Monday, 14 March 2016

Summer has left the building



Last Wednesday the 9th March produced yet another record breaking temperature. This time, the weather delivered the warmest overnight low temperature for March in Melbourne in recorded history. Well done! At 7.30am on that Wednesday morning in Melbourne the night time air finally cooled to a low of 29.1’C (84.3’F) and it was strangely humid too.
A screen shot of the weather website showing the temperature early Wednesday morning 9th March. It was feral hot!
Fortunately, the air temperature here was a bit cooler as I'm up in the forested mountains north of Melbourne. The farm is about 700m (2,300ft) above sea level so it is usually much cooler than Melbourne, although occasionally it can also be hotter when Melbourne is enjoying a sea breeze which lacks the strength to penetrate this far in land.
The weather station here showing that the outside temperature for that morning was 22.4’C (72.3’F)
The European honey bees have been enjoying this hot summer and on that hot Wednesday morning there were plenty of worker bees enjoying the cooler air on the outside of the hive. It was probably quite warm to hot inside the hive boxes! Bees are very clever insects and they are able to maintain a constant temperature inside the hive by co-ordinating their activities, so in all likelihood the bees on the outside of the hive box were probably fanning fresh cooler air into the centre of the hive.
That hot morning, the bees on the outside of the hive box were fanning fresh cooler air into the centre of the hive
The rest of the Wednesday was hot too. By Wednesday evening, the air temperature cooled down a bit. And by Thursday, a gentle rain fell for the entire day and then every day since then a little bit of rain has fallen. It looks as though the endless summer has finally left the building! And the wildlife that lives on the farm spent much of that Thursday enjoying the rain rather than sheltering from it, as they usually would (with the notable exception of the kangaroos which seem to enjoy being drenched with the rain).
A Kookaburra enjoying the rainfall whilst keeping an eye out for passing snacks
The recent rain has coincided with the Jerusalem artichokes producing their flowers and they now look to me like giant daisy flowers.
The recent rain has coincided with the Jerusalem artichokes finally producing their yellow flowers
Observant readers will note that the Medlar fruit tree which is slightly to the right and behind the Jerusalem artichoke plant is producing some orangey-brown fruit which will be harvested in a month or so. Also to the left and below the Jerusalem artichoke there is a large patch of basil mint in flower which the bees have been busily harvesting the pollen from recently.

The abrupt change of the seasons has also brought increased humidity across the mountain range and valley below and that has meant that most mornings I’m greeted with an eagle’s eye view of the fog collecting in the valley below.
The humidity has increased and that affords me an eagle’s eye view of the fog collecting in the valley below each morning
The long hot summer has produced the best and earliest yields of tomatoes that I have ever experienced. Every couple of days I am harvesting this many tomatoes:
The long hot summer has produced the best and earliest yields of tomatoes that I have ever experienced
There are only so many home grown, tasty, sun ripened tomatoes that a person consume. It’s a real problem! So in addition to eating and giving away fresh tasty tomatoes, the editor and I have also been dehydrating the fruit and then storing them in olive oil for consumption later in the year. The food dehydrator has been getting a serious workout over these past few weeks. I estimate that so far we have preserved at least 20kg (44 pounds) and should easily double or even triple that over the next few weeks. I feel compelled to add that the dehydrated tomatoes added to an Ortolana sauce (Ortolana refers to seasonable vegetables) and gnocchi tastes superb! The olive oil will eventually be used in cooking too – perhaps drizzled on freshly baked bread? YUM!
Our modest collection of dehydrated tomatoes stored in olive oil - so far!
We underestimated the quantity of big jars required for this preserving process and will correct that over the next week or so. In fact, it is also worthwhile mentioning that the kitchen is now full to bursting with preserved and bulk goods. My office which I work from now has racks full of slowly ageing wines as well as bottles of jams and chutneys. There is even a large bin full of organic rolled oats behind me as I write this entry. The preserving activities have even extended to the shed closest to the house where bottles and jars are stored as well as other goodies. I suspect that something will have to change in the kitchen over the next few months. It is also worth noting that I am in total awe at the sheer complexity as to how these processes must have been managed on a small holding as recently as a century or two ago.

With the return of the rains and the abrupt switch to cooler weather, the editor and I have been considering ways to get even more rainfall to infiltrate the soil.

Over at the western end of the farm, a swale at the very top of that orchard collects any rainfall from the road into a swale. A swale is a fancy name for a ditch which collects water and allows it to infiltrate into the ground slowly. Once water is stored in the ground it is less likely to evaporate in the hot sun and it becomes available to all of the trees below the swale. And more importantly, water takes a very long time to slowly move through soil.

The editor discovered recently that on the eastern end of the farm, there is concrete drain under the road (the technical name for this is a culvert) that we’d never noticed before. The reason that we’d never noticed the drain was because it was completely covered in the invasive Cane Needlegrass (or for the more learned amongst the readers here: Nassella hyaline).

Tell-tale signs of the drain and possible underground water were there to be seen in that area too as many broadleaf understory and moisture loving species of plants were present downhill of that drain.
Toothy strikes a pose next to a blanket leaf (Bedfordia Aborescens) with a musk daisy bush (Olearia Argophylla) behind
The editor and I decided to plant a rainforest gully downhill of the recently discovered drain. The plants in the rainforest gully will ensure that any water that exits the drain is quickly infiltrated into the soil instead of running over the land and ending up elsewhere - plus a fern gully just looks nice! Did I mention that the drain is also located uphill of the more sun drenched of the two orchards here?
One of the largest mosses in the world (Dawsonia Superba) was uncovered in the run off from the drain although it is a very small plant as it is only young
Before we could begin the task of planting out the rainforest gully, we had to first spend an entire day chopping and dropping every chunk of invasive plant in that huge area. That was a massive day of work, but at long last it was finished. There were already a couple of large rocks near the drain however we also rolled a few more rocks into that area which were placed into the possible flow of water as well as with aesthetics in mind. The rocks perform the function of slowing any water that moves across the land which increases the possibility that it will be quickly absorbed into the soil.
All vegetation in the newly imagined rainforest gully was chopped and dropped and additional rocks were rolled into place
Observant readers will note that the damaged bark at the base of the messmate trees (Eucalyptus Obliqua) which shows just how invasive that needle grass was.

The following day involved breaking quite solid clay and planting out the first of the many local rainforest species into the flow of water from the drain. The local plant nursery supplied many of the tree ferns which were planted into a mix of the local clay and composted manure. As a funny side note, the local nursery had decided to distinguish between the thinner and thicker species of tree ferns by using the very politically incorrect terms: Fatties and skinnies. I believed the slightly more expensive “fatties” to be a more drought hardy and resilient species and so opted for those.
We’ve begun to plant out the rainforest gully so as to allow more rainfall to infiltrate into the soil above the sunnier orchard
Tree ferns are a very old and interesting species of plant. I noted that the fronds of the plant grow so that they collect and direct falling organic matter into the core of the trunk for consumption by the plant. Also, I noticed that when watering the tree ferns on top of the plant, the water disappeared into the core of the trunk which is clearly an excellent drought survival strategy in that the trunk works in a similar way to a sponge.
A close up of some of the tree ferns planted into the newly established rainforest gully
Autumn, I have observed is the time to plant new trees in a temperate climate such as here. The ground still retains some of the summer warmth and hopefully the regular rains have returned. Many of the fruit trees that I relocated in the depths of winter last year died over this astoundingly hot and dry summer and so the next few weeks are crucial to getting new trees into the ground and/or relocated from elsewhere. By winter it will be too late for new trees to get established well enough to survive a brutal summer.

With that concern in mind, over the next few weeks, we will continue to plant out additional over story and under story species into the rainforest gully and hopefully they will be well established and hardy enough to get through the next killer summer – which for now seems to have thankfully gone elsewhere (for the moment anyway).
The author enjoying a break after the very hard work of establishing a new rainforest gully on the eastern end of the farm
The temperature outside now at about 8.00pm is 11.7'C degrees Celsius (53.6'F). So far this year there has been 80.4mm (3.2 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total 61.8mm (2.4 inches).

79 comments:

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Thanks for that explanation. I hadn't considered the issue of the wind being a problem for young seedlings before, but that makes sense. It isn't very windy here, although the wing knocked a big branch off one of the huge trees here last night - fortunately the branch didn't land on anything.

It is nice that the population of the cranes has increased. On the other hand they may be moving their summer nesting sites more northerly?

Wow, rain everyday is nice, but I mildly unconvinced about the snow. That sounds hard on the seedlings. Lettuce and mustards are quite cold hardy and they survive the occasional snowfall here.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks for that, it was a wild stab in the dark about the trees based on what I've read elsewhere. I don't really understand their full cycles, but like everything else, each year I learn a little bit more.

Yes, I'd be interested to hear how it goes too. I add mixed grains and/or rolled oats into a bread mix, but not in that quantity, so it will be very interesting to read about your experience.

Oh my! Ergot poisoning is very nasty and the fungus grows on rye, wheat and barley. Not good. Many of the German breads were very dense, hard but tasty too (I'm really unsure whether it was the rye).

Naughty boar and sow! That is a good batch of piglets too and is a testament to your sons care of the livestock. Yeah, a lot of animals give birth during the night. I hope you are both looking forward to bacon and pork sausages. I wonder if the extreme wet weather has affected the birth time? Did your son have any ideas about that?

Cheers

Chris



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Those really bright lights in new cars are a little bit selfish. Now if we were aliens which had evolved on a planet with a blue sun, then perhaps they wouldn't dazzle my eyes so much? :-)! Yeah, I use the high beams exactly the way you do. But in the past few nights there has been heavy fog at night and so, you know sometimes visibility gets down to only a few feet and it can be easy to get lost, unless you know your way. Certainly you don't go anywhere fast. The infamous (or famous - I'm not sure?) bushranger Ned Kelly used to only traipse about the landscape by the light of the full moon. I can walk around in the dark, but it is only because I know the area intimately.

Fair enough about the carpets in the kitchen - I get that. It may add a small bit of warmth to the floor too? Maybe? I'm a messy cook that is house trained enough to clean up after myself! I'm not sure I'm very cool about other people making a mess in the kitchen and then walking away! Fortunately for me such things don't occur here as we're quite civilised (for hill-billies! :-)!!!!) Now, at this point in the conversation you may have to fess up! Are you a messy cook? :-)!!

Thanks for the fascinating explanation as to the Roman medical system. It sounds very workable, although getting pushed around by seniors who are merely looking to make their name would grate on a person - even a very patient one, because once one has gone, another may turn up in the future. I'll bet the society medicus wasn't pushed around too much. Out of interest, did the choice of a native wife reduce his status?

I'm with you on adding herbs to the cheese scones! Yum!!! I'm thinking of rosemary in particular and perhaps a dash of oregano both of which happily grow here. What herbs were you thinking of? Hot cross buns may be a down under thing? Dunno. I do know they very in quality markedly. I did come across a sour dough hot cross bun once and it was a bit weird tasting, but well intentioned...

Ah, your affairs are being put into order. Thanks for the clever pun too. Yes, that title would work for an early 80's punk band - perhaps with a few stand in members to cover the long since deceased? I believe one of the Ramones guys is still alive? Speaking of cemeteries and rock bands (don't blame me, you brought this one up!!), didn't they do a song Pet Cemetery based on the Stephen King story of the same name (which scared the daylights out of me - probably didn't help reading in the middle of the night either).

The cemetry sounds lovely and it is a wise choice to go with your gut feeling on such matters. I get haunting the stream and the wild flowers, but have you considered what may happen should you encounter another spirit in the library? That may lead to an awkward social encounter? ;-)! The trees and soil will get all of us in the end.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

It is nice getting your business in order, no doubts about it. Life can be pretty chaotic.

The funeral business is a complex and sensitive one which I'd never really given much thought to until I watched the series Six Feet Under - which was a truly genius story and I recommend it highly. And it was also very emotional about a topic which we all have to attend at some stage, but most people largely ignore and pretend that it is something that happens to other people. I'm pretty comfortable with the end, because, well, it is something we all have to go through and I use that knowledge to help me live today. That sounds a bit corny doesn't it? But it is how I feel about the subject.

Good luck with the old computer. Damo provided some great advice and I always have used PC's and Windows (well, there was that DOS thing before that of course - happy days!). DOS is still there under all of the fancy graphics. Sorry, I digress. If you go dark, I probably will worry! I have no experience with Apple gear and I do use an air compressor to blow the dust out of the insides of the computer box - it is very effective. Try not to leave the computer on when you are not in the house might not be a bad idea either! A second hand machine will probably do the trick for not much cash.

21 days broody hen will enjoy her sedentary life!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

That culvert appears to be a great discovery.

Have now enjoyed the bread and I like it more than my usual 100% wheat bread. The exact ratio was 6 ozs medium oatmeal and 1 pound 2 ozs flour of which most was wholemeal flour.

Son has no idea why the piglets were born during the day. Night is usual for most creatures including us.

Am just back from the dentist £160 for a filling. A lot to pay in exchange for being tortured.

Am quite taken aback by the scientific talk on jam making. Without looking back I can't remember the name for the refract... thingy. What on earth is it? I have made jam successfully for 50 years knowing nothing more than pectin and sugar. Acid? Depending on the fruit I had either equal quantities of sugar or rather more sugar or less sugar plus lemon juice. Simples.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - I love a good rye bread. Being half German ... and the rest one kind of Scandinavian, or other, I've eaten a lot of rye. Nothing like a warm loaf smeared with good butter. Or to roll up a good sausage with sour kraut and mustard! You might have missed my comment about the Finn side of my family and rye bread. My mother said her grandmother would make big round loaves with a hole in the middle. Then they'd string them on a rod and hang them from the ceiling, to dry out and preserve them. That's what all that coffee was about. Dunking the tough rye bread to soften it up :-).

@ Dano - Thanks for the computer advice. I switched from Windows to Mac, 7 years ago, and never looked back. I just got myself a copy of "Macs for Dummies." Not a hard transition, at all. And, I've never had problems with hacks or bugs, as I did with Windows. I seem to vaguely remember that I can buy a refurbished machine from Apple, itself. Need to look in at that. I wouldn't know how to get into my machine. Not like the old towers. The desktop Mac I use ... all the innards are tucked behind the screen.

@ Margaret - You probably signed on to the voyage of the good ship Fernglade Farm, after I talked (a lot) about my last venture in the book trade. My own used bookstore. Sigh. I'll just say that there was no, or little, local support. All my bucks came (mostly) from tourists ... and there wasn't enough of them. But, I managed to keep my head above water, up until I took an early retirement. LOL. If nothing else, I gave my competitor (a not very nice person) a good case of heartburn, for a couple of years. He was just 3 door down. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, I'm glad you're getting a bit of rain. And autumn fogs! They are so cool, as long as you can view them from afar. We had a lot of wind, yesterday. Gusts to 36 mph. Probably, higher here, up on the ridge. The power held. Rained heavily, all day yesterday, and into today. Speaking of weather, kind of, there was an episode of the Miss Fisher Mysteries where they are celebrating "Christmas in July." Every one troops off to a chalet in the "alps." I wondered if it was something a lot of people did in Australia (celebrate the holiday when the weather is more appropriate), or if they, perhaps did it more in the past? Or, if it was just kind of invented for the series? Inquiring minds want to know." Which is the tag line for one of our supermarket tabloid scandal sheets.

The chokes are pretty. The Jerusalem kind. :-). Triffids in the making. Looks like your selecting seed for early fruiting tomatoes, is paying off.

Ohhh. Your fern gully is going to be so beautiful. How Disney :-). Start rounding up those garden gnomes, now! :-). Our library had a book. I think if was "A Field Guide to Garden Gnomes." It was a hoot. And, some of them were quit naughty. I don't think we have tree ferns, here. Maybe in the rain forests, up on the Olympic Peninsula? They look prehistoric. I have a lot of different mosses, around my place, but I don't know much about them. I just know they're pretty.

I'm a cook who cleans as I go. And, there's never a dirty dish in the sink, when I toddle off to bed. But, the floors get a bit messy. Can't be helped. But, I'm not what I'd call a real good housekeeper. Clutter sneaks in. I think I developed the "stay on top of the dishes" thing, when I ... didn't have much control of my life. I think part of it was thinking "if I keep this one little bit of my life, under control, then everything is ok. Of course, it wasn't. But the sink always looked great! :-)

Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. The Medicus does take a certain amount of flack for having a native wife. Also, there's always a bit of suspicion of his loyalty to Rome. There was some pretty funny bits in the last book (#4). Russo is actually from Gaul, and part of the reason he has moved to Britain is to put some space between him and his family. He's actually the head. They're kind of awful people and always nagging at him for money, either for dowries for his awful sister, or, his step mother always wants to put a fancy addition on the villa / farm. He also has an ex wife floating around, who dumped him, because he wasn't political or striving, enough. So, when he visits home, with a Native wife in tow, things get interesting.

Well, I'd do scones with basil. My favorite and go to herb. Turmeric might be interesting. Dry mustard?

Well, if I run into another spirit at the local library, we'll probably just swap book recommendations. :-). I think I must be reading to many archaeology blogs. I got to thinking about that vault ... think, septic tank. As long as it's required, and I have to pay for it, I might as well consider "grave goods". I may just have a lot of my tat packed in with me :-). The glass, the pottery. You CAN take some of it with you. :-)

Broody Hen didn't want to come out, yesterday. This morning, she came out with the other hens. She's on, she's off, she's maddening :-) Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

Maybe this summer is not endless after all? Did you ever see the documentary "Endless Summer" about a group of surfers who traveled around the world looking for the biggest and best waves? I think it was made in the '90s; lots of fun to watch.

What a heavenly office - full of bounty.

Those are big rocks! Whew - no peak rocks in that spot, for now. Does working with needle grass require the wearing of thick gloves? We have a grass here that I call razor grass; you can never grab it without gloves. I don't know what it is. The tree ferns are funny. I've never seen one. I like them!

I think that hot cross buns are an Easter tradition. If they have just recently popped up in the stores, that is probably why. Supposedly a monk in the 12th century started the tradition.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

Your new property sounds delightful, if a bit cramped! No wonder you were happy once you had discovered it and made your decision. It's something to look forward to.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

The regular sandwich loaf that I make is a sourdough of 1/3 dark rye flour and 2/3 white (wheat) flour. Yesterday morning, after I was working on that kind of loaf, after its first rising in the bowl and after I put my dough in loaf pans to rise again, I looked at the bowl that I had set aside and realized that there was a fair amount of dough stuck to the inside of the bowl. So I scraped it all off, put it in a glass measuring cup, added a bit of water, and a sprinkling of sugar and left it on the cold (mouse-proofed) counter for 12 hours. It was bubbly by night-time, so I threw in some whole wheat flour, etc. and let that dough rise in its bowl (mouse-proofed) overnight. The whole point of this was something mentioned here a week or so ago in the comments about saving a bit of dough from a batch of bread and using it to start another batch. I had never tried that. It works! I took the overnight-risen dough and shaped it into what I thought looked like French bread. It turned out to look like a woodchuck when cooked, but, boy, is it good!

@ Lew:

I had missed your rye bread family history in past comments. I don't think I can find the nerve to hang it from the ceiling to dry out (I assume it would have to be 100% rye flour, which I rarely do) as the mousies would much enjoy it. I swear that they would find a way to climb along the beams to get to it. They climb up the outside of the house all the time.

Pam

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge, Lewis and Pam,

Thanks for the lovely comments, but I will be unable to reply this evening and promise to reply tomorrow.

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

I was just visiting the pet graveyard on the west side of the house to see how the daffodils are doing; they look great. So - when you have gone to wherever it is you are going, be sure that you have requested someone to plant daffodils or tulips or blue irises on your resting spot. Some of these pet graves are 24 years old now and the markers are not all that good and I find them by the flowers in the spring. There are also chicken graves . . .

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - Maybe that dried out rye bread was too tough for the mice? Probably not :-).

Rain and a good stiff breeze, yesterday. A few spots of hail. About the size of rock salt. Not too long, or too big. Forgot to mention I saw a perfect rainbow, the other day. Horizon to horizon. Usually, we just get bits and pieces. Which reminded me, I have seen Sun Dogs, maybe, twice in my life. Usually in January or February. They are several rainbow rings around the sun. There must be many small ice crystals, in the air.

During the windstorm, the other day, the barometer plunged to the lowest I'd ever seen it. And, fast! I'd tap, tap, tap on the barometer and it would go down, down, down. Lew

orchidwallis said...

@ Lew I have eaten Rye bread and I like it, just never made it myself. No doubt due to my German forbears, I eat bread with cheese or meat or fish.

@ Pam Do I deduce that you can only start a new loaf from a bit of the old mix, if you are using sourdough. Or, as yeasts appear to arrive in the air, does something left over become a sourdough? Apologies if ignorance is causing me to ask an asinine question.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks, the culvert really is a great discovery! Being at the very top of the sunnier orchard too couldn't be a better outcome if I'd tried. It looks as though it may rain on Friday so I'll get a chance to see how the water flows across the ground then. Down here, the soil is the best place to store any and all rainfall!

Your loaf of bread sounds very yummy indeed and the oatmeal addition would really provide for a much more interesting taste. I always add grains (and sometime rolled oats) into the bread mixes. There really is no bread better than fresh home baked bread! I was just trying to understand your ratios and measurements for my poor metric addled brain! ;-)! Was that 0.75 cup of oatmeal to 1.75 cup of flour?

I had understood that to be the case with farm animals but hadn't realised that as a general rule it applies more broadly (a lack of experience in such matters doesn't assist me! Hehe!)

Out of curiosity, do they use the amalgam fillings still or is it now the composite (white putty) fillings? I once had a very old amalgam filling expand over time and split one of my teeth and it had to be replaced with a ceramic crown. A very expensive procedure!

Haha! That's funny about the scientific talk on jam making. I'm a lot like you in that I just measure up an equal weight of sugar and fruit and then process it. The refractometer measures the sugar levels through a looking scope and gives you a brix reading. On the other hand, the scientific explanation helped me understand why one of my blackberry jams last year was runny (the fruit was over ripe) so that was good too. Unfortunately, my poor brain gets overloaded with details so I try and remember rules of thumb and general understandings of concepts and how they apply in the real world. It is a difficult thing to be across a wide range of areas of experience and there are things and systems here which belong in the realm of the editor, and honestly I have no idea what goes on with them and vice versa. I'd imagine you may have had that situation with your husband?

Also out of curiosity, and you are under no obligation to reply, but did your husband hand over a lot of skills to your son? The reason I ask is because my dad cleared out when I was very young and I have no idea at all how these things operate in the real world? I sort of make things up as I go along and down under we would describe my approach as: "giving it a bash and see what happens. She'll be right, mate!" That is pretty much how it would be said.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Oh dear, I was hoping that you could cope with the lbs and ozs. I notice that you referred to 'cups' at which point I gave up. Perhaps one of our scientifically minded friends can come to the rescue. Mind you, your ratio looks reasonable and would probably be fine. I have added seeds to bread mixes but didn't think that it made much improvement. I prefer to eat seeds by the handful.

Amalgam fillings are not used anymore (as far as I know). I still have a few in my mouth but all my recent stuff are the white ones.

My husband and I did deal with different areas of our life but there was a lot of overlap. Either of us could manage on our own. I am always appalled at situations where one dies and the other can't cope. I have seen it often e.g. the man can just about make a cup of tea but nothing further in the kitchen and the woman is financially completely clueless.

No my husband did not pass on his skills to my son. While not wishing to speak ill of the much loved dead, my husband was a complete nightmare to work with. No-one managed it. He was the ultimate loner. Son was aggrieved about this and picked up his skills in various jobs. He does however possess my husband's ancient tools.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks and I'm relieved too at the rainfall! The fogs roll in here in the late evening and they are really interesting because the sound is muffled and the only thing that can be heard is water dripping off the tree leaves. By morning, the fog generally rolls down into the valley and the mountains stick out like little islands. I wouldn't have to imagine what the place would look like if sea levels ever rose 600m (1970ft) above sea level as that is more or less what it would look like. Imagine ocean front views!!!! Hehe. Just kidding, it would probably be quite horrible.

Speaking of the ocean they're reporting that the Great Barrier Reef has experienced more dramatic coral bleaching than ever before. Not good. The last person from Greenpeace that stupidly thought that I would give them money towards there cause told me: Don't you care about the Great Barrier Reef - which was a truly stupid thing to say. In the end I annoyed the guy so much because I outlined a more probable future that he told me that he felt sorry for me. Maybe I'm hanging onto that a bit too much!! Note to self: Must let go... :-)!

Man, that is very windy! I hope that it has calmed down a bit. Wet soil and strong winds tends to bring trees down. Stay safe!

Actually the Christmas in July thing actually does happen and people do hit the alpine country (when it is deep in snow) for skiing. In the Mrs Fisher days it would have been a very exclusive and rustic sport and they constructed a lot of the old clubs and chalets up in the mountains.

Good to see that your trips into the little smoke include exposure to the tabloids! Hehe! Actually they're seriously hard to miss and so inquiring minds get to know! Hehe! I reckon, I've got shopping down to about every 6 weeks now and it is a chore and the last visit surprised me due to the higher prices.

Yes, beware the Triffids! Actually, I reckon they would do very well in your part of the world. I'm still amazed at how much rain you've received this year and I'm wondering whether your summer explodes with growth.

Yes, the tomatoes have been very interesting this year and very hardy. The berry bed that they are currently in will now have the berries removed and the tomato area extended which means building more of those stick fences (a job for winter). I found a ripe strawberry too this evening - you wouldn't believe the ram raids that the wallabies have been conducting on the old strawberry beds...

There was a craze a little while back with people stealing other peoples garden gnomes and then sending the owners photos of the stolen garden gnome from exotic locales. Go figure that one out! That books sounds very funny too. Great stuff.

I didn't know that about the tree ferns and I may try and get a photo of how they look locally once they have a few hundred years - or so - growth on them. Til then check this image out: Tree ferns underneath Black Wattle, Blackwood and Mountain Ash trees. You can see the distinct layers in that forest which is a bit to the east and south of here. It is not actually that old a forest and probably dates from the 1939 bushfires.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Mosses are complex, so I'm with you. They prefer the well fed and shady soils of the shady orchard to the more sunny spots here.

Very good to hear. Yes, approaching the night before on the following morning is a tough call in the kitchen. I understand about the need to maintain control over some aspect when all else is total utter chaos. I see a lot of that in friends and acquaintances and it expresses itself in all sorts of unusual ways. I got my mid life crisis out of the way early - it is nice to be an early bloomer!!! Hehe!

Thanks for the answer about the medicus - as I was wondering about that issue. Of course, where does his loyalty lay? It is a fascinating question and there was probably little in the way of political correctness back in those days - or was there? Certainly some aspects of Roman/Italian culture are beyond me - and that is not a criticism either. The heavy pruning aspects of that culture can grate on a person not born into it after a while... Oh Russo's homecoming would be an explosive mix of - not sure what, but it wouldn't be good, or warm or friendly. Ouch.

Hmmm, basil is good, but the heat down here ensures that the season is very short for that herb. I'll try it again next year now that the watering regime is better for the plants despite the heat and so you never know. You cold probably just about grow turmeric in your part of the world - it will definitely grow here. Those are solid choices for a tasty savoury scone. Yum!

That's very funny! I'd like to see that one. Hehe! Of course, plenty of people have tried that before - but then there is the awful reality of the grave robbers. For some reason you had me thinking of the whole Waterloo teeth thing this morning after I read that comment... Do you reckon you'd need those teeth in the afterlife or is it all a bit snaggle tooth?

Broody hen is possibly not laying too. Didn't you threaten her last year and she finally came good?

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

@Lew, yes you are right, I must have signed on as a regular reader after you described your bookstore days in more detail. That certainly explains the wide variety of books you read.

@Chris
The winds can be crazy here. Interestingly there haven't been as many windy days in the last year but a few weeks ago we had winds over 60 mph and today there also is a high wind warning of gusts over 70 mph. It's still dark so I haven't checked out if my tunnel is still standing.

That is quite an endeavor you are undertaking!! I'm in awe of all you and the editor accomplish. This Saturday the Land Conservancy is hosting an oak rescue on our neighbor's property in the woods behind us. His property is landlocked to the only access is through ours. Last week some of us picked out some oaks that will have all the non native brush and trees cleared out. We will serve a light lunch at our home afterwards. Unfortunately the weather forecast is colder than it's been so hopefully that won't keep some away.

Margaret

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

You're good! ;-)! That was exactly what I had in mind with that blog title. On a serious note I haven't seen that film, but I've always heard good things about it and appreciate your recommendation. They would have had the time of their lives doing that film.

The office is indeed getting full of produce which is nice, it is sort of like a full shed of firewood in that few appreciate the real world value, but when you get to use the dry firewood and consume sun ripened and preserved food in the depths of winter then it really brings a huge smile to a persons face! Hey, I opened one of the bottles of preserved apricots this week and they are very nice indeed. I didn't store as many this year because they didn't last the full season. It wasn't as if they were off, they were just less fresh over time. Do you find that with preserved goodies?

A lot of those rocks were hidden by the needlegrass so fortunately they didn't have to be moved far and with the right steel house wrecking bar you can move the world!

Absolutely, I use leather riggers gloves because the rotten grass tends to cut your hand if you slide it along the grass and it just isn't worth the hassle. It leaves a lot of scratches and cuts on my forearms which is not good. It doesn't grow back quickly and is easily controlled by chopping and dropping it with the mower and/or brushcutter.

Yeah, pampas grass is an invasive weed down here that used to be grown in gardens and that stuff is razor sharp too. Ouch, you quickly learn to spot the stuff, although it grows in huge tufts with massive seed stalks. It was a bit 1970's really.

Really, I had no idea that tree ferns weren't a universal fern type plant. The things get huge, thus the name. I dropped in an image link in Lewis's comment and you can see what they can eventually look like. I may get a photo of some of the much older ones from around here for the next blog just to show you what they are like.

It is nice to read that the 12th century monks knew how to bake festive bread. ;-)! They were a canny lot by all accounts.

It was hot here again today 31'C (88'F) and it looks like it will be the same here again tomorrow, before a storm hits on Friday morning. Yay! More rain. How is your spring going, you sound like you live in an area blessed with a nice climate.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hey everyone,

I was hoping that I could get a few different perspectives on a matter that I was pondering this afternoon?

Today, someone I know requested, if someone they knew could come up and visit the farm. I don't know the person that wants to visit.

The thing that I'm struggling to get my head around is how do I politely explain to people that there is absolutely nothing in it for me - and neither was anything offered on their part either which makes for a very poor impression - to spend half a day traipsing about the place satisfying someone else's curiosity. And to top it off, I fully expect never to see them again. Off they go, another satisfied customer!

It is not like such things have not happened in the past. I find it very hard to get it across to people making such demands that there is a level of give and take in a society.

Has anyone got any thoughts on the matter as our society seems vaguely dysfunctional and I would never try and presume upon anothers time in such a manner?

I love our conversations here and you lot give me your time and I give you my time and we swap stories and news and ideas and it is all good. But farm visits have been reasonably disappointing experiences for me with no benefit whatsoever. Dunno really. If I know the person well, it is great fun and a good catch up, but otherwise...

Cheers

Chris

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

I don' think that you could ask an asinine question if you tried. My understanding is that any bit of any yeast bread dough would work as a starter for a new loaf. In fact, I wonder if that saved bit couldn't be used to start a sourdough starter? It would take time to build it up to a usable quantity, by feeding it for a while, but I don't see why it wouldn't work.

My husband is a loner type, too. It kind of makes you wonder why they married. Ah - l'amour!
I dare say it's good for them, builds character.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I took this literally, thinking of you taking photos as as a VERY old man: " I may try and get a photo of how they look locally once they have a few hundred years - or so - growth on them." and had a very good laugh. Thanks for the image link; they are funny things.

I got my drip hose in place BEFORE I planted peas yesterday. Yay!

We grow turmeric here. We're planting a big bed this year. They're big roots, but when you dry them and grind them up the amount is tiny. Not like garlic, which yields a fair amount dried. We grow ginger, too, but it's small and somewhat iffy.

I think that this is a pretty nice climate, though some winters can be brutal and I'd hate to see all of the populace around here relying on wood for heating. But when you compare here with a high desert climate at a fairly low latitude, like El Paso, Texas where I lived for 8 years, here doesn't quite measure up - except for water; no water worries here. Those always-sunny days and mild winters are hard to beat. You can grow anything there as long as you have water, sort of like California. I think that they are having significant water problems now, though, what with drought, a lower water table, and a huge increase in population. It didn't seem to be such a problem in the 70's.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

The "someone you know" - can you trust their recommendation? If you can and wish to host a visit, do so at your convenience and set a time limit; you are doing someone (2 someones, actually) a huge favor. I feel that one reason we are here on this planet is to set an example. The other reason is to help people, and it's rather hard to do so without being around people (which you already are). That said, we are only human (!) and have time and energy limitations, and have to think of safety factors, too. What if the person that visits is a creep?

Most of all - what does the Editor think?

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - No permanent plantings on the graves ... at least in the newer parts of the cemetery. Have to go with a flat stone, too. I had thought something, slightly raised. But, that was discouraged. I could have insisted. But, on reflection, I don't want the mower cursing my grave, every time he has to mow. And, maybe knocking chunks off of it. Flat stones are cheaper, too. :-)

@ Inge - I think your internet was down when I mentioned that I'd found in an old Finn cookbook that when they made rye bread (or, any other type of breads) they had a dedicated wooden bowl and spoon. That they left bits to dry out on. When the next batch came around, they'd just scrape it down, put a bit of warm water in, and let it sit overnight. At the cost of yeast, these days, it might be worth another look. I'd guess that there are also plenty of yeast spoors floating around, especially in a household that does regular baking. How "sour" it would be, is a mystery. Not asinine, at all. Inquiring Minds Want to Know :-).

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Yes, there sure is a lot of inflation out there ... though the government denies it. If I get a small Social Security raise, or not, depends on an "index" called "the cost of living." It's been usually pretty small. Amounts to $20, or so. This year, there was none. They cited the low cost of gas. While everything goes up. The Safeway chain, where I shop, has been sold to another chain called Albertson's. I've notice that the sales are not as good. And, when they do put something on sale, it's for more than the item used to go on sale, for. Very stingy with the loss leaders.

When you mentioned the wallabees storming the strawberry beds, I suddenly got a vision of a large bunch of organized wallabees, with a giant tree stump ram, slamming it into the gate, Hup! Hup! Hup! Like the Romans, or some medieval castle gate siege :-).

The tree ferns look Jurassic. I keep expecting a dinosaur head to poke out.

There's a new Australian series that just hit the library catalog, yesterday, that I added to my hold list. "Cloud Street". Two very different families have to share a big old run down house. One family is rather well organized and buttoned up, the other rather shiftless, from what I gather. Time frame, 1940s to early 60s. Perth, I think. I believe Hugo Johnstone-Burt, the young constable from Miss Fisher Mysteries, is in it. Speaking of which, I was watching an episode the other night and noticed something amusing. Miss Fisher and the young constable are in Chief Inspector Robinson's office (he's absent) when they discover his tin of stashed, hidden biscuits. And, precede to scarf them down. :-). I'm sure they were Anzac biscuits. Which reminds me, I should make another batch. Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - About the unwanted visit. Sigh. When I was in the tat business, I'd have people come in dragging some bit of nonsense and want me to "appraise it." I'd usually wave my hand at the wall of reference books behind me, and say something like "well, I could spend two or three hours, going through these books, to answer your question, and ... it wouldn't put a dime in my pocket." Or, I could do a formal appraisal, and it would cost them 35% of the appraised price. I'd usually get a lame "well, I thought you could give me a price, just off the top of your head." Yeah, sure. And, I'd point out (more joy) that even a book price...when they went to sell it to (probably another dealer, as they wouldn't believe how worthless there bit of tat was) that they'd be offered WAY below the book price, as, after all, we are in business. But then, I'm crusty.

And, you may remember the lunch debacle where Chef John wanted to drag along a plus one. I was napping and in a moment of weakness, said yes. Then on reflection, I called back and said a flat no. Of course, I can always claim my Social Anxiety Disorder. Comes in handy, sometimes.

But, in your case I would suggest something along the lines of ... "I'm just beginning to button up for winter, and some other large projects have come up unexpectedly, that require a lot of concentration and time ... and having someone underfoot would derail the whole thing. And, the accounting business is just crazy, right now..." Etc. etc.. Keep it loose. If you say you're taking a trip to Perth (or somewhere) on a particular day, they'll just try and shift the visit date on you. Push it off to an unknown date, somewhere in the (distant) future, and maybe it will die a quiet death. "Check back with me next ... January." if they press, you may have to just bite the bullet and level with your friend that you don't feel comfortable with some unknown quantity wandering around your place.

But, hold the line. The unknown quantity just might drag along Aunt Mauve and a few nephews and nieces. And you won't know til the tour bus pulls up. :-). Off to the Little Smoke. Lew PS. I miss-remebered or overlooked the into to the scone recipes. Or, I'm just losing it :-). The author suggests chives, thyme, oregano, a teaspoon of dried mustard or a few shakes of cayenne pepper. Think I'll just go with the basil, on my maiden flight :-).

Steve Carrow said...

Canning jars- Yes we seem to run short every season so far, buying a few more each time. We use them for storing dehydrated foods, fermented foods and seeds, as well as the extensive canning we do. One thing that I wish would change is the sealing lids. They are one use only ( for canning), and I hate waste in general, but what to do if they aren't available?



jeffinwa said...

Hi Chris,
How about charging a substantial fee, payable in cash or barter? That should slow down idle lookie lou.
jeffinwa

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Margaret:

An oak rescue sounds like a delightful outing, cold or not. You are always trying to leave things better than you found them! Wish I could come along and bring a dish to the luncheon afterwards.

Pam

Angus Wallace said...

Hmm, dunno Chris -- I think reports of summer's death have been exaggerated -- it was 35C here today! ;-)

You've done a great job with your tomatoes! I'll try and do better next year.

Awesome discovery with the culvert. I'm still trying to harness our waste streams -- then I'll think about trying to capture other resources in a systematic way (though I've picked up plenty of free mulch, which has been awesome). Your fern garden will be gorgeous when it grows. Nice one!
On the subject of harnessing wastes, have you seen this? I'd love to do something like this:
http://witcheskitchen.com.au/a-bathroom-worth-the-30-year-wait/

ps. did you see my reply to your query about a motorised carrier for stones and wood?

It's raining right now -- lovely. Max of 20 tomorrow -- heaven!

Cheers, Angus

margfh said...

Hi Chris,
Regarding your possible visitor, that's a difficult one. I agree with Pam that setting an example is important but at the same time when you're pressed for time ... Is this person someone who is interested in learning about living off-grid, growing their own food etc. or is the visit just an outing for him/her? Have you communicated to the person making the request that your time is limited just now?

We enjoy showing people our various projects but it's not nearly as extensive as yours appears to be. My husband never puts anyone off but for myself there are times when it's just not convenient. I have a neighbor, a very wealthy man, who just drops in unannounced to check out what's going on. He has a man (used to be a couple) who lives in a house on his property and does all the work he doesn't have time or want to do. He also raises sheep, Angus cows and heritage chickens and is a board member of the Livestock Conservatory. I think he's clueless when it comes to the fact that we do all our own work and his visits are sometimes inconvenient.

Well I haven't really answered your question. I guess it's a case by case situation and if doesn't work for you I'd have no qualms about saying so.

On another note the winds did take out my plastic tunnel yesterday. It's not ripped but all rather all tangled up. No plants yet so no harm done. I'll just put it up again.

Margaret

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Ha! How good would that be? Alas, it will probably not come to pass, but I reckon I can rustle up a good photo of some of the local tree ferns. They really are funny plants as they leak water through their trunk and lots of epiphytes grow on the trunks (not yet anyway!)

You were very clever to put the dripper hose in before the plants grew too big. Actually they really make a big difference. Are yours the slow drip / leaky type or a sprayer like the ones here?

Nice to hear about the turmeric growing in your part of the world, and I'm very impressed to read about the ginger. Does it survive the winter or do you have to replant it every spring? I'm very curious to hear how you manage that plant, if you could please indulge my curiosity, I'd appreciate that?

Garlic is prolific - have you heard that they recently cracked the secret as to growing it from seed?

Exactly! Water is everything and I worry about relying on aquifers as you are only ever as good as the weakest link in that long chain...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks for the thoughts and I will reply to those thoughts tomorrow. Sorry, I had to work late again this evening.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yeah, that one drives me bananas. The official statisticians must think that we are a bunch of morons or they simply treat the entire matter as a problem to be spun. I actually believe now that the core goal behind most economic strategies is the reduction or minimisation of inflation and it makes a weird sort of historical sense given what has occurred in the past.

The supermarkets here - and there are two main outlets, which I don't shop at, have this policy of cliffing their suppliers. Cliffing is the activity whereby they tell the suppliers what they're going to pay for a product and if the suppliers don't provide the goods at that price they (show them the cliff) and discontinue stocking their products. The suppliers, by all accounts, are doing it tough. When I shop, I specifically purchase my stuff from a small independent chain.

That is a great mental image. I'm thinking of a Monty Python esque castle siege where the wallabies are looking for the Grail and the naughty French knights are holding back on them - and then suddenly there is a giant timber Trojan Wallaby at the gates... :-)!

I've never seen that film, but yeah, they do look totally prehistoric don't they. Hopefully there are no dinosaurs lurking about... I'd bet that would be an unpleasant meeting?

I hadn't heard of Cloud Street, it does sound a lot like the Odd Couple, but in mid 20th century Perth - which would have been a very strange place to live at that time. It is an incredibly isolated city, but has a very good local music scene due to that isolation. I've been to Perth and it is nice, but the summers are just so hot. Nice work with the biscuits too. I once managed to withdraw a chocolate from a box of chocolates without damaging the packaging. I was mildly pleased with the results and the editor and one of her friends was horrified to find that this brand new box of chocolates had one missing from it - the packaging was left inside for effect, of course. It provided the editor with an outstanding mystery, until I fessed up to ensure that matters didn't escalate out of control!!! Hehe! So yeah, scarfing the biscuits is a nice idea.

Mate, that is awful. Yeah, people are very free with other peoples time and I'm unsure whether this is a recent thing or not? Dunno, people act beyond their station and try and pull things over others, I dunno. It seems like a messy business to me. Anyway, I'll respond to your excellent thoughts tomorrow evening. My gut feeling was that they wanted you to buy the tat at a rather inflated price...

A visitor once brought a small child that almost broke the front door - it was a truly impressive effort as it is a very strong front door...

Apologies, but I had to work late this evening and will reply tomorrow night!

Cheers

Chris



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Steve, jeffinwa, Angus and Mark,

Thanks for the lovely and thoughtful comments. I had to work late this evening and have run out of time to reply, but promise to reply tomorrow evening!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I walked out the back to do some work and all hell broke loose; greenhouse glass flying everywhere. A cock pheasant is in there and he is still there hours later. A totally stupid bird he is tapping steadily on the glass even though the door is open. He has knocked so much stuff around that he can no longer just walk out.

Hmm, visitors who want to look around. It doesn't happen very often and I have agreed unless it is wildly inconvenient in which case I suggest another time. It is sufficiently rare not to worry me.

Making bread from a piece of old dough: Interesting. Why doesn't it just go mouldy?
Lew's mention of wooden implements is interesting, I am not sure that wooden bowls are available. I believe that it was discovered that wooden chopping boards can kill off bacteria.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Hard frost, last night. Wonder if it will be our last? Sunny today, the the apple pruner is coming, in the afternoon.

I'd never heard the term "cliffing." But, I know what you mean. Walmart is notorious, for that sort of thing.

Oh, you did me one better! Beware of wallabies, bearing gifts! I see them spilling out of the Trojan wallabee, like clowns out of a clown car, at the circus :-).

Perth. Well known for lighting itself up, so the early astronauts could see it. Cool.

Oh, gosh. That chocolate story was something. Are you a notorious practical joker?

That whole "above one's station" thing is ... nasty. I've been watching "Endeavour", which is a series about Inspector Morris, before he was Inspector Morris. Takes place in Oxford. Where a lot of that goes on. Some of the toffs ... I'm quit happy when they end up lying on a floor, somewhere, bleeding all over the place. And, of course, they always underestimate Endeavour Morris ... who was a Oxford. They put him down, and he puts them in their place with some erudite bit of learning.

Something similar happened to me. When I worked at the cafe, we had a merchant seaman who showed up about every 4 months or so. Always just full of wisdom about the stocks he was playing. Always pretty much ignored me and chatted up the owner. One time, he mentioned he had been on a trip to Italy. I asked him if he had been to Pompeii, and what was it like and had he seen this or that. Well. The ground really shifted. He was just blown away, that the guy behind the counter, waiting on him, actually had a brain and knew a bit about the world. You could hear the gears grinding in his head. Great fun. He was also a great reader, on those long voyages. So, there was that to explore. After that, he didn't find the cafe owner, near as interesting. Which caused a few (more) problems in that department :-). Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Ooops! Apologies, I missed your earlier comment, so I'll roll that one and your next comment up together in a reply this evening! Actually, I think I fried my brain slightly yesterday as it was 33'C (91.4'F) and I was working in a warehouse on their accounts and by late afternoon I was starting to fade. Fortunately, today feels more like winter and the rain is rolling in from the west in waves and the wind is blowing in gusts. The editor has been telling me I'm a bit soft because I've decided not to let the chickens run around in the orchard tonight. I'm pretty certain the chickens don't care very much at all about the rain and they seemed quite content in their all-weather chook run, but well, I must be a bit soft... They do say we can have four seasons in one day in this corner of the world and that is very true of the past 24 hours.

Ha! That's funny, because to me a measure of a cup is exactly what it means: How much flour I can get into a ceramic cup! Who knows what the actual measurement means. When I started making bread loaves I used to use the measuring scales and be very precise until I learned what was important and what wasn't and now I'm very slack with such things and don't really worry too much. Nobody seems to notice. Thanks about the ratios; it has become more of a feel thing which develops with lots of practice. I enjoy grain mixes in bread, but I would struggle trying to say for certain which grains are actually in a loaf. I tell ya what, if you take the small pinch of salt out of a bread loaf, you can tell that lack straight away. I enjoy seeds in the toasted muesli mix which is very yum! The lady at the market in Melbourne is very polite and always appreciates the huge quantities that I buy seeds and grains in. I appreciate polite people, as they're very nice.

Yeah, I have a few amalgam fillings too. I have heard some reports of people claiming heavy metal poisoning from them and have wondered about that, but not enough to do anything about it. Honestly, they used to add lead to petrol when I was young and there was a measurable difference between children in schools near busy roads and those that weren't and I recall the claims that removing the lead would cause the vehicle engines to knock (whatever that meant)!

Thank you for indulging my curiosity. The editor and I operate on a similar basis as there is always overlap too, although there are many things where one is better at a task than the other and also the editor sometimes has a better temperament for fine detailed work than I do - and I won't speak of mathematics... Yeah, that is so true and I have seen some difficult circumstances arise from exactly that lack of experience. It is hard to witness. I had a conversation with someone on Wednesday and I observed that when you outsource your responsibility for an important aspect of your life, you can never be sure what the outcome will be. I see such things from the pointy (financial) end of things and it is usually unpleasant, otherwise I would never be involved.

No, I do not consider that you are speaking ill of the deceased, I am just very curious about such matters as I am unsure as to how they should progress in a smooth manner, and given my father left when I was very young, I really have no idea how these things work, so I appreciate your experience. On the other hand, your son appears to have done well and learned - and turned his hand to - many interesting things. He is a credit to you. Exactly too, having access to the ancient tools and an inclination to learn from them, as well as adapt to their rhythms is almost as good as being tutored in their use.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Oh that pheasant deserves a proper roasting for the damage to the greenhouse. Of course the question must be asked: How did the pheasant get into the greenhouse in the first place? You know, when I was at the farming expo last month someone was selling the most beautiful pheasant at about $110 and I was tempted although I reckon the foxes would kill the bird which was why it hasn't joined the menagerie down here. Having read your comment, I reckon that avoiding that bird was a good idea. People sometimes have peacocks roaming around their properties here - and the old timers regard them as a nuisance bird. So, the question becomes did the pheasant finally escape the greenhouse?

Well, it is sufficiently rare here too, but often because of the blog and other written words elsewhere people believe that I am also part of that deal...

I was wondering about that issue of the dough going off too. Yeasts are really strange beasts and you never quite know what might happen to the starter, but then you might just capture the perfect yeast for breads? I've read that ancient apple orchards contain some of the best yeasts on the skins of those apples.

Yes, I have heard that about wooden chopping boards too and use them exclusively.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Apologies, I missed responding to your comment too! The systems, they are failing. Honestly, heat exhaustion does strange things to a person’s brain. Unfortunately, it has affected me on a few occasions this summer. The worst day was at my mates that live in the greenhouse and when we visited them on Christmas day and it was 35'C (95'F) and the winds blew and blew and it was just hot and by the end of it I felt quite heat stressed although the editor seems to be made of tougher stuff than I. Fortunately we had a huge water fight after the traditional meal which was a lot of fun and a great way to spend a hot Christmas day. The unfortunate thing is that on the other hand my clients would be very upset if I set up an impromptu water fight at their businesses... How much fun would that be though? ;-)

Wow! Those are some strong winds. If those strength winds hit here there would be trees down left, right and centre. Not good. Did the poly tunnel survive the onslaught? I'm in a natural amphitheatre so the winds are very weak here, but wow, if they hit here, I get drafted into cleaning up and the bush telegraph is never quiet on those days I can tell you. How did it all end up once the storm passed?

Thank you, that is very sweet! You may be interested to know that I favour the oaks here too and give them every helping hand they require. They're very hardy trees too. That sounds like a fun day and I respect such work. I try to give the oaks a bit of breathing space and light and they seem to spring out of the ground, although they are not as fast to grow as some of the local and/or introduced species. They are very fire hardy too from what I've seen.

Thanks for your thoughts in relation to the visitor. It is a tough call and time is pressing. Your response provided me with many ideas and I appreciate that. Thanks! I actually decided to seek further information from my mate who was asking for the favour in the first place as the whole request was way too loose for my liking. The responses to that helped narrow down the more important questions. The problem is that there are a whole lot of people about that have a lot of "knowledge" but little in the way of practical hands on "experience" and I've found in the past that when they visit, they fail to ask questions and instead start telling me how I should be doing this or that and - I realise this sounds peevish (and apologies for that) - but I'm not sure what they want out of a visit as usually they're so busy being alpha males that they forget or are unable to recall that they may actually learn something too. Oh, sorry, I'm ranting... People have a great deal of trouble seeing things here as it is complex and large.

Yeah, I hear you. Oh yeah, I get that around here too. That guy is looking for social connections so that he can be the big man in the neighbourhood. Why else would he act that way? We do most things ourselves here too and that can be a bit daunting for many people who struggle to even get off the couch - they just don't get it and it is very hard to explain to them too. How do you explain the "why" of it all? My gut feeling is that in the far distant past the landed gentry would have been a bit closer to the practical “landed” side of things and a bit further away from the “gentry” side.

No, thanks, you actually provided a useful framework to examine the issue and I appreciate that. It is difficult to get people to understand that there is only a limited amount of time available to a person.

Nice to read that the plastic tunnel survived the high winds and that you could place it back over the seeds and seedlings.

Did you happen to send some of those winds down this way? :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Mate, your idea about dragging along plus ones was sheer genius and I incorporated that concern into the request for further information. It is not as if it has not happened here before. :-)! Anyway, I assumed that that was not the case and the interesting thing about assuming things is that a person can make an: "ass" out of "u" (i.e. you) and "me" - that is a dodgy memory trick I use to recall not to assume things. Anyway, my expectations of such an event are very low, so perhaps I may be surprised, but perhaps not as I fail to see how it will differ from past experiences.

Nice to read that the apple pruner is finally turning up. It will be interesting to read about your experience as experienced pruners just know about trees and can read them. I've been wondering about pruning two of the largest olive trees here and it doesn't help that the editor is re-reading Annie Hawe's story which discusses olives and their care in such detail. I'm always left with the vague impression that there are people out there that know far more about many useful things! ;-)!

Have the winds died down there and did any trees fall? It is a precarious combination: wet weather and high winds and I sometimes believe that it is nature’s giant pruning hand at work in a forest!

My head is spinning here with the weather. Yesterday I was in the big smoke and it was 91.4'F for most of the day and because we finished late the editor and I walked a huge distance in the still hot evening and enjoyed a coffee and also the New Orleans restaurant. Mmmm, yum 12 hour slow cooked pulled pork on chips is something beautiful to behold. It really is good, and I'm a mostly vegetarian, but can respect meat cooked with love and care. Unfortunately, I've also been reading Jason Sheehan's book Cooking Dirty and so I couldn't but help notice that the chefs were sweating over the hot grills, but at the same time performing true culinary miracles. We even finished the meal by sharing an "Ice box pie" which looks to me like a slice of frozen lemon tart, and the whole meal was superb. The place has seats inside as well as on the street, and so we sat on the street, talked and watched the people go by. A cyclist even got doored by a young lady in a large station wagon, but he seemed OK and no one got killed so it was all good. The city has so much colour and exotic-ness and I can see why it is such a draw card, but it was dark as the sun had gone down and yet it was still way hot like Bangkok is at night. Fortunately the mountains and forests are even darker and cooler so it was a real pleasure to make it home again.

The storm when it hit woke me up a little after midnight with crashing thunder and lightning but fortunately it brought an inch of rain. Yay! And today it looks like winter outside and it is 47.5'F outside (shorts and t-shirt weather for you perhaps? :-)!) and condensation is building up on some of the windows. Tomorrow I may have to light the wood heater. It does my head in sometimes!

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Yes, it is an abhorrent practice for a supplier to face and I understood that the anti-trust laws were put in place to stop that sort of behaviour? What do I know? It is not sustainable at any rate. And yeah, they play their part in the battle to stop the inevitably rising tide of inflation. ;-).

Ha! That is too funny. The wallabies would love spilling out of a clown car too. I'll put a photo on the next blog showing just how destructive the little blighters have been. Fortunately, all I need from that bed is the runners and next year, I'll plant pumpkins, zucchini and perhaps even a melon in there.

I didn't know that about Perth. It is very remote. It is hard to come to terms with how big this country is and how under populated it is. It has about the same land mass as the US but 15 times less people - of course, there is stuff all arable land and water reserves are not good in the best of years. It doesn't sound very appealing does it?

Haha! One can but try! Oh man, you should have seen the horror on their faces as the realisation dawned that they'd purchased a box of chocolates that had been sampled... Evil genius chuckle: Phwar har har!!!! Actually, I rarely prank people as I'm a serious adult you know, but then sometimes...

Perhaps the concept of "station" had a different meaning and such a social standing was earned and not given as a birth right. Sometimes I reckon those hereditary status things are subject to diminishing returns. The Chinese have a wise saying that the first generation earns the wealth, the next generation spends the wealth and the third generation laments their fall. I reckon that is a fair observation on life. I'm pretty certain that in the dark and middle ages that the people with status had to earn their keep every bit as hard as - and perhaps more so - than the peasants.

Speaking of which, I noticed in the papers that someone was claiming that they recently uncovered a Roman gold coin. What an awesome find and to think it survived so long unscathed!

We had a few Rhodes Scholars as Prime Ministers and some of those did quite well.

Thanks for the story, about the cafe. Books can take a person far and wide in this world! So had the guy been to Pompeii and do you recall what he said about the place? It would be fascinating to visit - especially with the mountain looming large even today. Ha! It is very easy to get peoples noses out of joint and often it happens without too much trouble or intention. Hehe!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Steve,

Thanks for the excellent comment. I went to the nearby town to pick up some more glass jars today for storing the tomatoes and - soon - olives.

I wonder that thing too and it is a great observation. Some of the systems here use stainless steel lids with rubber rings and they have many uses in them. The rubber rings are the weak link though. I haven't thought far enough ahead yet, but the dehydrator is a step in the long term direction for that stuff. In Peru, I observed that many households simply leave their produce in the sun to dry for a few days and that seems to have done the trick. But honestly, I wonder about that stuff too. If you come up with a genius solution to the problem I would really like to hear about it?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Jeff,

Thanks for the idea and they do that with most of the open gardens down here. You know what though? If I charge entry for a visit to this place, then according to the insurance people, I'm running a business so I have to take out a separate public liability insurance policy specifically for that purpose and honestly the whole situation is a big pile of kangaroo doo and it just annoys me. But you can't ignore the real risk either so I'm totally stuffed if I know what to do...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

Mate, I hear you! It was 33 in the shade on Thursday and I was working in a warehouse and it just got hotter and hotter as the day wore on. By the end of it I could keep going on the job, but seriously I really hoped nothing out of the ordinary happened and I had to use by slow roasted brain. And today, it is like the depths of winter. Did you get much rain? Thanks for sending it south here, really appreciate that as the last lot went north and missed us completely! :-)!

No worries, that is what it is all about. I would happily send you some seeds for our tomatoes if you want? They're very hardy to heat and have low water requirements.

It is complex harnessing those waste streams because really they are resources to be utilised! The mulch is an excellent repository for waste water, but it takes at least two years to convert to soil - unless you speed the process up with some manure (any manure really), but even then one year is very fast for building quality soil. Thanks, the ferns really enjoyed the decent rainfall today. :-)!

Thanks for the link, I'll check it out when I'm finished replying. OK, I'm in awe of their bathroom: A bathroom worth the 30 year wait. I thought that it was cool that I could sit in the bath and look into the forest and valley below, but those guys, they've taken it to 11!

I did and you left me wondering about your response and the possibilities and I will reply once I've gotten my head around the possibilities.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks for reminding me about the whole trust thing as that was an excellent observation. Lewis wrote a few weeks about not knowing "ones people" and that sort of resonated with me as I can see that in play in the social relationships going on up here and it wasn't entirely clear before that. Anyway, I incorporated your idea into my reply, so we shall see how the whole business goes, personally I have very low expectations based on previous visits and that is because it is sort of hard for people to see things when they have an overlay of how they believe things should work. Living with nature sort of means letting go in a way and just seeing where you are taken in your thinking and that is very hard for a lot of people to do.

I did ask the editor and she said that this one is in my court, but also provided some solid advice too.

Cheers

Chris

Jo said...

Hi Chris, so much happening, you really are the busy bee that doth improve every shining hour..

Your rainforest gully will be a wonderful asset in a few years - it will be a beautiful cool space to spend some time in the summer. I love how you are exploiting every corner of your property, but in a way that is following the natural inclinations of the land. You are a truly careful steward. Are you going to do some understorey planting as well, or leave it to nature?

margfh said...

Regarding US Standard system of measurement vs. metric - when I was teaching we taught metric almost every year in the junior high. The kids had such a tough time even though it's really so much more straight forward. I'm good with length and volume but Celsius vs Fahrenheit is still difficult.

Winds were very strong yesterday as well though not as bad. I heard we had some gusts around 70 mph. I postponed my monthly trip to Costco and Trader Joe's as I was afraid that maneuvering the cart in these winds would be too much of a challenge. Fighting to keep the door and trunk open would have been another issue. We have no grocery store in our town except Walmart (which I avoid). Otherwise it's a half hour drive either north or south. My monthly trip is almost an hour away to a hellish road with every big box store and chain you could imagine but the savings are good and I can find organic items there that I can't find closer by.

The weather forecast is pretty cold for the oak rescue tomorrow so I think it will cut down on participants which is too bad.

Margaret

orchidwallis said...

hello again

Winter here today.

A warning about the oatmeal. I have very loose bowels and can't think of any other reason.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

What a shame about that pheasant mess - and they say chickens are dumb. Is this your own greenhouse?

Apparently a fresh piece of dough has enough enzymes and live activity in it to stay fresh sitting out for a day. I wouldn't trust an actual chunk of dough past one day, though. When I did that experiment with using the previous day's dough, it was just a collective bunch of bits scraped from the sides of the bowl. They were quite dry by then, so I would assume that if one dried them well (without heating) and stored them in an airtight container they would be just like the packets of dry yeast in the store. That's another experiment. I kind of think of this sourdough starter as The Blob That Ate Minneapolis (my apologies to Minneapolis, as I don't think that there is such a movie): it consumes whatever falls into it, and just grows stronger.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

We have a wildfire going in the western part of the county, in the National Forest near the ski resort. It is only 150 acres so far, tiny compared to what you have sometimes. This unusually hot and windy week has something to do with it. Rain and snow expected Sunday. That sounds like a long time away. I get a hint of what you have to worry about all the time. It is just as dry today, though not as hot as it's been, up where I am. Been watering all week.

Our neighbors bought a couple of ducks at the County Fair to put on their pond. Foxes immediately ate them. Maybe it's just as well that you didn't go for that pheasant. If it was a dumb as Inge's wild one, the chickens would just push it around.

I have heard of people drying food on the dashboard, or rear window, of their car if it can be parked in the sun for a lengthy time. Supposedly this also works for charging solar devices. There is not enough sun on our property to try this and I'm just never parked in one spot in town long enough. Peru would be perfect for it.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - The last bit of wind didn't seem to knock over any trees ... I think the weak one's were already down. :-). The last two electrical outages were in the short, downhill run between my place and the Centralia/Alpha Road. Actually, land that belongs to my landlord. He told me he's going to have it thinned, this summer, to avoid problems in the near future.

Quit sore, today. Not a bad thing. Getting in shape for the Spring Offensive :-). While waiting for the Carl the pruner to show up, I loaded up the truck for a dump run, today. Usually, he has his wife with him, but she was off on another pruning job. So, he cut and I hauled stuff out of the way. Carl is a real "salt of the earth" kind of a guy, and I always enjoy spending time with him (and, learn a lot.) From our "knowing your people" department, my landlord/friend stopped by, and it tuns out Carl's wife and sister, were "best buds" with Don's two daughters, waaaay back.

This is the third prune on those badly overgrown apple trees. What you're working toward is a vase shaped tree, that lets in light and air. That keeps disease, down. You don't want them unmanageably tall. You don't want them shooting into the tree, next to it. Branches that cross each other are not good. You want to take out some of the "waterspout" sprouts, but not all of them.

So, my trees are beginning to look more well cared for. The last two really tall sections (that were heading for the electric wires) finally, came out. There was some tall dead wood, that I notice last year, that came out. The branch that was on it's way to the mail box, to poke the mail ladies' eye out, has been trimmed back. In general, there's a lot more openings to let light and air in and less verbiage, between the trees. Cost me $75, which I think is cheap at twice the price, given how much good was done, and how much I learned.

Made a big pea and swiss salad (?) night before last, and it's quit nice. Time to let out the chooks, do my stretching exercises and head for the dump. Lew

heather said...

Chris-
Your tomatoes look delicious! I have wanted to try storing my dehydrated tomatoes in olive oil but have been scared off by the strong recommendations against doing so that come from the university cooperative extension advice folks (aka the canning police) around here, who warn that botulism can grow in them and kill you and your little dog, too… (Wizard of Oz, anyone?) I struggle with this, since I know that Italian nonnas have been making their tomatoes this way since time immemorial, but I'm sure some of their family members died of botulism too, without anyone knowing that it was the tomatoes that did it… I find it quite a dilemma. I don't have any problem keeping my dehydrated tomatoes in canning jars on the shelf. I just make sure they are quite dry, not sticky at all. But oil-packed ones are so much nicer! I gather that you can 'safely' make and store oil packed ones for up to a week or so in the fridge- not much help for large scale preservation efforts. Good luck avoiding the spoilage gremlins.

Re canning jar lids- I too hate the waste of single-use lids. Last year I tried some reusable Tattler brand lids, with separate rubber rings and flat plastic lids. I was not too impressed- two of my six jars in that batch failed to maintaing their seal on the shelf, though the reviews of the Tattler lids I had read before buying said their failure rates were similar to standard metal one piece lids. Maybe I did something wrong, but I won't risk my precious chicken stock to those lids again. :(

I am hoping that you said no to the folks who "just wanted to look around". There is something to be said for sharing your knowledge and experience generously (which you certainly do here!), but I think that if you are beginning the encounter feeling resentful or just "off", then probably it wouldn't end up being beneficial to either party. I had some related experience with being asked to lend some of my skills in charity work that I just ended up not wanting to do anymore- felt that it was not such a worthwhile endeavor after all- and it took some time, but I ended up extricating myself to focus on my own priorities at home instead. It can be hard to say no without feeling selfish, but I think you should trust your gut about these things.

Take care in your wild weather. My grandmother always warned that fast shifts in the seasons often led to sickness.
--Heather in CA

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

That is an interesting comparison. I find the base ten system works well with my brain. You may be interested to know that the change over from imperial to metric occurred when I was only a very young lad and so I've sort of seen both and can recall what the alternatives were. As an interesting side note, a lot of the market stall holders switched from selling fruit and vegetables by the pound to the kilogram and scored a bit of extra cash by saying that 2 pounds equals 1 kilogram and applying the same price. I believe it is about 2.2 pounds to the kilogram. Pretty cheeky huh?

Well, it is difficult for me to convert too! I sort of recall that about 32'F is the freezing point for water or 0'C and 100'F is about 37'C the internal temperature of the human body. I cheat anyway and utilise an online converter otherwise people would be picking me up for all sorts of temperature conversion mistakes! :-)!!!

Stay safe in those high winds! Yes, I've noticed that warmer temperatures make for stronger winds.

Really? Wow, that is tough. There are three supermarkets in the nearby local town: Coles (which is a behemoth of an organisation and forms part of the Wesfarmers group along with Woolworths (Safeway) they capture I reckon 70% of the retail market); IGA which stands for Independent Grocers Association which I believe are part of the much larger Metcash group; and then there is Foodworks which is the one I shop at and they're reasonably locally owned and independent (although I'm not 100% sure about that). Personally, I'd view only having a single retailer in the local area as an unspoken risk, but the concentration of retail capture is just as bad down here. It certainly gives a person reason to pause and consider.

How did the oak rescue go? That is a really exciting thing to do. The oak acorns are just now starting to fall here and over the next few weeks I'll collect a few bags of them to distribute around the local forest - they take such little effort to grow that they are a real pleasure!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I do hope that you feel better soon - and haven't noticed that effect from rolled oats, although they are very high in fibre / roughage...

How did the pheasant situation end up? I believe pheasant can be roasted? ;-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks for that about the dough and yeast. I've found that if I leave bread dough to rise beyond about five or six hours it tends to become more sour tasting when baked, so I've wondered for a long time whether the natural airborne yeasts are invading the dough? Dunno really. Also for your info, I keep the dried yeast - which I purchase from a specialty baking supplier - I'm a bit spoiled on that matter, sorry - and keep it stored in the freezer on their advice. I've noticed that the supermarket dried yeast requires almost twice as much yeast to be poured into the dough to get the same rise over a short period of time. I'm not sure, but I'd imagine that after a few years now, the kitchen is infested with this purchased yeast?

Wow, that is pretty early in the season for such things. I guess your winters are drier so the fire season starts earlier? Dunno. Hope the fire doesn't spread by strong winds... I have a low level of anxiety for about six months of the year and it is a background nuisance more than anything else, but I take precautions and prepare which is something two thirds of the population in this area is completely oblivious too. The watering is a good thing and it has taken a long time to learn when and how much and also just how to water so as to be effective. It is a really complex matter, so I hear you. Your summers are humid so that makes it a bit easier though so you can relax a bit in a short while.

Haha! That is very funny about the pheasant, but the poor ducks. Ducks need an island in a pond to retreat too when there is trouble brewing. Everything eats chicken (and duck too, I guess)! Roast duck is very tasty in small portions as I find it to be a bit rich for my tastes, but in Peking duck it is very tasty!

Yeah, I've read about people doing that too down here. I do wonder about the various plastics and other synthetic materials inside the car off-gassing in the strong sun, but perhaps that is a minor concern? Dunno really.

By not enough sun, do you have a solid canopy of trees over the summer? Yes, the altiplano in Peru is quite the cool, but sunny and dry place. Going up and down so rapidly in altitude was an unusual experience for the editor and I in Peru!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Oh yeah, you are so right! Your wet weather combined with huge winds are a tough combination on the trees. I'd imagine that the area south from you where the Californian Redwoods grow is a less windy spot than your part of the world? Have you ever wondered why you seem to get the winds when that area to the south doesn't? It does seem like a sort of anomally doesn't it (not temporal fortunately! :-)!)

Wow, thinning forest is a very expensive and labour intensive job, I can tell you. It is certainly the hardest job that I do here. Out of curiosity, is that power-line privately owned or owned by the grid people? You can have both down here and the problem as to who owns the vegetation management problem around the power-lines depends on who owns what. It is a complex matter, no doubts about it. My gut feeling is that long term, the supply will contract slowly from rural areas as the cost of maintenance increases. As I said, it is a complex matter.

Ha! Enjoy your spring offensive! :-)! Remember not to offend anyone! Hehe! Yeah, you can learn so much from the people that have been in the area for a long period of time and it is a real pleasure speaking with them and getting the chance to hear a story or four and asking some solid questions. How are the apple trees looking? Are they budding yet?

You have clearly enjoyed an excellent lesson on pruning at the hands of the experts and that is a rare experience. Things can be a little bit looser down here because of the drier summers. Your very humid summers and occasional high water table would increase the likelihood of disease, no doubts about it. The wallaby is nice enough to assist with the pruning duties too - although sometimes the word "careful" is not quite appropriate to describe their actions...

Oh yeah, that is a cheap lesson plus the pruners are getting to know your fruit trees and see how the world operates in your part of the world which is an excellent thing. Did they use a hand saw to trim the branches or did they bring out a chainsaw? Sometimes I use the chainsaw as it can be a delicate tool when used carefully, but other times I use the wolfgarten loppers. The wallaby just breaks branches...

Nice to read that you stretch - and you may be surprised to know that I also stretch every single day at the end of the day and I reckon that helps a lot with this unfortunate ageing thing. It really is a bit of a nuisance!

Hey, I picked up some local quinces today so they are stewing away in the wood oven. Yes, it barely made it to 52'F here today so I chucked in some firewood and got the quinces poaching away (plus some dog biscuits and a pizza too later tonight!). Yum! Wood fired pizza is to kill for.

It does my head in this sudden changes in weather conditions. Is it summer? Or is it winter? Who knows? I'm hoping to finally fill up the firewood shed tomorrow so I'll put in a long day (and will feel a bit sore like you do!) and maybe the thing will be finally filled? I've purchased some new citrus trees that I'm hanging to get in the ground whilst there is still some warmth in it. I've found in recent years that planting in winter or spring is far too late for the plants to get suitably established.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Heather,

Oh! Thanks. Well, bacteria is a risk in all sorts of preserving processes. I have heard of botulism in semi-sun-dried tomatoes, but hopefully nuking them in the dehydrator does the trick - also, the dehydrated tomatoes sink below the surface level of the olive oil and I would be dubious of any that are in contact with the air. I'll let you know how it goes.

There is also the consideration that a lot of the fruit and vegetables that we purchase and consume nowadays are very low in acid which means that they are more vulnerable to contamination. I've often wondered whether the decrease in fertility and quality of our soils is somehow linked to these situations but the science is way over my head. The tomatoes here are very acidic as you would expect. I will let you know how it goes over time as I don't store them in the refrigerator either. I'm starting to get worried by this talk! :-)!

Yeah, the wastage with lids drive me bananas too. Down here, the more popular bottles have the option of either tin or stainless steel lids. I've found that the acid in the preserving process causes the tin lids to corrode, but the stainless steel ones look like they'll still be OK in a thousand years - as long as a person is careful of not damaging them in the removal process. I get quite a few uses out of the rubber rings too, but each ring is closely inspected for cracks or other damage upon opening the bottle as well as the next reuse. They won't last for long though. I haven't preserved meat before, but I'd probably try the dehydrator. Mind you, the whole Christmas / mid-winter feast is a form of food preservation.

Oh yeah, I 100% hear you. I volunteered with the local fire brigade for many years and by the end of my time, I just sort of wondered what benefit did I get out of it? You see, the captain of the brigade found social situations difficult, so he squashed every opportunity for such things and if you're not there giving your time and resources for the chance for a social catch up with other locals, why were people attending? It stopped making any sort of sense. It is not selfish when there is zero give and take and the situation mostly represents the take part of the equation. It is not good and our society is very dysfunctional in that matter.

Your grandmother is a smart lady!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Jo,

Many thanks and I enjoy the whole process of going from an idea to implementation and it is great just how much you can learn in that process.

Congrats to you too by the way!

Yes, I really try to utilise every corner of the place so that it is productive for us as well as all of the other animals (mostly wildlife) that live here. They're a happy bunch!

What a great question. Of course, the under story will comprise Musk Daisy Bush, Hazel Pomaderris, Blanket Leaf, and Blackwood trees plus all of the many different ferns that live up here. It probably won't look very different from a rainforest gully near your part of the world. Nature will eventually do just that, but with a bit of care, we can really speed things up! I do need to thin the Messmates a little bit to open up the canopy for other species to grow.

I'm baking dog biscuits right now and the house smells very nice!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

No, I am not better. I passed out on the loo in the middle of the night. To give an insight into my personality, I just found this funny. Yet I realise that if I heard this about another elderly woman, I would be horrified. Am keeping myself well hydrated. I agree that rolled oats don't give problems.

I asked my son how he got the pheasant out. It wasn't there! I had checked on its presence before I rang Son, so can only assume that it felt the vibes of his approach. Roast pheasant is very good but it is closed season for pheasants (I think) that is why they walk around boldly.

@ Pam Yes it is my greenhouse and it now requires some replacement glass.

Inge

margfh said...

@Chris

The oak rescue is today. I've heard that we should expect 10 to 15 people.

Regarding metric system, I find it odd that there are two common uses of this system here in the US, 2 liter bottles of pop and 5K races (usually fundraisers). Always have wondered why.

@Inge

Oh dear, I hope you are on the mind. That sounds a bit serious.

Margaret

heather said...

orchidwallis-
I'm very sorry to read that you're ill (but I did laugh when you said you laughed at your own fainting spell). That's the spirit! I am sending good thoughts your way (no more passing out!) and I hope you are well soon.
--Heather in CA

heather said...

re. pheasant-
We used to see and hear quite a few Chinese pheasant around 15 years or so ago, when we first moved in to this rural area. I gather that they are an introduced species here, released at some point in the past by would-be hunters. They are beautiful, and the cocks have a very loud, distinctive call, which we used to enjoy hearing around dawn in the summer when we slept with the windows open. We see many fewer these days, I think because we now have a coyote den on the hill next to us. The mama and her usual two pups per year keep down the pheasant, who are more show than brains, I think. (Clearly the one bashing around in Inge's greenhouse was no mental giant!) I do think your foxes would make short work of your $110, Chris. Maybe if you got some fertilized pheasant eggs and hatched them out and raised them with your chickens, they could learn some defensive strategies? You can order them from the hatcheries here.

@ Inge, also sorry to hear about the greenhouse damage (rough week you're having!), and also that you couldn't get a pheasant dinner for your pains. Maybe you could have claimed self-defense?
--Heather in CA

jeffinwa said...

Hey Chris,
re. visitors. Insurance? So many fingers in your pie!
In that case I'd just trust my gut; I've found it best to trust my "gut" and go with the decision that causes me the least distress. Usually a quick and firm no thanks is the least painful way to go. Your time is probably worth more to you that their's is to them.
This blog of yours has sure come to be a wonderful sharing center; well done!
Jeff

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, the redwoods are over, about 400 miles (643 km) south of us. I think the redwoods are pretty deeply rooted ... and the forest, generally a bit dryer, than up here.

The PUD (Public Utility District) owns, and takes care of the lines. They do the repairs. In summer, they have crews out trimming back trees from the line. County does a bit of the same thing. One of the reasons for getting on my apple trees, was i was worried that county or PUD would come along and just whack the tops off. And, no, I've never heard of anyone objecting, too much. But there was one case last year, where the county (or PUD?) wanted to take out some trees, along a roadway, and the little old lady land owner objected. I think eminent domaine, prevailed. There was a court case? Or, arbitration?

Oh, I think all kinds of things are going to contract from rural areas. We're already seeing it, big time, as far as telacommunications, go. Road maintenance and electric will be next.

Yes, the apple trees are in bud. The deer help with the pruning, here. But, not much. They're mostly in it for the apples. :-).

Oh, Carl used all kinds of cutting tools. A small chain saw, a pruning saw, smallish hand pruner and the big long handled loopers. He was very delicate ... careful? ... with even the chain saw. I think it is a very thought intensive process. You look at the bare branches, and imagine them in full leaf. If there's going to be a solid wall of leaves, on a side of the tree, you take something out of the middle (of the potential wall) to let the sunshine in.

Yeah, I used to have all kinds of back problems. And, finally got it through my thick skull that I HAD to do the stretching, every morning, if I wanted to avoid it. Some of the stuff I do I picked up from a chiropractor (way back in the day when I had insurance :-), and some from a book and video called "The YWCA (YMCA?) Better Back Book." Takes me 10 or 15 minutes, every morning. I haven't had a "major" back episode, since I began to do them, consistently. Oh, yeah, a little sourness, now and again. But, nothing major. Sigh. It's so easy to fall into bad habits, or, out of good ones. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I am recovering.

That ridiculous pheasant was in the greenhouse again this morning I can't imagine what the attraction is as there is nothing in there at present. I have now closed the door.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

I'm very glad to read that you are recovering and keeping hydrated is excellent common sense. Passing out in the toilet is pretty serious. I had that experience once and I believe it was some sort of passing of a stone and after that little horror, I changed my diet and reduced my exposure to stress. It was unpleasant and not something one would ever wish to repeat.

Rolled oats are very good for your digestion and cardiovascular system (I believe), so I do hope it wasn't them.

Ha! Your pheasant is not so silly as to be caught in the greenhouse. It was probably enjoying the warmth and perhaps shelter from the rain. Who honestly knows what goes on in their brains. I just spotted the King Parrot sitting on top of the whirly gig thing that vents the worm farm and it was happily spinning around slowly (like a carousel restaurant!) until a much smaller Rosella parrot dive bombed it. The birds play around a lot here. I'm hoping they keep away from the olive fruit for a bit while they put on a bit of size. I suspect that the olive situation will be more like your greenhouse meets bird incident!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

That sounds like a pretty good turnout. I hope that the oak rescue goes well. Do you get a lot of different varieties of oak trees growing in your part of the world?

Well, the marathon is 42km long and they do fun runs (there is a oxymoron!) down here of 5km and 10km length and call them mini-marathons / fun runs. But who knows maybe 5km sounds better than 3.1 miles? Dunno. The drink bottles are probably made in China which uses metric? Again, dunno really.

You may be interested to know that the bees have started collecting pollen from the dandelions today - as previously they've avoided them. I'll try and get a photo.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Heather,

The pheasants are really beautiful looking birds. I almost bought one at the farming expo last month. It was very tempting, but then reality kicked in and it probably wouldn't have been such a smart idea. Oh yeah, the foxes would destroy the pheasant in no short time. I've been hearing them around every night recently and the other morning a Vixen scream woke me up as it was just outside the window. Talk about raising the hairs on the back of your neck!!!

Your observation yesterday about the botulinum bacteria earns you the elephant stamp. Tidy work and I'll write more about this in the blog tomorrow. The editor and I were up late last night talking about your comment and she has a background in applied biology with a major in industrial food microbiology, so my poor head was spinning after that long talk!!! Thanks, I think! Hehe!!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Jeff,

Yeah, the public liability insurance is a total nightmare - seriously! The thing is if I charge a fee for opening the garden, the insurers deem that I'm running a business, but if I don't charge, then that is covered by the house insurance. But if you don't charge, you get a lot of tyre kickers. So the whole mess is a catch 22 type situation and I'll have to ask around to see what other people in this part of the world do. If you have any ideas I'd be interested to hear them?

Yeah "gut feel" is an excellent tool for making rapid judgements and I totally agree with you.

Thank you. All the excellent comments school us all and that is a very good thing. :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Ah, thanks for looking that information up about the Redwoods. Don't you think it is interesting that such tall plants require a slightly drier environment? The mountain ash trees (Eucalyptus Regnans) which grow to huge heights and age, also prefer the sporadically damp soils with occasional periods of dry. There is something in that, but for the moment I can't quite think what it is. The mountain ash trees have very extensive root systems. Actually the trees here are the second tallest in the country (which are still pretty massive) and you can see the extent of the root systems for the very big trees as they suck every chunk of nutrients and water from the soil around them. Hey, you may enjoy this, it is the National Register of Big Trees. The trees that grow here are called messmate for some strange reason that alludes me and this is a great example of one really huge one down in Tasmania: A really huge messmate tree!.

Honestly, I'm feeling a bit crunchy tonight as we went all out today to try and fill up the second firewood shed and just didn't make it today. So, tomorrow should do the trick. Maybe. I'm busting to get onto other projects, but as the Asian masters say: Before enlightenment, fetch water, chop wood. After enlightenment, fetch water, chop wood. Wise words and given the wood heater was used yesterday, chopping wood seems like a good idea!

Of course, the PUD are more concerned with getting the job done with the minimum of fuss so concern for the apple trees would be very far from their minds! You made a wise decision. Yes of course, what the state giveth, the state can also taketh. Sorry to hear about that. The legal concept of eminent domaine creates a massive uprising of the people down here but it does occasionally happen though. I'm not sure I would look to the legal system for justice as it appears to me to be a system that seeks to administer itself - whilst also appearing to get rather fat and comfy in the process. But then perhaps I am a cynic in such matters?

Yeah, the road maintenance may well be the next step. You brought to mind a comment that I read over at the ADR from a regular commenter who stated that it was awful that the local authority only graded the dirt road six times per year. Down here, I reckon I'd be lucky if they undertook that job more than twice per year. Over winter, the dirt roads can degrade very quickly. Still, those authorities want their taxes too. You may be interested to know that the state government has limited the tax increases for the local council to no more than 2.5% per year and would you believe they sent me a letter complaining about that and saying how tough it will be this year now that they can't access a 5% increase? How can they be so out of touch with reality? I'm reminded of the saying: "A bunch of mindless jerks..." ;-)!

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Glad to read that spring has finally sprung for you and that the apples are budding. Apples and pears put on leaves before blossoms for some strange reason, whilst a lot of other fruit trees do it the other way around. Dissensus at work?

You were lucky to be able to have witnessed Carl at work. It is amazing how some people can look at something today and visualise where that will be in a few years time and then take appropriate action today. It speaks for deep hands on experience.

Well yeah, that is very true. I say that about the dogs too. Good habits take years to ingrain, but bad habits that are enjoyable take mere moments! :-)!!!! Hehe! I'm really glad to read that you stretch as it is a very useful technique to keep oneself still active as the years roll along. Mind you, I'm feeling a bit crunchy tonight as I rarely work for 5 straight hours on the chainsaw, and whilst I could get up tomorrow and do it all over, the thought of that doesn't fill me with joy... Walking is a great way to add strength to your lower back and I try and walk everywhere I can.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Oatmeal is fine. It has to have been the rolled oats. I hadn't been in contact with anyone else for 3 days prior and I wasn't sick; all very odd.

We have always had foxes and pheasants in the woods so somehow the pheasants survive. The thing that I dislike is the fact that a pheasant doesn't fly up until one is almost on top of it. Very startling, enough to cause a heart attack.

Inge

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I miswrote, I meant rolled oats are fine it has to have been the oatmeal.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - We have pheasants, too. I've never seen any, up here on the ridge, but I see them in the lowlands, on my way to town.

I seem to remember (maybe) that redwoods also need the mists and fogs, off the ocean, for their well being. They're really a coastal tree.

Yes, that bit you riffed on about "chop wood, carry water." I meant to mention, that the pruning was really a kind of zen-like experience. But, living out in the country, so many tasks are. And, you have to take the time ... not get rushed. Even though time, tide and the seasons wait for no man (or woman.) :-).

Chef John showed up to look at some new tat, and we had talked about me maybe doing a big tray of nachos to nosh on. So, I had done quit a bit of pre-prep. Grating cheese, marinating garlic and tomatoes in a bit of olive oil. Well, being the control freak he is (especially when it comes to food) he showed up with a big carry all stuffed with nacho makings. But, it was a joint effort and turned out well. But as he left all the makings, behind, I'll be eating nachos, for days. Not necessarily a bad thing. :-).

He brought along a cook book, that I have on loan. He picked it up at one of the thrift stores. "The Australian Women's Weekly Original Cookbook" by food editor Ellen Sinclair. A very formidable and competent looking woman (maybe, slightly
scary looking.) :-). I surmise that the Australian Women's Weekly is, perhaps a magazine ... or, one of those little magazines that get inserted into newspapers.

First printed in 1970 and then reprinted many times, over the years. The cover claims "Over 800,000 copies sold!!!). Reprinted, but not revised :-). It has the feeling of a kind of time capsule. There are some interesting recipes. And lots of color photos. But, I miss having a bit of background on some of the recipes. Worth having if I can find a copy, cheap.

Well, the past three days, Broody Hen seems to have rejoined the flock and become a "good citizen." The other hens have stopped giving her grief. And, someone has started laying really big eggs (Broody Hen?). After two or three days of really nice weather, we're back to a dribble, again. So it goes. Lew

PS: Almost through Stephen King's new collection of short stories. They're almost all "winners." He's got a page, before each story, telling how the story developed in his head, and how he went about writing it. Some pop out fully formed, others
percolate for years.

Damo said...

Hello everyone!

I didn't have a chance this week to pop in for a comment, so busy with organising the sale of all our worldly possessions. Well, almost all. Obviously I will still be keeping the motorbikes! I quite enjoy selling things, I reduce clutter and increase the bank balance at the same time. Win win! Also, I met a few more nice locals. It is possible I will miss this place when we go in a few weeks.

RE: Summer. It is definitely on the way out. The past few mornings (5am) have been chilly at around 4-5 degrees Celsius. That's jumper weather for me.

@Chris
I would be interested to hear what happened with your visitor. Unless I owed the friend a favor, or the visitor promised to be an interesting person, I would say no. Especially at this time of year.

Craig Curtin said...

Chris,

WHat about building a swale at the outlet of the culvert and then in the overflow of the swale (spillway) bury a 200 litre drum - when it fill you could have as solar pump push the water uphill to the rest of the farm or into higher swales i.e keep as much water on your property and up high where it will inflitgrate downhill eventually

Craig