you know one day it may be gone? Dunno. I've noticed that artists live in fear of increasing irrelevance, but everyone is more or less on an inverted bell shape curve in terms of their relevance. It is just a thing, I try not to put my head up too much in the first place. Starting the blog was a huge decision for me. One day, I'm going to have to start a local food producers group or network and that scares me silly - not because I don't enjoy other people, but just because it is a lot of work and the outcomes will be good, but no one will be happy. Oh well.

Aren't we digressing and plundering the wide seas of philosophy this evening? Hehe!

Nell of course is a sophisticated feline and wouldn't dare perform the dreaded death kitty manoeuvre! Sometimes known as evasive manoeuvre 4! ;-)! That is very true, companion animals all need and give affection and I reckon they add something to a household, despite all of their quirks and petty disagreements. Cats know what they like for sure. Dogs on the other hand would be all too likely to trip me up if food was involved and they could score that food...

Did you end up getting your storm? It is sometimes funny (not in a humorous way) the difference between here and there. I would have burnt off the apple pruning’s or placed them in a depression in the ground and covered them with manure. I've been thinking about these things recently as over the next few months I'll start work on constructing a fern gully to capture water. It should be interesting. The tip here would take the pruning’s, mulch them up and then compost them and I'd end up repurchasing the composted woody mulch. There is a huge place in Melbourne that does this on an industrial scale and they have giant mounds of composted woody mulch. It is an amazing operation to see.

Your chickens are little champions. I'm getting about 4 to 6 eggs per day here now, so whatever you are doing is good stuff! Ha! I've seen three hens in one favourite box, so who knows how they decide these things...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Fay,

Thanks for the generous offer, but unfortunately I have to work with the regulatory environment that I currently happen to exist in and I just do my best to fit in with that as best as can be.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Coco,

Thanks, they are fun aren't they? I used to annually visit the Royal Melbourne Show, but now look forward to the smaller agricultural shows instead.

I don't know about the new chickens as they're a bit on the small side, but then the Silky chickens fit in just fine, but they seem to be a bit more feisty, so who knows. It is early days though and I'm giving them lots of special attention.

Thanks very much for the link. I have no doubts that there are many different ways to produce soap. And how good is home soap too? It's the best!

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - The expo sounds like fun. I was going to ask you about junk food. Yours sounds pretty tame. What? No batter coated, deep fried Twinkies? Nothing with bacon and chocolate? Which seems all the rage on the county fair circuit. No stomach churning rides, that leads to the violent expulsion, of said fair food? No fun at all :-(.

Those are some fine looking chickens. Bet that egg was a surprise. When I added adult chickens to my mob, I put them in after sunset, and all seemed well, the next morning. When I put the chicks in, that I had raised to about 16 weeks, I had them in a fenced off corner of the hen house, for a few days. Just so every one could eye each other, for awhile. All worked out ok.

Money in the bank won't keep you warm ... except by 2 or 3d remove.

Well, you're always (with a lot of genius) adapting things to other uses. When you become king of SW Australia, you can adapt the chimney cowl into a crown. Maybe spray paint it gold? "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown ..." :-)

Ohhh. Toothy's new digs are really, dare I say, cute? Spa and hot tub?

Bad enough the wallaby staged a midnight raid. But to add insult to injury. Human burglars have been known to do the same thing. What goes on (or doesn't go on) in people's heads? But, with the rise of forensic DNA testing, such behavior is not advised, among the criminal class. The picture tomatoes and oregano are wonderful. Thanks for not posting apicture of the end, result. Lunch is just around the corner and it would have been to cruel to take :-).

Well, soap making seems pretty straightforward. Dangerous and requiring a lot of care. But, simple. Wonder if I can pull off some pine tar soap? We have a very old company here, Grandpa's Pine Tar Soap, which makes wonderful stuff. They also do a baking powder soap. And, oatmeal. It's old fashioned, and very hard to find. I usually order, on line, when I want to treat myself to a few bars. Expensive, too. The pine tar soap, is really a "guys" soap.

And, all this talk about lie soap, reminded me of an old song. Blue Grass, no less. A real toe tapping ear worm. Best sung at a bellow :-). The Editor will not thank me. About two minutes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xr_XQjBEgzk

Went to Chef John's yesterday, to help him run down some books and DVDs for his classes, in the library catalogue. Had a truck load of apple prunings, and he graciously allowed me to dump it on his burn pile. Saved me a trip to the tip. Where they compost the stuff. I'd burn it, but, I'm having four for lunch, next Saturday, (a rare event) so I'm in a frenzy of cleaning, organizing and cooking. Also, the stuff is really too wet to burn, right now. There will be much burning, later. Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

What a great title! What a delightful experience the Expo sounds like! I wonder if anyone puts on such an event within reach of us? Timber wombats! Portable mills! Steel water tanks! Chooks galore! Little did the Black Leggies and Isas know that they were moving to chook paradise, complete with chook palace! They are very handsome chickens - may you be as blessed with these as with all the other ones! I think that the hens all want the same box for the same reason that dogs always want the same chair, or the same spot on the rug - because someone else wants it!

Do you know (now you do!) that we do not have a cowl on our chimney? In fact there is not anything over the top of it now. Originally, we had a sort of screen thing over it, but leaves collected on top and blocked the opening. Occasionally bats or baby squirrels come on down. Our woodstove is 3 floors below the top of the chimney, so maybe that's why there has been no rust? What a magnificent view from your roof! So - the Editor does not mind going up high to shoot pictures . . . ? Was it hot up there . . . ?

It is so generous of you all to build Toothy his own safe refuge. Oh, my! You've done me in again! A hinged roof for removing recalcitrant pooches!

What pretty colors of tomatoes! And your garden is indeed still so very green! I thought that beautiful gate had screening on it already. Guess you'll have to fasten some to it eventually.

Your soap is pristine! Thanks so much for the recipe and instructions. I will now get some low grade olive oil and get after it - I hope. When would one add scent, if one wanted to?

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

I would like "reading shelves", too. So nice to put things in order (and ogle the titles as one went along).

I really liked this from your end-of-last week's comments: "I think the point of all this is, you have to watch for opportunities, make opportunities, where you can, and maybe slog through a lot of mire, along the way, to get what you want. And, what you think you want, might not be what you end up with, but what you end up with might be better." That is so profound, and I need to reiterate it to one of my son's who is having a heck of a time finding another job after his last one ended (construction; construction is not his field, though). He actually has landed a restaurant job, but there is no way that it is going to pay the rent, etc. Just a stop-gap, he hopes.

Smart idea to keep the chickens segregated at first.

That's a great song, and it reminded me that we still have some 43 year old lye soap that a neighbor gave us from when he cleared out his great aunt's estate in the Shenandoah Valley. She and her sister made it in 1973. And it's still good! We use it when we remember. It's in huge "bricks" and we have to cut a piece off to use it. Hey - that fellow's banjo's (ukelele?) name is Lew!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Coco:

Thanks so very much for the soap calculator!

Pam

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

A fine punny start to your post! It sounds like you had a great day. Congratulations on the new birds! Someday I'll go to one of the state fairs here (Missouri's and Illinois' are about the same distance away in different directions) to take a look at the chickens on exhibit. Might tempt me to get going on the chicken project, though at the moment that is probably on the five-year list.

We might have some snow in about 36 hours from when I write this, only an inch or two however if the forecasters know what they are talking about. Oddly enough, though overall the weather here warms rapidly in March and spring is here by mid month if not earlier, our biggest snowfalls can and have happened that month. I think it's because the weather systems can pull in more moist air from the Gulf of Mexico at that time than in winter, while the Canadian air is also still cold enough to drop the temperature to freezing.

Fay said...

Hello Chris,
The lovely thing about bantam hens is that they go broody very quickly and can then be used to set fertile eggs from your Brown Isa hens. You will find that the Brown Isa have been bred to produce eggs and will just keep on laying until they exhaust themselves. Meanwhile, the bantams still have the natural inclination to broodiness. Not only will they set on eggs, they make great mothers.
Fay

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

My phone and internet went down yesterday. Still no phone but have intermittent internet. Don't understand this as it goes through my phone line.
Anyway I enjoyed your article as usual. Have never made soap, might try it.

Inge

margfh said...

@Lew

(from last week) We are lucky to have our library but some of the older employees have recently retired and it seems the newer ones are less inclined to get to know the regular patrons but time will tell.

The town here is pretty small by Chicago metropolitan area measures. Of course many want it to grow but the financial crisis kind of stopped that. If you make any kind of effort to get involved you get to know people very quickly.

Margaret

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

Congrats on the new chicken additions. Maybe you've said before but what do you do with your older hens? I have a nice set up with two pens next to each other inside that open up to the large outside pen that can be divided into two by a gate. When I want to introduce new birds I put them next to the older ones inside for awhile then I open the gate outside so they can mix and finally close off the inside pen where the new ones were. It's worked out quite well.

The farming expo sounds like so much fun. I looked online and see that there are a few poultry swaps not too far from me so might give it a try. Otherwise the only thing similar is the county fair which is geared for 4H kids to show their animals and other projects. There are some for sale but not until the end of the fair which runs five days.

Margaret

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Mate, I've read about that food, and I recall discussing it with you previously. You just don't see it down here. The food at the expo was a lot of grill type stuff (hence the cheese kransky sausage and onions). We do have exciting batches of salmonella in our lettuce though... Actually that isn't as funny as it sounds. I worked very late tonight and the editor has been a bit off colour today, so she asked me to pick up a half roast chicken and some salad on my way home. This is an exceedingly rare event. The temperature peaked at 38'C (102'F) today in the shade so it was hot too. Oh sorry, the point of the story was that the The chicken was quite nice but the salad was off. It didn't smell so good, so I tested some of it using Poopy (who really enjoyed it, so it probably won't make us sick) and then chucked the rest into the worm farm. Yuk.

No, they don't have rides at the agricultural shows - that is for the Royal Melbourne show and it is a huge event. They do the rides and showbags and all of that sort of stuff. It is good fun and I enjoy it too.

Thanks, they are good looking chickens aren't they? I've noticed that the comb on the new Isa Brown's isn't as red as the existing Isa Brown, so I'll note over time whether the comb gets darker. You are a much nicer chicken owner than I - the introduction process was a bit sink or swim... One of the newbies had a run around the orchard tonight.

Well, if inflation ever hits, maybe it might keep you warm? I often suspect that is what happened to the library of Alexandria... That would have been something to peruse!

How good would that look? I reckon people may confuse that hat with the hats that the new wave 80's band Devo used to wear. How good was there song: A beautiful world. Good stuff. It would be nice to be King! ;-)! Well, not really, it would probably be a pain really. The Court would drive me bananas... You are exactly spot on - it would make for an uneasy rest!

Ha! Toothy is a happy dachshund, and hopefully a little less grumpy. What is with that? I'll bet Beau and Nell are perfectly well balanced and not subject to fits of sulking their socks off?

Well yeah, there is that. There are an awful lot of camera's and CCTV's about the community too. They've been quite valuable in putting away arsonists. I don't really have much to nick here anyway, the value of this place lies in the soil and plants and no one sees them. Visitors rarely see even half of the place. I'm a bit over opening the garden as it takes up so much time and hasn't really generated any returns (of the social sort) - people are a bit overwhelmed... But mostly, they're just concerned that change is in the air and it may sweep them away...

Nice to hear of the guys soap. It sounds like good stuff and yeah quality stuff is worth handing over the cash for. It is hard to know whats quality and what isn't though. I reckon that is a problem. Yeah, the editors choice of soap moulds is far less than masculine! :-)! Very amusing too.

Ooo an ear worm. Watch out it doesn't get into your brain! The editor checked out what the song was all about. Very distinctive banjo playing. :-)! Oh yeah, that is one to sing at full roar!

That was very nice of Chef John and I do hope that he uses the wood ash in the truck garden? Wood ash is very valuable stuff for growing plants. I hate burning off here, but over winter I just don't know what else to do, it is an effective process and well if I don't clean up the forest, nature will do it in her fury one of these days... Talk about nature cracking the sads. ;-)!

Cheers

Chris


Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

It is fun mixing metaphors. Sometimes I deliberately confuse people by saying: That horse has sailed... :-)! It's effective!

Yeah, you never know. There not all the same down here as sometimes they are big broad acre farmers expos (they call them field days down here) and I avoid those like the plague.

Chickens are very concerned with status so such matters are very important to them. The leg horns are great looking birds aren't they? Such huge combs and wattles for a small bird.

Oh, well, brick fireplaces sometimes don't need cowls over the chimney. The old timers used to use ceramic pots over the top of the chimney. Sometimes bees can get into the old chimneys too (I once had a chimney that was not in use but smelled strongly of honey and had this strange buzzing sound)... Go figure...

Dunno about the rust, the rain would certainly get into the fire chamber, but it depends what it is lined with (fire bricks tend to be pretty hardy to rain), but it would rust out the steel box here. Although you may have a much higher quality of steel than mine, which is not out of the question. The older units used much thicker steel.

Ha! The magic of cameras. The editor was standing on the hill above the house looking across at the view. The house is a bit of a local tourist attraction. I don't mind as long as they don't leave rubbish and/or attempt to enter the property.

That hinged is really necessary for exactly that reason. It is nice to make something utilitarian and beautiful, I enjoy that process - especially when it is made from scrap. :-)! Thanks for noticing. Toothy is a very lucky pooch (but also strangely grumpy).

The colours are great despite the hot summer. I've really been working at that for a few years now. I must add the water usage stats too to the blog... I think we used all up 740L (194 gallons) per day for everything during December to mid February (people, dogs, bees, chickens, orchard, herbs and vegetables). I reckon I can do better as the years go on, but it is a good start.

You add the scent at the stage prior to pouring the mix into the silicone moulds. Doesn't it look great too. I added lavender oil (as they grow a lot of that around these parts).

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Glad you noticed - I often chuck in small jokes hoping that people notice! :-)! Yeah, the argicultural shows are fun days and that particular event has long pitched itself at small holders so it is really good stuff. Exactly, it may be a good place to start, especially if a poultry club is running that part of the event. Some clubs runs regular poultry auctions too, although the auction process is nail biting stuff and you have to have a poker face too.

Thanks for the great descriptions of your weather patterns, I really enjoy gaining an understanding of all the different climates that people enjoy. I do hope that you get some snow. It reached 38'C (102'F) here today.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Fay,

Thanks for the advice. Yes, probably in the future breeding chickens or purchasing fertile eggs is probably not a bad way to go. Sooner or later I'll have to do that regardless.

The Isa Browns are a very plucky breed, but very poor mothers, but then I actually need more laying birds which is why I purchased two more. It is an eclectic collection of chickens here, but that also means that it almost guarantees eggs every single day of the year.

Not to stress and I appreciate your kind offer. However, the problem is that I no longer give out my email address on the web to anyone. A year or so back I was trolled - and I'm not suggesting that you would do that, I was just very badly burnt and I'm now ultra cautious. The nasty individual began affecting my business and it came to the attention of one of my clients who in turn let me know it was going on. Very embarrassing. It was a huge job to stop it from escalating and I eventually had to track the rotten person down and personally put a finish to it and then deleting all the trail of destruction on the internet that they'd left in their wake was a nightmare of a job. I set hard limits between myself and the Internet then.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Oh, that is strange and I do hope that they repair it so that we can enjoy your lovely comments.

It is very easy and people talk up the difficulties, you just have to be gentle with the production process.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Poopy the Guinea Pup.

We have a brick chimney with two separate flues, which are lined with some sort of ceramic. One flue leads to the ground-floor fireplace, the other to the basement woodstove. I think that the only thing that is steel is the stove pipe - which is entirely indoors - that goes from the woodstove into the chimney flue. The stove itself is cast iron and, boy, I am so glad that we spent the money to get a real cast iron one so many years ago. The fireplace is lined with firebrick and has a cast iron plate set up against the back of it to protect the brick and help radiate heat outward. It does well protecting the brick, but I don't think that it adds anything as far as retaining or radiating heat. The whole set-up draws beautifully. The man who built it was a true craftsman. I wish I had paid more attention, but I had two small boys at the time, who were helping to build the house and who had NO fear of anything!

740L is phenomenal! Good for you guys! I will not be measuring our water usage . . . though showers are brief here as there is some problem with the water heater thermostat . . .

Thanks for the soap scent recommendation.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@Claire:

Our March is like yours, though if we do get snow - which is not often at that time - it is just a small amount, the kind that I have always heard farmers praise for their early crops. It sits lightly on top and gradually melts to water the seeds/plants.

@Inge:

I am very curious as to why you can have the telephone working, but no the internet, as that happens to us fairly often, too. Maybe it's your modem? We have had it turn out to be that before and had to get a new one.

@ Margaret:

I haven't been to the county fair in so long! We used to enter all sorts of categories when our sons were in 4-H; I did, too. We even won some prizes!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

My, your list of bee flowers has gotten wonderfully long!

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - You may not have signed onto this voyage to New Holland (Australia) when I was talking about my job history. From about 14, until retirement, I was never unemployed for more than a week, or two. Because I'd take just about any job, until something better came along. Lots of food and drink work ... slung hash, waited tables, bar tended, id checker / bouncer. Made and repaired wooden shoes for a year ... while cooking in a small bar kitchen at night. Lots of bookstores, lots of libraries. Janitorial. Security Guard at the local coal fired electric plant. Ran three of my own businesses (all failures).

I was working at a Walden Bookstore in California, I think, for less than a year. A new store was opening. I asked the district manager, who was going to manage the new store. He said he didn't have a manager, yet. I laughed, and said "I'll do it." He said, "You're on." And, away we went. Ended up managing a huge bookstore, in an enormous mall, at the ripe old age of 23, or so.

I was working in a B. Dalton Bookstore, in Portland. A better slot opened up, I told the manager I was interested, and, I got it. An employee who had been there a lot longer was miffed. I asked him, did you tell the manager, you wanted the job? "Well, no..." Getting that entry level job at B. Dalton was kind of interesting. Trying to keep the story short ... I was at loose ends, and was offered a job as a tattoo artists assistant / apprentice. And, this guy was the go to, tattoo artist to the STARS! I asked for 24 hours to think it over. In that time, B. Dalton called (on an application I had put in 4 months earlier). I'm the kind of guy that if I had committed to the tattooist, I would have gone with that. Instead, I ended up working for B. Dalton, in Portland, which led to me getting the store here, and, the rest is, as they say, history.

Longest runs of jobs, I've had? 12 years for B. Dalton, and 12 working for our local library system. Advice to young job seekers? Keep checking back. Without being a pest. I wanted to work in a particular bar, once. I kept checking back and one night the owner asked when I could start. "Anytime!" And, got a serving tray shoved in my hand. Never having taken a drink order, before. The other employees were kind enough to cover for me, and train me along the way.

Oh, and show up early. My Dad worked for Nabisco, for years. The employment office opened at 8:30. He told me that any applications they took after 9, went right in the round file. Binned.

Good luck to your son. Some of it is being in the right place at the right time ... some of it is falling face down in good luck. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Got down to 20F (-6.67C), last night. But, it's bright and sunny and ought to warm up, pretty fast.

Forgot to complete my thought about Toothy's dog house, and, the wall paper in my chicken boxes. Snoopy, the dog in the Peanuts comic strip, occasionally refers to the library, or, the pool room. To go all Dr. Who-vian on you, "It's larger on the inside." :-).

There's a 2009 film, called "Agora", which is about the burning of the Alexandria Library, by religious crazies, and the murder of Hypatia. A pretty speculative film, but, interesting and entertaining, anyway. The odd bits, or saved stuff, met it's end after the Arab conquest of Egypt. It was used to heat the baths.

Oh, yeah. There were one or two tunes that Devo did, that I liked. "Whip It," comes to mind. That traffic cone hat look, never caught on, did it? Pity. :-).

Well, most won't admit it, but guys need a little "pretty" in their lives. LOL. The Editor provides "cover." :-).

Oh, Nell gets a little sulky, at times. Usually when I insist she be, somewhere she doesn't want to be (at that moment). She'll stop sleeping on my shoulder, for a few days. :-). Beau is never sulky. He's a pretty happy go lucky dog. Boy, he was really wound up about something prowling around, last night. Barked on and off right up til bedtime, and even woke me up, a couple of times, last night. I don't think it was the mules. He's gotten pretty used to them, even when they get close to the fence. He was also sounding off this morning, at something I couldn't see. So, I didn't let my chickens out til the last possible moment, this morning. Made sure Beau was up and around. The mules were back along the fence line. Coyotes? Cougar? Stray cat? Bigfoot? Another country mystery.

Well, back to the long slow slog to Saturday lunch. I have to keep reminding myself, not to get too wound up. What gets done, gets done. What doesn't, doesn't. These are all old friends, after all. Lew

Fay said...

Thanks Chris,
I kinda figured that might be the problem. Until recently I wrote a blog too, but my server collapsed at the beginning of this year. I still possess my domain name so will consider starting again after April. I'm going travelling for 4 weeks, starting at the end of March. I'll spend a couple of weeks in tropical Townsville in northern Queensland where my youngest son lives with his family. He is a Microsoft systems engineer and I'll talk to him about getting another server. Then I'm flying to Hong Kong, which I do every year to visit with another son and his family. From Hong Kong I have previously made several trips into mainland China, where I take a particular interest in the agriculture. This year my Chinese born daughter-in-law is going to accompany me to Louyang in Henan province where there is a huge floral festival as the Peonies come into bloom. We will also visit with her parents at Anyang. I never travel in groups, preferring to travel with a companion who can speak the language - other times I have hired a professional woman guide to accompany me. That way I get to see what I want to see. Fay

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Well he is rather undiscerning in his tastes and it is good to put that super sensitive nose to good use. :-)! I'd never thought of Poopy that way either, but you are totally correct. He's good isn't he? And he reliably told me that the salad had begun fermenting in the heat (at the shop mind you) and that was what the smell was. It wasn't good and makes me disinclined to try that again.

On the other hand the half roast chook was nice. But I was left wondering how they sell that for $8.80? It is a bit scary to wonder about really, as the Isa Brown chickens were $20 each, mind you they were a lot older than the roast chook. It's been a while since I've eaten roast chicken and I noticed that the bird seemed to be a bit skinnier than I recall, but my memory fades on such matters.

Sorry, that was a side track, and the answer was that Poopy was well and looking for more of the salad, but alas the worms got it. Poor Poopy, he missed out! :-)!

Oh, I'm in total awe as your brick chimney sounds like a work of art and constructed by a true craftsperson that knew their trade intimately. Yeah, you really thought far ahead by installing a cast iron unit, as the steel sheet wood heater units I've had experience with down here are not good from a longevity point of view.

I don't really know, but perhaps as a suggestion, the cast iron plate at the rear of the fireplace helps reduce wear and tear on the mortar in between the bricks? Dunno, but I once experienced a chimney fire because the guy that originally built the chimeny used the wrong sort of mortar in between the bricks and the heat of the fire caused the mortar to shrink (as it lost moisture) and the fire came out the back of the brick fire place. It was complex... It was probably one of those things that looks the part, but doesn't work as it should. Your fire place sounds superb!

Thanks. I worry a bit about water as it is a scarce resource here over summer (low humidity) and dams (ponds) leak into the surrounding soil. That is definitely a job on the To Do list for the future, but more research as to what the old timers used to do is required. Fortunately there are some old hill station properties around here for me to snoop around in (when they open them).

Lavender is really nice, but citrus oil would be good too.

Thanks for noticing. I chucked a few new ones in there this week. Oh they're so loud out in the garden today with the heat, they love it. The interesting thing I'm finding is that the bees forage on different flowers at different times of the year and the salvias are particularly interesting as they provide nectar (you can taste it in the flowers).

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for sharing your story, my you've had an interesting life!

Brrr, that is so cold. How is the well working in the cold weather? I'll bet you don't know yourself with all of that water on tap! Does the system run a slow release of water so that it doesn't freeze? Did you know that the same trick keeps plastic water pipes from melting during a bushfire - the moving water takes the heat elsewhere very efficiently? It was 22'C (71.6'F) already when I woke up this morning and the sun is peering through the thickening clouds. Enjoy your warmer day - and please don't tidy up the yard too much! :-)! I had to put the bushfire shutters up yesterday and they're still up today, but hopefully a cool change sweeps through tomorrow morning. I’m having a slack day today! :-)!

The weather bureau is predicting a wetter than average March too. It is climate craziness down here... Still, mustn't grumble.

How good was Snoopy and the Red Baron - did I recall seeing a preview for a forthcoming Peanuts film somewhere recently? I always liked Snoopy and he always had very good balance to sit on top of the kennel (it is an impressive feat)! And his dog kennel was as you say Tardis like. Now you've left me wondering the question: How do you know about Dr Who? I grew up watching that show - it has been going for a huge length of time, although I haven’t seen it in decades, but understand the general story line.

Speculative is a great word to use. How do we ever know what really happened there? I'm feeling a bit cheeky so I might add that someone wrote the story down, but it got burned... Sorry for the bad bit of humour. The library would have contained huge treasures. Did I mention the Merlin book that I'm currently reading. It is very good, but what surprises me is how much has been lost and how little we actually know, and how often the stories were changed (progressed? ;-)!) over the years by various authors. It is really quite awe inspiring to get a minute sense of deep time.

Yeah, I liked whip it too, although for some strange reason it made me feel vaguely uncomfortable, but I can probably recite every single word of the song. You know that was my sneaky way to return the ear worm back to you? Actually that thought only just occurred to me! It sounds good though, but unfortunately, I’m not that subtle. Hehe! Oh, we've descended into silliness again...

Absolutely busted - you called it. Well, I've seen ugliness in the built surrounds and it doesn't seem to work so well to me. :-)!

I can't quite imagine a sulky Nell, but I hear you - the cold shoulder is a tough tool for the moggy to employ. Don't you reckon cats have very complex personalities compared to dogs? Dogs are complex too, but I'm always left with the feeling that they've handed more of themselves over to humans than our feline friends who more or less tend to tolerate us until we annoy them in some manner. What do you reckon about that? Beau sounds like a true delight and a good companion to have around. It's generally not for nothing when a hollering starts, that's for sure. But then I've learned more or less when to get involved in canine business and when to simply let them just go and do their thing. They teach me, they all must sometimes think that us humans are very dim witted. It is a mystery though.

Well, I hope you have a good time too. Old friends are usually pretty forgiving in such matters, but then they may also be comfortable telling it like it is. Do you get everything prepared beforehand or buzz around like a blow fly when the visitors turn up (or both or some other variant)?

Gotta go and pick up some chicken feed this morning. The stock feed place was cleared out the other day which surprised me. I sort of rely on them and the chickens are turning that feed into soil and eggs. Kind of important and I’m wondering about that long term. :-)! Hope your chickens enjoy the warmer morning.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Fay,

Thanks for understanding. The Internet can be a complex place where some people explore boundaries and stretch the normal expected social arrangements. The Internet is a moment in time only as it fails to pay for itself.

Oh my you travel widely. Enjoy your travels and you have an excellent approach to them with the local guide.

I thought that it was a long drive from here to Seymour and back again the other day! Hehe!

Cheers

Chris

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

Love the sound of the bluegrass and the farming festival!

I noticed your flue is quite close to your solar panels -- does it shade them at all in winter? Even small shadows can have a big affect on output.

Berries look great, and I'm highly impressed that you're making your own soap. That sounds fairly do-able, though it's fairly far down my list!

Cheers, Angus

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

If ever you are in the area, I recommend the expo. Not all farming expos are understandable to small holders though. Do they run a Royal Adelaide Show? The one in Melbourne is very good, but it is a lot of rides and showbags and basically a big entertainment thing.

Fortunately, that flue doesn't overshadow the solar panels. It did originally though. What happens is that each cell produces about 1.2V (from memory) and as they drop off due to minor shading the panel may produce quite a bit of energy, but the voltage isn't high enough to push that energy into the batteries. I've seen aerials and all sorts of things obscuring solar panels. There was a thread about it a few years back where all the solar panel geeks took photos of the worst installations they had come across. It was like watching a car accident, but you couldn't look away.

Soap is really easy, but not one for the kids as they may not understand the real risk of chemical burns. But if you're careful, it is a no-brainer...

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Telephone still out and internet mostly out. It went out while I was reading all of the above. It is supposed to be getting checked on the 25th.

@Pam Wrong way round! It is the telephone that is out. As my internet goes through my telephone line, I am completely puzzled.

No more comments until I feel sure of the connection.

Inge

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Don't know how I am doing as it clicked out again and I had to try and send twice. This is driving me nuts. Shall settle down with a good book.

Inge

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

I'd like to go camping at the Grampians in the next year or two, which is most the way there. Might try and tee it up ;-) There is an Royal Adelaide Show, and the Melbourne one sounds very similar. There are animals and produce to see (and we do) but I've never seen a chook for sale there! I always like watching the wood cutting though.

Good to hear. I did some work with a solar guy a while back, and was very surprised to learn that things like aerials have such a large effect. It's not widely known. My solar HWS shades the corner of a panel (probably 10% of its area) for the middle month of winter -- I really must do something about that before then!

We've got a cool change come through -- down to 24C outside -- bliss! I did have a bottle of stout explode in the recent heat though -- hopefully no more! (I was a little dubious that its primary fermentation had completed, but thought "what the hey" ;-))

Cheers, Angus

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Well it's nice to read that you are still there! It is nice that it is getting checked though. The forest here is looking very dry, but the trees still show a good and solid canopy so perhaps there is a lot of ground water.

I enjoy physical books too and have never used one of those electronic reader thingees. It is a step too far for me! I do hope that you enjoy your book and a nice cup of tea too.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

The Grampians are a pretty awesome mountain range. Slightly taller than here, nice fern gullies and waterfalls as well as the northern arid parts. Wilpena Pound was one of the coldest places I have ever camped in Australia, but it was good fun though.

People don't really want to know. The tall trees here provide a bit of shade around the solstice, but I've more or less worked around that. If you need the energy from the panel it is well worth your time lifting it slightly higher on its rail (or moving it all together).

Oh yeah, all the doors and windows are open here to the cool night air too and yeah it is bliss. I'm over summer, it's been a long one hasn't it?

Ha! That is funny. I don't screw the bottle caps on too tightly so that the carbon dioxide can escape. They all have to be kept upright though. Was the stout good?

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I haven't had a land line, in about a year, now. But, the internet is still up and running. I don't understand it, either. Got a cheap flip phone, for calls. Works ok, most of the time. I'm right on the fringe of coverage. The way it works here is ... the telephone company used to get subsidies, from the Fed, to service rural areas. Let's face it, it's a money looser, for them. They make the big bucks in the cities. So, they're not all that interested in keeping up rural accounts. There were e-mails, there were telephone calls ... and, I never could get anyone to come out to the house (even with horrendous waiting times). "Oh, we checked the line and it seems fine". I'm still paying for the land line, which grates. But, I'm afraid if I try and cancel that, the internet will go, too. You can see why, when the contract is up, this time next year, I'm thinking of bailing out of the whole "at home communications" thing. There's a little town, SE of here, Winlock, where everyone is up in arms ... slow speeds and not taking on any new customers. They promise speeds of 4 (with me too) and you get 1.5.

If the well is like the one I grew up with, it's partially, or entirely, under ground. The pipes are buried deep. I'd never thought about moving water and a hot pipe. Makes sense.

I never much cared for the old Dr. Who, but became a fan when they relaunched. Anytime the library gets a new season, I pick it up. Some of the spin offs were pretty good, too.

Yeah, it's pretty shattering what's been lost, over time. Every once in awhile, someone comes up with a line or two from a poem, or a play, and everyone gets all excited. Most of the stuff comes from Egypt. The climate preserves old manuscripts. Or, fragments. Lots of digging through rubbish dumps. Mummy wrappings. The ancient Egyptians recycled old manuscripts.

Yes, cats and dogs seem to have pretty different personalities. Beau is mostly in guard dog or happy puppy mode. Like me, he really doesn't know how old he is :-). His face is very expressive. He also has this eye brow wrinkle, puzzled look.

Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. Oh, lunch won't be hard to pull off. The blueberry crisp, for desert, and the pea salad, I can do the day, before. Cornbread, morning of. Main dish, squash and goat/veg stew/braise -- right out of the freezer. It's the clean up and organizing. I don't do bad for a bachelor, who lives by himself ... but when companies coming ...

It always gives me a bit of a turn, when I go to the feed store, or grocery store and something is out of stock. Is this IT? Are the supply lines breaking down? I think a lot about my own animals, and how I'd feed them if "something" happens. Back in the old days, farms were pretty much a closed system. Everything fed everything, else. Not any more.

Oh, the one thing I was going to mention, or stress, about soap making (not that I've done any myself) is to use only glass, or, enamel coated metal. Aluminum is strictly, out. And, not only the containers, but also the utensils. I got thinking about it, and our ancestors did use iron. But I have a suspicion that there was a dedicated pot and utensils for the soap.

And, from our Vast Panorama of Nature Department ... I saw a bird I had never seen before, on the back deck. Bright orange chest, dark top, with a bit of white bands on the wings. A plump, cheery little bird. A Spotted Towhee. The pictures I saw on the Net have a bit of white on the bottom, to a greater or lesser, extent. The one I saw had little, or no white. Also, when I went to town, the other day, I saw a cow elk cross the road ... with calf. Thought I heard a humming bird, in the yard, yesterday. I better get the feeders up.

Apple prunings are about whipped. Another load to drop off at the tip, this morning, on my way to town. A problem I've been worrying at, in my head, suddenly came into focus. I've been saving all the big bits of limb, from the apple trees. To use as borders for paths or garden plots. Used some in the chicken run, to great effect. I wanted to put in an oblong "pad" of gravel, next to a garden plot ... I've got a nice concrete bench to put on it. But, it's on a slight slope and I've been teasing at the problem of cutting lumber for the border, thicker at the lower end, so I can level it off. Flash of inspiration! Use the larger apple limbs on the down slope side. Smaller ones on the up slope side. Pour in gravel. Level off. Don't know why it took me so long to figure that out. Lew

margfh said...

@Pam

Many happy memories from county fair days. Only our younger daughter participated and her primary project was goats, both dairy and pygmy. She also showed pigs, meat chickens as well as cooking an animal science. My husband prodded her into the pigs and chickens as we were raising them anyway. The pigs were all sold at the auction and if your meat chicken was champion or reserve it could be auctioned as well and usually sold for at least $1,000. We had the pleasure of chaperoning in the goat barn overnight many nights as the kids all wanted to stay with their goats. A good night's sleep it was not. Sadly our county fair has deteriorated over the years as the county gets more urban. My husband still shows his honey and beeswax candles and we both volunteer with various local organizations.

margfh said...

Last night my husband and I attended a talk titled "Pollinators, Plants and People on the Edge of What's left" given by Robert Michael Pyle, a lepidopterist, teacher and writer. He didn't please some in the audience when he suggested that not all plants need to be native and in fact some non natives were necessary nectar plants for some endangered pollinators. He pointed out that there wouldn't be Monarch overwintering in California were it not for the eucalyptus tree which is considered to be invasive by many in that state. He also said that sometimes burns were conducted too often. I'll be interested to see if the many people involved in restoration projects that were in attendance will change their minds a bit.

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

Yeah -- the stout is fantastic! Beautiful creamy head and good flavour. Sad to lose a long-neck ;-) Luckily I had it in a water tight box, so most of the beer stayed there (though there are splatter marks 2m up on the wall)

ps. Do you know Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlins? They're not really bluegrass, but there's a bit of it in there (they do use banjos sometimes). Just saw them in Adelaide, and it was a fantastic gig!

Cheers, Angus

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

That is very interesting info about shaded solar panels; very tricky things, sometimes. The worst installations photos sounds like a lot of fun to me, but then I don't have any skin in that game.

Hey, this morning when I woke up the first thought I had was - Oh, no! I left the sourdough starter where a mouse might possibly get to it (I leave it in a warm spot for 12 hours each time I feed it, usually overnight). I ran downstairs and, by gosh, sure enough, one had gotten to it! It is in a tall glass pitcher with a piece of cheesecloth on top and, over that, a piece of foil with little holes poked in it. The cheesecloth had a 1 in. (2.5cm) hole right in the middle of it. How it got up there and under the foil and chewed a hole in the cheesecloth (without falling into the pitcher) I'll never know. I guess the edges of the pitcher were sticky enough from the starter so that the cheesecloth didn't slip into the liquid. Anyhow, I thoroughly combed through the mix with a slotted spoon - no corpse and no visible signs of mouse detritus. Now, the top part of the liquid has a fair amount of alcohol in it, and the mousie could only reach what was at the very top of the pitcher, so is there a mouse with a hangover in the house? I toyed with the idea of putting out a dish of starter on the kitchen counter and then grabbing the mice as they staggered away. I decided that was unsporting.

Then we got to the really sticky part - do I keep the starter and use it or does it go to the compost and I start a new batch and wait 2 weeks? We held a confab when my husband got up and he says that we have undoubtedly been exposed to mouse germs since we were born (I can agree with that; we lived in some dodgy lodgings when I was a baby and toddler, when my dad was in the Navy and we moved around a lot) and that maybe the process of cooking would kill most germs anyway (if the alcohol hadn't). So - I am happy to announce that I have made up some bread dough, which is rising as I speak and that we will continue to devour that very same starter, sub fluffy optimal though it may be!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

No, I didn't arrive at New Holland until later.You have done it all! Your bookish career is very interesting. I worked in a privately owned (not a chain) bookstore during my college years. I knew every book in the place. And thank you so very much for the job hunting advice. Also, Hypatia's story is fascinating. I looked her up after you mentioned her; I had heard of her - I think maybe at ADR - but had only a vague idea of who she was.

Chris has reminded me that I have a note to ask you how your well is doing?

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

An albino kangaroo! http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-18/rare-albino-kangaroo-spotted-murray-river-big-south-australia/7179952

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Your Internet is possibly through the cable copper network? My understanding is that ADSL operates at higher frequencies than audio so that the two signals can co-exist on the same copper cable. Mate, you are ahead of me on that as I couldn't afford to have the copper cable installed between the road and the house. The cost was way out of the zone - and they wanted to use their preferred contractors to do the job. Do they somehow believe that I'm incapable of digging a trench?

Yeah, of course subsidies from the Fed makes sense. They used to provide for a universal service obligation but as costs in the network ratchetted up, that obligation was reduced to providing the connection to the street - when you are in a rural area of course. It is not much good being that far from the house.

The thing I seem to not understand is that public utilities and services like the postal service for example is meant to be a cost which the community shares. It isn't meant to be a profit maker, but somehow that narrative snuck into the conversation and here we are today. It is weird isn't it?

I fully understand your predicament. I will miss our daily discussions though as I look forwrd to the comments here every day. It is the raison de entre for the blog of course! :-)!

Yeah, it is exactly the same. People worry about hoses during bushfires but they're usually OK as long as the water carries the heat away. The plastic water tanks melt down to the water level too for that matter. They're very strange to see. I'm considering a well as a long term option, but more of an old school well. More stuff to research. I may ask the local earthmoving guy, but I don't want to laugh at me either...

Fair enough about the old Dr Who, it probably doesn't translate well after all of these years. But tell ya what, those daleks and cybermen scared the daylights out of me as a kid! Thanks for the recommendation for the new series. I've heard many good things about it.

Of course, that would be obvious wouldn't it? The arid climate stops the parchments from breaking down. So obvious. I wonder if anything significant has been found?

Ha! Too funny, Sir Scruffy is like that too. And myself of course. Time disappears and where it goes I know not. If you ever find our lost youth, I'm sure you will tell?

Those recipes sound like well practiced dishes which is always a smart move. Don't experiment on the guests sounds like good advice to me. :-)! I really do hope that it all goes smoothly for you and that everyone has a good time.

It is a bit of an over reaction, but yeah, I was there thinking the same thing too. The feed store people told me that they have a difficult customer who turns up without notice and buys everything and they never know when that person is coming and they refuse to plan ahead. It is a great feed store and they're lovely people, although I was mumbling a bit when I was there the other day which resulted in some miscommunication... Blame it on the recent early mornings! Hehe!!! ;-)! Absolutely correct, it is not a long term proposition.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Oh yeah, good call. I use glass containers and forgot to mention that... Ooops!

Nice! What a great looking bird. It looks like one of the wrens here, but orange instead of blue. I'll bet that bird is a hard working bird in the garden gobbling up all the various pests. Do you reckon that Spring is arriving?

The cow elk may be what Beau was barking about the other day. If it has a calf it is unlikely to travel far? Dunno. The wallabies have been feral over the past few days in the orchard and I know they're hungry because they're attacking the citrus with gusto. More like gutso!

That is a great idea and use for the larger apple prunings. Soon you will be eyeing off the rocks that way.

I headed into the big smoke today for the market as I haven't been there for months, so was running low on the bulk grains etc. I also dropped by the hippy market and shop in Brunswick which was a fascinating experience. You see, that is a hot bed of people who don't want to vaccinate their kids. Except there is a massive outbreak of measles down there right now and it's spreading. The hippy market was like the Marie Celeste. I had to laugh at the sheer strangeness of it all. Anyway, I noticed the other day that the local general store was chock full of parents and children who looked about school age and I was trying to get my head around why they were up here in the mountains. Then the penny dropped, the parents were avoiding school with their kids looking for some fresh mountain air. It is funny how everything old becomes new again. The very wealthy used to maintain summer retreats up here in the mountains back in the 19th century because of the constant threat of typhoid and cholera during the summer (no small risk either at that time). It is funny how we give our advantages away...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret, Angus and Pam,

Thanks for the lovely comments, but I have run out of time to reply today and promise to reply tomorrow.

Pam, I totally salute you! I mean as long as there is not droppings in it you're probably going to be OK. I mean it is not as if you don't cook bread at 180'C (356'F)... Not much can survive at that temperature. And starter cultures are probably hideously acidic to boot.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Neighbour rang me yesterday and said 'Welcome to the world'. Poor man, I had been blaming him for damaging my telephone cable as his digger is working in the vicinity. He has been driven nuts by his failure to find a fault. His phone was out as well. Then I heard that another neighbour (on his far side) was also out, thus exonerating him. I did let him know. It turns out to have been the council. They put in a road sign and nicked the cable. Now I am playing catch-up. No time at present to read all the fascinating comments here.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Fay:

What a lovely trip that sounds like! Lucky you!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Margaret:

That's why I haven't been to the county fair for such a long time - it just wasn't what it used to be, kind of an urbanized effect, like you said. It may well have changed back by now, what with some new, enthusiastic back-to-the-land blood coming in.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Margaret - Robert Pyle is one of my favorite authors. He lives in "my neck of the woods." But, I've never had the pleasure to meet the man.

@ Pam - The well just keeps perking along. As long as we have power, it produces. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Cable copper network? As far as I'm concerned, it's all just Magic. :-). It's tech rant, day ... :-).

Went to what locally passes as a department store. I wanted to get drip pans for my stove burners. Nowhere on the package was a size listed. But, it had one of those little computer squares "To insure you get the right size." I guess everyone carries a scanner, these days, to just whip out of your pocket. Earlier, I saw a woman at the drug store (who must pack a scanner in her purse) struggling with trying to get the thing to work. She gave up in disgust.

Any-who. I finally found a human in the sporting goods department, who had that high tech instrument, a ruler. I trotted out my lame joke about hoping the drip pans had the latest computer chip and he did me one better ... said they also had the GPS tracking function :-). To really add insult to injury, when I checked out, the sizes listed on the receipt had no relationship at all, to the actual size of the drip pans.

This morning, I was halfway through an e-mail to my friends in Idaho. There was a flashing, American Express ad at the corner of my vision. Very irritating. It finally stopped flashing .. and my computer froze. Froze so bad I had to do a hard reboot and start over at square one.

"Burnt" was waiting for me at the library, yesterday. Thought it was a good movie. Cooking should be about perfection, not ego. It takes a team. Yadda, yadda, yadda. :-) But I must say I find that kind of cooking ... precious. Using the older meanings of that word. Overrefined ... pretentious. I got thinking about it, this morning. So, you have this vast number of employees, in a kitchen, under tremendous pressure and going slowly crazy. And then I think of the cafe and bar I worked in, where we cranked out an equal amount of good tasty food. Sure, there were crunch times, but nothing like what happens in upscale restaurants.

Well, it's all part of the Collapse of the Commons (I think). Utilities, or vast sections of the government outsourced. Utilities pay a good deal of money to politicians, so there won't be much government interference. We do have a State Communications Agency that I could complain, to. But, if an entire little town (Winlock), can't apply enough pressure to get decent phone and internet service, what chance do I have of getting my land line fixed? It's a waste of time and high blood pressure, making. Large parts of the postal service, tax reporting, even Medicare appeals has been outsourced. Prisons. A lot of people are making money off this stuff ... and contribute to politicians to keep it that way. And, it's creeping and under the radar, for the most part. People either don't know, or don't care. It's rotten to the core.

As far as parchments go, it depends on what you consider "significant." The Dead Sea Scrolls? Extensive Gnostic texts? One more line of a fragmentary poem by Sappho? A lost play by Euripides? Myself, I find the bits relating to the more common people. Recently, a letter was found, in Egypt, where two fellows where exchanging money to fix a prize fight. In Pompeii they found a pile of legal documents about a young woman trying to prove that she wasn't born a slave. Interesting stuff.

Oh, yes. Spring is here. The daffodils are blooming, and the forsythia. I thought I heard a hummingbird in the yard, yesterday. Time to put the feeders, up. Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

You have a dilemma with your phone/internet service. Our internet comes through the landline (like Inge's) so we can't give that up or we lose both landline (which we use) and internet. I do have a cellphone, too, because of the distance I travel into town in the very old truck that I drive.

I think that some of the unstocked shelves are mismanagement on the part of store managers, who are used to ordering just-in-time and whose orders don't necessarily arrive in a timely manner. Also, I don't think that some of those managers keep after the employees who are suppose to be stocking, and many stores are way understaffed. That said, the Archdruid's Atlantis story is in my mind a lot these days . . . Nell and Beau, especially Beau, can eat what you eat, with more of the meat going to Nell. Chickens are awfully good at foraging (eh, Chris?), but that old problem of predators will never go away (unless you take up hunting?). Even when watching them closely things can happen. I once had a neighbor's dog run in right under my nose as I was watching our chickens in the paddock. She grabbed a chicken and killed it in 6 seconds and then dropped it and ran off. Dogs will be dogs.

Wow! An elk! They are so huge; I've seen them in Colorado. Mothers with calves can be really aggressive, like moose.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

When we had the outdoor satellite TV cable replaced last year , the installer was MORE than happy to have us dig the trench once he, and we, had decided where it should best go. It was very hot that day . . . Our electric power provider is in the process of burying the rural power lines (finally), the same lines that trees fall on every time a breeze blows. Yesterday we signed a paper giving them the right of easement to lay underground cables across our property, which easement they already had for the overhead lines, so it was not a problem.

Sorry the wallabies are out with a vengeance. This morning I watched a large group of deer eating the azalea bushes. They continually do so, so we only get about 3 blossoms a year. One can't fence everything.

In the old days the rich, and not-so-rich, used to retreat to the Blue Ridge Mountains in the summer. They are not very high, yet are still 10-15*F (I don't know how to convert that?) cooler than where I am and 20-25*F cooler than nearer the coast. In Texas, where I grew up, people used to go to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado in the summer. Many of them owned (and still do) summer homes there. It was a long drive, but not that long to Texans, who think nothing of driving 12 hours to get somewhere else in the state. Big, like your Australian states!

Thanks, Chris! No worries, really. Starter cultures must be very acidic as you said; I think that's why it's "sour"dough. And it is cooked right at 180*C, also as you said. P.S. I am not telling my mother this particular mouse story.

Pam

SLClaire said...

Chris and Pam,

Turned out the forecasters underestimated how much snow we got. It was more like 3 to 4 inches of heavy, wet snow. The good thing was that it warmed up to about 40F after the snow ended, starting the melting process right away. There is still some snow left on the ground left in the cooler microclimates but it will be gone by Saturday if not before.

St. Louis' largest snowfall on record was one March 30-31 years ago, when 20 inches of snow fell. That's a huge amount for this area. We don't get snows of even as much as 6 inches every winter. In 32 years living here the most snow in one storm has been 11 inches.

As a chemist I will vouch for the care you take in soapmaking, Chris. I haven't made it myself; I buy it from a local soapmaker. But maybe some day I'll try it.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

That talk would have been fascinating and glad to hear that those sorts of ideas are at least being discussed. I've never understood the push back that people show on those topics. JMG once explained to me that he felt that it was because the concept of "Trees" was one of the few wins of the environmental movement and that they have somehow become a sacred cow. He also explained that the ecology of an environment is a fluctuating thing and not a fixed thing and I see that in the forest here as it is a constant struggle between all of the various plants and animals and change is only ever a little off into the future. Subject to change at short notice would be a good way to describe an ecosystem.

Oh, I have a simple trick for taking the heat out of those discussions. I ask people about the origins of their last meal. People tend to look mildly guilty after that. One smarty pants once replied: "A farm" and in that case it was most likely a feedlot... :-)!

Thanks for the term "lepidopterist", what a lovely thing to study!

Burns are a very complex thing to time, but there is an undercurrent in the population that does not want any burns due to loss of visual amenity more than anything else. When a wild fire hits they generally lose more than that, but it is very hard to get that concept across to them. Every ecosystem down here more or less was subject to traditional burns on a very small basis at differing periods of rotation, but nowhere was less than 15 years.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

Awesome, your comment is making me feel thirsty for some strange reason! Hehe!

Thanks for the tip off about the performers and I'll check them out later (I have to water the orchard tonight it has been very dry recently).

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Yeah, no shading is a good rule of thumb for those solar panels. Yeah, it was an enjoyable post and all of the solar geeks were trying to outdo each other. A bit of nerdy fun!

Hehe! Very nicely done with the starter. Mice can be a nuisance can't they? I had one in the house the other day. I mean what are Poopy and Toothy being paid for if not to catch mice? The starter is probably fine and I mean you bake bread at very high temperatures and starter cultures are a very toxic environment anyway. It would have been an unpleasant meal for the mouse. :-)! That is a very funny image too of the mouse staggering away.

So how did the bread turn out? Was it OK or did it have even more flavour?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks for the link to the white kangaroo. Wow, how cool does it look? I've never seen one before either. Most kangaroos spend their days in the shade only to reappear in the evening so it was a very lucky photo that the lady took.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Well, it is a fair conclusion to come too: He's been digging near the cable and suddenly the phone lines are damaged. However, the black swan of the local council works prevailed in this instance. :-)! At least you are now back on the air!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge and Pam,

The editor and I went to see a UK film yesterday about an Irish lass who emigrated to New York in the early 1950's and it was very good. The home sickness was almost palpable. The film was called Brooklyn and I highly recommend it.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Go the tech rant. Yes, please do indulge, I do so love a proper barn burning tech rant! :-)!

Yeah, I've seen those little squares with all of the funny markings on them. Too bad about not having a smart phone to read them - I'm with you though. Not listing the size on the box is just odd. Ha! What a story. Excellent. Well, maybe it's not actually good, but how clever was the GPS function reply? It is nice to come across people who are quick on the uptake. It ended up being a total disaster too. Did you end up getting a pan though after all of that?

It was a safe story line, but all the same glad to hear that you enjoyed it too. Perfection is sort of over-rated don't you think? And well to be totally honest, fine dining does not really appeal to me but yeah, perfection is what they were after. You know, I've done fine dining (at other peoples expense) and I always feel like a fish out of water despite holding the status (at one point in time) to fit in. I mean who is comfortable at those places. I remember telling you a couple of years back about a meal at a local restaurant which just so happened to have a bikie club there and they were having the best time and you just don't see people enjoying themselves at fine dining places. And in the past year I've knocked back several invites of people inviting me to join them at some of those places and they just don't get it because I reckon they do it for the status and war stories. Oh yes, I went to blah, blah, blah. The places themselves are really dull and lifeless. So yeah, I hear you and I would much prefer your place. Still, it was a good film though as an insight into that world. I couldn't work there.

Exactly, that is so true an observation. There is no chance at all of that happening so why bother? Australia Post does not deliver here to this street address and they're a Federal government body and I once inquired about whether they might and I've never seen so many forms thrown up to block that idea. It is like the old Mad Magazine saying: "What me, worry?" with the spotty cartoon kid. Well, the whole thing appears to be some strange form of corruption. I mean, when did our governments start to believe the hype that they had to turn a profit at providing basic services? Shouldn't we be paying cost and they take a bit extra out for infrastructure replacement? The whole thing is very weird and also part of the reason I enjoy providing most of my own infrastructure - although that is a fragile and expensive path - but then maybe the alternative is also like that, but who really knows?

Fair point there. But then were the Dead Sea Scrolls perception changing? The Gnostic dudes tend to trouble me with their insistence about getting off this carousel, it just doesn't seem like a compatible ideology to me, so maybe the scraps were interesting and then maybe not? OK a fragmentary poem by Sappho would be very interesting indeed as well as a lost play of the morality tale author Euripides. Ha! Some things never change - I note that the tennis world has been rocked by such accusations of recent times. Oh, that would be a complex problem and one that we would not want to be involved in.

Nice to read that spring is blooming in your part of the world and those plants always herald the change of the seasons. It is quite dry here, but I'm going to take a gamble and put some new fruit trees in whilst the soil is still warm. Here's hoping.

I went into the big smoke last night because the editor wanted to see a film (plus the burger with beetroot was calling, seriously you are missing out on a taste sensation. :-)!). We saw the film Brooklyn and it was very good, but also very moving. I've never considered living in another country and it was fascinating to peer into the existence of one that had done so.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

You were very lucky to have had that option. Digging trenches is not the most difficult work, but exactly only you know where you want that trench dug. It makes total sense. The telephone company here just wants things done their way... The same thing happens here with falling trees on the power lines during heavy winds and they start fires too if they're still connected to the earth... It is very expensive work burying all of those cables so you are very lucky that that project is commencing. The cables have to be much thicker than the overhead cables because they can't cool off in the air.

Thank you, the wallabies are hungry because of the dry weather during February. Hopefully it rains here eventually. The naughty deer eating many of the beautiful azaleas. Those plants are very showy and I like them too. Well, it isn't cost effective to fence everything and that is the complex problem I face - what do you fence and what remains un-fenced.

Yeah, the same thing happened here too. In those days the wealthy used to believe that the fresh mountain air was less riddled with disease than the sultry city air and from an observational point of view they weren't actually that far wrong.

Ha! The conversion can be found by typing a Google Search "convert 30 degrees Fahrenheit into degrees Celsius" and never again shall you wonder!

What? No 12 hours would be a massive drive for me, but yeah the states are huge. We're not a mobile population down under and people tend to not move very far from where they were born. I find that the mobility of citizens in the USA is quite startling. Dunno, maybe it had something to do with the convict history of Australia in that back in the day it would have been like sending people to Mars in that they had absolutely no chance whatsoever of ever returning to the UK again - and I guess that was more or less the point. Dunno.

Oh no! I reckon surprise your mum after she has told you how lovely the sour dough loaf was... Oh, that is very naughty! Did the loaf turn out OK?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Wow! That would have been something to see and I hope that you enjoyed the snow? I will check out your latest blog too as I always enjoy your approach to your garden. It is very productive.

Seriously 11 inches of snow would be like snow-meggdon down here so I can't even imagine what 20 inches would be like. Certainly it would be the best get out of work card around! :-)!

Thank you for that. The editor has a background in biology so I follow her lead in such practices. Soap making is very easy as long as you can follow simple safety procedures to avoid chemical burns and the end product is far superior to the purchased stuff.

Cheers

Chris

Fay said...

Dear Chris,
I have 6 convict forebears dating back to the second fleet who were never in trouble again after they served their time for petty crimes. Most became farm labourers until they too could afford to buy land. Starting at Sydney in NSW they gradually moved north to the Queensland border country. I also have poverty stricken free settlers forebears who moved to NSW from Ireland and Scotland to better their lives between the 1830's and 1850's. They too became farmers. In 1944 my father moved his family north into Queensland to get more acreage - grass country and realize his ambition of becoming a grazier - like an American rancher. Later he bought more properties further west in Queensland. Rather than 'Go west young man' as was the saying in the US, Australians were faced with a large central desert, so to improve family finances the trend has always been to move north. The best agricultural land has always been in the south, hence a reluctance to move north or west, unless driven by ambition. Unfortunately so many people have drifted away from rural enterprises since 1950 seeking an easier life in the cities. Perhaps this explanation will offer enlightenment to your US readers as to why Australians don't usually drive for 14 hours. I'm 3 hours from Brisbane my state capital and 8 hours from Sydney the capital of NSW. To visit family members I might drive 4 - 6 hours in a day. Country people are obliged to drive longer distances than city folk.
Fay

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

Loved your tech rant! We are so way past "The Jetsons" now! Always enjoy your history bits, too. Yesterday I was reading some history of telephone service in America, especially rural; fascinating. There was a big hoopla among some people when telephone "addresses" went from using people's names as their address to using numbers - too impersonal and hard to remember.

The best of good times to you tomorrow!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Claire:

Our biggest snowfall, within one relatively short time period, was 36 in. (91.4 cm). It was quite a blizzard; very unpleasant. I always thought that St. Louis got a fair amount of snow. A couple of days ago they had tornadoes to the SE of us and several people were killed. I do think of St. Louis when I hear of tornadoes. Isn't that something you get?

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

How are the new chooks doing? Sorry it's so dry. Be over before you know it! The time frame of rotational burns there is significant, if no less than every 15 years, in different places. They seem to do them way more often here in the U.S., but I may have the controlled burns confused with wildfires, though a lot of wildfires here are started by controlled burns.

The bread was more delicious due to having put one over on the medical establishment who would now be having me in for multiple tests, should they ever catch me.

Thanks for the movie heads-up! My sister lives in New York City near Brooklyn.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Fay:

I love family histories! That's a lot of convicts in one family! Think about what if they had ever all gotten together for Christmas dinner! A lot of grousing, perhaps? I think I've got it now with your comment, and Chris', as to why Australians don't drive like we do here. Of course, our highways and road systems are like a vast spider web thrown over the entire country, while I think that a lot of Australia is not that well connected, particularly in the center? Excessive driving here is not only for pleasure, either. Our sons, when they worked for an "event" company, have many times driven to job sites (and back within a day or two) that were 6, 9, or 12 hours away. I think it's nuts.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Haven't heard that phrase in years. (That's a ... It was a real) barn burner.

Yup. Got the drip pans. Look like the right size. To be installed, today.

"Bikie Club" reminded me of what happened at the cafe I was working at. A motorcycle gang, roared into Centralia. Looked like central casting had sent over extras for a remake of "The Wild One." They came into the cafe. A hush fell on the crowd. Little old ladies recoiled, in horror. I marched over with my order pad ... a round of milk shakes and ice cream sundaes. Lovely fellows! My favorite line from that movie is, the town girl asks Marlon Brando what he's rebelling against. And he says "What ya got?" Classic.

Good old Alfred E. Neuman. We remember him well, and fondly. Saw his bright shinning pimply face, smiling at me from a magazine cover, in the check out, the other day. The original nerd. "What, me worry?", indeed.

Here's a list of ancient lost manuscripts. The loses are staggering.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_work

Converting F to C. If you want to Google it, cheap, fast and out of control :-), I just type in "convert F to C." Works.

Well, it's going to be a busy day. I'd better get started, on it. Lew

Fay said...

Hello Pam,
It was only at the time that Australia celebrated 200 years of colonisation in 1988 that I became aware of the convict ancestry on my father's side of the family. A cousin researched our family tree. Those six convicts married other convicts and the free settlers married into other free settler families. It was only when my grandfather (born in 1876 and whose Irish great-grandfather paid to bring his family to Australia on the first ship of free Irish immigrants) married my Grandmother from the convict line that the 'taint' was forgotten. So my father grew up never knowing that his mother's forebears had come to Australia in chains. There were only free settlers on my mother's side of the family.
What this history has given me is a lot of knowledge passed down through the generations about our climate (droughts and floods)and land management.
Fay

Fay said...

Hello Pam,
I practise controlled burning of high grass on my farm during the winter months when the frost has dried the grass, otherwise I risk a wild fire (called a bushfire here)in October. In October as the days become hot we often still get the dry, polar type, Westerly Winds which usually blow cold during our winter months. The worst fire I have known in this district occurred in October 2002 when the winds brought down an electricity line. Sometimes lightening from electrical spring storms will ignite a fire. By November there are less bushfires in Queensland due to spring storms wetting the country, whereas in southern states there are many bushfires during the summer months. Although we are presently experiencing a dry heatwave, our summers are usually our wet season, while southern states like where Chris lives have wet winters.
Fay

Fay said...

Hello again Pam,
We usually don't get the big tornadoes experienced in the USA, but sometimes spring and summer storms will unleash smaller tornadoes that can cause destruction along a narrow path. My farm was struck by such a tornado in 1999. It twisted and broke up ten large eucalyptus trees around my house.
Fay

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Fay,

Thanks for the family history. It was a massive punishment for those individuals, but history tends to indicate that the individuals were mostly repeat offenders. However, they did have a chance at a better life after they served their time than what would have been possible back in the UK in those days.

Moving north is a wise idea. That west is very subject to droughts and the clearance for grazing properties really assists the arid land to extend its reach. They're doing it very tough in western Queensland. I suspect eventually it may be abandoned? Dunno really.

Yeah the drift away from rural areas is a real problem. Australians are a very urban people, the land around me is very empty of farming enterprises no doubts about it. On the other hand that land is so expensive that it is very hard to make any money at all in agricultural pursuits and the regulations discourage that. There is a very well run chicken farm of about 2,000 head quite close to here and it is run by a precocious 13 year old and the council came down on him like a tonne of bricks.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks for asking. Well, the naughty and smallest of the silkies were giving all of the newcomers a hard time this morning. Implementing a democracy in the chicken collective is an almost impossible task - so the reign of terror of the silkies continues. You may be very interested to know that the leg horns have grown noticeably over the past week and they enjoy a run out in the orchard most evenings and take themselves to bed at the correct time (although the newbies are all night owls).

Hopefully it rains soon. Ha! Such things are often under resourced which is why they can get out of control. Landowners are stopped from conducting their own controlled burns and so the state government takes charge. Like your part of the world, mistakes have been made...

Incidentally, I read about the tornadoes in your part of the world this morning in the paper. Oh my! They flattened the trailers in that recreation park. Sorry to hear about the destruction, the photos looked very scary.

Well, I do hope that they don't catch up with you! :-)! The mice here seem to be looking for food inside the house. It is a bit tough outside right now. I even spotted a wallaby in the middle of the afternoon grazing in the orchard - they must be hungry. Poopy sent the poor wallaby packing, but it is back now...

It is a very good film and I highly recommend it.

I've been having to water the garden this evening as it really is that dry now and there is no rain forecast for the next week. It looks as though some rain may follow that.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I wish you all the best for your lunch today and hope that everyone respects the blueberry crumble. Alright lets get down to business: Did you manage to get the place tidy and in order before they turned up? Hopefully there were many compliments as to your housekeeping prowess? Did you get to talk some rubbish for a few hours?

Hehe! Joel was the last person that I heard that barn burner phrase. It is very appropriate isn't it? :-)! I think we all enjoy a good rant here every now and then!

Very good, the code thing would have completely stumped me so glad to hear that the drip pan was sorted and all is now good. Out of interest what do you do with the fat collected in the drip pan?

That is very funny. Yeah, they seemed mostly harmless and just were out for a good time. The ones that scare me are the tables of people where no one is saying anything to anyone and they are all surfing the internet on their mobile devices. That is scary and I see it all of the time. If I'm out with people and they do that trick I start telling them how crap their device is and pointing out that they can't find anything they're looking for (they usually can't so it is a safe call) and they soon feel silly and put them away. In my books it is a social faux pas.

No way, do they still produce Mad Magazine? I haven't seen one for decades. I used to enjoy the cartoon send ups of the films. Very funny. I seem to recall seeing one for Close Encounters of the Third Kind... Why would they land the mothership out in the middle of nowhere and what was with all of the music? Such unanswered questions... And why fly from one star system to the next only to put on a music show my grandmother could have outperformed them on. It was very lame.

Oh my. That list of lost works is extensive. A bit of a shame really. I guess the list was deduced from references in extant works?

That is very tech savvy that Google trick. It is the same screen too. Very clever stuff.

Best of luck with the day.

I had a little win this afternoon. One of the many geranium species has finally produced a scented and red flowered geranium. I'm going to have to keep a close watch on that particular variety. My excitement stems from the fact that the scented variety mostly have a sort of washed out light purple flower (this may be the mortgage lifter scented geranium?) - Probably not, but it sounds good doesn't it.

Cheers

Chris

Fay said...

Yes Chris, It is possible that many of the convicts were repeat offenders, but when faced with poverty due to unemployment what choice did they have to feed and clothe their families? One of my male forebears was charged with stealing a sheep and a woman stole a shawl. Once free, Australia offered them opportunity to work for wages, save money and buy land. One of the reasons that Australia was colonised was because all the prisons were filled and no one knew what to do with poor people. The government feared a peasant led revolution as happened in France.
The first of my Scottish free settler families left Fort William in 1839. They were impoverished and Australia needed settlers, so the Australian government paid for the ships and the English authorities urged them to immigrate.
Fay

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris and others

Parkhurst prison, here on the Island, was one of the places from where convicts were sent to Australia and New Zealand. Dear God! lots of them were kids who had stolen to survive. 'Repeat offenders' doesn't begin to cover the horror of it. There is a lot on the internet if one looks up the prison, names and photos.

I am fascinated by ancestral histories. Wish that I could find where my American father's Irish ancestors came from in Ireland. They were potato famine Irish but I can't get further than 'born in Ireland'.

I am currently afflicted with a cold and cough which is knocking my enthusiasm for anything.

Inge

Fay said...

Yes Chris,
The drift from the country really started as a result of losing so many young country men due to World War One. Industries were lost too. Did you know the Macadamia nut is indigenous to Queensland? They are a rainforest tree and I can't grow them in this frosty district. The infant nut industry couldn't get workers after the war and a man called Macadam took the nuts to Hawaii where labour was cheap and named the nuts after himself.
But, the drift really began in earnest in the second half of the century as wages and other costs rose and produce prices didn't keep pace. Monsanto and other companies paid universities to teach farmers how to be more productive, but no one taught them how to get a fair price for their produce.
One result of the drift to the cities has been the loss of voting power. The rural people of Australia are now a minority group holding only 7% of the vote, regardless of which party they support.
Fay

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - LOL. My house keeping prowess usually amounts to "not bad, for a bechelor." :-)

Just when my back, was turned ... I didn't know that geraniums had lost their scent. I've never cared much for the scent, so I haven't been sticking my nose in them. Yeah, I know they're good for repelling bugs. I suppose they're hybrids A lot of the hybrid roses don't have much of a scent. To get a good stinking rose (or is that, garlic :-), you've got to get an older variety.

In fact, I think the Mad magazine I saw was the "Oscar Edition." Sure to be plenty of parodies, of movies, in that.

Yes, other writers (whose work has survived) would make reference to works that are now lost. A title. Maybe a brief quote.

Oh, I think it's bad manners to be chained to those devices, in company. For quit awhile, every meeting I go to has a general announcement at the beginning, to turn off your phones, or put them on vibrate. I must admit I'm guilty of being amused when I see an article where someone has wandered off a cliff, stumbled into a fountain, or, strayed into traffic. Most States, here, now have laws against talking on the phone or texting while driving. The fines are very steep. I think I mentioned that my younger brother retired a bit earlier from Nabisco, than he had to. Used to be, going into the lunch room or break room was a great social occasion. Now, everyone has their noses stuck in some device.

At one point, it seemed a real race among the library ladies, as to who could obtain the smallest phone. Some kind of status, thing. Then it was the i-pads and how many aps it had. I remember the first time I saw someone, in the library, apparently talking to himself. Not that that was all that unusual. But then I noticed he had one of those blue tooth things, stuck in his ear. Reminded me of the Borg. :-). The author Robert Pyle just came out with a little ... chap book. Probably something cheap and portable he can sell at author appearances. Mostly poems and a few short stories. One of the stories is about a man who's leaving home ... his family has disappeared into their various devices. And, he can't take it, anymore.

Well, 5 hours and counting. I'd better get the corn bread, on. I'll be happy if none of the kitchen chairs collapse. :-) Lew

margfh said...

A week of losses around here. I lost two chickens in two days, one from illness and a hawk got the 2nd one. I'm rethinking raising the Buckeyes. They are too heavy to get away from predators well and this is the 2nd hen that was consistently laying bloody eggs, stopped laying and died not too soon after. Have been researching this as time permits but haven't really found anything definitive yet. Of course you do get the occasional bloody egg but these girls ... The Barred Hollands have been very healthy and have never gotten caught. However they aren't easy to find.

The two hives that had bees a month ago are also dead. One had no honey left but the other had lots. Mites are a huge issue here so it might be that. My husband has his queen raising class on Monday and is hoping raising his own queens may help.

Yesterday I was at a meeting for one of my brothers who lives just outside of Chicago. It takes two trains to get there but I'm so thankful I don't have to drive. It would be a close to two hour drive anyway and that's if there aren't traffic issues. Today I leave for Chicago again for the annual sleepover at my younger daughter's apartment with my granddaughters (not her children). A good night's sleep will not be had by anyone but it will be nice to spend time with them. Too much time in the city though.

Margaret

SLClaire said...

Hi Pam,

You can get 2 or 3 feet of snow at a time where you live because of the winter storms that track a little east of the Atlantic coast. They set up an east to northeast wind that blows over the ocean, picking up moisture. Then on the backside of the storm cold air comes in and causes the rain to change to snow, and lots of it, like the January blizzard.

Similarly, cities on the shores of the Great Lakes can get large amounts of snow in a single storm when it orients itself so the warm air blows across the lake toward the city into cold air on top of the city. Cleveland and Chicago both can get good-sized lake effect snows, as they are called. Buffalo is legendary for them.

St. Louis, on the other hand, has to get wet air from the Gulf of Mexico to run into cold air to get snow. The Gulf of Mexico is 600 or more miles south of us. That allows for the water in the air to dry out somewhat before it gets to us. That's why we tend to get only a few inches of snow in any one storm. We tend toward a drier winter and wetter summer climate, though it's not a marked difference the way it is in Florida, for instance. On average we get a total of 18-20 inches of snow a year.

You're quite right to associate St. Louis with tornadoes. Two of the top 10 worst US tornadoes in terms of both property damage and loss of life hit St. Louis, one in about 1898 and another in about 1927. In 2011 a tornado that got up to EF-4 for a short bit of its 22 mile long path tore across the metro area, damaging the airport among other things. In 2013 another tornado, varying from EF-0 to EF-2, came within several blocks of our house. No one was killed in either tornado and only a handful of people sustained minor injuries. The strange thing, in light of later events, is that the paths of those two tornadoes crossed in Ferguson. Yes, that Ferguson.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Fay,

Well, yeah, the Industrial revolution forced people (sometimes physically) off the land and sent them packing to the urban slums to work huge hours in unsavoury conditions. It would not have been a pleasant prospect. Wealth was also concentrated in the process and land ownership was likewise concentrated. It was not good for the people at the rough end of that equation, and in some respects you could say that the same thing is going on in China today...

If it came between the above and heading off to Australia, well the life of a convict possibly wasn't that much different than an indentured labourer. It would have been difficult for people leaving their home country and setting off into a whole new land. And I don't believe that any of the convict ships were lost on route, but there were many cases were the rations were either under estimated or were retained by the crew to be sold on arrival to the settlers.

Oh yeah, they kept sponsoring settlers right up to about 1850 when gold was discovered and well, they didn't really have to after that!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Well, the system was completely rigged against them from the start. It certainly didn't operate with their perquisites in mind.

I've always found it fascinating that so much of our legal system is devoted to property rights. I mean look at all the trouble that your locals had when the local council moved them on. My gut feeling is that it is better having the people on those vacant blocks of land than to have them empty. Empty land is always trouble down in this part of the world. The more eyes keeping an eye on land the less trouble goes on. I mean look at the trouble I had with the horse dude recently. The problem only arose in the first place because the neighbours have not constructed a dwelling on the land for decades and sort of by de facto arrangement allowed the horse riders through. It is complex, but it starts with community.

With the Irish ancestors did the previous surnames provide any possible clues as to the rough location in Ireland?

Sorry to hear that you're not feeling well, and I do hope that you get better soon.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Fay,

That is funny, because I have two Macadamia trees (variety A38) growing here and they survive winters and hot summers. Over in Blackwood to the west of here, I've even seen nuts on their trees. Go figure that one out. I read up on that most excellent of nuts in Dr Louis Glowinski's outstanding book: "The complete book of fruit growing in Australia". I highly recommend that books. I met him too, when he opened up his garden as part of the now deceased Open Garden scheme. I suspect Dame Elizabeth was funding that scheme as it did not survive her demise.

Well, yeah, if you are not looking after your soils, paying for water and seeds, it is very unlikely that you'll ever make a profit in agriculture. Monsanto and co appear to me to be parasitic middle men and there are so many of that sort in business nowadays. The strange thing is that it is not worth me selling any produce from here, even when I have a glut of the stuff. So instead I give it away to friends and clients - and everyone usually has big smiles when I bring produce in.

My gut feeling is that it is a moment in time only for what is unsustainable, will not be sustained and eventually people will drift back to the land.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Well, I reckon that is a compliment on your housekeeping skills!

I'm slightly damp, because I headed into the little smoke today and picked up two sprinklers on tripods. They're amazing, but of course the downside is that moving them you get quite wet. It has been feral dry here the last couple of weeks so I bit the bullet - so to speak - and decided to use some of the stored water and dump it into the orchards. The fruit trees would have survived the dry, but if you can give them a helping hand, well that isn't a bad idea. So, the chickens are running around the orchard - even the new ones - and the sprinklers are making their classic: chick; chick; chick sound as they dump water into the dry orchard.

Really, do your geraniums have no scent? Well that is interesting. There is a very fancy and expensive soap maker that uses that particular plant for the scent. Exactly, roses are very much in the same category as the geraniums and people have spent a lot of time to make them visually appealing, but who cares about the olefactory senses nowadays? A bit of a shame really. The old world roses flowered much more proliflicaly too. Don't laugh, garlic and onions are traditional orchard plants. :-)!

No doubt that you are spot on the money with the Mad Maagazine observation. What would Alfred E Newman say?

I figured it was something like that. It does make you wonder how much of our body of work will be retained way into the future. I hope that it isn't a brief chunk of Kanye's music - no disrespect to him as an artist, but there may have been better choices.

Oh! The chickens are in bed now and it is about 8.20pm. The sunset is now much earlier.

cont...



Cherokee Organics said...

Using the devices in a social circumstance is a social faux pas - no doubts about it. It is a shame that few people seem to understand that. Yeah, I get a bit of schadenfraude when that happens too. Although, I've seen a few that were horrific, like the guy that wanted to take a selfie as this huge bear approached him and eventually ate him. But then whose fault is that - the guy that didn't run for his life or the poor bear who was just doing what comes naturally to bears?

Speaking of which, did I mention that it has been dry down here of late? Well today a massive wedge tail eagle was flying very low over the house and circling, and clearly looking to eat Scritchy who was oblivious to her serious risk of death and/or injury. I had to clear the eagle off, but it was the deciding factor in starting to dump some water into the orchard this evening. The wildlife is doing it tough down here - I even spotted a koala bear the other night heading down to the creek for a drink.

Yeah! Oh I remember the race to the smallest phone. I didn't even have a mobile phone until I moved up here and it was either that or no phone... Those headset things with the little blue lights that look like the user has joined the Borg collective haven't really taken off fortunately, but you do see them around.

That is a very clever premise for a book. I like it. Thanks for the reference.

Best of luck, don't break a leg - especially on one of those collapsing chairs! :-)! Seriously, I hope that you have a fun day.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

I'm so sorry to read of your losses. That is tough. The illness is particularly hard as sometimes, you just never know the why of it all - and it can be very sudden. A huge wedge tail eagle almost got Scritchy today and I had to run around like a crazy person scaring it off. Things are dry here.

The Barred Hollands look like an exceptionally good dual purpose bird. They look an awful lot like the Plymouth Rock variety and I have never had a bad experience with them (Boss Plymie is the boss chook here). I tend to avoid the birds with the short legs and are more of a meat bird because I've found that they can get dirty bottoms and scaly leg mites and only have one of those left now - the Australorp.

Sorry to hear about the loss of the hives, that is particularly tough. Definitely, you have to do something different as it quickly becomes uneconomic. The new colony in the experimental hive took a huge blow when the ants attacked it and they're still going, but I just don't feel they've put enough stores away for the winter and most likely they won't make it - so I may have to rehive it next spring. The other four box hive is feral and they are quickly filling up the honey super. Bees are very very hard. Now if only it was kangaroos... I accidentally almost walked into the mob tonight when I shifting the new sprinkler. It surprised me as much as it did them!

Yeah, a two hour drive would have me feeling a bit cabin feverish too. How are the roads over winter? I've never had to deal with snow or ice and ultra cold weather.

It sounds very enjoyable, despite the lack of sleep! :-)!

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Fay - Well, you probably know, but part of the reason Australia got settled, was because of that little dust up, that we call "The American Revolution." A lot of convicts were transported to America. Then the Revolution started, and convicts started piling up in those awful ship hulk prisons. The jails were over flowing.

Watched a tv series, quit awhile back, that was about a lawyer (barrister?), at that time. Kind of a Georgian court room drama. Can't remember the title, for the life of me. Based on a real historic character. The plight of the poor people who committed small offenses (or, were framed for small offenses) was truly awful. Hanging. Transportation. Awful. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I quit envy you your Macadamia nuts. Every day I have a small (mostly) handful of mixed, unsalted nut. For health reasons (mostly :-). Every once in awhile, a Macadamia nut shows up in the mix. So tasty. So buttery.

Yeah, I can get pretty wet, moving the sprinklers around under my apple trees. But not as wet as I got this morning, dealing with the chickens. In the short time it takes me to do that, my jumper (LOL. You've got me doing it ... they're sweaters, darn it!) was soaked through. The chickens didn't even want to go outside. I looked at them and said "I don't want to be out in the rain either, BUT I'VE GOT THESE CHICKENS TO TAKE CARE OF!!! They could care less :-).

There's a book called "Silicon Snake Oil" which discusses the problem of lost or inaccessible date. The hardware moves on and the software is not able to be "read." We've already lost access to census records, military records and large chunks of the space programs. I'm afraid historians, looking back, will find this era a large "Dark Age". And, not for the usual reasons a Dark Age, descends.

Well, lunch was a success, I think. Nothing like getting 5 guys together to "scratch, swear and spit on the floor." :-). The weather was really nice. Chef John did show up, just as the food was hitting the table. Even the "goat meat virgins" found the braised goat stew, palatable. Seconds all around on the peas and swiss cheese salad. Ditto, the corn bread. Even Mike, who's from the South (where they REALLY take their corn bread, seriously) went for seconds.

Mike and Jon have just moved from Seattle to Vashon Island. So, I was imparting pearls of wisdom, from my vast experience of four years "in the country." (Hah!) "These fly traps are best ... you need a worm box ... I'll give you some starter worms, as those little devils are expensive ... etc. etc.."

House looked good (clean!) and I got to trot out all my tat, for the admiration of all. :-). The good china (earthenware.) Even a little vase of daffodil, forsythia, fern and ivy, on the table. The only thing I didn't have time to get to, was getting the new drip pans on the stove. No one seemed to notice. To answer your question, the drip pans really don't catch many useful drippings. Those come right out of the pot, or pan. It's the odd splash. You've worked on enough old places to know that there is some dirt that is just not removable. But, today I'm going to do .... nothing. Except take care of the animals. And, eat left overs. I eat pretty healthy, but tend to get in a bit of a rut ... routine. Nice to get a little variety.

Looking forward to your posting, tomorrow. And, whatever clever title you come up with. Something with "leap" in it? :-) Lew

Fay said...

@ LewisLucanBooks
Yes, I did know that part of the reason Australia got settled, was because of "The American Revolution." I've never heard anything further about those convicts transported to the USA. Are their descendants aware of this background and do they think it noteworthy? It is one of the reasons that Australians are so egalitarian - once free Jack was as good as his master. It shows in little ways like we always use a person's first name. I will address my doctor as Lynn or Dennis etc. If travelling alone Australians will always sit up front with the taxi driver. People use diminutives all the time in conversation - mosquitoes become mossies, the TV is a telly. Anyone who is pretentious is called a 'tall poppy' (redcoat) and cut down to size, usually with dry humour.
Fay
Fay

Fay said...

@LewisLucanBooks, I agree with you that historians, looking back, will find this era a large "Dark Age". As a younger woman I was a great letter writer and wrote twice monthly to a friend in Canada, enclosing newspaper clippings, dress fabrics, photographs and recipes. When I visited her in 1990 she returned to me all those letters written between 1962 and 1990, saying there was material for more than one book in them. I believe they are a wonderful family record of how I lived my life at that time. But, in the 1990's I got email and no record was kept of our correspondence. Equally, once I began using a digital camera and stopped printing photographs, I no longer preserved a photographic family history for future generations. This year I lost the blogs I had written over 5 years when the server publishing them closed his business without warning. Last year I was asked by a regional newspaper to write a column twice monthly. I now preserve this written word as cuttings saved from the newspaper.
Fay