Monday, 28 March 2016

The Devil went down to Cherokee



Easter is a great time. The daylight hours are long and the weather is cooler because it isn’t quite summer, but it isn’t quite winter either. The weather is just nice. And I did notice that lot of people were also enjoying the long weekend that is Easter and because the local café was far busier than usual. And unfortunately that is when a minor note of unpleasantness creeps into an otherwise pleasant Easter.

Regular readers will recall that I am not a morning person. However, on occasion, exceptions have to be made to this general rule about avoiding early mornings. And so whilst the sun had barely shown its face over the mountain range in this corner of the planet, the editor and I dragged ourselves out of bed and took ourselves down to the local café to enjoy an early morning coffee, toastie and hot cross bun before the Easter crowds took over. At this point in the story it is worth mentioning that hot cross buns are simply a fruit bun traditionally served at around Easter time. The tradition of these fruit buns apparently began with the ancient Greeks and has withstood the test of time. Clearly hot cross buns are very tasty fruit buns, otherwise the tradition would never have lasted as long as it has! (Edit: there is no Easter Brussell Sprout tradition.)

Anyway, disaster struck early on this Easter as the local café had run out of their supply of really excellent hot cross buns. The buns were good too and worth getting out of bed at some ungodly hour of the morning just to pay my culinary respects to. What a total disaster for us as there were no hot cross buns to be had!

It is worth mentioning, that not all hot cross buns are good. In fact, some hot cross buns for sale are pretty ordinary tasting. Over the past decade, I have baked many different breads, cakes and biscuits and so I thought to myself: How hard can a hot cross bun be to make? I also considered the more practical aspects of the hot cross bun situation if I made them myself - in that I don’t have to get out of bed as early and the editor could also enjoy a well-earned coffee and hot cross bun delivered to her in bed in the morning. Everyone wins with that arrangement!

Most people have a secret skill or hobby, and mine is baking. Seriously! I really enjoy baking breads, cakes, and biscuits and I rarely receive complaints from the people consuming the end product and often they will reminisce at a later date about a much earlier bread, cake, or whatever. On the other hand I’m a dilettante because I’ve rarely put much effort into the art of baking. You see, the truth is that the hours that bakers work, really never appealed to me as a possible career option. But there is also a darker side to my baking hobby because when I lived in the inner city of Melbourne I was surrounded by many of the finest boutique bakeries in the entire city, and it was really weird but, many of those same bakeries used to occassionally provide me with additional free quality produce along with my purchases! It was uncanny and I was totally spoilt. Alas such days are in the past now and don’t help me because despite my best wishes, there appear to be no hot cross buns to be enjoyed at the local café!
The author kneading the hot cross bun mix on the kitchen bench. Note more tomatoes are in the background!
I took the recipe for the hot cross bun mix from a very classic cook book: “Cookery the Australian way – Third edition (1980)”. That cook book was obtained during my high school home economics class, which in hindsight I wish now that I’d perhaps paid a little bit more attention to! Still, with a fundamental dish to prepare, it often pays a cook to refer to a fundamental cook book and that book is a classic which was written in 1966 and is still in print today... Mind you, I wasn’t entirely happy with some of the proportions of the ingredients that they specified in the recipe, so I made a few minor alterations. So, without further ado and I sincerely apologise to the Charlie Daniels Band who wrote and performed the most excellent song "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" I now apply a few alterations to their excellent lyrics…

The Devil went down to Cherokee. He was lookin' for a soul to steal.
He was in a bind 'cause he was way behind. He was willing to make a deal

The hot cross bun mix left to rise in a baking dish before being baked in the oven
I’ve never made hot cross buns before and they ended up being very tasty (after a few minor experiments). The six hot cross buns in the photo above were of a perfect size and consistency (for those that are technically inclined I used a kitchen scale to ensure the evenness of the buns), but unfortunately they were all consumed by guests today before I had a chance to even get a photo of the finished result.

When he came across this young man bakin’ buns and playin' it hot.
And the Devil jumped upon a eucalypt stump and said "Boy, let me tell you what."

An earlier batch of freshly baked and glazed hot cross buns. Oh, they’re good!
One lesson that I have learned from producing hot cross buns is that they are tasty because they contain useful amounts of fat, sugar and spice (and all things nice!). Certainly that is a good thing and anyway, I always cook with quality ingredients as life is too short to be consuming rubbish food. Observant readers will note two things in the above photo: Firstly, we can play the game where is Poopy?; and secondly you may notice even more tomatoes!

"I guess you didn't know it, but I'm a baker, too.
And if you'd care to take a dare I'll make a bet with you.
Now you make a pretty good fruit bun, boy, but give the Devil his due.
I'll bet a fruit bun of gold against your soul 'cause I think I'm better than you."

Actually from here onwards let’s call the hot cross buns by their actual name which is technically a "fruit bun" as the Devil probably would be very uncomfortable with the name “hot cross bun” due to its religious overtones. Anyway, by now you the reader are probably thinking that living on a farm during Easter is all about baking and eating fruit buns, but you would be completely incorrect in that assumption unless of course you are a dog and the weather had turned cooler and outside conditions were sub fluffy optimal.
Poopy and Sir Scruffy enjoy the gentle heat provided by the wood heater, whilst fruit buns slowly bake away inside the wood oven
All that firewood that the dogs are enjoying does not make itself, and the editor and I finally filled the very last storage bay with another long day of chopping, splitting and hauling firewood. I’ve mentioned on the blog before that I have absolutely no idea how much firewood I use in any one year. This year I am absolutely determined to discover just how much firewood is required for a year and knowing that metric will help me properly manage this sustainable fuel source well into the future.

The boy said, "My name's Chris, and it might be a sin,
But I'll take your bet; and you're gonna regret 'cause I'm the best there's ever been."

The final stage of firewood hauling for the year was completed after another very long day chopping, splitting and hauling firewood
One of the interesting things about processing trees which were felled many years ago so as to produce firewood, is that the process produces a huge quantity of excess organic material (comprising of bark and other fine materials). Regular readers will know by now that I loathe waste. All of that excess organic material was moved this week into the orchard and I used it to fill in holes left from giant trees which have fallen to the ground well before any of us reading this blog were even born. I also add compost on top of the excess organic material too so that bacteria and fungi can assist with the process of breaking down that excess organic material.

Chris, risin’ up your mix and play your dough hard.
 'Cause Hell's broke loose in Cherokee and the Devil deals the cards.
And if you win you get this shiny fruit bun made of gold,
But if you lose the devil gets your soul.

Excess organic matter from producing the firewood was placed into a hole in the orchard and compost was added on top
One of my (edit: many) weaknesses is that I suffer from mechanical sympathy. However, the Devil could spare no mercy this week on the trusty old Honda push mower which has been used for the most appalling jobs on the farm and despite the fact that it is very long in the tooth and the aluminium case has even cracked slightly, that machine still keeps working hard.  And so the trusty old Honda push mower was used to break up the excess organic matter into much smaller pieces. Once the organic matter has been broken down into smaller pieces it has a huge surface area and the soil life will quickly convert it into quality soil which will then feed the fruit trees in the orchard. And perhaps with extra fruit on the fruit trees, I’ll then be able to make even more fruit buns?

The Devil opened up his case and he said, "I'll start this show."
And fire flew from his fingertips as he risined up his bowl.

The trusty Honda push mower which displays many war wounds reduced the pile of organic matter to a flat surface in quick time
The chickens provide a top coat to those now flat lumps of excess organic matter because I took several loads of their deep litter mulch from the chicken enclosure and threw them on top of the piles of excess organic matter.

And he pulled the dough across the bowl and it made an evil hiss.
And a band of demons joined in and it tasted something like this.

Several loads of chicken litter from the chicken enclosure were applied to the now flat mounds full of excess organic matter in the orchard
Easter is also a massive time for planting and pruning and over the past week the editor and I have probably spent about 60 hours combined working on the farm (including the firewood). Some of the paths had become impassable because the plant growth over the past few weeks had been that feral with the small amount of rain and the drop in the intensity of the UV.

When the Devil finished, Chris said, "Well, you're pretty good ol' son,
But sit down in that chair right there and let me show you how it's done."

The various paths here have become overgrown in a few short weeks because of the recent rain and reduction in UV
The pruning is a good opportunity to place any prunings that are edible into the chickens enclosure so that they can convert those edible plants into eggs. Yum! It is worth mentioning that eggs are a necessary ingredient in fruit buns…
The chickens enjoy recent prunings from edible plants
The prunings that were inedible were used as organic matter and fill on newer garden beds as food for the soil organisms.

The Devil bowed his head because he knew that he'd been beat.
And he laid that golden fruit bun on the ground at Chris's feet.

The prunings that were inedible were used as organic matter and fill on new garden beds as food for the soil organisms
Over the top of all of those prunings in the new garden bed, I added one cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) of a mix of compost and composted woody mulch. Into that mix I then planted a number of citrus fruit trees.
Compost and mulch were then laid on top of the prunings and citrus trees were planted into it
In case anyone was concerned about the ongoing welfare of the wallabies after last weeks blog showing just how destructive they can be, I can assure the concerned readers that they have since acquired a new taste for tomato leaves and stalks and were even nice enough to leave another calling card!
The wallabies have acquired a taste this week for tomato leaves and stalks. Note the token of the wallabies appreciation
It wasn’t all fruit buns because I have never before had access to so many tomatoes! Unfortunately, Easter was cloudy and I was unable to run the food dehydrator, due to lack of electricity generated by the solar PV panels and instead decided to produce passata (which is a form of bottled / canned tomato with salt).
Tomato Cam™ shows a feral jungle of tomato plants and fruit…
The harvested tomatoes were blitzed in the food processor. Don't feel sorry for them as there are plenty left to harvest!
The harvested tomatoes were blitzed in the food processor
And the result of the long process of blitzing, salting and bottling (and also don’t forget the long hot water bath for the bottles so that they seal properly) was 29 bottles of passata (5 of which are now in the freezer). We have grown so many tomatoes this year that we have the opportunity to try many different varieties of preserving methods and then observe how long each of those methods preserve the fruit.

Chris said, "Devil, just come on back. If you ever wanna try again,
I done told you once—you son of a bitch—I'm the best that's ever been."
And he baked!

The editor and I have had an ongoing disagreement which we would really appreciate being solved by you the reader. Yes, I’m asking all of you lot to pitch in and give us a hand with a plant identification because we’ve grown a fruit and we have no idea what it is! Anyway, here it is:
A mysterious round green fruit hanging from a vine – please ignore the very large yellow zucchini
As a hint the fruit may possibly be a round cucumber (Chris’s choice) or a melon (The editors choice). This one is a complex problem, so if you dare weigh into this debate, be prepared to provide evidence!

Oh, and again very serious apologies to the The Charlie Daniels Band – I hope they don’t come and get me!

The temperature outside now at about 9.30pm is 10.3'C degrees Celsius (50.5'F). So far this year there has been 114.8mm (4.5 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total 110.6mm (4.4 inches).

86 comments:

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

That was an ominous title this week.

I often wonder why it is the little things that seem so bad. Big bad and one gets on with it, no option. Getting up early ugh! and then finding the place didn't have the buns is really horrid.

We had a huge storm last night winds of 100 miles an hour. With that and the clocks going forward, I didn't wake till 10 am and have been playing catch up ever since.

Have never made hot cross buns but I can fully imagine the taste yum yum. On the whole it isn't worth baking stuff that really needs to be eaten fresh when one is on ones own. I can buy some reasonable ones.

That fruit looks as if it might be the result of some cross pollination.

@Pam We do get hailstones but I have been lucky insofar as I have not had large ones here.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Eh gads! What a productive week you've had. All the usual, and a fine bit of tune smithing and adventures in baking, to go along with it.

Speaking of baking, I picked up the Culinary Institute of America's book and DVD: "Baking Pastries and Deserts." Took me watching a couple of episodes before I trigged to the fact that the chef was concentrating on technique ... the mechanics and handling of the stuff. If you wanted the actual recipes, you had to refer to the book. That made a lot of sense. Concentrate on what he's doing.

I'm roaring through Bryson's "Notes From a Small Island" (1996) as ... "The Road to Little Dribbling" is waiting for me to pick up at the library. He talks a lot about what it was like to arrive in England, 20 years, before. What it's like, as he takes a last look around, before moving to America. And, the next book will be about a return to England, 20 years later. He raves a lot about "bad" change. The loss of the hedgerows. Plunking down modern architectural abortions in the middle of historic areas ... or, just bull dozing them away.

Well, we lost the power, again, yesterday. Third time in two months. It was about one in the afternoon, when a bit of a hail storm came through. Nothing to write home about. About the size of rock salt and didn't much cover the ground. No wind to speak of. And, the power went out. I got right through to the PUD, and the nice man said he'd get a crew out. I walked down to the end of my landlord's driveway, so I could see around the slight bend in the road. A cross bar on a pole was knocked askew, and I could see a line down. Power was restored about 6.

Pity the guys had to come out on an Easter Sunday. "I was just sitting down to my Easter ham, when ..." Well, I'm sure they get paid well for it. More power to them. When I got up this morning, there was a highway sign in front of my place "One lane road ahead" and I could hear the chain saws merrily buzzing away. Maybe that will take care of the problem. I really wonder how stable that slope, is? If it came down, no problem getting out the other end of our loop. But, I bet the power would be out for a few days.

We're supposed to have glorious weather, this week. Oh, dear. I'll have to work out in the yard :-). Lew

Damo said...

I hear you about early starts. For some reason, probably the decision of an accountant, we do 12hr shifts which means waking up at 5am :-( this gets a bit tiresome by day 6 or 7, and there is no hot cross bun waiting for me either (although I admit the FIFO co-workers sometimes bring me treats from the camp kitchen).

To go slightly off topic, am I right to assume you keep the chooks locked up most of the time?

Time is inevitably marching forward, tomorrow I am back at work for my last swing (that is, a 9 day 'week') before we leave Zeehan and Tassie. Excited and forlorn. Some more details and photos of a recent trip to my local west coast beach can be found here: http://zeehanmanse.blogspot.com.au/2016/03/selling-up-and-final-trip-to-trial.html

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

Love your firewood -- truly a thing of beauty. I've been splitting firewood at the weekend, and have come to appreciate how hard it is to split knotted hardwood. I have an old piece of redgum that's grain looks like frizzy hair. It resists splitting quite well!

You can't beat home-baking straight out the oven. My wife made "crossless-HCBs" (which must win some sort of prize for redundancy in title) leading up to Easter, which were fantastic.

We have grown some similar melons, but I'm not sure that ours are quite like yours. We initially thought they were cucumber melons, but when they ripen they look and smell just like a rockmelon. They don't taste like one though -- they are less sweet and tasty. there's also another taste in there that I can't quite put my finger on, but to me is a little unpleasant when eaten alone. However, they go fine if skinned/seeded and included in a salad. We thought they might be a variety of cantelope -- I'm fairly sure ours aren't cross-pollinated (we didn't collect the seed ourselves -- I think it's from Diggers).

Happy Easter/Equinox to you,
Cheers, Angus

foodnstuff said...

Could it be a choko, Chris?

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

I like to bake and flatter myself that I'm pretty good at it. My grandmother used to make sweet rolls, which might be something like your fruit buns if they had cinnamon but no fruit in them. They were delicious and I could never get enough of them when she baked them. I have only tried to duplicate them a few times and didn't do too bad a job, but they do require lots of fat and sugar. Between that and the usual demands on my time, I don't bake much these days. Mike makes bread (differently than the way I bake it), cornbread, and biscuits. I bake carrot cake and brownies, both very good if I do say so myself, and have had decent success with pies.

Nice twist to a classic song!

With spring now upon us, I have finished pruning and tree planting (pawpaw seedlings this year). Tomorrow I begin work on the pea bed.

Caryn said...

Hi Chris, Happy Easter to you and The Editor; My condolences on the hot cross bun scandal!
After a few solo attempts at my own fresh bread baking, then watching your video, (Many thanks for that!!) we did here come up with some delicious hot cross buns for Easter. They're always scarce in the cafes and markets here in HK as well. So nice to make our own and eat FRESH & hot!

Loved your musical rendition too. :)

I've backtracked through your more recent entries but cannot find a soap-making discussion. Is it there and I'm just not finding it? Or yet to come? I just made a 'bad' batch, way too soft. I had to dig it out of the mold and ball it up like bath-bombs, but when I washed the residue off of my hands - it lathered nicely, cleaned clear and smelled GORGEOUS. Not sure it was such a disaster now. The fun seems to be that I never know what I'll get.

That little green mystery fruit looks to me like a Feijoa (pineapple guava), but I suppose that would be doubtful, unless you can explain some cross seeding from South or Central America. If it is a feijoa, you're really in luck. It's a delicious fruit. I used to work for a farm that made smoothie ice-cream bars from it. Is it growing on a bush? Did it happen to have flowers like this?

http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/13877/5-or-6-reasons-to-grow-pineapple-guava

I guess when it grows and you can cut it open, we'll find out, eh?

Cheers,

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

The ducks would be seriously enjoying themselves in your forest / swamp ecology! For the sake of the trees, I do hope that it dries out a bit. Is the sort of winter that you have just had a normal winter? It sounds as though you have had quite a lot of rain.

No worries, and many thanks for the author recommendation as I had wondered about his writings. I did rather suspect that he had a dark mind given his proclivities for getting into trouble.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

You are so very correct about the blackberries, because it is impossible to remove all of the root systems, and the cheeky plant twines its root systems around that of other plants so it is very sturdily anchored. Still, one must try, although to be honest, the plant and I will come to some sort of happy arrangement over the long haul. ;-)! You are absolutely correct in that they will come back in a years time.

Hehe! Yeah, the trickle down theory sounds good if you are at the top of the food chain. That one leads into the much quoted "a rising tide lifts all boats", although I would add that a tsunami smashes pretty much everything in front of it. Entropy takes all of the boats out eventually. I often wonder whether the economics profession is man enough to review all of their predictions in the cold light of day?

Maybe, I can't taste the stuff and I didn't look into the recipe for the cross. Oh yeah, the glaze on the buns contains the most sugar, whilst the buns themselves don't contain that much more than a foccacia. I reckon the taste is predominantly from the mixed spices which are really tasty. Although I picked up additional mixed spice from the market spice huy today and it tastes closer to a mild curry, so I'm wondering whether he misheard me? Dunno, I'm not sure I'd try mild curry in a hot cross bun. It would certainly confuse people wouldn't it?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Steve,

That is really very interesting and I appreciate that. I'd previously made apple cider vinegar, but it wasn't acidic enough to act like a white vinegar. Thanks for the tip about the vinegar mothers and I've read that some people in Europe carry them around with them. Please bare in mind that I am unsure exactly what a vinegar mother is and have never used one. Thank you for the link and I'll check it out over the next few days.

Thanks. Most visitors to the farm look horrified at the amount of physical labour that is done here. It is quite a shock to most people, although both the editor and I enjoy that aspect of the farm and find it to be very meditative and rewarding.

You are absolutely 100% spot on - no doubts about it. Allergies and creaky joints indicate to me a lack of fresh greens and other vegetable matter (and pulses) in your diet. They are all a rich source of anti-inflammatories. I could not imagine consuming a different diet now, although having said that, when we're off the farm (and haven't taken our own food) we eat whatever. Food that is heavy on the preservatives tends to give me a mild allergic reaction, and with the decline in quality of food produced, the use of preservatives is on the increase.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Steve,

Yeah, almost forgot. Spot on. Chickens need a hugely diverse diet and I take all sorts of food and soil chunks into their enclosure for them to eat, plus who knows what they eat in the orchard (including frogs). The problem with feeding them grain all the time is that it is easy to obtain that feed stock so people often forget to feed them the other things.

Ha! Thanks, but no it was not a restful Easter and a visitor chewed up half a day yesterday whilst I showed them around.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Evil genius chuckle!!!! I was throughly enjoying being silly with this blog entry and at one point during the editing process, the editor and I were giggling uncontrollably at the sheer silliness of it. I believe at one point in the process she said something along the lines of: "You idiot!" It was said in an endearing manner, rather than a disparaging manner.

Absolutely, it was a double trouble problem. The indignity of the early morning and the lack of proper victuals was a real issue.

Oh my, that is some seriously strong wind. Stay safe. I do hope all of the trees are firmly anchored into the ground and I worry a bit for you because of the very wet soils. Yes, losing an hours sleep is not good and a little bit disorienting. Has the storm passed yet?

That is quite true. I've found that things I bake at home have a very short shelf life as I just don't load the mix up on any preservatives (other than a pinch of salt for taste). You are very lucky to be able to purchase quality bakery goodies. It is a very long way to the nearest bakery here (about 6 miles).

I reckon Angus has gotten the closest guess so far of anyone - he even picked where I may have possibly purchased the seeds from! I reckon it may be a heritage melon, but honestly unless I cut the fruit open I have no idea.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thank you! It was a very busy week. Baking adventures in the eighth dimension? :-)! Oh how I enjoyed being silly with that blog entry. It was an awesome song too. They were the same band that wrote and performed the duelling banjos song which is another good bit of music.

I didn't mention this in the blog, but the visitors turned up yesterday and it went about as expected. My mate brought up some beers which was a good thing and well received, but the visitors brought only thanks, which isn't quite the country way and certainly not how I would conduct things. By the end of the visit, they looked a bit shell shocked at the sheer complexity of the place and the volume of work. My gut feeling is that people tend to view the world as if things are disconnected, when in fact the opposite is true and everything works as a system and people get overwhelmed when faced with that internal conundrum. Dunno, but I've seen the same deer in the headlight expression on a lot of people now.

That is a clever approach for a DVD on cooking. Have you picked up any hints and tips on the technique that you would like to share? I'm reading "Cooking Dirty" and I'm very uncertain whether I could share many of the authors hints and tips here!!! :-)! It is a good book though and very gritty.

You know I kind of felt sorry for Bill with that "Notes from small island". I mean he was clearly an anglophile and his wife wanted to move over to the US and it all looked rather sad and so he concentrated on the things that annoyed him. There was one quote about a train journey and someone using their nose as a fast food outlet that for some strange reason stuck in my imagination. Some things you can't un-read! Thanks for that one Bill. Anyway, I'd be very interested to hear your review of his latest book. Oh, I've been trying to track down a copy of A Walk in the Woods too as I'm looking forward to watching it at some stage in the future.

Your PUD is pretty quick with restoring the power. It is funny you mention the hail, but I was trying to buy a couple of heavy duty cardboard boxes today on my trip into the big smoke and I found that the heavy rain (an inch) a couple of weeks out had flooded the supplier when their roof leaked and so there were no boxes to be had as they turned into mush. Not a very resilient roof (perhaps it was intended to be an efficient roof?).

Oh yeah, to be on call on Easter Sunday. That would be some good rates to earn. I worked some client stuff on Good Friday that was urgent which was quite good because it drizzled the whole morning. I'm at the point in time in the year where it rains a lot but I don't actually get that much rain. At least it is starting to look green here now (not in the plains below though).

I'm genuinely impressed that you have had record breaking rainfall and no landslides of any consequence. That is a good thing, so hopefully the slope doesn't let go and take the power out with it...

Haha! No sympathy here sorry mate! Hehe! Enjoy your sunshine. It has been cloudy here for almost a week now. I may have to put up some new solar panels...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Yeah - nah! Hehe! It was most likely an economist pushing for increased labour productivity? Anyway, 12 hour shifts probably keep FIFO workers mostly out of trouble - which is probably part of the real reason.

The chickens have to be kept under lock and key behind quality steel for most of the day because they would be eaten in under an hour if I didn't do that. Honestly, Scritchy the dog is at risk from the massive wedge tail eagles that soar over the mountain range. Then there are the feral cats, dogs, foxes - you name it everything eats chicken. The chooks have a hen house with an attached covered over run which has deep litter mulch). If you get a chance have a look back at the blog from last July / August (2015) and you can see the run being constructed.

The photos on your blog are amazing. The west coast of Tasmania is a beautiful part of the world. I've added your new blog to the blog roll list here.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus, foodnstuff, Claire and Caryn.

Thanks for the lovely comments, however I have run out of time this evening to reply and promise to reply tomorrow morning.

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

What a fun and entertaining read!! Sounds like you are an accomplished baker. How disappointing to get up early and find they had run out of the hot cross buns. I only bake from time to time now since finding out that eliminating gluten makes my digestive system much happier. There are some flour mixes out now that work well. My husband's blood sugar is a bit too high as well and he doesn't need to be tempted either.

I am constantly amazed at what you and the editor accomplish around the farm. My husband did some wood splitting over the last few days in preparation for for next year. His is not so neatly stacked as yours. Much of it is outside though we have a small shed that he stores some in. Right now we believe a raccoon has taken up residence there unfortunately. As it's too early for planting much yet (and now too wet) I've been clearing out the brambles as well - a never ending job. The greens under my tunnel are finally up but growing very slowly. It's been fairly cold and also quite cloudy lately.

Margaret


thecrowandsheep said...

Hi Chris,

Is the fruit a Richmond River Green Apple (cucumber)?

Cheers

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi, Chris!

Ooh! The title was so scary that I was almost afraid to proceed!

It is indeed a sober - no, can't be sure about that - occasion, the making of hot cross buns. Just look at the solemn expression on the baker's face. And it is not good to drool over one's laptop . . . I gather that there is now a new year-long Easter tradition at Fernglade Farm? Poopy and Sir Scruffy are so decadent! Shall we assume that there were no excess fruit buns for them? Poopy looked like he was in an oven in the "Where's Poopy?" picture.

I must say that I like the Cherokee version of CDB's devil song much better. And I loved the way that you sprinkled your verses among the post. It just about did me in!

What a complete tomato invasion! Is the harvest enough over that a few wallaby attacks won't matter? I am glad to see your food processor. It looks to be a very manageable size.

I have sympathy for your mechanical sympathy. So - you are running the push mower back and forth over the excess organic matter? That's what we do with our push mower, though we just run it over the 20 trillion fall leaves and small sticks and such. It can't be used for heavier stuff as we depend on it for mowing the grass, etc., as well (and it's not very robust).

It looks like a small, unripe watermelon. Sadly, that is the size of ripe watermelons in our garden.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

Oh, and the push mower has a bag attachment, too, which can be very handy for collecting chopped up stuff as it's mowed and dumping it immediately where needed.

Pam

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

We have been lucky, only small bits of dead stuff has come down. One neighbour had a huge tree down on his electrics but the company came out quickly to re-connect him. 'It's an ill wind...' Son's phone has been going almost nonstop from people who have lost roof tiles or fences.

No it has not been a normal winter. Much more rain and much warmer than usual. Actually there may not have been more rain, it was probably the incredibly wet summer that caused the problem. Usually the water table would have gone down before the winter wet but not this time.

No I can't really get good bakery anywhere, everything is full of preservatives even if it tastes okay. I do almost all my own baking with no preservatives at all. A pinch of salt in bread, otherwise it has an odd sweet flavour.

Out shopping today, I picked up a bottle of olive oil (I only use that and butter)and then realised that it was in a plastic bottle. I placed it back in horror, surely oil and plastic is a no no!

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

@Inge:

You do have such terrible storms! I am glad that you have ducks for friends; who else would visit you in such conditions?

Ah - but it inspired Chris to become the regional, perhaps national, fruit bun expert!

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Steve:

Thanks for the vinegar info.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Chris:

We have all sorts of interesting fruit and veg pop up in the garden from composted kitchen waste.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Chris:

I reckon that you did your mate a favor and gave those folks a lesson in life's realities. Well done, you! Now - you don't have to do it again.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

Thank you for more corn info. I have just ordered sorghum seeds, so I may not have room for corn this year. I had forgotten that you like maple syrup as much as I do - boy, I have to hold myself back!

You were able to talk to a REAL human at your power company?! We only have recordings. And advice to check their website, during a power outage.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Caryn:

Thanks for asking about soap again. I had printed out the original post, but there were a couple of addendums that I couldn't remember: Lew - did you mention making it in glassware? And, Chris, when to put in the scent?

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

The mild curry in a bun of some sort sounds intriguing. I made curried potatoes last night.

"Proper victuals"! He he! Our nearest bakery is 10 miles away, if you don't count the horrible one 8 miles away.

Pam

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, that's the last you'll see of that visitor. And, nothing in hand? What a bore. I must admit, the first few months I was here, I'd tackle something and would be overwhelmed and think "I can't do this. It's just too hard. It's beyond me I'm not strong, enough." A voice in my head. But, not my voice. So, I sat down, and without getting too specific, figured out where in my past that voice was coming from. And, decided "I'll show you!" :-). Oh, it still shows up, from time to time. But, it just doesn't have the power, it once did. Pretty easy to shrug off and get on with ... whatever.

How to explain the cooking video? Well, he'll start off with a basic cookie (biscuit) dough ... and here's 8 different ways to treat it, to get 8 different baked goods. Or, "Here's what happens with this mixture if you put whole eggs in it ... you get this. If you put in just yolks, you get that. White's only? It's something completely different." Gosh, the man probably had a flow chart, when he laid out this course :-).

Useful tips? Well, sifting stuff together has always been ... difficult. Sifters are hard to clean, and no matter how much attention I pay to them, the next time I go to use them, they've usually got some grunge on them I missed, or, they're at least dusty. So, what does our chef do? He just grabs a fine wire strainer, and uses that. I've got plenty of those ... and, they're easy to clean. Another tip? When you're heating something on the stove that might scorch (low and slow is the way to go), if it's an egg mixture, or milk mixture ... if the recipe, later on has sugar in it, put some sugar in the mix on the stove. For some reason, sugar helps keep the mixture from scorching. Another good thing about the video, is he shows you exactly what a mixture should look like, at different stages. The gloss. Can you start to see the bottom of the bowl at a certain point?

Another thing I like about it is, even though he has a wizard, industrial mixer, at hand, he's not a slave to the machine (A Viking brand.) He does use the machine at certain points, but if he can do it by hand, he does. Or, he'll do it by hand and say "Or, you can use the machine." And, the pros and cons of doing so.

I finished the Bryson book (the 20 year old one), last night. Yes, I remember the scene on the train. And, I laughed out loud, which I don't do too much of when I'm reading :-). Yes, I don't think Bryson was all that keen on moving back to the States ... but he only mentioned family pressure a time or two. That the family was agitating for a move to "the land of malls" and a couple of other things, I can't remember.

In general, I think Bryson has a real affection for the English people. Sure, he pokes a bit of fun. But he does the same thing, no matter where he travels. I must say, what I found admirable, about him, is, when he comes unglued at someone ... is an absolute prat about something. He usually feels deeply ashamed and apologizes and tries to make things right.

Let's see if I can explain this next bit, right. He was looking for what makes English town and villages, distinctive. And, at one point he said, that sometimes, it was like a deck of playing cards ... as far as the chain stores go. Shuffle the deck and you get the same department stores, book chains, druggists. Maybe they create a bit of nice ambiance, but they're not distinctive. You could be anywhere.

The Youpon seeds arrived, yesterday. I'm going to start one pack, inside, and prepare a bed outside, for the other pack, for when the weather gets warmer. The Shitake mushroom kit should arrive, today. Given the vagaries of the postal system. Humming bird feeders are up, but although I've heard the little guys, they haven't found them, yet. Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

Thanks! Twisted grain is very hard to split, I hear you. Fortunately the trees here seem to have a straight grain so it is mostly easy to split them. By the way I use an electric 7 tonne log splitter which saves a whole lot of work. Even then there are logs that it will not split.

It certainly does win! crossless-HCBs sounds like some sort of rare electronics component.

Well done! The seeds most certainly did come from the Diggers Club - who do a great job of preserving and distributing heritage and rare fruit and vegetable seeds and seedlings. Thanks for the feedback too. Time will tell then.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi foodnstuff,

Chokos have a sort of warty looking skin rather than the smooth skin of this ... thing. Hey, whilst we are discussing chokos be aware that there is a similar looking seed pod which grows feral in Melbourne called Bladder weed. They look really similar but the bladder weed is much lighter than a choko which is quite dense.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

With your background in science, I'd reckon that you'd be an excellent baker! The editor who has a background in biology keeps reminding me about reproducability factor with recipes. :-)! I'm a bit more slapdash really.

Your grandmothers sweet rolls sound very tasty and I bet the house smelled lovely when they were baking away in the oven. That is an excellent selection of baking products. Cooking really is an art form don't you reckon?

Thank you. :-)! I took the silly factor to 11 with that one.

Paw paw - very impressive. I'll be very interested to read how they go over the year. I planted a new tea camellia yesterday along side the earlier one which seems to be bouncing back a bit from the heat shock of summer.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Caryn,

Happy Easter to you and yours too. It is a total scandal. The disappointment factor was huge. Still one must learn to roll with the punches (as they say).

Very nice to hear. Some Asian countries have amazing bakery traditions. Thailand I've found uses a bit of rice flour which makes things taste a bit sweet. However, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam know there way around bakery products and I always appreciated the french loaves being sold from the baskets of bicycles.

Thank you. I enjoyed the sheer silliness of it all.

Do a search for the words Soap it's basic. You're on the right track if the soap felt smooth - maybe the humidity in HK means the soap needs to cure longer?

Sorry, no cigar. I have 3 pineapple guava trees - they grow very well in this corner of the planet and people use them for hedges in Melbourne (I used to pick from them ;-)!) Tasty fruit.

Exactly, when it looks as though it has stopped growing, we'll cut it open and find out.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

Glad to read that you enjoyed the silliness. It was a lot of fun to write.

Thanks, I bake from necessity and you end up getting a lot of practice. Working with the various ovens here (there are four different oven choices - seriously) forces a person to get a feel for the baked products. The replacement electric oven after the outside one broke (but will be repaired) is the bizz.

It was a total travesty of justice!

Of course the gluten factor is not so good for you. Have you ever considered growing a small patch of grains for your own consumption. The industrial grains do have a lot of the oils removed from them and that may not assist you digestion of the end product. I'm told that the old school grains were very tasty, but didn't really have a long shelf life which is why the oils are removed. Yes, well, fruit buns are probably not good for ones blood sugar levels...

Thanks. Well, the neater the firewood is stacked the more you can store. On the other hand if I was splitting in early spring then I'd probably leave the firewood a little bit messier to get some decent warm airflow through the pile (snakes can be a problem for that down here too, so the necessity for neatness has practical advantages). I'd imagine a raccoon would have strong opinions about being disturbed?

Yeah, brambles are a nuisance in the garden. I love the fruit, but will grow only the thornless varieties here. It has been cloudy here too - which is really unusual. Three years ago the temperature the other day was apparently 37'C (100'F). Go figure, but welcome to the future of extreme climate uncertainty - looking outside it is like early winter right now.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi crowandsheep,

Eden seeds are good! That was my thought too, but the stripes on the fruit here are dark (the cucumber had light stripes) and the skin is smooth - the vine however looks the same. Dunno. Thanks.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Hehe! Yeah, I was scared too - by the lack of hot cross buns! Hehe! :-)! Oh, the silliness, I can't tell you how much I was having writing that one. Glad that you proceeded!

Absolutely 100% sober. Proper baking deserves full concentration especially when a new recipe is being tested. Well Poopy drools when yummy things are being concoted in the kitchen and that is an unpleasant side effect of the baking process. Be careful with the laptop! Pah! Fruit buns are way too good for the likes of them - well, they did get a little bit each purely for testing purposes. They're tough critics you know! Oh we've descended into the world of silliness again. :-)!

Poopy was actually sprawled across Sir Scruffy's sleeping bed. He is actually a very large dog who spent the morning chasing kangaroos and is now sound asleep again. It's a dogs life.

Thank you very much for that. At one point during the editing process, the editor and I were laughing so hard and I even had tears. Fun times.

The wallabies are excluded from that tomato patch by the sapling fence. A very small wallaby broke into the enclosure early in the season and caused quite a bit of damage, but we got onto that problem straight away.

You wouldn't believe this, but that food processor is over 20 years old now and it still goes strong and the blades are very sharp (I sharpen them from time to time).

Mowing up the fall leaves is a great idea to speed up the soil building processes. The fall leaves disappear here within two weeks and it would be very interesting to have a time camera to see exactly what happens to them (it might be a bit scary though). Yeah, the Honda has a catcher too (The catcher in the herbage - anyone? Apologies for that poor literary joke) but I just let everything fall where it does because I bring organic matter in by the trailer load (plus the catcher would fill up really quickly).

It could be. It is interesting that you are growing any watermelons (albeit small ones). I'm going to give some thoughts to melons, pumpkins etc for next summer (more on this later).

Yeah, it can be quite amazing what volunteer plants turn up round the place. Sometimes they can be plants that you never would have thought of growing. I get a lot of them from litter removed from the chicken enclosure. There is actually a pumpkin growing in the orchard right now which originated from the chicken litter.

Thanks. It is really hard letting people down gently (it is actually a skill in my profession and a recurring theme). My thinking on the matter is that if people are struggling getting off the couch, there is little I can do to assist them. In between all the fun and silliness here there is a lot of hard work, failures and observations which go on and that can be a hard concept for people to grasp.

Yeah, absolutely, the fruit bun would taste exactly like curried potatoes (yummo meal by the way). I believe the Indian name for that dish is Aloo (potato) Gobi. Oh there is a place in the city which does that dish very well. Yum! One of my favourites.

Ha! Well, you get to know the local bakeries - and I hear you. Without naming names, one of them around here has bread which has a mildly fishy taste and I could never understand how that worked, so I stopped buying bread from them.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Glad to hear no large trees came down in the wind storm. The wind is natures pruning tool in a forest. It's an ill wind indeed! Very nice. Your son sounds handy and that assistance really must strengthen the local social ties. I do hope that his assistance is appreciated. Down here, I help out in those conditions - because it is good to do so - but a lot of those assistance activities / responsbilities are offloaded onto the local firebrigade and/or state emergency service. It always struck me that such an arrangement is one that has no long term legs and I've wondered about that because a lot of the population up here in this end of the mountain range are getting older, but those same people are not investing in links into the local community. Property prices are shutting out younger people and families which is a bad thing for the local community. It is a very odd situation indeed and I do hope that I'm not the last man standing up here - that would not be a good thing.

Of course, the flooding during summer kept the water table high. And they reckon down here that warmer winters are wetter winters - although I've seen a lot of variability so I just don't know, but it is a good rough guide.

Yeah, down here, there was a scandal a few months back where it was discovered that the term (and this does not relate to the local bakeries as far as I am aware) that apparently baked fresh daily referred to the process of putting dough in the ovens that had been made six months before in other countries such as Ireland. If I left a dough mix on the bench for more than half a day, it would begin to ferment... What a yuk concept.

Oh, I didn't know that. Olive oil here is usually sold in large tins or glass bottles (and I tend to purchase in bulk from Australian olive groves - and usually local ones too). I've seen canola oil and other food oils in plastic so I guess it depends what sort of plastic was used in the container.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Well, I'd be happy if they even thought to offer to bring something. I guess it all depends on whether there is an expectation of a longer term friendship too. They made a poor impression on that front. There, I've said it. It does sound a bit peevish to have to say that though. I wonder what has become of our societies concerns for the small niceties that smooth social situations. People seem to me to be so busy thinking they're owed something that they forget that they have to produce something in order to get something. If not they're just taking. I mean it is like when you took the blueberry crisp (yeah, that food story left an impression. Yum! :-)!) to the meeting and it gets enjoyed by other people who in turn bring other things. I'm starting to sound like an old curmudgeon...

Yeah, I've heard that voice too and it is hard at first to overcome, but then after a lot of experience it fades into the noisy background. Exactly! Whatever is the appropriate reply. Get thee to a nunnery, voice. Hehe!

Interesting. That really is a good idea with that video. Well, I didn't even know that people didn't put the yolk into a biscuit recipe. Speaking of the egg white only - do they make meringue in your part of the world? Yum! Flow charts! Oh, you've got me imagining just how crazy that flow chart would be. I reckon practice makes perfect with the art of cooking and the guy has probably put in countless hours in thankless kitchens. Reading Cooking Dirty, I'm really starting to get a solid appreciation for the work that people in commercial kitchens actually do on behalf of the public.

Is a sifter a device that sort of has a smoothing blade which forces finer materials through a mesh screen? Dunno. I've seen them but never used one, but if that is the case, that would be a total nightmare to clean. Yeah, I'd use the fine wire strainer too. Stainless steel is a good thing. Seeing the process at each stage makes replicating it much easier, otherwise who knows what the result may be. Most cook books ignore that and just assume a basic level of competence (not always a reliable assumption).

Just had to go and check the bread loaf in the wood oven. It has been cold and cloudy here the past week or so. The temperature has barely made it past 53'F. Brrr. What's going on with the weather? It is dry too, I even had to water the new trees today. How is spring going in your part of the world?

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Absolutely. That is so true as sometimes mixing things by hand is quicker and stronger than the usually appliances found in a home. A mate has kitchen aid mixer and the plastic gears break regularly (so as to protect the motor from overloading, I guess). I have a basic mixer and the blades have broken on it several times now, so mostly I just mix by hand. The 20+ year old food processor on the other hand is sheer genius as it blitzes things better than I ever could. Still, I'd hate to have to replace it.

Yeah!!! The story of that train ride was the funniest thing in the book. I felt for the guy as the currents of sorrow ran strongly in that book. Well, he enjoyed poking fun at us and our silly ways down here too. Bryson is a great writer who tells a delightful tale.

Well recognising a wrong and trying to correct it (or even acknowledge it) is a skill. So often I reckon we are taught to not say sentences such as: I'm not sure; Apologies for that; Excuse me for interrupting you etc... I see that all the time. For some strange reason people are taught to see basic manners as a weakness in an individual and that just seems strange to me. Anyway, what do I know? Sorry, I think I'm technically ranting...

Hmm, there does seem to be a dislike for diversity in our culture and perhaps that is what Bryson was expressing in his travels? All those chain stores may be efficient, but they certainly lack resiliency.

Good luck with your Youpon seeds and I'll be very interested to read how they go over the season. The shitake mushroom kit sounds very exciting. Yum! I love shitake mushrooms (I picked up a few paper bags full of them at the market yesterday). The unwinding of the postal service is a disturbing event. I hope that the hummingbirds enjoy their feeder.

Cheers

Chris

Damo said...

@Chris

I have read you chook run construction post and am in awe at how well it has all turned out. Whenever a strange bird flies overhead our chooks start making a warning chirp and head under the nearest fern. There is a nearby family of wedge tails, but luckily nothing has tried to get our chickens. Having said that, they do seem happier if we are out in the yard with them and you never know when they will choose to be happily scratching in the open, or hiding up the back under dense foliage.

I just figured your reasons were more to do with garden protection than predators.

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Pam - Yes, our PUD (Public Utility District) is full of live people you can talk to. :-). Although, they've recently put in a "phone tree". But it's simple, and works pretty good. Yes, soap should always be made in glass, or enamel ware that is in good shape. That stuff chips so easy! Of course, great granny used cast iron ... but had a dedicated soap kettle.

Yo, Chris - Oh, yeah. We have meringues, here. When I want to put on a bit of flash, I do individual lemon meringues. I think it's so ... thrifty, that the meringue part uses the egg whites, and the lemon pudding part uses up the yolks. I think you call them Pavlovas, down there.

Oh, I think spring has sprung. Spent most of yesterday in the yard. You how it goes. I wanted to load up some apple pruneings for a trip to the tip, but first wanted to get the hummingbird feeders, up in the apple trees. So, I hauled out the ladder. Since the ladder was out, I thought I'd reattach a clematis, to the trellis, that it had blown off of. Decided since I was going to the tip, that I might as well hack out the end of a bayberry hedge that was running wild. That's where the clematis, ended up. Parts had to be taken out with a saw. THEN, I got to the apple wood.

The hummingbirds haven't found the feeders in the apple trees, yet, but one little fellow found the one on the back deck, right outside my kitchen window. Right after sunset, last night, I could see him, in silhouette, against the pink clouds. Quit a picture.

These are sifters....

https://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images;_ylt=AwrSbnOZ6PtWYRwAef5XNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTB0NjZjZzZhBGNvbG8DZ3ExBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNwaXZz?p=flour+sifters&fr=aaplw&fr2=piv-web

I have a couple of real old ones. Like the picture of the one with the green handle. Now that know about the trick with the strainer, I can relegate them to the collection of archaic kitchen tat I have scattered around. :-)

LOL. The shitake kit, showed up, yesterday. In a box marked "Live item. Open within 30 days" . And, they didn't even poke holes in the box for air! :-). Haven't opened the box, yet. Still poking it with a sharp stick :-). Will probably get to it, this evening. The cost of mushrooms here, except for the little button ones, are horrendous (I think.) So, if I can pull this off, as with so many other things I can do from scratch, I always have the feeling (maybe take too much delight in?), "sticking it to the Man." :-).

Well, off to the Little Smoke. Not too many stops, today. Lew

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Inge:

I thought that the reason salt was added to bread was to slow down the rising process a bit, to get a better texture? That may only apply to sourdough, but yeast is yeast, isn't it?

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

Chris:

I wonder if the mildly fishy taste of that bread might have something to do with an oil used in it? I had some problem like that once, but can't remember which oil it was.

"The catcher in the herbage" - excellent!

I think that you can freeze bread dough. I know that you can refrigerate it for awhile with no harm done as I usually, just before I go to bed, put the dough in the pans to rise for their second time, put the pans in the refrigerator, and then take them out first thing in the morning to rise for several hours before baking. They rise a tiny bit in the fridge.

I still see a lot of good manners around here. The Old South prided itself on such civilized niceties (I know, while having the very worst of some other worlds - like slavery) and the custom of nice manners still seems to flourish. A male of any size, color, or age will still open a door for me in a public place.

Pam

Steve Carrow said...

Hot cross buns- My wife's favorite Easter tradition. Yes, the middling ones are easy to find, but the good ones even I like.

Wood splitting leftovers- Yes, lots of good organic material there. The dead elms I've been cutting down have the bark coming off in big sheets, so I run these through my BCS chipper/shredder attachment, and it makes great mulch/soil amendment for the fruit trees.

Haven't read the comments yet, but the mystery fruit looks melonish to me.

Yahoo2 said...

Great post, very entertaining!
As a comparison on the firewood I heat for about 55 days a year over 4 months and store about 4.5 cubic metres of stumps that is about 80 litres volume (roughly one stacked wheelbarrow)per day. The house is large and poorly insulated and the heater is too big, a smaller more efficient heater that burns longer and some smarter insulation and I think I could achieve the same level of comfort on about half that amount of timber. average outdoor temps for the 55 days Maximum 15.2 C minimum 5.1 C average 9.6 C. The most used areas of my home sit at 21- 23 C heated and takes 5 days to drop to 12 C if no one is home to stoke the fire.

As you have seen Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, contribute to the ADR blog comments and have a rural lifestyle. May I suggest some winter reading material.
http://www.epwt.net/mission/
EPWT is short for empowering the poor through waste transformation
The paper to read is "an unconventional way of raising pigs, chickens and cows". A 120 page pdf. You will find it!
it is a working document that is updated now and then with revisions of ideas and is specific to a tropical environment. it shows the potential of just one vision of what rural life could be if we stopped being complete morons and applied a tiny amount of practical thinking to our problems. It still makes me a bit emotional when I read parts of it.
Steve

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

I just saw an electrified barrow based on a Chinese single-wheel-barrow. I don't know if this would really work for your rock-moving cart, but it certainly suggests that such a thing is possible.

Apparently they were inspired by a no-tech-magazine article ;-)

I'll be interested to hear how the melons turn out!

Cheers, Angus



Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

Many thanks for the feedback about the chicken enclosure. A lot of thought went into that structure and the whole thing is made from recycled materials (although you wouldn't know it). There have been a few minor changes since it was completed: The internal door was removed as it was unnecessary; I've added a low pressure sprinkler in the run in case of fire; and the swing was removed and replaced by a 2m long solid reinforcing steel rod perch in the run.

Yeah, the chickens are very clever and often spot wedge tail eagles before I do. The chirrup is chicken talk for "predator - watch out". The eagles would eat them here, so you are very lucky to have had no losses. Many of my neighbours have not been so lucky with their chickens.

The chickens dig holes in the middle of the orchard so that they can dust bathe in different spots. I'm unsure whether neat gardens and chickens are compatible objectives. :-)!

Teamventure is on the side bar now in the blog! I don't get notifications of updates for Wordpress blogs so may miss them from time to time. Any particular reason you used Wordpress instead of Blogger?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Yum! Meringue is very tasty. You are clearly the superior cook because I've always had trouble with meringue. Lemon meringue is superb. I hadn't realised the thrift element of the meringue and lemon tart bit, but that make perfect sense and it is very wise. A lot of desserts are like that - Tiramisu comes to mind as it uses up stale old biscuits. Or one of my favourites: Bread and butter pudding. Yum! Although having said all that I really enjoy the American classic dessert: Key Lime Pie. But then fresh citrus is a no-brainer here as long as the wallabies keep off the fruit trees. Ha! Yeah, we do call meringue style desserts Pavlovas down here, it is a bit of a national dish. You know they sell the pavlova bases ready made in the supermarkets in boxes? I'm not sure I'm comfortable with people using the mock cream though as minimum standards have to be maintained! :-)!

I was in the big smoke last night and I had to wait a few hours for an appointment so I went to the cinema and watched The Big Short again. I really enjoyed the subversive nature of the film and I reckon it is now firmly fixed in my top 10 films. It is a big call, but well, you know whatever, I enjoyed it. Anyway, the film conforms with my overall worldview which tells me that people assume that business and government is conducted in a certain way when in fact they are both conducted on an entirely different basis. But then also the uncertainty creeps in that maybe it is merely confirmation bias, but then I don't doubt that my gut feelings and observations in that matter are incorrect. It is complex.

Nice to hear that you can get into the yard without the persistent rain. I hear you! Ha! That is funny, because I find that tasks unfold as one is completed the next obvious task becomes clear. Such a circumstance would definitely fail the flow chart test! ;-)!

That Bayberry plant is a very interesting plant and has a wide varieties of uses. Clematis is also a native creeper down here which is very prolific and springs up all over the place. It is a bit of shame really because the older forests used to contain a far wider variety of creepers than they do today. Nice to hear that you finally made it into the apple wood - I'd bet that the smoke from the apple wood would be very nice for smoking a fresh trout? Yum!

It is very thoughtful of you to provide feed for the birds and I find that it takes a long while for the different species to learn about the different sources of food and water in an area. Watching the bees closely this season has been very interesting and it will assist with feeding them in future years.

Those sifters are exactly as I remember them and I also recall that they were very hard to clean and the mechanism clagged up a bit with usage. The wire mesh/strainer is a much easier idea. You are lucky to be able to store that tat. I'm rapidly running out of kitchen space and storage and every time a new process is added, the entire system groans behind it (this I've found is a common occurrence). A proper farm/country kitchen back in the day must have been huge and quite the logistical challenge. I'm a little bit in awe of how they must have managed it back in the day - but I'm also determined to re-engineer the various processes too.

Ouch! The mushrooms are closer to humans than plants in that they breathe the air and exhale CO2. The last lot I got were supplied in a sealed plastic bag too... Having said that though, they did take. Out of curiosity, what do you mean by horrendous? Mushrooms at the market in Melbourne will set a person back about $8 - $10 per kilogram (2.2 pounds).

Enjoy your trip into the Little Smoke! I enjoyed the trip into the Little Smoke yesterday and even fell fast asleep on the train (something about the rocking motion of the carriage - anyway, that's what I'm claiming!) It is quite the shock to the senses to travel from here to arriving there and seeing all the people. Good fun though.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Sorry to intrude on that discussion, but I've always found that bread without salt is very bland tasting - but I also suspect that it acts as a mild preservative too. Dunno.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

I totally agree with you about the oil being the source of the fishy taste. It was consistent enough that I stopped purchasing bread there. A lot of palm oil gets used in industrial cooking these days and I loathe the taste of that stuff but the plant produces a very high yield of oil so it is widely grown in Asia and possibly responsible for some of the massive peat fires they had in Indonesia earlier this year.

Thank you, I do seek to entertain! Glad to read that you enjoyed my little joke.

Absolutely, you are totally spot on about refrigerating a bread dough mix and I have no problems with that at all. I was just a bit dodge about mixes prepared six months ago in another country on the far side of the planet as that concept seems very strange to me.

You know, in the distant past a lot of grains were produced around these parts as there are the most beautiful old solid granite grain mills dotted about the land to the north of here. One of them even included an old windmill. I don't see many people actually growing grains around here now. Grains are on my mind for a future project - I'm considering portable electric fencing for the grains? Dunno though. The sorghum sounds very interesting and very reliable for example.

Well, history is pretty brutal and down here, convicts were used exactly as slaves would be used. The Chinese lords sent their debt serfs down here too during the gold rush. And honestly, I see an awful lot of debt servitude nowadays and it is also not a good look.

I respect good manners and it warms my heart to read of a culture - despite having its faults - engaging in that practice. Nice stuff. My mother was wrong about many things, but there is certainly room in society for please and thank you's.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Steve,

The quest for the good hot cross bun is a worthy goal! And they're not easy to find down here either. Middling ones are a wasted fooding opportunity! Hehe!

That BCS chipper/shredder is a beast of a machine and would certainly earn its keep. I've never used a tiller before but know a local guy that has one. It is funny but down here the chippers are really expensive because most of the timber is hardwood. In fact, that is one of the reasons I purchase pre-chipped and composted woody mulch because the mob that produce the mulch from collected green waste has a chipper as big as an industrial feed line process - the thing is huge.

Thanks very much for the suggestion and that is my best guess too. Next year I'll be experimenting with attempting to grow melons here - I mean how hard can it be?

I've noticed you've written a new blog post tackling the whole GMO issue. I sort of side track those issues by not getting involved in the first place and working towards saving most of my own seeds.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Steve,

Thank you. It was very fun to write too.

Out of curiosity, what part of the world are you in? That sounds very temperate to me and almost like the sort of weather that one would feel in northern NSW? I don't know though, and apologise if you have already told me.

Yes, insulation works very well indeed. The house walls here have 200mm thick timber and are stuffed full of R3.5 (by the Australian measurements which are different to the US) insulation. There is also R3.5 under the timber floor boards. And the roof is well in excess of R6.0 (easily exceeds that).

Understood. As a comparison. I use firewood for about 6 months of the year and over July and August the outside air temperature during the day is somewhere around 8'C and the nights are usually about 2'C - 3'C. I personally feel a big difference between 2'C and 3'C for some reason. If the fire is not lit the house will drop to about 11'C - which is actually quite liveable (and it will drop back to that temperature within 2 days), but generally I heat the house to about 20'C, but not much more because the firewood usage goes up exponentially. Visitors are gifted with higher temperatures because it smooths the social environment.

Thanks for the link. Apart from plastic, I rarely saw much waste in Asia and pigs and fowl were kept everywhere. Having said that, I don't waste any organic material here either as every single scrap of the stuff ends up in the soil. Everything! I hear you because I am astounded by the sheer wastage of otherwise perfectly good materials in our society. I scared the visitors the other day by getting them to peer into the worm farm - and they were very surprised at how neutral the system smelled. It just doesn't have to be the way that things are.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

Thanks for that link. Every idea is valuable with that particular project. It looked like a lot of fun too!

Absolutely, I'll chuck a photo in of the fruit when it is finally cut open. Next year, I'll set an entire area aside for melons, cucumbers and pumpkins. Seeingany fruit is a total surprise to me.

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

Hi Chris,

I have thought about growing some alternative grain but, to be honest, I tend to take on too many projects and then some family emergency comes up (usually medical) and things fall apart. For example last August my sister, who is co-guardian of my brothers and deals with most of the day to day issues with the one who lives closer to her, had a major brain hemorrhage and ended up in ICU for almost a month. She has made a full recovery but it was touch and go for awhile. The day after that we moved my mother-in-law from our home to a senior living building where she was going to be able to get the assistance she needed when the time came. Well within a week she was in need of a 24 hour care giver. She now has moved to the care center in our town and has improved dramatically. But needless to say my garden kind of fell apart during that time. This isn't meant to garner sympathy but just to illustrate why I'm trying to reassess what I can realistically do as I'm not getting any younger. I'm fortunate that our family is mostly there for each other (well my side) and helps as much as they can. Both my husband and I are the oldest siblings so more tends to fall on us.

Regarding bread though, I would like to try making sour dough bread as I've heard that those who are gluten intolerant often do not have issues with that.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Oh, I don't think I'm a superior cook. I just get lucky, with certain things. The crown goes to you :-). I just don't get enough practice. Cooking for one is ... difficult. One falls into easy, hopefully healthy stuff. I was looking at my veg potage, last night and thinking "Gosh, that could be two meals." Kitchen organization is a science, and, probably a bit of an art. Kind of like cooking :-). I've got lots of drawers and cupboards, mostly full. A good culling is probably in order. I'm thinking of putting in a shelf, along one wall, up toward the ceiling.

Was just looking at my Currier and ives lithograph. "Bounty of the Season." Circa 1850s. A great pile of fruit. I'll have to whinge on about those, sometime. They were hand colored and were the media sensation of the 19th century. I keep it high up, and well away from the windows. Don't want the thing to fade.

Packaged meringues sound just ... wrong. Haven't seen any, here. Plenty of industrial pie crusts and pastries. Which I steer clear of. Baking meringues seem to always call for parchment paper. I find an old brown paper bag works just as well. Speaking of thrift, I picked up a book called "Make the Bread, Buy the Butter" (Reese). Fascinating and useful book. She does a cost benefit analysis of a myriad of different kitchen staples and goodies, rates how difficult it is, and provides a good recipe.

Yes. You think business and government work a certain way, and unless you pay attention, they turn out to work an entirely different way. Usually, to the detriment of the consumer. We've talked about all the hidden government outsourcing that goes on. Was just talking to the postie, about that. Our mail lady, is getting close to retirement. He's a rather cheerful young chap, who knows what he's doing. I knew there were two employee classifications, but there are actually three. Full time, permanent employees, contract employes, and on call temps. That's what he is. When the route opens, the contract employees (I really don't know what that is) "bid" the route. If no contract employees bid for the route, he'll get a shot at it, and become a contract employee. Does money change hands? Don't know.

Speaking of watching films twice, I've had a yen to watch "2012" (the ultimate disaster movie), but all our libraries copies had been worn out, or strayed. They just went on a jag of replacing older stuff, and I noticed "2012" is on the "new" list. I see an evening of popcorn, in my future. :-) Now, if they'd just get a copy of "Star Trek: First Contact", I'd be happy. They've got Star Trek, everything else, but, somehow, that one has slipped under the radar. If I put an interlibrary loan on it, they'll probably order some for the collection.

Cont.

LewisLucanBooks said...

Cont. I meant to say "Barberry." Which has medicinal uses. But, as with so many other things in the plant world, I don't know if I'd trust what I have. There are so many hybrids, with unknown qualities. And, gosh knows which one is growing in front of my place. I wouldn't mind having some bayberry around, but they're pretty much an East Coast, seashore plant. The clematis is a huge purple bloom, that came with the place. I noticed when I was re-attaching it to the trellis, that it's quit a tender plant. I almost lost it at one point. It's at one end of the porch, a bit under the eaves, and I don't think it gets quit enough rain. Also, when I was digging a bit around the base, I discovered a plastic garden fawn, that was also preventing water getting to the plant. Always a garden tat surprise, around here :-). So, I watered it well, talked to it, hit it with some worm juice and it came back. During the drought I was careful to make sure it got a couple gallons of water, every other day. I'd actually like one of the blue one's. Saw them, year before last ... missed it, and none last year. "He who hesitates ..."

Opened up the shitake kit, last night. LOL. It comes with a 12 page pamphlet of instructions ... with flow chart! I wouldn't say it's complicated ... just thorough. The Fungi Perfecti people want you to succeed. I found it particularly interesting that toward the end it says "When your kit has ceased fruiting, you can break it up and use the material to inoculate logs..." Something to plan ahead, for. REALLY get a lot of value out of my $26 ($36 with shipping) investment. Last time I looked, good mushrooms (chanterelle) were $10 a pound. I'll have to pay attention, next time I'm in town.

I did remember to check for hot cross buns, at our local Safeway, which has an in store bakery. I'd missed them. Oh, well, I'm probably better off trying to make my own.

That must have been disorientating to fall asleep on the train, and wake up in another world. I think I told you that back in the early 80s, when I moved here, I didn't go back to Portland for about 6 months. When I went, I drove downtown, got out on the sidewalk and wondered "Why are all these people running?" :-). All the advertising seemed very ... assaultive.

Picked up an interesting book at the library. "Prepper's Natural Medicine: Lifesaving Herbs, Essential Oils and Natural Remedies for When There Is No Doctor" (Cat Ellis, 2015). Seems she knows what she's about and I was particularly interested in the section that revealed that tinctures can be made by a "aceta" process, using vinegar, instead of alcohol. Something I had never run across, anywhere else. Given my history ... :-). This is a book I'll have to get for my herbal shelf. Tonight is the monthly "birthday" meeting at my local AA group. There will be cake! And, maybe Ice cream! :-). The cake is usually homemade. I hinted around to Kathy the Cake Lady, that lemon or orange would be nice :-).

Got Bryson's "The Road to Little Dribbling." Read a couple of chapters, last night. His usual, very funny self. Another tour around England, but he's trying not to retrace his steps and go to new places. There's very much an aura of "searching for his lost youth." Guess he didn't check behind the sofa :-).

Light duty, today. I'm just feeling a bit off my feed. A bubble off center. Digestion is fine. No aches or pains. All I can say is I feel ... heavy. Ungainly. Did I OD on garlic and ginger? :-).

Another sign of spring. Saw my first snake yesterday. Just a little fellow about 5 inches long and thinner than a pencil. For those who have just signed on to the Good Ship Fernglade Farm, we have no poisonous snakes here in the costal Paciffic Northwest. Lew

Damo said...

@Yahoo

Thank you for the link to that paper. I have only started on it, but was interested to read that 60% of poultry in Vietnam is still smallholder free-range. The rest, unfortunately, is indoor factory farmed with the use of antibiotics, animal cruelty etc. I expect that Laos, being so much poorer and rural based will be even higher, perhaps there are no factory/industrial style farms at all (something I plan to investigate once I get there).

I find it interesting the paper seems to advocate keeping poultry and pigs indoors, and at stocking densities that seem quite high - at least compared to backyard poultry (3 birds per square metre). I understand this is for waste capture purposes, but it still seems like factory farming by another name to me.

Is perhaps part of the problem the disconnect of trying to fit a square peg (cheap, readily available meat, which by definition requires high stocking density methods) into a round hole (long term sustainability and high degrees of animal welfare)? Or maybe I am being too harsh? It certainly sounds like an improvement on the current system.

Damo said...

@Chris

I have seen certain breeds of sheepdog (Mareema?) being used to guard chickens from foxes and eagles. Apparently if they grow up with the birds from puppies they bond and don't want to eat them! Your method is probably easier, and prevents more excessive garden destruction as well.

RE: wordpress vs blogger. The management interface is much slicker and the page stats are more accurate for wordpress. There are also a lot of add-ins and themes available. Overall, it seemed a more suitable option for a photo-themed blog. There is also the tiny chance that google decides to kill blogger, it hasn't received updates in a long time. Be sure to backup and export on a regular basis!

Damo said...

@Angus

Isn't that no-tech magazine great? I find the in-depth articles fascinating (I just read the chinese wheelbarrow article)! Our society can sometimes think of the past as a few people scratching around in the dirt, but those articles show you the industrial scale of that some older technologies can be scaled (30-40000 windmills in the low countries in the 15th century).

Yahoo2 said...

I am in South Oz. I would class the winter here as changeable. I get 4-5 winter days where the mornings are close to zero and the wind chill and drizzle is severe then ten days of lighter winds and the temp doesn't get below 8 C, I'm down to a t-shirt by 10:30 if it is calm. I keep an eye on the temps you post, I do envy your cooler summer, I can genuinely fry an egg on a square mouth shovel some days, if its windy a layer of gladwrap will hold the heat in enough to set the white solid in 5 minutes.

OK the mystery fruit
I have run through the options in my head, winter melon, mouse melon, camel melon, pie melon.... No, I think its a watermelon!

I found out something I did not know last year. Air circulation can strip warmth from the back of insulation particularly bad in some pitched roofs, even in double glazing if the panes are set too far apart, the air rises up the inside pane and transfers the heat as it sinks down the outside glass. 3C vs 2C There was a time when I was a welder I could do all those energy gain/loss and temp differential calculations in my head, perhaps your fires are drawing some cold air in through tiny gaps, my front door is slightly warped, with a west wind I can lose 4 degrees of air temp in an hour, sigh, need to fix that, the list is getting longer again.

OK, I can see I haven't described this, http://www.epwt.net/papers-and-presentations/ satisfactorily. What it shows is one path for recovery after the current agricultural bubble, just like a financial bubble and the potential for a renewable energy bubble. it is old fashioned Retrotopia vertically stacked enterprises. think of it that way! Vietnam is just closer to the edge than us.

Yahoo2 said...

Hi Damo,
Yep, I hear what you are saying. I think there is a lot of potential for pastured livestock in more temperate climates, the elephant in the room is declining soil fertility, if we are not building organic carbon in the deeper soil layers, then pasture is not sustainable long term and animal health suffers. It has taken me 10 years of bending my brain out of shape to work out how it is done.
I think Dr Oliver is being pragmatic, faced with the same choices and no easy pasture solution, he has taken a healthier environment and diet to the animal as best he can.

I have seen a deep bedding piggery in action, with the daily lactic acid bedding spray, it was a an eyeopener.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Margaret,

You are a saint to assist so much with your family. And I hear you about the garden, it is another thing that simply fits in when time is available or it becomes a priority. That is life really, it is rarely smooth sailing.

I don't know about the sour dough and was hoping that someone else here may be able to chime in on that question? I enjoy sour dough, but whilst I have access to bakers yeast... My gut feeling says that there is something different with the flour that is consumed nowadays - so in a year or two, I'll experiment with growing different grains and see what happens.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I'm not sure I want that crown, but thanks anyway! I try very hard here to let the ingredients speak for themselves and that requires quality and/or fresh ingredients - thus I grow as much and as diverse a mix as I can. Tell you what, I picked the first of the many Cape Gooseberries here today. The plant is of the Solanum family so it grows and ripens just like potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and kangaroo apples - except that it is a sweet fruit. I'll put a photo on the next blog as the plant has small lantern coverings over the ripe fruit. It is very surprisingly good.

Absolutely, cooking for one is difficult and most recipes are written with multiple people in mind. Still, you do have a freezer which is quite useful. You'd be surprised to know that most evenings I eat lentils and pulses and other assorted basic things. Picasso is quoted as having said: "I'd like to live like a poor man with lots of money". I haven't quite figured out the lots of money side of that equation, although he seemed to have sussed that problem out... :-)! Both cooking and organisation are art forms rather than a science. I'm sort of a bit in awe of Jason Sheehan in that department and honestly it is not for me, but I respect the effort involved in the process. I do hope that you get your shelf, because if you are thinking about the problem, it is probably in need of thinking about. Dunno.

I was meant to head out today and put in an order for some new kitchen cupboards, but there were so many more interesting things to do about the garden and it was such a nice day...

The Currier and Ives lithographs is an interesting thing. It would have almost been like a pictorial of the events of the times for such a long period and in such quantities. It is also nice that they made the end product to be affordable. A lot of art is quite expensive... Hang onto that book!

It is a bit wrong isn't it? The meringue comes in a box with a picture of the end product which looks quite enticing. Oh, I have to fess up because I do purchase puff pastry as it is very difficult to make from scratch and it doesn't taste any better. I wonder whether Reese comments on that option? It sounds like a very fascinating book and it is cutting through the complexities that often arise with cooking from scratch - I mean somethings just aren't worth making from scratch. The other thing I've found over the past few years and I'd be very interested to read your opinion is I sort of cook a bit here and there when time permits and somehow the whole process gets done, but it becomes more of an art in that you have to just know when something needs doing, rather than attempting a huge process in one sitting? Dunno.

Oh yeah! I hear you about that. Of course, they make the rules, they enforce the rules, and you better make sure that they don't have you in mind when they're considering them. So many layers of complexity get added to business here each year that I wonder what the powers that be are actually thinking. And my gut feeling says that they are doing a lot of data matching to ensure that nothing escapes their grasp, and the unfortunate thing with that is that the biggest fish of all, simply swim past enjoying their feed. It is such a weird thing to see firsthand.

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

Ah, well, there I can tell you how it works down here. The postie in rural areas often has to tender for the "run" and usually the cheapest tender wins. Unfortunately, I see the postie driving around (often on the wrong side of the road) and I wonder how it can be economically feasible. And then you start to notice at the sheer turnover in the posties and you start to understand that it is a mugs game. So many things are like that nowadays down here - and property and living costs don't reflect that reality.

Oh, I haven't seen that film. Star Trek 6 was quite good - I thought that crew ended on a high note, but yeah First Contact was a good film - lots of fun. I liked the quick break before take off to enjoy the wild song! :-)!

Is that barberry - Berberis vulgaris? I read that about the East Coast and was wondering about whether it was introduced in your part of the world? That is quite interesting about the clematis because down here they are prolific (the number one native creeper really) and they are very drought hardy and produce masses of fluffy seed pods. They have the introduced clematis, but I've never grown it. Hey, did you ever wonder why there was a plastic fawn in your garden. That sounds as if it has an intriguing story behind it?

No, not the flow chart!!! How could a mushroom kit seriously have 12 pages of instructions. I mean what is with that? :-)! Yeah, the spores will be all over the soil at the end. Fungi are like people in that they get around! That is quite expensive for mushrooms. Down here the common mushroom is the Portobello - but I love the shitake mushrooms for their taste.

Fair enough, I appreciate the effort to check for hot cross buns. :-)!

The country trains run express on their own tracks through the suburban network, so the announcement woke me up at just the right time (a couple of minutes before reaching the city station). It’s very thoughtful of them really, although they probably don't want people sleeping on the outbound trains...

Oh yeah, the city is exactly like your experience and it is full of colour and yeah people are running around everywhere (sometimes literally). I rarely see advertising and often when I do, I don't like what I see. It is an assault on the senses. I particularly don't enjoy TV's on at restaurants.

Be careful with those given your history! ;-)! That sounds like an excellent herb book. Very useful. You were very cheeky to put in an order for that ice cream cake. OK, I'm busting to know, did the suggestion eventuate to anything?

Well, behind the sofa is as good a place as any! By the way, if you find mine there too, please return it and I promise to reciprocate that arrangement! ;-)! Good for Bryson, I reckon a lot of people would be expecting new stuff from him. The question is: Is he enjoying his travels?

It would be hard to OD on ginger (it is very soothing to the gut), but too much garlic can be not good for the blood. Hey, the garlic has started growing here which is a bit early.

Enjoy your toothy, but not very poisonous snakes. I will swap you for some of the very deadly ones here...

I planted out a few more citrus trees today and did a whole lot of work about the place. It was quite warm, but not hot anymore and I'm grateful for that. March was just declared the hottest on record by the Bureau of Meteorology... The weather spirits are not pleased with our actions.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Damo,

They do work those Maremma dogs, and a local lady near here who has a huge commercial free range chicken flock uses those dogs. I used to buy my eggs from her before I got my own chickens. Yeah, it is simpler to let the chickens out in the orchard only under supervision. Mind you, they dog holes all over the place scratching for yummy stuff.

Thanks for the feedback as I've never looked at Wordpress but plenty of people use it. Yes, I back up the blog about once per month, so hopefully if it got taken out, I'd be able to restore without losing too much. Backing up the blog is quite easy and the file is reasonably small. Still, we mustn't tempt fate with such talk...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Steve,

That does sound warmer than here. I also enjoy the cooler summers - especially at night - but the fire risk is very high and I'm working at reducing that risk, but need far more time than I believe that I have...

You may well be correct about the fruit being a watermelon. The cucumber option didn't look right from hindsight, but it is still growing and I don't want to cut it open just yet. I'm going to put far more effort into pumpkins and melons next summer! It should be interesting.

Ha! The old timers used to say weatherise before you solarise and I see no reason at all to doubt their wisdom with that saying. The house here is very tightly sealed - it has to be for the winter temperatures. Nice to read that you can weld too, I respect that! The roof has a layer of insulation just under the zinc-alume sheeting and another layer sits on top of the plaster above the ceiling, so it creates an airlock. I put a lot of thought into this place, and building it myself allowed me to muck around a lot with the fine details which builders may have skipped over due to the lack of economic feasibility.

Thanks for the link. You may be surprised to know that I don't actually raise pigs here - primarily because I lack the water to do so - and the native animals are far better adapted to the orchard than any other animals. As to worms, I encourage their activities in the soils and I also return any and all organic matter that arrives onto the farm back into the soil. Absolutely nothing goes to waste here (excluding plastics which are a nuisance). I've been to Vietnam and the food there was very good.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Steve,

I should just add that it is my gut feeling that the pastures here (the herbage) is consumed by such a large variety of native animals and what I reckon I'm seeing is that they increase the soil fertility over a relatively short period of time (in most parts it is 20cm deep having started from only a small thin layer of compost many years ago). But what I reckon is that if you eat those animals, you tend to insert disruptions into that soil building process and you are faced with contradictory outcomes: Consuming the herbivores; or building soil fertility - and I struggle to see how both outcomes are possible in an intensive farming system (unless nutrition is brought in from the external area).

Cheers

Chris

thecrowandsheep said...

Hi Chris,

If the fruit turns out to be a melon, may I suggest the following scientific name: Mongrel Melon.

Have you ever considered writing a book version of the excellent series "how I got here?" You could intersperse it with wisdom and anecdotes from your previous life in the city?

The archdruid did an archdruid report reading list a few years ago. Is there a Fernglade Farm reading list on the way?

So many requests yet all I have to offer you is cheap scientific nomenclature.

Cheers

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I've seen a few articles about grains and celiac disease. Which is rare. But, celiac sensitivity, seems on the rise. And, it's been attributed to the types of wheat we use, now, and how they are processed. I was always a bit skeptical of my friend in Idaho's claim to celiac sensitivity, but when I was over there, we went out to eat, and she ordered a gluten free waffle. And, then had a pretty bad two days ... bloat, stomach upset. The only thing suspect was the waffle. The restaurant was VERY busy, and perhaps, she got a regular waffle.

I find Currier and Ives pints, really interesting. The company made slight adjustments to their names on the prints, moved a couple of times, and the streets were renumbered a couple of times. So, you can nail down when the print was done, within a couple of years. I always keep an eye out for them, but have just found the one. There is another one I've seen for sale, but I think the price is high for the condition ... and, the subject just didn't "speak" to me. LOL. I saw another one, at a local tat store, but it was of a rather insipid looking young Victorian lady, and that didn't "speak" to me, either.

Not to rain on your parade :-), but have you looked at the ingredients on those puff pastry doughs? Years ago, I had a Cuisinart food processor, and I remember it had a very good recipe for puff pastry. I just checked the recipe book for my current GE food processor, and I don't see a recipe. But, I bet if I went online, and searched something like "GE Food Processor, puff pastry recipe" something would come up.

Cont. Time is getting away from me. Time to let the chickens out. And, time and chickens wait for no man. :-)

LewisLucanBooks said...

Well, that was an exciting an informative trip to the chook run. :-). I was almost run down by a pair of squabbling robins. And, the sighted mules DO herd the blind mule away from the electric fence, if he gets too close. I'd wondered about that.

Oh, Reese doesn't have anything to say about puff pastry. As far as the index goes.

Food prep can be long and involved, or, not. But I think I know what you're driving at. Some things, like pound cake, seem to take a long time. Especially, if I get into that fiddly top glaze. But, I was thinking of oatmeal. Maybe 5 minutes ... but that doesn't take into consideration, the time I spent freezing up the blueberries. Which was an afternoons on and off project. Speaking of cake, the meeting cake, last night was chocolate ... and, store bought, I think. Oh, well. I'll cut Cake Lady, some slack. She's a Farm Woman, and, it is spring. I should get to that lemon pound cake, this weekend. Before the lemons I bought for it, and the Greek Yogurt, go off.

My landlord's wife was really into "yard art" when they lived here. The more twee, the better :-(. So, I never know what I'm going to run across. I store it all in a corner of a shed. Just in case she wakes up in the middle of the night, and has a sudden desire for a plastic fawn. No garden gnomes, though. Naughty or otherwise. I'm quit fond of St. Francis, the Martyr. A cement St. Francis, that has lost his head ... and, it hasn't turned up. I think the clematis is so hybridized that it's not invasive. To get those giant purple blossoms. It's been there for years, and no other clematis has popped up, anywhere else, around the place. She left behind a lot of useful and interesting plants, but some of the color selections (to me) are pretty ghastly. I'm just not a pastel kind of a guy. I keep ignoring the ones I don't like, and keep hoping they'll quietly pass away.

I once got on the train in Centralia, at night. Suddenly, we made a stop in Chehalis ... which is not a stop, anymore. Turns out, there was a passed out drunk, who had been overlooked, and missed her stop in Centralia. She was unceremoniously shoveled out into the darkness.

Oh, Bryson quit enjoys his travels around Britain. And, the parts he doesn't like, he makes humorous (usually laughing at and making fun of himself), or gets quickly past. He gets sad about places that were once prosperous, and have now fallen on hard times. Sometimes, he can identify the reasons. England's beaches and seaside towns have fallen on hard times ... due to the cheap air fares to warm and sunny climes. Some things that bring joy to people (but not enough people, or powerful enough people) are done away with, or let deteriorate because they're not "cost effective."

Gad. Another trip to town, today. It sounds much like my foray into the yard, the other day. And, it all started with running out of paper towels ... but, as long as I'm going to town I might as well pick up the special cord I need for the string trimmer I bought on Wednesday. And, since I'm there, I might as well look for vincus plants, which I identified as the really nice ground cover, out at the cemetery. And, if they don't have them, I should go to the lawn and garden store, and check there ... and, pick up Beau's special dog biscuits, as they are running low. There's a couple of things to pick up at the library, but I should go in, instead of just using the drive through, as I need some tax forms. I have a list ... Lew



Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lewis:

Your mention of postal service worker's classifications just floored me. I had thought that it was all straight-forward, each employee was employed by Uncle Sam himself and thus got all of the requisite benefits. So, I read more about it; what an appalling set-up.

We have several framed Currier & Ives "prints". They came from an old calendar which we carefully cut up. There has always been one of the mantel. I just love them.

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Margaret:

You are so good to your relatives. I would ask how you manage to keep up with it, but I know that you do so - because it needs to be done.

The sourdough starter that I have is a potato sourdough. It was started with a bit of wheat flour, but ever since has been fed only dried potato flakes, sugar, and water. I feed it twice a week because I make bread twice a week. I think it would have a more traditional "sour" taste if I only fed it once a week, but I like to be sure it's not hungry! I'll bet it could be started with potatoes instead of flour, or an alternative flour. I use white flour (wheat) and whole grain rye in my bread. It would be very interesting to try with alternative flours. It sure does taste like it's good for you, even with the white flour.

@ you and other Bee People: My husband was stung by 2 bees, as I mentioned, 2 or 3 weeks ago when on his daily morning walk/run past a neighbor's. The bees are still after him! He won't even go that way any more, which really narrows his options. The hives are not very near the road. What on earth could be those bees' problem?

Pam

Pam in Virginia said...

@ Lew:

Is it your birthday they are celebrating?

Pam

orchidwallis said...

@Lew I had never heard of Currier and Ives prints. Thanks for drawing my attention to them. A trawl on the internet reveals that many of them are gorgeous.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi crowandsheep, Lewis and Pam,

Thanks for all of the lovely comments and I promise to respond tomorrow evening.

Hey Lewis,

There was a zucchini situation here this evening which I'll show on the next blog. It's totally feral. You seriously weren't joking about the prolific nature of those vegetables, and I'm now trying to work out how to stash them somewhere. When the editor was bringing them into the house I was saying "not another" (expletive) " zucchini"! The editor and I had our plans completely changed and had to make a dash into the little smoke this evening to sort this mess out. Who would have thought that a zucchini situation was even a remote possibility? :-)!

Cheers

Chris

margfh said...

@Pam

Well I don't always keep up but do prioritize what needs to be done. Over the years I've come up with systems that keep, particularly all the financial stuff, in order. Used to do our own taxes but now that I have five sets of tax returns I take them to one of our local accountants as there's some tricky stuff involved and also I can't keep up with changes in tax laws. Still I present everything in an organized manner with detailed documentation of charitable deductions and medical expenses for example which keeps costs down. Having an accounting background helps with that. This was the first year I had my MIL's taxes.

We recently watched the Netflix documentary "Cooked" based on the book by Michael Pollan and he demonstrated making sour dough bread and also pointed out that those which gluten sensitivity often have no problems with sour dough even made with wheat flour. It's something on my list to try.

Margaret

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Yes, I've always really liked (most) of the Currier & Ives prints. I read, somewhere, that quit a few were exported to England. They're also hard to find in good condition. Sun fading, foxing, water spots ... sometimes the margins were cut down to fit frames. And, there are a lot of reproductions floating around. Quick rule of thumb .. if you look at a print with a small magnifying glass, the the colors are made up of tiny color dots, it's probably a reproduction.

I was hoping the new Bryson book would get to your part of England, but so far, no dice. No index, either, so I won't know for sure until I reach the end.

@ Pam - I've also heard that in some parts of the country, the powers that be are trying to privatize the postal system. Of course, the postal union is all in a tizzie, about that. Their on line business has already been outsourced. Someone's making a lot of money.

I go to a weekly meeting (but, I don't attend, every week) and the last meeting of the month, they celebrate all the birthdays for that month. The meeting I go to usually has 15 or 20 people show up. We had a 27, 29 and 9 year birthday. If you relapse, you start counting over, again. The birthday meeting format is, the people with birthdays are asked (by the moderator) "what it i was like (when you were drinking), what happened (how you got sober) and what it's like now." Of course, that all goes out the window if some poor sod stumbles in and it's there first meeting ... or, first meeting since their last drink. Then we switch gears, and it's a "First Step Meeting." And, I haven't even gotten to the secret handshake ... :-) Lew

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - So ... Monday's post will be "Zucchini Crisis!" ? Your reaching peak zucchini? :-). Well, you can always leave them on doorsteps, or look for unlocked cars ... pickup truck beds are handy. Food banks (food charities) MIGHT take them in.

But, seriously, they are good keepers. I've still got two in my kitchen (one is 20 inches long.) There are whole cookbooks, devoted to the zucchini. If I have one that's beginning to go off, I split it open and my chooks love them. Zucchini bread and pancakes, with lots of butter, are quit nice. Soups ... stir fries.

I know you're a seed saver, but you've really got to be careful with just about anything that grows on a vine. They will freely cross breed, and you can get all kinds of weirdness (which may explain your mystery veg.) Pumpkins, squash, melons, gourds ... they'll all play with each other.

I wouldn't want a seed out of Chef John's patch, as he's got them all mixed in, together. You can either widely separate patches (and keep your fingers crossed). Or, you can designate a few vines as seed vines, and hand pollinate (and keep your fingers crossed). To limit harvests, you can always cut off the end of a vine, once 4 or 5 have set on a vine. That works pretty good for pumpkins, but when it comes to Zucchini, you get fewer of them ... but they tend to be enormous.

Well, I did get some vinca plant from the garden nursery. I had noticed, just before, that our local library has huge patches of them, growing around the building. I was tempted to swipe a few, but as it's within a block of ... and in clear sight of .. the local police station, I decided discretion was the better part of valor. I wimped out :-).

Surprises on the Internet. Another name for them is "periwinkle", which I had heard of. It seems to be a large, and not very well classified family of plants. And, yes, they are medicinal (all species, or just some? Sigh, that's never very clear.) It's used in quit a few different cancer treatments. And, as with so many other herbal medicines, claims of curing everything from dandruff to warts. (Insert another very long sigh, here.). Lew

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi thecrowandsheep,

Thanks for the melon name and I will keep that in mind. It was very amusing!

Oh my! I appreciate the feedback, but the life of an author is not for me. For a start there is that pesky problem of monetising which I'm studiously trying to avoid. ;-)! I fully expect one day to have to pay for this blogging service, but till then...

Ah, well there I can assist a little bit and recommend the most excellent series of books by the English authour Annie Hawes who lives in northern Italy: "Extra Virgin" and "Ripe for the Picking" are very good reads.

Yes, no doubt! But it was very amusing at the same time! :-)!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

I've read those articles too about the rise of gluten intolerance in the community and coeliac disease is no laughing matter for the sufferers who are usually genetically predisposed to that. You know what, my gut feeling says that we don't consume the same varieties and diversity of food stuffs that we used to consume as a species even as short a period of time as 100 years ago. The plants and meats are usually not grown the same way, so they can't have the same or even similar nutritional quality. And the other thing that is really weird is that people use such heavy duty cleaning agents in their homes on a regular basis. That is really weird.

Well, yeah, sometimes corners are cut in commercial kitchens.

I had no idea just prolific those prints were. They were really something big before the advent of the camera. It was nice that they coloured the prints too. I hear you about art speaking to you. That makes total sense as it is meant to be enjoyed (although some people view art as an investment hoping to achieve some capital gain over the purchase cost). I reckon the Victorian lady would have been most pleased with the lithograph! Hehe!

Oh no! Alright, I don't want to have to bring out the big guns, but I watched a show once a long time ago with the UK chef Gordon Ramsay, and well he said that puff pastry was not worth making yourself as the readily available commercial stuff was almost as good. And I balanced that viewpoint against my understanding of his other penchants for quality, fresh and local ingredients. So I dunno, really, as after I heard that I just sort of never thought about the matter again, but now that you mention it, I have absolutely no idea what is in those sheets of puff pastry...

Beware the killer Robins! Apologies, but you've put me into a Monty Python frame of mind and I'm now thinking to myself: Killer Rabbit - Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Look at the bones!!!! :-)! How clever and thoughtful are the mules? I've always heard that they are clever creatures.

Yeah, exactly, I'm forever doing a bit of preparation here and there so that there is always something to eat. Some food things are quite fiddly aren't they and sometimes I wonder whether they are worth the effort? Everything takes time, but some things in the kitchen take longer than others! Mate, the lemon pound cake sounds and looks amazing. Yum! I don't know about the lemons going off, but the Greek yoghurt may definitely go off and become a little bit lumpy...

Where are the naughty gnomes? That is a bit of a shame to read about their lack in the twee collection - the collection may be slightly unbalanced because of that lack? Well Francis of Assisi is an interesting character and I noted that in one of the paintings he had what looked to me like a familiar (an owl) and that he had access to a mountain retreat, made peace with wolves and dogs. He seemed alright by me too and I reckon I'd enjoy sharing a quiet mead with the bloke and just watching all the crazy goings on here with the animals. ;-)!

cont...

Cherokee Organics said...

I hadn't previously realised how easily some plants hybridise, but wow, do they adapt to changing conditions or what? We do too, when you get down to the nitty gritty of things, despite the strange narratives that are in circulation at the moment. Ha! Good luck with that, those pastel flowers are probably some of the hardier flowers. That is usually the case anyway.

Wow, that is rough and I've never seen or heard of such a thing down here on the country trains, and I once shared a carriage with a guy that clearly had Tourette's syndrome and the words and sounds that were coming out of his mouth were not good. At one stage I had to reassure the poor lady that sitting across from me that I could deal with him if things escalated, which they never did. She looked a bit frightened. Mind you, no one kicked him off the train. There was another strange incident where the conductor apologised for the goings on of two passengers during the journey - and the funny thing was that I was standing up near the door speaking on the phone to a client trying to have a serious conversation and one of the two of them appeared at my feet and I just looked at them, apologised to the client and then told the idiot to "f... off" and then without further attention went back to my conversation. In hindsight it was surreal because the person did go away and was thereafter quiet. Very strange. Some people just want to be told "no" too? Dunno.

Good for Bryson and glad that you are enjoying the book too. He really did enjoy that sort of faded elegance thing too and really tells a great tale. I often wonder what people expect to see when they jet off about the place? I mean it does make you wonder? Yeah, I feel for those seaside towns as they would have been full of life and colour in earlier times (and most likely will be again in the future).

I tell you a funny story about paper towels. Back in the early 90's some mates living in squalid conditions - mind you, one of that lot worked in a kitchen and they were an amazing cook, despite the conditions - and they ran out of toilet paper so just began using the newspaper and phone book in place of that stuff... Sorry, I digress, yes, the string trimmer is a very useful and lightweight tool - I love my electric trimmer as it saves a whole lot of hassle and chops and drops everything.

The vincus plants are really beautiful and I know them here as periwinkle. Actually as another perhaps more interesting side note, a local guy who is a long term resident who I enjoy speaking with tells me that those are good plants with which to assess the fire risk - in that if they are distressed looking, then things are not good...

Yes, Beau would probably be quite grumpy without the special dog biscuits (watch out Nell)!

I've never seen a drive through library. Amazing stuff!

Hey, the guy that set up the Green Wizards meet up group down here visited today and it was a real pleasure to have enjoyed his company for the afternoon and show him about the place. The sun was nice, although the air temperature was cool and I even conned him into picking some tomatoes. A lovely way to spend an afternoon.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Sorry to hear about the bees. They can sometimes associate a persons smell with an unpleasant experience and then persecute that person. You also may not be aware of whether the beekeeper is opening up the hive and poking around in the hive box a lot and generally annoying the bees. Can I suggest that your husband not use any strong scents (cologne or deodorant) around the bees - they actually remember and will be a nuisance for a while. As another suggestion, have you considered making peace with the bees by offering them a plate of pollen (which you can buy) or water (or even sugar water - place the dish in the dark of the early dawn)? The bees may just be hungry and looking for feed. They can also tell when you are trying to swat them and that just makes them more annoyed... Bees that are busy feeding are generally not aggressive as they have other priorities on their minds.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Ha! Those are great titles, but unfortunately, I've already picked the winner. Actually, it is peak zucchini storage that is the bigger problem... I mean what do you do with these things (of course, there are cars and pickup trucks, door steps in baskets etc.)!

Yeah, they do keep well for most of the winter into early spring here too and yeah, the chooks will clean the flesh of those vegetables and leave the leathery skin. It is amazing as long as the fruit is cut open long ways.

The seed savers group used to discuss that issue a lot too. I'm not really careful enough for those plants, which is probably why I have a yellow zucchini this year (who knows what the insides of that thing will be like?). No doubt that you are correct about the mystery fruit. It looks as though the vine has died due to the powdery mildew that all of those leaves eventually succumb too so maybe I may cut it open to see what is inside that fruit? Dunno.

Chef John is clearly my kind of gardener! Distance seems to be the safest bet, but I recall from the discussions that the distance is huge... The things are enormous here, I mean they wouldn't win a competition or anything like that, but I have to do something with them. Long term, I'll probably have to distribute those plants in patches at remote points on the farm, but whilst I can easily purchase quality seeds, I may just have to cheat a bit whilst I learn the ropes with the plants. Next summer, an entire area is being set aside just for those plants - and I will water them properly. There are just so many things to do and learn, I have to go in little baby steps otherwise it becomes too much and I can't observe what the correct variable (or series of variables) which made all of the difference. Mind you, I do try a lot of different random experiments just to see what might happen. At the moment there is a large trailing pumpkin growing in the shady orchard of all places - and that is something that I just would not have guessed possible.

I do approve of swiping cuttings of plants so that it doesn't leave behind a mess, but one must employ a degree of circumspection in one's activities and you sound as if you have a good handle on such matters! Hehe!!!

That really is hard and I find it to be a bit annoying despite having over a dozen herb books - some of them are a bit obscure and obtuse and it makes it really difficult to assess whether it is a good idea to use this plant or not - or sometimes as you rightly say, whether we are even talking about the same plant. I mean, what do you do? I actually spend a huge amount of time in understanding the names and uses of the plants here and the list is long... Oh the Green Wizards guy tells me that Cape Gooseberry is actually considered to be a weed in some parts of the world. It is amazing how much one has to know about all manner of things. By the way, we're saving seed from that plant too for next summer as I really enjoy the taste of the fruit.

Cheers

Chris

Jo said...

I loved your hot cross bun rant - I always make at least one batch of hot cross buns on Good Friday morning. This year I was getting rid of leftovers and made date and glace ginger hot cross buns. Very good indeed.

I can see a pattern emerging with your mystery plant. Like Angus I had a very similar plant growing. At first I thought it was a cucumber vine, but the fruit itself was just like a mini watermelon, light green with dark stripes. We ate the first few at cucumber size, and I thought they were yummy sweet cucumbers. Then one got away and turned into a melon size - when I cut it open it was pale orange like a cantaloupe, and tasted like one, and yet the green skin? I wonder if a new cucumber-melon cross is emerging from the compost bins of southern Australia?

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Cliff Mass has an article on his weather blog (entry for 3/31) about bird migration and how it shows up on weather radar. Wow. Looks like the bird population is still pretty healthy in this part of the world. The hummingbirds are rather a disappointment (so far), this year. I have one little fellow who shows up, just after sunset at the back feeder. And that's it.

LOL. Don't look at the contents on those pastry sheets. What is seen, cannot be unseen. :-).

Monty Python is just too good. Subversive, and just so "wrong", sometimes. Couldn't find a complete version of my all time favorite MP sketch ... Crimson Permanent Assurance." Just bits and pieces. It's from "The Meaning of Life."

We had a fellow with Tourette's who regularly visited the library, when I worked out in Yelm. AKA, Walking Man. You'd see him all over the place, walking great distances. I think the point was to wear himself out, so he wouldn't have an episode in the library. And, he seldom did. Occasionally, we'd get a concerned citizen, "There's a man in the parking lot doing a lot of yelling." We'd always have to reassure the citizen, that, while concerning, the fellow was not dangerous. Oliver Sacks (RIP) did a really interesting film about people with Tourettes. In his practice, he had two or three patients with it, and knew them quit well.

Glad you got a good visitor, for a change. Wish I could say the same for my neighbors. Sigh. For the last week, there's been this weird popping sound. Louder than a cap gun, not as loud as a small fire cracker. Goes on for hours. Discovered yesterday that one of the boys next door has been gifted with a bull whip. Usually, they either break, or get board with their "toys" in short order, ad return to being indoor couch potatoes. Not this time. The noise has put the hens off the lay, a bit. But, the egg count was really down, until they plopped out 6 eggs, yesterday. Brought the count almost up to normal. Sigh. At least the new toy isn't of a pyrotechnic nature. Lew

Damo said...

Those frozen puff pastry sheets are amazing. A lot of them do contain palm oil though which is unfortunate. On the other hand, I watched the River Cottage guy create puff pastry once and he made it look very easy. Considering that I struggle with a simple bread loaf, I have not tried yet, but perhaps one day.

Not many of our zucchini made it past a week. I particularly enjoyed a zucchini based omelette! The monster marrow was processed into pickles the other day, I found it so interesting I took photos and will put them online later.

Only a few days left at work, it is getting to that stage where I am doing things for the 'last time'. I did have an information request for Chris or anyone living in Victoria. We arrive in Melbourne next Monday morning. After a lazy breakfast we will be driving north to Brisbane. Most likely we will take the inland route, but there is no urgent timetable or defined route. Can anyone suggest somewhere decent for lunch and/or dinner? I have in mind world class bakeries or a beautiful pub - that sort of thing :-)

Yahoo2 said...

the trick with pumpkins as Lew has mentioned is to hand pollinate, there will be all male flowers for a week or two, the ants are early risers and they strip the pollen from the male flowers before the bees start work. So before breakfast while the air is still a little crisp you peak inside the flowers that are opening that day and find the female flowers, pick a male flower that looks in good nick, strip the petals off, open the female flower and ...ahem...do the business (dirty talk and innuendo is optional provided no-one is within earshot)

if you dont do this they sometimes start to grow then abort. When you strike the perfect morning to be out in the garden before breakfast, you will be hooked forever, it is just magical.

May I humbly suggest companion zucchinis for the infirmed elderly, perhaps fuselages for land speed record attempts or kayak-hinis, see what I did there? never mind, look, I am sure the govt would be interested. Zucchini class submarine has a nice ring to it.